April 15th and Kitchen Notebook Aioli

I thought about whether to post this week.  Technically, it’s A Plum’s third anniversary, though I haven’t felt like strapping on a party hat.  Mostly because of the recent events this week in Boston.  And also because I just don’t know what to do with Year Three of blogging.  I’ve since had some time to let the week settle in, to let it breathe, and decided that now was as important a time as any.

Earlier in the day on April 15th, before the bombings, I had a new patient come see me.  Halfway through a discussion on gluten-free whole grains, she interjected a sentence I had started about quinoa, and said we were approaching the fourth dimension, and that this life had bigger plans for me.   Then she did something even more unusual.  She said the universe supported me.  And gave me a hug. 

And for some reason, this didn’t seem weird, or scary, or even inappropriate.  Just a little unnerving.  And oddly comforting.  A few hours later, our three-dimensional world dropped off. 

My city—which most days is boisterous, quintessentially Bostonian—grew quiet amid the sirens.  I heard from friends and family all over the country.  People I haven’t talked to in six months.  People from past lives.  Texts came in rapid fire and throughout the day my eyes welled up even though I was safe, and all my loved ones were unharmed.

Still, nothing can prepare you for something like this.  Not for the initial moments.  Not for the moments that hang in limbo thereafter.

Nothing can prepare you for sitting with a friend while she calls her husband at 3:12, 3:14, 3:16, 3:17, 3:18, 3:22, 3:24, 3:25 … until he finally calls to say he’s okay.  Nothing can prepare you for walking to the train, passing by men dressed in black with M4 assault riffles strapped across their chests.  Nothing can prepare you for waking up to the sound of helicopters overhead and blipping police cars. For having a NBC News van parked at the end of your street for days.  For questioning whether you should board a crowded train at rush hour.  For receiving an e-mail at work warning SWAT teams will be around, and not to be alarmed.

So I really haven’t felt like discussing food.  But we all might benefit from a distraction.  In fact, now more than ever.

After all, I am still someone who believes in the power of a well-made chicken salad sandwich.  To piggyback off of a recent tweet by Anne Lamott: I don't know much, but I can tell you this: if someone makes you a great chicken salad sandwich, it is because they did not skimp on the mayo.”  Though Hellmann’s will most certainly do just fine, if you are in need of a task consider making your own.

I jotted down this recipe in my kitchen notebook awhile back.  Its origins are not glamorous.  In fact, I’m not even certain where it’s from.  But it’s gorgeously thick and slightly garlicky and a wonderful project that won’t seize the whole day.

So I made it today.  Because I believe in comfort, in all forms.  I am most certainly someone who believes in mayo.  And who gladly, wholeheartedly welcomes a supportive universe.  For us all.

Kitchen Notebook Aioli


1 small garlic clove
2 egg yolks
1 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
4 tsp fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup canola oil
lemon zest, to taste


Smash the garlic clove with the side of a knife and then use the side to mash the clove into a paste. Place the garlic, yolks, mustard, ¼ tsp salt, and lemon juice in a blender; give it a quick whirl.  Through the top of the blender, with it running, slowly add in the oil, about 1 tsp at a time, for the first ¼ cup.  After this, add the rest of the oil in a slow, steady stream, until the mixture becomes thick.  Stir in the lemon zest to taste (I added zest from ½ a medium lemon) and taste for additional seasoning.  Refrigerate.

Makes about ½ cup

-Aioli is, at its simplest, a garlicky mayo, but please note the eggs in this recipe are not cooked. (Also, this may be a cheater's version, but I don't care.)

-In the past, I’ve added some basil to this recipe as well; which is quite good.


  1. Emily, I'm glad that you and your loved ones are safe.

    I've never made aioli or mayo, and that seems really silly, since with a blender, there doesn't seem to be much to them. When the stars align--that is, when I've got both leftover chicken and some good bread around--I'll remember this aioli.

    Take care.

  2. Glad you are safe too...this is truly tragic

    I made mayo when I was in high school for my cooking class...I remember it was magical but I don't know if I have time to do it again...thank you for the recipe, I will keep it. Wishing you a good weekend.

  3. Thanks Katie and MrsLittleJeans. Surreal here in Boston right now. We're still on lockdown. Trying to keep busy by baking bread. Not sure how many loaves I can take.

  4. Well, I just read this post moments after they captured the second suspect, alive, so maybe we'll learn something from all this hell. I miss Boston terribly, and I'm so sorry you had to go through such a nightmare.