Monday, May 17, 2010

Understanding Benedict

In many places around the world it was Mother's Day a little while ago. Wifey and I had gone jolling the night before, and so the kids were away at Granny's house for the night (and, happily, for the following morning as well). So, being the fantastic husband that I am, I bought a bunch of roses and tried to make Eggs Benedict for my good lady for breakfast.

Now, Eggs Benedict has a reputation for being kind of snooty breakfast food, as well requiring a particularly experienced chef to not muck it up. The basic recipe is that you lightly toast an english muffin, layer some bacon on that, then a poached egg, then top with Hollondaise sauce. Aside from toasting the muffin, the rest of those steps are pretty tricky to pull off with Jamie Oliver flair and apparent ease.

Oh, and I had a hangover, so I forgot to take any photos, you're just going to have to trust me that it actually did look quite like this recipe, that I found at Country Living, City Style.

I wasn't actually going to describe the recipe in this post. The point of today's lesson is more about understanding how to balance a few simple flavours into a great meal.

You see, Hollondaise is pretty simple to prepare, but what is complicated is getting the ratio of ingredients to taste right. It consists of a few egg yolks, some salt, some lemon juice, and a fair amount of boiling butter. Oh, and some hot sauce of your liking.  The trick is that the boiling butter cooks the egg yolks slightly, and creates a super creamy texture and rich flavour. Then the sweetness of the butter / egg mixture is balanced with a some tangy lemon juice, and the whole lot is made a little more flavourfull with some salt and chilli sauce.

My attempt was completely edible, although I think  it was too tangy, and not chilli enough. I will try again sometime and promise to take photos then.

I'm babbling. Just remember to think about the balance of flavours when you're making this, and judge your quantities very carefully.

On a different note, clearly my cooking once again moved on to a completely new level of awesomeness with my newfound ability to poach eggs.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Warm Bean and Chorizo Salad

Quick post tonight because I'm still massively hung-over from last night. The hangover really called for something like a hearty lamb stew, but its a public holiday here today (election day), so there was no chance of heading off to the Super U to find some ingredients.

Instead what we had in the house were the ingredients for a bean and chorizo salad. This recipe has actually become quite a staple in our house, we probably eat in once every 2 weeks or so, and I always have to search for the recipe (which can be found here at

It tastes nice.

Olive oil
1 onion, halved and sliced.
1/4 cup chorizo sausage, thinly sliced.
A punnet of green beans (haricots verts), topped, tailed and halved
1 tin of butter (cannelini) beans
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 pinch of sugar
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (which I actually forgot today)

Fry onion for 5 minutes.
Add chorizo and fry for another few minutes, till it smells great and is staining the onions red.
Add green and white beans, and the water, put lid on and let cook for 5 minutes (the water steams the beans, so don't lift the lid to stir it because all the heat will escape).

While the steaming is underway, mix together 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, and sugar in a small bowl.

Decant salad into a serving bowl; drizzle dressing over; sprinkle some parsley over.

This recipe doesn't actually make that much. Serve with a crusty roll and this recipe is enough to serve 2 for dinner; if you want to serve it as a salad at a braai then the recipe should be at least doubled.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Breakfast BLT Salad

The problem with weekend breakfasts is they tend to be ridiculously soaked in oil (think full english fried everything), or as sugary as possible (pancakes with sugar, honey, and maple syrup). Then a little while back I came across a salad that can be eaten for breakfast. It doesn't feel like health food, but also it doesn't feel like a heart-attack on a plate.

Also, it tastes great. (and the recipe comes from here at

250g cherry tomatoes
2tbs olive oil
1 garlic bulb
3 rashers of bacon (about 175g)
1/2 cup whole-egg mayonaise (if I wasn't feeling lazy this morning, this would be the perfect time to test out some homemade mayonaise)
2 tbs lemon juice
6 cups wild rocket
1 avo, thinly sliced
1 bunch chives, coursely chopped.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees C
Cherry tomatoes on tray; drizzle with oil; season with S&P
Roast for about 8 minutes. Remove from oven, set aside to cool.
Wrap garlic in foil, and roast for 20 min until soft. Set asid to cool. Cut in half and squeeze out pulp.
Fry bacon. (Surely you can do this without further instruction.)
Place garlic, mayo, lemon juice in food processor, and process until smooth. (Curse Wifey for leaving the blender dirty from last nights soup (recipe to follow)). Season to taste.

Combine tomatoes, bacon, rocket, and avo in a serving bowl.
Sprinkle over some chives.
Drizzle over some dressing.