This Sunday is Mother’s Day, and if you feel ambitious, you can make a great breakfast for that special person in your life.
Eggs Benedict would impress any mother. Eggs Florentine contains sautéed spinach as the bed for the poached egg, and the hollandaise sauce is sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and broiled until the cheese is hot and bubbly.
Eggs Chesapeake has crab cakes instead of Canadian bacon. Eggs Benedict Arnold has biscuits instead of English muffins, sausage gravy instead of hollandaise, with poached egg.
If you are in New Orleans, mother might get an Eggs Husarde, which consists of tomato and tasso ham, covered with veal stocked red wine sauce called “marchand de vin,” poached egg, then topped with hollandaise sauce.
Eggs Sardou, also from New Orleans, is the signature dish of Antoine’s. It’s made by filling hollowed-out artichoke bottoms (available at markets in cans) with creamed spinach, topping them with poached eggs and hollandaise. Eggs Provencale consists of thin slices of fried bread with poached eggs, covered with a garlicky Mediterranean tomato sauce.
Here is a recipe for Eggs Benedict. I have silicone poached egg holders which make poaching so easy. But if you do not have them, poaching in vinegar will prevent the egg from spreading. Fresh eggs are important, as old eggs tend to spread out.
Eggs Benedict (Serves 4)
Bring 16 quarts of water to a boil in a tall 6 quart-saucepan over high heat. Add: 2 cups distilled vinegar, 2 teaspoons salt.
Lower heat to medium, bring to simmer.
While swirling the water with a spoon to create a whirlpool, carefully slide into the water: 8 large eggs, cracked into separate bowls.
Poach until just firm, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon remove eggs onto paper-towel lined plate.
In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, add: 8 slices Canadian bacon.
Cook, turning once, until lightly browned. Remove from skillet
Combine in blender: 3 egg yolks, 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco, 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Turn blender to medium speed, slowly drizzle 1 stick of unsalted butter, melted, while motor is still running.
Transfer to a metal bowl or double boiler and keep warm with simmering water underneath. Keep stirring, as you do not want your yolks to coagulate. Otherwise, you will have scrambled eggs.
Pull apart and toast 4 English muffins.
Divide muffins halves between 4 plates, top each half with one slice of Canadian bacon, one poached egg. Spoon 3 tablespoons hollandaise sauce over, and sprinkle with paprika.
Whenever we travel, I try to eat what the locals eat for breakfast. My husband is a good sport, but by the third day, he yearns for an American breakfast. If in Japan, breakfast would be presented on a tray with a bowl of rice, natto, miso soup, some salted vegetables or takuan, and a very small piece of salmon or other fish.
When in India, breakfast consisted of chai, idli, or fermented lentil flour cakes, sambal, a very watery lentil type soup with drumsticks or malungay pods and maybe okra.
When in Thailand, it would be rice porridge, rice, stir-fried vegetables or a bowl of noodle soup, as it would be in Indonesia and Vietnam. I remember being served Marmite with my toast in England and Vegemite in Australia. Both are a very dark brown yeast extract, similar in smell and taste to the Japanese natto — certainly a taste one needs to acquire.
Food historians are not sure of the origin of Eggs Benedict. One story claims that in 1894 Lemuel Benedict, a Wall Street stockbroker, walked into the Waldorf Hotel in New York and requested two poached eggs, bacon, buttered toast and a pitcher of hollandaise sauce.
The other story is that it was invented at the old Delmonico’s in Manhattan by Chef Charles Ranhofer.
McDonald’s Egg McMuffin was created by Herb Peterson, who was the advertising agent for McDonald’s. He was a personal friend of owner Ray Kroc and in 1961 opened his own McDonald franchise in Santa Barbara. That area had a lot of upscale customers and he wanted to be able to serve a breakfast similar to an Eggs Benedict. But poaching eggs at a fast food restaurant would be too difficult, so a grill-top Teflon mold made the eggs round to fit the English muffins. The Hollandaise sauce was too runny and difficult to make, so cheese replaced it. In 1975, the Egg McMuffin became a breakfast staple.
A new spot to have breakfast or lunch is Paul’s Place, a café at the Pakalana Inn, located near the Hilo Farmers Market on 132 Punahoa St. Paul Cubio and owner Neil Erickson had planned to open a hot dog stand at the entrance of the inn, but after Paul and his wife went on a Mediterranean cruise and the space turned out to too pretty for a hot dog stand, the menu morphed into a wonderful Greek salad, Nicoise Salad, fresh ahi or ono sandwich, and a Hilo Farmers Market Veggie Sandwich. No hot dog on the menu! They are open Tuesday-Saturdays, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. so, sorry, you cannot take your mother there this Sunday. Maybe you can go on Saturday.
On Saturday, May 12, Jo Ann Aquirre, president of Hawaii Tea Society, will be at Volcano Garden Arts from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. She will answer questions about the local teas.