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Monday, January 12, 2009

black-eyed benedict

Kaytie had to work on a brief last night, so I was in charge of Sunday night dinner. I wanted to try a biscuit recipe, so I decided to do a brunch dish.

I'd also been wanting to try black-eyed pea cakes to see if we could involve them in some sort of appetizer for some future cocktail party.

And so, Black-Eyed Benedict was born. Black-Eyed Pea Cakes topped with poached eggs and hollandaise. (Kaytie said, "You're making hollandaise??" Sure, why not? I would soon learn that hollandaise is not so simple.)

Black-eyed Pea Cakes
(slightly modified from a recipe in Deep South Parties)

a couple slices of bacon
1/3 of a red onion, diced small
1/2 cup of green onion, sliced thin
1/2 cup of red bell pepper, diced small
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced fine
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp Tony Chachere's creole seasoning
3 cups cooked and drained black-eyed peas
3/4 cup of bread crumbs
2 eggs

Cook the bacon, and set it aside. Use the bacon grease to saute the onion, peppers, and garlic for 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Puree (until smooth) 2 cups of black-eyed peas with the eggs in a food processor.

Combine 1 cup whole peas, pureed peas, vegetables, seasonings, crumbled bacon, and bread crumbs in a mixing bowl. Shape into patties. (I used a borrowed crab cake mold, but the pea cakes could be smaller. Think bite-size.) Place the patties on a lightly greased baking sheet, and put them in the fridge for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 300.

Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a saute pan. Brown the ckaes on each side for a couple minutes and put them back on the lightly greased baking sheet. Bake them for 10 minutes.

(If you make them bite-sized, the cookbook recommends topping them with a little sour cream and some roasted red peppers. I also took some of the pea cake mix and pressed it into a mini muffin pan to make little cups that could be stuffed.)

Poached Eggs
(instructions from the Joy of Cooking)

The Joy offers a couple methods for poaching eggs. My favorite uses about 3-4 inches of lightly salted water (boiling) in a greased 6-inch pot. Use a wooden spoon to "swirl the water into a mad vortex." (That's the actual language. How great is this cookbook??) The vortex will create a little well right in the middle of the water, and if you carefully slide the egg (broken into a bowl beforehand) into the well, the swirling will kind of round out the poached egg. Lower the heat, and simmer the egg for 4 or 5 minutes. Fish the egg out with a slotted spoon.

To poach more than one egg at a time, use a large skillet filled with about 1.5 inches of lightly salted water. Bring the water to a boil and then turn down the heat. After breaking each egg into a bowl, slide it carefully into the hot water. Simmer for 4 or 5 minutes before fishing out the eggs.

If you're poaching many eggs, they can be stored for up to 24 hours in ice cold water in the fridge. Just pop them briefly in warm water to reheat before serving.

(I also learned that it's hard to take a nice picture of eggs poaching.)

Hollandaise (dum dum dummm)
(recipe taken from The Book of Sauces)
3 egg yolks, at room temp
1 Tbs water
2 tsp lemon juice
3/4 butter, diced (3/4-inch cubes) at room temp
salt, white pepper, and paprika

Use a double boiler at low heat, making sure the water in the bottom pan doesn't boil or touch the bottom of the top pan. Whisk the yolks, water and lemon juice together until fluffy. Add butter one piece at a time, making sure each piece is incorporated before adding the next. Whisk constantly. Once all the butter is used, season with spices. Serve at once.

Okay. That's what the book said. I made this twice because it separated terribly the first time. Here's what I learned.

I first started with this rig.
After the sauce separated, Kaytie came to the rescue, suggesting a larger whisk and a bowl with steeper sides. That way, more of the sauce would be stirred with each stroke.

I tossed the first attempt.

Much better. I whisked while Kaytie added butter chunks. The sauce looked great, like real hollandaise. We hadn't used nearly as much butter as the recipe recommended, so I told Kaytie to add another piece. The sauce began to separate. Curses! It wasn't too bad, and our guests were ready to eat, so I used it. I would advise, however, that you keep an eye on your sauce. When it looks right, STOP ADDING BUTTER.

Black-Eyed Benedict (finally)

Once it was all together, it looked like this. The sauce wasn't perfect, but the flavors were great together. I'll do this again.

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