Eggs Benedict, Paleo Style

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I found a recipe for Paleo Eggs Benedict and decided it would be fun to try. Apparently Hollandaise sauce is supposed to be difficult to make, but I’m not sure why. So if you want to impress your friends just follow this easy recipe step by step. Do read through it all the way before you start cooking. I guess the big deal is that you have to serve the Hollandaise sauce right away, since it starts breaking down into something odd-looking pretty quickly.

Paleo Eggs Benedict
Ingredients:
two eggs
1 tbsp white vinegar
canadian bacon or ham
two egg yolks (I used the whites in a frittata and curried cauliflower)
4 tbsp ghee or clarified butter
juice from half a lime or lemon
a few pinches of salt and pepper
Tomato slices
Steamed spinach
Parsley and green onion for garnish

Start by heating up a small pot of water with the vinegar in it over med-high heat. Beat the egg yolks. Juice the lemon or lime and add to the egg yolks. Also add the salt and pepper. Set aside.

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Set up a double boiler melt the ghee in it. This will ensure that your ghee melts but doesn’t brown or burn (which would ruin the sauce).

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Crack the eggs into little bowls.

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When the water comes to a low boil (in between a simmer and a rolling boil) pour an egg into a ladle…

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…and gently lower the egg into the water.

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I tried to scoop the whites together as I pulled the ladle out.

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This worked fine. Cook the eggs for 2-3 min. They felt really squishy after 2 min so I left them in 3 min, and the yolks were still runny, which I like, but just sayin’…

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Pull the eggs out with a slotted spoon, cover to keep warm and set aside. Heat up some Canadian bacon. Cook some spinach and slice a tomato if you want. You could even toast an English muffin if you let that sort of thing in your house. I did these things somewhere in the process, and Jewel helped. Neither one of us is very linear so we have trouble with sequential order.

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Random pic, courtesy of Jewel.
Back to the Hollandaise sauce. Do NOT dump the egg yolk mixture into the melted ghee. You will end up with some sort of scrambled egg mess. Take a teaspoon and spoon the ghee into the yolks while whisking constantly. After you’ve transferred a couple tablespoonfuls it is safe to dump the yolk mixture into the ghee. Continue to whisk until a thick, creamy sauce comes together.

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I placed steamed baby spinach and sliced tomatoes on the plate, topped that with two pieces of Canadian bacon, put a poached egg on top of that, topped it with Hollandaise sauce, and made it fancy with Italian parsley and green onions. Looks damn impressive, if I do say so myself! I thoroughly enjoyed this dish, but no one else in the family cared for it. They thought the Hollandaise sauce was weird tasting and too lemony. I’m not sure if I added too much lemon juice, or if they just don’t like Hollandaise sauce. Honestly I was most excited about successfully making poached eggs. Every other time I’ve attempted it they turned into egg jellyfish. So something good came out of it anyway.

Begging for forgiveness with chocolatey goodness

Tom bought me a blue tooth keyboard for Mother’s Day, effectively eliminating my one last sorry excuse not to blog. Typing on the iPad’s virtual keyboard is awkward and requires short fingernails, but that is not the primary reason for my absence. The back pain that has been tormenting me for 9 months is getting worse, not better, and all conservative treatments have failed. My only hope is to find a surgeon who is willing to correct my scoliosis, but this is a risky surgery with an extensive recovery time. This has thrown me into a deep depression, and the pain has limited my ability to cook. I am not looking for sympathy or prayers (and the next person to tell me, “hang in there” gets clocked in the face), I just wanted to give an honest reason for my recent hiatus. I still have been cooking delicious Primal meals, but I haven’t always had the emotional energy to photo document them and write about them. Tom has been a wonderful help in the kitchen recently, learning how to cook new meals himself while continuing to wash the dishes to boot! I am hoping that I will eventually be able to talk him into writing a guest blog.

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Having guests over last night for a home-cooked meal inspired me to bite the bullet and write a post. We had Flat Iron Steak with Balsamic Reduction, collard greens, roasted cauliflower, roasted parsnips and rutabaga, and salad with Orange and Rosemary Vinaigrette. However what I really want to write about is dessert. The inspiration for this dessert is twofold. I first made this recipe about a month ago when I ended up with a surplus of egg yolks after making Paleo Biscuits and Gravy. I hate to waste all the good nutrition in the yolk of a pastured egg, so I searched the internet high and low for an indulgent recipe to use them in.

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It turns out that I am the only one in the family who likes Hollandaise Sauce, so that most obvious solution was out. Instead I began looking for dessert recipes that could easily be made Paleo. When I came across pot de crème I knew I had a winner. I looked for Paleo and Primal versions of the dessert, but I was not satisfied with any of them. In the end I decided to use the recipe from my beloved 1973 edition of Joy of Cooking with very minor adaptations:

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Pot de Crème
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
8oz dark chocolate chips (choose a brand without hydrogenated fats)
6 pastured egg yolks (factory farmed egg yolks do not taste the same)
1 tsp vanilla extract
fresh berries for garnish

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Set up a double boiler and add chocolate chips. You could also use a high quality dark or bittersweet chocolate bar broken up into pieces, chocolate chips are just easier. The dark chocolate chips in the bulk section of Earth Fare are fantastic.

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Add milk and cream. You could also use half and half. I’m sure this would be delicious with all cream as well! Coconut milk would probably also work well in this recipe for those who want to avoid dairy.

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Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture begins to simmer. Taste to decide if you want to add any sweetener. Jewel and I felt that the chocolate chips themselves lent enough sweetness. At this point it tasted like the best hot chocolate ever, and we had to restrain ourselves from pouring the mixture into a couple of mugs and drinking it.

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However there was still the matter of the egg yolks. Notice the rich orange color of these yolks, completely different from pale yellow factory farmed eggs. Beat the yolks and the vanilla extract into the chocolate milk mixture.

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Strain the custard into ramekins or custard cups. It definitely helps to have a second set of hands here! Jewel was more than happy to help with the promise of getting to lick the spoon and clean out the bowl.

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This recipe was supposed to make 6 servings, but I rather foolishly used my largish ramekins and therefore made only 4 servings. We garnished them with fresh blackberries. Tom gave me his biggest compliment on this dessert. In the midst of gobbling his up, he asked, “How many calories are in this?” I was about to tell him that I hadn’t worked it out when he said, “never mind – I don’t care!” and proceeded to finish his whole serving. Dora and Jewel both thoroughly enjoyed this dessert as well. It is not completely Primal because there is sugar (well I think it’s evaporated cane juice syrup, but whatever) in the chocolate chips, but even Mark Sisson makes an exception for dark chocolate.

Because of my family’s rave reviews, I felt very comfortable making this dessert for company. In addition, when Jewel and I went to Auburn for honor band in February, she picked out a Mediterranean restaurant to try and her friend Bobby and his dad Bob went with us. Jewel and Bobby both ordered pot de crème and I’m not sure which one of them was more entranced with it. That was also the night that Jewel drank the little pitcher of cream that I was served with my coffee. This time I was smart and borrowed small ramekins from Mom. I increased the recipe to serve 8, and that worked out perfectly. Of course I forgot to take a picture, but I’m sure that Mom and Dad will want me to make this for them in the future in exchange for borrowing the ramekins. Much to Dora’s disappointment, everyone loved the pot de crème and happily scraped out their bowls. I knew it was a hit when the chorus of, “this is good,” was followed by silence. Bob even said that he thought these were better than the dessert at the restaurant. Oftentimes the simplest recipes are the best. When you start with high quality ingredients it really doesn’t take much effort to make delicious food.