Georgia on my Mind

Okay, the headline is a ridiculous cliche but my hiking trip to Georgia was another extraordinary experience in which I once again demonstrated that I am a horrible, but enthusiastic, hiker. Georgia is unbelievably beautiful and Georgian food is justifiably renowned — all of the best restaurants in the former Soviet Union were Georgian. Გემრიელად მიირთვით (That’s bon appetit in Georgian).

Turkey Satsivi

The garlic walnut sauce which accompanies this turkey dish was a favorite of Russian dictator (and Georgia’s native son) Joseph Stalin. It’s ridiculously labor-intensive, but delicious. This recipe is from Food52.

3 to 3-1/2 pounds turkey, cut into portions

4 sprigs of parsley

1 bay leaves

3 tablespoons butter

3 large onions, finely chopped

3 tablespoons flour

4-6 cups stock (reserved from cooking turkey)

3-1/2 cups raw walnuts

10 cloves of garlic

1 large bunch of fresh cilantro, stems removed

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon1-1/2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 small dry chili

pepper and salt to taste

3 egg yolks

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Put turkey in a pot, cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, skim the foam that rises to the surface, reduce heat, add 1/2 tbsp salt, a few sprigs of parsley, 1 bay leaf. Cook for about 45 minutes to 1 hr. If using turkey with bones and skin, remove from stock, place in a roasting pan, and put in 350 degree oven to roast for about 15 minutes or so. Set aside.

Chop onions. Melt butter in a skillet over low-medium heat. Saute onions until very soft, but still lightly yellow. Stir frequently to prevent browning and burning.

While onions are cooking, combine walnuts, garlic, cilantro and all spices and salt in a blender. Add about 1 cup of stock from cooking chicken and process into a paste. If too coarse to process, add a bit more stock as needed. Add flour to the cooked onions, and cook for a few minutes more, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the skillet. When all flour becomes translucent and coats the onions well, add 2-3 cups of stock. Scrape the bottom of the skillet with wooden spoon, and stir well, until smooth. Heat through and allow to simmer for about 10 more minutes, until onions are almost dissolved.

Add walnut paste to the skillet, stir very well, adding more stock if needed, until the sauce is about buttermilk consistency and smooth, simmer for 2-3 minutes or so after bringing to a boil. Return the sauce to the blender and process yet again to get silky texture. This step is optional, if you like creamier texture.

Pour the sauce back into the skillet (no heat). Mix egg yolks with a little bit of the sauce, and slowly pour back into skillet. Stir well. Add vinegar, stir and let set for a few minutes.Taste the sauce and adjust salt if necessary.


Girl vs. Lebanon

With scant knowledge and even less preparation, I signed up to thru-hike the Lebanese Mountain Trail (LMT), a 30-day, 292-mile trek that traverses the length of the country.  Thru-hiking, the end-to-end hike of a trail, has a well-earned reputation as a fulfilling, yet challenging, endeavor.  As CleverHiker’s Dave Collins describes it, “Completing a thru-hike will be one of the most profoundly rewarding achievements of your life … it’ll also be tough as hell and you’ll wish you were dead.”  That pretty much sums it up. 

The photo above is the cedar tree on the Lebanese flag. It was taken on April 23 which gives you a sense of the weather we encountered. It was one of the best, and most challenging, things I’ve ever done. One of the highlights was the amazing food we were served in guest houses, hotels, and monasteries. In honor of one of my favorite countries in the world, here’s a recipe for Lebanese roasted garlic hummus from my book.

Roasted Garlic Hummus

2 c. chickpeas, cooked or canned, rinsed and drained

1 head garlic, roasted and pureed

1/4 c. warm water

2 tbsp tahini

1 lemon, juiced

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/4 c. Extra-virgin olive oil, to serve

Chopped parsley for garnish

Paprika, for garnish

Za’atar, for garnish

Combine the chickpeas, garlic, warm water, tahini, lemon juice, and salt in a food processor.  Puree until the mixture is smooth and light.  Adjust the consistency bu adding either a little water or lemon juice.  The hummus can be stored at this point in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 day

To serve:  Allow the hummus to come to room temperature.  Spoon it into a bowl, drizzle it with olive oil, and sprinkle with parsley, paprika, and/or za’atar.  Accompany the hummus with crudités, pita or other flatbreads, or crackers.

The Know-Nothings

donald-trump-grow-upAs I look forward to transitioning this blog from garlic to life and travel, here’s some information about a political party that had its convention in Philadelphia in 1856.  (I discovered this while researching a story on where to eat and drink in Philadelphia and Cleveland during the Democratic and Republican National Conventions for Wine Enthusiast — I’ll post a link when it’s finished and published).

In the late 1850’s, the American Whig party fell apart as members took opposite sides on the issue of slavery. While some former Whigs like Abraham Lincoln joined the newly formed Republican Party, others joined an anti-immigrant nativist party that became as the “Know-Nothings” since members refused to discuss their beliefs or party affiliation with outsiders.

The Know-Nothing party goal was to “purify” American politics by limiting the influence of immigrants and Catholics. The Know-Nothings fared poorly in the 1856 election and soon disappeared as a force in American politics. Let’s hope that in 2016, Donald Trump and his Know-Nothings follow suit.

Cool New Purchase!


When your last name is Cherry and you’ve written a book on garlic and you see a 19th-century French copper mold decorated with cherries and garlic, you pretty much have to buy it.  You’ll be pleased to learn that I’m not going to give you a recipe for cherry-garlic pie but rather a simple dish for asparagus, cherry tomatoes, and garlic.  It’s adapted from a recipe by Emeril Lagasse.  For more flavor (and calories), sprinkle some feta cheese on top.

Roasted Asparagus with Cherry Tomatoes and Garlic

2 lb. pencil asparagus
2 c. cherry tomatoes, washed and stemmed
12 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1 t. coarse or flake salt (I like Maldon)
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place asparagus, tomatoes, and garlic in a large bowl; drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Transfer to oven and roast until asparagus are tender and tomatoes begin to caramelize, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature. Sprinkle with feta just before serving, if using.

Happy National Garlic Month!

medieval garlic

April is National Garlic Month — that’s not an April Fool’s joke and neither is this news from the UK that a 10th century recipe for infections that includes garlic may kill the antibiotic-resistant bacteria MRSA.  MRSA is one of the dangerous bacterial infections christened “nightmare superbugs” by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  It’s often found in hospitals where it has the potential to weaken those whose immune systems are already compromised.

The medieval recipe, found by Christina Lee, an Anglo-Saxon expert at the University of Nottingham, called for two species of allium (garlic and onion or leek), wine, and bile from a cow’s stomach. When MRSA was exposed to the mixture, it obliterated the infection killing 999 out of 1,000 bacterial cells.

I apologize for the awkward transition but … To get your garlic (without cow bile), try this recipe for harissa, a hot chili paste that’s used in the North African cuisines of Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria. It can be added to vinaigrettes, soups, pasta, grain dishes, sandwiches, and marinades for fish, meat, and poultry. Makes 1 cup


6 oz dried red chiles (e.g., cayenne or chile de arbol)
12 garlic cloves peeled
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground caraway seeds
1 tbsp salt
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for storing

1. Combine the chiles, garlic, ground coriander, cumin, caraway, and salt in a food processor and pulse the machine on and off until the mixture is a coarse paste.

2. Add the cilantro to the food processor, close the lid, and, and with the processor running, pour the oil in a thin stream through the feed tube. Continue to process just until you have fine smooth paste.

3. Harissa lasts for 2 weeks (or more). Place in a jar. Cover with a layer of oil. Close the jar tightly and store in the refrigerator. Replace the layer of oil each time you use some.

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

Grinch Who Hash copy

The great Dr. Seuss was born on this date in 1904. In my favorite Dr. Seuss story, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” he wrote, “You’re a monster, Mr. Grinch, Your heart’s an empty hole, Your brain is full of spiders, You’ve got garlic in your soul, Mr. Grinch.” Celebrate with this garlicky rendition of “Who Hash” aka Garlic Hashed Potatoes. It’s great as an accompaniment to eggs or as a savory side dish.

Garlic “Who Hash”
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, shredded
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Rinse the shredded potatoes and pat them dry.

Spread the shredded potatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat mat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and toss the potatoes with the minced garlic, then spread them back on the mat. Return them to the oven and bake 5 more minutes.

Garlic: An Edible Biography is Here!!!

Garlic Book Cover

Garlic: An Edible Biography is on bookshelves today. In its honor, here’s my favorite recipe from the book: Garlic Brittle and Chocolate Chip Cookies. I made them in London and they were very popular. These cookies don’t scream “garlic;” instead, the flavor comes on gradually making the garlic a “mystery” ingredient. The extra sugar from the brittle chunks makes these cookies spread a bit, so be sure to leave plenty of room between them as they bake.

Garlic-Pecan Brittle
The trick with a brittle is to have everything ready and at the right temperature before you start cooking the brittle. Cooked sugar is always extremely hot, so be sure to protect your hands and arms and always pour away from yourself. This brittle makes a great confection on its own, plain or dipped in chocolate, or sprinkled over ice cream. Makes about 12 ounces

½ cup garlic cloves, blanched and peeled
1 cup sugar
¼ cup corn syrup
2 tbsp butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp salt
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

1. Line a baking sheet with a nonstick silpat, parchment, or wax paper.

2. Chop the garlic coarsely and set aside.

3. Combine the sugar and corn syrup in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Continue to boil until the mixture reaches 300°F (hard crack stage) on a candy thermometer and is a rich golden brown.

4. Immediately remove from the heat and add butter, vanilla and salt, stirring until the butter melts and is completely emulsified into the sugar. Add the garlic and pecans and stir to coat completely.

5. Working quickly and carefully, scrape the hot mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Tilt the pan so it flows into an even layer and after it has cooled for a minute or two, use a metal or silicon spatula to spread it into an even layer. Let the brittle cool completely, at least 1 hour, and then break into chunks.

NOTE: Blanch the garlic to remove any bitterness. Put desired amount of garlic in a pot and cover with cold water.Bring water to a boil. Once water boils, strain garlic and add it back to the pot. Cover with cold water, and repeat previous steps for a total of three times.

Garlic Brittle and Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 2 ½ dozen cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped Garlic-Pecan Brittle

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt in bowl.

3. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl to blend evenly.

4. By hand or on low speed, blend in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and garlic brittle.

5. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets, leaving at least 3 inches between the cookies.

6. Bake until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 2 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Fun in London with Simon and Carolyn

Roasted Chicken

The countdown was a little off so I’m going to step away from it until Tuesday which will be Election Day and one week until the book comes out. Since I’m still in London with Simon and Carolyn and Simon is Scottish, I thought I’d share a Scottish tale — any comparison between Simon and Tobias Smollett is at your own judgement.

Tobias Smollett, a Scottish satirical writer (and a bit of misanthrope) traveling in France in 1763, noted, “In this country I was almost poisoned with garlic, which they mix in their ragouts, and all their sauces, nay, the smell of it perfumes the very chambers, as well as every person you approach.” In the writer’s picaresque tale, Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, a gentleman sits down to a plate of roast chicken, but when it is set before him tears ran down his cheeks and he shrieked, “Zounds! This is the essence of a whole bed of garlic.” Here’s a re-post of Ford Madox Ford’s chicken roasted over 2 pounds (Zounds!) of blanched garlic.

Poulet Béarnaise

Makes 6 to 8 servings

1 cup olive oil
One 4- to 5-lb chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 lb garlic cloves (about 14 heads), blanched and peeled
4 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Truss the chicken (see Note) and season it all over with salt and pepper.

2. Heat 1/2 cup oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Brown the chicken in the oil, turning to cook evenly on all sides, about 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate; stuff the cavity with about one fourth of the blanched garlic

3. Return the pan to medium heat and add more oil if necessary. Add the remaining garlic cloves and stir to coat evenly olive oil. Transfer to a baking dish to make an even bed. Set the chicken on top of the garlic.

4. Return the pan to medium-high heat and add more oil if necessary. Add the potatoes and brown them lightly on all sides, turning as necessary. Transfer the potatoes to the baking dish around the chicken. Cover the baking dish and bake until the chicken is cooked through (165°F), about 1 ½ hours.

5. Let the chicken rest for about 15 minutes before carving into pieces to serve. Accompany with the potatoes and garlic and spoon the pan juices over each serving.

Garlic: An Edible Biography (8 days and counting!)

Yogi Berra

According to a 1956 ad for Kraft’s then-new Italian Dressing, Yogi Berra said it “sure makes swell salads” thanks to “rare herbs, fresh spices and just the right touch of garlic.” Although Berra (ne Lawrence Peter) admitted that he was dubbed Yogi by a teammate who saw him sitting serenely with his arms and legs crossed and said he sat like a yogi, he once told reporters that he had no idea why he’d been dubbed Yogi and said “I had a brother they called ‘Garlic’ and his name was Mike.”

Berra also said, “You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat six.” Since I recently shared a salad dressing recipe, here’s a recipe for Pizza Escarole, a Neapolitan dish is most commonly served on Christmas Eve as it’s meatless.

Pizza Escarole

Makes 6 servings

1 lb pizza dough*
2 lb escarole (2 heads), separated into leaves
2 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thin
10 black olives, pitted and sliced
One 2-ounce can flat anchovies, chopped
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup dark raisins
1 tbsp salted capers, rinsed and drained (See note below)
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the escarole, stir to submerge completely, and simmer until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse with cool water. When the escarole is cool enough to handle, squeeze it well to remove excess water and then chop coarsely.

3. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, olives, anchovies, and pine nuts and sauté, stirring frequently, until the garlic begins to turn golden, about 1 minute. Add the escarole and cook uncovered, stirring frequently, until very hot and flavorful and most of the liquid is cooked away, about 10 minutes. Stir in the raisins and capers. Season with pepper. Let the filling cool to room temperature while preparing the dough.

4. Divide the dough into two pieces; one piece should be about two-thirds of the dough and the other about one-third. Roll the larger piece out into a 16-inch round and transfer it to a 12-inch round baking dish or pan to line the bottom and sides. Fill the dough with the escarole mixture. Roll out the remaining dough into a 12-inch round for the top crust. Pinch the edges of the dough together to seal the top and bottom together.

Note: Capers preserved in salted have a more delicate, flowery flavor than those preserved in brine but those can be substituted if necessary. (The best salted capers come from the Sicilian island of Pantelleria.)

Garlic: An Edible Biography “T minus 9”

Garlic Cocktail

Flu and cold season is coming so I thought I’d offer some garlic remedies. Garlic vodka is a popular anti-flu remedy in Russia. To make it, a bulb of garlic is finely chopped and added to a pint of vodka. The drink should be stirred up twice a day and infused for at least 21 days. This is not a beverage but a medicine and it’s recommended that those afflicted take 10 to 20 drops of garlic vodka, twice a day.

Another popular cold remedy is garlic-honey syrup. (Honey soothes the throat and reduces coughing.) Chop up a whole bulb of garlic and place it in a glass jar. Cover with half a cup of raw honey. Let sit for at least three (but preferably twenty-four) hours. Take one teaspoon of the syrup every hour, as needed. (If the syrup is too strong for your taste, add some soy sauce and you have a lovely marinade for chicken or meat.)

Photo Credit: