Saturday, March 3, 2012

Eggs Florence

When I wake up on Saturdays, life feels so free. Rain or shine, my day is mine. I get to slowly acclimate to the day, without waking up to adrenaline and blaring alarms. Without lightning fast showers and running out the door with wet hair. I don't have to give a lecture to anyone today, or sternly remind students of timeliness and their work. I don't have to clock in. I do what I want, darn it!

First, I start with a cup of tea or coffee and a book. These days, it's Black tea brewed strong as I've slowly been weaning myself off of my coffee addiction. Then, I take a shower, long and hot. I lather my hair like I have all the time in the world, and I let my conditioner really have time to sink in. I get to brush my hair and let it dry into something not styled by the wind whipping through it on the motorbike (read: crazy art teacher hair). I put on my clothes that have been heating over the heater, and I slip my sock clad feet into slippers instead of real shoes. Then, I think about food. What do I want to eat today? Eggs Florence.

Eggs Florence is the homely, less subtle cousin of Eggs Florentine. They're definitely in the same family, but where Florentine might wear tea rose printed skirts, Florence wears comfy old jeans with paint stains. Florentine likes cashmere, Florence likes flannel. The differences are subtle. They both consist of a bread substance, a salty sweet breakfast meat, spinach, eggs and a citrusy-butter sauce. But Florence is more casual and slightly less fussy. Eggs Florentine is of course delicious, but Eggs Florence is friendly and approachable. The riff on hollandaise sauce here is virtually unbreakable due to the addition of Dijon, which seems to aid in the emulsification of the sauce. Not only is it easy, but I usually have everything on hand here in China, and my boyfriend loves it. So here you go.

Eggs Florence
makes 2 servings

For the base:
4 eggs
2 slices Canadian bacon OR 4 slices of maple bacon OR homemade green bacon
2 slices whole wheat or sourdough bread, toasted OR 6 finger width slices of day old baguette, toasted
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1/2 a large red onion, diced
A large bunch of fresh spinach, chopped OR an appropriate amount of thawed frozen spinach
1 tsp olive oil (optional)
salt and pepper

For the sauce:
2 room temperature egg yolks (save the whites!)
3 tbsp salted butter
1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup fresh squeeze lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

1. Lightly toast your bread base. Split up the slices equally between two plates. Dice your onion, mince your garlic. Chop up your spinach. Now, I love spinach. LOVE it. I use .... a lot. I couldn't say exactly how much, but I use as much as possible each time. Decide how much to make using your own discretion, but keep in mind that wilted spinach takes up a lot less room than fresh, so use slightly more than you want to end up with.

2. Heat a large pan over medium heat, once it's hot, add your chosen meat and lightly brown it. Remove cooked meat to a plate and stick it somewhere to keep warm, like a very low oven, or a microwave.

3. If you've cooked Canadian bacon and it hasn't given off much grease, add the 1 tsp of olive oil to the same pan you cooked the meat in to heat up. Once the oil or grease is warm, add your diced onion. When it starts to become translucent, add the garlic and saute for 1 or 2 minutes just to soften it and get garlic flavor in the oil. Don't brown it! Add your chopped spinach and cook until just wilted (no longer fresh and crispy). Give it a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Remove the pan from heat and set aside.

3. In a small, heavy pan, or a double boiler, or a heat proof bowl that fits on top of a small pot of boiling water (seriously, I've used all of these methods with no problems, fear not!), add 1 tbsp of the butter and melt it over low heat. Low is the key. You don't want to scald or curdle any of these ingredients, so go with low heat. From here on out, use a whisk or a fork to stir pretty constantly, keep the sauce moving. It goes pretty fast, so don't let the instructions scare you. I've just found this method works best.

When the first tbsp of butter has melted, add 1/2 tsp of olive oil and one ROOM TEMPERATURE (I can't stress this enough) egg yolk and whisk in. Add another tbsp of butter plus the mustard and keep stirring until melted. Add the last (2nd) egg yolk, stir. Now, the last (3rd) tbsp of butter and HALF of the 1/4 cup of lemon juice, stir. I am a crazy lemon freak. I always wish that the hollandaise sauces at restaurants had more pucker and zing so I add a lot of lemon juice. But for you, taste it now and adjust accordingly. The Dijon will already give it a little bit of zing. If it's too zingy, add the other 1/2 tsp olive oil to mellow it. Add pepper and just a little salt, the Dijon is a little salty already. When you've got the flavor you want, take it off the heat, stir for one more minute to make sure it doesn't curdle, and then leave it alone while you finish up the construction of your breakfast. It will thicken a bit as it cools.

4. Heat up your spinach on the stove and while you do that, fry or poach 2 eggs per person. On the two plates, construct your Eggs Florence like so: bread base, lay down the meat on top (room temperature does not bother me here), pile your just reheated spinach into a flat-topped mountain, then lay your freshly cooked eggs gently on top. Stir up your sauce and spoon it over with wild abandon. I love me some sauce.

I usually serve this with home fry potatoes and fruit salad when I'm feeding my boyfriend and myself. When it's just me though, I eat just the Eggs Florence with an extra helping of spinach, tea and orange juice. Enjoy!

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