My mom grew up in California. My grandmother grew up in California, and her mother before her and hers before her. Even though I grew up in chilly New England, California runs in my blood – and thanks to my mother’s cooking during my childhood, also my tastebuds. She is the reason why I love apricots and fresh figs and avocados and artichokes. And she and my dad together both taught me to love beautiful fresh produce. When I was home with my parents a few years ago as we were making some wedding preparations, I remember driving for a full hour down to a market on the shore – one that specialized in certain miniature apple pies we were going to purchase as favors for our guests – and there we stumbled upon the most perfect artichokes I have ever seen – she said they reminded her of California, and that was it, we went home with apple pies, and a giant bag full of fresh beautiful artichokes
My mom likes to boil them with Italian herbs and then dip the leaves in garlic butter or ranch dressing (my little sister introduced all sorts of creative ways to use ranch dressing when we were kids ). To this day, it’s my usual method of perparation – easy and no babysitting required. Just trim off the stems and outer leaves, boil in salted herbed water for about an hour or until they are tender, then serve them, and rip off each leaf, dipping in garlic butter and the scraping the goodness between your teeth. I’ve experimented with a few ways – roasting and stuffing them, grilling them, or simply boiling them. It doesn’t matter, I love them every way.
Well now that Spring is finally in the air, with the sunshine, warmer days and flowers finally showing themselves to the world again, artichokes have made their way to the markets. It took a little time, but my husband is now officially an artichoke convert as well and we both look forward to finding the large tight leaved vegetable amongst the stands of greens and seasonal fruit. To celebrate our first artichokes of the year, I decided to do something a little different than the typical garlic butter that we make – so we played with emulsions and made mayonnaise. From scratch. With chipotle peppers. I’m usually not a mayonnaise fan, but dipping artichoke leaves in homemade chipotle mayo? Now I think I am the one who has become a convert
Mayonnaise is a simple emulsion of egg yolk/vinegar/lemon and oil. It takes a lot of whisking and stamina if you decide to eschew technology and go about it via the “old fashioned” route. I often make this mistake – I rationalize to myself, “I’m sure people have been making mayonnaise for hundreds of years, before there were such things as electric appliances, how hard can it be?” hahah. Now I know. Even with my husband and I trading off with the whisking, we couldn’t do it. About 1/4 cup of olive oil through, we broke down and got out the electric hand mixer. And you know what? It worked just fine.
Like I said I’ve never really been a fan of mayonnaise before. But after my first time trying it homemade, I have to say, mayo is pretty tasty stuff. Maybe it was all the chipotle peppers, I don’t know. But I will definitely be making this again. Chipotle peppers were not easy to find, but luckily our favorite specialty store had them canned in adobo sauce. The heat and smokiness and the slightest hint of sweet added just the right flavor and kick to our mayo.
And this may now be my new favorite way to enjoy artichokes
Adapted from Alton Brown’s Mayonnaise
Prep Time: 5 minutes to assemble ingredients
Total Time: 20 minutes
1 fresh egg yolk*
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbs. your favorite southwest style dry rub
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tsp. white wine vinegar
1 cup canola oil
3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together yolk, salt, and dry herb seasonings.
2. In a small bowl, combine lemon juice and vinegar.
3. Add half of the lemon vinegar to the seasoned whisked yolk, whisking vigorously.
4. Drop by drop start adding the oil, still whisking vigorously. Slowly increase the volume once you know the emulsion is holding – the color will change and it will get creamier and slightly thicker. After about 1/4 cup of the oil has been added, it’s probably pretty safe to switch to a hand mixer for the rest. Slowly add in another 1/4 cup of oil which the mixer turned on about medium speed.
5. Add in the rest of the lemon vinegar, still mixing with the hand mixer. Then slowly add in the rest of the oil, pouring in at a constant stream.
6. Gently fold in the chipotle peppers.
7. Let sit about an hour before refrigerating.
*Usual disclaimer about raw eggs: consuming raw eggs can be dangerous due to risk of bacterial infection. Do not do so without consulting your qualified medical care professional.