Jazzing up the eggs in time for Easter

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 19, 2014

I would like to be in New Orleans doing a great New Orleans brunch for Easter but because of other commitments I will not be there this year. I had been thinking the past few weeks about all the wonderful restaurants and their great jazz brunches and thought I could at least do a famous egg dish at home.

One of the most renowned, as well as popular, offerings in the egg category is Eggs Benedict. I have a special affection for this dish since my husband proposed to me over Eggs Benedict. In New Orleans eggs were very popular in the evening and late night or after the theater. During carnival season, Eggs Benedict are often served as supper after the balls. But most popular, are Eggs Benedict served as part of the New Orleans brunch, that marvelous invention that ties together breakfast and lunch into one very scrumptious and often lavish meal.

Another brunch egg dish is Eggs Sardou. The story goes that the French playwright Victorien Sardou was feted in the city of New Orleans during a visit to mount a production of several of his plays in the French Opera House. A popular chef at this time, knowing of Sardou’s love for artichokes, served him this invention. Sardou was so delighted by the recipe that the chef named it after him. Soon all the major restaurants in the city placed it on their menu.

All these recipes call for Hollandaise Sauce which puts fear in many cooks. The recipe for the sauce will be given at the end of the recipes. Also, you need to know how to poach an egg.

I went to Julia Child for that!

So if a brunch at a fancy restaurant is not on the agenda for this Easter, try one of these egg dishes on your own.

Eggs Benedict
(From Galatoire’s Cookbook, 1994)
Serves 4
2 cups Hollandaise Sauce
8 English muffins, split
2 tbsp. clarified butter
8 slices Canadian bacon
8 eggs, poached
8 truffle slices (This would be great but most of us just don’t have truffles.)
Prepare Hollandaise Sauce and set aside.
Toast English muffins, faces up, and place on serving plates, keeping warm. Sauté Canadian bacon slices in the clarified butter for 2 minutes. Place on slice on each muffin. Poach the eggs and place one atop each muffin.
Top with equal portions of Hollandaise and place a slice of truffle on each.

Eggs Sardou
Serves 4
1 cup Hollandaise Sauce
8 artichokes
Enough water to cover
4 cups water
2 tsp. vinegar
8 eggs
1 cup creamed spinach
2 pinches paprika
Prepare the Hollandaise Sauce.
Place artichokes into a medium-sized pot filled with enough water to cover. Put a lid on the pot and boil for 30 minutes over a medium heat setting. Remove and allow to cool. Peel the leaves from the artichokes. Remove artichoke bottom and using a spoon, remove and discard choke. Slice off remaining stem from bottoms.
Poach the eggs.
Spoon equal portions of creamed spinach onto each of 4 plates, then next place the artichoke bottoms. Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove eggs from the water and transfer 2 onto each bottom. Top with a spoonful of Hollandaise Sauce. Garnish with a light sprinkle of paprika.

Hollandaise Sauce
Makes 2 cups
6 egg yolks, beaten well
1 ¼ cups (2 ½ sticks) butter, melted
Salt, white pepper, and ground red pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
In the top of a double boiler, combine the egg yolks and 1 ½ tablespoons water. Beat with a wire whisk over hot, but not boiling water. Slowly add the butter and whip until the sauce begins to thicken. Add the salt and white and red pepper. Then whisk in the lemon juice. You can hold this for a while, and can refrigerate and put over hot water again to reconstitute before serving.

To poach an egg: One can use egg cups to have a perfect poach size, but for those of us who do not have egg poachers, use this technique: Prick the large end of the eggs with an egg pricker or drafting pin, going down ¼ inch, so that the pocket of air in the shell may escape. Lower the eggs, no more than 4 at a time, into boiling water, submerging them completely, for exactly 10 seconds. This slightly coagulates a film of white around the body of the egg, and helps keep a reasonably fresh egg in shape. After the 10 second boil, carefully crack the eggs close to the water and poach for 4 minutes. (I do mine a bit longer since I don’t like runny eggs—a childhood leftover.) One can add vinegar to the water since it does seem to help the eggs coagulate.

Happy Easter!