Mayonnaise, like bread and fresh egg pasta (not to be confused with factory-produced dried pasta, which is a marvelous product) has to be freshly made to be good. Commercially produced mayonnaises contain all manner of strange ingredients, not to mention sugar. Such sweet mayonnaises will not do in italian cooking. Making mayonnaise at home is quite simple, and I offer the simplest method here. It is important that the utensils you use are warm and that all the ingredients are at room temperature, that is, out of the refrigerator for an hour or more. I have always watched my italian relatives whip up fresh mayonnaise in minutes by hand, using nothing more than a wooden spoon for beating the oil into the egg. I prefer to make it in a blender, however. It goes quickly this way, even for the novice. While classic recipes for maionese call for two egg yolks for this quantity of oil, I like to use a whole egg instead. It makes the mayonnaise lighter and more nutritious (egg white is pure protein, while the yolks are comprised mostly of fat). Lovely antipasti are made by drizzling this light, silky mayonnaise on freshly boiled artichoke hearts, steamed lobster, or warm boiled potatoes, just to name a few possibilities.
Yield: Makes about 1 cup
½ cup safflower oil or vegetable oil
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 egg, at room temperature
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste
½ teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
Dash of freshly milled white pepper
1. Combine the oils in a small pitcher. Crack the egg into the jar of a blender and blend briefly to beat lightly. Add 2 tablespoons of the oils. Blend on high speed for 10 seconds. With the machine on the same setting, add the remaining oil in a very thin, slow, steady stream. It is crucial not to add too much oil at once or the mayonnaise will not emulsify. Turn off the blender motor. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the inside of the blender jar so that all the ingredients are thoroughly combined. Stir the salt into the lemon juice and add it with the mustard and pepper. Engage the blender again to combine thoroughly. Use immediately or cover and chill. Homemade mayonnaise will keep for a week in the refrigerator.
To 1 cup mayonnaise, add 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley; 2 tablespoons finely chopped cornichons; 1 tablespoon chopped drained capers; 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste; freshly milled black pepper to taste; and half a small anchovy fillet, well mashed, or ½ teaspoon anchovy paste. Mix together all the ingredients, blending with a wooden spoon. Serve with sliced boiled meats and chicken, or on hard-cooked eggs.
MAIONESE CON AGLIO
To 1 cup mayonnaise, add 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped or passed through a garlic press and then pounded into a paste with a little salt. Serve with seafood, especially steamed lobster or shellfish.