Sauces can be daunting. Lately, Hollandaise has been taunting. Every so often, when eating my eggs, I can hear the soft and silky voice of Hollandaise, "C'mon, why didn't you make me? You know you wanted to. Oh, that's right. You can't." And there it is. Being taunted by a sauce that doesn't exist on my breakfast plate while nibbling a dry corner of toast is not the best start to a morning.
Making a bad sauce is worse than no sauce at all. In my book, anyways. Sure, it's a bit strict, but just having moved from the Czech Republic where over half the national dishes were covered in a sauce, I've learned that a bad one, once used, makes for a hungry diner.
Hollandaise is one of the classic sauces I've been warned about. The hot butter can do a number on the egg yolk if not added slowly enough. But as vinegar pulled me out of my poaching paralysis, it came to the rescue here as well. Vinegar stabilizes eggs. I'd learned to add some to the egg-poaching water, and saw great success (past poaching post here, video tutorial here). So when I read something about a vinegar reduction sauce being used in Hollandaise, well, the light went on.
I've kept my version light and simple, to make it as DIY-at-home as possible. Sure, there are more refined Hollandaise sauces out there, but this one (with a smidge of nutmeg added in) easily did the trick and allowed me to transform my usual egg and spinach frittata into a beautiful Eggs Florantine. A twist on the old Eggs Benedict, a good dose of bone-strengthening vitamin K found in spinach replaces the traditional fatty ham slice.
The relative healthiness of this egg dish does not make it any less than it's Benedict original. In fact, I prefer this one, not only because of that smug feeling one gets after eating heaps of spinach before even cracking open a newspaper (or firing up the computer), but because it just tastes that good. The Parmesan, or sometimes a firm Pecorino, resounds perfectly with the sauteed spinach. And the hint of lemon in the hollandaise makes it bright enough to be the perfect breakfast accomplice.
More eggs for brekkie:
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Time 30 mins
Serves 2 - 4
1 Tb vinegar (for poaching water)
1 tsp vinegar
2 tsp water
1 egg yolk
2 tsp lemon juice
pinch of salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 Tb butter + 1 Tb olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
5 cups chopped spinach
4 slices toast / English muffins
1/3 cup Parmesan or Pecorino, grated
1) Start the water boiling in a big pot - or a proper poaching pot. Prep the spinach by chopping and grating everything. Set aside.
2) Get on with the hollandaise sauce: melt the butter in a small saucepan. As soon as it's just melted, take off heat. In a food processor, put in the vinegar, water, and then egg yolk. Whisk together a couple minutes until creamy. Add in the lemon juice, salt, and nutmeg. Whisk a bit more. SLOWLY add in the butter, whirring away until well mixed.
3) In a pan over med-low, slowly cook the onion and garlic until soft (3-5 mins). Ad in the spinach, salt/pepper. Cook until wilted, another 3-5 mins.
4) While the spinach is cooking, poach eggs: crack one egg in a dish, stir the water into a whirlpool, slide egg into the vortex. Cook 3-5 mins - for runny/firm yolks. Remove and lay on clean towel. Repeat.
5) Toast bread, mix Parmesan or Pecorino into the spinach mix, spread on toast, lay on egg, and pour over hollandaise sauce. Sprinkle a bit of freshly grated nutmeg over top and a side of sliced tomatoes.