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April 2009 Issue
The first meal of the day . . .
by Rossana S. Tarantini
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There’s a group of us that will occasionally on a weekend morning, mostly Sundays, get together for brunch. There’s always a bit of a debate as to what makes a “brunch” though. Is it just breakfast that’s served at a more “human” hour? Is it truly a meal that combines the best of both breakfast and lunch into one meal? Or, is it brunch because it’s served buffet style in limitless quantities?

I don’t think we’ll ever completely resolve that debate though. Larry, my partner, just needs to have bacon somewhere in that meal and it’s brunch for him. *laughing*

For me, brunch is all about relaxing and enjoying. Not rushing through a meal to “get somewhere else”. It’s where we take time to enjoy the company of friends, or just each other; and we sit at the table long after we’re done, talking; about the week just passed, the week to come, or nothing at all. Taking time to catch up, wind down, and prepare for the new week ahead.

But food is an important part of it. Recently some good friends moved into our basement “apartment” and now Sunday brunch has become more of an institution than ever in our home. Every Sunday morning will find one of the men (yes, in our house it’s the men who usually do brunch) in the kitchen preparing the meal. Eggs and potatoes; bacon, ham, or sausage (or any combination of the three, sometimes even all three!!!). We’ve had pancakes, johnnycakes, sausage gravy, grits. So, for us, brunch is a more elaborate meal than your usual “two sunny side up eggs with bacon and toast” breakfast. And it usually happens around lunch time.

But I still like to go out for brunch every so often. My favourite brunch meal is something The Beachside Grill (my favourite local diner) calls Eggs Benjamin. Softly poached eggs, on a layer of smoked salmon over toasted English muffins, and smothered in Hollandaise Sauce. I usually change it up for mine and have them replace the muffins with steamed spinach. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it, it’s yummy!!!

Because Hollandaise is rather tricky to do at home, this is something I usually only have when we’re out for brunch. But it can be done. The following recipe is one I’ve used successfully and is fairly easy.

 

Hollandaise Sauce

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt , cayenne pepper and dry mustard to taste
Microwave butter on high in a 2 cup glass measuring cup until melted, 50–60 seconds. Whisk together egg yolks, lemon juice and seasonings in a 4 cup glass measuring cup. Whisk melted butter gradually into egg yolk mixture, beating constantly. Microwave on Medium until sauce thickens, 20-30 seconds. Whisk halfway through and at the end of cooking to produce a smooth sauce.
 

Eggs Benedict is the classic dish that Eggs Benjamin is a take-off from. Lightly toasted English Muffins, topped with a nicely browned peameal (or Canadian) bacon topped with soft poached eggs and finished off with a generous helping of Hollandaise.

Or, you can make it your own dish by changing the bread you use. Or replace the peameal with thinly sliced ham. It’s the Hollandaise that truly transforms ham and eggs to something just a bit “more”.

I remember a Brunch Party I hosted many years ago. We made Eggs “Benedict” with a real twist for that occasion. I don’t recall what the name of the dish was, but I do recall that the poached eggs were placed on a salmon fillet. We dredged the salmon in seasoned cornmeal and fried it until just golden. Transferred it to a plate, nestled poached eggs on top and drizzled the whole thing with Hollandaise. It’s funny that I don’t remember the name of the dish, yet I’ll never forget the memory of that first mouthful of something truly wonderful.

And I think I just figured out what’s for brunch THIS weekend!

TTFN!!



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