cayenne pepper

Poached eggs with smoked salmon and hollandaise sauce

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If you asked ten people what Eggs Benedict was, I am sure nine and a half of them would tell you it was poached eggs sitting on smoked salmon with hollandaise sauce.

Which is what happens when restaurants (and some food writers) are sloppy with their naming. A similar situation exists with Eggs Florentine.

Nevertheless, I just love eating this, whatever it is called.

4 thick slices of sourdough bread
Olive oil
1 clove of garlic (optional)
A generous quantity of smoked salmon
8 poached eggs (these can be poached in advance and reheated, as they would be in a restaurant situation)
Hollandaise sauce
Cayenne pepper (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
A sprig of dill or tarragon, to garnish

Brush both sides of the sourdough slices with a little olive oil and place under a hot grill for 1 – 2 minutes each side, until crisp and golden. Rub one side of each slice with the garlic clove.

Top each slice of sourdough with a generous quantity of smoked salmon, top the smoked salmon with 2 reheated and well-drained poached eggs. Spoon hollandaise sauce over the eggs.

Sprinkle with a little cayenne pepper if using, then season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Garnish with a sprig of dill or tarragon and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Variation: Cook some spinach in a little butter to wilt, then chop finely. Transfer the spinach to a sieve and, using the back of a spoon, press out as much water as possible. Season the spinach with salt and freshly ground pepper and lemon juice to taste.

Top each slice of sourdough with the spinach, add the smoked salmon, the poached eggs, then the hollandaise sauce. Garnish as above.

Eggs benedict

The recipe for this dish originated in America, I think at the Waldorf Hotel, where it is served on so-called ‘English muffins’. They don’t resemble English muffins at all. I would use sourdough or perhaps ciabatta for this dish, sliced fairly thickly and grilled.

4 generous slices ham from the bone, fat removed
4 thick slices of sourdough bread
Olive oil
8 eggs (these can be poached in advance and reheated as they would be in a restaurant situation)
Hollandaise sauce (see Sauces)
Cayenne pepper (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Brush both sides of the sourdough slices with a little olive oil and place under a hot grill for 1 – 2 minutes each side until crisp and golden.

In a buttered heavy-based frying pan, lightly fry the ham to heat it through.

Top each slice of sourdough with a generous quantity of warm ham, top the ham with 2 reheated and well-drained poached eggs. Spoon hollandaise sauce over the eggs.

Sprinkle with cayenne pepper, then season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serves 4.

Cheese Biscuits #1

Cheese biscuits neverendingcookbook

I think a little cheese biscuit with a drink when ones’ guests arrive is a perfect way to begin any party. The Moreton Club has done these tiny biscuits for years and whilst I believe that the recipe is available I do not know anybody who actually has it.

I am enormously proud of this recipe because it is the result of a lot of hard work and much experimentation. I think my recipe is a little better than the Moreton Club’s. Lately it is my most requested recipe, which does say something!

This recipe has the added advantage of having equal quantities of butter, flour and cheese which makes it very easy to remember, and very easy to make in smaller or larger quantities.  When I began experimenting with these biscuits, the flour was all plain flour. Then it became plain flour with a little rice flour added, then plain flour with a little ground rice. Now I make them with equal quantities of plain flour and ground rice. This gives the biscuits a very satisfying crunch.

250g butter
250g imported Parmesan cheese, finely grated
125g plain flour
125g ground rice (or substitute rice flour)
Cayenne pepper

Sift together the plain flour, cayenne pepper and ground rice or rice flour. Cut butter into small cubes and place in the bowl of a food processor. Add sifted flour/s and cayenne and the finely grated Parmesan. Process until the mixture forms a ball around the shaft of the food processor. Remove biscuit dough from food processor and wrap in plastic film. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 120C.

Grease a baking sheet or baking tray with butter and, using hands, roll biscuit dough into balls approximately 1 cm in diameter. Place on the baking tray and press balls with a fork to flatten and decorate.

Bake for 10 – 15 minutes, or until the biscuits are lightly coloured. As soon as you can smell the cheese in the biscuits they are almost done.

Cool on a wire rack until completely cold, then store in an airtight container into which some kitchen paper has been placed. If biscuits are not needed for a week or two, seal the airtight container with tape.

To serve, reheat at very low temperature on baking sheet until biscuits are warm but not hot.