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Get Stuffed - Mayo and mustard

The big ‘Mmmms’ of summer fare



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In fact, some think mayonnaise itself is magic. One gastronomique called it a "beautiful shining golden ointment." Hard to think of it as plain old mayo sleeping under the lettuce in your ham sandwich after that.

Mayonnaise first came to the New World just before the beginning of the last century. Americans primarily used it as a salad dressing, as in Waldorf salad, which made its debut in 1895. While the French – and Chef Bernard – are known for adding fresh herbs and spices for flavour, early American housewives were more intent on adding ingredients for the sake of practicality and availability.

One 1925 Good Housekeeping recipe suggested such astonishing substitutions as gelatine, evaporated milk, condensed milk – even mashed potatoes – for the egg yolk. Mon dieu! A Vivian Z. Teeter topped that: "Those who are trying to reduce will be interested to know that upon the advice of their physician… mineral oil may be used in making mayonnaise." Oh my. Your weight reduction may occur in a rather unexpected manner.

The magic of mayonnaise, if you think of it as simply a cold sauce as the French do, is that it can change form and function easily, depending how you sass it up. (I’m purposefully omitting mineral oil here). Even in the midst of our conversation, Chef Bernard is busy working on an aioli – a very French, very garlicky version of mayonnaise ("ail" is French for "garlic"). He describes it as "simplicity, really". He beats together good quality extra virgin olive oil, egg yolk, garlic, roasted bell pepper purée and a bit of lemon juice until it forms a cream-coloured velvety sauce, perfect for his chilled spicy prawns.

Green mayonnaise is a great addition to summer salads and picnic-type food – just add mayo to a purée of spinach, watercress, parsley, chervil and tarragon. Blanch the greens first then pound them in a mortar or grind them in a food processor. Play with the combos of greens any way your intuition tells you.

A rémoulade adds mustard, anchovy, gherkins, capers, parsley and chervil to mayonnaise, while a Nicoise sauce adds two finely chopped pimentos and two tablespoons of tomato purée to a cup of mayo.

But the final piece de resistance , which combines the best of both worlds, may well be Dijonnaise sauce: Pound together 4 hard-boiled egg yolks and 4 teaspoons of Dijon mustard. Season with salt and pepper and then beat with oil and lemon juice like you’re making mayonnaise. Serve it up with your next batch of hot dogs and hamburgers and everyone will love how easy you made the choice between the two big "Ms".