Thursday, December 16, 2010

Daring Cooks December 2010: Poached Eggs

Jenn and Jill have challenged The Daring Cooks to learn to perfect the technique of poaching an egg. They chose Eggs Benedict recipe from Alton Brown, Oeufs en Meurette from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan, and Homemade Sundried Tomato & Pine Nut Seitan Sausages (poached) courtesy of Trudy of Veggie num num.

When I first read this month's challenge the only thing going through my mind was that scene in Julie & Julia when Julie Powell tried to poach an egg. As soon as she dumped the egg into the water, both her and her friend said "eeewwwww."

All I could think of was failure!

How was I going to do this???

Well. I'm sure I've said that with past challenges as well. Right??

And I made it through those challenges. Right??

So I moved forth in my quest to poach an egg.

I'm going to be honest with you...I had never even tried a poached egg before this challenge.

I had seen eggs benedict on menus before but I was never brave enough to order it. Please don't ask me why.

I am a sucker for spinach though, so when I thought about making this dish, I had to go with the spinach addition for an eggs florentine.

Let me tell you. I took one bite of this and just sat there looking at my plate. Eventually my friend asked me what I thought and all I could say was "why have I never eaten this before???"

It was delicious!!!

It was SO delicious that after I ate mine, and the extra one, I made The Hubble run to the store for sourdough bread and avocado. When he got back, we quickly set to making a California style eggs benedict with toasted sourdough, pan seared deli turkey, sliced fresh avocado and a poached egg with hollandaise. That was amazing too!!!

Thanks to Jenn and Jill for such an awesome challenge. Even The Hubble has considered having this for dinner again!

And, as always, if you would like to see how the other Daring Cooks did with this challenge, check out the blogroll.

Until then...let's get cooking!

First up, the hollandaise. Get your ingredients: butter, kosher salt, lemon juice, egg yolks, sugar and cayenne pepper.

Plop your egg yolks in a bowl with a teaspoon of water.

Whisk, whisk, whisk until the mixture is light and frothy. Then add the sugar and whisk about 30 seconds more.

Cut your butter into small squares.

Now heat a couple inches of water in a saucepan. Place the bowl with the eggs yolks on top of the saucepan so the water is not touching the bottom. Whisk continuously until the eggs thicken enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 3-5 minutes.

Remove the bowl from the heat (DO NOT TURN OFF THE WATER). While whisking frantically continuously start adding in the butter, a bit at a time, and melting it into the egg yolk mixture. As you add the butter, you may need to return the bowl to the heat to help it along. Just don't keep it on too long.

At this point you may feel as though your arm is going to fall off...just keep whisking.

When all the butter is melted into the egg yolks, add the salt, lemon juice and cayenne pepper.

Then pour the hollandaise sauce into a thermos or some other container to keep it warm. I used my favorite Starbucks travel mug.

Now comes the good stuff. Gather your ingredients to make your meal. English muffins, spinach, bacon (I used turkey bacon but you can use Canadian bacon or regular bacon or even ham).

Fry up your bacon....

Until crispy and let it drain on a paper towel lined plate.

Toss your spinach in a large skillet...

And cook until it is wilted. Set aside and let cool.

And don't forget to toast your English muffin!

The water you used to heat your hollandaise should still be simmering. If you don't have at least 2-3 inches in the pot, add some more and bring it back to a simmer. Now...very carefully break the eggs directly over the water (all the water shouting ow, ow, ow! because the steam is burning off your skin...but it's okay. You will live).

If you are not comfortable burning off your skin breaking the eggs directly into the water, you can break them into a small bowl then gently pour them into the water.

Let the eggs cook for about 3 minutes until the whites aren't jiggly. As you stand there, it's totally okay for you to liken the floating eggs to alien beings...I'm sure others have thought the same thing.

Look how pretty! Success on the first try!!!

Grab half of a toasted English muffin and top it with a piece of bacon.

Add a quarter cup of spinach on top of the bacon.

Then top the spinach with a poached egg.

On top of the entire thing, pour some hollandaise sauce.

Serve and enjoy!!

Eggs Florentine
Adapted from The Daring Kitchen

  • 4 eggs (size is your choice)
  • 2 English muffins
  • 4 slices of Canadian bacon/turkey bacon
  • 1 cup wilted spinach
  • Chives, for garnish (optional)
  • Splash of vinegar (for poaching)
For the hollandaise (makes 1.5 cups):
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 12 tablespoon unsalted butter, chilled and cut in small pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

  1. Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and bring to a simmer.
  2. Cut the chilled butter into small pieces and set aside.
  3. Whisk egg yolks and 1 teaspoon water in a mixing bowl large enough to sit on the saucepan without touching the water (or in top portion of a double boiler). Whisk for 1–2 minutes, until egg yolks lighten. Add the sugar and whisk 30 seconds more.
  4. Place bowl on saucepan over simmering water and whisk steadily 3–5 minutes until the yolks thicken to coat the back of a spoon.
  5. Remove from heat (but let the water continue to simmer) and whisk in the butter, 1 piece at a time. Move the bowl to the pan again as needed to melt the butter, making sure to whisk constantly.
  6. Once all the butter is incorporated, remove from heat and whisk in the salt, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper (if using).
  7. Keep the hollandaise warm while you poach your eggs in a thermos, carafe, or bowl that you have preheated with warm water.
  8. If the water simmering in your pan has gotten too low, add enough so that you have 2–3 inches of water and bring back to a simmer.
  9. Add salt and a splash of vinegar (any kind will do). 
  10. Crack eggs directly into the very gently simmering water (or crack first into a bowl and gently drop into the water), making sure they’re separated. Cook for 3 minutes for a viscous but still runny yolk.
  11. While waiting for the eggs, quickly fry the bacon, wilt the spinach and toast your English muffin.
  12. Top each half of English muffin with a piece of bacon and a quarter cup of spinach. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon, draining well, and place on top of the spinach. Top with hollandaise and chopped chives, and enjoy!
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