Their are 2 camps when it comes to asparagus- some like thick stalks- others like pencil skinny stalks. Put me in the latter camp. This method described here allows you to cook the asparagus ahead of time- keeping them at room temp- and then warming them up with the hollandaise sauce right before serving.

For the asparagus

1 pound fresh asparagus

juice of half lemon

bowl of ice water

Bring a large pot of water- to which a couple pinches of  sea salt has been added-  on to boil. Wash and trim the asparagus- breaking off the woody ends.

Add the lemon juice to the water- this will help the asparagus keep their deep green color.

When the water comes to a good boil- add the asparagus- depending on their thickness it will take between 2-6 minutes to cook them- you want them just tender- yet still crisp. Test them with a sharp knife  tip- it should just pierce with a little effort. When done, drain and immediately put them in the ice water bath to stop the cooking. After a couple minutes - drain them again and dry them on a clean cotton towel. They can be kept this way for about 45 minutes without any problem.

For the hollandaise

3 egg yolks, room temp

2-3 T lemon juice (depending on your taste)

1 cup unsalted butter, melted till bubbly

1/2 t kosher salt

pinch cayenne

Put the yolks,lemon juice, salt and cayenne into the blender. Heat the butter till bubbly- not brown. Blend the contents on high on high for about 10 seconds.

Have a folded cloth ready to partially cover the hole of the blender lid- Turn the blender on high and gradually pour the hot butter down through hole- covering it some so as not to splatter. After it is all added- turn off blender and scrape down the sides- then blend for another 15-20 seconds.

To keep warm until ready to use- make a makeshift double boiler with two saucepans - the bigger on the bottom. Fill the bottom with a couple inches of water or until it is just touching the bottom of the top pan. Turn the heat to the lowest possible setting.

Add the hollandaise to the smaller top pan- stirring it from time to time- remove it from heat if it gets too thick. You can also stir in hot water- a tablespoon at a time to lighten the sauce after making it. If you have a heat diffuser this is the time to use it.

If the sauce “breaks” or curdles here is a trick for for bringing it back together. Briskly whisk in a few ice chips to the broken sauce. This sauce freezes well for a couple weeks if stored in an air tight container. Just gently reheat it in the double boiler method.

                                          For a variation- skip the hollandaise and dress the asparagus with a light vinaigrette and serve with

                                            warm, not quite hard boiled eggs.