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: 11points.com

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Garlic: An Edible Biography (T minus 10)

dracula-dead-and-loving-it

Happy Halloween. While it seems logical to do a vampire post, vampires are not especially active on Halloween. Their most active times are the eves of two religious holidays: the Feast of St. George (May 4) and the Feast of St. Andrew (November 23). Nonetheless, here’s a photo from garlic-lover Mel Brooks’ much lambasted 1995 film Dracula: Dead and Loving It.

Brooks had many “garlic moments.” In the classic comedy routine, The 2,000-Year-Old Man, Brooks is the title character and his good friend Carl Reiner is interviewing him. When Reiner asks Brooks how he has been able to live so long, he says, “It’s simple. I eat garlic. I’ve eaten it with every meal for 2,000 years. Whenever the Angel of Death came for me, I looked him right in the eye and said, “Whoooo are youuuu? The garlic on my breath always sent him packing.”

Brooks also outs Reiner as a garlic eater. Reiner was part of the tribute when Brooks received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Addressing his friend, Brooks asks, “Carl, did you have garlic for breakfast this morning? Folks, I don’t know what it is, but this man has been my friend for sixty years, and he always reeks of garlic, but I love him anyway.

Brooks later said of his own longevity: “Eat plenty of garlic so the angel of death won’t kiss you. Eat pounds of garlic.”

Brooks’ parents’ families were Jewish immigrants from Poland and Ukraine, but I don’t have a Polish or Ukrainian recipe in the book so I’m including a recipe for a traditional Jewish Sabbath dinner in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. As Bukhara is landlocked, the dish is usually prepared with freshwater fish like trout, pike, or catfish.

Bukharian Fried Fish with Cilantro-Garlic Sauce
Makes 4 to 6 servings

Garlic-Cilantro Sauce
5 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup water
1 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves

2 pounds firm-fleshed fish fillets or steaks
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup water
Vegetable oil as needed for frying

1. To make the garlic-cilantro sauce: Combine the garlic, salt, ½ cup water, and cilantro in a food processor and process to a fine puree. Season with additional salt if necessary and set aside.

2. Arrange the fish fillets or steaks in a single layer in a deep platter or pan. Dissolve 1 teaspoon salt in 1/2 cup water to make a brine and pour over the fish. Refrigerate the fish in the brine for about 20 minutes. Drain the brine from the fish and pat completely dry with paper towels.

3. Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the fish and fry, turning once, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Blot the fish briefly on paper towels and then transfer to a serving platter or individual plates. Top the fish with the garlic-cilantro sauce and serve at room temperature or chilled.

Garlic: An Edible Biography “T minus 11”

Heston Blumenthal

Heston Blumenthal (photo above), the chef of The Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire, UK, is known for his molecular gastronomy. He also pioneered flavor pairing of complimentary but unique ingredients. One of his pairings is garlic and coffee. This roasted garlic ice cream with a coffee-garlic swirl was inspired by that pairing.

Roasted Garlic and Coffee Ice Cream
2 cups cream
1 cup milk
2 heads garlic, roasted and pureed
1/4 cup dark roast coffee beans
2 tbsp honey
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely chopped Garlic-Coffee Brittle (see Below)

1. Combine the cream, milk, garlic, coffee, and honey in saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and then remove from the heat, cover, and let steep for 1 hour. Strain into a clean saucepan and return to a simmer over medium heat.

2. Mix egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla in bowl. Whisk a ladleful of the garlic-cream mixture into the yolks until smooth. Return this to the saucepan and simmer until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 6 minutes. Strain through a wire mesh sieve into a bowl. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate in a covered container for at least 8 and up to 24 hours.

3. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. Transfer to a bowl and fold in the garlic-coffee brittle. Pack into freezer containers and let the ice cream ripen in the freezer for at least 3 hours before serving. If the ice cream has been frozen longer than 6 hours, transfer it to the refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving.

Garlic-Coffee 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.

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
1/3 cup coarsely cracked dark roast or espresso coffee beans.

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 coffee beans 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.

Garlic: An Edible Biography “T minus 12”

Garlic Card

The above picture is from a greeting card I picked up in London. (The card can be personalized which is why it says “Name,” but you get the gist.)

As George Orwell once wrote of his countrymen: ”England and 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.” British vacationers who visited Spain in the 1950s and 1960s would take over the kitchens of their hotels in order to make traditional British foods like Shepherd’s Pie because they were so appalled with the local food in which everything was, horror of horrors, swimming in garlic.

Today, tapas restaurants are popular in London and this simple shrimp recipe, from the book, is one of my favorites. Serve it with crusty bread to soap up the “swimming in garlic” juices.

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.

Garlic: An Edible Biography: “T minus 13”

Garlic 13

Garlic: An Edible Biography will be released in 13 days (on November. 11). The book has over 100 recipes and in honor of its release, I’m going to publish a recipe (and a story or quote) a day.

Since I’m in England, I’ll quote Elizabeth David who’s credited with introducing Mediterranean food to the British. The prickly David once said, The grotesque prudishness and archness with which garlic is treated in this country has led to the superstition that rubbing the bowl with it before putting the salad in gives sufficient flavour. It rather depends whether you’re going to eat the bowl or the salad.”

I think David would approve of this creamy garlic salad dressing.

Creamy Garlic Dressing

Makes 1 ½ cups

1 large egg yolk
1/3 c. white balsamic vinegar
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Whisk the egg yolk, vinegar, garlic, mustard, salt, and pepper together in a bowl or a mini-food processor. While whisking or with the machine running, gradually add the olive oil and blend until the vinaigrette is combined and thickened. Taste and adjust with additional salt and pepper to taste.

The dressing is ready to use now. It can be prepared up to 2 days in advance. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator. Shake or whisk well to recombine before serving. If you’re concerned about using a raw yolk, substitute 1 tablespoon mayonnaise.

Photo Credit: Food Under Foot

PS. I’m a day late so expect another post to follow shortly.

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.