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Right this minute

So, last week, when I said that Brandon and I didn’t really plan, per se, to go to Brussels, I inadvertently left a little something out of the story. What I should have said, in retrospect, is that we did have plans for a vacation, but they didn’t involve Brussels. They involved San Francisco.

Sometime last fall, we decided that we needed a vacation. March sounded like a good time to aim for - soon enough, but safely past the hubbub of the holidays - and so we started poking around online, looking for airfare to somewhere relaxing. We sort of ran wild with the whole idea, really, mulling over Mexico and Spain and New Zealand, but as you might expect, everything was stunningly expensive. Like, please-pass-the-smelling-salts expensive. So we recalculated and decided that a simple road trip would do. In fact, a road trip to San Francisco would more than do: there would be palm trees and possibly even sun, and we both have family to stay with nearby, and then, you know, there’s also plenty to eat. So we started making plans. Brandon’s father even got in on the action, deciding to fly from New Jersey to Seattle and join us for the drive down the coast. We were going on vacation! To San Francisco! And then, of course, I went out for prosecco and pizza with our friend Olaiya, and she had found cheap tickets to Brussels, and after that, uh, we were going on vacation! To Brussels and Paris!

But Brandon’s dad had already bought his plane ticket, and it would have been cruel to make him cancel. And between you and me, it’s kind of hard to say no to a drive down the Oregon coast, to the promise of sandy beaches shrouded in fog and root beer on tap at the Rogue Brewery. So we went to Brussels and Paris. And then, last week, we three piled in the car and came, winding through the redwoods and eating way too many M&Ms and jelly beans, to California, where I sit right now, on my cousin Katie’s couch in Oakland. There are palm trees, and the sun is shining, and though I woke up this morning under a haze of dread, thinking of the loads of work I should have been doing last week when I was instead driving along the coast and eating fistfuls of Easter candy, for a Monday, it’s not bad. I mean, as Brandon’s aunt Pam said a couple of nights ago, when we sat lazily around a table in Santa Rosa and played cards for four hours, why do today what can be done tomorrow? (She then proceeded to completely thrash us at Quadruple Solitaire.)

Anyway. Where I really meant to go with all this - because I know you’re wondering - is here: artichokes. Have you seen them in the market yet? Because California is apparently crawling with them. Because they’re coming into season right this minute, and unlike some things, they cannot wait until tomorrow, or at least not if you like them as much as I do.

The half-eaten, oddly lit beauty above was my dinner last night, along with some scrambled eggs, roasted potatoes, and approximately one quarter (and entirely too little) of a very, very tasty bottle of rosé. Brandon and I had planned to cook dinner for my cousin and aunt, something easy and springlike, and yesterday morning, as though on cue, a little light bulb in the shape of an artichoke clicked on over my head. So we walked to Berkeley Bowl - what I would not give, I swear, to live out my days within walking distance of Berkeley Bowl - and found not one but three different sizes of artichokes, plus a separate display of fat globes with long stalks still attached, artichokes like strange, alien roses. For the right bride, I found myself thinking, they would make a very nice bouquet. They were plump and round and heavy, much prettier than their stalkless cousins, so we came home with four of them. Then we lopped off their stalks, snipped away their thorns, and steamed them until their leaves pulled easily from the choke. I guess we could have eaten them plain, but we’d just been given a bag of homegrown Meyer lemons, and it seemed sort of reckless to ignore them. So we scanned Katie’s cupboards, and while the artichokes were steaming, we made a Meyer lemon aioli. Which, come to speak of it, is what I really want to tell you about, even beyond the artichokes.

I forgot to mention this a couple of weeks ago, back when the issue hit the stands, but my column in the April issue of Bon Appétit is on the subject of mayonnaise. And while I understand that mayonnaise is a contentious subject - haters, I know you’re out there, because I once walked among you - I don’t want to let the month slip by without mentioning it, because making my own mayonnaise, or aioli in this case, is among the most satisfying things I’ve ever done in the kitchen. (Second only to my first kiss with Brandon, which took place in front of the dishwasher in my old apartment. And maybe also to standing at the counter and eating ice cream straight from the carton. Maybe.) It seems daunting, I know, the thought of turning oil and raw egg into something pleasantly edible, but once you get started, there’s nothing to be afraid of - or, at least, nothing but the possibility that you might fall madly in love with it. I speak from experience.

Anyway, we started last night with my usual mayonnaise formula, and from there we sort of played around, using a good dose of Meyer lemon juice, plus smashed garlic and a small palmful of zest. Then we spooned it into a bowl and passed it around the table, scooping it up on the warm, meaty leaves. And then, when the leaves were gone, we dragged the soft, dense hearts through it too. It’s my favorite kind of dinner, really: the kind that gets your hands dirty and makes a mess of the table, the kind that makes everyone go quiet, chewing and gnawing and tugging with their teeth. I guess it goes without saying that we won’t be planning - or not planning - any more vacations for a while, but so long as there are artichokes to be had in Seattle, I’m ready to be home.

Meyer Lemon Aioli
Adapted from Bon Appétit, April 2008

You could make aioli - or mayonnaise, for that matter - in a blender, but I like to do it by hand. For one thing, it’s kind of fascinating, in a totally geeky way, to feel the emulsion come together under your whisk, taking on body and oomph, growing silky and thick. And though it’s a major arm workout, it’s so simple to do, and so satisfying, that I’ve just never felt inspired to pull out the blender. To make it especially easy, I like to wet a dishtowel, fold it, and place it under the bowl to steady it, so that I can pour the oil with one hand and whisk with the other without the bowl jumping all over the counter.

1 medium garlic clove
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp. Meyer lemon juice
¼ tsp. champagne or white wine vinegar, or to taste
Heaping ¼ tsp. Dijon mustard
½ tsp. salt, or to taste
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
Zest of 1 medium Meyer lemon, or to taste

If you have a garlic press, press the garlic clove. If you do not have a garlic press, mince the clove finely; then sprinkle it with a pinch of salt and smash it a bit with the side of your knife, so that it softens to a dense paste.

In a medium bowl, combine the garlic, egg yolk, Meyer lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, and salt. Whisk briefly, until the mixture is bright yellow and well blended, about 15 to 30 seconds.

Now, start adding the oil. It is absolutely crucial that you add it very slowly. For the first ¼ cup, add it impossibly slowly – only a few drops at a time – and whisk constantly. Make sure that each addition of oil is fully incorporated before you add any more. (Your arm will get tired, yes, but don’t worry; you can stop to rest as often as you need to.) As the oil is incorporated, the mixture should begin to lighten in color and develop body, thickening tiny bit by tiny bit.

After you have added the first ¼ cup oil, you can increase the speed at which you add it, pouring it in a thin, continuous stream, whisking constantly. Stop every now and then, if you need to, to put down the measuring cup, whisk well, and make sure that the oil is fully incorporated. The mixture should continue to thicken, and by the time you have added all the oil, it should be pale yellow (or yellowy-green, depending on the color of your olive oil), silky and thick. Whisk in the Meyer lemon zest. Taste, and adjust seasoning - vinegar, salt, zest - as needed.

Serve immediately, or cover and chill for up to three days.

Note: For safety’s sake, raw egg is not recommended for infants, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems. To avoid the risk of salmonella, buy your eggs from a reputable source, and take care when separating the yolks and whites, so that the contents of the egg do not come in contact with the outer part of the shell. Or use pasteurized egg yolk instead.

Yield: about ¾ cup, or enough for at least four artichoke eaters


Olaiya’s Favorite Artichoke Dipping Sauce
Adapted from Good Food

Here’s a little bonus for those of you who like to dip your artichokes in the classic combination of melted butter and lemon juice. This sauce is based on the same concept, but I think it’s even better. Our friend Olaiya found this recipe a few years ago in the British magazine Good Food, and it’s been her favorite accompaniment to artichokes ever since. Feel free to taste and tweak as you go; you hardly need a recipe, really.

½ cup dry white wine
14 Tbsp. (1 ¾ sticks) chilled unsalted butter, diced
¼ cup finely grated parmesan, or more to taste
Juice of 1 lemon, or more to taste

Pour the wine into a medium saucepan. Place over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, and cook until reduced by half. Turn the heat down to medium-low, and whisk in the butter a couple of pieces at a time. Whisk in the parmesan and lemon. Taste, and adjust lemon, parmesan, and salt as needed.

Serve hot, with steamed artichokes.


Anonymous dara said...

Oh Molly! You're here! I live in Oakland too, and if I weren't leaving on a meditation retreat tomorrow, I'd ask you to meet me at the Berkeley farmer's market on Derby Street. There you will find, at the Swanton Berry Farm stand, the sweetest and most delicious and tender artichokes you will ever eat. They will trump any you can buy at the Bowl and it would be well worth picking up a bunch to accompany you back to Seattle, I promise. Last week I bought a big round one for $3.50. My sweetie balked the the seemingly high price, but as we devoured it, he declared it worth the three fifty - you could practically eat the entire thing, and it was really huge!

If you're still in town tomorrow, I urge you to go check out what is undoubtedly the sweetest farmer's market in the Bay (Derby at Shattuck, 2 till 7pm). I so wish I could meet you there and show you around, but I'm off to Spirit Rock in Marin for a vacation of sorts myself.

Happy travels!

12:12 AM, April 01, 2008  
Blogger Samarahuel said...

I've never had anything but canned artichoke hearts, and I like them, in creamy spinach dip and with pesto-covered penne. The fresh, real versions of this vegetable look daunting, but my heart has been telling me that they have to be equally if not more pleasant than the canned things, and so for some while now I have been trying to muster up the courage to try to make whole artichokes. Until now, I hadn't a clue where to begin or how to serve them. Thank you for sharing these appetizing lemony accompaniments. Though also daunting, the aioli sounds so good I just might make it and finally give artichokes a go, or I may stick to one challenge at a time and start with the butter sauce.

1:52 AM, April 01, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey, I really love your blog, and every now and again I actually make one of the recipes, too. but what gets me really confused sometimes is the measurement thing. I'm not American, so "sticks" of butter (for example) don't mean anything to me.

And so
14 Tbsp. (1 ¾ sticks) chilled unsalted butter, diced
is kinda tricky. Who's got the energy to measure 14 Tbsp. of anything? Any chance of adopting weighted measuring? Grams would be great, but I can at least convert ounces if I have to.

Same goes for "cups", cos a cup is not a cup is not a cup, as you'd know, being the well-travelled cook that you are...

1:53 AM, April 01, 2008  
Anonymous radish said...

I made the mayo from your Bon Appetit article and now that jar of Hellmans will have to go right in the trash. My boyfriend tasted it and actually closed his eyes blissfully. It was ambrosial and so incredible, though my arm did get tired from all that whisking. Still, it's a good exercise in lieu of gym :)

4:33 AM, April 01, 2008  
Blogger Teri said...

Artichokes. Oh, what am I missing? I'm living in Tokyo, where I know I shouldn't complain. But, heavens, an artichoke? Don't even get me started on the lemons.

I hadn't read your column this month, but maybe it somehow inspired this entry: http://gingersaltpeachlime.blogspot.com/2008/04/optimism-and-second-mea-culpa.html

Funny timing. Have you tried Japanese mayo? I highly recommend it.

5:11 AM, April 01, 2008  
Blogger Babeth said...

"Bonnes vacances" Molly! Enjoy sunny California. Your pictures are very cute and engaging for relaxing.

5:11 AM, April 01, 2008  
Blogger Hui Wen said...

I'm sorry. I don't mean to sound ungrateful or bossy, especially after you've provided such a lovely aioli recipe but I can't seem to find your more recent recipes (like the French Granola and this aioli) on the recipe index. Is there some reason you've omitted them? Perhaps you could update it if you're not too busy? I would be very grateful. Thank you.

5:16 AM, April 01, 2008  
Anonymous Helen said...

Yep, artichokes turned up in my veg box this week, young ones that were really fresh. I made a salad which I'm posting later. It was delicious, apparently they are really early this year. I'm going to give that dipping sauce a try if they come back next week.

5:28 AM, April 01, 2008  
Anonymous Andrea said...

Molly, I watched my uncle once make aioli with a mortar and pestle, and I even helped a little, like a little kid stirring the pot; after reading your column in Bon Appetit, I went for it and made my own mayonnaise, albeit with olive oil rather than canola, as that's what I had on hand. It was actually aioli with garlic and herbs, but it was an emulsion and I made it all by myself (!) and it was awesome, and we dipped carrots, celery and radishes into it and had a nice little crudite platter.
As for the artichokes, I am so excited because we are having people over for dinner on Thursday, and I have been so indecisive about what to serve, and I went from eggplant lasagna to chicken with about 100 other ideas in between. Now I am going to serve artichokes with a frittata...perfect for spring! Thanks for your ideas, which for me, always seem to come right in the nick of time! Have a great time on the rest of your vacation and stop feeling guilty about work!

6:04 AM, April 01, 2008  
Blogger hannah said...

oh why have i not made the artichokes for my family. i had completely forgotten that this was the one thing we LOVED as children. the laughing, the chewing, the dribbles of butter. yes, i think that is right up our alley.

6:29 AM, April 01, 2008  
Blogger hannah said...

ps. i love kissing standing up...

6:30 AM, April 01, 2008  
Anonymous Kim said...

For some reason I haven't seen really great artichokes here yet, or maybe I have walked past them.
I am going to add this recipe on my to do list. Looks fabulous!

6:45 AM, April 01, 2008  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Molly, have a lovely time while you're here. Thanks for the mayo lesson and especially for Olaiya's bonus, which I will try soon!

6:49 AM, April 01, 2008  
OpenID pricklypearbloom said...

Wow. Artichokes and northern California in one post. It's cause for me to delurk. Artichokes are one of my favorite things. Have you seen the fields of them? Rows and rows of giant thistle? Great.

And, I grew up in Santa Rosa.

Enjoy your vacation!

7:08 AM, April 01, 2008  
Blogger Molly said...

Oh Dara! I wish I could go to that market today. I've never had an artichoke that fresh! But we have to be in Santa Rosa this afternoon to meet up with Brandon's family there, so I'm afraid we'll miss it. And then we begin the long slog of a drive north. Grr. Next time, next time...

Samarahuel, fresh artichokes aren't nearly as scary to prepare as they seem, I promise. You can do it!

My apologies, Anonymous. I know the American system of measurement is kind of archaic - not to mention imprecise - but because it's what I grew up with, it's what I've always tended to use. I'll see what I can do to add weight measurements in the future. In the meantime, for this dipping sauce recipe, you need 7 ounces of butter, or 200 grams.

Radish, I'm so glad you tried it! And that it was such a hit with your boyfriend.

Teri, I'm not sure if I've had Japanese mayo, but you've got me intrigued. Is it a little on the sweet side?

Thanks so much, Babeth!

Hui Wen, I'm so sorry about that. My index doesn't update automatically, so if I forget to do it, it doesn't get done. Which seems to have been the case over the past few weeks! I'll add those recipes as soon as I get a chance.

Helen, I'm so jealous that you got your hands on some fresh-from-the-farm artichokes! Looking forward to hearing more about your salad.

Andrea, artichokes and frittata sound PERFECT! Ooooh ooh. And P.S. What kind of herbs did you use in your aioli? I'm feeling inspired.

Hannah, get some artichokes on the stove right this minute, lady. xo

Kim, they may not be in some markets yet. We're still in the early part of the season, I think. (Peak artichoke time is March through May.) I've got my fingers crossed that you get some soon.

Zoomie, I'm so sorry that I didn't get to see you on this trip! We only had three days down here, and they filled up SO fast. Sending hugs from Oakland...

Pricklypearbloom, I haven't ever seen them in the fields, but I can well imagine how incredible it must be. Wow.

9:00 AM, April 01, 2008  
Blogger Julie said...

Both the aioli and the second dip sound so good...I want to get artichokes now. The inclusion of the parmesan cheese in the second one sounds like such a good idea.

9:02 AM, April 01, 2008  
Blogger emily said...

Lemon mayonnaise is the best! I add white pepper and serve it with steamed green beans and it's better than just about any snack. I've never made it myself though, and I've always been tempted to make my own. I may just have to.

9:31 AM, April 01, 2008  
Anonymous Meryl said...


I commented awhile back that I was so excited about your mayo article in Bon Appetit b/c I wanted to use homemade mayo in my deviled eggs for Easter this year. Well, I used your recipe and they came out so good!! I boldly declared I would never buy mayo again. This aioli will have to be my next step! Thanks as always for the fabulous recipes :-)

9:51 AM, April 01, 2008  
Blogger D said...

After reading your article in Bon Appetit on cinnamon rolls and your struggles with yeast, I felt inspired to call a truce in my own war with yeast. I purchased some rapid rise and made the yummiest pizza dough which rose perfectly! Hooray! I feel so liberated. I loved your writing so much I knew I had to check out the website. I'm looking forward to trying your delicious looking recipes!

10:17 AM, April 01, 2008  
Anonymous Sexy Spoon said...

Hi Molly,

I just love your blog - the writing and recipes are delightful! I've also enjoyed your columns in Bon Appetit. I'm now going to have to make some aioli tonight! If you have a moment, check out my foodie blog: www.sexyspoon.com


10:55 AM, April 01, 2008  
Anonymous Liz said...

Wow, I do love my artichokes, but they're often only part of the tapestry of the meal. Hardly ever the mail event. They always sort of intimidate me (like yeast, for instance), but seeing as how you've transcended that hurdle (again, like the yeast), I'm willing to try.

No artichokes here yet, but I'm looking forward to the challenge.

10:58 AM, April 01, 2008  
Anonymous Joye said...

Oh wow, the lemon butter sauce sounds amazing! We're only just beginning to get fresh artichokes where I live, so I'll have to try it out when the season really picks up.

11:19 AM, April 01, 2008  
Anonymous Hillary said...

I have recently discovered my love for artichokes so this post is making me drool. I haven't yet made mayonnaise but maybe soon I'll discover a love for that too.

12:21 PM, April 01, 2008  
Blogger Carol said...

mmm, yum. not a mayo fan but i do like homemade, tho i rarely make it. did you eat the artichoke stalk too? hope you enjoyed your visit. extended vacation, hooray!

12:47 PM, April 01, 2008  
Blogger LadyConcierge said...

Just a quick word on the garlic press - if you don't have one, grating the garlic clove with a microplane works just as good! I use that trick all the time.

1:33 PM, April 01, 2008  
Blogger Maureen said...

If I end up with a 3rd husband, I will be that bride. I LOVE artichokes and even tho dh thinks they're beyond weird, he took me to Castroville where I almost swooned.

It balances tho...I am one of those who gags at mayo. Overdose as a greedy child. :-(

2:02 PM, April 01, 2008  
Blogger reliv4life said...

I love to read your blog, you have a way of writing that makes me eager to get to the next sentence! Glad you have enjoyed yourself with TWO vacations! Life is short, enjoy it! I will try this recipe, looks scrumptious!!

2:31 PM, April 01, 2008  
Blogger Just Jen said...

I grew up in the bay area and have fond memories of my parents taking me on long drives to all sorts of places. Your story brings back memories for me of Castroville and a produce stand with a little cafe attached to it that would serve deep fried artichoke hearts. YUMMM those were so good growing up, one of these days I'm going to have to try and make them.

2:37 PM, April 01, 2008  
Blogger Champagnewednesdays said...

Yes, you make me hungry for dinner, but more than that - you are a really fabulous writer. I am reading "A Year in the World" buy Frances Mayes right now and I would gladly trade it in for one of yours! Jen www.champagnewednesdays.com

2:48 PM, April 01, 2008  
Anonymous Your Man Sam said...

There is also Popeye's friend Wimpy and his "I'll gladly pay you tomorrow for a hamburger today," which seems the logical and decadent extension of Aunt Pam's philosophy.

Great post, darlin. I'm looking forward to some artichokes with yall this summer. What say some Human Horn, Oatmeal Chocolate Coffee stout, Scene-it and sundown Roadhouse, the four of us and not a clock in sight?


3:08 PM, April 01, 2008  
Anonymous ann said...

OH man, I just got back from Italy where it is carcofi season in earnest! I ate it at every meal possible, including one day, where I managed to have it for breakfast, lunch and in three different dishes at dinner. I think I'm turning green I ate so many of them! You lucky folk, so close to the artichoke capitol of America. I am green with envy ;-)

3:17 PM, April 01, 2008  
Anonymous Leah said...

I got home and realized... I can eat artichokes. They're vegetables. WHY DIDN'T I GET ANY.

Thank heavens for the Thursday farmers' market. Because while technically I probably shouldn't, I can enjoy a small amount of homemade aioli and mayo! (As long as I leave out the mustard - all the other ingredients are allowed.) You can probably imagine the level of joyful spazzitude going on over here right now. Which sadly includes the realization: I don't know how to make an artichoke.


5:00 PM, April 01, 2008  
Anonymous Grant said...

I'm so envious of the self-assured nonchalance with which you make mayonnaise and aioli. I've attempted it a few times only to have it break. So frustrating.

When you say to add the oil drop by drop in the beginning, how exactly do you do it? Like do you fill a 1/4 measuring cup with oil and then, say, use a spoon to add the drops? Or do you just drizzle it in slowly with a measuring cup with a pouring lip? Am I over-thinking it?

5:43 PM, April 01, 2008  
Blogger ilana (Helen) Pengelly said...

I'm not at all invested in you playing along but I thought you should know that I have tagged you as one of my current favourite blogs. The post is on my Pastimes blog. Click on my name to get a list of my blogs.

9:05 PM, April 01, 2008  
Blogger Rose said...

How funny--you're in Oakland (my home) and I'm out of town this week in Oklahoma. Well, I think you got the better end of the deal! I had a strawberry slushy from Sonic for breakfast while my roommates pick up our veggie box from the farmers market on Derby and MLK. I'll be ready to get back to shopping at Berkeley Bowl rather than Walmart...

10:50 PM, April 01, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Molly, FYI on the damp-cloth-under-bowl thingy, check this out. recommended!


Cheers - Toni in Australia

2:31 AM, April 02, 2008  
Anonymous Culinary Sherpa #2 said...

Greetings from sunny Tampa, Molly. I've had to make pounds and pounds of aioli. I love the rustic nature of your arm-strong brew.

I; however, make it it the food processor. Omitting the vinegar.

Next time you make your aioli, try beating only the yolk until it becomes a thick, light yellow. Then add your flavoring (garlic and lemon), then (as you said)slowly add the olive oil. I have found, by taking the time to thicken the yolk first, it won't break as easily when the citrus is added. Finally, add the Dijon at the very end.
You, of course, have already become an accomplished Aioli maker, but you may find it to be a new twist.

6:08 AM, April 02, 2008  
Blogger snappy said...

I love artichokes, but only with some mayo! And travel, love that too! Your one lucky duck to get to take two vacations.

6:24 AM, April 02, 2008  
Blogger Bea said...

Delightful opening photo Molly. Makes me think about my brother's garden in France. Cannot wait to be there again soon, helping him to gardening.

7:45 AM, April 02, 2008  
Blogger toro said...

Always have a very good sense and I admire them.
Or come to play.

9:48 AM, April 02, 2008  
Blogger Clear Pink said...

You are one lucky gal.
My husband and I were planning to go to Brussels in Novemeber, but our plans changed a bit, and now we are going to SF instead. How funny.

10:22 AM, April 02, 2008  
Anonymous EB said...

Molly- I'm so glad you had a nice time in our artichoke-saturated area. They really are a perk. I moved to Monterey once... I think, in part, to be closer to the artichokes. They are things of wonder aren't they? I'm glad you're sleeping in your own bed again.. but I wish I'd had a chance to meet you!

11:18 AM, April 02, 2008  
Blogger Shayla said...

Oh wow! That sounds like so much fun! Europe followed by a road trip.
I just made artichokes myself for the first time earlier this week. I used a simple garlic butter for dipping since I didn't have a recipe, but I'd wanted something with lemon (and I'm a mayo addict) so now I simply have to cook up some more! Thanks :)

12:47 PM, April 02, 2008  
Anonymous Eugenia said...

We've got artichokes now in Eugene, so I'd imagine they've made it a couple hours northward, too!

Fascinating variation on my usual lemon-butter dip -- I'll try it! Thank you!

2:17 PM, April 02, 2008  
Anonymous Bad Home Cook said...

The Berkeley Bowl. Sigh. How I miss the Bowl. It was worth circling for half an hour to find parking within walking distance. For you, it must have been a religious experience.

4:13 PM, April 02, 2008  
Blogger Olaiya said...

holly mother of christ! (can I say that on your blog???) reading everyone's excitement about artichokes and aioli here has me dying to make them again. when will you kids get back to seattle?

10:47 PM, April 02, 2008  
Blogger Shelby said...

I'm not going to lie, I feel as if we're culinarily long-lost twins. I was a vegetarian for a while also, then I was a legitimate carnivore (ok, so not twins on THIS part), then I went back to not eating red meat - just lost my taste for it is all, but then I was tempted back a few months ago - not by steaks and burgers - but italian cured meats and racks of lamb. And I scoff at mayo, and would throw hissy fits when my dad "accidentally" put some on the sandwiches we took with us to Mets games. But I find myself being tempted over to the other side again, and i think that homemade mayo recipe might be just the kicker. I just can't bring myself to enjoy the glop from the squeezable container sitting in my fridge. AND - I just returned from a vacation in San Francisco, on which my boyfriend and I decided after our research proved Paris to be too expensive for right now. A blog post about the trip is forthcoming, but I loved every second of it, and at least I felt like I was kind of in Paris from your blog post so thank you!

9:08 AM, April 03, 2008  
Blogger Molly said...

Hello, hello! We got home from San Francisco late last night, after a 13-hour drive up I-5, and I am feeling seriously woozy today. But I'm loving all this artichoke cheer! To attend to a few pressing matters:

Hoooray, Meryl! So glad you made the mayo. I see some aioli in your future...

Oh, D, I'm so happy to hear it! When yeast behaves, it's just like magic, isn't it?

Carol, we didn't eat the stalk that night, but we did put them in my cousin's fridge for her to use later. I hear that if you peel them to get rid of those stringy outer fibers, you can cook and eat them just like the artichoke itself. Have you ever tried it?

Thanks for the tip, LadyConcierge! I love the microplane, but I'd never thought to use it for garlic.

Sam, you are the best. Or the greatest, or whatever we decided. Now, HURRY UP AND GET BACK HERE. xo

Leah, I'm crazy about you, lady. Call me from Berkeley Bowl anytime. xo

Oh no, Grant! Let's see what we can do about that. Here's how I handle the oil: I fill a measuring cup (with a good lip) with 3/4 cup oil, and then I tilt it to drip, drip, drip with one hand while I whisk with the other. It requires a bit of dexterity and concentration, but it works for me. And I stop regularly to put down the measuring cup and whisk well, so that every last bit is absorbed before I add more. (If it makes you more comfortable, though, you could also dribble the oil in with a small spoon at first, so that there is no risk of adding too much.) It takes me about 10 minutes to add all the oil, I'd say. I've never had it break, but I've always been crazy-cautious about how slowly I add the oil. I hope this helps...

Oh, thank you, Ilana (Helen)! That's so sweet.

Toni, that sticky bowl thing is totally ingenious! Very cool. I've also found some melamine bowls (at Williams-Sonoma, here in the US) that have rubber rings around the bottom, so they sort of grip the counter and do a good job of holding still while you whisk like a madwoman.

Thanks for the great tips, Culinary Sherpa #2. I've never had any trouble when it comes to adding the citrus, but I'll give your method and go and see how it works for me...

Olaiya, we're home! Hurrah! Let's make a plan for an artichoke-and-aioli date. Bisous.

What crazy coincidences, Shelby! Too funny. Hope you and your boyfriend had a good time in SF.

11:24 AM, April 03, 2008  
Blogger Lesa said...

wonderful article. im in southeast georgia, so we dont get much for artichokes here... usually. found some massive ones in the market early this morning, will be fixing them tonight, and may have to try your aioli recipe to go along with them =) thanks for having something that doesnt involve a blender!

2:08 PM, April 03, 2008  
Blogger kats said...

Funny, when I read that you are in Oakland and saw the artichoke picture, Berkeley Bowl was my first thought. I used to live around there and have been away for almost three years - and I can't forget their artichokes (and pears, apples, bulk grains...) Last time we went up to SF, my husband and I came back with one suitcase full of food from BB and also from the cheese bar at The Pasta Shop (@ Fourth Street, Berkeley). Ouch, I'm hungry!

4:34 PM, April 03, 2008  
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6:28 AM, April 04, 2008  
Anonymous Merritt said...

oh, perfect. I have two artichokes sitting in my fridge right now, because they were on sale at the store. It will be my first time making them at home, and this seems delicious and a perfect way to introduce myself to them. We'll see how much I like them, I was suprised by how cheap they were! Only a dollar for each two and a half inch diameter artichoke at my normal not-upscale store.

12:37 PM, April 04, 2008  
Anonymous marcia said...

The baby artichokes are the best!! My mother-in-law who is from Sicily prpares them stuffed with a cheese-bread stuffing and simmers them in tomato sauce with quartered potatoes. Oddest combination I ever had for artichokes but delicious and very Italian!!

5:49 PM, April 04, 2008  
Blogger Mama Bear said...

Oh I am ever so jealous of you and your San Francisco vacation.

I am dying to travel there (I live near Vancouver, BC).

Never tried artichokes...to be honest, I don't understand how to eat them, no matter how much FoodTV I watch.

Not sure if I've ever posted before but I've been reading your blog for a loooong time now and LURVE it.

1:53 PM, April 05, 2008  
Blogger amisha said...

molly, your mayo article has been knocking around my head since i read it... every time i squeeze mayo out of the bottle onto my sandwich, really, i'm wondering why i haven't tried it yet. a simple sandwich seems like not enough... fanciness, i guess, for homemade mayo! but with artichokes... now that is brilliant :)

11:34 AM, April 06, 2008  
Anonymous Rebecca said...

I just discovered your blog and love it, although, I am sure you hear that a lot. I actually found it while looking for granola recipes.

If you don't mind I have two questions that aren't related to your specific posts, but about France (it's a dream of mine to visit there one day when I graduate school). I love yogurt, but haven't found the right yogurt. I know a lot of people love fage, but to me, it taste like sour cream. I have read that yogurt in France is amazing. What is it about yogurt in France that makes it so amazing? Do they flavor it, low fat? Any recommendations of yogurt in the U.S.

My second question, is much shorter, I read your posts about granola being your favorite breakfast. I have also read that in France they only eat a small piece of toast and coffee for breakfast and a late lunch. Is this true? I can't imagine how they go so long without eating! Thanks and sorry for the random questions~

1:31 PM, April 06, 2008  
Blogger EAT! said...

My kids love artichokes with tons of melted butter. I think the leaves are just a mechanism for getting the butter into their mouths faster. I usually steam an extra few to have in the frig with a herb mayo dip. Thanks for the reminder.

2:40 PM, April 06, 2008  
Blogger Molly said...

Rebecca, that's a really good question about the yogurt. To my palate, the yogurt in France tastes richer than what I can find here - even when it's low-fat - and it isn't terribly tart. It's wonderful. I can't say for certain, but I think the difference is mainly a function of the milk there, and of the bacteria involved. Dairy products in France are wonderful in general. (Although don't get me wrong: you can still get mediocre yogurt there, too!) As for brands of yogurt here in the US, I am a plain yogurt kind of person, and I often buy Brown Cow - low-fat or cream-top - which I like very much. It's not like French yogurt, but it's good. Also, when I'm on the East Coast, I always buy some Liberte yogurt, imported from Canada. It reminds me very much of the French stuff. So, SO good.

As for what the French eat for breakfast, it's hard to say. I don't think there's any one answer. Everybody eats something different, just like us in the States. A very simple, everyday, traditional breakfast is what you've heard: a tartine (a buttered piece of toast or portion of baguette) with coffee of some sort. But lots of French buy cereal these days, and of course there are all sorts of pastries and other things...

2:59 PM, April 06, 2008  
Blogger Nancy said...

Delightful blog. A propos of nothing, have you seen clocklink.com? They have a clock with an orange-slice face that would go beautifully on Orangette. Sincerely.

2:02 PM, April 07, 2008  
Blogger Pille said...

Well, we get no artichokes at all here in Estonia (unless you count those wilted specimens in the supermarket that have been flown in from the other side of the world, where they were harvested many weeks ago). But luckily I visited Ximena (Lobstersquad) in Spain last week, and we had artichokes for dinner two nights in a row. Utterly delicious.
(So much so that I brought some back home with me..)

4:38 AM, April 09, 2008  
Blogger Carol said...

hi molly! as is often the case, you inspired me, and i made the aioli for dan's birthday. quite tasty with the artichokes, but the stalks were stringy. (i asked you earlier if you ate the stalks.) but a few days later i got some HUGE ole artichokes grown in castroville and their stalks were tender and delicious...with the leftover aioli! thanks again for sharing another yummy recipe.

10:34 AM, April 10, 2008  
Blogger Molly said...

Carol, I hear you! We've eaten artichokes a couple of times this week, and both times, the stalks have been NASTY. So stringy and gross. Now I wish we'd gotten to try the ones from our Berkeley Bowl artichokes, because I have a feeling they were fresher and would have been tasty. I think the shipping time to get artichokes to Seattle means yucky stems. Grrr.

6:45 PM, April 10, 2008  
Anonymous Dragan said...

Will give this aioli recipe a try with wild asparagus, it's a season now..sounds great! Thanks for sharing!

8:39 PM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger Il Fornaio said...

I have never successfully emulsified anything by hand, but when I picked up some artichoke beauties this weekend, I figured what the hell, I'll try again. I was the defintion of overly cautious-- it took me 20 minutes to stream in all of the oil. But I did it and it was amazing. thank you for the inspiration and the recipe (ps. if any other east coasters are making this with regular lemons rather than meyers, I would recommend reducing the salt a bit. It was a tad too salty for me, but a little more lemon juice solved that problem easily).

9:09 AM, April 14, 2008  
Blogger Lisa said...

Lovely lovely Molly - I have only just now managed to get myself to the library to read your mayo column. A little delayed gratification - such a treat! I wanted especially to thank you for reminding me of Laurie Colwin, who sits, ever ready to soothe and humor and enchant, over there on my bookshelf. But I hadn't picked up her books in such a long time! I actually abandoned your piece mid-column to go pull both Home Cooking volumes off the shelf. Got a good and necessary laugh when I read her words "One of the greatest shocks you will ever have is to realize how much it costs to get married on the cheap." Then proceeded to read her essay on lentil soup and whip some up for me and the fella. Then finished your column! I'm very excited to try my hand at some mayo or aoli when we're not worn out from trying to teach 800 hens to roost.

7:38 PM, April 24, 2008  
Blogger Kim said...

I just discovered your blog, and I've been reading it for hours straight over the past several days! I just had to tell you about my new favorite artichoke preparation, grilled and basted. First, trim and halve (?) them and cut the choke out, then steam them until done. Next, make the baste (I'm not sure about proportions): heat some olive oil and butter in small saucepan, add garlic and white wine. Cool, squirt in some lemon juice, s & p. Grill the artichokes for a few minutes, basting with the sauce. Delicious! Can't wait for your book

10:33 PM, June 20, 2008  

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