A tasty, traditional lunch or supper dish with creamy eggs and seasonal asparagus as the star ingredient.

Scotch Woodcock, if you haven't come across it before, is a Victorian savoury of creamy eggs, poured over toast spread with anchovy butter. Just as Welsh Rarebit or Rabbit contains no rabbit, Scotch Woodcock contains no wading birds, which will no doubt come as a relief to many.

As we’re celebrating gardens in this month’s magazine, English asparagus season is about to start and an asparagus bed was the first thing we planted when we arrived in Suffolk, I've paired the dish with some of the gorgeous green spears. It makes a good starter or light lunch or supper.

The first mention I can find of Scotch Woodcock is in Mrs Beeton, who uses a quarter of a pint of cream to three egg yolks. It's more like a savoury custard than the scrambled eggs seen in many modern versions. So if it's too rich for your tastes, scramble whole (beaten, obviously) eggs in butter and stir through a tablespoon or two of cream at the end, but I do urge you to try the original at least once.

For the anchovy butter you can use Gentleman's Relish or, as I did, the Italian anchovy paste that comes in a handy tube. Alternatively you can mash up anchovy fillets with butter - blot them if they've been preserved in oil or gently rinse and dry them if they've been preserved in salt. The ratio of anchovy to butter is a matter of taste - I've given my preferred quantities in the recipe but feel free to tweak them.

I steamed my asparagus but you could either roast or griddle it.

Scotch Woodcock with asparagus recipe

(serves 2 as a light main, 4 as a starter)

50g softened butter (use unsalted if you're worried about the saltiness of the anchovies)

8g anchovy paste (or to taste)

Good white bread, toasted (I used rounds of baguette)

3 egg yolks

140ml double cream

Pinch of cayenne

Salt and pepper, to taste

3 to 6 asparagus spears per person

Snap the woody stems from the asparagus and trim the spears to the same length. Any debris can be saved for a stock, especially good in an asparagus risotto. Wash, blot dry and set aside.

Mash the anchovy paste or fillets into the butter. Cover and set aside. Toast the bread and keep it warm. Warm some plates at the same time.

Get the water simmering in your steamer for the asparagus. Add the asparagus - mine are usually fresh from the garden so only take a few minutes to cook. Keep an eye on them if you want them to be tender-crisp, as I do. But cook them the way you like best, then drain and keep warm.

Beat the egg yolks with the cream, add a shake of cayenne and season to taste with salt and pepper, bearing in mind the anchovy butter is salty. Put a small saucepan on a low-medium heat, pour in the egg mixture and stir continuously until it has thickened. It will look like a cross between very creamy, smooth-ish scrambled eggs and (the closest I can get image-wise) a thick cheese sauce.

Spread the toast with the anchovy butter, top with the savoury custard, and lay some asparagus spears on top. Serve straight away. A green salad before or after makes a more substantial meal of it if you're eating it as a main.