Thursday, July 12, 2007

Tips for using garlic

Fresh garlic is an important ingredient in many of my favorite dishes. Contary to what Emeril Lagasse says, however, more is not better. The Emeril theory works for keeping Vampires at bay (maybe not that important to all you Twilight fans) but not for seasoning food that all will enjoy. Here are some tips to help you use garlic:
1. Fresh is best. I don't suppose I'll ever buy garlic salt or powder in my life. I'm not above it or anything, it's just that fresh garlic is inexpensive, readily available, and 1000 times tastier than the dried stuff.
2. To buy garlic. Look for plump-looking heads and feel them to make sure that the cloves are firm and not old and shriveled. You definitely don't want any green sprouts out of the top. These will suck the flavor out and may be bitter. Buy small amounts at a time, as it will not last very long in your cupboard.
3. To peel garlic--give each clove a firm press with the side of a knife to loosen the skin. Don't smash it all the way like Rachel Ray does because then you have to separate the bits of skin from the bits of flesh.
4. To mince garlic--Now give the peeled cloves a firm smash with the knife. This will flatten them and break them up a bit so you don't have to chop so much. After they're smashed, just run your knife through them a few times.
5. To cook garlic--Garlic burns quickly so if you're going to put it in hot oil, only do it briefly. I suggest adding the garlic with some liquid. This way, it keeps more of its flavor and there's no risk of burning it.
6. On mixing garlic with romance--I can only say that if you hope to mix garlic with romance, both partners must be equally yoked in their garlic consumption--wisdom from Mario Batali.
7. To get the garlic smell off your hands--This truly works, I promise it's not just some old wives' tale. Rub your hands on stainless steel under running water. There's something about the molecules in the steel that knocks the garlic scented molecules off your hands. It's like magic. They even sell a little bar-of-soap-shaped bar of stainless steel at Bed Bath and Beyond for this purpose. I'm guessing, however, that you can find something that's already in your kitchen. I just use the knife I used to chop the garlic.


emilyanne said...

Thanks, Alton...oops! I mean, Taylor. You are like a walking/blogging food bible. Love it!

Mrs. Cropper said...

Oh, sweetie, I'm so glad we both love garlic. If only I could get you to kiss me after I eat 3 pickles and drink a cup of pickle juice...

kate said...

Guilty again! I have used garlic with green sprouts coming out of them. What is my problem! It's a good thing you are blogging about such important topics such as this or else I would be feeding Mark bitter garlic...and that's no good!

Can you store your garlic in the fridge...will it stay better, longer that way? Or just cause problems?

I was giggling all through this post. I'm pretty sure it's because you're funny but then it's a post about garlic and I am a little sleep deprived in this bachelor world I'm living in. In fact right now we are watching some lame-o movie about a haunted submarine with Scott Foley in it (you know from felicity-Anne would know) She definitely shouldn't "Trivial Tuesday" this one!

Oh my heck, I'm done...stop me from this terrible, random comment!

chloe elizabeth said...

Always helpful...I knew most of this, except that I was Rachael Ray-ing my garlic. Although until just this past Tuesday, it had never caused me those problems. Maybe I was upset and taking it out on my garlic. Anyway, another great post. I hope you took emilyanne's "Alton" comment as a huge compliment. He's my favorite!

Taylor said...

Em--Thanks for the Alton comparison.
Kate--You're so funny. Don't worry too much about the green. I've done it too. Green garlic is better than dried garlic. Garlic is best left out of the fridge. I'm not quite sure why, but it seems to kill it faster.
Chloe--If the Rachel Ray was working for you then keep working it. There's no "right" way, I just have better luck with the light smoosh.
Man--Thanks for brightening my morning with such a surprise as comments about a garlic post.
I'll post some food again soon.

lori said...

Taylor - we've been cracking up about this post!! You're a riot! And we hope our garlic usage in the future will improve as a result of this information...thanks!

Fowler family said...

Okay, this doesn't have anything to do with garlic, but I have a question for "feed your family man".

I have always wondered if there is a correct way to cut up boneless chicken breasts. I am using a recipe tonight that calls for the chicken to be cut into strips. Is there a right way to do this? I often wonder when I am cutting chicken into strips if I am cutting them the wrong way or going against the grain. I googled it and could not find ANYTHING.

If you'd pretty please reply, us Fowlers would appreciate it. You can reply here or on our blog.

PS- are those Grandma's spring lake grapes? Very beautiful!

liz said...

Funny story: I always buy the jarred minced garlic, just out of laziness. I know it's not as good as fresh, but I figured it's fast, and lots better than garlic powder. Just after I originally read this post, a huge jar of it rolled out of the back of my van and made a huge smelly mess in our garage! Do you think the garlic gods are trying to tell me to switch to fresh?

Taylor said...

Liz--that's hilarious. I can not imagine the stench of that in this heat. Ughh. I think the best way to cut corners on garlic is to buy the peeled, whole cloves. My mom always used to buy the pre-minced stuff and I think it has an extra flavor not found in the fresh stuff.
One thing you can do if you use a lot of garlic is mince a large batch of it (in a food processor if you have one) and put it in a container with some olive oil. This will preserve it for at least a week.