Feb 17, 2009

The Vampire Killer

When I started this site I promised to share not just the good, but the bad & the ugly. Here’s a story about Ugly…

I was visiting in LA last week with my fabulous Greek friend & her fabulous Greek parents & they took me to a fabulous Greek restaurant where we ate this fabulous garlic spread. They told me it was called Skorthalia. So everything was fabulous, understand?

And then I came home & tried to re-create all that fabulous-ity and, boy oh boy, did I fail miserably.

This garlic dip, spread, appetizer, whatever… it was really incredible. We ate it on everything – bread, vegetables, grilled shrimp & chicken… I even ate some all by itself on my spoon. Really, it was that good. And yes, we all reeked when it was over – even the next morning after lots of hand washing & teeth brushing we were still tasting, breathing & smelling garlic. But it was worth it.

So I was riding my fond memories of this new treat when I got home & decided to make some for myself. I used the recipe below, but I’m not telling you where I got it. Because it was bad. Really bad. It was bitter and awful and it burned.

So, as instructed, I added more potato, and then more, and then even more. Until I had used the whole bag and I was left with a huge bowl of (still) insanely garlicky mashed potatoes. But not garlicky in the good way… just overwhelming & painful.

In the end I threw the whole mess away.

So what went wrong?

Was it because I used a food processor & didn’t smash everything by hand? (I know there’s a little Greek grandmother out there hanging her head in shame… what can I say? I don’t have all day to smush garlic…)

Was it bad garlic? I don’t think so. I bought it that day & it seemed fresh, no sprouting or discoloration.

Was it because the garlic was raw? Again, I don’t think so. One friend suggested that I roast the garlic first, and while that would be delicious, I swear that the dip we had was raw garlic. Just better raw garlic than mine.

Was it a bad recipe? I looked at a few & they all seem pretty much the same so the secret must be in the garlic to potato ratio...

All I can say is... until I've figured this out, the only thing this recipe is good for is battling vampires. Or maybe I've been reading too much Twilight :)

The Starting Point:
1 1/2 pounds of potatoes for boiling
6-12 cloves of garlic, minced or grated (to taste)
1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup of good quality red or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper

Peel the potatoes and boil in salted water (add the 1 tablespoon of salt to the water) until well done (easily pierced with a fork). Sprinkle with pepper and mash.
In the blender bowl of the food processor (or with a hand mixer), purée the potatoes and garlic until well mixed, about 30-45 seconds. Still puréeing, slowly add the olive oil and vinegar, alternating between them, tasting as you go, until the mixture is smooth. Skorthalia should be creamy and thick. If it gets too thick, add a little cold water (not more than 1/4 cup).

Yield: About 2-3 cups

To prepare by hand
Mash potatoes with garlic. Drizzle in the olive oil and vinegar slowly, alternating between them, mashing well. Add pepper. This version may be grainier, but the taste is wonderful!

Note: Skorthalia is a matter of taste. Some prefer a mild garlic taste, while others prefer a strong garlic taste. If the taste is too strong, adjust the quantities of potatoes or bread up a bit. If the taste is not strong enough, increase the garlic.

*Not freaking likely


Kate said...

Haha. I for one appreciate when people share the ugly. Goodness knows I make a whole-lot-a ugly some weeks.

Erin said...

Ha! That is great! We will have to try this again because boy do I love garlic!

Margaret said...

Hahahah! What a priceless footnote. Carry on the good sleuthing work, you're helping all of us home cooks~!