Dec 16, 2022 • 5M

Credit Where Credit is Due!

Inspiration....and a faux hollandaise that will change your life.

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Victoria de la Maza
A podcast about ins and outs of high-society, humorous stories, and personal anecdotes. And yes, opinions, lots of opinions.
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Inspiration for dinner menus comes mostly from what is seasonal and readily available. Believe me, I am not always as saintly as all that, and sometimes I create a menu around a particular object I want to use, like new plates or a flower that is in bloom; other times, I have a terrible urge for something sinful that is not on my regular rotation and therefore, must make it and share with my friends, and some other times the menu selection is directly related to the amount of time I want to spend in the kitchen. One of the main reasons I never write menu cards is the chance to switch things around last minute, especially when a major ….. ahem, happens.

Inspiration for the table settings is also temperamental and changes with the menu, the season, and the flowers. It really all depends on my mood. And have been known to change everything at the last minute because…. well, the shade of rose wasn’t quite right. But, always, always, set the table to reflect what we are eating.

I am always looking for new recipes and devour cookbooks like cookies. Favorites are the ones that have a story attached to the recipe. It makes for fun reading and (in my mind) the best way to remember the reason why that particular recipe has withstood the test of time.

I also love the ones with recipes that have fewer than 10 ingredients - preferably 5 - and avoid anything with complicated cooking techniques that uses every single pot in the kitchen. Lots of instructions just mean that I will miss a crucial step by totally disregarding the author’s wisdom. Which is the reason why I am not a good baker…. Delicious, yes, of course; however, practicality is much more important, and looks, well, it has to look good!

Restaurants are a great source of ideas and flavor combinations. Even though what ends up trickling down to my kitchen is more the essence of the dish than specific techniques. I may be the worst patron ever as I often ask the chef for the recipe and have long conversations regarding the ingredients. (Most chefs are thrilled to talk!)

And so, my recipes tend to be easy to make, have few ingredients (all important) and are sort of good-looking.

I started writing recipes at a very early age… and have recently found the first cookbook I wrote as a school project while in England. My mother had kept it! I didn’t make up the recipes; I just copied the ones I found interesting from magazines and books. Clearly, I did not get a fabulous grade on this assignment, but it reminded me that the things we are passionate about are obvious at a very early age. And in this case, I don’t mean the coping of recipes; I mean the whole concept of cooking and entertaining, by the way.

And so, fast forward a million years, and I am still passionate about cooking and entertaining, but now I do create my own version of recipes. I am inspired by the combination of flavors and ingredients, by the essence of the foods, by a simple and approachable technique, and by an elegant presentation. Food is not just nourishment; it is a full-blown sensory pleasure. And needs to be treated as such.

Ladies (or gentlemen) who love to entertain, regardless of whether they are the ones cooking or have a staff of twenty, really show us the recipes that work over and over again. A few years ago, I co-authored a cookbook and interviewed private chefs who submitted recipes. One of those recipes included a lemon sauce made by warming up regular mayo. At the time, I was absolutely horrified, but then… as time went by, I understood the genius. I have never looked back.

Faux Hollandaise

This is the recipe for a faux Hollandaise that can then be tweaked to make Bearnaise or spicy pink sauce, or even a deliciously green herb sauce. The genius is that you just leave it on the stove, happily warming, and will not curdle or spoil. Needless to say, the better quality mayonnaise, the better results.

  • 2 cups mayonnaise

  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

  • The juice of 1 lemon

  • Salt & pepper to taste

In a double boiler, add the mayonnaise, butter, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk until combined. Let it warm up gently. Taste to adjust seasonings and serve hot.

To make bearnaise, add finely chopped tarragon and a teaspoon of dijon mustard.

To make a spicy pink sauce, add pureed roasted peppers and a touch of cayenne.

To make green sauce, add pureed herbs.

And with this, I leave you!


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