sharing recipes 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.
Absolutely agree with the social history of food – and authenticity, too. I find that new lifestyle diets and trendy ingredients make me want to roll my eyes in sheer disbelief that people take them seriously. Yes, health issues such as food intolerances should be addressed (and we have a few serious ones in this household), but the rest is ephemeral and will be replaced with something else tomorrow. Best to stick with traditional, authentic ways of doing things. Eggs are just eggs, but these are sure pretty.
I love the ingredients, and got positively excited when I saw the star anise. Special recipe from your special cookbook. Lovely!
Oh I’m so glad you wrote about this, because I’ve heard wonderful things about tea eggs. They’re so beautiful that I have had them on my “to try” list for ages. It’s such a shame when beautiful recipes/cookbooks aren’t satisfying, I very much agree.
I’m going to try the tea eggs again Gab, and leave them soaking in the infusion for a couple of days as advised by BunnyEatsDesign. I’m not ready to give up on them yet they look so beautiful……..
Hi Sandra, I have 3 Madhur Jaffrey cookbooks but not those 2, – oh well. I have A Taste of India, I wonder whether it has similar recipes in it.
Glad you said that, Sandra. I was going to say that I wasn’t sure I’d make marbled eggs for myself but it’s so interesting to see how it’s done.
Well Mary, I’m going to try again and use Bunny’s method. I expect a big difference leaving them for 2 days rather than 1 hour. It was just a bit of fun….
Reblogged this on The Cookbook Guru and commented:
We officially have our first nomination of the month from Please Pass The Recipe and a beautiful looking marbled tea eggs along with it. Make sure you read what Lady Red Specs is bringing to our bookclub party this month.
I make tea eggs every fortnight and have perfected my tea egg recipe to my tastes. The simmer time is 5 minutes plus another 10 minutes with seasonings and the steeping time is 2 days in the fridge. I don’t think an hour steeping is enough at all! The flavour after 1 day is ok, but 2 days is best.
I have never used mandarin peel before though, I will keep that in mind for next time.
You can find my recipe on my blog.
Thanks Bunny for the advice. I was very disappointed that the flavours hadn’t penetrated. Marble Tea Eggs MKII coming up
They do look pretty! I adore marbled eggs, you’ve reminded / inspired me to make some as well.
Do you have a good recipe Saucy, mine was disappointing though Bunny suggested I steep them much much longer than the recipe directed
I have used a few recipes, including this one from Appetite for China blog (though it looks similar to yours): http://appetiteforchina.com/recipes/chinese-tea-eggs
I think part of the trick is to steep the eggs for longer, as I find the flavours and colour penetrate over a couple of days. I also try out more or less tea, soy, mandarin peel etc to get a mixture that I like. Hope this helps!
Thanks Saucy. It looks like I was on the right track, but definitely need to increase the time the eggs are in the liquid. They looked so gorgeous, they deserve a second chance…
Hope it goes well if you make marbled eggs again!
Great analogy, I enjoy Madhur Jaffrey’s cookbooks as well as her cooking shows. Sometimes the ‘cooking muse’ can take a little holiday and leave us feeling lacklustre. I wonder if we need those down times just so we can have a wee rest? The eggs look spectacular, a great Easter centrepiece maybe?
Watch out for Marbled Tea Eggs MKII, thanks to a comment from Bunny, then hopefully they will be more than a decorative Easter centrepiece.
A fine analogy between the pretty looking marbled eggs whose flavour is inconsequntial and cookbooks which are superfically gorgeous but in the end, disappointing. I wonder if we just see too many recipes – in books, in newspapers, on cooking shoes, in blogs and magazines- and we have become sated.
Madhur Jeffrey’s cookbooks are very satisfying to read and to cook. I might throw a nomination into the ring too when the cooking lethargy leaves me.
The eggs were very disappointing, gorgeous but just eggs! It was too good an analogy to let pass. I’ve been in the cooking doldrums too, but have felt a renewed spark of energy this week. I soon get tired of my own cooking if I don’t keep it interesting!