Finally we're on the last week of slogging at it before we can all collapse around the Christmas Tree. It's not actually a case of being able to collapse the second we finish work though is it?  What will actually be happening is last minute rushing around buying bits of food and drink, wrapping that last little trinket and writing that final Christmas card. Swiftly followed by a glass or two of something interesting, laying out of a mince pie and a snifter of sherry for the big fella and then... and only then... collapsing in front of the Christmas Tree.
But it doesn't end there either does it?. The big day is all about the kids unwrapping presents and cooking a big bird. This year there will be breakfast in bed too!   You see, we're very lucky that the kids are now of an age where while Christmas is still exciting, it doesn't require getting up at 5am to throw wrapping paper everywhere and play with the empty cardboard boxes. So instead we'll be having a reasonably leisurely start to the day and I might even have a go at rustling up some eggs benedict - which is my all time favourite breakfast.... Puts me in mind of a wonderful New York breakfast that Mrs G and I had last time we were there.

In fact, just the thought of it has inspired me to have a dry run.  To that end, a trip to the supermarket this evening will mean I'll be picking up at least....
  • 3 table spoons of white wine vinegar
  • 4 large free range eggs
  • 2 toasting muffins
  • 1 batch of hot hollandaise sauce
  • 4 slices Parma ham (or Serrano or Bayonne)
Now the tricky bit is the Hollandaise Sauce, and it's this that requires the practice. So to make the sauce I'm going to need this little list of stuff:
  • 500ml of white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of peppercorns
  • a bunch of tarragon
  • 3 large free-range egg yolks
  • 200ml of melted and skimmed unsalted butter
  • a good squeeze of lemon juice
And this is what I'll need to do...
  1. Boil the vinegar together with peppercorns and tarragon, reduce by half. Strain.
  2. Boil a large pan of water, then reduce to a simmer. Using a large balloon whisk, beat together the yolks and 2 tsp of the reduced wine vinegar in a heatproof bowl that fits snugly over the pan.
  3. Beat vigorously until the mixture forms a foam, but make sure that it doesn't get too hot. To prevent the sauce from overheating, take it on and off the heat while you whisk, scraping around the sides with a plastic spatula. The aim is to achieve a golden, airy foam (called a sabayon), which forms ribbons when the whisk is lifted.
  4. Whisk in a small ladle of the warmed butter, a little at a time, then return the bowl over a gentle heat to cook a little more. Remove from the heat again and whisk in another ladle of butter. Repeat until all the butter is incorporated and you have a texture as thick as mayonnaise. Finally, whisk in lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste plus a little warm water from the pan if the mixture is too thick.
For me, all that talk of "Golden Airy Foam" and "Ribbons" means that's going to be tricky to say the least. But I'll have a crack at it this week and if all goes well, perhaps I'll surprise Mrs G with it on Saturday morning. As for the eggs and the muffins and putting it all together. Well that's a lot easier....
  1. Bring a deep saucepan of water to the boil (at least 2 litres) and add the vinegar. Break the eggs into 4 separate coffee cups or ramekins. Split the muffins, toast them and warm some plates.
  2. Swirl the vinegared water briskly to form a vortex and slide in an egg. It will curl round and set to a neat round shape. Cook for 2-3 mins, then remove with a slotted spoon.
  3. Repeat with the other eggs, one at a time, re-swirling the water as you slide in the eggs. Spread some sauce on each muffin, scrunch a slice of ham on top, then top with an egg. Spoon over the remaining hollandaise and serve at once.
In theory, the result of all this cookery should look something like this....

I'll post some photo's of my effort when I get to it.
On the subject of our American cousins and by way of a little geekery, I saw this recently and found it to be a compelling 30 minute interview with a comedian who seems to have no end of strings to his bow. Something for your coffee break...

Get on with it!.

This post originally appeared here: Posterous