YOU cannot imagine how happy I am to see the bright mornings here again. Spring has sprung and the promise of cherry blossom, young fresh peas and fat juicy spears of asparagus makes me smile with pleasure.

I used to worry about cooking asparagus. Some chefs recommend boiling the stems upright in an asparagus streamer so that the stems cook in the simmering water while the delicate heads are steamed above the water. Too much fuss for me. I simply cook them laid out in a shallow pan of simmering salted water. It works a treat. Don’t overcook them and always refresh in cold water to keep their bright fresh colour.

Try to buy asparagus as near to the time it has been harvested as possible; farm shops and farmers markets are the best. It is the high density of sap in the stems that makes it so sweet but it deteriorates quickly and becomes woody so the sooner it is eaten the better.


6 -8 spears asparagus per person

Break the asparagus spears near the base where they snap naturally. Discard the bottom. Use a potato peeler to trim off the leaves at the sides of each stem.

Rinse well in cold water.

Lay them in a shallow saucepan of boiling salted water and simmer for 4-6 minutes until the fattest part if the stems are tender.

Drain and refresh in cold water.

Easy Hollandaise Sauce

200g unsalted butter, clarified

3 yolks free range eggs

A teaspoon of cold water

Juice and fine rind of half an unwaxed lemon

A pinch of sea salt

First clarify the butter. Melt it for 2 minutes in a microwave on high.

Allow to cool. The butter will settle into 3 layers, a white foam on top, clarified butter in the middle, a white watery liquid at the bottom.

Skim off the foam. Gently pour the clear butter into a clean saucepan stopping when you reach the white watery liquid at the bottom.

Warm the clarified butter.

Put the egg yolks into a food processor with a teaspoon of water.

Whisk until they are white and fluffy.

With the motor running slowly add the warm butter in a steady stream as if you are making a mayonnaise.

If the thickened sauce is too thick add a little of the milky residue to thin it a little.

Season to taste with a pinch of salt, a good squeeze of lemon juice and fine lemon rind.

Serve drizzled over the asparagus which you can warm again in simmering water for a minute.

Even extra delicious served with free range poached eggs.