Le Grand Aioli {CtBF}

I love the name of this meal.  Le Grand Aioli!  It sounds so important.  In actuality, it’s a somewhat humble feast of seasonal vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, and sometimes fish, that accompany the star of the show, the garlicky mayonnaise known as aioli.  I’ve made this a few times in the past.  It’s the perfect meal for the peak of summer when produce is at its very best.  When it came up as the weekly challenge recipe for Cook the Book Fridays I was fully on board.

First up is the central component of the spread, the aioli.  I’ve made mayonnaise many times and have no fear, except on hot and humid days.  On the card for the mayonnaise recipe I usually use, I’ve written as reminder “Do not make when it is hot and humid.”  Earlier in the day, it was in the 90s, but a rainstorm brought the temperature down about twenty degrees, so I thought I’d be OK.  Not so fast…

Because I’m lazy, I was making aioli in the food processor.  I chopped the garlic and add the egg yolk and salt.  Then, I slowly drizzled in the oil and… nothing happened.  It did NOT emulsify.  I tried two “fixes” that the Internet recommends.  First adding another egg yolk, then adding some commercial mayonnaise.  It didn’t even thicken; never mind the emulsification I was expecting.  Frustrated, I dumped le grand failure and simply minced more garlic and stirred it into commercial mayonnaise thinned with lemon juice.  Not as good as homemade, but certainly guaranteed success!

My accompaniments were from my backyard garden or local farms, my favorite kind of summer meal.  Cherry tomatoes and green beans that I grew myself!  Carrots, potatoes, beets, and eggs from local farms.  I love beets, though not raw, so I roasted the beets.  I didn’t include any fish (or chicken), feeling that the eggs draped with anchovy were enough choice for our meal for two.

Le Grand Aioli is the perfect showcase for the summer’s latest yield.  I’ve only made this in the summer but could imagine a similarly enticing platter with roasted winter squash and some other root vegetables as fall arrives.

You should try this before summer ends.  The recipe can be found on page 145 of David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen.  Other reviews of this recipe from my friends from Cook the Book Fridays can be found here.

Bon Appetit!

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Cooling Off {CtBF}

What a hot week!  Temperatures were high in the nineties and the muggidity was stifling for a big part of the week.  On the hottest day, a team of lawn guys, wearing black hooded sweatshirts, were working hard grading our backyard for a much-needed new lawn.  Ugh!

I chose to live in New England to escape the “Hazy, Hot, and Humid” summers of my childhood in Maryland.  Due to climate change, these many years later, more frequent, longer stretches of the Maryland summers have caught up with me in Boston.  The difference, I don’t live in a house with central A/C now.

Frozen desserts like ice cream and popsicles are an antidote to the hot weather.  It was fortuitous that the recipe chosen for Cook the Book Fridays, an Extra Edition on this fifth Friday in August, was ice cream!

The actual recipe was for Apricot Kernel Ice Cream.  I didn’t have any apricot kernels to use.  Instead, I remembered that Italian amaretti cookies, the ones that come in the red tin with pairs delightfully wrapped in paper, are made NOT with almonds but with apricot kernels.  Without apricot kernels, I went the opposite way and simply made Almond Ice Cream by adding almond extract instead.  I realize the flavor isn’t the same.  The almond flavor was smooth where it would have had a bitter note with the kernels.  However, I was in the mood for ice cream and didn’t have readily available apricots.

Without needing to steep the kernels makes the recipe simper.  I added the sugar to the milk and cream which I warmed to dissolve the sugar.  I immediately proceeded with the recipe by whisking the warm milk into egg yolks and heating to for a custard.  I might have overcooked it slightly as it seemed to curdle at the end but pressing it through the strainer smoothed it out.  I added a teaspoon of almond extract to the final mixture of custard and cream.

After chilling the custard for most of the day, twenty minutes in the ice cream maker froze the custard for a smooth ice cream.  I let it sit in the freezer for a few hours to firm up further.

Almond ice cream was a refreshing topper for the last slice of the peach tart I made this week.

Note that when I was searching for a picture of the amaretti tin, I found this article in the New York Times archives that indicates I could have substituted peach, nectarine, or plum kernels for the apricot.  That never occurred to me.  Apparently, the inner kernel of all these stone fruits share the bitter almond flavor of the apricot.  I wish I’d known that.  I could have tried out the real thing.  Next time.

You can find the recipe for Apricot Kernel Ice Cream on page 312 of David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen.  Reviews of the ice cream recipe by other members of Cook the Book Fridays can be found here.

If you want to make a delicious peach tart before summer ends, here’s my latest favorite dessert concoction.

Peach Tart

One batch of your favorite Sweet Tart (shortbread style) Crust. My favorite is Dorie Greenspan’s recipe (I added ½ tsp almond extract with the egg yolk for an extra boost of flavor)

½ cup turbinado or demerara sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp almond flour
¼ tsp salt
2 Tbsp butter
½ cup peach jam
3-4 peaches, pitted and sliced (I don’t peel them)

First, prepare the sweet tart dough.  Press into a 9- or 9½-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.  Freeze for at least 30 minutes.  Line with foil and bake at 375F for 25 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake another 3-5 minutes until lightly golden.  Let cool.

Preheat the oven to 400F.

To make the topping: Whisk together sugar, flour, almond flour and salt.  Use your hands to work butter into the dry ingredients until it’s crumbly.

Spread the peach jam on the bottom of the crust.  Top with peach slices, arranged in concentric circles.  Sprinkle with the topping.

Bake for 45 minutes until fruit is bubbly.