Thursday, 27 February 2014

Kedgeree

Those who know me well, will recognise the fact that I am most definitely not a morning person; but rather, that I prefer to stay up late at night, reading, baking or watching films when everyone else is getting ready for bed or already in the land of nod. In this sense I am a true night owl – it’s the way that I have always been and I don’t imagine that I am going to change now.
 
The ironic thing is that, on balance, I think breakfast would probably be my favourite meal. By breakfast I don’t mean a quick bowl of cereal as you’re dashing out the door to try and get into the office or work on time. No! I mean the type of leisurely breakfasts that sustain and nourish but are blissful to eat; meals that include a selection of cereals, fruit, toast, breads, eggs etc. This to me is breakfast as it is meant to be. Granted, this type of meal is not something that you have that often, but when you do, it is something that is so enjoyable and…well… pleasurable!
 
We are constantly told by nutritionists and dieticians that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that we are more productive in our everyday lives if we have something nourishing to eat before launching into the day’s activities.
 
Most of us can’t face huge quantities of food first thing in the morning, but as a special treat, every once in a while, it is lovely to have a ‘proper’ breakfast; a meal that leaves you feeling ready to face whatever the day may bring. The whole concept of brunch appeals to me as it seems more acceptable to indulge in a little feasting. Brunch is essentially a meal to be enjoyed as a late breakfast/early lunch and is one that really my predilection for staying up late and subsequently easing myself into the day when I awake the following morning.
 
I love period dramas such as the hugely popular Downton Abbey, where Lord Grantham and his
family arrive down to their grand and substantial breakfasts. At these meals, kedgeree invariably appears on the beautifully laid out breakfast table.
 
I have always been fascinated by the idea of kedgeree. Firstly, I love the sound of the word but I also love the exotic images eating it conjures up of the colonial lifestyle of yesteryear. Without a doubt these are my romanticised interpretation of what that life was really like.
 
Kedgeree makes quite a hearty breakfast or brunch dish, consisting of curried rice, poached smoked haddock and softly boiled eggs. I think that it is really delicious and it is one that when I make it, I wonder why I don’t do so more often. It also appeals to me because it is so simple to make and satisfies my theory for cooking good food… Simple + Delicious = Yum!

Ingredients:

For the rice:
1-2 tblsp vegetable oil
1 large onion finely chopped
½tsp ground coriander
1tsp ground turmeric
A pinch of ginger
2tsp curry powder (mild or hot whichever you prefer)
300g basmati rice rinsed with running water
500ml water
For the poached haddock:
250g-300g undyed smoked haddock
300ml milk
3-4 bay leaves
To finish:
4 large eggs
A handful of curly parsley, finely chopped
A handful of coriander, finely chopped
Lemon wedges
 

Method:

For the rice:
1. Heat the oil in a medium sized saucepan and fry the chopped onion over a moderate heat until softened, but do not allow to colour. Add the spices and curry powder and fry for 2-3 minutes over a gentle heat so that they have a chance to release their oil.
2. Add the rice and stir in well so that each grain gets a chance to be coated in the spicy oil. Add the water and as soon as it comes to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cover the saucepan with a lid. Allow to gently simmer on the heat for 8 minutes and then remove. Allow to stand for at least ten minutes while you poach the haddock and boil the eggs. Do not lift the lid, as the key to obtaining perfectly cooked fluffy rice for this dish is to let it finish cooking off the heat in its own steam.
To poach the fish:
3. Put the smoked haddock, bay leaves and milk in a small, shallow pan and bring up to a simmer. Gently poach for about ten minutes and then remove the fish from the milk. Flake the fish into small chunks, removing and discarding and bones or skin that you come across.
To boil the eggs:
4. Place the eggs in a small saucepan and barely cover with cold water. Place the saucepan over a moderate heat and bring up to the boil. Once the water begins gently bubbling start timing. Allow to bubble for 5 minutes and then immediately remove from the heat. Drain off the hot water and cover with the eggs with cold water to arrest the cooking.
To assemble:
5. Gently mix the cooked rice, poached fish and the chopped herbs together. Taste and season with a little salt and freshly ground pepper as required. Peel the eggs and cut in half or in quarters. Place the softly boiled eggs atop the rice and serve with lemon wedges on the side.

 
Serves 4.