I love weekend breakfasts, absolutely dreamy-stars-in-my-eyes in love with them. They are some of my favorite meals ever. Before we had kids, Greg and I enjoyed weekend breakfasts together, side by side on the dining room bench, with our amazingly rich cups of coffee, while trying to conquer the New York Times Crossword Puzzle, the Merl Reagle Crossword. I made Greg hold the pencil because he always answered way more than I ever could. Unless, of course, it had to do with literature or French.
It’s a little amazing to me the things that stick with us and the things that remain out of the grasp of memory. I can often answer the questions in the crosswords that demand an answer in French, a language I haven’t studied since high school, but I can’t remember the story Jasper told me last week about himself and his brother, Rooirder, and their camping trip through the Amazon. (I’m not actually sure how to spell the name of Jasper’s imaginary brother who lives in South America.) As much as I love to cook, Greg Ohlin usually makes our weekend breakfasts and that’s because he makes the best breakfasts I’ve ever had anywhere. I think he enjoys the cooking and I certainly enjoy it because he knocks it out of the park every freakin’ time! From his huevos rancheros with his homemade roasted tomatillo salsa, his polenta with sautéed chanterelles, garlic, and poached eggs, to his absolutely perfectly cooked to-die-for hash browns.
How many times have you ordered hash browns at a restaurant and they arrived looking and tasting like they’ve barely been cooked at all. Trust me, if you sit down at the breakfast table of Greg Ohlin and eat his fully cooked, almost caramelized hash browns, your life will be forever changed and you may never order those undercooked, white imposters again.
During the baby years I quit attempting the crossword altogether because I felt like I traded my brain in at the hospital the day I delivered Lily. But even then, Greg made me delicious, warm, comforting breakfasts. Sometimes a simple fried egg and toast after nursing a baby tastes like nirvana.
I’m well beyond the baby and nursing years, but I still cherish our weekend breakfasts. Now the kids often help, making cinnamon rolls with me while Greg mans the stovetop. There’s something lazy about our weekend breakfasts together, there’s no rush to be anywhere on time, get dressed for school, argue about when we actually have to leave for school. It’s peaceful. We listen to NPR Weekend Edition or fun music. Jasper usually draws. Lily’s most definitely glued to a book, or twelve.
One breakfast Greg and I actually make together is Eggs Benedict. And even though it was thirty or more years ago now, I remember the first time I had Eggs Benedict at a hotel restaurant brunch buffet in Denver. That may be the meal that catapulted me into the food snob arena. Perfectly poached eggs, salty Canadian bacon, a buttery, eggy, subtle-but-rich Hollandaise sauce all sitting on a toasted English muffin.
My parents made Eggs Benedict at home when I was growing up, but my clearest memory is still from that gorgeous hotel buffet
Having lived and traveled all over the country, and being someone who loves to eat out, I’ve tried a lot of Hollandaise sauces out there. Wow! There are some horrible ones. It took me years to realize it was because most restaurants do not make Hollandaise from scratch, but rather, from a package, and honestly, you cannot get this luscious sauce from a package.
To me Eggs Benedict is one of those meals where each component has to be perfect or the entire thing turns into meh. You want that velvety, buttery, barely-there-hint-of-lemon sauce over an egg that spills out its yolk, a piece of cooked ham or Canadian bacon without too much fat or gristle, and the muffin, well an undercooked soggy muffin can ruin the entire dish. (Remember, food snob here!)
I knew early on in my marriage I wanted to make homemade Hollandaise sauce part of my repertoire. Once again, I learned this from my sweet, talented-cooking mama. Her simple recipe helped make Eggs Benedict easily within reach on lazy weekend mornings.
When Greg was diagnosed with celiac disease over eight years ago, I thought we’d have to mourn the loss of Eggs Benedict with so many other things, artisan bread, pizza dough, fresh homemade pasta, real bagels like those from Bialy’s in Cleveland, Ohio.
Head Chef Greg did not let that happen, after trying a few horribly disappointing, gluten-free muffins, he changed the recipe completely and instead of English muffins, he decided to use potatoes. I know this might shock some of you Eggs Benedict purists, but you don’t even need the English muffin. Replace it with sautéed, diced potatoes and I promise it will be better than you ever expected. Instead of turning into soggy bread, like many an under-toasted muffin can do, those potatoes blend perfectly with the runny yolk and sauce.
So make some deliciously rich coffee, or pour yourself a mimosa and fix this special Gluten-free Eggs Benedict for someone you love to share weekend breakfasts with.
- Olive oil and butter for sautéing
- 2 large Idaho potatoes or 3 smaller Yukon golds, diced into a small dice
- 4-8 slices of ham or Canadian bacon of your choice
- Eggs for poaching (Amount could vary depending on how many each person wants. To serve 4, with two each, you'll need 8 eggs)
- 1-2 teaspoons white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Scallions, chopped (optional)
- Hollandaise (recipe to follow)
- Heat 2-3 tablespoons olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When butter starts to bubble add diced potatoes and toss to coat. Season potatoes with salt and pepper and sauté, turning often, until cooked through and golden brown, anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, fill a medium pot with about two-three quarts water, add vinegar and salt and bring barely to a simmer. Break eggs into individual small bowls and carefully slide each egg into simmering water. You can add more than one egg to the hot water at a time. Cook for about three minutes or until the whites are set and opaque. Remove the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel lined plate to dry.
- When potatoes are done, remove from heat, cook slices of ham for a minute or two to warm.
- Place sautéed potatoes on plate, top with ham, poached egg and Hollandaise sauce. Add chopped scallions if desired. Dig in and enjoy!
- You can add a half teaspoon or so of dried tarragon to your potatoes if you like.
- 2 egg yolks
- 1-1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Dash cayenne pepper (about 1/8 teaspoon)
- 1/2 cups unsalted butter, melted
- Add egg yolks, lemon juice and cayenne to blender and blend until a light creamy lemon color, about 15-30 second. Remove small plastic insert from top of blender. With blender on, slowly pour melted butter into yolk mixture in a steady stream. Once all butter is added, continue to blend for about 30 seconds, until sauce thickens a bit. (While adding butter through the top you may need to hold a towel up around the opening as well, because the sauce may splatter.)
- Use unsalted butter, if you use salted your sauce will be way too salty.
- Some large, wide-bottoms blenders do not work as well because the two egg yolks + lemon juice are not that much liquid.
- Feel free to use 3 egg yolks instead of two.
- I like to get the other Benedict components ready first and make the sauce at the last minute so it's warm when you pour it over your eggs.