Mayonnaise

You can use a food processor, or a mortar and pestle, or a bowl and a wooden spoon.  Some use vegetable oil rather than olive oil for a gentler result.  I do not.  Your mayonnaise should have that bitter olive taste.  Some thin with water; I feel this should be avoided.

Confession time: I’ve had terrible, terrible luck making mayo at home. I could never seem to get the proper emulsion going, with the end result always being a broken mess. But this time I was determined. Mr. Henderson has guided me gently through his book. He’d see me through this recipe as well.

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Into my food processor went three egg yolks (one is hidden by the blade), a little dijon mustard and a pinch of salt.

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The yolks were whizzed for a little bit to get things started.

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And here’s the needed olive oil. Slowly, and I mean really slowly, I drizzled the oil into the running processor.

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Look! I’ve got the beginnings of a mayonnaise! Flush with confidence, I started adding the olive oil in greater amounts…

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… which promptly broke the mayonnaise.

I’m not going to lie, I said some things that no one should probably ever hear. Gordon Ramsey would have blushed. Sailors started signing up for lessons.

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But I refused to be beaten. Mostly because I’d really planned on posting this week. That and we were out of olive oil.  To quote Tim Gunn, I needed to “make it work”.  Grabbing three more egg yolks, another emulsion was started via my arm, a whisk and a metal bowl.  Over the next ten minutes, about half of the broken mayo was added to the bowl, which resulted in a slightly-and I mean slightly-thick sauce.

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The leftover broken mayo was evacuated from the food processor, and the new cohesive mayo went in. Scared to screw up yet again, I slowly  combined the two until finally…

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… I HAD MAYO!

It was perfectly thick–extra rich with a great mouth feel. The bite of olive oil was a little jarring at first and yet, it grew on me quickly.

The best part? I’ve overcome my mayonnaise gremlins. What a grand feeling that is to say the least.

One down, forty six to go.

Items of interest from around the ‘net

Over at the always great Belm Blog, David runs into the same issues I did when making Brawn.  I’ve got full faith that he’ll enjoy pan fried head cheese soon.

An interesting piece over at GOOD, Your “Nitrite-Free” Meats Are Full of Nitrites.

Chris DeNoia from Momofuku at Home found this great TED talk by Christien Meindertsma, author of “Pig 05049″. It’s all about the astonishing afterlife of the ordinary pig, parts of which make their way into at least 185 non-pork products, from bullets to artificial hearts.

There’s a new offal website out there.

KLG shot me a link about taboo pork.

Finally, the always awesome Andrew Zimmern has answered a whole boat-load of questions.  He even answered mine!

Can’t wait to get home and writing.  Talk at you in a bit!

Baked Celeriac And Eggs, take two

A wintery lunch that is not dark brown and meaty.

The last time I attempted to tackle this recipe it ended in disaster.  This time I’d like to think that the end results were much better, but the pictures came out terribly in my opinion. I just can’t win with celeriac.

On with the public shaming.

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Two medium sized heads of celeriac were procured from my local Central Market. I don’t know what it is about that place, but I’m always smiling when I walk out the door. If you’re ever in Texas I really recommend you visit one. You’ll understand by the time you leave.

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The heads were scrubbed clean, peeled, and then chopped into cubes before being placed in a pot of salted water. In my previous attempt I had used way too much salt, so I made sure to not overdo it this go around. The water was then brought up to a boil, and the celeriac cooked for a little under a half hour. I knew it was finished when a sharp knife went through the flesh easily.

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To ensure that my mashed celeriac wasn’t watery I gave the cooked cubes a quick spin in my new salad spinner. I wish I’d have picked one of these bad boys up a while ago. They make removing excess water a snap!

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Last go around I shied away from using two sticks of butter because, well… two sticks of butter is a lot, but damn the calories, full speed ahead.  Two sticks of butter were mashed together with the boiled celeriac over a gentle heat until the two were fully combined.

Now at this point I was supposed to add in a handful of chopped celery leaves. I decided to fore-go them because previously they were such a pain in the rear, or more appropriately, in my throat.

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The mashed celeriac went into an oven proof Pyrex casserole dish and spread until an even layer had been achieved.
One of the major problems with the previous attempt was that the eggs over cooked. Mr. Henderson says in that book that the dish should be in a hot oven for roughly five minutes, but I remembered that the eggs hadn’t cooked in that time. As an experiment, when making the little indentations for the eggs I made sure they went all the way down to the Pyrex. A few knobs of butter were placed around the eggs before being placed in the oven.

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Much better! The eggs are properly cooked, and you can see a slight browning around the edges. Some salt and pepper for seasoning and I was done.

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And here’s the finished product.  The missing green celery leaves sure makes for a boring, beige hunk of food, but the flavor was just wonderful.  When broken, the egg yolk added a nice creamy texture to the buttery, dense celeriac mash.  The mash itself was sweet and very rich as you might suspect with that much incorporated butter.

Am I super thrilled with how this remake turned out?  No, not really.  I’m regretting not adding the celery leaves despite the irritation they gave me last time.  But I’m happy enough that I consider this recipe completed.

One down, forty seven to go.

It was only a matter of time

I wish I could flatter myself knowing that someone out there thought I garnered enough attention on my site to warrant hacking it.  The truth of the matter is that I had been lax with my security despite Hank warning me via e-mail a little while back to step it up.  You were right Hank.  You were right.

I’ll be getting everything back to the way it was here shortly.  I do apologize for the mess.

Ryan