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This is an eighteenth century recipe that is still as delicious today as it ever was. In the old days the recipe called for 'a hundred or so of grass' so it is safe to say that their asparagus were the merest whisps compared with what we now eat. Use this recipe when there are not quite enough asparagus to go round.
- Slice the rolls straight across the top, removing an oval slice of crust that will form lids for the rolls.
- Pull out the crumbs so that you have six crusty shells; put them aside.
- Trim the asparagus to remove all the woody parts and wash thoroughly.
- Chop into short pieces and cook in boiling, salted water until tender, about 12-15 minutes.
- Drain, catching the cooking liquid in a bowl and reserving it.
- Heat the cream in the pan with 4 tablespoons of the asparagus liquid.
- Beat the egg yolks, pour on the hot but not boiling cream and whisk together until the mixture thickens to a velvety sauce.
- Add the asparagus pieces and keep warm without allowing it to boil or it will curdle.
- Fry the rolls and lids in butter until they are crisp and golden brown and place them on a heated serving dish.
- Spoon the asparagus mixture into the rolls; replace the lids and serve.