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Posts Tagged ‘garlic’

Recently our neighborhood friends, Gabrielle and Jared, gifted us with fresh garlic harvested from Jared’s parents small farm in Maine.  I couldn’t have received a better present as I love garlic.  I always say I use more garlic than a Sicilian grandmother.  And, I can tell you, this fresh-from-the-Glad Tidings Farm garlic was exceptionally wonderful.  None of the underlying bitterness of stale grocery store garlic at all.  Although I have used most of it in prepared dishes, I couldn’t resist making some garlic bread out of one of the plumpest heads.  Here’s what I did……

Combined a stick of Kerrygold unsalted butter with 3 big fat cloves of Gardner Stock and about ½ cup grated Parmigiano in my mini food processor.  Seasoned it with a bit of sea salt and pepper.  Split a Shewolf bakery baguette lengthwise and slathered both sides with the butter mixture.  Put the baguette back together and wrapped it in aluminum foil.  Heated it in a 400°F oven and baked it for about 10 minutes.  Then, I unwrapped the bread and opened it up to the two halves and let them bake for another 10 minutes or so or until the edges were golden and crispy and the aroma of garlic and butter made it impossible not to grab the hot bread and tear off a hunk.  So so so good!

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Garlic fresh_P6288157

Garlic Scapes_P6288150

‘Tis the season for all types of fresh vegetables, but one of our favorites is fresh garlic.  And, when it arrives, so do garlic scapes.  Both are less pungent than dried garlic (which my son, Chris, tells me I always use too much of in everything) and the bulb has a sweetness that is only detected in the dried when it is roasted.  This is an easy recipe that allows that flavor to shine.

 

4 to 5 cups chicken stock or low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth

⅓ cup unsalted butter

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

8 ounces diced pancetta

2 bulbs fresh garlic, peeled and finely minced

1 shallot, peeled and minced

8 ounces arborio rice

Zest of 1 orange

Salt and pepper

½ cup finely chopped garlic scapes

½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese plus more to taste
Place the chicken stock in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a bare simmer, lower the heat, and leave on the heat as you prepare the rice, taking care that it doesn’t boil and lose volume.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or just until the pancetta begins to crisp.  Add the garlic and shallot and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for another 4 minutes or until the aromatics have softened, but not taken on any color.

Add the rice and orange zest and cook, stirring constantly, for about a minute or until the rice is glistening.   Season with salt and pepper.

Begin adding the stock, a large ladleful at a time, allowing the rice to absorb the stock before adding more.  Cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 minutes or until the “sauce” is creamy and the rice is almost cooked.  Add the scapes and cook, stirring, for about another 5 minutes or until the rice is al dente.

Stir in the cheese, taste, and, if necessary, season with salt and pepper.

Remove from the heat and ladle into shallow soup bowls, sprinkling with additional cheese, if desired.

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While I was still in a Michel Bras mode I got to thinking about aligot, a potato dish from the Midi-Pyrénnés where his restaurant is located and, I believe, was particularly noteworthy when made by his mother, Mere Bras, when she was cooking.  My memory of aligot had also recently been jogged by another Frenchman, Lionel Vatinet, a great baker who now creates terrific breads at his bakery, La Farm, in Cary, North Carolina.  A few years ago Lionel had made a famous pilgrimage to Compostelle in the Basque region of Spain (a centuries-old route called Camino Santiago de Compostella that has served as a path for religious pilgrims for eons)   and it turns out that aligot was invented by monks using bread in place of the potatoes as cheap, but filling sustenance for pilgrims who stopped to rest along the way.  Since I had some Cantal cheese (a main ingredient) and absolutely beautiful, fresh and juicy garlic, when the summer weather turned unexpectedly cool on Monday I thought I should take all of my thoughts about aligot and turn them into a meal.  Sorry, I don’t have a photo of the dish that I’ve gone on about, but here is my version of it:
Boiled a couple of pounds of peeled and quartered Yukon gold potatoes with a whole head of the fresh garlic (it was sweet rather than pungent so used more than I would have used of dried).  When very tender, I drained the mixture well and put it through the ricer.  While still hot, I beat in ¼ pound of sweet French butter and ½ cup of crème fraîche.  I returned the pan to low heat and beat in about 2 cups of grated Cantal cheese.

Seasoned the mix with sea salt and white pepper, made a quick green salad, poured a glass of Sancerre and Eh! Voila, dinner was served.  I didn’t quite get the perfect runny, silky texture I’ve tasted, but it was still more than good.

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One of my favorite spring sights at the farmers market is the appearance of bulbs of  fresh garlic.  It is wonderful to cook with as it is still quite sweet with just a hint of the aroma and strength of the dried stuff.  Also, unlike the dried, the fresh comes straight from the earth somewhere nearby rather than in a container from China.  I use it in every way I can think of, but especially in home fries, sautéed with bitter greens (tonight it was kale), and cooked in butter until soft and sweet to add to scrambled eggs or to use as a dip for crusty bread.

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We love garlic in all its forms – I keep roasted garlic on hand throughout the year to add depth and savor to all kinds of dishes and always have a few bulbs of fresh in the onion basket.  Other than adding a bit of roasted garlic to sauces and braises to insert that hint of sweet pungency, my favorite way of using garlic is to grate (using my trusty rasp grater) fresh garlic into sauces, soups, salad dressings, breads and, of course, terrific aromatic garlic bread by kneading the grated garlic mash into extra virgin olive oil, a bit of Parmigiano, and a sprinkle of freshly ground pepper.  I grate it so often that I have a permanent scrape at the base of my thumb.  You can read about my infatuation in a post dated October 2010 – Garlic is Good – and learn more than you probably need to know about it.  You don’t have to read it before you make the following soup – a recipe that I’ve rediscovered from my early days in the kitchen when all things French were on the menu.

A number of countries have a garlic soup all of their own – Spain has sopa de ajo, Portugal its Açorda, Italy the wondrous zuppa all’aglio – but my favorite is the Provençal Aïgo Bouïdo and that is the recipe I’m going to share.  It is a warming fall or winter filling-enough-to-be-main-course dish (when you add the cheese and bread) and the aroma coming from the kitchen will make you ravenous – extra bread, a lovely frisée salad, and a bottle of chilled light white wine complete what is, to me, the perfect meal.  This recipe should make 4 generous servings.

3 medium heads of very fresh garlic

1 medium sweet onion, such as Vidalia, peeled and chopped

2 bay leaves

2 cloves

2 fresh sage leaves

2 sprigs fresh thyme

Salt to taste

3 large egg yolks, at room temperature

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Freshly ground pepper to taste, optional

1 teaspoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives

Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for serving

1 baguette, sliced on the diagonal, and toasted for serving

Place 2 quarts of water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.

While the water is coming to a boil, using your fingers, push all the dry, loose skin from the garlic heads.  Coarsely chop the heads, skin and all.

When the water is boiling, add the chopped garlic along with the onion, bay leaves, cloves, sage leaves, and thyme sprigs.  Add salt to taste and return to a low simmer.  Simmer for about 25 minutes or until the garlic is mushy.

While the broth is simmering, prepare the thickener (liaison in French culinary terms and since we’re in the territory we might call it as we should).

Place the egg yolks in a small mixing bowl.  Using a whisk, beat until very light and quite thick.  Whisking constantly, add the oil in a slow steady stream, beating until the mixture comes to a mayonnaise-like thickness.  (Since we’re in the classic mode, I’ve suggested doing this by hand, but you could just as easily do it in a food processor).  Cover and set aside until ready to use.

When the garlic is mushy, remove the broth from the heat, and strain through a fine mesh sieve, discarding the solids.  Taste and, if necessary, season the broth with salt and pepper to taste.

Return the liquid to the saucepan and set aside until ready to serve.

When ready to serve, return the garlic broth to medium heat and bring to a boil.

While the broth is heating, scrape the liaison into a soup tureen or large serving bowl.

Once the broth has come to a boil, remove it from the heat and, whisking the liaison constantly, slowly pour about a cup of the hot broth into the liaison; then pour in the remaining broth.  Sprinkle chopped parsley and chives over the top and serve with a health dose of Parmigiano over the top of each serving and plenty of toasted baguette slices to dip into the broth.

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