Sunday, March 25, 2012

In Like a Lion and Out Like a Lamb (I Hope)

It's Spring. It could not have come at a better time, really.
Personally and professionally, this winter has really kind of sucked.

But that's ok, because Spring is here now.

I've been conspicuously absent from my blogging duties this year. I know. I'm sorry. I've made a bunch of new things and taken a LOT of pictures and begun writing a bunch of draft posts but haven't had the time to actually get anything out there.

I swore I'd fix that this weekend. Spring cleaning my camera and all that.

I recently picked up what I know think is my new favorite cookbook, The Pleasures of Cooking for One, by Judith Jones. Even though she has created the recipes to be the perfect size for a single person, they're all easily multiplied and she does an amazing job explaining how to best use all those leftover ingredient quantities in "second and third rounds" to make food that doesn't taste as if you've been eating the same meal repeatedly all week.

She's my hero. And no surprise that the recipes are great, and lovely to read. If I were buddies with Lidia Bastianich, Julia Child, and Madhur Jaffrey, and had spent my lifetime editing their cookbooks, I like to think I'd have picked up a few handy kitchen tips as well.

I have a feeling I'm going to end up making just about every recipe she has in here but when I read the eggs benedict recipe, I knew I had to try it. The whole concept of a single serving of hollandaise was too magical to pass up.

Unfortunately, I failed at hollandaise for one.

Attempt 1:
This is what we call "curdled egg yolk." It's actually pretty tasty...but not exactly a "sauce." More of a spread, really.

Attempt 2, using a double boiler, fared slightly better at first...

Pay no attention to all the semi-cooked yolk around the sides of the bowl.

...until the sauce broke upon the last addition of butter. 

The egg and the butter are separating. Serious frowns.

At which point, I resorted to emergency tactics by squirting in a bit of mayonnaise to re-emulsify things. Which sort of worked. I mean, it worked well enough for serving myself. Good thing no one else had to eat this!

Almost creamy...almost.

After the additions of a little meyer lemon juice and salt, the sauce at least tasted right, even if it wasn't all fluffy and creamy as it should have been.

Deep breath. To paraphrase Kelly Clarkson: what doesn't kill me makes me a better cook.

Time to assemble brunch:

Half an English muffin. (HUGE shout out to Rudi's Organic Bakery for making 100% Spelt English Muffins! Love you guys!)

A bit of ham. This is smoked ham from the Whole Foods Deli. I just asked them to give me a single thick slice. The trimmed bits are in the fridge and I'll probably dice and throw them into some kind of saute of greens later this week.

Nothing says spring like asparagus. I steamed two (fat) spears and then sliced them lengthwise, since they were so thick.

Added a poached egg using my microwave trick.

Poured the sauce over the top.

Added a little paprika for garnish, sliced a few strawberries, and voila!

To complete this semi-serene brunch, I put on Debussy's Clair de Lune, which I just can't get enough of right now, for some reason. Here's the track:

Happy Spring!

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