Monday, December 27, 2010

What do you do in St Thomas on a Rainy day

Here's another of my favorite posts... Shows all the free time I had on the island on week..

First a joke... 

Nah, I can't, it's a dirty joke.  But I do have a story about the joke.  The idea of a "best" friend is an odd concept.  Except in my case and with my dear friend, John.  John passed away 7 years ago  I don't think of him every day, but at odd times, his ghost pops up and makes me laugh.  John, had an eggs Benedict joke that he just could never resist.  The joke involves vacations, eggs Benedict and a disparaging statement about various women of his past (although in hind sight, his 2 ex-wifes and his long time girlfriend each got the house (paid in full) in the split.  Jackie always wanted to be one of John's ex significant other.. But I digress).

The joke is in poor taste, but he said it every time we stayed in a hotel, saw eggs Benedict on a menu or was fighting with one of his future home owning wifes.  He told the joke often.

The punch line involved things you could only get on vacation.  John believed that one of those things was eggs Benedict.

He was wrong, you can get them at home.  And amazingly enough, they were VERY easy.  

Just a lot of little steps...

First, make a batch of English FREEDOM MUFFINS.  Like I said yesterday, very easy.

I am going to take a break from the recipe (another one) and give you the back story for these...

It's hard to photograph weather.  But this last weekend, we woke up with wind and rain.  Even here in paradise, it happens.

How about this photo... You have seen this angle before.  Shot from our deck, looking out towards St John (you can just barely make out the "other" US Virgin Isle on the right side).  But the wind was whipping up whitecaps in our normally calm passive cove.  

So, no snorkeling today, no exploring the history of the island today.  No walks on the beach, not even going to be able to read a book while working on my tan.  Nothing to do today except...

Make a big batch of Eggs Benedict, all with different stuffings (will get to that in a minute), and hope Jackie remembers John's joke.

OK, back to the recipe...

The most difficult part of making eggs Benedict is the poached eggs.  Sure, they make those little molds, but I have a system that works very well.  You can only make one at a time like this, but they stay warm for a while after cooking.  Also, a one minute "bath" in boiling water right before serving will warm them up nicely.

I also like the rough look of a naturally poached egg (without using the mold).  It just looks better.

OK, here's my fool proof system...

In a medium size pot, get 3 inches of water rapidly boiling.  Add 1/4 cup white vinegar, and get that boiling rapidly.  Take a spoon and get the water swirling (think flushing toilet)...

Break an egg in a separate bowl.  Once you have made sure the egg has no shell, and the yolk is not broken, slide it in the swirling water.  Right in the center.  Really, it works GREAT!  Once the egg is in, drop the heat from high to medium.  When the egg is done, the water should still be boiling, just more of a gentle boil.

And, leave it alone.  No need to fold the whites, or gently nudge it into shape.  The combination of the vinegar and the swirl makes it form perfectly.

4 minutes is a good time for me.  If you want a hard cooked center, 7 minutes.  If you really really like a runny yolk, 3 minutes or even 2 minutes.

Cooking them 4 minutes, I don't need to put into an ice bath (if you do a web search for poaching eggs, you will occasionally see this step).  If you cook longer, add that step.  But then, you need to reheat them just prior to serving.  Again, 1 minute in a boiling water bath will do that.

And here they are... 6 PERFECT poached eggs (well, 5 actually, as one of them suffered a yolk break in the transfer... close enough).

Cooks choice.  That one was going to be served to me.  I was done poaching.

Next up is to prepare the toppings.

Traditionally, an eggs Benedict is made with Canadian Bacon.  Fry a couple slices up.  I also sliced them into shoestring potato style to make eating easier.

In addition to the Canadian Bacon, I made a vegetarian Eggs Benedict, with a schmeer (I know that's spelled wrong, Oy Vey) of cream cheese mixed with my "Not your Grandmother's Herbes de Provance" spice mixture, topped with some of my Caribbean Salsa, and I had some leftover Skirt Steak (seasoned szechuan style).

But wait, there's more...

How about some diced Chicken (yes, another use for my beloved rotisserie chicken), or how about shrimp or  "standard" bacon!

I even had some beautiful smoked Salmon that I sliced up...

Notice the thin sauce in the last photo.  I am getting ahead of my self, but that sauce is wrong...

But, again, I am ahead of myself... I topped the muffins (fork split) with the meats and put them in a warming oven to keep warm as I fried each meat for about 2 minutes each.  I did the "regular" bacon first, and just fried the rest individually in a bit of bacon drippings.  The salmon and the vegetarian salsa ones are meant to be served cold, with a hot egg and sauce on.  Don't warm them with the rest.

Then, I moved on to the sauce... The other difficult part of making eggs Benedict is the sauce.

And to be honest, first attempt... I failed.  Too runny.

See... But this is a good thing, as I can now tell you how to avoid a runny Hollandaise sauce.

Have the courage of your convictions.  Cook fearless.  I was afraid that I would cook the egg yolks too long, and they would scramble.  I was not fearless (anyone else hearing Meryl Streeps' Julia Child warble in their head?).

BTW, the thin sauce tasted fine, just didn't look fine.

OK, the sauce is just...

4 Egg Yolks (beaten), 4 TBS of Butter and 1 TBS of water (and a pinch of Cayenne Pepper)

First, heat the egg yolks over medium low heat...


add the water, and again...


You will see the yolks start to darken.  That is a good thing.


It gets darker and it thickens up...


If you feel it is starting to thicken up, move the pan off the heat.  I am on an electric stove top, so I can just tilt the pan up with minimum contact to the burner.  It takes a juggling act, but have courage... 

Just stir constantly, and it works!

Add the butter one TBS at a time, and STIR CONSTANTLY until it is melted and mixed before adding the next pad of butter.  Also, add the pinch of pepper at this time and...

You guessed it, STIR CONSTANTLY!

And finally, we are ready to assemble the Benedicts...

If you need to, dip the eggs into boiling water for one minute, and then top each muffin with an egg...

Then, add 2 TBS of sauce on each, and sprinkle a pinch of smoked Paprika.

And finally, we are ready to eat...

The one I made first,  with the Salmon was very good (didn't have enough salmon to make a second, with the better sauce, but even with the thin sauce, was very very good!

The Canadian Bacon... Really GOOD!

The "regular" Bacon... Equally GOOD!

And that Vegetarian version was INCREDIBLE!

And Szechuan Steak... Wow oh Wow was that one good!

And I tear up just a bit when I remember fondly my beloved Rotisserie Chicken.

Oddly enough... The shrimp... Not as good.  But, 6 of the 7 I would make again!

Oh, and an idea... Do you remember my Shrimp Remoulade Benedict - SHRIMP WEEK Day 7?

Imagine all of these filling options with that delicious Remoulade sauce.  If the idea of a Hollandaise sauce frightens you, go back and and look at that post, which is mostly just made in a food processor.  Easy beyond belief.

But, I ran out of muffins, so I didn't make them on my rainy day.  It was just a thought.

So, how do you spend your rainy days???


  1. Wow, Dave, you are really a connoisseur of Eggs Benedict! These all look scrumptious, but my fave would have to be the shrimp! Hope that Jackie is feeling a lot better now. You are both in my thoughts and prayers. Merci for stopping by, cher!

  2. I have been craving Eggs Benny for several days and this doesn't help!! I made Hollandaise sauce for asparagus this week and saw several people post English Muffin Bread this week so, naturally.....

    Hope everything is going well with you guys!

  3. I was just thinking about this EGGCELLENT post the other day. We have some Canadian bacon shipping our way next week and I was going to check this very post for tips on Eggs Benny! Thank you, Dave, I'm so glad you re-posted it!

    Sending good thoughts and good karma to you and Jackie. ~ Cleo