The Hedonist’s Breakfast, and Hollandaise Sauce for One (or 10!)

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xI enjoy looking through cook books, perusing pictures and ideas. But when it comes to being in the kitchen and actually cooking, I hate having to refer to a page, my fingers all oily or my hands suspended so as not to get meat juice on the vegetables… I like to get an idea, and move forward on my own with it.

Maybe this is why I never really tried making Hollandaise sauce before. Or maybe it was because every time I read a recipe for it, the author felt the need to describe how easily it could all go wrong. But I actually really love Hollandaise sauce, and often dream of the Eggs Benedict at one of our favorite breakfast places in Portland.

Last month, I decided it was time. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m probably not going to find a great breakfast here in Bury, so I am working on expanding the offerings at Mama’s Bistro. I took a look at a slew of recipes out there on the internet, and came up with a scheme for making any amount of Hollandaise sauce, without having to reference a recipe each time. I most frequently make it for one. That’s right.  I love making myself an elaborate breakfast, when everyone else is gone, and it’s just me and my coffee, and a view of our garden.

This is kind of an anti-recipe– just some basic proportions. I think I’ve made it just under 10 times in the last two weeks, and I have yet to mess it up, even with my very loose way of measuring things. And the ingredients are so basic, you can make a phenomenal meal with very little on hand.
Here’s the formula for making Hollandaise Sauce just for one, using one egg yolk:

Hollandaise Sauce for One

1 Egg Yolk
1 T hot Water
Sea Salt
Lemon Juice (please, from a real lemon!)
Butter (the better your butter, the better your sauce!)
Cayenne Pepper

OK, this is pretty simple. Put the egg yolk in a small metal bowl. Whisk it a little. Add a tablespoon of hot water (I am usually simmering some water in preparation of cooking the sauce, and then poaching eggs, so this works out very conveniently) and a pinch of sea salt. Whisk it some more, then add roughly a teaspoon of lemon juice, and a tablespoon (roughly– I have never actually measured it) of butter.

As you can see here, you don’t need a double-boiler or anything special. I put my bowl in a strainer over the simmering water. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a pot slightly smaller than the lip of your metal bowl, and it can sit on top perfectly without a strainer.

Put the metal bowl over a simmering pot of water. Whisk. The higher the heat and boil of your water, obviously the faster it will cook, but there’s a higher need to be paying close attention and whisking constantly. I keep mine a little lower, and give myself the leisure of chopping up some greens as I whisk– but still put in the time whisking well. The butter will melt, everything will blend together, and gradually begin to thicken.It’s up to you how thick you want it to be– keep in mind that you will probably want it to be oozy versus gloppy, and it will thicken slightly more as it cools. Taste it. Decide what it needs more of, and add the cayenne pepper or regular pepper, if you like. I have also added a little olive oil to balance the flavors a bit, and haven’t gotten in trouble for adding that, more butter, or even lemon juice after it has thickened. For the record, I have also made this with white wine vinegar, when I didn’t have much lemon on hand (some recipes use mostly white wine vinegar anyhow.)This sauce seems to be pretty easy-going. Since everything is a either a teaspoon or tablespoon or a pinch, it is extremely simple to make it with as many yolks as you’d like, so it can be for just you, or to share with the whole family. And that’s it!

Here’s a breakfast I love to make, and the order of business:
Heat a small pot of water, and make the Hollandaise sauce. Whilst getting that done, crack a couple of eggs to poach in the hot water, and chop some greens. When the sauce is done, you can either blanch the greens in the hot water you’ll use for the eggs, thus getting three uses out of that one pot of water, or you can cook your greens another way– I simply chose to blanch them in a separate pot this time, so I could do the greens and eggs at once. (But sometimes it can be very satisfying to cook everything in the same pot. I guess it’s just a quirk.)  Anyhow, cook your greens. Poach your eggs.*
Put your greens in a dish,  and salt and butter them. Eggs go on top. And, of course, the Hollandaise sauce makes it all very special.
If you are feeling especially hedonistic, or if this is your breakfast and lunch, I highly recommend adding bacon to the affair. And you will feel like a queen (or a king, as the case may be.)So. Very. Delicious. Questions? Do you think you’ll give it a shot?

I’m updating this post to add another idea for using this Hollandaise Sauce: I made Eggs Benedict, using roasted sweet potato rounds and thinly sliced black forest ham. I finished it with fresh thyme and spicy smoked paprika. The sweetness of the sweet potato and the smoky flavors in the ham and paprika really played beautifully with the sauce!Grain-free Eggs Benedict w/ Hollandaise Sauce

* A word about poaching eggs: I know it can seem intimidating, if you haven’t done it before. It took me a while to get up the courage to assemble a carton full of eggs that I planned on sacrificing for the sake of learning to do it. Don’t be scared.  Here’s a super helpful video, and this is the way I do it. I have even been so lazy as to poach two eggs at once– it’s not as pretty, but it gets the job done twice as fast. (Plus, you can hide the funny-looking ones under Hollandaise.)  Alternatively, you can just cook them over-easy in a frying pan!

Here’s a quick recap for you!

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44 Responses to The Hedonist’s Breakfast, and Hollandaise Sauce for One (or 10!)

  1. Liene June 22, 2012 at 11:14 am #

    Sure, poached eggs and Holandaise, but BACON! Don’t forget the bacon!

    • Great Scott June 22, 2012 at 11:55 am #

      Agree with Liene – bacon is a MUST. Every photo in this post is gorgeous and I know I’ve said it before but…can you just move next door? I’d be eating at Mama’s Bistro fo sho!

    • Ariana June 22, 2012 at 1:13 pm #

      Oh, I think you two would be perfect breakfast companions. I almost never forget the bacon– did you see it in the last picture? I snuck it in there quietly… Our butcher actually had to start making quite a bit more, once I found him!

  2. Marisa June 22, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    OMG – that butter – it practically looks like a block of cheese it looks so rich and creamy. When I saw that picture I did a double take and had to read your ingredients to make sure it really was butter!! Can you tell I like butter? And I’m with Liene and Sarah – can’t leave out the bacon – it makes absolutely everything better!

    I love that you are doing cooking posts – really, really enjoy that. I hope you will keep doing some more. I’m kind of surprised you aren’t more of a food blogger already as you have such a love for great food – AND know how to prepare it so beautifully. I’m definitely going to try this hollandaise sauce though – even without that gorgeous slab of butter!

    And I hope you’ve gotten yourself something to eat today missy ;D

  3. Ariana June 22, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

    Marisa, that is our spring butter from France! It is sure incredible– it has been cultured and has a cheesy quality. SO good! Also, bacon is awesome. Most of the bacon I had tried here was super expensive and not very good. Once again, my butcher made my whole life better. He does a really wonderful job of curing it, and it is WAY cheaper, too!

    I am so glad to hear that you enjoy the food posts. Thanks for encouraging me to write about cooking– it’s been fun. I guess I have always felt like in order to blog about food, I would have to come up with recipes (with *measurements*– yikes!)
    It does take more time and effort than some other kinds of posts, but it is fun, and totally worth it if other people enjoy them and/or find these posts useful or inspiring. I actually love to teach cooking, and it has always been by showing or talking someone through it. But this is another way to show, so I’m digging it.

    Let me know how it comes out, if you decide to try it!

    • Marisa June 23, 2012 at 4:04 pm #

      Going to try this today! Also wanted to ask – did you know that Mother’s Bistro in Portland has a cookbook? It is really lovely – I had it checked out from the library awhile back. Can’t remember if the Eggs Benedict was in there but it was a great cookbook!

      And I do really love your food posts. I can see how it does require a bit more work but if you enjoy doing it, I’m here to tell you I enjoy reading it – and cooking from it!

    • Ariana June 23, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

      I don’t think I knew that they have a cookbook! We loved to eat there, and have so many memories of meals there. That was the only place I ever had to haul Amelia out, screaming (her, not me!) I sure felt a lot of sympathy for other parents in public after that– she was usually an angel in public.

      Let me know how your breakfast comes out! I am really glad you enjoy these posts, and that they are even useful!

  4. Mary De Bastos June 22, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

    I love when you do food posts! Your pictures are always so good. But, Holy Rusted Metal Batman does that food look so amazing! I’m so hungry now. I agree that the butter looks like cheese!!

    • Ariana June 23, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

      Hurray! I am so glad you like the food posts, Mary. That makes it fun for me. I have, for a long time, wanted to document more of the meals I make, but always thought it would entail figuring out an actual recipe (with measurements, yikes!) I am glad this works for you and others. And that butter… So good!

  5. Jenny June 22, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

    So glad you found a worthy use for that French butter. And I know what you mean about the satisfaction of cooking a meal using only one pot! I love have very little to clean up after a good meal.
    Beautiful photos as always. (And Happy Birthday to Amelia, too!)

    • Ariana June 23, 2012 at 6:42 pm #

      Yes, this was the perfect way to use the butter– such a rich flavor. And thank you for the birthday greetings for Amelia– I hope your day was just as sweet.

  6. tech.samaritan June 23, 2012 at 3:57 am #

    My kind of breakfast. Any morning I can I will fry up some eggs and see what cured meats and cheeses I can find. I should make a hollandaise sauce and cook up some of the kale or beet greens we have in the garden.

    Also, we cook the same way. I love it when the instructions include the ingredients in the steps, rather than a shopping list and a separate list of steps. The narrative recipe is the best kind. There was a time when all recipes were like this, back when people cooked.

    • Ariana June 23, 2012 at 6:45 pm #

      You are so right about the way recipes used to be– that makes me think of the older generation standing in the kitchen and showing the younger ones, and then that repeating, making for family traditions and secret recipes. Nigel Slater is really conversational about cooking, and I like his style. It makes so much sense that way, you get the sense of process, rather than just one step after another.

  7. Rebecca June 29, 2012 at 1:12 am #

    Oooh Drooling. Beautiful pictures! I love hollendaise and I love your easy, breeze-y style with food. I have avoided writing about food on my blog because I’m a “add a little of this”, “a sploosh of that” and then “Cook until it seems done” kind of a chef. I’ve foiund that the more a follow a recipe, the more likely I am to have a cooking disaster. I think the problem lies mainly in this: a) I don’t read the directions ahead of time and b) it’s not my vision so I have no idea where I’m going. I need a mental road map, and I do best when I draw it out myself.
    My favorite thing to do is skim through Saveur magazine, look at all the pretty pictures for inspiration, vaguely skim the recipe and then just go from there. Sounds like you have a very similar style. Do you have any favorite cookbooks or magazines you like to use for inspiration?
    I’m with Marisa, I love reading all your food posts!

    • Ariana July 3, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

      Rebecca, I am so with you on the recipe thing. I remember trying a recipe “to the T” a while back for a dinner we had invited new friends to. It totally flopped, and I was so angry because I had followed certain points of the recipe that went against my better judgement. Since them, I am very untrusting, and need to just do it my own way.
      I do like Saveur magazine, since it is more about authentic food than sort of perfect and pretty recipes. I loved a cookbook that I sold before I moved called The Arab Table. I also really enjoy Nigel Slater’s books, because he has sort of the same style and manner as me– very conversational, and encourages the reader to use their own taste and intuition while cooking. I bought some of his books for Jeff, and they have really helped him become a confident cook.
      So glad you like these food posts! I’ll keep it up!

  8. Lisa/Fresh Eggs Daily Farm Girl October 1, 2012 at 12:13 am #

    I make Hollandaise sauce all the time since we raise chickens and have fresh eggs. Your photos are gorgeous and I enjoy reading about others who are brave enough to make their own!

  9. Madge Bloom October 7, 2012 at 12:11 am #

    Mmmmm, Hollandaise so delicious! I’ve made it a few times!

  10. Andi Houston November 28, 2012 at 3:05 pm #


  11. Courtney @ The Polivka Family December 23, 2012 at 8:39 am #

    This was the first post I came across of your blog, Ariana. I meant to make this a loooong time ago, but I forgot! I’ve pinned it now, and I’m going to make it soon. 🙂 By the way, that butter looks fantastic!

  12. Courtney @ The Polivka Family December 23, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    I also might mention, that if you really enjoy eggs and greens together (I do), you might try my recipe for greens and potatoes. I like to top it with a fried egg. It’s a similar meal to this one! The simmered greens are my favorite part about it. 🙂

  13. dottedcircles December 29, 2012 at 2:39 am #

    I have ben waiting my whoLe adult lfe for a recipe this simple. ThanK you!!!

  14. Anonymous December 29, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    I am eating this right now and am SO HAPPY! Thank you! I can now poach an egg!

  15. Anonymous February 21, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

    The butter looks like local, grass fed, beautifully nurtured butter that probably is brimming with vitamin D. I know That didn’t come from a local walmart! I don’t make hollandaise or poached eggs often because my husband is really good at it and I know I can’t top his performance! What strikes me about your breakfast is the big plate of greens. I should be eating veggies with breakfast but seldom do. Well done and thanks for the reminder. Your plate is an inspiration, truly. just beautiful! Thanks for sharing! Gwen B.

    • Ariana Mullins February 21, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

      Gwen, that butter came from the coutnryside in France! You are absolutely right about it being special, rich, and full of goodness. We bought it in May, when those cows were fueled by the best, freshest, greenest grass. The next time we get the chance, I will by 10 blocks of it, and freeze it! Thank you for all of your sweet words.

  16. Harrovian Mama March 2, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

    I was directed to your blog by a follower who thought that we shared the same outlook on life in our blogs. One of the first posts I noticed on the sidebar was a recipe for Hollandaise…hello Kindred Spirit! I ALWAYS order the eggs benedict. For cheat purposes, nothing beats Waitrose’s Hollaindaise sauce but home-made is definitely best. Beautiful blog-new follower here!

  17. Culinary Tidbits May 20, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

    Thank you so much! I love eggs Benedict and when I used to live close to my family I made them regularly when I had my daughters over. Having no way to make Hollandaise for 1, I haven’t made them in ages. Neat trick with poaching as well.

  18. Faith August 2, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

    I made this for breakfast this morning.
    I’ve never made Hollandaise before and loved how simple your instructions are so had to give it a try.
    It turned out fantastic! Thank you so much.
    I’m doing a low-carb diet and this fits in there beautifully. 🙂

    I’m a native Oregonian and I’ve always wondered: How similar is the weather there to the weather in the Willamette Valley?

    • Ariana Mullins August 2, 2013 at 4:20 pm #

      Wonderful, Faith! So glad you tried it, and that it worked so well for you. And thank you for stopping by to let me know!

  19. Courtney January 18, 2015 at 7:09 pm #

    Thanks for the Hollandaise recipe! I’m not a bad cook at all but for some reason the perfect consistency in Hollandaise always eludes me – this one turned out on the try! So happy to have the option to make a tasty Benedict breakfast now 🙂

  20. Aaron A March 14, 2016 at 4:08 am #

    I’m sorry but this is not hollendaise sauce – you’re basically making some sort of sabayon. Hollandaise needs to contain roughly 5 parts of butter to 1 part yolk (and 1 part liquid) and yours is actually LESS butter than yolk. Hollandaise is a highly buttery sauce and the reason for the gentle whisking and heating of the egg is to prepare a base that can emulsify all that butter into itself – anyone can work a tablespoon of butter into a yolk, but 100 grams of butter is a little trickier. I’m sure your sauce tastes good and it is a lot healthier I suppose, but if one were to serve this in a restaurant the plates would be sent back to the kitchen 🙁 Michael Ruhlman is a great source for breaking down classic recipes into a series of useable ratios – he has a book called “Ratio” and even an app based on it for quick reference! Needless to say when you start with the correct ratios you will never want to begin the recipe with butter already added to the bowl. Sure you could probably emulsify it with a stick blender but it would give you a different tasting product than slowly emulsifying the butter in after the eggs have been brought to temp. I like making it like a lemon curd personally – I find by mounting with butter gently you get a thicker and more luscious sauce but there are like 30 other ways to do it.

    The reason I clicked on this is because I WANT to find a hollandaise technique for 1 but as I think about 1 yolk needs about a stick of butter to become hollandaise so it’s not really a viable idea.

  21. Alex August 27, 2016 at 11:04 pm #

    I just used this to make a béarnaise sauce by substituting some white wine vinegar for the lemon juice and it turned out brilliantly.

  22. divya sharma March 4, 2017 at 9:14 am #

    I tried it and my hubby loved it so much..thanks for sharing this blog.I would like too thank you for this article.

  23. chepiesteph March 22, 2017 at 4:42 pm #

    This is a delicious and simple hollandaise! Thank you so much! I’ve been super disappointed at the hollandaise in our local restaurants. All powdered. Not tasty at all. Seems so ridiculous since it is so easy to make homemade!

  24. Jayme May 16, 2017 at 6:13 pm #

    Thank you! It worked – It was delicious – It was easy. Also love one pot cooking. And, chalk up another vote for bacon – real bacon done without chemicals and with real smoke – yum. Thanks for sharing.

  25. offpeaktraveller December 4, 2017 at 5:27 pm #

    Bury has MANY amazing breakfast places including but not limited to: Carllucio’s, Guat’s Up, Cafe Rouge, Really Rather Good, Cote Brasserie and, my personal favourite, Gastrono-me. Honestly. Amazing food. I literally have no idea where you’ve been eating at…..

  26. Anda Leipurts December 19, 2017 at 8:48 pm #

    Tried this last night after a lifetime fear of making Hollandaise, and it worked! So fast, so easy, thanks so much! PS-I also just LOOOVE French butter. When I came back from a visit to Paris, I didn’tcome back with shoes, or designer dresses or purses—I came back with 5 blocks of butter, some incredible sauces in tetrapacks……and champagne……of course

    • BK July 12, 2018 at 11:11 pm #

      you always were creative in the kitchen. Bryan k


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