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Homemade Aioli: Take 1

Hope everyone had a happy and safe holiday!

Mine was both productive and relaxing. Steve and I worked in the garden, weeding and spreading top soil, and I continued sorting and throwing away old stuff from the basement, trying to get moving-ready for when the time comes. The day in the city on Saturday with my mom to see Jersey Boys was fantastic, too.

Speaking of the garden, my first purple bell pepper is growing nicely! It was about the size of a kumquat, but it got much bigger just in the past week or two. We also have quite a few blooms on our Japanese eggplant and cucumber plants, sunflowers shooting up and zinnias starting to sprout (two of my favorite flowers), and healthy herb plants. Exciting!

I also managed to knock-off one of my foodie goals for this year during dinner on Sunday (grilled Dundore & Heister hamburgers and hot dogs from Easton Public Market, veggie burgers, and Greek tatzki pasta salad.) I made homemade aioli to go with the burgers, and all-in-all it was a good first attempt. I hit some roadblocks when it came to the flavor, though, but as far as the process? That was a cinch.

I’m not sure what stopped me from making aioli in the past. Maybe it was the fear of a broken emulsion, which I heard TV chefs preach about on countless occasions. The idea that I would end up with an “oil slick” from adding too much oil at once or weird separation of the emulsion that would make my aioli inedible made it seem like too much of a pain to bother.

Neither of these things happened, though. Rather than putting my (or better yet, Steve’s) “guns” to work and whisking the aoli to death in a bowl, I took out some proverbial insurance to guarantee success and used the food processor. It came out to a perfect consistency — thick and smooth, but different than a mayo that you would buy in a jar in the store.

My main flavor was roasted garlic, which Steve made in a foil pack on the grill and was slightly charred in spots (and the slightly-charred cloves were delicious to eat on their own, like little bits of garlic candy.) It turned out ok, but I was surprised that the roasted garlic flavor wasn’t coming through, and despite using extra lemon juice and even a little apple cider vinegar there wasn’t enough acid to give it a pleasant tang.

I abandoned my original idea and added Sriracha to improve the flavor and make it more punchy. Even then, though, I was disappointed. The flavor still left something to be desired, though, because of one culprit: the oil. The majority of the oil was standard vegetable cooking oil and I topped it off with a middle-of-the-road olive oil because, 1. it was all I had on-hand and I was making this impulsively, and 2. I wanted to see what kind of flavor I would get by blending the two. There were mistakes 1 and 2, in that order.

So, hey, not everything can be a winner right? But now that I know that it’s not hard to make and doesn’t require special ingredients — with the exception of a clean, neutral-tasting oil, like safflower or grape seed — I’ll be trying again very soon and reporting back about hopefully better-tasting results.