Like with any other art form, cooking too is derived from inspiration. An idea translates into edible art on a plate, that may take days to perfect. The onset of the process is from the moment your eyes and palate feast on culinary delights and culminates in your rendition of perfection. It is all too easy to emulate a dish you may have tasted before in its entirety but the challenge sets in when you use the inspiration to construct a recipe of your own, a true reflection of your style of cooking.
I took this challenge upon myself when creating a brunch menu for my first wedding anniversary and found my inspiration in our honeymoon breakfast menu at the Four Seasons, Mauritius. Our first breakfast consisted of Madagascar Style Eggs Benedict with Crabs and Hollandaise Sauce and Demerara Pancakes with Bananas. The treacherous challenge that lay ahead was to attempt poaching an egg, which I had not done before and changing the dynamics of Eggs Benedict, that are mostly served with hollandaise sauce, all without losing the individual taste of each ingredient. After pondering for days, I came up with a menu fit for a special occasion brunch; Madagascar Style Eggs Benedict on a Tuna-Potato Patty with Rocket Leaves and dressed with Paprika Sauce and Banoffee French Toast Stack with Banana Fritters and Butterscotch Sauce. Part 1 of this series will deal with the Eggs Benedict recipe, which I may admit took me three tries to perfect. Poaching an egg was not as easy as it looks in videos.
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- 1 cup chopped rocket leaves
FOR THE TUNA-POTATO PATTY
- 3 medium sized potatoes
- 1/2 tin tuna flakes (preferably in olive oil)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp paprika powder
FOR THE PAPRIKA SAUCE
- 2 tsp butter
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1/4 cup milk
- Pinch of salt
- 3 tsp paprika sauce
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- Juice of 1/2 a lime
- Start with the tuna-potato patty (which can also be made a day in advance and refrigerated). Boil the potatoes in salted water for about 40 minutes or till soft. Leave to cool
- Skin the potatoes and mash them till no lumps remain. Add the tuna flakes and the spices and mix well together
- Pour a little bit of the olive oil from the tuna tin and mix together. This helps holding the patty together, without the need for flour or eggs
- Scoop some of the potato mixture into your hands and shape into a ball. Using your palms, flatten the ball out into a 1 inch disc (make sure the disc is not too thick otherwise it will overpower the taste of the egg), while smoothing the edges. (Refrigerate at this point if you want to use the next day)
- Heat a tbsp of oil in a pan and place the patty to cook. Lightly fry on each side for about 2-3 minutes till golden brown
- Place on a kitchen towel to soak the excess oil and then transfer onto the serving plate
- Place a generous amount of rocket leaves on top of the patty
- Time to poach the egg. Break an egg into a small, flat bottomed and round cup to maintain its shape
- Pour water into a saucepan and add the salt and vinegar. The vinegar prevents the egg from disintegrating
- As the water begins to lightly simmer (tiny bubbles should appear on low heat otherwise the egg will be overcooked), create a whirlpool in the water using a wire whisk
- Slowly pour the egg into the moving water
- Keep a close eye on the egg to see it reach the bottom of the saucepan and till it begins to cook
- As the egg begins to cook, it will slowly rise to the surface (this normally takes between 5-7 minutes).
- Remove with a slotted spoon once the egg has come up to the surface and the yolk has been cooked to your liking. If you like the yolk to be harder, let it stay in the water for another minute or so
- Let the excess water drip off before placing in on top of the patty and rocket leaves
- Season with salt, pepper and pour about 2 tsp of the paprika sauce over it. Serve the remaining sauce on the side if someone wants more
- FOR THE SAUCE: Melt the butter in a pan and add the salt and flour
- Cook for a minute till fragrant
- Add the milk slowly, mixing well, till it reaches your desired consistency and no lumps remain
- Turn off the heat and add paprika powder, cayenne pepper and the lemon juice.
- Mix well till the color changes to a light orange. Taste to adjust the spices according to your needs. The sauce, too, can be made a day ahead and heated before serving.
- Pour over the eggs before serving.
The nutty taste of the rocket leaves combined with the subtle flavors of the paprika sauce and softness of the tuna-potato patty changes the preconceived notions of normal Eggs Benedict. Unusual flavors come together in complete harmony to enhance the overall breakfast/brunch experience. Each component of this dish should be used in moderation so that no ingredient overpowers the other, that necessitates the use of a thin patty and less sauce. For me the inspiration was magical and the challenge worth it; my husband termed the brunch “good restaurant quality”. So it is true, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.
Watch this space for part 2 of the brunch: Banoffee French Toast Stack with Banana Fritters and Butterscotch Sauce.