Sunday, February 26, 2006

Olé, Miss Moneypenny

Last night my brother went to Two Tribes, which is this huge all-night dance music festival. This basically entails dancing all night, and sleeping for most of the next day. In my house, though, any big night out also necessitates a good “morning-after” breakfast. And even when I’m not the one who’s going out, I still like to partake in the feasting. (Like I need an excuse!)

Yesterday, while we were eating our chorizo and poached egg for lunch, Daniel made a suggestion. “You know what this would be good with? Hollandaise sauce!”

What a fabulous idea. I had a whole chorizo leftover, as well as eggs and spinach, so why not?

282. Hollandaise (Basics etc.)
283. Hollandaise with Saffron (Basics etc.)

I decided that this breakfast dish should have fried chorizo slices, poached eggs, wilted spinach and 2 versions of hollandaise sauce, in a kind of culinary interpretation of James-Bond-going-to-Spain. Olé, Miss Moneypenny.

So I started off by preparing the sides (that is, slicing the chorizo, washing the spinach, putting on a pan of water for the eggs). Then I made the hollandaise with my right hand, whilst cooking the prepared sides with my left hand. Anthony Bourdain is right. Never underestimate the importance of a good mise-en-place.

Breakfast station

Needless to say, this was quite an effort. I don’t think I could ever handle the pressures of being a real breakfast cook. It’s not that the cooking of any one element is particularly difficult, but it’s the co-ordination of all the elements that is the clincher.

Hollandaise sauce, Nigella-style, is not difficult. All you have to do is whisk egg yolks in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, and slowly beat in cubes of soft butter until it reaches a thick, golden sauce. You’re supposed to stay with the sauce at all times and never stop whisking, but I can attest that no harm comes to it if you leave it for a few seconds while you attend to other parts of your breakfast. Once you’ve got the sauce thick enough, you whisk in lemon juice and that’s it. For the saffron version, you whisk in lemon juice that has had saffron threads steeping in it. I divided the thickened sauce into 2 bowls, added ordinary lemon juice to one, and saffron-steeped lemon juice to the other.

As you can see, they both look quite similar. The saffron hollandaise, (in the front bowl), however, is markedly different in that has the unmistakable smokily earthy flavour and aroma of saffron in it.


Breakfast, with sauce

I forgot until today, just how much I like hollandaise. It tastes so good, on everything. And there's something about the rich sauce on toasted white bread that just transports me back to the wonderful memories of hotel buffet breakfasts in Penang, with enormous trays covered in rounds of white toast topped with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce, rapidly congealing under heat lamps. Good God, I loved them.

Mum came home from shopping whilst we were eating, and she looked at our plates with such envy that I couldn’t help but get up and make her her own plate. Daniel and I had eaten all the chorizo, but luckily she was happy with just toast, egg, spinach and the sauce. (She particularly liked the saffron-infused version).

Mum's serving

In fact, I rather like the saffron-hollandaise too, and I immodestly say that I like my Spanish interpretation of eggs benedict much more than the original. If I ever were to open a café, I'd definitely serve it. And if this were to happen, imagine, one day it might even appear on the The Breakfast Blog.

1 comment:

Ange said...

Agreed, hollandaise is the best breakfast item ever, very wicked though with all that butter!