Saturday, August 05, 2006
Dinner at Max's last night was an orgy of egg-tasticness. While my personal favorite of the egg-centric dishes is the quiche, last night I was introduced to eggs benedict. This was the entree - our canvas, if you will - for the 'aise-themed dinner. And while only two of the 'aises were represented (homemade mayonnaise and hollandaise), we still managed to make our way through nearly a couple of dozen eggs in the process.
On the Menu:
Potato-cheese Perogies with sour cream and sauteed peppers and onions (non-egg-related appetizer)
Guacamole and Chips (also not egg-related; was an impromptu appetizer prepared in light of the fact that there were ripe avocados about)
Eggs Benedict - poached eggs and warmed canadian bacon, served on a toasted English muffin and topped with hollandaise
Mayonnaise (for dipping of said french fries)
First up after the delicious appetizers was the mayo. Personally, I've never been a huge fan of the stuff, and I cringe every time I see someone using it as a french fry condiment, so I had my doubts about this part of the meal. However, since my abandonment of vegetarianism, I have tried to make a point of at least tasting all the new things offered my way, even if I don't go beyond one bite/sip/whatever, so I agreed to give it a chance. Right off the bat it was clear that "real" mayonnaise is nothing like store-bought mayonnaise, and Miracle Whip doesn't even deserve to be considered a substitute for either. The mayo was tricky to perfect, however. In its initial iteration it tasted like balloons. Like chewing on party balloons. It was determined that this was probably due to there being too much oil and not enough lemon juice, and after some tweaking, the balloon taste went away. The final product was very rich and was more in the ranch dressing family than the rubber family. So that was acceptable, even to my picky palate.
Next we made, and later consumed, a huge amount of fries. Before cooking, the cut potatoes filled a gallon-sized (I think) bucket nearly to the top. Frying them took rather a bit longer than I expected. I (probably wisely) stayed away from the boiling oil as Tom slaved over the stove, frying batch after batch. After the fries were finished, he rightly declared himself free from all future cooking duties that evening.
Poaching the eggs was, like the mayo, somewhat tricky. Demetri was used to employing some sort of special poaching aparatus - basically a small dish into which hot water is poured - but since we didn't have anything like that, there was some trial and error involving cups and small ingredient bowls that took place. Eventually it was determined that, yes just like the recipe book says, the eggs can be slid gently into a pan of hot water, where they will poach to fine effect.
While Demetri worked on the eggs, I whipped up the hollandaise. Let me say, I have come a long way from my first day working my summer cafe job, where I cracked not one but two eggs on the floor in the middle of breakfast rush, just trying to crack them into a bowl. I'm not, shall we say, naturally gifted in the kitchen, but I have been learning. Last night I separated yolks from whites like an old pro and whipped them up nicely with the hand mixer. Max had clarified some butter earlier in the evening (melt unsalted butter and then strain off the foamy protein-y stuff), so that was added to the eggs, along with salt, pepper and a bit of paprika. Bam, hollandaise done and ready to clog arteries like nobody's business.
The toughest part of the whole preparation process was coordination. In order to have everything hot and ready to go at the same time, there was quite a bit of timing involved. We did all right overall, which is good, because who wants to eat tepid poached eggs and cold soggy fries? All in all, a successful dinner, though I was tempted to drink some Draino afterward in an attempt to drive all the cholesterol from my body. ;)