My first post!
Friends, let me tell you something. This past summer, Scott attended an opera workshop in Vancouver, Canada. Because my home is in that general area, I took it as a good excuse to visit my folks and friends for a few days before we took the train up to Canada for his workshop. This wouldn’t necessarily be blogworthy, except that we happened upon this little restaurant near the place we airbnb’d.
The name of the establishment escapes me, but its food has haunted me ever since. Six words:
Basil. Aioli. and. Sweet. Potato. Fries.
When I decided to start up this blog, I knew exactly what I wanted my first recipe to be… but had no idea how to make aioli.
And neither does anyone else, apparently. There are more variations on this simple staple than there are on the Chocolate Chip Cookie.
It took three complete failures, a lost night of sleep (read: I kept dreaming about this dang recipe), and my brilliant Chemist roommate, Chelsea before I figured out where I went wrong.
So here’s the deal. Aioli is created through combining two unfriendly substances through a process called “emulsion,” which thickens it from a runny egg yolk to a thick mayonnaise-type food. Many recipes will tell you to add salt and garlic and lemon at the get-go but you’re really shooting yourself in the foot if you do so. According to Chelsea, salt acts as a type of anti-emulsifier, as does the lemon juice and–to a lesser extent–the garlic.
She must know what she’s talking about because, well, it totally worked!
But enough talk! Here’s what you really want to know: how to make this amazing snack/side item.
- 2 egg yolks at room temperature
- 1.25 cups extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp of lemon juice w/
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 tbs of Dijon mustard
- Generous pinch of salt and pepper
- ¼ tsp red cayenne pepper
- 1.5 tbsp finely minced basil to taste
- Two sweet potatoes
- Olive oil
- Coarse salt and pepper
- Put two egg yolks in a bowl and allow to come to room temperature
- Finely mince and crush a clove of garlic and several basil leaves. Put your olive oil into something that you can easily pour out of.
- Using an electric beater, whip the eggs until they thicken up. I used the “mix” setting on mine throughout this process.
- Slowly (literally drop by drop), put the olive oil into the egg, while beating. The goal is to get it to thicken up—so don’t add any until it “emulsifies” (it will become opaque). Don’t rush this!!
- Once it has a thick consistency (err on the side of too thick) add the 1 tbsp. of lemon juice with the crushed garlic clove. Continue to mix.
- Add the Dijon mustard and salt/pepper to taste
- Add the finely minced basil.
- Add the cayenne pepper to taste. I ended up used ¼ tsp. in mine.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees
- Chop the sweet potatoes in half lengthwise, and then cut each half into narrow strips, so you create long fries
- Toss them in a large bowl with about a tablespoon of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste
- Spread them out on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven for 10-15 minutes, checking for doneness. You may need to do more than one batch.
- Move them onto the top rack and broil on High for 1 minute
- Take out of the oven and allow to cool for 3-5 minutes on the pan
Poco a Poco…
As a final note, I would recommend eating these while listening to William Grant Still’s Afro-American Symphony. It is the first symphony ever to be composed by an African-American, and utilizes the twelve-bar blues and a spiritual as its two themes. If you like Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, you’ll love this one too.