Monday, October 01, 2012

Simply Aïoli

The last sauce! The first recipes from The Art of Simple Food are sauces. Karen asked us to prepare these four elemental sauces from Alice Water's cook book, in this order:

Week one: a Vinaigrette, & an Herb Butter
Week two: Salsa Verde... no, not tomatillo salsa
Week three: Aïoli... garlic mayonnaise. Holy smokes, all these years I've been calling it man-aze.

Allow me to begin with a confession: I started with the Aïoli recipe, and I made it two weeks ago. My impulse was led by a new gadget, and a tiny egg I found on the porch. Thank you, Penny Hen.

When the cookbook arrived on my doorstep, I had to delve right in. I was anxious about following recipes, being disciplined, having the right ingredients and tools. And I do love cookbooks... I just don't follow instructions very well. At all. Ever.

Okay... so one thing I noticed was that we were going to be using a lot of garlic, so yay! I do that. But then I decided that my usual method of crushing garlic on the cutting board would not achieve the "creamy garlic" texture Alice Waters describes, so I immediately made a mental note: Find a little mortar and pestle, and dedicate it to mashing and smashing and creaming garlic. And that is what I did.

Penny's tiny egg, and the tiny mortar and pestle inspired me to dabble in the magical art of making mayonnaise! Am I the only who thought making mayonnaise is for the fourth year students at Le School of Chefs? Well, I was certainly intimidated. I've seen Julie and Julia, leafed through Ms. Child's classic tome, and my impression was... you better know your way around a sharp knife if you think you can whip up a batch of real life mayonnaise.

But, I was wrong. We are cooking from Alice Waters' book and it is called The Art of Simple Food, and she is not kidding. People! I made garlic mayonnaise. And! It was delicious! And! Simple.

It was as simple as she describes, and there was room to be creative, to adjust to our taste. When the first taste was declared "a bit bland," I recalled her suggestions for variations. I squeezed in fresh lemon juice, added a pinch more salt. After that, the hardest part was getting a photograph without someone's hand in the shot!

All we had for dipping and testing was a loaf of sourdough bread... didn't matter. We loved it! A few days later I tried a second batch, and this time I served it with steamed broccoli! Simply delicious!

Favorite: Alice Waters said to slowly drizzle in the olive oil, and keep whisking until the yolk went from looking translucent and yolkey to being opaque... and suddenly the yellow became more buttery, and the consistency transformed into silky smoothness. I loved the moment this happened!

Regrets: None...

Discovered: It's good on steamed broccoli, and it's also pretty tasty on a bratwurst, with grilled onions.

Confession: I made the aïoli a lot sooner than I was supposed to, and I am unrepentant.

*More Descriptive: Okay, it's the silkiest texture, and not heavy. And I think I was fairly restrained with the salt, so that it was savory, but without making it plainly salty. Because of the garlic, we were reminded of the yumminess of garlic bread, when the topping is buttery rich and the garlic nutty, almost sweet. And I know I am saying "buttery" which describes the color, the texture, even an aspect of the flavor, but even to my own surprise... there is no butter! Adding the lemon enriched the taste, but did not make me think of it as an overly lemony impression... it was more like a catalyst for the other ingredients to reach their optimal flavors.

*Warren, are you and Emily going to whip up some aïoli soon?

And now I have a deeper respect and admiration for good food bloggers. How many interesting ways are there to describe YUMMY?!


Sylvia said...

Natalie, you mentioned in the sidebar that you are looking for something new to work on in your "leisure" time. How about cross-stitching some chicas on tea towels? Or some of your new recipe motifs?

Here with the crisp days in NY, I'm going to start knitting a soft! There, I've said it on your blog, so I must follow through.

nikkipolani said...

"Man-aze" -- giggle!

judy in ky said...

I have always wanted to make aioli but have never tried it and I'm not sure why. Maybe I need a mortar and pestle. I love butter, olive oil and garlic and all the things you can make with them. I may have to find a copy of that cookbook.
I love feeling unrepentant, too!

aka Jules said...

looks delicious!!

warren said...

You need to be more descriptive...everything is good on steamed broccoli and bratwurst!

Anyhow, glad you have a mortar and pestle...just looks like fun mashing garlic!

Alison said...

Ah, mayonnaise is Miss Chef's absolute favorite lesson in the 1st-quarter skills class! You have achieved an emulsion, my dear. Nothing can stop you now. :)

I don't believe we have this cookbook (I stopped keeping track years ago), but the fact that it leads you to make your own adjustments and variations is wonderful. You only have to follow instructions long enough to learn the principles, and then the best cooks walk away from the recipes. (Except for baking...which may explain why Miss Chef is not so good at making bread.)

Miriam said...

I tried making man-aze once, and it was horrible. I had a pretty good consistency, but it tasted really terrible. You inspire me to try again!

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

How is the cowl coming along?
I started crocheting tea towels, again, and then last night I added some embroidery and an applique! "Leisure time" filled!
Happy fall, Sylvia~

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Ah, come on!
I cannot be the only one.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Make it, Judy!
We had some again, last night, this time with broccoli and asparagus. My cousin, Rebekah, fixed us an amazing dinner, and just minutes before we sat down, I whipped up a small bowl of this golden yumminess! It's too easy, and too gratifying to pass up.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

It is a revelation in deliciousness!

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

You make me want to be a better food blogger, Warren!

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

You have made me sit up a little taller. I sort of want a gold star, or a T-shirt that says: "I Emulsify."

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Do try! And maybe the secret is to skip the _Man-aze_ and make
eye-oh-lee, instead. It sounds purtier!

Sylvia said...

I did start a project – a ruffled scarf instead of the cowl. I learned how to do short rows!
When can we see pictures of the tea towels?

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Did you find my link in the sidebar?
If you click on the picture of my dishcloths,
you can see some of my fat-quarters turned
dishcloths. I've made some more, recently.
I'll share soon.
Ruffled scarf... cozy fall goodness! How nice.