Schwarzwälder Schinken & Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict is, by far, my favourite breakfast dish but I am so often disappointed when I order it in a restaurant. Restaurants seem to specialise in making this most tasty of meals as sterile and as unattractive as possible. Traditionally the dish consists of an English Muffin (despite its name an essentially American concoction!) cut in two and each half is then topped with a round of ham, followed by a poached egg and finally a spoon or two of Hollandaise sauce. The result, while potentially tasty, is often bland and visually sterile – don’t believe me, do a Google image search, there are notable exceptions of course but the majority of the pictures can hardly be called appetizing!

So how to improve on this sorry state of affairs? First, ditch the muffin! A couple of slices of toasted Ciabatta make a far superior foundation for the dish while ensuring that there is enough bread to mop up the egg yolk and sauce without totally dominating it.

Next comes the ham and please, not slices of bland, watery processed ham, Iberian ham is perfect but expensive, back bacon works well but increasingly I find myself using smoked Black Forest ham (Lidl, for more details see the earlier post  https://brunchatgoodies.wordpress.com/2014/03/29/schwarzwalder-schinken-and-shopping-at-lidl/). This ham is amazingly versatile and after baking on a good quality (i.e. heavy and non-stick) metal tray together with a drizzle of olive oil at 190 oC for 8 -10 minutes or so you will have wonderfully thin crisp slices of intensely flavoured ham, (any spare slices should be kept in the fridge in a sealed box for several days until required).

Schwarzwälder Schinken

Slices of crisp oven baked ham make a perfect accompaniment for eggs benedict

 

 

Schwarzwälder Schinken

Slices of crisp oven baked ham make a perfect accompaniment for eggs benedict.

Tomatoes drizzled with a little olive oil are roasted in the oven, again at 190 oC, for around about 20 minutes; its worth preparing the tomatoes some 10 or so minutes before the eggs are ready to allow them to cool down, it is impossible to appreciate the flavour of a tomato no matter how good it is if it is scalding hot!

As for the eggs I have for long been a fan of both Burford Brown and Cotswold Legbar eggs from Clarence Court® (frustratingly these eggs are becoming increasingly hard to find in and around Glasgow and are no longer stocked at my local Morrisons, instead I have to trek right across the city to go to Waitrose or in the opposite direction to the Whole Food supermarket (who, for some as yet unfathomed reason sell Cotswold Legbar eggs lose). Both of these eggs have incredibly rich golden yolks and while the colour probably doesn’t add directly to the taste the difference between these eggs and so many others which are in comparison only pale imitations make me feel that these eggs do indeed taste better!

For the Hollandaise sauce I always “cheat” and buy mine ready-made from Maille which has the advantage of both convenience, being able to use just the amount you need while keeping the rest in the fridge for as long as 4 weeks. The Hollandaise is carefully warmed in a bowl over a pan of freshly boiled water which is then kept on a very low heat; be careful not to let the sauce get too hot or it will split.

Assemble the dish on a warm plate building up from the Ciabatta, followed by the Black Forest ham and Hollandaise sauce and roast tomatoes. Finish of with fresh basil leaves and a drizzle of oil from the bowl the tomatoes were cooked in.

Schwarzwälder Schinken

Schwarzwälder Schinken

Rich runny yolks are a must!

Schwarzwälder Schinken

Rich runny yolks are a must!

Enjoy!

A more detailed recipe can be found at: https://brunchatgoodies.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/eggs-benedict/

Copyright: All photographs and text in the blog “Brunch at Goodies” are subject to copyright. © Keith Gooderham 2011-2013 All rights reserved. Do NOT copy material without requesting permission to do so. If you would like permission simply contact me.

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Black Pudding Burgers

Today is National burger Day or as “Burgerac so ably expressed it: “In order to celebrate the UK’s buzzing and burgeoning burger culture, Mr Hyde (the daily email newsletter from the same folks that create Shortlist magazine) has declared that the 27th August is National Burger Day here in the UK…”

So here is a burger with a difference or at least it is if you define a burger as a bread roll with some meat sandwiched in between two halves of a bread roll. In this case the meat is a slice of Nick Nairn’s superb black sausage (blood pudding; available from Morrison’s) lightly fried in olive oil and combined with a slice of tomato and a spoonful of scrambled egg in a miniature bread roll (Waitrose); a perfect breakfast!

Black Pudding Burgers

Nick Nairn Black Pudding KG130827006aWeb1 KG130827008a1Web1Perhaps I should have revised the order of the fillings and the this dish could have become the national dish of Germany or Belgium!

To learn more about Greenshoots Photography please follow the link

Good food – it’s all about sharing. ENJOY!

Copyright: All photographs and text in the blog “Brunch at Goodies” are subject to copyright. © Keith Gooderham 2011-2013 All rights reserved. Do NOT copy material without requesting permission to do so. If you would like permission simply contact me.

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict is an all time breakfast classic packed full of flavours, contrasting textures and colours. The ingredients are very simple: toasted Ciabatta, Iberica ham (though German Smoked Ham (as shown above) or Bacon work well and are significantly less expensive) topped with poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce served with slow roasted tomatoes, basil and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Waitrose Paleta Iberica de Bellota 65g £4.99 (£7.68 per 100g) transforms Eggs Benedict into a real luxury dish with its melt in the mouth texture and rich flavours, in addition it has the great advantage of not requiring cooking!However some cooking is required and for a very long time poached eggs were my nemesis, I tried everything: swirling the water as I added the eggs, buying the freshest possible eggs, adding white wine vinegar to the water, using metal and silicone poachers and yet none of these either singularly or in combination guaranteed “the perfect poached egg”. Then one day I caught a programme by Heston Blumenthal where he revealed the secret – break the egg into a cup and then carefully tip the egg onto a skimmer as shown below, leave the egg on the spoon for a few seconds before carefully tipping the egg back into the cup. By doing this the wateriest part of the egg white is removed and when the cup is carefully immersed into a large pan of water taken off the heat containing a tablespoon of white wine vinegar and the egg tipped into the water the egg will remain as a tight white ball (well usually – sometimes despite everything things still goes wrong and the pan is filled with frothing white streamers of egg white!)

EGGS BENEDICT

Total time 20 minutes, serves 2.

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs (use the freshest eggs possible, Clarence Court Burford Browns with their rich yellow yolks are my favourites)
  • 2 or 4 slices of Ciabatta depending on the size of the loaf and appetites! (Both Sainsburys and Waitrose sell wonderful Ciabatta loaves)
  • Iberica ham, enough to cover the slices of bread (Waitrose – see picture below)
  • Hollandaise sauce (Maille have a great ready-made sauce and any remaining sauce can be kept for up to 4 weeks in the fridge after opening)
  • Cherry tomatoes or a small tomatoes such a Perino (Tesco) are ideal.
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Salt (Maldon)
  • Freshly ground pepper (try grinding some pepper corns in a pestle and mortar for a real pungent blast of pepper. Don’t over grind or you will end up with dust and a totally different taste experience!)

Method

I have not given any timings for the steps below as they naturally flow one to another.

  1. Switch on the oven and turn it up to 190 degrees Centigrade.
  2. Without waiting for the oven to warm up place the tomatoes in an oven proof dish and drizzle lightly with olive oil before placing in the oven and leaving to roast. (If you are using bacon instead of ham place four rashers in a lightly oiled baking tray and put into the oven to cook at the same time as the tomatoes).
  3. Meanwhile fill a large sauce pan two-thirds full with water and add a tablespoon full of white wine vinegar, cover and bring to the boil.
  4. While waiting for the water in the large saucepan to boil gather all the remaining ingredients, cut the Ciabatta, crack each egg into a cup before gently pouring the egg onto a skimmer spoon as shown below. The egg should only be left on the spoon for a few seconds to allow the watery part of the egg white to drain away before the egg is carefully tipped back in to its cup.
  5. Put a second smaller saucepan about one-quarter full of water on to the stove over a low heat (too high a heat and the sauce will split) and place a small bowl containing  6 to 8 teaspoons full of hollandaise on top of the saucepan and stir occasionally as the sauce heats through.
  6. Once the water in the large pan is boiling turn off the heat, remove the lid and carefully tip the eggs out of their cups into the near boiling water. Rather than simply tipping the eggs in from on high slowly submerge each cup in turn so the water floods into the cup and over the egg and then tip the egg out into the water.
  7. Put the Ciabatta onto toast and at the same time place two plates in the oven to warm through.
  8. Make some coffee!
  9. As soon as the toast is ready remove the plates from the oven and start to build the dish in the following order: toast, ham, eggs, hollandaise sauce, with a side dish of roast tomatoes (don’t forget them its all too easy!)  and a sprig of basil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

The only difficult step is in getting the poached eggs out of the pan.  Use a skimmer spoon to slowly lift one egg at a time from the pan, tipping the edge of the spoon against the walls of the saucepan in order to drain off any water trapped on the surface of the egg and then remove any final traces of water by dabbing the underside of the spoon with a wad of paper towel before placing the egg on top of the ham and toast.

Share and enjoy!

Copyright: All photographs and text in the blog “Brunch at Goodies” are subject to copyright. © Keith Gooderham 2011-2012. All rights reserved. Do NOT copy material without requesting permission to do so. If you would like permission simply contact me.

Asparagus two ways

We have all become used to having fruit and vegetables available all the year round but I think that there is still a great appeal to buying them when they are in season. The British asparagus season is now in full swing and the shops are piled high with bundles of plump ripe spears which can’t be beaten either for taste or price. After a number of false starts due to the vagaries of the British climate it looks as if it is going to be a bumper crop this year although the season may be shorter than usual so don’t delay; get your asparagus now and start cooking! In Britain green asparagus is by far the most widely available form and white asparagus is relatively rare, not that I mind, I always find that the white asparagus lacks the bite both literally in terms of texture as well as taste of the green form.

Asparagus is a versatile vegetable it can be boiled, grilled, roasted, steamed or fried and it goes so well with so many dishes hot or cold; served hot with hollandaise sauce, boiled new potatoes with a mint and butter dressing and grilled salmon fillet it makes a classic early summer main course. However, in this article I will focus on two simple dishes which make a perfect brunch: Asparagus Spears Wrapped In Smoked German Ham and Poached Eggs With Asparagus or, if you are especially hungry, you can combine the two dishes for a total extravagant mixture of flavours!

Asparagus wrapped in smoked German ham

This simple dish is quick and easy to prepare and is just bursting with flavours and contrasting textures. The smoky saltiness of the ham is the perfect partner for the asparagus (as an aside: for all that I love the taste of asparagus I find it impossible to describe, it is so utterly different to anything else I can think of! Even Google failed to offer any assistance!  Can you find the words to describe the taste of asparagus? If so, be sure to let me know!

Preparation 5 minutes; Cooking time 10 minutes. Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 10 large asparagus spears
  • 6 slices of smoked German ham (Morrisons Smoked, German, Black Forest Ham. 15 slices for £2.59)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • bread for toasting (Ciabatta works well)
  • butter
  • sea salt (Maldon)
  • black pepper (freshly ground in a pestle and mortar – try it; it is so much more pungent this way!)

Method

  1. Preparing the spears is simplicity itself; using both hands hold each spear between your thumbs and forefingers and snap off the lower part of the spear and discard. Rinse the spears under the cold tap, shake and leave to dry on some paper towel (You will often see chefs in TV cookery programmes peeling the stems of asparagus but I don’t see the point providing that the asparagus is young, tender and freshly picked).
  2. Add a glug of olive oil to a large frying pan and using a paper towel wipe the oil over the inside of the pan to create a uniform thin-film.
  3. Place the pan on the stove over a medium-high heat and once it is hot add the asparagus, shuggle the pan every so often in order to ensure that the spears are uniformly browned but take care not to let them burn.
  4. After 5 minutes tip the spears out on to a chopping board, set 4 spears aside and wrap each of the remaining spears in a slice of ham, taking care not to cover the tip of the spear, before returning all of the spears to the pan to cook for a further 3 to 5 minutes again shuggling the pan at regular intervals in order to ensure that the ham is browned on all sides.
  5. While finishing off the asparagus cut 4 slices of Ciabatta and toast and at the same time put two serving plates in the microwave to warm (2 minutes at full power will be ample).
  6. Once the plates have warmed and the toast is done the ham wrapped asparagus spears will be ready to serve
  7. Butter the toasted Ciabatta and place two slices on to each plate and top with the asparagus, 3 wrapped in ham and two plain.
  8. Season with salt and pepper to taste

Serve and enjoy!

Asparagus and poached eggs on toast

Another simple brunch time dish staring asparagus is to serve the freshly cooked spears with poached eggs, or as previously noted above, for a really indulgent brunch the poached eggs can be served with the Asparagus and Smoked German Ham dish described above.

Cooking the perfect poached egg was something that had long eluded me and it was not for want of trying! I always ensured that I had the freshest eggs possible and I bought and tested a variety of poachers as well as trying the whirlpool method but none of them consistently produced the perfect poached egg and then I heard how Heston Blumenthal does it! And no, it doesn’t involve liquid nitrogen!

Preparation 10 minutes; Cooking time 6 minutes. Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 10 large asparagus spears
  • 4 eggs (the fresher the better as the egg white becomes increasingly watery over time and the egg become useless for poaching)
  • White wine vinegar (this helps coagulate the egg white and while not used in Heston’s method I like the flavour it gives to the eggs as well as being an example of my belt and braces approach to cooking – well sometimes at least!).
  • bread for toasting (Ciabatta works well)
  • butter
  • sea salt (Maldon)
  • black pepper (freshly ground in a pestle and mortar – try it; it is so much more pungent this way!)

Method

  1. Fill a large sauce pan with water to a depth of 12 to 15 cm and place on the stove to boil. Keep the lid on the saucepan at this stage, it will boil much more quickly.
  2. At the same time take a second sauce pan and fill it to a depth of 3 or so cms and place the lower half of a double bamboo steamer and its lid in the pan and bring to the boil. (If your steamers are too large for your saucepans use a wok and fill it with water to a depth which just begins to flood into the bottom of the steamer. These steamers really keep the heat as well as providing a moist environment so when serving asparagus as an accompaniment to a main meal the steamer can be placed on the dining table so that people can help themselves).
  3. Meanwhile prepare the asparagus. Using both hands hold each spear between your thumbs and forefingers and snap off the lower part of the spear and discard. Rinse the spears under the cold tap, shake dry and place in the top section of the bamboo steamer (You will often see chefs in TV cookery programmes peeling the stems of asparagus but I don’t see the point providing that the asparagus is young, tender and freshly picked).
  4. While waiting for the water to boil cut the bread for the toast and crack each egg into a cup. Taking each cup in turn carefully pour the egg onto a large skimmer spoon, the sort with round holes rather than slots, and let the wateriest part of the egg white drain through the spoon for a few seconds before gently tipping the egg back into the cup.
  5. Once the water in both pans is boiling place the top half of the steamer containing the asparagus on top of the lower steamer and cover with the lid of the steamer.
  6. Turn the heat off the pan which is to be used for poaching the eggs and add a desert spoonful of white wine vinegar to the water and carefully tip the eggs into the pan by slowly immersing each cup in turn into the water and letting the water flood over and around the egg before finally tipping the egg out into the pan. On an electric cooker there will be enough residual heat in the hob to keep the water temperature just below boiling, with a gas stove the hob should be left on at its      lowest setting.
  7. While the eggs and asparagus are cooking toast the bread and warm the plates for 2 minutes in a microwave at full power.
  8. By the time the toast is done the asparagus and poached eggs will be ready and you can start to plate up. Butter the toast and place a couple of slices of toast on each plate, top with 5 spears of asparagus before topping off with the poached eggs by taking the eggs from the pan one at a time using a skimmer and ensuring that any traces water are removed by dabbing the bottom of the spoon with some paper towel as well as tipping the edge of the spoon against the towel in order to remove any last traces of water before placing them on the asparagus.
  9. Season with salt and pepper to taste

Serve and enjoy!

Sloppy Omelette with a Fiery Salsa

Egg and cheese omelette with a tomato, jalapeño pepper and dry Greek style black olive salsa on toasted Ciabatta with basil, salt and pepper to taste; this simple dish is guaranteed to put a spring in your step!  The Greek style dry black olives are quite salty and work brilliantly with the tomatoes while the jalapeño peppers add a real zing to the dish; personally I don’t like my food too hot and spicy so I am always careful to remove any seeds from the peppers but that is just a matter of taste. The salsa can be made beforehand and will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days, it also makes a great standalone snack served as a brushetta on slices of toasted Ciabatta and a drizzle of olive oil together with a glass or two of crisp dry white wine.

Sloppy Omelette with a Fiery Salsa

Preparation 10 minutes; Cooking time 5 minutes. Serves 2

Ingredients

Salsa

    • 8 small tomatoes (Perino tomatoes from Tesco are ideal)
    • 6 jalapeño pepper slices
    • 6 Greek style dry black olives
    • 1 desert spoon full of freshly chopped coriander leaves (optional)
    • 1 clove garlic finely chopped (optional)

Omelette

    • extra virgin olive oil
    • 4 eggs (Clarence Court, Burford Brown eggs with their rich yellow yolks are my favourite)
    • 40 g Orkney coloured cheddar (this yellow cheese adds to the already rich yellow of the egg yolks)

Accompaniments

    • bread for toasting (Ciabatta works well)
    • fresh basil
    • sea salt (Maldon)
    • black pepper (freshly ground in a pestle and mortar – try it; it is so much more pungent this way!)

Method

  1. To prepare the salsa dice the tomatoes (even using a sharp knife you will find it easier to cut the tomato with the skin side facing downwards)
  2. Take 6 or so slices of jalapeño peppers from the jar (no fingers, use chop sticks!) and remove the seeds before dicing them as well.
  3. Cut the flesh off the olives and discard the stones and finely chop.
  4. Add the chopped coriander leaves and / or finely chopped garlic if using and mix all of the ingredients. I usually do this using a large knife scooping the salsa on to the blade of the knife and turning the salsa until it is uniformly mixed.
  5. Finally place the salsa in a small bowl and set aside until required or if it is being made in advance cover and place in the refrigerator.
  6. To prepare the omelette add a glug of olive oil to a frying pan ( a 21 cm pan will be ideal) and using a paper towel wipe the oil over the inside of the pan so a to create a uniform thin-film.
  7. Place the pan on the stove over a medium heat.
  8. Meanwhile crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk (use the chop sticks that you used to get the peppers out of the jar) and pour into the frying pan and grate the cheese onto the top of the egg mix.
  9. Cut 4 slices of Ciabatta and toast and at the same time put two serving plates in the microwave to warm (2 minutes at full power will be ample)
  10. As the omelette begins to cook continually draw the edges of the omelette into the centre of the pan using a narrow (5 cm) wooden straight ended spatula.
  11. Once the plates have warmed and the toast is ready the omelette should be cooked and ready to serve; take it off the heat so that it doesn’t become over cooked and dry.
  12. Place two slices of toasted Ciabatta onto each  plate and top with omelette and a teaspoon full or two of salsa.
  13. Garnish with basil and add salt and pepper to taste

Serve and enjoy!

Copyright

All photographs and text in the blog “Brunch at Goodies” are subject to copyright. © Keith Gooderham 2011-2012. All rights reserved. Do NOT copy material without requesting permission to do so. If you would like permission simply contact me.

Eggs

Eggs are a key ingredient in many recipes but it is at breakfast time that they really come into their own. The supermarkets are full of a bewildering variety of eggs added to which there a numerous farm shops and the like selling free range eggs. However over the last few years I have become a fan of the Burford Brown and Old Cotswold Legbar eggs produced by Clarence Court. These eggs are widely available in the supermarkets ranging from Morrisons and Waitrose right through to the food hall at Fortnum and Masons) and they never fail to delight. The Burford Browns with their rich brown shells are especially appealing when it comes to that all time favourite of boiled egg and soldiers. Cooking and eating is not only about taste all the other senses play a key role as well and appearance and colour in particular can make all the difference to the appeal of a dish. Both the Burford Browns and the Legbar eggs have rich yellow yolks and they give a really intense golden yellow colour to any dish that they are used in (see for example the earlier post “Croissant with scrambled egg and bacon”).

Much is said about storing eggs and their freshness, personally I keep my eggs in the fridge and usually use them within a week of buying them which means that they are generally eaten 2 to 3 weeks before their sell-by date.

What are your favourite eggs and do you ever use duck or goose eggs?

Copyright

All photographs and text in the blog “Brunch at Goodies” are subject to copyright. © Keith Gooderham 2011-2012. All rights reserved. Do NOT copy material without requesting permission to do so. If you would like permission simply contact me.

Boiled Eggs and Soldiers!

Boiled eggs and soldiers,  what could be simpler? Well for me they were all too often a game of Russian roulette – would they crack or not and of course there is nothing worse than a cracked boiled egg and a pan full of frothing egg white the day can only go down hill after that! Then I was told the secret add a tea spoon full of salt to the water (thanks Josie!), it will not absolutely guarantee that you eggs will not crack but the odds are very much in your favour. It amazing how such simple tricks can make all the difference when cooking.

Boiled Eggs and Soldiers

Prep time 5 minutes and Cooking time 5 minutes Total time 10 minutes. Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs (straight from the fridge is fine)
  • Bread
  • Salted butter

Method

  1. Boil a pan two thirds full of water. Keep the lid on until the water is boiling; it will boil much more quickly this way
  2. Once the water is boiling remove the pan lid, add a tea spoon of salt, reduce the heat to medium high and gently place the eggs into the water; a Spaghetti Server is ideal for this. The eggs should be totally covered by the now simmering water. Do not replace the saucepan lid.
  3. Set a kitchen timer for 5 minutes (extra large eggs will require 1 minute longer while small bantam eggs typically take in the order of 4 minutes, similarly if you keep your eggs at room  temperature a shorter cooking time may be needed).
  4. While the eggs cook pop the slices of bread in to the toaster and when ready butter with lashings of butter
  5. By which time the eggs will be ready to serve.

What could be simpler?

Dip in and enjoy!