Goat’s Cheese Florentine Salad with Poached Quails’ Eggs

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Cheese, eggs, spinach – the stuff of dream brunches. Perfect fare – simple yet showy – for when you’re trying to impress an, um, overnight guest...

Eggs Florentine began life as a twist on eggs Benedict, the classic American dish of muffin, bacon or ham, eggs and hollandaise sauce. In modern kitchen parlance, the term ‘Florentine’ seems randomly to get attached to anything with spinach in it, without so much as a nod to its origins as ‘food from Florence’. I tried telling someone recently that their front teeth were à la Florentine but the reference fell a little flat...

Ingredients

For the hollandaise

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp cold water
  • 125 g/ oz/½ cup (salted) butter, carefully melted
  • ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
  • freshly ground black pepper

For the other Bit

  • few leaves of frisée (curly endive), torn
  • 1 small bunch (50 g/ oz) of spinach, julienned
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp English mustard
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 crumpets
  • 100 g/ oz goat’s cheese log, sliced into 4 discs
  • 4 quails’ eggs
  • paprika

Method

Make the hollandaise first. Place the egg yolk, lemon juice and water in your blender* and switch the motor on. Trickle the melted butter in very slowly, then add the nutmeg and some pepper. Keep at room temperature until needed (if making ahead, chill then bring back to room temperature before using).

Toss the frisée, spinach and tomatoes in a bowl. Whisk the oil, vinegar, mustard and seasoning together and stir through the leaves.

Next, heat the grill. Slice through each crumpet horizontally to make 3 thin bread discs from each. Toast these discs on both sides and arrange them on 2 plates. While the grill is still hot, pop the cheese on to a piece of foil and grill it gently for about a minute either side so it softens and begins to brown. Keep it warm while you get the rest ready.

Put a wee pan of water on to boil, add salt, swirl the water around and crack the eggs in. Make ready a small bowl of iced water next to the cooker; after around a minute and a half, scoop the eggs out and lower them briefly into the cold water (thus arresting the cooking process) before resting them to one side.

Divide the salad between the plates of crumpet, top each with 2 discs of cheese and 2 (drained) eggs and, finally, spoon some of the hollandaise on top. Sprinkle with paprika. Don’t forget to act nonchalantly, like you cook this sort of stuff for yourself every day.

* Hollandaise

This is traditionally hand-whisked over a double boiler, so if you don’t have a blender, do it the old-fashioned way.