Asparagus with hollandaise sauce.
ASPARAGUS WITH HOLLANDAISE SAUCE
2 bunches asparagus
Chocolate hazelnut roulade.
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
hollandaise sauce (makes about 325ml)
3 egg yolks
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
250g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
juice of 1 lemon, to taste
To make hollandaise, you will need a bowl that sits comfortably over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Put egg yolks, some sea salt and 1 tbsp water in the bowl and gently hand-whisk. Put the bowl over water and continue whisking. Take care that the base of the bowl doesn't touch the water.
As it approaches the point at which it is fully cooked, the mixture will thicken, doubling or tripling in size. It is very important for the egg yolks to reach this point, otherwise the sauce will fall apart when you add the butter.
When sauce is thick, add 3-4 cubes of butter, whisking until fully incorporated before adding the next lot. Repeat until butter is all used. Don't rush this stage. The sauce will split if you add too much butter at one time. Also, make sure the sauce doesn't get too hot. You can lift the bowl off the pan from time to time.
When butter is fully incorporated, remove bowl from the heat, squeeze in juice of 1/2 lemon and add lots of ground pepper. Whisk to incorporate. Taste for salt and lemon, add more if desired.
To cook asparagus, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Snap bottoms off asparagus, place gently in pot and boil for 1-2 minutes until al dente. Drain and dry asparagus with paper towel.
To serve, divide asparagus between four plates, pour hollandaise over the top and finish with a good grind of pepper.
CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT ROULADE
4 large eggs, separated
150g icing sugar, sifted, plus extra to dust
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 tsp salt
50g plain flour
2 tbsp cornflour
3 tbsp rum
250g Nutella, softened
3 tbsp dark chocolate flakes
whipped cream, to serve
Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a 25cm x 35cm Swiss roll pan with baking paper.
Whisk egg yolks, icing sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer until pale and creamy. Separately, beat egg whites and salt with an electric mixer at high speed until stiff.
Fold plain flour and cornflour into egg yolk mixture, then immediately add a small amount of the egg whites, folding them through gently to soften the batter. Add remaining whites. Spoon batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 12 -15 minutes or until risen and golden.
Dust a clean tea towel with icing sugar. Turn the cake out onto the towel, remove the paper and trim the edges of the cake. Roll up the cake using the tea towel to shape it. Leave, seam side down, until cool.
Unroll the sponge and sprinkle with rum and cover with Nutella, then roll up again, using the tea towel to help you. Wrap roulade in foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Remove wrapping and place roulade on a platter. Give it a good dusting with icing sugar and sprinkle with chocolate flakes. Serve with whipped cream.
• I love the first asparagus of spring. It's wonderful simply cooked - hot or cold - with vinaigrettes or butter sauces like this one, or even raw.
• I'm not a big fan of peeling asparagus but if you like it that way, by all means do so.
• When you get the hang of making hollandaise, the skill gives you access to sauces like maltaise, which is flavoured with blood orange.
• The quality of rum you use in the roulade will affect the quality of the cake, so choose wisely.
• For extra textural crunch, spread roasted and crushed hazelnuts through the roulade.
SOMETHING TO DRINK
Asparagus and pinot blanc are a match made in heaven. The delicate flavours of apple, pear and rose petal distinguish the pinot blanc grape, and the 2011 Dopff au Moulin ($13) from Alsace in France is classic yet fresh and vibrant. It complements this dish beautifully.
Photography by William Meppem. Styling by Hannah Meppem. Food preparation by Nick Banbury.