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Cook with the Best in the Northwest
Everything Tastes Better with Garlic, by Sara Perry
You might be surprised by how many things taste better with garlic.
But before I discuss the joysand versatilityof garlic, you should know about the garlic festivals coming up this summer throughout the Pacific Northwest. I hope you'll attend a few because there's no doubt you'll learn something new about garlic at each one.
Now, about cooking with garlic.
Although I like garlic, I don't use it all that much. I'm lazy, I guess. I think it's a pain to peel, chop, and cook the small cloves. But during the month of May, as I tested recipes in Everything Tastes Better with Garlic, I realized that it is very much worthwhile handling those cloves for the amount of flavor they give back.
For example, my last meal was the Aïoli Tuna Melt. To begin, I made aïoli for the first time; it's basically mayonnaise blended with lots of garlic. Mix this with tuna. (I am so blessed to have a wonderful friend who sends me cans of superb tuna caught in the Pacific Ocean and canned in Ilwaco, Washington.) Place a thin slice of cheese (I used muenster) on each slice of bread, slather this with the tuna mixture, put the pieces together, and then grill in a pan in melted butter. Wow!
The recipe actually calls for slices of bacon as well, but I thought this would be more like "whoa!" and left that for another time when I'm not worried about fitting into my jeans.
Elsewhere in the book, I was intrigued to find a topping for the Garlic, Leek, and Potato Soup called Whipped Garlic Cream.
Years ago when I lived in Los Angeles, "Armenian chicken" was a popular fast food. Since the cafés were always filled with Armenians at tables as well as behind the counter, I figured this was an authentic Armenian meal: roasted chicken (whole or half) with a side of savory rice and a helping of thick garlicky cream for dipping.
So I eagerly tested the Whipped Garlic Creamcream simmered with garlic cloves, strained, then lightly whippedand decided that with more garlic it could indeed pass for the Armenian version I remember.
Along with history, legends, and cooking tips, Everything Tastes Better with Garlic is filled with fun things to try: Asian Slaw with Garlic, Ginger, and Carrot Dressing, two types of garlic bread (the author's father's old-fashioned version and the author's updated gourmet version), and Six Cloves Mac and Cheese.
I've already stated that you'd be surprised by how many things taste better with garlic. Proof in point is the recipe I zeroed in on immediately: Nervy, Heavenly Garlic Ice Cream.
I hunted around for a vanilla bean because I figured I'd follow the recipe to the letter and I thought a vanilla bean would balance the garlic better than vanilla extract. The yellow color of my ice cream came from the use of fresh, bright egg yolks.
The flavor . . . well, there was an ineffable taste of garlic that went well with the more intense vanilla. I thought it was indeed heavenly.
Nervy, Heavenly Garlic Ice Cream
Makes about 1 pint.
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, combine the half-and-half and garlic. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the half-and-half. Cook until small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan. Remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until thick and smooth, 3 to 4 minutes. Slowly whisk 1/2 cup of the hot half-and-half into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not "cook" in the warm liquid. Then gradually whisk the yolk mixture into the hot half-and-half. Return the mixture to the double boiler and cook, stirring constantly, until the custard thickens, about 10 minutes. To check for doneness, dip a spoon into the mixture and draw your finger through the coat of custard on the back of the spoon. It should leave a trail. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
Strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve, cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days. Stir the mixture, then pour it into a small ice-cream maker. Freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.
Mary Rose lives high in the mountains of Montana. She enjoys traveling to farmers markets in summer and making snowballs during the long winter. She is happy to find many locally produced foods, including lentils, cheese, and stroopwafels.
Cook with the Best in the Northwest copyright 2014.