I often wish I was more of a morning person. You know, up at the crack of dawn with half a day’s work done before breakfast… sadly, I’m not. But this just means that the extra hour of daylight on an evening now that the clocks have gone forward, is an extra hour to be working in the garden – well it would be, if it wasn’t still so cold out there. Although, an extra hour in the morning wouldn’t be much use either – there’s a frosty start to most days here.
The late arrival of spring warmth means that the windowsills are now full, with more seedlings needing to be potted on. And I can almost hear the greenhouse groaning under the weight of all the trays filled with seeds of lettuce, rocket, coriander, parsley and a whole range of flowers. Then there are the pots of herbs, taken under cover last autumn as an insurance policy – just in case the plants in the garden didn’t make it through the winter. The extra shelter also means that they’ve kicked back into growth earlier than the outdoor plants. The tarragon, mint and chives all now have just about enough fresh leaves to harvest, which is good because it’s about time we had some spring flavours to use in the kitchen.
A long, long time ago, I worked in a cafe in Sydney. It was a great place to work, and to this day one of the best jobs I’ve had. Every morning I’d walk through the park into the city – always in the sunshine, as far as I remember! When I got into the kitchen, one of the first jobs to be done was making a fresh batch of mayonnaise. There was something very satisfying about slowly adding the oil to the egg yolk and whisking to bring everything together into a thick, creamy mixture. I still make mayonnaise – now with eggs from our own hens, which makes it even more satisfying. Add a sprinkling of herbs from the garden (well, greenhouse) and I could almost convince myself that spring was here… Any signs of spring where you are?
This herby mayonnaise is my entry for April’s Herbs on Saturday – and for the first time ever in the history of this blog, it may well be the first entry of the month!
Spring herb mayonnaise
1 egg yolk
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp white wine vinegar
75ml rapeseed oil
a squeeze of lemon juice
2 tbsp finely chopped spring herbs – tarragon, chives, parsley
salt & freshly ground black pepper
Put the egg yolk, mustard and white wine vinegar into a bowl. I use a hand blender to make the mayonnaise, other recipes say to use an electric whisk, or if you’re feeling really energetic you can do it by hand with a whisk. Whisk the egg yolk mixture, and very, very slowly start to add the oil – just dribble it in, a little at a time, and keep whisking. It’s important to make sure that the oil you’ve added is fully incorporated before you add any more. Once the mayo starts to thicken, you can start adding the oil in a steady stream – but keep whisking all the while. Once all the oil is thoroughly mixed in, add a squeeze of lemon juice, the herbs and some salt and pepper to taste.
I read in a book that home made mayonnaise keeps for up to five days in the fridge. We have never got to the five day stage – I make a small batch and it gets used up in a couple of days.