Instructographics

30 Days of Vitamix - Say hello to Red!

I like red for so many reasons. It's lucky. It's life. It can pull me out of blue. It's the color of World AIDS Day, the color of Women's Heart Health. And it's just plain sexeh.

Meet Red

There's my early Xmas/Birthday present: a Pro Series Vitamix in Candy Apple Red. I'm calling her "Red." She's strong. Powerful. Occasionally loud. Gets the job done. I think we're going to be good friends. I hope she'll last half as long as my old handmixer did. (see Ode to a Handmixer.) That little Black & Decker handmixer, bought my first year of law school just died. I mean, like last week. The Waring anniversary blender a couple weeks ago. I thought I could make do with the food processor but I'm telling you, I'm a fool in love.

Red

There's Red. She's a beauty, isn't she?

 

As I registered her, I saw something about an affiliate program. Well, stay tuned on that.

#30DaysofVitamix

I'm starting a new series here: "30 Days of Vitamix". I'll be including posts on using the Vitamix. I'll cover techniques, ingredients to know, tips, and recipes, including some healthy and some boozy inspirations. Frozen Negroni anyone?  Here's a taste of just some of the things we'll be writing about soon.

 

 

Vitamix Collage

Thanks to my wonderful husband for this terrific gift! A great addition to the family!

No Soggy Bottoms! One Perfect Pumpkin Pie with Meringue Topping for Thanksgiving

Who doesn't love pie? I do, and I have had to learn to make them at home since the advent of my dairy allergy. Impossible to eat one out. Pie without butter? Is it any good? Yes. Yes it is. This recipe represents the best of three different recipes and many years of hosting, preparing, feasting. I culled two techniques from the venerable Rose Levy Berenbaum, a crust I love from Amy Traverso and a meringue topping from David Leite. I'll share the full recipe below along with some other terrific tips I've picked up along the way. Won't you join me? Pull up a fork!

two apple pies
two apple pies

Apple Pies for a birthday girl

strawberry_rhubarb_pie
strawberry_rhubarb_pie

Strawberry Rhubarb 

sweet potato pie
sweet potato pie
pm pie
pm pie

One Pumpkin Pie to Rule Them All

Pie Nation, Pie Boxes and more

  • Crust Dust: If you're making a fruit pie, this tip from Pie it Forward is worth the book. Gesine Bullock-Prado makes beautiful pies and some of her best tips can be yours. A soggy bottom is not a good thing. Not in most situations and certainly not in pies.
  • If you're taking a pie to someone's house, the Pie Box is essential!
Pie box 2
Pie box 2

Large enough to accommodate an Emile Henry pie dish

Pie Rules

There are some rules I'd say are non-negotiable.

  1. Make sure the fats are cold, and stay cold.
  2. Work quickly, calmly and with authority. If the fats get warm then pop it back into the fridge
  3. Always let the dough rest before rolling it out. But wait - Dorie Greenspan doyenne of Parisienne food says maybe not? Leite's Culinaria's Renaee Schettler Rossi asks "WWDD"? What Would Dorie Do?

Hm. Seems we have been given permission to ignore some of the rules. I'M IN!

Unified Pie Theory

So here's my unified theory of pie. It's okay to break rules and pick the best parts of various recipes.

My favorite crust at the moment is from Amy Traverso's Apple Lover's Cookbook. The Double Crust pie is a winner. To that, I add Rose Levy Beranbaum's Pie & Pastry Bible. I use the cooked custard technique as well as her terrific technique of crushed gingersnaps to line the bottom of the pie. It helps prevent the dreaded soggy bottom, much like the Crust Dust above for fruit pies. If you can enjoy nuts add pecans to the gingersnaps. 4 (2") gingersnaps and 1/4 C pecan halves. I just use 6 Snappy Gingersnaps.

Also, cooking the pumpkin puree and spices, blending in the food processor makes for a smooth, rich filling.

Finally, I loved the addition of a meringue topping and all who enjoyed it agreed. I have Leite's Culinaria to thank for that inspiration. Pumpkin Meringue Pie. And if you need some pie crimping ideas, say no more.

CIS Chix, A Step in the Right Direction, Towards Dinner. My Chat with National Geographic's The Plate

I was delighted to speak with Charlotte McGuinn Freeman and Maryn McKenna of National Geographic column, The Plate. Bring Back Home Economics: Three Food Writers on Teaching People to Cook – The Plate: Maryn McKenna.

The three of us were inspired by the success of Leanne Brown's Good and Cheap, a cookbook designed to address the needs of people receiving public assistance, showing them how to cook on an extremely limited budget. See Could You Eat Well on $4 a Day?

Many of us manage to feed ourselves and our families  well, while many more struggle with the basics. Some lacking money, some lacking skills, for others it's both. Have you ever come home from grocery shopping and wondered what the heck to do with all the random stuff you bought? So often people have mentioned to me that they don't know how to roast a chicken.

Cast Iron Cooking

The topic of how to use a CIS never gets old (see the Kitchn for this recent post and its long comment thread). I love my cast iron skillet and it's the perfect vessel for people on a budget. They're cheap They're nearly indestructible. They are multi-purpose tools that can be used to fry, roast, and bake. In fact, the older they get, the better.

Five steps to roasted chicken

 

On Gastrodiplomacy and Teaching Cooking

One of the ideas I've had for "selling" the need to schools to reinstate home ec is to make it an interdisciplinary learning platform. It's easy to use cooking as a way to teach simple things to youngsters (e.g. which is wet? which is dry? which bowl is the biggest? the smallest?) all the way up to university (culinary anthropology, history, politics of the plate and just this week the first PhD of Chocolate program was announced.)

As if by magic while I was photo editing, magically, this link appeared today in my Facebook stream. Gastrodiplomacy: Cooking up a Tasty Lesson on World Peace. At American University they're doing just this sort of food-centric interdisplinary teaching, though there it seems to be centered around eating out, rather than cooking. No reason we couldn't have both.

During our chat, we lamented the old days of the Food Network. When Molto Mario had the pull-down map and would cook while teaching history, geography. Alton Brown's Good Eats that teaches very basics to fancy stuff in a straightforward and entertaining fashion.

While we think about food, cooking as a life skill and how to reinvent Home Economics, let's first just roast a simple chicken.

Cast Iron Skillet Chix

I realized I keep thinking of this as "CIS Chix" Cast iron skillet chicken. "CIS" is a new term used in the field of gender identity studies and advocacy. It's a way to challenge the assumed majority behind the current thinking of gender. Rather than "transgender" as the "other" we can view sexuality on a continuum from CIS to Trans, CIS simply means someone who identifies with the gender that would be culturally assigned to the sex one has been assigned at birth. So I'm CIS female, identifying myself as female and having been born with those parts.

So dinner + an update from the gender identity front. Learning makes me hungry. Let's go!

 

Step 1 - Get a CIS

They are so very useful and cheap. You will use it a lifetime and then hand it down to some fortunate friend, nephew or niece. In fact, a garage sale is an excellent place to scoop one up for cheap. They're easy to recondition. They're also cheap new. But any way, just get one already.

Step 2 - Get a chicken

Commercial chickens are fed such horrible diets and are raised in such awful ways, that we limit our intake to Lilac Hedge Farms or Bell & Evans from Whole Foods.

Step 3 - Optional step - air dry chicken

Letting chicken rest in fridge nekkid, will allow the skin to dry out. This is a good thing if you like crispy skin. Overnight is best but even 1-3 hours will help. This method of roasting makes it less necessary than regular lower heat roasting but I try to do this when I can because I adore crunchy, crispy things.

Step 4a - Optional - herb butter

Again, totally optional. If you're at all new and feel overwhelmed. Skip it. You can simply rub a little oil or butter and sprinkle with S&P. Really. It'll be fine.

If you are inclined, chop some herbs up, maybe mash some garlic with some salt and then mix with softened butter. Or maybe you have a dried herb blend you could add to butter or oil. You can slide some between the breast meat and skin. And/or simply massage your bird with the seasoned oil or butter.

CIS Chicken 7

Step 4 - Pop the thighs open

The chicken's, not yours. That comes later if you like. Right now simply grasp the drumstick and thigh and bend down/outward from the body. You will feel a pop and see the tip of the thigh bone peek out. This is good. When your bird hits that preheated skillet, the dark meat will instantly begin to cook. This evens out the differential between the breast meat and thigh meat. A common challenge is cooking the thigh meat thoroughly enough without drying out the breast meat. This technique solves that issue.

Step 5 - Preheat oven to 500 degrees with the skillet

Place your empty skillet into your clean oven and preaheat to 500. That's a very hot oven. (Most chickens roasted in conventional ways go into a 350 or so oven.) Once the oven and skillet are preheated, carefully slide that hot pan out and place your chicken right on that dry, screaming hot skillet.

CIS Chicken 6

Now, you will have 30-40 minutes to do with, what you like.

CIS Chicken 10

At 30 minutes, I usually add some greens to the pan. Carefully, with tongs. The greens will begin to wilt in the hot pan and rendered chicken fat (mmm chicken fat). This particular day I added chard (stems chopped, leaves cut into ribbons) and two cloves of garlic, sliced thin. I had these GIANT leaves of rainbow chard so I just used two leaves.

CIS Chicken Chard

I also began my potatoes roasting. Back around step three, you can place potatoes in a pot of boiling water and par cook, till they're tender but not fully done. Then in our final roasting step, you add a sheet pan to the oven with some schmaltz or duck fat or high heat oil (not olive oil, it will burn). Again, the hot pan starts the crisping of the potatoes. CIS Chicken 14When the potatoes are done, drain the water, toss some smoked paprika, salt and pepper with the potatoes you've lightly smashed in the hot pan. Put the lid back on and shake the bejezus out of it. This will coat all those potatoes with the seasoned flour. Scrape all that good stuff onto the pre-heated sheet pan, and back into the oven. Toss them around the pan to get some fat/oil on all the potatoes.

Your chicken will be done around the 40 minute mark. Carefully remove that hot iron pan and beautiful bird - placing on a trivet or the stovetop. (I like to leave a potholder on the handle of the pan to remind myself not to grab it. The CIS will retain heat for a long time.) Let the chicken rest. Resist picking at the crispy bits if you can.

CIS Chicken 12

If you'd like something fresh, you can toss chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, thinly sliced onion with some olive oil and a splash of vinegar. These are purple cherokees and green zebras.

CIS Chicken 15 CIS Chicken 16

 

 

Five Steps to Wok Star Status (and One Seriously Good Cookbook)

I have a confession to make. I had all but forgotten my wok skills. I lost my wok in one of many moves. I settled in to married life steps from Chinatown’s Paifang (gate) and it just always seemed easier to go to a restaurant than to get another wok, season it, then chop, prep, clean. It wasn’t until I began guiding tours through Chinatown and launched my own cooking instruction business that I realized I needed to get back to actually cooking with a wok and teaching others to do so as well. I can’t tell you how pleased I am to be back at it.  I have Grace Young’s brilliant Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge to thank for it. Click book to buy.

Five Steps to Wok Star Status

Wok cooking can be one of the healthiest, and quickest, ways to bring a weeknight meal together. Yet many people shy away from cooking in a real wok and default to their favorite sauté pan, or worse take-out food. What are the advantages of cooking in a wok? It’s lightweight, naturally non-stick, and efficient. It’s also very healthy, relying on high heat, little oil, lots of vegetables

Step One – How/where to buy a wok. For anyone near a Chinatown, you’re in luck. Many large suburbs also now have H-Marts or large cooking supply stores. I favor the lightweight, flat-bottomed carbon steel style wok. It cost me a whopping $11.98 at Sun Sun Market on Oxford Street. You can get a similar one online via Amazon or other such mail order shops. Even at double the price, it remains a bargain as far as cookware goes. Don’t bother to buy a nonstick wok! You will develop a natural nonstick surface quickly.

Step Two – How to season your new wok.

You’ll begin by scouring the wok with steel wool and soap. This is the one and only time these two things will touch your wok! You dry it carefully then season it by rubbing and pressing chopped scallion or garlic chives, ginger and peanut oil into the sides and bottom of the wok. After about 20 minutes of stir-frying the vegetables will be darkened and so will the wok. The pores of the wok have been opened by the heat and the metal will begin to absorb the fragranced oil.

Step Three – Tips for excellent results. Throughout the book, you’ll learn tips and techniques like how to cut the garlic, scallion or ginger that make up Asian “mirepoix”. Helpful substitutions included for those not near a Chinatown. For example, dry sherry (or my mother-in-law’s favorite Amontillado) make good substitutes for Shao Hsing rice wine.

Step Four – How to clean it and store your wok. Similar to cast iron skillets, you simply rinse with hot water, dry it, then store it. As mine is new, I often take a folded paper towel and tiny bit of oil or bacon fat to lightly coat the surface.

Step Five – Unexpected wok fun. Did you know popping popcorn in a wok is one of the best ways to develop the patina? (See below.) With only 20 minutes, you can season a wok properly and then it’s DONE. Each subsequent use improves the quality of your wok.  According to Grace Young, "Wok hei, or the breath of a wok, is the flavor and aroma that's produced if a stir-fry has been correctly cooked with super fresh ingredients over high heat---and it only lasts for a fleeting few seconds or minutes after the food has come out of the wok." 

I’d like to say I’m introducing a new technique and tool can energize your weeknight kitchen routine and inspire you to try new recipes. But in truth, wok cooking is as old as it gets. It may be new to you, but not for long.

One Seriously Good Cookbook: Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge

There are some books that are simply recipe collections. Others are travelogues, picture books, nice for the coffee table. Then there are books you want to devour. With your eyes, your senses, your heart. This is one of those. Grace Young combines everything we’ve come to expect from the best of our cook books:

  • Pictures that document step-by-step the key techniques
  • Heartwarming stories that tie personal moments and dishes that represent them to historical events
  • Techniques that will enable home cooks to get terrific results
  • Recipes that are both pleasing and fun to make, as well as delicious.

Like all my favorite cookbooks, this one is already dog-eared, splattered and tabbed. I removed the dust jacket for this shot.

My Wok, My Self

A seasoned wok is a work in progress, just like me.

As I eagerly flipped through the first few pages of my then-new book with my then-new wok, imagine how my heart sank when I go to page 23 Patience to Wok. Patience? Me?!

Only two pages later, I learn that one of my favorite snacks, popcorn, is perfect for boosting the wok’s patina. Like many kitchen lessons, these wok lessons translate to life lessons. Once in awhile, especially when your wok is young, you may find some food stubbornly sticking here or there. No problem! Woks, like cast iron skillets are nearly impossible to ruin. Young’s book even shows you how to give your wok a “facial” to restore the surface.

Soon you’ll see beauty in your imperfectly mottled patina. You’ll appreciate the quick-to-heat and quick-to-cool surface and you’ll definitely appreciate the lightweight nature of most woks. I find myself reaching for the wok as much or more than the large cast iron skillet these days. Even eggs won’t stick now.

Lessons from a wok:

  1. Stubbornness of youth can be overcome with some seasoning.
  2. Be as quick to cool, as you are to heat.
  3. Appreciate your imperfection.
  4. A tiny bit of TLC goes a very long way.
  5. Be giving.

To learn more:

Bookmark This: Thanksgiving 2013 Roundup - Recipes, Tips, Posts, Pins

I'll be posting something here every day between now and Thanksgiving so bookmark this now and you can check back at your leisure. roast turkey

 Are you wondering about a new side dish or maybe ready to try a new dessert? If you're like me, this is the best and most insane time of year. So much to cook. To taste. To try.

 So here we go, it's turkey time!

- Marron Glacé - kicks off holidays and makes a great hostess gift.

- Perfect Mashed Potatoes - an instructographic

- Potato Ricer - for light and fluffy mashed potatoes and perfect gnocchi

- Strata - perfect for a houseful of guests, savory bread pudding

- Stock tips - how to make turkey stock for perfect gravy

- Snappy Ginger Snaps - fill the house with good smells and never have a soggy pumpkin pie again

- Thanksgiving Spice Blend - a DIY spice mix to make fragrant turkey, delicious uses for many fall dishes

- Cranberry Persimmon Sauce - a new favorite

- Recipes from friends old and new - plus a crazy story that's become a traditional holiday kickoff.

- Four Thanksgiving Dishes to Please Any Crowd - Elegant or comfy, delicious recipes all and each one is either vegan or vegetarian, or are easily modified to be gluten-free, dairy-free.

- Shaved Fennel Salad - bright, crunchy and lightly licoricey. Perfect foil to the rich baked and roasted menu.

- Orange Bourbon Sweet Potatoes - aka "Jack's Killer Sweets"

- Prickly Guests, Sticky Situations - etiquette tips

Check out my Thanksgiving Ideas board on Pinterest, too.

Whether your hosting or visiting someone else, if food allergies or intolerances are part of the picture, you'll want to review these tips (with advice from Allergic Girl and the Gluten Free Girl) as well as my own. How to Host a Food-Allergic Friend, and How to be a Good Guest.

Poaching Chicken - Can't Stand the Heat? Stay in the Kitchen! Cool Tips for Dog Days

Even though our June and August weather seems to have flipped this year, we're still heading into another warm stretch. When the temperatures rise, even avid cooks need a break. But don't switch from home cooking to takeout. Switch to cooler, smarter ways to cook. One of my favorite techniques for cooking chicken breasts is to poach them.

How to Make Poached Chicken

Poaching is a classic technique that I love for summer. It's easy, it's inexpensive and you can get a lot of mileage out of a little cooking.

Poaching Chicken mise

 

Poaching is a moist-heat cooking method in which you simmer the protein (here, chicken) in aromatics and water (or a combo of wine, water, broth) to cook it gently and infuse it with flavor. The advantages of poaching include:

  1. No need to turn on the oven (in fact, you can even poach in the microwave!)
  2. No added fat
  3. It's a cook once-eat twice (or three times) method of cooking.
  4. You can produce a nice fragrant broth from the remains of poaching liquid and bones.

You can vary the aromatics used to infuse the chicken breast with various flavor profiles (use ginger and five spice for Asian applications, for example.)

Technique

  1. Start with organic chicken (unless of course you enjoy a little arsenic with your meal) - choose your aromatics and spices. Today I used carrots, celery onion, a wedge of lemon, some thyme, parsley and about a dozen peppercorns, an allspice berry and some herbs de Provence.
  2. Place all the ingredients in a pot just large enough to hold them, cover with your choice of liquid (today I forgot Vermouth so we have straight water).
  3. Bring pot to a bare simmer, not a boil as this will toughen the meat. Cover with a circle of parchment paper (see below) to keep the chicken submerged in the flavorful liquid.
  4. Simmer for about 15 minutes for two large split breasts. Check the temp of the chicken if you are unsure.
  5. Remove from heat and let cool in the liquid, in a heat proof bowl. (Food safety note: we don't want to create a giant petri dish for bacterial growth so it's best to cool only partially on the counter then refrigerate.
  6. Separate your moist, tender poached chicken from the bones, reserve bones for stock.

 

How to cut parchment paper for poaching

parchment

 

If you don't have parchment paper you can place a small saucer atop the aromatics and chicken. The idea is to keep the chicken submerged. But really, get some parchment, it will make so many things easier - roasting, cooking en papillote, baking cookies, releasing cakes, etc.

Completed Poached Chicken

Now you have beautiful chicken breast meat to include in your Hatch chile salsa verde tortillas, to include with a chopped salad of fresh farmers' market veggies, or to make lovely chicken salad with homemade mayonnaise.

And you've not even broken a sweat.

 

ABC’s of Saving Summer Produce

We are gorging on summer produce now, dribbling peach juice down our chins and arms, munching fresh green beans (well, everyone except Carlos), zipping through ears and ears of corn, serving fat slices of delicious heirloom tomatoes with everything we can think of and sometimes just eating them all by themselves in their ripe, naked glory. I saw the first tiny red and gold Maple leaf today and it reminded me not to wait too long to get this post done. Here are a few tips to keep our affair with summer produce if not hot, at least simmering vigorously into the cooler months to come. How long is up to you and will depend on both will power and freezer/shelf space.

Extending seasonal eats is as easy as A, B, C, F.

A - Acquire

B - Blanch

C - Can

(D Devour, E Enjoy...what, you didn't think I could spell?)

F - Freeze

A few simple steps will go a long way toward some stellar meals in the midst of winter.

Basil like this will soon be a distant memory - but there are ways to extend the seasonal eats.

Basil

Acquire

For most of your recipes, you should choose the produce free of blemishes and bruises. Skins should tight, weight should feel good in your hand. Corn silks should be damp - older silks mean older corn. Basil should be pre-blossom stage as the flowering basil will be a bit more bitter than those still in its prime. With heirloom tomatoes you may have to ask the farmer which varieties are at peak. Some of the large ruffly tomatoes (like pleated Zapotecs) are good for stuffing and won’t feel heavy. Green Zebras are more firm than Carbons.

For fruit that may have a blemish here or there, you could muddle them into shrubs or make simple syrups for cocktails and homemade sodas.

Tip: Chat with your farmer about what’s best that day. Ask for a sample.

Blanch

Blanching is a technique that will keep your vegetables bright and crisp. You’re simply dropping them into boiling water, then quickly moving them to a large bowl of ice water to arrest the cooking. Your corn will stay more sweet, beans more green.

  • Tip: Even basil stays bright green as will your pesto. Thanks to Vivian Bauquet Farre for this tip!
  • Tip: Blanch corn on the cob then cut off the cob and freeze for future use. If you’re using it right away, no blanching is necessary. To easily cut off the cob, stand an ear on its stem end in the middle of a large wide bowl. Cut down with a knife and the kernels will fall into the bowl.
  • Tip: Save fresh naked cobs to make a stock for future corn dishes, to make crackers, as a base for chowder. Cover with cold water, add a bay leaf and a few peppercorns. Simmer gently until the cobs have become pale. Strained stock can be frozen in cubes or in zip bags flat on a cookie sheet to be easily filed away or stacked in the freezer for that next chowder.

Corn

Can

Sometimes a surfeit of summer goodness is simply not sufficient. What to do to keep this sensual sustainable love affair going strong in the colder months to come? You can preserve food in jars without tons of specialized equipment, though a few items help to do it safely and efficiently. Even if you’re not using a hot water bath and ball jars, you can put food by in freezer containers. So I’m including freezing here. Canning Across America is an excellent site to help you get started (you can even read my Confessions of a Canning Virgin.)

  • Tip: freeze plum tomatoes whole on a half sheet pan then place them in zip top bags. You can then have the individually frozen peak-of-season plum tomatoes to use in colder months. The skins will slip off as they thaw, easy to remove or buzz up.

 

Resources:

Put ‘em Up - a great guide to all sorts of food preservation from freezing, to canning, pickling and more. My friend Sherri Brooks Vinton is on her second (or third?) book now and my copy is stained and stickered where I've marked pages with ball jar labels as I've made them.

Food and Style - is a recipe club and website by Viviane Bauquet Farré. It's gorgeous and chock full of sexy, delicious recipes and wine pairings. You'll be surprised to note several pages in that it's also vegetarian. I got this blanching basil tip from her just recently. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

 

Now, share YOUR favorite tip for saving summer produce...do you can? Freeze? Site or book you go to again and again?

 

 

 

 

How to Make Mayonnaise - Instructographic and Recipe

Homemade Mayonnaise in just four steps. That's right, that's all it takes.

Mayonnaise...

... one of the handiest things around. You can lightly dress a sandwich with it, devil some eggs, add it to salad dressings, make tuna or egg salad, coat chicken to oven fry...It's really just a small handful of ingredients and a simple whisk that stands between you and heavenly spread.

The problem is fat, right? So why not buy low-fat or reduced fat mayo? Usually these have icky additions such as more sugar and they still use cheaper soybean oil as the main fat. Oils can have healthy fat or unhealthy fat - chiefly we’re talking about Omega-6 fatty acids. Without geeking out too much, just know that the important thing is to eat Omega-3 and Omega-6 in proper balance. Americans tend to eat an unhealthy balance skewed heavily toward the Omega-6.

Commercial mayonnaise will also often contain preservatives and possibly other things you can’t pronounce or don’t wish to put in your mouth.

Now, I’m not trying to sell you on Mayonnaise-as-health-food. BUT, I AM hoping to persuade you to try making this at home. One the advantages of making your own mayonnaise at home is the nutritional profile as compared to store-bought. Taste is the other, arguably more important, reason to get out a whisk and a bowl and get cracking. Once you get the basic technique and proportions down, you can tailor your mayonnaise to your taste.

 

What you need:

Two things: a simple list of ingredients which may already have on hand,  and a simple technique.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice OR white wine vinegar OR see below
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 to 1 cup canola, grapeseed or other neutral tasting oil
  • Salt to taste
  • White pepper (optional)
  • Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

 

Directions:

  1. Whisk the egg yolks, mustard and acid.
  2. Drip, and I do mean drip, oil in while whisking. Patience is good here.
  3. As the egg yolk mixture begins to come together and you can see the drips of oil disappearing, you can begin to add the rest of the oil in a slow, steady stream.
  4. Taste and add salt, white pepper, cayenne to taste. You may also wish to add a pinch of sugar.

 

Options, variations, uses:

Remember when making something with only a few ingredients, especially something you will be eating fresh or cold, the quality of the ingredients is key to a good result. Use the best quality you can for each of the elements, you'll taste the difference.

Acid: Some people insist one must use only lemon juice. Others opt for white wine vinegar. Others like a combination, while still others insist no combining is allowed. Pfft. My only rule is not to use bottled lemon juice. I love Katz' Sparkling Wine Vinegar, and often combine it with lemon.

Oil: I prefer a light, neutral oil. In the instructograph above I began with grapeseed oil. I didn’t want mayo with a greenish hue (olive oil may do this as well) so I added canola oil.

If you wish to increase the proportion of good fat to bad in your mayo, you can use avocado oil, or nut oils, maybe flaxseed oil or light olive oil (first cold pressed, organic). I suggest beginning with a combination of canola and grapeseed.

Seasonings: Some people prefer only salt and white pepper - you may also use black if you don’t mind flecks of black in your mayo. You can omit cayenne altogether, but I like a little. You may add more acid like another squeeze of lemon or vinegar. Taste it and see what you think. Try adding lemon zest or grate garlic on a microplane to create an aioli.

The chief thing to understand is that you are combining two things that don’t want to be combined. In order to make the oil and vinegar play nice together, that is, stay combined in a nice creamy mayonnaise, you need two things: emulsifying agents and technique.

Here, our emulsifiers are lecithin and mustard. Lecithin? You’re wondering where I slipped that in? Egg yolks! These two ingredients are key. In the instructographic you may have noticed a tiny little dish on the lower right of our mise en place that is unlabeled? That is a little water. Water can help the mayo come together if you go too fast with the oil or don’t whisk vigorously enough. But usually it’s not necessary.

Technique:  whisking. The whisk with its loops, incorporates air and if you want to test yourself, try using a fork instead. That’s a workout! You can also use a blender or a stick blender. I think it tastes better whisked but I may be deluding myself there.

If your emulsion "breaks", that is the oil separates from the egg yolks, stop adding oil, add a couple drops of water and whisk vigorously. It will magically smooth out and re-combine.

Now go make yourself some wonderful homemade mayonnaise. Holler when those deviled eggs are done.

 

 

 

DIY Lobster Rolls - Best Ever

   

In my new capacity as Boston Citysearch Contributing Editor, I recently wrote the guide to the Best Lobster Rolls in Boston. That doesn't allow me to include my own, but you'll note the reference to Yankee Lobster. This is our go-to spot for ready-to-eat, shelled lobster meat.

Now you know where to eat them when dining out, and where to buy the meat to make them yourselves at home. Here's my recipe:

Leather District Gourmet Lobster Rolls

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs lobster meat
  • 1/3 C organic celery, minced
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 TBSP each: chervil, tarragon, parsley, chives, minced (you can omit one or another if you don't find them or don't like them. This is fine with just parsley and chives, for example. You need not have a full four TBSP of herbs.)
  • 3/4 C homemade mayo, (yes homemade, it's worth it and so easy. Really. Try it. Here's my instructographic and recipe for: Homemade Mayonnaise.)

 Instructions:

  1. Finely mince celery, shallots, herbs.
  2. Break up lobster into large bite size chunks, pick over and remove any bits of shell, veins, or roe.
  3. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and taste. Season with sea salt and white pepper.

Enjoy.