Saturday, 21 April 2012

Mayo - it's an oily business but somebody's gotta do it

After reading the recipes on my blog, I'm sure it's hard to believe that I actually try to eat very healthily. It's just, in general my food during the working week is really boring, so there is not much to blog about (unfortunately I will do that when I have time though, just to prove my point). Incidentally most of my blog entries are from the weekends, when I give myself the freedom to go crazy and cook and bake all sorts of sinful treats and even including my arch enemies wheat, sugar and dairy. I'm sure that makes much more interesting reading than endless iterations of "prepare meat/fish and eat with spinach, cucumber, tomato and sweet pepper.

I've spent quite a bit of time online, doing research on the most healthy way to eat. Also, I have tried to lose quite a bit of weight during the last 6 months, so I needed to find ways to eat which were healthy and promoted weight loss. I know few things get people as passionate (and sometimes outright rude and agressive) as discussions on diet and what to eat. For me personally (and at some later stage I will throw in my thoughts about how I believe we are all unique and different in our response to our diets) a low carb diet has worked wonders. With "worked wonders" I mean that I lost over a third of my body weight in 5 months or so (and this is a good thing, there was plenty to lose).

One thing I have not been able to figure out despite loads of online research is fats. One person thinks virgin coconut oil is the only oil you should ever use for cooking, whereas others swear in the name of olive oil. As rapeseed is a very big business back home, we have been brainwashed from little kids to believe rapeseed oil is the most healthy option. Others still use nothing but butter believing all oils are the creations of the devil. Depending on the source, butter is either not bad at all for you, or really bad. The only thing most people (apart from the official health recommendations of government research institutes apparently) is that margarine is bad bad bad. So in the crossfire of all of this info, I have created my own philosophy for fats. First of all, I never use margarine. For baking, I use butter. For cooking, depending on what flavour I'm going for, I use either organic virgin coconut oil or rapeseed oil, these two should be the more thermostable fats. For salads, i use extra virgin rapeseed or extra virgin olive oil. Then I got some other oils, like macadamia nut and sesame seed that I sometimes use in cooking for their distinct flavours. So a mix and match, aiming to minimize the use of fats in general and heavily bias it towards the omega-6 and omega-3 rich oils. Whether this makes any sense or not I don't know, but that's how I roll. And last time I checked my blood lipid levels, they were all better than fine, but I'm keeping an eye on them regularly. 

So, now I'm finally getting to the actual recipe part. Mayonnaise is something we have learned is unhealthy and should be avoided. And yes, again in general I agree as the calorie content is huge. But sometimes you just get a craving for it. And of course the only place to get your mayo is to get the industrial, preprocessed, full of additives stuff that keeps good in the fridge for a year. Because we all know that making mayo is difficult, you have to have a magic touch to get it to emulsify (you know, when it gets all thick and gooey). That is what I have always believed and what most recipes will have you believe. WRONG!!! Making mayo couldn't be easier, I have made it several times, and it has turned out perfect every time. So please, please, please give it a try next time you need mayo for something. Yes, it's a bit of an extra hassle, and yes, you will be cleaning up oil splatter from your kitchen walls, but you know it wont have any extra additives, you can make it from free range eggs and the best quality oils. I have used both macadamia nut oil and extra virgin rapeseed oil, both turned out very good. The macadamia nut oil has a bit of a sweeter taste and requires a bit more salt, whereas the rapeseed oil has a nuttier taste. Next time I might try olive oil, although I'm suspecting the taste of the olive oil might be a bit too strong. I also recently bought some flavoured extra virgin rapeseed oils which I'm excited to try out at some point. And finally, thank you for reading so far if you have (I'll try to keep my ramblings shorter in the future) and here we go (this is where is stole the recipe from)...

1 egg (free range organic of course)
a squeeze of lemon juice
a few crushed mustard seeds (although I use whole, they do get crushed in the process if you use a hand blender for mixing)
220-240 ml oil
salt and pepper for seasoning

The howto:
Mix egg, lemon juice and mustard seed in a blender or high jug (it is a bit messy, so I recommend you use a big bowl or jug). Get your blender going (I use a hand held blender as you can see in the pics) and start adding oil. Just remember that you should start by adding small amounts, maybe one or two tablespoons at a time, and you will do fine. I do this by measuring the oil in a glass or cup or whatever (something with a pouring nozzle might be good and reduce the mess quite a lot), and using the blender with one hand, keep it constantly going, and pour a small amount of oil at a time into the jug all while keeping the blender going. If you accidentally happen to splash a bit too much, don't worry, you haven't ruined your mayo. At some point, a bit before halfway through the oil, the mayo magically starts to emulsify. Then you think, maybe I shouldn't add more oil, because it becomes too runny, but just keep adding, by some chemical reaction magic the mayo will get thicker the more oil you add. Towards the end, you can add bigger amounts of oil at a time (a few tbsp or so is ok). When all oil is added, season with salt and pepper. 

The verdict:
Like I said before, I had always believed that making mayo requires superhero powers or magic skills. I'm glad I tried it, as this is obviously not true. The result of your efforts will be a really creamy and smooth mayo, and you can make any variation you like by adding flavourings. I want to try garlic mayo by adding a bit of garlic and partly using garlic flavoured oil, same for chilli, maybe add some vinegar and then I have a 'smoke' flavoured olive oil, which I'm very interested in trying. I guess it would make some sort of BBQ-y flavoured mayo. Maybe try one with herbs like parsley or chives, or maybe sundried tomatoes. I read somewhere that homemade mayo keeps in the fridge in a container for about a week, but I usually run out of it long before that, so I don't know.

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