from Jude’s Kitchen: Easter sides

Traditional sides with a bit of a twist are always welcome on traditional holidays.

Ginger pecan yams

Ginger pecan yams

If you have youngsters in your family an annual Easter egg hunt is pretty much mandatory, isn’t it? If not, consider adding it to the schedule, because it’s lots of fun and it gets everyone outdoors for an hour or two, running around hiding eggs if you’re an adult, or hunting for them if you’re a kid.

We use the colourful plastic eggs to hold nuts and raisins and little chocolate eggs and egg cartons for each youngster to use to collect their ‘booty’ in.

Do involve more than one adult in the hiding though, so if one doesn’t remember where they’ve all been hidden, there’s someone else who might.

There’d nothing quite like uncovering a pink plastic Easter egg mid-summer, all covered with mud and green stuff.

With or without the obligatory Easter egg hunt, a ham dinner is a nice change from burger and chicken, and it makes lovely leftovers.

And, if you’re vegetarian, simple add cheese to the scalloped potatoes and omit the meat dish and you’ll still enjoy the following ideas for Easter side dishes. Or, add cubes of firm tofu to the yams.

Whatever you do or eat, enjoy a meal with a crowd of family and friends over the holiday weekend: Easter egg hunt optional.

For more spring recipes, pick up a copy of my book, Jude’s Kitchen, which is organized by the seasons, to help you be inspired by what’s fresh and local throughout the year, along with the occasions we traditionally celebrate with festive food.

It’s available at local bookstores and wine shops.

Incidentally, there’s nothing quite like a dry rose wine with ham, unless it’s a nice dry bubbly, and local VQA wineries are producing some excellent examples of both.


Scalloped Potatoes

These are traditional with ham in our family, (just as ham is historically served at Easter) and I’d be in deep trouble with my family and friends if they didn’t appear alongside the ham whenever one is baked in my oven. For something a little different, you can add grated cheese, spinach or bits of peppers, chives or green onions to some of the layers.

drizzle of oil

3-4 lb. (2 kg) russet potatoes

2 onions

2 tbsp. (30 ml) butter

2 tbsp. (30 ml) flour

1 1/2 c. (375 ml) milk

salt and pepper, to taste

Pre-heat oven to 350 F.

Lightly oil a two-quart oven-proof casserole dish.

Thinly slice scrubbed potatoes and peeled onions. I don’t peel the potatoes.

Cover the bottom of the casserole with a layer of thinly-sliced potatoes, followed by a layer of onions.

Dot with butter and sprinkle with flour, then repeat with more layers of all four ingredients, adding a sprinkle of salt and pepper in the upper half of the dish.

Pour milk over top, dot with the last of the butter, a little salt and pepper, cover and bake for about an hour or so.

Once it begins to bubble, about half-way through, remove the lid so the top can brown a little.

Serves 6 or so.


Ginger Pecan Roast Yams

Subtly spiced, these sweet yams are a treat with the briny flavour of a smoked ham, but they’re also delicious with other roasted meats—or all by themselves.

2 lb. (1 kg) yams

drizzle of olive oil

2 tbsp. (30 ml) minced ginger

2 garlic cloves

2 tbsp. (30 ml) orange juice

1/4-1/2 tsp. (1-2 ml) cayenne

pinch of powdered cardamom

coarsely-ground sea salt

freshly-ground black pepper

1/2 c. (125 ml) pecans

Pre-heat oven to 350 F.

Wash and trim ends of yams and cut into chunks for roasting. I don’t peel them.

Drizzle a little olive oil into a baking pan and turn the yams about until all sides have a smear of oil on them.

Mince fresh ginger and garlic.

Squeeze the juice from half an orange over the yams, a couple of spoonfuls.

Sprinkle them with the minced ginger, cayenne pepper, cardamom, black pepper and coarse sea salt.

Roast for about 45 minutes, removing from the oven and sprinkling with minced garlic and pecans about 15 minutes before they’re ready to come out.

Serves 8.



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