Showing posts with label Hollandaise sauce. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hollandaise sauce. Show all posts

Friday, October 14, 2016

Meet the Benny

Do you know what a benny is? I mean, the kind you eat? I didn’t until a few weeks ago, when I met my first one and fell in love.

In doing in-depth research for this post (that is, I googled it), I found that “benny” can mean (1) a tablet of benzedrine, (2) a rude, flashy tourist at the Jersey Shore, (3) a hundred-dollar bill (Benjamin Franklin, see), or (4) a sudden period of uncontrolled anger. No food version of benny made the first page.

But I had met one, face to face. And then in New Orleans for Bouchercon I met a second, different one, so I knew something was up in the food world.

A few weeks ago we had relatives visiting Cape Cod, so we joined them for lunch. They recommended a small, local restaurant down the road a mile or so: the Keltic Kitchen. Please forgive the place for their kitschy name, because the food is definitely Irish. Their menu is massive, but they had one page with multiple Bennys (Bennies?).

I ordered the most elaborate one, the Potato Cake Salmon Benny. And it was spectacular.

As near as I can figure, an edible benny is a creative adaptation of the old stand-by Eggs Benedict. The only consistent characteristic is the presence of a poached egg and hollandaise sauce on top. Underneath that, anything goes.

So here’s my homage to the Keltic Kitchen Potato Cake Salmon Benny.

Potato pancakes (two for each serving)
Thinly sliced smoked salmon
Thinly sliced red onion
A poached egg (it should be runny)
Hollandaise sauce*
A sprinkling of capers

*A note re hollandaise sauce: The traditional version is complicated to make, but I remembered that Julie Child had provided the simpler version called Blender Hollandaise in Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Three ingredients: egg yolks, lemon juice and butter (plus a bit of salt and pepper). You make it in a blender (you remember those, right? The one I used was a wedding gift in harvest gold). 

I’m sure somebody has updated the recipe for a food processor or immersion blender. But I give you permission to buy the stuff if you can find it, or (gasp) just use mayonnaise.

For the potato pancakes, shred the potatoes, make patties about a half-inch thick, and cook them on an oiled grill until they’re golden brown and crunchy. These are what hold the whole thing together.

Place one potato pancake on a plate, then layer on the smoked salmon and the onions (if you like onions—the red ones are mild).

Gently poach an egg (you can do this ahead) and lay it on top. (Sound of hysterical laughter. I own an egg poacher, inherited from my mother. Can I find it, the one time in this millennium that I decided to poach eggs? No, of course not. Back to Julia Child, who makes it simple–along the lines of “slip a raw egg into simmering water, wait, remove from water and place in cold water.”)

Add a nice dollop of hollandaise sauce on the poached egg, then sprinkle with the capers. Place the second potato pancake on top. Serve hot!

And that’s it! If you’ve got the timing right, when you break into the egg, it melds with the hollandaise sauce and runs over and into the yummy stuff beneath. And the combination is amazing--crunchy, tart, tangy, salty.

A note: this is a large sandwich and makes a hearty lunch. And you can’t even think about picking it up—it takes a fork. But it’s worth the effort.

The next time I’m in that Cape Cod neighborhood (just east of Hyannis), I’m going back. If you’re ever vacationing on the Cape, stop in for a meal. And the manager happens to be from West Cork—I asked. Hmm—I know a great place for smoked salmon in West Cork . . .

A final note: having now made this dish, I think having a kitchen staff working with you (and cleaning up) is a good idea--it takes lot of pots and pans!

Seeds of Deception is out!

Find it at Amazon and Barnes and Noble and plenty of bookstores (I hope!).

Monday, May 20, 2013

Lighter Eggs Benedict?

One of my favorite indulgences is Eggs Benedict. I know, I know! It's loaded with fat and cholesterol. But it's so good! I usually reserve it for special brunches. And it's a hassle to make Hollandaise sauce, so I don't eat it often.

But wait! In a recent Stonyfield Farms newsletter, they mentioned a recipe for Hollandaise sauce that they lightened up by using Greek yogurt. Could it be true? Could I indulge without all the guilt?

So this past weekend, I put their recipe to the test. It's close, but unless you're particularly fond of the tart flavor of plain yogurt, it's not quite there. They used 1/8 teaspoon of hot sauce that I omitted because I'm not much of a hot sauce person. It's possible that the hot sauce took the slightly sour edge off.

I solved the problem by adding, gulp, 4 tablespoons of butter. Most recipes contain 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) of unsalted butter. In spite of that, my mom suggested adding just a pinch of sugar to take off that edge.

I do have to say that it was the easiest Hollandaise sauce I've ever made. It cooked beautifully without curdling or seizing up.

We were tough on that sauce, trying it on a poached egg on toast. No ham or veggies to soften the blow. After all, if the sauce wasn't good, all we were left with was an egg on toast. Would I make it again? Yes! But with the 4 tablespoons of butter and a pinch of sugar.

To assemble your Eggs Benedict, use your favorite toasted bread or the traditional split English muffin on the bottom. Add Canadian bacon, or regular bacon, or (yum!) a crabcake. A slice of tomato or a leftover grilled veggie can be fabulous, too. Then add the poached egg and top with the sauce.

I read recently that while vinegar in the egg-poaching water makes the egg white seize together better, it also makes the egg white more tough. So this time I dared to do the unthinkable (the things I do for you), I poached them in plain water. Nothing else! They came out better than ever.

Lightened Up Hollandaise Sauce

3 large egg yolks
3/4 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon or Horseradish mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
pinch sugar

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Place all ingredients *except butter* in the top of a double boiler and whisk together. Bring the water underneath to a very slow boil. Cook, whisking constantly for 5-10 minutes until an instant thermometer reaches 145.

Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Keep warm, stirring occasionally, until ready to assemble the dish. Makes enough for 6-8 servings.

Toast or warm bread at this point.

Poached Eggs in Plain Water

Crack the eggs and place each one in a small heatproof bowl.

In a large pot, bring three inches of water to a very gentle boil.

Lower each little bowl about 1/2 inch into the water and turn to let the egg slip out. Repeat for each egg.

Cover the pot and cook (do not bother the eggs, no poking!) for 3 minutes. Remove from water with a slotted or pierced spoon.


Serve immediately.

(Note, 3 minutes is right for runny egg yolks, but they may not have reached a temperature high enough to kill salmonella or other bacteria.)