I am more of a foodie-wannabe than an actual foodie, so when I relate that the Hollandaise and Sauce Moutard the girls and I made turned out spectacularly well, picture a balloon drop and flying confettiand the sounds of a brass band playing a strapping Sousa march on the street outside our house.
This recipe, from the excellent cookbook, Le Cordon Bleu at Home (you can have a look at it and read reviews by typing the title in the Amazon.com search feature to over to the right and down a bit), was very easy to follow even for a piker like me and delicious? Oh my heavens, you cannot believe the rich, warm, buttery goodness. My two teenage daughters, Meelyn and Aisling, and I were standing around our saucepan gauging the need for more lemon juice, salt and cayenne and all of a sudden I noticed that we had achieved the required level of yumminess, yet still, there we were. Tasting.
"Stop," I said, lifting a spoon to my lips. "Stop tasting the Hollandaise, girls! How do you expect to have enough left over for our asaparagus, and some to add the Dijon to for the Sauce Moutarde?" I took another enthusiastic taste. The girls, licking their spoons, looked at me with narrowed eyes. I placed the spoon in the dishwasher and cleared my throat.
"Thank you," I said with dignity.
I felt we'd cheated a bit in the making of this sauce because we watched a DVD of Julia Child making Hollandaise just a week ago. She explained everything so clearly, telling us what to do -- and perhaps more to the point, what not to do -- that it would have been hard to mess things up.
First off, we placed the three eggs in a shallow dish of warm water so that they could come to room temperature while we were clarifying the butter. I was a little nervous about that butter, seeing as how I had never clarified it before. Eaten it, yes. Clarified, not so much. Since I wasn't sure, I did what any seasoned internet aficianado does -- I used Google.
I found that information this site and the instructions worked a treat. Before too long, I was skimming off the foam into a little bowl, pouring the clarified butter into another bowl, and then scooping the remaining milk solids into the bowl with the foam. Easy peasy, and so far, so good.
Once the butter was clarified, I showed Meelyn and Aisling how to separate the eggs so that we'd have the yolks for our Hollandaise. We popped those into a medium-sized saucepan, added the water and got to whisking.
It was nice having help for this task, because Julia made it pretty clear in that episode we watched that one does not leave the egg yolks and water there on the gas burner and go off, say, to paint one's fingernails or read the newspaper or broker peace in the middle east. Over a medium heat, we whisked away and were rewarded in less time than I imagined with a nice, thick yolky emulsion and it was time for the clarified butter.
Aisling professed herself to be tired of cooking and me giving cooking instructions in a bad French accent, so she sat down at the kitchen table with a book and put her feet on the dog, who had come out to the kitchen seeking a handout, perhaps hoping for an entire ham to fall to the floor. Meelyn stayed at the stove to whisk while I added the clarified butter. Once we had a nice, smooth thing going there in the saucepan, I added back the rest of the milk fat from the little bowl and Meelyn whisked it all smooth. As it turns out, I think this was a mistake. Fortunately, this was a happy mistake that affected neither the taste nor the texture of the sauce.
For our Hollandaise, we used about a teaspoon of lemon juice, approximately two teaspoons of sea salt, and probably an eighth of a teaspoon of cayenne. I could have used less lemon juice and been happy, but the result was, as I said, delicious.
Half the Hollandaise was reserved for the asparagus we were going to roast and the rest was going to have the Dijon mustard added to it for the Sauce Moutarde, but first we had to roast the asparagus and cook the saucisse fumée.
I know that asparagus is traditionally served steamed with Hollandaise, but I'm not fond of steamed asparagus; I don't like the texture. I am really fond of roasted asparagus, tossed with a little olive oil and salted and peppered and placed in a 4500 oven for fifteen mintutes. I heated the saucisses fumées on the stovetop for that same amount of time, in the pan in which we clarified the butter.
To keep the Hollandaise warm, I used yet another pan -- can you imagine the crowded interior of my dishwasher, with plates, cooking pans and utensils all jostling for space and complaining, "Move! I can't get any water on me! You're hogging all the detergent!" -- and made a little makeshift bain-marie since I don't have a double-boiler.
Asparagus done, the girls and I forked it onto our warmed plates and gave it a couple of loving dollaps of the plain Hollandaise. We then made the variation by adding a tablespoon of Dijon mustard to the remaining mother Hollandaise, which created the petite sauce moutarde. That accomplished, the sausages went to the plates and were given a friendly soupçon of Sauce Moutard. We all retired to the table with glasses of freshly brewed iced tea, et voilà! We partook of an extremely tasty lunch.
By the way, I'm just being a dork with all that saucisse fumée stuff. It's just plain old all-beef smoked sausage I bought at the deli counter, made by Eckridge, the same kind that is often cut into chunks and served with steamed and buttered cabbage or even bean soup. Confession is good for the soul.
And Hollandaise is good for the stomach!
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