Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Garlic Rules! Summer Fest 2010 Eases into Fall

I have a drawer filled with spices and dried herbs, a pantry filled with luscious oils and sparkling vinegars, and a refrigerator filled with way too many condiments. But ask me what my favorite ingredient is and I've got to say garlic.


So, when I saw that garlic was this week's Summer Fest ingredient, I about panicked. If you use garlic almost constantly, how can you possibly choose a recipe to feature? Or two? I add garlic to vinaigrettes, saute with it, roast it, pickle it (with scapes), and make pesto and other sauces. I have a wonderful recipe from Paula Wolfert's Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking for a Spanish Garlic and Egg Soup. But, with that exception, garlic's almost always the reliable supporting actor and not supposed to hog the scene. But, in my kitchen, it frequently does.

One of the best tips I've ever gotten for cooking with garlic comes from my friend Anne Otterson, who credits it to Jacques Pepin. He used to be a visiting teacher at the Perfect Pan cooking school back in the 1970s, when Anne was its director. According to Anne (and Jacques), add a little water to the saute pan when sauteeing garlic for a dish. This prevents the garlic from burning if you're busy with other tasks.

I asked other friends and readers on Facebook for additional garlic tips. Susan Russo of Food Blogga like to saute garlic before adding it to pesto to avoid garlic's overwhelming pungency and odor after the pesto sits. Jerome White zaps cloves in the microwave for 10 to 12 seconds to help peel the skin from the cloves. If you've got any additional tips for working with garlic, please share them below!

So, back to a garlicky recipe. It actually didn't take long for me to settle on something. I almost always have a jar of this in my refrigerator. And, no, it doesn't exactly feature garlic, but it might as well because it's really what makes this dish.

Italian Marinated Eggplant
I've had this same recipe from Gourmet since August 2002. It really should be called Pickled Eggplant since boiling the eggplant in white wine vinegar takes it to a whole other dimension. It came from one of Gourmet's readers on its "Sugar and Spice" page. Gourmet later published another version of this from the staff but honestly it's not nearly as good. The little changes in proportions they made didn't serve the flavor at all. So, I'm sticking with this and I hope you try it. Not only do I drain it and enjoy on a crusty piece of bread or toasted pita, I often add it to tomato sauces for flavoring. Enjoy the oil, too!

1 1/2 lb eggplant, peeled and cut  into 3-1/4-inch sticks
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
2 cups white wine vinegar
2 cups water
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano or 1/4 teaspoon crumbled dried
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
About 1 1/2 cups olive oil

1. Toss eggplant with salt and drain in a colander set over a bowl, covered, at room temperature 4 hours. (Eggplant will turn brown.) Discard liquid in bowl.
2. Gently squeeze handfuls of eggplant to remove excess liquid.
3. Bring vinegar and water to a boil in a 3- to 4-quart nonreactive saucepan. Add eggplant and boil, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain in colander, then set colander over a bowl and continue to drain eggplant, covered and chilled, 2 hours more. Discard liquid in bowl.
4. Gently squeeze handfuls of eggplant to remove excess liquid, then pat try with paper towels.
5. Stir together eggplant, garlic, oregano, pepper, and 1 cup oil in a bowl. Transfer to a 1-quart jar with a tight-fitting lid and add enough olive oil to just cover eggplant. Marinate eggplant, covered and chilled, at least 4 hours. Bring to room temperature before serving. Scoop eggplant out of jar with a fork to drain excess oil. Marinated eggplant keeps up to 1 month.


Now, I also have a simple little recipe for a Sorrel & Garlic Sauce that was inspired by my friend Erika Kerekes. I was looking for ideas for what to do with some of the sorrel growing in my garden. She suggested her simple Lime and Sorrel Sauce with mayo that her young sons love with fish. I loved the idea and adapted it, and found that it's also wonderful with sauteed scallops, steamed potatoes, and other vegetables.

Sorrel & Garlic Sauce
1 1/2 ounces sorrel, washed and dried
1 clove garlic
zest of a small lime, like a key lime
juice of 2 small limes
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I like Maras pepper and you can find it at Silver Cloud Estates)
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
Pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a mini food processor and blend till creamy. Periodically stop, remove the lid, and scrape down the ingredients to the bottom of the bowl.

Makes 1/2 cup of sauce


Now, let's see what the rest of my Summer Fest 2010 colleagues are doing with garlic:

Todd and Diane at White on Rice Couple: Garlic Knots
Sara at Food2: Easiest Recipes Ever, Starring Garlic
Michelle at Cooking Channel: Roasted Garlic
Liz at Healthy Eats: 5 Reasons to Eat More Garlic
Kirsten at FN Dish: Garlic Chicken Greats
Margaret at A Way to Garden: Growing and Storing a Year of Garlic
Caroline at the Wright Recipes: Ajo Blanco Soup, and Confit Garlic
The Gilded Fork: Garlic Dossier and Recipes
Food Network UK: Glorious Garlic
Alana at Eating from the Group Up: Pickled Garlic
Cate at Sweetnicks: Double Dose of Garlic—Cuban Black Beans and The Best Pork Ever
Paige at The Sister Project: Spaghetti with Garlic and Zucchini
Nicole at Pinch My Salt: Spicy Pickled Garlic


Now It's Your Turn!
This collaborative effort won't be much fun without you! The more info we all give, the more we'll all enjoy summer's harvest. Have a recipe or tip that fits any of our weekly themes? You can contribute in various ways, big or small.
  • Contribute a whole post, or a comment—whatever you wish. It’s meant to be fun, viral, fluid. No pressure, just delicious. 
  • Simply leave your tip or recipe or favorite links in the comments below a Summer Fest post on my blog any upcoming Wednesday, and then go visit my collaborators and do the same.
The cross-blog event idea works best when you leave your recipe or favorite links (whether to your own blog or someone else’s) at all the host blogs. That way, they are likely to be seen by the widest audience. Everyone benefits, and then we're all cooking with some great ideas. Or go big: Publish entire posts of your own if you wish, and grab the big red tomato Summer Fest 2010 badge above (illustrated by Matt of Mattbites). We'll also be tweeting using #summerfood as our hashtag until Sept. 21, then we'll switch to #fallfood. Here's the schedule:
Sept. 1: Sweet and Spicy Peppers
Sept. 8: Garlic
Sept. 15: White (or colorful “white”…but not sweet) Potatoes
Sept. 22: Spinach
Sept. 29: Apples
Oct. 6: Fall Salads
Oct. 13: Pumpkin and Winter Squash
Oct. 20: Pears
Oct. 27: “Mad Stash” (as in what you’re freezing/canning/drying, etc.)
Nov. 3: Root veggies
Nov. 10: Brassicas: incl. Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Cabbage or other
Nov. 17: Sweet Potatoes
Nov. 24: Bounty to Be Grateful For

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