Eggs Benedict with Homemade Bread and Smoked Bacon
(recipe by Julia Ziegler-Haynes. Bread recipe adapted from the New York Times)
serves two hearty portions
6 strips smoked bacon
2 cloves garlic
1 pound fresh spinach
4 tablespoons butter
2 egg yokes
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
fresh cracked pepper
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour (with extra for dusting)
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1-1/4 teaspoon salt
cornmeal or wheat bran for dusting
The night before (15-20 hours ahead of breakfast time) combine flour, yeast and salt for bread. Add 1-5/8 cups water and stir until blended. Dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at room temperature. Once the surface is dotted with bubbles, lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it. Sprinkle with a little more flour and fold over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely and let rest for 15 minutes. Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface and your fingers, gently and quickly shape the dough into a ball. Coat a cotton towel generously with flour and cornmeal or wheat bran. Put dough seam side down on the towel and dust with more flour, and bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, the dough will more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger. At least half an hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6-8 quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, pyrex or ceramic) in the oven as it heats. When the dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from the oven. Slide your hand under the towel and turn the dough over into the pot, seam side up. Shake the pan once or twice until dough is evenly distributed (it will straighten out as it bakes). Cover with a lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15-30 minutes until loaf is nicely browned. Cool on a rack until the rest of the food is ready to eat.
Cook the bacon in a 12 inch skillet, while boiling pot of water to poach the eggs. Wrap the cooked bacon in foil and paper towels to reheat just before serving. Pour off most (but not all) of the fat. Saute two large garlic cloves in the remaining fat over medium-low heat. When it is is slightly translucent or starting to brown add the spinach and season with salt to taste. Remove from heat when just wilted. Poach 4 eggs and keep in a bowl of cool water when cooked to desired level.
For Hollandaise sauce, melt butter in a saucepan and set aside. Whisk egg yokes with one tablespoons water and lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt. In a saucepan over low heat, stir the egg mixture until thick and sticky. Remove from heat. Add the melted butter slowly while stirring. Set aside to rest. Slice 4 pieces of the fresh bread and toast, reheat the eggs in a pot of hot water for 30 seconds each. Top the toasts with spinach, one egg each and a generous amount of sauce. Crack fresh pepper over and serve with the reheated bacon.
This isn't a light breakfast, but it is good fuel for a day of looking at art. We ate then journeyed into the city to check out the 2010 Whitney Biennial. Past shows have been a serious disappointment but this one was actually pretty engaging. Highlights included textural paintings by Lesley Vance (above), drawings by local scenester Aurel Schmidt, photographic light images by Josh Brand and, in a refreshing change from most Biennials, an older artist whose pieces were my favorites in the show: Roland Flexner. His sumi ink drawings are utterly hypnotic. We left the Whitney hopeful and a little inspired before a walk through Central Park to the Humble Arts Foundation's 31 Women in Photography show opening at Affirmation Arts. Friend Amelia Bauer had a piece in the show and it was a great end to a fun weekend day.