get cracking at easter

I love the egg in all its guises -- soft-scrambled, whipped into an omelette, poached, boiled and sunny side-up. The egg is friendly at breakfast, lunch and supper. It adores fresh herbs, tender asparagus, and sorts of cheeses.

I love the egg in all its guises—soft-scrambled, whipped into an omelette, poached, boiled and sunny side-up.

The egg is friendly at breakfast, lunch and supper. It adores fresh herbs, tender asparagus, and sorts of cheeses. Best of all, it makes a wonderful companion for smoked salmon, trout, Alaska cod (sablefish) and Arctic char.

I find it odd that food publications seldom herald Easter with the egg. For me, the egg truly marks Easter, spring, birth and new growth. (The American Indians are reported to believe the Great Spirit jumped burst out of a giant egg to create the world)

Lamb, ham and turkey deserve their Easter Sunday dinner due. But I prefer a casual lengthy eggy brunch with friends and kids and chocolate bunnies.

As a kid my friends and I hunted eggs, in earnest, before attending Easter mass.

The Ukrainians among us intricately painted hard-cooked eggs or dyed them with onion skins for a splendid marbled look. The eggs were perfectly edible. (www.instructables.com offers a terrific step-by-step method for onion-skin dying).

We breakfasted on an English fry-up, (eggs, bacon, sausage, bread, tomatoes and kippers, if we could get them) or thick French toast with real maple syrup. Or, courtesy of the Ukrainians, Russian egg-bread, (kulich).

As an adult, I garnered a taste for less stodgy stuff. Now I prefer to grace the table perhaps with steamed spring asparagus a golden-yoked free-range egg atop and Parmesan cheese shaved over, or serve an eggy piperade … a Basque scramble of eggs, sauteed onions, green peppers and tomatoes, flavoured with Espalette pepper.

For a quick-fix brunch buttered dark brown or pumpernickel layered with thin slices of hard-cooked egg, tomato, red onion and anchovy fillets do the trick.

But, best of all brunch dishes—and an excellent way to use those hard-won boiled eggs—is an Anglo-Indian curried rice/smoked fish assemblage called kedgeree, a favourite of British Colonials during the Raj and a descendant of khichri, a Hindi dish of rice, lentils, and oodles of butter.

The Victorian Brits who loved their fish tossed out the legumes and threw in smoked haddock.

My mother made kedgeree often, (though seldom at Easter) and simply, with smoked haddock, white rice, eggs and curry powder. Substituting poached Alaska cod or smoked trout, basmati rice, free-range eggs and exchanging mace, turmeric, fresh coriander or bay leaves tarts the concoction up in a very good way.

Off-dry and/or aromatic wines work spot-on with the smoked fish dish. Look for dry riesling, gewurztraminer, chenin blanc or viognier. For a festive touch try semi-sweet bubbly.

The recipe below is easy to make, delicious and leaves you time to sip and savour with your friends on Easter Sunday morning.

Serves 4 Cooking Time Prep time 15 mins, cook 35 mins

1 cup basmati rice

2 cups milk 2 fresh bay leaves

1 1/2 pounds smoked haddock or other smoked fish

4 hard-cooked eggs

1 stick butter, coarsely chopped

2 tsp curry powder (mild-medium)

1 onion finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp grated fresh ginger root

Quarter cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley (or mix of parsley and Chinese parsley) Garnish: lemon wedges and mango chutney.

1) Combine rice, 1 cup water and 1 tsp sea salt in a heavy-based saucepan and bring to the boil over medium heat. Stir, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer gently until water has been absorbed and rice is cooked through (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat, cool completely, then fluff grains using a fork.

2) Bring milk, bay leaves and 2 cups of water to the boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, add fish and simmer until fish flakes easily (10 minutes).

Cool in liquid, remove and coarsely flake, discarding skin and bones. Reserve 1 cup of poaching liquid.

3) Peel and thinly slice eggs and set aside.

4) Melt butter in a frying pan over medium heat; add curry, onion, garlic and ginger and saute until onion is soft (about 5 minutes). Add rice and fish, stirring to combine, and cook until heated through (about 3 minutes). Add poaching liquid, egg and parsley, stirring to combine, and cook until eggs are warm (about 2 minutes). Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve with lemon and chutney to the side.

You need not look beyond Canadian borders for wines to go with kedgeree. (Note: red wines with eggs and fish tend to leave an unpleasant metallic aftertaste)

Artist Series Sovereign Opal $14.95 Grey Monk Latitude Fifty $15.40 Grey Monk Siegerrebe $17.80 Heritage Series Riesling $14.90

For sparkling try: Yellow Tail Bubbles $15.70

Julie Pegg is a Vancouver-based

food and wine writer.

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