A Toast to Easter

Easter is a close second to Christmas as far as celebrations in our family.  Spring is finally showing itself around here with blooming tulips and daffodils and the dogwoods are especially beautiful this year as the azaleas are barely beginning to show their bright colors as we observed today at the Masters.  Easter is around the corner and anxious to celebrate the season, it is time to prepare for Easter Sunday Lunch.  This twist on the traditional Eggs Benedict is layered with tomato and asparagus instead of the traditional ham. I like how it is lighter, fresher with the grilled asparagus and tomatoes and definitely more beautiful on the plate. And the bottom traditional English Muffin is replaced with a sour dough bread toasted on the grill. Toast is more popular than ever and if you bake your own, you will benefit from the enhanced flavors of homemade yeast bread. Our friend Elizabeth blessed us with a homemade bread that speaks to you of old world rustic ovens in France when you take a bite into its crust. This bread loaf is like gold and instead of fighting over who gets the last slice, this is an alternative to continue to share the love. DSC_0363
Recipe for Eggs Benedict on Grilled Toast

Cut your bread in 1/2 inch thick pieces. Set aside. Cut your tomatoes lengthwise into 1/2 inch pieces. If you do not have a grill available, you can roast the asparagus and tomatoes in the oven for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Turn them at least once. The taste of fire enhanced food is irresistible. Grill your tomatoes, asparagus and bread until lightly charred.
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Keep in the oven at a low temperature of 225 degrees while you prepare the hollandaise sauce.  Use the freshest eggs possible because it makes such a difference in consistency and flavor for the poached eggs and especially for the hollandaise.  This Easter we were blessed to have Marissa Love joining our lunch.  A Culinary Institute graduate, she is a wealth of culinary information and confident cook in the kitchen.  Her hollandaise sauce tips make a huge difference in the creamy consistency and flavor of an Easter favorite.

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For the Hollandaise:

2 sticks butter

5 egg yolks

2 tablespoons red wine or cider vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika or chili pepper

In a small saucepan over medium low heat melt the butter and set aside. In a separate saucepan heat about three cups of water until boiling.  In a medium-sized stainless steel bowl whisk the egg yolks until frothy, about one minute.  Set the bowl over the boiling water and continue to whisk. Slowly add the vinegar. Continue to whisk until the sauce begins to thicken. The consistency will become lemon yellow and creamy as it coagulates. Slowly whisk in about half of the butter in a slow stream until incorporated. Whisking constantly, continue adding the remaining butter. Whisk in the lemon juice and salt. Remove from heat.  Try to work out your timing to serve the sauce promptly over poached eggs.
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Ideally you have someone to whisk the sauce while you assemble the toast, asparagus, tomato and poached egg. Pour the sauce over the combined ensemble.
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Sprinkle with smoky paprika. This is my new favorite seasoning, thanks to Ann. The splash of burnt red hue and smoky spicy flavor of smoked paprika is a nice contrast to the poached egg and creamy hollandaise. Let the Easter season begin.

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