Sunday Spice – Garlic

SUNDAY SPICE – GARLIC

When in doubt, add more garlic

Garlic: Allium sativum.  In France it is known as ail, in Germany; Knoblauch and in Italy; aglio.  No matter how you say it, it still smells the same!

The name garlic comes from the Anglo Saxon garleac in which gar, a spear, refers to the leaves and leac is a plant.  A bulb or corm is made up of cloves of which there can be up to 20 but about 12 is the norm.

There are many different types of garlic, the most common being the white papery-skinned variety.  Pink or purple skinned garlic has a less papery outer skin and fleshy, plump cloves.  A giant variety comes from California, while in Southeast Asia there is a miniature type with only four to six cloves in each bulb.

Some gardeners believe that planting garlic under roses encourages the flowers to produce even more perfume, at the same time preventing black spot and greenfly.

Before preparation, a whole clove has only a mild bouquet; it is only marginally stronger when sliced, but it has a very powerful aroma once chopped or crushed.  The flavor is sharp, with a lot of punch for such a small ingredient.  When frying, never allow it to burn or else it will taste bitter.

Garlic is an essential ingredient in thousands of dishes round the world.  Along with ginger and onion it forms a ‘trinity’ of flavors that is familiar in Oriental and Asian cuisines.  In Western cooking it can be roasted as whole cloves or cut into slivers and inserted into meats or cooked in sauces and casseroles.  It flavors butters, dressing and sauces.  Garlic butter is the classic accompaniment for snails and it is served with shellfish and fish steaks.  It can also be spread on French bread and baked in foil.

For just a hint of garlic in a salad, rub a raw clove on the inside of the salad bowl.  Garlic products include puree, dried flakes and garlic salt, but it’s always best to use fresh.

Garlic is thought of as a wonderful tonic and is the subject of all manner of health-giving claims.  It is said to purify the blood and lower blood pressure.  It is said to aid digestion and prevent flatulence.  It is also considered to be beneficial in the treatment of diabetes and to lower cholesterol.

Peeled cloves should be a clean, creamy white without blemishes.  make sure that bulbs are closely packed and firm and store in a cool dry place away from strong light.

We season our garlic with food!® ~ The Stinking Rose, , Beverly Hills and San Francisco

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~~Spaghetti with Garlic and Olive Oil~~

350g/12oz spaghetti

5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 fresh red chili, seeded and chopped

75g/3oz sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

salt and ground black pepper

freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil.  Add the pasta and cook according to package instruction.

Towards the end of the cooking time, heat the oil in a second large pan.  Add the garlic and chili and cook gently for 2-3 minutes.  Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes and remove from the heat.

Drain the pasta thoroughly and add to the hot oil.  Return to the heat and cook for 2-3 minutes, tossing the pasta to coat the strands in the sauce.

Season with salt and pepper, stir in the parsley and transfer to a warmed serving bowl.  Scatter with Parmesan cheese and serve.

Cook’s Tip: Save the oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes for adding to salad dressings.

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