Wednesday, December 30, 2009

squash bread

I worked on Christmas, so had to bring something for our potluck. As I planned to spend most of Xmas eve day at Annie's, I needed to bring a dish that didn't take much time or advance preparation. I actually ended up taking two things--a pie made of leftover applesauce and cranberries from the previous week's latkes, and this very successful bread.

pumpkin bread

Squash Bread à la New York Times

makes one big loaf

800g all-purpose flour
300g pumpkin purée (I had it frozen, but canned would also be good)
400ml water
1t instant yeast (2g)
2t salt (15g)
200g raisins
150g chopped pecans
2t cumin seed
wheat bran

On the morning of the day before you plan to bake, mix everything but the bran together till there are no visible streaks of flour or squash remaining. Do a couple of stretch and folds over the next hour, then let it rise in a not-too-warm place till just before bedtime.

That night, scrape the dough onto a lightly floured counter and roughly shape it into either a round or oblong loaf, depending on what pan you plan to use to bake it. Generously cloak with bran, and set into an appropriately shaped dish (round bowl or oblong pan) sufficient to contain it when it's risen one and a half times and lined with a well-floured linen cloth. Rye flour, if you have some, has better non-stick properties than wheat. Put everything into a big plastic bag to prevent a skin forming prematurely on the loaf. If your house is warm at night, put in the refrigerator; otherwise, leave out on the counter.

When you get up preheat the oven to 425° with a 7 liter heavy, lidded casserole in it (I use this). If the dough's in the fridge, get it out and let it warm up. After an hour, carefully turn the loaf out into the hot pan, put the lid on, and bake for 25 minutes. Take the lid off and bake for another 25 minutes, or until its internal temperature is over 200° or it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

pumpkin bread ii

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Xmas cookies

cookies i

This year I again made only seven kinds of cookies. I didn't get started on them till about a week before Christmas, so I couldn't make Aachener Printen or my favorite kind of Lebkuchen as they both require at least two weeks of aging to get non-leathery. From the top and working around clockwise, there are windmills, sugar cookies, Annie's favorite Lebkuchen (from Betty Crocker), Afghans, Linzer cookies (my fancy Linzer cookie cutter didn't work very well, and kept falling apart as I tried to cut the too-soft dough), lemon-pistachio wedding cookies (made from this recipe but with twice the sugar and a little lemon juice added), and in the center, Pfeffernüsse (with icing adapted from this icing recipe).

Saturday, December 19, 2009

five-can dinner

tamale pie

I used to make tamale pie for Rachael and Annie all the time--it was an easy dinner, and very quick to make if you discount its time in the oven. It was always kind of a thrill, too, to make something involving so many cans. Rachael tired of it, though, and I forgot about it. I hadn't made it for years till last week when I was working on my Christmas baking and needed to fix something for dinner which would make nice leftovers for work lunches. I had my Betty Crocker cookbook out for its lebkuchen recipe and it reminded me of my old standby, which is heavily adapted from Betty's version. I rushed to the store to buy some cans, and soon I was eating this nostalgic dinner.

If you wanted to make it without mussing up your cutting board, you could even use pre-cut onions (I've seen them at Trader Joe's!) and squash your garlic through a press. For variety, I bet this would be good if you added some Soyrizo, fried along with the onions.

five can dinner ii

Fiesta Tamale Pie

serves 4, or 1 with lots of leftovers

1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1T oil
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can beans (pinto or black), drained
1 can corn, drained
i can diced green chiles
2t chili powder
1 cup corn meal
2T garbanzo bean flour
2T nutritional yeast
1 can black olives, drained
10oz unsweetened soy milk

serve with vegan sour cream and a lettucey salad

Fry the onions and garlic in an 3-4 quart ovenproof pan till the onions are yellowing. Add the tomatoes, beans, corn, chiles and chili powder, and bring to the boil. Meanwhile, whisk together the corn meal, garbanzo bean flour, nutritional yeast, and milk. Carefully pour over your hot mixture, then strew the olives over the top. You probably won't be able to fit all of the olives on, so the extras can tide you ever while you bake your pie for 40 minutes at 350°F.

plated tamale pie

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's really cold!

It was 18°F when I got up this morning, and 28° when I got home from my day's outing (I hear it got up to 31° somewhere in there, but I never noticed). I'm not in charge of the heat in my apartment--my downstairs neighbors have custody of the thermostat and make sure it's nice and warm when they're home, but we seem to have very different schedules--and it wasn't hot enough when I got home to drive the chill completely out of me. I decided to make my first hot whiskey of the winter to fortify myself for cooking dinner.

I've hated whiskey ever since I drank a big swig of it as a tiny child. My daddy always let me have drinks of his beer, so one time when he was drinking whiskey with his friends I couldn't understand why he wouldn't let me try some of it. I nagged and nagged until he gave in. It was the worst thing I'd ever tasted! Worse than marmalade! Worse than beets! I've been opposed to whiskey ever since, until Rachael nagged and nagged me to make her a hot toddy when she had a terrible cold. She didn't like it, so I finished it so as not to be wasteful. The water and sugar and everything made it much more palatable than Jack Daniels straight from the bottle.

I've since switched to hot whiskeys: they're made with Irish whiskey instead of Scotch whisky or brandy, and have cloves instead of nutmeg (I think Joy of Cooking, which taught me how to make a hot toddy, calls for nutmeg), but are otherwise the same.

hot whiskey i

Hot Whiskey

a shot of Irish whiskey
a lemon slice with 3 cloves stuck in it
1t sugar or honey
boiling water

Before you put anything else in it, rinse your heatproof glass with hot water so your whiskey will stay hot longer. Put in the lemon and sugar slice, and then the whiskey, and finally add hot water to taste. Stir around to dissolve to sugar and squash the lemon a little.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

my sad new haircut

People have been remarking on how long my hair's getting, accusing me of becoming a hippie, so I've been nagging Rachael to cut my hair. She wanted to give me a Louise Brooks hairdo,

while I hoped to look more like Ian Curtis:

I finally convinced her that I was too lazy to maintain such a smooth, nice bob--it would probably require products, or a blow-dryer--so she relented. My hair cut was going well till she got to the fringe. It felt like she was cutting it awfully short, and when she finished she began shrieking with laughter. It was less than an inch long! She quickly decided to give me an aging, punk-rock lesbian look, and cut it shorter all over. Sadly, I ended up looking more like GI Jane.

Ugly hair

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

bread troubles, and a little lesson learned, and a cake recipe

Last Friday we had Dakki's 85th birthday party, serving nice , soft, bland food because that's what Dakki likes best. We had baked spaghetti (with potato chips crunched up on top), cauliflower (the blandest vegetable), challah (the softest, squishiest bread), and pumpkin cake. Annie made a more exciting salad, with persimmons and candied pumpkin seeds, but Dakki never eats any salad anyway.

I worked the two days before the party, so my bread making time was limited. I planned to make my usual challah dough when I got home from work, adding a little less yeast so it wouldn't rise too much in the night. I got up in the morning to find that the dough hadn't risen at all! I remembered that I had never put in the yeast (it's funny how you can remember things like that after the fact, too late to be much help). I made a little dent in the dough, added some yeast, water, and flour, and re-kneaded the dough. An hour later, it was still an inert lump.

unrisen dough

brown bread crumb

I was sure my yeast was still fresh and viable, because I had used it to make the above bread only the day before, and it had risen very well. When I got the yeast out of the freezer to examine it, however, I discovered that the zipper in its freezer bag had broken and the poor little yeasts had been exposed to the desiccating freezer air for a whole day and were undoubtedly all dead.

Fortunately, I had some alternate yeast, my special osmotolerant yeast for sweet doughs, so I made another little yeast volcano and kneaded the dough yet again. At this point I was in a hurry, so I set my mixer on the floor to knead. This way it would be able to knead unattended with no risk of walking off the counter. This trick would not work as well in a house with a helpful dog in the kitchen, but I think it's what I will do from now on in my pet-free household.

The third time was the charm, and I ended up with some lovely, well-risen loaves:

challahs ii

Dakki's cake was a great success--even Pauline liked it--so I'll post its recipe even though I forgot to take any pictures of it.

Pumpkin Cake

250g all-purpose flour
2t baking powder
1/2t baking soda
1/2t salt
2t cinnamon
1/4t nutmeg
1t ginger
120g margarine
200g sugar
100g brown sugar
1/4C water, mixed with 2t each potato starch, tapioca flour, and flax meal
1t vanilla extract
300g canned pumpkin
a big apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
120g dried cherries
100g coarsely chopped walnuts

1/2c powdered sugar
2T maple syrup, or as needed

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9" Bundt pan.

Whisk the flour, powders, and spices together. Beat the sugars and margarine till light and fluffy, then add your fake egg (the water with flours and flax) and beat some more. Beat in the vanilla and pumpkin. Stir in the flour mixture till just combined, then the fruit and nuts. Pour into your prepared pan and bake for 60-70 minutes. Cool on a rack for ten minutes before turning out i=of the pan to cool completely.

When it's cool, make the maple frosting by mixing the maple syrup into the powdered sugar. You may need a little more syrup to make it a good consistency: spreadable, and only a little bit runny. Spread it over the top of the cake, letting it run artfully down the crevices.

dakki with candles

Monday, November 16, 2009

another easy fruity recipe

whole fruit

This is a nice autumnal dish to make when you've already got your oven on. It takes only a few minutes to prepare, and hardly any room in your oven.

raw fruit

Start off with some fresh and dried fruit, any combination you think sounds good. In this case I used apples and pears for the fresh, and apricots and prunes for the dry, but try whatever you have on hand. Peaches would be nice in the summertime, and I usually always add a banana. For the dried fruit, figs (cut in half) or cherries would be good additions.

Peel, core, and cut up your fruit into biggish bite-size pieces. Mix it all up in a casserole with a good lid, and add 3T apple juice concentrate, 2T water, the juice of half a lemon, and a big pinch of cinnamon. Bake for about 30-45 minutes. The baking time will vary depending on the dimensions of your casserole, the temperature of the oven, and how thoroughly you want your fruit cooked. Just check it after alf an hour to see how it's coming.

baked fruit

Sunday, November 15, 2009

tsimmes in the rice cooker

Work lunch

No matter that it looks like fish, or pork belly, above is pictured a tasty, entirely vegetarian treat I made recently in my rice cooker. I used the slow-cooker setting, and it only took about five minutes of preparation. You could use your crockpot on 'high' if you don't have a fuzzy logic rice cooker. I've written below the ingredients I used, but you could easily change things around: for instance, use potatoes or yams if you don't like parsnips.

Easy Squeezey Tsimmes
2 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into eighths
1 pears, peeled, cored, and cut into eighths
2 big carrots, ends cut off and cut into pieces similar to the apple pieces
2 parsnips, peeled and ends cut off and cut into pieces similar to the apple pieces
1 onion, peeled and cut into wedges of an appealing size
a big handful of pitted prunes
1/2t cinnamon
1/2C water
juice of half a lime
1-2T maple syrup

Throw everything in your rice cooker and cook on the 'slow cooker' setting for 6 hours.

Monday, November 9, 2009

vegan cookies take over your cookie jar


I made these vegan pignoli (the ones on the right; on the left are Mexican chocolate cookies made with spelt flour) for a recent work meeting, taking the extras to a baby shower at which I presented my Baby Surprise Jacket. I adapted the recipe to Rachael's tastes from this recipe, which can be found in a wonderful new cookie book, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. I made them a little less sweet and bitter-almondy, plus used brown rice flour instead of wheat and increased most of the ingredients to accommodate my larger can of almond paste (I used Solo).


8 oz almond paste
pinch salt
120g sugar
1t vanilla extract
110g margarine
200g brown rice flour
1/2t baking powder
70g pine nuts
almond milk (or soy milk) for dipping

Heat oven to 350°.

Grind the almond paste, salt, sugar, vanilla, and margarine in your food processor till light and fluffy (it helps to cut the almond paste into several chunks first), stopping and scraping as necessary. whisk the flour and baking powder together, than add to the almond fluff.

Roll the dough into small balls, dipping each first into the almond milk and then into a little dish of pine nuts. Flatten each ball slightly, pressing the pine nuts in. Bake on a parchment or Silpat-lined cookie sheet for about 16 minutes, till turning color. Let cool for five minutes before transferring from the pan to a cooling rack.

bsj i

Saturday, October 31, 2009


jar of wheatena

Rachael and I ate the last of my Wheatena a few weeks ago, and I have been unable to find any since. I went to all my usual grocery stores, which had carried it a couple of years ago, and had no luck. I did find online sources, but they all required me to buy at least four boxes and pay exorbitant shipping rates. I finally discovered that it's not available anywhere on the west coast(maybe because of the 2006 acrylamide lawsuit?). I found these directions for making it myself and tried it out, with equivocal results.

wheat v wheat

I think part of my problem was that I used soft, white wheat (on the left, above) instead of hard, red wheat, because I was nearly out of the hard kind. I was also afraid of burning it, so didn't let it bake long enough. It had barely changed color when I took it out of the oven, and hadn't begun to have a nice toasty smell. It did end up with the sandy texture that's Wheatena's hallmark, so I'm pretty sure my next batch will be entirely successful.

rachael breakfasting

Friday, October 30, 2009

quince vodka

quince vodka

I picked more quinces from my neighbor bush to make Jane Grigson's quince vodka. It's super-easy: core your quinces and cut out their fuzzy blossom ends, grate them, put the shreds in a big jar and cover with vodka, then let soak for a few weeks. I got 105 proof vodka on the advice of the liquor store lady, who pointed out that if I used 80 proof it would get too watered down with quince juice.

Right now it just smells of alcohol, but when I stirred it with a chopstick and licked the chopstick it already tasted pleasantly quincey. When it's ready, Rachael and I can have a cocktail party, and serve quintinis and quincemopolitans!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

our anarchical day

Rachael at the anarchist bookfair

Rachael and I went to the anarchist bookfair yesterday morning, and had a very nice time. Rachael (pictured above in the anarchist bathroom) got a bunch of Mumia fashion accessories, and anti-nonviolence and anti-hipster literature (and an anarchist planner, which is cuter than her UW one), and I got this Wobblie yo-yo:

Wobblie yoyo

I though I would have plenty of time after the bookfair to fix hom baos and tripe, but my lack of organization got the better of me. I went home to gather my equipment so that Annie could take me and all my things to her house to cook. I had cleverly made a list of everything I needed, so I could get it all bagged up in a hurry.


I'd done a big shopping the day before, but hadn't bought tree ears* or chile-garlic paste as I thought I already had them (I didn't). They were too expensive at the Asian store in the Market, so I decided to have Annie take me by the Viet Wah on the way back to her house. We had to stop to visit Dakki at the hospital and get her keys so we could move her car.

Dakki in her hospital nightie

Once we got to Annie's I realised that I'd forgotten to bring dried black mushrooms (actually, I thought she'd have some but she didn't). We went back to my house for those. Then Annie remembered that there were some movies in for her at the library that she had to pick up before they went away. I was frantically cooking, so didn't go with her. While she was gone I discovered that she didn't have any dried chiles de arbol, a crucial ingredient in my bok choy recipe, so I called her up to tell her to get some at the Red Apple on her way home. Her phone never rang, so we had to go back out to get some from my house. I finally had all my ingredients and could cook in earnest.

Chinese food

The dinner was a success. Julie hurt her mouth eating a chile de arbol on my behalf after Rachael dared me to, and the hot and sour soup was too salt and not very sour, but the hom baos were my best ever! The new dough recipe was a real improvement. It was easy to roll out really thin so as to make nice pleats, none of them came unstuck as they steamed, and they were really light and fluffy.

hom baos

I remembered my camera but left it in my knitting bag, so all these pictures were taken with my phone: that's my excuse for their poor quality....

*Tree ears are called 'cat ears' in Vietnamese, and 'tree jellyfish' in Japanese.

Friday, October 16, 2009

shopping trip

I went to Chinatown today to buy ingredients for a hom bao dinner I'm going to fix for Annie tomorrow (I'm going to try a new dough recipe, but it will be other wise my usual dinner of hom baos, hot and sour soup, and fake tripe). I went to the same stores I always do, but saw interesting sights that I hadn't noticed before:

A giant tin of custard powder, next to a gallon jar of mayonnaise,

big custard powder

these terrible rat traps,

mean trap

and these poor tilapia in their crowded tank.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


bag i

Above is a picture I took of the bag I knitted Rachael for her birthday this year. Click here and look at the photo illustrating this article!

Monday, October 5, 2009


My quince tree did better this year than last year, yielding enough quinces for about one-and-a-half batches of jam. I picked an equal amount of quinces from a nearby bush whose owners always let all the fruit fall to the ground and rot, so ended up with enough for three kinds of jam.

quinces ii

I've used fruit from flowering quince bushes (Chaenomeles lindl) before, but not in conjunction with fruit from my tree (Cydonia oblonga), and I had never realized how different they are. The bush quinces are small, shiny, and sticky compared to my big fuzzy tree quinces. The insides were different too: the bush quinces were crispy and translucent, and didn't brown in the air, while my tree quinces were much harder, opaque, and somehow mealy, and quickly oxidized.

peeled quinces

quince jams

I made three jams: from left to right, Honey-Quince, Quince and Orange with Cardamom (both from Mes Confitures), and Vanilla Quince, a jam of my invention. The Honey-Quince is made of bush quinces, the Vanilla Quince of tree quinces, and the Quince-Orange of a mixture. The bush quinces seem to get darker with cooking, don't they?

Vanilla Quince Jam
makes 6-7 half-pints

1.5kg quinces, about 900g when peeled and cored, cut into thin slices
300ml quince juice
800g sugar
juice of 2 lemons
2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise

To make the quince juice, put all the of quince trimmings in a pan, cover with water, bring to the boil, and let simmer uncovered for about an hour. Strain through a cheesecloth. This always gives me right about the right amount of juice I need for my jam, but if you don't get enough you can supplement it with water or apple juice.

Put the quinces, quince and lemon juice, and sugar into a big jam pan, bring to the boil and let simmer till quinces are tender. Add the vanilla beans, take off the heat, cover, and let rest overnight. When you're ready to can it, bring to the boil and boil hard till it's 221&F: be careful, as this will probably take less than five minutes. Pluck out the vanilla beans and cut two of the halves into thirds. Pour the jam into your prepared canning jars, add a piece of vanilla bean to each jar, seal, and boiling water bathe for five minutes. Dry off your remaining vanilla beans and stick them in a jar of sugar to make vanilla sugar.

fuzzy quince

Sunday, October 4, 2009

another banana bread

banana bread ii

Last week I made banana bread for me and Rachael to sneak into the movies (we ended up not going because she missed her bus, so I went by myself on a different day), and it turned out pretty well. It was different from my usual recipe--Rachael asked suspiciously, 'Does this have any whole-grain flour in it, Mommy?'--but I liked it just as well. It was meant to be entirely pale yellow, but I didn't have quite enough golden flax meal so had to add a little of the regular, dark kind to make up the difference.

Flaxen Banana Bread
makes 2 little loaves, or 1 bigger one

225g all-purpose flour
50g gram flour
80g golden flax meal
1 1/2t baking powder
1/2t baking soda
1/4t salt
1/2 grated nutmeg
1/2C oil
1T each potato starch, tapioca flour whisked into 1/4C orange juice concentrate
150g sugar
4 small bananas, mashed (about 470 g)
1/2C walnuts, coarsely chopped and toasted

Heat oven to 350° and grease two 8 1/2"x4 1/2" bread pans or one 9"x5" one.

Whisk first six ingredients together in a medium bowl, and whisk the oil, orange juice mixture, and sugar together in a bigger one. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet, then stir in the bananas and walnuts. Pour into your prepared pan(s) and bake for 45-55 minutes.

Let cool in pans ten minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool more thoroughly.

banana bread i

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

using up allioi

baked dinner

The allioli I made so successfully a while back was staying well-emulsified and continuing to taste nice, but I knew it couldn't last forever and I'd better use it up. I planned a couple of easy dinners with that in mind and invited allioli-loving Rachael over for both of them, and she managed to scoff it all!

The easiest dinner of all is pictured above: potatoes, onions, and corn, all baked at 425°. Stick the potatoes in the oven first, as they have to cook for about an hour; after twenty minutes add the onions, unpeeeled, then after another ten minutes add the unhusked corn. Half an hour later you'll have a nice, hot, starchy dinner! Smear allioli on your corn and mash it into your potatoes.

Pictured below is the second dinner I made, a paella using a lot of vegetables from my favorite vegetable stand. You could easily vary the vegetables, as long as you end up with about the same amount. Rachael said she'd just as soon I left the eggplant and okra out....

Easy Paella de Verduras
makes enough for 4, or 2 with good leftovers

1/3C olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small eggplant
several small, sweet peppers
150g string beans
150g okra
1 1/2C cooked garbanzo beans
2 tomatoes, peeled and cored
225g frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
300g paella rice (I used bomba), but you could use arborio in a pinch)
750ml water
1/2t salt
1/4t hot pimentón
pinch of saffron

Preheat your oven to 425°. Cut all the vegetables into biggish bite-sized pieces. Heat the oil in a wide, shallow pan (I don't have a special paella pan as I don't make it very often, and use this). Fry the garlic briefly, then add the eggplant and fry till its surfaces are mostly browned. Add the rest of the veg and fry a little longer. Add the rice, trying to arrange it so that the rice is mostly towards the bottom of the pan and the veg on top, then pour in the water and add the seasonings. Boil for ten minutes. You don't want to stir, making rice slime, but feel free to poke around, trying to keep the rice somewhat submerged. After the ten minutes has passed, transfer the pan to your preheated oven and let bake for another fifteen minutes. Take it out of the oven and let rest a while longer, then serve. It's traditionally eaten right out of the pan, but Rachael and I didn't do that. Tastes good with blobs of allioli on top!

paella i

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

my birthday party

My birthday was a couple of days ago, and we had the party on the actual day (unusually for us) since neither Annie nor I had to work. The party was at Annie's house, and we were supposed to have a fun day of cooking together but she ended up being sick so I mostly cooked by myself. I made many pretty dishes, and even remembered to bring my camera to document them, but I forgot to take any pictures of the food or festivities. I took pictures beforehand:

Here's Maria helping me procrastinate


by knitting on my baby sweater (I got it to the point where I have to get buttons before I can knit any further).

baby sweater in progress

I took pictures afterwards:

Rachael came over for a sleepover and here she is, computing into the night.

rachael at the computer

And the next day I took pictures of some of my presents:

Socks knitted by Annie and mitties knitted by Ana,

pressies ii

and strawberries bottled by Billy Warner and Carmen.


Friday, September 18, 2009


stew ingredients

As I was working on my allioli, I was making a nice Spanish-style stew to go with it and to take as my work lunch for the next three days. It was made mostly of vegetables I got from my favorite vegetable stand, plus some garbanzo beans to fill me up. It turned out really well, and was especially good with a big blob of allioli. If you don't want to bother making allioli to go with it, you could just add a few cloves of garlic along with the onion.

Stew of Garbanzo Beans and Vegetables

makes three servings

2T flour mixed with 1/4t salt and pepper to taste
3T olive oil
1 small eggplant
1 medium onion
1 sweet, red pepper
2 big tomatoes, peeled
1 Mexican zucchini (they're paler than regular ones, and globular, and taste better)
1C garbanzo beans, cooked
3T olive oil
2 bay leaves
1/2t each ground cumin, Mexican oregano
1/4t pimentón

Cut all the vegetables into biggish chunks. Toss the eggplant in the seasoned flour. then fry in a couple of tablespoons of oil till browned on all sides. Pluck th eggplant out of the pan and put it back in the bowl with the remaining flour.

Add the third tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, and cook the onion in it till it's turning golden. Add the remaining vegetables, cover, and cook till the tomatoes have made the stew wet with their juice. throw in the rest of the ingredients, including the eggplant and its flour, and let cook, covered, another twenty minutes or so.

Taste for seasoning, and serve with big blobs of allioli on top.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

allioli lessons

failed allioli i

I was inspired by this lying blog post to try making allioli with my Bamix; you can see the result above. I wound up with slightly thickened olive oil with a layer of garlic purée on top. My dinner guests politely poured it on their stripy-pan vegetables, but I was disappointed--not least by the waste of so much of my nice Spanish olive oil.

rachael and dakki

On my next day off, I decided to try to turn the garlicky oil into allioli by starting from scratch with my mortar and pestle, dripping it drop by drop into two fresh garlic cloves. At first, all went well. I know from sad experience that it's really crucial to add the oil slowly--much more so than when making mayonnaise. I was about fifteen minutes into the process, and had added about three quarters of my oil, when I got over-confident and poured in a teaspoon or so all at once. I frantically beat with my pestle, but the allioli broke.

failed allioli ii

I started a third time with just one clove of garlic, and this time I had success: a nice, thick, smooth sauce that's still emulsified a day later. Here's how I will do it in the future:


2 cloves garlic
big pinch of salt
a few drops of lemon juice
1C fruity olive oil

allioli i

Crush the garlic and salt together thoroughly in your big mortar and pestle. Add the lemon juice, then add the oil a drop at a time, stirring constantly with your pestle. You don't have to stir very fast, tiring yourself out: just be sure that the oil gets mixed in.

allioli ii

After you've added about a quarter of a cup, you can start pouring the oil in a thin stream, but be sure not to let your hand tip! You'll end up with a very stiff sauce, which you can lighten with a teaspoon or so of water if you like.

successful allioli

Lessons I learned:
  • Allioli's not as hard to make as some say: it just requires some time and a steady hand.
  • You can pause in the middle of the process. I stopped several times to wash off my pestle when it got too greasy and slippery.
  • If it should break, you can start over with a new clove of garlic. It won't take as long the second time, because you can add entire clots of broken allioli without fear of breaking it again.