Posts Tagged ‘Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce’

and how the simplest of recipes can go wrong.

Asparagus season is upon us.  The weather is glorious, blue skies, sun and a slight wind.  Just as I like it.   So today is the day for the pilgrimage to Brantham in Suffolk for asparagus.  We had discovered this little shed by accident after our usual habit of trying to find a short cut.  An unexpected rustic sign for fresh asparagus and a dirt track beckoned to us.  We felt brave and turned in.   I have ventured down many little tracks in the hope that I would find an array of wonderful produce only to be disappointed with a mediocre selection of tired and passed-it specimens, followed by the sinking guilty feeling that to be able to get back in and drive away I am going to have to buy something with the guarantee that I never have to return.

Well, this rustic sign did lead us to a wonderful treasure of not only asparagus but rhubarb and eggs to name but a few.  This rustic sign is firmly on the list to visit annually.   A pilgrimage would sound as if it were a one off –  but we will be going often until the asparagus season is over.

Lunch was now sorted – fresh asparagus and hollandaise sauce – life couldn’t be better.  Except that by the time I got home via a couple of nurseries time had marched by and I was now having to rush.  As I started to get things out to prepare the asparagus I happened on a brainwave of microwaving the hollandaise.  What a short cut, what a triumph it will be.  Disaster is what it was!

I shall say that the moment I put the butter in the microwave to melt did my problems begin.  I was too busy fussing over the gentle cooking of the asparagus to remember the butter until the sound of a minor explosion from the microwave started the unraveling of my calm.  I decided to ignore the issue of the butter coated microwave and  continued to pour the remainder of the hot butter onto the eggs and vinegar giving it a quick beat and then without a glance shuffling it back into the microwave for a few short blasts, it wasn’t until a couple of blasts that I noticed the sauce begin to split and curdle. With each blast the splitting and curdling got worse.   The asparagus by now was at its perfect cooked state.  So in a fit of panic I decided to resuscitate  the sauce by blitzing it with the Bamix – the stuff went everywhere – hot curdled butter can travel and not in a good way.

Abandonment was the only option.  The asparagus that I served for lunch with melted seasoned butter was very nice.

After lunch I convinced myself dramatically that my relationship with hollandaise was over and I would never  make it again.

By early evening I was over it – I love hollandaise too much to turn my back on it.  Made by the Marco Pierre White’s method works for me.

as MD - Copy


Wash and trim the bottoms of the asparagus.  If I have bought them straight from the farm I just want to get them cooked and on the plate as quickly as possible.  So I either steam them or if I haven’t got my asparagus pan to hand I use a frying pan, that way I can leave the tips outside the water and at the last minute push them in.  I find this a quick method but one that needs constant watching as the asparagus only take a few minutes to cook.  To judge when they are done push the point of a sharp knife into the flesh.

Hollandaise Sauce


25ml vinegar/lemon juice (either or both)

2 large egg yolks

200ml melted butter

Salt and pepper


Place the egg yolks in a bowl that will fit over a saucepan, you don’t want the bottom of the bowl touching the water.

Add the vinegar and beat.

Add the melted butter and beat.

Now place the bowl over the saucepan and keep lightly beating.   After a few minutes the sauce will begin to thicken.


Hollandaise needs to be eaten and not stored.


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