It is a good idea to add a teaspoon of French mustard to the egg yolks before beating in the oil, as this helps to emulsify it. All the ingredients for mayonnaise must be at room temperature. On a cold day, warm the bowl and whisk in hot water before beginning.

Makes about 375ml

2 egg yolks
salt and white pepper
Dijon or dry mustard (optional)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or tablespoon lemon juice
375ml oil

1. With a whisk or an electric beater beat the egg yolks in a small bowl with a little salt, pepper, mustard, and 1 tablespoon of the vinegar (or tablespoon lemon juice) until thick. Add the oil, drop by drop, whisking constantly.
NOTE: if oil is added too quickly, the mayonnaise will curdle.

2. When 2 tablespoons of oil have been added, the mixture should be very thick. The remaining oil can be added a little more quickly, either 1 tablespoon at a time or in a thin steady stream.

3. When all the oil has been added, stir in the remaining vinegar or lemon juice to taste, more mustard, salt and white pepper if necessary. The amount of seasoning depends very much on the type of oil and vinegar used and what the mayonnaise is to accompany. Thin the mayonnaise, if necessary, with a little warm water.

Mayonnaise is best stored in a covered container at room temperature, but if it is kept in the refrigerator, it should be brought to room temperature before stirring; otherwise it may curdle. It can be kept for 2-3 days.

If mayonnaise does curdle during making or on standing, beat in a tablespoon of boiling water. If it does not re-emulsify, start again beating a fresh egg yolk with salt and pepper, then whisking in the curdled mixture drop by drop. Alternatively, if the mayonnaise is going to be flavoured with mustard, the curdled mixture can be gradually beaten into a teaspoon of Dijon mustard.

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