Kitchen Accomplice: A perfect combination

By John Kirkendall

Spring is here!  Asparagus is, too!

The combination is perfect. 

The whole idea is to prepare tender blintzes, line them with Béarnaise sauce place a young asparagus spear inside and, before you roll it up, sieve some hardboiled egg, mixed with a soupcon of minced shallot over it. 

A delight at room temperature.

I like to serve a plate of radish and cucumber appetizer sandwiches alongside. 

Spread thin Pepperidge Farm Sandwich bread with some Hellmann’s mayonnaise, and place the thinnest possible slices of radish, slightly salted, with the thinnest cucumber slices imaginable, and top with another slice of bread spread with softened unsalted butter side down.

 With a sharp biscuit cutter, make rounds and cover tightly with plastic wrap until time to serve. 

Pimento stuffed olives go nicely with this.  And, if you want, you can surround the olives in softened cream cheese rolled in toasted pecans.  Refrigerate until time to serve so they can firm up.

The blintzes and the béarnaise sauce are the big deals.  Luckily these can be prepared early in the day of your springtime celebration.

 If you are one who tends to clutch in the kitchen before a big do, order out.  These definitely require attention to detail. 

But they are worth every minute of your time and you will never regret learning the techniques involved.  The trick will be to display your infectious smile when the doorbell starts ringing – you will have been through a lot. 

During the preparation phase, don’t answer the phone, have someone lined up to walk the dog, and be sure you have all the ingredients at hand before you launch into this.

Blintz Recipe
4 eggs
1 1/2  cups of flour
1 1/2 cups of milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
Butter, always butter

Beat eggs and milk together. Gradually sift in the flour, and salt. The mixture must be thin and so if it happens that it comes out thick, add a bit more milk.
Melt butter in a small frying pan and when hot, put about 2 tablespoons of the batter into the pan, tilting the frying pan to make the blintz thin.
Cook each crepe-pancake until it just begins to brown then slide the blintz out of pan on to a waiting plate. Put the cooked side up to receive the filling.

Classic Béarnaise Sauce
This classic French sauce is made from a reduction of butter, vinegar, and wine mixed with tarragon and thickened with egg yolks.


•    1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
•    4 shallots, finely chopped
•    2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves
•    4 white peppercorns, crushed
•    1/4 cup white wine vinegar
•    1/3 cup dry white wine
•    4 large egg yolks
•    1/4 teaspoon salt
•    Pinch of cayenne


Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat just to melt. Boil shallots, tarragon, and peppercorns in vinegar and wine in a nonreactive medium-size saucepan over medium heat until reduced to about 1/4 cup. Strain into the top of a double boiler. Whisk in the egg yolks.

Place the top over the bottom of the double boiler containing simmering water. Make sure the top of the water is below the bottom of the upper part of the double boiler. Whisk constantly. The second the yolk mixture begins to thicken slightly, remove the top of the double boiler from above the hot water and continue whisking. Turn off the heat. Add four ice cubes to the bottom of the double boiler.

Put the pan of yolks back above the hot water. Whisk in the melted butter, drizzling it in very slowly. If at any time the sauce looks as if it is about to break, remove the top and continue whisking to cool it down or whisk in 1 teaspoon cold water. Whisk in the salt and cayenne. When all the butter is incorporated, taste and add more salt or cayenne as needed.

Spread each blintz with 2 tablespoons of Béarnaise Sauce. Top with an asparagus spear and sieve over some hardboiled egg to which a pinch of minced shallot is added.  Roll into a cylinder.  Cool and cover tightly with plastic wrap until time to serve.  Serve along with the radish-cucumber sandwiches and your olives in cream cheese.

Judge John Kirkendall is a retired Washtenaw County Probate judge. He has taught cooking classes for more than 25 years at various cooking schools in the Ann Arbor area and has himself attended classes at Cordon Bleu and La Varenne in Paris, as well as schools in New York, New Orleans and San Francisco.