egg yolks

Faux eggs ‘Florentine’

Faux eggs florentine cropped
This is really just another take on the Eggs Benedict theme….poached eggs with hollandaise sauce, sitting on, this time, spinach. True ‘Eggs Florentine’, it is not, despite the fact that many breakfast-serving Brisbane restaurants are calling it that. I guess you can call anything sitting on spinach ‘florentine’! Nevertheless, the egg, spinach and hollandaise combination is quite delicious!

4 thick slices of sourdough bread
Olive oil
1 clove of garlic (optional)
Baby spinach leaves
8 poached eggs (these can be poached in advance and reheated, as they would be in a restaurant situation)
Hollandaise sauce (see Sauces)
Cayenne pepper
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chives, trimmed, but left long, 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 baby spinach, top the spinach with 2 reheated and well-drained poached eggs. Spoon hollandaise sauce over the eggs.

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

Garnish with the chives and serve immediately.

Holandaise sauce

Like mayonnaise, Hollandaise and Béarnaise are emulsion sauces. Emulsion sauces are made with egg yolks, oil or fat and an acid to stablilise them. In the case of Hollandaise and Béarnaise, the fat is butter; with Hollandaise, the acid is lemon juice. Adding a teaspoon of the acid to the egg yolks before the fat is added helps prevent curdling and ensures a thick sauce.

Traditionally, all emulsion sauces are made in a double boiler, but both Hollandaise and Béarnaise can be made in a food processor. To finish the sauce you will need a double boiler, or a basin sitting in a saucepan of hot (but not boiling) water.

4 egg yolks
175g butter, melted, but not hot
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper

 Place egg yolks, water and a little of the lemon juice in the bowl of the food processor and, using the metal blade, process until light and well mixed. With the machine switched on, add the butter in a slow steady stream. Continue to process for another 30 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a double boiler, cook at low heat, but be careful not to let the water boil. Add a little cold water to the bottom of the double boiler frequently to keep it below boiling point. Stir the sauce constantly until it thickens to the consistency of custard. Add extra lemon juice to taste, but remember, too much lemon will spoil the sauce. Stir in the lemon juice well to stabilise the sauce. Add freshly ground pepper.

Hollandaise keeps in the refrigerator, but it does harden to the consistency of butter. Remove from the fridge well before serving time to soften it, or stand it in warm water. It may need to be whisked with a fork, or returned to the food processor for a few seconds. Should the sauce curdle, return it to the bowl of the food processor, switch on, and feed 1 – 2 tablespoons of boiling water through the feed tube, a little at a time.

Hollandaise sauce is traditionally served with asparagus or other vegetables, eggs and fish, especially salmon.


Everybody should be able to make this simplest of the emulsion sauces without using a food processor, though I realise that, with the time constraints we all have, the food processor method will win every time. Make it by hand just once as it will help you to understand the properties of an egg yolk.

There are a few points to remember whether you are making mayonnaise by hand or with a food processor. If these are kept in mind, the dreaded ‘splitting’ can be avoided.

  • All ingredients should be at room temperature. Warm the bowl in which the mayonnaise is to be made in hot water before beginning and dry it thoroughly. This will take any chill off the egg yolks. Heat the oil to just tepid if it has been refrigerated.
  • The egg yolks must be well beaten for a minute or two before adding anything to them. This will help them absorb the oil better. A little of the acid, that is, the vinegar or lemon juice is then added. This seems to help the oil absorption. The remainder is added at the end.
  • The oil should be added very slowly at first, just drop by drop, until the emulsion process begins and the sauce incorporates into a heavy cream. After this the oil can be added more rapidly.
  • The maximum amount of oil one egg yolk can absorb is about ¾ cup (185ml, approximately). As soon as this volume of oil is exceeded, the mixture will curdle. It is better to measure out the oil for the number of eggs you are using before you begin than risk having to re-incorporate a curdled mess with additional egg yolks.

3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon prepared Dijon mustard
500ml (2 cups) olive oil or a mixture of olive and other vegetable oil
2 tablespoons boiling water
Vinegar or lemon juice, extra
Dijon mustard, extra
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Warm the mixing bowl in hot water and dry it thoroughly. Add the egg yolks and, using a wire whisk, beat yolks until they are thick and sticky.

Add the tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice, the salt and half teaspoon of mustard. Whisk for a further 30 seconds.

The eggs are now ready to receive the oil and while it goes in, drop by drop, you must not stop beating until the sauce has thickened. Add the drops of oil with a teaspoon, or rest the lip of the bottle on the edge of the bowl. Keep your eye on the oil rather than on the sauce.

Stop pouring, but continue beating every 10 seconds or so to be sure the yolks are absorbing the oil. After 1/3 – 2/3 cup of oil has been incorporated the sauce should thicken into a very heavy cream.

Once this has happened, the remaining oil may be added 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking well to incorporate between each addition.

If the sauce becomes too thick, thin it out with a few drops of lemon juice or vinegar, then continue adding the oil until all is incorporated.

Beat the boiling water into the mayonnaise. This is insurance against curdling.

Add extra vinegar or lemon juice and mustard to taste.

Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.