Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Last night's dinner, in leftovers (with bonus contradiction recipe!)

The best tables almost always go unphotographed in my life. I'd love to take pictures all the time, but so often it doesn't happen. When I forget to step outside the moment and snap a shot, that's when life is at its best. And so it was last night: fun friends and family at the table, great wine, huge laughs, and a giant bowl right in the middle where we all lustily discarded our artichoke leaves. The bowl piled ever-higher, the wine kept coming, and the laughs got louder. Fantastic all around.

And so no photos from last night, when the food was fresh and bright and hot. I have leftover photos for you instead. Not of those artichokes, though... those beauties are long gone. (By the way, in the same spirit that makes mussels my perfect first date food, artichokes are my perfect table full of friends food. Discuss.)

Spring Green Risotto from Playing House

Amy's risotto is to-die-for, and perfect for this time of year. Fresh English peas and asparagus, cooked right at the height of the season... just perfection. I omitted the favas in her recipe because I had enough going on in my kitchen last night, but I'm sure they're a fantastic addition. You'll notice that my risotto is quite a bit more yellow than Amy's, and the reason is that I used vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. I do wish store-bought vegetable stocks weren't quite as bright. That said, my favorite is the 365 brand; while still vivid, it's not quite as glaring as some other brands.

Here's an experiment for you fellow Brussels freaks. This recipe isn't perfect, and you'd do well with a more sophisticated mandoline than my little Japanese wonder. I ended up using a lot more cheese and oil than called for - not sure if that's because of my shredding style or simply a matter of taste. I think I'll continue to play around with this dish - toasted walnut oil, perhaps? - and will report back. This is one of those 'better the day after' recipes, too. I'd love to hear what you do with it!

For those of you still sticking around through this random tour of leftovers... a recipe! A special one, in fact, because it celebrates my contradictions.

Fact A: I detest mayonnaise. Can't eat it out of a jar, hate mayo-laden salads, and have it removed from any sandwich I order.

Fact B: I will now present my amazingly delicious homemade mayonnaise recipe.

You don't believe me? I converted my sister-in-law last night. A fellow mayo-hater, she couldn't stop dunking her artichokes in this stuff. It's. So. Delicious. The bonus to making your own mayo, by the way? It's a hell of an arm workout!

So since we began with talk of a table full of love, let's end with one, too: Scott and Edna's.

Southern-with-a-Twist Mayonnaise
adapted from The Gift of Southern Cooking

My twist on Scott and Miss Lewis' Southern classic? I use olive oil. The combination of the robust oil with dried mustard makes this stuff irresistible. Really. This recipe makes a large bowl full - I usually cut it in half. It'll last for a week in the refrigerator.

1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups olive oil
1 tablespoon hot water

1. Put the vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and mustard into a bowl and whisk or stir until the salt and mustard are dissolved.
2. Add the egg yolks and beat until smooth.
3. Add the oil drop by drop at first, and then in a slow, steady stream, whisking or stirring constantly until all of the oil has been incorporated and you have a very thick emulsion.
4. Stir in the hot water until smooth.
5. Refrigerate - and rest your arms!


  1. Artichokes & mayo - one of the tastiest combos I know. Reminds me of being a kid at the dining room table. My mom loves artichokes too and made them often. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Perhaps next time I'll put away the Hellman's and make my own mayo.

  2. I just don't know if I can do it, Maggie... while the ingredients look harmless enough, the end result looks like... mayo.

    I'm scared. Hold me. Or make me risotto after you finish at SlynnRo's casa.

  3. Maggie, can you make the mayo with the immersion blender or is it necessary to use the whisk?

  4. Hey MB! I'm sure the texture changes slightly, as with any machine v. hand, but I say go for it! You have to carry around kids anyway, you're in less a need of an arm workout than I am. ;-)

  5. Also folks, the variations are endless!

    For fantastic garlic aioli, make a garlic paste in a mortar and pestle and mix it into your yolk before adding the olive oil. Or add herbs! Tarragon, mmmm. Or lemon! Double mmmm.

  6. Maybe if y'all just refer to the mayo as aioli, you will get over this phobia! Mmmm, mayonaise- no way I could detest a product comprised primarily of oil and eggs. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't glop it on things, but a gernous bit here and there- heaven!

    Although, the last time I tried to make blender mayonaise from The Heritage of Southern Cooking by Camille Glenn (do you have that one Maggie?), I was out of canola so I used olive. Failure. My mayo was bitter and tasted like drinking olive oil. So I will try your version this time.

  7. Spring Green Risotto..YES PLEASE!

    So mayo. I detest actual mayo but love all aiolis on ANYTHING. And I guess I cheat a little because I do put mayo in my tuna salad. Don't flame me please.

    {runs and hides in a corner}

  8. I'm so glad you liked the risotto! It's a keeper.. can't wait to make it with summer and fall veggies too.


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