50/50 Friday – Week 3

Week Three of my 50 Things to Do Before 50 list and I made little progress, although I did manage to stay on track by trying out a new recipe.  This week was Father’s Day,  so in keeping with our hollandaise tradition I decided to make Eggs Benedict for Juan.  I mentioned before that this dish requires precision timing and coordination, and with me cooking solo, I needed to find a simple hollandaise sauce recipe. I looked online and found this one. I was not disappointed. The sauce was easy to make and it came out great. I added more lemon because I like my hollandaise tangy like that. I also halved the recipe so I would not have too much and it was a perfect amount for four eggs. Juan loved it. He especially liked the fact that I served it to him on a tray, in bed.

Diego was up early and crawled in bed with Juan so I brought Diego his own tray too.

Even though it's not his day, Diego gets breakfast in bed.

The thing about Eggs Benedict is that no matter how hard I try to clean my kitchen as I go, when I am done cooking, my kitchen ends up looking like this.

Number 36 on my list, “Get another dog,” has also gotten some attention this week. As I write this Juan is looking online at photos of adoptable dogs at the local animal shelters. I am not sure I am ready for another dog yet, but I may have little say in the matter. Juan seems to think a trip to an animal shelter in on our list of things to do this weekend. Check in next Friday for an update on my 50/50 list, and to see if we have a new addition to the family.


Easter Hollandaise Traditions

Eggs Benedict—a split English muffin, Ca...
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Every family has their holiday traditions and mine is no exception.  At Christmas we have the usual traditions exchanging gifts, decking the halls, and  the not so usual traditions of tamale-making and the falling-of-the-Christmas-tree. It seems that almost every year, after we have finished putting up our tree, stringing it with lights, and decorating it, sometime later, when the whole household is asleep with the satisfaction of our halls decked in Christmas splendor, we are rudely awakened the crashing sound of the tree falling and the tragic sound of treasured ornaments breaking as they hit the hardwood floor. It  happened three years in a row, until we finally bought a super sturdy tree stand. But that was our Christmas tradition.  We have another special custom which we will celebrate today, Easter Sunday.

The time-honored Easter tradition in our family is the annual Hollandaise Sauce Breakdown, followed-by the inevitable Mommy Melt-Down.  At Easter time, I like to prepare brunch. Sometimes we host other families and sometimes it’s just us.  When it’s just us I like to make Eggs Benedict, topped with hollandaise sauce. Anyone who has ever made this sauce knows that the secret to this dish is timing. Poach the eggs a bit too long and they are hard. Poach them not long enough and they are runny and yucky. Since my egg poacher only has enough room for four eggs at a time, I have to cook them quickly and keep them warm while I am simultaneously stirring in the chilled butter one pat at a time,  into the hollandaise sauce.  When it works, it’s wonderful, but when my timing is off, it’s a recipe for disaster.   There has been more than one occasion when I have been able to perfectly poach the eggs and nearly complete the hollandaise sauce, when the sauce suddenly breaks apart and I end up with a saucepan full of greasy,  separated butter flavored with lemon. Last year I managed to successfully poach the eggs and, with precision timing the hollandaise sauce was ready right on cue. I called everyone to the table, “BREAKFAST!” Nothing. Crickets.

The kids were too busy with their Easter baskets. No one came to the table. The eggs got cold and my sauce broke down. I looked at the saucepan full of separated,  slightly curdled  butter, which only moments had been a rich, creamy yellow masterpiece.  I lost it. I had a melt-down. I am ashamed to admit it now, but I threw down the pot holder, and went to my room. I heard Juan frantically trying to bring the sauce together while he barked orders to the kids to get into the kitchen and help. Juan, whose family had owned a restaurant, called his dad and asked for help. He managed to rescue the sauce and found me in our room, brooding about all my unappreciated efforts. The kids apologized and we all sat down for a breakfast of lukewarm poached eggs and put-together-again hollandaise sauce.

I like to think I have learned from that lesson. One thing I have learned is that I cannot make this breakfast alone, the preparation requires precise timing, a task better suited for several hands.  Last summer Erica went to cooking camp and came home with a great recipe and the skills to make a killer hollandaise sauce.   So, Juan has offered to make the hash browns, Erica will make the sauce and I will (try) to poach the eggs. With this combined effort I think we can serve up a wonderful meal and I can avoid a melt-down. Now that’s a holiday tradition I can really enjoy!