We are three sisters united in our search for the divine - in food, libation, literature, art, and nature. This blog will capture the true, sometimes decadent, at times humorous, and every so often transcendent adventures of the Salvation Sisters.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Word About Garlic, Linda's Gremolata and Grilled Rack of Lamb

by Linda

   A few weeks back one evening at work, we had a lecture scheduled for our customers and the speaker did not show. The topic for that night was called Making Your Kitchen Spice Cabinet Your Medicine Cabinet, and as the manager on duty, I was summoned to decide how to deal with the twenty or so people in our Wellness Center who were getting restless and would be very disappointed to be sent home sans lecture. Having studied herbal medicine for the past twenty years, and having had formal training... with the consent of the audience, I agreed to pinch hit for the scheduled speaker, who as it turns out, had a family emergency. As I have written previously, any culinary herb that I can think of has medicinal properties. This bold statement from me produced a few raised eyebrows from the group, but I challenged them to name a spice or herb, and I would tell them the healing properties. This led to a lively discussion in which we all participated in sharing stories about our favorite herbal allies, as like to call my plant friends.

   Among my very favorites in the group of herbal heavyweights is garlic. Much has been written about garlic. Garlic has a very long history of culinary use dating back to the building of the pyramids in Giza. Remnants of garlic have been found in cave dwellings that are over 10,000 years old. Egyptian tombs, dating back to 5,700 years ago, were found to contain sketches of garlic and clay sculptures of the bulb. Countries that consume the most garlic in their diets have the lowest incident rates of cancer, especially digestive-related cancers and cancer of the colon. Garlic is thought to be antiviral and is antibacterial and antifungal. Homemade garlic oil from fresh garlic is one of my favorite remedies for a bacterial ear infection for children or adults. It is inexpensive to make, and extremely effective. Michelle used garlic oil exclusively for my niece Maddie's occasional earaches when she was growing up, and consequently, has never needed to use the normally prescribed antibiotics.

   Fermented garlic, also known as Black Garlic, is new to the culinary scene here in the United States, but is a traditional component of Korean cooking. Kyolic garlic supplements are made from fermented/aged garlic and were created after World War II to combat radiation poisoning in Japan. Aged garlic has been shown to be effective at helping the body eliminate heavy metals and in maintaining a healthy cholesterol balance.

Testing has shown that fermented/aged garlic contains twice the antioxidant powers of raw garlic, and eliminates the issues that some individuals have with odor from eating raw garlic. However, consuming raw garlic is one of my favorite ways to combat the onset of a cold. Eating a significant portion of raw garlic is difficult, because it is so strong and can upset the stomach. I like to press the raw garlic clove through a garlic press and then mix with a little raw honey and butter. This mixture can be eaten on bread or crackers and consumed throughout the day, although be advised that the mixture will still burn in the mouth and nostrils and you will reek of garlic. This remedy is not meant for children! Raw garlic can also be made into a drink, which is the way my sons (when they were teenagers) always requested it. Again, press the garlic cloves and mix with honey, add warm water and fresh lemon juice. The powder from digestive enzyme capsules (you must pull them apart... a tedious process) can be added as well. In my experience, garlic can often knock out the bug before it has a chance to get established, and will keep infection from developing in the lungs. For all of these reasons, and because I think it is such a delicious part of countless recipes, garlic is one of the staple ingredients in my pantry. I am never with out it, and I keep my heads of garlic in a beautiful woven basket from Vietnam on my kitchen counter at all times.

Recently when Michelle came to visit, we had one of our favorite celebratory meals on the last night of her stay. I made a big batch of Gremolata (which is a mixture of garlic, fresh herbs and lemon peel) with my mortar and pestle. Then we slathered the paste on two racks of lamb while we went out to picnic at one of our favorite vineyards in the beautiful Alexander Valley.

Deep breath in and then out... for at least this day, "Yes, this is my beautiful life."

Cowgirl Creamery "Mount Tam" and Jimtown Store "Spicy Pepper Jam"
We left the lamb to marinate in the wet rub until we returned to prepare our celebration feast.

Linda's Gremolata and Grilled Rack of Lamb

The recipe that follows will coat two racks of lamb. Use this recipe as a template for your own mix. Feel free to experiment with a different mix of aromatic herbs... the only things that are standard are the garlic, parsley, lemon peel and olive oil. Because I am lucky enough to live in a fairly mild climate, I grow pots of rosemary and thyme on my patio all year round, so that I have them available any time that I need them. Gremolata makes a great rub for your favorite meat, or served as a condiment... similar to Michelle's Chimichurri.

1 large head of garlic, cloves peeled
1 large bunch Italian parsley, leaves separated from stems and minced
2-3 Tbsps of fresh minced rosemary leaves
2-3 Tbsps of fresh minced thyme leaves
The peel of 2 grated lemons
The juice of one lemon
olive oil, about 1/2 cup
sea saltfreshly cracked black pepper
2 racks of lamb, frenched (a handy video on the french technique or ask your butcher to do it for you)
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1. Combine garlic, parsley, rosemary, thyme, and sea salt in a mortar and pestle or the bowl of your food processor. Give the mixture a good mash. Add the lemon juice, olive oil and black pepper. Mix until well combined. Taste. Add more salt, if needed.
2. Lightly salt and pepper the frenched rack of lamb and then slather generously with the gremolata, really rubbing it in to all the nooks and crannies. Place the lamb in a large ziplock bag, seal and store in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or up to 24 hours.
3. Before grilling, let the meat rest at room temperature at least 30 minutes, or up to an hour. Meanwhile, preheat a gas or charcoal grill. If using a gas grill, reduce the heat to medium-high. Place the racks on the grill, bone side up, the fat cap down. Grill until nicely browned, about 10-15 minutes per side. Turn as needed to prevent burning until an instant-read thermometer registers 125°F to 130°F for medium-rare meat. Remove the meat from the grill and let rest loosely covered with foil for 10 minutes. Slice each rack into 6 chops, a serving is 2 to 3 racks.
4. You can also cook the lamb in the oven. Preheat your oven to 400°F. In a cast iron skillet, over high heat, sear the lamb on all sides, beginning with the fat-side down. Cook until brown, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the pan uncovered to the oven and roast the meat for 20-25 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer registers 125°F to 130°F for medium-rare meat. Remove the meat from the oven and let rest loosely covered with foil for 10 minutes. Slice each rack into 6 chops, a serving is 2 to 3 chops. Two racks serves 4 to 5 people.


  1. In addition to all of the aforementioned benefits of garlic, I have found, in my humble experience, that garlic is also an aphrodisiac. I have never been able to get through preparing a delectable dinner without having my husband approach me from behind upon smelling garlic in the olive oil, and proceed to have his way with me. Occasionally, I have remembered to turn the stove off...

  2. Dear Anonymous,
    You are so right, I did fail to mention that garlic does indeed stimulate the libido.
    From my studies I seem to recall that spiritual seekers and those wishing to remain celibate for spiritual reasons are cautioned to refrain from eating garlic and onions.
    Word is... and confirmed by you, that the sulphurous veggies can tend to make one rather randy.

  3. Again, not only can I SMELL this post, but I learned something as well. One of the things I enjoy so much about The Salvation Sisters is the photography, the personal anecdotes and the absolute, without a doubt, love of good food and the preparing of same. Thanks.

  4. I mean to say SOME of the things I enjoy...there is always more than ONE..'-)

  5. Hi Zoe... so glad you are still reading. I have missed your comments recently being that you have been our most ardent advocate from our beginning.
    Thanks for mentioning the photography. Since we sisters began this venture almost two years ago now, I feel that the quality of the photography is our biggest improvement.
    This is due primarily to each of the three us us upgrading our cameras this past spring. What an adventure that has been, and the consequence for me is that the new camera has inspired me to want to become a really good photographer.
    Must figure out time to do that in the new year! That, and learn HTML so we can have the ability to design our posts outside of the Blogger templates. One thing at a time right? Happy holidays to you and your beautiful family, Linda

  6. I have had the privilege of attending dinner parties with the Salvation Sisters and there is nothing more pleasurable. They have provided exquisite details on the table such as a fall leaf center piece, hand-painted name tags, and superb presentation of dishes and tableware. The food and spirits is a delightful journey through the senses. My wish is that everyone has a chance to have at least one experience of feeling honored and cared for by the amazing chefs of the world. You will talk about it for years. Love, Karen

  7. Thank you Karen for expressing so many of my feelings. Being their Mother it has been so interesting watching my girls grow and develop in their unique ways. They continue to amaze me. It has really been a pleasure to have spent my life with them. Because they are each so different, each one adds so much to my life experience. I have been so blessed and learned so much from them. LOVE the Salvation Sisters.....Mom

  8. Karen... Little Sister and my amica in our Italian adventure, is that you? What a treat to hear from you! Hoping you might have a facebook page? Love to you from the Salvation Sisters, and sending a big hug and a kiss your way!!

  9. Yes, Little Sister it's me! I always admire your fabulous web-site and recommend it to friends and family. I don't have a face book page due to the student population I work with, but always remember my goddesses from -Juliette in Solvang to Bisbee, Michelle in San Jose to Tuscon, and you, Linda-Lu, in Firenze and your 40th in Venezia with the most fabulous fire work show I have seen in my life time. You are still illuminating the world by sharing your eloquent style and tantalizing recipes with the masses. May everyone be so blessed to sit down with such an entourage of greatness. All my love, Karen

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