English salad sauce was used as a cheaper alternative to mayonnaise and other similar posh or tricky to make dressings. Nothing to be ashamed about, says Jane, and it comes from Eliza Acton – a cook that pops up again and again in English food, so I assumed it would be some kind of delicious sauce that would be akin to Heinz Salad Cream. In fact Charlotte and I were actually excited at the prospect. We shouldn’t have got excited though as it was pretty crap. However, as a bit of English food history, it is interesting; it’s unbelievable how much our palates have changed. By the way, the sauce is a basic sauce that can (and definitely should) be flavoured with extra ingredients: tomato ketchup, anchovies, or whatever. I went for capers as we were having it with salmon fishcakes.
Sieve two hardboiled egg yolks and stir in one raw yolk and season with salt, white and Cayenne pepper and ¼ teaspoon of sugar along with a teaspoon of water. Gradually mix in ¼ pint of double cream and whisk until thickened. Now flavour with a little lemon juice or a flavoured vinegar. Lastly, add any additional flavourings. Dress the salad with the sauce – don’t forget to slice the leftover egg whites to use in the salad.
#170 English Salad Sauce. Not what I was expecting at all. Quite runny and unsatifying, bland and boring. We made taste okay with the addition of lots of seasoning and a shed-load of capers. Definitely give this a miss, tartar sauce, salad cream or mayonnaise would have been the best thing to have. Oh well, you can’t win them all – 3/10.
FYI: Eliza Acton (1799-1859) was a cook and poet. She was the first person write a cook book for normal folk, anmd was the first to include cooking times and ingredients lists in her recipes. Years later Mrs Beeton based her much more popular book on Acton’s writings. Cheeky!
I want to clock up some Grigson recipes so that the 100th is something exciting before Christmas with a hare, otherwise it’ll be something boring like Welsh rarebit or something. The first of these is mayonnaise. Surprised it’s in there, really; I know we all use it, but it’s not English. Who am I to judge? Apparently, in 1861 Mrs Beeton, took it as read that mayonnaise was well established here. Funnily enough, I’ve never actually made my own mayonnaise and only ever bought it from the supermarket and wasn’t sure what to expect. If you haven’t, have a go – it’s dead easy. I don’t know what the fuss is about getting the yolks and oil to emulsify and not split; just don’t rush it, and you’ll be fine…
Beat 3 egg yolks with a whisk along with a teaspoon of Dijon mustard (English is way too strong for this) and a dash of lemon juice or white wine vinegar. When they start to thicken slowly add ½ pint of groundnut or olive oil (I actually used both at a ratio of about 4:1). Add the oil drop by drop as you whisk at first. If you’re wrist begins to ache take a little rest. You can be braver with the oil as you get to the half way mark. When all is added, season with salt and pepper and extra lemon or vinegar if needed. Easy!
FYI: No-one is really sure of the origin of the name – there are two theories; first, says Larousse Gastronomique, is that it is a popular corruption of moyeunaise, derived from the very old French word moyeu, which means yolk of egg. Or it came from mayennaise after Charles de Lorraine, duke of Mayenne, famous for taking the time to eat his chicken with cold sauce before being defeated in the Battle of Arques. What a trouper. I prefer the second story.
#93 Mayonnaise – 6/10. Not disappointed as such, but unprepared, I think the right word might be. Home-made mayonnaise is absolutely nothing like shop-bought. They are incomparable. This mayonnaise was rich and slightly bitter in flavour and not good when I dipped my finger in to check for seasoning. However, when I tried it out on my favourite sandwich – mature Cheddar, picked beetroot and mayonnaise, I changed my mind and thought it was very good. I just think I’m too used to the bland old Hellman’s to be a convert…Is that wrong?