A Life of Leisure

I am completely skint. Down to my last £10, waiting for my tiny paycheck on Friday. I shall not moan, though. At least I don’t have to support my family on my pay, and I have a lovely job. Albeit a very part time one!

I may be cash poor, but find myself more time rich. And so, to indulge in one of my most favouritest things. A late, leisurely breakfast.

Over my previous posts, it may have begun to come clear that I am a smidge spoiled, and have rather high expectations. I need things to be just so, and most particularly what goes into the mouths of my beloved family. Also, the state of my nails and coordinating lipstick. But that may be for a different blog and time.

Back to breakfast. Although a bit of a gluttonous type of gal, I don’t really go in for the full works, whole hog English breakfast. Okay, maybe once in a blue moon. My idea of breakie perfection is smoked salmon Eggs Benedict. With a side of glorious asparagus, thank you very much. I have loved this dish since I first had it in Vancouver many many moons ago. As I have matured and grown as a cook, I have become more fussed about what goes into it, and am no longer contented with any store bought additions. I have a wonderful Hollandaise recipe that has been handed down from my paternal grandfather, married to the wearer of blue eyeshadow. My mum made traditional Eggs Benedict for very special occasions, and for the odd honeymooning couple at our short lived B&B on the farm. Even though my dad always supplied our family with amazing bread, he did not use it for the Eggs Bennie, but stuck with the traditional muffin. Looking back, I think that’s a shame. Perhaps the B&B would have done better if those lovebirds had sampled the nutty fluffy wonder of my dad’s loaves. The man has got some serious kneading know how, and the forearms of a Highland Games champion.

Nowadays, I tend to have a jar of homemade Hollandaise ready to rumble in the fridge. Lord, I am just never going to be thin, am I? I also tend to use my own semi-sourdough as the sop up section.

Let’s just imagine the bliss, shall we?

Drop the kids off to school, pop back home to send the hubbie off with his packed lunch and a kiss. Then on goes the water for the egg, out comes the caffetiere….let the glory of the weekday leisurely breaki commence!

I am not going to get into the correct way to poach an egg. I find it a bit hit or miss, and tend to just go with the glug of vinegar in the water, a swirl around the pot with a fork for shape, and 3 minutes on the timer. Sometimes it comes out perfectly, sometimes not. Oh well. As long as I get the sauce, I have to admit that I am not overly bothered! I hereby present you with my recipe for Hollandaise sauce. I will have to kill you later. But enjoy first 😉

Papa’s Famous Hollandaise

 

1/2 cup (125g) unsalted butter

4 egg yolks

2 1/2 tbsp lemon juice

salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

Pop a pan of water over low heat, and grab a heat proof bowl that fits on top. Or a double boiler if you are so lucky as to have one. The water should be hot, but not boiling. Divide the butter into 3 equal sections. Put one piece in the bowl with the four slightly beaten egg yolks. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the butter melts. I am fairly convinced it works out better if you use a wooden spoon, honestly! Add  the second piece of butter and continue to stir until the sauce thickens. Add the third piece of butter, and remove from the heat. Beat until butter is melted, and the sauce shiny. Pop in the seasonings, and then the lemon juice, a teaspoon at a time. Mix during this process, and old your breath that the sauce doesn’t split. If it does, adding in some boiling water, a drop at a time should sort it out.

I keep mine for up to a week in the fridge in a sterilized jar. Never last longer than week, as we have usually gobbled it up by then.

For the Bennie:

Toast your bread, and lay it happily upon the plate. Fold on a few good pieces of smoked salmon. Top carefully with the egg, and place some little blanched asparagus on the side. With glee and a bit of drooling, spoon a nice generous amount of your glossy golden Hollandaise over the whole shebang. Dive in, and devour.

 

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict with English Asparagus

 

Blue Eyeshadow Days

My grandmother was a real character, with a vaguely checkered past, and some very bad habits. As a little girl, I thought she was the best person in the entire universe. She wore these enormous, voluminous silk dresses from Hawaii, which she bought on her yearly winter sojourns. Her hair was a close cropped pixie, steel grey. I don’t remember ever seeing her without a cigarette in one hand, and a brandy in the other.

And the eyeshadow. Bright blue, from eye line to brow.

It has been many years since she passed away, and I still miss her every single day. Of all the memories, I do not really remember her cooking. My grandpa was a chef, so she was mostly in charge of filling glasses. But she made one cake that I make often; conjuring her hands in my minds eye, as she carefully arranged the fruit, just so.

Aside from the chocolate money cake my Dad made me every year on my birthday, Nana’s Pineapple Upside Down Cake (or Upside Down Pineapple Cake , as Hubbie and Daughter call it) is my favourite, and my best.

This recipe is adapted from an old Canadian favourite, ‘Five Roses A Guide to Good Cooking’

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Ingredients:

Cake:

2 cups (500g) plain flour

3 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup (125g) unsalted butter, softened

1 1/4 cups (313g) sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup (250ml) milk

Caramel Pineapple:

1/3 cup (84g) butter

1  cup (250g) brown sugar

1 tin (400g) pineapple rings

Method:

Preheat oven to 180 C (160 fan). Grease a 20 x 30 x 5 cm pan.

For the cake:

In a bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Cream the butter, and add in the sugar a bit at a time, beating between each addition. Beat in eggs, one at a time.  I use my wonderful Kitchenaid mixer to do the hard graft. Stir in the vanilla. Add in the dry bits, alternating with the milk, mixing until you have a lovely batter. Pop it off to the side for a mo.

For the caramel bit:

Melt the butter, and stir in the sugar. Spread over the bottom of the pan. Drain the pineapple rings, and lay out on top of the sugar, in a very artistic fashion. My grandmother put a maraschino cherry in the middle of each ring. It looks nice, but they kind of freak me out, so I have left them out. Go wild with the E numbers and add them if you so desire.

Pour the cake batter over the pineapple, and spread gently as you do not want to disturb the beauty of your fruit art. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the cake is golden, and the edges show traces of bubbling caramel loveliness.  Cool in the tin for 15 mins, then loosen the sides, and cross everything, before flipping it out onto a serving dish. I usually get Hubbie to help, as I am a bit flappy, and droppy. It sticks back together well if any of the corners get stuck in the pan. Also, sometimes you need to eat the stuck bits. (Just to make sure it’s not poison, obviously!)

Serve it up with a bit of whipped cream.

 

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Pineapple Upside Down Cake