A Cook's Plot

Vegetarian & Vegan

Asparagus, Hop Shoots, and the Easiest-Ever Hollandaise

Asparagus grows so fast that just two days after I first noticed it poking through the soil in my raised bed, the first spears were ready to pick. So to kick off Sunday lunch today, we had some as a starter - steamed for a few minutes in unsalted water, standing upright in a narrow pan so the tips steamed while the spears boiled, they were tender and totally delicious. Alongside them we also had a few hop shoots from the golden hop that I planted here a couple of years ago. I’d heard that you could eat the new tips before they start to unfurl but hadn’t tried them until I had a birthday lunch last summer at Gravetye Manor and they were served with my main course - it’s hard to describe the taste but it’s really lovely, sort of fresh and fragrant. If you have access to a hop plant, it’s well worth picking a few of the tips now - they just need dropping into boiling water for a couple of minutes.

And to go with that spring bounty, I made the easiest possible hollandaise sauce. It works every time - and takes less than a minute to make!


Serves 4

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 and half tbsp cold water
  • 100g butter


Melt the butter and set aside. Put the egg yolks, lemon juice and water in a microwave-safe bowl and whisk together well. Cook at 350W (50%) for 15 seconds, then whisk well again. Repeat two or three times until it's quite thick. Slowly pour in the butter, whisking all the time. Season and serve. (Add chopped tarragon to make a Bearnaise Sauce.)

Enjoy! And fingers crossed that this lovely, sunny weather continues...

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