Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Hangover Cures and Suchlike

If you are up to it, that beguiling dish, Eggs Benedict makes a very pleasing start to the day.

According to the wikipedia entry, its origins are uncertain. In 1942, retired Wall Street broker, Lemuel Benedict gave an interview to the The New Yorker's Talk of the Town column and claimed Eggs Benedict as his own. Hungover one morning in 1894 he had wondered into the Waldorf Hotel and ordered "buttered toast, poached eggs, crisp bacon and a hooker of hollandaise". Oscar of the Waldorf, the hotel's legendary maƮtre d' was so impressed by this that he put the dish on breakfast and luncheon menus, merely subsituting ham and a toasted English muffin for the bacon and toast.
Another story has it that the dish originated at the turn of the century with a Mr and Mrs Benedict of New York who dined at Delmonico's every Saturday.

... One day Mrs. Benedict said to the maitre d' hotel, "Haven't you anything new or different to suggest?" On his reply that he would like to hear something from her, she suggested poached eggs on toasted English muffins with a thin slice of ham, hollandaise sauce and a truffle on top.

In an ideal world, it would be served by liveried waiters and accompanied by large jugs of freshly squeezed orange juice. Making it yourself can be a little tricky as you keep an eye on a toasting muffin, poach an egg and make the hollandaise trying not to let anything burn or split but it repays the effort.

The hollandaise sauce is probably the most complicated part of the whole operation. Elizabeth David suggest making a preliminary reduction of white wine or vinegar, with three tablespoons of wine or vinegar and two of water reduced down to one scant tablespoon, to which is added another half tablespoon of cold water. This is then combined with three beaten egg yolks over a bain Marie and 6-7 oz of unsalted butter, cut into small portions added one by one, stirring all the time. Seasonings of lemon juice and salt are added at the end.

It all sounds like quite a performance in the morning and besides the thought of using wine after a night of revelry is stomach turning. Better to make a classic hollandaise using an electric whisk. Beat an egg yolk or two and slowly trickle into it a quantity of melted butter, whisking all the time. Season with lemon juice. The resulting sauce should be primrose coloured with the consistency of single cream.

Have a toasted muffin ready and buttered, top with a slice of ham and freshly poached egg, anoint with hollandaise. Substitute wilted spinach for the ham and you have the almost as good Eggs Florentine. Smoked salmon can also be substituted for the ham with advantage. All are delicious with a glass of orange and passionfruit juice.

Another admirable dish for those who've over-indulged the night before: good sausages, butchers for preference, simply grilled and served with a tomato and onion salad drizzled with an extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice dressing.
Blackberries, which can still, just, be found in the shops, make for excellent smoothies. Whizz up a banana cut into convenient portions with, say, four or five tablespoons of Greek yogurt, the juice of an orange and a punnet of blackberries. The smoothie is creamy, fragrant and a dramatic indigo colour.

Any of the above are superlative hangover brunch suggestions. If you're me you'll have all three and then a main course, pudding, cheese and coffee and after that take a well-earned rest.

For the rest of the day avoid alcohol, tobacco and any aggravations.


Blogger Voltaire's Priest said...

But... alcohol's a great hangover cure, and I'd imagine a cold glass of champagne goes pretty well with eggs B as well!

11/16/2008 11:04 AM  

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