DIY degustation, part 2: Brunch, and an easy (real) hollandaise sauce

Scrambled eggs

Gentle reader, you thought that was all? You thought that an an afternoon of wine tasting followed by a 5-hour, 8-course, wine-paired degustation was enough? Fools!

The next morning those of us that stayed the night woke up in dribs and drabs and came out to the kitchen. It was after 10am before we were all up, perfect timing for Sunday morning brunch. There was scrambled eggs, mushrooms, tomato, hash browns, bacon, and my favourite: eggs benedict. Of course this hedonistic festival of food wouldn't be complete without brunch dessert, either, but we'll get to that.

Eggs benedict

Most people reserve eggs benedict for eating out, with the two major barriers to cooking it at home being the poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. No more. Poaching eggs is simple; read Matt's tutorial for the last word. If you're serving a lot and want them to all be ready at once, poach your eggs ahead for slightly less time than normal, then remove to a deep dish of cold water. When you're read to serve, heat the dish with the eggs and water for 2 minutes in the microwave to bring them back up to temperature (if you abhor microwaves, you can rewarm the eggs in simmering water for 30 seconds). Undercooking them first will ensure a perfect yolk when reheated.

But what about the most important part, the hollandaise sauce?

Hollandaise sauce is doable, but a pain to make the traditional way. Don't be tempted to try any of the 'mock' hollandaise recipes though — a real hollandaise recipe will have simply egg yolks, butter/clarified butter, lemon juice, and salt (possibly with some additional seasonings, although I don't think it needs it). Thankfully with a regular or stick blender, real hollandaise is quick and easy to make.

Easy (but real) hollandaise sauce

  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 90 g butter or clarified butter
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt, to taste

1. Put the butter and lemon juice in a saucepan, bring to a boil, and turn off the heat.
2. Put the egg yolks into a blender and blend while gradually adding the just-boiled butter mixture. If it looks like it's getting too hot add 1 tbsp of cold water and blend. Add salt to taste.
3. This step is optional, but for a lighter sauce whisk the egg whites and fold into the warm sauce.

French toast with lemon ricotta, berries, and mint oil

Because I can't help myself and knew we had some leftover ricotta, I made dessert: French toast with ricotta, mint, and raspberry sauce. It was made up on the spot from pantry staples and the previous night's leftovers, so I can't give an exact recipe but I can offer a guide. The french toast was thick pieces of bread soaked briefly in a mixture of eggs, caster sugar, cream, milk, and cinnamon then fried in butter. On top of this was ricotta (full fat) creamed with caster sugar and lemon juice, and raspberry sauce made from frozen raspberries simmered down with leftover lemon-infused sugar syrup. This was drizzled with the remaining mint oil. Not too bad if I say so myself.

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