Market Day – Eggs Benedict

Geez, I haven’t updated in forever….. work, and new job applications and … Life getting in the way of art.

However, part of being busy is work, and home from a looooong night shift I’m often keen for a hot meal, that means more mid-week cooked breakfasts than I usually do. Eggs have become an important staple, but fried egg sandwiches can get a bit same old same old after a while – even with an amazing homemade ketchup (no really you should be doing this! Frenchs vs Heinz vs PC will mean nothing to you once you’ve made your own). So in a fit of insanity; after all who tries out new skills when they’re brain dead from 8 hours on a graveyard shift; I must be insane, I decided to give a go at poaching eggs … freehand, once more. I’ve tried it in the past and ended up with ‘egg drop soup’, maybe I had to be just a little loopy to give this a go again, if I’d been sane I’d have said ‘no way’. Still it’s another kitchen skill, and I’m trying to tackle more and more things that have failed me in the past.

First time I tried it in a shallow pan, with still water. I wasn’t brave enough to try the whirlpool method yet. I did add a recommended 1 tsp vinegar to the water (white wine vinegar because it tastes better when you can taste it). The results were very encouraging, more importantly, they were edible. However, I did decide that maybe the whirlpool method would help keep the whites in tight, and a deeper cooking vessel was necessary. Next day we tried again. Still edible, still improving, not sure the whirlpool helped; and well with a whirlpool you can only do one at a time, a downside for weekend brunches. Still learning, but willing to call it a fair to middlin’ success.
Poached eggs on toast

Sooooooooooo flush off one new skill success and with a fresh box of market eggs in hand… really for poached eggs the fresher the better … I figured what I needed to go with poached eggs was a little hollandaise and I’d have eggs benedict for breakfast. If I’d planned this further ahead I’d have made homemade english muffins too, but this was sorta spur of the moment thinking. Besides, I had to master hollandaise. It’s another one of those ‘chef skills’ I’ve tried in the past and failed and have been trepidacious about trying again. Still, in for a penny, in for a pound, I had nothing to lose by 3 eggs and a half a pound of butter, besides I’d mastered mayonnaise.

Interesting thing once I went looking for a recipe and instructions. Hollandaise is a pretty basic sauce – eggs, butter, lemon, beaten into an emulsion. However, like most simple classics there are about 10,000 different takes on it, from slight variations in ratios to prep methods (sauce pan vs bain marie vs blender) and all of them from sources I trust:, Julia Child, Alton Brown, BBC Good Food, Michael Ruhlmann….. In the end I went with Michael, and a traditional bain marie method. A) because I really liked Michael’s argument for taking the extra step of a vinegar reduction, despite that no one else does, and B) I like Michael Ruhlmann for teaching and demystifying slightly more advanced skills that some would shy from as being the providence of professionals and C) while people do debate his choices, the comments over there are always interesting, enlightening and respectful, and lastly, D) he’s always just a plain old fashioned ‘good read’

Hollandaise sauce

I’m gonna have to call this one another success! I might have liked it a bit thicker (perhaps cook the egg a bit longer?), but it was rich and lemony and lovely flavour and texture was smooth and silky. To quote Him

I’ve not been impressed with Eggs Benedict in the past. I’ve not had good hollandaise, it’s always been a bit too acidic, a bit too lemon, but this is creamy and smooth.

High praise indeed.
Perfectly poached egg plus one less perfectly poached egg

So 1 perfectly poached egg, 3 nicely poached eggs, a very nice hollandaise, (although next time – better ham) later we had eggs benedict for brunch, and enough egg whites (and a broken egg) to decide we must make lemon meringue pie for dessert tonight.
Eggs Benedict

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