We all have our preferences for a brunch style breakfast: some like Eggs Benedict (that is with Bacon or Ham on toasted muffin followed by a poached egg) or Eggs Royale,(substitute Bacon with Smoked Salmon) and a vegetarian option called Eggs Florentine. The Bacon and Smoked Salmon is replaced by sautéd or steamed Spinach .
Eggs Florentine is most definitely a French dish but the ‘Florentine’ refers to the Florence region in Italy; where the Queen of France, Catherine de Médicis was from. When Catherine married Henry II of France, in October 1533, she brought with her, her own Italian master cooks who prepared dishes the ‘Florentine way’ and the cooks also brought with them Spinach seeds, giving France its first introduction to Spinach as well as other vegetables and herbs Artichoke, Parsley and Basil. She even introduced forks and glazed earthenware to the French palace kitchens.
Sorry I don’t mean to digress.
So, Eggs, which ever of the 3 styles of poached egg dishes you wish to have, one thing is for certain, Hollandaise Sauce is key.
In my Egg Florentine I have not used spinach for the Florentine, but used what is still in season and some greens from my allotment plot. Whilst on a recent walk in the countryside, I gathered some Wild Garlic leaves and also picked from my plot some of the overwintered Rhubarb Chard. I have noticed this Chard is now ready to set seed and is sending out thick flower stalks. But still edible, so I have cut off a few of these stalks to use for this recipe as I require more of the smaller leaves than the large.
- Make Wild Garlic oil. Place wild garlic leaves in mortar and pestle with a pinch of rock salt and good olive oil.
- Add a little more oil if required. (this garlic oil will keep for 3 days in an air tight container in the fridge). You could also use this oil for a cold pasta dish or even drizzled over scrabbled eggs.
- For the Hollandaise sauce, melt the butter in a pan over a very low heat.
- Take your time and skim away any solids that float to the top until the butter is clear. At all times keep pan on a very low heat, do not allow the butter to boil. Once clarified, allow to cool slightly.
- Place the egg yolks in a bowl over a just simmering pan of water and whisk continuously.(Note: Do not allow the water level in the pan to touch the bottom of the bowl).
- Add the clarified butter little at a time and whisk to help emulsify, I kept mine on the simmering pan of water and only took it off if I felt it was getting too hot.
- Add the lemon juice, cayenne pepper, Kashmiri chilli and salt to taste. Set aside and keep warm. Only use warm water if the sauce gets a little thick.
- Sauté the Chard and Wild Garlic in a touch of sunflower oil.
- Pouch egg in the water with 1tbsp of vinegar. Create a swirl in the boiling water with a spoon, gently add the cracked egg in the water and continue to swirl. Allow egg to rise to the surface of the water. Remove with a slotted spoon and allow to soak of water on a kitchen towel.
- Toast and spread butter on the Muffin.
- Ready to Assemble: Place the toasted muffin on a plate, top with a sauté garlic chard, spoon on Hollandaise Sauce and drizzle with Wild Garlic Oil.
- Breakfast/ Brunch is served.