Salad cream, in case anyone is not familiar with it, is a mayonnaise-style salad dressing that was developed for the UK market in the early 20th century by Heinz. It's not as thick as mayonnaise, is sweeter and has a stronger, sharper, flavour due to the amount of vinegar it contains. I remember it being the quintessential salad dressing of the 1970s before our craving for all things continental took over and we ditched the salad cream in favour of mayonnaise and vinaigrette. In 2000 Heinz famously announced that it was withdrawing salad cream from it's range due to falling sales but people power took over and there was a public outcry which persuaded Heinz to put the product back on the supermarket shelves. I guess salad cream just holds a special place in our hearts!
This recipe for salad cream is not aiming to compete with the Heinz variety. It has a much creamier, understated flavour that compliments the gentle flavours of salad rather than overpowers it as I think commercial salad cream does. Nor is it a mayonnaise - the finished sauce is much thinner and there is no oil or raw egg in it (the main ingredients of mayonnaise).
The recipe is inspired by one I found in Delia Smith's Complete Cookery Course. She in turn says she found it in a recipe book by Eliza Acton dating back to 1845. I have slightly altered the recipe by adding Dijon mustard and using slightly less cream. The sauce is fantastic with sandwiches (as pictured above), on salads or used as a dip.
A quick word of warning though. If you're thinking of using it in a sandwich and are either:
a) having the vicar round for tea
b) having the parents of a son or daughter's girlfriend or boyfriend visiting for the first time, or
c) are entertaining an important business client
and thought that afternoon tea would be a great way to impress them then please DO NOT make the egg salad sandwiches that are pictured here!! I think that, in these circumstances, dainty cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off would be a far better option!
If, however, the thought of munching on a door-stop of a sandwich appeals and you can live with a bit of salad cream dripping down your chin then put some letttuce leaves, sliced tomatoes, egg and cucumber on a thick slice of buttered bread. Drizzle generously with homemade salad cream and top with a second slice of bread - delicious!
Homemade Salad Cream
2 pinches cayenne pepper
1 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ tsp salt
100ml double cream
4 tsp white wine vinegar
1. Boil the eggs for approximately 9 minutes until hard. Cool them with cold water then peel them. Remove the yolks and place in a mixing bowl, discard the whites.
2. Add the cayenne pepper, Dijon mustard, salt and a teaspoon of cold water to the eggs and mash them together to a smooth paste - try to ensure there are no lumps of egg remaining.
3. Gradually mix in the cream, ensuring it is well blended and then add the wine vinegar to finish.
4. The sauce should have the consistency of thick cream.