There are some controversial recipes in my family’s repertoire. Same dish sometimes shows up in various forms under different names by just addition or subtraction of one ingredient. The correct name and ingredients are, of course, always argued, favored one way or another. “American Salad” is one of them: A mixture of green peas , cooked carrots, potatoes, petite kosher dill cucumbers with a dollop (or two…or four…) of mayonnaise. If you add salami type meat, then it is called “Italian”. If you omit potatoes, then it becomes “Russian”. Or vice versa…We could never tell which one is which! And the discussion was always followed by a sharp “Just eat it! Will you!”
No matter how vague the salad is, we make it often. It is quickly assembled usually but not everytime…Not on New Year’s Eve dinner, anyway. The big dinner where my whole family gets together, makes and eats lots of food, then we lose all our money to my grandma after several rounds of bingo. For those dinners, my mom used to make mayonnaise herself for this salad. Just once a year. I remember quick beating of the mixer, dipping my finger in it, making the face (like – “what is the big deal?”) and thinking to myself “Why can’t we just buy the jar?”. Just never understood why she should spend more time on this salad unnecessarily.
Now years later, making mayonnaise made the top of my kitchen bucket list. I was not sure if I could just whip the eggs and oil and make it something spreadable, or something just white-ish. I have understood the reason of going one step further in such a simple salad.
Because you want to see if you could!
Yet, I waited… I have heard the horror stories about fragile mayonnaise, attempts to make, the messes and all that. I read the recipes but did not feel comfortable. Then a couple of weeks ago, Holly Herrick , the writer of Tart Love, asked if I would like to review her new upcoming book The French Cook: Sauces. It is her first book in French Cook series. I immediately said yes because I loved her book, Tart Love – with all the tips, detailed descriptions of how to make a good tart for a tart novice like me. I have made many tarts from her book with success, Nutella Tart being my favorite so far.
I have not received the hard copy of the book yet, but she sent me a PDF of the book – just so I could see what is in the mail. And there it was, with its whole glory, stood three pages of tips and things to pay attention in making mayonnaise and one page of its recipe. I just could not help but try my luck with this creamy white.
I must say it turned out mighty good. I guess the success is in the details that Holly mentioned in her book: using the plastic blade in food processor, pasteurizing the eggs, room temperature ingredients, the type of oil and pepper recommended, and tips on how to save it if everything goes south. Just like in Tart Love, she has a nice, familiar way of explaining things. I love it that although her books have a teaching component, they do not sound like a textbook.
Our only dilemma was how to use almost 2.5 cups of mayonnaise in 4 days due to raw eggs. Thankfully there was a Super Bowl party that asked for dips. So you might want to wait some crowded event like that.
There are many other sauces in the book that are essential to French cooking along with several recipes for each. By the time I finished the parts with tips and discussion about how-to of a sauce, the recipes did not sound intimidating anymore. As usual with any cookbook, there are bright, nicely arranged pictures of the dishes. But I am kinda growing tired of looking at food pictures (I know, I know..Irony!). So I really appreciated the street and store front shots from France and the action shots with the chefs, pots and pans in kitchens. I think it makes the book lively.
Thank you, Holly, for being the catalyst to get two things checked off my bucket list, first the ins&outs of the tarts and now mayonnaise. I can not wait to see the next books in the series!
And if you ever want to make this salad, just do yourself a favor and call it “International”. Saves a lot of discussion and headache.
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 whole egg
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt (I used 3/4 teaspoon table salt. If you don’t like salt that much, start with 1/2 teaspoon and adjust)
- A pinch of white pepper
- 1-1/2 cups of vegetable oil (you can use others such as peanut or canola oil, the key is mild taste)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Note: Make sure everything you use is clean, no stainless steel, and ingredients are at room temperature. Try to find pasteurized eggs or pasteurize them yourself by soaking them in 150-F water for 4 minutes (for medium size eggs)
1. Place mustard, egg, yolks, lemon juice salt and pepper in a food processor with plastic blade.
2. Pulse it until the mixture becomes frothy, about 20-25 pulses.
3. Combine the oils in a big measuring cup that you can pour slowly into the processor. Or in a bottle with pouring spout.
4. Very slowly, add about 3/4 cup of the oil while the processor is running. Once it starts to emulsify, add the remaining oil in a constant stream.
5. Once it combines and looks like mayonnaise, taste and adjust salt and pepper.
6. Use in 4 – 5 days.
Combine cooked petite peas, diced cooked carrots, diced boiled potatoes, diced petite kosher dill cucumbers in a bowl. Add enough mayonnaise for your taste to combine. Garnish with chopped fresh dill.
Disclosure: Holly graciously offered to send me a free book for me to review. However, all opinions about mayonnaise recipe and the book are mine. When I try more recipes from the book, I will share the good, the bad and the ugly with you.