Thursday, January 05, 2012

Happy New Year!

We ended 2011 with a bang. The champagne cork shot straight up to the ceiling with absolutely no prodding from me. Pop!

We did it up big time for our final meal of 2011. It was decadence at its finest. To start, buckwheat blinis with clarified butter, crème fraîche and glistening orange salmon roe. To keep up appearances we followed with trembling bone marrow, toasted ciabatta, and a piquant parsley salad.

The final shabang and main course was boiled whole Maine lobster. You don't need showy sides to distract from your giant red crustacean, so we settled for simple and delicious. Steamed artichokes, boiled potatoes, coleslaw dressed in a vinaigrette and melted butter and lemon and homemade garlic aioli for dipping.

A. was not too keen on lobster death. By the time the creature was placed in front of him, he was well past over it. Too bad, because everyone else was delighted with dinner. A real feast to be sure.

With New Year's resolutions and diets, and reformed spending measures, I'm guessing people won't re running out to splurge on lobsters right away. And what is marrow besides an added inch to the waist-line (a delicious one at that)? I thought I'd start you off with something slightly more versatile and straight forward. Although perhaps not much healthier...

Moderation, folks. It's all about moderation.

The garlic aioli that I made was in my humble opinion, stupendous. I know. That is singing rather high praises, but I was honestly floored by how great it was. I have been a long time hater of mayonnaise and an aioli skeptic at the best of times. That's not to say that I haven't made my fair share of aioli. As a prep cook in Santa Cruz, after picking parsley, aioli preparation became my specialty.

But Santa Cruz was a long time ago, and I haven't made a habit out of aioli. Far from it. But I was certain that garlic aioli was just the condiment to accompany our feast. The potatoes, artichokes and lobster would all be cozy cloaked in a spot of aioli. So yeah, I was a little insecure about my aioli making skills. I didn't trust my judgement (or frankly my whisking ability), so I turned to my super-hero, Nancy Silverton.

She's got a bang-up garlic mayonnaise (I still can't even handle that word!) recipe in the new Mozza Cookbook. It isn't wildly different than any other mayonnaise or aioli recipe, but the seasoning is spot on. So is Silverton's advice to take it slow. It is way easier (although not that easy at all!) to slowly add one drop of oil at a time than to repair a broken aioli, which is one of the world's greatest pains in the ass. I nearly lost my right arm to crippling fatigue, but it was all well worth it.

So Happy New Year to you all! There are good things to come in 2012. The photography should be looking up, thanks to super-generous A. who thoughtfully gave me a fancy-schmancy new digital SLR (definitely something a little rad!) camera and macro lens for Christmas. Hurrah! We'll also be welcoming a baby girl into the world some time in the beginning of June.

So good things indeed!

Mozza's Garlic Mayonnaise

1 extra-large egg yolk
2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 large garlic clove, grated or minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
3/4 cup grapeseed oil or another neutral-flavored oil, such as canola (I prefer peanut)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Add the egg yolk to a medium sized heavy glass bowl and whisk. Add the vinegar, lemon juice, garlic and salt and whisk to combine. Combine the grapeseed oil and olive oil in a measuring cup. Add a few drops at a time to the bowl, whisking constantly to form an emulsion. When you've added about half of the oil, begin to drizzle the oil in a slow steady stream, continuing to whisk constantly, until all of the oil has been added. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, if necessary. The mayonnaise can be made up to three days in advance. Keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Makes approximately 1 cup.

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