How to make the perfect hollandaise sauce

Last year I went back to England to visit the family and my Mother-in-law was having this continuous battle making hollandaise sauce from scratch. Whenever she attempted it, which was fairly frequently, the sauce would curdle when she added the butter. I’m not sure if this is a common problem, but for those in the same boat, I asked Chef Simon what the trick was, and folks he’s sent out a life raft of tips.
First things first, your hollandaise reduction needs to be good, work with your ratios of white wine vinegar, white wine, brown onion, bay leaves and peppercorns.
Combine your hollandaise reduction with your egg yolks (this is called ‘sabayon’) and raise them to the same temperature as your melted butter. This (in theory) will stop the butter scrambling your eggs.
Serve immediately, or store in a warm place or a vacuum flask until needed: it doesn’t take kindly to reheating.
I’m not sure why hollandaise has such a fearsome reputation, but hope this info helps a bit in your quest for the perfect accompaniment for that eggs benedict or vegetable topping – or simply to impress your friends at dinner parties. If all else fails, simply rip the label off the jar!

My nemesis, poached eggs – how to get them just right!

OK, selfishly this info is specifically to help me. I watch the chefs at VinCino create perfect poached eggs every order and I’m in awe – how do they do it? Somehow whenever I attempt to impress the husband, which is on his birthday, my poached eggs break apart, overcook or sink. Needless to say he’s been getting scrabbled most years.
But as always the VinCino experts have shared some much needed knowledge and embarrassingly, it’s pretty bloody simple!
In order for poached eggs to work they need to hold their shape when placed in simmering water. The protein on the outside of the egg reacts to acidity and water alone isn’t acidic enough. So what I need to do in future is add vinegar to the water increasing its acidity, making my little egg pull together in a yummy ball of gooey goodness. And to make it work even better, give that water a little swirl before I plop my egg in to help give it a nice shape (presentation is everything folks).
Cook for 2-3 minutes for a semi-soft yolk or 3-4 minutes for a firm-set yolk, without stirring. And, to stop the cooking process, simply pop into some cold water and onto a paper towel before placing on a perfectly buttered slice of toast.
Next birthday I may even combine with some smoked salmon and hollandaise sauce!

Eggs – does size really matter?

Historically I, like the average Joe, would buy my eggs from the supermarket. I always made a point to buy free range, but if I saw the box marked ‘jumbo’ for the same price as medium, I would grab it, after-all who doesn’t love a bargain.
It wasn’t until I started working at VinCino and began a weekly trip to the Noosa Farmers Market for produce that I learnt – when it comes to cooking the perfect breakfast egg, size really does matter!
I was quickly informed by our great local egg supplier that the bigger the egg, the older the chicken and unfortunately, if you’re looking to cook a top breakfast egg (other than scrambled), which doesn’t splay when you crack it in the pan – the younger the better.
Therefore my cooking enthusiasts, like life, it’s the younger, smaller egg which is happy to maintain its shape, while the bigger, older (and some would say wiser egg) is happy to just let it all go in every direction once cracked, perfect for scrambling, but for that all important fried or poached egg – seek out the box marked medium.