Thursday, March 13, 2008

Emulsions and I don't mix

It's been a bad week for me and my sauces. Nothing has gone right and everything has split.

On Tuesday night I tried my hand at making mayonnaise for the first time. By hand. It's one of the skills I want to have before I die.

If you don't know, mayo is just an emulsion of egg yolk and oil (with a bit of acid to help open up the egg proteins and get them all tangled up with the oil). The trick is to incorporate the oil as slowly as possible, or so I've been told. I got together my ingredients (egg yolk, 3/4C canola oil, 1 tsp lemon juice + my trusty whisk) and started beating. I beat the yolk and then put in a drop of oil and beat it again. I did this repeatedly, until 1/4 of the oil was incorporated. Things were starting to look good at this point; my mixture was really really thick. I started adding the oil a little bit more aggressively, perhaps a tsp at a time. All the recipes I've read say to pour in the oil in a thin stream, but I couldn't figure out how to do that while whisking and holding onto the bowl. At about the 3/5C of oil things went down hill. The mixture started to break; after I stopped whisking, the oil would seep to the top. I was hungry and hopeful, so I continued on and used up the whole 3/4C. Adding more oil didn't help (my head knew that would happen, but there was still this irrational hope that it was wrong). I threw it into my prepared chicken salad mix, added some store bought mayo and ate it anyways.

Tonight was no better. I made myself macaroni and cheese but my cheese sauce split. Another bust.

My cheese sauce is basically roux, milk and cheese. My downfall this time around was the type of cheese I used. Have you ever wondered why you don't see macaroni and blue cheese sold anywhere? It's because it's hard to make a smooth sauce with blue cheese If the temperature of the sauce gets too high, the proteins can clump together leaving clumps of cheese and water. I made the mistake of adding the blue cheese in with the gouda and colby and now I have leftover mac and cheese that is really watery with tiny clumps of cheese dispersed throughout.

So that's been my culinary week (and it's only Thursday). Tomorrow I make something that's harder to screwup.


the Doug said...

I feel your pain. How's the camera dilemma.

Richard Siemens said...

No word from the camera shop yet :(

Anonymous said...

Richard: When I used to make my mayo I did it in the food processor. When the top is on there is an opening that oil and such can be poured into the main part of the blender slowly. It worked nicely and I can't say I ever had a batch that didn't work. So, you might want to try your food processor with the lid on, or use your big mixer with the plastic cover on and pour "very slowly" in a fine stream through the opening in the plastic lid. It's worth trying again because the home-made stuff is really good and once you've mastered it you can add different herbs or flavours to the mayo if you'd like...then enjoy :) Have a great Easter...Linda.