Saturday, April 30, 2011

Being Brave

I feel like my new thing this spring is simplicity. Okay, that's not right. I mean, I always tend to make plenty of dishes that are "simple", so maybe that's not quite accurate. Maybe "basics" or "fundamentals" or "staples" would work better? Anyway, the moral of the story is that I'm really trying to make sure that I work from the ground up with all of my foods. And since I'm working from the ground up on the whole meal, that usually means putting more time into my meals which then necessitates the simplicity, I guess.

A while ago, I was wanting to make an egg salad recipe (that post will come next), and I'm really not a fan of store bought mayonnaise, so carved out a good chunk of time in my day, I whipped out my Alice Waters, In the Green Kitchen-Techniques to Learn by Heart cookbook and decided to make my own mayo. I'm really in love with this cookbook and I've been leafing through it every time I make something new to see what she has to say about everything I cook--eggs, soups, salads, chicken, etc. It gives really great tips and makes things really easy and straight forward. I adjusted the recipe a bit, because the one in the book was for Garlic Mayonnaise, and I wanted a plain mayo.

Homemade Mayonnaise

Adapted from Alice Waters' In the Green Kitchen-Techniques to Learn by Heart

Makes about 1 cup

1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon water
1 cup olive oil
A few drops of vinegar

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolk and the water until they are completely blended and the mixture is an even color. Slowly dribble in the oil. Here, it is important to make sure that you're using good quality olive oil. My mom is obsessed with olive oils and it's really wearing off on me and I'm starting to get quite the collection of olive oils for myself. At the time that I made this, I didn't have as many choices and I used my "rich and robust" option which is really delicious but definitely has a strong taste. It turned out great, but next time I would probably go for a lighter option so that the olive oil taste wasn't quite so rich in the dish that I'm making it for. It really depends on your preferences and what you're using it for though. Regardless, if you don't like the taste of the olive oil before you make the mayo, you won't like the way the mayo turns out. Use-good-olive-oil. Anyway, continue dribbling in the oil and whisking constantly. The yolk will absorb the oil and the mixture will thicken and begin to lighten in color. Gradually, you can begin pouring the oil a little faster as you continue whisking. Finish with a few drops of vinegar or lemon juice. Taste and add more salt if desired. Serve the mayonnaise right away or refrigerate it. According to Miss Alice, it actually taste better after sitting a while, however, it should be eaten the same day that it is made.

If you are wanting to flavor it with garlic, herbs, mustard, chilies, etc. pound whatever it is you want in a mortar with a pinch of salt until it is a smooth paste. Whisk about half of the paste with the egg yolk and then follow the above directions. Add more of the paste at the end if desired.

I was completely intimidated to make this, and I'm pretty sure that I read through the directions a good 3 or 4 times before nervously diving in. I really don't know why I was such a bundle of nerves. It's yolk...oil...and whisking. Nothing involved in this recipe was anything I wasn't used to. And the results: incredible. Absolutely delicious. I actually dislike mayonnaise, but this tasted nothing like store bought mayo. It was wonderfully creamy and was basically an olive oil spread, and with my obsession with olive oil, that was perfect. Lesson for me: stop being freaked out by the kitchen. Find someone with good technique, learn from them, pay attention to what you're doing, and you'll be amazed at what you can do in the kitchen.


  1. That was a great post. Never would have occured to me to make homemade mayo. Well done. I think we must do it. -Dad

  2. Wow...I like this and will have to try it. Thanks!!!