Don’t worry if the first couple of batches don’t turn out exactly right – mayonnaise eluded Julia for the longest time, too, according to author Bob Spitz in his upcoming biography, Dearie, which arrives on shelves Aug. 15. (The key is to add the oil slowly.) Once you get the hang of it, though, you’ll never buy commercial mayo again. Lately, we’ve been slathering it on tomato sandwiches.
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon wine vinegar or lemon juice, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon dry or prepared mustard, plus more for seasoning
1 1/2 to 2 1/4 cups olive oil, salad oil or a mixture of each
Freshly ground pepper
Warm a round-bottomed, 2 1/2 - to 3-quart glazed pottery, glass or stainless steel mixing bowl in hot water. Dry it. Add egg yolks and beat for 1 to 2 minutes until they are thick and sticky.
Add vinegar or lemon juice, salt and mustard. Beat for 30 seconds more.
The egg yolks are now ready to receive the oil, and while it goes in, drop-by-drop, you must not stop beating until the sauce has thickened. A speed of 2 strokes per second is fast enough. You can switch hands or switch directions, it makes no difference so long as you beat constantly. (I cheated and used a KitchenAid mixer.) Add the drops of oil with a teaspoon, or rest the lip of the bottle on the edge of the bowl. Keep your eye on the oil rather than on the sauce. Stop pouring and continue beating every 10 seconds or so, to be sure the egg yolks are absorbing the oil. After 1/3 to 1/2 cup of oil has been incorporated, the sauce will thicken into a very heavy cream and the crisis is over. The beating arm may rest a moment. Then beat in the remaining oil by 1 to 2 tablespoon dollops, blending it thoroughly after each addition.
When the sauce becomes too thick and stiff, beat in drops of vinegar or lemon juice to thin out. Then continue with oil.
Season to taste using vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper and mustard.
If sauce is not used immediately, scrape it into a small bowl and cover it closely so a skin will not form on the surface. Makes 2 1/2 cups.
Tomates A La Provencale
6 firm, ripe, red tomatoes about 3 inches in diameter
Salt and pepper
1 to 2 cloves mashed garlic
3 tablespoons minced shallots or green onions
4 tablespoons minced fresh basil and parsley, or parsley only
1/8 teaspoon thyme
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup crumbs from fresh white bread with body
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Remove stems from tomatoes, and cut in half crosswise. Gently press out the juice and seeds. Sprinkle the halves lightly with salt and pepper.
Blend remaining ingredients plus 1/2 teaspoon salt and a big pinch of pepper in a mixing bowl. Correct seasoning. Fill each tomato half with a spoonful or two of the mixture. Sprinkle with a few drops of olive oil. Arrange tomatoes in the roasting pan; do not crowd them. (Recipe may be prepared ahead to this point.)
Shortly before you are ready to serve, place tomato halves in the upper third of the preheated oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes are tender but still hold their shape, and the breadcrumb filling has browned lightly. Serves 6.