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Captain Fairfield Inn

Kennebunkport, Maine

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Eggs Benedict

photo of egg benedict at Captain Fairfield Inn Bed and Breakfast Kennebunkport, Maine
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English muffins
Asparagus spears, preferably small, tender ones
Lean Canadian bacon
Hollandaise sauce:
8 egg yolks
1/2 lemon
1 good pinch of cayenne
2 sticks of butter (absolutely no margarine), slowly melted
3/4 cup of very hot water

Slice the Canadian bacon into thin slices. You will need two slices per person . Place the bacon into a skillet on low heat. Turn the bacon often, making sure it doesn't dry out. As the Canadian bacon is most often pre-cooked, you're heating the bacon only to remove the excess water. Once the excess water in the bacon has gathered in the bottom of the pan, remove it from the heat and drain the water off.

Bring a 2-quart pot of water to a boil. You'll want 2 to 3 asparagus spears per person. Snap off the bottom portion of the spears. While gently holding the asparagus, gently flex it until it breaks on its own. Add to the boiling water. Heat for only about 2 to 3 minutes. You want to partially, but not fully cook it. Later, just before you serve the dish, you'll microwave 2 to 3 spears (per person) for 20 seconds. This will finish the cooking of the asparagus.

While the Canadian bacon is warming up, start boiling water in the bottom portion of a double boiler. Place 2 sticks of butter into a shallow dish and slowly melt it in a microwave. (Don't melt on high power or allow it to boil -- just a gentle melt.) Separate 8 eggs, keeping only the yolk in the top portion of a double boiler. (You can dispose of the egg whites or save them for making bread.) Using a strainer, squeeze half a lemon into the egg yolks. Add about 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne.

Place the top portion of the double boiler onto the bottom portion. Using a whisk, begin whisking the eggs vigorously. Use a constant, fast circular motion. Slowly add 1/2 of the water. Use very hot (not boiling) water because if the water is cool, or even lukewarm, it'll cool off the sauce too quickly. Continue whisking vigorously. Slowly add the rest of the water. Continue whisking vigorously. Do not stop. Whisk fast enough so you can see the bottom center of the pan. Once the mixture thickens so you can no longer see a well in the center, slowly add one half of the melted butter. Continue whisking vigorously for another 10 to 15 seconds. Add the rest of the melted butter and continue whisking for about another 30 seconds, just long enough to blend the butter into the eggs. (NOTE: Should the sauce begin to separate, immediately remove from heat and continue whisking until the sauce holds together.) The Hollandaise sauce should be moderately creamy and not watery. If it is, you probably didn't whisk it long or hard enough and/or added the butter too quickly.

Fill a large, 2-gallon pot with hot water. Add a dash of white vinegar (it helps the eggs set correctly). Bring the water to a boil. Crack 2 eggs, dropping the yolk and white into the pot. (Do this near the surface of the water as the water helps to slow down the spreading out of the eggs.) Put 2 English muffin halves into a toaster and toast lightly. Put 2 to 3 spears of asparagus on a paper towel and into a microwave. Heat at full power for 20 seconds. Periodically check the eggs to see that they are poaching well. Don't let them overcook!

Place the 2 English muffin halves on a heated plate. Put one slice of Canadian bacon on each English muffin half. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon from the water and put into a shallow bowl. Trim any excess egg white that might be unattractive. Transfer each egg onto the Canadian bacon. Ladle one Tablespoon of Hollandaise onto each egg. Then, ladle one more Tablespoon of sauce across both eggs/muffins. Decoratively arrange the asparagus between the eggs. Garnish the plate with a piece of large-leaf dark green lettuce, a spiced apple ring (half a ring), and an orange slice (half a slice).

For variation, you can add 1 Tablespoon of Dijon mustard, 2 Tablespoons of fresh chopped cilantro, 1/4 teaspoon white pepper, 1 Tablespoon of fresh chopped chives, or 1/2 teaspoon of finely chopped basil to the Hollandaise as you're stirring vigorously.

Serves: 12 to 15. For a smaller crowd, cut the sauce ingredients in half, but use extreme care as the sauce will cook much faster.

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