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Category: Breakfast

Eggs Benedict

‘Eggs Benedict is the star, the Marilyn Monroe of brunch’ wrote A.A. Gill in ‘Breakfast at the Wolseley’. He is so right.

This decadent wonder dish, rich and voluptuous, is always a special meal, that’s why I made it last week for my husband’s birthday brunch. I decided to make my own English muffins, and they turned out exactly how I wanted them to be. Light, airy, and golden. I often hear rumours about Hollandaise sauce, on how hard it is made, whether it ‘splits’ or not, but I have to admit I find it rather easy. Perhaps I have had good practice, it takes me less than 10 minutes to make a good hollandaise. It’s really about timing and temperature. Once you got the hang of it, it’s easy. Egg poaching is successful if you stick to one golden rule – once you put them in the boiling water, leave them alone for 3 minutes and put a lid on. I added a few asparagus to this dish as they were in season and go so well with the sauce.

Ingredients (serves 4)

8 slices bacon (fried)
8 organic eggs (poached)
4 English muffins (see recipe)
12 asparagus – base trimed (optional)

Poached eggs:
8 organic eggs
2 tsp white distilled vinegar

Poached eggs:
In a shallow pan of boiling water, add 2 tsp of vinegar. Prepare your eggs by breaking them into little cups/pots so it’s easier to pour into the boiling water. When the water is boiling, pour in the eggs in different areas (maximum four at a time – or the water temperature will get cooler). Leave them alone, cover with a lid for 3 minutes, then check if they need a bit of ‘pushing and shoving’ to make their form rounder. You can use a large slotted spoon for this. Depending on how well you like your eggs cooked, 3-5 minutes should complete the task. When ready spoon each egg at a time onto a plate. Set aside.

Hollandaise sauce:
3 egg yolks
2 tbsp cold water
175 grs clarified butter
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper

Whisk the egg yolks with the water until light and foamy in a heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk non-stop until it becomes smooth and creamy, add the butter slowly and whisk away. I have a little trick – I lift the bowl on and off the heat regularly, so there is no chance I overcook the sauce. Finally add the lemon juice and continue whisking. The sauce should be creamy and fluffy. Add salt and pepper. Set aside.

Home-made muffins

English muffins:
300 ml lukewarm water
560 grs plain flour
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 egg whites

In a large bowl, pour the lukewarm water and mix first, the yeast, then the flour, salt and baking soda. Mix well until smooth and add the stiff egg whites. Mix well. If it’s too sticky, add a bit more flour, if it’s too dry, add a bit of water. On a floured surface, knead the dough for 10-15 minutes. It’s quite an exercise, but well worth it. The dough should be elastic and silky. Place in an oil coated bowl (just rub a bit of oil on the sides and base of the bowl) and cover with a clean cloth. Let rise 1 hour in a warm place. Once risen, roll out again onto a floured surface and shape either with a round cookie cutter, a glass or simply with your hands (8 cm width and 2 cm thickness). Let the dough rest for 30 minutes and you can start frying them in a slightly oiled frying pan 4 minutes on each sides on medium heat.

Fry the bacon. Cook the asparagus in salted boiling water for 8 minutes max.

Finally, when all your ingredients are ready, all you have to do is assemble. First the muffin (toasted is better), buttered or not, add the bacon, then the poached egg, the hollandaise, the asparagus. Now you can indulge.

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Eggs and soldiers


‘Eggs and soldiers’ is a perfect meal whether it’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner. We often have it on Wednesdays because the kids don’t have school that day, and we love going to the charming Saint-Vivien de Médoc food market to buy fresh farm eggs from the fromagerie (cheese store). When you buy your eggs, you have to specify that you want to eat them soft-boiled. You will then be offered extra-fresh farm eggs to be eaten ‘à la coque’ (soft-boiled) within 5 days.
I like to serve the eggs with ‘ham’ soldiers (buttered sliced toast with ham). A truly satisfying meal.

Ingredients

4 fresh farm eggs
1 loaf of bread or baguette
4 slices ham
Butter
Salt

Bring a small pan of water to the boil. Place the eggs gently in the boiling water and simmer for 4 minutes. In the same time, toast the bread, butter lightly and slice into ‘soldiers’. Cut strips of ham and place on each piece of bread.

Serve egg in egg cup with the buttered ‘ham’ soldiers. Salt egg to your taste.

‘Something’s gotta give’ pancakes

Whenever I make pancakes, I always think of my favourite ‘pancake’ movie scene in ‘Something’s gotta give’ with Diane Keaton. She makes late-night pancakes in her smashing kitchen with Jack Nicholson, and it’s simply a perfect moment. So here’s my ‘Something’s gotta give’ pancake recipe. This is always a real treat and the kids love it when I stack the pancakes like a tower and pour the maple syrup before serving. The buttermilk is the key ingredient to make the pancakes extra fluffy and tasty, but I admit it’s not always easy to get it. So should you be out of buttermilk, here’s a tip on how to make it: (for 500 ml) mix 500 ml full-cream milk and juice of a small lemon. Shake well and leave to stand for 15 minutes. I love cooking with buttermilk, and it has become one of my favourite ingredients for marinating chicken.

Ingredients for pancakes (makes about 25)

400 grs all-purpose flour
40 grs white sugar
10 grs baking powder
700 ml buttermilk
100 ml milk
3 eggs
60 grs butter, melted
a pinch of salt

15 grs butter (for frying)
Berries for garnishing

Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix the eggs with the buttermilk, milk and melted butter. When you are ready to make the pancakes, mix all the ingredients together and stir well. Please not that the thicker you batter is, the thicker your pancakes will be. If you prefer finer pancakes, the batter should be smoother. You can decide with how much milk you add.
Heat a skillet or large frying pan with a small cube of butter. Scoop one ladle of batter to make a round pancake (I do about 3 in my pan). When you start seeing bubbles forming (about 2 minutes) flip over. Pancake should be golden brown. Serve hot with maple syrup and berries.

If you want to make banana or blueberry pancakes, simply add in the batter.

Perfect waffles

You will need a waffle iron – I’ve got a classic heart-shaped one that’s been working so well for years. Every week-end and Wednesdays (children don’t have school on Wednesdays in France), I make waffles. We all look forward to this ritual with such enthusiasm, it’s always so much fun to be together at the breakfast table and indulge. Served with nutella, jam and berries we are one big happy family. Here’s my little French touch – I love to add a dash of ‘Fleur d’oranger’ (orange blossom water). The smell and taste remind me of my grand-mother’s Madeleine cakes I loved so much.

Ingredients: (makes about 10)
400 grams plain flour
6 grams baking powder
125 grams melted butter
25 grams sugar
4 eggs
500 ml milk (enough to make the batter smooth but not too liquid)
A dash of range blossom essence/water

Mix the flour, baking powder and sugar in a large bowl. Slowly pour in the milk, adding the eggs one by one. Pour in the butter, stirring constantly, and finish off with a dash of orange blossom water. Mix well, the batter should be easy to stir but not too liquid.
Your dough is now ready for the waffle iron. One small ladle of batter is usually enough to cover the waffle iron, depending on the size. Cook 2 minutes or so (your machine usually has its own timer. Serve with jam, nutella, icing sugar and if you wish.

Delicious scones

250 g all-purpose flour
3 g cream of tartar
2 g baking soda
2g salt
50 g butter (softened)
25 g white sugar
120 ml milk
20 ml milk (for glazing)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Sift the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt into a bowl.
Rub in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in the sugar and milk to mix to a soft dough.
On a slightly floured surface, knead and roll out to ball-sized portions (a bit bigger than golf balls, but if you like your scones bigger than a tennis ball size). Place on the prepared baking sheet. Brush with milk to glaze.
Bake at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) for 10-15 max (depending on size of balls) minutes then cool on a wire rack. Serve with butter, clotted cream and jam. My kids prefer nutella!