|"Old Man Emu can run the pants off a kangaroo!"|
|Play time on Peregian Beach|
|Peregian Square Circa 2014|
On second thoughts – please don’t.
My comments herein are mine, and mine alone. They’re just my opinion. We all have our own opinions about things. My intention is not to sway anyone to my way of thinking about mayonnaise. The decisions we make are our own.
I’m not and never have I been a lover of mayonnaise. The pundits claim commercial brands of mayo don’t cause food poisoning because the commercially-made products contain an abundance of acidity, such as vinegar and other ingredients (as well as a stack of preservatives, the names of which make little sense to the lay person). Yet instructions on the label still advise us to “Refrigerate After Opening”. Oh! Yes! Of course! That’s to preserve the flavour; not because of the chance of causing food poisoning.
It’s most important to be aware at all times that homemade mayonnaise is made by using raw eggs. Highly perishable homemade mayo should be consumed immediately after preparation. What is left-over must be refrigerated, and then the rest finished off as soon as possible…otherwise, if that’s not possible…toss it!
And don’t let salads with mayo as an ingredient sit out in the sun or at room temperate until next year! Two hours is the maximum, if at room temperature. It’s not a very smart or good idea to allow any food to sit for long under the sun; if at all!
Through the years I’d done a lot of cooking for one reason or another; and at various periods, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I worked tables in a few Brisbane restaurants on a “second-job-casual-part-time basis”. There were times I assisted in the kitchens when the need arose. I loved watching what the chefs were doing – watching and learning as I followed their instructions.
When I worked for 14 years within the fashion industry as well as assisting in the organisation of in-house promotion evenings launching new lines to the retailers; choreographing the how the products would be present, I also hands-on handled the catering. My reason for doing so was I loved to cook. I loved to cook for a crowd. (Perhaps I should have been locked up then and there)!
All of this I’ve written about previously, I know...please bear with me...as it leads into the rest of this tale....
However the first restaurant in which I was actually the sole cook/chef - in charge of my own kitchen - was a restaurant in Peregian Beach, circa 1983.
“The Ebony Emu” was its name. It was situated on the David Low Way that runs south from the junction of Noosa/Sunshine Beach at the northern end and links to the Sunshine Motorway, west of Mudjimba about 35kms away. Peregian Beach is approximately halfway between the two points.
The Ebony Emu was part of the Peregian Beach Motel. It serviced the motel guests as well as the general public.
A piece of trivia worth noting - Peregian is a local Aboriginal word for emu.
One special afternoon, the first Tuesday in November - after celebrating the iconic race that “stops a nation”, the Melbourne Cup - my ex, Randall and I along with a couple of friend somehow ended up at the bar in the restaurant at the Peregian Beach Motel.
Full of bravado and cheek (and liquid refreshments), I mentioned during an animated chat with the owner that I loved to cook, and, even though I was self-taught, I had a pretty good grasp on what commercial cooking was all about, having worked in a few restaurants, one way of the other, in the past; and if she was ever looking for a cook/chef, I was ready, willing, and somewhat able.
It’s marvelous how confident one is of one’s abilities when fueled with champagne and Scotch! A magical potion!
Out of the blue a couple of weeks later (I'd filed away in the rear, dark recesses of my mind the fearless speech I'd made on Melbourne Cup Day) at around 2.30-3 pm the phone rang. I answered the call and heard an anxious, somewhat pleading voice on the other end asking if I would start work immediately at the Ebony Emu Restaurant - in the kitchen! Apparently, their chef had gotten his nappy in a knot over something or other, and had thrown off his apron, grabbed his tools of trade and walked - straight out the door - without notice, leaving them in the lurch. The restaurant was well-booked for that evening and time was of the essence. Hit the panic button!
What did I have to lose? I jumped into action immediately and said I’d be there within a blink of an eye. Grabbing my set of knives…I always like good quality kitchen knives and had a collection of German steel knives of varying sizes for various purposes…I raced downstairs and outside. Randall was cleaning the pool.
“Where are you off to, honey?” He asked somewhat quizzically. We’d made no plans to go out; I’d made no plans to go out. I quickly filled him in what was happening; raced off to my car and left him with his mouth agape!
As soon as I entered the restaurant kitchen I did a rapid reconnaissance of the lay-out, stock and the whole situation at hand. I couldn’t believe what I found. There was food in the fridges that had longer growths on them than Santa Claus! Without favour or fear, I started tossing stuff away, left, right and centre. I’d wing it; play it by ear and by my way.
The restaurant seated about 30 diners, max.
I soon discovered it had the strangest owners; and even more strange, the kitchen didn’t have a cold room. Four domestic fridge/freezers did the job; or didn’t do the job! 20-litre buckets of mayonnaise, seals broken (with “Refrigerate After Opening” clearly written on the labels) sat on the kitchen floor where they were permanently stored. No matter how many times I pointed out the problem to my boss, the restaurant’s owner, my pleas were ignored. Needless to say, I came up with my own solution.
I kept my mouth shut, but I swiftly deleted all items from the menu that required mayonnaise; in the few dishes that couldn’t be deleted, I replaced the mayo with sour cream or natural yoghurt, using smaller containers. If the contents weren’t used immediately, what remained was covered and stored in one of the fridges, to be used up as soon as possible; and so on. The clock was ticking (it was a time before digital clocks).
From when I set foot into the kitchen for that first afternoon I had approximately three hours for preparation until the restaurant doors opened to hungry diners!
It wasn’t only the mayo that the owners were weird about; but more about that in Chapter Two.
Simple Soy Mayonnaise: Place 1c natural, unflavoured Soy milk into deep jug; blend with stick blender for a few minutes; using 1/4c olive oil, add oil a little at a time while blending. Add 1/4c lemon juice, salt or honey to taste, 1/2tsp crushed black pepper, 1/2tsp crushed mustard seeds and 1 teaspoon of any herb as desired. Add any herb of your choice; dill, oregano, rosemary, parsley, thyme, or even Basil will go well. A sprinkling of garlic flakes can be incorporated, if you wish, to add extra flavour and taste. Put into glass jar; refrigerate.
Eggless Tofu Mayonnaise: Combine 240g tofu, 1/4c canola oil, 1tbs lemon juice, 1tbs sugar, 1-1/2tsp prepared mustard, 1tsp apple cider vinegar and 1/2tsp salt; blend until mixture is smooth.