from one generation to the next
This month’s Cookbook Guru‘s task is to take a recipe book from our own library and promote it’s virtues as a contender for 2015’s booklist.
Today I made Marbled Tea Eggs using the method in a very old Complete Margaret Fulton Cookbook. This was my very first cookbook, an engagement present forty (gasp) years ago. This book sits on my shelf for sentimental reasons only. It has nothing left to teach me and little now that excites me, but that’s not Mrs Fulton’s fault, she has taught me well, she has grounded me in the basics and set me free.
The marbled tea eggs I made look spectacular, the whites showing a random dark amber tracery a little reminiscent of henna tattoos, but those beautiful delicate lines are superficial and the flavour of the aromatics in the infusion has failed to penetrate. Many cookbooks I own are like these eggs, beautiful to behold, but with recipes that disappoint. I blame myself for expecting too much.
The cookbooks that do excite me are those that place the recipes into social context, be it historical, geographical or economic. I don’t want convoluted technique, I don’t own single purpose specialist equipment and the overuse of excessively expensive and super trendy ingredients doesn’t suit my budget or my palate.
I like to eat food that is authentic to the culture from which it comes, and true to this, I nominate two books, Indian Cookery and Flavours of India, both by Madhur Jaffrey. I would be happy for either to be included on the booklist for the Cookbook Guru in 2015. The simple recipes in both make use of whole spices and are easy to follow. Jaffrey demystifies authentic ingredients, technique and cooking terms in a comprehensive section at the back of each, while the recipes are given context in a brief introduction. Both of Jaffrey’s books take you on a regional tour of India, illustrating the huge diversity of the cuisine.
As for the marbled tea eggs, well they look pretty!
3 tablespoons black tea
1 tablespoon salt
1 piece mandarin peel
1 star anise
1 stick cassia bark
1/2 teaspoon szechuan peppercorns
2 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon black vinegar
Cover the eggs with cold water. Add the salt. Bring the water to the boil and then simmer gently for 5 minutes.
Remove the eggs from the pot and cool quickly under running water.
Crack the egg shell all over with the back of a spoon, but do not peel the eggs.
Add the tea leaves, mandarin peel, spices and tamari to the pot of water in which the eggs boiled.
Return the cracked eggs to the pot, bring the pot back to the boil.
Reduce the heat, cover and simmer the eggs for 30 minutes or until the egg shells turn brown.
Turn off the heat and allow the eggs to stand in the infusion for a further 30 minutes.
Drain the eggs, allow them to cool, then to serve remove the shells.