To Garlic, With Love

Of all the unattractive things that men have said to me on dates over the years, two stand out in my memory: (1) "I'm allergic to octopus." (2) "I don't like garlic." (Now to be fair, I've never avoided dating a man due to his culinary preferences, but garlic haters are crossing a defining line.)

Photo Credit: Saveur Magazine. For more garlic love, visit: http://www.saveur.com/article/ingredients/types-of-garlic

Photo Credit: Saveur Magazine. For more garlic love, visit: http://www.saveur.com/article/ingredients/types-of-garlic

While others' food vices might consist of champagne or chocolate, I covet the roasted (or not so roasted) cloves that other cooks might discard in the trash. In culinary school, I'd even steal leftover, lonely cloves from other classmates  sheet trays. Golden brown and roasted through, I can easily eat a whole head in one sitting. I'm too addicted to worry about the after effects. 

But I wasn't always so bold about my unabashed love of garlic. It actually wasn't until I learned of this aromatic's health-giving properties that I fully owned predilection for popping cloves. It was during my time working at a holistic nutrition school that more than one colleague offered up stories of surviving trips to India unscathed by the notoriously aggressive "delhi belly" or related ailments. How did they do it? Garlic—one to two raw cloves a day. Being both curious (and romantically unattached)) at the time, I eagerly experimented with taking raw cloves before bedtime. Not only did it make my stomach feel better after over-indulgent outings, but it boosted my overall energy incredibly. What's more, I discovered that by chopping the garlic finely and swallowing it like a pill (i.e. not chewing it at all), I could avoid any overly fragrant side effects.

Garlic scapes, shaved into ribbons and stir fried with broccoli rabe.

Garlic scapes, shaved into ribbons and stir fried with broccoli rabe.

The more I practiced this incredible garlic cure, the more I began to indulge my penchant for cooking with garlic. I sought out black garlicgarlic scapes and even purple varietals. I devised extra-garlic'y recipes for caesar salad or roasted veggies. And eventually, I lost any sense of shame about my garlic cravings. In fact, I've met some garlic addicts far more bold than I, who will crunch on raw garlic because they like the pungent burn.

Now, this is hardly the most attractive habit for a young lady to disclose, but I've learned that I'm one of many, many garlic lovers out there. True, some people are overly sensitive to this particular species of allium, but it's always worth a try.

Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy a wide range of garlic varietals:

  • Roasted soft or hard neck garlic: snap the neck or slice off the tips of the head. Roast at 400F on a sheet tray until cloves are soft and golden brown. Spread on bread or just pop the cloves like candy.
  • Garlic scapes: shave with a vegetable peeler into long ribbons and stir fry with bitter greens. (Click here for full recipe.)
  • Fried garlic chips. Slice garlic thinly. Pre-heat oil to 300F. Fry cloves for 12-15 minutes until crispy. Strain, let dry and sprinkle on anything you like!
  • Black garlic: Use this sweet, soft fermented garlic to add a less harsh, umami flavor to your stir fry of choice. 
  • Garlic oil: Bring 3-4 cloves to a simmer in one cup of oil. Turn off heat and let cool. Use as a dip for breads or for future cooking projects. (It is also an excellent ayurvedic remedy for colds. During the winter season, drip a few drops into each ear before bed. Place a cotton ball in each ear to prevent the oil from leaking out while you sleep.
  • Raw garlic: For a cure to digestive ailments, chop up one clove garlic very fine. Place in a shot glass. Fill glass 2/3 of the way with water. Swirl and throw back garlic. (Swallow, do not crunch with teeth.) Repeat until you have swallowed all the garlic.

Life as a Culinary Student: Man Your Station

When first starting out in culinary school, my classmates and I were all performing the same task. Each station set with a cutting board, chef’s knife, paring knife, boning knife and vegetable peeler. Each student holding an onion to dice, a rack of lamb to French or a pile of potatoes to tourné.

Eventually, as we moved on to different cooking methods—learning to sauté, braise, grill, roast and fry—we worked in teams of three or four. The real test here was learning to communicate within a group, delegating who would break down which vegetables and proteins; measure out spices, wine or oil; and most importantly, who would make sure nothing overcooked or burned.

Yet now that we’ve moved beyond basic techniques to the regional cuisines of France and Italy, the whole class is working together as one collaborative group. Manning one of three stations—garde manger, entremets or main dishes—my peers and I are no longer responsible for the creation of a single recipe from start to finish.

If stationed at garde manger, we’re responsible for breaking down vegetables, crafting handmade pasta and other various cold or preliminary preparations. The entremets team is responsible for hot sides or the supporting elements of main dishes, from sautéing mushrooms or braising artichokes to brewing soups and crafting sauces. The cooks responsible for main dishes are the kingpins of proteins: breaking down flounder, de-veining shrimp and grinding meatballs, then sautéing, frying or roasting as needed.

In the beginning, there was concern among the ranks that we would learn less by only preparing one or two components of each dish. Yet, to our surprise, this style of working has far surpassed all our expectations. We’re not just learning to chop, whip, butcher, sauté or bake—we’re learning how to trust (and how much to trust) the members of our kitchen team.

In short, we’re learning the skills it takes to survive and thrive in a restaurant—from how to communicate when we need help and when to lend a hand, to timing our tasks so that we can keep the whole kitchen on schedule. And, in the process, we’re realizing that our technical skills are only 50% of what it takes to be a great cook—and maybe 10% of what it takes to be an extraordinary chef.

Not to mention, we’re mentally training for the repetition of professional kitchen work. No longer chopping a single onion or frying just three portions of fish, we now cook in bulk. I’ve personally cleaned and cooked enough artichokes, calamari, pasta or soup for a party of thirty. It’s amazing how long it takes to roll and shape farfalle when your end goal is serving a small army!

Beyond scaling up our efficiency, streamlining our communication and refining our technical skills, we’re gaining an appreciation for the battles fought and won each night at a successful restaurant. You start with a motely crew of strangers with different strengths and expectations and train them to work like a seamless team—executing at the highest level, over and over again. The fact that so many excellent restaurants and food businesses exist is a sheer miracle—a miracle that, one day, my classmates and I hope to help create.

To learn more about pursuing a career in food, visit ICE.edu

the art of the scoop—morgenstern's, nyc

As a born-and-bred American, it seems there are a few foods that I'm required to like. Peanut butter, first and foremost. Pizza, or anything with melted cheese for that matter. And don't forget the ultimate nostalgic dessert: ice cream. 

Salt + pepper pine nut, szechuan peppercorn chocolate and sesame caramel sauce—Morgenstern's

Yet just as my cravings for peanut butter, pizza and gooey cheese have receded into distant memories, somewhere between my Ben and Jerry's pint for dinner college days and now, I seem to have lost a sweet tooth for this most sacred of sweets. Sure, I've had grown-up flings with "froyo", gelato and vegan coconut ice cream (now a staple in my freezer). But when it comes to the sweet, dairy-heavy scoops that top my friends' favorite cones, my fond memories deceive my taste buds. 

That was, until I met Morgenstern's. This prince of egg-less ice cream may just have developed the quintessential frozen dessert. The texture is light—rich, but not overly indulgent. The flavors skew savory and are all about subtlety. There's not just one vanilla, chocolate, coffee or caramel, but rather, anywhere from three to seven of each on the menu at any time. But most of all, there's the house specialties, including salt and pepper pine nut. 

Oh, salt and pepper pine nut—you may be the most beautiful ice cream creation I've ever witnessed. On a cream-colored, small batch base of lip-tingling pine nut ice cream, the Morgenstern 'creamistas sprinkle coarsely ground pepper, salt and caramelized pine nuts. They cradle these crunchy bits with each flick of the wrist, hiding them inside a hand-carved scoop. It's the tootsie pop of ice cream. 

And yet, returning five times within my first month of meeting Morgenstern's, I've discovered even more unique flavors tolove. The best coffee ice cream I've ever had, swirled around a core of shatteringly crisp honey comb. A szechuan peppercorn chocolate that burns smoky, instead of merely lip-numbing. The gamey combo of black walnut and fernet branca. And the platonic ideal of vanilla—creamy madagascar beans that transport you to a 1950s diner with a single bite.

Morgenstern's
2 Rivington Street, New York, NY
(212) 209-7684