Newsletters: 8 Sept, 2010

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 8 Sept, 2010. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

Cooking, and reading about cooking
I don’t have any questions to answer this week, which means I get to pick something from my own collection. If you enjoyed the medieval recipes I shared last spring, you should find these classical Greek and Roman reconstructions interesting too.

Cheese and sesame sweatmeats
(Globi, from Philoxenus and Cato)
1.25 c. milk
2 Tbsp. semolina
3 Tbsp. honey (divided)
4 oz. ricotta cheese
.75 c. lightly roasted sesame seeds (divided)
olive or vegetable oil for deep-frying
Bring the milk to a boil and sprinkle the semolina over it, stirring constantly. Cook briefly but do not let it burn. Allow to cool slightly, stirring occasionally, until it forms a firm paste. Add 1 Tbsp. honey and the cheese; mix well and stir in the sesame seeds. Heat oil in a deep-fryer or saucepan until a little of the mixture dropped into the oil rises and begins to color. Form mixture into balls between two spoons and drop into the oil 2-3 at a time. Turn occasionally until they are golden-brown on all sides; lift from the oil and drain on paper towels. Warm the remaining honey and toss the cooked balls in it, then in the remaining sesame seeds. May be served hot or cold.

Garlic cheese
(Moretum, from a poem attributed to Virgil)
2 bulbs garlic (very roughly, 15-25 cloves)
8 oz. Pecorino Romano cheese
1 large handful cilantro
2 tsp. chopped fresh rue
2 heaped tsp. chopped fresh celery leaf
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
Peel and roughly chop the garlic and herbs; grate the cheese. If you are grinding by hand, start with the garlic and salt and break it down to a pulp, then add the cheese and herbs. When you have a smooth mixture add the liquids and mix well. If you are using a food processor, process all the solid ingredients into a smooth mixture, then add the liquids. Chill. Serve with a crusty loaf as a snack.

Both recipes this week are from: The classical cookbook / Andrew Dalby and Sally Grainger. J. Paul Getty Museum, c1996.

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Newsletters: 3 Aug 2011

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 3 Aug 2011. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

In the belly
Garlic has a great reputation for being healthy, although some grumblers claim that it comes from the greater personal space granted to those with strong garlic breath. Although it’s native to central Asia, it spread to other areas rapidly. It was known to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, who ate it to increase strength and endurance. It has traditionally been used for its anti-microbial properties, but modern research has found it useful against high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, worms, anemia, impotence, gastrointestinal inflammation, and infections (used topically in this last case). There is also some evidence that its anti-infammatory qualities benefit the musculoskeletal an respiratory systems, and may help against arthritis. It seems that the way to get the most benefit from garlic is to chop or crush it, then let it “rest” a little before cooking it; it develops enzymes that are not present in whole garlic.

Whole or crushed, raw or cooked, it supplies a host of valuable nutrients: vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, D and E, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, selenium, phosphorus, copper, and beta carotene. It should be noted, however, that it thins the blood and should be eaten cautiously if at all by those taking anti-coagulants. Also, garlic supplements and in fact most extracts and preparations are significantly less amazing than your basic clove of garlic. In fact, so much of garlic’s benefit comes from the allicin that gives it its distinctive smell that there’s almost no reason to take odorless garlic supplements. The only thing to do is encourage all your friends to eat lots of it too, so you can all smell of garlic together and stop noticing it.

In the kitchen
Whether you have a zucchini surplus or are hoping to be a victim of zucchini-sneaking, you could probably use a few ideas for what to do with them. Zucchini bread is classic, of course; and why aren’t there any recipes on the Market website for it? Well, I can fix that!

Whole wheat zucchini bread
3 eggs
1 c vegetable oil
1.5 c brown sugar
2 c grated zucchini
2 tsp vanilla
1 c all-purpose flour
1 c whole wheat flour
0.25 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 c raisins (optional)
1 c chopped walnuts (optional)
0.25 c wheat germ
Thoroughly mix together eggs, oil, sugar, zucchini, and vanilla. Stir in flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, wheat germ, and cinnamon. Stir in raisins and nuts. Bake 1 hr at 350F, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
Note: the zucchini can be grated in season and frozen for later use. Zucchini bread may taste better as a single loaf in January than as the fifteenth loaf in August.

Cheddar Zucchini Wedges
1 chopped onion
0.25 c butter
2.5 c biscuit or baking mix
1 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
0.5 tsp dried basil
0.5 tsp dried thyme
3 beaten eggs
0.25 c milk
1.52 c shredded zucchini
1 c shredded Cheddar cheese
0.75 c chopped almonds, toasted
Saute onion in butter until tender. Combine the biscuit mix, parsley, basil, thyme and onion mixture; stir in eggs and milk just until combined. Fold in zucchini, cheese and almonds. Transfer to a greased 9-in. round cake pan and bake at 400F for 25-30 min. or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cut into wedges to serve.

Panfried sage-scented zucchini pancakes
2 lb medium zucchini, julienned or coarsely grated
1.5 Tbsp coarse salt
3 cloves garlic, crushed
9 finely chopped sage leaves
0.75 c flour, divided
6 Tbsp water
pepper to taste
3 Tbsp olive oil
Rub salt into zucchini until it dissolves; drain 30 min. in a colander. Combine the garlic, sage, and 6 Tbsp flour; stir in water and whisk into a smooth paste. Squeeze zucchini by fistfuls to extract as much water as posible; stir into flour mixture and season with pepper. Spread remaining flour on a work surface. Form zucchini mixture into patties 1/2 inch thick by 4 inches in diameter and gently flour on both sides. Fry in olive oil until golden brown, ca. 7 min.; gently turn over and fry another 5 min., gently flattening occasionally.

=\From: Vegetables / James Peterson. William Morrow and Co., c1998.

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native to: central Asia
in season here: late summer-fall
One of the best-known benefits of garlic is prevention of high blood pressure. It does this by providing alliin, which keeps blood vessels from contracting, and (according to more recent research) because red blood cells use the polysulfides in garlic to make hydrogen sulfide gas that helps blood vessels expand. Not all garlic extracts have the sulfur compounds for this second effect, so you’re better off eating garlic in your food and putting up with garlic breath. To help mitigate the problem, encourage all your friends and family to eat garlic, too; if they smell of it, they’re less likely to smell it. Some less-known effects of garlic include improving iron metabolism, lowering cholesterol, preventing blood clots, and just possibly reducing the number of fat cells the body produces, a side effect of its anti-inflammatory properties (apparently researchers have decided that obesity is characterized by chronic low-grade inflammation; who knew?).

There are lots of flavonoids in there too, along with selenium, manganese, copper, phosphorus, germanium, and vitamins B1, B6 and C, and it’s an anti-oxidant and anti-arthritic. It can even help reduce airway inflammation during allergic reactions (but you should still keep your medication on hand…). Its anti-cancer properties include inhibiting carcenogen formation during high-temperature cooking of meat. There’s also some interesting research being done on the antimicrobial properties of garlic.

Garlic is a member of the Allium family, related to lilies, onions, chives, shallots, and leeks. There are two basic types, hardneck and softneck. Hardneck garlic has a tough central stalk while softneck has a softer leaflike stalk that allows for braiding. Softneck garlic keeps longer, nine months or more, has a larger bulb with more cloves, and is generally milder in flavor. Hardneck garlic is closer to wild garlic and tends to larger cloves, if fewer per bulb, and richer flavor, but will only keep about half a year, if that.

Folklore claims it will bring good luck and ward off evil (including vampires), and that eating raw garlic will prevent colds; and it does in fact boost the immune system. Ancient Egyptians were the first (that we know about) to cultivate garlic, and it was used in the ancient and classical worlds to enhance strength. There was even a Roman dish, called moretum or garlic cheese, that is described in a poem (possibly by Virgil and giving us the national motto “E pluribus unum“) as using four bulbs of garlic — some fifty cloves — in one mortar-full. It was used for millennia for ear infections, cholera, and typhus. In both world wars it was used as a disinfectant, and even now is being used against MRSA.

The longest string of garlic in the world was 123 feet long and contained 1600 garlic bulbs.

Read more:
label-style nutrition information for raw garlic
Really Garlicky has some home remedies using garlic
The Mother Earth News Organic Gardening blog discusses hardneck vs. softneck garlic

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Tuscan white bean and roasted garlic soup

1 lb dry Cannellini beans, rinsed
1 bulb garlic, peeled
8 cups water
4 fresh sage leaves, plus more for garnish
2 tsp olive oil
1 Tbsp chicken or vegetable bouillon powder
salt and pepper to taste

Place beans, 3 cloves garlic, water, and a few sage leaves in slow cooker; cover and cook on high 4 hours, or until beans are soft.

Place remaining garlic cloves in the center of a 7×7 inch square of aluminum foil and drizzle with oil; salt lightly. Seal foil and bake at 400F 25-30 minutes, until garlic is soft and golden. Remove from oven and let cool.

Add bouillon to the cooked beans and mix to dissolve. Transfer some of the beans and liquid to a blender; add roasted garlic (reserve a few cloves for garnish if desired). Blend until smooth and return to slow cooker. Repeat until desired texture is reached. Adjust seasonings.

Garnish with fresh sage leaves, white pepper, whole roasted garlic cloves, if desired.

Makes about 7 3/4 cups, or 7 servings.

Adapted from

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Cannellini bean dip with garlic scapes

15 oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped garlic scapes
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

for serving:
whole grain crackers or sliced baguette
grape tomato halves

Pulse beans in food processor 3-4 times. Add scapes and olive oil and process for about 30 seconds. Add lemon juice, sea salt, and black pepper and process until the dip is thick and creamy, adding more oil if needed.

From: Andrea’s Recipes

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Penne with beet greens and garlic

6 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
16-20 oz. beet greens in 1-inch pieces
1 lb. dried penne or rigatoni, cooked
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
salt and pepper to taste

Heat 2 Tbsp. oil, add garlic and stir about 2 minutes. Stir in greens and cook 5-10 minutes until wilted. Remove from heat and stir in remaining olive oil. Pour over pasta and top with Parmesan cheese. Toss quickly and serve with extra cheese.

Adapted from Peterson, James, Vegetables. William Morrow, 1998. ISBN: 0688146589

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Pickled garlic scapes

1 lb. whole garlic scapes
3 cups vinegar
5 cups water
1/4 cup kosher salt
fresh basil leaves
dried red pepper flakes to taste

Boil water, vinegar, and salt to make a brine. Pack hot, sterilized canning jars with whole scapes, 1 fresh basil leaf, a pinch of pepper flakes; fill jars with brine. Close lids, cover with water, and boil for 45 minutes. Keep at least 2 weeks before serving to get best flavor.

From: 2 Sisters Garlic

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.