Whipping up a batch of Mayo

Now that we are coming into summer with Memorial Day just around the corner, creamy potato salads, grilled burgers, and plenty of other great picnic foods have finally returned to our tables and plates. Mayonnaise is a one of those condiments/ingredients that most people buy store bought, and until recently we were included in the group. Last week, we were out of the stuff in a jar, so we decided to make our own. The ingredient list is short and the technique is pretty straight forward, but it’s work. Whisking while slowly pouring oil into the bowl drip-by-drip is hard work. Seriously!

There are some things that demand a little mayo, like that potato salad, fried chicken sandwiches and grilled cheese. Seriously, for the best grilled cheese sandwich, spread mayo on the outer sides of the bread instead of butter or oil. Since mayo is mostly oil, it frys up the bread and creates a nice crunchy crust. Trust us, you’ll agree.

Most mayo recipes suggest a neutral oil like canola or safflower. We had neither, just regular extra virgin olive oil. The olive oil is a little grassy and peppery, but delicious for our needs and works well for sandwiches and salads.

Whip up a batch the next time your out of your favorite jar, or if you just need a good one arm workout.

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Olive Oil Mayonnaise
adapted from Good Eats

1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
A pinch of sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 cup olive oil

In a glass bowl, combine the egg yolk and dry ingredients.

In a separate bowl, combine lemon juice and vinegar.

Whisk half of lemon and vinegar with egg yolk mixture until blended and then start whisking oil in drips into the egg mixture until it starts to thicken into an emulsion. Increase the stream of oil while you continue to whisk vigorously (you may sweat a little), making sure not to add the oil too quickly. Once all the oil is added, you should have a nice, creamy but soft mayo. Let sit for a couple of hours at room temperature, then refrigerate.

Radish Greens Pesto

Pesto is one of those wildly classical culinary gifts from the Mediterranean known the world over. At its Platonic base, pesto is composed of the freshest Legurian basil leaf, the most aromatic garlic, the purist virgin olive oil, the perfectly toasted pine nut, course sea salt, and the finest Parmigiano-Reggiano and pecorino sardo. It makes our mouths water just thinking about all that flavor. Each ingredient a flavor bomb on its own.

Like all classic sauces, pesto is an idea – open to endless possibility. A different choice in green, nut, cheese and even oil can dress up a piece of fish or roasted veggies, or maybe enrich a hot bowl of soup. The variability of pestos offers another vehicle for keeping those greens cycling through your refrigerator and into our food, rather than into the waste bin. In this version, we’ve taken the fresh, beautiful leaves from a bunch of radishes in place of basil. The resulting sauce was fresh and peppery, perfect tossed with whole wheat pasta or used in place of tomato sauce on homemade pizza.

Back in the day, cooks banged out a batch of pesto in a mortar. Today, our blenders make very quick work of building the sauce. Better yet, to save on cleanup and storage, we blend the pesto in a mason jar. The standard blender base fits a wide-mouthed mason jar. Once blended, you can use what you need and then store the unused portion in the jar. Whatever your flavors of choice, you can have a fresh bright sauce on the table in the time it takes to clean and prep the fresh ingredients.

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Radish Greens Pesto

2 bunches radish greens, cleaned
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
2 oz grated parmigiana
2-3 large cloves garlic
Zest of one lemon
Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Add everything but the salt and pepper to a pint-sized mason jar, screw on the blade base of your blender and pulse to chop. Blend until incorporated, but not completely smooth. You want to see flecks of green and breaks in the oil emulsion. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed.