Wednesday, 19 May 2010


So, it's asparagus season again! Hurrah. And, just as snails are an excuse to eat epic amounts of butter and garlic, so asparagus is an excuse to eat hollandaise. Which, come to think of it, is only really epic amounts of butter and eggs. Is every seasonal food really just an excuse to eat butter and/or garlic?

While you're thinking about that, let's talk more about hollandaise. I've never made it before today and, on a whim, I decided not to reach for Delia Smith - usually my go-to girl when I'm scared and confused in my kitchen. I reached for another cookbook and found myself with a recipe that turned out to be a bit weird.

I mean, it worked out okay in the end... I suppose... I mean, it's mostly butter, how wrong can it go?:

but it wasn't hollandaise like old Ma Walker makes. It was more the consistency of mayonnaise... and I detected one or little lumps in it. This cannot be right.

First of all, the recipe said that when you clarify butter the residue settles at the bottom of the pan you're melting the butter in, but mine sort of floated on the top AND settled at the bottom.

Then it instructed me to rest my bowlful of egg yolks and vinegar over a pan of simmering water. Result: very nearly scrambled eggs had I not whipped the bowl away just as I realised what the hell was about to happen.

In all, it was stressful. And stress is not something I like to feel so near a 5-ring gas stove. I'm not even going to post the recipe, so umimpressed was I. Serves me right; back to Delia I go.


  1. I just learned a new way to do this from a chef.
    Pop the yolks in the food processor (or blender) then slowly drizzle in the hot butter while they are spinning round. She (the chef) used a reduced White Wine Vin. flavored with white pepper and Mace to add flavor and acidity.
    Okay, maybe I wasn't paying that close of attention, but it tasted lovely over the salmon.
    What did you do with all the egg whites? Macaroons? Need someone to sample them?

  2. Hey Tone.

    Yes, that is the kind of thing that Delia does. Next time.

    Trying to stay off the sweet stuff at the moment, so no macaroons. I may try my hand at a souffle, even though I find them pointless. Stay tuned.

  3. Hi Esther, love this blog. Delia Smith's foaming Hollandaise is fantastic and pretty foolproof - using eggwhite seems to make it lighter (though probably not less fattening).
    Would love to see your suggestions for carb substitutes at some point? I currently do cauliflower and celeriac mash but my boyfriend is not keen on either....

  4. Hi Lisa! Thanks for visiting.

    Yes Delia's hollandaise seems to be the one to go for. Don't mess with the best, eh?

    Mm yes boys in general don't tend to like carb substitutes. They like pizza. And I don't blame them! But they don't have as much subcutaneous fat to worry about.

    I will right now start working on a 10 best low-carb post. xxxxx

  5. Hello ... I've been reading your blog for a while and have really enjoyed it, not least because I got married a week after you did and so your various pre-nuptial musings struck a chord and have been comfortingly familiar.

    Then I read the hollandaise post and found it quite uncanny given I had made it the same evening. Though it is asparagus season so perhaps not so spooky. However, I differed in going straight towards Delia for the recipe. Safe pair of hands indeed when it comes to emulsions! And it was splendid.

    Anyway, hope married life is treating you well.

  6. Shit that's crazy! I have that kind of mad-ESP link with one of my commissioning editors too, it's weird.

    Well you are a brighter, smarter lady than me in reaching straight for Delia. It's not a mistake I'll make again in a hurry.

    Married life is nice! It simplifies a lot of things, I find. Great to have you here, come again soon xxx

  7. Delia's foaming hollandaise is the first I made and it's stunning; properly heart attack-inducing, addictive stuff.