How to be a good house guest!

Oct 2014: Hi Food Lovers and followers of Tante Marie’s! I am thrilled to announce that I am now back where I started 40 years ago—teaching in my home—and loving it! I am also excited to announce our updated website; please check it out and tell your friends – and I am back sending cooking advice in the hopes that you will cook with confidence and have fun!


Many years ago I wrote up a Recipe of a Farmers Market Salad after shopping at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. So, this last weekend while visiting friends in Houston, I offered to make lunch, thinking that I would make somewhat the same salad. The local farmers market was charming—it wasn’t hard to find new potatoes, green beans, washed lettuces, and farm fresh eggs—but what about the protein? The fish stand had beautiful cooked local shrimp! I bought enough for five people.

You too can be a favourite houseguest if you offer to cook lunch to be served outdoors on a sunny day. You don’t need a recipe—all you need is plenty of rosé wine. What I did was buy two potatoes per person, five handfuls of green beans, a bag of lettuce, a dozen eggs, a pound of cooked shrimp, a bottle of Texas olive oil, a lemon, and a head of garlic.

First I put the potatoes (unpeeled) in a large pot with four eggs and covered with cold water and added a sprinkling of salt. After 10 minutes, I removed the eggs and ran them under cold water. While the potatoes, were cooking, I trimmed the beans and dropped them into a smaller pot of rapidly boiling salted water. When they were tender when pierced with a fork, I drained them into a colander and ran under cold water, then added a few ice cubes, so the beans wouldn’t keep cooking. Potatoes should not be run under cold water. When they were cool enough to handle, I sliced them cutting off any ugly parts and removed the loose peels—but not all. Potatoes should be coated with olive oil before they cool completely and salt.

Now, if I were using smoked fish, or good quality bottled tuna fish, I could assemble the salad, using olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper as dressing. But, what to do with beautiful cooked shrimp? Not only would they be delicious with garlic mayonnaise, but so would the hard-cooked eggs and the boiled new potatoes.

There are two important things to remember when making AIOLI – all the ingredients need to be at room temperature, and it should be made by hand with a whisk because a food processor or other mixer will make the garlic turn bitter. So, first I smashed a large garlic clove and half a teaspoon of salt in a medium-sized bowl, with a wooden spoon, then added a room temp. egg yolk. (You can bring an egg to room temp, by putting it in a glass of tepid water for 20 minutes.) It helps at this point to have a cooking partner because the olive oil literally needs to be added drop by drop at first to make a creamy looking emulsion. That is, one person whisking and the other person dropping in the olive oil. When it starts to emulsify, the oil can be added more quickly. If the sauce breaks, you have to start over with another room temperature egg yolk, and add the broken sauce little by little.  If the mixture gets too thick add a tablespoon of warm water, and continue adding olive oil until you like the consistency.  Aioli should taste garlicky and somewhat salty (and it keeps in the fridge for a week.)

What I did was dress the greens with olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper, placed them on individual plates, and arranged the potatoes and green beans around (also coated in olive oil), then piled the shrimp in the middle, decorated with the eggs, and put a nice big dollop of Aioli in the center. (All the components can be made three days ahead, or you can have everyone helping in the kitchen while they sip their Rosé.) Hope you make this and have fun doing it! Please email me and let me know how you like this new format – a cooking lesson and a Recipe all in one!