One of the best things about starting this blog is the new found energy it has given me to try more complicated dishes. As much as I adore cooking I have always been quite a lazy chef and wouldn’t generally consider attempting recipes that take more than about 30 minutes to prepare. (The key exception to this recently was the divine slow cooked pork belly of last Sunday – separate post to follow).
One of my favourite things in the world is hollandaise sauce – I regularly raise eyebrows in restaurants by ordering it as a side regardless of what I am eating. It is just one of those things I adore but have always heard is very difficult to make.
When a friend suggested brunch at the weekend (a meal occasion I should definitely have more often – it just gives you the excuse to have a much larger and more indulgent breakfast than usual), I began researching which restaurants had the best reputation for this mid morning repast. However, the combination of January poverty and potential un-employment in the pipeline, I decided to do a home made version.
Now, I realise that everyone has their own view about what constitutes a brunch – many would opt for the traditional fry up or perhaps salmon and scrambled eggs, but if I was to have brunch in a restaurant I would always order Eggs Royale (I am a whore to hollandaise as discussed). I was also quite excited about the challenge of making this supposedly difficult sauce. I was overjoyed to discover that it is actually incredibly easy to make, although am now concerned that if I can rustle up this favourite that easily at home, no meal from this day forward will escape a generous side of this nectar of the gods (the fiancé is terrified with his butter phobia!).
To get started put a bay leaf and six peppercorns in a pan with three large tablespoons of white wine vinegar and reduce until there is only 1 tbsp left (this is the hard part – it reduces incredibly quickly once it gets going and only on the third attempt did I manage not to evaporate all three tablespoons entirely). Put the reduced vinegar (sieve out the bits) in a blender with 2 egg yolks. Meanwhile melt 125g butter in a pan until the solids sink to the bottom of the pan. Slowly blend in the clear part of the butter with the blender so the sauce thickens and then season and add a squirt of lemon.
For the eggs royale, toast a muffin and cover with smoked salmon. Put a poached egg on top then pour on the hollandaise. My ultimate tip is then to put the whole lot under a hot grill for about 30 seconds so the hollandaise begins to bubble and almost crisp.
Being the complete pig that I am this clearly wasn’t enough so brunch was then rounded off with a ‘pudding’ of pancakes with crisp streaky bacon and lots of maple syrup – what a way to start the weekend!!