Friday, 18 October 2013

How do you like your eggs?

Fried, coddled, scrambled, with a kiss? The possibilities are endless, and with a box of free-range eggs around the £1.50 mark in most supermarkets they’re perfect when payday still seems a long way off. Much less risky than a payday loan too…

Looking back over the years, eggs have always been a staple part of my diet in various forms. From my very early years, when I wouldn’t dare eat the yolk. I though the yellow colour must mean it was the ‘chick’ part of the egg (don’t ask). Rather handily my brother wouldn’t eat the white so we could trade, I’m pretty sure that was one of the main reasons the Mother wanted another child, she was sick to the back teeth of all the wasted eggs. Days at uni where various egg concoctions were the only thing you could afford to eat just before the end of term. We obviously weren’t completely penniless but we had priorities and alcohol trumped food. Always. Strange extreme fad diets; embarked upon a few days before an impossibly tight dress needed to be squeezed in to. All you were allowed to eat was boiled eggs, black coffee and grapefruit. Why do we do it to ourselves? Delicious buttery eggs benedict eaten in a fluffy hotel dressing gown as a special treat. That was a particularly fond experience.

As I very much doubt any of you are desperate for my take on boiled eggs ala grapefruit this weeks recipe is going to be the awesome eggs Benedict. The recipe for eggs Benedict dates all the way back to around 1894 in New York City. There are a few competing stories as to how it came about but the one I like best is this:

Legend has it that a hungover Wall Street broker who was having breakfast in the Waldorf hotel invented the dish. His name was Lemuel Benedict and in his hungover state he couldn’t decide what he wanted from the menu so he ordered a variety of things such as a buttered English muffin, poached eggs, crispy bacon and hollandaise sauce. Now we’ve all been there, faced with a stonker of a hangover and a hunger that needs to be fed you can never commit to one thing you want. So, anyway, turns out the chef was so impressed with the results of the random breakfast pick and mix he put it on the menu as a tribute. See, whoever said nothing was achieved with a hangover, was mistaken. Thank God Alka-seltza hadn’t been invented then, that’s all I can say.

Anyway enough of the history lesson. I like eggs Benedict. To me it feels like you’re having a proper treat when you breakfast, or brunch, on this. Something to savour and enjoy at the weekend when time is not of the essence but relaxation is. It also looks way more impressive than it is to make, which is always a bonus.

If you want to make your own muffins, like I did, then try my previous recipe here. My easy recipe for hollandaise takes all the stress out of making it and you can even poach your eggs in advance if the thought makes you nervous. So go on, treat yourself this weekend- you deserve it! *Hangover not essential.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Eggs Benedict
Serves 2

2 English muffins, split and lightly toasted (see my recipe)
6 rashers streak bacon or 3-4 rashers back bacon
6 large eggs, REALLY fresh, or poaching will be a nightmare!
110g butter, diced
2  tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp lemon juice
a little chopped tarragon or chives (very optional, don’t go out just to buy this)

1 Make the hollandaise. I like this recipe because it holds well. Usually hollandaise must be served as soon as it’s ready but adding some of the beaten whites stabilises it. Totes amazeballs, right?!. Separate 2 of the eggs, put the yolks into the small bowl of a food processor. Pour half the vinegar and all the lemon juice into a small pan, bring up to the boil then with the motor running add this to the eggs. Pop the butter into the same pan and melt. Once melted add this to the eggs (the motor should still be running) in a thin steady stream.

2 Turn off. Whip the whites until just holding their shape. I add about 1- 2 tbsp to the hollandaise. Just enough to make it a nice pouring consistency. Season, add the tarragon or chives (if using) set aside.

3 Grill the bacon until crispy. Poach the eggs in boiling water with the rest of the vinegar added. Put each egg into a small cup, then spin the water 3-4 times and crack the egg into the middle, it should spin around itself. Move to the side with a slotted spoon and repeat until all 4 are in. Remove with a slotted spoon. You can do this in advance and keep them in a container of cold water, then just dunk into simmering water to reheat just before eating.

4 Assemble. Muffin, bacon, egg, hollandaise. EAT. Be happy

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