Market Fresh Brunch with Chef Ben Kelly
Every Saturday morning at 7am, you can find Chef Ben Kelly looking down on the Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market from the second-floor balcony, watching vendors arriving and setting up their booths. With a hot cup of coffee in hand, it’s a nice, quiet way to start a market visit before the crowds arrive. Ben and I both love early mornings, so I joined him to do a little local shopping and learn more about what he’s been up to in the kitchen.
Over coffee, we chatted more about Ben’s culinary career. I was curious to know how he became involved in blogging and social media. After 18 years experience working professionally in busy restaurants, a car accident injured his arm and shoulder enough that he had to change his approach towards his culinary career. He now inspires others to cook through his popular classes at Kitchen Door Catering and through social media.
I actually first met Chef Ben when I was invited to appear on an episode of Chit Chat Chop, a Facebook Live event hosted by Kitchen Door Catering. Every Wednesday Night, a different local personality joins Chef Ben in the kitchen to cook and chat about, well, just about anything! Renée Downs and I were excited to appear in episode 009 to talk about BlogJam and to make Moose Burgers… my first time eating moose! Check out my blog post about our Chit Chat Chop experience here.
I’ve been following Chef Ben on social media ever since, and love the information and encouragement he shares with his followers to get excited about cooking more at home. His blog, “How To Not Burn Sh!t – A Modern Culinary Manual”, shares basic culinary tips and tricks to help amateur cooks build confidence in the kitchen. It’s a great place to learn new skills, and apply them in creating your favourite dishes. On the blog, Ben offers a great starting point: “I think the best place to start your culinary journey is to choose five things that you love to eat and learn to cook them really well… Find success in cooking with a few dishes, simple or complicated and this will motivate you to learn more.”
So what did I want to learn how to make? Hollandaise sauce! It’s one of my favourites and I order it with poached eggs pretty much every time I’m out for brunch. I’ve never attempted to make it at home, so I asked Ben if he could teach me. For our breakfast, we used the beautiful local ingredients we had gathered at the market: farm fresh eggs, double-smoked bacon from Rose Lane Farm, fingerling potatoes and brussels sprouts from Elmridge Farm, fresh rosemary from Riverview Herbs, and a variety of mushrooms from Maritime Gourmet Mushrooms Inc. (my favourite ingredient, we both LOVE mushrooms). Back in Ben’s home kitchen, he cooked us a beautiful meal while I took some photos.
It turns out that making hollandaise is easier than I thought – (check out Ben’s Recipe below) – and got me excited to try cooking some of my other favourites that still intimidate me a little bit. Ben is laid-back and a wealth of knowledge - even a seasoned home cook could learn a thing or two from him. I highly recommend checking out Ben on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and definitely his blog. Also, be sure to say hi to him if you happen to be at the Seaport Market early on a Saturday morning.
1/2 cup cider vinegar
4 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
2 egg yolks
1 cup butter
2 tbsp of water
salt to taste
In a small pot combine the vinegar, peppercorns and bay leaf.
Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.
Simmer until the liquid has reduced by half of its volume.
Strain through a fine mesh sieve and set aside.
Put the butter in a small pot and melt over medium low heat.
Once the butter has fully melted remove from the heat and pour into a glass measuring cup.
Let the better sit for a few minutes.
The butter will be separated into three layers.
The top layer will be a kind of skum which can be carefully skimmed off and discarded.
The middle layer will be the golden clarified butter. This is what you want.
Carefully separate the clarified butter from the white butter solids that have settled to the bottom of the measuring cup.
Put your egg yolks in a clean stainless steel bowl with 2 tbsp of water and 1 tbsp of the vinegar reduction.
Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk constantly.
It is very important that you keep the egg yolk mixture moving or monitor the heat or you will end up with scrambled eggs.
Whisk your egg yolk until they start to thicken slightly.
You can now begin to add your butter a few drops at a time whisking after every incorporation.
This process is all about taking your time and making sure all the butter has been incorporated before adding more.
You may have to remove the bowl from the simmering water to prevent the sauce from getting too hot.
Repeat this process until all of the butter has been incorporated.
If you sauce is thickening too much add a tsp or two of warm water to loosen it.
Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with a pinch of salt.
PS: This post was not sponsored, it was a collaboration between Chef Ben Kelly and myself. We just love hanging out and talking about food!