A perfect egg Benedict is one of my all-time favourite breakfast treats and one that I generally order when I feel like indulging. It can be a little tricky to make, involving whipping up a dreaded emulsion, but well worth it if you are making it for a few people. In this version, I have replaced the English muffin with roasted brown mushrooms, and I’ve layered it with wilted spinach and prosciutto. Finishing it off with an unctuous hollandaise sauce with chives.
By coincidence and totally unintentionally the recipe also becomes a perfect low-carb high-fat breakfast option, and ideal if you are banting.
I was so lucky to have the opportunity to stay at the very luxurious and ultra-funky Melrose Arch Hotel on my recent trip to Johannesburg. I was in town for the BBC Upfront event where I got to meet Rachel Khoo. It was also perfect timing because DSTV put on their second Delicious Food Festival on Saturday and of course I simply had to go to that. Best party I’ve had in a while.
There are so many reasons why I love Johannesburg. The fact that it is so multicultural is at the top of my list. It’s vibrant and busy and I always feel like I’m in a place where it’s all happening.
I loved staying in the very central and conveniently located Melrose Arch Hotel in Melrose Arch. Facing a central square that literally buzzes with pavement restaurants and bars every day and night. It’s a very modern urban area with mixed residential and businesses. Loads of shops, a mall, restaurants and bars. You could pretty much get everything you need right there, or you could also escape this and relish the tranquillity of all that the hotel has to offer.
My room was beautiful. Blackout curtains, high thread count cotton linen, fluffy pillows and duvet. A wall of cupboards and a brilliant shower that pumps out the perfect pressure of tempered hot water almost instantly. There is stunning lighting design in the room and throughout the hotel. For a person who dislikes bright overhead lights at any time, this is a lovely feature. You can literally control a variety of lighting options to suit your mood. Bliss. I was smitten with the rubber ducks for the bath, M & M’s and Viveau filtered water on tap.
Hanroe Erasmus, the executive chef of March Restaurant kindly gave me their eggs Benedict recipe to share. It’s a classic version made the proper chef’s way. It is also at this point that I have to admit that emulsions are not my strong point. While I have made hollandaise the correct way before, I now find it easier to do a ‘cheats’ version. I do however insist on reducing very good quality white wine vinegar as does Hanroe, and he adds finely chopped chives which are lovely.
I also made his more ‘classic’ version and used a whole wheat English muffin.
At the hotel, you can add whatever you prefer. Spinach, ham or salmon. All are divine.
For my brown mushroom version I simply added a knob of butter into the middles of large brown mushrooms and drizzled over some olive oil. You could add a few drops of chipotle-flavoured Tabasco, a few dried herbs or whatever you fancy. Bake in an oven preheated to 180C / 350 F for 20 minutes. I wilted baby spinach leaves in my steamer and filled the mushroom hollow with these when baked. On top of that, I placed a slice of prosciutto and a soft poached egg – poached according to chef Hanroe’s method and then spooned over a generous layer of hollandaise sauce. A sprinkle of finely snipped chines and a grind of black pepper and you are good to go to breakfast heaven.
So delicious it’s perfect for lunch or supper too.
Cheats hollandaise sauce recipe:
This recipe comes from my friend Caro De Waal and I tasted it at her house years ago. It consists of the same elements of a classic hollandaise, it’s just the method of making it that differs. In a tall upright jug add 2 egg yolks, salt and pepper and the seasoning of your choice. I added two tablespoons of reduced white wine vinegar. You could add Dijon or lemon juice etc. Heat 350 – 500g of butter to boiling in the microwave. Using a hand-held stick blender process the egg yolks while very slowly adding the hot butter in a stream. You want to ensure that the eggs and oil remain emulsified so add bit by bit. If it splits you are in trouble and will have to start again. When you have a nice sauce that is the consistency of a thin mayonnaise you can add your chopped chives or any other herb of your choice.
eggs benedict on roasted brown mushroomsPrint Recipe
- 4 tbsp White wine vinegar
- 1 T Tap water
- 3 Large free-range egg yolks
- 1 cup Melted butter
- Pinch Salt
- Bunch of Chives roughly chopped
- 1 Lemon juice only
- 3 Tbs White wine vinegar
- 4 Large free-range eggs
- 2 English muffins
- Hollandaise sauce See recipe above
- 4 slices Parma ham smoked salmon, or blanched spinach
To make the hollandaise:
- Boil the vinegar until reduced by half.
- Boil a large pan of water, then reduce to a simmer and place a large bowl on top to create a double boiler.
- Using a large balloon whisk, beat together the yolks, reduced wine vinegar, and water.
- Beat vigorously until the mixture forms a foam, but make sure that it doesn’t get too hot.
- The aim is to achieve a golden, airy foam (called a sabayon), which forms ribbons when the whisk is lifted.
- Slowly add the melted butter while whisking.
- Continue whisking over low heat until all the butter is incorporated and you have a texture as thick as mayonnaise.
- Finally, whisk in lemon juice, salt, and chives to taste.
To make the eggs Benedict
- Bring a deep saucepan of water to a gentle simmer (at least 1 litre) and add the vinegar.
- Break the eggs into 4 separate ramekins.
- Split the muffins and toast them.
- Swirl the water briskly to form a vortex and slide an egg into the centre of the vortex.
- Cook the egg for 2-3 minutes and then remove with a slotted spoon.
- Repeat with the other eggs, one at a time, re-swirling the water before you slide in the eggs.
- Spread some sauce on each muffin, scrunch a slice of whatever you chose on the muffin, and top with an egg.
- Spoon over the remaining hollandaise and serve at once.
- brown mushroom version
- See the instructions above in the blog post
* Disclaimer ~I received two nights of accommodation with breakfast at the Melrose Arch Hotel
1 Melrose Square, Melrose Arch, Johannesburg
T: +27 11 214 6666
I look forward to connecting with you again in the future.