Monthly Archives: February 2018

DIY Bennies

If you have read any of my ‘un-categorized’ trip reports to Sacramento or Seattle, you will know that I like Eggs Benedict. So I decided I had to learn how to make them myself. It isn’t horribly difficult, especially if you deconstruct them into their four layers. Once you do that, it is easy to make them a team effort, with each person taking on one or more of the layers.

The bottom layer of the Bennie is normally a half of an English muffin; I say normally because we have seen it as other things. Specifically, in Sacramento it was a waffle. For this layer, choose something that will soak up the runny egg yolk and extra Hollandais sauce. I have tried regular toast, and I could also see something like mashed potatoes.


I would recommend starting this layer with bought English Muffins split and toasted.

The next layer up is where most of the experimenting happens. Normally, I think of this layer as the meat layer, and my favorite is crunchy bacon, but it is often ham or Canadian bacon. Again, I have seen this layer be non-meat such as avocado, or sliced tomato, or a combination of two or more things. I found that using a slice of tomato made stacking the layers more difficult and would not recommend that for the first couple times. Then, I would seed the tomato and might not use a slice, but would use pieces from the body of the tomato.


I would recommend starting this layer with bacon cooked crispy.

The third layer is the poached egg. Making poached eggs is time consuming only because it takes a large amount of simmering water, and it takes time to get the water that hot. If you are doing the classic poached eggs, then start the water heating early so you aren’t stuck waiting on it. I will also describe an alternative to the classic poaching that will save time and do the job nicely. Look below for my skillet steamed eggs.

Finally, the top layer of the bennies is the Hollandais sauce. I will give you the blender method for making it rather than the classic whisking method- it is too much work.
The Hollandais recipe makes enough sauce for four to six eggs; if you have fewer eggs/stacks, then you have sauce to use on broccoli or cauliflower. Sadly, Hollandais sauce does not reheat and smooth out well once it is refrigerated; you can do it, but it is not simple so I have always used my left over sauce more like butter that has just come from the refrigerator and is hard and doesn’t spread well.

Eggs Benedict

Layer One

Split and toast enough English muffins so that there is one half muffin for each stack /egg.
Most muffins are now coming partially split and only need to be pulled apart.

Layer Two


Cook 3 slices of bacon for each full English muffin being used. The bacon pieces are then cut in half so that each half muffin has 3 half pieces arranged on it for layer two.
I like to cook my bacon in the microwave. On a dinner plate, I layer three paper towels, then the bacon, and finally another three paper towels to catch any splatters. Then I nuke the plate of towels and bacon for 1 minute per piece of bacon, plus one final minute. Careful! The plate is hot coming out of the microwave!

Layer Three

The classic way starts with a sauce pan or skillet 8 to 10 inches in diameter and 2 1/2 to 3 inches deep. Fill with about 2 inches of water, and add a tablespoon of vinegar for each quart of water. Bring to a simmer.
Break one of the eggs and holding it close to the water, let it fall in. Immediately and gently push the white over the yolk with a wooden spoon for a couple seconds. Keep the water at a low simmer and repeat for all the eggs.
After 4 minutes, remove the first egg with a skimmer or slotted spoon and place it in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking and wash off the vinegar. Remove the rest of the eggs in a similar manner.
Remove the eggs from the cold water and place on the first two layers of the Eggs Benedicts.

Layer Four- the Hollandais Sauce

In the bowl of a blender, place three egg yolks, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper.
In a small sauce pan, place 4 ounces (1 stick) of butter and heat it to foaming hot.
Put the top on the blender and run it at top speed for a couple seconds. Then start pouring the hot butter in a thin stream of droplets. You do not need to use the milky residue in the bottom of the butter pan.
Immediately, pour the sauce into a shorter, more open container so that it is easier to access and spoon out. The butter is difficult to get out of the blender once it has cooled.
Starting to sauce the Bennies.

Skillet Steamed Eggs

This technique requires an 8 to 10 inch skillet with a clear lid that fits closely.

Break the eggs into the skillet as if you are going to fry the eggs sunny side up.
Turn on the stove, add about 1/2 cup of water to the skillet and place the lid on.
Watch the eggs cook, and the steaming water will condense on the lid. The eggs are cooked when the yellow of the yolks is covered with a light coating of white.

Steak Hand Pies

4 inch left, 3 inch right 4 inch pies left and 3 inch pies right

This is a second recipe from Baked In Vermont (Gesine Bullock-Prado) from the Food Network channel. I think these are an excellent idea and work well, but I would recommend a few changes.

Steak Hand Pies

Courtesy of Gesine Bullock-Prado
Food Network’s Baked in Vermont series

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces beef tenderloin, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 medium potato, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 medium sweet yellow onion, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 batch “Part Butter / Part Shortening Easy Pie Dough” chilled, see below
  • 1 large egg whisked with 2 Tablespoons water, for the egg wash

Directions

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the beef, flour and paprika. Stir to combine. Add the thyme, garlic, potato, onion and some salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
  2. Divide one portion of the chilled pie dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a round about 3 inches in diameter. You may use a 3-inch round cookie cutter to cut each round and even the edges if you desire. Repeat with the second piece of chilled dough.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. Brush each round of dough with the egg wash. Divide the filling among the rounds, piling it in the middle of each round. Bring the sides of the dough up to meet in the middle and gently crimp the edges down in the center. Cut 3 small slits into each hand pie to allow steam to escape. Brush the top of the pies with egg wash.
  5. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Part Butter/Part Shortening Easy Pie Dough Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, cold, plus more for dusting
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 Tablespoons unsalted butter cut into small pieces and chilled in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  • 4 Tablespoons shortening, chilled in the freezer for 10 minutes
  • 1/2 cup ice water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Part Butter/Part Shortening Easy Pie Dough Directions

  1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, pulse together the flour, sugar, salt, butter and shortening until the mixture resembles cornmeal but there are still pea-sized chunks of fat.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the ice water and lemon juice. Slowly add the liquid to the flour mixture pulsing until the dough just comes together. Squeeze a small piece of dough between you thumb and index finger to make sure it holds its shape
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it ni half. Gently turn over each piece of dough a few times so that any dry bits are incorporated. Form each piece into a loose disk, cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.

I felt the making of the pie dough in the food processor was not as good as I would like. Some of the dough stuck to the bottom under the blade and other parts of the dough seemed to stay dry. So I looked for a better recipe, and found a pie dough recipe by Alton Brown. Surprise! It too uses the food processor! However, it is much more detailed and doesn’t just dump the ice water into the processor. I imagine that Gesine used that as a basic recipe but tried to make it simpler. I have yet to try Alton’s recipe myself. Alton’s recipe needs to be doubled in order to provide as much dough as Gesine’s recipe.
I also decided that I liked 4-inch circles for the pies better than the 3-inch circles; I couldn’t get enough filling in the 3-inch circles and still get them to close. If you recheck the recipe, Gesine never says you need to cut a true circle; that is one of the reasons she divides the dough into 8 parts and rolls each out separately. I would just as soon require a circle cookie cutter and roll the whole disk of dough out as a single flat piece to then cut with the cookie cutters.

In the making of the filling, I felt there was a problem getting everything chopped/minced to the same size. I think that next time I might use a food grinder for the meat, potato and onion. A long time ago, Mom made hash about once every couple weeks and I would turn the handle on the manual food grinder for her. Now, my food grinder is connected to the stand mixer.
Another concern about the filling is that the recipe uses medium size potato and onion. Since I always end up with more filling that I can use in the amount of dough in the recipe, I have to assume that the potatoes and onions we get are bigger than those in Vermont. I tried weighing the amount of each of those before mincing / grating, and it appeared to be about 2 ounces each. I could get about a Tablespoon of filling in my 4 inch pies, and with luck, I got a total of 10 4-inch pies from the recipe of dough. I used guides and rolled the dough to 1/4 inch thick before cutting the circles.

Overall, the recipe is a good starting point for hand pies. I now have told you some of the ways I would change it to make it mine. I hope you enjoy the hand pies as much as I and my test group did.