Have I mentioned that my mother-in-law, Jan Hayden, is the best civilian cook I’ve ever met? No kidding, she really is. When Patrick and I were staying with his folks in Toronto, it took me the best part of two weeks to notice we were eating vegetarian. (They’re not strict vegetarians; they just figure most meat isn’t worth the hit you take.) I think Patrick believes her mayonnaise can raise the dead.
Jan Hayden’s MayonnaiseThe mayonnaise will be a pale coral-pink color, and once it sets up it’ll be a little runnier than Hellman’s. If it’s too runny, try scanting the oil a bit next time. The oil should be fairly fresh, and the eggs should be the freshest you can get. Use default paprika, not the hot kind.
1-1/2 + 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dry mustard
Put everything but 1-1/2 cup of oil into a blender or food processor. Give it a good quick blending, then scrape down the sides of the bowl. Turn the machine back on again, and leave it on while pouring in the rest of the oil in a thin drizzly stream. On a good day the contents of the bowl will be mayonnaise by the time you finish pouring the oil in. Scrape down the sides again and briefly blend one more time. Pack into jars and keep refrigerated thereafter.
Ever heard of the Atkins Diet? It’s the one where you only eat protein and fat to start, and later eat protein and fat and just a little dab of carbohydrates. It burst on the scene around 1972, and got to be so popular that the A.M.A. and other pundits attacked it as bizarre, unhealthy, and just downright unreasonable. Low fat, they said; that’s the way to go. This was sad news, as the Atkins diet was the only one that ever really worked for me.
Two weeks ago, the New York Times ran an article, “What If It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie?”:
While the low-fat-is-good-health dogma represents reality as we have come to know it, and the government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in research trying to prove its worth, the low-carbohydrate message has been relegated to the realm of unscientific fantasy.It’s an interesting article. Get a look at it before the NYTimes whisks it away. Basically, during the period in which the government has been pushing a low-fat diet, there’s been an epidemic of obesity, a rise in Type 2 diabetes, and less of a decline in heart disease than had been predicted. It would be simpleminded paranoia on my part to wonder whether US agribusiness’s powerhouse ability to raise cereal products has anything at all to do with this.
Over the past five years, however, there has been a subtle shift in the scientific consensus. It used to be that even considering the possibility of the alternative hypothesis, let alone researching it, was tantamount to quackery by association. Now a small but growing minority of establishment researchers have come to take seriously what the low-carb-diet doctors have been saying all along. Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, may be the most visible proponent of testing this heretic hypothesis. Willett is the de facto spokesman of the longest-running, most comprehensive diet and health studies ever performed, which have already cost upward of $100 million and include data on nearly 300,000 individuals. Those data, says Willett, clearly contradict the low-fat-is-good-health message ”and the idea that all fat is bad for you; the exclusive focus on adverse effects of fat may have contributed to the obesity epidemic.”
Never mind. Back to the high-protein diet Patrick and I started just a day or two after that article came out. (Knew it! Knew it all along! Dang! Why did I listen to those idiots?) Patties, chops, filets, and omelets can get pretty boring after a while, and the weather’s hot and sticky, so:
Cold roast beef roll-upsMakes two plates of roll-ups. If you can’t finish yours, put them back in the freezer so you can eat them as little frozen beef nummies at bedtime.
1 lb. thinly sliced rare roast beef from the deli
6 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup of Jan’s mayonnaise
1/2 cup chopped scallions (green bits only)
a couple of scant handfuls of mesclun or other greens
salt, coarse black pepper, paprika, ground cayenne pepper
Let the cream cheese sit out to soften. Whip it up well in a bowl with a fork, then mix in the mayonnaise, then the spices, then the green onions. Take a quarter of your roast beef slices and lay them out in an overlapping pattern about the size of a flour tortilla. Take about a fourth of the cream-cheese mixture and spread it over the beef. Roll it up like a flauta. Roll that up in a square of waxed paper, twist the ends to make it hold, and put it in the freezer. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Leave the beef rolls in the freezer until they either firm up or you can’t stand waiting any longer.
Sharpen your best knife twice. Take about half your mesclun and spread it out on a salad plate. If you’re being fancy, save out a few small good-looking leaves. Unwrap a beef roll and gently cut it into slices like pinwheel cookies, trying not to squash it as you do so. Lay the sliced rounds on the lettuce in close order. Do the same with a second roll.
Now comes the fancy part. The ends of the beef rolls will come out raggedy and uneven, and look unseemly next to their brother pinwheel-slices. Take one cut-off end, unroll it, and roll it around another cut-off end with their cut edges flush together so the raggedy side forms a little roast beef rose. Arrange these on top of the pinwheels with the extra leaves tucked under them. Alternately, eat those bits while you’re cutting up the rest.
This recipe can be served to normal people without apologizing for it.