I have a friend who swore off store-bought mayonnaise years ago. If there's such a thing as a club for mayo purists, she could be president and chairman of the board. Once she opened my refrigerator and saw a jar of a name-brand mayonnaise. The look in her eyes made me feel so guilty.
"It's not mine," I lied.
I know I heard her ask under her breath, "Wonder how it ended up in your refrigerator then?" as she shut the door on the subject.
Years later, I found myself reliving the event when I was told to bring pimento cheese to a gathering. This same friend told me years ago that any Southerner knows pimento cheese cannot be made without making your own mayo.
I had my cheese shredded and pimentos drained and ready to go. But upon looking in my refrigerator and pantry, no mayonnaise to be found. The only thing I could find was low-fat mayo, and that was a travesty to which my friend would never have succumbed. Good thing she lives in another city and couldn't see how tempted I was to use it.
But no. I decided to make my own mayonnaise.
It's something that many people are doing now, particularly those involved in the Slow Food movement, a trend that reaches into the back pocket of our culinary history to pull out foods from our past. Mayonnaise is one of them and, though it might be considered an ordinary condiment, there's certainly nothing ordinary about it when making it from scratch.
Richard Hellman introduced the first ready-made mayo back in the early 1900s. Before that, it was always made at home or in-house at restaurants by whisking together egg yolks and oil, along with other simple ingredients. The trick, my friend told me, was to add a little water to the yolks. This, she said, is something her mother taught her and it gives a lighter texture to the mayo. And though she did admit to using a food processor to make her mayonnaise, she said whisking by hand is the best way.
So my story ends with this: Making your own mayonnaise takes some time to perfect, but it's worth trying. The ingredients are not expensive, and your pimento cheese will appreciate the effort. So will your friends and family.
Here's the recipe my friend gave me years ago.
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups canola oil
Place the egg yolks in the bowl of the food processor and add the vinegar and mustard. Season with salt, to taste. Turn the machine on and very slowly start to drizzle in the oil drip by drip until the mixture starts to look like mayonnaise, then a slow steady stream of oil can be added. Makes about 2 cups. Store covered in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
A few weeks ago, I included lots of ideas for deviled eggs from area readers, and now have one more to add. Lynne Marks says this is one of her favorites.
Mayonnaise, to taste
Dash of Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper, to taste
Chef Paul Prudhomme's salmon seasoning, to taste
Sweet pickle relish, to taste
Minced celery or celery seed, to taste
Dried dill, to taste
Paprika, for garnish
Bacon pieces, cooked crisp, for garnish
Split eggs and remove yolks. Mash yolks with mayonnaise, mustard, salt, pepper, a sprinkle or two of salmon seasoning, pickle relish, celery and dill. Fill eggs with mixture then sprinkle with paprika and add a small piece of bacon to top.
Don't forget that 19 local restaurants will be participating today in Chattanooga CARES Dining Out for Life. Each restaurant will donate at least 20 percent of sales during specific mealtimes to the organization, whose focus is HIV/AIDS education, prevention and support for those infected and affected by the disease.
The restaurants donating money from any meal are Brewhaus, Las Margaritas, Tremont Tavern and Universal Joint. Those donating from both lunch and dinner are 1885 Grill, 212 Market, Cafe on the Corner, Good Dog, Sing It or Wing It, Slick's Burgers, Southern Star and Totto Sushi & Grill. Those donating dinner only are Alleia, Back Inn Cafe, Big Chill & Grill, Flying Squirrel, St. John's Meeting Place and Public House. Mojo Burrito is donating from lunch only.
Contact Anne Braly at firstname.lastname@example.org.