Simple 4-Ingredient Aioli

Making aioli is funny. It’s simple and fairly easy, but does require some strict guidelines. People tend to get religious about what goes into a good aioli and I didn’t really understand that until I started making it by hand myself.

Step 1: Make sure you’re completely alone. The more eyeballs pointed at the aioli, the more likely it’s going to break.

Step 2: Crush one clove of garlic and a pinch of salt in your mortar. If you don’t have a mortar, a metal bowl would work second best, and then a ceramic bowl last. I like to use something that has a rough texture inside because I think it aerates the aioli better.

Step 3: Add in an egg yolk and stir, incorporating it into the garlic paste. You can use the pestle, but I find a fork or a small whisk goes faster.

Step 4: Add in your oil* drop by drop while stirring at first until the mixture looks glossy. Once it’s glossy, you can start adding oil in a thin stream while stirring**.

* I like to use a mixture of extra virgin olive oil and a more mild oil like canola. I know the traditional provencal way is to use all olive oil, but sometimes I don’t want the olive oil taste to overpower the whole thing.

** Maybe this is living on the edge, but I let the stream drip into the mixture until it looks like it’s almost about to break. Then I stop the oil and stir quickly to incorporate. Then I repeat. If this sounds too risky, just add less oil at a time and stir for longer.

Since I never measure anything, I usually figure the aioli is done (has enough oil) when it’s the thickness I want and is a pale yellow color. I’ve never tried this, but if you want smoother, thinner texture, whisk in at most tablespoon of warm water, drip by drip.

Plain Homemade Bagels

Homemade bagels and store bought lox for breakfast. And soy cream cheese.Just baked bagel and jam.
Making bagels from scratch this weekend was surprisingly easy. I thought there would be a lot of prep involved like in baking bread where you would need to let the dough rise overnight, but the total rising time was probably less than thirty minutes. I roughly followed the directions from Dolcetto Confections. The changes I made was to put a little more sugar in the pot of water since I had a really big pot of boiling water going and letting the bagels rise some more after I shaped them into rings.

The outcome was not as pretty as a store-bought bagel, but tasted a lot better. Unlike other breads, the bagels didn’t taste as good warm out of the oven as they did after cooling for a few hours on the counter. That was when they really gained their characteristic chewiness. I sliced and froze a couple so I’m hoping the texture stays the same after defrosting.

Japanese Style Curry

A friend and I were discussing Japanese style curry a few days ago.  I forget how the subject even came up.  I mentioned my secret ingredient was a Korean pear.  This time, I made it sans pear and instead went with some apples another friend brought over.  People always seem surprised I make curry from scratch, but it’s not really that much more work or difficult than cooking it out of a box.

curry1

First, cook the crap out of an onion. I sliced them into thin quarter-circles, and let them caramelize with a few tablespoons of oil and a pinch of salt.  This may seem like a lot of onions, but it really cooks down.  Halfway through this process, I remembered reading in the ingredient list somewhere on those blocks of pre-made curry roux that there was tomato paste. So I squeezed some tomato paste from a tube in there, mixed it up, and let it continue cooking.

curry2curry3
While the onion is cooking, which takes a whole half hour if you’re doing it right, prep your vegetables. For tonight’s curry, I used chopped kabocha squash, potatoes, carrots, and apples.  You’ll notice that my chopping is not uniform.  I left the skin on the squash because it softens and is edible. I kept the squash in large-ish pieces since they get pretty soft.  Carrots in smaller pieces because they take a while to cook. Potatoes in smaller pieces because I like when they just melt into the curry.  And the apples in the smallest pieces because I don’t want to bite into a big chunk of apple.

curry4

After the onion has cooked down, add in two tablespoons of S&B curry powder.  No, none of your fancy organic, frou-frou stuff. Use the thing in this red and yellow can. Put the powdered gold into the pan with the onions and stir, coating the onions.  Add in a tablespoon of margarine (or butter) and stir, letting that melt and coat the onions.

curry7

Add in two tablespoons of all purpose flour and stir some more.  Cook that on medium heat for two minutes, stirring constantly to prevent burning.  Now add a big splash of that rice-washing water and stir. You’ll notice the roux thickens almost immediately.  Stir and once it starts to separate into more of a thick sauce, add another splash of water, and stir.   When that thickens again, add the rest of the water and stir. Now taste it and add salt if it’s not salty enough.

curry8

Throw in all the vegetables and top off with water or broth.  Turn the heat on high and boil the shit out of it let it come to a boil. While that’s happening, chop up your medium firm tofu into blocks.  Once the curry is boiling, drop in the tofu, and stir to incorporate.  Most of the stuff should be submerged in the curry now. If not, top off with more water.  Keep the heat on medium and let it cook for half an hour, stirring occasionally to keep the bottom from browning.

curry9

I like serving curry like this. Rice on one side, curry on the other. Some people like pickled ginger with their curry. I don’t. But I do like kimchi. Okay, maybe not very traditional, but neither is curry and miso soup, according to my friend Yuko!