Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Kat vs How to Eat: Hollandaise sauce and almond macaroons

Ready, steady.... cook!
Hollandaise sauce poured all over Eggs Benedict has to be my number one tastiest hangover cure, so from the off I have a vested interest in getting it right. Everywhere I turn however I find sheer panic and horror from people trying to convince me the eggs will split and I’ll end up with a bowl of lumpy yellow mess. Having already made mayonnaise however I feel a little bolstered and decide the best course of action is to stop thinking about it and do it – there’s nothing to fear but fear itself and all that!

I read through the recipe and come to wonder whether ‘aise’ is not a derivation of some word meaning ‘fatty’. I separate 3 eggs and add the yolks to a bain marie over a modest heat, and I begin whisking. I add, cube by tiny (1cm) cube the butter (200g), piece by piece waiting each time for the last to melt and all the while my arm feels like it might drop off. I happen to be watching Rachel Khoo and her Little Paris Kitchen and she is making béchamel and says that all the whisking is great for bingo wings so I persist. Mind I have never seen her bare armed so I can’t really be sure. I soon realise this is not the kind of hangover food you want to be making yourself unless you have a particularly sadistic streak. When the sauce has taken as much butter as I deem possible/plausible I add the juice of ½ a lemon and some salt and pepper (no mean feat when you must keep whisking).
The whole thing comes together to do a very good impression of what I think it should look like and after some extra seasoning I plunge the bowl into another of tepid water to keep the sauce warm while I brown the muffin, poach the egg and apply the ham. Nigella says the combination of asparagus and Hollandaise is a divine combination so I of course try some of that too. I cut the ends off the asparagus because I seem to remember seeing on Masterchef once that that’s the done thing. Something to do with starch. Then I realised I can’t fit it in the steaming pan so I lop a bit more off and bang the lid on. I am superbly happy with the results. I longingly stare at the door hoping for my flatmate to appear so I can feed her with my triumph too, but she doesn’t and eventually I have to dispose of the remaining sauce. I haven’t had a tastier dinner in a long time!
Eggs benedict and asparagus - heavenly!
When I am full to the brim and after a quick constitutional on the sofa I move on to macaroons. The recipe calls for 2 egg whites. I have a bowl with 3 in. I scratch my head, do some food maths, apply weighing scales and end up with the requisite amount. I chuck in 100g of white caster sugar and 150g of ground almonds, followed by a ‘scant’ tablespoon of flour (normal plain, sorry Nigella Italian 00 is in short supply in these parts) and a teaspoon of almond essence. I am meant to have a thick cream. I am flying blind here and appear to have a paste and waste not an inconsiderable amount of time wondering what the difference is. I try some of the mixture and if someone hadn’t beat me to it I’d swear I’d invented marzipan. I put it in a piping bag, snip off the end (must buy nozzles) and pipe out 5cm rounds of – well snails by the looks of it. I try and smooth the spirals over with a teaspoon a bit and put half a blanched almond on top of each and by the time they go in the oven they look much improved.
Out they come (a couple of minutes late as I am having a fight with the light fitting in my bedroom and lose track of time in all the threat of electrocution fun I am having) and they look pretty good! Golden brown and still a bit soft in the middle with plenty of chew. Again, I’ve nothing to compare to but I think they taste pretty good and I have been asked for the recipe so they are going firmly in the success pile!

Kitchen wisdom gained
·         Hollandaise may be full of butter but the calories you burn off making it make it positively saintly (I can dream can’t I?). Note to self, next time try one of these methods – less washing up, less chance of losing an arm.
·         English macaroons might not look as fancy as French ones, but they’re easier to make and taste every bit as nice.
·         I will be sticking to bacon sandwiches when faced with home-based hangover situations in future.
Domestic Goddess Score out of 10: 8 – making your own Hollandaise is above and beyond the call of regular duty. Unlike the mayonnaise it totally behaved itself as well. The biscuits kicked ass.
Final score: Kat 2 – Nigella 2

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