Monday, January 24, 2011
This is Hollandaise Sauce
It was something like two and half year's ago that I first made Hollandaise, botched it and wrote my first blog post about it. I over-cooked it, something I now know I could have fixed with a little hot water or another egg. But in a way it started me on a path of discovery involving food, a lot of mistakes and even more reflection. It was also the trajectory that landed me somewhere in a field of contentedness. Before Food Eaten I was up and down, all over the place really. Sky high one day, imagining myself as a young Senator fielding calls for outings with attractive celebrities (you think I'm kidding?), and then turning into a bumbering ball of tears the next day struggling with a weekly existential crisis. I won't say it was all food that led to this so-called healing. It was friends, family, vitamin B supplements (a miracle if you ask me, run to your nearest drug store), the realization that yes, I was at least somewhat attractive to the opposite sex (that was nice), plus the faith I tether my life to--if somewhat loosely tied. That's not to say I haven't run into the occasional full blown meltdown or the despressing string of a month or so. But it has gotten better, and so has my cooking.
There's this knowing that made the difference. For the longest time I had an unreasonable fear of pie crusts. I screwed them up a few times, one time getting the dough stuck in a too-small food processor and then trying to transform the mess into shortbread cookies. But this one time, I followed some detailed instructions for pate sucree and voila, perfect tart dough. Now I can't get enough. I will never mess up tart dough again because I know what it's supposed to feel like, look like, taste like. The same goes for this Hollandaise. You whisk two eggs with some cool water in a double boiler until the whisk slows down across the yellow sauce creates streaks. Removed from heat, you pour in seven ounces of clarified butter, slowly while still whisking until you don't think the sauce can take any more. And then comes the salt, enough lemon juice to flavor it and some cayenne pepper. In this way, I learned to walk, talk, kiss, write, love.