Saturday, April 30, 2011

Being Brave

I feel like my new thing this spring is simplicity. Okay, that's not right. I mean, I always tend to make plenty of dishes that are "simple", so maybe that's not quite accurate. Maybe "basics" or "fundamentals" or "staples" would work better? Anyway, the moral of the story is that I'm really trying to make sure that I work from the ground up with all of my foods. And since I'm working from the ground up on the whole meal, that usually means putting more time into my meals which then necessitates the simplicity, I guess.

A while ago, I was wanting to make an egg salad recipe (that post will come next), and I'm really not a fan of store bought mayonnaise, so carved out a good chunk of time in my day, I whipped out my Alice Waters, In the Green Kitchen-Techniques to Learn by Heart cookbook and decided to make my own mayo. I'm really in love with this cookbook and I've been leafing through it every time I make something new to see what she has to say about everything I cook--eggs, soups, salads, chicken, etc. It gives really great tips and makes things really easy and straight forward. I adjusted the recipe a bit, because the one in the book was for Garlic Mayonnaise, and I wanted a plain mayo.

Homemade Mayonnaise

Adapted from Alice Waters' In the Green Kitchen-Techniques to Learn by Heart

Makes about 1 cup

1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon water
1 cup olive oil
A few drops of vinegar

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolk and the water until they are completely blended and the mixture is an even color. Slowly dribble in the oil. Here, it is important to make sure that you're using good quality olive oil. My mom is obsessed with olive oils and it's really wearing off on me and I'm starting to get quite the collection of olive oils for myself. At the time that I made this, I didn't have as many choices and I used my "rich and robust" option which is really delicious but definitely has a strong taste. It turned out great, but next time I would probably go for a lighter option so that the olive oil taste wasn't quite so rich in the dish that I'm making it for. It really depends on your preferences and what you're using it for though. Regardless, if you don't like the taste of the olive oil before you make the mayo, you won't like the way the mayo turns out. Use-good-olive-oil. Anyway, continue dribbling in the oil and whisking constantly. The yolk will absorb the oil and the mixture will thicken and begin to lighten in color. Gradually, you can begin pouring the oil a little faster as you continue whisking. Finish with a few drops of vinegar or lemon juice. Taste and add more salt if desired. Serve the mayonnaise right away or refrigerate it. According to Miss Alice, it actually taste better after sitting a while, however, it should be eaten the same day that it is made.

If you are wanting to flavor it with garlic, herbs, mustard, chilies, etc. pound whatever it is you want in a mortar with a pinch of salt until it is a smooth paste. Whisk about half of the paste with the egg yolk and then follow the above directions. Add more of the paste at the end if desired.

I was completely intimidated to make this, and I'm pretty sure that I read through the directions a good 3 or 4 times before nervously diving in. I really don't know why I was such a bundle of nerves. It's yolk...oil...and whisking. Nothing involved in this recipe was anything I wasn't used to. And the results: incredible. Absolutely delicious. I actually dislike mayonnaise, but this tasted nothing like store bought mayo. It was wonderfully creamy and was basically an olive oil spread, and with my obsession with olive oil, that was perfect. Lesson for me: stop being freaked out by the kitchen. Find someone with good technique, learn from them, pay attention to what you're doing, and you'll be amazed at what you can do in the kitchen.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sad Goodbye

The moment I walked into Fat Face for the first time, I fell in love. That was March 5th, 2010. On March 11th, 2011, I walked through those doors for the last time. I've been a regular at both Jaymes' L street location and her Farmer's Market booth since I first discovered her amazing sammiches and pops and I can't believe that it has finally come to an end. On March 11th, she shut down her sammich operation in Davis in order to focus on her pop production make a move to Sacramento. Though she'll still be at Farmer's with her pop and her breakfast sammiches, I still had to say goodbye to her Cola Braised Pork, Herbed Grilled Cheese, Fig and Goat Cheese, warm soups, and all of her constantly changing sammich menu at the L street shop.

I was so happy to walk up to her shop to see it absolutely spilling over with patrons. A completely appropriate response from a community that adores her. I went a little over board with my ordering, but I couldn't resist all my favorites along with a new few foods on my last visit to Fat Face.

Caribbean Chicken and Cabbage Soup-This was a new dish for me. I'm not sure how long she had been making it. It was hearty and full of spices. If she were staying open, it'd be a perfect winter meal.

Cola Braised Pork with Avocado Salsa and Queso Fresco-I think this is my favorite sammich besides the smoked salmon sammich she hasn't made for a long time. Jaymes really has some skill when it comes to pork. Maybe her pig tattoo gives her some super powers in this field. The meat is done perfectly, the queso fresco is light, cold and delicious and the avocado salsa really brings it all together with a nice creaminess.

Herbed Grilled Cheese on Walnut Bread-Okay I know I just said the Cola Braised Pork was my favorite but I think I would cry if this ever went off the menu. So simple but simply amazing. The walnut break is a perfect pick and the aged cheddar she uses goes perfectly with the herbed butter she grills it in.

Fig Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onions-Most of my friends claim this is their favorite sammich and I can understand why. The figs are prepared perfectly and go wonderfully with the goat cheese.

Bacon Avocado Parmesan and Sun Dried Tomato-I feel like she's made this in the past but I'm not sure, and if she did, it was a while ago. The bacon was excellent, the avocados perfectly ripe, the Parmesan perfectly tangy and the sun dried tomatoes wonderfully smoky.

Mango Kiwi Pop-Applaud me for not crying while I finished my last Fat Face meal with this incredible Mango Kiwi Pop. No words.

March 11th was one of the first truly nice days of spring and there was so much warmth and love in the air as Jaymes' friends and fans gathered around her shop to show their support. I'm sad that I lost my favorite food spot in town and I'll miss Jayme's incredibly sunny "hey brittany!" every time I walk in the door and her rush to give my parents hugs with a "hi mom and dad!" She's become a big part of my life in Davis and I'm so grateful that she'll still be around Farmer's. Goodluck Jaymes! I can't wait to see what she does next.