Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Making Mayonnaise and Sauce Hollandaise

Making your own mayonnaise isn't hard, though many recipes call for just the egg yolk, and I hate that.  I don't mind separating eggs, but I hate having to put either the yolk or the white away, and then having to remember to use it.  It just spoils the spontaneity of cooking, don't you think?

The main ingredients used in mayonnaise are eggs, oil, lemon juice or vinegar, and seasoning.  Mustard, salt and pepper are the most common, though you can also add garlic or cayenne pepper.

Why would you make your own mayo?  Well, it can taste amazing, and it allows you to control the type of oils used.  Commercial mayonnaise is made with vegetable oils and they are rich in inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids.  You could opt for olive oil mayonnaise, but if you check the labels, you'll see the primary ingredient is still likely to be an oil other than olive oil, so it's not really a more nutritious choice.

If you have never made your own mayonnaise before, the two most important things to know are that you need to ensure the eggs are at room temperature, and that you must add the oil extremely slowly - just drops at a time, in the beginning.

I have some more tips, and I have an excellent recipe in an old favourite cookery book, The Impatient Gourmet, by Isabel Jones.  Unfortunately it's buried away somewhere in a box while our house renovation proceeds at a snail's pace.    If you want to learn more, it's easy enough to find a decent recipe online, like this tutorial at All Recipes.

But I do have another idea, one that doesn't involve digging up this brilliant but out of date book.   It occurred to me that if you wanted to reduce your consumption of seed oils, the alternative could be to make mayonnaise with butter instead.   And there's already a wonderfully delicious sauce that uses the same ingredients:  Sauce Hollandaise.  Why not use this sauce instead of mayonnaise?

When I was growing up, I loved Sauce Hollandaise, which we would use as a decadent dip for steamed artichokes or asparagus.  My mother would make it au bain marie, which again, is not hard, but it is rather tedious.  These were rare treats, since we grew up in a health conscious household and she diligently followed the prevailing dietary advice to limit fat intake.  

I once made the mistake of buying a packaged Sauce Hollandaise, and threw away the product once I had mixed it up.  It was disgusting!  Please don't ever do that!  

Later, after leaving home, I experimented with making this sauce in the microwave, and discovered that it's extremely quick and easy, though for the longest time I was guilt-ridden about the fat content.  

But how things have changed since we realized it's all about the carbs!

Last week, I served up an impromptu adaptation of Eggs Florentine for dinner - steamed baby bok choy topped with poached eggs and a generous swathe of Sauce Hollandaise.  We all loved it and the kids couldn't stop asking for more.

You should try it too.  You can use any green vegetable for the base.  For the sauce, you will need:

2 eggs       
1/4 of a package of butter (125g or one stick)
Juice of 1 lemon  (I used 2 limes)                     

Microwave Method:
Melt butter on high in a small bowl or jug.  Add lemon juice and stir.  Add lightly beaten eggs.  Microwave at 50% until thick, stopping every 20 to 30 seconds to whisk sauce, about 2 minutes.  Don’t overcook!

 Traditional Method: 
Stir eggs and butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water until butter is melted.  Whisk the mixture until it starts to thicken, about 10 minutes.  Add lemon juice slowly while continuing to whisk. 

Note:  If the sauce refuses to thicken or curdles (probably because it has got too hot), there is a remedy.  Rinse out another mixing bowl with hot water, then put in 5 ml lemon juice and 15 ml of the curdled or thin sauce.  Beat with a wire whisk until they thicken together, then beat in the rest of the sauce a little at a time, whisking each addition well until quite smooth before adding the next.

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