I have been making hollandaise sauce in a blender since reading about it in Mastering the Art of French Cooking over forty years ago. After all this time I learn that I have been doing it wrong. That’s probably because Julia Child wrote that any 8-year-old child could follow the recipe. (How’s that for an ego-squelcher?) She also said that the sauce would not accept as much butter nor be as good as the sauce you made laboriously over a steaming water bath. My hollandaise always turned out a little runny, but I thought it was a butter thing and just the way it was. Nothing could be further from the truth. From watching too much TV on the Food Network, reading Michel Roux’s Eggs and Harold McGee’s Keys to Good Cooking, and playing with my new Vita-Mix, I have discovered several mistakes I have made over the years. By correcting them, I have been able to make the hollandaise of my dreams and fool-proof. It has become so easy to make and so delicious that I have become a serial saucier, putting hollandaise on asparagus, artichokes, and tonight I’m thinking of hamburgers.
HERE’S WHAT I’VE LEARNED:
1.) The eggs must be at room temperature. This is very important. If you are even thinking about making hollandaise in the afternoon or evening, take the eggs out of the refrigerator in the morning.
2.) Too much acid (lemon) and the sauce may not emulsify and will be runny. For three egg yolks use one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice. If you want a more lemony flavor, you can always add some more juice after the sauce has come together.
3.) A little mustard will help the emulsification just as it does with vinaigrette and hand-made mayonnaise.
4.) Clarified butter is the gold standard, but plain melted butter, preferably unsalted, will work. Just don’t pour the milk solids that settle on the bottom into the blender. You can melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat or in a glass measuring cup in the microwave. The measuring cup may give you better control as you pour the butter into the blender. In either case, be careful not to brown or burn the butter. Let the melted butter sit for a minute or two so that the solids settle to the bottom, but the melted butter should be warm when you add it to the sauce mixture.
5.) Patience. If you just dump the melted butter into the blender, it may not come together. A slow drizzle over several minutes – just as you do with the oil in making a vinaigrette – is best. You can actually see and hear the changes when the sauce emulsifies.
So, there they are: secrets of the ages revealed. And here’s a basic recipe for hollandaise sauce made in a blender.
Blender Hollandaise Sauce
- 3 large egg yolks, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon dry mustard
- pinch cayenne (to taste)
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- Add the egg yolks, lemon juice, salt, mustard, and cayenne to the container of the blender. Cover with the center plug of the lid removed. Blend on one of the higher settings of your machine.
- When the mixture is completely blended, very slowly pour the melted butter into the mixture by drizzles. This should take at least a couple of minutes. Stop adding butter when the solids at the bottom reach the lip of the butter container.
- Serve immediately. Otherwise transfer the sauce to a bowl and keep it warm in a larger bowl of warm water for no more than 30 minutes.
The other evening we were invited to a dinner party. It was a little bit of a pot luck, and we were asked to bring a light appetizer. I decided to use some puff pastry from the freezer to make empanadas, but that seemed a little bland, so I also made some mayonnaise as a dipping sauce.
Mayonnaise is so easy to make, and it tastes so much better than the bottled kind, that it seems crazy not to make your own. Especially when you have a fool-proof recipe (so far at least) from one of the world’s greatest chefs. Michel Roux of the Michelin-starred, much-honored Waterside Inn in England, has written a beautiful little book simply called “eggs” (John Wiley and Sons, 2005) filled with amazingly creative, not-so-classic and classic egg recipes including, of course, mayonnaise.
I doctored up the basic recipe using some tricks from Sarah and Evan. The additions of freshly grated horseradish and finely chopped chives or green scallion tops make a great dip that perks up the empanadas.
I filled the empanadas with hearts of palm, parsley, and grated Parmesan, but you can let your imagination run wild: tiny button mushrooms, little shrimp (is that redundant?), water chestnuts, olives (seed removed, of course), cubes of cheese, dolma filling, etc., etc., would all be good. I don’t know, but maybe a little oyster would work.
This recipe makes 20-24 appetizers depending upon how big you make the empanadas
- Put the egg yolks, mustard, salt and pepper in a small mixing bowl with handles and/or on a towel or other non-slip surface. Combine with a balloon whisk until smooth.
- Whisking continuously, add a few drops of oil. When the oil is completely incorporated, add more oil, repeating the process until the mayonnaise thickens. You may then add the oil in a more continuous stream, but pause occasionally to make sure the oil is fully incorporated before adding more.
- When all of the oil has been incorporated, whisk for another minute or so until the mayonnaise is smooth. Then add the lemon juice. The mayonnaise will become visibly less yellow. Adjust with more lemon juice, salt, and pepper to suit your taste.
- Stir in the horseradish and chives or scallions. Add more of either to suit your taste.
- Refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap, until ready to use. This should hold for several hours.
Puff Pastry Empanadas
- ¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly and finely grated
- 1 sheet commercial frozen puff pastry, thawed according to directions
- 1 14½ ounce can hearts of palm, drained and cut into ½ inch coins
- 1 egg, beaten well with 2 tablespoons water
- In a small bowl, combine the parsley and Parmesan cheese. Set aside
- On a lightly floured work surface, open the thawed sheet of puff pastry. With a lightly floured rolling pin, flatten the pastry to about 1/16 inch thick
- Using a 3 inch circular cookie cutter (a 2½ inch biscuit cutter will do) cut circles in the flattened pastry dough. Working quickly, place a palm coin and about ¼ teaspoon of the parsley/Parmesan mixture in the center of each circle. Paint the edges of the circles with the egg mixture, using a small pastry brush.
- One by one and using your hands, stretch the dough gently to cover the palm disk. Pinch the edges of the half-moon empanada closed with your finger and then seal with the tines of a dinner fork
- Arrange the empanadas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
- Paint the tops of the empanadas with the egg mixture, trying not to let it drip onto the parchment.
- Bake in the middle of an oven preheated to 400°F for 15 minutes or until puffed and lightly browned.
- Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack to cool.
- Serve with the dipping mayonnaise either at room temperature or gently rewarmed.
Egg yolks, mustard, salt and pepper ready to receive the oil
One cup of peanut oil
Parsley and grated Parmesan
Puff pastry empanadas ready for the oven
Baked puff pastries