Back in the day, we lived in a house, in a neighborhood, all built by a local contractor, who lived down the street with a huge acre-sized yard, right next to his large contractor-sized house. As the neighborhood kids we gathered there to play many a game, and during the summertime, we sometimes played even past dark. I remember lining up to the sounds of “red rover, red rover” and running full throttle in order to break through the opposing line held by linked arms, sometimes collapsing the line and sometimes being caught. Other times, we’d play hide and seek, and to evade capture by whoever was “it”, you had to run to the chosen safe zone (a tree, a rock, the side of the house) before being tagged. If you made it unscathed, you were home free. Or you waited until the tagger yelled out “olly-olly-oxen-free”, which meant anybody still hiding could come out without being caught. The euphoria of the chase was always a high. As a kid, it was simple to create your own fun. 

Nowadays, we live in a rental, in a tract development built by a national contractor, with a huge open field by the house. Everyday I chase Hiro, our dog, through the neighborhood. (Normally, you would call this walking, but the constant pulling from the leash on the end of my arm seems more like chasing). I also regularly play in the kitchen, sometimes until way after dark. My idea of fun is still simple, requiring just a willingness to imagine, try, eat, and repeat. Sharing with others makes it even better. This week I made my own mayonnaise, also called alioli. When it comes to homemade mayo, there’s no store-bought brand that compares to its silky custard-like texture or rich yellow color. Did I mention the tangy smooth flavor? With just seven ingredients, a whisk and a bowl, you can make a basic alioli. With a few tips, you can avoid the dreaded broken-mayo curse, which I’ll admit still stalks me now and then. But since I also know how to fix a broken mayo and get myself out of the jam, I guess you could say I’m alioli-oxen-free.

Basic Alioli (Homemade Garlic Mayonnaise)

(recipe adapted from How To Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman)

one egg yolk, brought to room temperature
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 cup neutral oil (I use avocado oil)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed using a garlic press

Tip #1: Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature.

Put egg yolk and mustard in bowl and mix together with a wire whisk. Measure oils into a 1-cup capacity measuring cup with a handle (the Pyrex type works well) and stir oils to combine.

Tip #2: Use a thick kitchen towel to cushion the bowl and hold it in place while whisking, especially if you’re making the alioli by yourself.

Holding the measuring cup in one hand, slowly drizzle, drop by drop, the oil into the egg yolk-mustard mixture, whisking constantly with your other hand as you do. Once the mixture emulsifies, or thickens, you can increase the drizzle to a thin stream. If it is too difficult to drizzle and whisk at the same time, then just add a few drops of the oil at a time, whisk until incorporated, repeating in this manner until the mixture emulsifies. Then continue to add the oil, now in slightly larger amounts, like a teaspoon at a time, and whisk until all the oil is incorporated.

Tip #3: Don’t drizzle the oil so slowly that you overwork the emulsion and cause it to break.

Continue to add the oil until all of it is incorporated and you have a very thick, creamy texture to the alioli. Whisk in the vinegar and crushed garlic until blended. Add salt, adjust to taste.

Tip #4: If the emulsion begins to separate, don’t despair, you can fix it.

Take another egg yolk, also brought to room temperature, and whisk it in a new bowl. Slowly add the broken alioli to the egg yolk, whisking until the new mixture begins to thicken and re-emulsify. Gradually add the rest of the broken alioli as you whisk until all of it is incorporated. Now you’re home free.

Makes 1 cup

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