Since I was a kid I have wanted to put mayonnaise on everything. But just basic mayo, nothing too fancy. I didn’t know what I was missing.
Like many eaters, going to France obviously changed how I looked at food, but definitely not the way I expected. I was thirteen and traveling with my mother, father, grandmother, and younger brother David who was eight. While Mom and Nan-Nan and I scoured the streets of Paris for the best bargains Daddy and David had a much better idea and went exploring. After few hours, I grew tired of attempting to keep up with the ladies shopping, and found the my father and brother at a nearby street cart or sandwich stand. It was hard to miss them, David wore a giant velvet patched hat on he had purchased from a nearby gypsy and Dad had a sandwich in each hand excited to share. Both were grinning ear to ear with the treasures they had discovered. Thrilled to share their discoveries they offered me a bite. At first I resisted, I wasn’t hungry and to be perfectly honest, after attempting to fit my tush into so many tiny French clothes unsuccessfully the last thing I wanted was food. But I could tell by the glimmer in both of their eyes that I had limited time to take a bite, and would definitely be missing out.
That bite changed everything. I couldn’t tell you all of the parts of the sandwich, my senses were over taken by the delicious frites with aioli (French fries with mayonnaise) cozied in between the freshly sliced baguette. It was a bite that assured me I had not only made the right decision indulging, but I would never look at French fries and dipping sauce quite the same. That moment, being French street side with Daddy and David is still one of my favorite memories associated with food.
Mayonnaises and aioli are very similar with a few subtle differences. Classic aioli contains roasted savory garlic, where as classic mayo rings in bright lemony flavors. These simple dips or sauces are the simple fancy touch your dishes are looking for.
Mayo is an emulsion of egg yolk and oil. When mixed correctly, the tiny droplets of oil spin themselves around the yolk. Adding different flavors like salt, pepper, mustard or herbs, help take this neutral spread to the smooth treat so many love to add to everything. Believe it or not, it’s a lot easier to make than you think.
Aioli is a thick garlic sauce. True aioli is emulated garlic, olive oil, and a little bit of salt. Other ingredients can be added to help the garlic and oil spin together faster. Even when egg yolks are added to the aoili, it differs from mayo because garlic is still the star player.
If you want a simple touch to take a basic sandwich to the next level or even trick someone who doesn’t usually like mayo into loving it (not that I’d ever do something like that), give today’s recipes a try. They are delicious smothered on red meat, white meat, fish, veggies, and even as a simple dipping sauce for crab cakes or french fries. Take a sandwich to the next level. The sky is the limit. One of the great thing about these recipes is you can make them all ahead and just have them on hand ready to shmear and share. Have fun and get a little adventurous.
Good luck and enjoy!
Makes 2 cups
4 large egg YOLKS
1 teaspoon dry mustard (I prefer to use Dijon but any will work).
Kosher or course salt
fresh ground pepper (Trust me the fresh makes a difference).
1 1/2 cups canola oil or vegetable oil
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
In a bowl (make sure you have a damp bowl under bowl to keep from moving) or food processor, combine egg yolks, mustard, salt and pepper. Mix or whisk enough to break up yolks. Drizzle in oils while food processor is continuing to mix, or continue to whisk constantly while drizzling. This will allow the particles to weave together and emulsify. If the may starts to look curdled or the oil forms pools, don’t worry, just stop what your doing and whisk til it reunites. It separates, but it’s easy to mix back.
Whisk in lemon juice, 1 tablespoon water, and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately or put into a sealed container and place in fridge. Mayo is good for around one week.
Makes 2 cups
1/2 cup each of loosely packed fresh leaf parsley, tarragon, chives, basil and mint (optional cilantro).
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 cups basic Mayonaise (see recipe above or sub with good quality mayo).
Fresh ground pepper
Throw herbs and sour cream into food processor and mix til well blended. After, add mayo and process. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Lemon Caper Mayonnaise
Makes 2 cups
Grated zest and juice of one fresh lemon
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 cups basic Mayo (see above recipe or sub with good quality mayo).
Roasted Corn Aioli
(Amazing on a tomato and bacon sandwich. One of my grandmothers favorites).
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon course salt
1/8 cayenne pepper
1 cup olive oil, more if needed
2 ears corn, shucked, grilled, and cut off the ear
Combine all of the ingredients except for the olive oil and corn kernels in a bowl of a food processor and process for 30 seconds or until smooth. Slowly add the olive oil through the feeding tube while the processor is running. The aioli will have the same consistency of mayonnaise one all of the olive oil is incorporated. If necessary, add a little more oil until the proper consistency is reached.
Transfer to a bowl and fold in the corn kernels. Adjust the seasoning.