If there is one sauce that can help you sail through summer lunches and patio dinners, it's aioli. If you've never made it, you'll be relieved by how easy it is -- get out your whisk and you're half way there.
The following are two versions. The Old Bay Aioli is handy for all fish and shellfish -- i.e. grilled fish, fried calamari, and boiled crab. You can also serve the Preserved Lemon Aioli with any seafood; otherwise, whip up some to go with grilled lamb chops, a burger, roasted vegetables, or a chicken salad. And if you want a plain aioli, then just leave out the preserved lemon in the Preserved Lemon Aioli recipe, and you'll be all set.
Before you get started, here are my Aioli Cardinal Rules:
• Let your egg come to room temperature.
• Find a friend/spouse/child to pour in the oil as you whisk.
• Don't wimp out on the whisking: count it as exercise!
• If your aioli breaks, stop what you're doing. Start a new aioli and whisk the broken aioli into it.
• I mix canola and olive oil because I find all-olive-oil aioli overpowering.
• Always taste aioli at the end and adjust the acid and salt.
• If your aioli is too thick, add a little water to thin it. If it's too thin, you're stuck with it but it will still taste great!
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, vinegar, garlic, and salt. Add the canola oil a few drops at a time, whisking vigorously. The mixture will be loose at first and will then turn foamy before finally pulling together and thickening. Once it starts to thicken, you can add the oil in a thin stream (I like to think of it as a thread). It helps to have someone pour while you whisk and hold onto the bowl. If no one is around, fold a tea towel and set it underneath the bowl to steady it.
Once all the canola oil has been incorporated, whisk in the olive oil -- again, slowly. Add the Old Bay, mix it in and taste your aioli. Add more vinegar and salt as desired.
Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.