Spring is nearly here and I have yet another recipe with my favourite vegetable: asparagus. However, in my first recipe, asparagus is used to make a puree soup. The next one we use it in a pasta. Here it is cooked and used in a salad. As many of you obviously know, asparagus is best in spring because only the young shoots are eaten. Extremely healthy with a high amount of fibre, calcium and every vitamin in the alphabet.
There are three basic styles of dressings used for salads: the first is the obvious one where fat is added to an acid and emulsified, creamy dressings such as ranch or mayonaisse and, finally, cooked dressings. Like Hollandaise. I have already talked about Hollandaise in a previous post. And since asparagus is so healthy, then you are required to use something fatty to go with it. Obviously.
Hollandaise has a classic method that can be a little tricky for the first time. However, if you are adventurous, there is an alternative method. Similar to Beurre Blanc, you whip your eggs over simmering water with a pinch of sugar. Once it triples in volume, then you monter au beurre (whisk in cubed butter) and return to heat if it gets a little too cool. With this method, your hollandaise is less likely to split.
This sauce is known as Maltaise; one of the many derivatives from Hollandaise. Thanks to my Professional Cooking textbook, I am able list off some the many derivatives. Bearnaise is with a tarragon reduction. Foyot is with a hint of demi-glace. Choron uses tomato paste. Paloise is similar to bearnaise but uses mint instead of tarragon. Very nice with Leg of Lamb. Suffice to say, there are too numerous to name. Especially since nobody is really going to make any of them. Obviously.
A Bloomin' Sauce with Bloody Oranges on a Hammy Sparrow-Grass Salad
30 Asparagus Spears
3 Belgian Endives (for garnish)
1 Yellow or Orange Pepper, julienne
6 oz. Prosciutto, thinly sliced and cut into strips
1 Box of Spinach
8 Egg Yolks
Splash of White Wine
200 g Clarified Butter, warm
2 Large Blood Oranges, juiced
Pinch of Cayenne
Pinch of Paprika
Ice for Ice Bath
Salt and Pepper to Taste
In a tall pot, bring salted water to a boil. Blanch asparagus until tender. Remove and shock in ice bath. Drain and pat dry. Using prosciutto, tie up asparagus into bundles of 5.
In a frying pan, heat juice of blood orange until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat.
In a steel bowl, combine eggs with wine. Over simmering water, whisk eggs until it triples in volume; about ten minutes. Remove from heat and slowly drizzle in clarified butter while whisking vigorously. When finished, add blood orange juice and cayenne. Reserve for later.
Arrange on plates, spinach, peppers, endives and asparagus bundles. Drizzle dressing on top, garnish with paprika and serve immediately.
Variation: instead of spinach, use whatever lettuce you like. With the exception of iceberg. But lollo rosso, frisee and mache. These all work well.
A Humble Chef's tip: to clarify your butter, melt butter, remove milk solid then place in your fridge for an hour. Take out, pierce a hole and drain excess water and heat up again.