Wednesday, May 18, 2011

We bid you welcome, Dracula

Bram Stoker's garlic goth blockbuster Dracula was published on this date in 1897. Stoker was born in Dublin and never visited the legendary impaler's home, Transylvania, so I've included a recipe for garlic bread topped with Dubliner cheese. (Dubliner is a sharp cheddar-like cheese with a touch of Swiss cheese nuttiness and Parmesan bite.)

Non-garlic related trivia: Stoker was cremated and his ashes are in an urn at Golder's Green Crematorium, London's first crematorium. Visitors need an escort to see the urn so it's protected from vandals. Other noteworthy residents include Sigmund Freud, Keith Moon, Mark Bolan (founder of T. Rex) and Peter Sellars. This being London, a sign next to a War Memorial encourages guests to visit the crematorium's tea room.

Dubliner Garlic Bread

One French Baguette
One stick (8 T.) unsalted butter
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 c. grated Dubliner cheese *
Freshly ground black pepper

Split the baguette in half length-wise and spread the garlic butter on both
sides of the bread.
 Sprinkle with the grated Dubliner cheese.
 Place on a cookie sheet and cover with foil; bake in a pre-heated oven 350 degrees F. for about 10 minutes until heated through.
 Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper. Cut into slices and serve hot.

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Syrian Independence Day

Syria’s independence was recognized by France 65 years ago on this day in 1946. Things remain unpredictable in Syria today with President Assad joining the ranks of “embattled Middle East leaders. Syria is reputed to have the best food in the Middle East and I had hoped to travel there in May. I think I’ll wait a bit and, for the time being, settle for this Syrian recipe for lentils.

This recipe is from Clifford A. Wright’s exceptional website on Mediterranean cuisine. It was given to him by a Palestinian living in Damascus (although the presence of pomegranate molasses, he writes, suggests it was influenced by a cook from Aleppo.)

'Adas bi'l-Hamid
(Lentils with Lemon)

1 1/2 c. green or brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
5 large Swiss chard leaves, washed well, dried, stems removed and sliced into thin strips cross-wise
2 T. mashed garlic (about 8 large garlic cloves) made using a mortal and pestle
3/4 c. finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro; leaves from about 1 to 2 bunches)
1 c. water 
1 T. fresh lemon juice
2 T. pomegranate molasses (available in Middle Eastern markets and many supermarkets)

1. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil and cook the lentils until tender, 20 to 45 minutes; check often because the cooking time varies depending on the age of the lentils.   Drain and set aside.

2. In a medium-size nonreactive skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat, then cook the Swiss chard until it wilts, 1 to 2 minutes.   Remove and drain off any liquid.   Set aside.

3. In the same skillet, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat.   Add the garlic and coriander and cook until sizzling, about 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly.   Reduce the heat to medium, add the Swiss chard, drained lentils, and water, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.   Add the lemon juice and pomegranate molasses and continue cooking until the lentils look mushy, about another 10 minutes.   Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle a small amount of olive oil over it before serving.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, spike your mussels with Guinness, garlic, and a wee sprig of parsley. Strict vegetarians, who would be unlikely to enjoy mussels, can’t drink Guinness as isinglass finings, made from the dried swim bladders of fish, are used in the ale’s clarification process. (This fact is brought to you by Robipedia -- my collection of what Clare on Modern Family would call “random and not helpful facts.”) Bain taitneamh as do bhéil!

Mussels in Garlic and Guinness

2 lbs. fresh mussels, scrubbed, debearded and rinsed in cold water
1 shallot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus extra for garnish
1 1/2 tsp. minced fresh thyme
1/2 cup Guinness
1/2 cup half and half
2 Tbsp. unsalted Irish butter
Lemon wedges for serving
Fresh bread for serving

Heat a stockpot over medium heat. When the pot is hot, add the mussels and remaining ingredients and cover immediately.

Cook, stirring once or twice, for 6 to 8 minutes or until the mussels open. Discard any that don’t open.

To serve, divide mussels among shallow bowls and ladle the broth over them. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with a wedge of lemon and slices of bread to sop up the juice. Serves 4.

This recipe is edited and adapted from one that was once featured on the menu of the Brazen Head, a traditional pub in Dublin and one of the oldest pubs in Ireland. It also appears in The irish Pub Cookbook by Margaret Johnson.

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Centennial of L. Ron Hubbard

Today would have been the 100th birthday of Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard, had he not died in 1986. Or did he?

Scientology's new ad campaign touts immortality. "You are a spirit. You are your own soul. You are not mortal. You can be free. You have been invited." In Hubbard's honor, I'm inviting you to try a recipe from everyone's favorite sofa-jumping Scientologist. It was published in his friend, Paul Newman's cookbook and calls for 1/2 a cup of garlic.

Tom Cruise's Linguine with Zesty Red Clam Sauce

Tomato Sauce:
1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup cloves garlic, crushed

1/4 cup capers, undrained

2 cups chopped parsley plus 1/2 cup additional for garnish

2 cups chopped plum tomatoes

3/4 cup fresh lemon juice

3/4 cup dry white wine

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon salt
1 heaping teaspoon
freshly ground black pepper

1 pound linguine


30 littleneck clams, scrubbed

1/4 cup chopped garlic

1 cup dry white wine

1 cup vegetable broth or water

Heat the oil in a large saucepan until hot. Add the garlic and capers, then carefully add the parsley. Stand back because the oil may spatter. Add the tomatoes, lemon juice, wine, pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the linguine and cook according to the package directions until firm but tender.

While the pasta is cooking, steam the clams.

Place the clams in another large pot with the garlic, wine, and vegetable broth. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, shaking the pot, until all the shells are open. Leaving the open clams in the pot, drain off all but 1/4 cup of the steaming liquid and stir it into the tomato sauce. Cover the clams and keep warm while preparing the rest of the dish.

Drain the linguine and add to the tomato sauce. Cook over high heat for about 4 minutes to heat through.

Divide the pasta among 6 heated bowls. Top each serving with 5 clams and garnish with the remaining parsley.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

We Miss You, Alice B. Toklas

Yesterday, I missed the opportunity to honor the passing of the great Alice B. Toklas on March 7, 1967, but I'm making up for it today. Toklas is best-known as the steely partner of Gertrude Stein and the unwitting publisher of their friend Brion Gysin’s recipe for “Haschich” fudge. Alas, Toklas did not know that the ingredient “canibis satvia” was marijuana.

In all fairness, my absence of a date-appropriate post on Toklas was not for want of trying. Toklas also published a recipe for Garlic Ice Cream, a frozen dressing for salad. The recipe calls for 2 spoons of “Cowboy’s Delight” and no amount of searching could help me determine what that is.

Two helpful Chowhound sleuths offered clues: it was available by mail order from the Old Smoky Sales Co. in Los Angeles and it’s a common name for the plant, prairie mallow. Unfortunately, these didn’t help me with the recipe, so if anyone has any hints, please let me know.

The picture above is from a 1968 movie in which a “square” Peter Sellars decides to “drop out” and become a hippie after tasting “groovy” brownies. So without further ado, recipes for garlic ice cream and hash brownies from The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook, published in 1954. Proceed at your own risk.

(dressing for salad)
4 small tomatoes, chopped to pulp
1 T. Worchestershire sauce
1 t. Tabasco
1/2 t. salt
1 t. onion juice
1 c. mayonnaise
2 spoons Cowboy’s Delight

Beat until ingredients are well mixed. Freeze. Do not stir while freezing.
Serve in halved avocados.

Take 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, 1 whole nutmeg, 4 average sticks of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon coriander.  These should all be pulverized in a mortar.  About a handful each of de-stoned dates, dried figs, shelled almonds and peanuts:  chop these and mix them together. A bunch of cannabis sativa can be pulverized.  This along with the spices should be dusted over the mixed fruit and nuts, kneaded together. About a cup of sugar dissolved in a big pat of butter.  Rolled into a cake and cut into pieces or made into balls about the size of a walnut, it should be eaten with care.  Two pieces are quite sufficient. 

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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Brimstone, the Periodic Table, and Salsa

Bear with me on this post as its a bit of a stretch but it has, I hope, some interesting information and a super-easy and delicious salsa recipe.

On this day in 1869, Dmitri Mendeleev introduced the periodic table to the Russian Chemical Society making it possible for me to barely pass high school chemistry. Sulfur is the atomic number 16 in the periodic table meaning it has 16 protons in its nucleus. (Each element has a unique number which identifies how many protons are in one atom of that element, e.g. hydrogen, and only hydrogen, has 1; oxygen and only oxygen has 8 etc. )

Garlic is rich in sulfuric compounds which is part of the reason it lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels and boosts immunity. When preparing garlic, mash it and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the sulfur compounds to form completely. Sulfur is referred to in the bible as brimstone and the term “fire and brimstone” was used to express god’s wrath.

My sister’s boyfriend has asked me for Rick Bayless’s salsa recipe. Since it calls for fire-roasted tomatoes and roasted garlic, I’m rechristening it “Fire and Brimstone Salsa” in honor of Comrade Mendeleev.

Fire and Brimstone Salsa

1 to 2 fresh jalapeño chiles

3 garlic cloves, unpeeled

1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice, preferably fire roasted

1/4 cup (loosely packed) chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice


Roast the chiles and garlic.   In a small ungreased skillet over medium heat, roast the chiles and garlic, turning regularly, until they are soft and blotchy brown, about 10 minutes for the chiles, 15 minutes for the garlic.  Cool until handleable, then pull the stem(s) off the chile(s) and roughly chop.  Peel the skin off the garlic.  Scoop into a food processor and pulse until quite finely chopped.

Finish the salsa.   Add the tomatoes with their juice.  Re-cover and pulse until you have a coarse puree.  Scrape into a serving dish.  Stir in the cilantro and lime juice.  Taste and season with salt, usually about 1/2  teaspoon.  You’re ready to serve.

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Prussia: No Garlic. No State.

In the 1600's, the Prussian government banned the import of robust Italian garlic in hopes of saving its own garlic industry which, alas, produced weaker, smaller garlic. To preserve their livelihood (and mindful of the fact that Prussian royals preferred Italian garlic) some clever pasta makers in Sicily invented Paccheri pasta, wide-hollow tubes, each of which could be used to smuggle four or five garlic cloves across the Alpine border. They were so successfully that ultimately, the Prussian garlic trade folded.

64 years ago, Prussia itself suffered the same fate. It was dissolved by the Allied Control Council on this day in 1947. I modified this recipe for Paccheri with Shrimp from one by Mary Ann Esposito whose Ciao Italia is America’s longest running television cooking show. (Take that Rachel Ray!)

Paccheri with Garlic Shrimp and Tomatoes
1/4 c. olive oil
6 cloves of garlic
2 t. red pepper flakes
1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 c. dry white wine
2 lbs. shrimp
chopped parsley, to garnish
1/2 lb. paccheri pasta

Heat olive oil and saute garlic until soft. Add tomatoes and red pepper flakes. Cook one or two minutes then add the wine and bring to a boil; lower the heat and add the shrimp. Cover with a lid and cook about 8 minutes.

While the shrimp cook, cook the paccheri in low boiling salted water (see note) until al dente. Drain and add them to the sauté pan with the shrimp with some of the pasta water. Cook a few minutes until everything is well blended. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Italians don’t believe in serving cheese with seafood, but I’m not Italian.

Note: Unlike most pasta, paccheri should be boiled on a low boil so it doesn’t split.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Do you believe in miracles .... YES!

Lightening things up a bit, let's honor the Miracle on Ice in which the American hockey team, composed of collegiate players and amateurs, defeated the heavily-favored Soviet team at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. That game took place on February 22, 1980. The American team went on to defeat Finland for the Gold Medal two days later.

I attached a picture of fresh figs because they're pretty, but they're not available until May. Fortunately, this recipe calls for dried figs and fig molasses so you can get you fig fix year-round. The recipe from Chef Paul Sorgule, the former Executive Chef at the Mirror Lake Inn, a truly breathtaking inn on the shores of Lake Placid.

I love this notation from the inn's menu: "All dishes contain onions, garlic, scallions or shallots in their preparation but some may be substituted or altered upon request." (Italics mine).

Chicken and Figs

8 halves boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 c. seasoned flour

¼ c. clarified butter

2 T. vegetable oil

8 peeled pearl onions (cut in half)

4 garlic cloves (thinly sliced)

1 c. rutabaga (medium dice)

1 c. carrots (medium dice)

1 c. dried figs (cut in half)

1 oz. brandy

1 1/2 c. chicken stock

¼ c. fig molasses *

3 T. chopped parsley (finely chopped)

Dredge the chicken breasts in seasoned flour.

Heat the clarified butter and oil and light brown the chicken on both sides. Discard the oil/butter.

Blanch the carrots, rutabaga and pearl onions.

Deglaze the hot chicken pan with brandy and allow to evaporate. Add the chicken stock, vegetables, figs and chicken.

Cover and place in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Return to stove, uncover and reduce till the sauce coats the back of a spoon.

Assemble on plate by distributing the vegetables among 4 plates, top with 2 pieces of chicken each, mask with a small amount of sauce, drizzle each plate with fig molasses and garnish with chopped parsley.

* Fig molasses are a sweet, ancient specialty of Calabria, "the toe of Italy's boot" on the map. They're available at specialty food stores and are amazing on pancakes. You can substitute regular molasses if you're out of fig ones.

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Marx, Garlic, & Nazis

The Communist Manifesto, written by Karl Mark and Friederich Engels, was published on this date in 1848. (Marx was 30 years old at the time, thus this picture of young Marx seems more apt than the iconic gray bearded image.) Marx’s father converted from Judaism to Protestantism after his son was born and young Karl was baptized in 1824 and grew up in an anti-Semitic environment. This didn’t stop Neue Rheinische Zietung correspondent Eduard von Muller-Tellering from calling Marx “a conceited Jew” who “perspired democratic garlic.”

While the menace of anti-Semitism in Europe grew throughout the 19th century, the idea of a foetor Judaicus (Jewish stink) was not new. It was used in medieval Europe to differentiate “the base and odorous Jews” from “the pure, sweet-smelling Christians.” Some Christians believed that Jewish people were responsible for the death of Jesus and had him crucified so they could use his blood to get rid of the foetor Judaicus.

The Nazis called on science to explain the smell of the Jew. In the periodical Forschungen fur Judenfrage (Researches on the Jewish Problem), Baron Otmar von Verschuer wrote, “It has also been claimed by various sources that the Jews are characterized by a particular ‘racial scent’ ... it is difficult to judge what is attributable in this regard to environmental influences, such as living quarters, clothing, occupational activity, cleaning of the body and the composition of food; one need only think of the consumption of garlic, which the Jews like.”

The garlic plant was so indelibly associated with Jews that the Nazis issued buttons with pictures of garlic bulbs so wearers could broadcast their ardent anti- Semitism. According to historian Mark Graubard, "The mere mention of garlic by a Nazi orator caused the crowd to howl with fury and hatred."

Okay, this is another intense post to which adding a recipe doesn’t feel right. But don’t worry. Tomorrow is the 31st anniversary of the Miracle on Ice, when the US Olympic hockey team stunned the Soviet team, so I’ll share a garlic-studded recipe for chicken and figs from Lake Placid’s Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa. (Marx would have considered the spectacular inn hopelessly bourgeois.)

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Friday, February 11, 2011

The Amazing Life of Charley Garlick

On February 11, 1790, the Religious Society of Friends (my people, better known as the Quakers) petitioned the US Congress to abolish slavery. On the same day, 71 years later, the House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution guaranteeing noninterference with slavery in any state.

In the middle of February, 1827, Abel Bougguess was born a slave in West Virginia. He escaped to Ohio via the Underground Railroad at 16 and was taken in by A. K. Garlick (tenuous connection to this blog) who sent him to school where he thrived. His benefactor called him Charley and on his suggestion and in his honor, Bouggess adopted the name Charley Garlick. (A.K. Garlick was known for his long “whiskers” which he refused to cut off until all the slaves were freed.)

Garlick went to Oberlin where, he writes, he was one of “sixty or seventy colored boys” in a class at Liberty Hall. He became an admirer of the noted abolitionist, Ohio Congressman Joshua R. Giddings and his fervent anti-slavery speeches. Garlick rode to Jefferson to shake hands with Giddings who took a liking to him. They became so close that when Garlick’s house burned down, he went to live with Giddings and his family. Garlick died in 1912 and was buried in the Giddings plot at Oakdale Cemetery, not far from the congressman.

No recipe. Just an amazing story.

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Monday, February 7, 2011

Happy Birthday Eddie Izzard!

Action Transvestite (and the funniest man on earth), comedian Eddie Izzard turns 49 today.

In assorted sketches, he explains why vampires are not a threat in real life (because we all know the drill: "Sign of the cross, Stake to the heart, then, Garlic Bread ... or perhaps garlic bread as a starter; why it would be better if Jesus's body was represented by cheese than bread as it goes better with wine (Eat this cheese, for it is my body") and how the Trojans attacked Achilles' heel with crabs and lobster. “No, not the crabs and lobsters! Aah! Aah!"

So, herewith a recipe for Garlic Bread with Cheese and Crab. Bet you didn't think I could tie that all together -- ha! (Feel free to add lobster if you're feeling flush, but I didn't use it in the original recipe.)

Perhaps Garlic Bread with Cheese and Crab as a Starter

One loaf of ciabatta, cut in half horizontally
one stick softened butter
6 cloves of minced garlic
1 t. salt
1/2 lb fresh crab
1/4 c. mozzarella
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. sun-dried tomatoes
2 scallions, finely chopped
1 t. Old Bay Seasoning

1/2 c. mozzarella cheese to top

Blend butter, garlic and salt. Top ciabatta halves with garlic butter and place under broiler until lightly browned

Combine all other ingredients. Top lightly-toasted bread with crab mix and then sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Place under broiler again for 3-5 minutes, until top is melted and bubbly.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Happy Australia Day!

Okay, is there a better reason than Australia Day for a gratuitous picture of Curtis Stone? In all fairness, his recipe for Grilled Prawns (or as we say, shrimp) with garlic and snap peas is a welcome harbinger of spring. And I have it on good authority that if you call this "shrimp on the barbie," a dingo will eat your baby.

Grilled Garlic Prawns with Stir-Fried Sugar-Snap Peas

500 g raw prawns, peeled and deveined
1 T. olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 T. olive oil
500 g sugar snap peas, stringed
1 T. fresh ginger, peeled, chopped fine
3 T. rice wine

1 T. rice wine vinegar
1 T. soy sauce
1 shallot, chopped fine
1 t. sesame oil
2 T. olive oil

Pre-heat a grill to medium high heat. In a large mixing bowl combine the prawns/shrimp, 1 T. olive oil, lemon zest and one clove of garlic. Season prawns with pepper and grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side or until lightly charred and just cooked through.

Meanwhile place a wok over high heat until hot. Add 1 T. olive oil and heat until very hot. Add the sugar snap peas, remaining garlic and ginger and toss lightly for 30 seconds. Add the rice wine and salt, and stir fry for 2 minutes or until the sugar snap peas are bright green and crisp-tender. Mound the sugar snap peas on the centre of 4 serving plates.

To make the vinaigrette: In a large mixing bowl whisk the vinegar, soy sauce and shallot. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the oils. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place the prawns on top of the sugar snap peas and drizzle the vinaigrette over and around the prawns and serve immediately.

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Obama's Chili and Boehner's Garlic Milkshake

Tonight's State of the Union address is promising a symbolic show of bipartisanship. President Obama is famous for his love of chili and says he's been making the recipe below since college. House Majority leader John Boehner incurred the wrath of garlic lovers when he said the public health option was as unpopular as a garlic milkshake. A recipe for garlic ice cream is given below. Who says we all can't get along?

President Obama's Chili

1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeds removed and chopped
Several cloves of garlic, chopped (4-6 depending on preference)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground turkey or beef
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground basil
1 tablespoon chili powder
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
15-ounce can of diced tomatoes with juice
15-ounce can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

In a pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, green pepper, and garlic. Sauté until the vegetables are soft.

Add the ground meat and sauté until it browns.

In a small bowl, mix together the cumin, oregano, turmeric, basil and chili powder. Add to the ground meat, the red wine vinegar and the tomatoes. Simmer until the tomatoes break down. Add the beans and cook for a few more minutes.

Serve over white or brown rice. Garnish with grated cheddar cheese, onions and sour cream.

Garlic Ice Cream

2 cups whole milk
1 clove garlic, minced
1 vanilla bean, split in half, and the seeds scraped out and reserved
1 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
8 egg yolks

Put milk, garlic, vanilla pod and seeds in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and remove immediately.

In mixing bowl, whisk the cream, sugar and egg yolks until combined. Whisking constantly, slowly strain the hot milk mixture into the egg and sugar mixture.

Return the mixture to the pan and stir continuously over low heat until it thickens slightly, and coats the back of a spoon, about 10-12 minutes. Do not boil!

Pour in a bowl and chill over an ice bath. Pour into ice cream machine and churn until done. Freeze until ready to serve.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Hello/Goodbye Telly Savalas!

The irrepressible Telly Savalas (TV’s Kojak for those of you born in the 80s or God forbid, later) was born on January 21, 1922 and died on January 22, 1994. Born Arostotelis to Greek-American parents, Savalas’s character was famous for his love of lollipops and trademark quip, “Who loves ya baby?” His best friend was John Aniston (Jennifer's father) and Savalas was Jennifer Aniston's godfather.

Honor his memory with these chicken “lollypops” accompanied by tzatziki (a traditional Greek sauce of garlic, yogurt, and cucumbers that I like to augment with salty feta cheese).

Greek Chicken Lollipops with Tzatziki

4 pounds of chicken wings
1/2 c. olive oil
juice of two lemons
3 minced garlic cloves
1 T. fresh oregano, thyme, and/or rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste

To make lollipops, use a paring knife to cut around the thin tip of each chicken wing to loosen the meat around the joint. While holding the base, push the meat down gently to expose the bone and form a "chicken lollipop." Remove any flesh left on the thin end with a clean towel.

Combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, herbs and seasonings in a bowl. Add chicken lollipops and marinate at least one hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place lollipops on baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes or until done. Serve with Tzatziki (Greek Yogurt and Cucumber Sauce)

Tzatziki (Greek Yogurt and Cucumber Sauce)

3 c. Greek yogurt
1 T. lemon juice
2 garlic clove, chopped
2 medium cucumbers, seeded and diced
1 T salt for salting cucumbers
Salt and pepper to taste
1 c. Feta cheese (optional)

Peel cucumbers, then cut in half lengthwise and take a small spoon and scrape out seeds. Discard seeds. Slice cucumbers, then put in a colander, sprinkle on 1 T salt, and let stand for 30 minutes to draw out water. Drain well and wipe dry with paper towel. (This step is key; seeds and unsalted cucumbers will make for watery, inedible tzatziki mush.)

Blend cucumbers, garlic, lemon juice, dill, black pepper (and feta cheese if you’re using it) in a food processor using the steel blade until smooth. Stir the blended mixture into the yogurt.

Refrigerate for at least two hours before serving so flavors can meld.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Oven-Roasted Root Vegetables and Garlic

Ahmir Khalib Thompson, professionally known as Questlove, is the drummer for The Roots, Jimmy Fallon’s in-house band. Today is his 40th birthday. Celebrate with oven-roasted ROOTS vegetables and garlic -- perfect for a cold winter night.

Oven Roasted ROOTS Vegetables and Garlic

4-6 cups peeled, chopped root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, beets, Brussels sprouts, turnips, celery root and squash)
1 medium red onion
2 -3 tablespoons olive oil
1 head of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut root vegetables into 1 1/2 inch chunks and slice onion into sixths or eighths.

Toss vegetables and garlic cloves in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet or in a shallow baking pan.

Roast in oven until lightly browned and tender (40 minutes to one hour); turning occasionally. Scoop into a bowl and serve.

Gordon Ramsey suggests drizzling vegetables with honey toward the end of their cooking time to caramelize further. Also, consider tossing in fresh rosemary, thyme, or sage if it complements your main course.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Birthday Girls (and a Birthday Suit)

Today, Paula Deen and Dolly Parton are celebrating birthdays. Celebrate two good old(er) Southern gals with Paula’s recipe for Garlic Cheese Grits. The recipe called for Cheddar, but Paula uses Velveeta on her television show. As the old commercial says, “when the cookbook calls for cheddar ... make it with Velveeta ... it cooks better." The picture above was done by Pop Art and pin-up artist Mel Ramos in 1965. Her name? Val Veeta. Best dishes, y'all.

Baked Garlic Cheese Grits

6 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 cloves roasted garlic
2 cups regular grits
16 ounces Cheddar or Velveeta, cubed
1/2 cup milk
4 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
8 ounces grated sharp white Cheddar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 4-quart casserole dish.

Bring the broth, salt, pepper, and garlic powder to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan. Stir in the grits and whisk until completely combined. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the grits are thick, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the cubed cheese and milk and stir. Gradually stir in the eggs and butter, stirring until all are combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle with the white Cheddar and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until set.

NOTE: I replaced the 1/4 t. of garlic powder in Paula’s original recipe with roasted garlic because I wanted a fresher garlic taste.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Swiss Bankers Go Wild, Eat Garlic

Switzerland’s largest bank UBS has revised its employee code of conduct and employees are now allowed to eat garlic. The banking giant’s 43-page dress code was obtained by MSNBC last year. In addition to the prohibition on garlic, women were required to wear makeup but not allowed to sport black nail polish. Men were forbidden to wear socks with cartoon motifs, three-day stubble, or the same tie two days in a row. And (creep-out alert) bankers of both sexes were expected to wear underwear that matched their skin tone.

In honor of the relaxation of the regulations, here’s Klutzy Chef’s recipe for Swiss wild garlic soup (bärlauch). It’s a bit early for wild garlic (also known as ramps); you can use regular garlic but it's much stronger and I'd probably use one clove, two if you want to go wild.

Wild Garlic Soup

3.5 oz. wild garlic, finely chopped
5.5 oz. scallions, finely chopped
1/2 c. plus 1/3 c. white wine
1 c. heavy cream
4.5 oz. creme fraiche or sour cream
2 c. vegetable broth
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
one potato, finely chopped

In a dutch oven or heavy pot with tightly fitted lid, heat butter and olive oil on medium-high heat.

Add chopped wild garlic and scallions to pot and allow to heat up until softened (about 4-5 minutes).

Add white wine, cream, creme fraiche and vegetable broth. Bring mixture to a slow simmer and cover. Cook for 25-30 minutes (or until the potato is soft).

Remove from heat and add to blender mixture to blender. Blend on low until consistency is smooth.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve garnished with a dollop of creme fraiche.

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Light, Fluffy, Garlicky Souffle

My friend Carolyn found this recipe for Roasted Garlic Souffle on Epicurious. It's Paul Grimes' recipe from the late, great Gourmet. One reviewer said her autistic son said it was like eating “garlicky biscuit vapor.” With freezing rain on the horizon, this looks perfect for tonight’s dinner.

Roasted Garlic Souffle

3 large heads garlic, left whole, plus 3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 medium onion, sliced
3 large thyme sprigs plus 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 California bay leaf or 2 Turkish
1 whole clove
1/8 teaspoon black peppercorns
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons fine dry bread crumbs
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, separated, plus 4 additional egg whites
1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (3 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3/4 cup grated Gruyère (2 ounces)

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle.

Trim 1/4 inch from tops of whole heads of garlic, then put heads on a large sheet of foil and drizzle each with 1 teaspoon oil. Wrap heads together in foil and roast until very tender, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Cool to warm, then squeeze garlic from skins.

Meanwhile, bring milk, smashed garlic cloves, onion, thyme sprigs, bay leaf, clove, and peppercorns just to a boil in a medium saucepan, then remove from heat and cover. Let steep 30 minutes.

Butter a 12-inch oval (2-quart) gratin dish with 1 tablespoon butter, then sprinkle bottom and side with bread crumbs and chill until ready to use.

Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a heavy medium saucepan and whisk in flour.

Cook roux over low heat, whisking constantly, 5 minutes.

Strain milk mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, then add to roux, whisking until smooth.

Bring to a boil, whisking, then simmer béchamel, whisking, 3 minutes. Remove from heat and vigorously whisk in yolks 1 at a time. Whisk in roasted garlic, parmesan, nutmeg, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and transfer to a bowl.

Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt using an electric mixer until they just hold stiff peaks, then stir one third of egg whites into yolk mixture. Fold in Gruyère, then remaining whites. Transfer mixture to gratin dish, smoothing top, and sprinkle with thyme leaves.

Bake soufflé until set and browned on top, 20 to 25 minutes.

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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Romania to Tax Witches

The government of Romania has decided to levy a 16% income tax on witches and the local witches are none too pleased. They’ve thrown poisonous mandrake plants into the Danube to put a curse on the officials, and threatened other spells that use unseemly animal bits.

As garlic, rosemary, and thyme are said to repel witches, I’ve posted this recipe for Chicken Ghiveci (Romanian braised chicken) for any Romanian ministers who might be trolling food blogs for salvation.

Even if you’re not a governmental official in Bucharest (and what are the odds?), this roasted chicken is hearty, flavorful, and perfect for a snowy night.

Chicken Ghiveci (Romanian Braised Chicken)

3 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 bell peppers, seeds removed and sliced
2 pounds chicken breasts
1/2 c. tomato paste
1 t. fresh thyme
1 t. fresh rosemary
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
1/2 c. dry white wine
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic saute until soft and translucent. Add bell pepper and stir fry for one minute more.

Add chicken breasts, browning both sides (about ten minutes). When browned, add the remaining ingredients and saute for one min then cover and cook for 40-45 minutes until liquid runs clear when chicken is pierced with a fork.

Garnish with finely chopped thyme and rosemary and serve over rice.

Notes: Ghiveci is traditionally made with seasonal vegetables. This version adds chicken to give it some weight. Customarily, it’s also prepared with potatoes but they seem a bit much with the rice so I omitted them. If you’re training for the Iditarod, feel free to add in two cups of diced potatoes.

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Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

In Cantonese, garlic is commonly known as "Suin Me" which can be translated as "Plenty of Money to Count” so this recipe is a popular New Year’s dish.

Good Fortune Stir-Fried Garlic Lettuce

1 medium head iceberg lettuce
1 1/2 t soy sauce
1 1/2 t sesame oil
1 t rice wine or dry sherry
3/4 t sugar
1/4 t ground white pepper
3 T peanut or vegetable oil
3 medium cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1/4 t salt

Core the iceberg and separate into leaves. Wash the lettuce in several changes of cold water, breaking the leaves in half. Drain thoroughly in a colander until dry to the touch.

In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine, sugar and pepper.

Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch skillet over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Add the peanut oil and garlic, and stir-fry 10 seconds or until just fragrant. Add the lettuce and stir-fry one minute. Add the salt and stir-fry another minute, or until the lettuce is just limp. Swirl in the sauce and stir-fry one minute more or until the lettuce is just tender and still bright green.

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy Birthday Elizabeth David!

In honor of the birthday of the great British cookbook writer Elizabeth David (who was born on this day in 1913), I thought I’d write about “The Great Garlic Press Controversy.” In a 1986 issue of Tatler magazine, David wrote an entire essay called “Garlic Presses are Utterly Useless.” Her essay was published as part of a review of John Tovey's book, Feast of Vegetables. Her remarks follow because no one does scathing better than Elizabeth David. (Tovey was flamboyant British pre-Food Network celebrity TV chef.)

“It is when we get to the subject of garlic that I really warm to Mr. Tovey. What he has to say about its preparation is alone with the price of his book. The passage should be reproduced in large type, framed and sold in gift shops for the enlightenment of gadget-minded cooks the length and breadth of the land. In the manner of those pious thoughts which once adorned the walls of cottage parlors, proclaiming that God is Love, or Drink is the Pick-me-up which lets you down, Mr Tovey's text is concise and to the point. Readers, heed him please: I give full marks to the purveyors of garlic presses for being utterly useless objects."

David continues: “I'd go further than that. I regard garlic presses as both ridiculous and pathetic, their effect being precisely the reverse of what people who buy them believe will be the case. Squeezing the juice out of garlic doesn't reduce its potency; it concentrates it and intensifies the smell. I have often wondered how it is that people who have once used one of these diabolical instruments don't notice this and forthwith throw the thing in the dustbin. Perhaps, they do but don't admit it.

Now here's John Tovey again. The consistency you're looking for when adding garlic to a dish is "mushy and paste-like." Agreed. It is quickly achieved by crushing a peeled clove lightly with the back edge of a really heavy knife blade. Press a scrap of salt into the squashed garlic. That's all. Quicker, surely than getting the garlic press out of the drawer, let alone using it and cleaning it. As a one-time kitchen-shop owner who in the past has frequently, and usually vainly, attempted to dissuade a customer from buying a garlic press, I am of course aware that advice not to buy a gadget which someone has resolved to waste their money on is usually resented as bossy, ignorant, and interfering. At least now I am not alone. “

David goes to the mat again later in the book in her recipe for Lemon and Garlic Sauce or Marinade for Grilled Chicken: “Garlic is obviously a potent ingredient. It should not be an acrid one which it becomes when the juices only are extracted by the crushing action of the garlic press.”

Elizabeth David's Lemon and Garlic Marinade for Grilled Chicken

Small (1 lb.) chicken
12 cloves of garlic
3-4 T. lemon juice
2 T. olive oil
Salt (to taste)

1. Mash garlic cloves with salt until mushy and paste-like. Stir in lemon juice, then whisk in olive oil. Marinate chicken for several hours before grilling.

The debate over whether or not to use a garlic press is the culinary equivalent of the evolution debate. Tempers flare and opinions fly, like edicts from warring gods.

The garlic press is relatively recent invention, coming onto the scene in the 1950s. Advocates argue that a garlic press breaks more of the clove’s cell walls giving the garlic a lighter, more delicate flavor. The editors at Cooks Illustrated believe that "a good garlic press can break down cloves more finely and evenly than an average cook using a knife, which means better distribution of garlic flavor throughout any given dish.”

In Mastering the Art of French Cooking, first published in 1961, Julia Child declares the garlic press a “wonderful invention.” Later, in In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs published in 1995, she returns to the garlic press issue in her instructions for making garlic puree. She writes, “The garlic press will do the job, but a garlic press, at least among certain of the food cognoscenti, is absolutely a no-no-non-object used only by non-people and non-cooks. Thus it behooves us all to know of and to be able to execute this perfect hand technique, which actually is fast and easy when you have several cloves of garlic that need the treatment.” Child had far harsher words for garlic powder, declaring it “most definitely spurned, scorned despised, and abominated among cooks in the know.”

An extreme, but unethical fan of the garlic press is Tory MP James Arbuthnot. During the British MP expense scandals, it was revealed that he had claimed £43.56 for three "four piece garlic peeling and cutting sets" from shopping channel QVC. When challenged, the unrepentant MP replied, “They tend to break.”

The opponents of the garlic press are a more vociferous bunch and probably much more fun to have a drink with. Not surprisingly, Anthony Bourdain has strong feelings about the press as well as the criminal misuse of garlic. He called garlic presses “disgusting abominations” and says “I don't know what that junk is that squeezes out of the end of those things, but it ain't garlic." Iron Chef Michael Symon admits he wants to "kill the guy who invented the garlic press." Food Network star (and culinary geek) Alton Brown seconds David declaring them “utterly, completely, magnificently useless.”

Alice Waters of Chez Panisse sees no reason to waste money on a garlic press or any other fancy gadgets. She recommends using a mortal and pestle to make a garlic puree and offers The French Grandmother’s Fork Method: Press the tines of a fork against a cutting board. Then rub a garlic clove back and forth over the tines to make a quick garlic paste.

Happy Boxing Day!

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Poulet Bearnaise from Provence

In Provence, Ford Madox Ford’s rapturous ode to the region, the author describes a recipe given to him by a glamorous young woman from London who was reputed to be one of the best chefs in the city. She shares this recipe for Poulet, Bearnaise, chicken roasted over two pounds of garlic. Ford Maddox Ford was born on December 17, 1973. Joyeux Anniversaire et Bon Appetit!

Poulet Bearnaise

1 c. olive oil
1 large roasting chicken, 4 to 5 pounds
Kosher salt and pepper
2 lbs. garlic (24 to 30 bulbs, not cloves)
4 large baking potatoes

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Put a large pot of lightly salted water on to boil. On another burner, place a large ovenproof casserole over medium heat with 1/2 cup of olive oil.

Truss the chicken and season it all over with salt and freshly ground black pepper. When the oil is hot, gently slide the chicken, breast-down, into the casserole. Brown the chicken carefully on all sides. You will need to move the chicken around every two to three minutes so that the skin doesn't stick. The entire procedure will take about 20 minutes.

While the chicken is browning, break the garlic into individual cloves, but do not peel them. When the water boils, blanch the garlic for 2 minutes, drain immediately, refresh under cold running water and set aside. Peel the potatoes, cut each into six pieces and set aside.

When the chicken is brown on all sides, remove it from the casserole and push a quarter of the blanched garlic into the cavity and set aside. Discard the used olive oil; wipe the casserole. Add ¼ c. of new olive oil to the bottom of the casserole. Add the remaining garlic cloves and toss so that the cloves are lightly covered in olive oil. Add the chicken and baste it with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Place another skillet over high heat; add the remaining 2 T. of the olive oil. When the oil is hot, quickly brown the potatoes. Discard the oil and arrange the potatoes around the chicken. Cover the casserole, put in the oven and bake for 90 minutes. Allow the chicken to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels Released in 1988

The madcap comedy starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine was the box office winner the weekend of December 16, 1988, earning almost $4 million in one weekend. In this recipe for Gamberoni con Salsa Vigliacca, Vigliacca means scoundrel which in the case of the sauce means that it's spiced with chile peppers. This dish has been served at Trattoria Garga since it opened in 1979. They say its good on everything from pasta to meat loaf. It was great on pasta but even if I ate meat, I don't think I'd put spicy tomato sauce with shrimp on meatloaf.

Gamberoni con Salsa Vigliacca

8 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 ripe medium tomatoes,cored and quartered
3–4 Italian whole dried red chiles, crushed, or 1/4–1/2 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
30 large fresh or thawed frozen heads-on shrimp (about 1 1/2 lbs.), peeled, head and tail shells intact
2 tbsp. cognac
Leaves from 2 sprigs parsley, chopped

1. Heat 4 tbsp. of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until golden, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and chiles, season to taste with salt, and cook, crushing pieces of tomato with the back of the spoon and stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, 8–10 minutes. Set sauce aside.

2. Heat 2 tbsp. of the oil in another large skillet over high heat. Add half the shrimp in a single layer and cook, turning once, until cooked halfway through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer shrimp to a plate and set aside.
Repeat process with the remaining 2 tbsp. oil and shrimp.

3. Return same skillet to medium-high heat. Carefully add cognac to skillet and cook, gently shaking skillet over heat, until alcohol evaporates, about 30 seconds. Add reserved tomato sauce and shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are completely cooked through, 3-4 minutes.

4. Divide shrimp and sauce between 6 medium plates, spooning sauce over and around shrimp, then garnish each plate with parsley.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

George Washginton's Garlic Mash

It's well-known that by the time he became president, George Washington had lost most of his teeth and was burdened by ill-fitting dentures. Unsurprisingly, he took a liking to soft foods like hoecakes and mashed potatoes. Our first president died on this date in 1799.

This recipe for roasted garlic mashed potatoes, taken from Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery, was adapted for modern cooks by Suzy Evans who blogs at

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

4 large russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 stick unsalted butter
¾ cup heavy cream

In a large pot of cold water, bring the potatoes and garlic to a boil. Salt the water and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and return the potatoes to the pot. Mash over low heat with the butter, cream and 2 teaspoons salt. Serve warm and enjoy!

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Happy Birthday Captain von Trapp!

The brilliant actor Christopher Plummer, quite possibly North America's greatest, was born on December 13, 1929 in Toronto, Canada. And while he dislikes his classic role in The Sound of Music, finding him boring and uninteresting, he's just plain wrong.

When asked his favorite smell, he was just plain right when he replied, "Garlic." Plummer's autobiography lists several positive garlic memories, including noshing on calamari simmering in garlic while drinking "glass after glass" of Chichon in Segovia. (Chichon is an anisette-style liqueur).

I adapted this recipe for traditional gambas al ajillo by replacing the shrimp with calamari and the sherry with anisette for a subtle licorice flavor. (If you'd prefer, stick with sherry and enjoy "glass after glass" of anisette separately.)

Calamari al Ajillo

1 lb calamari, sliced into thin rings
4 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 tsp sweet Spanish paprika
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2-3 oz of dry sherry (or replace with anisette or Pernod)
1/4 cup virgin olive oil
3 tsp chopped fresh parsley
1 lemon for juice
1 Baguette

In a sauté pan or heavy frying pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté for about one minute or until they begin to brown. Be careful not to burn the garlic!

Raise the heat to high and add the shrimp, lemon juice, dry sherry or anisette, and paprika. Stir well, then sauté, stirring briskly until the calamari are cooked through, about 3 minutes.

Remove from heat and transfer calamari with oil and sauce to a warm plate or serve right from the pan. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with fresh bread to soak up the sauce.

Guten Appetit and Buen Provecho!

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Seoul Food

I just got back from two weeks in Korea complete with tragic, disconcerting, but ultimately, insignificant North-South skirmishes and War Games. Garlic, like the Garlic Spam above, is big in Korea. Koreans are the world's largest per capita consumers of garlic, eating a staggering twenty-two pounds a year. (In comparison, Americans consume a paltry 2.6 pounds).

In fact, the importance of garlic dates back to Korea's incarnation as a nation. According to an ancient legend. God sent his son to earth to build a peaceful kingdom and be its king. One day, a tiger and a bear who observed the happy and civilized lives of man went to the king and asked him to reincarnate them in human form. The king gave them twenty cloves of garlic and a handful of mugwort and told them to go into a cave to pray. He told them, “ If you eat these and do not see sunlight for one hundred days you will become human beings." The impatient tiger gave up and returned to the wild, but the bear prayed and emerged as a woman.

As time went on, the so-called bear-woman desired a child of her own. Touched by her prayers, the king transformed himself, temporarily, into a man and married her. Together, they had a son, Tangun. Tangun succeeded his father as king and became the founding father of Korea. Thus Korea was born, and garlic and mugwort became the country’s first recorded medical herbs.

An earlier post gave a recipe for kimchi (one of over 180 varieties found in Korea). Below, please find a recipe for chojang sauce, a sweet-spicy red chili condiment that 's enjoyed at Seoul's many all-you-can-eat raw tuna restaurants. It's my favorite Korean sauce. Special thanks go out to super blogger Daniel Gray of Seoul Eats who introduced me to Korean raw tuna at Lee Chun Bok, the culinary highlight of my Korean visit.

Gray is one of the reigning authorities on Korean cuisine and worth seeking out if you're visiting Seoul with hopes of experiencing Korea's exquisite cuisine. Gray, who was raised in Delaware, is also a partner in Seoul's O'ngo Food Communications which that offers Korean cooking classes and culinary tours.

Chojang Sauce

5 tbsp kochujang (Korean red chili pepper paste)
1 tbsp sugar (or honey)
3 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp sesame oil
2 stalks of green onion, chopped (optional)

Mix all ingredients together until well-blended. If the consistency of the is too thick, thin out with some warm water. Use immediately or refrigerate for later use.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Happy Birthday Ulf Ekberg?

Ulf Gunnar Ekberg, one of the founding members of the Swedish rock group Ace of Base, turns 40 today. In a geographically-related item, Swedish farmers claim that draping garlic around the necks of their cows protects them from trolls.

Grattis på födelsedagen, Ulf (congratulations on your birthday) and Lycka till (good luck) with the livestock.

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Hello Columbus!

On this day in 1492, Genoa native Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue and bumped into what is today, the Dominican Republic. In addition to "discovering America," Columbus introduced garlic to the Americas. To say thank you, prepare this recipe for traditional Pesto Genovese. Mangia!

Pesto Genovese

2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 c. basil, leaves only, no stems or flowers
1/3 c. pine nuts
1/2 c. olive oil
1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

Place the garlic in a food processor and pulse to break it into pieces. Add the basil in batches, pulsing each addition to form a roughly chopped mixture. Next add the pinenuts and pulse further to mix in well. Pour in the olive oil and pulse until the mixture comes together and is smooth but still has some texture.

Stir in the Parmesan, salt and pepper and adjust ingredients to your taste. Makes about 1 cup, enough for one pound of dried pasta.

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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Happy Birthday Calvin Trillin!

Mr. Trillin is on of my very favorite writers. Here are two of his best-known garlic quotes.

"Following the Jewish tradition, a dispenser of schmaltz (liquid chicken fat) is kept on the table to give the vampires heartburn if they get through the garlic defense."

“The food in such places is so tasteless because the members associate spices and garlic with just the sort of people they're trying to keep out.”

Trillian tried valiantly to get flavorless turkey replaced with Spaghetti Carbonara as our national Thanksgiving dish. This recipe is from Ruth Reichl's Garlic and Sapphires.

Spaghetti Carbonara

1 lb spaghetti
1/4 to 1/2 lb thickly sliced quality bacon (she likes Nueske’s)
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 large eggs
Black pepper
1/2 c grated parmigiano cheese, extra for table

Boil a large pot of salted water. Throw spaghetti in.

Cut bacon crosswise into pieces ½ inch wide. Put bacon in skillet and cook 2 minutes, until fat begins to render. Add whole cloves of garlic and cook five minutes, until edges of bacon just begin to crisp. Do not overcook. If too crisp, the bacon won’t meld with the pasta.

Break eggs into the bowl in which you will serve the pasta and beat eggs with fork. Add grindings of pepper.

Remove garlic from bacon pan. It it looks like too much fat to you, discard some. But you are going to toss the bacon with most of its fat into the pasta.

When cooked, drain pasta and immediately throw it into the beaten eggs. Mix thoroughly. The heat of the spaghetti will cook the eggs and turn them into a sauce. Add the bacon with its fat; toss again; add cheese and serve.

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Happy Birthday Burger King!

Burger King was founded 53 years ago today in Miami Florida. (The original Whopper cost 37 cents.) Today, Burger King is known for its regional variants and in Israel (and parts of Sweden), the regular mayo is replaced with garlic mayo. Bon Appetit (in Hebrew and Swedish) נסיעה טובה and Smaklig Måltid!

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Gangsta's Delight

Rapper Coolio, whose Gangsta's Paradise is one of my favorite songs of all time, has taken an unusual career turn. He started a online cooking show that features recipes that anyone can afford.

In honor of the start of the Christmas Shopping season, the day when many of us are tempted to spend money we don't have, here's Coolio's recipe for Ghettalian Garlic Bread! (The recipe is designed to accompany his tender Fork Steak.)

Demos are available on This concludes my use of profanity -- any adult content in the recipes below has been edited out with the judicious use of asterisks.

Coolio's Ghettalian Garlic Bread

French bread
18 oz. mayonnaise
Grated cheese - cheddar and jack
1 stick of butter
1/2 c. crushed garlic
hot sauce

1. Cut your French bread down the center. Be careful, cause your broke-*ss probably ain't got any insurance.
2. Lay them flat on their backs on a baking sheet.
3. Slosh your Mayonnaise into a medium size bowl.
4. Drop some cheese into the mix. Don't be scared, toss it in. Toss it!
5. Take a melted stick of butter and pour into your spread. Shaka!
6. Toss a half a cup of garlic in that motha'. Zulu!
7. Pour yourself some hot sauce up in that b*tch. That's for color.
8. Spread that creamy goodness across your bread. Come on, now. Put that shit on! Don't be know butter, mayonnaise, and cheese don't cost nothing.
9. Put that into your oven along with your Fork Steak. They can co-habitate until the cheese on your bread is golden brown.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Lebanese Independence Day!

In 2008, the Association of Lebanese Industrialists threatened to sue the country of Israel for appropriating traditional Lebanese foods including falafel, tabbouleh and hummus as their own on the world market. (They cited as precedent, the European Union’s ruling that gave Greece the sole right to use the name feta cheese.) They were unsuccessful.

Herewith, a recipe for traditional (Lebanese) hummus from Najmieh Batmanglij’s Silk Road Cooking: A Vegetarian Journey.

Baalbeck Chickpea & Sesame Spread

1 c. dried chickpeas
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 1/2 t. salt
5 T. fresh lime juice
2 T. tahini (sesame paste)
1 t. ground cumin
1/4 t. cayenne
1 t. sugar
1 T. olive oil
1 T. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, or basil

Soak chickpeas for two hours and drain. Place in a medium-sized heavy bottom saucepan, cover with 6 cups of water, 1/2 t. salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer over medium heat for 1/2 hours of until the chickpeas are tender. Drain and reserve 1/4 c. of the liquid.

Place the chickpeas, garlic, 1/2 t. salt, lime juice, tahini, drained chickpea liquid and mix in the food processor until you have a thick puree.

Adjust seasoning to taste and transfer to a serving dish. Spring with chopped parsley and serve with toasted pita, lavash bread or crostini.

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