Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Aioli Have Eyes For You

Sometimes when I get home from work I convince myself that I don't want to cook. I've recently discovered that this isn't entirely accurate--I actually don't want to cook what I'd planned. Last night for example, I'd planned on making a tilapia dish (which you'll see tomorrow) but when I got home decided that I wasn't very hungry and should instead just make a small vegetable dish. In hindsight, the truth is that it was a bit balmy in my apartment and I didn't feel like turning on the oven and eating something piping hot. The dish I made took just as much effort (if not more) but was prepared completely differently--no oven, no stove, just good old elbow grease.

Sometimes making food that's a bit more time consuming by hand can be more relaxing for me (and seem more effortless) than just throwing something together or defrosting a package meal. One of my favorite things to make is homemade mayonnaise, and having recently sampled an amazing aioli at work I got the bug to make my own. Aioli is not unlike a mayonnaise, only it typically contains garlic and in some cases dijon mustard. It's really easy to make at home and can be done either in a food processor or by hand. I like to feel the aioli as it thickens and begins to come together, so I usually make mine in a large bowl with a whisk. Trying to avoid using anything that may further heat up my apartment, I decided to steam some asparagus in the microwave--the one time this space-waster of an appliance comes in handy for me when popcorn is not involved. I was originally just looking for a vehicle with which I could eat spoonfuls of aioli, but it turns out that I found some amazing asparagus at the supermarket on my way home, so I went with that. By the time it's in season next month (mid April) I'll probably have multiple aioli's already waiting in the fridge. I'm already working on three kinds: chipotle, chili-lime, and brown butter sage. I'll keep you posted as I work out the recipes. In the meantime, here's the cayenne aioli.

Cayenne Aioli (by hand)

2 egg yolks
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp lemon Juice
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
olive oil, not extra virgin (you can use your favorite light colored oil as well)

1. In a large bowl, combine the first four ingredients.

2. Add the oil a few drops at a time while whisking vigorously.

3. Once you've achieved the desired thickness, season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

**To make using a food processor, combine first four ingredients in the processor, them slowly stream in the oil while pulsing. Then season with salt and pepper.


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