I am not particularly precious about only eating English produce, although I will when I can. But I eat my fair share of Fairtrade bananas and extra fine green beans. However, there are some things that I prefer to only eat when they are in season in England. Strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, gooseberries, purple sprouting broccoli and the King of the English Spring, green asparagus.
Not the thick white spears so beloved of the Italians and Spanish, but the tastier (in my opinion) green ones we get in this country from April (when the weather is fine, it was really late this year, we had such awful cold, wet weather) through to about the end of May. Asparagus comes in many different sizes, from the Extra Choice thick fat spears found in the very best emporia, to the fat bunches of medium thick down to sprue (the very skinny ones) you can find at farm shops in the country and farmers markets here in London.
I like asparagus cold as well. It works well chopped in a salad, in which case I cut the tips off, and slice the stems into inch long segments. Blanch the stems for about a minute, then add the tips for just a few seconds. Strain and straight into cold water. Then drained they can be added to all sorts of salads, rice, pasta, or just a green salad.
I had a real treat this year at La Hogue Farm Shop, during their excellent Garden & Lifestyle Show. I had bought myself some medium sized green asparagus , and came across Chris as I was leaving with my groaning carrier bags. He nipped outside, and came back brandishing a bunch of the most enormous purple spears I have ever seen. Not for the faint hearted these, or for teeny little mouths.
Look, you can see the difference between my green ones and these purple beauties.
The tips were perfect, and HUGE!
These definitely had to be kept as simple as possible. Into a pot of boiling water for barely 2 minutes, and drained to be eaten with a pot of lemon-ny hollandaise sauce. Which I had always thought was tricky.
Aha! Not now I have a stick blender (Christmas present from the Beloved, most happy choice. I was contemplating getting a Bamix, although he didn’t know, but the John Lewis one I have is a good solid little workhorse. I recommend.)
I had seen Carl Legge talking about making mayonnaise with his stick blender, and thought hollandaise was probably similar. A quick request on Twitter, and I was assured it was easy peasy. And a quick wander onto the net showed me how to do it in detail.
I used one egg yolk, a pinch of salt, the juice of half a lemon rather than the vinegar, and half a pack (125g) of unsalted butter. I think it took about a minute start to finish, including heating the butter. Amazing!
Plenty of sauce left over, I decided to try some of the green spears griddled instead of blanched.
I know it is fashionable but to be honest, I found the oiliness distracting. It really is better in my view as simple as possible.
With lots of hollandaise of course…