Spicy Garlic Aioli

A lot of the cooking shows have someone preparing an aioli and it always seems risky. I know there are only a few ingredients but they frequently separate and it seems intimating to home cooks like us. This recipe comes from a necessity in that we ran out of mayo and I wanted a sauce to go with roasted brussel sprouts and grilled asparagus. I found a bunch of recipes online but the “simple” aioli recipes used mayonnaise as a base. I found a recipe that said it is a simple 2 minute aioli, so I went for it. I did spice it up with Sriracha sauce but everything else is the same. I always thought making an aioli was complicated and risky but doing it this way makes it so easy.

The original recipe states that you shouldn’t use the immersion blender with the extra virgin olive oil because it can become bitter. The other note is that for the 1/2 cup of lighter oil, you can use light olive oil, vegetable oil, or canola oil. We chose to use vegetable oil because that’s what we have most at hand and it turned out great.

For this recipe, you will need an immersion blender with a cup attachment in order for this to turn out right. The original recipe has instructions for using a blender but I haven’t tried that method so I can’t endorse it.


  • 1 whole egg
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp of lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup of light oil – use light olive oil, vegetable oil or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon  Sriracha pepper sauce
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Put the egg, garlic and lemon juice in the mixing cup and let it settle for a few seconds. Then, add the light oil. Put the immersion blender in the cup at the bottom and turn it on. As the cream forms, tilt the cup to make sure all the oil gets emulsified. This happened a lot faster than I was expecting.

Transfer the aioli to a medium bowl. Start whisking the aioli and slowly drizzle in the exra virgin olive oil and then the Sriracha. This should just take a few seconds. Add the salt and pepper to taste.

We drizzled the aioli over grilled asparagus and then the next day, used it as a spread for sandwiches. You can cut back or completely eliminate the Sriracha sauce depending on how you’ll be using it.



Smoked Doña Sauce – a Texas twist on a jalapeño sauce

A couple years ago I posted a jalapeño sauce called the Doña Sauce.  It’s a local favorite and can be found in some variation at most of the Mexican food restaurants in Austin. Once we got our smoker last summer we started smoking the ingredients, and wow does this twist make a difference. We ALWAYS have at least one container of this sauce in our refrigerator! The smoke flavor is a great addition to this sauce.

This recipe makes about 1 liter of sauce and takes about 2 and one-half hours to complete. The majority of the time is in the smoker so the active preparation is only about 30 minutes. If you don’t have a smoker, you can grill the peppers or use our original Doña Sauce recipe.

For our wood chips, we use a 50/50 ratio of mesquite and hickory. When we use the smoker, we take advantage of it and add vegetables. For example, today we’re smoking a chicken to take over to my cousin’s for dinner in his backyard. We just added a tray of the peppers and garlic above the chicken to the smoker.

Here’s a tip for variations: you can use any pepper you want or have available. In our original recipe, we only used jalapeño peppers. In this recipe, we substituted some of the jalapeño peppers with 2 poblano peppers. This reduces the heat somewhat and gives it a slightly sweeter flavor. You can also substitute hatch chili peppers, Anaheim peppers or even sweet bell peppers to reduce the heat and make it sweeter. Austin’s HEB grocery store hosts an annual Hatch Chili Pepper Festival in mid-August so we’ll be preparing some hatch pepper sauce as soon as the pepper start showing up in the stores.


  • 10 medium jalapeño peppers
  • 2 medium poblano peppers
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of salt, divided


Heat your smoker to 250 F and get your wood chips ready. Once your smoker is hot and the chips are putting off smoke, place your whole jalapeño peppers, whole poblano peppers and garlic haed on a tray and put in your smoker. Smoke the peppers and garlic for one and one-half hour. After the 1.5 hours, the pepper skin will have started pulling away from the pepper and they’ll have a duller green color, kind of like an olive green color. This is what you’re looking for. Put them in a container to cool until they are able to be handled, about 15 minutes.

Smoked peppers and garlic.

Smoked peppers and garlic right out of the smoker.

Once the peppers and garlic have cooled, prepare the vegetables. For the jalapeño peppers, cut in half and then pull out the seeds and inner membrane. To make it spicier, leave some of the inner membrane and seeds. We usually leave about half of the seeds and membrane, but we like it hot. For the poblano peppers, cut them in half and remove the seeds. Finally, break the garlic head apart and separate out the garlic cloves. I know it seems like a lot of garlic, but trust me, it’s not too much. When you smoke them, they get a sweet, creamy flavor and lose the bitterness of raw garlic. The skins should come off the garlic cloves very easily. You don’t need to cut up the cloves of garlic.


Peppers and Garlic ready to be blanched.

Peppers and garlic after they have been prepared.

Put the peppers and garlic in a large pot like in the picture below.

Peppers and garlic in pot

These are the peppers and garlic before the water is added.

Add enough water to cover the peppers and garlic and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring the water to a boil and then simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Peppers and garlic covered in water.

These are the peppers and garlic covered in water.

Now, use tongs to move the peppers and garlic to your blender. Add the 1/2 cup olive oil and the remaining teaspoon of salt to the blender . Add about 1/2 cup of the water that you used for the peppers to boil in. Keep the rest of the water to use to get the consistency you are looking for.

Peppers, garlic & olive oil in blender.

The peppers, garlic and olive oil have been added to the blender.

Use the food processor mode to blend the ingredients into a creamy smooth sauce. At this point, taste the sauce and check for flavor and consistency. we usually add the rest of the salt and another 1/2 cup of water. Depending on your peppers and how thin you want your sauce, you can adjust the flavor with additional salt and water to your preference. Use the blender to mix the additional salt and water until smooth and creamy.

Here is the final stage of the Smoked Doña Sauce. If you look close, we are almost exactly at 1 liter of sauce. Put the sauce in a non-reactive container (we use glass) and store it in the refrigerator. You can use this as a sauce for chips or add it to anything you want.

Blended Doña Sauce

This is the blended Doña Sauce.

Cheesy Arugula Ravioli with Shrimp Scampi Sauce

This recipe is a little time consuming but it’s well worth it. It should serve 8 people as an appetizer or 4 people as a main dish.


This all started because I found a ravioli stamp at Ace Mart Restaurant Supply. So, we began looking for recipes online using what we already had in the kitchen. We had a pound of fresh Gulf Shrimp and quite a bit of arugula so I started scouring the internet for ideas. Most of the recipes for Shrimp Scampi Ravioli started off with prepackaged ravioli so those were out of the running. I finally found an Arugula & Goat Cheese Ravioli recipe on epicurious.com. This recipe became our inspiration for the ravioli we made.


There are multiple steps to this and we did it over the course of a rainy Saturday afternoon and evening. We would do one step, stop and watch some football, then do another step, watch some more football, etc. I think you could get through all, it start to finish, in about 2 to 2 1/2 hours.The first thing we did was peel and clean the shrimp. One of the recipes I read through suggested using the shrimp shells and tails to make a shrimp stock. So, I thought, why not. We peeled the full pound of shrimp and then cleaned them. We put the shells into a saucepan with some peppercorns and pinch of salt and then let them simmer for about 45 minutes. We put this aside to use the next time we make gumbo.

Once you have your shrimp ready, you have 3 main steps. First, prepare your pasta dough for the ravioli. Second, prepare the ravioli filling. Finally, prepare the sauce.

This recipe requires the pasta of about 1 1/2 cup to 2 cups of flour. You can use your favorite recipe or this one.

Instructions for the dough

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  • extra lukewarm water

Make a mound of flour and then make a well in the middle of the flour. Put the eggs, olive oil and salt into the center of the well. Then beat the eggs with a fork and slowly start mixing it all together working a little flour into the mixture, a little at a time. Keep mixing until it is all incorporated. Use the water to give it more moisture as needed. Knead the dough for 5 to 10 minutes until it is smooth, silky and elastic.

I ended up needing quite a bit of water (a couple tablespoons) but I think it all has to do with the size of the eggs we use. Every time I make pasta I need extra water even when I follow the directions exactly as written. While I was writing this up, I found this website with some really good information on pasta called Serious Eats. I recommend checking it out to learn more about making fresh pasta. The Science of the Best Fresh Pasta

Once you’ve kneaded the pasta, roll it into a ball and tightly wrap it in plastic wrap. Let it rest for at least 30 minutes.

Instructions for the filling

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons of finely chopped garlic (or more if you like it extra garlicky)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper
  • 2 cups of trimmed arugula
  • 1 cup of mustard greens (optional but adds good flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon of finely grated fresh lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup of soft mild goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup of cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Put the butter in a skillet and heat it over medium heat until the foam subsides. Then add the garlic, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is golden, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the arugula, mustard greens and lemon zest. Cook this down until the arugula and greens are wilted, turning it with tongs. It should take about 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer this mixture into a fine mesh sieve and strain it over a bowl to get out the excess liquid. Set the liquid aside to add to the sauce mixture. Once the mixture is cool enough to touch, finely chop and mix with the goat cheese, cottage cheese and parmesan cheese.

Instructions for the sauce

  • 1/2 stick of unsalted butter (1/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound peeled and cleaned medium to large shrimp
  • 1/2 cup chopped arugula

Heat the butter in a 12-inch skillet over moderate heat until the foam subsides. Then, add the garlic, pepper and salt. Stir frequently until the garlic starts to golden, which should be about 2 to 4 minutes. Add the lemon juice, oil and the reserved liquid that you set aside while making the stuffing. Continue cooking for an additional minute then remove from heat. You’ll add the arugula as a garnish over the ravioli on the plate.

Making and Cooking the ravioli

After your dough is rested, divide it into 8 equal parts. Cover 7 of them with a kitchen cloth while you work with the first one. Roll this one in a pasta roller. Set the pasta roller on the widest setting and feed a rectangle through the roller. Fold it in half and feed it through again. Repeat this 6 or 7 additional times. Then, turn the dial on the roller to the next narrower setting and feed the dough through the rollers without folding. Continue to roll the pasta through the roller making the space between the rollers narrower each time until you get to the second to narrowest setting. In my roller, I started on setting #1 which is the widest and eventually got to setting #5. Our roller has 6 setting but #6 would be way too thin and you’d risk the past tearing once it was filled.


This is the teaspoon of filling on our dough

Here is our stamp that we used to cut the ravioli

Here is our stamp that we used to cut the ravioli

Put the sheet of dough on a lightly floured work surface, We used a cookie sheet. The long side should be nearest you. Most recipes have you put the filling into rounded teaspoon sized mounds down the center of one-half of the sheet. My new ravioli stamp was too large for this so we had to make them one at a time by putting a mound of filling on the pasta about 4 inches from the end and folding the end over the mound and then using the stamp to cut the pasta. This took forever but they did look good. As we cut away the excess pasta we started combining it to create a new ball of pasta that we used to roll out a new sheet. If you don’t have a stamp, just put your mounds about 1 1/2 inches apart down the center of one-half of the sheet. Then fold the sheet down the middle over the mounds of filling. Press down firmly but gently to remove the air. Any air pockets will increase the chance that the ravioli will break during cooking. Cut the pasta between the mounds into squares. You can use a fork to seal the edges (and it makes it look good). As you make them, place the cut ravioli onto a lightly floured kitchen towel. We intentionally let ours sit for about 20 minutes to sort of start drying and it seems to help because we didn’t have a single ravioli break during cooking.

here we are getting our ravioli ready.

here we are getting our ravioli ready.

This is our test ravioli that we used to see how long it would take and make sure they wouldn't break open when we cooked them.

This is our test ravioli that we used to see how long it would take and make sure they wouldn’t break open when we cooked them.

To cook the ravioli, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to a gentle boil. If this is your first time to cook ravioli, take one ravioli as a sample and gently place it in the water. Check the pasta after 3 minutes to test for how done it is. In one minute increments, keep cooking the ravioli until it is done and to your liking. We figured out that 5 to 6 minutes was the correct amount of time for our ravioli. Now, gently place half the ravioli into the boiling water and gently stir to separate the ravioli. Keep the water at a gentle boil until the pasta is tender. To remove from water, use a slotted spoon and drain over the water then transfer them to a clean tray or plate. We found that removing them one at a time is best. Then cook the remaining half of the ravioli.

Here are our ravioli cooking. Notice that they float as they get ready.

Here are our ravioli cooking. Notice that they float as they get ready.

Now that the ravioli are ready, go back to your sauce and reheat it to a light simmer and add the shrimp. Saute the shrimp in the sauce until the shrimp are bright pink and ready, it should be really quick and just take 2 to 4 minutes (depending on the size of your shrimp).

This is our shrimp cooking in our pasta sauce.

This is our shrimp cooking in our pasta sauce.

Once the ravioli are cooked and the shrimp has been sauteed in the sauce, divide them among your plates then cover with the sauce and add the arugula over the pasta. You can get enough for 5 or 6 people, depending on how many ravioli you want to put on each plate. It was just the two of us so we put about 7 into one bowl and 7 into another bowl. This was our main course and we served it with a salad on the side.