Sunday, October 29, 2006

Weekend Herb Blogging #56

Fiber from 28 Cooks is hosting this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging.

With spring well in force and summer just around the corner a host of new season's produce is arriving. Today, I'll focus on the first of the new season's Garlic.

garlic

This is as close to the freshest garlic you'll get, besides growing it yourself. There's still a dampness to the bulb - an indication of it's just harvested status. The skin is firm, there's no sign of dryness or that parchment quality to the outer covering, so usual in older garlic.

At this stage there's quite a bit of heat to these bulbs, something that time will lessen. So it's important to keep this in mind when using in your recipes.

Garlic is quite a wonder-bulb containing a smorgasbord of phytochemicals and nutrients including calcium, folate, iron and zinc. It also contains Allicin, an antibiotic. Medicinally it's been used to guard against colds, lower cholesterol, to treat intestinal worms, fight off infections and even regulate blood sugar levels.

I must admit that even though my parents are Italian we aren't huge garlic eaters, preferring the more mellow influence of slow roasted garlic. However, to celebrate the essence of garlic I've decided to make a traditional dish from Piedmonte called Bagna Calda (or Bagna CaƓda - it literally translates to Hot Bath).

This garlic and anchovy dip is used as an accompaniment for fresh raw vegetables and bread. The dip is usually served in a terracotta bowl, kept warm over a small candle or spirit burner. A mini fondue set would make an ideal vessel.

dip

Bagna Calda

4 tablespoons olive oil
30 grams anchovy fillets, diced
30 grams garlic cloves, crushed
30 grams butter, cubed

In a small pan add the anchovy and oil and over a low flame, heat gently. Stir, and once the anchovy begins to dissolve add the crushed garlic. Continue cooking in a very gentle simmer, for about 15 minutes - you must not allow the garlic to brown - you just want it to soften and the mixture to become creamy.

Add the cubed butter and swirl around until dissolved.

Pour into a small bowl and set over a burner.

If you would prefer a less intense garlic flavour then this trick is for you - simmer the garlic in a little milk until it's almost soft. Drain then proceed with the recipe.

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2 comments:

  1. I like the sound of this dip, which I've heard about but never tried. Garlic and anchovies are a great combination. I didn't know that the younger garlic was more hot. This year I didn't get any garlic planted, and I think it's too late now, darn.

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  2. Hi Kalyn - it's simple but full of flavour. You might still be able to plant some - I seem to recall that you plant it in autumn/fall for harvest in spring.

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