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Hollandaise too tricky? Child says use the blender

Ever the pragmatist, Julia Child knew American cooks needed both an understanding of classic recipes and tips for taking shortcuts. Which is why in her "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" she offered traditional versions of eggy hollandaise sauce, as well as a blender version she described as "well within the capabilities of an 8-year-old child."

Hollandaise can be notoriously tricky to make, especially for inexperienced cooks, for whom the sauce can curdle. Child's blender version is foolproof, though she acknowledges it's not quite as good as traditional, hand-whipped versions.

While hollandaise sauce goes with any number of dishes, it's especially nice over poached eggs. Try them served over chopped cooked spinach, bacon and toast.

BLENDER HOLLANDAISE SAUCE

Start to finish: 5 minutes

Makes about 3/4 cup

3 egg yolks

1/4 teaspoon salt

Pinch black pepper

1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, cut into small pieces

In a blender, combine the egg yolks, salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice. Set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium-high, add the butter and heat until foaming.

Blend the egg yolk mixture at top speed for 2 seconds then, with the blender running, remove the cover and pour in the hot butter in a thin stream of droplets. By the time two-thirds of the butter has been added, the sauce will be a thick cream. Continue pouring, but don't pour in the milky residue at the bottom of the pan. Taste and adjust seasonings.

If not using the sauce immediately, set the blender carafe in tepid, but not warm, water.

(Recipe adapted from Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking: The 40th Anniversary Edition," Knopf, 2001)

POACHED EGGS

Start to finish: 10 minutes

Servings: 4

White vinegar

4 large eggs

Salt

Fill a medium saucepan or deep skillet with 2 inches of water. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar per quart of water. Bring to a very gentle simmer over medium heat.

While the water heats, fill a large bowl with cold water.

When the water in the pan is just simmering, break one of the eggs into the water, holding it as close to the water as possible. Immediately and gently, use a wooden spoon to push the white over the yolk for 2 to 3 seconds.

Maintaining the water at the barest simmer, repeat with the remaining eggs. After 4 minutes, one at a time use a slotted spoon to remove the eggs. The whites should be set and the yolks still soft to the touch.

Place the eggs in the bowl of cold water to rinse the vinegar and stop the cooking. The eggs can be kept for several hours in cold water, or drained and refrigerated.

When ready to serve, use a knife to trim off any trailing bits of white. Fill a large bowl with hot water and add 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt per quart. Place the eggs in the hot water for about 30 seconds, or until heated through.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the eggs from the hot water, rolling the egg back and forth a bit to drain.

(Recipe adapted from Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking: The 40th Anniversary Edition," Knopf, 2001)