I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Fresh Basil Aioli

Aioli is the creamy, garlicky mayonnaise of Provence, traditionally made in a mortar and pestle.  But the food processor makes this a quick, easy delight. Add a hit of fresh basil, and it is a fresh summer tomato’s best friend. Good on a simple sandwich or just spread on a thick slice.  It also makes an amazing dip for a beautifully colorful display of summer vegetables.

I know you will be tempted, but do not skip the step of blanching the basil. It brings out the flavor of the basil, and prevents it from turning black and unattractive when being chopped. I find it easiest to leave the leaves on a stem and simply dip it in the boiling water.  And the pot isn’t dirty, just rinse it out.  I use a mix of olive and canola oil, because I find that using olive oil alone masks the fresh basil flavor.

Fresh Basil Aioli

1 stem of basil, with at least six big leaves

1 small clove garlic

1 egg

1 Tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

½ cup canola oil

Bring a small pot of water to a boil.  When it is at a nice rolling boil, dip the basil stem in and count to 20.  You’ll start to smell a nice wafting basil fragrance. Pull it out, then place on a paper towel and squeeze out the moisture. Pull off six large leaves and place in the bowl of a food processor.

Put the garlic clove through a press, or very finely chop it with a sharp knife, pressing it to almost a paste.  Place it in the food processor with the basil, add the egg, lemon juice and salt.  Pulse until the basil is chopped and the mixture is creamy.  Turn the processor on and drizzle in the oils (measure them together in one measuring jug).  Process until the mixture is creamy, thick and emulsified.  You will actually hear the food processor change sounds from smooth blending to a wet slapping sound.

When the aioli is thick, scrape it into a container, cover it tightly and refrigerate for at least two hours to firm up and allow the flavors to meld.  The aioli will keep covered in the fridge for three days.

Makes 1 ¼ cups

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