Cook the Perfect...Mayonnaise with Arabella Boxer

Arabella Boxer demonstrates how to make mayonnaise, and shares her recipe for the perfect summer lunch.

Mayonnaise

Described as the Nigella Lawson of her generation, Arabella Boxer was a role model for women in the 60s, turning her job of cooking for the family into a successful career. This recipe is taken from her 'Book of English Food', which celebrates British food and society in the 1920s and 30s.

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Tips and techniques

  • It's easier to make mayonnaise in larger quantities - if you're making a quantity as small as this a good tip is to add a sieved hard-boiled egg yolk to the raw egg, to give it some solidity
  • You can use an electric whisk or a hand whisk, but you can also just use a wooden spoon to blend the egg with the oil
  • Use a little jug with a lip for the oil, and hold it right up against the side of the bowl so that you can add a couple of drops at a time. When the emulsion has begun to form, making a heavy smooth paste, you can slowly add the rest of the oil
  • Sunflower oil is much lighter and less pungent than olive oil. You can use a mixture of the two oils if you prefer
  • If the mayonnaise begins to curdle, don't panic. Simply start with a new egg yolk in a new bowl, then slowly add the curdled mayonnaise, and the rest of the oil as you would normally

Ingredients

Mayonnaise

1 egg yolk

150ml olive oil

1-2 teaspoons lemon juice

4 tablespoons whipping cream

To serve

5 hard-boiled eggs, cooked and shelled

340g shelled shrimps or prawns

Garnish

Thinly sliced brown bread

Unsalted butter

Mustard and cress

Small lettuce leaves, eg Little Gem

Preparation method

To make the mayonnaise: have all the ingredients at the same temperature ie take the egg out of the refrigerator 1 hour in advance. The egg should be very fresh.

Drop the yolk into a large bowl standing on a damp cloth so that it cannot slip around. With an electric hand-beater, or a wire whisk, beat the egg yolk for a minute or two.

Have the olive oil in a jug and hold it in the left hand while you beat with the right. Start adding the oil literally drop by drop, beating constantly. After a short while you can add it a little more quickly, but only a few drops at a time.

When about half the oil has been added, you can start to add it in a thin trickle, then a stream, beating all the time without stopping.

When all the oil is finished, beat in the lemon juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning as you prefer.

Turn into a clean bowl, cover with cling film, and store in the refrigerator until needed. Take out well in advance of serving, as it should be eaten at room temperature.

Whip the cream, and fold it into the mayonnaise before serving.

Take hard-boiled eggs, cut in small pieces, and same quantity of shelled shrimps (or prawns). Mix up with a the mayonnaise sauce and serve with sandwiches of brown bread and mustard and cress. (I usually pile the mixture into small lettuce leaves and lay on a platter. If small lettuces are not available, line small bowls with larger leaves and fill with the shell fish and eggs. Serves 3-4 as a first course).

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