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Oh dear god, this was good.

I was over at Minnie’s the other night and, like mum, she sent me home with fresh eggs from her hens and a home-made baguette.** So that was lunch sorted for the next day with my mother-in-law (MIL) – eggs on toast.

But eggs poached, atop some blanched greens from the veg box, atop some toasted baguette, and smothered in hollandaise sauce. A sort of eggs Florentine I suppose.

I’ve never bothered attempting a hollandaise because it always seemed a bit precious – too easy to separate and disappoint. But it was actually dead easy (though it helped having MIL on hand who’s clearly knocked up a few hollandaises in her time – “no, keep whisking!”, “nope, it’s too thin, keep going” and “QUICK, remove it from the heat before it scrambles!!”.  Therein are the three things you need to remember when making a hollandaise.

The only tricky bit was the moment of panic when everything was ready at the same time (toast pops, eggs done, hollandaise perfect but threatening ruin…  aarrgh!). Just work fast and swear.

** Minnie’s home-made baguette was outstanding.  The next day was spent watching the baguette disappear in segments.  In my tum with lots more amazing butter.  If you make no other bread recipes from this blog, please do try the baguette…

Hollandaise sauce: There’s a much easier way to do this and that’s with a blender.  I only discovered this later but am glad I’ve now made it the ‘traditional’ way because I’m now no longer scared of it. You can make this in a heavy bottomed saucepan but arguably safer to create a bain marie with a pot of boiling water and a thick ceramic bowl that fits on top.  This way, if you’re worried the eggs are getting too hot, you can remove the bowl before the mix scrambles.

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 125g of butter cut into small pieces
  • 2 teaspoons of water
  • Lemon juice, about 1 teaspoon

Whisk up the egg yolks with 2 x teaspoons of water in the bowl you’ll be using or directly into the pot.  Gradually add the butter little by little, whisking all the time.  As each piece of butter melts, add the next bit. DON’T STOP WHISKING! Your wrist will ache and you’ll think it will never thicken but it does, promise.  And you’ll know once you get there – it will be dollopy rather than runny. I don’t think it took longer than a few minutes. Add the lemon juice at the end but suggest you add it little by little to ensure you’re happy with the taste.

Poached eggs

I have lots of wonderful egg-poaching gadgets in the drawer but the best method I’ve encountered requires none of them.  It comes from Darina Allen’s Forgotten Skills of Cooking and that’s simply to bring a small pot of water to the boil, reduce the heat, swirl the water to create a whirlpool, crack the egg into a small bowl, then slip the egg into the centre of the whirlpool.  Dont let the water boil again but just bubble gently. It should take about 3-5 minutes.

Blanched Greens

Simply bring a small amount of water to the boil, throw in some de-veined greens of some sort and remove after a minute or two. Spinach and kale would work too.

And the rest: Toast a half piece of baguette, slather in gorgeous butter, pop some greens on, then the egg, then the hollandaise.

And prepare to get a sticky chin.