I Did It!

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I am fairly adventurous in the kitchen, and there isn’t much that I won’t try.  Hollandaise sauce, however, has been something I have avoided because the list of cautions, dos and don’ts that is typically longer than the recipe itself.  I mustered up “the courage of (my) convictions” (as Julia would say), when I found the recipe for this easy, delicious asparagus tart.  I knew it needed to be served with something; since hollandaise is classically paired with asparagus, and I love the tast of mustard with Gruyere, I decided to try my hand at a Dijon hollandaise.

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The tart begins with defrosted puff pastry, which is one of my favorite pre-made ingredients to have on hand.  It is rolled out, a border, which will form the crust on the edges of the tart is scored, and the middle of the tart is pricked with a fork.  It is important here to not score all the way through the pastry since this will cause them to separate while pre-baking, and to prick the center very well so it does not puff to much.

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Once pre-baked, the tart is lined with grated Gruyere and after the asparagus is arranged, they are brushed with oil and salt and pepper.

“That was the easy part,” I thought to myself as I grabbed the butter and lemon. When I did online searches, and even looked in Ina Garten’s cookbook, for hollandaise recipes, most people say that the use of a blender makes the preparation of this finicky sauce much easier. While Julia was even an advocate of doing certain things “by machine,” I decided to hoof it and whisk by hand for my first go-around.

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First the egg yolks are whisked with lemon juice, salt, pepper and cayenne until it becomes lighter — lemon-colored.  The melted butter is then SLOWLY whisked in until fully incorporated.  This is the sauce that would come from the blender, but more traditionally the sauce was thickened.

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By just whisking for a minute or two over a pan of simmering water (effectively a double boiler), thickens the sauce nicely.  What results is a yellow, tangy, velvety hollandaise into which I whisked about a tablespoon of Dijon in order to complement the Gryuere in the tart.

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I used a pizza cutter to slice the tart when it came out of the oven, dolloped some of the hollandaise and served alongside a sauteed lamb chop (courtesy of Brandon, who had his fingers crossed throughout the duration of the hollandaise experiment!).  Both before and after a taste, all I could say was “I DID IT!”

Bon appétit.



  • Flour, for work surface
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry
  • 5 1/2 ounces (2 cups) Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2 pounds medium or thick asparagus
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry into a 16-by-10-inch rectangle. Trim uneven edges. Place pastry on a baking sheet. With a sharp knife, lightly score pastry dough 1 inch in from the edges to mark a rectangle. Using a fork, pierce dough inside the markings at 1/2-inch intervals. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.
  3. Remove pastry shell from oven, and sprinkle with Gruyere.
  4. Trim the bottoms of the asparagus spears to fit crosswise inside the tart shell; arrange in a single layer over Gruyere, alternating ends and tips. Brush with oil, and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Bake until spears are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.




  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1.5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pinches of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 – 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard


  1. Melt the butter in a small sauce pan.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks, lemon juice, 3/4 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cayenne in a large bowl until a light lemon color.
  3. Slowly whisk the hot butter into the sauce.
  4. Place the bowl over a double boiler and whisk until the sauce thickens, about 1 minute.
  5. Whisk in the mustard and serve hot.
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