About the mayo

Salade Italienne

Back to the 70s today with some French classics that would look right at home in Margo Ledbetter’s buffet on The Good Life. A bit posh and a little dated but still decadent and utterly delicious.

Chef demonstrated Salade Italienne, Célery en Rémoulade, and what else but Avocat aux Crevettes avec Sauce Cocktail. We only had to replicate the mayonnaise and Salade Italienne.

When boiling eggs, add salt and vinegar to the water. Salt seasons the eggs as they cook because the shell is porous while vinegar coagulates any escaping white should a shell crack and also helps prevent the whites turning grey around the yolks. Placing the boiled eggs into a bowl of cold water stops them cooking.

Already life wouldn’t be the same without some intricate metric knife work. Macédoine of carrot, swede and French beans cooked separately, a l’Anglaise. That’s in boiling salted water. The French think the English cook everything this way. There was a time when they were probably right.

My mayo tasted good but chef said it was too oily. Once he said it, I could see it straight away. Doh. I vowed never to make an oily mayonnaise again. I also used too much to bind the vegetable cubes together. Double doh! Miffed by my mayo miscalculation I had another go when I got home. Much better. There’s nothing like fresh homemade mayonnaise. If nothing else it provides a good cardio workout chasing the bowl around the worktop. But if you can’t rub your tummy and pat your head at the same time things could get messy. Give it a go. Here’s a quick rundown.

Mayonnaise made with white wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil

  • Yolks in the bowl. Pinch of salt and whisk.

  • Start pouring the oil—really, really slowly. Too fast and the mix will split. If this happens you’ve got 2 options. First add 1 to 2 tsps of hot water and whisk like a Whirling Dervish for 2 minutes. If that doesn’t bring it back together, place an egg yolk in a clean bowl then slowly whisk in the broken mayonnaise as you would oil. Once rescued resume with the oil.

  • However, if all is going tickety-boo the emulsion will eventually get quite hard to whisk. Add a little vinegar to loosen, say 1/4 tsp. When it gets difficult again, add 1/4 tsp of water. Basically alternate between vinegar and cold water. Taste as you go. A little tip is to have small bowls of vinegar and cold water to hand.

  • Add the last half of the oil more quickly without risk of splitting. Once incorporated, check consistency. If it’s oily (grrr) just add vinegar. Loosen with water if it’s too thick. Season to taste with salt, white pepper and cayenne.

With enough mayo to grout a shower I made the rémoulade and the prawn cocktail presented 2 ways, as chef did.

Celeriac Rémoulade

Prawn Cocktail

Fancy avocado flower thing