From Scratch, by Lara McCormack
Ever since I was a child, I associated eggs with spring when everything outside is growing, greening up, shedding the winter dust. Strangely enough, in ancient symbolism, eggs represent rebirth. Not only holding religious significance through history, eggs play a key role in many celebration foods at the time of Easter.
I remember being fascinated with the coloured shells that lay in the coop when I visited my grandparents farm in Eastern Alberta. I was more fascinated to learn where eggs come from! Looking back, I realized how lucky I was being able to pick my own eggs not only to cook and bake with, but to also make my very own pysanka for Easter. Growing up in a Ukrainian heritage, I was so excited to make these beautiful eggs with my Baba and Mom. When we would grow tired from working on the eggs, that involved creating a design with beeswax and dyeing them, we would turn to the kitchen where we would prepare various dishes for an Easter celebration. The egg was always the most important dish and versatile in so many ways.
In today’s time, the egg is getting a bad rap and let’s admit, there is so much discussion about whether they are good for us, how much is OK and questions about a link to contribution of certain illnesses. What I have learned as a chef is using them in moderation works best for my family and me. Allergies to eggs are real and I am seeing it more and more working with the public. There are many substitutions for eggs in recipes that do work for the most part while there will always be a change in the flavour and texture.
According to food historians, humans have been consuming eggs since the dawn of human time. To this day, different eggs are eaten in different parts of the world with ostrich and chicken being the most common. The earliest records show jungle fowl were domesticated in India by 3200 B.C.E. Records from China and Egypt show that fowl were domesticated and laying eggs for human consumption around 1400 B.C.E., and there is archaeological evidence for egg consumption dating back to the Neolithic age. The Romans found egg-laying hens in England, Gaul, and among the Germans. The first domesticated fowl reached North America with the second voyage of Columbus in 1493.
The word egg is traced to a prehistoric Indo-European source related to words for ‘bird’. The domestication of fowl greatly increased the availability of eggs to ancient cultures. Culinary evidence confirms breads and cakes using eggs were made by Ancient Egyptian and Roman peoples with the reason most often sited that the eggs worked as binding (thickening) agents.
Eggs can be made into so many types of foods but sometimes there is nothing better than a not quite hard-boiled egg with a pinch of salt, fresh ground pepper and your favourite chopped herbs. The following recipe is less fancy than quiche, fabulous for grab-and-go mornings and perfect for serving at Easter brunch.
Egg & Spinach Bakes
YIELDS: 12 servings TOTAL TIME:45 minutes
INGREDIENTS – get your hands on the freshest, local ingredients you can, perferably organic. Eggs and spinach are available at local farms and grocers in our Valley.
• 1 (14.1 oz.) package refrigerated rolled piecrust
• 4 large eggs
• 3/4 c. half-and-half cream
• 10-oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry or 2 cups of lightly steamed spinach
• 2 scallions, chopped
• 1 tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
• 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 375°F with the rack in the lowest position. Unroll piecrust and cut into 12 (4-inch) rounds. Fit rounds into a lightly greased 12-cup muffin tin, pressing up and slightly over sides of each cup. Chill 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, spinach, scallions, dill, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spoon into crusts, dividing evenly. Bake until puffed and set, 22 to 25 minutes.
Recipe copyright with Country Living.
Lara McCormack is one of the owners of From Scratch – A Mountain Kitchen in Fairmont Hot Springs where one can savor fabulous, seasonal food, sip from a selection of B.C. wines and enjoy the views of our gorgeous valley landscape.