Foolproof Mayonnaise Technique


People are scared of making their own mayonnaise. The technique’s really hard and the stuff you get in jars is fine. Or every time you try to make it, it splits.

There are several recipes out there that make mayo-making a lot simpler than traditional methods. Typically these involve using a blade food processor rather than the traditional whisking method. And they taste pretty good, too.

But mayo made by slowly whisking oil into egg yolks yields a superior end product. Its unctuous loveliness is unsurpassed, and to be honest, makes shop bought mayonnaise look like a quite different food. Pleasant enough, but not befitting the name mayonnaise.

So, this is a traditional method recipe, but I describe a technique that doesn’t fail, if you follow it.


250 ml neutral tasting oil: rapeseed, for instance
50 ml good olive oil
2 egg yolks at room temperature.
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
Good pinch of rock salt
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon warm water (optional)


Hand soap (you’ll see)
Clean tea towel (likewise)
Electric hand whisk, or balloon whisk for the exercise, if you want
Large mixing bowl


  1. Wash your hands with the soap. Then rinse well so no perfumes from the soap remain on your hands, and dry them well.
  2. Make sure the bowl is bone dry and place it on the folded tea towel.
  3. Mix the oils together in a measuring jug and place the jug right next to the mixing bowl.
  4. Put the egg yolks, salt and mustard in the bowl and whisk them for 15 seconds.
  5. With the whisks still going, dip the very tip of your finger of the hand you’re not using to whisk, into the oil. Let the one drop of oil fall from your fingertip into the moving whisks. Whisk for 10 seconds.
  6. Repeat step 5 ten times. Don’t be tempted to whisk for less time, or start putting in more than one drop.
  7. Now repeat, but dip your finger into the oil up to the first knuckle, so a three or four drops are getting into the whirring whisks. Again, do that 10 times, with 10 seconds between each helping of oil.
  8. Repeat again, but dip your finger into the oil up to the second knuckle. You’ll have to move your hand from the measuring jug pretty sharpish to hover over the whisks. Repeat 10 times with 10 seconds between additions of oil.
  9. Your mixture will have thickened nicely by now. Things can’t really go wrong from now on, unless you put your mind to it.
  10. Now you can dip two fingers into the oil to increase the amount of oil you’re putting in. Repeat until about half the oil is gone. It won’t take long.
  11. Once half the oil is gone, you can trickle the rest of the oil in from the measuring jug, in a very thin stream.
  12. After all the oil is incorporated, whisk in the vinegar and if you like a thinner mayonnaise, add the water.
  13. Test the seasoning. If you’re like me, you’ll probably add more salt.


  • Use a Chinese mustard or some horseradish for a kick. Wasabi works too, but try and source a decent one.
  • Substitute a herb oil for the olive oil, or use a sesame oil (but go easy if you’re using toasted sesame oil; use less than a teaspoon).
  • Mix through some garlic that you’ve crushed to a paste to make aioli.
  • Use lemon, yuzu or lime juice instead of vinegar.
  • The addition of saffron gives a wonderful colour and taste.

The mayonnaise keeps well in the fridge for a week or so; just be careful not to use dirty utensils to spoon it out.

O, and the usual caveats about eating raw egg products apply here. If you’re of a nervous disposition or are pregnant, you may want to avoid mayonnaise altogether. You can buy pasteurised egg yolks in jars, but I’ve never used them.

The Rise of Fat


In a time when obesity and the prevalence of type II diabetes is at an alarming all time high, and on the increase, let’s look at the latest food news: one of fats previously thought unhealthy making a comeback.

Fat, in particular previously hated fats such as saturated fats, are now back in vogue. Carbs, especially refined carbs and sugars are what’s bad for us, we’re told.

The take home message is that if we eat fat and cut back on carbs, we’ll all be a lot healthier.

While it comforting (and delicious) to note that frying proteins in lard is not the killer it was thought to be, there are several considerations to be taken into account.

The truth is that calories in and calories out (daily activity and exercise) still largely determines weight gain or loss. Cutting back on processed carbs while bingeing on saturated and other fats, plus a few unrefined carbs is not going to make you lose weight.

In short, six rashers of bacon and three eggs for breakfast, a heap of cheese for lunch and juicy steaks in the evening fried in lard will not a healthy diet make. You still have to be careful about quantities you consume, their calorific value and the amount of exercise you take.

One thing that we all should have known, but has been highlighted by this latest news, is that processed or refined carbs are pretty bad for you. Carbs per se can be eaten happily, as long as we’re careful what they are: white bread, white pasta, ready meals etc are all pretty poor. Fruit and veg, eaten whole (rather than in juice variants) are excellent too.

What’s great is that thanks to this latest research, many delicious foods that have been off the menu for the healthy eater, are now back on! That’s fantastic news, in fact. But let’s not let our appetites run away with us!

“Probiotic” Drinks and Yoghurts


We’re bombarded with advertising for these little pots: Danone’s Actimel, Müller Vitality, Activia yoghurts, Yakult, the frankly medicinal sounding Benecol, the list goes on.

And it’s the medicinal sounding name and the purported health claims made for these products that cause me alarm. These products apparently strengthen our immune system (that’s what’s taught in Biology GCSE, by the way), stop feelings of bloating, balance the body’s intestinal flora – the claims are many.

According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) it has received many thousands of positive health claims made by producers of such products. Of those to date it has been able to test, none have been found to be true.

In fact the manufacturers of “probiotic” products are now not allowed to call them “probiotic” under recent European law. “Probiotic” means “promoting life” from the Greek, by the way. But more on that anon.

So, here is the More.Than.Recipes guide to those little yoghurts and yoghurt drinks, in the form of a Q & A you can undertake in the safety of your own home. Brace yourself, this is the science part.

Q1: Do you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? Answer YES or NO.

If you answered NO, then you will receive probably no health benefits from consuming “probiotic” products. Question 3 may change that, but for now, consider money spent on little pots of health-giving yoghurt a waste of cash. You may proceed with all haste to question 3.

If you answered YES, I have IBS, please proceed to…

Q2: Have had a genuine diagnosis of IBS given to you in the last six months in person from a qualified trained doctor who has a medical degree that was awarded in a first world country?

If you answered “No, actually now you mention it“, then you will probably receive no health benefits from consuming “probiotic” products. Please continue to question 3.

If you answered YES, then in a small percentage of cases (around 10%) you may benefit from eating a teaspoon of live yoghurt around once a week, during flare-ups of your IBS.

Q3: Are you recovering from a protracted bout of diarrhoea? Answer YES or NO.

If you answered YES, then read on: although results of clinical tests have never been published in a peer-reviewed authoritative medical journal, there is a school of thought that holds that eating a teaspoon of live yoghurt will help you recover more quickly from your illness.

If you answered NO, then you will not benefit blah blah blah. You get the idea.

Q4: After eating do you ever get a bloated feeling in your stomach?

If you answered YES, then you probably ate too much, or ate something that disagreed with you in some way. Eating a “probiotic” yoghurt will not ease your discomfort; in fact, if the problem is one of over-eating, you’ll feel worse, clearly.

If you answered NO, then there is no need to eat “probiotic” products. Really, they do for you, nothing. Literally, nichts, nada, rien.

You’ll notice that I encapsulate the word “probiotics” in quotes. That’s because, like the EFSA, I avoid using the term in the raw, as it were. Why? Because it is made up terminology. Made up to sound quasi-scientific/medical, by multinational food and drink conglomerates. Big business is making pharmaceutical claims for food stuffs and unfortunately for them, in the case of the EU, pharmaceutical claims need to be tested by pharmaceutical standards. And those tests are not being passed. Not one.

Clearly, the Danones of this world would love to blur the line between food and medicine – it gives them a marketing opportunity that allows the health conscious an easy way of feeling ‘better’.

That should come as no shock, but it’s a point worth repeating: large food producers are not in the business of making you more healthy, they are in the business of making profit.


For anyone who wants to learn more, I recommend Felicity Lawrence’s article in the Guardian from a few years back as a starting point. She is of course also the author of Eat Your Heart Out and Not On The Label – required reading for anyone with more than a passing interest in food.

Hello world!

This is traditionally a page that says “Hello World!”

By ‘traditionally’, I mean since the early days of computer programming, so not that traditional, really. It comes from the practice of creating a simple programme in a newly learnt programming language that simply displays or in some way shows the words “Hello World!”

I suppose it would be more fitting to call it “Hungry?” or somesuch, but the geek in me likes it as it is.