Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Daring Cooks poach to perfection!

I am always nervous when the Daring Cooks' challenge is revealed. What if it something really meaty? That just does not appeal to me. Eggs, on the other hand, are a staple for any meal around here. This was a perfect challenge, as I had already made the challenge recipe of Eggs Benedict, so I could branch out a bit and try other poached egg recipes. In fact, I got a bit carried away and made 4 different dishes, only missing making the fifth because I was out of a key ingredient.
First up, egg hoppers. Hoppers are a Sri Lankan stovetop yeast bread made with coconut milk. Usually an egg is cracked and cooked in the bread, but I poached mine and topped them with a coconut and curry leaf sambol. This was the dish I could not stop eating, and I think I had 8 of these until the sambol finally ran out.
Egg hopper with karapincha sambol
Next, I revisited Japan, and one of my favourite breakfasts. Hot rice, natto, and egg. What is natto, you wonder? Well, it's fermented whole soybeans that are quite slimy. They are often served with a raw egg beaten in, but I used a lightly poached one. Some say that natto is stinky, but I don't think so at all. This makes a filling, savoury breakfast. It was also a great excuse to use the natto bowl and spoon a friend had sent me from Japan.
Rice, natto, poached egg and black sesame seeds
Hmm, where to next? Well, back to Eggs Benedict, the dish that every brunch joint in North America serves. This is what I order almost every time I go out for brunch. I've had them on steak, lobster, crab cakes, biscuits, focaccia, with back bacon, with spinach... I had only made them once before at home, and that was for an Easter brunch of about 15 guests. This time, I made them for myself, for an indulgent breakfast on a day I wasn't working. First, I made crumpets, then topped them with steamed spinach, the eggs, and hollandaise sauce topped with a bit of smoked paprika or ancho chile, I can't remember now. Delicious!
I really wanted to make the oeufs en meurette, or eggs poached in a red wine sauce, but there are lots of mushrooms involved, and I'm not a fan of the fungus. I also thought about doing an eggs in tomato sauce, as that's another staple around here, but I just never got around to it. Instead, I enjoyed my eggs benny...
...and then it came to me. Of course! Eggs poached in maple syrup, that sugar shack specialty. I decided to make some buckwheat crepes and peppercorn crusted, very crispy bacon to accompany the eggs. Now, if you're recoiling at the idea of poaching eggs in syrup, relax! It's not nearly as sweet as you might imagine, especially when served with the unsweetened crepes. Don't forget to dunk your bacon in the syrup too!
 And now, the official blog-checking lines for a great challenge. Thanks Jenn and Jill!

Blog-checking lines: Jenn and Jill have challenged The Daring Cooks to learn to perfect the technique of poaching an egg. They chose Eggs Benedict recipe from Alton Brown, Oeufs en Meurette from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan, and Homemade Sundried Tomato & Pine Nut Seitan Sausages (poached) courtesy of Trudy of Veggie num num.

Challenge PDF, recipes and recipe links can be found after the jump.

Here's a link to the complete poaching challenge PDF. I do not add vinegar when I poach eggs, as I don't like vinegar and I always think I can taste it. I salt the water, and sometimes make a whirlpool in it, if I remember. Don't get too caught up in the technique--just try it!

Here's a link to the curry leaf sambol I used in my poached egg hoppers. I didn't include the shallot and garlic, as I was having this for breakfast. It was fantastic, but I can't wait to try it again with those ingredients. You can also find many delicious vegetarian recipes on le sauce, as well as other Sri Lankan recipes.

For the hoppers, I used a mix, as I am still perfecting my own recipe. It's basically flour, rice flour, yeast and coconut milk. Stay tuned for more hopper posts!

Maple poached eggs on buckwheat crepes
Eggs poached in maple syrup is a sugar shack specialty in Quebec. Stuffed buckwheat crepes, or galettes are also very popular. I decided to combine the two classics. This recipe is gluten-free, and can easily be made dairy-free by substituting oil for the butter. It's wonderful served with crisp bacon or spicy sausages. I find one egg and 3 crepes perfect, but those with hearty appetites might find 2 eggs and 4 crepes more to their liking. The recipe yields about 16 crepes.
Buckwheat crepes:
1 cup buckwheat flour
2 eggs
1 tablespoon melted butter or vegetable oil
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
extra water for thinning batter
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. cover and refrigerate for at least an hour, longer if you can. The batter can be kept refrigerated for a few days.
  2. When ready to cook, preheat a steel crepe pan or small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Thin the batter with up to 1/2 cup water. The thinner the batter, the lacier the crepes.
  3. Lightly grease the hot crepe pan with butter or oil. Add about 3 tablespoons batter, swirling to cover base of pan thinly. If batter does not spread, add more water. Cook until edges lift away from pan, then flip, using your fingers or a small heat-proof spatula. Cook for another 30 seconds or so. Adjust heat as necessary.
  4. Repeat. You should not need to grease the pan again. Remove the cooked crepes to plates, folding them into quarters. You can also keep them warm in a low oven.
Maple poached eggs:
1 cup pure maple syrup
4-8 eggs
  1. Pour maple syrup into a shallow pot and place over medium-low heat. When you see a few bubbles rising to the surface, you are ready to poach. Break the eggs into the simmering syrup. Do not crowd them--you may need to do this in batches. Poach for 3 minutes for very soft yolks, longer if you prefer them firmer, basting the eggs with the syrup if it doesn't cover them completely.
  2. Serve 3 to 4 crepes per person, topped with the egg(s) and some of the hot maple syrup. Crisp bacon or spicy sausage are perfect accompaniments.

Here's the link to Food52, where I first posted this recipe.

Natto is available frozen in Asian supermarkets, in little styrofoam (evil, I know) containers, in packs of 3 or 4. It comes with a seasoned soy sauce and hot mustard to mix in. No cooking required. 

Tea Crumpets
Source: Food&Drink (a publication of the LCBO), Holiday 2010
1 cup milk
½ cup cold water
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon yeast
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (for greasing pan and rings)

1. Scald milk but do not bring to a boil. Add cold water, cool slightly until still warm, but not hot. Add yeast* and proof until foamy. Beat in egg.

2. Stir dry ingredients together. Pour in milk mixture. Beat with a wooden spoon or spatula until well mixed. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; let dough rise till doubled and numerous bubbles appear on surface (mine almost overflowed, so use a big bowl). Rising takes 45-60 min depending on kitchen temperature.

3. Place a large heavy frying pan over medium-low heat. Once hot, dip a folded paper towel in the oil and grease the bottom. Grease the rings very well and place them in the pan to preheat. Place them upside-down, or the opposite way you’d put them on a jar**. Allow them to preheat.

4. Use about 2 tablespoons batter for standard lids and about 3 for wide-mouth lids. You don’t want to fill them to the top, or they’ll overflow. The batter should spread to fill the lids, so thin with water if it’s too thick. Cook about 5-8 minutes, until the bottoms are golden and the tops are dryish and full of holes. Flip crumpet over and cook for another minute or two. Remove ring with tongs. If it sticks, hold ring with tongs and knock it sharply against side of pan.

5. Cool on a rack. Adjust heat as needed and oil rings and pan between batches. Crumpets keep at room temperature for a day or can be frozen for up to 2 weeks.

6. To serve, toast. You do not need to split them like English muffins. Great under Eggs Benedict, but my favourite way to eat them is with butter and honey or maple syrup.

Makes 12 to 14

*If using instant or bread machine yeast, you can mix it with the flour

**The recipe recommends placing the lids the opposite way, but I found the crumpets kept rising out of the middle and were oddly shaped and stuck to the top surface of the lid. Try both and see what works best for you.


Evelyne CulturEatz said...

Wow you went all out Mary! Amazing ideas and a poached egg is not a hard task for you!

And I can totally vouch for the last one, maple syrup poached is not as sweet as you think and do dunk that bacon in there!

Renata said...

Mary, I'm amazed at the many versions you made. If I had to choose one, I wouldn't know which! They all look amazingly delicious! I'm still going to try the bibimbap! ;o)

Melanie said...

The natto looks sinfully good. I've never tried it before, but it is going on my list of must-trys!

Beth said...

You're making my mouth water! All of your egg variations look terrific.

Suz said...

Woah, you poached so much! I'm loving all of these, especially the egg hopper and sambol. I am definitely making that. Wow. And what a cool idea to poach the egg in syrup.

Jenn said...

Four dishes! Wow this is so awesome Mary. Absolutely loving that last one, that's the most creative I've seen yet! mmmm :)

shelley c. said...

You rocked this challenge - SO amazing! And all of your dishes look and sound so delicious - and so different from one another! That is quite a feat, to use the same main ingredient to make four totally different and spectacular dishes. That egg in maple syrup, though - it sounds so amazingly decadent... I will DEFINITELY have to try that one day! Amazing job.

Valerie Gamine said...

Mary, all of these variations look delicious! But at 9am, I'm so craving some of those buckwheat crepes with maple syrup and poached egg. Well done, the pictures are stunning!

MyMacaroniPie said...

What a wonderful job and such creative dishes! You definitely out did yourself, well done. The eggs with the sambol I try myself :-)

Audax said...

Mary all four look fabulous but the last one in maple syrup is my choice at the moment. I just love your enthusiasm for this challenge.

Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

blepharisma said...

Looks like a trip around the world in poached eggs!! The maple syrup & buckwheat crepes are very Canadian... I should try this soon!

Ruth H. said...

Thank you for taking us on a trip around the world with your amazing recipes! I love how excited you were for this challenge. I definitely want to come to your house for a poached egg feast! Amazing job on this challenge
(as usual!)!!

Miri said...

Eggs poached in maple syrup!! I've only just found out about poaching in tomato sauce and now THIS?! Thanks so much for the inspiration! All of your dishes look amazing - you've obviously put a lot of thought and work into them.

Kelly said...

I agree with you - I could eat eggs. Every. Single. Day. Your variations are so creative. Great job. And um, yeah, maple syrup with eggs is to die for, eh?

Robyn Clarke said...

Amazed at how many variations you came up with. Very inspirational.

Oggi said...

Oh, I am so making the maple syrup poached eggs next. It's making me drool just reading it.

Natto! You are brave and I admire you.:)

FabFrugalFood said...

You REALLY went the extra mile. Must try that maple syrup thing. . .


Monkeyshines in the Kitchen said...

Phenomenal job on this challenge Mary as always :-) the eggs poached in maple syrup sound incredible! Of course I could eat my weight in buckwheat crepes, so that was just perfectly appealing.

We'd never heard of egg hoppers, but they look marvelous - love the sambol.

Koci said...

All of these egg dishes look soooo yummy! I'm a huge maple syrup fan, so I'm very interested in giving that poaching technique a try. I can see how it'd be really tasty paired with some lovely bacon. Great job on this challenge!

Anonymous said...

Oh wow, eggs poached in maple syrup?! You seriously just blew my mind, and I think I know exactly what I'll be doing with the two eggs I have left! The buckwheat crepes look equally delicious - oh who am I kidding, everything looks amazing! Great job on the challenge!

yasmin said...

mary, these combos look so good. so glad you liked the sambol. let me know how it turns out if you try it with the garlic and shallots, i'm sure it will be very different!

David and Stacy said...

WOW! You've been busy. And all wonderful results. Well done indeed!

We just might put your maple syrup suggestion on our to-do list...


Please Do Not Feed The Animals. said...

Wow!!! Amazingly inventive.
I am especially drawn to the maple syrup idea - never heard of it before - looks gorgeous!

A Canadian Foodie said...

MARY! Mary! Mary! My first question - was: where did you learn of this Sri Lankan speciality? Then the Japanese dish appeared... and the question repeated itself inside of my head. Of course! That is what I love about being Canadian. We learn from our neighbours. I assume this is how you learned about these wonderful dishes. I love learning about international flavours and recipes from mine. The Sri Lankan dish sounds divine - and, I confess - the Japanese one, not so tasty. But - poaching in Maple Syrup? I need to go to Sugar Shack!! Have you been - or are you just an avid reader? I thought of my sous vide egg. Oh my gosh. It is the best egg I have EVER tasted. I rarely poach eggs, but need to do that more. Each of your dishes looks spectacular. And, as you have heard me say before: I expect nothing less from you!
Great post!

tasteofbeirut said...

wow, perfect post for the egg lover! I will admit eggs are not my favorite but I love poached eggs, especially on muffins, toasted of course!

So Very Domestic said...

Omigosh Mary!! You never fail to impress but wow. I'm extra impressed right now lol. Way to go. I'm terrified of the Daring Baker this month too. We can do it!!

Rosemary & Garlic said...


My father would have loved the eggs poached in maple syrup!

Valérie said...

It all looks amazing, and oh so appetizing! I haven't had the guts to try natto yet, because it has such a reputation for being an acquired taste. I wasn't familiar with hoppers, but they sound delicious!

Laurie {Simply Scratch} said...

I love eggs!... and these are some delicious recipes!! Seriously these look fantastic Mary! I love your creativity with everything you make!!

silverrock said...

OMG! I really want to dig in to that natto + egg + rice combo! In fact, I think that's what I'll have to have for dinner tonight! Love your cooking adventures, and the amazing photos!

Rhyleysgranny said...

Oh I love the way you have done your eggs. Eggs Benedict always reminds me of breakfast in New York. Your blog is lovely. I am so glad you called into mine as now I have found yours. If you are interested I have invented another wheaten /soda bread and will be blogging about it later. I am really excited about it and no special flour required.