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If You Must Clog Your Arteries Do it in Style

So before I get started, I understand that an apology is in order.  It would seem that upon writing a previous article on pumpkin bread, I omitted an only slightly important ingredient: flour.

One of my faithful readers made the pumpkin bread, or more to the point, pudding, and realized after the fact that the inadvertent omission cost her an afternoon’s work, and for that I am dreadfully sorry. My wily fingers want to try to blame my editor, but I don’t want to get fired. I’ll take the hit, and again I am sorry to anyone who may have fallen victim to my oversight.

To answer the question of how much flour since we’re on the topic, it would be somewhere from 3-4 cups depending on the pumpkin (less flour if canned and more if fresh-roasted).

Which brings us to another chilly morning full of breakfast breads here in Alexandria at the Club. I just finished a pumpkin muffin and I am halfway through a blueberry muffin when I realize that this unhealthy eating has got to go. 

‘I know’, I muse to myself; I’ll have an Eggs Benedict. Healthy? I would say not. But since I am clogging the arteries with the muffins and breads, I might as well go the full Monty and do this thing right.

So it was off to the line to make my absolute favorite breakfast meal, albeit one that I only have once every couple of years.  

The combination of the fatty egg yolk, the salty ham, the uber-buttery Hollandaise and the yeasty-toasty English muffin exemplifies why the Benedict still reigns as the all-time ‘schmancy’ morning fare.

As you go through the recipe, you may have questions as not everyone has made a Hollandaise sauce before. It can be tricky but with a little practice you will be a pro in no time.

As you perfect it, work on some variations, and here are some ideas to kick off the old noggin:  

Eggs Florentine- Puff pastry, spinach, eggs and Hollandaise

Eggs Chesapeake-Puff pastry, sautéed crab meat, eggs and Hollandaise

Arty eggs – brioche, artichoke hearts, eggs and Hollandaise

Eggs [can’t think of a catchy name] – brioche, smoked salmon, eggs and Hollandaise

By now you should be getting the picture; that the world is your oyster and the bread product is merely your palate.

And as you explore the possibilities of this most wondrous of breakfast foods, try not to stew on the pumpkin pudding. I will try not to make that mistake again.  But either way, sitting down to a plate of Benedicts and home fries, it would be hard to stay mad at anyone, wouldn’t it?


Eggs Benedict

per serving

2 ea. poached eggs (recipe follows)

2 slices, Canadian bacon

1 ea. English muffin, halved

¼ c. Hollandaise Sauce (recipe follows)

Have your items at the ready and warm, ready to serve.  To do this, make sure that you read through the recipes and have everything done in order as needed.  Sure, it takes practice; but that’s what makes it fun!

Toast the English muffin and place on a plate

Top each half with a slice of grilled or seared Canadian bacon

Top each with a poached egg dunked in your warming bath (note poached eggs recipe), dabbing with a paper towel if there is a ton of water

Spoon two tablespoons of Hollandaise Sauce on each egg.  I agree that healthy tenets dictate that one tablespoon would be plenty, but at no time during this column did I note that there is anything healthy or redeeming about the mighty and classic Eggs Benedict!

Poached Eggs

Eggs for poaching

White vinegar (1 c. per gallon as needed)*

Water at least 5 inches deep, preferably more

Salt as desired

Crack the eggs carefully into a bowl with tapered edges to facilitate an easy pour into your poaching liquid

Bring your water, vinegar and salt to a simmer (just below a rolling boil)

Tilt the bowl slowly so that the eggs falls into the water one at a time

*The purpose of the vinegar in the water is twofold; first, the acid adds a layer of flavor to the finished dish.  Secondly, the acid precipitates the egg white’s coagulating so that by the time that it gets to the bottom of the pan, it has formed into that beautiful ball-shape that fits so well on the finished breakfast

Hollandaise Sauce

per quarter cup (a little more, truth be told)

1 ea. egg yolk

splash lemon juice

dash hot sauce

smidge (couldn’t resist) white pepper

3-4 oz. clarified butter

Salt to taste

Place the yolk, juice, hot sauce and white pepper in a steel bowl

Place over a water bath at a steady simmer and whisk, removing every thirty or forty seconds, until it reaches the ribbon stage (meaning that it falls off of the whisk in a nice, sexy ribbon)

Whisking (with someone holding the bowl still or with the bowl balanced with a towel on a pot so it doesn’t spin), slowly drizzle in the butter until it has made a nice and creamy sauce

If you add the butter too quickly, the sauce will break, so be careful, and if it doesn’t happen correctly the first time (usually doesn’t) just keep practicing