Sunday, November 12, 2006

Mayonnaise and my favourite coleslaw

Mayonnaise... I am sure that every proper foodie person whips up mayo with no effort in between baking a few hand-made loaves and a variety of cakes with intricate layers. In my mind real foodies fit into two handy stereotypes. One is the apple-cheeked woman with the house in the country and the inevitable Aga, with beautiful, Boden-clad children, and animals aplenty, who makes everything from scratch (even filo pastry) without turning a hair. The other is a townie, sharply dressed, time-poor and money-rich, who frequents chic Italian delis and survives on artichoke hearts and real Parma ham. I am neither of these images of foodie perfection: I live in a three-bed terrace in a suburb, can't abide dirt, don't really like the country, would love an Aga but couldn't fit one into my kitchen. I can't afford, or more importantly, find, deli-chic in central Newcastle; I don't wear suits and my mobile is three years old, so no chance of me becoming a smart foodie. Instead, I am a true amateur and as such almost everything has the potential to go wrong, although touching a lot of wood it rarely seems to. Today, however, it went spectacularly wrong.

Mayo. I have made it before - the first time I made it, I ruined it; I still don't know why. After that though, I have had success, which meant that when I read Jamie's mayonnaise recipe I was a bit over-confident as I launched into it. It didn't work. I was using my Magimix, the mini-bowl, and I think in my defence that my machine couldn't cope with just one egg (hitherto I have used two...). Jamie's recipe seems odd to me: a survey of my impressive library of cookbooks suggests that most people use 2 egg yolks with 300 ml olive oil; Jamie's recipe is one egg yolk but 565 ml olive oil. Mine curdled way before I had added all the oil (mercifully); I blamed it on the fact that the processor blades weren't picking up the one egg. In something of a huff, I started again, my way (i.e. using 2 eggs). This time it worked. I will have to try Jamie's recipe again, but I was too bruised to do so immediately and I am still puzzled as to why it is so different from the usual recipes and what makes it work. If anyone has tried it and succeeded, please tell me - in any case I will try again.

Some of my mayo - it is such a lurid colour because my Dijon mustard smelt odd so I used English mustard, a suspiciously bright yellow colour...

With the mayo, I had planned to make Jamie's favourite coleslaw. The mayo had, however, thanks to the first flop, taken considerably longer than planned; lunchtime was not only looming but passing us by (and we needed the coleslaw for lunch). Somewhat stressed, I fed a quarter of cabbage through the slicer attachment on my Magimix before realizing that it didn't look much like Jamie's cabbage in the picture; the phone rang and Simon was talking to my mum, who obviously wanted me, and I was hungry... so I took the lid of the processor to inspect the cabbage at closer hand and sliced my thumb on the slicer. It bled impressively, as Magimix-induced cuts tend to, but it doesn't seem too bad (two plasters are more or less keeping the flow under control...); that said, I was quite jolted (I hadn't anticipated losing my thumb in the quest to cook with Jamie). Simon was luckily on hand to finish the coleslaw, while I oversaw his efforts in slicing carrot, red onion and apple, and probably annoyed him to death. In any case, it was utterly delicious - completely unlike bought coleslaw, because it isn't at all mushy, and the individual flavours remain quite distinct; it is so much less heavy, and so much more like a salad.

Homemade coleslaw is so much nicer than the bought stuff, even the decent bought stuff, that I feel that this could become a habit. I really will, however, have to learn not to huff in the company of my Magimix and try to become a more sanguine foodie, someone who genuinely just knocks up a batch of homemade mayo and coleslaw without half slicing off her thumb in the process.

4 comments:

Simon said...

Yes indeed, coleslaw never tasted this good. Everything was crunchy and full of flavour - simple really (as long as you don't cut your fingers off in the process)!

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