Garlic

Garlic

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From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

The distinctive taste of garlic makes it one of the best known herbs. A perennial plant of the onion family, its small bulbous root, made up of a number of small sections, known as cloves, that is used for flavouring. One clove is usually sufficient to bring out the flavours in a savoury dish, although there is a famous chicken dish that calls for 40 cloves of garlic – yet the flavour is surprisingly gentle.

Garlic is an essential ingredient in the cuisines of France, Spain and Italy, the Middle East and Far Eastern countries. In the south of France and also in Spain, garlic is used lavishly – in sauces, salads, meat and fish dishes, as a vegetable, or crushed and spread on crusty bread which has been liberally sprinkled with fruity olive oil. In Italy, on the other hand, it is used more discreetly. The garlic clove is added whole and then removed from the dish before serving. In the south of Italy, however, a more lusty flavour is enjoyed.

For some, garlic’s odour is a deterrent to its enjoyment, but there are ways to render it inoffensive. The aroma of a garlic-flavoured meal is less offensive when accompanied by salad greens, providing garlic is not used in the dressing. Fresh parsley effectively neutralises garlic on the breath. If a clove of garlic is cooked peeled but not cut, a much milder flavour results. The smell of garlic can be removed from the hands by sprinkling them with salt, then rinsing with cold water.

Organic garlic is available and well worth looking for in the organic section in most supermarkets.

Ways to use garlic:

as an essential ingredient in curries

to perk up otherwise bland dishes such as yoghurt, soups and some side salads. Try sliced cucumber in sour cream and see what a difference a little garlic makes (good as an accompaniment to curries)

crushed and lightly fried with some butter, to give boiled vegetables a delicious flavour – try it with spinach, beans or zucchini (courgette)

blended (1 clove) with 30 g butter, to make the butter for garlic bread that everyone loves

to flavour salad dressings – a whole peeled clove, steeped in Vinaigrette Dressing for a few hours makes a difference to green salads

as a basic ingredient of many rich casseroles and seafood soups

to turn mayonnaise into Aïoli, the renowned garlic mayonnaise of Provence.

To crush garlic: Garlic may be crushed in a garlic press but by far the easier method is to crush it with salt. Take an unpeeled garlic clove. Place it on a board. Place the flat part of the knife blade on top and give the blade a sharp crack with the side of the palm. This flattens the garlic clove and makes the skin easy to remove. Remove the thin papery skin of the garlic. Sprinkle the garlic with 1 teaspoon salt. Using the flat edge of the knife blade, work the garlic and salt to a pulp.

Garlic Bread: Cut a loaf of Italian or French bread into thin diagonal slices, almost through to bottom crust but so loaf still holds together. Spread cut surfaces with Garlic Butter. Wrap bread in foil. Bake in a preheated moderately hot oven (190°C) for 15 minutes, loosen foil and bake for a further 5 minutes to make crust crispy. Serve hot.

Garlic Butter: Cream 125 g butter. Crush 1 or more garlic cloves (to taste), and blend into butter. Use to make Garlic Bread, or use on snails or mussels or over boiled fish or vegetables.

Garlic Chapons: This is the name given, in the southwest of France, to crusts of bread or slices of crusty French bread which have been rubbed with raw garlic, seasoned with oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and added to green salad, especially to curly endive. Sometimes seasoned chapons are put into a preheated slow oven (150°C) for 15–20 minutes to allow them to dry out and become crispy.

Garlic Oil: Use for seasoning salads. Peel 10 garlic cloves; drop into boiling salted water for 3–4 minutes. Drain them, then pound in a mortar to a fine paste. Add 250 ml good olive oil, then push through a piece of muslin (cheesecloth) or sieve.

It can also be made by adding chopped garlic to oil and allowing it to stand for 24 hours, then passing through a fine sieve.

Garlic and Oil Sauce: Cook 2–3 finely chopped garlic cloves gently in 60 ml olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve at once over well-drained hot pasta or boiled potatoes.

Ingredients

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