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.

Advertisements

Pasta With Love

Tagliatelle by “Pasta With Love”

Given that tomorrow is Valentines’ Day the title of this post my be regarded as a little contrived, however, the title has made itself in that it is the name of a small startup company which has been making a big impact on the farmers market scene in both Glasgow and Edinburgh ever since they first started business a little under a year ago. “Pasta With Love” is the work of a young couple, Duncan and Ness Fildes, who are clearly on a meteoric trajectory after winning a Great Taste Gold Taste Award for their linguine only three weeks after they started to trade!

“Pasta With Love” are to be found at the Mansfield Park Market in Glasgow every second and fourth Saturday each month and they also attend the markets at Queens Park, again in Glasgow as well as at Edinburgh’s Stockbridge Market. For more information visit their FaceBook page and see also Caroline von Schmalensee’s excellent article about “Pasta With Love” in her blog the “Edinburgh Foody”

KG130211007Web1

KG130211004aWeb3

Tagliatelle with cheese sauce, tomato, mushrooms and bacon

This is a simple and quick dish packed with wonderful flavours and makes a perfect meal. For an even easier version use smoked Bavarian ham (Lidl) instead of bacon, a great taste and no need to cook it, though it is fantastic on pizzas!

KG130211030a1Web3

Serves 2 ready in 15 minutes.

Switch on the oven and set to 190oC, put a large pan of water, half full, on to boil, adding a glug of olive oil to the water; extra virgin (Is there any other? This will help stop the pasta sticking together once it has cooked). Wash a dozen or so freshly plucked basil leaves and 4 to 8 ripe tomatoes, depending on size, before slicing the tomatoes; crossways is best and leave to one side. Place 4 or 6 rashers of smoked bacon (pancetta or streaky bacon is fine too) in a baking tray lightly coated with olive oil and put in to the oven. Take 6 or so chestnut mushrooms, brush off any dirt and cut off the base of the stems before slicing vertically and placing in a frying pan with a good glug of oil and sauté. By this time the water for the pasta should be boiling, remove the saucepan lid and add the pasta, approximately 300g will be ample and boil for 3 to 4 minutes (4 to 5 minutes if cooking from frozen). While the pasta is cooking finish off the mushrooms by adding a dash of dark soya sauce and stir well. As soon as the pasta is ready tip it into a colander and allow to drain, covering with the saucepan lid. Return the pan to the stove and tip in 250ml of four cheese sauce (widely available from most supermarkets, alternatively make your own but we are keeping things simple!), reduce the heat to medium, tip in the pasta and mix thoroughly with the sauce. Put the plates in the oven to warm, (pasta hates cold plates!) while removing the bacon. Cut the bacon into stamp sized pieces and together with the mushrooms add to the pasta – cheese sauce mix and stir in. Take the plate from the oven and plate-up not forgetting to add the sliced tomato and basil! Season to taste and enjoy!

KG130211012a1Web4

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.

Heritage tomatoes and bacon on toast

As a student I was fortunate enough to spend a whole summer doing field work in the more remote parts of Nova Scotia and Quebec. Together with a graduate student, Paul Comeau, we spent two months in a VW Camper van traveling along the Atlantic seaboard of Nova Scotia and then along the north shore of the Saint Lawrence as far as Sept-Isles and north up on to the Canadian Shield. I have many memories of this summer and not the least of which is the food, largely it was a case of simple cooking in the camper but there were occasional highlights such as the wonderful strawberry shortcake we discovered at a restaurant one evening and how we would make ever longer journeys back to the restaurant each evening as we traveled further and further away until the round trip was in the order of a one hundred miles when we had to eventually let reason prevail and find somewhere else to eat! Or there was the delicious Chinese meal in Hauterive on the way to Sept-Isles which seemed so unbelievably exotic in this remote and largely French speaking part of North America. However, the memory which is the strongest is a simple breakfast in Les Escoumins of crispy bacon and fresh sliced tomatoes on hot buttered toast, a delicious treat after days of camping and wading through bogs and pushing through dense forest all in the name of research. So ever since this meal has remained a constant favourite with its rich mixture of flavours and textures.

At the weekend while in Roots and Fruits, my favourite Glasgow fruit and vegetable shop, I came across the most amazing collection of heritage, (heirloom) tomatoes. I had never tried them before but with their bizarre shapes and vivid colours these tomatoes just had to be bought, they would be great subjects to photograph even if their taste didn’t match their appearance! However, I am delighted to say that they not only looked good but they tasted great too! Some of the tomatoes that I bought ended up in a salad but the rest just had to be used for my breakfast favourite of bacon and sliced tomatoes on toast!

KG120914003aWeb1The dish is so obvious that it doesn’t warrant any real instructions: just cook the bacon in a lightly oiled baking tray in the oven at 190oC for 10 to 15 minutes, when the bacon is nearly ready put the bread (I usually use Ciabatta) on to toast, slice the tomatoes (laterally is best), butter the toast and assemble the dish with a rasher of bacon to each slice of toast and top with the sliced tomato, not to forget some basil leaves, freshly ground pepper and a scattering of sea salt flakes and there you have it, together with a cup of strong black coffee, the perfect breakfast!

KG120918001b1Web1

KG120918006a1Web2

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.