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Asparagus and chervil mousseline
8 white asparagus
8 green asparagus
sea salt flakes
1 teaspoon caster sugar
Chervil Mousseline (see below), to serve
1 Prepare the asparagus. Peel the white ones and break off the woody stem ends (see TIP below). Rinse the green asparagus in cold water.
2 Bring a pan of water to the boil with salt and the sugar added, but don’t cook the asparagus before the mousseline sauce is ready and your guests are seated.
3 Asparagus varies slightly in girth and the white usually needs to be cooked a little longer than the green. Boil the white asparagus for 2-3 minutes and then the green for 1-2 minutes.
4 Transfer the freshly cooked asparagus spears to a bowl of cold water, to keep their colour and freshness, then remove them again immediately to prevent them from losing too much heat. Let them dry briefly on a clean tea towel, then serve the asparagus warm with chervil mousseline (see below) and great bread.
For the chervil mousseline
3 organic egg yolks
2 tablespoons cider vinegar, plus extra for seasoning
2 tablespoons water
sea salt flakes
1 handful of chervil (save some to garnish), chopped
freshly ground pepper
50ml whipping cream
1 Whisk the egg yolks, vinegar, measured water and a little salt together in a bain-marie (a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water) to a creamy consistency and until the whisk leaves a trail when you lift it from the foam.
2 Melt the butter gently in a saucepan. Some people take the time to remove the whey, which sinks to the bottom, to clarify the butter, but I never do. Mix the butter into the eggs by pouring it in a thin stream and whisking until all of it is incorporated and the sauce is rich and smooth. Season with plenty of chopped chervil, salt, pepper and a little more vinegar.
3 Whip the cream lightly and fold into the mousseline just before serving – this makes it light, airy and creamy. Serve the chervil mousseline, sprinkled with chervil, with the warm asparagus as a wonderful start to dinner.
TIP: How to prepare asparagus
White asparagus should be peeled before cooking, and the easiest way to do this is to lay the spears on a chopping board and use a speed peeler to peel from under the tip down the spear. Once peeled all over, bend the spear at the base and it will naturally snap where the woody part of the stem begins – if you try to trim the end with a knife, you risk not cutting away enough of the woody part and you’ll be chewing unpleasant fibres.
Green asparagus does not require peeling – just snap off the base of the spear to break off the woody part.
Both types of asparagus require only a short cooking time in order to retain their fresh and crisp texture – white asparagus will require a little longer cooking than the green.
Photograph: Anders Schønnemann
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