The Italians are known for their wonderfully aromatic dishes. Part of that aroma
comes from their generous use of garlic. Trying to remove that ﬁne papery covering
on a garlic clove can sometimes be so frustrating. If you can slip your knife under
the skin, it may or may not pop off. That is, if you are lucky. Most of the time I am
not and I used to struggle a bit to clean off the skin. Here is a great tip to
help make peeling garlic a breeze.
On your cutting board, place a clove of garlic on its side. Use a wide blade knife
and lay it ﬂat side down on top of the clove. Whack the blade with the heel of
your hand and like magic, the clove is peeled!
This Lobster Carbonara recipe is from volume five of The Gathering of Friends.
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Interesting facts about Garlic
Garlic (allium sativum) has lovingly been dubbed The Stinking Rose, yet it is actually a member of the lily (Liliaceae) family and a cousin to onions, leeks and shallots. The edible bulb or head of garlic is composed of smaller cloves. It is a root crop, with the bulb growing underground.
Garlic crops are harvested in mid-July and hung in sheds to dry before reaching their prime in late-July/early-August. There are over 300 varieties of garlic grown worldwide. American garlic, with its white, papery skin and strong flavor is one of the most common varieties. Italian and Mexican garlic, both of which have pink- to purple-colored skins, are slightly milder-flavored varieties. Elephant garlic (allium scorodoprasum), which has very large, extremely mild-flavored cloves, is not a true garlic, but a closer relative to the leek.
Believe it or not, one raw garlic clove, finely minced or pressed releases more flavor than a dozen cooked whole cloves. When garlic cloves are cooked or baked whole, the flavor mellows into a sweet, almost nutty flavor that hardly resembles any form of pungency. Cooked whole and un-pierced, cloves barely have any aroma at all, while raw garlic is the strongest in flavor.
When sauteing garlic, be very careful not to burn it. The flavor turns intensely bitter, and you’ll have to start over. Rule of thumb; An easy rule of thumb to remember regarding the potency of the flavor of garlic is: The smaller you cut it, the stronger the flavor. Chopping finely and/or pressing a clove exposes more surfaces to the air, causing a chemical reaction to produce that strong aroma and potent flavor.
Interesting Health Benefits of Garlic!
Garlic has long been considered a medicinal food. It was used to protect against plague by monks in the Middle Ages. Hippocrates used garlic vapors to treat cervical cancer. Garlic poultices were placed on wounds during World War II as an inexpensive, and apparently quite effective replacement for antibiotics which were scarce during wartime.
Now science is beginning to prove the medicinal properties of garlic that our ancestors took for granted. Studies have shown garlic can suppress the growth of tumors, and is a potent antioxidant good for cardiovascular health.
Other studies show garlic can reduce LDLs or “bad” cholesterol and is a good
blood-thinning agent to avoid blood clots which could potentially lead to
heart attack or stroke.