Seven days after sowing, my micro cress was ready to eat. It was well over the 5cm height that the seed packet advised and was starting to go wild and curl over the side of the container it was growing in.
‘What better way to enjoy it than by making a homemade egg and cress sandwich, with homemade bread’ I thought. ‘You know what, I might have a go at making mayonnaise from scratch too’.
During lockdown, Mr Salford Kitchen and I have been rewatching Masterchef Australia from season one. Mayonnaise made from scratch has featured several times. I took inspiration from this, assuming that surely it can’t be that difficult.
It turns out that there’s definitely a knack to it.
4 eggs and 500ml oil later, I had filled a jar destined for the bin with curdled mayonnaise. The electric whisk had splattered the counters, stove top and my jumper with greasy splotches. Half the utensils we possess needed to be washed up, and I had turned the air blue with curses. “My mayonnaise is a disaster!” I huffed and puffed to my partner. “There won’t be any egg and cress sandwiches eaten in this house today!”
I resigned myself to defeat, made myself a sandwich with alternative ingredients and a soothing cup of tea. Once I had calmed down and got over my annoyance at myself for wasting good ingredients, I sought out some instructional videos online, which helpfully explained where I had gone wrong. To form a good emulsion, you need to whisk egg yolks, mustard and seasoning well before adding the oil as slowly as you can to start with, a tiny drop at a time. My liberal interpretation of ‘a drop at a time’ (I added a teaspoon at a time) caused the mixture to split and not hold the oil properly.
The next day, well slept and refreshed, I had another attempt. This time, I’m pleased to report that my mayonnaise worked, and an egg and cress sandwich was enjoyed for lunch that day. Here are the lessons that I learnt in the process.
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- Up to 250ml sunflower / vegetable / groundnut oil (use a neutral oil if possible; olive oil is strongly flavoured and not the best choice for this recipe).
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper, freshly ground
- A large mixing bowl
- Balloon whisk
- Damp kitchen towel, to rest the bowl on while you whisk
- Jug (it’s useful to measure out your oil in advance)
- Put two egg yolks into a large bowl, with a tablespoon of Dijon mustard. Season with a few grinds of salt and pepper.
- Whisk the eggs, mustard and seasoning well, until the mixture is completely blended together.
- Add the oil as slowly as you can to start with, a drip at a time is best.
- Every time you add a drip of oil, whisk it well into the mixture before adding further drops of oil.
- As you continuously whisk the mixture, the eggs will thicken and become paler in colour. Once the eggs have thickened, the critical point is past and you can start adding the oil in a steady stream with one hand while whisking throughout with the other hand.
- Continue until the mayonnaise has a thick but creamy consistency – you may not need to use the full amount of oil, depending on the size of your eggs.
- Add some acidity at the end with a teaspoon of white wine vinegar.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired – I added another grind of salt, dab of mustard and drop of vinegar to balance the mayonnaise.
Mayonnaise should be stored in an air-tight jar in the fridge for no longer than a week.
Egg and cress sandwich
Use 1 large egg per person.
Place the eggs in a pan of cold water and bring to the boil. Once it has reached the boil, reduce the water to a simmer, and time it for 7 – 10 minutes (7 minutes for medium eggs, 10 for large eggs). Use a slotted spoon to put your eggs into a bowl (as the pan will have residual warmth from cooking) and leave the eggs under cold, running water.
Once the eggs are cool enough to handle, dry the bowl and the outside of the eggs. Shell the eggs and mash roughly with a fork. Stir through some mayonnaise to taste. Add freshly snipped cress and freshly ground pepper. Serve on warmed buttered bread and enjoy.