Once in Niger, we hosted a small brunch for friends. The brunch included Eggs Benedict on top of breaded eggplant rounds(English muffins were not available) with hollandaise and tomato pesto sauces, homemade breakfast sausage links, fruit salad and mimosas. We probably seated 10 or 12. I remember this meal very well because everyone stayed until dinner time when we all felt the need to continue our celebrations at the Vietnamese restaurant(there was only one), followed by a trip to the disco for dancing. It seems our invitations never ended at a proper time, or maybe never ended properly. Anyway.
One of the things I like about France is it’s fruit and vegetables. I like the fact that they place an emphasis on their seasonal produce; I saw those sneers this winter when I bought grapes from Spain/Portugal. I like it that some die-hards, no names will be mentioned that start with P, would prefer to bite the dust before biting into an imported, out of season fruit. It’s so European! They’re so cute! I also like knowing that when I’m invited to lunch, I won’t be eating anything genetically modified. Nor will I be offered E. Coli tainted cucumbers from Germany. For sure.
To make the Eggs Benedict, I suggest that you prepare in stages: 1) Make the tomato/pesto sauce and keep warm. 2) Make the blender hollandaise sauce and put inside a thermos. 3) Prepare the eggplant, fry and keep warm. 4) Poach the eggs. 5) Place some of the pesto sauce on plates, top with the fried eggplant, then the ham, then the poached egg, then the hollandaise sauce. 6) Eat.
4 -6 eggs, poached
1/2 lb sliced ham
Tomato pesto sauce(see below)
Blender hollandaise sauce (see below)
Fried eggplant rounds (see below)
Tomato Pesto Sauce
1 small jar of tomato pesto
1 can of crushed tomatoes, enough to make 2 cups with the pesto
1/2 cup of water
Salt and pepper
Mix the tomato pesto with the crushed tomatoes and water. Add salt and pepper and simmer until the mixture is reduced by half. Set aside and keep warm.
Blender Hollandaise Sauce
3 egg yolks
1 tbsp cream
1/2 tsp salt
1 pinch cayenne
1 cup of hot, melted butter
1 tbsp lemon juice
Place the egg yolks, salt, cayenne and cream in a blender. Blend until smooth and frothy. With the blender running, slowly pour half of the hot butter, in a steady stream, into the egg mixture, add the lemon juice, then continue with the rest of the butter. Put the prepared hollandaise sauce into a thermos.
Fried Eggplant Rounds
1 large eggplant
2 eggs, beaten
Fine bread crumbs
Slice the eggplant into thick, round circles. Remove the skin. Dip the slices into the cornstarch, then the beaten egg, then the bread crumbs. Fry in the peanut oil, draining on paper towels. Keep warm.
To assemble, place some pesto sauce into each plate, top with eggplant, then ham, then poached eggs and finally the hollandaise sauce.
Wine suggestion: Champagne