Five incredible health benefits of garlic | Youtube: MEDSimplified

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Highly valued throughout the ages as a culinary spice, garlic is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. But as a small child I was always a little wary of garlic and the strong pungent aroma had me running for the Hills.

All that changed when I first became a chef in London and one of my first jobs was to make a garlic terrine. At first I thought this must be some kind of joke…I mean a terrine made almost exclusively of garlic cloves?

I was given 20 heads of garlic and told to peel each clove, cut them in half and remove the green inner part. I then had to cook the garlic cloves in boiling salted water for 5 minutes, chill them in iced water and told to repeat the process 10 times over. We then added some gelatine leaves to a clear vegetable stock and layered the terrine mould with garlic cloves, the vegetable stock, sun-dried tomatoes, black olives and chopped parsley before placing it in the refrigerator to set. It was sliced and served with dressed rocket leaves and I must admit that it was absolutely delicious. Sometimes I serve it at my restaurants with lamb “Carpaccio” to make it into something really special.

Cooling with garlic

My love affair with garlic has now become an obsession and I couldn’t imagine any kitchen without it. I realise there are still people out there who can't stand the stuff but the truth is, long slow cooking of garlic removes most of its pungency and should pacify even the most ardent garlic-haters. That’s why I love to make garlic confit. The term confit is used to describe anything that has been cooked slowly into a rich, succulent texture. To confit garlic, the cloves are very gently poached in olive oil, transforming them into the most delicate, sweet and tender morsels. These can then be used to flavour soups, sauces, pastas, risotto, vinaigrettes, marinades and potato puree. After making your confit, you’ll also end up with a wonderful garlic-infused oil that is just perfect for transforming into an amazing aioli.

Discovering the joys of garlic is nothing new, its usage actually predates written history; Sanskrit records document the use of garlic remedies approximately 5000 years ago. Legend suggests that Egyptian pharaohs prized garlic very highly and slaves building the pyramids were given a daily ration to keep them fit and strong. Throughout history, garlic has been regarded as a well-trusted remedy: during epidemics such as cholera and tuberculosis and in World War 1 where it was used as an antiseptic applied to wounds to cleanse and heal and to treat dysentery caused by the poor sanitary conditions in the trenches. Modern research has focused on garlic’s potential to reduce the risk of heart disease; cholesterol levels, cancer and it’s also gained a reputation as a super food. We should also not forget to mention the alleged aphrodisiacal powers of garlic, which have been extolled through the ages. And then off course, there’s that amazing, heavenly aroma and flavour that I am very happy to be completely addicted to. Nothing beats it!

Quails stewed in onions, garlic and white wine

Serves 4

Ingredients

200ml olive oil
8 quails
2 large onions
(preferably Spanish), finely sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
sprig of fresh thyme
1 pinch paprika
2 bay leaves
200ml dry white wine
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tbsp finely
chopped chives
sea salt and
freshly ground black pepper

Method

1 Heat half of the olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan over a medium-low heat and gently brown the quails on all sides. Remove the quails and set aside.

2 Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and add the onions. Gently cook for 3–4 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon, until softened but not coloured.

3 Add the garlic, thyme, paprika and bay leaves, then return the quails to the pan and stir well with to coat the meat in the oil. Add the wine and sherry vinegar and cover with a lid.

4 Cook over a gentle heat for 25–30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5 Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with chopped chives and serve immediately.

Scallops with Albariño, garlic and parsley

Serves 4

Ingredients

12 fresh scallops, shelled and corals removed
3 tbsp olive oil2-3 garlic clove, roughly chopped
150ml Albariño (dry white wine)
2tbsp cream
75g chilled butter 2-3 tsp’s finely chopped fresh parsley
A squeeze lemon juice
Seasoning

Method

1 Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan.

2 Place the prepared scallops in the hot pan and cook for a minute and a half on both sides.

3 Add the white wine, crushed garlic and cream. Bring to the boil and mix in the chilled butter and chopped fresh parsley.

4 Season with salt and pepper and serve at once with a squeeze of lemon juice.

Gambas al Ajillo

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

350g Prawns, preferable locally caught from Majorca
100ml extra virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced1 red chilli finely chopped
Chopped fresh parsley
½ lemon, juiced

Method

1 Heat the oil in a small frying pan. Add the garlic and chilli and sizzle gently for a few seconds. Just as the garlic is beginning to take on a hint of colour, add the prawns.

2 On high heat cook 1-2 minutes per side, until the little prawns are golden on the outside yet still moist inside.

3 Remove from the heat; finish by sprinkling with parsley and lemon juice and serve at once, still sizzling.