Archives for the month of: May, 2011

For the most of my life, I did not like mayonnaise. The white, slimy condiment just seemed gross and completely unappetizing. That all changed when I worked at a French restaurant here in Berkeley. That’s when I was introduced to aioli. Aioli is flavored mayonnaise but what makes it truly special is that it is handmade with fresh ingredients. Processed mayo from a jar just doesn’t compare to the real stuff. Aioli is delicious on sandwiches, in chicken salad, or as a dip for vegetables. My favorite way to enjoy aioli is as a dip for french fries.

This past weekend I went to a cookout for a friend’s birthday and I thought it was a perfect occasion to make homemade fries and garlic aioli. Aioli is quick and easy to make but this was my first attempt at making fries. I found a well-reviewed recipe at allrecipes.com and changed it up to make the fries spicy. These fries are battered like fried chicken and they turn out tender on the inside and nice and crispy on the outside. The batter adds a lot of flavor; I didn’t even salt them after they were cooked.  The garlic aioli was the perfect complement, adding another layer of flavor and texture. The fries were quickly eaten up, and were devoured within 10 minutes of getting to the party!

Garlic Aioli:

Aioli Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup mild flavored olive oil
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • salt and pepper to taste
Mix the mayo
  1. Chop the garlic as fine as possible and crush the chopped garlic with the blade of the knife. Set aside.
  2. Whisk the egg yolk until smooth.
  3. Slowly begin adding the oil to the yolk, whisking continuously. Begin by adding a few drops and incorporate the oil into the yolk. You must add the oil a little at a time and combine thoroughly or the oil will separate out of the aioli.
  4. Once all of the oil is combined  it will be thick and yellow. At this point slowly add the lemon juice.
  5. Stir in the garlic and season with salt and pepper.

This recipe makes about 2/3 cup of aioli. It will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Battered Fries:

Fries

  • 2 1/2 pounds of potatoes
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup of warm water, as needed
  • vegetable oil for frying
  1. Cut the potatoes into french fry sized slices. Place them in cold water while you prepare the oil and batter.
  2. Combine the flour, salt, garlic salt, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Add enough warm water that the batter can be drizzled from a spoon.
  3. In a large skillet, pour in about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil and turn stove to medium heat.
  4. Once the oil is heated, dip the fries in the batter and place one at a time into the oil. Make sure they aren’t touching or they’ll stick together.
  5. After about four minutes, flip the fries over. Fry until they are golden and crispy.
  6. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.
frying the fries

I lined a ceramic baking dish with paper towels and layered the fries and paper towels as they came out of the skillet. This kept them nice and hot while the rest of the fries were cooking and it absorbed all the excess oil. Since you can only fit about 10-15 fries in the skillet at a time this turned out to be pretty handy. I also had two skillets of oil frying, to speed up the process. I recommend using cast iron skillets. They heat the oil evenly plus all the oil seasons the pans nicely.

These battered fries and aioli is truly a tasty treat. Go ahead and enjoy them with a cold beer and you have a perfect cookout snack.

biscuitsThis weekend I took a short but sweet trip home to North Carolina for my sister’s college graduation. Flying back and forth from San Francisco, CA to Raleigh, NC  is a lot of traveling for a weekend trip but I had not been home since Christmas, so it was worth it. It’s hard when your two favorite places are on opposite sides of the country! It was a wonderful visit, packed with family time, hanging out with friends, and eating lots of Southern food. In honor of my recent visit home, I’m going to share a recipe for a quintessential Southern food; buttermilk biscuits!

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons chilled butter
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk

Step One: Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.

Step Two: Cut the chilled butter into small pieces and rub it into the flour. Use your fingers to rub in the butter until the flour resembles coarse cornmeal.

rub in the butter

Step Three: Add the buttermilk to the mixture and stir until moistened. Knead the dough a few times until combined. Don’t over handle the dough. The quicker you combine everything, the fluffier the biscuits will be.

Step Four: Turn the dough onto a floured surface and pat down to an inch thick circle.

Step Five: Use a floured circle cutter (I used a drinking glass) to cut out your biscuits. Place the biscuits together in a cast iron skillet or baking sheet, so that the sides are touching. Take the scraps of dough and use your hands to form into another biscuit. Don’t re-roll the dough.

cut the biscuit

Step Six: Bake the biscuits for 12 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.

Buttermilk biscuits are delicious with a little honey or molasses. Another amazing way to eat a biscuit is to split it in half and make a breakfast sandwich with bacon, egg, and cheese. No matter how you eat it, it’s sure to satisfy. Enjoy!

Kale PieI’ve been on a pie-baking kick lately and I’ve really enjoyed experimenting with different fillings for savory pies. This recipe is my most recent (and successful) incarnation of a savory vegetable and cheese pie. It turned out so well, I had to share it with you. Savory pies make a great main course or a killer side dish. It keeps well in the fridge for a few days and I enjoy the leftovers with a fried egg for breakfast. You’ll probably find it doesn’t stick around that long though; this is one of my boyfriend’s favorites and he usually makes short work of it. (I have to specifically ask him to save me some!)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Crust:

pie crust

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  1. Mix together the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Pour in the olive oil and mix until moistened.
  2. Stir in the warm water.
  3. Knead the dough until it’s soft and elastic but not sticky.
  4. Divide the dough into two portions, one for the top crust and one for the bottom. The portion for the bottom crust should be slightly larger.
  5. Set the dough aside while you prepare the filling.

Pie Filling:

pie filling
  • 1 bunch of Kale
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 6 spring onions
  • 8 oz fresh ricotta cheese
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cube the the sweet potato and chop the kale and spring onions. Finely chop the garlic.
  2. In a large pot combine the olive oil and garlic and cook over medium heat until fragrant.
  3. Add the sweet potato, kale and spring onions and cook until everything has softened and cooked down but is not mushy. About 5-10 minutes.
  4. Add the cumin, paprika, and cinnamon.
  5. Remove from heat and drain off any excess liquid.
  6. Stir in the ricotta cheese and season with salt and pepper.

Assembling the Pie:

pie assembly

  1. Select a pie dish about 2 inches deep and 10 inches wide.
  2. On a floured surface, roll out the the larger portion of the dough. Place it into the bottom of the dish and shape it so it comes up and over the sides of the dish.
  3. Transfer the filling to the dish and spread it out evenly over the dough.
  4. Roll out the second portion of dough and place it over the filling, so that it meets the edge of the dish. Shape and trim the dough as needed.
  5. Pinch the edges of the dough together to seal.
  6. Puncture the center of the dough with an one inch X

Bake for 50 minutes to one hour.

teapot I found this cute orange teapot at a flea market near my house.  I’m experimenting with doing some illustrations in acrylic paint and this lovely little teapot seemed like the perfect subject. I’m planning on opening an Etsy shop soon and this painting along with others will be available for sale. Also, look for screen printed goods and posters!  My plan is to have the shop up and running by mid-summer. I’m looking forward to sharing more with you in the coming months!

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