Alternative Antibiotic

If you are reading this column while standing online waiting for a flu shot, we’ve got a suggestion for you: think about alternative illness fighters. Now, wait just one minute! This is not supposed to be an article on health — that’s on another page. But bear with us just one moment while we extol the virtues of this humble herb.

Aside from the incomparable flavor it offers us, garlic benefits us in countless other ways. Garlic is the only “antibiotic” that can actually kill infecting bacteria and at the same time protect the body from the poisons that are causing the infection. It is widely known that garlic will even kill the deadly anthrax virus. It can surely be a valuable and inexpensive supplement for many wishing to ward off winter colds, flu and bronchitis.

Garlic has been around for centuries. It has always been believed to have healing properties and healthful uses. Lately, many experts have reached the same conclusions and are urging us to use garlic in our cooking every day. Garlic has been known to lower cholesterol and even fight cancer. Medical research studies have shown a marked effect on cholesterol levels when eating garlic daily for a number of weeks. Other studies show us that regular consumption of garlic lowers blood pressure as well. Garlic has also been shown to increase the birth weight of babies when taken on a regular basis by their mothers. Before the advent of antibiotics, garlic was used to treat wounds and infections during war-time. It has been shown to be effective against such life-threatening diseases as tuberculosis and asthma. Even the forefather of antibiotic medicine, Louis Pasteur, acknowledged garlic to be as effective as penicillin.

While the accolades for garlic’s medicinal powers are impressive, we are partial to garlic because of its potential to add flavor to foods like no other single ingredient. Adding some crushed garlic to your salad dressing, marinades and soups will make them sing.

The easiest way to crush garlic is with a quality garlic press. Better presses allow you to crush the cloves without peeling them. Just put the clove into the press and squeeze. The flesh will come out through the holes while the skin stays inside. Then remove the skin with the tip of your knife.

We’ve got some new garlicky recipes for you to try.

Garlic Lemon Chicken

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into strips
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 large head garlic, all cloves crushed
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • lemon pepper seasoning to taste

Mix flour, salt and pepper together in a resealable plastic bag. Add chicken, seal bag and shake to coat. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté 3 to 4 minutes, until it starts to change color. Sauté coated chicken strips with oil and garlic for 10 to 15 minutes, until cooked through and juices run clear.

Squeeze lemon over chicken and sprinkle with lemon pepper. Serve hot.

Roasted Garlic Pasta

  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 lb. spaghetti
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Roast garlic as directed above. Set aside to cool. Once it is cool, remove the garlic from each clove and mash slightly.

Heat 5 quarts water in a large pot until boiling. Add 1 tablespoon kosher salt and add pasta. Cook until al dente. Drain pasta and toss with butter, garlic, parmesan and pepper. Serve hot.

Garlic Roasted Reds

  • 3 lbs. small red potatoes
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. crushed garlic (about 6 cloves)
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Cut the potatoes in half or quarters and place in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic; toss until the potatoes are well coated. Transfer the potatoes to a foil-lined heavy sheet pan and spread out in 1 layer. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until browned and crisp. Flip once with a spatula during cooking in order to promote even browning.

Remove the potatoes from the oven, top with minced parsley, and serve hot.

If you prefer to eat your garlic cooked, try roasting it. Roasting whole garlic heads changes the taste completely, turning it sweet and nutty. Blend roasted garlic into mashed potatoes for a tasty twist on a boring side dish. To roast whole garlic, cut off just the top ½ inch of the head. Place the head on a 12”x2” square of aluminum foil. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and wrap up the foil to cover the garlic completely. Roast in a 350° oven for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Once the garlic is cool, squeeze each clove out of the skin and place in a bowl. Add to your favorite side dishes or spread on challah — mm, mm!


 

Readers may submit questions to the Culinary Connoisseur, c/o Hamodia, 207 Foster Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11230 or via e-mail to peppermill@hamodia.com. This weekly column has been brought to you by The Peppermill, the world’s first kosher kitchenware store, located at 5015 16th Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. (718) 871-4022. You can also read a selection of previous columns in their comprehensive cookbook, The Culinary Connoisseur, available now at your local Judaica and kitchenware stores. Jam-packed with delicious recipes, insightful food information and helpful cooking tips, this book is certain to become your constant companion in the kitchen.