Yes. At home.
Ever since I saw the recipe for English muffins a couple of years ago in that old reliable, The Breakfast Book, the idea of making them has been pinging around in my brain. And then, when we decided to have some friends over for brunch at the new place, I figured, What the hell?
And then, because I like to pile as many challenges into one project as possible, I thought I might try to make Eggs Benedict from scratch — everything except the bacon, because I didn’t think of this project far enough in advance. Alex thought this was a terrible idea, as there are many, many points of failure in this dish, and that’s the reason why one dines on Eggs Benedict in restaurants. He had a point, seeing as how I’d also never yet been successful in poaching eggs, nor had I ever made Hollandaise before. But sometimes the urge to take on a project outshouts all the reason in my head — and Alex’s.
Turns out English muffins are pretty easy to make. You make a pretty straightforward yeasted bread dough and after rising, cutting, rising again, you cook them on a griddle (or if you, like me, have trouble controlling the surface temperature of your griddle, you resort to a skillet). Cunningham wants you to cook them in ring molds, but I only had one mold and zero patience, so I just cooked them as they were, and they turned out fine. Don’t they look fine?
I ended up following Cunningham’s instructions (from, yes, The Breakfast Book again) for blender Hollandaise, which came together perfectly. (Later that week I failed repeatedly in attempts to put that same blender to use in making mayonnaise and had to fix two quarts of mayonnaise by hand. I’m still feeling it in my right arm.)
For the most treacherous task, poaching the eggs, Cunningham provided a method that I’d never heard of: boil the eggs in the shell for 30 seconds, and then poach as usual in shallow, simmering water with some cider vinegar added. And miraculously, it worked!
The one thing that didn’t turn out so great was the potato pancakes. I didn’t have any time to pay attention to them, and they ended up mostly perfunctory and slightly burnt.
I’m pretty convinced that the Benedict only came together with beginner’s luck, and that I’ll never be able to recreate it again, but whatever, I’ll take it. And I have photographic evidence that it happened.