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French cooking tips

June 3, 2006

French Cooking Tips

Perfumed olive oil

The best tip I learned was to perfume my olive oil. The chef took great handfuls of garlic (about 6 heads, broken into cloves) and added them to a bottle of olive oil he had poured into a oven roasting pan. He then heated the oil on the stovetop with the garlic, added several big handfuls of fresh basil stems, thyme stems and rosemary stems, bringing the oil carefully and slowly just below the boiling point.

He removed the pan from the heat, pushed in the leaves from the same herbs above, and left the oil to infuse.

An hour or two later, he strained the oil for use in the dishes.

It had an extraordinary flavor and color and added greatly to the dishes.

The oil will keep up to a week in the refrigerator, covered. (I suspect longer, but have not had any last longer than a week yet!)

Fresh garlic

For some reason, I thought garlic had to be dry to use it. Wrong. The chef used some garlic we purchased fresh at the market - just pulled from the ground - and cooked with it. (He called it "cooking it in the chemise.") The white skin of the cloves dissolved immediately, and the taste was more delicate and refreshing than cured garlic.

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