As I am a chef, I'm certain that you will think my opinion is biased when I tell you that garlic is my friend. However, I have reasons to support my love for this little bulb.
I honestly believe that most people, who say they hate the taste of garlic, must have been exposed to an overpowered Caesar dressing or Greek tzatziki sauce at some point in their lives. Garlic, when cooked, does not have that overly pungent flavour reminiscent of these raw form recipes. Alternatively, it has a sweeter and smoother temperament and adds a depth of flavour to your dish that cannot be mimicked.
A perfect example of this would be roasted garlic.
Whole heads of garlic roasted in the oven can be pureed and mixed into an endless variety of recipes such as bread-dough, dips, spreads, stuffings, etc, and it's one of the easiest things to prepare:
Preheat your oven to 450F degrees. Keep the garlic heads whole, and cut off the tops of the garlic heads, just enough to expose the tops of the garlic cloves.
Place the garlic heads of garlic in an ovenproof casserole dish equipped with a lid. Drizzle one teaspoon of olive oil over each of the exposed garlic heads. Season lightly with salt and fresh cracked pepper. Cover and bake for 45 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let stand at room temperature (with the lid on) until cool enough to touch. Serve whole for presentation, or squeeze out the cloves and mix into a variety of spreads, dips, or sauces.
Garlic is one of the oldest cultivated plants known to mankind and has been hailed as one of world's most celebrated medicinal vegetables.
There are many stories of old, that proclaim of its pure powers to increase endurance and stamina.
It also has many therapeutic properties. Medical studies have confirmed that garlic contains natural antibiotic and cleansing qualities and it is used to treat a wide range of health problems.
When buying garlic, you want to make sure that that the bulb or "head" is not discoloured and it is tightly wrapped in its own natural paper-like skin. Do not buy garlic that is falling apart, as this is a sure sign of its age.
Additionally, stay away from garlic that has little green sprouts coming from the encased cloves - although these are virtually harmless, they do add an unnecessary bitterness to the garlic's natural flavour.
If these green sprouts develop in time from the garlic you have already purchased, simply split the clove with a knife and cut out this growth before adding it to your recipe. These little green sprouts are a sign that you are storing your garlic in an area that is too humid.
Garlic is best stored in a cool, dry, well-ventilated space and it will keep for several months.
It is not recommended that you store garlic in your refrigerator.
I personally cook with and consume garlic on a daily basis. There are many great ways to add this wonderful vegetable to a variety of dishes; just practice moderation if the thought of the taste in your recipe scares you.
One final note: the sprig of parsley that has been added to enhance the presentation of your plate was originally derived from the practice of chewing it after a meal to freshen one's breath.
Dear Chef Dez:
I like the taste of garlic in different dishes, however when I add it to a stir-fry it always adds a bitter flavour. What am I doing wrong?
If this is the only time you experience a bitter flavour from the addition of garlic to a recipe, I suspect that it is getting burned.
Garlic burns very easily, especially if added to the extreme temperature of oil in "wok cooking."
To avoid this problem in the future, always add a different vegetable first to the hot oil to temper it a little before adding the garlic.
n Send your food/cooking questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 2674, Abbotsford, BC V2T 6R4. Chef Dez is Western Canada's own food columnist, culinary instructor and cooking show performer. Visit him online at: www.chefdez.com. Next On Cooking column will appear Aug. 24
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