When you wake up with the thought ‘Today is as good a day to go crazy as any other day’, you know something pretty crazy is about to happen!
Today is the day I get out of my ‘wool-gathering phase’, or, to use a fitting Spanish saying, ‘stop thinking about the immortality of the crab’ 🙂 A too-long, too-good vacation will definitely do that you! And yes, there IS such a thing as a ‘too-long vacation’! But more about the Great Alaskan Cruise in my upcoming posts…
So back to today… Despite waking up with a blazing hunger, I decided to do something I have been putting off for a very, very long time… ever since I watched ‘Runaway Bride’ for the first time, and every time thereafter! Remember how Julia Roberts‘ Maggie Carpenter did not know what her favourite eggs preparation was, and liked whatever her boyfriends liked, right up until the end when she finds herself? So, today I decided to make Eggs Benedict!
Now, for all those who have already perfected the art, I’m sure this sounds like a walk in the park. And for those who haven’t, it probably sounds like the craziest thing to do first thing in the morning, in the middle of the week, on an empty stomach! But that wacky, waking-up thought egged me on! 😉
The seed of the idea was planted by my friend and fellow foodie Kalyan Karmakar of Finely Chopped fame, who was binging on Eggs Benedict and Kenyan coffee for breakfast yesterday, and making us all go green and purple with envy. Normally, the Kenyan coffee would have been the trigger, but the force was with the Julias (Roberts and Child) this time. Why Julia Child, you say? Well, read this little excerpt on what she has to say about the Hollandaise Sauce…
“Like mayonnaise, it is a classic “emulsion” sauce, which depends on the marvelous capacity of an egg yolk to hold in suspension a much greater volume of butter (or oil, in the case of mayonnaise). But in a hollandaise, careful heating and constant whisking bring the butter and yolks together in an even more delicate alliance, with rich flavor and a thick, smooth texture.”
‘Marvelous capacity of an egg yolk’? ‘Delicate alliance’? Who can resist the lure of the Hollandaise after such beautiful words? I couldn’t!
Out came the egg yolks and the white wine vinegar, and I was off to a whisking frenzy, clanging away with the bowl on a hot water bath till my fingers hurt and my arms protested. The mix thickened slowly, but it was not over. Now it was time to combine the butter. Chunks of Parsi Dairy Farm white butter melted into a gorgeous cream liquid, and I skimmed off the little white flotsam. Little by little, the melted butter drowned into the mix, as I whisked the sauce into a shiny, thick and rich goodness. A dash of lemon juice and a light sprinkling of Cayenne Pepper and…. Done! Slam Dunk Hollandaise!
I had sourced little buttery Brioche buns from The Bakers’ Dozen last night, where Sneh Jain, one half of the bread couple that has taken Mumbai by storm, helpfully fished out the freshest bag for me. These now went on the pan to toast lightly, while the water bubbled up for the eggs to poach. Not a fan of the bland whites that you get from water poached eggs, I added a bit of salt and White Wine Vinegar to the water, cracked the egg into a large ladle and then carefully lowered it into the stirred vortex of the simmering water. While that cooked for a minute, the smoked bacon strips sizzled up in a pan, just crisp enough for a crunchy bite. As I waited for the poached egg to drain off on a slotted spoon, the first inspired idea hit me and I fished out the little jar of White Truffle Butter that I had picked up at Carluccio’s and lightly coated the buns with it. Then came the bacon strips, with their excess fat shaken off. The slippery egg settled cozily on top of the bacon, as if settling into a nest. The fresh Hollandaise then got lovingly drizzled on the top, glistening as it overflowed along the side of the bun and spread out in thick fronds on the plate. But the plate needed something more… something on top to lift it up and add some colour. Olive oil? Nope, colourless. Oregano? Predictable. Chilli Flakes? Ummmm… And then the other inspired idea hit me… my special Rocket Pesto Sauce, made just yesterday for a quick pasta, leftovers of which sat invitingly in the fridge. I added a small dollop of it on top to give the plate a rich, verdant lift! And there it was… My perfect, gooey, shiny, smoky, crunchy, sweet-tarty, buttery and very definitely heavenly Eggs Benedict.
Thank you, Julia and Julia, for the continuous inspiration and the courage to go crazy!