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Coming up at 11: When Asparagus Attacks

Some days, work is relatively stress-free and I get home by 5, excited and ready to cook up a storm. The other 364 days a year, I don’t. Unless each of my 6 readers starts loading this page 750,000 times a day each, I’ll be keeping my day job and looking for more quick but interesting weeknight meals.*

Some time ago, I declared the official foodie trend of Spring 2008 to be the poached egg. Today was a lovely spring day – sunny, brisk, daffodils in bloom, Target setting up shop on the street giving away flowers with each purchase of toxic chemical fertilizer – and I had some asparagus in the fridge that was about to buy the farm, so: roasted asparagus with poached eggs and green curry hollandaise. Hollandaise and asparagus are a classic pairing, as are poached eggs and hollandaise (eggs benedict, eggs florentine) and poached eggs and asparagus; marvel at the synergy!

*If you could start doing that, that would be great. Tell your friends and family!

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BlenderCam 2000: New technology only available at TNS.

Traditional hollandaise involves a lot of nail biting and whisking and more whisking, not to mention the whisking. Also, there is often fucking up, and the fear of broken sauce that can lead to the debilitating physical condition known as the “mother sauce shakes.” Mostly it takes time, which is what I was hoping to avoid. More time spent making hollandaise means less time watching American Idol and reading manga.

Blender hollandaise, on the other hand, involves turning the knob on the blender. I did have to turn the knob a couple of times, which was tiring, but I managed to make it through. I’m not sure whether Julia Child approves of the blender hollandaise or not but I suspect that she would, she seems the type. Egg yolks, lemon and seasoning in the blender, drizzle in melted butter while the blender is running, consume. From individual ingredients to actual artery-stiffening in less than 3 minutes. Genius!

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Eggs. The end.

I tossed the asparagus with olive oil and salt and stashed it in a 400 degree oven to roast. The hollandaise went into a small saucepan to keep warm while I poached the eggs. I know you’re supposed to hold hollandaise over a double boiler to keep it from breaking, but I was feeling brash from the blenderized version and sat it directly on the heat with no ill effects. Sometimes, one must rock out with one’s cock out.

Poached eggs, once the elusive “knack” is obtained, are easy to make consistently good. Barely simmering water with a few tablespoons of white vinegar to help the whites hold together, fresh eggs, and exactly 3 minutes and 15 seconds in the water will produce a warm, cooked egg with a delightfully runny yolk – perfect for when you want the yolk to coat something or contribute to a sauce.

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If you came over and requested this for brunch, I would charge you $13.

I laid down a bed of asparagus that had been roasted to dark green and brown perfection and topped it with one of the poached eggs. A tablespoon or two of hollandaise over the top – the addition of green curry paste muddied the usual lovely butter-yellow color a bit, but not enough to deter me from it in any way – a sprinkle of cayenne and an english muffin, and we’re ready to go. Well, not we; you didn’t get any. Sorry.

There’s a good reason that asparagus, poached eggs and hollandaise are classic pairings – they’re fucking good. The fresh green asparagus is deepened by roasting, poached eggs are light but luscious, and the hollandaise binds everything together with it’s buttery, lemony richness. In this version, the green curry adds a background note of pungency that makes the sauce interesting without overwhelming the freshness and simplicity of the key ingredients.

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That’s right, motherfucker: It’s a fucking root beer float.

I declare this to be a “neo-classic” pairing: asparagus, hollandaise and eggs, and root beer floats. I’d stopped by a local bodega on my way home from the subway to pick up butter for the hollandaise. While maneuvering through the store’s tiny aisles I just happened to pass the small freezer case, where my eyes TOTALLY RANDOMLY lit on a pint of Ciao Bella vanilla gelato (ah, gentrification).

Yes, it was random. Shut up.

I was going to use it to make affogato – ice cream “suffocated” with espresso – but when Brian mentioned he was running to the grocery store I casually suggested that he pick up some root beer, because I’m smart like that. So we had a perfectly lovely ending to a perfectly lovely spring day.

Green Curry Blender Hollandaise
makes approx. 1 cup

3 egg yolks
1 1/2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. dried mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick butter (8 tbsp) melted but not browned
1 tsp. green curry paste

Put the first 4 ingredients in the blender. Turn the blender on and pour the melted butter in slowly, like you’re whisking oil into a vinaigrette; the sauce will thicken and turn pale yellow. Add the curry paste and blend to combine. Taste, and adjust for salt, lemon and curry according to your preference.

If you’re holding the sauce, keep it warm in a small saucepan over the lowest possible heat. If it starts to thicken or break, take it off the heat and whisk in hot water by the teaspoon until the consistency is restored.