Thursday, February 28, 2008

Chewing the Chorizo

Okay so the saying really goes: "chewing the fat." But what IS chorizo but fat and grease? I mean really? Well I don't want to think about it too too much actually.

But the other day I made a soup that called for just the smallest amount of chorizo. What then was I to do with the rest of this greasy Mexican sausage? I am sure I don't need to tell you that I made chorizo and eggs! Wow! It had been YEARS! Really it had been probably 4 years or more since I have had this salty and sinful delight. But warm a tortilla over your gas burner, add the chorizo, eggs, some cheese, salsa, cilantro and avocado. Now close your eyes and bite down on this warm conglomeration of flavors. It is good. Really good. Amazing how I forgot all about this breakfast (or lunch or dinner) treat. In this instance I also wanted my kids to eat some eggs so I scrambled them but the way I really prefer it is with an over-easy egg in which the yolk begins to ooze out along with any salsa, sour cream or the like.

I know some of you may feel a bit uneasy about cooking the chorizo. It isn't pretty. But really, it IS worth the flavor. I believe there is a chicken chorizo too... I didn't see this at my regular supermarket, however.

There just seems to be no other breakfast that hits the spot the way a breakfast burrito can. Especially when you are REALLY hungry. Okay so let's say you don't want to make your own. I know of a couple in this part of the country. One of the better breakfast burritos in Orange County is Picante Martin's on Balboa Island. If you stop in, you should definitely try it! Most people seem to love it! You probably will too. Another great spot that I only tried a couple times is Nick's Deli on Main Street in Seal Beach. Quite tasty! Let me know if you know of any other great places in the OC!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Prelude to a Blog

At first when I thought, "I am going to start a blog!" I figured I would have a space in which to write the sort of stream-of-conscious thoughts that continually come into my head. I enjoy this sort of meandering prose and thought process. But upon further "blog" observations and research, it seems that most blogs, at least those that seem very successful, are about a particular subject or area of interest. Besides, how many people really want to read that kind of stream of consciousness? Gertrude Stein was famous for her meandering, run-on sentences yet amid much controversial criticism. Likewise many people have more than one blog. Each covering a different topic of interest. I too have my Miss 'N Nick Designs blog (coming soon) which talks only about my stationery line and designs or news related to that.

So where else do my interests lie? Well in food and wine and art of course. I suppose these should or could be two separate blogs. But really food and art go hand in hand. Cooking, presenting and even eating food is an art form in itself and most artists gravitate toward food and the kind of social gathering that centers around food and conversation. Well for that matter who doesn't like food? At least to some degree!

Okay, so the name? What to name my blog... This was difficult. A lot of really great names and words were already being used by others in this forum. But then it came to me. Art and Aioli! I just love alliteration and the sound seemed to roll easily on my tongue like a smooth Pinot Noir. So art is self explanatory but aioli? Oh aioli... that fabulous garlicky mayonnaise-like sauce that enhances everything from fish to vegetables to les frites (fries)! Some talk of the spice of life... but what about the sauce of life? That extra something on top of all the staples that makes everything more special (and taste worthy).

Typically aioli is made from scratch with olive oil and garlic and sometimes egg for the ease of mixing. But emulsifying can be a bit tricky and I know I need practice to get just the right consistency. So in lieu of working completely from scratch, I use this recipe I have created.

3/4 cup of regular mayonnaise
1 head of garlic
1 tbls. olive oil
2-3 tbls. fresh tarragon (optional)

Cut off the top of the head of garlic and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle the garlic with the olive oil and broil until tender and not too dark. Allow garlic to cool enough to handle. Pop or roasted garlic cloves from the skins.

In a blender or food processor puree the mayonnaise and roasted garlic to desired consistency. Add the tarragon and blend some more if desired. Tarragon is not in typical or traditional aioli but I just love the flavor and it gives it a certain je ne sais quoi! Other tasty additions include lemon, capers, chili pepper, basil or any of your favorite herbs.

This is SO easy and wonderful on anything. I often use it on grilled chicken sandwiches. I also use this when creating "Le Grand Aïoli" in a fabulous Provençal spread. The whole meal looks quite impressive to guests and actually quite easy.

This particular feast was created after my son's baptism. Beautiful to behold and tasty to eat! In this instance I had chicken and vegetables to go with the aioli and a gorgonzola sauce to go with the beef I threw on the BBQ.

I can picture this group here partaking in such a feast as "Le Grand Aïoli"!

Luncheon of the Boating Party1881

by Pierre-Auguste Renoir