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Archive for Condiments

TIP OF THE DAY: Aïoli, The Original, The Modern & A Party

Aioli Dip With Seafood

Basil Aioli

Aioli Platter

Saffron Aioli

Habanero Aioli

[1] As a sauce or dip with boiled potatoes (photo courtesy Quinciple). [2] Tarragon aïoli as a dip with shrimp (here’s the recipe from Real Simple). [3] Le Grand Aioli: make a platter for your next gathering (here’s a story from Edible Seattle). [4] Just open the jar and use these flavorful aïoli from Delicious And Sons: Basil Lemon Aïoli and Saffron Orange Aïoli. [5] Southern Europe meets South America: Habanero Aïoli from Salsa Maya (remember that in Spanish, salsa is a generic word for sauce).

 

Americans eat a lot of mayonnaise, but not enough aïoli: garlic mayonnaise.

The word is pronounced eye-OH-lee from the French word for garlic, ail (pronounced EYE).

What we think of as a bread spread is used as a dip and sauce from Catalonia (the northeast tip of Spain; think Barcelona) through Provence (Marseilles along the coast through Toulon, Cannes, Nice and Monaco.

It hopped the border of Monaco to the Liguria region of Italy. It spread to the south of Catalonia to Valencia, Catalonia, Murcia and eastern Andalusia, and offshore to the Balearic Islands. It crossed the sea to Malta.

In fact, mayonnaise was invented in France by the great chef Marie-Antoine Carême, around 1800. You may think of mayo as a spread, but it was created as a sauce (the history of mayonnaise).

But before then, the original sauce was made with just garlic and olive oil, which, by the way, was not an easy combination to emulsify into a sauce in the centuries before blenders.

Later, possibly inspired by Carême’s mayonnaise, Provençal cooks incorporated egg yolks and lemon juice and voila: a richer, more flavorful, more stable mixture than mashed garlic and olive oil. (When you look at your food processor or blender, remember that everything prior to modern times was done in a mortar and pestle.)

There are numerous seasoning variations. In France, it can include a bit of Dijon mustard. In Malta, some tomato is added.

Everywhere, aïoli is served at room temperature.

Ingredients vary by region, too. Catalan versions leave out the egg yolk and use much more garlic. This gives the sauce a more pasty texture, while making it considerably more laborious to make as the emulsion is much harder to stabilize.
 
AÏOLI USES

Yes, you can put it on your sandwich or burger; but aïoli can be used instead of mayonnaise anywhere, from canapés to to dips to potato salad.

You can even plan a luncheon or dinner party around it. And you can buy it or make it.

Then, serve it:

  • With escargots, a French favorite.
  • With fish and seafood: boiled fish (in France, cod and aïoli are a popular pair), bourride (Provençal fish soup).
  • In the U.S. with broiled, poached or grilled fish and shellfish, crab cakes, shrimp cocktail
  • Spread on hard-cooked eggs.
  • On vegetables, especially artichokes, asparagus, boiled potatoes and green beans.
  • As a substitute for butter, oil or vinaigrette.
  • Fries!
  • Salted boiled potatoes and bay leaf (a Ligurian specialty).
  • Mixed into chicken salad, egg, tuna and potato salads.
  • As a crudités dip.
  • On Mexican corn (elote).
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    SERVE LE GRAND AÏOLI

    In Provence, Le Grand Aïoli (a.k.a. Aïoli Garni or Aïoli Monstre) is a special-occasion dish consisting of boiled vegetables (artichokes, beets, carrots, green beans, potatoes); salt cod or other poached fish, snails, canned tuna, other seafood; hard-boiled eggs, and a large dish of aïoli.

    In Provence, the dish is served in a celebration around August 15th, after the garlic has been harvested. If you like the idea, plan an occasion.

    You don’t have to wait until August. A room-temperature dish, Le Grand Aïoli delightful in the spring or summer with a lightly-chilled Côtes de Provence rosé or a red Bandol.

    If you like crème de cassis (cassis liqueur, made from blackcurrants), it’s a local product; so serve a Kir or Kir Royale as an aperitif.
     
    AIOLI HISTORY

    Aioli, aïoli, alhòli, aiòli or allioli, arjoli or ajjoli: Depending on the country and region, they are different spellings for a Mediterranean sauce (in southeastern Spain, it’s called ajoaceite or ajiaceite).

    Made of garlic and olive oil—two staple ingredients of the area—the name means garlic and oil in Catalan and Provençal.

     
    There are numerous flavored mayonnaises. Since the expansion of specialty food producers in the late 1980s, it became fashionable for producers and chefs to call all flavored mayonnaises—basil, chili, cilantro, red pepper, saffron, etc.—aïoli.

    While purists insist that only the garlic-seasoned recipe should be called “aïoli,” we think, logically, that as long as there’s garlic in the recipe, it can still be called aïoli. Consumers will understand.

    Otherwise, you’ll find even purer purists who insist that only the original garlic-oil sauce—no egg, no lemon juice—be called aïoli.

    RECIPE: A QUICK AÏOLI WITH STORE-BOUGHT MAYONNAISE

    If you want to make your aïoli from scratch, here’s a recipe.

    Ingredients For 1 Cup

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil or other herb*
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • Pinch salt
  • Optional: 1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon olive oil (to thin)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BLANCH the basil in boiling water for 15 seconds. Mix all ingredients in medium bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    2. REFRIGERATE, covered, for at least 1 hour or overnight, to allow flavors to meld.

    ________________

    *If you want a spice instead of an herb, season to taste.
     
      

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    RECIPE: Beet Marmalade

    Talk about memorable fall foods: This beet marmalade recipe from our colleague Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog is an eye-opener.

    With its beautiful color and rich flavor, it’s a condiment that goes well:

  • As a spread with bread or crackers
  • On a cream cheese brick or goat cheese log
  • With grilled and roasted meats and poultry
  • Mixed into a dip with yogurt or sour cream
  •  
    The flavor is earthy yet sweet and zesty, with layers of flavor from the caramelized onions, orange zest and maple syrup. It may well convert beet haters to beet lovers.

    If you like to make food gifts, add this one to your repertoire.

    While the recipe specifies red beets for a ruby-color marmalade—a color that’s ideal for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentine’s Day—you can also make it with orange beets as a change of pace.

    You can make canapés, or put out the ingredients and let people assemble their own.
     
    RECIPE: BEET MARMALADE

    Ingredients For About 2 Cups

  • 4 medium red beets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • 1 large orange, zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoons 100% Grade B maple syrup*
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  •  
    For Serving

  • Crackers or crostini (toasted baguette slices)
  • Goat cheese log, sliced in fairly thin (i.e. not thick) circles
  • Boston lettuce or baby greens
  • ________________
    *Grade B is the darkest and most flavorful maple syrup. Here are the four grades of maple syrup. You can substitute what you have, as long as it’s 100% real maple syrup.
     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Wrap the beets completely in aluminum foil and roast for about an hour, or until fork tender. Let cool before peeling. The skins should just rub right off with a bit of pressure.

    Meanwhile…

     

    Beet Marmalade & Goat Cheese Recipe

    Fresh Red Beets

    Orange Beets

    [1] Beet marmalade on a cracker with goat cheese (photo by Hannah Kaminsky). [2] Red and [3] orange beets (photos courtesy Good Eggs | SF).

     
    2. HEAT the oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat and add the sliced onion. Cook gently, stirring frequently for 30 to 40 minutes, until deeply caramelized and almost silky in texture. Add the orange juice halfway through, and reduce the heat if necessary to prevent burning.

    3. ROUGHLY CHOP the cooked beets and place them in a food processor along with the caramelized onions. Add the orange juice and zest, maple syrup and and salt. Lightly pulse all of the ingredients together until broken down and thoroughly combined but still quite chunky.

    4. SERVE warm or chilled.
     
    WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JAM, PRESERVES & MARMALADE?

    Check out our “spread sheet”: a glossary of the different types of bread spreads and fruit condiments.

      

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    GIFT OF THE DAY: Horseshoe Brand Hot Sauce

    We receive lots of hot sauce samples. Most of them are fine, but not special.

    Enter the special: Horseshoe Brand hot sauce, developed by two entrepreneurs in New York State’s food mecca, the Hudson Valley.

    All natural, made in small batches, you can’t help but say, “This is good stuff!”

    Why? The hot sauces are made from scratch using fresh chiles. Many hot sauces use extracts that provide heat, but not flavor. Macerating fresh chiles provides a lively, fresh-tasting hot sauce that is a delight.

    The current line-up includes:

  • Cajun Hot Sauce
  • Chipotle Hot Sauce
  • Habanero Hot Sauce
  • Kiwi Jalapeño Hot Sauce
  • Mango Fatali Hot Sauce
  • Peach Hot Sauce
  • Roasted Garlic Hot Sauce
  • XXXTra Hot Hot Sauce
  •  

    Horseshoe Garlic Hot Sauce

    One of six delicious flavors; horseshoe not included (photo courtesy Horsehoe Brands).

     
    At $5.99 a bottle, they’re affordable stocking stuffers, party favors.

    Head to HorsehoeBrand.com and load up!

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Holiday Martini With A Side Of Olives

    If you’re not the type to sip seasonal cocktails with apple, cinnamon, cranberry or pumpkin flavors, here’s a tip to seasonalize that American classic, the Martini*.

    Recently we read an interview with a fashionable mixologist. Asked, among other things, of his pet peeves, he said, “I sell cocktails, I don’t sell garnishes. Everyone who orders a Martini keeps asking for more olives. We should make ‘dish of olives’ an bar menu item.”

    Voilà, our tip of the day: Serve Martinis with a side dish of olives—ideally, a vibrant mix of different colors and shapes.

    We adapted Sable & Rosenfeld’s Blue Martini, garnished with its blue-cheese-stuffed olives (photo #1), with red or reddish† olives, for a red-and-green holiday theme.

    There is one really red olive, and other options in the purplish range.

  • Red† Cerignola olive: from Italy, a jumbo olive with mild, buttery flesh.
  • Gaeta olive from Italy, popular in recipes
  • Kalamata olive from Greece, a meaty olive
  • Niçoise olive from France, pleasantly bitter with nutty undertones
  •  
    Other purplish varieties you may encounter are the Alfonso, Amfissa, Nyon. But essentially: Head to the nearest olive bar and buy the reddest olives.

    COCKTAIL RECIPE: HOLIDAY MARTINI

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2½ ounces gin or vodka
  • ½ ounce dry vermouth
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 3 regular-size olives or 1 Red Cerignola olive
  • Ice
  •  
    Plus

  • A small dish of olives in mixed colors and sizes
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PRE-CHILL the glass.

    2. PREPARE the garnish. Strip the leaves from bottom 2 inches of the rosemary sprig and skewer three small olives onto it, or one large Red Cerignola olive.

    TIP: Some kitchen scissors have a leaf stripper in the center for herbs. We use this one from Esschert.

    2. FILL a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Add the alcohol and ice; shake and strain into the glass.

    3. GARNISH and serve with a side of olives.

    If your guests don’t polish off all the olives with their cocktails, you can toss them into the salad or serve them with the cheese plate!
     
    _________________________
    *Check out the history of the Martini.

    †The color of an olive is an indication of its ripeness. Green olives ripen and become black olives in shades from black to purple-black and brown-black. As the olive ripens, it produces colors in-between: light brown, purple and reddish. In general, the darker the olive, the riper it was when picked. As they mature, some varieties may be red for a day or two. But what nature doesn’t provide, man will: Red Cerignola olives are actually dyed bright red with an FDA-approved colorant (red #3) and a patented process to provide festive color. La Bella di Cerignola is the formal name for the olives grown in the area of the town of Cerignola in Puglia, Italy.

     

    Olive Martini

    Mixed Olives

    Red & Green Cerignola Olives

    Esschert Herb Scissors

    Sable & Rosenfeld). [2] What Martini drinkers want: a side dish of olives (photo courtesy Pompeian | Facebook). [3] The reddest olive available is the jumbo Red Cerignola, shown with the Green Cerignola (photo courtesy DeLallo). [4] Strip leaves of of herb stems using the center part of this Esschert herb scissors.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Crunchy Fried (Or Baked) Tortilla Strips

    What more crunch in your summer salads?

    Toasted croutons and chow mein noodles have long served that purpose.
     
    OTHER CRUNCHY OPTIONS

    You can also add slices of bell pepper, bok choy, carrot, celery, fennel, kohlrabi, radish or water chestnut; florets and stalks* of broccoli and cauliflower; and even nuts (try cashews).

    Romaine is the crunchiest lettuce; you can substitute or add shredded cabbage.

    But one ingredient we’ve been enjoying lately is fried tortilla strips.

    It had not been top-of-mind for us until the lightbulb turned on as we were crunching on the Skinnylicious Mexican Tortilla Salad at The Cheesecake Factory. These strips are more flavorful than chow mein noodles and most packaged croutons.

    We asked ourself: Why don’t we use them on every salad?

    We headed to the supermarket and found bags of fried tortilla strips, from Fresh Gourmet’s slender Tri-Color Tortilla Strips to Mission’s standard strips that are wide enough for dipping.

    But you can easily make your own, simply by cutting corn tortillas into strips and frying or baking. The only difference is that yours will be fresh, warm and all natural. Bonus: You can control the amount of salt.

    There’s nothing better than homemade tortilla strips, warm and fragrant from cooking. They’re made the same way as tortilla chips; just in a different shape.
     
    RECIPE: FRIED TORTILLA STRIPS

    Ingredients

  • 4 six-inch corn tortillas
  • Vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt
  •  
    Plus

  • Deep-fry/candy thermometer
  • Wire skimmer
  •  
    Preparation

    1. STACK the tortillas. Cut them in half, then crosswise into thin strips (you can use a pizza cutter). Line a baking sheet with a double thickness of paper towels, for draining.

    2. POUR 3 inches of oil into a 4-5 quart pot. Clip the thermometer to the pot and heat the oil over medium-high to 350°F. Test the oil with a drop of water from the tap. If it sizzles, it’s ready; if it splatters, it’s too hot. Turn off the heat for a few minutes.

    3. ADD half of the tortillas to the oil carefully—that oil is hot!—and use a wire skimmer or slotted spoon to stir often so they don’t burn. The strips should be submerged in the oil until golden brown (about 3 minutes).

    4. REMOVE the tortillas with the skimmer or a slotted spoon, allowing the excess oil to drain back into the pot. Spread the strips on the paper towels to drain, and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
     
    If you won’t be using the strips within a few hours, let them cool and store them in an airtight jar.

     

    Tortilla Strip Garnish

    Tortilla Strips

    Tortillas

    [1] Mexican Tortilla Salad. Here’s the Skinnylicious recipe from Cheesecake Factory. [2] You can make your strips long as in the first photo, or short like these (photo courtesy Heather H. | Food.com). [3] Beautiful colors of tortilla chips (photo courtesy Ramiro Valencia, D.R.).

     
    Spicy Variation

    This option brushes the tortillas with seasoned oil, before stacking and cutting.

  • 1-1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or 1?4-1?2 teaspoon ground red chili flakes
  •  
    COMBINE the oil and spices; brush one side of each tortilla with the mixture and proceed with steps above.
     
    Oven Variation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F.

    2. SPRAY a baking with cooking spray and spread the the strips, trying not to let them overlap. Sprinkle with salt.

    3. BAKE for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.
     
    USES FOR TORTILLA STRIPS

    In addition to a salad garnish, try them on:

  • Mac & Cheese, instead of toasted crumbs
  • Sandwiches, including burgers and franks
  •  
    __________________
    *There’s no reason to toss the bottom stalks of broccoli and cauliflower. The reason people do is because we’re accustomed to eating the “pretty” florets. The stalks are just as delicious—and they’re the parts used to make fancy purées. We cut them into coins and steam or roast them.

      

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