Cooking in Langley: Friend or Foe? Garlic history friendly

As I am a chef, I am certain that you will think my opinion is biased when I tell you that garlic is my friend. 

However, I have reasons to support my love for this little bulb.

I believe most people who say they hate the taste of garlic must have been exposed to an overpowered Caesar dressing or Greek tzatziki sauce at some point in their lives. 

Garlic, when cooked, does not have that overly pungent flavour reminiscent of these raw form recipes. Instead, it has a sweeter and smoother temperament, and adds a depth of flavour to your dish that cannot be mimicked.

A perfect example would be roasted garlic. 

Whole heads of garlic roasted in the oven can be pureed and mixed into an endless variety of recipes, such as bread dough, dips, spreads, stuffings, etc., and it’s one of the easiest things to prepare.

Preheat your oven to 450ºF. 

Keep the garlic heads whole, and cut off the tops of the garlic heads, just enough to expose the tops of the garlic cloves. 

Place the garlic heads of garlic in an ovenproof casserole dish equipped with a lid. Drizzle 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil over each of the exposed garlic heads, and season lightly with salt and fresh cracked pepper. Cover and bake for 45 minutes. 

Remove from the oven and let stand at room temperature (with the lid on) until cool enough to touch. 

Serve whole for presentation, or squeeze out the cloves and mix into a variety of spreads, dips, or sauces.

Garlic is one of the oldest cultivated plants known to mankind, and has been hailed as one of world’s most celebrated medicinal vegetables. 

There are many stories of old that proclaim its pure powers to increase endurance and stamina. 

It also has many therapeutic properties. Medical studies have confirmed that garlic contains natural antibiotic and cleansing qualities, and it is used to treat a wide range of health problems.

When buying garlic, you want to make sure that the bulb or “head” is not discoloured, and it is tightly wrapped in its own natural, paper-like skin. 

Do not buy garlic that is falling apart, as that is a sure sign of age. 

Additionally, stay away from garlic that has little green sprouts coming from the encased cloves – although they are virtually harmless, they are a sign that the garlic has been stored in an area that is too humid. 

Garlic is best stored in a cool, dry, well-ventilated space. Under those conditions, it will keep for several months. 

It is not recommended that you store garlic in your refrigerator.

I personally cook with and consume garlic on a daily basis. 

There are a many great ways to add this wonderful vegetable to a variety of dishes; just practice moderation, if the thought of the taste in your recipe scares you. 

One final note: the sprig of parsley that has been added to enhance the presentation of your plate was originally derived from the practice of chewing it after a meal to freshen one’s breath.

Dear Chef Dez:

I have heard that the common garlic available in grocery stores comes from China. Is this true, and if so, where can I buy local garlic?

Roy R., Nanaimo

Dear Roy,

Yes, that is usually the case. The sign at your produce counter should say where the garlic is from, or if sold in small mesh bags of three heads, there will be a tag on it. 

Alternatively, you can always inquire with the produce staff if you are unsure about the garlic’s origin. 

A favourite local garlic of mine is ‘Red Russian.’ It has more flavour and usually larger cloves. Local farmers markets or more specialty stores usually carry it. 

A few phone calls to markets in your area, before you venture out, will save you some time.

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