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

5 Best Healthy Eating Blogs

5 Best Healthy Eating Blogs

Changing your eating habits may sound like a big undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be. Eating healthy doesn’t mean that you have to give up you favorite foods. Instead, just throw in some healthy alternatives. They’ll still hit the spot — and food blogs do all of the hard work for you. The writers have already tested the recipes, and they’re here to help you kickstart your journey to healthy eating. Here are five of our favorite healthy food blogs.

Happy Yolks

Kelsey Boyte, the writer of Happy Yolks, offers insight into her life with each blog post. There are lots of tidbits about her husband, who does all of the blog’s photography. As an added bonus, Boyte writes about her dog, who sits happily at her feet during the whole cooking process. This blog is filled with detailed, beautiful pictures and a lot of feel-good recipes. There’s even an option where you can click on your favorite ingredient and a list of recipes will pop up.

 

A Couple Cooks

Another husband and wife duo created A Couple Cooks. Soja Overhiser writes the posts and her husband, Alex, does the photography. The couple is very honest about their own experiences, including Soja’s cancer and miscarriage. Healthy recipes, cookbooks and podcasts are all available on their website. Each recipe also includes a list of healthy facts about the dish. They even have an entire section of recipes dedicated to desserts! Healthy food doesn’t have to exclude chocolate, especially when you can use vegan substitutes.  

 

Mason jars filled with healthy chocolate yogurt topped with blueberries, almond slivers, and mint leavesOh She Glows

Angela Liddon started making healthy foods to help recover from an eating disorder, which also inspired her new plant-based diet. She writes that she had always struggled with either binging or starving herself, but, when she started to experiment with new recipes, her relationship with food changed. Angela used her husband as her inspiration when making healthy foods. Since he’s an avid fast-food lover, she knew that if she made a healthy dish that her husband loved, everyone would love it.

 

Eating Bird Food

Besides the perfectly sarcastic blog title, Eating Bird Food offers more than healthy recipes. You’ll find healthy exercise routines on the blog, too. Brittany Mullins started the blog after finding a healthy way to lose weight. She shares her story about the benefits of clean eating as well as strength training. A pescatarian for 6 years, Mullins writes that she now sees the value in including lean meats in her diet. Now she strives to find a healthy balance rather than cutting out an entire food group.

 

The Domestic ManTwo grilled chicken breasts on a black plate with charred cherry tomatoes and a charred banana pepper

The writer of The Domestic Man, Russ Crandall, found out that he had an autoimmune disease when he had a stroke at age 24. After years of different medications and one potentially fatal surgery, Crandall found that a paleo diet helped to reverse some autoimmune symptoms. Crandall said that he finally felt like he was in control again. Crandall’s blog looks a little different than others because he doesn’t limit himself to just lean meats or plant-based foods. His recipes are a great way to start dipping your toes into the diverse choices of healthy food diets.

 

Text by Katherine Polcari

 

Food in Focus: What Are Grits?

Food in Focus: What Are Grits?

An age-old staple, grits aren’t just simple food stuffs. They’ve become a symbol of the Southern United State’s history, traditions and hospitality. But if you are from anywhere else in the world, being served this strange entrée can cause confusion. Knowing how grits are made — and which dishes seem made for grits — will help you enjoy this down-home delight!

The History of Grits
Many think that grits come from the Southern gentry. Actually, grits are a Native American creation. Native Americans ground corn kernels using millstones. Then, they’d sift the finer parts. Any cornmeal too coarse to pass through the screen would be called grits.

How To Make Grits
Basically, grits come from the part inside of corn kernels called hominy. This hominy is then ground down and left to dry until it is a cornmeal-like consistency. Then, add six parts water and one part salt. Next, boil for twenty to forty-five minutes. And voila! You have grits. Salt, pepper and cheese are popular additions to this simple recipe. These days, you can also buy grits in instant packs. Or, you can even buy cans of quick-cook grits. For the best tasting grits, though, it’s best to stick with the traditional approach.

What To Serve With Grits
Grits are a Southern breakfast staple. Often, they’re served with sausages, eggs and country ham. Grits have also been used as a side dish during dinner. For example, shrimp and grits, a very popular South Carolina Lowcountry dish, creates a delicious combination of creamy and chewy.

Why Do Southerners Love Grits?
It’s true: grits, by themselves, are bland. But grits offer endless possibilities that rely on how far a cook wants to take them. Through creative use of spice and choice of entrée, grits’ taste and texture can serve to supplement a delicious dish morning, noon, or night. Market Table’s Pimento Cheese Grits make a scrumptious dinner side and a hearty breakfast dish. You can also use our pre-made grits to save some serious time when making Lowcountry classics like shrimp and grits — or, for the vegetarians, Grits with Seasonal Roasted Mushrooms.

 

Text by Jonathon Page