Sunday, 9 January 2011

The Independent Cook by Jeremy Round

S is a garlic fiend. I just had a little bet with myself - I was sure that if I were to ask him what his favourite food was (yes, food, not even flavour) he'd say garlic, and I was right, he did. Such is my confidence in his garlic obsession that I knew that he'd be very happy with a series of garlic themed presents last Christmas and I made a whole pile of them - confits, sauces, jams - the only thing which didn't particularly work was the garlic pickles as they somehow lost their garlic flavour in the cooking.

I often deliberately hold back on the garlic, because otherwise we would be eating it with everything, but I do look out for recipes in which garlic is the shining star not one of a multitude of flavours. I found one such dish yesterday - the late Jeremy Round (he died tragically young at the age of 32) was a brilliant food writer - erudite and entertaining. The Independent Cook, based on his colums for that paper, was his only book and was one of  few to take seasonality seriously at that time - not just from the point of view of the locavore, but including the best of the imported produce too. This garlic recipe is included in his section on April, when spring garlic is probably at its best. I made do with the winter stuff, but did take the time to devein.  Here's the recipe, rewritten by me for brevity:

Garlic Custard

Skin, trim and devein the cloves from 2 heads of garlic. Steam for 15 mins over rapidly boiling water, then puree. Whisk with 1 egg yolk and 2 whites. Add 1 tsp potato flour and whisk again. Season. Add 4 tbsp creme fraiche or fromage blanc and whisk again.

Grease 4 ramekins with butter. Divide the mixture between the ramekins, cover with foil and steam for 15 mins - 10 mins with the steamer lid fully on, 5 with it half off.  Turn out to serve.

I would like to know why potato flour is specified, but it does work, and as I am not particularly a fan of wheat or corn flour sauces and custards, I'm happy. S loved it, although he prefers the zing of raw or sauteed garlic, to the creaminess of steamed or poached.

Jeremy recommends serving it with roast lamb, but we ate straight out of the ramekins, and took a leaf out of Rowley Leigh's book and made a version of anchovy toasts.


  1. Oh this does sound rather delicious - I'm dreaming up all the dishes it could accompany.