Weekend Project  is an ongoing series of slightly more involved recipes or food projects that are best tackled on the weekends.
I love garlic. It's hard for me to even conceive of the notion that someone can actually not like garlic. But indeed, there are a few lost souls who don't like garlic that much.
The thing that non-garlic people most object to about garlic seems to be the little, sometimes raw bits that get caught in their teeth if they are eating a salad or something. I guess I can reluctantly concede that point. (Although one of my favorite pizza toppings is thinly sliced raw garlic...)
Here are two ways of making garlic that even non-garlic people can love. One is a method that's popular in Japan, though it probably originated in Korea, to 'pickle' them in soy sauce. This not only makes tender, flavorful garlic that can be nibbled on as-is or chopped up and added to stir-fries and so on, but an intensely garlic-perfumed soy sauce that's great on meat, fish, or anything you like.
The other is a Provençal staple called garlic confit. Garlic cloves are poached gently until tender, then mashed into a paste. This paste is wonderful just spread on bread, or used to flavor pasta sauces, soups, and so on.
Each recipe calls for six whole garlic bulbs. That's bulbs, not cloves! The easiest way to peel a couple of cloves of garlic is to simply bash them with the side of a knife - the skin comes right off. But when you want to peel a big amount of garlic like this, what do you do? Especially when you want the cloves whole as for the garlic pickled in soy sauce?
Right now, I'm starting to see fresh garlic bulbs at the markets. Fresh garlic has a softer skin than the garlic that has been allowed to dry out on the outside. I find fresh garlic to be a bit milder than the dried-out kind and prefer it over the regular dried-off kind when it's available. However, it can be even harder to peel.
The answer is to nuke the garlic bulbs. By microwaving them for a couple of minutes, the moisture in the bulbs evaporates a little bit and creates a space in between the skin and the bulb. The skin then comes off quite easily. Also, this avoids the problem of the skin on your hands getting irritated from raw garlic juice. I picked up this Helpful Hint from one of the "urawaza" videos that I've mentioned before . The garlic video is here  (Japanese). The skin doesn't come off as easily as in the video in my experience, but it still comes off a lot faster than trying to peel unprocessed bulbs.
So - to peel six whole garlic bulbs, cut off the bottom of the bulbs, place on a plate cut side down, and microwave on High for 3 minutes. Let cool completely, then peel. Easy! Be sure to get off the thin inner skin too.
Equipment needed: a small pan, a bottling jar and lid
Sterilize the jar and lid following the instructions on this page .
Heat the soy sauce in the pan over medium heat until it's hot but not boiling. Lower the heat to low and put in all the garlic. Simmer for 5 minutes. Put the hot liquid into the sterilized jar, and close the lid tightly.
Put in a cool, dark place for at least 2 weeks. The garlic is ready to eat after that. Store in the refrigerator after opening. The soy sauce can be used for meat, fish, fried rice, etc, but make sure the garlic cloves stay completely immersed in the soy sauce in the jar.
Heat the milk and cream together in the small pan until it's hot but not boiling over. Lower the heat to low, and put in all the garlic. Simmer for 20 minutes, until the garlic is soft and can be mashed easily. Drain the garlic.
Mash the garlic finely (a fork works great for this) or purée it in a blender or food processor to a paste. Mix in the optional salt. (I prefer not to put salt in mine, and to salt as needed when using it.)
Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze one- or two-tablespoonfuls at a time, wrapped well in plastic. Defrost each tablespoonful at room temperature or by dropping into your sauce or soup.
Important: This cannot be put in a jar and stored at room temperature, unlike the garlic in soy sauce.
Note: You should not store the drained cream and milk that the garlic was cooked in. It can be used the same day however, for an amazing garlic-perfumed pasta sauce. Simply reheat with a knob of butter and a tablespoonful of the confit, mix in some shredded smoked salmon, chopped parsley, and a shot of vodka, season with salt and pepper, and serve on fresh pasta such as fettucine. Delicious! And bad for you!