Eggs Benedict

Sometimes food is love (Have I said this before?  Probably).  Over the course of many family Sunday brunches, I learned to make eggs Benedict from my mother, and just recently I made it as an off-to-college sendoff for a friend.  I am not sure I would have had the courage to try and then master it if I had not watched her so many times.  I have always wanted to make it with crab cakes but haven’t gotten to that yet.

  • 4 English muffins*, split, buttered and toasted
  • 8 slices of ham, Canadian bacon or smoked salmon
  • 8 large eggs, poached
  • 1 recipe Hollandaise sauce (see previous post)
  • 1 bunch asparagus, steamed or grilled (optional)

*Note:  I find that Thomas’ English muffins are too tough to use in this recipe – it’s nearly impossible to cut through them even with a sharp knife.  I prefer Bay’s or Pepperidge Farm, or Portugese sweetbread muffins.

This is really more of a process than a recipe – the trick is to have everything fresh and hot when you assemble the plates.  We usually make this for a crowd and I enlist someone to help keep the assembly line moving – the best way is to have one person devoted just to poaching the eggs.

If it’s summertime, I grill the ham and asparagus ahead of time and keep them warm in the oven or under foil. Warm the sauce.

In a large pasta pot, heat water to a rolling boil – add a splash of white vinegar to help the eggs hold together during poaching.  If you have an egg poaching pan, make sure the cuts are buttered a bit to keep the eggs from sticking (even if it’s a non-stick pan).  If you are new to egg poaching, or even if you’re not, it’s helpful to crack the eggs into a ramekin first and then placing them in the poacher/water.  Poach the eggs two at a time – keeping them away from each other in the water.  It’s hard to instruct how long to cook them – it depends on how you like your eggs and how hot the water is – it’s just something you learn through trial and error – after the first minute or so just keep lifting the eggs out periodically until you think they are done.

Meanwhile, butter the English muffins and put them on a broiling pan and heat them under the broiler until lightly brown.

Assemble the Benedict:  muffin, meat, asparagus (if using), egg, sauce.

Serve with more asparagus, hashed browns or roasted potatoes, fruit salad and Bloody Marys.  And coffee.  Lots of coffee.

Nutmeg French Toast

 

This is so simple I am almost embarrassed to post it, but for years I was under the illusion that French toast should have cinnamon in it.  Um, no.  After years of noticing that the Mother’s Day French toast I got was always better than what I made, my dearest, the former breakfast chef showed me his method.  I admit the amounts here are not precise – I never measure anything when I make this.

  • 6 Large eggs
  • ½ cup half and half
  • 1 teaspoon Madagasgar vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
  • 12 thick slices day (or two) old French bread
  • Salted butter (sometimes I fry the toast in unsalted butter and then top the finished toast with salted) – cold butter for the pan, room temperature butter to put on the finished toast.
  • Real maple syrup
  • Confectioner’s sugar (optional)

Stir together the eggs, milk, and vanilla in an 8×8 glass dish.  Grind in the nutmeg (do not use pre-ground nutmeg).   Warm up a large skillet (cast iron enamel coated if you have it) and melt enough butter in it to amply cover the bottom.  Dip three pieces of the bread into the egg mixture, coat it thoroughly (some people soak the bread in the mixture for a few minutes – this makes it very eggy and denser – if you do this you might want to increase the number of eggs to 8).  When the butter is foamy add the coated bread and brown on medium high (medium for gas stoves).

Meanwhile, warm the syrup in the microwave for about 40 seconds.

Brown the bread on both sides and remove to a serving plate or a warm platter.  Repeat with the rest of the bread.  Top with butter and a sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar.   Serve with syrup on the side.

 Serves 4.

Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs with Leeks and Parmesan, English Muffins with Cream Cheese and Smoked Salmon

4 large eggs

1/4 c. light cream

1/4 c. coarse grated Parmesan cheese

1 medium leek, white and light green end only, rinsed and sliced thin

1 tsp. butter

2 English muffins

2-4 oz. Scottish smoked salmon

Cream cheese (not whipped)

Preheat a  medium/large skillet, preferably enamel coated cast iron, like Le Cruset, at medium heat.  In a bowl, break the eggs and add the cream and cheese.  Stir just enough to break up the yolks, but do not beat it – you should still be able to see chucks of pure yolk and white.  Add kosher salt and coarse black pepper to taste.  In the skillet, melt the butter.  Add the leeks and saute until soft, but not brown.  With heat on medium/high (medium for gas stoves) add the eggs and wait for at least 30 seconds (put the muffins in the toaster now) before stirring – use a spatula and be gentle so that the eggs do not get tough.  Continue to pause and turn until the eggs are cooked to your liking.

Plate the eggs and spread cream cheese on muffins; top with smoked salmon and serve with coffee, grapefruit juice and the morning paper.