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May 1, 2012 / missjandme

Kitchen failure

Funny that my first food post is about a colossal kitchen failure, but there it is. I’m learning to do things a different way, and it’s not always going well. This particular failure was a Lebanese dish called toum. Toum is the Lebanese word for garlic and the dish is an amazing garlic paste. We are lucky enough to have an awesome Lebanese restaurant here in town, and we enjoy takeout from them once in a while, but I’m working at reducing our expenses, so I decided to try to replicate some dishes myself (Labneh bil Toum, I’m looking at you.)

Toum is essentially a mayo – it uses garlic as the base rather than egg yolks, and then oil is added in a fine stream to emulsify into the base. And, as I’ve learned from making mayo, it only takes a second for emulsification to go wrong.

In this case, I know exactly why it went wrong – my food processor is too small. As I added the oil, I watched the volume of the paste expand far more than I expected. I only had a third of the required oil in, and it was swelling up over the blade post in the cup. And then I heard it. There’s a sound, and if you’ve ever failed at mayo you’ve heard it. It’s like no other sound – it’s a sort of weird squishing slurp as the texture goes from thick and gooey to fully liquid almost instantaneously. My recipe had instructions for how to recover from this, but they didn’t work.

I’ve salvaged as much of my ingredients as I could – I let the liquid separate and scooped a bunch of the garlic puree into ice cube trays, so I’ll have garlic/olive oil cubes I can use for sauteeing, etc. Then I strained the oil into a jar, so I have some garlic infused olive oil for whatever I want it for. I’m grateful that I didn’t fully waste my ingredients, and for the learning experience. After my next grocery shop, I’m going to give it another go – at half quantities.

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