Marvellous mayo: Mark Hix adds a touch of luxury to summer with home-made mayonnaise

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Mayonnaise is the indisputable king of the cold sauces; although I’m often shocked at the rogue stuff on the supermarket shelves calling itself mayonnaise.

I remember making as much as 30 or so litres at a time when I first started working in London hotels and there wasn’t much sophistication involved back in those days: we used ordinary vinegar, English mustard, egg yolks and vegetable oil.

Twenty-six years on, I’ve developed a slightly more elaborate version, although I have to confess that I don’t always make my own at home and keep a stock of Delouis Fils (available from Waitrose, £1.99) – which in my opinion is the best on the market.

I tend to use a half-and-half blend of vegetable oil and olive oil, so you don’t get that slightly bitter flavour; and Dijon and English mustard combined, so there’s not too much of a kick. Also, crucially, I use a good wine or cider vinegar.

Basic mayonnaise

2 egg yolks (at room temperature)

2tsp white wine vinegar
1tsp English mustard
2tsp Dijon mustard
tsp salt
Freshly ground white pepper
100ml olive oil mixed with 200ml vegetable oil
Juice of half a lemon (optional)

Put the egg yolks, white wine vinegar, mustards and salt and pepper into a stainless steel or glass bowl on a damp cloth to stop it slipping (don't use an aluminium bowl, otherwise it will make the mayonnaise go grey).

Mix well with a whisk, then gradually trickle the oils into the bowl, whisking continuously. If the mayonnaise is starting to become too thick, add a few drops of water and continue whisking in the oil. When the oil is all incorporated, taste and re-season if necessary and add a little lemon juice.

Duck's egg mayonnaise with broad beans

Serves 4

This is old-fashioned egg mayonnaise – but in a somewhat different guise. A deep-fried egg may sound a bit of a scary proposition, but it's delicious, as long as you make sure that you get the cooking time right to ensure that the yolk is just set.

4 duck eggs
1tbsp plain flour
1 hen's egg, beaten
40-50g fresh white breadcrumbs
Vegetable or corn oil for deep frying
250-300g podded weight of fresh or frozen broad beans
A handful of a single leaf salad such as land cress, buckler leaf sorrel, rocket etc
4 good tbsp mayonnaise
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat about 8cm of oil to 160-180C in a large thick-bottomed saucepan or electric deep-fat fryer. Soft-boil the duck eggs by carefully placing in simmering water for 6 minutes, then refresh in cold water (if the duck eggs are very large you may need to give them an extra minute or so). Once cool enough to handle, peel them, ensuring you have removed all of the shell.

Have 3 dishes ready, one with the flour, seasoned with salt and pepper, one with the beaten egg and the third with the breadcrumbs. Carefully pass the eggs through the flour, shaking off any excess, then the beaten egg and finally the breadcrumbs. Preheat about 8cm of oil to 160-180C in a large thick-bottomed saucepan or electric deep-fat fryer. Cook the broad beans in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes until tender, then drain in a colander. If they are large, then remove the outer shells.

Deep-fry the eggs for about 2-3 minutes or until golden, turning them as they are cooking, then remove them with a slotted spoon and drain on some kitchen paper.

To serve, spoon a blob of mayonnaise into the centre of 4 serving plates, arrange the leaves and broad beans around, then place the eggs on the mayonnaise.

Salmon sandwich with wild fennel mayonnaise

Serves 4

I remember eating canned salmon sandwiches as a kid and thought that it was a bit special – though, of course, good-quality farmed tinned salmon is plentiful these days; and even fresh salmon is hardly regarded as a treat. You could also add a salad leaf to this sandwich, such as watercress or pea shoots.

400-450g salmon fillet, skinned and boned
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2tsp white wine vinegar
6-7tbsp mayonnaise
1tbsp chopped wild fennel
Juice of half a lemon
8 slices of granary bread
Softened butter for spreading

Place the salmon in a saucepan, cover with water, season well and add the vinegar. Bring to a simmer and cook on a low heat for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and leave the salmon to cool in the liquid.

Once cool, drain and pat dry the salmon fillet on some kitchen paper. Whisk the fennel and mayonnaise together and add enough lemon juice to taste and season if necessary.

Break the salmon into large flakes and fold in the mayonnaise. Butter the slices of bread and spoon the salmon mixture on to four slices and lay the other four on top.

Cut into two or into quarters.

Iceberg salad with Thousand Island dressing

Serves 4

I have to admit to a bit of an addiction when it comes to Thousand Island dressing; it's very similar to cocktail sauce and I think it's the ketchup that's partly to blame for the addictiveness.

And no one's really come up with a good alternative to iceberg lettuce; I suppose that we have little gem and cos lettuces which can go very well in a salad bowl, but which don't have quite the crunch of the iceberg.

You can also serve this scattered with small pieces of crispy bacon.

1 large iceberg lettuce, trimmed and washed if necessary

For the dressing

4tbsp mayonnaise
2tbsp tomato ketchup
3 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped
1 large pickled gherkin, finely chopped
5-6 drops of Tabasco
2tsp Worcestershire sauce
The juice of half a lemon
1tbsp finely chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix all of the ingredients together for the dressing and season to taste. Cut the iceberg into 8 wedges and arrange 2 wedges on each serving plate. Spoon over the sauce and serve.

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