Wild Garlic Pesto

Wild Garlic Pesto

This time of year, a treasure is to be found in our woodlands. Look for some shady area in a deciduous wood. Then just follow your nose, because I’m talking about wild garlic, also known as ramsons. This stuff can be used in salads and soups but also makes a great pesto. One small caution: wild garlic can look a little like lily of the vallley, which is poisonous. However, the wild garlic flower is typical of the onion and garlic family and almost dandelion-like. Also, if you just rub a leaf between your fingers, the smell of garlic will confirm you’ve found the right stuff. For this recipe you’ll want to collect the leaves. Five minutes foraging, will yield at least three jars of pesto.

Back home, pull the stalks off the leaves and weigh out how much you’ll need. About 80g per jam jar. Sterilise some jars in a low oven and then let cool. Wash the leaves to remove dust and dirt and then dry between two towels. The other ingredients in this pesto are 40g each per jar of unsalted pistachio nut kernels and finely grated parmesan, good olive oil and a little salt and pepper.

Place the wild garlic and pistachios in a food processor and whizz until a nice consistency has been achieved. I like to leave it quite coarse, so you still get plenty of small pieces of nut. Then add a couple of tablespoons of oil and fold in the parmesan. The pesto will still be quite dry, so add more oil until you get the consistency you want. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Be careful with the salt as the parmesan is already quite salty. Pour carefully into the jar(s) and press lightly with back of a spoon to get rid of most of the air bubbles. Then pour more oil to completely cover and seal the pesto. At this stage, put the lids on but don’t tighten up fully. After half an hour or so, take a skewer and poke out any remaining air bubbles. If necessary, top up with olive oil. Now you can close up the jars properly. This will keep a couple of weeks or so stored somewhere cool and several months stored in the fridge. If you store it in the fridge the oil may solidify but just take the jar out a while before using and everything will be just fine.

By the way this pesto works really well with the Aubergines Slices with Walnuts and Garlic recipe. Just replace the garlic, olive oil and most of the parsley with about 100g of the pesto. You might just need a little olive oil to get a good spreadble consistency.

Obviously you can stir this into pasta to make a quick and tasty meal, but that’s not all. The other day, I had some new potatoes left over. I crushed these lightly, took some (light) creme fraiche mixed with a little cream, added a good rounded dessert spoon of the the pesto and seasoned with pepper and a little salt. I then put the potatoes in a buttered fairly shallow ovenproof dish, covered with the pesto and creme fraiche, sprinkled with some grated emmental and some pancetta cubes. After 20 minutes at 180°C I had a scrumptious dinner.

Caramelised Garlic and Goat’s Cheese Tart

Caramelised Garlic Goats Cheese Tart

I recently posted a recipe for a fantastic quiche using fresh garlic. This was delicious but unfortunately the season for fresh garlic is pretty short. So, I was on the lookout for a similar recipe that I could make all year round. While perusing the Irish Times a few weeks ago, I came across this tart/quiche in Domini Kemp’s column. She presents a recipe adapted from one by Yotam Ottolenghi, which I, in turn, have adapted slightly to suit the flan dishes I had available. The results were great and I look forward to being able to enjoy this tart throughout the year. Ottolenghi’s recipe uses less balsamic, which I would do next time too, as it keeps the garlic more golden than dark.

This recipe is for a 20cm dish. Just double the quantities for 28cm. You can of course make your own puff pastry if you’re that way inclined but I used Jus-Rol. I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t use shortcrust, in which case there’s less excuse not to make it yourself!

There’s a little bit of work involved but you can do each stage separately; so don’t let that put you off trying this great dish.

Summary

Makes: 4 portions
Preparation: 10 mins + 20 mins
Cooking: 30 mins + 20 mins + 30 mins

Ingredients

250g
2-3 heads
2 tbsp
2 tbsp
200ml
1 tbsp
1 tbsp
120g
2
100g
Puff pastry (defrosted but still cold)
Garlic (cloves separated and peeled)
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Water
Caster sugar
Chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, etc)
Goat’s cheese (mix hard and soft if you can)
Large eggs (the best you can get)
Crème fraîche
Salt
Pepper
.
20cm quiche dish about 3cm deep
Baking beans or similar

Method

First we need to make the pastry base, which can be be done ahead of time. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface so that it is big enough to line the base and sides of the quiche dish with a margin to allow for shrinkage. Prick the base all over with a fork. If you have time place in the fridge for 20 minutes of so. Trim the excess pastry. Line the pastry with greaseproof paper and pour in the baking beans. Use as many as will fit, as otherwise the base will rise. Place into the preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the greaseproof paper and baking beans and continue to bake for a further 5 minutes to let the base crisp up. Set aside to cool. Don’t worry if the base has risen a little: you can carefully trim around the edge and press it down gently later.

When you’re ready to finish off the dish, set the oven to warm at 160°C. Put the olive oil in a small frying pan over a low heat and add the garlic cloves. Let them gently sweat for about 10 minutes. Move them around the pan to stop them colouring. Then add the sugar, balsamic and water. Increase the heat and let the mixture reduce. After about 10 minutes add the chopped herbs and season with a little salt and pepper. When the liquid has turned syrupy, the garlic should be soft and have a nice dark colour from the balsamic. In the meantime, dice the cheese and sprinkle over the pastry base. Crack the eggs and mix with the crème fraîche to form a sort of custard. Sprinkle the garlic cloves evenly over the cheese along with a little of the pan syrup. Move the dish to near the oven and pour in the eggs and crème fraîche. Transfer to the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the custard has set.

Let cool a little before serving, as this gives the flavour a chance to develop. Enjoy with a green salad.

New Season Garlic

Early summer gives us a chance to experience one of the kitchen’s stalwarts in its fresh form. Fresh or wet garlic can be found readily and allows dishes to made with lots of garlic taste, which at the same time don’t overpower everything else. There are many things you can do, but here are a couple that I tried this year. The first is a fantastic quiche and the second is a great marinade for a steak.

Fresh Garlic Saffron Tomato Quiche

Fresh Garlic, Saffron and Tomato Quiche

I found the recipe for this quiche in Simon Hopkinson’s fantastic The Vegetarian Option and have been eagerly waiting for chance to try it. It’s a slightly involved recipe, which can be carried out in two stages, but the results are great and I’d recommend that you try it. Don’t be tempted to make this dish with normal garlic as the taste will just be too strong.

Summary

Makes: 4 good portions
Preparation: 20mins + 5mins
Cooking: 30mins + 25mins + 40mins

Ingredients

.
.
100g
65g
1 pinch
1-2 tbsp
.
.
.
100g
200g
1 r.tsp
100ml
1 tsp
2
1
100ml
100ml
100g
30g
Pastry
.
Plain white flour (sieved)
Cold unsalted butter (cut into cubes)
Salt
Ice cold water
.
Filling
.
Fresh garlic cloves (peeled and trimmed)
Ripe tomatoes (peeled, seeded and chopped roughly)
Tomato puree
Milk
Saffron strands
Large eggs
Yolk of large egg
Fresh cream (double cream if you like)
Crème fraîche or sour cream
Light cream cheese
Freshly grated parmesan
Salt
Pepper

Method

First, make the pastry. This can be done ahead of time, in fact it needs to be done at least an hour ahead. Put the sieved flour, butter and salt into a food processor and pulse a few times until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Tip into a large cold bowl and add just enough of the chilled water to bring the pastry together. Put into a plastic bag and transfer to the fridge for at least an hour. If you’re a dab hand at pastrymaking, you can do all this by hand, but it’s hard to keep the butter from getting too warm.

Next, we need to blanch the garlic to take the edge off the flavour. Place the cloves in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, drain. Repeat this twice. Then cover with cold water, add a little salt and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the garlic is soft. Drain and set aside.

In the meantime, heat the milk to just below boiling and switch off the heat. Add the saffron and leave to infuse.

Put the tomatoes and puree, lightly seasoned and with a tiny splash of olive oil, into a small frying pan over a very gentle heat. Let the moisture evaporate, stirring occasionally. You should be left with an almost jam-like texture after twenty minutes or so. Set aside.

After the pastry has cooled, roll it on a lightly floured surface until about 30cm in diameter. Gently line a 20cm quiche dish about 3cm deep. I found it easiest to use a non-stick tin with a pop-up bottom. Prick the base with a fork and trim any excess pastry. Line the pastry with tin foil and cover with baking beans (or chickpeas etc). Place into a 180°C preheated oven for about 15 minutes. Remove the foil and beans and bake for a further 10 minutes. You could of course buy a prepared quiche base, but where’s the fun in that!

All of this can be done in advance.

When it’s time to cook, set the oven to 180°C. Put the eggs, egg yolk and garlic into a food processor and whizz until smooth. Add the cream, crème fraîche or sour cream, cream cheese and parmesan and mix again. Season lightly and stir in the saffron-infused milk.

Next, spread the tomato ‘jam’ over the pastry base. Pour the filling into the case and transfer to the oven. This can be a little unnerving, so it’s best to carry out this step as close to the oven as possible. Bake for a little over 30 minutes until set and the top is golden.

Leave to cool for 10 to 15 minutes, to let the flavour develop. Remove gently from the tin and transfer to a serving plate. Enjoy with a nice green salad.

Fresh Garlic and Rosemary Marinade

The previous recipe left me with about 10 juicy cloves of garlic. I decided to make a nice marinade for a couple of lovely rib-eye steaks I’d bought. First of all, I peeled and trimmed the garlic. I then gave them a very light coating of olive oil and put them in a small ovenproof dish and roasted the cloves in a low (150°C) oven for about half an hour until they were soft. These were then transferred to a mini food processor. I added enough olive oil to almost cover, along with the juice of half a lemon, the leaves from a 30cm length of rosemary branch and some freshly ground pepper. This was all whizzed together and then applied to the steaks. After marinading for an hour or so, the grilled steaks were just delish!