Bank Holiday Brunching
I love bank holiday Monday mornings. Sleep in (if you call waking up at 8:30 am sleeping in), make a few pots of tea, an indulgent brunch and enjoy a quiet conversation with your husband. Later there will be yard work and a trip to the local garden centre, but for now let’s just focus on the brunch… and the conversation…
In a few short months our lives are going to change forever. Quiet mornings will be a thing of the past. Instead of being woken gently by the cuckoo bird outside and our breakfast-greedy cat, we will be woken by the coos and cries of a small baby (and I’m guessing that will be more of a jerk to reality than a gentle wake up call).
Even though I can’t wait to meet our little lady, I’m cherishing these last few long weekends where its just the two of us. And while I’ve been having issues getting the hang of our oven, I am no stranger to a gas range stove top. This morning I made a bit more effort than usual with our brunch and whipped up a Béarnaise sauce. Some homemade toasted ciabatta, a handful of fresh baby spinach and a couple of lightly poached eggs completed our brunch.
Béarnaise isn’t the healthiest sauce in the world. But Patrick has since gone for a run and I need a few extra calories a day as I enter my third and final trimester of pregnancy, so for a once-in-a-while brunch I think it’s OK.
Although it’s classically served with steak, I love how Béarnaise melds with poached egg and spinach. Take away its secret ingredients (which are tarragon, shallot and peppercorn) and you have a basic Hollandaise sauce – perfect for Eggs Benedict.
A quick tip – if you want to clarify butter in a hurry, just stick the butter into the microwave for one minute. It separates all on it’s own (I put mine in a liquid measuring cup so it’s easy to pour).
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 stalks fresh tarragon (or a good pinch of dried)
1/2 shallot, finely chopped
2-3 whole peppercorns
1 cup clarified butter
salt, to taste
- First, make your reduction: in a small saucepan, add the vinegar, tarragon stalks (if you’re using fresh – save the leaves for the end product) or dried tarragon, peppercorns and shallot. On medium heat, cook this combination down until nicely reduced to about 1-2 Tbsp.
- Strain your reduction through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth directly into a mixing bowl (I use a glass mixing bowl for this).
- Add the egg yolks to the reduction and whisk constantly until the eggs yolks are pale in colour and you have reached a ribbon-like consistency.
- Over a pot of barely-simmering water, place the bowl and continue whisking the egg/reduction mixture until it has thickened slightly.
- Very slowly, pour the clarified butter into the egg yolk mixture while whisking. Continue until all the clarified butter (and none of the milk solids on the bottom of the measuring cup) has been added. The mixture should be lighter and runnier than a mayonnaise – easily poured. Season with salt to taste.
- If using fresh tarragon, finely chop the leaves and fold into the mixture. You can also add other finely chopped, fresh herbs to the mixture like chervil or flat-leaf parsley.
- Serve over steak, salmon, asparagus, poached eggs or whatever tickles your fancy.
*Everyone messes up Hollandaise or Béarnaise sauce sometimes. If you notice your sauce has split, just add a tablespoon of hot water – it should come together again. Remember, if you have to do this, to adjust the seasoning after.
Enjoy your long weekend!