Black Garlic

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I use garlic in everything. Like fresh herbs, this is a necessary aromatic to boost the flavor in many dishes. I’ll often mix things up and use roasted garlic when I want a deeper, caramel, and sweeter flavor in dishes like roasted butternut squash soup with curry. In the springtime I use green garlic (also called spring garlic) in everything as a substitute for regular garlic and you can also sprinkle onto finished dishes because of its milder aroma.

Now there is another option; Black Garlic. Black garlic has been around for a while, but now a local company is producing it and distributing in places like Whole Foods. Black garlic actually goes through a process of fermenting and has a smokey- molasses flavor and has the consistency of dense dried fruit. It doesn’t work as a substitute for garlic in everything, but it will enhance the flavor of a lot of dishes. One great use is to purée it into a sauce or stock to give it a richer, deeper flavor. I could see it in a mole, pasta sauce, pesto, or in a rich brown sauce for a steak. I tried it puréed with anchovies, spring onions, and fresh herbs to create a paste for marinating meats and fish.

I’m looking forward to playing around with Black Garlic in new recipes especially now that green garlic is waning. I’ll try and tweet about new uses I come up with.

Springtime Mushrooms

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One of the rights of spring for chefs is the seasons start of porcini and morel mushrooms, unfortunately, it doesn’t look like a good year for morels. According to the fine folks at Far West Fungi, the dry winter didn’t produce enough rain for the morels to flourish. But the good news is… it should be a great year for porcini. The season is just beginning now and the prices should start coming down soon.

I splurged and bought a few morels to make one of my favorite springtime dishes; Halibut with Fava Beans, Morel Mushrooms, and Tarragon Aioli.

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With the shortage of morels this season, it’s time to start thinking about porcini. Porcini is a very hardy mushroom and holds up well to many cooking methods. They can be sautéed or grilled or roasted in the oven to bring out their earthy, meaty flavor. One of the best ways to cook a porcini is in the pizza oven if you have access to one.

They are best cooked whole or cut in half depending on there size. Serve them on top of a risotto or steak, or in a pasta, or just on the plate with a fork and knife sprinkled with a little fleur de sel.

Fresh Garbanzo Beans

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If you’ve been reading my blog you know how much I love the versatility of fresh garbanzo beans. You can use them as you would a dry garbanzo bean in dishes like hummus or as a spread for a crostini that will add more of a fresh and vegetal flavor to your dish. You can also use them as a fresh bean in a ragout for a fish dish or you can add them to a spring salad for a fresh new dimension.

Tonight I created a dish that has been in my head for a while: Pan Fried Coconut Prawns with Fresh Garbanzo Beans in a Coconut- Curry Sauce. Delicious!

Another great use for this seasonal vegetable.