Food in Focus: What Is Aioli?

Food in Focus: What Is Aioli?

You may find yourself reading through the lists of strange-sounding words on a restaurant’s menu. One word that might pop up? Aioli. You might’ve heard that it’s similar to mayonnaise. But what is it, really? Aioli can be made many ways, all equally delicious.

Aioli Isn’t Just Mayonnaise

People tend to describe aioli as mayonnaise, but that’s not entirely true. Both sauces do contain similar ingredients: eggs, oil, and lemon juice. The difference lies in the way each sauce is made. First, mayonnaise is usually emulsified within a blender or food processor. Aioli, however, is traditionally made with pestle and mortar. When making aioli, chefs pound garlic into a paste. Then, they whisk the garlic paste along with egg yolks, lemon juice, and oil. The kind of oil makes a difference, too. While mayonnaise is made with canola oil, aioli is made with olive oil. The consistency of aioli can range from thick and paste-like to a creamy texture.

The History of Aioli

Aioli comes from the Mediterranean. Originally, aioli consisted of garlic salt ground into oil. In other regions, like France, cooks also added egg yolk and lemon juice. Current French aioli is closer to garlic mayonnaise than traditional aioli. The Spanish Catalan, however, don’t consider that true aioli. Instead, they only consider the eggless recipe to be aioli.

 

European Dishes That Include Aioli

Europeans traditionally serve aioli with fish or vegetables. The Spanish serve aioli with codfish and boiled vegetables like tomatoes, onions, and peppers. During the summer, they hold feasts where people bring their own fish and vegetables to dip into the host’s aioli. People in the Provence region of France celebrate a similar tradition. It’s called aioli monstre, or “grand aioli,” and it is, indeed, a grand celebration for foodies. Diners pile meats, fishes, and vegetables on their plate and then dip them in the aioli. Aioli is also a popular side dish during a French Christmas Eve dinner called the Gros Souper, or The Great Supper.

American Dishes That Include Aioli

In the United States, aioli is used as a catch-all term for flavored mayonnaise. This is especially true of garlic mayonnaise. In many fine dining restaurants, chefs use aioli on scallops and other seafood. Aioli can also be used as a spread on sandwiches in the US. Spanish food purists, however, would probably not consider this aioli. Still, the same basic ingredients ring true: cloves of garlic and canola oil.

You Can Make Your Own Version of Aioli

The main ingredient for today’s aioli? Creativity! Garlic and olive oil are the only constants in the recipe. You can add vegetables, like artichokes or beets. Or you can even add in meats, like fish or chicken. The best part is that aioli can be prepared well in advance of a meal. Wash and chop the ingredients, then put them in a food processor. And voila! You have a unique – and delicious! — dipping sauce for parties and other festivities. Serve up your aioli with steamed vegetables, meat, fish, or shellfish. A home-made aioli is a quick and easy way to add variety to left-overs, or create new and exciting flavor combinations along with prepared foods. For instance, this lemon-garlic aioli is delightful and delicious with Market Table’s pork tenderloin. Make orange peel aioli as a mouth-watering addition to Market Table’s smoked chicken. Finally, this savory jalapeño aioli adds just the right kind of spice to burgers and beef dishes, like our seared flank steak.

 

Text by Jonathon Page

Food in Focus: Why We Love the Avocado

Food in Focus: Why We Love the Avocado

The international avocado market blew up from 2012-2016. In fact, the exports increased as much as 30% in some areas — and no, it’s not just because of Millennials and their avocado toast. Here’s why the fruit (yes, we said fruit!) is so sought-after.

First: A Little U.S. History

In 1914, the US banned the import of Mexican avocados into the continental United States as a way to stop the seed weevil from destroying American farms. The California Avocado Grower’s Exchange began growing and selling the fruit instead. However, they couldn’t keep up with the demand of the whole country. For decades, only states on the west coast with fresh fruit markets were able to enjoy the creamy fruit.

What’s in a Name?

In the years following the ban, the fruit became known as “alligator pears.” The thick skin was bumpy and various shades of green, like the reptile, and the shape was that of a pear. The California Avocado Grower’s Exchange worked to change the name to avocado, thinking that the exoticism of the name would lend to its reputation as a luxury fruit.

 

Touchdown, Guacamole!

In 1997, the US started to slowly lift the ban. But there were still hurdles to overcome. Many Americans didn’t understand how to properly eat an avocado. So, the growers launched a campaign to educate Americans. One of the best facets of this campaign was the Super Bowl/Guacamole Bowl recipe contest. The growers’ PR firm asked various NFL teams for their best guac recipes. The firm suggested that the best recipe might predict the winner of the Super Bowl. The plan worked, and Americans fell in love with guacamole. In fact, we consume 8 million pounds of it every Super Bowl Sunday.

 

Health Benefits

Study after study confirms that the avocado is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. Just a 3.5 ounce serving contains Vitamins K, C, B5, B6, E, A, B1, B2 and B3. It also contains other nutrients, like folate, potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc and phosphorus. There are 160 calories in this one serving, with only 2 grams of net carbs, 15 grams of healthy fats and 2 grams of protein.

All of these nutrients lead to different health benefits. Avocados promote weight loss. They contain low amounts of saturated fat and curb hunger. The fruit improves overall heart health by lowering blood pressure and bad cholesterol. Avocados also have anti-aging benefits from being packed with antioxidants. And they even improve eye health.

 

Let’s Have a Toast

Chefs love to use avocados in recipes. Their creaminess is great for balancing acidity or spice. The avocado flavor is delicate enough not to overwhelm any other ingredients.

And, of course, there’s avocado toast. It’s a simple, filling snack or breakfast food that is quick to prepare and scrumptious to boot. Add salt, pepper, olive oil and whatever other topping you’d like. A fried or soft-boiled egg would be perfect. Or if it’s too early to think about making your own, swing by Market Table for a breakfast featuring  our tasty avocado toast.

 

From the way sales have increased each year, it is clear that, when it comes to the avocado, Americans have no problem in making up for lost time.

 

Text by Jennie Tippett

5 Quick Facts About Superfoods

5 Quick Facts About Superfoods

Superfoods: the name sounds heroic because these foods actually do have the power to save your body! But what makes superfoods so super? Here is everything you need to know.

Berries, grains and other superfoods on a wooden tableYou probably already eat them daily.  

Most people aren’t aware that their diet includes superfoods unless they search for the word on Google. Superfoods include salmon, beans and turkey, just to name a few. This grouping of foods isn’t exclusive or rare. They’re merely nutrient dense. Superfoods contain dietary fiber, vitamins and antioxidants. Consider superfoods a treat for your tastebuds, your body and your soul.

Leafy green superfoods including kale, cabbage and cauliflower

Kale isn’t the only leafy green.

Superfoods rose to popularity after the world discovered the power of kale. However, other leafy greens like spinach, collards and cabbage are also on the list. Here at Market Table, we offer delicious dishes like our Kale, Quinoa and Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowl or our Kale and Romaine Caesar Salad. If you’re interested in branching out to other super-delicious leafy greens, try our Bacon, Egg, Spinach and Tomato Bowl or our Hamm Farm Collard Slaw.

Kale, Quinoa, Roasted Sweet Potato Bowl with Feta.

Market Table’s Kale, Quinoa, Roasted Sweet Potato Bowl with Feta.

Don’t let the “super” fool you.

You may think that superfoods are expensive and exotic fruits and vegetables. However, the term “superfood” can relate to anything that’s good for you. There’s no particular section on the food pyramid for these foods. In fact, most doctors and nutritionist consider “superfoods” a marketing term. Anyone, anywhere can incorporate these items into their daily diet.
Superfood fruits juiced into glass bottles

Variety is key. 

Variety can genuinely be the spice of life when you are creating a healthy lifestyle. From quinoa to blueberries to steak, there are many varieties of superfoods. It may surprise you that even popcorn and dark chocolate fall on the list. From egg scrambles to sandwiches to salads, Market Table‘s dishes feature a delicious variety of superfoods. 

Grilled Chicken, Romesco, Quinoa, Sauteed Kale & Chickpeas

Market Table’s Grilled Chicken, Romesco, Quinoa, Sautéed Kale & Chickpeas

You’ll probably feel empowered.

Having a banana can feel refreshing, but not because you’ll gain Hulk-like strength. The power comes from your body finally getting all of the nutrients it needs. Plus, a superfood a day can keep the doctor away: some help with diabetes or weight loss.

Fish, fruits and vegetables on a marble table top

Now that the idea of eating superfoods isn’t scary, incorporate them into daily life. With so many options, there are countless opportunities for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you’re looking for ideas, Market Table‘s recipes, prepared foods and meal kits — not to mention the breakfast and lunch options served in our café — will send you in the right direction.

Text by Jazelyn Little

Food in Focus: Irish Cuisine

Food in Focus: Irish Cuisine

With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, it’s a great time to try some Irish cuisine. Most Irish foods rely heavily on potatoes and hearty meats, so there are sure to be some comfort foods that everyone in your family will love.

 

Shepherd's pie with beef, carrots and mashed potatoes served on a white plateShepherd’s Pie

A traditional shepherd’s pie is made with minced lamb or mutton, vegetables and mashed potato. However, when the dish originated, the meat was often whatever leftovers were available to scrounge together. Shepherd’s Pie was created to be economical and was known as a poor man’s dish. It has now become a staple in Irish cuisine and its popularity has spread across the globe. Try Gordon Ramsay’s recipe for a traditional shepherd’s pie.

 

Barmbrack or BrackBarmbrack, traditional Irish bread with dried fruit on a cutting board

This traditional bread is also known as speckled bread because it’s filled with raisins. Barmbrack is sweet and is commonly served with coffee. There’s a fun tradition that goes along with Barmbrack if it’s served on Halloween. The bread has a hidden pea, stick, cloth, coin and ring. Each item has a meaning assigned to it. For instance, if you get the slice of Barmbrack with a ring in it, then it means that you’ll be married within the year.

 

Colcannon, an Irish mashed potato dish with leeks, cabbage, ham and butter

Colcannon

Colcannon is a mashed potato dish with kale or cabbage mixed into it, and it’s often then served with boiled ham. There’s even a traditional Irish song dedicated to Colcannon because it’s a common comfort food in Ireland. Colcannon is also a part of Irish Halloween traditions, where it’s common to hide a ring, thimble or coin in the dish. Whoever finds the prizes gets to keep them.

 

CoddleIrish coddle, a sausage, bacon, onion and potato hot pot

The Great Famine hit Ireland in 1845, which caused for a lot of Irish recipes to use all parts of the animals in their meals. There are several recipes that call for pig’s blood, pig’s feet or kidneys. While it was common during the famine to use all parts of the pig, most Coddle recipes today just include sausage, bacon and potato. Coddle can include barley and Guinness, but this also isn’t as common anymore.

 

Triangle of Dubliner Irish cheddar cheese on a cork plate with grapes and lettuce

Dubliner Cheese

In 1990, an Irish man, John Lucey, set out to create a new cheese. When Lucey originally created the cheese, he named it “Aralgen.” It’s described as having the sharpness of a mature cheddar with the sweetness of parmigiano. In 1994, Dubliner earned its new name as commercial production began. It’s common to include Dubliner on a cheese board or use it to make grilled cheese sandwiches.

 

While not everyone is brave enough to try a traditional Irish dish like Skirts and Kidneys, there are several tamer options for those of us looking to eat conventional meat options. No one can deny that a meal of mashed potatoes, sausage and beer sounds delicious, so try making your own version of an Irish classic to celebrate St. Patrick’s day with a good hearty meal.

 

Text by Katherine Polcari  

How to Cook a Steak

How to Cook a Steak

For a beginning chef, cooking a steak is a difficult challenge to get over. Questions like Should I season my steak or How long is too long to grill a steak often pop up before preparation. From prep to table, cooking a steak can be as simple and delicious as you want it to be!

Cuts of steak on a cutting boardTo Prepare
Before tossing a steak on the grill or stove, there are a couple of important steps. First, take note of the thickness of the piece of meat. That will determine how long it will take to cook — and how to cook it well. Also, be sure to season the meat lightly. If you want the flavor of the steak itself to stand out, a little salt and pepper would be your best bet. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, an herb rub will spice up your life. If you’re cooking on stovetop, oil isn’t needed. Oiling a steak inhibits the browning necessary for that scrumptious outer layer.

Time to Toss Your Steak on the Grill Or Stove
Above all, steak needs to be cooked hot and fast. If on a stove top, the steak should be turned about once every minute. This creates that brown, caramelized crust. And the crust is what makes that flavorful, prime steak you’re looking for. During this turning process, add herbs like thyme and rosemary. These herbs enhance the flavor of the steak as well. Check out this list of culinary herbs that taste great with red meat — and are easy to grow in your garden or even your kitchen.

When Is Done Done Right?

Now that the steak is sizzling, how do you know when to take it off the heat? Well, that depends on how you want your steak to be cooked. Since it’s easy to overcook a steak, determining its doneness is important. Doneness relates to temperature. A probe thermometer is your best bet for determining the internal temperature of the steak.

Now, you’ve all heard terms related to doneness: rare, medium rare, and so forth. But what exactly do these terms mean? And how do you know when a steak has reached the desired doneness? Here’s a quick and easy thumbnail guide:

Rare – Cooked from 120-125 Fahrenheit. This is a steak that is brown on the edges and bright red inside. If you’re nervous about food safety, you might want to move up to the next level.

Medium Rare – Cooked from 130-140 Fahrenheit. This steak has a thick brown coat on the outside. Also, it should redden towards the center and house a band of pink. This is the chef’s recommended level of doneness. That’s because it is cooked thoroughly but not overcooked. In other words, it’s cooked just enough to preserve the steak’s flavor.

Medium – Cooked from 140-150 Fahrenheit. This steak is firmly brown on the outer layer with a small band of pink on the inside. It is firm to the touch as well. This steak is cooked through enough to please most eaters.

Well Done – Cooked from 160 Fahrenheit and up. This is a popular steak request. However, many chefs think that cooking a steak to this temperature leads to a loss of flavor. Still, many people prefer their steaks well done.

Let your steak rest then cut across the grainTo Rest Or Not to Rest?
This is a big debate among steak fans. Some prefer to let the steak rest before slicing into it. Some prefer to cut it into strips straight out of the pan. Either way, cutting the steak across the grain is paramount. This makes the steak easier to chew.

 

Market Table serves savory flank steak tacos

 

Is your mouth watering now? If you’re ready to try your hand at making the perfect steak, head to Market Table for our premium cuts of meat. Our Seared Flank Steak meal kits do the prep work for you. If you’re looking for something a little lighter, our Steak and Blue Cheese Salad will do the trick.

 

Text by Jonathon Page

5 Elements of a Fabulous Cheese Board

5 Elements of a Fabulous Cheese Board

“Cheese,” wrote Clifton Fadiman, “is milk’s leap toward immortality.” A cheese board celebrates this wondrous transformation — and is always the center of any celebration. Here’s how to make a cheese board that will make your guests cheer.

Different Cheese on a BoardCheese
Be sure to include a variety of tastes, textures, and aromas. Martha Stewart’s excellent advice for choosing cheeses: Just eyeball it. If cheeses look different, they taste different. At Market Table, we pair rich Irish Tipperary Cheddar, creamy Stone Hollow Goat Cheese and sharp, crumbly Blue Cheese. Also, let the cheese sit a bit before serving. It’s best at room temperature.

 

Smooth cheese with spread

Salt

A cheese plate is made great by a variety of tastes. Give your guests something salty to play off sweeter cheeses. At Market Table, we use cornichons. These pickles are made from gherkin cucumbers picked before they’re ripe, creating their very tart taste. Their crunch contrasts beautifully with soft cheeses. You can also pair cheese with salty counterpoints from the same region. Chef Michael Chiarello recommends matching Serrano Ham with mild-to-sharp Spanish Manchego.

Sweets
What’s any meal without something a little sweet? We love the subtle addition of dried fruit and delicate Marcona almonds. Ina Garten suggests pairing green grapes, dried figs and apricots with strong cheeses like Roquefort and Sharp Cheddar. Seasonal fresh fruits offer an endless variety of pairings. For instance, stone fruits and apples make the perfect accompaniment to Brie. Mozzarella finds its match in peaches and nectarines. Ricotta and mango get along beautifully, especially with a pinch of salt and chili powder. If you’re feeling adventurous, try grilled Fresh and dried fruit with cheesepineapple and Blue Cheese.

 

Crunch
Crackers and bread slices not only serve as the perfect vehicle for soft and spreadable cheeses. They’ll also provide the perfect compliment to their texture. Plus, different kinds of crackers create different taste combinations. For example, the sweetness of oat crackers pairs beautifully with creamy Goat Cheese. With crispy, thin water crackers, all attention goes to the cheese. Rachael Ray prefers crusty baguette slices and crunchy smoked almonds. Our personal favorite? Crostini, toasted or even grilled.

Honeycomb on a cheese plate

Condiments
For Ree Drummond, TV’s Pioneer Woman, honey makes the perfect pairing for tart, acidic cheeses. If you’re lucky enough to know a beekeeper or live by a farmers market, try using a honeycomb. The honey has a bright, pure floral flavor. And, as a bonus, the comb creates an intriguing texture (we promise, it doesn’t taste like wax). If honey isn’t your thing, try chutney, equal parts sweet, tart, and savory. We’re especially fond of Alecia’s Peach Chutney, perfect for Pecorino Romano, and Tomato Chutney, especially flavorful with Fontina and Stilton. For a spicy twist, try sweet pepper jelly over Brie and Camembert.

 

Of course, in the stress of event-planning, you might not have time to put together the perfect cheese board. Market Table is here for you. Our catering menu features large and small cheese plates, heaped high with fine cheeses and sweet and salty accompaniments sure to please even the pickiest party guest.