Garlic week at la Domestique has certainly been, well, pungent. I poured through my cookbook collection looking for fresh and interesting recipes with the goal of truly celebrating this stinky bulb in all its glory. Each day the husband arrived home from work to be greeted at the door not by my smiling face, but by the heady aroma of garlic wafting from the kitchen as I tested recipes. This morning I woke up with the taste of garlic still lingering on my palate. You can probably smell me coming a mile away. That’s ok with me. I’ve long ago surrendered to the idea that my perfume is not Chanel No. 5, rather, it’s the story of time spent in my favorite place – the kitchen. Some days it’s garlic, others cinnamon, always memorable and unmistakably me.
It’s almost impossible to imagine NOT cooking with garlic. A crushed garlic clove seems to be the base for just about any savory recipe: soups, stews, pasta sauces, etc. We’re more hesitant to cook recipes calling for raw garlic. Is it because we’ve been turned off by the acidic, bitter flavor of perpetually available garlic in the grocery store? Is it because we’re afraid to be bold, to offend guests with the brashness of raw garlic? Our fear of using aggressive flavors in the kitchen is a metaphor for how we live our lives: trying to be normal, to fit in, to be liked by everyone. In our efforts not to upset the herd we can become blander versions of ourselves, even boring. Listening to The Avett Brothers’ album, Four Thieves Gone, I’m encouraged to live a little bolder when they sing, “Be loud, let your colors show!”
During this season of summer, when garlic is freshly harvested and at its peak in terms of flavor, I encourage you to let a little boldness into your kitchen. Who knows what will happen? Maybe someone won’t like it? Maybe someone will LOVE it. One thing’s for sure, it will be memorable, flavorful, complicated, interesting… and this spirit of boldness might just escape from your kitchen and infiltrate your life.
Aïoli is a French recipe for mayonnaise flavored with a handful of pungent raw garlic cloves. In an effort to be bold, I’ve made aïoli’s spicy sister, Rouille, a garlic mayonnaise spiked with ground cayenne pepper and saffron. I researched many recipes for rouille, a traditional accompaniment to bouillabaisse (the French seafood stew), before I settled on a rouille from Patricia Wells’ At Home in Provence. I like her recipe because it doesn’t reinvent the wheel. Just like with aïoli, raw garlic cloves are pounded in a mortar and pestle with salt to form a paste, a couple egg yolks are added, and extra-virgin olive oil is worked in until the mixture is thick and emulsified. A generous (if not dangerous!) 1/4 teaspoon fiery cayenne pepper, along with a pinch of saffron threads is what makes the aïoli a rouille. Other recipes for rouille that I came across used bread as a thickener or wimped out on the garlic (calling for 2 cloves rather than Patricia Wells’ demand for 6). Patricia Wells’ recipe for rouille is wildly pungent with all that fresh garlic. It’s got a serious kick from the cayenne, balanced by the exotic flavor of saffron. The first taste is a little overwhelming, but after a couple of bites the fire subsides and the rouille becomes strangely addictive. Homemade French fries, crisp and salty, are a perfect match for the rouille. Serve this snack with a couple of cold beers or a bottle of crisp sparkling rosé wine. Here’s to the bold, the flavorful, the memorable!
The recipe for rouille comes from Patricia Wells at Home in Provence. It is not published online, but I did find her aïoli recipe here. All you need to do is add cayenne and saffron to taste. I always start aïoli in the mortar and pestle, then use a whisk to add in the oil to keep the emulsion from breaking. If your aïoli breaks, slowly whisk in another egg yolk to bring it back together.
Making French fries at home is easy and way tastier than eating out- you get to enjoy the fries piping hot! In the Martha Stewart’s Cooking School book, you’ll find a photographed, step-by-step tutorial on how to make perfect french fries. You can also find her technique for cooking French Fries here. Take note, in the book Martha instructs to soak the fries in water for at least 4 hours but up to 24 hours before frying.