My second holiday-themed mission for the Canadian Tire Kitchen Crew came in the form of a Cuisinart Traditional Waffle Maker, along with the following prompt:
It's Christmas morning, and the whole family has gathered to exchange gifts and spend some quality time together. What better way to do that than at the kitchen table enjoying an extra-special Christmas breakfast? Your mission this week is to create two recipes for the morning of the big day!
I brewed up a big pot of coffee and put on my thinking cap. As far as I'm concerned, waffles alone are already pretty darned special, but how could I transform them into an extra-special breakfast worthy of Christmas morning?
One of the first things that leapt to mind was Eggs Benedict. It's one of my very favourite brunch dishes, because when it's done right, it becomes a magical combination of toasted English muffins, salty ham, runny poached eggs and rich tangy Hollandaise sauce that goes well beyond each of its individual components. It's a thing of beauty.
It's not exactly a dish for the faint of heart, either - a perfect Benedict is hard to make at home, because there are so many components that need to be perfectly timed to come together in that one single dish. That's why I usually prefer to order it when I'm out for brunch and let someone else do all the work, rather than spending my Sunday morning fussing over a broken Hollandaise while simultaneously attempting to poach an egg. It takes a very special occasion indeed to convince me to bust out the homemade Bennies.
That said, Christmas morning is about as special as they come, which is why I'm not only putting a homemade Eggs Benedict on the menu, I'm also throwing in a crisp, hot waffle for good measure.
I must say, the Cuisinart did a great job of popping out beautiful waffles - the "3" setting delivered a perfect golden-brown colour, crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. I also love the minimal, compact design, which is just slightly bigger than those portable CD players I remember from the 90s (which means I might even have a backpack or two from the heyday of the Discman that I can now use to transport a waffle-maker... how awesome is that?).
My only issue is that this model uses a set of red/green indicator lights to indicate when the waffle iron reaches the target temperature or when the waffles are done. Personally, I would have preferred an audible beep, especially when working on a dish like this which requires a fair bit of multi-tasking. It's a really minor nitpick, though, considering this is meant to be a bare-bones sort of model.
It's a match made in heaven. Unlike English muffins, waffles are dotted with little square pockets just waiting to be filled with sauce, making them an ideal vehicle for transporting all that lovely runny egg yolk and Hollandaise from plate to mouth without wasting a drop. And trust me, when you've busted your butt making Hollandaise from scratch, leaving even the smallest droplet uneaten is a cardinal sin!
Thankfully, I've managed to find a few shortcuts that make Eggs Benedict a little more manageable, without taking away any of the deliciousness of the final product.
The first (and most important) of my shortcuts is blender Hollandaise, which is actually much faster and much easier on the biceps than its traditionally-prepared counterpart. It's also almost completely fool-proof, as long as you're not so impatient that you dump in all the butter at once... slow and steady is key.
The second shortcut is good old-fashioned advance preparation. The Hollandaise, the waffle batter and the poached eggs can all be made a day ahead. Leaving you with nothing to do on Christmas morning other than gently reheating the Hollandaise and the eggs (using a double-boiler and a pot of boiling water, respectively), cooking waffles, brewing a pot of coffee, assembling Bennies, and patting yourself on the back for a job well done.
I was provided with compensation, including a free Cuisinart Traditional Waffle Maker, in exchange for creating this post for the Canadian Tire Kitchen Crew series.
This Christmas Kitchen Crew series highlights my stories, recipes & tips with promotional consideration made possible by Canadian Tire. If you want to uncover your kitchen's true potential, stay tuned to the Kitchen Crew for my weekly missions.
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- ½ tsp Dijon mustard
- Dash cayenne
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp salt
- 1¾ cups buttermilk
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tbsp finely chopped lemon thyme
- 12 eggs
- 2 tsp white vinegar
- ½ lb thinly sliced ham
- Paprika or snipped chives (for garnish)
- In a small saucepan set over medium-high heat, heat the butter until melted and bubbling hot.
- Meanwhile, in the bowl of a blender, combine egg yolks, lemon juice, mustard and cayenne. Blend the yolk mixture on high speed for about 30 seconds, or until smooth and pale yellow in colour.
- Reduce the blender speed to low and, with the blender still running, slowly pour in the butter in a thin stream, until all of the butter has been incorporated.
- Run the blender for another 2-3 minutes once all of the butter has been added, to ensure the sauce is completely emulsified. If the sauce looks too thick, add more lemon juice, 1 tbsp at a time, until it loosens up to the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, olive oil, eggs and lemon thyme. Pour into the bowl of dry ingredients, and mix thoroughly until the batter is smooth and free of lumps. Let stand for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat waffle iron. Once the waffle iron reaches the desired temperature, scoop ½ cup of batter into the centre of the waffle plate, and smooth out into an even layer using a heat-proof spatula. Close waffle iron, and cook the waffle to desired degree of crispness. Repeat until you have a total of six waffles.
- Transfer the finished waffles to a baking sheet and keep warm in a 200F oven while you poach the eggs.
- Fill a large pot with 3-4″ of water, and stir in the vinegar. Bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce the heat to low. (Do not let the water reach a full rolling boil – you want it to be at a bare simmer for the next step)
- Working with one egg at a time, crack an egg into a small ramekin, then gently slide the egg into the hot water. Use a spatula or slotted spoon to gently nudge the egg back into shape as it sets. Repeat the process with a second egg. Cook both eggs for 3-4 minutes, or until whites are set and yolk is still slightly wobbly. Repeat with remaining eggs, poaching no more than two at a time (any more than this will throw off the timing).
- Note: This step can be done in advance if poaching a dozen eggs feels too daunting – simply plunge the finished eggs into an ice water bath, then reheat in boiling water for 20-30 seconds when ready to serve.
- Place a waffle in the centre of a dinner plate, and arrange two or three slices of ham over the top. Top the ham with two poached eggs, then ladle a generous amount of
- Hollandaise sauce overtop. Finish with a dusting of paprika or a sprinkling of snipped chives. Repeat with five more waffles to make a total of six servings.