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Eggs Nemesis

My palms were sweaty. My hand was shaking. My heart was in my throat. I’ll come out and admit it:…

By Brooke Hykaway , in Degrees of Success: A grad student learns to cook , on March 19, 2010

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My palms were sweaty. My hand was shaking. My heart was in my throat.

I’ll come out and admit it: I was nervous. Poaching an egg? Double boil? What was I thinking?!

Nonetheless I have to step out of my comfort zone if any real miracles are going to happen. So, here is the epic tale of eggs Benedict.

I organized everything last night. I like to know what I’m doing in advance. Far in advance. That’s how stressful I find cooking. Ironic, isn’t it? I hate it when I am checking to see what’s next in the recipe (the ultimate authority) and turn around to see a ruined ingredient on the stove.

I had been told – thanks to j-school foodie Mike – that pace was the key to mastering Hollandaise sauce. Everything had to be slow and steady: the heat, the whisk, the pouring of the butter, etc.

This is not my cooking style though. I usually smash around at lightening speed trying to stay on top of everything. So this proved to be a steep challenge.

I couldn’t stop watching the sauce in my makeshift double boiler. I had no idea what a double boiler was, so I looked it up in my illustrated cookbook. Yes, I said illustrated. I figured I was doomed when the yolk started to congeal but then I remembered I could add a little cold water. That singlehandedly saved the morning.

Now that the runny yet familiar-looking sauce was done I moved on the next hurdle, the poached egg. I would like to stress that eggs and I go way back, and we don’t have a friendly history.

I managed to keep it together, both literally and figuratively, and pulled it off. I was so relieved when it was over. Getting it out of the pot was tricky but I did it with the help of my trusty holey spoon. I believe in the culinary world they’re referred to as slotted spoons.

In the end, I am really proud of myself for mastering the Hollandaise sauce. If I have discovered anything about cooking through this recipe is that patience really does get you far. You can fix things if they go wrong, to an extent, like the sauce.

I’m also excited that I can start serving legitimate breakfasts at home. I finally have closure over the loss of the best breakfast joint in town. RIP Slickity Jim’s, I hope I find you again somewhere soon.