Perfect Summertime Condiment

When temperatures reach north of 90 degrees, I find it's time to chill down supper food selections and prepare cold plates, just like as I ate as a child. My Mom, a delicious cook and a consummate organizer and doer, would cook first thing in the morning, before temperatures became too hot in the kitchen. It makes such sense and is still the way food is prepared in many European cultures today. Besides, having to cool things off in the kitchen, it was also the custom at home with non-meat Fridays, enjoying cold fish suppers. On those Fridays, dishes my mom would cook-up included grilled or poached fish such as tuna or cod; along with boiled potatoes, garden green beans, vine ripe tomatoes, boiled eggs, and sliced onion. The highlight for me on chilled supper night was the cold sauce made with garlic and mayonnaise. Later I learned, in my early culinary days that sauce was called an aïoli; a simple yet traditional emulsified sauce with garlic, olive oil and egg yolk. 

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It is a perfect summertime condiment and also goes well with roasted chicken, if fish is not on the menu.

With so many ways to prepare aïoli, the consistent ingredient that holds true across all ethnic regions is the garlic. The Occitan valleys of Italy serves aioli with boiled potatoes. In Cataluña and most of the Spanish mediterranean coast, allioli is purely a garlic mayonnaise. France's Le Grand Aïoli, dedicates a complete dish consisting of various boiled vegetables such as carrots, beets, cauliflower, green beans, yellow flesh potatoes, and boiled fish, such as salted cod with boiled eggs and the aioli sauce. The version from Provence adds Dijon mustard to the sauce, like I prefer; which in addition to flavor also helps in the emulsification of the oil to be suspended by the liquid of the sauce.  

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Aïoli is ideal to serve as a sauce for foods like above, but it's also wonderful as a spread on toasted French bread or pommes frites. Some may find that the raw garlic can leave too strong a taste. That is true, especially with summer garlic which has more of a bitter bite and has just recently been harvested. No need to avoid this tasty sauce or feel you'll need a shot of mouthwash, there is a tastier solution. I use my long time recipe for caramelized garlic to soften and sweeten the punch on my aïoli in place of raw garlic. 

To Yolk or Not to Yolk?

There is of course the food safety issue to point out regarding making aïoli from scratch, because of using uncooked raw egg yolks. Always make sure the eggs are very fresh, and best obtained from someone you know! One of my recipes is for using prepared mayonnaise and covers any concerns of food safety. Today, there is even mayonnaise made with olive oil, that I prefer. The choice is yours, go traditional with making a classic Provence style aïoli or make it semi-authentic with a prepared mayo; the choice is yours. Either way you'll be shouting bring on the Le Grand Aïoli!

The technique of making an aïoli is to create an emulsion with the egg yolks, supporting the liquid from the olive oil. Do not over pulse or mix the yolks and oil. Do not add the oil too slow or too fast. This technique may require some trial and error. If done correctly you will have a thick mayonnaise-like sauce; or if the sauce is broken, the oil will have separated from the yolks and will look more like a vinaigrette.

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Classic Aïoli

 Makes 1 1/2 cups

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*8 large garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped

Coarse sea salt

1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard

3 large egg yolks, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil

Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon

A couple drops of water

Fresh ground black pepper

Always use caution with raw eggs. And this sauce must be kept chilled after it is prepared. 

In a food processor or preferably a mortar pound the garlic cloves with pinch of sea salt and Dijon mustard until a thick paste forms. Add in the egg yolks and begin adding in the olive oil a few drops at a time with a fork or whisk. Continue to add the olive oil in a steady stream as the aïoli begins to thicken. Stop and add a few drops of lemon juice, gradually add remaining olive oil and a few drops of water if the sauce becomes too thick. When all of the oil has been incorporated, season the aïoli with additional lemon juice, sea salt and pepper to taste.

Serve chilled. The aïolii can be tightly covered and refrigerated overnight. 

* A classic aïoli is made with raw garlic but again I prefer using caramelized garlic in place of raw garlic which offers a much sweeter and nuttier taste.

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Garlic Aïoli with Crostini

Makes about 1 1/2 cups 

chefgeorgehirsch | George Hirsch Lifestyle 

A strong flavored garlic mayonnaise from the Provence region of southern France. Traditionally the mayonnaise is made from scratch with egg yolks. I prefer this version, as it is safer and faster to make. 

Crostini, meaning “little toasts” in Italian, crostini are small, thin slices of toasted bread, which are usually brushed with olive oil-excellent spread with Aioli. 

3/4 cup mayonnaise 

1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard 

1 head caramelized garlic

1/4 cup olive oil 

Juice of 1/2 lemon 

1/4 cup basil 

To Make Crostini:

1 loaf Italian bread 

Olive oil for brushing toasts. 

Puree the garlic in the bottom of a small bowl. Add mustard, mayonnaise and stir in olive oil. Add lemon juice and basil. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour. 

Slice Italian bread into small pieces, toast and brush toast with olive oil. Spread a generous amount of aïoli on toasts. 

Serve aïoli and crostini with your favorite vegetables and seafood. 

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Molten Chocolate Cake, aka..

 Lava cake, or HOT CHOCOLATE BERRY CUPCAKES..This sweet was created in my restaurant years ago, as a hot dessert to satisfy every chocoholic. it's my warm bit of chocolatey goodness I include in my St. Valentine's Day line up. A little like a foolproof soufflé only easier to prepare and a hit every time! 

And, guild the lilly and serve with my

Best Chocolate Sauce!

from George Hirsch Living it UP! Cookbook

HOT CHOCOLATE BERRY CUPCAKES

makes 8-10 

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

George Hirsch Living it UP! Cookbook 

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 

1 1/3 cups sugar 

1/3 cup *Good Dutched cocoa powder 

3/4 teaspoon baking soda 

1/2 teaspoon salt 

1 cup milk 

1 Tablespoon white vinegar 

1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil 

1 egg 

1 teaspoon vanilla 

1/2 cup fresh raspberries 

*Dutched cocoa means the cocoa underwent a process that results in milder chocolate flavor notes by reducing acidity. The dutching process can also change the color from light red to brown to black. Dutched cocoa works well in chocolate desserts such as devil’s food cake or brownies.

For the Hot Cupcake filling: 

6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature 

1 teaspoons grated orange peel 

2 Tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate, chopped 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

In a medium bowl combine the flour,1 cup sugar, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and mix well. 

Combine milk with the vinegar in a separate bowl and allow to stand 5 minutes for the milk to sour. Add the oil, egg, and vanilla; mix well. 

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just moistened. Do not over beat. 

In a small bowl combine the cream cheese, remaining 1/3 cup sugar, orange peel and chopped chocolate and mix until well blended. 

Pour the batter evenly into four or six ounce buttered ceramic ramekins or cupcake tins. Divide the cream cheese mixture into 10 equal balls and drop one into the center of each batter. Bake for 7-8 minutes. Remove the ramekins, let stand for 2 minutes, and serve with ice cream on the sid

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Melanzane al Pomodoro

Celebrating Chef George's 24th Anniversary on PBS

Join me + Tune-in GHL CreateTV

 Wed 8:30AM/2:30PM Sun 8:30AM

Cooking Melanzane al Pomodoro is perfect this time of year when farms are abundant with eggplant and tomatoes. My Eggplant Sauce recipe is without a meat/protein in the ingredients, but feel free to add grilled sausage, chicken, or shrimp if desired. If you are looking for that under thirty minutes to-cook-to-table dish without compromising flavor for time, this is it. And, you can create variations on this recipe, which is very easy to do. 

This pasta sauce is great served warm or chilled added with a tube shaped pasta.

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George's Eggplant Sauce

Makes 4 servings 

chefgeorgehirsch.com | from George Hirsch Living it UP! Cookbook

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cups eggplant, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup onion, chopped

8 cloves garlic, chopped

6 plum tomatoes, deseeded and chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1/4 cup pitted calamata olives, chopped

1/2 cup white whine

1 cup chicken broth

1 teaspoon each dried basil, oregano, thyme, hot pepper flakes

2 Tablespoons pine nuts

2 Tablespoons fresh basil

parmesan cheese to taste and fresh black pepper

Preheat a large nonstick saucepan.  

Add half the olive oil; then eggplant, onion, garlic, tomatoes, and bell pepper.  Cook until light brown.  Add the wine, chicken broth, olives, dried basil, oregano, thyme and hot sauce.  Cook for 10 to 12 minutes.

Top with remaining olive oil, fresh basil and pine nuts.

Excellent with a rigatoni or tube shape pasta.

Go Red For Know Your Fire Friday

Celebrating Chef George's 24th Anniversary on PBS

Join me multiple times weekly + 

Tune-in GHL CreateTV Wed 8:30AM/2:30PM, Sun 8:30AM est

With red meat, that is. I'm often asked how I create my recipes. The truth is, there isn't really one way; sometimes by theme, sometimes by menu needs and sometimes... well, because it's the ingredients I have on hand. The later reason can be the most enjoyable to create with. And this is just one story that became a recipe ...

Once on the road, while taping my TV series, when we were between shows; some of my crew wanted a snack. There is nothing like a hungry crew staring at you to give you motivation. Upon looking at the fresh ingredients we had on hand, I found a few chipotle peppers. I started from there, and the warm smokey flavor made it a hit with my crowd. I’m sure it will satisfy yours too.

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George’s Sliced Beef Wraps

Makes 10 wraps

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

2 pounds sirloin steak 2-thick, or flank or hanger

For marinade:

2 chipotle (smoked-dried jalapeño) peppers, or 2 teaspoons powder

1 cup pineapple juice

1/4 cup raisins

1 head caramelized garlic

1 Tablespoon wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 Tablespoon cilantro

Fresh ground black pepper

Place pineapple juice, raisins, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, cilantro, black pepper and chipotle peppers in food processor and blend well. Pour blended marinade over sirloin and marinate 24-48 hours, refrigerate.

Remove meat from refrigerator one half hour prior to cooking.

Preheat a cast iron pan, grill pan, or outdoor grill to high. 

Remove meat from marinade and grill on high heat for 3-4 minutes on each side, brushing with chipotle marinade while cooking.  Lower heat to medium and allow to cook slowly to desired doneness. 

Remove from grill and allow meat to rest 3-4 minutes before slicing. Slice meat thinly against the grain.

For wraps:

1 cup black beans, cooked or canned 

1 cup *Tomatillo Sauce, see below

3 Tablespoons cilantro, coarse chopped

10 flour tortillas

Wraps may be served warm or cold. To serve warm wraps, heat tortillas quickly on grill or a griddle pan. Top warm tortillas with sliced sirloin, warm beans, cilantro and sauce. Wrap tortillas over and serve.

Optional toppings may include:

sour cream

sliced avocados

grilled onions & peppers

*Tomatillo Sauce

Makes one cup 

chefgeorgehirsch.com | As seen on George Hirsch Living it UP!

1/2 pound tomatillos, cut into quarters

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 small sweet onion, chopped

2 serrano chili’s, stem and seeds removed

1 Tablespoon cilantro, chopped

1 avocado, peeled and deseeded

juice of one lime

1 teaspoon sea salt

In a food processor mix tomatillo, garlic and onion. Add cilantro, avacado, salt and lime juice. Puree until smooth. Serve with Warm Chipolte Chips or use as a topping sauce.

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