Just a quick ‘un! March’s entry from Him Indy’s Calendar of Seasonal Food Hotness was a saucy little number entitled Homemade Mayonnaise with Radishes. Now, I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never really stopped to contemplate the beauty that is mayonnaise. Now, don’t get me wrong – it’s not my intent to diss the special sauce. In my experience, mayo has never failed to bind a potato or an egg salad together beautifully or add that special something to a chicken sandwich. It’s also been known to turn up as the mind-bending secret ingredient in a chocolate cake or two, but, for fear of H.I. spurning the advances of every cake that emerges from the Portal, the less said about that the better! So, you see, there will always be a place in my heart and larder for this workhorse of the kitchen, but I’m painfully aware that I could be tried and found guilty of taking it for granted. Mayonnaise has only ever been the means to an end, the tiny but integral cog in the clockwork, part of the journey, but never the destination. Until now.
Hand on heart, I was a little bit nervous about making a batch of my very own mayonnaise. I mean, we’ve all heard the cautionary tales about the dangers of raw egg and its partner in crime, salmonella, so it’d be more of a wonder if I *didn’t* pause to reflect on the wisdom of attempting it. Surely, I reasoned, Mr. H. Indoors wouldn’t *intentionally* lead me astray with this recipe. He’d have to know that, even if I were to brew up a batch of the vilest hemlock at his suggestion, he’d be expected to take the first swig. If I was going down, I was going to take him with me! Dangers weighed and odds considered, I chucked caution to the wind to discover happily enough that my fears were unfounded.
I thought it would be hard to wax lyrical about mayonnaise, but, so impressed was I with the results of my first attempt, I somehow managed to find some words. It was so easy to prepare (admittedly with the invaluable assistance of a food processor), knocked out in the span of a few minutes using only a handful of common-as-muck ingredients. Nothing fancy, nothing arcane, no nonsense! Talk about banishing the mystique! As soon as the mixture started coalescing in the food processor, I felt a sense of elation. It worked, it had actually worked! There before my wondering eyes was thick, proper, spreadable mayonnaise! Look, Ma, no jar! At that point, I didn’t know and didn’t care what it tasted like, I was just so damned pleased that it looked the business. I don’t think I could have been more impressed if I had spontaneously created a multi-cellular and self-aware lifeform in a beaker. (Perhaps I should get out more…) Cracking open the jug, I scooped out my first spoonful. Mmmmm. It was sharp and lemony and creamy all at once. Hellman’s have nothing to fear from my efforts and, in all likelihood, I will still keep a jar of the shop-bought cream tucked away for sheer convenience value, but as a dressing for for a fresh, spring potato salads, or, as it was used here, as a dip for fresh vegetables or hot, shoestring frites, the homemade mayonnaise could not be beaten.
I suspect that the mayonnaise in this recipe was simply supposed to be the gilding for the lily, which, in this case, was the season’s first radishes. As an aside, have you ever tried cooked radishes? Following the suggestion offered by a quirky television personality (yes, I know – following the advice from anyone who includes the words “quirky” and “personality” on his list of notable accomplishments was never going to end well.) I sliced some up and sauteed them gently in a bit of olive oil. “Perfect, early spring treat!” the personality had gushed. “In medieval times, the peasants would have cooked them thus – and peasants have always known how to eat!.” Tell you what, Quirko, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the peasants didn’t carry the practice on to present day; the peppery bite that everyone knows, loves and associates with radishes was completely neutered in the cooking process. Crikey, man, your humble ancestors were trying to SAVE you from ruining perfectly lovely food by quashing the practice! But, hey, there will always be Pandora-types running amok, willing to open boxes quite clearly marked “DANGEROUS CONTENTS.”
I probably don’t need to offer a disclaimer since the elf ‘n safety message about the potential dangers associated with the consumption of raw eggs has been drilled into collective consciousness for a fair few years now, but I will do so if only for the shizz and giggles. (Besides, I’d hate to think I’d contributed to a dicky tummy in any way, shape or form.) Please, since this is a foodstuff made from uncooked egg, do not consume if you are a very small (and clearly precocious) child or if you are in the process of assembling a small child. The same applies for anyone suffering from a weakened or compromised immune system. You know who you are.
(adapted from Him Indy’s Calendar of Seasonal Food)
3 egg yolks, as fresh and free-range as you can source
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
pinch of salt
1/2 cup mild vegetable oil
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Place the egg, Dijon mustard and the pinch of salt in a food processor, preferably using a whisk attachment. Blend together.
2. Mix the two oils together. With the processor running, add half of the oil in a thin, slow but steady stream into the egg. The mixture will begin to thicken up.
3. The processor still running, add the lemon juice, followed by the remaining oil. Drizzle this in slowly as you did with the first half.
4. Add the vinegar and let the processor whizz for a few seconds longer. The processor jug should now be filled with a thick, buttery yellow substance, and you should be feeling pretty chuffed with yourself! Taste the finished product and season with extra salt and pepper as necessary. This should make about a cup of mayo.
I think this recipe could lend itself to a bit of experimentation with different blends of oils, vinegars and seasonings, as well.