Sunday, January 14, 2007

My Favourite Sunday Brunch Fare: A New Way

Today is one of the first days where it actually feels like winter. It's cold, raining, and by nightfall we might even have some snow! In other words, the perfect morning for reading the Sunday New York Times, lingering a bit longer than normal at our coffee shop, and brunch. I've been craving brunch for the past few weekends but neither MBH nor I have been able to coordinate our schedules to allow for a nice mid-morning meal. My all time favourite dish for brunch is eggs Benedict. I love the way the runny yolk of the poached egg soaks down between the Canadian bacon (also known as Back Bacon) and the English muffin and then there is the Hollandaise sauce... Unfortunately, traditional eggs Benedict with its 860 calories and 56 grams of fat per "muffin" (muffin = 1 egg Benedict) can't be on my menu while I'm doing the 30/90 plan. Luckily, Cooking Light came to my rescue!

This month, Cooking Light started a monthly feature called Essential Ingredient where the editors will examine an ingredient that is absolutely necessary for food to taste good, cook correctly or required for good health. This month's ingredient is butter. Now wait a minute, isn't the name of the magazine Cooking Light? And isn't naming butter the first "essential ingredient" a bit of an oxymoron? I thought so when I saw the feature in the content page. But after reading the article, I understood why it was chosen. You see, a small amount of fat is necessary to give food a pleasing flavour and butter is the best fat for providing flavour. It is key to browning in baking and roasting. The trick to using butter while cooking healthy is to use small amounts in ways that give you the most "bang" in the flavour department while minding the fat. The article is really interesting with lots of little tips on how to use butter sparingly but take advantage of the flavour and crisping that butter offers. It is also chock full of recipes ranging from chicken Kiev to Butterscotch Blondies and Eggs Benedict Florentine with Creamy Butter Sauce.

The Cooking Light recipe calls for substituting a buttermilk based sauce for the Hollandaise sauce and scrambled eggs made with eggs and egg whites for the poached egg. I made a few modifications/substitutions to their recipe to make it even lighter and more flavourful. I used Egg Beaters instead of whole eggs and a low sodium/low calorie Canadian bacon our local supermarket stocks. I also added fat free Feta cheese and sauteed garlic with the spinach. Putting the recipe together took about 40 minutes but the result was worth the effort. This version of eggs Benedict was one the best I've ever had! The "mock" Hollandaise sauce was creamy but light tasting and I loved the garlic sauteed spinach. I served my eggs Benedict with a side of strawberries and blackberries and a small glass of orange juice. And now for the amazing part of this recipe. The total calorie/fat content is 524 calories and 17 grams of fat for two muffins! Now that is a dish I can indulge in...

Eggs Benedict Florentine with Creamy Butter Sauce
Adapted from the Jan/Feb 2007 Issue of Cooking Light
Serves 4 (2 muffins per person)

Sauce (makes about 1 cup of sauce):
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup low fat buttermilk
2 large eggs (I used 1/2 cup Egg Beaters)
2 Tbsp clarified butter
1/2 tsp salt

Scrambled Eggs:
cooking spray (I used butter flavoured Pam)
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
6 large egg whites
4 large egg
(I used 1 cup Egg Beaters)

Remaining Ingredients:
cooking spray
6 cups fresh spinach, trimmed
4 English muffins (I used Thomas 100 Calorie)
8 slices Canadian bacon
3 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup fat free Feta cheese
1 Tbsp minced garlic

To Make the Sauce:
Place cornstarch, water, buttermilk and eggs in the top of a double boiler and whisk together until cornstarch is well blended. Cook over simmering water until thick and mixture reaches 160 degrees, stirring constantly. Stir in butter and salt. Remove from heat, put lid on double boiler (keep top part over the simmering water) and keep warm.

To Prepare Eggs Benedicts:
Whisk together eggs, 1/2 tsp minced garlic, salt and pepper in large bowl and set side. Lightly coat large saute pan with cooking spray. Add spinach and 1 Tbsp of garlic to pan and coat lightly with cooking spray. Saute over medium high heat until spinach is slightly wilted. Place in bowl and cover to keep warm. In same saute pan, lightly brown Canadian bacon. Remove and keep warm. Using a fork, split English muffins and toast lightly. Place two on a plate. Using the same saute pan, spray with cooking spray and over medium heat, add egg mixture. Allow to slightly set before scrambling with spatula. While eggs are cooking, place one piece of Canadian bacon on each muffin and sprinkle a bit of Feta cheese on each piece of bacon. Place 1/4 cup scrambled eggs on top of each muffin, top with 1/4 cup of garlic sauteed spinach and drizzle 2 Tbsp of sauce over each muffin. Sprinkle with chives and fresh ground pepper.

Serve with 1/4 cup of fresh fruit