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Whew! Plenty of garlic dishes

Some 132,000 folks streamed through this summer's Garlic Festival in Gilroy, Calif., a three-day extravaganza of music, food and homage to the stinking rose. A 2003 garlic festival queen was crowned, and first-place cookoff honors were awarded to the contestant offering a grilled garlic salmon recipe.

Such festival recipes are the grist for The Garlic Lovers' Cookbook (Celestial Arts Publishing, 2003, paperback, $14.95), now in its third edition, offering more than 200 preparations featuring the herb that put Gilroy -- pop. 45,000 -- on the culinary map. While very little garlic is cultivated in this Silicon Valley city, lots of it is shipped to Gilroy's garlic-processing plants to be dried, chopped, minced.

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The recipes found in these 262 pages call for garlic to be variously sauteed, minced, sliced, chopped, pressed, smashed, mashed, stuffed, crushed, baked and whipped into a paste. Most recipes call for fresh garlic, but there's a place, too, for garlic salt and powder.

While the herb is as famously steeped in lore as any food that comes to mind, the editors of this book allow only a two-page nod to a tradition encompassing Egyptian pharaohs, Balkan vampires and points between. King Henry V, for instance, is said to have been anointed at birth with wine and garlic by those in thrall to the notion that garlic on a baby's lips "served as a stimulant and an antiseptic."

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Superstitions aside, some deference is owed an herb available for medicinal purposes today in pill form.

A subject with this many layers can hardly be covered in one book, and no such attempt is made here. The emphasis is on recipes, which will carry you from the appetizer to soup, salad and entree, stopping short of dessert. Sorry, no garlic ice cream here, although the walnuts-and-garlic pasta sauce might suggest sweetened variations to the creative home cook with the time and a mind to experiment.

The recipes are kept quite simple, but if the one sampled for this review is a reliable test, adjustments may be necessary for happy outcomes. The following formula, for example, incorporates a few revisions from published instructions, which called for whole mushrooms and longer shrimp cooking time, which may have left the shrimp rubbery.

Tipsy Garlic Shrimp

Makes 2 servings

1/4 cup butter, plus more if needed

3 cloves fresh garlic, crushed

1 cup mushrooms, stems removed, sliced very thin

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1 tablespoon lemon juice

12 ounces shrimp, shelled and deveined

1 cup white wine

2 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with just enough water to dissolve

Melt butter in large skillet over medium to high heat. Add crushed garlic and mushrooms and saute until golden-brown.

Mix in lemon juice and shrimp (add more butter if necessary here), and cook about 1 minute. Remove shrimp. Add wine, increase heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add cornstarch mixture; mix and return to heat until sauce is thickened. Return shrimp to pan; cook another minute. Serve over rice.


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