Saturday, May 22, 2010

Scrumptious Homemade Mayonnaise

Do you know what these are?
Yes, I know they're artichokes. But do you know what they really are?
Vehicles. Vehicles for mayonnaise. Vehicles for this mayonnaise.
Creamy, beautifully pale yellow, thick and smooth and tasting of lemons mayonnaise, the kind where, after you've tasted it, you look around for any respectable excuse to eat it.
This was my first attempt ever at making mayonnaise.
It took a fair amount of steady hand whisking to achieve the finished results (so if you already have a serious case of tennis elbow, consider yourself forewarned). But it was well worth it. I will definitely be making this again. Many, many times.

Because thankfully, we have lots more artichokes in the garden.
1 t. salt
1 t. dry mustard
1/2 t. sugar
2 egg yolks
2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 c. oil (recipe calls for "Wesson oil"; I used Canola)
In medium bowl, mix together salt, mustard, and sugar. Add egg yolks and 1 T. of the lemon juice and whisk for a minute or two. Add the oil in droplets, whisking all the while. Keep adding the oil very, very slowly, so it incorporates into the mixture. As it thickens up, you can add the other T. of lemon juice. Keep going until all oil is incorporated.
This recipe was from the exceedingly delightful book Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns, and Other Southern Specialties: An Entertaining life (with Recipes) by Julia Reed.
Reed adds a pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste, at the end, but I did not. I also cut this recipe in half, because I wasn't sure how much we'd use or how well it keeps. I will probably cut the recipe in half next time, too.
By the way, after making this I was quite proud of my cooking prowess and thought I'd check in with Julia Child for the inevitable congratulations. Child says that while "you should be able to make it by hand as part of your general mastery of the egg yolk," she prefers to make it in the food processor. She finds this "takes no skill whatsoever."
Scientific side-by-side comparison: On the left is store-bought mayo. On the right is the one I made myself. Apparently with no skill whatsoever.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Super Simple Chocolate-Orange Truffles

If you happen to have any leftover evaporated milk hanging around -- which you will, if you made this -- whip up a quick batch of these yummy, chocolatey morsels. You need just four ingredients; cute little melon baller and mini cupcake papers are optional.
1/2 c. evaporated milk
1/4 c. sugar
2 c. chocolate chips
1/2 t. orange extract
itty bitty paper cups, if desired
Bring evaporated milk and sugar to a boil over medium to medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Boil gently for three minutes. Add chocolate chips and orange extract and stir until smooth. (I turned the burner off and did this over the warmed heating element.) Use cute little melon baller, or clean hands, to make into balls when cooled.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Beans 'n Bacon

There is almost nothing more fun than poking through an old cookbook. And this old cookbook, published in 1966, is a doozy.

I'm pretty sure I bought it at a library book sale, and have tried maybe half a dozen recipes from it over the years. The recipes are excellent -- easy to make, different, and, as you might guess from the title, economical.

And the text is grand fun to read. This is from the foreword, by Louise Bogan: "Poets are often out of funds. Many times they try to keep body and soul together by eating candy bars, apples, doughnuts, and an occasional hamburger, usually standing up. This is a mistake. Meals should be eaten sitting down."

The dish I made tonight, called simply "Conde," starts with sauteed pieces of bacon and sliced green onions. Add to it a can of kidney beans and a couple of other ingredients, and you've got an inexpensive dish that you can serve with a salad, some fruit, a roll perhaps, and call it dinner.

1/4 lb. bacon, diced
4 green onions, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 1/2-lb. can kidney beans
1/2 c. evaporated milk
1 c. water
1/4 t. gumbo file powder (I didn't have this, and after looking it up online, decided I didn't need to substitute anything for it)

Brown the bacon and onions in large skillet. Add rest of the ingredients except for the file powder and cook over low heat for 15 minutes. Stir in the file powder and serve.

Do you have a favorite "nickel dinner," as author Ann Rogers puts it?

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