Eggs Florentine

It had been a late one: my bed held me captive.  After a valiant battle to rise for a shower, the magnetic pull of the pocket sprung drew me back into the – now dampened – duvet nest.  Attempting wake-up round 2, I fantasised about what type of breakfast would make the world (well, my world) a better place.  Branflakes?  Certainly not.  Bacon?  None in the house.  Now-stale foccacia baked the previous night?  Good to nibble on when already in the kitchen, but not at all enticing.  A mental inventory of breakfast ingredients likely to be downstairs included 24 eggs, some milk, numerous pats of butter, 10 large red onions, and, of course, the slightly stale white loaf made in Tuesday’s “big loaf experiment”.   Plus a bottle of chilled manzanilla.  Gaining no enthusiasm whatsoever from this list, except noting that I might like eggs with eggs (onions not really breakfasty enough), I considered that perhaps I could compensate for ill-head by learning to cook something new.

This may sound rather odd to the less culinary minded.  Cooking on a hangover?  But of course!  The kitchen embraces me with the gentle rhythm of tasks achieved, the order, the aromas, the transformational power of the stove…  “Not just Nurofen, the papers, and cooked breakfast at the local caff, for the morning after?”, you ask.  Should I instead be drawn from my bed with thoughts of tepid coffee, foam-texture sausages, damp sweaty toast, and the wrong bill?

No.  Today is a cookery day.  Eggs Benedict it is.  Lusciously perfect  hangover food. Creamy, soothing, a touch of saltiness, with that wake-you-up zing.  But no pig to be had.  Settling on the lesser beast of Eggs Florentine, and rooting out some freezer-burnt spinach from the icebox, I search for hollandaise recipes. There are Many. Rather too Many.

Delia sounded like the least challenging, and given soreness of head, that was crucial. Also I didn’t have the energy to wander outside the front door to the bay tree for a leaf that most of the others required. Sadly the sauce didn’t thicken when whisked in the kitchenaid (perhaps less heat than in Delia’s recommended food processor?); but then neither did it curdle. Rather disheartened, and expecting to dine on spinach-on-toast, I threw the runny lot into a somewhat too hot saucepan. It thickened up beautifully! Not quite the delicate little flower I had previously been led to believe…

I do have a slight hankering to test it against Michel Roux’s.  Or perhaps a more rigorous test with a few: ‘A study in hollandaise’.  Possibly not something Penguin will be knocking at my door to publish in the near future.

Yummy!

To make it work in the Kitchenaid I scaled up the recipe for 3 eggs.  Delia’s Hollandaise: http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/type-of-dish/sauce/hollandaise-sauce.html

Apologies to purists for not making my own muffins.  Not that day.  Not a chance.

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The First Bake: Two White Loaves

Watching the Great British Bake Off last week left me terrified. Has every loaf I’ve baked in the past been a failure? How can I tell the perfect crumb? Did I over or under-prove? So I thought I’d start from scratch…

NVQ Level 1 in cookery (or catering, or similar) starts with the Basic White Loaf. I note that the Level 2 book doesn’t even include a recipe for white bread, assuming any self respecting student, cook, or caterer, by that point will have perfected the recipe and filed it in memory. So I started with memorizing and then making White Bread. Twice.

Critically examining the first loaf, I found – according to Leith’s -Oven Spring. Perhaps. To be honest I’ve no idea. Some blogs, books or websites think it’s a good thing and part of the baking process. Others a fault. What can certainly be criticised, were you of that mindset, is that the spring is asymmetric. So I started on loaf number two. Which ended up exactly the same. Hmm.

Any thoughts or advice? How is the crumb? Is the crust right? Is there a problem with oven spring? Ideas welcomed!

Recipe 1: No gluten window. Was scared it was over kneaded, if anything, so stopped. Risen at c 30 degrees rather than the recommended 22. Proven for 40 minutes rather than the recommended 20. Cuts made before going into the oven rather than 10 mins before. Ooh, and I lined the tin with baking paper.

Recipe 2: All of the above done correctly, though cuts at the start of proving instead of 10 mins in. No baking paper.

Loaf 1 is on the Left

Loaf 2 is on the left

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