The Best Tip You Probably Missed in The Zuni Cafe Cookbook

updated Jun 4, 2019
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(Image credit: Dana Velden)

It wasn’t easy to settle on just one tip, as there are many excellent techniques in the late Judy Rodgers’ The Zuni Cafe Cookbook (read my review here). I was tempted to highlight her brilliant move of drizzling a teaspoon of hot vinegar over fried eggs to complement and balance their richness.

Instead, I landed on this excellent solution for that dreadful moment when you’ve added too much oil to your hand-mixed mayonnaise.

A Smart Mayonnaise Tip from Judy Rodgers

There’s a big difference between homemade mayo and the jarred stuff — each has its place, but when it comes to aioli, that heavenly pungent garlic-laced mayonnaise from the south of France, it’s best to start from scratch. Rodgers’ gives us a very detailed recipe/method in The Zuni Cafe Cookbook.

Read more about Judy Rodgers: In Praise of Judy Rodgers

The basic technique is to drizzle in a tiny amount of oil with one hand as you whisk the egg yolk/garlic mixture with the other. It’s a little tricky, and the danger is adding in too much oil too quickly, which will cause the emulsion to break.

Usually when this happens, we’re instructed to either throw everything away and begin again or to add another yolk to the mixture to help stabilize it, thus doubling the recipe. Neither solution is desirable.

Instead, Rodgers has us tilt the bowl (she recommends using a wide, flat-bottomed bowl) to pool the excess oil off to one side and continue to whisk the yolk in the opposite direction of the oil (kind of up the opposite side of the bowl) until it has stabilized and emulsified. Then, continuing to whisk, gradually draw in the excess oil from the edge of the oil puddle until you have incorporated it all. Phew! (Of course this method can be used for regular, non-aioli mayonnaise as well.)

Thank you, Judy Rodgers!

Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: The Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodger