The first thing to note is that you may (and I definitely do) need a bit of practice before you can make this look good. The reasons being this recipe involves poached eggs and a butter-based sauce that is more prone to curdling than a child is to eating sweets when unattended.
Having said that, the ultimate body of knowledge herself, Delia, has given guidance on navigating both these challenges and I testify that if you follow the recipes below properly they do work. Tip, do not use a whisk – don’t even think about getting it out for this recipe; modern hand blenders work a lot faster than your wrist can.
Start by making the Hollandaise Sauce:
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 egg yolks (separate from the whites and save them for a meringue later)
salt and pepper
In a small saucepan heat the vinegar and lemon juice together until bubbling. Whilst this is heating up, pour the egg yolks into a hand blender and blitz for a minute with a pinch of salt and a couple of turns of freshly ground pepper.
Turn the blender back on and then slowly pour the acids into the egg yolk.
In the same saucepan that you used to warm the vinegar/lemon juice, melt the butter. Do this over a gentle heat until it starts to bubble – don’t let it burn.
Turn the heat off, an turn the blender back on, then veryslowlypour the melted butter into the egg mixture, blitz for another minute and set aside.
In my haste to get this blog written, I just tipped the vinegar and butter into the blender and you’ll see my Hollandaise has curdled somewhat, so disregard the recipe at your own peril.
For the poached eggs, the trick is to use water that is as still as possible. I also use a deep frying pan instead of a saucepan as there’s less distance for the eggs to fall (and hence fall apart). Fill a saucepan 3/4 full of hot water and bring to a boil until little bubbles start appearing at the bottom of the pan, then turn the heat down.
As you want the water to be as still as possible, crack the eggs on the work surface and then bring as close to the water as possible before gently tipping in (in one go). I wouldn’t suggest poaching more than 4 eggs in one go until you’re a pro as the white will naturally sprawl out in the pan anyway. Boil for 1 minute exactly using a timer. Turn the heat off completely and leave the eggs to poach in the water for another 10minutes. By this point all the white will be completely cooked but the yolk will still be perfectly soft. You will need a gently touch to get them out the pan – again no vigorous movements.
Serve the poached eggs on toasted muffins and pour the Hollandaise generously on top. This goes very nicely with bacon/pancetta if you have any in.
So after some deliberation, for the letter ‘A’ I’ve chosen asparagus and cheddar tart with an apple & apricot salad. Asparagus is in season and I was lucky enough to find some fresh apricots in my local supermarket. Goats cheese or feta works equally well in this recipe in place of the cheddar (or a mix), so use whichever you’ve got in the fridge.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
For the tart
100ml single cream
150g cheddar cheese – cut into 1cm squares
1 x 250g block of shortcrust pastry
a handful of freshly chopped chives
For the salad
1 apple (cut into thin sticks)
2 fresh apricots (halved and then sliced)
2 hearts of chicory
a handful of walnuts
2 sticks of celery (finely sliced)
Extra virgin olive oil
White wine vinegar
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
Flour a clean working surface and roll out the shortcrust pastry to just under half a centimetre thickness. Roll back over the rolling pin and gently place into into a round flan tin (ideally one with a loose bottom). The tin should be approx. 23cm in diameter, but if it’s a little smaller you’ll need to add a few more minutes more cooking time.
Trim off any excess pastry, prick with a fork and set aside into the fridge, whilst you prepare the other ingredients.
Trim the asparagus and steam for 4 minutes. The asparagus should still have plenty of bite as it will be cooked again in the tart.
Drain the asparagus and pat dry.
In a bowl whisk the eggs together with the cream and add the chives.
Take the pastry out the fridge, arrange the asparagus inside the pastry and scatter over the pieces of cheddar. Pour over the egg mixture and place in the oven for 30minutes or until golden on top.
Whilst the tart is doing its magic in the oven, there’s plenty of time to prepare the salad. Pull apart the chicory leaves and cut the larger ones in half.
Add the sliced apple, apricots, celery and the walnuts. Dress with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon of white wine vinegar and give the salad a good mix together.
Once the tart is ready, take out the oven and leave to cool for 10minutes before slicing and serving.
Before making this recipe, I misplaced my fluted flan tin, so I used a similar one, with slightly higher sides. This means that mine has that extra proportion of pastry – but as I’m a big fan of it, I’ll forgive myself.
Asparagus and cheddar tart
I had leftover mini roasted potatoes and couldn’t let them go to waste obviously, so they’ve made their way into the photo below. They are totally optional, but as with most dishes, a side of roasties is a good enhancement.
Asparagus and cheddar tart with apple and apricot salad
Next week I’m onto B, and my initial thoughts are for beef wellington. Leave a comment if you’ve got any other ideas, please let me know. Else if you’ve got feedback for the blog so far (on the recipes, cutlery, somewhat dodgy photography skills or anything else), let me know.