Hollandaise Sauce

Time saver: as close as you can get to drinking pure butter without actually drinking pure butter.

I’ve been a bit unsure about this post. Hollandaise sauce can be made in a variety of different ways, some more involved than others, and even the ratios seem to vary a bit. All I can do is tell you how I would go about making it if I was cooking. Your mileage may vary.

You can drizzle it over asparagus if you want to, but my favourite is eggs benedict with hollandaise liberally poured over the top.

Eggs benedict with hollandaiseAs previously mentioned, the recipes vary a bit. Some will have you reduce vinegar before adding it to the egg yolks, others get you to make the entire thing in the blender. I like the zingy flavour of lemons, so use quite a lot of lemon juice, you may prefer to use half as much (1 Tbsp instead of 2). I also like the flavour of vinegar in it, so sometimes add ½-1 tsp just near the end. You can do the same, leave it out, or try reducing it first (which should take some of the sharpness off it, though you’ll need to start with a couple of tablespoons of it). Using less butter will give you a thicker sauce, using more gives you more sauce at the end. For two servings of eggs benedict (for a total of 4 eggs) I’d use around 75g butter just to be sure I had enough.

Hollandaise sauce

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 50-100g butter
  • 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice (to taste)
  • white wine vinegar (to taste)
  1. Cut the butter into small cubes and leave to soften (if in a hurry you can soften in the microwave).
  2. Set up a double-boiler (put a couple of cms of water in the bottom of a saucepan, then sit a stainless steel bowl on top, big enough that the bottom of it is above the water level) and set over a low heat.
  3. Put the egg yolk and lemon juice in the top of the double-boiler and whisk together. Continue whisking as the double-boiler continues to heat. (Watch it closely and be careful not to completely cook the egg yolk or you’ll have to start again.)
  4. Eventually the mixture should start to thicken, at this point remove the double-boiler from the heat, and start adding the cubes of butter, whisking to combine. Continue until all the butter has been added.
  5. Taste the sauce and add more lemon juice or a little white wine vinegar for flavour. Then serve. (You could add cracked black pepper to the sauce, I normally just crack it over the sauce once served.)
  6. EMERGENCIES ONLY: hollandaise sauce is an emulsion, and emulsions sometimes separate. The key to getting it back together is simple: if the sauce is hot, add cold water a drop at a time and whisk thoroughly until recombined. If the sauce is cold, add hot water a drop at a time and whisk thoroughly until recombined.

Making hollandaise sauce


Mini Apricot Danishes

Time saver: mini apricot danishes, just like regular apricot danishes, only smaller.

mini apricot danishHere’s a treat you can put together pretty quickly. Tasty little parcels of pastry and apricot with a sweet glaze to finish it off. Good for a light breakfast/brunch, or just whenever you feel like it.

Mini Apricot Danishes – makes around 18

  • 400g tin apricot halves (drained, but reserve syrup, you should hopefully get around 18 halves)
  • 2 sheets flaky puff pastry
  • 8 Tbsp icing sugar
  • 2 Tbsp apricot syrup
  • (optional) 1 egg + 1 Tbsp water for egg wash
  1. Pre-heat oven to 200°C on fan-bake.
  2. Cut each pastry sheet into 9 even sized squares (i.e. 3 x 3 grid).
  3. Place an apricot half (cut-side down) into middle of each square.
  4. Fold up two of the corners of each square so they wrap around the apricot and overlap in the middle. Use a little apricot syrup to wet the pastry where it joins, then press down firmly.
  5. Place danishes on a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray.
  6. For a good finish to the pastry, prepare an egg wash by beating together an egg with a tablespoon of water and brushing lightly over the pastry on each danish.
  7. Bake danishes in oven for around 15 minutes, until pastry is golden brown, then remove from oven and transfer to cooling rack.
  8. In a small jug mix together the icing sugar with 2 Tbsp apricot syrup (or just plain water). Using a piping bag or teaspoon, drizzle glaze over danishes in a zig-zag pattern. (Note: if the danishes are warm the glaze will melt and run, if you’re serving immediately that won’t matter so much, but otherwise you should wait until they’re cool before glazing.)

mini apricot danishes

Almond and Orange Tuiles

Time saver: Phil tweaks Chef Eddy’s Almond Tuiles recipe, and reaps the sweet sweet benefits.

almond and orange tuilesWhen I first wrote about Almond Tuiles I said that I hadn’t changed the recipe at all. That’s different now, and I’m ready to stamp my mark on it. As I said the first time around, Chef Eddy’s Almond Tuiles recipe is my inspiration (reference, source), so feel free to refer to him or use his recipe instead of mine. (He has some great photos, so maybe check it out even if you decide to use my slightly altered one.)

Tuiles are a great crispy dessert cookie, with a distinctive curved shape. The combination of vanilla, orange and almond is subtle and (to me anyway) sublime. They’re best eaten on the day they’re made, but if you have a really airtight container you can try keeping them. (I’ve had mixed results – they stay crisp for a couple of days then go slightly chewy.)

The main changes I’ve made to the recipe are:

  • halved the quantities (and then adjusted slightly)
  • doubled vanilla
  • quadrupled the orange zest
  • reduced almond to a quantity commonly sold in NZ shops (impossible to find 90g bags)
  • shifted a lot of the weight based measurements to volume based – it’s less accurate, but faster if you don’t have to weigh everything

One of the great things about this recipe is that it leaves you with unused egg yolks, which is a nice problem to have. Sounds like you’d better make crème brûlée. I haven’t put up a recipe for crème patisserie yet (though I’m planning to eventually) but that would be a good option too. (Let’s not get me started on pastry cream, suffice it to say that I love it.)

Almond and Orange Tuiles – makes around 25

  • 60g egg whites (skip measuring and just use the whites from 2 large eggs)
  • 90g caster sugar (this is around 7 Tbsp or ½ cup minus 1 heaped Tbsp)
  • 1 tsp natural vanilla essence
  • 3 Tbsp white flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 30g melted butter (around 2 Tbsp)
  • 70g packet slivered or sliced almonds
  • 2 tsp orange zest (zest of around half an orange – or more if you love oranges)
  1. Heat oven to 205°C (I use “high bake” which uses the bottom and side elements with the fan going).
  2. Put almonds on a baking tray and roast in the oven for around 5-6 minutes – you should probably check them after 4 minutes or so and give them a bit of a stir. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool in a bowl.
  3. Whisk together the egg whites, sugar and vanilla essence in a stainless steel bowl. You’re not aiming for meringue, but whisk it to the point where it’s well-blended.
  4. Add the flour and salt and mix till smooth.
  5. Add the melted butter, cooled almonds and orange zest. Mix well.
  6. Line baking trays with baking paper, then drop teaspoonfuls of the mixture onto the paper. (Yes, it really is supposed to be that runny.) My baking trays aren’t that big, so I only get 9 per sheet (in a 3 x 3 grid). Leave plenty of space between each one as they can spread while cooking. Shape into rounds with a fork, which you can dip in melted butter to help get clean edges.
  7. Cook the tuiles (one tray at a time) for around 6-8 minutes until golden-brown. The edges will brown and the middles should be golden.
  8. Remove from the oven, then quickly lift each one from the tray with a metal spatula/fish-slice, and drape over a thin rolling pin to get the distinctive curved-chip shape. You may need to press them into shape. As they cool they’ll harden, at which point you can remove them from the rolling pin and leave on a wire-rack to finish cooling. If you don’t manage to shape them all you can return the tray to the oven for a few seconds to soften the remaining ones before attempting to shape them again.
  9. Serve on the side with coffee or ice-cream.

almond and orange tuile

Bacon-wrapped Asparagus

Time saver: wrapping things in bacon is kind of cliché, but luckily that doesn’t stop it from making things delicious.

This is a great one for summer, and is pretty quick and easy to prepare. I cooked mine in the oven tonight, but you can also do them on a grill, in a frying pan, or of course outside on the barbeque. If you’re doing them on the barbeque or in a frying pan, you may want to use tooth-picks or skewers to hold it all together.

I used dry-cured manuka smoked bacon from the Grey Lynn Butchers, and it was truly delicious. John Campbell has been known to shop here (I’m not sure if that’s an endorsement or not – you might want to pick your times to avoid bumping into him).

You can serve these with a meal, or just enjoy them on their own. For a variation you could also try wrapping individual asparagus spears with prosciutto (if you’ve come into money or something).

Bacon-wrapped Asparagus – makes 6-7 pairs

  • 250g fresh asparagus (should be around 12-14 spears)
  • 200g streaky middle bacon (you need one strip per 2 asparagus spears)
  • olive oil
  • salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  1. Pre-heat oven to 200°C (I used “fan-grill”, which heats the top and side elements, while running the fan).
  2. Trim the woody ends of the asparagus spears, then place asparagus on a plate.
  3. Drizzle a little olive oil over the asparagus, then turn them to get them evenly coated. Season with a little freshly cracked black pepper (and salt if you want it – though the bacon may be salty enough).
  4. Divide the asparagus into even-lengthed pairs, then wrap a strip of streaky bacon around the middle of each pair. Depending on your bacon you should be able to cover the middle half of each asparagus spear.
  5. Place the asparagus on a baking tray with a sheet of baking paper on it, arranging them so the loose ends of bacon are held under the asparagus. (Alternatively, you can thread a couple of tooth-picks or skewers through to hold the bacon in place.)
  6. Place the baking tray in the oven, and cook for around 10 minutes. Remove when the bacon is cooked and the asparagus is still al dente.

Uncle Phil’s American-Style Pancakes (with berries)

Time saver: with the berries baked right into the pancake, you’ll forget that I’m not American, and that I’ve never cooked these for anyone who calls me “Uncle”. (One day my nieces and nephew, one day…)

blueberry pancakeAlthough I grew up on crêpes, I still like the fatter American-style pancakes from time to time. And when you include berries baked right into the pancake, they’re downright irresistible. I usually make these with strawberries grown on the deck, but you can use blueberries, raspberries, basically any berry you can get your hands on will probably be great. (The photos show blueberry pancakes.)

You can also make these without including the berries. In that case, serve with maple or vanilla syrup, or stack with fried bacon and bananas and a light drizzling of maple syrup.

Uncle Phil’s American-Style Pancakes – serves 2 (makes around 5 pancakes)

  • 1 cup white flour
  • 2 Tbsp white sugar
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1-2 eggs (1 is fine, but you can use 2)
  • ¾-1 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter (around 30g)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen berries (this is around 125g – if berries are large, chop to size of raspberries)
  • butter for frying
  • maple syrup OR vanilla syrup OR icing sugar to serve
  1. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre, and into this crack the egg.
  2. Also pour in the melted butter and milk, then stir to combine with a fork. Start in the centre and work your way out to the sides, mixing thoroughly to combine and remove any lumps. (There’s a balance here – the less you mix, the lighter the pancakes will be, but you don’t want lumps of flour from undermixing either.)
  3. Add the berries and stir through the batter.
  4. Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat (I use the 4 of the 1-6 heat-range of my element) . Melt a knob of butter in the frying pan and spread evenly over the frying pan’s surface. A small non-stick frying pan works really well and will help you get a round pancake. (They’ll work fine without it, but you may end up with irregular sides.)
  5. Pour a ladle-full of pancake mix (about ½ cup) into the centre of the frying pan (without tilting the pan). If necessary, push the berries around to distribute a bit more evenly. Cook on that side until bubbles begin to form on the surface, then flip and cook on the other side. (Flipping can be a little difficult at times – you don’t want the bottom to burn, but if the top isn’t cooked sometimes the mixture runs or splashes. If you’re really struggling, maybe try cooking on a lower temperature, which should give you more time before the bottom burns.)
  6. Serve with maple or vanilla syrup, or a light dusting of icing sugar.

blueberry pancake closeup