It is spring, that loveliest of seasons. The parks turn from smudges of grey to acid green, my clematis drips with ten thousand creamy flowers and Borough Market stalls start selling asparagus and strawberries and spring lamb. Joy.
I bought my first bunch of asparagus for the season on Saturday planning for it to be the centrepiece of a simple snacking supper. I love the stuff so much I really wanted it to be extra special so I decided to make mayonnaise into which we could dip the warm green stalks. I seldom make my own mostly because it seems incredibly decadent - it is such a fabulous rich concoction that I could happily stand and eat a whole bowl with a spoon. For some reason I think that might not be good for me on a weekly basis.
But for the first of the asparagus it had to be. I had some new season garlic in the fridge, pale and delicate and a very good match for my simple supper plan. I'd bought fresh prawns as well that would be divine dipped and some lovely ratte potatoes that would make a good salad to use the remains to go with burgers Sunday night. Frugal and decadent.
There is much palaver about the supposed difficulty of making mayonnaise but it is fairly simple and straightforward, particularly if you have a whisk attachment for a stick blender. Which I do. In this recipe I use olive oil which makes for a very rich mayonnaise indeed but you could make it using vegetable oil just as successfully. The following quantities makes enough to keep you blissfully happy for a long weekend.
250 ml olive oil or vegetable oil if you want a lighter mayonnaise
4 cloves of new season garlic or 1 ordinary clove, peeled and halved
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
A few drops of lemon juice
Salt and pepper
In a small pan warm 2 tablespoons of the olive oil with the garlic very gently, and cook till the garlic turns golden, about 4 minutes. Take off the heat and allow to cool.
In a clean bowl - or a food processor - whisk the egg and yolk then slowly add the rest of the olive oil, literally a drop at a time at the beginning, whisking all the time. As it starts to thicken and become straw coloured increase the volume of oil to a thin steady stream. When you have incorporated about two thirds of the oil add a few drops of lemon juice then slowly add the rest of the oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Mash the golden garlic finely into the oil in the pan then stir it into the mayonnaise. Taste and adjust the seasoning or add more lemon if you need to.
Try and resist eating it all in one go - it will keep in the fridge for a couple of days if you have the strength of will.
Very fine with warm asparagus, fresh prawns, with chicken or ham, as a dip for crisp raw vegetables, with tuna and beans - anywhere that decadence seems good, really.