Cheat's Hollandaise

Until recently, I regarded hollandaise sauce as something to be enjoyed only as part of a cafe breakfast. Not that I would get to enjoy much of it, because Alice would steal it off my eggs; in fact, if allowed to, she would scrape it up and scoff it with a spoon. Then, probably because we haven't made it to a cafe for a while, she began to beg for it at home. 'Yeah, right,' I scoffed. 'As if I could make something as complicated and temperamental as hollandaise sauce!'

Well, faithful reader, it turns out that I can! Sort of.

Naturally, my first port of call was Stephanie. (I have the original, orange edition, almost falling apart from ten years of constant use.) Like many Australians, I always turn to Stephanie for food advice, and she has never let me down (except in the matter of polenta, where I rely on Robin Barker. (I have the old edition of this one, too.)).

So my method, for what it's worth, is based on Stephanie's recipe: not exactly restaurant standard, but given that it's just for Alice to dip her chips into, it's good enough. Also my quantity is about a third of that in most recipes, because I don't need that much sauce.

First I melt some butter in the microwave, a quarter of a cup maybe? Set aside. I take a small saucepan and half fill it with hot water, then rest a bowl securely on top. Keep this on a low heat. Into the bowl goes a dash of vinegar, salt, pepper and water -- about a tablespoon of liquid altogether. (In Stephanie's version, this is a vinegar reduction. Ooh la la! I did it like this once, then decided it wasn't worth the effort.) Add one egg yolk and whisk like crazy, till the yolk foams. Then, still whisking, slowly drip in the melted butter. The mixture will thicken and viola! We have sauce! Yes, it's that easy. Remove from heat and whisk in a few drops of lemon juice. Ta da -- one small quantity of hollandaise sauce, quite enough for a nine year old to polish off with Friday night chips.

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