Asparagus and hollandaise sauce. What could be more delicious?
Hollandaise has a reputation for misbehaving but make it with care and it will not be troublesome.
I followed Elizabeth David's uncomplicated instructions.
The ingredients are few and are usually to hand.
Put into a small pan 3 tablespoons of wine vinegar or wine and 2 tablespoons of cold water.
Bring to a boil and reduce until you have a scant tablespoon. Watch out as this happens quite quickly.
Put the reduction into a heatproof bowl to cool.
Have ready 3 beaten egg yolks. I do rather dread recipes which require egg yolks only. I already have egg whites enough in my freezer to make meringues for a royal wedding. This, is however, a once in a while kind of sauce.
Also have ready 6-7oz of butter cut into 1 oz pieces and which has been allowed to soften.
Have ready, also, a pan of barely simmering water over which you can suspend your heatproof bowl so that its bottom doesn't touch the water.
Add your egg yolks to the vinegar reduction and stir well. Place the bowl over the pan of simmering water.
Add one piece of the butter and whisk until it is all incorporated into the egg yolks. It will begin to thicken.
Add the next piece of butter and whisk again. Add the rest of the butter piece by piece in the same way.
Do not let the water below the pan boil.
It is hard to take photos while you are making a careful sauce. I didn't have anyone in the house who I could trust to either stir while I took the photos or to handle my camera while I stirred.
There is something very restorative about standing over a gently simmering pan stirring the day's frustrations away and creating something sublime to eat.
Your sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
If it is getting too thick add a few drops of cold water.
Season the finished sauce with a little lemon juice and salt. I didn't use salt because I used salted butter, something of which Elizabeth David would, no doubt, not have approved.
This recipe should make enough sauce for 4-6 people. Or two, if you are greedy like me.
Salmon and new potatoes make it a perfect meal.
And before anyone says anything about arteries, diets or cholesterol I am not suggesting hollandaise sauce be made a major part of your daily eating. It is a treat, as is homegrown asparagus. I shan't be making it again this asparagus season although I will be eating plenty more sparrowgrass (as they call it round these parts).