Have you ever felt something was not worth your while? Till someone else made a case/presented the value proposition for it and caused you to do a 180 degree turn? Me too.
Value Proposition – the benefits ascribed to a product or service, less the costs.
Costs of making aioli? Time and emotion, large chance of failure, physical exertion with strain in unused arm muscles.
Because no one had ever shared the value proposition for homemade aioli with me, I was deeply content to pass on by. Ditto for Mayo, Hellman’s worked just fine. As for Hollandaise, I stepped outside my comfort zone via a ‘blender’ recipe which ended in absolute disaster. But all that was pre very simple instructions from Amanda Hesser on food52. It showed me that my ‘mindtalk’ about the difficulty/guaranteed failure when making emulsified sauces was just that – mindtalk and very far from reality. Especially as I’d only ever tried it once.
Unlike Thomas Edison, (the third most prolific inventor in world history, holding 1,093 US patents in his name, as well as many patents in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany) who when faced with yet another solution to the ‘light bulb’ which resulted in it not lighting, said
I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.
Thomas Edison, February 11, 1847 – October 18, 1931
So it was last Sunday, fresh from camp where we only got a little wet (thank you for your prayers and best wishes) and before I headed to Cambridge, UK on Monday, I followed the simple instructions on how to make aioli, actually moving from just thinking to finally doing. And for my efforts I was rewarded with success and minimal exertion. And full of gratitude to my friend Christy, who kindly loaned me her second camera for a whole month! I have to say I have the very best friends!
Anyhow, when one has numerous risks to overcome, they must be taken in the right order. Easier said than done though but for me, this is the very reason I love food. Its forgiving nature, its openness in allowing you to fail yet try again, often at a cost but usually not prohibitive, save for when you’re cooking with 700/kg truffles from the south of Italy!
The Havard Business review says: Risk and value are inversely proportional: When you remove risk, you increase value. But it matters in what sequence you tackle risks, because not all of them are created equal.
In the case of emulsified/whipped cream and sauces I think the critical risk is ‘not having spanking clean utensils’. I prefer to clean my stainless steel bowls with hot water and dry off with vinegar-moistened kitchen tissues.
Into the clean bowl goes the egg yolks, vinegar, salt and minced garlic. In one hand a large balloon whisk and in the other, oil in a cup, tilted and ready to pour in a ‘thin’steady stream. At this stage, the challenge of balancing the hand that pours the oil, while whisking can be halved by employing the services of a ‘helper’. That way, you don’t have to worry about failing. In my case, no helpers were in sight so I took the risk.
I was stunned to see how quickly the aioli took shape, transforming from a light custard to a thick, spreadable paste. I felt every inch the cook, adding a classic recipe to my ‘know-how’ and learning a thing or two about addressing future challenges.
And because great things go in threes, I combined Thing 1 (aioli) with Thing #2? Fried Pizza….and 3? Spring on a plate, aka green asparagus! The result, a delicious pizza with a soft but chewy base, lashings of perfect garlicky sauce and ribbons of green. Extremely good value wouldn’t you say? While it may seem like a lot to do, the aioli costs you little time. And with my ‘lazy’ no-knead dough, no one broke into a sweat.
The benefits – knowing ‘how’ to work with emulsified sauces with significant potential to apply this learning in future and above all, a delicious, perfect condiment free from additives!
Asparagus and Aioli Fried Pizza
Ingredients3-4 fried pizza bases (recipe below) Aioli, as desired (recipe below)
3 – 4 green asparagus spears, washed and base (~3cm removed) 150 – 250 g fresh mozzarella cheese , cut into thin slices
You can use apple cider and wine vinegar instead of the sherry vinegar. Some people also use some lemon/lime juice in combination with the vinegar
I prefer a combination of oils instead of using only olive oil, as the taste can be overpowering
Adjust the salt at the end, so you don’t over season.
If the sauce is too thick, thin with some water. If it is too thin…then there’s no reversing. It will still taste good!
Using a vegetable peeler, shave the base of the asparagus to form ribbons. Then cut off the spears and slice longitudinally
Preheat the grill to the highest temperature.
Onto each fried pizza base (sitting on a baking tray), smear some aioli to taste and top with slices of fresh mozzarella.
Finish off with ribbons of asparagus and place about 6 inches down from the hot grill.
Cook for 3 – 4 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the edges of the dough are a touch golden.
Remove from the oven and serve with more aioli on the side.
Ingredients175ml lukewarm water 10g fresh yeast 200g strong white bread flour 50g semolina (or strong white bread flour) 1/3 teaspoon salt Extra flour, for dusting Flavourless oil, to grease dough and bowl and for deep frying
In a bowl, combine the water and the fresh yeast, stirring/mixing till the yeast is dissolved. Combine the flours with the salt then using a dough whisk or a wooden spoon, gently add the bread-salt mix to the yeasty water, stirring till the flour is all used up. Using your hands, incorporate any last bits of flour. Carefully shape the dough into a ball and place in bowl. Gently oil the top of the dough and cover lightly, or with greased clingfilm (oiled side down).
Allow dough rise for a couple of hours, then gently turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Deflate and cut dough into 3-4 pieces and then shape balls. Roll out each ball into 1/2cm thickness and allow them to rest for 10 minutes.
Heat up a large frying pan with about 2cm of vegetable oil and once hot (browned cube of bread in 30 seconds), fry the pizza base. You’ll notice the top of the dough bubble up, from the rim to the centre. Once that stops, about 30 seconds, it is time to flip the base over and cook the other side. Remove after 30 seconds, shaking the base gently to remove the excess oil.
Place onto a baking tray and use as directed, or desired.
Ingredients1 large egg yolk, preferably from organic eggs 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar 1 clove (smoked) garlic, mashed or passed through a garlic pres 3/4 cup grapeseed oil 1/4 cup olive oil Kosher salt, to taste Optional, pinch of freshly ground black pepper
Rinse a stainless steel bowl with hot water and then dry with kitchen tissues. Put the egg yolk, sherry vinegar, mashed garlic and a tiny pinch of salt in the clean bowl. Using a large balloon whisk, whisk as you gently pour in the grapeseed oil in a thin stream. The mixture will thicken and lighten in colour as you whisk.
Once the grapeseed oil is finished, continue with the olive oil till the mixture is thickened to your liking. At this stage, you may want to use up all the oil or stop. Check for salt and adjust to taste. Sprinkle with a pinch of black pepper, if you like and refrigerate till ready to use.
Are you in the habit of making your own Mayo? And Aioli?
Check out other aioli recipes
I also love Natasha of 5 Star Foodie Culinary Adventures, smoky poblano aioli