tara

Tara Kaprowy

After months of prep work, countless trials, hours of labor, stressful moments, painful disappointment, and even a few shots in the dark, I can, finally, say I can make eggs Benedict.

My journey into Benedictom began a few years ago when I attempted to make asparagus with hollandaise sauce one night for dinner. Back then, I was still a cooking newbie fresh off the boat and holding onto Williams Sonoma for dear life.

I had no idea how hard hollandaise was to pull off. In fact, I didn’t even know to be scared. I simply mixed the ingredients in a pot and, every once in a while, gave it a stir. Soon little yellow bits of yolk started floating to the surface, the butter popped and whined and an unforgettable aroma of curdled lemon wafted through the kitchen.

I served it anyway and the boyfriend gamely dug in. While he cleaned his plate, I knew I had bitten off more than I could chew.

A few months ago I was, deep in diet, wistfully looking through a breakfast cookbook and came upon poached eggs, little wobbly bundles nestled somewhat primly on a slice of golden toast.

I decided, since they weren’t fried in butter, they would be healthy and quickly filled up a pot. My first batch of poached eggs was undeniably rubbery. But by the third batch I had gotten the knack — soft whites, liquid yolks — and I was hooked.

Then I was at Critchfield’s in Lexington and came upon some beautiful Canadian bacon. What a refreshing change for BLTs, I thought, and asked the butcher to slice me up a pound.

In some ways I’d like to think eggs Benedict found me. How else could I end up with both a newfound love for poached eggs and a pound of Canadian bacon in the fridge at the same time?

I picked up some English muffins after an agonizing debate between Thomas’ nooks and crannies vs. Pepperidge Farm seven grain variety, and on a Sunday morning in September I decided to face hollandaise again.

I lined up my ingredients and willed myself to be confident. At least this time I knew what I was up against. I employed a makeshift double-boiler, as another recipe suggested, whisked the yolks vigorously, added the lemon juice and some water. I put it over the heat and ... wait for it ... blump. A clot of hollandaise sat glumly in the pot.

But I was not deterred. Sunday after Sunday I tried again while the boyfriend watched, turning somewhat green at the thought of another bad batch of Benedict.

And then, one day, it worked. I had gotten the double boiler temperature just right and the yolks came out like a soft pudding. I whisked in the butter and a shine started to spread across the sauce. The butter melded with the yolks in a loving, no, passionate union. Rainbows popped out of the sky and tulips sprouted from the ground.

To this date, I have now put together three glorious batches of eggs Benedict.

However.

Cooking a successful batch of eggs Benedict is one thing. Having the quasi in-laws over for brunch is quite another.

Last Sunday I decided to tackle that challenge. If you haven’t made eggs Benedict before, it would be irresponsible to make you think it simply requires a good hollandaise. The dish, dear friends, is a juggling act of astronomical proportions — especially when you only have a two-slice toaster. The stress is not in cooking the individual items, it’s that they all need to be cooked at the same time in a short period of time.

A good poached egg only takes 2 minutes and 50 seconds to cook. Canadian bacon takes about 5 minutes. And you’ve got to keep the toaster loaded constantly to accommodate the muffins. The hollandaise, too, should not be given time to cool down.

Anyway, I ran around trying to look calm and cheerful while my quasi mother-in-law looked on. I dropped one glass in the sink, spilled some egg on the floor and the toast got a little cold. It also took about an hour.

But, in the end, the eggs Benedict didn’t defeat me. In fact, I think we’re starting to become friends.





Staff writer Tara Kaprowy can be reached by e-mail at tkaprowy@sentinel-echo.com.

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