Last weekend, after proudly declaring that I would be spending a (blog) month French cooking, I was hit with the realisation of what that really meant.
If I’m being honest, most of my cooking comes from a combination of impulse (fueled by what I’ve read about in blog, books and magazines) and what we actually have in the cupboard. I’m a very visual person – probably explains the Fine Art degree – so no matter how much I reasoned with myself I could not find inspiration from Sidonie Coryn’s illustrations; and repeatedly opening the book at ‘aspics’ and ‘sweetbreads and brains’ didn’t help.
Saturday morning was spent surrounded by a notebook, calendar and Julia Child’s book, facing the challenge head on. My best advice for anyone who, like me, is unfamiliar with her book, is to rely heavily on the contents page – not an approach I normally use, but which saved me from a months worth of glazed carrot recipes.
MtAoFC is closer to my a level chemistry textbooks than modern cookbooks, so with this in mind I have ‘gone back to school’ and chosen nine recipes that will help me solidify my cooking foundations.
I’ve never really considered making my own mayonnaise before, which considering I use it almost every day should be considered a crime. I wouldn’t recommend using extra virgin olive oil, which I did, as the flavour is a little overpowering for the sauce.
Hand Beaten Mayonnaise
from Mastering the Art of French Cooking
makes ¾ to 1 ¼ pints
ALL INGREDIENTS MUST BE AT ROOM TEMPERATURE
3 egg yolks
1 tbsp wine vinegar or lemon juice + a little extra as needed
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp dry or prepared mustard
½ to ¾ pint of oil (olive, salad or a mixture of the both)
2 tbsp boiling water
salt, pepper to taste
Heat your mixing bowl (anything but plastic as it needs to retain warmth) by filling it with warm water, tip the water out and dry.
Beat the yolks for a minute or two until they are thick and sticky.
Add the vinegar/juice, mustard, and salt and beat for a further 30 seconds.
Add the oil a drop at a time, whisking continually, making sure the yolks are absorbing all the oil.
After about ⅛ to ¼ of a pint the sauce will thicken into a very heavy cream, and you can start adding the oil a little quicker (1 to 2 tbsp at a time).
If the sauce becomes too thick beat in a few drops of vinegar or lemon to thin it out, then continue with the oil.
Beat the boiling water into the sauce, this is anti-curdling insurance.
What to do when it all goes wrong:
Yes, this happened to me. Yes, there was a lot of swearing and sulking. Luckily the solution is very easy.
My mayonnaise ‘turned’ which meant that it never thickened.
Warm your mixing bowl as before.
Mix 1 tsp of prepared mustard with 1 tbsp of the turned sauce.
Beat until the cream together and thicken.
Add the turned mayonnaise to the bowl the same way as you added oil the first time round.
If the mayonnaise thins in the fridge after a few days, treat it as it has turned to re-thicken it.