This summer, NPR is getting crafty in the kitchen. As part of Weekend Edition's Do Try This At Home series, chefs are sharing their cleverest hacks and tips — taking expensive, exhausting or intimidating recipes and tweaking them to work in any home kitchen.
This week: Making mayonnaise that's just as delicious as, if not better than, what comes out of the jar.
Simon Hopkinson created a highbrow restaurant, Bibendum, in West London and he has been filling seats there for nearly 30 years. His books, like Roast Chicken and Other Stories, are famous. So this is a man with class.
And he's noticed that "mayonnaise ... is something that is such a pleasure to make, but people are often frightened of it, and it's one of the most delicious things."
Hopkinson has two secrets for making mayonnaise at home. The first one is to spare your arms and use an electric whisk.
You could use a food processor, but Hopkinson says that makes the mayo turn out "clarty" — a Northern English word. "It's when stuff sticks to the top of your mouth. You know when peanut butter gets stuck to the top of your mouth? [That's] clarty," he says.
The second secret is to use a tall, narrow beaker, or a small pitcher, not a wide bowl. That way everything stays in one place and doesn't splatter.
You start with two egg yolks, a blob of Dijon mustard, a squeeze of lemon, salt and white pepper.
Throw that into the beaker and whisk it around a bit. Then comes the oil — he uses a mix of olive oil and peanut oil.
Slowly pour a thin stream of the oil into this mixture as you're whizzing it in the beaker. And then you turn up the speed a little bit, so it gets absorbed.
One final touch: a splash of boiling water to smooth the taste.
That's it: glossy, smooth, homemade mayonnaise. It's more yellow than the version out of a jar and tastes much fresher.
It's also a base for a variety of other lovely sauces.
Hopkinson makes tartar sauce by chopping capers, parsley and gherkins and stirring them into the mayo. He reminds us to always "taste taste taste taste taste."
Then comes Marie Rose — sort of like Thousand Island dressing. It's a classic British sauce from the 1950s, usually served with cold shrimp.
It's just a big dollop of mayo, a shake of Tabasco, a squirt of ketchup and a trickle of cognac. It "needs to be pink," he says. "Very important."
Hopkinson pivots easily from lowbrow to highbrow. He reaches into his crowded fridge and pulls out a Tupperware container. Inside is lobster. What a happy surprise!
He puts a bite of lobster on a small lettuce leaf topped with the Marie Rose.
"Just coat it with the sauce. And a little, just to pretty the thing, a little shake of cayenne or paprika on the top," he says.
Simon Hopkinson suggests putting a few of the lobster, lettuce and Marie Rose sauce bites on a plate, next to a bottle of summery wine.
Simon Hopkinson's Recipes
2 egg yolks
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
A squeeze of lemon juice
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon boiling water
Whisk together egg yolks, salt and pepper, mustard and lemon. Continue whisking as you add the oil, drop by drop and then in a steady stream, until the mayonnaise reaches the desired consistency. Season to taste with more lemon juice, if necessary. Stir in boiling water.
NOTE: Save your arms from exhaustion by using an electric whisk and a narrow, tall beaker.
Tartare (Or Tartar) Sauce
1 recipe mayonnaise (above)
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
1 1/2 tablespoons capers, drained, squeezed and chopped
1 tablespoon gherkins, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Stir all of the ingredients together. This is a classic accompaniment to fried fish or seafood.
Marie Rose Sauce
3 to 4 tablespoons mayonnaise (above)
1 to 2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
3 to 4 shakes Tabasco
A dribble or two of cognac
Stir all of the ingredients together. It should be regulation pink, a bit like Thousand Island dressing. Serve with cold shrimp or — if you're feeling decadent — lobster.
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
We continue now with our summer series, Do Try This At Home. We've been presenting great chefs from around the world as they take the mystery out of restaurant dishes that might not be in the typical home cook's repertoire. Today, we head to London, where NPR's Ari Shapiro paid a visit to the home of a titan of the British food scene.
ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: Simon Hopkinson created a highbrow restaurant. Bibendum has been filling seats in West London for nearly 30 years. His books are famous, like "Roast Chicken And Other Stories," so this is a man with class. But when I visit my friend, in exchange for his giving up his cooking secret, I bring him some rather lowbrow contraband.
I brought you American treats.
SIMON HOPKINSON: Oh, thank you very much, indeed.
Campbell's beef broth, Andy Warhol-style, straight from the USA. He can't get it in London, and it's the key ingredient in his favorite cocktail, the Bullshot.
HOPKINSON: Well, a Bullshot is like a Bloody Mary, but it - the tomato juice is substituted by the beef broth.
SHAPIRO: It tastes better than you might expect, but we didn't come here to make cocktails.
HOPKINSON: I'm going to make mayonnaise because it is something that is such a pleasure to make, but people are often frightened of it. And it's one of the most delicious things.
SHAPIRO: It is so easy and tastes so much better fresh, that he sees no excuse for using the stuff out of the jar.
Show us how it's done.
HOPKINSON: OK, traditionally it's made in a bowl. I like to make it energetically.
SHAPIRO: (Laughter) Energetically, that sounds like a New Age way to cook.
HOPKINSON: Well, because you'll notice from the noise.
SHAPIRO: Two secrets - one, Hopkinson uses an electric whisk. Spare your arms. You could use a Cuisinart, but Hopkinson says that makes the mayo turn out clarty. It's a northern English word.
HOPKINSON: It's when stuff sticks to the top of your mouth.
HOPKINSON: You know when peanut butter gets stuck to the top of your mouth...
SHAPIRO: Yeah, yeah.
HOPKINSON: And it's (smacking noise), like that. C-L-A-R-T-Y, clarty.
SHAPIRO: The second secret, use a tall, narrow beaker or a small pitcher, not a wide bowl. That way, everything stays in one place and doesn't splatter.
HOPKINSON: Traditionally, people will say the first bits of oil must go in drip, drip, drip, no more than that. I start off with a thinnish stream, but you can soon whack it in really quickly.
SHAPIRO: The ingredient list is short - two egg yolks, a blob of Dijon mustard...
HOPKINSON: (Squeezing mustard bottle) It's a bit farty.
SHAPIRO: A squeeze of lemon, salt, white pepper. Throw that into the beaker, and whisk it around a bit.
HOPKINSON: So start off slowly.
(ELECTRIC WHISK WHIRRING)
SHAPIRO: Then comes the oil. He uses a mix of olive oil and peanut oil.
You're slowly pouring a thin stream of the peanut oil into this mixture as you're whizzing it in the beaker.
HOPKINSON: Turn up the speed a bit to get it really absorbed.
(ELECTRIC WHISK WHIRRING)
SHAPIRO: One final touch, a splash of boiling water.
HOPKINSON: And it softens the taste.
SHAPIRO: That's it, glossy and smooth, homemade mayonnaise. It's more yellow than the version out of a jar and tastes much better.
What would you do with this?
HOPKINSON: Eat it?
SHAPIRO: (Laughter) Just with a spoon.
HOPKINSON: There are various things one can make from mayonnaise. It's the base for so many lovely sauces.
SHAPIRO: Do you want to show us one or two?
HOPKINSON: Yeah, absolutely.
SHAPIRO: First, he makes tartar sauce, just chopped capers, parsley and gherkins stirred into the mayo.
HOPKINSON: Always taste, taste, taste, taste.
SHAPIRO: Then comes Marie Rose, sort of like Thousand Island dressing. It's a classic British sauce from the 1950s, usually served with cold shrimp.
HOPKINSON: It was the restaurant dish.
SHAPIRO: It's just a big dollop of mayo, a shake of Tabasco, a squirt of ketchup and a trickle of cognac.
HOPKINSON: It needs to be pink, very important.
SHAPIRO: Simon Hopkinson pivots easily from lowbrow to highbrow. He reaches into his crowded fridge and pulls out a Tupperware container.
HOPKINSON: I have here, as it happens, lobster.
SHAPIRO: What a happy coincidence.
He puts a bite of lobster on a small lettuce leaf, topped with the Marie Rose.
HOPKINSON: And just coat it with the sauce and a little - just a pretty little thing, little shake of cayenne or paprika on the top. Go on, crunch it down.
SHAPIRO: I can't wait.
Simon Hopkinson suggests putting a few of these on a plate next to a bottle of summery wine. Or if you're feeling lowbrow, serve it with a Bullshot cocktail made from Campbell's beef broth. Ari Shapiro, NPR News, London.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
MARTIN: Delicious. Simon Hopkinson is the author of "Roast Chicken And Other Stories." For the full recipes plus other mayonnaise variations - tartar sauce - visit our website, npr.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.