When I was a kid, my exposure to vegetables mainly consisted of stuff from a can. Now, the I consider the concept of mushy asparagus in a can a first-degree culinary crime.
I was about 15 before I tasted fresh asparagus. It was prepared perfectly: crisp-tender, and bright green, drizzled with hollandaise. To this day, hollandaise-topped asparagus is one of my favorite ways to eat asparagus.
The other way I like to cook asparagus is more healthful. It’s roasted. To make it, I place trimmed asparagus spears on an olive-oil drizzled cookie sheet, roll the spears around and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the asparagus in a hot oven – 425-ish – for about 10 minutes, and top with Parmesan. The result is nutty and delicious.
One thing about asparagus, is it’s a matter of preference about whether you like fat asparagus or skinny. Me, I like the pencil-slim asparagus. However, if you have a larger, woodier preference, shave the “legs” of the stalk of the asparagus, and it will help it cook more quickly, and evenly.
For hollandaise, please do yourself a favor and try making the fresh hollandaise, and promise me you’ll vow ditch the packaged, powdered mixes. Plus, have you checked out the ingredient list on a powdered hollandaise packet? Pretty scary, in a preservative-filled way.
Fresh hollandaise is not that difficult, it tastes so much better, and the classic version has jusr three ingredients: butter, lemon juice and egg yolks. Once you have the foundation down, you can add things like cayenne and white wine. Done correctly, you’ll end up with a creamy, buttery, lemony sauce that’s great on vegetables, poached eggs and even fish.
The thing to remember about hollandaise is that it’s egg-based, so it has the potential to curdle. Cold butter on standby is your friend. Just plop a few pats in the sauce and that should avert the curdling. And if the sauce seems to be getting too hot, remove the pot from the heat until the sauce can simmer down and behave itself.
My hollandaise recipe is a classic from my old Betty Crocker Cookbook. It’s tried and true, and delicious. You can pour it over asparagus, or broccoli, or for Eggs Benedict. (And by the way, I’m of the opinion that you can just call it hollandaise, and not put redundant to say hollandaise sauce, just as it would be redundant to say ketchup sauce.
Without any further advice, here’s the Betty Crocker Hollandaise.
Betty Crocker Hollandaise3 egg yolks 2 Tablespoons lemon juice 1/2 cup – (one cube) cold butter, cut into small pieces.
In 1 1/2-quart saucepan, vigorously stir egg yolks and lemon juice with wire whisk. Add 1/4 cup of the butter. Heat over very low heat, stirring constantly with wire whisk, until butter is melted.
Add remaining 1/4 cup butter. Continue stirring vigorously until butter is melted and sauce is thickened. (Be sure butter melts slowly so eggs have time to cook and thicken sauce without curdling.)
If the sauce curdles (mixture begins to separate), add about 1 tablespoon boiling water and beat vigorously with wire whisk or hand beater until it’s smooth.
Serve immediately. Store covered in refrigerator. To serve refrigerated sauce, reheat over very low heat and stir in a small amount of water.
And if you want to try something a bit more complex, Tops offers this recipe for Bella Asparagus, a rich vegetable dish that’s layered with a dressing, bacon and hard-boiled eggs. It definitely sounds different.
Tops Markets’ Bella Asparagus2 lbs asparagus spears, trimmed and cleaned ½ cup olive oil
3 tsp. wine vinegar
¼ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp parsley flakes
6 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
6 tablespoons chopped cooked bacon
Salt and pepper
Steam asparagus until tender-crisp and drain.
Make dressing with oil, vinegar, garlic powder, parsley flakes, salt and pepper.
While asparagus is still hot, layer half the spears in a deep dish. Sprinkle half the chopped eggs and bacon bits over the asparagus and
half the dressing.
Make a second layer of asparagus spears. Top with the remaining chopped eggs, bacon bits, and dressing.
Serve at room temperature or chill for later.
p.s. Just in case the rain that’s forecast for this week doesn’t reverse the drought, you might be interested in Tops Market’s water-conservation tips on it’s website.
This recipe sponsored by Tops Market in Weaverville and Redding.
Click here to order a sandwich online from the Weaverville Tops Market.
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007 Chamberlain was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.