Eggs Benedict, baked Alaska, and yes, a manhattan
I wrote about brunch a few weeks ago, when I celebrated my year anniversary of this column, at the Carriage House in East Boothbay. When I mentioned that brunch I wrote that we had gone to the Chowder House by mistake. I was able to get it fixed in the online version but by the time I became aware of it the story had gone to print. I hate when that happens. So did the owner/chef of the Carriage House, Kelly Farrin.
Anyway, the food was fabulous. A few of us had eggs Benedict, a pretty typical brunch menu item. And really pretty simple, if elegant and mouth-wateringly scrumptious. We had bloody marys and mimosas, too, and I had a manhattan for dessert. I know. That afternoon wasn't very productive.
I had a Reuben that day, as did my friend Adele Bielli. It was great, and huge, and I don't regret ordering it, but when I saw the eggs Benedict other people had ordered I was a little jealous. (That's typical of me though. I always want what others have.) Kelly told me he makes the hollandaise with browned butter, fresh squeezed lemon juice, and lemon zest. And are you ready for this? He sous vides the eggs, cooking them in the shell at 141.5 degrees for an hour, then cracks them into poaching liquid for 15 seconds. “That’s why they’re so tender,” he said. “It makes a huge difference.”
If you don’t know what sous vide cooking is, Google it. It’s the rage these days.
So eggs Benedict. Just to dispel any rumors that they were named for Benedict Arnold, they weren't.
The most popular story is that they're named for a Wall Street stock broker named Lemuel Benedict, who, one day in 1942, wandered into the Waldorf Hotel with a bad hangover and ordered buttered toast, poached eggs, crisp bacon and some hollandaise sauce. Why he thought that conglomeration would cure a hangover is beyond me. But the dish was added to the menu, replacing the toast with an English muffin, and the bacon with ham.
Anyway, I had planned to make eggs Benedict this past weekend, but I ran out of time. I had also planned to clean my house, get my watercolor stuff out to give me the impetus to paint, and take a few walks in a futile attempt to get an indentation where my waist should be.
But fate stepped in, under the guise of The Great British Baking Show. Several people had mentioned it recently, and so when the Today Show (one of my addictions) ended, and I wasn't quite ready to get out of my robe and slippers, I tuned in to the baking show.
Oh. My. God. How had I not seen it? I finally made myself turn it off, during the episode where the contestants had to make a baked Alaska. It was being filmed on the hottest day of the year. And they had to MAKE the ice cream. And Epicurious.com says “the key to this dessert is keeping the cake and the ice cream as cold as possible, so be sure not to thaw the cake or soften the ice cream before assembling.” Hello. I got so stressed out I had to stop it and go for a walk.
As I often do, I spoke to my iPhone while walking, recording this column. I was walking down Cross Point Road in Edgecomb, talking to my phone in a British accent :-).
Okay, how did I get from eggs Benedict to baked Alaska? Notice how both names have one small letter and one capital? I always have to Google those things to make sure I get them right. If I don't, I'm going to hear about it. Believe me. If not from one of my editors, from Margaret McLellan.
There I go again. Sorry. Eggs Benedict: First, make your hollandaise, with egg yolks, butter, lemon juice and a dash of something hot. There are a million recipes online for hollandaise, and they’re all basically the same. Put a piece of pan-fried ham on each side of a toasted English muffin, then the poached eggs and hollandaise. You can substitute wilted greens for the ham and call it eggs Florentine, if you’re really trying to impress someone.
I love a cappuccino with eggs Benedict.
Oh, and in last week's story about baked beans, when I told you about my sister faking canned ones for homemade at a neighbor’s? She reminded me of the end of the story. Her son, Tyler, was at the neighbor’s a week later and he let the cat out of the bag. Busted!
P.S. If you’re too lazy to Google hollandaise, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll do it for you. With a smile, and probably a sarcastic comment.
See ya next week!