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The nine-month wait is over; we have dug our crop of hardneck garlic and the fresh garlic is available for purchase at Kitchen Conservatory. Also available are beautiful, large red shallots. Stop by to load up on these essential ingredients. Supplies are limited and we always sell out of garlic and shallots!

Why buy fresh garlic? The garlic in the supermarket is last year’s crop from China — dry, bitter, and small. The taste of fresh garlic is moist, sweet, and succulent.

How long will fresh garlic last? Garlic tastes best the moment it is harvested, but it will last (cool, dry, dark, and not in the refrigerator) for about six months.

Here are my two new favorite recipes to use these local delicacies. The fried shallots (double-fried like French fries makes them extra-crispy) are an irresistible garnish — on top of fish or meat, on a salad or vegetable, or even on top of soup. The garlic tart is so delicious that you could eat it for dessert — but don’t bother to make the tart with dried, old garlic as the moist, fresh garlic is essential to the creamy texture.

Fried Shallots

Peel and thinly slice 10 shallots. Heat 2 cups of vegetable oil to 250 degrees. Fry the shallots for about 8 minutes. (I suggest using a mesh basket so that you can easily remove the shallots.) Drain. Raise the temperature of the oil to 350 degrees. Refry the shallots until brown and crispy, about 30 seconds. Drain and season with salt.

Creamy Garlic Tart

 For the crust:

  • 1 ¼ cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1 whole egg plus 1 egg white

Mix the flour, sugar, and salt together. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the dry ingredients, until the butter is the size of dimes. Add the eggs and mix until the dough comes together. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out on a floured board and fit into an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.

For the filling:

  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 10 cloves of fresh garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup toasted Italian pine nuts
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups crème fraiche or sour cream

Spread the butter and cheese on the tart dough and top with garlic and nuts. Whisk together the eggs and cream and pour on top. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, or until set and light brown.