While a whole pineapples makes me nervous (it has armor, for crying out loud), I've come to grips with it. Largely by having the store core and peel it, but that still counts! However, two things have consistently struck fear in my culinary heart. Phyllo pastry is one of them (All those delicate sheets! That have to remain covered with a damp towel! At ALL times! And brush them with melted butter! Right now!). Who needs that kind of pressure from pastry?
The other is Hollandaise sauce. Growing up, my mom made it often, and it was hands down my favorite way to consume green vegetables of virtually all sorts. Broccoli was a good one, but fresh from the garden asparagus was far and away the best. And, being my mom, she whipped it up with no more stress or fuss than you or I might exert, say, pouring a bowl of cereal. In the past several years, when we've had a chance to be in the kitchen together, she has given me a demo innumerable times. And yet I've never, before today, tried to actually make it myself.
I had a lovely bunch of fresh asparagus from the farmer's market that needed to be used soon, and, in a fit of wild bravery, decided that it was time to conquer the fear of Hollandaise. There is, however, something about my mom's double boiler technique that somehow seemed a bit more "mad scientist" than I was willing to tackle, so I dug through my cookbooks until I found Ina Garten's recipe, which requires only a blender, and some melted better. And guys? SO EASY. I feel like the biggest asshat in all the land for not having done this before. There are no tricks. It's not hard. It takes less than five minutes. And I happily ate pretty much the whole batch, dipping spear after spear of lightly steamed asparagus into it.
Shortcut Hollandaise Sauce
(From Ina Garten, "Barefoot Contessa; Foolproof")
2 large eggs, at room temperature**
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
**If, like me, you aren't the best advance planner, and your eggs are in the fridge, there's a quick fix. Pop them in a bowl full of hot tap water for a couple of minutes, and they'll warm right up and be ready to use.
- For planning purposes, before you start this, get your veggie of choice prepped and underway. I blanched some fresh asparagus, and tossed it in the simmering water just before I started this. The timing was perfect.
- Put the egg yolks, lemon juice, salt, pepper and cayenne in the blender, and blend on low for 15 seconds. Melt the butter in a small saucepan until it is VERY hot. Remove the insert of the blender lid, and with the blender on low, very carefully pour the hot butter into the blender with the lemon mixture. (Have a towel nearby...hot butter splatters are a hazard.). Blend for 30 seconds, until the mixture is very thick.
- Serve immediately.
And that's it! Seriously! It's fantastic, and I'm kicking myself for all those Hollandaise-less years I unnecessarily inflicted upon myself. Don't be like me.