As long as we've lived here, there has been garlic mustard in the woods at the back of our property. Over the years, I've watched it creep down the hillside and flirt with the backyard. I've managed to keep them apart because they can be terribly invasive, although their compact colonies don't bother me as much as pokeweed or knotweed.
I don't know how long I can keep them at bay. In the battle of the weeds, I just might let garlic mustard win.
Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is a hardy biennial in the Brassicaceae family that grows to three feet in height. All parts of the plant are edible. The leaves are tender and mild, almost sweet, and taste of both garlic and mustard due to flavonoids that are enjoyed by humans, but despised by insects and herbivores— an efficacious trait that guarantees its proliferation.
Next to onions, garlic is the most used allium in my kitchen, though it's not a regular in my vegetable garden. That's because it needs to go in the ground in the fall when I'm more concerned with harvesting than planting. I did remember to plant a handful of cloves last September and recently dug up some immature heads. The baby-toe-sized cloves are tender and their translucent skins have not yet turned papery. When poached in milk, they become incredibly sweet and mild— a rare treat that only a vampire could resist.
Milk-poaching garlic always reminds me of brandade, a requisite step in making the salted cod and potato emulsion. The garlic-infused milk is used to poach the cod, which is infinitely better when salted just prior to cooking.
I piped the brandade from a parchment paper cone, using the exact same motion to fashion bite-size cones from garlic mustard leaves. A tiny smear of brandade on the underside of the outer leaf edge glues the cone together. Fried potatoes sticks were inserted into the cone before the brandade was piped in, because fried potatoes with [garlic and cod] pureed potatoes are doubly delicious!
Brandade is traditionally served as a dip or spread for bread. Other fish such as halibut, haddock, pollock, and hake can be substituted for the cod. Strong, oily fish like mackerel, herring, and sardines makes an assertive brandade that stands up well to pickled and brined condiments. In any case, the fish should be salted the day before. The salting process could go on for up to 24 hours, but I prefer the flavor and texture of 6-8 hours. I also prefer to use Yukon Gold potatoes over more traditional white as the don't get pasty when mechanically pureed.
400g cod (or other fish) fillet
kosher or sea salt
Sread a 1.25cm/1/2" thick layer of salt in the bottom of a shallow, non-reactive dish that is just large enough to hold the fish. Lay the fish fillet on top of the salt and completely cover with another 1.25cm/1/2" thick layer of salt. Cover dish loosely and refrigerate for 6-8 hours. Remove fish from salt and rinse thoroughly under cold running water. Pat dry. Cut fish into 2.5cm/1" pieces and allow to sit at room temperature while proceeding with recipe.
200g Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2.5cm/1" dice
Drop the potatoes into a pot of lightly salted boiling water and cook until very tender. Drain and keep warm.
600g whole milk
35g shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
10 black peppercorns
4 bay leaves
3 sprigs of thyme
12g garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
Place all ingredients except garlic into a large saucepan and bring to a bare simmer. Continue simmering (don't allow milk to boil), tightly covered, for 8 minutes. Strain through a sieve. Discard solids and return milk to saucepan. Add garlic and simmer for 4 minutes. Add fish to pan and simmer for 2 minutes (temp should be at about 80C/144F). Tightly cover pan and remove from heat. Let sit for 5 minutes or until fish is thoroughly cooked and flakes easily.
50g extra virgin olive oil
Lift the warm fish and garlic slices from the milk with a slotted spoon and place in the bowl of a food processor along with the olive oil. Process for in short bursts, sraping down sides, until a smooth paste is formed. Add about 1/3 of the milk and process for 30 seconds. Add the warm potatoes and process until smooth, adding more milk (as needed) in a stream through the feed tube until the mixture is smooth and the consistency of mayonnaise.