Posted in Best Find, Recipe

Best Food Find – Black Garlic

About a year ago I first encountered black garlic in a recipe that called for it and ever since I was intrigued. Eventually I was able to get a company in SA who import it and got myself a few bulbs to experiment with and I must say I am hooked on this mild black garlic with the sweet aromas of reduced balsamic vinegar. And the best part of it, that strong garlic pungent odour is absent.

Though not as well known as its white counterpart, black garlic is enjoying a rise in popularity in gastronomic circles and the alternative medicine field. Introduced to the health and food markets about 5 years ago by the Koreans, garlic becomes “black garlic” through a month-long process of fermentation under strictly controlled heat and humidity. The health benefits of black garlic are being touted by natural medicine practitioners and herbalists.

taste blog black garlic

Recipe for Black Garlic Café de Paris Butter:

Makes about 300g of butter.

  • 6-7 Black Garlic Cloves, crushed or mashed
  • 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • ½ tsp Chopped Capers
  • 1 Small Shallot Chopped
  • 1tsp Chopped Chives
  • 1 tsp Chopped tarragon
  • 2 Anchovy Fillets (optional)
  • 1 tsp Cognac
  • 1 tsp Madeira
  • ¼ tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 200g Soft Unsalted Butter

To make:

  1. Place all the ingredients, except the butter and paprika in a bowl and mix well. Season with salt and the paprika and allow to stand for 24 hours in a warm place to allow all the flavours to infuse.
  2. Using a wooden spoon, beat the infused mixture into the softened butter until well mixed.
  3. Once mixed, roll the butter mix in grease proof paper into a sausage shape, secure the ends and chill in the fridge until needed.
  4. To serve, cut a large piece of butter and place on the meat or fish. The butter will slowly melt over the food adding wonderful  flavour and aroma to the dish.

taste blog butter paris


More Black Garlic Facts: 

  1. Cancer Protection and Cholesterol Benefits: – The month-long fermentation process in creating black garlic contributes to creating a kind of super-garlic. The compound S-allylcysteine, a natural component of fresh garlic and a derivative of the amino acid cysteine, was found in much greater concentrations in black garlic, and is thought to help lower cholesterol and decrease the risk of cancer.
  2. Infection Protection: – White garlic contains anti-microbial, antibiotic and anti-fungal agents in its active ingredient, allicin. In black garlic, S-allylcysteine assists with the absorption of allicin, helping it metabolize more easily which could offer boosted protection against infections.
  3. Disease Protection:- Garlic is also high in antioxidants. Black garlic has been found to have twice the antioxidant properties of conventional garlic. Antioxidants protect the cells from disease and are thought to slow down the aging process. Because black garlic is so potent, the heightened levels of antioxidants offering protection from free radical damage make it an ideal food for thwarting chronic disease. Free radicals damage cells leading to heart disease, Alzheimer’s, circulatory problems, rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic diseases.
  4. Other Characteristics: –The fermentation that produces black garlic reduces the pungent odour and strong flavour, making it more palatable and appealing to some people. The taste of black garlic has been compared to that of a dried fruit, smoky, sweet and slightly chewy. Conventional garlic, even in freeze-dried capsules, emits a strong garlic odour that permeates the skin, causing objectionable body and breath odour in people using garlic as a health supplement. Black garlic has none of the strong odour of white garlic and can be consumed in large quantities without the olfactory effects.
Posted in Good Food, Recipe

Easter Inspiration: Quails Eggs on a Feuillete of Mushrooms with Tarragon Mayonnaise

With a new Pope elected and with some calm returned to the period before Easter, I thought I would publish something that is actually very easy to make and I hope it brings much happiness to you as a breakfast, light lunch or starter to a more elaborate dinner. Quail’s eggs are a bit difficult to get hold of in Pretoria, but here is a link to a reliable supplier in Pretoria. This recipe makes 6 portions, please note it is a cold dish. The recipe may sound intricate, but all the components can be made well in advance. If you have made it the day before, take all the components out of the fridge about two hours before serving to allow to reach room temperature. The whole dish will taste so much better at room temperature.

For those who may be wondering what the heck a “Feuillete” is, here is a short description: Feuillete roughly translates as ‘leaves’, represented in this dish by the layers of puff pastry.

taste blog quails eggs

You’ll need:

  • 24 Quails Eggs plus about 10 extra
  • 400g Puff Pastry
  • 1 Egg
  • 350g White Button Mushrooms
  • 40g Butter
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Chives to sprinkle

For the Tarragon Mayonnaise:

  • 2 Egg Yolks (as fresh as possible)
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp Mashed Garlic
  • 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • Pinch of White Pepper
  • 20g Tarragon Leaves, Finely Chopped
  • 300ml Canola Oil

To Make:

The Quails Eggs: Before we start a warning, these eggs are difficult, they have a tough membrane and to break through it you sometimes you break the egg, the reason for the extra eggs. Boil your water and once boiling dunk the eggs in the water for exactly 2 minutes, longer and they are blue, shorter and the whites are still runny and fragile. Once boiled for 2 minutes, remove and immediately drop them in ice-cold water to stop the cooking. Now comes a test of your patience, peel them and set aside.

To make the Feuillete: Preheat your oven to 180°C. Thaw your puff pastry according to the instructions on the pack. Unroll the pastry and with a pizza  cutter cut 6 rectangles of 11cm x 5cm. Lightly brush with the beaten egg and bake in the oven until golden brown, puffed and crispy. Set aside.

To make the Mushrooms: Clean the mushrooms from any debris, don’t wash them under water, rather use a damp cloth and wipe them. If you have a food processor, give them a rough chop, transfer to a hot pan with the butter melted in it, season to taste and start to fry your mushrooms over high heat to remove all the moisture from it. You want a dry mushroom in order to prevent your Feuillete going soggy once you dish up. Set the mushroom aside to cool down.

To make the Mayonnaise: While your Feuilletes cool down, you can start to make the mayonnaise. Put all the ingredients except the oil in a food processor. Yes, I know, why would I stand a whisk like an idiot if there is a machine that can do it in half the time? Back to the recipe – once all is in the processor, mix well for about 30 seconds and then start to add the oil in a slow stream into the processor while running on high-speed. You mayonnaise should be thick and easy to put into a piping bag without it running out at the bottom. Once made, transfer about half into a piping bag and the other half into a sterilised bottle and into the fridge.

To Assemble your plates:

  1. Pipe a small circle of mayonnaise on the place and set a Feuillete on the mayonnaise on each plate. This is to avoid that your Feuillete will slide around when you present your dish to your guests.
  2. Then spread one heaped tablespoon of mushroom onto each Feuillete, but not to the edges.
  3. Using your piping bag, pipe three circles of mayonnaise unto the mushroom.
  4. Set a quail egg into each mayonnaise circle, break one egg open and place on the plate.
  5. Sprinkle the plate and eggs with some chives and serve!
  6. If you serve as a starter at dinner, a very light Pinot Noir goes well with this dish.
Posted in Good Food, How To, Recipe, Wine

Aubergine & Courgette Soup with Smoked Garlic Pearls to celebrate Autumn

The days are getting shorter and the nights longer and cooler as well. 1 March is officially the arrival of autumn in South Africa and very welcome so after a long hot and dry summer this year. I have two favourite times of the year, when autumn starts in March and when spring starts in September, the days have such a magnificence to it, it makes me nostalgic to the point where I always page through my mom’s handwritten recipe book to remember childhood favourites. My mom can cook, but if she had a choice she would rather not, so she wasn’t and still isn’t the most enthusiastic cook. However she had some great recipes, ok sometimes she would make them too many times and they became hated recipes by us, her four children, but one I fondly remember is her aubergine soup. She used to make it this time of the year with the end of season aubergines when the seeds inside was hard and needed some camouflage by being liquidated.

I have altered and tweaked the soup a little to be a more sexy and updated modern soup, I also added a few more flavourings, my mom wasn’t very creative when it came to flavours and her pantry was limited usually to parsley as the main herb to give flavour. Here is my version: Creamy Aubergine Soup with Courgettes and Smoked Garlic Pearl.

taste blog eggplant soup

You’ll need:

  • 3 Large Aubergines
  • 4-5 Courgettes
  • 2 Shallots, finely chopped
  • Olive Oil for frying
  • 2 Large Garlic Bulbs, keep them whole
  • 1l Chicken or Vegetable Stock
  • 250ml Cream
  • 250ml Dry White Wine
  • 10ml Smooth Dijon Mustard
  • 5ml Fine Fennel
  • 5ml Fine Cumin
  • 3ml Freshly grated Nutmeg
  • 2ml White Pepper
  • Salt to Taste
  • Fresh Chives as garnish
  • Parmesan shavings for garnish

A Bouquet Garni of:

  • 2 Fresh Bay Leaves
  • 6-8 Fresh Parsley Stalks
  • 3-4 Sprigs of Thyme
  • 6 Sage Leaves

To make:

The Smoked Garlic: If you have a smoker, follow the instructions and smoke the garlic over a mixture of wood shavings and rooibos tea, I use a very course rooibos tea from Eleven O’Clock Tea Company. Or if you don’t have a smoker see this video on how to make your own smoker by clicking here.   Smoke the garlic for 5-10 minutes on a high heat, then turn the heat down to a medium setting and smoke another 20-30 minutes. After the last smoke, remove the smoker from the heat and allow the garlic to stand another 10 minutes. Open, remove and allow to cool. Once cooled down, you can start to peel the garlic, you should have these wonderful soft pieces of garlic, ready to eat.

My Tip: Smoke more than the two bulbs in this recipe, if you are a garlic lover, you’ll adore this and you can store it in bottles filled with some olive oil in the fridge. You’ll have lovely garlic and a beautiful smoked garlic oil to use as well.

To make the Soup: Peel the aubergines, slice them and boil them for 15-20 minutes in a pot of water with 2 teaspoons of salt and one lemon quartered – this is to keep this aubergine as white as possible. Once cooked, remove from the water and liquidise until smooth, set aside. In a large soup pot, fry the chopped shallots in a little olive oil until soft, add all your spices and fry to bring out the aromas, it takes about 20-30 seconds, add the wine and mustard and allow to reduce by half. Add the stock, the liquidised aubergines and the bouquet garni to the shallots and simmer for about 20-30 minutes over a low heat, lid off. After this cooking time, remove the bouquet garni, add the sliced courgettes and simmer until the courgettes are soft but still firm. Remove from the heat, add the cream and allow to stand for about 10 minutes and then taste for salt.

To Plate:

  1. Laddle a good spoonful onto each plate.
  2. Turn about three courgettes on their sides and set a smoked garlic pearl on each one.
  3. Sprinkle the plate with some chopped chives and some whole ones too.
  4. Serve with the same dry white you used in the soup, I like to use and serve it with a Zonnebloem Sauvignon Blanc and some crostinis.

Chef’s Tips:

  • For a thicker and creamier soup, add two boiled potatoes to the aubergines when you liquidise them.
  • For a smoother soup, pass the soup through a fine sieve right at the end before serving the soup.
  • For a vegetarian option, replace the chicken stock with a strong vegetable stock.