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Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce
Local asparagus is at it’s peak right now and I could eat it every day. It’s so versatile and can be prepared in many delicious ways, but my favorite preparations are simple and straightforward: roasted, grilled, steamed, and stir fried are at the top of the list. Steaming is my choice if I want to serve it with hollandaise sauce. Cook the asparagus just until it is fork tender.
If you’ve never made hollandaise sauce I urge you to do it during asparagus season. It isn’t a difficult sauce to make as long as you don’t let the egg mixture get too hot. A double boiler works best, but a bowl set over a pan of simmering water works well also. Just make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the hot water.
Classic Hollandaise Sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons boiling water
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
Melt the butter and keep it warm. Heat the lemon juice until just warmed. Have small saucepan with boiling water and a measuring spoon ready.
Place the top of a double boiler or a medium bowl over hot water. Place egg yolks in the double boiler and whisk until they begin to thicken. Add 1 tablespoon boiling water. Continue to beat the sauce until it begins to thicken. Repeat with the remaining water, one tablespoon at a time, whisking the mixture after each addition. Keep the heat low enough so the eggs don’t begin to scramble. Remove the double boiler from the heat.
Whisk in the warmed lemon juice. Beat the sauce like crazy with a wire whisk as you slowly pour in the melted butter. Add the salt and cayenne and beat until sauce is thick. Serve immediately.
If the sauce gets too thick, whisk in hot water, one tablespoon at a time, until it reaches the desired consistency. If the sauce begins to separate you can add 1 to 2 tablespoons of cream and beat with a whisk until it is smooth again.
Serve this decadently rich sauce over vegetables, fish and Eggs Benedict. It takes only minutes to make and is more than worth all the frantic mixing. I like to pile asparagus spear on a slice of toasted bread (I might even add a very thin slice of ham) and spoon some of this luscious, lemony sauce over the top. What could possibly be more delicious than that!