Remy Makes Hollandaise And Macarons
Remy recently lamented, "The only thing I know how to make is lemon chicken. I need to learn more."
Though she and Rory spend a lot of time with me in the kitchen, I understood what she meant.
Watching kids compete on shows like Masterchef Junior has shown Remy that the cooking we do in my household is just the tip of the iceberg.
With eight year olds deboning chickens, making pate a choux, fresh pasta and multi-course meals, even I am intimidated.
As an avid reader I've long been aware of certain cooking basics, though I might not have made the effort to execute them in the past.
For a long time I have wanted to master the five French mother sauces: Bechamel, Veloute, Sauce tomat, Espagnole and Hollandaise.
The first four were classified by Chef Antonin Careme in the 19th century. August Escoffier later added Hollandaise.
Escoffier considered these to be the five sauces of haute cuisine.
Haute means "high" or elevated, which is often what we think of when we see Hollandaise on a menu.
Eggs Benedict, for example, is not a dish that most of us enjoy as an every day occurrence.
The Hollandaise sauce that makes eggs Benedict so delicious is a tricky thing both to make and to keep for any period of time.
As such, you will not find it on every restaurant's menu.
It makes appearances at luxury hotels, special breakfast or brunch spots, and almost always on cruises.
The classic eggs Benedict features an English muffin, Canadian bacon, a poached egg and Hollandaise sauce.
Once you master the Hollandaise, there are infinite varieties that you can make.
Everything from Brennan's famous hangover cure, the complex eggs Hussarde, to a modest tater tot Benedict can be within your wheelhouse.
With this in mind, I told Remy we would expand our kitchen skills beginning with Hollandaise sauce.
I searched recipes online, and tried Tyler Florence's, the first one that came up.
The recipe had many good reviews, with a lot of people citing its ease.
Remy began with the delightful task of cracking and separating eggs.
Though she has been cracking eggs for years, this was the first time she tried to separate them.
Except for the first attempt, she separated the yolks from the whites with ease.
Next she added lemon juice to the yolks and whisked like crazy.
I assisted her in the third step, which was to put the egg mixture over simmering water, and whisk while slowly adding melted butter.
Once the sauce has thickened, and is doubled in volume, you take it off of the heat and add in a touch of cayenne pepper and salt.
Not so much.
Our sauce broke, which means it has curdled, or lost the ability to be emulsified.
To emulsify means to combine two ingredients together which ordinarily do not mix.
Hollandaise sauces can break when the fat (butter) is added to the egg mixture too quickly, or when the mixture is heated too much.
Since we had added the melted butter quite slowly, I assumed our sauce broke because the heat was too high.
If we wanted Hollandaise, we would have to try again.
Remy was excited to crack and separate more eggs, but that was the extent of her patience.
She ran off to play while I tried the procedure again.
Once again, the sauce broke.
I think it's because I have not attempted Hollandaise enough on my electric stove to know exactly what heat setting to keep it on once the water is simmering.
By now we had nine yolks in the trash, eight egg whites set aside, and a hungry household.
Cranky and annoyed, I decided to shelve the classic method for the day and try the much touted blender recipe.
With this preparation, you whizz the yolks and lemon juice in the blender, then slowly drizzle in the melted butter as the blender runs on low.
Within a minute the sauce has thickened. Just as in the classic method, you finish by adding salt and cayenne pepper to taste.
"But is this safe to eat?" Remy asked. She is well versed in the dangers of eating
uncooked cookie dough because of the raw eggs.
I checked, and blender Hollandaise does carry the risk of salmonella. You can eliminate the risk by purchasing pasteurized eggs.
Pasteurized eggs have been heated in the shell just enough to kill the bacteria present, but not enough to cook the eggs.
The blender recipe was easy, as promised, and resulted in a very tasty Hollandaise sauce for our eggs Benedict.
While researching the sauce recipes, I noted that the egg yolk to butter proportion is generally two tablespoons of butter to one egg yolk, though I did find one recipe that called for 3 yolks and 8 tablespoons of butter.
Remy found our sauce to be "too eggy," while Sam thought it was, "too lemony."
Some people add Dijon mustard rather than lemon, and others use a little hot sauce instead of cayenne pepper.
This is one of those recipes that might take a few attempts before you get it exactly to your liking.
The third time was the charm for me as far as the classic preparation.
And though my Hollandaise didn't break that time, I overcooked the poached eggs intended for eggs Benedict.
Rather than let this discourage me, I felt good in the knowledge that the next time will be better, if not perfect.
It reminded me of learning to make gumbo.
Getting the roux dark enough without burning took me many attempts.
That and discovering exactly what proportion of spices, aromatics, etc.
Once I got it right, though, it became my family's favorite meal.
Special dishes often take a lot of time and effort to learn.
Rather than shy away from them for fear of failure, it's good to embrace the challenge knowing that we probably will fail.
Eventually, though, we'll not only get it right, but we will have fantastic dishes that we can pull out for special occasions.
On that note, Remy and I decided to attack the numerous egg whites sitting on the counter.
Learning to make macarons had been on my bucket list.
Like the mother sauces, French macarons intimidated me.
One day I will attempt one of the long, complex recipes out there.
But for this day I found the easiest version I could and the girls and I got to work.
By this time Rory realized that cookie making was going on, and joined Remy and I in the kitchen.
Before long we had created some of the biggest, ugliest macarons that I had ever seen.
But boy were they good!
Laura, a true macaron aficionado, bit into one and declared it the best she had ever tasted. Sam concurred.
What a sweet note to end our day of experimenting.
Blender Hollandaise Sauce
4 egg yolks 1 stick butter, melted 1 teaspoon lemon juice, or more to taste 1/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste Cayenne pepper to taste
Separate eggs. Save the whites for another use.
Melt the butter.
Add yolks, lemon juice, salt and pepper to the blender. Whizz on low for a minute until thickened.
Slowly stream the melted butter into the top of the blender, continuing to blend on low. Be careful not to splatter.
Discard the solids that have gathered at the bottom of the butter. Do not add this to the sauce.
Serve as soon as possible. If sauce becomes too thick, add a little hot water to thin it out.
*Dijon mustard may be substituted for the lemon juice.
*Liquid hot sauce may be substituted for the cayenne.
*I added cream to Remy's sauce to mitigate the "egginess" she didn't like. You may also use three egg yolks instead of four.
Tyler Florence's Hollandaise
Here are some fantastic dishes to try once you've mastered Hollandaise:
Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict
Twenty-five Versions of Eggs Benedict