Home Cooking Recipes
home cooking recipes                                            home cooking recipes
Quick & Easy
By Beverly Barbour


Let us now consider our old friend, mayonnaise

A BLT (bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich) would not be half as tasty if it were not for the mayonnaise that seals the toast and tickles the tastebuds. But, BLT's are only the tip of the iceberg (and we are not talking lettuce here) in ways of using the delicious dressing.

When buying mayonnaise buy the real stuff, don't make lite of it. Best of all, of course, is homemade mayo and it is not at all hard to make especially if you have a strong right arm and a helper to pour the oil at an even rate or a food processor. Purists beat the oil into the egg yolk emulsion with a wire whip but-doing-it-yourself with the help of a blender or food processor makes making homemade mayo a snap; so easy that you'll never buy mayo again.

However, if you do buy mayo, you can improve it greatly by whipping in a bit of olive oil or sour cream. Commercial mayonnaise is a better choice if you are making sandwiches or a salad that is going to be standing around unrefrigerated for a long time. The raw egg in the mayonnaise makes homemade mayo more susceptible to bacteria than today's commercial product, which manufacturers claim to be picnic-safe.

The key to success in kitchen mayo production is maintaining a slow steady pace when adding the oil. In the beginning add only a few drops at a time and when you have added about 1/4 cup work up to a very thin steady stream. Continue that pace until all of the oil has been added. If you add the oil too fast the mixture will "break" and not incorporate any more oil. You can salvage the broken product's ingredients by starting over with another egg yolk and slowing beating in the broken mixture, then slowly beating in the remaining oil.

Mayonnaise has only three basic ingredients: egg, oil, and lemon juice or vinegar (or some of each). The rule of thumb is one egg per one cup of oil. You can add anything you care to once all of the oil has been successfully incorporated. All mayonnaise's can be thinned by whisking in a small amount of water, milk, cream, yogurt, sour cream or fruit juice.


Basic Mayonnaise

Set a warmed bowl on a folded dishtowel to anchor it. Use a whisk and have a high quality vegetable oil (you may want to use a mixture of 3/4 vegetable oil and 1/4 olive oil for more flavor) measured in a glass measuring cup. All ingredients should be at room temperature.

1 egg yolk
1 lemon's juice
1 cup oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
Dash or 2 cayenne

Beat egg yolk with a wire whip. Beat in a few drops of lemon juice and a then a few drops of oil. Work up to 1/4 teaspoon of oil at a time and whisk in remaining lemon juice. Then begin whipping in a very, very thin stream of oil beating constantly, so that all of the oil is absorbed into the emulsion. Makes 1 1/4 cups.


Easy Blender or Food Processor Mayonnaise

Here you use the whole egg and you let a machine replace the whipping action. In both of these recipes you may want to add about 1/2 teaspoon sugar to cut some of the acidity of the lemon.

1 egg
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of cayenne
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 1/4 cups oil
3 tablespoon lemon juice

In blender or food processor place egg, salt, cayenne, sugar and 1/4 cup oil. Blend until thoroughly combined. With machine still running very slowly add 1/2 cup of the oil and then add the lemon juice until well blended. Then very slowly pour in a small stream of the remaining 1/2 cup oil. Blend until thick. You may have to stop and start the machine to stir down the mayonnaise. Makes 1 3/4 cups.


Rich Balsamic Mayonnaise

Balsamic vinegar and anchovy fillets (optional) make this a wonderful partner to any fish, canned, fresh or frozen.

1 egg yolk
3/4 cup milk-tasting olive oil
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 or 2 salt-packed anchovy fillets, finely chopped, optional
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Whisk the yolk with a pinch of salt. Whisk in a trickle of oil, then another, gradually increasing the oil trickle to a light stream. Whisk constantly to maintain an emulsion. The sauce will begin to turn opaque and tacky. Keep adding oil and whisk continually until the mayonnaise is a little firmer than you like. Stir in mustard, anchovy and 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar. Whisk in remaining oil, then finish by adding more balsamic vinegar to taste. Makes 1 cup.

Variations:

1. Use homemade mayonnaise everywhere--instead of butter to enrich vegetable dishes, with fish, on sandwiches and to bind sandwich ingredients together, even as a garnish for soup.

2. The British prefer their chips (think French fries) served with mayo. Try them with a little additional drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

3. Adding minced garlic and chopped onion to home-done mayo turns a burger into something special.

4. Add chopped chervil and tarragon and sometimes mustard for a creamy herbed sauce-with- a-punch for fish.

5. Tartar sauce is made by adding chopped pickle, caper, olives and a little more lemon and vinegar to mayonnaise.

6. Remoulade sauce is born by adding shallots, herbs de Provance (or other herbs if you prefer) plus mustard, gherkins, capers, and anchovy to Mayonnaise.

7. For use at the grill: infuse the room temperature oil, before it goes into the mayonnaise production process, with smoky Spanish paprika, or pimenton, to make a mayonnaise that is crimson-tinted and as lusty as it looks. Great with potatoes, fish and even fried chicken.

Life is too short not to enjoy homemade mayo!

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