Local-ity: Natural Nick’s Garlic

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Supporting local farmers is a goal we strive for. Though we aren’t 100% local in all our purchases, we do have some Maryland favorites we want to share (ie, brag about them to everyone who is listening…)

At the Catonsville Farmer’s Market on Sundays, from 10am to 1pm, you can buy locally grown garlic from Natural Nick.

Nick started gardening as a child with his father. They gardened together since the 1950s on  family land, growing all kinds of vegetables. But, according to Nick, as the climate altered  and drought became more common in the growing season, they were prompted to make a change. One year they tilled up the enitre garden, about 3000 square feet, after losing their entire veggie crop. That fall, they planted garlic. Since his father passed away, Nick has maintained the backyard garlic farm on his own. He has a day job as an architect in the D.C. area, but still makes time to plant, weed, harvest and sell the garlic crop entirely by himself.  In the 2011 growing season, he grew 11 varieties – all heirloom, which have more distinct flavors and characteristics, he said.

His tips for garlic? Don’t keep it in the fridge – cold temps encourage sprouting. The stronger you like your garlic, the less you should cook it. The health benefits of garlic also decrease the more you cook it.

And of course… use a lot of it!

Visit Nick at the Catonsville Market – or on his Facebook page! And of course, try his recipes below. We loved them!

Recipes from Natural Nick…

Natural Nick’s Roasted Garlic

This Roasted Garlic was made with Nick’s Lorz Italian Garlic. It is Italian in origin and was brought to the USA in the late 19th century. Depending on growing conditions, it can be hot and strong. A garlic with a bold flavor that really sticks around. A real garlic lover’s garlic.

1 large head of garlic

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 tablespoon water

1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt (optional or to taste)

1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper (optional or to taste)

Method: Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Place a baking sheet in the oven as it preheats. If your garlic head is covered in several layers of white skin, keep the layers around to hold it together. With a sharp knife, cut the top off the garlic head, exposing a bit of each clove.  (Note: You may roast the tips as well, however it is recommended to roast them separately as they will require less roasting time.)

Place garlic head in a piece of foil or parchment. Add 1 tablespoon of water in the foil below the garlic. This will keep the garlic clove skins from being singed. Drizzel olive oil on top. Top with salt and pepper to taste. Seal the foil or parchment around the garlic. If using parchment paper, use a kitchen string to seal the little package. (If roasting numerous cloves, try using a glass baking pan and cover the pan tightly in foil. Or place individual wrapped cloves in the baking pan.)

Place on a pan in the oven and roast for 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of the head, or until completely tender when poked with a fork or knife. Test one of the cloves. Finished garlic will be easy to mash and spread. (Note: The longer the garlic is roasted, the milder it becomes. A 30 minute roast time will produce more pungent roasted garlic.)

Allow to cool slightly. Store any leftover garlic in a tight container and use within three days. Avoid storing in the garlic skin.

Serving Suggestions: Spread on crackers or warm bread. Top with guacamole. Add to sauces or garlic mashed potatoes. Enjoy with a nice Cabernet or your favorite dry red wine.

Natural Nick’s Bruschetta

This Bruschetta was made with Nick’s Transylvanian Garlic. Its origin is Romania and it is an heirloom variety brought to the USA in 1994. This garlic has medium to large, plump cream-colored cloves with a large flavor and medium heat.

This is an Italian staple that dates back to at least the 15th century. It is a regional dish that varies from appetizer to a summer meal unto itself. Different regions prepare bruschetta with many variations. My preferred method is common to peasant regions of southern Italy and Sicily, generally served as a salad or a meal in lieu of a topping, as found in gourmet bruschetta recipes.

6 large, firm fully ripe tomatoes OR 12 Roma tomatoes

6 large cloves of garlic

1 medium-to-large yellow or purple onion

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup fresh basil, stems removed & coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Method: Cut tomatoes into small wedges.  Wedges should be substantial, but bite-size. When using large tomatoes, cut the wedges in half. Add wedges to bowl. (Note: Use of roma tomatoes is more central or northern Italian style. My preference is any good, firm, fully ripe tomato. Many variations suggest removing the seeds and surrounding watery center. This eliminates some of the acidity, however with a quality tomato it is not necessary. Retention of the center is the peasant method suggested herein, which will also add flavor and juice for dunking bread.)

Chop garlic finely and add to large bowl. Cut onion into long slender pieces and add to bowl. Pour olive oil into bowl, drizzling to cover contents. Repeat with balsamic vinegar for additional richness of flavor. Add chopped fresh basil, salt and pepper.

Gently blend all contents and let stand in fridge overnight or at least several hours. Prior to serving, allow to stand on counter in order to bring out the flavor.

Serving Suggestions: Serve in a bowl with warm Italian bread or a French baguette. Dunk bread into the juices and enjoy with wine of your choice. This is an excellent summer appetizer or as I prefer, a meal unto itself.

Natural Nick’s Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

This dish of tasty garlic roasted mashed potatoes was made with Nick’s Siberian garlic. The variety was discovered by traders in Russia in the 18th century. It has purple stripes on the wrapper and moderate heat and becomes more flavorful when cooked or roasted.

1 large head of roasted garlic

2 pounds of  potatoes, chopped into 1-inch chunks, skins on

4 tablespoons Earth Balance

1/2 cup Silk soy cream (or your choice of plain non-dairy milk)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

8 tablespoons Tofutti Sour Supreme

Place chopped potatoes in a saucepan, cover with cold water and add 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bring the pot to a boil; reduce to simmer, stirring occasionally. Simmer the potatoes until tender when pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and put the pot back on the stovetop. Place drained potatoes  back in the pot. Squeeze roasted garlic into the potatoes and begin mashing with a potato masher or fork.

Gently warm the Earth Balance and soy cream together in a small pan on the stovetop. Over low heat, add the mixture to the potatoes. Add soy sour cream and salt & pepper. Mash again until potatoes are desired consistency and warmed through. Serves about six.

(dhbg Note… this recipe has been made vegan-friendly, as the original called for dairy ingredients)

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2 responses »

  1. Pingback: Veggie-Loaded Mac N Cheez | the dirty hippie & the bohemian girl

  2. Pingback: Garlic Cream Sauce | the dirty hippie & the bohemian girl

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