Thursday, April 10, 2014

Brunch featuring Eggs Benedict

I have to admit, that the muffins you see in the final picture are not the ones I attempted to make.  I wanted to try the Baker Brothers' spinach muffins because you don't need an oven to cook them, just a frying pan.  However, I couldn't find semolina so I substituted it with breadcrumbs, which meant that the outside of the muffins burnt rather than browned.  However, the hollandaise was successful and tasted great with the shop-bought replacement muffins, poached eggs and smoked salmon.  I will update this post when I next try the muffins, hopefully I will be able to find semolina and they will turn out better than the first attempt!

Eggs royale: English muffins topped with poached eggs, smoked salmon and hollandaise sauce

The hollandaise:
3tbsp white wine vinegar
6 peppercorns
1 dried bay leaf
2 eggs - yolks only
125g butter
lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste

I found that the taste of vinegar in this recipe was a little too strong so my advice would be to reduce it less.  The recipe says to put the vinegar in a small pan with the peppercorns and bay leaf and to reduce it over a high heat until there is only 1 tbsp left, the to remove the bay leaf and peppercorns from the reduction.  Personally I wouldn't reduce it as much.

You can make hollandaise by hand but it's far easier and quicker to use a food processor.
  1. Put the egg yolks in a food processor with the vinegar reduction.
  2. Gently melt the butter so that the solids separate from the liquid.  I then spooned off the solids, trying to take as little of the liquid as possible.
  3. Turn the food processor on slowly and pour the liquid butter on to the egg yolks (my food processor has a nifty attachment on the lid which is designed for making sauces like mayonnaise or this hollandaise.  It means the butter trickles into the food processor slowly and gives you far more control.  At this point the sauce should thicken.  If it is too thick then add a little hot water.
  4. Season with the salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.
The muffins:
I followed the Baker Brothers' spinach English muffins recipe, mixing together butter, sugar milk, dried yeast, nutmeg, fresh spinach and flour, before kneading and leaving to rise.  After they have risen you're meant to tip the sticky dough out onto a work surface, cover with cornmeal or semolina and gently stretch it out before cutting out discs.

The dough
English muffins are cooked in a very hot, dry frying pan for about 5 minutes on each side.

The muffin before it burned
Unfortunately this was the point where it all went wrong and I ended up with a rather burnt muffin.  I did scrape off the burnt  part and try the muffin, which tasted quite good so I will definitely be trying this recipe again and hopefully then I will be able to enjoy the whole muffin!

The poached eggs:
Poaching eggs is one of those skills which every cook should learn at some point.  I've tried poaching eggs without an egg poacher before but the attempt wasn't particularly successful.  However, this time I managed it!  My best advice is to use really fresh eggs as the white is a lot less watery and forms a better poached egg.  Some people say you should add vinegar to the water, others say you should swirl it as you put the eggs in, I didn't do either of these things as I've found it hasn't particularly helped in the past.  I heated a pan of water until it was only just simmering.  I cracked my egg into a cup first as I found it was then easier to pour it into the water, I also tried to use a spoon to make sure the egg white stayed together and coated the yolk.  I then let the egg cook for a few minutes until the white was cooked, but be careful not to leave it in too long otherwise the yolk won't be nice and runny.  I then removed the egg from the pan with a slotted spoon.  I poached two eggs at a time but the number you can make in one go is really only limited by the size of your saucepan.

The poaching eggs

To serve I buttered the muffins, placed a poached egg on one half, some smoked salmon on the other and drizzled them with the hollandaise.  Eggs Benedict or eggs royale as the dish is often called when served with smoked salmon is great to have as a treat for brunch when you want something a little bit more special.

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