I was going to blog the ‘Heaven Sent Hummus’ recipe today but I have been moved to give you this one instead.
As I have driven through the Suffolk countryside I’ve noticed that the roadside ‘eggs for sale’ have started to reappear. I grew up in a house where we had various animals and we had a lot of hens for eggs. They are so good and that got me thinking about the fact that it is ‘springtime’ and we would be starting to see the hens getting broody. I also noticed a distinct change in the quality of the eggs I use. The yolks are super firm and the whites are too. Of course that is too be expected because the fertility of the hen has kicked in.
When I was growing up my Mum and Dad just produced as much of the food as they possibly could. Our garden was covered in panes of glass over heeled in pieces of timber or corrugated iron to make cold frames to get as early a crop of garden fresh food as soon as possible. (In 1979 Dad did actually get a real glass green house, he was so happy).
One of the most delicious things that my Dad (yes read it and weep) would make was Russian salad. The first one would be made around about the end of May with the very first tiny, tender and so sweet peas, carrots, new potatoes and beetroot. And of course those lovely eggs – so fresh that once boiled it would be impossible to peel them.
The other thing he always did, and I have such a strong memory of this, is he would make the mayonnaise himself. He would sit himself on a ricky old wooden chair outside but in the shade. He always insisted it had to use a china basin, a wooden spoon, an egg yolk and good olive oil. It would make a thick (really thick) cream of a dusky, rusty, golden colour that he would then season with a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of malt vinegar. Once the salad was made it would be left in the cold pantry for all the flavours to develop and marry together.
I have told him I am blogging this recipe, I don’t think he really understand what I am on about he just says ‘Oh yes, very good dear. But when I showed him over Skype just the ingredients I have gathered he really smiled and guessed straight away what I was making. I have told him I want to photograph him making the ‘crema’. I’ll put them up once I have them.
Also the photo of the olive oil is of the olive juice (it is so good) that my cousin sends me over from Italy. If you want you can buy it in England in the food halls of Harrods, but I am including a link to their webpage for you to see if you can get hold of it nearer to you. It is worth the effort.
So I am including how to make the mayonnaise but made in a machine but with the good olive oil, you can use sunflower if you think it will be too expensive or too strong a flavour.
It was amazing.
Feeds a party of 8 or 3 hungry Italian kids that had spent all day running all over the countryside.
4 lb Charlotte, Saxon (waxy) potatoes,
4 eggs, hard-boiled, finely diced (optional)
1 small red or white onion, finely diced
240g /8 oz shelled fresh or frozen peas
2 tsp dried or 2 tbsp fresh chopped dill
Boil the potatoes in their skins (about 15 – 20 minutes. Drain and cool in cold running water for a minute, then set them to one side for the skins to dry . Peel them and chop into large chunks (no smaller than 2 cm cubes at all, bigger is fine)
At the same time repeat the process with the carrots and beetroot.
Put the eggs into a pan of cold water, bring up to the boil and cook for 4 minutes then drain and plunge into cold water. Once cold shell them and cut into 2 cm chunks.
Cook the peas just as normal and cool in cold water straight away.
Run the knife through the cornichons to about 1/2 cm pieces. And dice the onion as small as you can manage.
That’s all the that ready. Pop it all into a nice large bowl for mixing.
To make the mayonnaise (in a food processor, so it needs to be a larger quantity, but if you can make it in a smaller amount then just divide it all by 2 or 4)
1 lt/2 pints Olive Oil
4 whole eggs
1 tbsp malt vinegar (or lemon juice or red wine, which you prefer or have to hand)
3/4 cup mayonnaise (low-fat, or a mixture of mayo and sour cream work great here)
a little salt to taste
Add the eggs into the processor bowl with the blade attachment (I have never used a whisk for this).
Set the machine running at it’s fastest speed and through the top feed tube start to very slowly, in a fine line, pour in the oil.
Take your time. At first you think it is not working. Keep the machine on the highest setting.
When you have added about 3/4 of the oil you will notice a distinct change in the sound of the mixture, it will almost be quacking at you. You can stop the machine and have a look, it will have become super thick and mayonnaise-y.
You can turn it on again and finish adding the oil, then the vinegar and salt.
Add 3/4 of the mayonnaise into the mixture and use a big metal spoon to mix it carefully. you don’t want to break it into tiny pieces.
Spoon it into your serving dish.
And coat the outside with the rest of the ‘crema’ and sprinkle with the dill.
Have a spoon to taste yourself now but leave it in a cool spot (a fridge is probably what most people will do) and let it sit for a minimum of 4 hours.
So simple to make and so really delicious, this is nothing like the stuff they sell you in the shops.
Come and see me on Saturdays’ at Bermondsey Square Farmers Market in Southwark. It’s just off Tower Bridge Road, a short walk from The White Cube, Southbank and Borough Market.
All new customers will get a lovely washable cotton shopper as a ‘Thank you and please come again next week’ (Whie stocks last!)
Every Friday at about 6 pm GMT I publish photos of the items I have cooked for market. Have a look at the Facebook page.