Easter was always an unabashedly secular holiday in my house as I was growing up. While I knew that some people were celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, we rejoiced for chocolate bunnies, egg hunts and a whole day playing outside instead.
My adult Easters haven’t changed much. The Easter Bunny visits my son and we search for dyed eggs until they crumble, enjoying the fresh air and each other.
One ritual that we do seem to share with those who use the day for religious observance, however, is that we always have a special Easter brunch. When we’re with extended family we might do something more complicated, but this year — since it’s just going to be our little family of three — I think we’re going to do an easy eggs Benedict.
For something I used to think could only be created by a trained chef in a restaurant kitchen, eggs Benedict is actually quite easy to make at home. The secret lies in making good hollandaise sauce, which requires no more than a strong whisking arm and the determination not to get distracted until it’s finished.
Traditionally, eggs Benedict is served with ham or Canadian bacon, but I like it the way they serve it at 715 Restaurant, with a bit of smoked trout shaved on top. You can also substitute smoked salmon if that’s easier to find.
Smoked Trout Eggs Benedict
For the hollandaise
4 egg yolks
1 1/2 sticks of butter, melted
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
About 2.5 ounces smoked trout or salmon
4 English muffins
8 poached eggs
A pinch of fresh herbs or sliced cherry tomatoes, optional for garnish
To make the hollandaise, begin by bringing about an inch of water to simmer in the bottom of a saucepan. While the water is heating, whisk the egg yolks hard for about 2 minutes, or until they double in volume and get lighter in color.
Once the water is simmering — don’t let it ever come to a full boil — put the bowl containing the yolks over the water. Keep whisking for about 4 more minutes or until the yolks thicken. Don’t walk away or stop whisking at this point or you’ll have scrambled eggs.
Then, have a helper very slowly drizzle in the melted butter as you continue to whisk. Whisk for about 30 seconds after all of the butter is incorporated, then remove the bowl from the heat.
Whisk in the lemon juice and salt, put a clean tea towel over the bowl to keep it warm, and set the hollandaise aside while you finish preparing the other ingredients.
Toast and plate your English muffins. Working in batches if necessary, poach the eggs and place one on top of each muffin.
If your hollandaise has thickened up too much while you’ve been cooking your eggs, whisk in a little warm poaching water to loosen it. Then, drizzle a generous spoonful over each egg and English muffin stack.
Put a few pieces of smoked trout or salmon on top, and garnish with fresh herbs or sliced cherry tomatoes.
— Meryl Carver-Allmond lives in Lawrence and writes about chickens, babies, knitting, gardening, food, photography, and whatever else tickles her fancy on any given day at mybitofearth.net.