This is the first in a bunch of posts about an evening of tapas, the Spanish snacks. On a recent evening I made tapas for some dear friends out in Greenport (an annual event) and you need to know how to do it too. It is an elegant yet friendly way to spend a long time at the table, eating and drinking in a leisurely fashion. The recipes are easy, but some can be time-consuming (I said hot, cheap and easy, but I didn’t say fast!) especially when you want to make several dishes. So choose things you can make ahead and serve cold or at room temp.
First off, make your own mayonnaise! It is lighter, creamier and fresher than what you buy in the store, doesn’t contain preservatives or other weird ingredients (it’ll keep for about a week in the fridge) and you can flavor it with garlic or herbs.
Homemade Mayo (with garlic mayo option)
2 yolks from fresh eggs
(2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped, optional)
2 tsp lemon juice (or vinegar, if you must)
(1/4 tsp mustard powder, optional)
pinch salt, grating of pepper
1 1/2 Cups light or extra-light olive oil (you can use different oils to achieve different flavors, but for basic mayo, light olive oils work best. I find regular olive oil too overpowering)
2 Tbsp warm water
Put the egg yolks, (garlic), lemon juice, (mustard), salt and pepper in a food processor or blender and buzz for a bit. Then leave the motor running and pour the oil in through the top in a very thin stream (I like having help for this part) and the mixture will get nice and thick. Add the warm water at the end.
Some people actually beat their own mayo; if you are so inclined, then do NOT use an aluminum bowl – it will turn the emulsion gray.
I like this slathered on tortillas (recipe to come), boiled potatoes, seasoned shrimp, in sandwiches…every which way you might use mayo or tartar sauce.
Cool science: Mayonnaise is an “emulsion” or a blend of two unlike things, in this case, oil and lemon juice (liquid). The egg yolks contain lecithin and that is the element that holds this fragile union together. Without it, you would have separation, just like in salad dressing. The reasoning behind fresh eggs is not just about food poisoning; the fresher the eggs, the more potent the lecithin and therefore the better your mayo.