When I was growing up, I used to order Eggs Benedict for breakfast every time I had the chance. One day, I taught myself how to make it, and since then have tried to continually improve on this classic. This is what it evolved into over the years. I think you will find that it is a great combination of techniques and ingredients.
1 loaf of unsliced, good quality bread
4 thin slices of Westphalian ham, or other good quality ham
4 fresh (preferably organic large eggs), 5 egg yolks
1 TB white vinegar
2 TB freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp of salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 sticks of melted butter
Good quality caviar, optional.
Slice 4 slices off the loaf about 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick. With a round cutter about 3-4 inches in diameter, cut a hole in the slices. Set aside the rounds (save the rest of the bread for another use).
Fill a deep frying pan about half-way full with water. Add white vinegar and put over high heat until it reaches a simmer. Turn heat down to medium- medium high, maintaining the simmer (not a strong boil). One at a time, crack a whole egg into a ramekin or cup, swirl the water a little bit with a spoon, then carefully pour the egg in one of four sections in the pan. Repeat with the other 3 whole eggs. Allow to simmer for about 2-3 minutes, until the white is set, but the yolk is still runny. Set aside on a plate and cover to keep warm.
Melt butter in a saucepan. Put egg yolks, lemon juice, salt, and cayenne in a blender and blend for a few seconds until frothy. Slowly add the melted butter with the blender on. It should become a thick, beautiful Hollandaise. Check for seasoning.
Toast the bread rounds. On each of 4 plates, place a bread round, a slice of ham, one poached egg and a large dollop of Hollandaise.
If using caviar, place about a tsp of caviar on top before serving.