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Sunday, 5 April 2015

Still wild about garlic

So, its THAT time of year again.

One of these days I will get round to harvesting Wild Garlic commercially, because a, I know where to find a BIG stock of it and b, all the top chefs love using it when it is in season.  

My First Crop of 2015
This is my first crop of this year, taken not from my big (and secret) supply base, but from a little copse in the midst of a very nice residential area just above Finsbury Park Station.
Within an hour of picking it, it was washed, blanched and popped into a jar with some chilli flakes, black pepper and Extra Virgin Olive Oil and then stored away at the back of the larder.  I shall be back to it in about a month's time when I am sure it will taste glorious. 

And talking about Garlic, I've been making garlic bread. Oh, and Soda Bread and Pitta Bread and Wholemeal Loaf. 

You see, I went on this bread making course a month or so ago at our local community centre. I spent a glorious Saturday with a load of other locals because taught how to make the food of life by a local expert.  Then, a few days later, a local Jewish couple (I live near Stamford Hill, home to Europe's largest Orthodox Jewish community) announced they were moving and needed to give away a load of bread flour. 

Now, when I say a load, I mean a LOAD. We are talking 30 Kilos here! Apparently, they used to do a lot of baking, but then the novelty wore off. It took me two runs on my bike to pick it all up. On getting it home, I gave some to the housemates, who include a local primary school teacher. My other 'housie' works in a children's hospital and is a great baker or bread, so she was very glad of it. 

But even after all my give aways I am still left with LOADS of bread flour. I've baked a few loaves with it, but in the last week or two have been focussing on pizza bases, 

My Go To Cookbook
Now, when I want to know something, I go to my Leith's Vegetarian Bible. I rather suspect this is the ultimate vegetarian cookbook. I was given it as a leaving present from the staff at the first school I taught in. To say that it was a very welcome present is something of an understatement. Next to Rosamund Richardson's books' this is the one I use most of all. 

As you can see below, it gives a very reliable recipe for a pizza base that I have used many times. It's quick, simple and produces a lovely pizza dough. 

A simple and straightforward Pizza base. 
Tonight, I used it to make a garlic bread. But of course, I had already used up my wild garlic, so I had to use the real stuff for this. Only I didn't. What you see below is what is left of the garlic and parsley bread I made this evening to go with my pasta and tomato pesto main course. 

The garlic I used for this bread was frozen. I saw this stuff in the local supermarket a week or two ago and thought I would give it a go. I so wish I hadn't. My first thought was to roast the frozen cloves in order to draw the flavour out of them. 


All I was left with was a hot, tasteless mush! So, I took another couple of cloves out of the freezer, microwaved them for a few seconds to thaw them out and then chopped them up with some parsley and olive oil. Well the result as you can see below, is a nice looking bread - that was totally tasteless. 

So, lesson learned is this. NEVER, EVER, use frozen garlic cloves again! They will be in the bin before the night is out and I will be buying the real stuff (or using the wild stuff) from now onwards. So, just in case you are ever templted to use frozen garlic, below is a picture of the stuff I bought, so you can avoid it in the future.