McFruit, Fish Tacos and Eggs Benedict

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With Passover just around the corner - it begins April 16 at sundown, host Evan is hosting an alternative Passover cooking class. On Saturday, March 29, she-ll demonstrate how to make dishes from the Mediterranean and Middle East. For information and reservations call 323-936-9086 or email

Freelance writer-editor Josh Karpf's analyses and obsessions with certain dishes, including eggs benedict, can be found at

Traditional Eggs Benedict
Serves 3 to 6

2 Tablespoons butter
6 slices cooked ham or Canadian bacon
6 poached eggs (recipe below)
3 English muffins, split in half with a fork
Hollandaise sauce (recipe below)
Chopped parsley, optional
Heat butter in a large skillet, and saut- ham or bacon, turning once. Toast English muffins. Place a piece of ham or Canadian bacon on each muffin half, and top with a poached egg. Cover each muffin half with hollandaise sauce. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve while still hot.

Quick Hollandaise Sauce
Makes 3/4 cup

3 egg yolks
1 to 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1/4 pound butter
Heat butter in a small saucepan until bubbling, but do not let it brown. Put the egg yolks, lemon juice, and Cayenne pepper in a blender or food processor, and blend. With blender running, slowly add melted butter. Continue blending until sauce is thick and smooth, about 15 seconds. Fresh dill, tarragon, or other herbs may be added at this point, and blended for an additional few seconds.

Perfect poached Eggs
Serves 3 to 6

Cold water
2 to 3 Tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
6 large eggs at room temperature
Pour 1-1/2 inches of water into a large skillet. (A 10-by-2-1/2-inch stainless steel pan works well.) Add vinegar and salt, and bring to a boil. Crack eggs, one at a time, into a saucer or individual cups.

Gently slip eggs into water. Keep water at a simmer once all the eggs are added. Simmer 3 to 3-1/2 minutes, or until whites are set and yolks are still soft. Simmer for barely 3 minutes if you plan to hold them for later use. (See note below.)

Lift the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon, and drain on several layers of paper towels. If the eggs look a bit shaggy, you may trim the whites with a knife to form perfect circles.

Make-ahead note: Eggs may be poached a day ahead of time and held in the refrigerator until just before serving.

After eggs have been poached (see recipe above), use a slotted spoon to remove them from the pan and place them in enough cool water to cover, and then refrigerate them. When ready to serve, use a slotted spoon to carefully lift eggs into a skillet of simmering salted water and heat for about 30 to 45 seconds.

This method is especially helpful if you plan on serving poached eggs in any quantity for, say, a large brunch.

Abby Dodge is a contributing editor to Fine Cooking magazine.

If you have a holiday recipe you'd like to submit for their holiday baking issue, send it to: Fine Cooking, PO BOX 5506, Newtown, CT 06470. For information on directions for sending the recipes go to

Spicy Southwestern Bloody Mary
Serves four

We like to add a shot of vodka, but for those who might not want such a strong drink, this is delicious virgin-style, without the alcohol. Add the adobo sauce gradually and taste the tomato juice as you season to see how zingy you want it. (Chiles in adobo sauce may stain your cutting board; freeze extra ones in zip-top bags.)

1 quart good-quality tomato juice
1/2 lime, cut into 4 wedges; more if you like
4 ribs celery for garnish
1 medium canned Chipotle chile in adobo sauce (look for La Morena brand) plus 1 teaspoon to 1 Tablespoon adobo sauce
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, or more to taste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 to 6 ounces vodka
Pour the tomato juice into a pitcher and fill four tall glasses halfway with ice. Squeeze the juice from each lime wedge into the tomato juice and then put one squeezed wedge and a celery rib into each glass.

On a cutting board, halve the chile lengthwise, and gently scrape out and discard the seeds. With the side of a chef-s knife, smear the chile until ground into a paste. Discard any large bits of skin.

Scrape up the remaining paste and whisk this and 1 teaspoon of the adobo sauce into the tomato juice. Season the juice with the Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper; blend again. Taste and add more adobo sauce, if you like. Add the vodka (optional). Pour into the ice-filled glasses and serve.

Fresh tomato variation: In summer, instead of the tomato juice, use 4 pounds of fresh ripe tomatoes. Core and seed the tomatoes, place them in a blender with 1/4 cup cold water and pur-e until smooth. (If you want, strain the skins, but we like their added texture.)
(Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison, Fine Cooking #56 )

Salmon Hash with Dilled Cr-me Fra-che
Serves four

We love this hash for its luscious contrast of crusted potatoes and tender, moist salmon. An egg topping is the crowning touch, although it-s just as good without.

For the dilled cr-me fra-che:
1 cup cr-me fra-che or sour cream
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill
Pinch salt
Squeeze fresh lemon juice (optional)
For the hash:
1 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound Yukon Gold or red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
2 Tablespoons half-and-half or cream
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound cooked skinless salmon fillet or hot-smoked salmon, flaked
3 Tablespoons snipped fresh chives or thinly sliced scallion tops
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill
For the garnish:
4 fried or poached eggs (optional)
Drained capers
Fresh dill sprigs
Prepared horseradish (optional)
To make the dilled cr-me fra-che:
In a small bowl, stir together the cr-me fra-che, dill, salt, and lemon juice, if using. Taste and adjust the seasonings; set aside.

To make the hash:
In a 10-inch cast-iron or other large heavy skillet, heat the butter and oil over medium-low heat. Add the potatoes, stirring to coat them with the fat. Cover and cook until the potatoes begin to turn golden and a bit tender with browned edges here and there, about 15 minutes (you should hear only a faint sizzling).

Uncover the potatoes and turn them with a spatula. Raise the heat to medium and cook until uniformly soft with some crisp brown spots, about 5 minutes. Stir in the onion and pat the mixture down with the spatula. Cook until the onion is soft and the mixture begins to stick in a few spots and browns on the bottom, about 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, mustard, salt, and a generous grinding of pepper. Scrape up the hash and stir in the mustard mixture. Raise the heat to medium high. Continue cooking the hash, scraping it up and patting it back down another time or two until browned, another 5 to 8 minutes.

Mix in the salmon, chives, and dill and cook until heated through, another 2 minutes. Serve hot, topping each portion with a fried or poached egg (if using) and a sprinkling of capers. Garnish with dill sprigs or a bit of horseradish on the side, if you like. Top each portion with a dollop of the dilled cr-me fra-che, passing the rest at the table.
(Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison, Fine Cooking #56

Broiled Grapefruit
Serves four.

Feel free to vary the spices you use here: try replacing the cinnamon with cardamom, allspice, or nutmeg.
2 large pink or red grapefruit, halved, at room temperature
3 Tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (or 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
Position a broiler pan several inches away from the heating element and heat the broiler. Section each grapefruit half by cutting between the rind and the pulp and between each membrane. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, ginger, cinnamon, and softened butter until well blended. Distribute the mixture among the four grapefruit halves, smearing it on the cut side of each one. Broil until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately.
-Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison, Fine Cooking #56

Ultimate Fluffy Mashed Potatoes
Serves four to six.

For the fluffiest result, use a ricer, though these rich potatoes are still delicious made with a hand masher. The cr-me fra-che adds a nice tang, making a tasty side dish for something hearty. If you can-t find cr-me fra-che (many supermarkets carry it in the specialty cheese section), use a mix of heavy cream and sour cream.
1 3/4 to 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks (1 1/2 to 2 inches)
Kosher salt
1 cup cr-me fra-che (or 1/2 cup heavy cream plus 1/2 cup sour cream)
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Freshly ground white pepper
Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water by at least an inch. Add a generous 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to maintain a steady simmer. Cover the pot partially, and cook until the potatoes are quite tender when tested with a metal skewer, 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the cr-me fra-che (or heavy cream and sour cream) in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth and just hot. Set aside in a warm spot.

Drain the potatoes and dump them back into the pan. Dry over medium heat, shaking the pan and stirring until the potatoes look floury and leave a light film on the bottom of the pan. If using a ricer, dump the potatoes into a bowl and then rice them back into the pot set over very low heat. If using a hand masher, mash them in the pot until completely smooth.

Using a wooden spoon, beat in the lemon zest and butter. Add the cr-me fra-che in small additions, about 1/4 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Season with salt and pepper and serve right away.
(Molly Stevens, Fine Cooking #56)

Nancy Zaslavsky is the author of many books on Mexican food including, Meatless Mexican Home Cooking: Traditional Recipes that Celebrate the Regional Flavors of Mexico. She is also involved with the Culinary Historians of Southern California which meets monthly at the Central Library in downtown Los Angeles. For more information, contact (213) 228-7101.

Nancy Zaslavsky-s Broiled Lobster Tacos, Puerto Nuevo
Cook either spiny (clawless) or American lobsters the day you buy them, or keep alive up to 2 days, refrigerated, wrapped in cold, wet newspapers.
Serves 6

Six 1 1/2-pound live lobsters
6 large flour tortillas
Favorite spicy table salsa
Melted butter
Lime wedges
Preheat broiler to hot. Bring 3 gallons water to boil in large pot. Rinse live lobsters. Plunge 3 at a time, head first, and boil 3 minutes. Place in large bowl or sink filled with ice water to cool lobsters. Repeat with remaining lobsters. When cool enough to handle, place lobsters on their backs. With large, heavy knife or cleaver, cut lengthwise into separate halves. Remove intestinal grain tract, rinse away green-black tomalley. For Maine lobsters, crack claws, remove meat, place in body cavities.

Arrange 6 pieces on a baking sheet, meat side up. Brush generously with melted butter. Broil 3 minutes until meat is barely opaque. Immediately arrange 2 halves per plate, as 6 remaining pieces broil 3 minutes.

Serve with warm, northern-style flour tortillas, table salsa, melted butter, and lime wedges.
SIDES: Puerto Nuevo restaurants always put out family-style bowls of refried pinto beans and red rice.

Nancy Zaslavsky-s Shrimp Enchipolado Tacos, Veracruz
Serves 6

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium white onions, sliced vertically from pole-to-pole (rather than horizontally)
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 red-ripe plum tomatoes, chopped
2 canned Chipotle chiles en adobo, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1 rounded Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds medium raw shrimp, shelled
12 whole corn tortillas, warmed
1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
4 fresh limes, cut into wedges
Heat 2 Tablespoons oil a large skillet. Add the onion and saut- until it is transparent. Add the garlic and continue cooking until golden. Add the tomatoes, chiles, thyme, oregano, sugar and salt. Reduce the heat and simmer.

In another large skillet, heat 2 Tablespoons oil. Add the shrimp. Stir after 1 minute and cook at high heat 1 minute. Pour in the sauce. Remove from heat. Taste for seasoning. If you would like more spiciness, now is the time to add another finely chopped chile.

For each serving, spoon onto 2 overlapping, warm corn tortillas. Sprinkle with cilantro and pass a bowl of lime wedges.