Thursday, 29 March 2012

Kat vs How to Eat: Mayonnaise and Meringues

Dinner: eggs and oil - yum!
You try spelling them...

When I think of Mayonnaise the first thing that comes to mind is Belgium, and I cannot say that about... well anything else really. Nigella gives this recipe to help finish off the leftovers from the last; roast chicken. I cannot however help longing for a plate of glistening pomme frites, fresh out the fryer, to plunge in and scoop up the eggy emulsion with. However studying the recipe I see that Nigella is right “There is one drawback” she states, “When you actually make mayonnaise you realise, beyond the point of insistent denial, how much oil goes into it.” I decide I will stick with the marginally healthier chicken after all.
Now I have never made this before and I consider calling The Oracle for her tips in case the mixture splits (I was in no way worried about this until Nigella recounted her’s never used to split until someone made her aware it could, then it always did – so thanks for that handy advice?!). That is until I remember she prefers not only poor man’s mayonnaise (salad cream) but that her absolute favourite is poor man’s mayonnaise with lumps (sandwich spread). I do not want her tastes sullying this experience so I decide to stick with a mixture of Nigella’s advice and winging it.

I get home and eagerly set about separating the eggs and whisking the yolks. I have thus far only saved £200 of Amazon vouchers towards my ultimate dream purchase – a KitchenAid, tonight I suffer for this as my arm nearly falls off. You have to add the oil tiny drop by tiny drop while whisking (I used an electric hand mixer), especially at first, which I do until I get bored then I let more fall in. Predictably the whole thing suddenly looks like a plate of scrambled eggs. I briefly debate sulking/crying/stomping my feet but decide to add boiling water as Nigella suggests and lo and behold it suddenly looks suspiciously like a bowl of yummy butter icing again. I have to keep stopping myself putting my face in the bowl and licking. This happens a couple of times and then all of a sudden it magically changes colour before my eyes from yellow to a lovely creamy white and my mayonnaise is born.
Mayonnaise = magic
I mix in the rest of the oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper (I couldn’t find the suggested white peppercorns anywhere, although I briefly toyed with the idea of using pink).
It’s ready and I give it a try. I want to love it, I really do, it came together before my very eyes and feels like a crazy science experiment. However one spoon and my mouth feels like it’s coated in oil (probably because it is!). The recipe is to all intents and purposes a coke can sized serving of oil with two egg yolks. I try it with the chicken and it’s a little better, but any more and I fear my insides would be done for! It is absolutely 100% nothing like Hellman’s I tell you that and maybe it's not de rigueur but I’ll be sticking to the supermarket stuff from now on!

I’ve 2 egg whites left so I jump forward a bit in the book and whisk in 60g of caster sugar, folding a further 60g in with a metal spoon, and I make some meringues. I don’t have a piping set (yet) so I spoon them onto parchment paper lined trays. I lick the bowl and reflect on how much raw egg I have ingested this evening. Nigella gives cooking times for 10 or 20, I make 16 and a runty one and have no idea how long to pop them in for. I’m not very good at this game! When they’re cooked you have to leave them in the oven to cool completely so they go chewy not hard. The wait nearly kills an impatient person like me. I keep staring longingly through the oven door wishing them to chill.
Trapped until morning!
Eventually I crack and break one loose. To my surprise/utter delight it's hard on the outside, soft on the inside and melts in my mouth. Traditionally I don't like meringues  (far too sweet for me) but I think this once I my make an exception!

Kitchen wisdom gained:
  • Making your own mayonnaise is pointless (sorry Nigella).
  • Life is less fun without a piping bag – must buy one.
  • I can do MAGIC!!!
Domestic Goddess points: 7 1/2 – I rescued the split mayo (champion!) but I am a kitchen tramp who prefers my mayonnaise from a supermarket shelf. The meringues on the other hand have Eton Mess written all over them.

Final score: Kat 2 – Nigella 2
note: I skipped the stock recipe as I don’t have enough chicken bones but I’ll be coming back to it!

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