Ding Ding!
Eggs Benedict Round One
Served just me. Lonely Me.

A round of muffins
Hollandaise sauce
Poached Eggs
The muffins take about 2 hours to prepare - they need to prove twice for 45 minutes or so, then cooking them on the stove top takes another half an hour.
This does give you time to clarify your butter (if you don't already have some standing by), reduce your vinegar and prepare your bain marie and poaching water.

Prepare the Hollandaise and keep warm, covered, either in a bain marie, or a thermos.
I just left it sitting in the (now turned off) double boiler. But it wasn't too long before the eggs started to set at the bottom. You will need to keep whisking if you're going to do this. Adding a tablespoon of cold water to the sauce, and pouring some cold into the double-boiler water might help.
Have the serving plate warming under the grill.
Halve the muffins and toast them lightly. Butter and keep warm on the serving plate.
Not sure they need toasting, if they're freshly cooked.
Cook the ham (if necessary). I used Parma ham, and just grilled the slices lightly until starting to crisp.
Mound the ham on the muffins or on a plate and keep them warm until required.

Poach the eggs individually.
Add a handful of salt and a good dose of vinegar to your pot of water, bring to a rolling boil, swirl around frantically, then carefully break an egg into the centre of the vortex. You don't need to slide the eggs off a plate if they're fresh enough.
Turn down the heat and simmer gently until the egg is ready: 2-3 minutes.
Remove the egg with a slotted spoon, and set aside to drain while you get the next egg in.
Place the egg on top of a baconed muffin.
This is a slow process - I need to investigate ways of par-cooking these eggs, then just re-warming them when the muffins are ready to go.
Many online instructions suggest dropping the pre-cooked eggs into iced water until they are needed, then briefly repoaching.
I do require runny yolks though!
When all the eggs are on, pour over the Hollandaise sauce (if it's still liquid!) and serve.
Delia suggests grilling the finished product to give it a nice 'glaze', but I didn't bother.
Disappointing - the ham was too thin and crispy and the sauce too tart. The muffins and the eggs were just fine though.

Now featuring Eggs Hemingway. Ding Dong!
Eggs Benedict Round Two
Served two of us.
Hurrah - two for breakfast.
Even if that was my Mum!

Start your muffins. If you're canny - you'll make these the day before!
Clarify your butter
Reduce your flavoured vinegar and allow to cool.

Make the Hollandaise, either just before you start cooking the muffins (and then keep it in a warmed thermos flask until you need it), or when the muffins are ready. The sauce will need your total concentration! Make sure the clarified butter is about the right temperature before you start - not too hot, not too cold.

Now toast your muffins (it's definitely better to toast your muffings), poach your eggs, and fry your bacon:
Carefully prick four muffins around their middles with a fork and tear them open, then get them toasting.
Start the bacon frying in a smear of olive oil.
Bring a large shallow(ish) pot of water to the barest of simmers. Add a couple of teaspoons of salt and a couple of tablespoons (or so) of vinegar. Break your duck eggs into tea cups, then gently roll them out into the water. The duck eggs were nice and large, but otherwise taste pretty much the same as hens eggs. When you've got them all in the pan, turn the heat up again to return the water to a simmer and make an attempt to fold their whites around the yolks with a spoon.

Lay the four toasted muffin halves on warmed serving plates, butter them if you like, and lay the bacon or smoked salmon slices on top.
According to Wikipedia - Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon is called Eggs Hemingway or Eggs Royale but according to our local Olive Branch it's Eggs Pacifico. Though that also seems to involve some spinach.
When the eggs are perfectly poached: their whites have just solidified, but their yolks are still bright orange and runny (about 3 minutes), scoop them out with a slotted spoon, pat dry with a cloth and place them on a couple of the muffins.
Pour a portion of the Hollandaise sauce over the top.
Grill the plate if you want a little bit of glaze, or if you need to reheat the sauce since you need to keep the Hollandaise only slightly above body temperature this is a good way of making sure the dish is served hot .
Decorate with some snipped chives, and a pinch of cayenne pepper, and serve.
This time I got the bacon right (just use British back bacon - that's what the Americans mean by Canadian bacon anyway - American bacon is normally streaky, paper-thin rubbish), and the Hollandaise was gorgeous (I halved the proportion of lemon juice this time, and didn't have the butter too hot so the sauce ended up just above lukewarm, which meant it kept a beautiful consistency).
I used Paul Gayler's workmanlike Hollandaise version, and I made a full quantity using 8 oz butter. So there was tons of sauce. Easily enough for three, and probably perfectly acceptable for four, as long as they aren't all absolutely mad for Hollandaise.

On Egg Poachery
breakfast veg
There's an amusing site on the science of egg poachery, including an effective, but annoyingly fiddly cling film method that I tried out at one point -
You line a cup with cling film, break the egg into the cling film and then tie it up and poach as normal.

To be honest although the eggs were cooked well enough this way, they don't look great, and it's hard to peel them away from the clingfilm without losing half the white. I still prefer the old-fashioned spinning vortex method.
Nevertheless, it might be a good way to poach a large number of eggs in one pot at the same time.

Since then I've come across several chefs scorning the vortex and insisting that all you need is barely shimmering water, vinegar (or salt), and a shallow cup to slip the broken egg from. Which if it worked would also allow you to poach a number of eggs at once.

Wikipedia also much to say on the subject:
If the eggs are at room temperature, the cooking time is 2 mins 30s to 2 mins 40s. If the eggs are taken from a refrigerator, then a longer time of about 3mins is required.
Dipping the eggs into cold water for a few seconds immediately after taking them out of the boiling water prevents over-cooking.

I've now had a go at poaching several (well, four) eggs at the same time - I got a wide, (fairly) shallow pan of salted (2 tsps), vinegared (2-4 tbsps), water to just below simmering: so the surface was barely moving.
Then I broke the eggs into small cups (tea cups or large ramekins), and gently poured them out into the water.
The eggs spread out a little at this point like incontinent jelly fish (though it probably depends on the age of your eggs), so it helps if you can get them rolling a little as they go into the water so the white wraps around the yolk. Either that, or use a spoon to fold the white around. Or better still, use a ring to hold them in place, something like a cookie cutter or mason jar ring.
Once your eggs are in, turn the heat back up to bring the water back to a gentle simmer. If you don't the yolks will likely harden before the white is properly cooked.
When the whites are just done, lift the eggs out with a slotted spoon and drain them or pat them dry before using. You can briefly chill them in cool water to stop them cooking any more too, if you like.

Though this method did work, I can see that it still needs a bit of practice - my yolks weren't really covered with white so they weren't as runny as I would have liked, and there was quite a lot of eggy snot left in the pot.

Possibly I should have folded the whites around the yolks with a spoon once they had begun to firm up.
Possibly I should have added more vinegar.
Though the vinegar does add some vinegar aroma, it definitely helps to coagulate the egg whites, especially if your eggs are slightly more than 1 day old. You probably need to balance unwanted flavour against degree of coagulation. I used malt vinegar, but if you want less flavour you could use white (distilled/spirit) vinegar, or rice vinegar if you prefer.
I've heard it suggested that you can take the eggs out just as soon as the white has firmed up and put them in iced water so that you can save them to reheat later. Even a day later. Just drop them in simmering water for a few seconds.
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