Saturday, February 12, 2011

Benedict comes to Breakfast

I love Saturdays. They're my favorite day of the week because it means not only can I sleep late today, but I can sleep late tomorrow too! Don't get me wrong, I love Sundays as well...but there's something about the blank slate of an unplanned Saturday to really get the relaxation going.

As per my usual Saturday morning musings, one of the first things I thought of this morning when I woke up was what would the morning's culinary adventures bring. I could have done a simple scrambled egg with a whole grain English muffin but I wanted something more. I was in an adventurous mood - but what to do. I flipped through my favorite Judith Jones The Pleasures of Cooking for One for ideas which all sounded good but I was missing many of the necessary ingredients for either baked or shirred eggs. Then I came across her recipe for Eggs Benedict. Having never made hollandaise sauce before, and seeing her "easy" recipe to make it for one person I figured I'd give it a shot.

One of the things I hate most about making breakfast is that for some reason, I find it hard to keep everything hot at the same time. This morning would prove no different. First I read, and then reread her directions for the hollandaise. I got out my small heavy pot and set it in my cast iron of barely simmering water. Add egg yolk and whisk till its lemon colored and thick - ow, my arm hurts even with this small pot. Then whisk in four tablespoons of cold butter cut into twelve pieces. Whisk slowly, steadily, and add the butter continuously to keep the temperature from getting too hot. Have pan of ice water nearby in case the sauce starts to break (which, Judith assures me won't happen as long as I whisk slowly and surely).

Whisk, add, whisk add, all the while with the idea in the back of my mind that this is going a little too well - any minute the phone is going to ring with my Saturday morning phone call from Mom and I'm going to have to run and answer it and it will all go to hell. Whisk, add, whisk, add, listen for phone, whisk, add...and before I know it all the butter has been incorporated and the damn thing looks like hollandaise. I add a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of salt and hot damn if it doesn't taste like hollandaise! I set the whole thing off to the side with a lid and, as Judith instructs, give it a whisk every few minutes to keep it smooth.

Ok, now its time to poach the eggs. I have a love/hate relationship with poached eggs. I love to eat them, hate to cook them. But here goes. Boil water, lower to simmer, add salt and a splash of white vinegar (that's not from Judith - that's from my many trials and errors) and add the eggs very very gently. And still they freaking spider out in every which direction. But slowly, slowly fold the whites over the yolk gently gently to not break it and sure enough they start to look like poached eggs. Cook for four minutes.

Crap! Forgot to split and toast the (light wholegrain) English muffin! (I haven't completely foregone the healthy eating....yet....). Stick that in the toaster oven and grab two slices of Canadian Bacon out of the fridge and slap them in a pan to brown up. Uh oh, the eggs are done and have to come out or they'll be over poached. But my muffin isn't toasted yet! And oops! Forgot to stir the hollandaise. Oh shoot! It's separating! Now what? Oh yes, insert into pan of ice water and whisk whisk whisk again. Whew. It's smooth, but now its cold. Damnit! Back into the pan of simmering water and whisk whisk. What's that sound? Oh the toast is done! ARGH!!!!!

Somehow, I managed to get everything onto the plate with perfectly runny yolks, slightly browned bacon and a smooth, creamy hollandaise with a zing of lemon and a rich indulgent finish. Wash it down with a cup of really good coffee and I think I'm going to be satisfied for quite a while.

And now, to help work off some of those delicious but naughty butter calories, I get to wash all the dishes, and for one small individual breakfast believe me, there are quite a lot! Feel free to come on by if you just love washing dishes.

Happy Saturday! Happy Eating!

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