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I love eggs. Toad in the hole, fried, boiled, poached, Scotch…you name it. Today in Northwest Florida it is cold. Our news forecast even calls for sleet or snow. I decided it would be a good day to finish some writing assignments and spoil myself with brunch, using a recipe from one of my favorite New Orleans restaurants, Arnaud’s.

Eggs Sardou

From Arnaud’s New Orleans

Serves 6

Ingredients:

12 freshly cooked artichoke bottoms, still warm, or two 13.5 ounce cans, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional, only if using canned artichoke bottoms)

12 large eggs

6 English muffins, split and toasted

1 cup Creamed Spinach

1 ½ cups freshly made hollandaise sauce (see below), kept warm in the top of a double boiler over hot water

Dash of Paprika

If using canned artichoke bottoms, melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the artichoke bottoms and cook gently, turned over once, for about 2 minutes, just to heat through without browning. Remove the pan from the heat, cover

and set aside in a warm place.

Warm 6 dinner plates in a low oven and poach the eggs (see below.) Place 2 toasted muffin halves on each plate, cut side up, and place an artichoke bottom on each one. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of creamed spinach into each artichoke bottom, and then place a poached egg on top. Ladle about ¼ cup Hollandaise Sauce over the top of each egg and sprinkle with a little paprika, for color. Serve immediately.

 Hollandaise Sauce

Yield: 1 ¼ cup

3 tablespoons water

3 large egg yolks

Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

Ice cubes, if needed

½ cup warm clarified butter

2 to 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

In a small, heavy saucepan, combine the water, egg yolks and a pinch of salt. Whisk constantly over low heat until the mixture is foamy and thick enough to form a ribbon when the whisk is pulled from the mixture. It should be pale yellow with the consistency of a thin yogurt. Be ready to pull the pan off the heat and have an ice cube or two on hand. If the mixture goes beyond the thick and creamy stage and appears event a little bit granular, qui

Quickly drop and ice cube into the mixture and whisk it in. When the mixture has reached to correct foamy consistency, cool the pan by tipping it to the side and carefully holding the base of the pan under cold running water for a few seconds. This will stop the sauce from cooking any further.

Off the heat, begin adding the warm clarified butter drop by drop, whisking all the time. Add the butter very slowly for about 30 second, then add the rest of the butter in a very thin, steady stream whisking until is all incorporated. Whisk in 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, and taste. You should be able to taste the lemon, but it should not over power the delicate sauce or taste sour. Add more lemon juice bit by bit, if necessary, to achieve the perfect balance. Adjust the seasoning with salt and add a pinch of white pepper. Serve immediately.

How to Pre-Poach Eggs

Bring 2 quarts of water to a simmer in a large saucepan and add 4 tablespoons of white vinegar. Fill a large bowl with ice and water and place at the side of stove.

Working two at a time so that you can easily keep track of the timing, quickly crack and egg into a small dish or sauced, then immediately slop it into the simmering water just above the water’s surface and repeat with the second egg. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the whites are just firm and the yolks are still quite soft to the touch, With a slotted spoon, gently retrieve the eggs and lower them into the iced water. Repeat with the remaining eggs, two at a time, leaving the eggs in the ice bath until all of the eggs have been poached.

Gently retrieve the eggs and trim off any ragged edges with kitchen shears, returning them to the cold water. Cover the bowl securely and reserve for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.

To warm the eggs at serving time, fill a large shallow dish or baking pan with 2 inches of boiling water and submerge the poach eggs, in batches if necessary, for 1 minute. Remove from the hot water bath with a slotted spoon, serve immediately.

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