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I started making my own salad dressing years ago after an aunt taught me. I felt foolish. All those years I had been buying vinaigrette that was either too sweet or too bland, and I could whip up my own in about a minute. Cue a few years later I am talking to a French friend in Bangkok, who happens to be a chef, and we are talking about a mutual friend. The ultimate insult (I guess among the French) was issued, “And she doesn’t even know how to make a mayonnaise!!!” And suddenly I realized, while I am an accomplished home cook and know the principles of making mayo, it is not something I could spontaneously whip up either. For shame! And I set out to correct that. So let me tell you how to make amazing vinaigrettes and mayonnaise in minutes. Please, please…never buy in the supermarket again. Promise me, ok?

Let’s start with mayonnaise – it’s pretty simple – and there is a cheat. The handheld immersion blender. You aren’t going to be whisking by hand for 20 minutes, the immersion blender takes all the effort down and you can have mayonnaise by the time the bread is toasted for your sandwich!

Homemade Mayonnaise
– 1 egg yolk
– a tablespoon of prepared dijon mustard (not grainy)
– 1/2 a medium sized lemon
– 1 cup flavourless oil, like grapeseed oil or safflower oil or extra virgin olive oil

Find a widemouth glass or the tall mixing cup that has come with your immersion blender. Put all the ingredients in the order listed above. This is important because you want the oil to be on top. Now put the immersion blender all the way to the bottom of the mixing glass / cup. Hold it there – do not move up and down! And watch as the blender slowly pulls the oil down and mixes the emulsion into a creamy mayonnaise.

Make chili mayonnaise by adding an dried chipotle chili or a Thai chili to taste. Make garlic mayonnaise by adding very finely minced garlic, from 2-6 cloves depending on how much of a bite you like. Or you can mix in fresh herbs…just use your imagination.

Homemade Balsamic or Red Wine Vinaigrette
– a teaspoon of dried or prepared dijon mustard (this is optional, but adds more body and tang to the emulsion)
– 3 tablespoons vinegar (either balsamic or red wine vinegar)
– 1/2  cup extra virgin olive oil
– 1 large shallot, finely minced (this is also optional, but adds more character to the vinaigrette)
– Add salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients together in a bowl and whisk until blended. You can also use the immersion blender as indicated above for a slightly creamier result.

The basic principle here is suspending the acid element into the oil element to create an emulsion. The oil element or the acid element can easily be changed. Once you have a basic vinaigrette down, there are endless variations, just remember all you need is an acid and an oil and whatever flavour you want to add.
– For example, use lemon juice as the acid, omit the shallots and add garlic for a tangy lemon vinaigrette. For a honey mustard vinaigrette, use the recipe above and add 1 – 2 tablespoons of honey.
– For an herb vinaigrette, use white wine vinegar and add fresh mixed herbs of your choice, like basil or dill or rosemary.
– Or change the oil to a nut oil like walnut or hazelnut and use sherry vinegar for a warm, robust nut oil vinaigrette.
– For a creamy vinaigrette, you can add 3 tablespoons of yogurt, or mayonnaise or even sour cream.

Now the purpose of these recipes, in my opinion, is to generate the best quality dressing for your sandwiches or salad. But I will point out that making these homemade is also significantly cheaper than purchasing the bottled versions from the store. Tastes better, and cheaper.

What’s not to like?

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