Giveaways

Garlic: To Press Or Not To Press

Garlic

{See below about winning the garlic press to end all garlic presses.}

Over the years, I’ve gone back and forth on this burning issue: is it a good idea to press garlic?

The question sparks surprisingly violent debates, and often there’s an undercurrent of judgment (“real cooks just chop”) that I find out of place in any cooking discussion: there’s no single right way of doing anything, just different skills and circumstances.

As far as I can tell, here are the pros of each method:

Pros of pressing garlic:

– In just a few seconds and a single gesture, you get garlic pulp that you can add to your dish right away.
– If your knife skills aren’t those of a pro, it can be a challenge to get the garlic chopped evenly so it will cook evenly.
– Pressed garlic blends smoothly with other ingredients, which is particularly useful if you use it raw.
– It limits the lingering smell on your fingers, since you can avoid touching the garlic altogether if you prefer.

Pros of chopping by hand:

– It takes more time to clean the average garlic press than a knife and a cutting board, which you would probably have to clean anyway.
– No one-trick pony taking up space in your utensil drawer.
– You have control over how finely or roughly your garlic is cut.
– You use the whole clove, with none wasted in the crevices of the press.

In my own kitchen, I use a bit of both methods, and sometimes I’ll use my Microplane grater, too. I will usually chop my garlic if I’m already chopping other ingredients, but I reach for the garlic press when I’m pressed for time (ha ha), especially if I add the garlic as a second thought when I’m improvising a dish.

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Desert Island Dishes (Contest Results)

Seychelles house

Many thanks to those of you who participated in the Desert Island Dishes contest! It was a treat to read through your entries.

It was hard to pick just three, but it had to be done, and Thomas Blythe and I narrowed it down to the following, which showed inventiveness and common sense, and just plain made us hungry. Their authors will receive a Desert Island Dishes cookbook and a Maldon seasoning box.

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Desert Island Dishes: A Contest

Ilet Saint-Pierre

You’ve likely heard of Maldon sea salt, an English salt that comes in large, pyramid-shaped, flaky crystals, a format that makes them both very pretty, and easy to pinch and crush and sprinkle.

The Maldon Salt Company is a fourth-generation family business that’s celebrating its 130th anniversary this year, and they’ve invited me to participate in the Desert Island Dishes campaign* they’ve launched to mark the occasion.

The idea is to ask chefs and home cooks to play this little parlor game: “You wake up and find yourself on an empty beach; a castaway on a desert island**. Water is in good supply and there’s a handy cave for shelter just around the corner. Food is what you’re worrying about. Luckily, you’ve been given the miraculous option to create any dish in the world. The catch is: you’re stuck with it.” What would that dish be?

I love this sort of game, and in fact, we play a similar one on roadtrips with Maxence. (“If you could only watch a single movie for the rest of your life, would it be… Scarface or Blade Runner?” or “If you could only pick one vacation destination for the rest of your life, would you choose… Japan or Italy?” It’s as much fun to come up with the questions as it is to ponder one’s options.)

So I was happy to play along, and my answer — “Pasta with radish greens, briefly sautéed with garlic, topped with toasted almonds and a pinch of Maldon Sea Salt” — is printed on the side of Maldon Salt boxes now up on grocery store shelves across the UK, which is fun to think about.

{Read on for the contest details!}

Maldon Salt

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6th Annual Menu for Hope: Raffle Winners!

Menu for Hope 6

The winners of the Menu for Hope fundraiser/raffle have been announced. Thank you all for your generous participation!

Alice Boussicaut, Tamsin Ballard, Katarina Tierer and Leah Bevington, please get in touch with me to collect your prizes!

6th Annual Menu for Hope

Menu for Hope 6

Today marks the beginning of the 6th edition of Menu for Hope, a fundraising campaign created by Pim and championed by food bloggers all around the world. The funds raised will benefit the United Nations’ World Food Programme: it is the world’s largest food aid agency, working with more than a thousand other organizations in over seventy-five countries. In addition to providing food, the World Food Program helps hungry people become self-reliant so they can escape hunger for good.

This year, we are supporting a new initiative at the WFP called Purchase for Progress. This program enables smallholder and low-income farmers to supply food to WFP’s global operation. It helps them improve farming practices, and puts cash directly into their pockets in return for their crops. As a consequence, it also buoys local economy by creating jobs and income locally.

As you may remember from previous editions, this fundraising campaign works as a virtual raffle: every US$10 you donate will buy you a raffle ticket to bid on one of the items contributed by participating bloggers; you can buy as many raffle tickets as you like, and increase your chance to win the item of your dreams. The campaign ends on December 25, and the results will be announced on January 18. We bloggers will arrange for our bid items to be sent to the winners, and all funds raised will go to the World Food Programme.

I am offering four items for your consideration this year:

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