lemon juice

Vinaigrette

The classic vinaigrette contains olive oil and vinegar. The proportion was once quite a definite 2:1, but even that rule is no longer followed. People have become more health conscious, there is a far greater variety of oils and vinegars available, and I think that people are thinking more about what they are doing when they are cooking. Some salads need a lighter touch than others, and garlic is no longer considered necessary in a dressing.

I would say that a classic vinaigrette is still made with virgin olive oil and white wine vinegar, with perhaps just a touch of lemon juice, so my classic vinaigrette is as follows.

3 tablespoons olive oil (virgin)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic or 2 roasted garlic cloves (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Whisk all ingredients together, and toss over salad just before serving.

If serving more than one dressed salad in a meal, or at a party, try to vary your vinaigrettes, both in the oils used and the vinegars. Apple Cider Vinegar has pretty much replaced the standard white wine vinegar for us, so that’s what we use most of the time.

Remember too, that lemon juice is treated as a vinegar for the purpose of the exercise. Fresh herbs steeped in white wine vinegar and left in a corner of the cupboard just keep getting better and better.

Holandaise sauce

Like mayonnaise, Hollandaise and Béarnaise are emulsion sauces. Emulsion sauces are made with egg yolks, oil or fat and an acid to stablilise them. In the case of Hollandaise and Béarnaise, the fat is butter; with Hollandaise, the acid is lemon juice. Adding a teaspoon of the acid to the egg yolks before the fat is added helps prevent curdling and ensures a thick sauce.

Traditionally, all emulsion sauces are made in a double boiler, but both Hollandaise and Béarnaise can be made in a food processor. To finish the sauce you will need a double boiler, or a basin sitting in a saucepan of hot (but not boiling) water.

4 egg yolks
175g butter, melted, but not hot
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper

 Place egg yolks, water and a little of the lemon juice in the bowl of the food processor and, using the metal blade, process until light and well mixed. With the machine switched on, add the butter in a slow steady stream. Continue to process for another 30 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a double boiler, cook at low heat, but be careful not to let the water boil. Add a little cold water to the bottom of the double boiler frequently to keep it below boiling point. Stir the sauce constantly until it thickens to the consistency of custard. Add extra lemon juice to taste, but remember, too much lemon will spoil the sauce. Stir in the lemon juice well to stabilise the sauce. Add freshly ground pepper.

Hollandaise keeps in the refrigerator, but it does harden to the consistency of butter. Remove from the fridge well before serving time to soften it, or stand it in warm water. It may need to be whisked with a fork, or returned to the food processor for a few seconds. Should the sauce curdle, return it to the bowl of the food processor, switch on, and feed 1 – 2 tablespoons of boiling water through the feed tube, a little at a time.

Hollandaise sauce is traditionally served with asparagus or other vegetables, eggs and fish, especially salmon.