Tag Archives: veggie

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)

Ingredients

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
 

Method

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

Stuffed courgette flowers with a spicy parmesan crust

stuffed courgette flowers with a parmesan crust

Serves 2 as a starter

 INGREDIENTS

4 baby courgettes with flowers attached

stuffed courgette flowers with a parmesan crust

Ingredients  for the flowers filling

100g marscapone cheese (or ricotta – or even Philly!)

50g feta cheese (or goats cheese)  – finely crumbled

2 anchovy filets – finely chopped

green part of a spring onion – finely sliced (or dsp of chopped chives)

leaves from 3-4 stalks of tarragon – finely chopped (or you could use fresh basil)

small bunch flat leaf parsley – leaves picked and finely chopped

zest of half a lemon – finely grated

freshly cracked black pepper

stuffed courgette flowers with a parmesan crust

Ingredients for the parmesan crust

 

1 large free range egg

1 tbsp cornflower

25g finely grated parmesan

1 tbsp breadcrumbs

½ tsn dried red chilli flakes

fresh cracked black pepper

stuffed courgette flowers with a parmesan crust

To fry

olive oil

sunflower/vegetable oil

stuffed courgette flowers with a parmesan crust

To serve

pinch sea salt

½ lemon

nasturtium flowers if available.

stuffed courgette flowers with a parmesan crust

 METHOD

You might find courgette flowers at a farmers’ market (if you live in Dulwich or another trendy location…) but even I have to admit that, unless you grow courgettes yourself, this is going to be challenging. However, it is unbelievably summery and beautiful (like Brenda’s latest frock…) and guests or a paramour, will be bowled over – and in the case of the latter, will definitely make the effort worthwhile in terms of the quality of your evening later on …… Anyway, moving swiftly forward

1)   Gently open the courgette flowers to snip the stamens  off  – they’re not poisonous, but they’re rather bitter (unlike Brenda, who is both…) Wipe all over and remove any insects.

2)   Combine all the ingredients for the flower filling in a bowl and stir/beat until  smooth. Check seasoning although it’s unlikely any salt will be needed due to the feta and anchovy

3)   Combine in a separate bowl (long enough to accommodate the full length of the courgette with its flower attached) the dry ingredients for the parmesan crust (again, careful with salt, due to the Parmesan) ….

4)   ….and in another bowl, similarly long, crack the egg and gently beat

5)   Spoon or pipe the flower filling mix into the courgette flower – you should get 1-2 tsp mix into each one. Carefully fold the petals over the mix and twist the (usually four) tips together to seal

6)   Heat a medium frying pan with enough olive/vegetable oil (you can use which combo you like but some olive oil for its flavour is nice) to cover the bottom of the pan to a depth of about 1cm

7)   While that’s getting up to temperature, dip each courgette (with attached stuffed flower) into the egg and then into the cheesy crumb mix.

8)   Once the oil is at 180C (or hot enough to brown a cube of bread in about  1 minute, if you haven’t got a thermometer), gently lower the courgettes into the oil and shallow fry . After 2 minutes, turn and do the same on the other side

9)   After 4 minutes in total, the courgettes will be a lovely light golden brown at which point they should be removed from the pan and laid on kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil

10)   Serve immediately with a pinch of sea salt, a squeeze of lemon and a couple of nasturtiums if you have them.

stuffed courgette flowers with a parmesan crust