Covering my Basics

For the 3rd day of Christmas I want to share a few staples from My Christmas. The first is that Magic emulsion known as Mayonnaise. There are some really good ones on the market, but none of them are as unctuous and silky smooth as a good home-made mayo. Often deemed too scary, its actually very straight forward, especially these days with kitchen gadgets. And once you have your basic mayo, you can make variations to go with a whole range of dishes.

I use my mayo to create that Best Friend of Fish – Tartare Sauce,as well as the dressing for the Fennel salad in my last post – and one of the 2 salads that appear at every Christmas – Polish Carrot salad.

The other salad that has to appear every year is a light and fresh Polish Cucumber Salad known as Mizeria. Simple, delish and by far my favourite salad of all time.

The last dressing/Salad I’d like to share is a variation of coleslaw. This Asian style dressing can go on normal coleslaw, or even more interesting a mixed apple salad, both of which add an interesting tang to a Bar-b-que, orserved with chicken or seafood…

Magic Mayo

I love mayo of all shades… plain, Aioli, citrus, wasabi,saffron scented, pink and in tartare sauce. In summer, I often have a batch in the fridge for salad dressings and on left over cold meat sammies…  Mayo making can seem scary but be brave – and use a hand mixer.  I have made it with a balloon whisk – but a)it’s tiring (and possibly too hot in summer) and b) speed means less likelihood of splitting..

So here goes… This makes about a Cup and a half and will keep inthe fridge for about 5 days.  Because it has raw yolk in it I wouldn’t recommend it for you preggy women, and it means you do have to be ultra-careful about safe storage…

Mayo Ingredients

1 Egg Yolk (I always use free range eggs – gives you the best flavour, and the yellowest yellow)

1-2 Tbsp Vinegar.  Inormally use white wine vinegar, but it depends on how tart you like your mayo, and what you’re using it for later…

1tsp English mustard – you can use whole grain, but then you might need to use more.

1-2 tsp sea salt… (Use less if you are using table salt)

1-1½ C Oil… My basic mayo uses Rice Bran oil; but you can use Olive oil and you get a slightly green mayo, and if you use Extra Virgin OliveOil you get a real fruity mayo… Or a mixture of any of them, the choice is yours.

Put the Mustard, vinegar and salt in a large non-metal bowl and mix until the salt is dissolved. I’ve found that the sea salt doesn’t dissolve very well once the oil starts being added so I try to do this early. 

Add your egg you and mix with your mixer until it starts to turn pale.  Then start to add the oil a tsp at a time mixing all the time. Once it starts to thicken you can add the oil faster. If the mayo starts to split stop – there’s really no beating it back into shape, and you’ll know if it’s splitting. At this stage, it is salvageable. Get a fresh yolk and start again – this time adding teaspoons of the split mix and then carry on with the oil.

Add oil until you get the consistency you want.  This makes a thick “soft butter” like mayo –not a pouring one.  You can add small amounts of warm water if you want to thin it out a bit.  Taste and add more vinegar or salt if you need to.

Some of the variations I have made include:

Aioli – add ½ – 1 small clove of garlic smashed really finely to the original yolk/vinegar mix. You may want to ½ and ½ your oil with Olive and Rice Bran.

Citrus – add the zest and some juice of whichever citrus you want; if using lemon or lime replace the vinegar with the juice. If using Orange,you might want to leave in some vinegar to keep the bite.

Wasabi – spectacularly good with prawns, crayfish or salmon. Stir in 1/2 tsp wasabi paste – to taste. Goes a really pretty spring green colour.

Saffron scented – also fabulous with seafood and fish, but nice with chicken too.  Soften a few saffron threads in 1 Tbsp boiling water, cool and add ½ way through the mixing process… Makes a lovely sunny yellow mayo.

Pink mayo – what used to be known as Marie Rose Sauce and added to prawn cocktails in the 70s. Add 1 Tbsp of a good Tomato paste. Adds a lovely pink sweetness to the sauce and really does go well with prawns or crayfish…

Tartare Sauce

And the good old tartare sauce – it’s really worth making your own. So much nicer than anything in a jar, but it does call on a few pantry ingredients. And I find all the dicing and chopping very therapeutic.

1/3 C Mayo

1/3 C Sour Cream

1T Oil

1 large gherkin finely diced

½ red onion finely diced

1hard boiled egg finely chopped

A good handful of flat leaf parsley – you guessed it, finely chopped

1 T capers (optional) – finely chopped.

Mix the Mayo, Sour cream and oil together until well combined, and stir in the rest of the ingredients. Season well with salt and pepper.

A pair of Polish Salads

Contrary to popular opinion, not all Polish vegetables are stewed or pickled – though they do do a very good line in pickles.  These are 2 of my “go to” summer salads.  Easy, delicious and quick to make..

Carrot and Leek Salad

I guess this is similar to a cabbage-less coleslaw..

2-3 large carrots

1 large leek

1 serving spoon dollop of mayo

1 serving spoon dollop of sour cream (I use light sour cream, because its looser and mixes better)

1 Tbsp Rice Bran oil (tho any oil will do)

Salt and a really good grind or 3 of black Pepper

Peel and coarsely grate the carrots.

Clean and thinly slice the leeks, I use my food processer because it finely slices them, use a knife if you want to save on washing up.Once they’re sliced put in a bowl and slosh in cold water.  Any dirt that’s left should sink to the bottom of the bowl. Scoop out and shake dry.

Mix the dressing ingredients and then fold in the carrot and leek.  This salad is best made an hour or so before you need it, to let the flavours merge.  You can change the leek to ½ a finely diced red onion, which gives it the same pepperiness. Keeps well for 2-3 days in the fridge.


This sad name belongs to possibly the easiest salad ever –and my all-time favourite. I always make extra, so I have a lunch snack the next day.

1 large cucumber

1 good dollop of sour cream

3-4 pinches of sea salt (or 1-2 if you use table salt)

a few sprigs of fresh dill (optional)

Peel and finely slice the cucumber.  I use my cheapie mandolin because the thinner the better.  Spread the cucumber out onthe chopping board and sprinkle liberally with salt.  You ‘ll need more than you think, because most of the salt disappears when you leave the cucumber to sit.  Place it in a strainer over a plate and leave for at least ½ an hour, but preferably and hour and the excess moisture and salt will run away.

Drain the cucumber and squeeze lumps of in your hands to remove more moisture.  Place in a bowland then stir in the sour cream. If you are adding the dill, now is the time to finely slice it and sprinkle it over the gorgeous greenness And that’s that!

A touch of Asia

Asian Slaw

Asian Slaw dressing

1 T grated Palm Sugar

2 T fish sauce

¼ C Lime Juice

1 T sesame oil

1 chilli seeded and diced finely (optional)

Whisk together and pour over shredded vegetables.

Asian Slaw

½ Chinese Cabbage thinly sliced

1 – 2 Carrots julienned. (you can grate it, but the slaw has a better texture if they are slivered)

6 Spring Onions thinly sliced/or a leek finely sliced

½ C coriander leaves chopped

¼ C peanuts chopped (optional)

Mix all the veges in a bowl and toss through the dressing.  Sprinkle the peanuts over the top.

Apple Slaw

4-6 Crisp apples.. I like a mix of Green and Red, Granny Smiths, Braeburns and Jazz work well.

3 Spring Onions thinly sliced.

Core the Apples and slice thinly. Then cut the slices into thin sticks. I use a mandolin and then a sharp knife.

Toss together with the dressing and serve.

So, I hope this has given you a few ideas to add to your Festive Feasts…


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