Saturday, April 30, 2011

Split mayonnaise

The more experienced I become at making mayonnaise, the more often I mess it up. Complacency is fatal. You really do have to add the oil very gradually, and to make sure that it is properly amalgamated before adding the next drops, until you have used at least half of it. On my first attempts, I was so nervous about separating the mixture that I dripped in the oil with huge restraint and care. Now, I am tempted to think I can get away with splashing it in, and as soon as I do the stiffened mixture in the bowl collapses and turns runny.

These blunders can be repaired, however. Pour the runny mixture into a second bowl. Put another egg yolk into your original bowl, which can have some of the botched mayonnaise adhering to it. Now amalgamate the botched mayonnaise, bit by bit, with the yolk; then start adding oil again. My method is to continue the process until the mayonnaise is too thick to stir, thin it with a little lemon juice or vinegar, and resume pouring in the oil, allowing 150g of oil (mostly sunflower, with about 25g of extra virgin olive) for each yolk.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Almond cake

This is a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe from the Guardian (here - scroll down).

My springform cake tin leaks, so I used an ordinary one; it is 22cms, rather than the 25cms Fearnley-Whittingstall asks for. The cake came loose very easily. But what you see here is upside down.

Two observations. Whisking the sugar and egg mixture is quite hard work: the mixture is stiff. Perhaps in part because I used a more narrow tin but also because cakes always seem to take longer than recipes suggest they should, this cake took about 55 minutes to set.

It was good, and stayed moist for several days. I think that it would have been even nicer had I used the zest from 2 lemons.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sausage casserole with new potatoes and onions

This dish was not entirely successful. I had intended it to be a version of a dish I make with new potatoes, onions, garlic, pancetta, and olive oil: I just mix them all up in a heavy casserole, and cook them at gas mark 6/200C for 30 minutes, and at 4/180C for a further 30 (stirring them up every so often). The onions keep the dish moist; the oil and the fat give it an unctuous quality.

I cooked the substantial quantity in the photo just for myself, with 4 new potatoes (medium-sized), 1 clove of chopped garlic, 2 roughly chopped onions, some salt, 2tbsps of olive oil, and the 3 sausages.

The challenge, I thought, was to brown the sausages without splitting them. I put them on a medium heat with the oil, and kept them moving all the time. They browned quickly. Then I tipped in the other ingredients, stirred everything around, and put the dish in the oven. As you can see, the sausages split anyway, while they were baking. But they didn't impart any flavour to the potatoes and onions. I might as well have fried them separately.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Basic mackerel pate

Not a gourmet recipe, but perfectly nice as a quick lunch.

2 cooked mackerel fillets, skinned and cut into pieces
2tbsp cream cheese
Juice of half a lemon
Cayenne pepper to taste

Whizz the ingredients in a food processor. For quantities such as these, I use the Moulinex in the picture rather than a full-size machine.