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BY NATHALIE DUPREE
When Ashley told me she was writing this book about Duke’s Mayonnaise, and using some of her favorite recipes from all the travels she and her family have taken, I wasn’t surprised. She’s always touted Duke’s and talked about how it’s often her secret ingredient in her recipes.
Of course, I’m a Duke’s lover, too, like anyone who grew up in the South. In fact, as you’ll see from the many quotes from the chefs that are included throughout this book, 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—either by itself with just a bit of bacon, or as part of a recipe, as in Ashley’s mother’s Pimento Cheese, the Basil Mayo for her Avocado BLTs, or the Grilled Okra with Tomato Aïoli. Duke’s is also the not-so-secret-anymore ingredient in cakes that makes them moist; it’s the key ingredient for Ashley’s Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches that makes the cookies soft and tender; and when used as a marinade, it adds flavor and tenderizes the meat at the same time. Many Southern chefs and cooks—me included—have promoted Duke’s just because we love it and feel like it’s an essential ingredient in a recipe. I even did a free TV spot for it once along with some other cooks.
Ashley’s beloved grandmother was a close friend of my former mother-in-law, who I loved dearly as well. After graduating from college and culinary school, Ashley tested and developed recipes for my books and then went on to work for Oxmoor House, doing what she does best: creating recipes and writing cookbooks. Her talent shines through in this book and these recipes. Keep looking and cooking. Ashley has good fixings for you and your family.
Food is my love language. I think my parents knew pretty early on that I was going to be a cookbook writer, or at least have a career in food. For fun I would read my mom’s Christmas with Southern Living cookbooks and make peanut-butter-and-jelly on Ritz cracker “hors d’oeuvres.” When most kids wrote letters home from summer camp about friends they were making or the hike they’d gone on, I wrote about what we ate for each meal at the dining hall. And nothing changed as I got older. When we are eating lunch, I’m planning dinner in my head. I’m almost never not thinking about food, so to have this cookbook filled with my recipes is a dream come true. So many of my fondest memories involve food—sitting around a table with family or friends, sharing something I’ve created, or experiencing a local dish in a foreign country.
While my love language is food, travel is my passion. My grandmother was undersecretary of the Treasury for President Jimmy Carter and therefore traveled all over the world. After her tenure for his administration, she served on several boards that allowed her and my family to travel. So the travel bug bit me early and with fervor. One of Mimi’s (my grandmother’s) claims to fame was chasing after Michelin stars: If we were ever within a couple hundred miles of a Michelin-starred restaurant, we would spend the day traveling to eat there. Possibly much to my family’s chagrin, this is how I plan our trips today: around food. I’ve been fortunate to explore a lot of the United States, Europe, and eventually Asia with my husband, and what I loved most about those trips was seeing how people different from me combine flavors in their local cuisine.
Food is transformative—a smell or taste can quickly take you back to somewhere you had been long ago. When I am asked about a particular place, it’s not uncommon for me to remember it because of a food experience. In Rome, that’s where I had the most amazing crespelles, covered in a creamy cheese sauce and baked up until bubbly brown. It took us three hours of getting lost to find the trattoria serving them, but it was worth it. Or in Shenzhen, China, when my husband, Chris, and I were looking for the gigantic shopping mall where we could have clothes custom made, and we took a wrong turn. We ended up in a different neighborhood and happened upon a soup dumpling shop. The menu was only in Chinese, so we resorted to pointing to the table next to us and their dumplings to convey what we wanted. To this day, I have never had a better dumpling. Or in Koloa Town, Kauai, where our first stop after my mother-in-law picks us up from the airport is always the Fish Market to get the ahi poke bowl—a heavenly blend of fresh tuna, sesame oil, seaweed flakes, eel sauce, and spicy mayo. And even memories of when I was young—the strawberry shortcake my Uncle Brooks and Aunt Vilma would bring to our Beasley family reunions in Stilson, Georgia. After sliding down the sliding board (on a towel so we wouldn’t burn our fannies) dozens of times, we would join what seemed like hundreds of extended family members in the school cafeteria and load our plates down with every type of field pea imaginable, fried chicken, pineapple sandwiches, tomato sandwiches, and casseroles galore, wash it all down with sweet tea, and round out the meal with a hunk of strawberry shortcake.
Not all of my food memories are pleasant, however. What comes to mind in particular was when Chris and I were staying at the marine station in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. The station was in a beautiful but remote location, and we didn’t have a car or any way to get around. We thought we were all set with the groceries we had brought, but when the staff left on Friday afternoon for the weekend, we soon realized that was not the case. There was no way to cook our food. No hot pot, microwave, nothing. So, to “cook” our spaghetti noodles, we let them bathe in hot water (from one of those drink dispensers—you know the ones that you use to make hot tea). An hour later, we had soggy, crunchy spaghetti with room-temperature sauce right from the jar. That was probably the worst meal I’ve ever had.
The places I’ve visited often serve as inspiration for many of the recipes I create. So, when tasked with coming up with an idea for a cookbook, I knew I wanted to share flavors from my travels as well as special recipes from my childhood. What better ingredient to tie those two together than Duke’s?
I grew up on Duke’s Mayonnaise. If you were to open my mother’s pantry door this afternoon, you’d see her upcycled, yellow-topped Duke’s Mayonnaise jars filled with all-purpose flour, cornmeal, and powdered sugar lining the shelves. Duke’s is my mom’s secret ingredient in her famous pimento cheese, is the perfect creamy condiment to slather on the tomato sandwiches we brought to those family reunions each May, and contributes the ideal tanginess to make my deviled eggs a must-have at any get-together. I wouldn’t dream of buying any other mayo, and I’m not the only one. Duke’s has a cult following and is celebrated in this book with testimonials from some of my favorite chefs and authors scattered throughout the recipes.
Now that I’m a grown-up (and a recipe developer and food stylist by trade), I’ve upcycled not just mayo jars, but also my recipes to include Duke’s Mayonnaise. Think of what mayonnaise actually is: a beautiful emulsification of eggs and oil and a touch of vinegar for acidity, all ingredients vital to cooking and baking. So, what’s my secret to the flakiest pie crust? It’s Duke’s. Want to know how to make the fluffiest scrambled eggs? Duke’s. How to make grilled cheese even better? Duke’s again. A way to create a tender crumb in a cake or doughnut? You guessed it. Sure, Duke’s is essential in everyday favorites like deviled eggs and chicken salad, but it’s also the unexpected secret ingredient to making everything from Overnight Churro Waffles to Corn and Basil Hush Puppies into home run recipes.
From breakfast to dessert, Duke’s is my secret ingredient for amazing recipes, and it’s the ingredient that’s been missing from yours. The Duke’s Mayonnaise Cookbook is a compilation of recipes inspired by my travels across the country and around the world. Whether in classic favorites like Green Tomato Pie or unexpected dishes like Miso-Glazed Salmon and Sticky Toffee Puddings, you’ll discover how versatile Duke’s Mayonnaise really is.
THE HISTORY OF DUKE’S MAYONNAISE
After over one hundred years, the Duke’s recipe remains the same as it was in 1917 when Eugenia Duke created it in her kitchen in Greenville, South Carolina. At the time, she didn’t realize the gold mine she was sitting on, but instead focused on the sandwiches she made using her homemade mayonnaise. Over the years her business sense allowed her to be a pioneer in the industry, and we have her to thank for the deliciousness that is Duke’s.
Eugenia Thomas was born in Columbus, Georgia, the youngest of ten children. At 19 years old, she married Henry Duke, and about ten years later, she, Henry, and daughter Martha moved to Greenville, South Carolina, for his job at the Southern Power Company.
Greenville’s economy prospered because of a booming textile industry and laid a firm foundation for Eugenia and what would become her business. In 1917, after the United States joined the Allies in World War I, Greenville witnessed an influx of soldiers who came to train at nearby Camp Sevier, a National Guard training camp. Recognizing business potential, Eugenia Duke began selling sandwiches featuring her homemade mayonnaise to the hungry soldiers, and her success continued. After selling her 11,000th sandwich, she purchased a delivery truck to help distribute the sandwiches that were in such high demand. The sandwiches were so popular that years later, after the war, soldiers would write to Eugenia requesting that she share her sandwich recipes and send jars of her homemade mayonnaise. Locals were also fans of Eugenia’s sandwiches and began asking if they too could purchase them. So she began selling her sandwiches at local drugstores and then converted the first floor of the Ottaray Hotel into Duke’s Tea Room.
By the beginning of 1920, Eugenia was running out of room in her home kitchen to keep up with all of the sandwich orders coming in, so she built a separate kitchen on her property. In 1923, C.B. Boyd, Eugenia’s best salesman, made an important observation: While the sandwiches were in fact delicious, it was the unique homemade mayonnaise used on the sandwiches that made everyone come back for more. Boyd convinced Eugenia to focus more on her mayonnaise; as a result, she began jarring the spread and selling it as a separate product. Along with her accountant, J. Allen Hart, Eugenia opened an office on South Main Street in Greenville and began producing what we now enjoy as Duke’s Mayonnaise in an old carriage factory building. Not surprisingly, sales for the mayonnaise soared, so she sold the sandwich company to Hart and focused her attention on the mayonnaise business.
In 1929, after struggling to keep up with the ever-expanding business, Eugenia sold the business to the C.F. Sauer Company based out of Richmond, Virginia. She served as the spokeswoman for Duke’s but eventually moved out West to be closer to her daughter.
The C.F. Sauer Company continued to grow the business and expand the reach of Duke’s Mayonnaise all over the Southeast. In the 1940s, The Joan Brooks Show, a TV variety show that featured popular actors and musicians, was sponsored solely by Sauer. Hollace Shaw, a famous actress at the time, became one of the faces of “The House of Sauer” advertisements that played during the commercial breaks and helped expand the popularity of the product.
Sauer continued to grow the business and adapted to changing trends, introducing light mayonnaise in the 1980s, being the first in innovating a squeeze bottle in 2003, and switching from glass jars to plastic in 2006. In June 2019, the C.F. Sauer Company sold the food business to Charlotte, North Carolina–based equity firm Falfurrias Capital Partners, who promise to keep the tradition alive. For this, we Duke’s fans are thankful.
Many will say Duke’s has a cult following, and it’s easy to see why. The unique sugar-free recipe makes it an extremely versatile ingredient and has garnered a loyal and fervent fan base—from well-known chefs to home cooks. Why make mayonnaise from scratch when the perfect condiment already exists? Restaurants proudly proclaim their use of Duke’s Mayonnaise on their menus; the condiment has inspired art, from illustrations and paintings to jewelry; and some folks have gone as far as having an image of Duke’s jar tattooed on their body. Today, Duke’s can be found in over forty states—a sure sign that the word is getting out.
How to Use This Book
The recipes in this book are geared toward home cooks. I started my career in a test kitchen creating recipes for cookbooks, and I develop the same types of recipes today. You don’t need a fancy kitchen for the recipes here. If I call for a special pan, I also offer alternatives. The book is divided into chapters for Breakfast and Brunch, Lunch (Salads, Soups, and Sandwiches), Dinner (Main Dishes), Snacks and Sides, and Desserts. Generally, each chapter begins with the easiest recipes first and progresses into the more advanced recipes. If you are a beginner cook, I recommend working your way through each chapter from easiest to hardest. Where I can, I’ve provided tips to help. Below you’ll also find helpful information on how to get the best results from the recipes in this book.
General Recipe Guidelines
While other types of Duke’s Mayonnaise (light, olive oil, and heavy-duty) may work in these recipes, I tested with regular Duke’s.
Be sure to use dry measuring cups for things like mayonnaise, flour, and sugar and liquid measuring cups for things like milk, broth, and water.
When measuring dry ingredients like flour and powdered sugar that can “pack” down, spoon the ingredient into the dry measuring cup and level with a knife as opposed to scooping the measuring cup into the ingredient.
I tested and developed the recipes using a standard electric oven and standard electric stovetop. Be aware that if you use a convection oven, your bake times will be different.
When recipes call for you to “grease and flour” a pan, I use a little vegetable shortening and spread it on with a paper towel. Then, I sprinkle in some flour and shake it around to fully coat the pan. A final “bang” of the pan, and the excess flour shakes off.
Unless otherwise stated, I tested with regular table salt and freshly ground black pepper for “salt and pepper.”
SECRET-INGREDIENT Scrambled Eggs
CHORIZO HASH WITH SPICY SMOKED PAPRIKA SAUCE
PIMENTO CHEESE GRITS
BLUEBERRY STREUSEL MUFFINS
AVOCADO TOAST WITH SMOKED SALMON AND SOFT-BOILED EGGS
OVERNIGHT CHURRO WAFFLES
Easy Buttermilk Biscuits
HAM, MUSHROOM, AND COMTÉ OMELETS
BANANAS FOSTER BREAD WITH BROWNED BUTTER-RUM GLAZE
SUN-DRIED TOMATO, GOAT CHEESE, AND SPINACH QUICHE
EARL GREY SCONES
PEACHES AND CREAM CRÊPES
CINNAMON ROLLS with Cream Cheese Glaze
Old-Fashioned Doughnuts with Mixed Berry Glaze
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
I learned this trick from Alton Brown: Whisk a little mayonnaise into eggs before scrambling them, and they’ll come out super creamy and fluffy. So, I tried it and am a believer. For a heartier dish, scramble the eggs, then fold in your favorite add-ins, such as shredded Cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon, or sautéed vegetables.
8 large eggs
¼ cup Duke’s Mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1. Whisk together the eggs, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl.
2. Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the egg mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally with a spatula to create large curds. Cook until the eggs are firm but still creamy. Sprinkle with the chives before serving.
with SPICY SMOKED PAPRIKA SAUCE
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
Patatas bravas is one of my favorite Spanish tapas dishes, and the most recent (and memorable) rendition I had was at Cúrate in Asheville, North Carolina, on an annual girls’ trip with friends from high school. What’s not to love about crispy skillet-fried chunks of potato topped with a spicy mayonnaise-based sauce? This breakfast version includes sausage and vegetables and is topped with a fried egg.
Spicy Smoked Paprika Sauce (recipe follows)
1 pound fresh chorizo sausage, casings removed (if applicable)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1½ pounds baby Dutch Yellow potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
1 red onion, cut into bite-size pieces
2 red bell peppers, cut into bite-size pieces
4 large eggs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Fresh cilantro leaves
1. Make the Spicy Smoked Paprika Sauce. Set aside.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 6 minutes, until the chorizo is browned and crumbles. Remove from the skillet and keep warm.
3. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil to the skillet. Stir in the potatoes and onion, and reduce the heat to medium. Cover the skillet and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes begin to brown. Uncover and cook for 5 more minutes.
4. Add the peppers and cook for 3 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the cooked chorizo.
5. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the eggs and cook for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, or to desired doneness.
6. Season the hash with salt and pepper to taste. Divide among serving plates or individual skillets. Top each serving with cilantro and a fried egg, and serve with the Spicy Smoked Paprika Sauce.
All chorizo sausages are not the same. In this recipe, I like to use fresh, uncooked chorizo.
You can also use fully cooked chorizo if you prefer. Just be sure not to buy the dry, cured chorizo that looks like pepperoni. The texture will be too tough for this hash.
MAKES 6 TO 8 SERVINGS
- "Makes my mouth water, with crowd-pleasers such as bananas Foster bread with browned butter-rum glaze, pimento cheese grits and firecracker shrimp tacos. And of course, there's elote--delicious Mexican street corn slathered in mayonnaise."—BookPage (starred review)
- "[A] cheerful debut that celebrates, without feeling gimmicky, Duke's Mayonnaise...The recipes are easy to follow and filled with helpful tips...Whether readers are mayonnaise aficionados or need inspiration to create flavorful foods with this pantry staple, this useful guide will not disappoint."—Publishers Weekly
- On Sale
- Jun 30, 2020
- Page Count
- 256 pages
- Grand Central Publishing