Aren’t we ready for Spring? Trees will only start to blossom here around April and there is still plenty of snow on the ground, which is why in the meantime, I try to bring Spring indoors with bright colours and pretty vegetables. Here is the centrepiece I put together last week with tulips from Costco and some gorgeous artichokes. I served the rest of the artichokes alongside a delicious aioli recipe from Daniel Boulud’s latest cookbook, My French Cuisine. When I saw it at the bookstore, I could not resist the glossy cover with Boulud’s proud grin on display. He is one of my favourites and his recipes do not disappoint. While some are definitely not for beginners, there is plenty of material that can be adapted to the home cook.
Aioli with Vegetables (recipe adapted from Daniel Boulud’s My French Cuisine)
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups canola oil
Instructions for the Aioli
Cut the garlic cloves in half and remove the germ. In a small saucepan, bring 6 halves of the garlic to a boil in cold water, then discard the water and repeat, cooking the garlic until tender the second time. Fill a small saucepan with a few inches of water and add the vinegar and a pinch of salt; crack the whole egg into a cup. Bring water to a simmer and slide in the egg. Poach for 2 minutes (the white will solidify but the yolk will remain runny). Transfer the poached egg to a blender or food processor and add the cooked garlic, the egg yolks, mustard, 3 tablespoons water, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Blend well until combined. While the machine is still running, add the olive oil and then the canola oil in slow, steady streams. The sauce should emulsify, with a thick pale consistency similar to that of mayonnaise. Taste for seasoning and transfer to a bowl.
For the artichokes, remove 1 1/2 inch from the stem, peel the base with a paring knife and remove top leaves. Place the peeled artichokes in a large bowl of water to avoid oxidization. Boil in vegetable broth and a laurel leaf for added flavour, for about 20 minutes. Make sure they remain covered as they are cooking so that they do not oxidize. Cool and reserve in the fridge.
I also used other vegetables I had on hand, namely carrots, asparagus and green beans, but next time I will boil some new potatoes as Daniel suggests. I boiled these vegetables separately until tender. Once tender, place the vegetables in ice water, strain and dry on paper towels.
Tip: I reduced the amount of garlic in my adapted recipe from 4 to 3 cloves and cooked them all before putting in the blender. Daniel leaves 1 garlic clove raw in the original recipe. If you love garlic,do follow Daniel’s original recipe. I found the garlic to be overpowering. Besides that, the aioli turned out perfectly and we are still using the leftovers as dip with veggies, salmon etc.