Sunday, 28 August 2011

Recipes revisited: A brunch classic

Ever since I learned how to poach eggs the "proper" way, I can't believe I ever used to do it any other way. It's so ridiculously easy and the only things you need are really fresh eggs, simmering (but not boiling) water and a little splash of vinegar. No fancypants silicone egg moulds or a poaching pan required. 

This is an absolute brunch classic, and well worth making with someone. I made it with my sister to teach her how to make hollandaise sauce. Which too has a lot of bad rep and is surprisingly easy to make, especially in the advent of blenders and things that whisk so you don't have to. Like me, she had previously thought it was a lot of hard work and very difficult, so having made it myself for friends a couple of months earlier I was keen to show her otherwise. The wonderful thing about making foaming hollandaise is, in using the egg white as well as the yolk, the sauce doesn't curdle. It is also much lighter.

Ingredients (serves 4):
For the foaming hollandaise:
2 large eggs, separated
1 dessertspoon lemon juice
1 dessertspoon white wine vinegar
110g butter
salt and pepper

For the poached eggs:
1tsp white wine vinegar
as many eggs as each person wants

Additional ingredients:
Hot buttered toast or muffins (the English variety)
Smoked salmon (or bacon, if you'd rather traditional eggs benedict)

First, make the hollandaise: place the egg yolks in a blender (reserve the whites, you'll need them later) and season with salt and pepper. Then, in a saucepan, heat the lemon juice and white wine vinegar until it starts to steam. Turn on the blender and trickle the liquid in very slowly and steadily, and then turn off the blender. Now, turn your hand to the egg white - whisk in a large bowl until firm, as if making meringues (the egg white should form into peaks).

Melt the butter in a saucepan, turn the blender back on and trickle the melted butter into the liquid, as you did with the lemon and vinegar. Then transfer the sauce to the egg white and fold it in. I keep it warm by fitting the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.

Now your hollandaise sauce is ready, assemble the rest of the ingredients: toast and butter your toast or muffins, place the smoked salmon on top (or fry your bacon and do the same if you're having eggs benedict) and then turn your thoughts to the poached eggs.

For two eggs, I use about 3cm of water in the bottom of a pan and a teaspoon of vinegar. Use the freshest eggs you can get your hands on - these will keep their shape better. Stir the water to create a whirlpool, and then crack in your eggs one by one. This gets easier with practice! Simmer for a couple of minutes, until the whites are firm but the yolk still runny, and then place on top of your salmon or bacon. Pour over a tablespoon or so of hollandaise per person and tuck in.


  1. Thank you - I shall be making this for breakfast tomorrow, I'll let you know how i goes! The font size on ingredients and method are a wee bit smaller btw.

  2. So, I made this, and the poached eggs worked a treat, but I make a bit of a mess of the hollandaise sauce (too much vinegar and air). Still, thanks for the inspiration, I will keep working on it :)