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Monday, February 25, 2019

White Chocolate Cardamom Ice Cream

I'm a huge fan of combining strong flavors. The one of the basic lessons of good cooking that you learn first is you want to find a balance between components. I once saw a node chart that showed all of the different components of recipes when looked at on the international scale. It showed that most western/Eurocentric recipes combined components and ingredients that shared the  same compounds. This meant that things like butter, potatoes, cream/milk were combined along with salt and pepper. What it showed on eastern/Asian recipes was that it was most-likely to combine things of opposing components, such as sweet honey and hot chilies, or sharp vinegar with sweet and fermented oyster sauce, which creates something very dynamic. Check this out!

You can read the article about it here!

To make a western pork dish, say a pork chop, you would likely marinate in buttermilk or just a nice oil-spice rub if you were feeling fancy. You'd likely do minimal processing because you want to let the ingredient speak for itself. If you were creating an eastern pork dish, there would be a lot more processing to do. You'd likely combine mellow scallions with hot ginger and sharp garlic with salty soy or miso. You might chop finely or in chunks, then marinate it and deep fry each piece in a batter, then drench it in sauce. The point is that these cultures have different ways of cooking and eating, and understanding it a little better might help one understand why in the world I'd put cardamom and white chocolate together.

I realize it's possibly unusual to most, but you'd be surprised at how popular a combination of these flavors of white chocolate and cardamom are! A quick search will show you the many recipes with this flavor combination. The idea is that white chocolate is so super-sweet but cardamom, which is slightly pungent, incredibly aromatic and almost fruity, gives a wonderful new depth. If you think this is a spice only for South Asian or Middle Eastern, consider that one of the countries that use the most cardamom globally is Sweden. This is likely because the Swedes opened up trades to the East Indies first, with their Viking days!

Ice cream is a food product that has mostly fat in it. Fat is generous and gives you a lot of room to work. If a flavor is fat soluble, you can really get crazy with it. You can do chocolate ice cream with cayenne in it - the heat and flavor will be perfect with the fat of the ice cream. You can steep fresh mint in your milk or cream to get that gorgeous fresh-green color, and the cool-spicy of the mint will work with the fat. Smoky and pungent bacon flavor, even, can be done well with ice cream, so long as something really sweet goes with it, like caramel!

Understanding and having fun with the balances between the five flavors of salty, bitter, sweet, sour, and savory is at the core of cooking. Try this ice cream, and then get out there and try a bunch more. Once you've purchased your own ice cream machine, you've really no excuses to be timid anymore. Be bold and have fun!

White Chocolate Cardamom Ice Cream
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 can coconut cream
  • 1 heaping Tbsp + 1 tsp ground Cardamom 
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1/2 c (3.5 oz) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c coconut milk powder
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 c (4 oz) white chocolate callets (the good stuff, not chips!)
Pop the can of cream in the fridge. Add the salt, cardamom, and the coconut milk to a saucepot and bring to a boil. It's important that you whisk only a little of the coconut milk in at a time to ensure the cardamom doesn't clump up. Once it's brought to a boil, turn it off, cover it, and let it set for at least 10 minutes. 

Whisk together the coconut milk and granulated sugar, ensuring there are no lumps, and then whip in the eggs, one at a time, until it's quite smooth and light-colored. It'll be a little thicker than you think it should be, but trust me on this. Besides, it'll be a great arm workout! 

Protip: You might be whisking wrong. The motion should be with your bicep and shoulder, not your wrist. Your wrist is made up of lots of tendons with little muscle, so keep your wrist straight as a board and use that beautiful muscle in your upper arm and upper body to whip that stuff into shape!

When your coconut milk has steeped and your egg yolk mixture is quite light and smooth, splash in some of your warm milk into the yolks, just to warm it and slacken it. Whisk until fully incorporated, and then add a little more of the milk, no more than a half a cup. Whisk it all together until absolutely mixed, and then scrape everything back into the saucepot. Bring it back up to heat, whisking constantly, until thickened, or until 180 degrees F. 

In the pitcher of a blender, add your cold coconut cream and white chocolate. Pour your hot custard mix over all of that, scraping all the goodies from the bottom, and then letting that sit for 2 minutes before blending. Start on low and then gradually get up to high. You'll want it to be 100% smooth. Give it a taste and decide if you want more cardamom or more salt. Remember, cold affects salt to make it seem like there's less, and white chocolate is super sweet! Strain this custard into a tall pitcher and surround it with ice water to cool. Cold custard will whip up much more nicely in your ice cream machine!

Process this ice cream mix in an ice cream machine accordance to your manufacturer instructions. This machine is the one I use and it's fantastic! It's cheap, it's easy to clean, and has a large capacity. It's pretty perfect for the experiments I do at home, and if you're a home cook then I suggest this very much. If you're a chef and in a commercial kitchen, this machine is the one I recommend the most. Yeah, I know, it's stupid expensive. But when you don't have time to chill your mix, this still gets it done with a hot custard or a hot sorbet mix without it turning out gross and grainy. It's oddly easy to clean, as well, and will make ice cream from cold in about 10 minutes, with ice cream from hot in 30. That's pretty amazing.

I hope you've enjoyed this ice cream! It's not vegan, but you can use "JUST Egg" Vegan egg replacer with awesome results if you want it to be vegan. You can also use one half a teaspoon of agar agar per egg yolk, if you have that more readily available. 

Store the ice cream in cartons. You can use tupperware, but it tends to get rather brittle when frozen, so I recommend buying some cardboard containers. I like these little pint containers, and you can write on them with marker to see what you have in there. I advise you to write the date on the bottom of the carton, and to do so before you fill it up. This recipe makes three pints of ice cream. Serve it with toasted pistachios, warm raspberry jam, or chocolate sauce.

Don't forget to follow me on Instagram and Twitter, and follow my tag #WannaBGourmande.

Happy cooking and happy eating!

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Blue Sky Walnut Macarons

Oh hey. I remember how to do these. 
I hadn't made macarons in a long time when I got the idea to whip these up. I had an afternoon and decided to see if I still remembered how. As it turns out, I do. I'm a huge fan of eating macarons, but not a huge fan of how annoyingly fussy they are to make. They're really a marker of a skilled pastry chef, to make a perfect macaron. It must be first shiny on top, have good "feet" (those little bubbly bits at the bottom) be not hollow on the inside, be crisp yet chewy when bitten into, and be evenly round. They're, in essence, a deflated meringue that's held together with sugar and ground nuts. The fat of the nuts gently break the inflated bubbles and yet somehow hold everything together in this 'cookie', and thicken it just so that it it bakes in one lump.

Since 1792 when some French nuns began selling them, these crunchewy delights have been a well-kept secret to we ignorant Americans. It seems as if they've just sprung up overnight! I don't see why they wouldn't - they're a mark of great skill, they're a vessel for plenty of fun fillings and flavors, and they are adorably aesthetically pleasing. Watching videos on youtube and instagram of chefs piping, baking, and filling macarons is just one of those things that helps me check out and forget the nonsense of my day. If you aren't watching ASMR baking videos, I think you're missing out on some serious self care.

The thing about macarons is that there are no 'quick' ways to do it and there's no real 'fool-proof' way to do it. They require skill, patience and practice, and no matter what they end up looking like you'll still have the cookies at the end. Please be kind with yourself and allow yourself a few failures here and there. Please understand as well that you are going to mess up your home kitchen like crazy with several bowls and lots of different dyes as well. It's okay, guys. Part of these are the mess! And hey, it's okay to make a mess when you're learning.

Traditionally, macarons are made with almonds. Almonds are great, classic, and hard nuts to crack (har har har) but still soft and fatty enough to make the right way of crunchewy cookie. I like walnuts for several reasons, those being which they are softer and easier to hand-grind and that because I was allergic to almonds for a fair portion of my young life I tend to have walnuts in my house instead, especially for when I feel like whipping up a nice muhamarra. In the case of walnuts, I also like how they have a nicer texture and that they're just a little bit luxuriously soft. They're quite fatty, though, so if you don't have an airtight jar to store them in, I suggest freezing them, lest they go rancid.

Walnut Macarons
They're not perfect, but they're mine!

  • 115 g walnuts, ground into flour using either a spice grinder, a food processor, or a mortar and pestle
  • 230 g powdered sugar, sifted
  • 72 g granulated sugar
  • 4 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 fat pinch of kosher salt
  • Gel dye of desired color
Strawberry Ice Cream Filling
  • Your favorite vanilla buttercream
  • A good spoonful of strawberry jam
Start by prepping your baking trays. I like to use silpat mats. You can get them on amazon for pretty cheap, or you can find them at most specialty baking stores. You can also use parchment paper, but I like reuseable stuff, so that's what I use. This recipe makes two half-sheet pans worth of macaron halves so I prepare two silpat mats on two trays. Always give them a good wipe with a damp cloth or paper towel to make sure they're clean!

Sift together the walnuts, salt, and the powdered sugar to get rid of the bigger lumps. I like the mortar and pestle approach to breaking them down if you find a fair bit of them, and walnuts are soft enough to crush in your fingers so you shouldn't have too much of a problem. Make a well in the middle of the bowl and pop two of the egg whites in. Stir with a spatula, starting in the middle and adding a little in as you go, until you have a paste, that will be rather tight. It is also at this stage you may add some gel dye. I used a pretty cornflower blue gel dye that I found at the craft store. For this galaxy effect above, I used a chopstick and smeared some stripes of the dye all up the side of my piping bag, fitted with a round tip. A little goes a long way, so don't go crazy!

Combine the other two egg whites and the 72 g sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip these together until tripled in volume and have stiff peaks, but aren't dry and lumpy. Take a spoonful of your meringue and stir in gently to your paste, just to loosen it. Take another large spoonful of the meringue and now fold it in, pressing and scraping gently, breaking as little of the bubbles as you can while still having it be a homogeneous mix. The remaining egg whites can now be scraped in and folded in, gently, until everything's just barely combined. You want the consistency of pahoehoe lava (which means the kind that's flowy and liquid) for this batter. 

Pop your mix into your piping bag and pipe in circles of equal sizes that are at least an inch apart. I usually count to three, out loud, while squeezing to ensure the sizes are equal. If they aren't,  you're going to have some funny-looking cookies to sandwich! This might take a minute and might take some practice, but don't worry if they're not perfect the first time. You're here to have fun and that's the joy of it. Finally - don't skip this - pick up the tray with both hands and lift it about three or four inches off the surface of the table and drop them once or twice. You can also slap them from the bottom, but you might not do this in a way that things hit evenly and will therefore screw the shape of your macaron up. This will also knock out any large air bubbles there might be lurking beneath the surface, waiting to destroy all that you have created. 

I did this on a day with about 60% humidity but it was also winter, and it took about 20 minutes for a skin to form. So.
You may now heat your oven to 300 degrees F, and while it's heating you should clean up the mess of your poor kitchen and your utensils that will have likely gone sticky with the sugary egg mixture. What you are now doing is waiting for the macarons to form a skin. This step is really fussy and very annoying for those of us - like yours truly - that are impatient and want our treats now. It is essential to do this step, however, because without this skin forming you might get a blowout in the tops and you might not get those pretty feet on the bottoms.

Sidebar: Please don't google pretty feet. Please google "macaron feet" instead. 

The skin forming takes anywhere from 15 to 40 minutes. This is highly dependent on the weather, the heat of your home, the humidity in the air, everything. I know it's rough but just wait until the macaron is ready. You'll know it's ready when the tops of the piped batter is dry to the touch. Bake all at once for 11 minutes and do not, for the life of you, open the oven during that time. A cold gust of air at precisely the wrong time will ruin everything and cause it all to collapse in the middle.

A few might have baked together in the oven. That's okay! You can still eat them.
If all was well, you should have perfect macarons! Now please don't try to move them until they're completely cooled. Use this time instead to make your favorite buttercream and stir in a generous spoonful of strawberry jam. I call this flavor "strawberry ice cream" but you can honestly use whichever flavoring or jam you like. I think I used about 3/4 c of buttercream to fill all of these, with some left over. Don't overfill. These must be consistently filled just like the macaron sandwich cookies must be consistently piped.

You can wrap and freeze these either in columns or in straight flat packs like this, so long as it's airtight.
The best part about macarons is that they freeze perfectly. Wrap them gently in stacked columns with lots of plastic wrap and store them in the freezer for up to 6 months. You can also ship them to friends with bubble wrap and some dry ice! The freezer is the pastry chef's best friend next to the oven, so don't be afraid to use it. But what would you want with a frozen macaron?

They only take a short time to thaw at room temperature, because of the high sugar content, so I wouldn't dare put it in the microwave to defrost. You could give them as a treat to guests or save them as a light dessert for after dinner, if you pull out as many as you want as you're eating your evening meal. You could also use them as a garnish for a cake or milkshake if you use a lot of whipped cream. You can even take the unfilled shells that have cracked or broken, freeze them until quite hard, and then break them up and mix them in with ice cream or a cake batter for an extra-special treat. The possibilities are limitless!

Thanks so much for reading. We're getting more into desserts for the next few weeks, since I've gotten several requests for a few sweet things from a few sweet things. If you want to request something special, please feel free to leave a comment below, message me on Facebook or Instagram! If nothing else, I'll try my best to respond. 

Happy cooking and happy eating!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Saffron Drizzle Cake

Hand-embroidered tea-towel not included!
I've had a crazy week, and I do mean crazy. Honestly, WannaBGourmande.com and Instagram haven't been a priority for me at all. Thursday rolled around and I wasn't sure what I was going to post this week until I got a comment on my Instagram from a dear friend/follower, @VanessaBiglerArt, asking if the recipe for it was on the blog. I said "It can be!" and so it shall be.

I was still in the testing phases of this particular recipe when I got that comment, but I figured that it couldn't hurt to give to someone else with a hair of guidance. Besides, this is what writing a cookbook is all about, isn't it? Interacting with those that might one day read it gives me such a rush, and it helps me learn if I'm a good writer or not. I was so happy to text off the hand-written version of my recipe with a few simple instructions. We'll be getting to the recipe in a moment, but first, a little thing or two about saffron and why you should be cooking with it.

Saffron is, pound-for-pound, the most-expensive spice in the world, commonly known as "red gold." Saffron is so expensive, it's often sold by the gram, with the going rate of saffron by the gram retailing at $6.79 to $8.29. It's about 28 grams to an ounce, so by that math you're spending upwards of $190 per ounce. Why in the world is this?

Saffron Crocus
Learn more here!
Saffron is the little stamen that grows out of this crocus flower, which is a kind of bulb. It's a perennial, so a saffron crop will come back each year, but it's incredibly labor intensive to do. Each flower must be harvested by hand, and each stamen of each flower must be painstakingly harvested by hand and tweezers, and the longer the stem the better. It's obviously quite a long process. Harvesting your own saffron at home is a relaxing yet mindful morning for a dozen flowers or so, but doing it as work is going to not be so relaxing.

About 95% of the world's saffron comes from Iran, where it is grown and harvested. You'll notice saffron in a lot of Spanish cooking, of course, but that is the clear Moorish influence that's occurred over centuries of trade back in the day. You'll see a lot of Moorish/Muslim influence in their architecture as well as their eating if you ever go to Spain! So many things came from these cultures that we use today, and the benefits of these trades haven't gone unnoticed. 

Saffron is prized for the glorious reddish-gold color it gives rices, and the flavor is an almost indescribable gentle aromatic note that really perfumes a dish. Are there cheap saffrons you can buy? Absolutely! You can buy saffron with whole stigma and filament in them, but they're not going to yield the same color you would expect from the beautiful red threads. This is one of those things you shouldn't be stingy on and be sure to keep it in its original tin to preserve it as long as possible, if you buy it from the store. 

Saffron is one of those spices that holds great cultural significance in the world of culinary anthropology. It's quite obviously a symbol of wealth and opulence, and is an ingredient that absolutely demands respect. It's available year-round, but is it cheaper to grow and harvest yourself?You tell me! 

Saffron crocus is a wonderful bulb that is unique in the sense that it blooms in the fall, not the spring. I'm an avid fan of my beautiful spring tulips, but I always get a little sad when they die off. If you want bulbs blooming in the fall, I cannot recommend these more! These bulbs are quite hardy and can go as cold as -10 degrees F, but if you live in an area that dips below that, you should probably be kind and give them some straw or mulch to tuck them in to their beds to ensure they stay warm. The flowers themselves have an almost vanilla-like scent, in addition to their striking purple color. Nothing on your land or in your home should not serve you in some way, so I advise you to put this glorious flower to work for you.

Like most bulbs, they tend to love soil that's very well-drained and is high in organic matter.You should plant early in the spring, right at the start of Pisces, or just as soon as the soil is good and warm enough to work, and plant 6 inches below the surface. Each bulb will yield one flower, and each flower will yield three threads! It's highly recommended that you replant immediately once you dig up your bulbs to separate them, as they're touchy. Do this to yield a hardy crop, and you won't have your harvest affected next fall!

To harvest these threads, I recommend tweezers. Leave them to dry on a sheet pan lined with paper in a warm room until they crumble easily. Store them in an airtight jar, as you should with all spices once they're dried, and enjoy! I advise you to not consume any other part of the flower, as I hear it's poisonous. You can add a few threads to a steaming pot of rice to color it and add a very lovely flavor, to a soup to enrich it beautifully, or to this lovely pound cake. 

Full disclosure: I'm only calling it a pound cake in the sense that it acts like a pound cake when in reality it's a 'high ratio cake'. It's got a very fine crumb, is fatty and tender, and it is quite suitable for layer cakes should you choose to bake it in a round tin! Honestly, though, since you're using a simple-syrup drizzle, it's going to be a drizzle cake. The requirements for a drizzle cake must be that your cake is strong enough to take on that liquid, and that the drizzle penetrates all the way down, as far as it'll go, to make a moist finish. Yum!

Saffron Drizzle Cake
yields 1 loaf cake or 1 9" cake
  • 1.5 oz olive oil
  • 1.5 oz butter(I've used my vegan Earth Balance butter on this and it's just fine!)
  • 6 oz cane sugar + 1 oz aside
  • 4 oz warm water, at least 115 degrees F
  • 1 pinch of saffron (6 or 7 threads?)
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 9 oz AP flour
  • 1 oz cornstarch
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla paste
  • A fat pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 c almond milk (you may use dairy milk or hemp milk if you like)
For the Saffron Syrup
  • 1 c water
  • 1 c cane sugar
  • 1 small pinch saffron, 3-4 threads
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F and prepare a loaf pan with pan spray and flour. This cake likes to climb, so please do allow it to do so! Prepare the Saffron syrup first. 

Bring your sugar and water to a boil, then turn off the heat. Immediately add in the saffron threads and cover your pot and leave it alone. This will be your simple syrup.  You're honestly only going to use a little bit of this to drizzle into your cake, but you'll definitely want the stuff left over! It's going to get a beautiful gold color and you'll definitely love it in your iced tea.

For the cake, take your saffron threads, that set-aside ounce of cane sugar, and a mortar and pestle. Grind the saffron into the sugar and then add it to the warm water. Let this sit for at least five minutes before you add this liquid to the milk of your choice, as well as the vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, and baking powder. You can use cake flour for this, but I like having a little more control over the amounts of protein, and I also don't like cake flour taking up space in my already-crowded cabinet.

Using the whisk attachment of your standing mixer, whip the butter, oil, and 6 oz of sugar together. Start first on medium and then go to high until it's fully incorporated. Add in the whole egg, scrape, and then whip. You'll want it to be homogeneous and light-colored, not clumpy or separated at all. Scrape the bowl one more time and gather your remaining ingredients. 

Spoon the flour mixture in, about a third at a time, alternating with a glug or two of the liquid. You're going to want to do it in this order:
  1. Spoon in flour.
  2. Add liquid
  3. Mix for five or six turns.
  4. Spoon in flour.
  5. Add liquid.
  6. Mix for five or six turns.
  7. Spoon in the remaining flour.
  8. Mix by hand to incorporate.
  9. Add the last bit of liquid and scrape the bowl, especially getting the bottom.
  10. Mix for five or six turns.
This is the way I tend to mix cakes of this nature it and it seems to have served me the best over the years. Knock all the batter off the whisk attachment and use a spatula to scrape the bowl and give it one final stir, just to make sure there aren't any pockets of flour hanging out. If we're all good, scrape it into your loaf pan, give it a shimmy-shake to make sure it all of the batter is level, and pop it in the oven. Immediately lower your oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for about 40 minutes, or until it pulls gently away from the sides of the pan and springs back when touched gently. 

Evacuate from the oven and place on a folded-up tea towel. Now comes the fun! Take a skewer or a toothpick and poke mercilessly all over the surface of the cake, making sure to get all the way to the bottom-third of your cake. While it's still warm, take a spoon and drizzle in the saffron syrup, at least a shot's worth, which is a couple of ounces. You can use a silicon brush if you like, as well, but I think this is a little better to start off with and then finish with the brush. Let the cake cool for at least 15 minutes before turning out onto a rack and allowing to cool completely. 

See that crack in the middle? You want that! This dome is a sign you've done your loaf cake right!
You may dust with powdered sugar or give it a touch of royal icing. Or, of course, you can make a saffron glaze. How? Oh, it's easy:

Saffron Glaze
  • 3/4 c powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp saffron syrup
  • 2 tsp coconut oil, melted
Whisk all of this together until lovely and smooth, and drizzle over your cake, doughnuts, tray bakes, whatever you like! It's colored a gentle yellow and is highly addictive. You can even use it to spoon over your experimental coconut-sugar cookies. Do you, man!

For every insta-worthy picture I take, there are at least 300 hauntingly gross other photos on my phone, I assure you.
This cake is sweet without being too sweet, incredibly versatile, quick to do, and is incredibly accessible as a treat to give your not-so-adventurous friends. A loaf/pound/drizzle cake is something someone instantly recognizes, and when they taste it they'll all say: "Ooooh, what is in that cake?!" I especially love it because it keeps well, but you truthfully won't keep it around the kitchen for long. 

I hope you've enjoyed this recipe and have learned a few fun things about saffron. If you like this post, please feel free to comment on, share, and follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more. Happy cooking and happy eating!

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Mayonnaise Chicken

Sometimes simple (and by that I mean 'easy') is best.
Okay, okay - hear me out. I know that mayonnaise chicken doesn't sound tasty at all. I'm really sorry, but I'm committed to honesty and transparency in my cooking. Please just hear me out before you break out the torches and pitchforks and open your mind to mayonnaise.

I know that Millenials have been charged with 'murdering mayonnaise' their fair share of times. I think we all know how I feel about that tired old 'millenials kill' tag, but in case we don't, I'll share: I think that if an industry is dying out because it no longer serves the population, then let it die. Rotary phones weren't 'killed' by cordless or smartphones. Lamp lighters went out of the job because of electricity. We're evolving as a society and that means we're going to live in one that's shaped by our likes and tastes.

If you don't want to read the article above, just know that mayonnaise is being 'killed' because Millenials and GenZ's tend to have more global tastes. Most of us prefer sriracha, kimchi, things like that to mayonnaise. The globalization of our palette is what's letting other things fall to the side, much like mayonnaise. Furthermore, mayonnaise isn't exactly the sexiest condiment, and it's frankly a hard sell based on visuals alone. That being said, a lot of chefs love mayonnaise, if nothing else but for it's versatility.

Do you need to make a large amount of a new kind of dipping sauce but don't want to buy a ton of ingredients and jack up your food cost? Spice up the mayo and call it an aioli. Need a secret to making a super-moist chocolate cake for an 8-top that'll be celebrating a birthday tonight, but you don't have a trained pastry chef and just have a sous chef with a spare hour? Mayonnaise. What's that? Someone wants a fancy grilled cheese? Believe it or not, mayonnaise.

How to make homemade mayonnaise - Ever tried to make your own mayonnaise and it's been a complete disaster? Make mayonnaise the easy way with this failproof method! | Get the step by step tutorial at DeliciousEveryday.com
Check out DeliciousEveryday.com to find out how
to make your own mayonnaise at home!
What does this mean for you, for cooking?

To put it simply, this is nothing but a gorgeous whipped amount of fat that you can use in cooking and baking. Spread it on your bread instead of butter to make the most-beautiful grilled cheese you've ever seen. Use a dollop of mayonnaise instead of eggs for your cakes, to make it even more tender, because of the vinegar and how the acid sort of cuts glutens to make it less stodgy. My favorite, though, is to marinate chicken in it and then roast it.

Mayonnaise is an incredibly diverse substance that's able to be used as an ingredient and as a condiment, and I'm frankly a fan of it. I like the tang, the creaminess, and I like that it's cooling so I can mix it with really spicy ingredients to get the flavor without too much heat. Unfortunately, it's not enough anymore to have just mayonnaise, unless it's on a roast beef sandwich...and even then, I'm probably going to mix it with horseradish because  - hey - horseradish is good for you.

Why should you keep mayonnaise in your fridge? Its versatility, of course! It's not just great for sandwiches, or for being a base for a sexier version of a potato salad or devilled eggs. If you entertain, you're going to want mayonnaise, if nothing else to just help bulk up certain things. If you're busy but want something show-stopping, use mayonnaise as an ingredient and be surprised at its possibilities. But what is mayonnaise?

In essence, it's a salad dressing, not unlike a vinaigrette. It is an emulsion of egg yolks, vinegar, a little salt, and quite a bit of oil. You can make your own mayonnaise, if you like, out of any oil you like. Olive oil, sunflower oil, even chili oil. (No seriously, I've tried it.) One egg yolk can take up to a cup of oil without breaking the emulsion, and you can take that to the bank. I highly recommend using a standing mixer or a blender, though, and I advise you to warm the bowl slightly before whipping. Either way, it's easy enough to put together yourself, but it's even easier to just buy a jar, use it up, and keep the jar later for other uses.

Let's be real, though - we Millenials like stuff that's fast, yet impressive. Here's a fast and impressive dish we can make after a long day at work.

Mayonnaise Chicken
yields enough for 2
  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp herbs de Provence (an herb blend of marjoram, savory, rosemary, thyme, and mint)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sumac powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • A few grinds of fresh pepper, ideally a peppercorn blend that has green peppercorns in it
  • Half a yellow onion, julienned
  • 2 stalks of celery, cut into long pieces to serve as a sort of rack for your chicken
  • 1 half chicken, usually found in most grocery stores. You can also use 4 breasts, or 4 thighs, two leg quarters, whatever is available to you
  • 2 cups frozen peas (do not get canned, so help me)
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the onion and celery in a little oil, salt and pepper, and arrange the celery sticks on the bottom of a casserole dish and top with the onions. This will be your sort of rack that will allow the fat to drip off your chicken while simultaneously steaming and cooking and adding flavor that you'll want later, I promise. Make a dressing of the spices, vinegar, and mayonnaise. Add your poultry cut of choice and toss about, ensuring that you especially get some of this dressing underneath the skin of the chicken. Arrange on your celery-onion raft and let stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes, or until the oven is totally hot.

I know it doesn't look great to start, but trust me - it'll transform itself beautifully.
Pop your casserole dish, uncovered, into the oven for 25 minutes and reduce the heat to 375 degrees F. When the timer tings, remove the casserole dish and place it on a wooden cutting board or just on your stove. Pour the frozen peas around the chicken, toss them in the lovely juices that have dropped and formed off your chicken with a spoon, and return to the oven. Bake for another 15 minutes. Serve immediately with couscous, pasta, or some other kind of starchy niceness that you like. I've been on a couscous kick lately, so I encourage you to try it as well. 

I'm sure you've noticed the gorgeous transformation that's taken place. The reason the chicken browns so nicely is because of the fat in the mayo, and it's become quite tender because of the acid. You've got a nicely cooked bird now, too, because hot air and flavorful steam was able to circulate all around, helping it to cook evenly. Salt, acid, fat, and heat, are the four elements of delicious food, as we all now know, thanks to the brilliant chef Samin Nosrat and her Netflix special of the same moniker.

I hope you've enjoyed this recipe! I'm writing a cookbook right now, and I hope you'll let me know if you can follow along easily with my recipes. Please keep touch with me on my instagram, comment below, and follow me on Twitter for requests for recipes! Thanks a million. 

Happy cooking and happy eating!