Monday, 2 May 2011

Mayonnaise and a thing that goes well with it

For many years I have been scared of making mayonnaise, it's a very stressful condiment for me. What if it split and I wasted all that expensive olive oil? What if I simply couldn't do it, I would spend the rest of my life branded a terrible cook and a kitchen fraud! The fear was so great that making mayonnaise even made it onto my new years resolutions last year...

A week ago I was staring into the fridge, trying to come up with a meal for a friend of mine, who doesn't like red meat when I only had venison and pork in the house. I found a packet of halloumi nesting behind the butter and decided that roast med veg stacks with pan-fried halloumi and a basic bread salad would do the trick. But what could I do to make the meal a bit more special? Aioli!

After a failed attempt at getting it to work in the food processor I plunged ahead with the traditional method: a hand whisk. 
One egg yolk, a blob of mustard and slowly slowly add a bunch of olive oil - I think it worked out as about half a pint. I did feel like I was going to end up with one monster hulk arm and one cramped up claw hand at one stage but the emulsification did happen and after that it was just a case of mixing in a minced clove of garlic that had been mashed up with a big pinch of salt and some lemon juice, voila - aioli mayo.

I put two quenelles of aioli (okay okay, it sounds pretentious but it really does look nicer than a big messy blob on the plate) next to a stack of aubergines, courgettes, peppers, red onion and asparagus that had been roasted in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. I lay the cooked halloumi slices on top and surrounded each stack with a few spoons of bread salad - this is quartered tomatoes mixed with finely diced red onion, toasted bread cubes, parsley, basil, salt, pepper, vinegar and olive oil, left to chill in the fridge for an hour.

The whole meal took very little graft, didn't cost much and everyone cleared their plates. The mayo lasts at least a week in the fridge too, so we were able to pair it with some other meals as well. Give it a go, mayo really isn't as scary or difficult as it sounds and it is rather satisfying to demystify something that we usually pay someone else to make for us.

For those meals when you don't have time to make your own mayo, you can find the best commercially produced version I have ever tasted here.

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