I now cater for birthdays, or at least I do if you happen to be one of my loveliest friends. The most excellent GK turned 25 last Friday, and as afternoon tea at the Dorchester is a little out of financial reach (for now), I did my best to bring a similar experience to her lovely flat in Barons Court. We (4 squealy girls, 3 bemused boys) had dinky finger little finger sarnies, scones fresh from the oven and ridiculously sinful chocolate brownies all washed down with lashings of Champagne and a spot of Jasmine tea.
For me the star of the show was the homemade mayo. As delicious as only something so fattening can be, proper mayonnaise is the easier and more forgiving cousin of that most wonderful but temperamental of sauces, Hollandaise. If you don't/rarely make your own mayo, here's the recipe, have a go! Though not too often, it is just soooo bad for you.
To make about 300ml, which is more than you'll ever need unless catering for a group, but go on, make the lot and have chips the next day (and the next), you will need;
2 egg yolks
1tbsp Dijon mustard
175ml groundnut oil
75ml light olive oil
A generous squeeze of lemon
Put a big, heavy bowl on a tea towel. In said bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, a big pinch of salt, and the mustard. Combine the two oils in a mixing jug, then slowly incorporate them into the egg-yolk-mustard mixture, whisking furiously as you do. Start with a slow trickle, then increase a little as it all gets a bit thicker, until it's all combines in a thick, silky, mayo. Add the lemon juice, and if you want a looser texture, a little tepid water.
You may want to muck around with the seasoning/lemon juice/mustard quantities a bit, but this is essentially a good start. Then you can add fresh herbs, or garlic, or infused saffron water or, well, you get the idea. You can make it taste different.
I'm hoping to host a proper afternoon tea in The Shed soon, with a few additions to the above made possible by not trekking across town to cook in an unfamilliar kitchen. If you think you'll be interested, email firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll stick you on the mailing list.