For March’s Daring Cooks’ Challenge, (yes, I know I’m a little behind the times) Ruth, Shelley and Sawsan asked us to totally veg out! We made salads and dressings, letting the sky be the limit as we created new flavors and combinations that reflect our own unique tastes.
My own unique tastes huh? Oh boy. Who smells trouble? With a capital T.
The salad dressing challenge actually came at a good time as I had just started on “Salads For All Seasons” and the 1971 recipe comes directly from that.
Remember a few posts ago when I mentioned that the word “Surprise” when contained in a vintage recipe generally denotes something dubious? Well here’s another instalment of words to strike fear into the heart of any retro cooker. Beware words denoting parsimony of any description – Pennywise, Frugal, Thrifty. Even more than the “Surprise” these should best be avoided.
And for a double whammy, check out Erica’s great post on Retro Recipes for “Thrifty Drumstick Surprise”.
Yeah…See what I mean?
Then brace yourselves, because today we are taste-testing Rosemary Mayne-Wilson’s recipe for….
On page 23 of Salads For All Seasons“, Rosemary Mayne-Wilson describes mayo as
“A process of forcing egg yolks to absorb oil and to hold them in an emulsion, thick and creamy”
And ok, not the most romantic of descriptions but technically correct.
I can only assume that somewhere between writing page 23 and page 24 she was possessed by the devil. It’s the only way to explain the eggless, oilless monstrosity that is the economical mayonnaise.
A lot of the time, if I think something is going to be awful, I don’t make it because I hate to see food wasted. However, by its own definition this is economical. So I thought I would give it a try. So, I made it. And it was…
Absolutely fucking horrible.
The best thing you could say about it was that it looked like mayonnaise. And that it tasted like condensed milk mixed with vinegar.
Yeah, I know normally that wouldn’t be a plus. Believe me, I’m scrambling for positives here.
The worst was….
Have you ever bought berry scented nail polish remover? This tasted like how that smells – there was an initial sickly sweetness followed by a throat catching, eye watering sharpness…it was really bad. And not one iota like lovely, gorgeous, creamy, delicious mayonnaise.
However, I wanted to be fair to the recipe and it’s not every day you eat mayo straight off the spoon – which is what provoked the above reaction. And here at Retro Foods For Modern Times we are nothing if not scientific – so I had the idea to do a blind taste testing of the Economical Mayo vs a normal mayo. And what better item to test this on but what is fast becoming this blog’s favourite ingredient, the humble egg.
The Egg Experiment
I wanted to keep this very plain so the flavours of the mayo would be “pure” so I found a very simple recipe for Stuffed Eggs – pretty much just egg yolk and mayo. The idea was to make up two identical mixes, one with a bought mayo and one with the Economical, then mix up the egg halves so it was impossible to tell the difference between them – and blind taste test them. If I couldn’t tell them apart…then any snarkiness on my part was utterly due to my own prejudices and not fact.
That didn’t work.
Primarily because the two versions looked completely different to each other. It was utterly impossible not to tell them apart:
Even though the recipe was too heavy on the mayo, the bought mayonnaise behaved as it should when mixed with egg yolk and formed a rounded dome. Mixing the boiled egg yolks with the economical mayonnaise just made a yellow runny “mayonnaise”. It was so runny that when I bit into it, the mixture ran out of the egg all over my hand which was gross. The egg did temper some of the sharpness of the vinegar but in this instance – Epic Fail for 1971!!!
So, after the disaster of the Economical Mayo, I was a little apprehensive about trying the modern recipe for salad dressing which also mixed a sweet ingredient with something quite pungent.
The following is based on a recipe for Vanilla Horseradish dressing which I found in “500 Paleo Recipes” by Dana Carpender.
I would have through cavemen would have been too busy trying to survive to be pfaffing about with vanilla beans. Then again, my entire knowledge of the paleolithic era is based on B grade movies where scantily clad cavewomen and dinosaurs co-exist. So what do I know?
- ¼ cup vinegar – I used white wine, the original recipe calls for white balsamic
- 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¾ cup (175 ml) olive oil
- ¼ tsp mustard powder
- 2 tbsp horseradish
- Put all of the ingredients into a blender and mix together until it looks creamy – around 30 seconds.
- If you can lay your hands on fresh horseradish, it would be good to finely grate your own. I used bought horseradish sauce from the supermarket
The vanilla is quite subtle, initially providing more of an aroma and only the teeniest undercurrent of flavour. You know, it’s of those times where, if you didn’t know what it was, you wouldn’t know what it was. But it would drive you mad trying to pinpoint what exactly it was.
I also had this on a few other salads and it was good every time!
I would caution against adding more vanilla into the mix as I found that the longer I kept this in the fridge, and I had it in there for close to a week, the stronger the taste of vanilla became. My vivid imagination? Possibly.
I would love to know what other people think of this recipe and if they noticed the same thing. Please let me know if you make it!!!
Oh, and just in case you thought I meant a different kind of dressing for success, lets take a peek at what the cool kids were wearing in 1971.
For the ladies, it was definitely the year of the hotpant…
Whereas for the gentlemen, it ranged from the high necked and tightly belted straightlaced work attire….
To the “manly gown” which was both smart and comfy for lazing in.
Toupé and soap on a rope optional extras. Sold separately.
And then there was the downright bizarre….hang on…isn’t this the same guy from the first photo? Is this what he’s wearing under that tightly belted turtleneck?
Eww…I’m going to go before this gets creepy…or should that be any creepier?
Have a fabulous week!