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.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

lunch for Rachael

scrambled tofu and veg

Rachael and I went to 'Extract' yesterday (we love Jason Bateman), and we planned to go directly from the movie theater downtown to the U-District so Rachael could get her ear pierced by Chuck. Rachael got up late, though, and didn't have time to eat breakfast first, so by the time our movie got out she was really hungry. I'd forgotten my coupon for 20% off jewelry, so we decided to stop by my house to get the coupon and fix some lunch.

I made nice scrambled tofu with frozen peas, in corn tortillas with tomatillo salsa, and fried corn and squash. As we were eating, Rachael asked why I hadn't taken any pictures of our food. I pointed out that it wasn't very photogenic, and she said 'But it's so yummy, Mommy! You should write about it in your blog!' So I got myself seconds and took its picture. Rachael liked the vegetables best, so here's the recipe:

Summer Squash and Corn

Olive oil
A small white onion, thinly sliced
2 summer squashes (yellow ones, not zucchini; ick!), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced into semicircles
2 ears of corn, kernels cut from the cobs
salt and pepper
A small handful of basil, cut into chiffonade

Fry the onion and squash with salt and pepper till the squash is very limp and quite brown. Add the corn and continue cooking, stirring frequently, till the corn's warmed through but still pretty crispy. Stir in the basil and take off the heat.