Oh, hello. How was your Mother's Day weekend? Yeah, I know. Mother's Day was like, two weeks ago. You were expecting some recipes before that weekend, perhaps? That would have been nice. But since we didn't even plan our own Mother's Day brunch until that very morning, it was pretty unlikely that I would have been able to help you out with yours. Not that I don't love you all - I do. I really do! But since I am half of the "last minute couple", well... sorry. Advance blog planning is just not in the cards. I'll work on that. Pinkie-swear.
In the mean time, let's talk about eggs benedict. Without a doubt, one of my all-time favorite brunch foods. When it comes to eggs benedict, I am an equal-opportunity eater. I love the traditional, with Canadian bacon. I love the Scottish, with smoked salmon. I love the Florentine, with spinach. I love, I love, I love eggs benedict. So when Mother's Day rolled around, that was the one dish I wanted to make.
Uh-oh. I can almost hear the collective gasp from the peanut gallery. "Dawn, did you really have to make your own Mother's Day brunch? What's up with that? Why didn't you just go out?" Good questions. A mom who makes her own Mother's Day brunch kind of goes against tradition. You know what I mean: the traditional breakfast in bed, freshly made by the kiddos. Or the traditional champagne brunch at a fancy restaurant, with a hundred different dishes on offer. Except I really don't like eating in bed - it's messy, and somehow the crumbs always make their way under the covers, where they lie in wait until I'm trying to sleep later that night. And you all know how I feel about busy weekend restaurant breakfasts. Besides, I like to cook. I love to cook. It makes me happy, and my family knows this. So one of the best gifts they could have given me on Mother's Day was to let me do what I love.
These bite-sized eggs benedicts are something I've been wanting to make for a long time. Years, actually. There is just something appealing to me about cuisine in miniature, so I decided to incorporate some mini-foods into our brunch. Instead of the traditional English muffins, I used little biscuits split in half as the base for our mini benedicts. We served the rest of the biscuits with quarter-sized sausage patties (an homage to my own mom's Southern roots), jam, honey and butter. Add in a few of the season's first sweet berries from a morning visit to the farmer's market, some coffee and juice, and voila! Mother's Day brunch, KitchenTravels style. This recipe may be a little late for Mother's Day 2010, but think of it this way - I've already set you up for next year. You're welcome.
Miniature Eggs Benedict
You'll want to use a rather thinly-sliced Canadian bacon so as not to overwhelm the rest of the flavors. These made for a fun and scrumptious brunch dish, but I also think they would be great as a dinner party amuse-bouche.
5 biscuits (made from my favorite recipe), 1-1/2 inches in size, cut in half
10 quail eggs*
3 slices Canadian bacon, cut in quarters (save extra bacon for another use)
1/2 cup Hollandaise sauce (see recipe, below)
Chives, for garnish (optional)
Make the biscuits. I made, rolled, and cut the dough the day before, then flash-froze them and baked them right from the freezer the next morning. Easy-peasy. Roll the dough about 1/4 inch thick. Cut the biscuits with a 1-1/2 inch cutter (or a small port glass or champagne flute); you'll have about 36. To flash-freeze, place on a baking sheet and freeze until solid, at least an hour. Store in a plastic zip bag or a sealed container in the freezer. Bake frozen biscuits at 350 F for 20 minutes. Keep warm.
Poach the eggs. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Carefully crack the quail eggs and place, one at a time, all together into a small bowl. Gently slide the eggs, one at a time but right after one another, into the boiling water. Cook 1-1/2 to 2 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon into a shallow bowl.
Heat the Canadian bacon briefly in a skillet or the microwave, until just warmed through.
Assemble the eggs benedict. Place the halved biscuits (you should have 10) on a warm plate. Top each with a small piece of Canadian bacon. Using a flat soup spoon, gently place a poached quail egg on each biscuit. Drizzle a spoonful of Hollandaise sauce on top of each egg. If desired, snip some chives over top to garnish. Serve immediately.
Serves 5 as part of a multi-dish brunch, or 2 if the main dish.
Easy Blender Hollandaise Sauce
Adapted from Simply Recipes
This is a wonderful recipe - easy, creamy, fool-proof, with just the right hint of lemon. This recipe makes a little more than you'll need, but honestly, you can never have too much Hollandaise. Put the extra in a small bowl on the breakfast table and spoon it over your remaining biscuits. Even better, buy two cartons of quail eggs and make double the amount of benedicts. (Darn! Why didn't I think of that?)
2 egg yolks (from regular, large eggs)
1-1/2 teaspoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt
dash Tabasco sauce (optional)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted just until hot (omit salt if using salted butter)
Place egg yolks, lemon juice, salt and Tobasco in a blender. Blend 20-30 seconds, until the mixture begins to lighten in color. With the blender running (on the lowest speed, if your blender has more than one speed), slowly drizzle the melted butter into the egg mixture. Blend for a couple more seconds, just until the butter is incorporated. If the sauce is too thick, add a spoonful of warm water and blend briefly. Serve immediately, or hold the sauce in a warm spot (like the stove top) for no more than an hour. Stir before serving.
Makes about 1/2 cup.
* Quail eggs can be found at Japanese markets, specialty grocers, and sometimes the local farmer's market. They are usually sold in cartons of 10, rather than by the dozen. I bought my quail eggs at Oto's Marketplace in Sacramento ($2.50 for a carton of 10).
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