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Beloved Duke's mayonnaise gets its own cookbook

Beloved Duke's mayonnaise gets its own cookbook

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Here in the South, when cooks talk about pimento cheese and macaroni salad and similar mayonnaise-based foods, the discussion invariably comes around to everyone’s favorite brand of mayonnaise.

And the chances are good that the answer will be Duke’s, created in South Carolina by Eugenia Thomas Duke in 1917.

Well, now a cookbook celebrates that favorite Southern creation and the many ways it can be used in dishes from breakfast through dinner and dessert.

“The Duke’s Mayonnaise Cookbook: 75 Recipes Celebrating the Perfect Condiment” (Grand Central Publishing, $28) is by Ashley Strickland Freeman, a food writer and recipe developer based in Charleston who has contributed to more than 45 cookbooks as well as such magazines as Southern Living and Cooking Light.

In the book’s foreword, cookbook author Nathalie Dupree says, “Of course, I’m a Duke’s lover, too, like anyone who grew up in the South. In fact … most of us don’t think of Duke’s as just mayonnaise; we think of it as a unique spread that can enhance any sandwich.”

In fact, if you’re a Southerner and not a Duke’s fan, you may just want to keep that to yourself.

Of course, mayonnaise is more than just a sandwich spread. Fans of Duke’s or any mayonnaise already know what it can do for potato salad, deviled eggs and other familiar foods. But what makes this cookbook so interesting are the less familiar applications of mayonnaise: in biscuits, homemade pasta, chocolate cake and more.

Though Duke’s would seem a natural for a Southern cookbook, Freeman was inspired by her travels as well as her Southern home in creating these recipes. So along with Southern favorites, Freeman includes a French bourride (fish stew), Irish toffee pudding and Mexican elote (grilled street corn).

Mayonnaise is mostly oil, emulsified with the help of egg and an acid such as lemon juice. As such, it can help keep cakes and other baked goods moist, make cookies soft and tender, and more.

The book is divided into five chapters: Breakfast and Brunch, Lunch, Dinner, Sides and Snacks, and Desserts.

It includes many people’s favorite ways to use mayonnaise: in pimento cheese, coleslaw, pasta salad, chicken salad and buttermilk dressing.

Many of the recipes are for mayo-based sauces. Freeman offers creamy honey-balsamic drizzle for fried Brussels sprouts. Horseradish sauce accompanies cast-iron rib-eye steaks with mushrooms. She likes to serve a lemon-shallot tartar sauce with tarragon crab cakes. A creamy peanut-sauce accompanies the Thai-inspired turkey lettuce wraps.

But that’s just the beginning.

In the Breakfast and Brunch chapter, mayo and super-ripe bananas combine to make a super-moist bananas Foster bread, complete with a brown-butter rum glaze, and a little mayo goes into a flaky pie dough for a sun-dried tomato, goat cheese and spinach quiche.

Freeman also shares a trick from Food Network host Alton Brown of whisking mayo into eggs before scrambling to make them creamy and fluffy.

For lunch, Freeman uses mayo to make a perfectly crusted grilled-cheese sandwich. She also uses mayo in green-tomato pie, mixed with ground beef in burgers, and used in the Creole remoulade for oyster po’ boys.

For dinner, mayo goes into a Dijon marinade for pork chops, a coating for chicken Parmesan and the mashed potatoes that top cottage pie.

Among the sides and snacks are loaded twice-baked potatoes; grilled okra with tomato aioli; and smoked gouda, cheddar and Parmesan mac ’n’ cheese.

In the dessert chapter, mayo subs for butter in chocolate-chip cookies, thumbprint cookies and peppermint fudge brownies. It moistens the batters of gingerbread Bundt cake, strawberry-rhubarb layer cake and key lime pound cakes.

It helps make a flaky dough for apple pie and egg custard tarts.

Mayo holds together the oatmeal topping to blackberry and peach crisp and the macadamia crust for a coconut crème meringue tart.

Interspersed among the recipes are testimonials to Duke’s from many a Southern chef and cookbook author, including Virginia Willis, Vivian Howard, Sheri Castle, Katie Button and John Fleer.

Carla Hall calls Duke’s “the quintessential Southern condiment because it’s the perfect balance of sweet, tangy and creamy.”

Fleer confesses he doesn’t eat much mayonnaise these days, except for this time of year, and then it’s Duke’s for sure that goes on his tomato sandwiches.

In fact, many a Duke’s fan will tell you that a tomato sandwich is the ultimate expression of why Duke’s is so good.

As Fleer says, he refers to July and August as “Duke’s season.”

Recipe from “The Duke’s Mayonnaise Cookbook”

(Grand Central Publishing)

Recipe from “The Duke’s Mayonnaise Cookbook”

(Grand Central Publishing)

Recipe from “The Duke’s Mayonnaise Cookbook”

(Grand Central Publishing)

Recipe from “The Duke’s Mayonnaise Cookbook”

(Grand Central Publishing)

mhastings@wsjournal.com

336-727-7394

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