Happy Birthday Virgo(s)

Sophie Dahl

Marco Polo, Agatha Christie, Tommy Lee Jones, and Prince Harry. Today offered an embarrassment of birthdays but I’m going to go with Sophie Dahl, the beautiful former model who is now an actress, author, and chef. She’s also the granddaughter of author Roald Dahl and the inspiration for the protagonist Sophie in his book, The BFG (for Big Friendly Giant).

This recipe for roasted tomato, thyme, and garlic soup from her book, The Delicious Miss Dahl, is perfect for an early fall day when tomatoes are still plentiful (but not for long!)

Roasted Tomato and Thyme Soup

4½ lb. large ripe plum tomatoes, halved
1 garlic bulb, cut in half horizontally
2 large red onions, peeled, quartered
few sprigs fresh thyme
1 T. superfine sugar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
9 oz vegetable stock (optional)
3½ oz. light cream (optional)
few drops Worcestershire sauce (optional)
few drops balsamic vinegar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Place the tomatoes, garlic, onions, and thyme into a large roasting tin and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle with the oil, and roast in the oven for 40-50 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.

Mash the garlic with the back of a fork, and discard the skin. Tip the roasted tomatoes and onions into a food processor along with the mashed garlic, and pulse until smooth. If the soup is too thick, pour into a large saucepan and loosen the mixture with either vegetable stock or cream. Add a little Worcestershire sauce or balsamic vinegar, to season, if you like.

NOTE: Dahl’s recipe calls for golden caster sugar, a pale, superfine brown sugar made from unrefined sugar cane. It’s pretty rare outside the UK so I substituted superfine sugar (but I’m sure regular white sugar would work too).

Sophie Dahl 2

Happy Batman Day!

Batman vs. Dracula

WHAM! THWACK! POW! It’s been 75 years since The Caped Crusader started saving Gotham City from the Joker, the Penguin, and … Dracula? In the 2005 straight-to-video animated movie, The Batman vs. Dracula, Bruce Wayne invites Dr. Alucard to a party. He shows him one of Wayne Industries’ latest advances, the SL-5 which collects and stores solar energy as true sunlight. Alucard grimaces as garlic shrimp hors d’oeuvres are served but scarfs down steak tartare.

When Wayne and Alucard meet as their alter-egos, Batman and Dracula, Batman saves Vicky Vale from being turned into a vampire with garlic bombs and just as Dracula realizes that Batman is Bruce Wayne, Batman turns on the SL-5 filling the bat cave with sunlight. He quips, “and you are dust” as the sunlight causes Dracula to disintegrate.

Here’s a recipe for garlic shrimp from my upcoming book, Garlic: An Edible Biography. (The awesome recipe was developed by Mary Deir Donovan.)

If you want a Garlic Bomb, got to Jake’s Sandwich Board in Philadelphia where they serve a Philly Steak Sandwich topped with garlic spread, sautéed garlic, provolone cheese, and crunchy, deep-friend garlic cloves. (If you want to try your own, I also included Mary’s recipe for Beer-Battered Deep-Fried Garlic Cloves which can be served on their own as an appetizer accompanied with your favorite marinara sauce for dipping, or as a garnish in salads, soups, or stews.

Garlic Shrimp (Gambas al Ajillo)
Makes 4 appetizer serving or 2 main course servings

4 oz olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup cognac
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1. Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté, stirring frequently, until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute.

2. Increase the heat to high and immediately add the shrimp, cognac, lemon juice, and paprika. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the shrimp turn pink and the edges curl, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

3. Serve the shrimp on heated appetizer plates topped with the pan juices spooned over the shrimp and sprinkled with parsley.

Beer-Battered Deep-Fried Garlic Cloves
Serve these crispy, nutty garlic cloves on their own as an appetizer accompanied with your favorite marinara sauce for dipping, or use them as a garnish in salads, soups, or stews.

Makes 1 pound

1 cup self-rising flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup beer, room temperature
1 lb garlic cloves, peeled

1. To make the batter: Whisk the flour, salt and pepper together in a medium bowl. Add the beer and whisk until smooth. The batter can be prepared up to 8 hours in advance. Place in a container, cover tightly, and keep in the refrigerator. Stir to recombine before using the batter to coat the garlic.

2. Preheat a deep-fryer to 350 degrees or heat about 3 inches of oil in a deep, heavy-gauge pot over medium heat. Use a deep-fry thermometer to check the temperature; another temperature check is to add a 1 inch cube of bread to the oil. It should brown within 30 seconds when the oil is at 350°F.

3. Add about one-fourth of the garlic cloves to the batter and stir to coat them evenly. Lift the garlic out of the batter with a spider or a fork, allowing the excess batter to drain back into the bowl. Lower into the hot oil. Cook until the batter is puffed and golden brown, about 2 minutes. Lift the fried garlic out of the oil and drain briefly on paper towel. Keep warm while frying the remaining garlic.

4. Serve the garlic at once.

Happy Birthday Kevin Bacon!

Kevin Bacon
Thank you for the great movies and the great parlor game, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. (By the way, today is also Anjelica Huston’s birthday. In Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, Huston has a Bacon number of 2. She was in Addams Family Values with Chris Ellis who was in Apollo 13 with Kevin Bacon.)

I’ve been enjoying grilled Caesar Salad this summer — split heads of romaine are grilled outside and drizzled with dressing. Here the grilled lettuce is topped with a rich mustardy Roasted Garlic-Bacon Vinaigrette.

Grilled Romaine with Roasted Garlic-Bacon Vinaigrette
1 head roasted garlic, chopped
4 bacon slices, chopped
1/4 cup Sherry wine vinegar
2 T. minced shallots
1 T. dijon mustard
2 tsp. honey
1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon or 3/4 tsp. dried
1/4 c. olive oil
6 heads of Romaine

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut off the top 1/4” of the garlic head. Set the garlic, cut side up, in the center of a piece of foil large enough to wrap around the garlic head. Drizzle the exposed cloves with olive oil. Pull the corners of the foil in to the center, make a pouch around the garlic, and twist the top to secure the pouch closed. Place the foil pouch in a small baking dish or pan. Roast the garlic until the cloves are soft and any juices are brown, about 45 minutes. When cool enough to touch, chop garlic and transfer to medium bowl.

Cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels. Pour drippings into medium bowl. Roughly chop bacon. Add vinegar, shallot, mustard, honey, molasses and tarragon. Whisk to blend. Add roasted garlic, bacon and olive oil and whisk to blend. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.

Cut head of romaine in half. Remove loose outer leaves. Drizzle cut side with olive oil. Grill cut side down over medium heat until lightly wilted, about two minutes. Serve lettuce on a platter drizzled with roasted garlic-bacon vinaigrette.

Happy Birthday Larry David!

Larry David

In the “Palestinian Chicken” episode of Curb your Enthusiasm, Larry and Jeff enjoy the roasted chicken at the Al-Abbas restaurant despite the fact that the restaurant is decorated with pro-Palestine posters. David says that if the chicken was sent to Israel, “they’d take down all the settlements immediately.”

The comedian sent a copy of the episode to Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz who forwarded it to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with the suggestion that he invite Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas over to watch it together. Dershowitz said, “Maybe if they both get a good laugh, they can begin a negotiating process.” Alas, this did not happen.

Zankou Chicken, a famous Armenian-Lebanese roast chicken restaurant in LA, was the inspiration for the fictional Al-Abbas. The restaurant is widely known for its amazing white garlic sauce called toum which for some reason is not mentioned in the episode. The following recipe is a close approximation of Zankou’s “secret sauce.” Toum is Arabic for garlic and in addition to chicken, this sauce is good on meat, fish, roasted vegetables … everything really.

Zankou’s Garlic Sauce (Toum)
3 small russet potatoes, peeled
1 head of garlic (12-14 cloves)
1/3 c. of fresh lemon juice
1/2 tbsp. salt
1/2 c. canola oil

Boil the potatoes in salted water until soft, then mash to a smooth consistency. Allow to cool.

Place the peeled garlic cloves, salt and half of the lemon juice in a blender or food processor.

With the machine on, slowly stream the oil into the mixture until it combines into a smooth consistency.

Pour the garlic “mayonnaise” into a bowl. Add the mashed potatoes 2 tablespoons at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon until it’s the consistency of loose, mashed potatoes. Stir in the remaining lemon juice.

Cover the bowl, and chill the sauce completely. Before serving, return the sauce to room temperature and add salt to taste.

Happy (Belated) Birthday, George Orwell

Orwell - Dan

Today Brits enjoy garlic and are known for spectacular food, but that wasn’t always the case, as Orwell (ne George Blair) illustrated in this 1944 quote about the English: “As a rule they will refuse even to sample a foreign dish, they regard such things as garlic and olive oil with disgust, life is unlivable to them unless they have tea and puddings.”

Celebrate the author of Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm with this recipe for Garlic Bread Pudding. Note: The drawing of Orwell is by my friend Dan Baxter who does great illustrations on antique maps. His prints are available on etsy at DanielBaxterArt.

Garlic Bread Pudding

2 c. milk
8 garlic cloves, minced
2 large whole eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/2 t. red chili flakes
2 T. minced parsley
3/4 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
2 1/2 c. 1/2-inch cubes of Italian bread

In a saucepan, scald the milk with the garlic, let the mixture stand off the heat for 15 minutes.

In a bowl whisk together the whole eggs and the yolks, add the milk in a stream, whisking, and stir in the chili flakes, parsley, salt and pepper.

Divide the bread cubes among 8 well-buttered 1/3-cup muffin tins, ladle the custard mixture over them, dividing it evenly, and let the bread puddings stand for 10 minutes.

The puddings may be prepared up to this point 8 hours in advance and kept covered and chilled. Bake the puddings in a preheated 350°F. oven for 45 minutes, or until they are golden brown and puffed. Let the puddings cool for 10 minutes (they will sink as they cool).

Run a thin knife around the side of each pudding, and lift the puddings out carefully with a fork. Serve warm.

Thank You Marcella Hazan!

Garlic Scented Tomato Salad
The cooking world lost one of its greats today when Marcella Hazan passed away at the age of 89. Hazan taught millions of Americans how to prepare the simple fresh food of Italy at a time when our idea of Italian food was a can of Chef Boy-Ar-Dee’s Beef Ravioli.

Hazan had this to say about garlic in her 2004 cookbook “Marcella Says …” “The unbalanced use of garlic is the single greatest cause of failure in would-be Italian cooking. It must remain a shadowy background presence. It cannot take over the show.”

I had the extraordinary pleasure of taking cooking classes with Marcella’s son, Giuliano in Verona, Italy a few years ago. He is doing a wonderful job of carrying on his mother’s legacy. We toured food markets, learned about wine, cooked our dinner, and had an all-around great time. My condolences to the family. I made this tomato salad perfumed with garlic to honor Marcella Hazan. It’s the perfect way to enjoy the end of the season’s fantastic tomatoes and honor a great lady.

Garlic-Scented Tomato Salad
4 to 5 garlic cloves
1-2 t. salt (or more to taste)
2 T. choice quality red wine vinegar (or more to taste)
2 lbs. fresh, ripe, firm, round or plum tomatoes
1 dozen fresh basil leaves
Extra virgin olive oil

Peel the garlic cloves and mash them hard with a knife handle. Put them in a small bowl or saucer together with 1 to 2 teaspoons salt and 2 tablespoons of the red wine vinegar. Stir and let steep at least 20 minutes.

Skin the tomatoes raw, you can blanch them quickly then plunge them into ice water so they don’t cook, then slice them into thin slices and spread the slice out in a deep serving platter.

When ready to serve the salad wash the basil leaves in cold water, shake off their moisture and tear them into 2 or 3 pieces each and sprinkle them over the tomatoes.

Pour the garlic steeped vinegar through a wire strainer, distributing it over the tomatoes. Add enough extra virgin olive oil to coat the tomatoes well, toss, taste and correct if necessary for salt and vinegar.

2 Chainz Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Joseph Okpako/Getty Images

Joseph Okpako/Getty Images

Rapper 2 Chainz’ new cookbook “# MEAL TIME” includes a terrific recipe for garlic mashed potatoes with some interesting instructions. While the first instruction, “If wearing a four-finger ring, carefully place it on a side table before starting to cook” is sound advice; I’m sure you can make and serve the dish even if you don’t have a gold salt pot, a golden colander or a golden serving bowl. Step One for 2 Chainz Garlicky Green Beans is “Call Fergie, invite her to watch a movie on Netflix. Once she accepts, start making green beans.”

While the instructions are hilarious, the recipes were developed with 2 Chainz personal chef Chef Aleem, a magna cum laude graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Atlanta. Enjoy this rapper’s delight.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
2-3 lbs. yukon gold potatoes (half peeled, half unpeeled)
1/4 stick unsalted butter
1 c. heavy cream
3 T. minced garlic
3 T. sour cream
Handful of chopped parsley
Kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder

If wearing a four-finger ring, carefully place it on a side table before starting to cook

Cut potatoes into quarters add butter with the mixture; Place potatoes in a pot of salted, cold water, and bring to a boil; Let potatoes boil vigorously until they are fork-tender

While potatoes are boiling, pour heavy cream, minced garlic, salt and pepper into small gold sauce pot, add butter with the mixture, and bring mixture to a boil

Strain potatoes through golden colander, and place in a separate golden bowl; Once this is done, play “Feds Watching” and celebrate the good times you had this year

Once done with that, add sour cream and half of the chopped parsley to the potatoes; Slowly add the heated cream mixture to the potatoes while whisking, creating a creamy, smooth consistency; Adjust flavor with salt, pepper, and/or garlic powder; Serve in gold bowl and garnish with remaining parsley

A Greek Mythology Lesson

Asklepios

I just learned about this story and thought I’d share. Asklepios was the son of the god Apollo. He was taught about healing herbs by the wise centaur, Chiron. Asklepios became so skilled in healing that he was even able to raise the dead which did not sit well with the God of the underworld who complained to Zeus. Since he was tampering with the natural order of things, Zeus killed Asklepios with a thunderbolt while he was writing down the formula for immortality. Seeing that he was writing something, Zeus sent down pouring rain. The formula dissolved into the earth and when the sun came out, a plant sprang up where the formula dissolved. That plant was, of course, garlic!

Today’s a good day for this Greek dip which is wonderful with fresh vegetables from your local farmer’s market (and pita bread from your local grocery store).

Skordalia
(Greek Potato and Garlic Dip)
2 large russet potatoes, peeled, cut into small cubes, boiled until tender, and mashed
6 garlic cloves
1/2 t. coarse sea salt
1 large egg yolk
3/4 c. olive oil, plus more if needed
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
3 T. white wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper

Pound garlic and salt in a large wooden bowl and pound with a pestle until thoroughly mashed. Gradually add potatoes and pound them into the garlic. If mixture is still hot, let cool 15 minutes, then add egg yolk and beat it in with a wooden spoon. Alternating olive oil with lemon juice and vinegar, gradually add both to potato mixture. Stir in pepper and mix briskly with a fork until very smooth. Mix in more olive oil, or some water, a little at a time, if sauce is too thick to use as a dip.

Καλή όρεξη! (Bon Appetit!)

Last Call for Garlic Scapes!

Garlic Scapes

This weekend is probably your last chance to get garlic scapes at your local farmer’s market. (I’m talking to you, Rochelle.) Use them to make this tasty pesto which is like early summer on a plate (or toast or pasta or grilled fish or anything else you can think of.) You can add nuts if you want to, but I don’t think it’s necessary.

Garlic Scape Pesto
(from GarlicEscapes)

1 lb. garlic scapes, cut into pieces (so they fit in food processor easily)
1 1/4 c. grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 c. olive oil
1 T. lemon juice
ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 t. red chile flakes (optional)

Blend all ingredients in food processor until smooth.

100 Days

100 garlicToday is the 100th day of the year … and this calls for a recipe with 100 cloves of garlic. This chicken recipe, adapted from Saveur magazine, calls for one-hundred lightly roasted garlic cloves.

Chicken with 100 Cloves of Garlic
3 T. olive oil
4-lb. chicken, cut into 8 pieces
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
100 cloves of garlic, peeled
½ c. dry vermouth
¾ c. chicken stock
1 T. chopped tarragon

Heat oven to 350°. Heat oil in a 6-qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper; add to pot and saute, turning once, until browned, about 15 minutes. Transfer to an 8″ square baking dish and set aside.

Add garlic to pot and cook until you smell garlic’s aroma, about 3 minutes. Add vermouth; scrape the bottom of the pot until vermouth is slightly reduced, about 2 minutes. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Transfer 25 of the whole roasted garlic cloves to baking dish; mash the remaining 75 cloves into stock. Pour the garlic-infused garlic over the chicken and bake until chicken is glazed and tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Garnish with chopped tarragon.