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Mama Deb
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Knives and Fire XV (Week 4)


We went pretty much straight to work making a brunch menu. We were to "offer" pancakes, apple crepes, french toast, eggs florentine, scrambled eggs, lox, eggs and onions, muffins, strawberry shortcake, mushroom omelet and artichoke frittata. We even had a menu. Different people volunteered or were assigned different preps.

I volunteered for the eggs florentine. This is a version of eggs benedict - poached eggs on English muffins with hollandaise-type sauce. But,while eggs benedict is on a slice of ham or Canadian bacon, eggs florentine is on sautéed spinach (the name is a clue - florentine tends to mean spinach.) And instead of plain hollandaise sauce, it calls for bearnaise, which means tarragon.

And, yes, eggs benedict is the model for the egg mcmuffin - they just use cheese instead of the hollandaise, and a good thing, too. Hollandaise is made and kept at the most dangerous temperatures, and is thus a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

So. First, I melted margarine, which means I stood there skimming it for a long time. And then I made the bearnaise, which means I made a reduction of white wine, white vinegar, crushed white peppercorns and fresh tarragon, reducing it by half, and straining it. And then I beat some egg yolks until they were pale and doubled in volume and slowly added the reduction, and then heating the mixture over hot water until I was red in the face it and it was nearly at the point of scrambling. But not quite, thank goodness.

And then I added clarified margarine too fast, so I broke the sauce. To fix it, Chef had me whip up two more egg yolks and add more reduction, and bring that up to temperature. Then we added the broken sauce bit by bit. When the old sauce was incorporated, I VERY slowly added more margarine until I got a lovely thick sauce, then added salt, lemon juice and cayenne pepper. We put it on a plate on a burner over a hot oven, and there it sat. I set up the rest of the mise en place - spinach, eggs, olive cheeks for garnish, a spoon for lifting the poached eggs, and a dozen English muffins, half of them split - on a couple of sheet pans.

Meanwhile, E made both mango and strawberry coulis, and orange-scented biscuits for strawberry shortcakes, and Y made pancake batter and whipped topping, and M made crepes and apple filling for the crepes, and S set up for the frittata, and D got the mushrooms and eggs and G made potatoes. Someone else (the other Y?) made french toast eggs. T made muffins,which aren't easy to do pareve, and strawberry "butter".

Chef demoed all the dishes and then sent us up one by one to cook two different dishes. Meanwhile, we'd set a table with a tablecloth and a centerpiece made of carved vegetables and rosemary, and plates and silver. When it was my turn, I made pancakes (had to do them twice) and french toast. I put the plate with the french toast in the oven while I made the pancakes, and forgot at one point that it was very, very hot, and burned a finger.

I spent the rest of the afternoon with my finger in ice water. But the plates were pretty, so I'm happy. We even fed a few people (I had a mushroom omelet and some of the muffins - one batch was short on sugar, but I like them. I'm strange - I think baked goods have too much sugar. Also, they were blueberry and very small, so the sugar-light ones really tasted of blueberry.) We discussed more egg cookery at the end of the day, and cleaned up fairly thoroughly.


That sounds just lovely. Yum.

Two questions, if you don't mind my asking. What are olive cheeks -- just olives pitted and cut in half? And why would pareve muffins be difficult? When I've made them, they usually don't contain milk, so it's just a matter of subbing margarine or oil for butter, right?

In my experience parve muffins tend to be drier and less flaky. I find adding a small thing of apple sauce helps with the dryness.

Olive cheeks - slice the meat of the olives around the pits.

I'm not sure what the problem was, actually. I think she was just flustered. I know she's not enjoying this class as much as some of us.

And she still doesn't believe I prefer the less sweet ones. But I AM strange.

Sounds yummy.

Ouch on the burn. I need to get a new prescription for silver cream so that I have it when I need it.

It's amazing, isn't it? I have a tub of it because I burned my stomach this past Pesach.

I'm working on creating a burn bracelet around my right wrist. For the last 2 RH's I've burned same wrist right next to each other.

We have some around from Morgan's Sukkot burn, so ours is fresher! ;)

I'm strange - I think baked goods have too much sugar.

Not only is this not strange, I think it may even be marketable. Cloying/Intense sweetness has become such a part of American cuisine that it seems there is little escape. We typically reduce sugar quantities in most recipes we make by half (or more). Being able to BUY baked goods that are not oversweet would be wonderful.

I once had a Cinnamon Roll that was lovely, with none of that goo they insist on putting on cinnamon rolls. . .

If only I enjoyed baking...

I am thinking of modifying my honeycake recipe to eliminate the white sugar. It would still be very moist because of the honey and brown sugar.