I have plans for the summer. Way back before I was thick into triple digit weather, pool excursions, and some blissfully unstructured days, my son and I sat down and made a list. So whenever there is a lull, or we are wondering what plans to pencil in the calendar, we have some at the ready. We agreed that building bird houses out of popsicle sticks, museum visits, and making goo would be a good use of our time. It has been. I also wanted to teach him a thing or two, so we are starting with some cooking fundamentals this summer. Since he is still seven and not that patient, we are starting small. This summer is a single ingredient study: the egg. Since the two of us share a love of eggs, and they are fast and straightforward to prepare, and yet ever so versatile.
Plus, my fridge is kinda packed with eggy goodness. I connected with someone with a wee farm close to one of the offices my husband works out, that is selling me fantastic pastured eggs from her happy little flock. And she is kindly offering them for much less than I have paid for similarly wonderful local eggs. So we are enjoying good quality in greater quantity these days. I love supporting local farmers and I adore eggs with yolks so orangey-yellow my mayo looks like mustard.
This mayonnaise was our first lesson in egg preparations. Initially, Carter was skeptical, wondering why would we make mayo when we had a jar in the fridge. I said, just taste it, and then let me know what you think. The fridge jar of mayonnaise has its place, but these two as hardly the same thing. A few simple ingredients whisked (or blended) together are elevated to perfection. I don’t eat store-bought mayo with a spoon, but I cannot say the same about the homemade variety. Four minutes is all the time it took to win my son over. He whisked (electric, he doesn’t have hulk hands, and you don’t have to either), while I dribbled in the oil as we slowly crafted an emulsion of egg, oil, lemon, salt, pepper and a dot of mustard.
The creamy, luxurious dressing is the quintessential pairing for summer tomatoes. We played we were French for lunch, and had oeufs mayonnaise (boiled eggs topped with mayonnaise) with sliced, ripe red tomatoes and lettuce slathered with even more mayonnaise. I don’t know that the kids have ever been more excited about salad for lunch. Or greedy about dressing, they did lick their plates, and the bowl. Carter decided it was worth the effort on occasion. And the three year old conceded, “yellow mayonnaise is my favorite.” Me too. Egg lesson number one: success.
Yes, mayonnaise involves a raw egg yolk, so play it safe (and delicious) and choose a good egg, that you can feel comfortable eating raw. Local, pastured eggs are flavorful and perfect, but if you can’t get that- that’s okay- but I do recommend at least an organic and/or free range egg for safety reasons. There is nothing wrong with raw eggs, so long as they come from a reputable source. If you prefer a bolder mayonnaise, go ahead and use a more flavorful oil, like olive. But if you want to mute that flavor, go for a neutral oil such as grapeseed or sunflower, or a combination to your taste. And if you want to add another flavor, do. Mash in some roasted or raw garlic, some lemon zest, pesto, ground chiles, curry powder, minced herbs or anything else you can dream up.
1 egg yolk
Squeeze of half a lemon (about 2 t.)
1/4 t. dijon mustard
1/2-1 cup oil (I prefer a mix of extra virgin olive oil and grapeseed)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Combine the egg yolk, lemon, mustard, a bit of salt and pepper in a bowl with an electric beater or whisk, or food processor. Add the oil, literally drop by drop, while whipping for about four minutes until an emulsion forms and the mixture looks creamy and thickens. Adjust seasonings to taste. This will keep for just a few days in the fridge in a covered container, but is best enjoyed sooner than later.
Stay tuned this summer for more egg lessons to come.