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The confident cook

To really bring out the best, make your own mayonnaise

Sheryl Julian for The Boston GLobe

Mayonnaise is almost identical to vinaigrette, except that mayo has raw egg (which some people must avoid). Most cooks who make everything else from scratch buy mayonnaise, and frankly, a lot of it is delicious — and so familiar tasting. Homemade mayo is a different beast entirely. Made in a blender with an egg and oil, accented by Dijon mustard and lemon juice, the mixture is creamy and mildly lemony and can be served as a sauce on its own with shrimp, grilled fish, crudites, and lightly blanched spring and summer vegetables.

Begin with a whole egg, to make the mayo lighter, and whir it with French mustard, vinegar, and warm water. Add the oil very slowly at first, then in a barely visible stream. Suddenly it will start thickening as it turns smooth and pale yellow. This means it has emulsified. If it is scramble-y, it has curdled. Quickly add a teaspoon or two of very hot water and see if it turns smooth again. If not, start over with a fresh egg and add the curdled mixture a few drops at a time to the new egg. Chances are, it will emulsify again. It’s exciting food chemistry to see what these simple ingredients can become.

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Whole-egg blender mayonnaise

Makes about 1 cup

1egg
¼teaspoon salt
¼teaspoon black pepper
1teaspoon Dijon mustard
teaspoons white wine vinegar
4teaspoons warm water, or more to taste
¼cup olive oil
½cup canola oil
1tablespoon lemon juice, or more to taste

1. In a blender, combine the egg, salt, pepper, mustard, vinegar, and 2 teaspoons of the water. Blend until thoroughly combined.

2. In a cup with a spout, combine the olive and canola oils. Remove the insert in the blender cap. Cup your hand over most of the insert hole (the mixture is loose and can spray out of the top). Add a few drops of the oil. Wait a few seconds, then add a few more drops. When you have done this 5 times, add the oil in the thinnest possible stream — it should look like a thread going from the spout to the blender — until all the oil is added.

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3. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons water and the lemon juice. Stop the blender and taste for seasoning. Add more salt, pepper, or lemon juice, if you like. The mayonnaise should not be cloying, but have a light lemon flavor and the consistency of Greek yogurt. Add more water, if necessary, 1 teaspoon at a time, to thin it. Transfer to a jar with a tight lid and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Sheryl Julian


Sheryl Julian can be reached at sheryl.julian@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @sheryljulian.