Mayo/Aioli

I try to stay healthy, I really do. But there are some things in life that just require Mayo.

Sweet potato fries, bahn mi, sandwiches- you get my point.

Mayo to me is almost as indulgent as dessert. After all, it's decadent- creamy, fattening, and pure TASTE if you get the right kind.

The only store bought mayo I buy is Kewpie mayo. A Japanese brand of mayo that several food publications have dubbed as the most delicious mayo on the market. It's also weird as hell. It's this flexible plastic bottle that features the Kewpie logo- a doodle of a red baby. Why a baby? WHO knows. It can be found on amazon or at any asian grocery store

And it truly is delicious. I love using kewpie if I don't have time to make my own mayo, and if you add a bit of Sriracha to it...

BUT, when I can, I try to make homemade mayo. Let me tell you why. It's delicious, but more importantly, you can improvise. Make whatever the hell you want. Any kind of mayo. You got a base, just add some ingredients to it and make it into an aioli. And it's satisfying as hell when you tell your friends you made an aioli (which in reality is really just mayo with flavorings-traditionally garlic)

A note on the magic of eggs. They're an incredible emulsifier. They bind everything together and thus the magic of sauces and custards come to life. So if you 'break' the sauce by adding in too much oil at once, or it isn't combining for whatever other reason- add in another egg yolk- voila 

Honey Lemon Aioli and Spicy Paprika Aioli with sweet potato wedges

Honey Lemon Aioli and Spicy Paprika Aioli with sweet potato wedges


Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of oil (I use Canola, but you can use others, I recommend looking it up, but sticking to a neutral flavorless type in general)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp of Dijon
  • 2 tsp of lemon juice (or vinegar)
  • Salt to taste

Instructions:

  1. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites
  2. Combine egg yolks, Dijon, lemon juice
  3. While mixing steadily with a whisk, add in the oil (teaspoon by teaspoon). So add in a teaspoon, mix until incorporated, then add in another
  4. Once the mixture reaches the consistency of mayonnaise you can add in tablespoon by tablespoon (still mixing steadily) until you use all of the oil
  5. Add in whatever you want to the mayo and season with salt

Now comes the part that makes this all worth it

You can make Honey Lemon Aioli (which is incredible trust me on this) which requires lemon zest and about 1/4 tablespoon of honey. This is mostly to taste

You can add in Sriracha, or other hot spices

Add in garlic paste! Add in basil! Honestly just whatever sounds good to you! Just add things you think will taste good together, you don't need exact measurements. Just taste while you keep adding ingredients

It's all a matter of what flavors you want, so experiment! If you're craving middle eastern flavors use those spices, something like Za'atar, or capers and other Mediterranean flavors if that's what you're looking for

Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb with Port Pan Sauce

I've redeemed myself. I made a successful lamb dish. Actually not just successful. Probably one of the best things I've ever made.

At cooking class this week we took on 'meats'. Particularly dry cooking various meats. I immediately chose to make lamb, since that's probably my favorite red meat. What I didn't know was that frenching a rack of lambs is pretty laborious, and definitely not recommended if you have carpal tunnel. It took me about 15 minutes to french one rack of lambs, and that was after the instructor helped me out.

I don't have a good way of describing how exactly to french a rack of lamb so I'd just suggest looking it up on youtube. But essentially you're trying to get rid of all the cartilage and fat people don't tend to eat.

Front of the lamb

Front of the lamb

This was the most succulent, juicy, flavorful meat dish I've ever made. And it wasn't too difficult to make apart from actually frenching the damn thing

This recipe serves four, but you can add in another rack of lamb without doubling the recipe no problem

Some notes on the recipe:

This requires a cast iron skillet. Cast Iron is the best tool to use for a perfect sear, and it's oven safe. This is important, because later when you make the pan sauce, you want to make it in the skillet that has all the roasted lamb juices in it

Another thing to note is that lamb cooks quickly in the oven. Depending on the size of the lamb of course. The rack I had was a little over a pound. I checked up on it after 5 minutes, put it back in the oven and checked it after another 8 minutes. I recommend doing something similar for a medium rare chop. Check on it after a couple of minutes, be on top of the temp.

Pulling it out at 125 is perfectly safe as carry over cooking will continue heating the meat. Ultimately for a medium-rare temp you want to stay in between 125-140 degrees F

Demi-glace (which you'll need for the pan sauce) is a meat stock that's been reduced by 3/4 and then thickened with a roux. It's tricky to make on your own, but it can be found at a butcher

Back of the Lamb

Back of the Lamb


Ingredients:

  • 1 8-bone rack of lamb (2 to 2..25 pounds)- can easily do two racks with this recipe without doubling anything else
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Canola oil
  • 1/4 cup of Dijon Mustard
  • 2 cloves of garlic- minced
  • 3/4 cup of bread crumbs
  • 2 tbs of finely chopped parsley
  • 2 tsp minced thyme
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup of veal or chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 tbs of Demi-glace
  • 1 cup Ruby Port Wine
  • 4 TBS of unsalted butter

Adapted from the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts Recipe

Instructions:

  1. French the lamb racks (again, watch a tutorial), then season with salt and pepper
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  3. Heat up a cast iron skillet for about 5 minutes, then pour canola oil (just enough to create a thin film across the skillet) over medium heat
  4. Put the rack of lamb fat side down in the pan and sear until golden-brown (about 1.5-2 min) on each side
  5. Combine garlic, breadcrumbs, parsley, thyme, and lemon zest. Add enough olive oil (add tablespoon by tablespoon) to make a paste
  6. Brush the Dijon over the rack of lamb and spread the breadcrumb mixture evenly over the racks, pressing gently so they adhere
  7. Place the lamb in the oven with the meat side toward the back. Roast anywhere from 10-20 minutes until the temperature at the center hits 125 degrees F
  8. Let the lamb rest for about 10-20 minutes on a wire rack while you make the pan sauce
  9. Deglaze the roasting skillet with stock. Add the demi-glace, whisk it in and reduce by half
  10. Add the port and boil until reduced to 1/3 of a cup and then whisk in the butter few pieces at a time. Season with salt and pepper to taste*
  11. Carve each rack into four 2 bone chops

*I personally melted the butter as I was running out of time. You can either melt it and add a little at a time, or you can cut it into 6 pieces and melt it while the skillet is over the heat

New year new rut

Not gonna lie, since my last post I've been somewhat in a cooking rut. It was a combination of several cooking disasters and a general lack of time that put me off.

In the time I've been fairly inactive I turned 21! Ben came up from Cali and spent about a month in Massachusetts. I saw Trumbo which was amazing, ate at a swanky restaurant (Toro in the South End in Boston), had my first legal cocktail, and ate at Noodle Bar when I came to NY. Which was...everything I hoped it would be. The most perfect ramen, the most perfect and succulent pork buns, just...incredible. I finally got to eat at one of David Chang's restaurants.

My first legal drink- A Beellini

My first legal drink- A Beellini

First time eating at my idol's- David Chang- restaurant, Noodle Bar for my birthday

First time eating at my idol's- David Chang- restaurant, Noodle Bar for my birthday

Birthday cheesecake cupcake

Birthday cheesecake cupcake

My friends also held a belated friendsgiving. Which was when the first kitchen disaster struck, and it struck hard. Being over confident I convinced myself I could cook four dishes for 20 people no problem in the 3 hours of prep time I had (after work and before the event). Obviously that didn't work out too well. And not only did half my dishes fail miserably, I also managed to clog the sink so thoroughly, the pipes leaked all over onto the floor and our kitchen was unusable for days there after.

Pretty demoralizing.

I did get two new cookbooks for my secret santa present (which we do on friendsgiving) which lightened my mood up a little.

When Ben was crashing at my place I attempted to make a few different recipes: Roasted Banana Ice cream, Lamb Rendang, and a Soba noodle dish.

All which FAILED.

My roasted banana ice cream recipe didn't have many stabilizers in it, and my freezer is somewhat temperamental, so it turned into this overpowering ice goop.

My soba noodles came out all sticky and oozing

And, the most tragic of all, after the $50 of ingredients I gathered for my lamb dish that was supposed to simmer for four hours...

In the last hour it burned. Unsalvageable. And the last straw.

I gave up after all that. I may or may not have cried after my beautiful lamb was reduced to a charcoal mess. However, I've started up my Level II classes at the cooking school last week though and that's been a breath of fresh air.

Since the new year, I've been pretty tied up with work. I'm completing my last semester ever before I officially move to Los Angeles, and the work load has been...intense. 

After my cooking class last week I realized how much I missed it. I was a little rusty so I overcooked my recipe a little bit (I made duck), it was still delicious though, and more importantly I felt like I was back

As for now, while I'm taking cooking classes I don't really have time to cook on my own, but I'm gonna try to post up the recipes from class, and start cooking on my own once they end in March.

Otherwise I'm climbing out of this rut ;)