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Eggs Benedict Macallan, and cod

19 September 2004

Woke up yesterday morning in an absolute pit of depression. No immediate reason for it, just everything in my life seemed foul; spent all morning on the very edge of tears. So what did I do? What could I do, but cook...?

So for lunch I worked up a variation on Eggs Benedict, which - necessarily, in this house - is now known as:

Eggs Benedict Macallan (for one - an absolute requirement)

Make a cheese sauce with lots of strong cheddar, then devil it up with mustard, cayenne and smoked paprika.

Fry a few rashers of bacon till crisp; better overdone than the other thing.

Make toast: start with good bread cut as thick as you like it, toast under a grill till they're as goldy-brown as you like it, then let them stand separately for a minute to let all the steam out before you plate 'em. Otherwise they won't stay crisp.

Poach a couple of eggs the softest way: bring a pan of water to a simmer so slight it's practically a shimmer, break two very fresh eggs into it and let them shimmer for just one minute, then turn the heat off and ignore them for the next ten. Then take 'em out with a slotted spoon, let it drip onto kitchen paper, and slide 'em onto the toast. Adorn with the bacon, and pour the sauce over. Eat with cherry tomatoes that have been roasting in the oven through all of the above.

And then I went shopping, and came home with a thick chunk of really fresh cod (how can you tell it's fresh, when it's just a chunk and you can't check the condition of eyes and gills and such? Smell it. If it smells of fish, leave it. If it still smells of the sea, you're in. If your fishmonger won't let you sniff his stock, find another fishmonger). So I fried it skin-side first in olive oil in a very hot pan, just two minutes a side to be brown and crisp outside and barely-cooked within, slid it onto a plate then chucked some sweet yellow pepper, sun-dried tomatoes and a handful of capers (salted variety, soaked and dried) into the pan, added a glug of walnut oil and a slug of balsamic vinegar and whisked them up into an emulsion. Poured that over the fish and ate it with champ (slice the whites and greens of spring onions; seethe the whites with milk, cream and butter for a couple of minutes, then beat into mashed - or in my case riced - potatoes. Mix in the greens with salt & pepper to taste). It's really good. Just needs a name. Cod with a Warm Caper Salad would cover it, I guess, but that's not a name, it's a description...

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© Chaz Brenchley 2004
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.