21/07/2012 10:14

Garlic - love it or hate it! Me, I love it!

Garlic is among the oldest cultivated plants in the world. Historical references to garlic are found as far back as 6000 years ago. The ancient Egyptians worshipped garlic and it was so highly regarded that it was even used as currency. Garlic has long been a staple in vampire folklore as a vampire repellent.

Like onions, leeks and chives, garlic is a member of the lily or allium family.
Garlic has long been heralded for its health benefits which include lowering blood cholesterol and its antiseptic properties. used to protect against plague by monks of the Middle Ages to treating the cold and common flu today. Garlic poultices were placed on wounds during World War II as an inexpensive, and effective replacement for antibiotics, which were scarce during wartime.

There are many types of garlic, the most common being the white papery-skinned variety. A garlic bulb or corm is made up of cloves of which there can be up to about twenty, but usually twelve is the norm.

Garlic is an essential ingredient in thousands of dishes around the globe. Garlic can be roasted as whole cloves, which brings out its wonderful mellow side. Cooked in sauces and casseroles. Flavours savoury butters, dressings and sauces for pasta, fish, poultry, meat games and vegetables. Flavouring dishes and sauces with garlic rather than salt can help you keep a check on your salt intake. For just a hint of garlic in a salad, rub the inside of the salad bowl with a cut clove of garlic.

* The smell of garlic can be removed from hands, by running them under cold water while rubbing a stainless steel object. And to rid the garlic smell on the breath, chew cumin seeds, or eat some fresh parsley, mint, thyme or celery leaves.
* Some gardeners believe that planting garlic under the roses encourages the flowers to produce even more perfume, and at the same time preventing black spot and green fly.

Garlic has a very strong flavour, so roasting really brings out its mellow side.
Serves 6

6 large heads Garlic
4 tbsp Olive oil
25g unsalted Butter
Few sprigs of fresh Thyme
Sea salt & Blackpepper

To Roast the Garlic, preheat the oven 140C fan/ 160C/gas2..

Cut the tops off each head of garlic to reveal the cloves. place into a shallow baking dish. Add the sprigs of Thyme and season well with sea salt & black pepper. Drizzle over the olive oil and dot each garlic with butter. Cover with foil and pop into the oven to cook for 1-2 hours, basting them every now and then.

Serve warm or at room temperature, just cool enough to pop the garlic out of their papery skins and eat with your fingers. Serve with a big leafy salad or my favourite - served on crusty bread with cream cheese.....delicious!

* TIPS ~ for cooking Garlic and Onions

In recipes where onions and garlic are called for, (which they usually are as they are the base to most recipes) you need to cook them a little to get rid of their rawness before adding to a recipe. Onions benefit from being cooked longer whilst garlic will quickly burn and have a nasty bitter taste.

So, the best way to cook garlic is to saute in a heavy-based pan with a little oil. Do this over a medium heat and stir often to prevent burning. If a recipe calls for using onion and garlic together, start the onion cooking first and add the garlic last, as it only needs about half a minute to cook off the rawness.

The intensity of flavour of fresh garlic will depend on how the garlic is prepared first...

WHOLE cloves will give you a mild flavour, as will SLICING them, as the oils and the juices form the garlic have not yet been released.

CHOPPING will give a medium flavour, whilst MINCED cloves releases large amounts of the garlic's oils and juices so will give a full flavour.

SMASHED, PUREED and PRESSED garlic cloves will have the most Intense flavour of all.

Growing garlic