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MAYONNAISE: EAT IT RAW

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I like underdone (runny) fried eggs, carpaccio, beef tartare, extra-extra rare beef, sushi and sashimi, raw cookie dough, and unpasteurized cheeses. And I eat yogurt past the expiration date.

I have been making my own mayonnaise for over 30 years and not once has anyone gotten sick from it.

But for liability reasons, I feel I need to make a disclaimer here:

Eat raw eggs at your own risk.

There.

Now then. Mayonnaise.  It may have been invented in Mahon, Spain. It might have been named after Charles de Lorraine, duke of Mayenne, or it might have been invented in England in the 15th century. I suspect some version of this sauce might have developed in several places over the centuries, and eventually took its current name by popular use. Does it matter?

I actually personally know people who hate mayonnaise, but I like them despite this inexplicable flaw. (Ditto for people who like Miracle Whip.)  So this is not for them.  But for people who love mayo – the world extends beyond Best Foods (or as the label reads, Hellman’s East of the Rockies). (Why is the dividing line The Rockies? Why not the Mississippi or the Louisiana Purchase?)

Making your own mayonnaise is easy. My niece was making it when she was three years old (she did need some assistance getting up on the kitchen counter). It tastes far better than commercial mayonnaise. And you can jazz it up to suit yourself.

The basic principle of making mayonnaise is that you are forcing two different substances – egg yolk and oil – to blend together (emulsify) harmoniously. Technique is crucial. But even if the worst happens and it breaks/separates, it can be repaired.

Mayonnaise can be made in a bowl with a whisk or an electric mixer, in a food processor, or blender. The first method is a sure thing but tedious, and I only resort to that when I have screwed up and the mayo broke/didn’t thicken. In theory the food processor should work well, but I’ve had more failures than successes with it. I think the blender is the way to go.

Separate two eggs. Put the yolks in the blender. Put the egg whites in a covered container in the refrigerator; use in scrambled eggs, baking,  or omelets, or freeze for longer storage: when you collect enough, make an angel food cake.

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Add 3 tablespoons vinegar or fresh lemon juice, and blitz for 30 seconds.

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Let stand for 3 minutes. This is to kill sick-making bacteria. (Yes, I know someone will pipe up and cite some kind of study that shows this won’t kill .00182 % of the bacteria. If you’re about to do that, perhaps you should go read another blog. This is my blog, dammit, and if you don’t like it, leave.)

Where were we? Yes. Eggs and vinegar.

Now add the seasonings.

1 teaspoon dry mustard or 2 teaspoons prepared mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

good hit hot sauce

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And blitz again for 30 seconds.

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Start adding oil. You want to do this VERY SLOWLY, drop by drop if possible. If you add the oil slowly enough, the oil droplets emulsify with the egg yolk, creating a thick mayonnaise.

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I use about 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, then switch to a vegetable oil like canola or safflower. The mixture will be thickening; when that happens, you can add the oil a bit faster. You might need as much as one cup of oil or slightly more, but once the mixture stops absorbing oil, do not continue adding it.

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When the mayonnaise is very thick and you can’t see oil being absorbed any more – i.e. it’s puddling up on top – turn off the blender. Remove the bottom of the blender carefully (sometimes the mayonnaise will all spill out at once) and scrape into a container.

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The mayonnaise will be yellower and much less sweet than commercial products. Store, covered, in refrigerator. You can use it right away or let it continue to develop flavor for a couple of hours in the fridge.

HOW TO FIX BROKEN MAYONNAISE

Sometimes the mayonnaise will not thicken, or it may break and look curdled. This could be due to adding the oil too fast or blending too long after the maximum amount of oil has been added.

Place one egg yolk, at room temperature, in a clean bowl. With a balloon whisk, beat in 1 teaspoon prepared mustard until very thoroughly combined. Then, drop by drop, add the broken mayonnaise, whisking constantly. Once the emulsion begins to take, you can add the mayonnaise a little faster.

SOME VARIATIONS

Vary the vinegar: sherry, pear, red wine, apple cider, garlic, tarragon, champagne, and so on, or try fresh lime lime juice.

For richer mayonnaise, add one or two more egg yolks.

Try different oils, or a higher/lower percentage of olive oil.

To the seasonings, add:

  •  a chipotle chili from a can, including some of the adobo sauce. This is particularly good when using lime juice.
  •  garlic, raw or roasted.
  •  fresh herbs – parsley, basil, dill, tarragon, cilantro, etc.
  •  a couple of tablespoons of sesame oil and a little Sriracha.
  •  prepared mustard to taste.
  •  sun-dried tomatoes. including some of the oil.

Homemade mayonnaise will last a couple of weeks in the refrigerator. It doesn’t have the commercial stabilizers and preservatives found in bottled products so don’t count on keeping it the same amount of time, but that isn’t likely to be a problem: it’s far more delicious than Best Foods.

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WHEN GOOD CAKES GO BAD

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I’ve made this bundt cake recipe many, many times before. It always turns out beautifully – so beautifully that I got a marriage proposal over it. (I turned him down, not least because he was already married.)  There are many variations possible, but this is the basic recipe. It’s from New Recipes From Moosewood Restaurant.

Our Favorite Pound Cake

  • 1 lb sweet butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup milk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 4 cups flour
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer at high speed till light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.
  4. Sift together dry ingredients.
  5. Mix together milk and vanilla extract.
  6. Add dry and wet to butter mixture alternately, beginning and ending with dry. Mix by hand, using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, after each addition.
  7. Mix thoroughly, just enough to blend.
  8. Pour into buttered and floured tube or bundt pan (or two loaf pans). Bake 1 hour, or till toothpick inserted into center comes out dry.
  9. After the cake cools ten minutes, turn out onto a plate.
  10. Cool completely before you slice it.
    I mean, that’s pretty clear, right?
    So today I wanted to make this, only make a chocolate version. Their directions involved 1 cup of cocoa. No problem.
    Except that when I went to add the cocoa, there was only 1/2 cup left in the box.
    Quick! Think! Think! What can I substitute? Well, how about this Vermeer Chocolate Cream Liqueur? I’ll just use it in place of the 1 cup of milk called for. They’re both liquids; that should work, right? And just in case that isn’t enough chocolate….here, I have 2 2-ounce Belgian dark chocolate bars. I’ll melt them and add those too.
    So I did. It seemed to work fine. The chocolate liqueur smelled heavenly in the cake batter. Then at the last I melted the chocolate bars and slowly added them while beating with an electric mixer.
    Maybe I should have paid closer attention when, as the melted chocolate was being incorporated, the batter suddenly got much more inflated and light and… bigger. But I thought, eh, it’ll settle down.  Then when I scraped the batter into the bundt pan… there was certainly a lot of batter. But, oh well, it’ll just rise up above the pan, then sink back down. It always does. Right?
    Put the pan in the oven and went about my business. About twenty minutes later I heard this soft kind of sizzling sound coming from the oven. Open oven door….
    The batter had escaped from the pan and was now baking on the oven floor.
    You can’t keep the oven door open too long or the cake will fall, so I closed it back up and decided to just deal with scraping the burnt batter up later.
    After another 40 minutes I began to smell something burning. I assumed that would be the batter on the oven floor. I opened the oven door and the batter was getting pretty dark, but not burning. As I closed the oven door I noticed a flickering light inside the oven….
    The cake batter had slid through the center hole of the pan onto the rack below and was now on fire.
    I threw a cupful of salt on the flaming cake.
    We will not be having cake for dinner.
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