Tag Archives: sauce

Asparagus with Hollandaise

asparagus and hollandaise sauce from fannyandbrenda.com

Given that asparagus has a fairly short season – and April is its peak – I thought it would be remiss of Brenda and I not to show you something made with these perky green spears. This is this quick to make – and feels like a quite exotic dish.

I’ve adapted this from Delia – so you know you’ll be in good hands, if further reassurance is required. This serves 4 and like virtually all other recipes, can be halved/doubled etc, to suit. Allow about 125g asparagus per person. By the way I have roasted the asparagus as I think it keeps in more flavour and is also easier to manage timings-wise; although you can steam or boil yours if you prefer (in which case do it at the end of the process, instead of towards the beginning, as per below)


500g asparagus – just gently bend, and the spears will snap off at the natural divide between the woody “end” which you discard and the tender part you use.
2 large eggs – separated with the yolks in one medium glass bowl and the whites in another
1 dstspn white wine vinegar
1dstspn lemon juice
100g butter
pinch sea salt
fresh cracked black pepper


Switch the oven on to 200°C and place a knob of butter into an oven dish or tray with sides, just big enough to hold your asparagus spears in a singe layer. Season lightly.

In a small pan, place the 100g butter on the heat and begin to melt gently.

Using an electric whisk, beat the egg whites till light and fluffy – the soft peaks stage is great (you’re not making a meringue so don’t go mad but don’t worry if you do, it won’t really matter…). Leave momentarily to one side.

Place a medium pan containing just an inch or so of water on the hob which should reach no more than a gentle simmer. Place the glass bowl containing the yolks over the pan – season with a pinch of sea salt and a little ground pepper and whisk using the same beaters that you’ve just done your egg whites with. After not much more than a minute, the mix will have turned lighter and already be quite foamy, so you can now go ahead and add the lemon juice and vinegar – continue whisking for another 30 seconds or so.

asparagus and hollandaise sauce from fannyandbrenda.com

By this time, the butter should have completely melted (take off the heat if done before as you don’t want it going brown or burning). If you need to enlist a friend, great, but the idea is to add the butter fairly gradually (a bit like making mayo) so it doesn’t all split. So long that you’re fairly deft about it, start with a few tablespoons of the butter and whisk in immediately. Keep going adding butter and whisking in – I suppose I combined all the butter into the yolks in about 5 cycles over around 2 mins.

Continue whisking for another 30 seconds or so and take the bowl off the pan of simmering water.. Take about a quarter of the egg whites and whisk into the yolk/butter mixture for just a few seconds, then again for half of the remaining egg white and then the other half (i.e. 3 cycles). You should have a gorgeously smooth, pale yellow, light but creamy and foamy sauce ready to apply to the asparagus. The bowl containing it can be placed back in the pan of  water to keep warm (but the water pan should itself be off the heat)

All of the above takes around 12 mins which is the point where you need to check the asparagus for doneness. It should still be bright green and tender, but not soft. Return for another 2-3 mins if it’s still a bit firm.

Turn out onto a warmed serving dish and coat generously with the sauce and sprinkle with black pepper. Yum.

asparagus and hollandaise sauce from fannyandbrenda.com

Horseradish Sauce

We really don’t like the vinegary shop bought sludge that passes itself off as horseradish sauce, and this is our version made to our taste. We have grown our own and in the rain today we dug out a small chump of root and removed the leaves.

grow your own horse radish and make much superior horse radish sauce say fanny and brenda


A small chump of root
Two small splashes of white wine vinegar
dash of salt
sprinkle of white pepper
1/4 tsp mustard (English or Dijon)
75ml of sour cream


Once you have your cleaned and peeled root:

1) Take a potato peeler to the outside and get rid of the rough outer layer.

2) Grate reasonably finely and place in bowl

3) Pour in a couple of splashes of white wine vinegar

3) Spoon in the sour cream and stir

4) Add salt and pepper to taste

5) Stir in the mustard

6) Cover and leave for two hours in the fridge

grow your own horse radish and make much superior horse radish sauce say fanny and brenda

Why make your own mayonnaise?

making your own real mayonnaise


2 egg yolks
level tsp salt (preferably sea salt)
pinch of finely ground black pepper
1 tsp Dijon mustard
juice of a lemon
tbsp red wine vinegar
250ml rapeseed (vegetable) oil


I approached this somewhat cockily last week, having achieved the desired result on my first attempt last year – a sauce basically comprising eggs yolks and oil doesn’t seem that hard to create and yet somehow, with Brenda as my assistant this time, it did not come together easily. It doesn’t surprise me, she’s a quite useless assistant.

Whether it was our blend of female hormones and barely concealed aggression I can only guess, but I did take the opportunity to do a bit of background – and to keep things as brief as possible, I will provide the following pointers

1) the whole process seems to work best at room temperature. You don’t need to keep eggs in the fridge, but if you do store yours there, then take them out at least half an hour before.

2) much advice is given about the right oil to use but generally olive oil will be too strong (especially extra virgin). Frankly, we’ve had some pretty rancid “up-market” oils (probably because at the price charged, people had wisely avoided it and so it was hanging around on the shelves for ages) and I got an excellent result using the cheapest (and possibly therefore the freshest) rapeseed oil I could find – you know, that come in those 5 litre drums from the supermarket! Obviously you don’t have to use it all making mayonnaise, you can also deep fry with it (Brenda, did I really have to explain that?!)

3) whisk the egg first for 2-3 minutes until going pale. Although I can be a bit of a stickler for using a hand beater for certain things, this is not one of them – so do use an electric whisk. Then add the salt to your egg yolks, whisk in for half a minute or so and then add the oil pretty much a tsp at a time for the first half minute, whisking all the time and then gradually allowing the dribble to develop to more of a trickle as your patience wears thin, albeit that your mayonnaise is thickening in the meantime.

making your own real mayonnaise

4) once your mayo is thick and nearly white, you can just go right ahead and add the mustard, vinegar and lemon juice at the same time – perhaps a little less of the vinegar/lemon juice if you want to keep the original nice thick consistency (or one or the other only, rather than both depending on how you like it and what you’re going to use it for)

5) taste and season with pepper at this stage, assuming everything has gone to plan. I prefer black pepper and mostly avoid the speckles by grinding it finely although in any case, I think the speckles make it look at the very least, home made (in a good way!), bordering on artisanal. You can use white pepper for the mass-produced look….. although I admit to using shop bought mayo as my guide to saltiness as that happens to be a level I like – about 1.5% salt in the finished thing, if you’re interested.

6) whatever any recipe tells you, is not absolutely guaranteed because, like so many things, practise and “getting the feel for it” is as important as the ingredients and basic process. I actually had three goes and, by the way, instead of using oil for my final batch, I used the horrible oily curdles instead. Whether it was down to the oil therefore being enriched with extra egg yolk, whether it was because I used better (for which read more expensive) eggs, or whether I’d just got the knack of it by then – who can tell? But evidently what starts out looking unpromising, can be salvaged – so dont throw your attempts away – recycle them! I think the key point in this was the whisking of the yolks first for a few minutes before starting to add the oil.

7) mayo forms the base of many delicious sauces such as Marie Rose and tartare sauce – as well as, of course, being delicious added unchanged to many otherwise somewhat ordinary foods – like lettuce. So do keep the fruits of your labours in a nice clean jar for future use, although, given it contains raw egg yolk, you might not want to keep it too much longer than a week but just do the sniff text like Brenda and I do all the time – if it smells alright, it’s probably good to eat!!!

making your own real mayonnaise