Recipe from the ’50s – Carrots Vichy

August 13th, 2010 / comments 8

carrot vichy Recipe from the 50s   Carrots Vichy

Hello Garlic – Bon Jour Ail

April 1st, 2010 / comments 4

It was a snail that introduced me to garlic. My mother was from England and my father was from Slovakia so spice and punch came in the form of mustard, black pepper or sauerkraut. Olives, capers and anchovies never appeared on our table.

garlic scape c egbert blg Hello Garlic   Bon Jour Ail

When I was nineteen, I moved to an apartment on the second floor of a converted town house in Washington, DC. The French Market, a boutique grocery store, was on the ground floor. It had become a successful business when John Kennedy was president and all things French became fashionable. By my third visit, I realized that my gastronomic education had begun.

The owner, Georges, was from Nice, in the south of France. He always had time to answer questions, share recipes or offer tastes. He never looked at his twelve-inch chef’s knife as he minced garlic, parsley and almonds to make snail butter and gossiped with market regulars. After he put a cooked snail into each shell he sealed the opening with a knob of the seasoned butter. When he suggested that I try the snails for dinner, I bought a dozen, a baguette and two sets of snail-eating equipment. He explained how to heat the snails in dimpled metal plates and how to use the tool that looked an eyelash curler to hold the hot shell while fishing them out with a small snail fork.

The snails were interesting, a bit chewy, but the apartment smelled wonderful! The chunks of bread soaked in the hot garlic butter were divine. It was the beginning of a new friendship, “Bonjour Garlic!”

Since that introduction, garlic has been a permanent resident in my pantry. It appears so frequently in my recipes that I use garlic scapes, the immature flower stalks of hard neck garlic, as my logo. The best way to store garlic is at room temperature, in a porous container. I have a ceramic garlic pot with a lid that keeps out the light and holes in the sides that allow air to circulate, preventing garlic from becoming moldy.

Georges showed me how to add zip to salads by rubbing the inside of a wooden salad bowl with a clove of garlic and a pinch of kosher salt. Occasionally, he had cooked artichokes next to mushroom, fennel and green bean salads. A small container of mayonnaise mixed with mince garlic, lemon juice, a pinch of cayenne pepper and an artichoke made a lunch that was tres chic.

The pate Georges made was perfumed with garlic and it inspired me to use garlic to season meatloaf. When Georges prepared chickens for roasting, he pushed a mixture of butter, garlic and thyme under the skin of the bird.

V Rosemary 01 Hello Garlic   Bon Jour Ail

He seasoned legs of lamb with garlic, rosemary, sage and thyme before deftly forming each roast into the shape of a duck with the end of a bone as the duck’s head. I’ve never tried the fancy butchering but I do use the same herb and garlic mixture to season lamb.

I don’t remember who introduced me to the complex, sweet and earthy flavors of roasted garlic. I make it often by cutting off the top of plump garlic bulbs, drizzling them with olive oil, wrapping the bottoms of the bulbs in aluminum foil and roasting them. After half an hour in a 350-degree oven, the golden paste can be spread onto crusty bread to make appetizers that I serve with red wine.

v barley salad Q Hello Garlic   Bon Jour Ail

Fifteen years later, my friend Gwen served a salad made with blanched garlic. She said that it was easier to digest and that it added flavor with less bite. She claimed that blanching eliminated volatile sulfur compounds that cause garlic breath and indigestion. Gwen simmered garlic in boiling water for a minute before peeling it and blending into salad dressing. Blanching garlic in the microwave by zapping unpeeled garlic cloves in a half-cup of water in a partially covered container for 30 seconds seems simpler to me. I use blanched garlic in barley or bean salads that will not be served within and hour.

Garlic is called the stinky rose and blamed for causing bad breath but its presence is recognized in cuisines around the world as the promise of a tasty meal. The pan of garlic roasted root vegetables I served on Saturday delivered on that promise when Jim and Anne joined us for dinner.

turnip Hello Garlic   Bon Jour Ail

Along with the roasted turnips, carrots and potatoes roasted, a can of cranberry sauce mixed with a couple of tablespoons of horseradish and a roasted chicken from the market were all I needed for our impromptu dinner party. The scent of the roasting vegetables made it seem as if I had spent the entire day, rather than half an hour, cooking. I started the vegetables in the microwave and they finished roasting while I set the table, and cut up the chicken. Here’s how I did it. … read more

Carota – Carrot in Italy #2 – Tomato Carrot Soup

March 18th, 2010 / Comments 0

Although it has been sunny and warm, Saturday was a cold rainy day and the sea was white with rolling waves.

carrot tomato soup 02 Carota   Carrot in Italy #2   Tomato Carrot Soup

I got wet and cold on a short walk and wanted something to eat, something warm and comforting. Soup! I had carrots and tomatoes so I made tomato and carrot soup. Here’s how I did it: ... read more

Carota – Carrots in Italy # 1 – Carrot Mint Salad

March 17th, 2010 / Comments 0

When I was seven, I liked to eat carrots with vinegar. I would peel a carrot and dip it into a small glass of cider vinegar between each bite. When the carrot was gone, I drank the vinegar. I thought it was wonderful. My sister thought I was out of my mind.

ZPV carrots 01 c egbert Carota   Carrots in Italy # 1   Carrot Mint SaladMy interest in carrots may have been sparked by my desire to be able to read in the dark. I had learned from my mother that carrots were a rich source of carotene, also known as vitamin A, the vitamin that improves night vision. She was living in London, spending nights in the underground, during the Battle of Britain. One night, while waiting for the all-clear siren to sound, she was told that the common carrot would help the Allies win the war. This is the story that she often served with boiled carrots:  “In an attempt to mislead the Germans about their radar capabilities, the Royal Air Force circulated a story that British pilots were able to see in the dark because they ate enormous quantities of carrots. That is why many Britons, who anxious to improve their night vision because of the wartime blackouts, grew and ate so many carrots.”

I moved on from dipping carrots in vinegar to dipping carrots in hummus and blue cheese dressing and to using carrots in soups and stews. Carrots were a way to add a bit of taste and color but I didn’t consider them a vegetable with star power.

 Carota   Carrots in Italy # 1   Carrot Mint SaladBefore I came to Sicily, I thought of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, artichokes and mushrooms as Italian vegetables. Carrots were the wrong color for my red, white and green Italian palette. But, since my daily trips to the market, I have changed my mind. The carrots in the market are freshly pulled, sweet and crisp with attached greens that attest to their freshness. Carrots are no longer merely supporting players, edible utensils used to transport tasty bites from bowl to mouth. They shine as the primary ingredient in appetizers, soups and salads. I used carrots, honey and mint to make a salad that I served with baked salmon. Here’s how I did it:
… read more

Honey Strawberry Sandwich & Minted Carrot Salad

February 20th, 2010 / comments 12

Honey in the morning, honey in the evening. Honey is a staple in my Sicilian kitchen.  I drizzled this light, delicately scented gift from the bees onto rustic breakfast sandwiches.
Pt a honey bee c egbert Honey Strawberry Sandwich & Minted Carrot Salad

Assembly was a breeze – toasted crusty ciabatta bread + a layer of marscapone + strawberry slices + honey = sticky fingers and a delicious way to start the day.

strawberry honey sandwich Honey Strawberry Sandwich & Minted Carrot Salad

For a simple salad to accompany pasta minted carrot salad was a perfect contrast. I put it together before I began to cook the pasta so that the dressing would wilt the carrots a bit. Here’s how I did it: … read more

Carrot Falafel

October 2nd, 2009 / comments 2

I planted tiny carrot seeds in May and I’ve been harvesting the fruits of my very minimal labor.

V Carrot 01a c egbert Carrot Falafel

Carrots fresh from the garden or from the market with their green tops still attached are sweet, crisp, and full of flavor. They bear little resemblance to the carrots grown hundreds of miles away, harvested months ago, and packaged in plastic bags.

A cousin of both Queen Anne’s lace and parsnips, the carrots were brought to Europe from Asia by the Moors in the 10th century. With more natural sugar than any other vegetable except beets, carrots are rich in carotene, which improves night vision, and are renowned as an anti-wrinkle agent.

According to some food historians, carrots originated in Afghanistan, which is enough of a reason to make a falafel with carrots as the primary ingredient.  Here’s how I did it. … read more

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