Saturday, October 24, 2009

Real Butter and Faux Champagne

Yesterday was John's birthday and we began the celebration at breakfast -- as we've done since we were married almost 46 years ago -- with champagne and Eggs Benedict.

Well, actually it wasn't champagne -- it was Prosecco, a sparkling wine from northern Italy. Come to that, maybe it wasn't Eggs Benedict as I made Bernaise sauce, not Hollandaise.

Whatever it was, it was really, really good.

In the afternoon, I made a chocolate pound cake for the family celebration. More butter. Lots more.

This cake has long been a family favorite -- as you can see by the condition of the page in the Southern Junior League Cookbook. I've modified the recipe over the years, adding a dab of cinnamon and making more icing so that it fills the center of the cake. Everyone likes a little extra icing, don't they?

The dinner itself was nothing fancy. At John's request, I made fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy -- family comfort food. And there was more champagne -- or rather, more sparkling wine -- this time Spanish rather than Italian.

A bitter-sweet occasion -- Ethan and Aileen were with us but after dinner they had to get on the road to Atlanta. The movers came today and packed up their household stuff and will be unloading it at the new house in Atlanta tomorrow.

Here's my Bernaise recipe, given to me a long, long time ago by Eleanor in Tampa.

1 stick butter (1/4 pound)
2 Tbs. lemon juice
3 egg yolks
Salt and pepper
2 thin slices onion
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
a few sprigs of parsley

Put the egg yolks in a blender, along with all the other ingredients except the butter. Melt the butter till bubbly. Blend the yolks and other stuff for 15 -20 seconds then slowly add the bubbling butter while the blender is still running. Run blender a few more seconds.

At this point, the sauce will be quite runny. I like to put it back in the pan I melted the butter in and set that pan in another pan of hot water while I fix the English muffins, Canadian bacon, and the eggs (which should be poached but which I fry over easy, never having quite gotten the hang of consistently turning out a perfect poached egg.)

When these elements are assembled, the sauce will have thickened a bit and be ready to crown the lot. Finish off with a drift of paprika and another sprig of parsley.


And here's the Chocolate Poundcake --

3 sticks butter
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
4 heaping Tbs. cocoa
1 cup milk
1 Tbs. vanilla

Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time. Add sifted dry ingredients, alternating with milk. Add vanilla.

Bake in a well-greased and floured tube or bundt pan at 325 F fo one hour and twenty minutes. Turn out of pan and ice while still hot.

The Icing on the cake

1 stick butter
3 Tbs. cocoa
2 cups confectioners sugar
3 or more Tbs. strong hot coffee

Cream butter well. Sift sugar and cocoa together and stir in. Add coffee to make a spreadable consistency. (This is more of a glaze than a traditional American cake frosting.)

And the cake is especially good if you make it late in the day so that it's still a little warm when you eat it. With vanilla ice cream on top.
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My Carolina Kitchen said...

Happy Birthday John. That's a fabulous way to start any day, but especially your birthday. Our birthdays have gone by this year, but I think we'll adapt your tradition next year.

We both want comfort food on our birthday for dinner also. My husband always asks for what his mother used to make when he was a boy.

I make my Hollandaise & Bearnaise sauce in the blender too. My recipe is from the original NY Times cookbook and the page is splattered with butter from the blender.

We've been trying different Proseccos lately, but we aim for dry ones as opposed to some that are a bit sweet for us. Your chocolate pound cake sounds fabulous. Wouldn't want to make that with faux butter now would we?

Pat in east TN said...

Looks to me like John had a pretty good day from beginning to end. Your table always looks so pretty when it's set and I always notice some kind of colorful flower.

Thanks for sharing the recipes ... I have several of yours saved and will add these to them.

So it sounds like the last of Ethan and Aileen's are moved? I hope they come back to visit often as does my oldest son who lives in the Charlotte area. Work wise he's got to be there, but the mountains will always be home for him.

Carol @ TheWritersPorch said...

Sounds like a really great day Vicki! Happy Birthday to John! :)

Vicki Lane said...

Morning, Sam, It's a fine tradition! We'll be having the same breakfast for our anniversary in a couple of .

I'm pretty sure my friend Eleanor got the recipe from the NYT cookbook as well. My original copy grew illegible from the butter spots and the places where lemon juice had faded out the ink.

The Prosecco we had was dry and delightful -- with just a hint of a fruity finish. And the pound cake is heavenly.

Hey, Pat, I expect they'll be back fairly often, once they get settled in. They'll be back the next few weekends, anyway, doing some cleaning.

It was, Carol -- a grand indulgence!

Miss_Yves said...

A surprise for you on my blog, if you want to play ...

Miss_Yves said...

Oh, of you can write it ( your self-portrait ) in English !

NCmountainwoman said...

Happy Birthday. Thanks for the recipes. Hope the sun is shining your way like it is here (finally).

Vicki Lane said...

Thank you, Miss Yves! I'll write in English -- wouldn't dare to attempt French. But first I have to translate your post!

Mountainwoman -- the sun shone briefly on our neighbors across the valley but it continues misty and overcast here.

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Vicki, I just can't justify using so much butter anymore, but for a special occasion, maybe I would relent. I feel so much better now that I've cut back on these high-fat delicacies, though I still lust after them
We had a great curry soup for lunch today with simplet leftover veggies, by the way, a puree of our butternut squash serving as base.
And I do make the occasional pie, which my husband wishes wer more than occasional.
Come to think of it, I used to make Eggs Benedict every Christmas morning, but that soon got to be just a little too much, considering what else awaited to be consumed later.

Vicki Lane said...

Hi, Kay -- the Eggs Benedict is a twice a year treat -- no more. And the chocolate pound cake is equally rare. We mostly only have rich desserts when we have company. and mostly don't have desserts at all.

But if we drop dead tomorrow, we'll have enjoyed ourselves. John always says he doesn't want to be the long-lived guy in the nursing home.

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Do you remember th Ann Tyler book, whose title I can't remember!, in which the husband is killed in a wreck, I believe, and the young wide laments, "He could have had all the whipped cream he wanted..." ? She'd been trying to keep him healthy for the long haul, not knowing he was going to have a short one. One of the saddest statements ever.

Kaye Barley said...

Vicki, hi! Fun "seeing" you in the coffee shop at PP WebCon yesterday! They did a good job with all that, I thought.

Belated birthday wishes to John!

And oooooh, girl! Thank you for the recipes. They sound delish and I'm afraid I'm not as careful about butter and such as most people seem to be, but so far - Donald and I both are just lucky when it comes to our cholesterol. I'm thinking it has more to do with genetics than diet anyway. And if I'm wrong - oh well. I SO agree with John about not wanting to be the long-lived guy in the nursing home and can't imagine, truly, anything sadder.

maria cecilia said...

Hello Vicki, loved the way you celebrate your husbund´s birthday, a good idea starting at breakfast time with the sparkling wine or champagne, love it!!
Muchos cariƱos
Maria Cecilia

Vicki Lane said...

We had friends to dinner last night and the talk was of their aging parents and we all agreed that having a little bacon and butter -- even if it meant missing those golden years in a nursing home -- might be the better choice.

Merisi said...

Belated Happy Birthday to your husband!
I love poached eggs, but usually it is coddled ones.

I have tried to follow Julia Child's instructions on how to make them, but they turn out well only when I have the freshest of eggs, straight from the henhouse.

I miss English Muffins. I made buttermilk biscuits today, maybe I should try English Muffins next time!

It's funny how the simplest things are missed the most. Who'd have thunk that EM would not be on the grocery shelves here?

Vicki Lane said...

I think I could poach eggs, Merisi, if it weren't so early in the morning . . .

I have made my own English muffins in the past and they weren't too difficult -- but once you cover them with egg and Canadian bacon and bernaise, it's hard to note any difference from store bought. But if they're not available in your stores . . . well, I can't think of what might be a substitute.

Are there bagels in Vienna? (I suspect there are some who say that there are no bagels except in New York City.) I've made bagels too and they are special!