Breakfast, Lunch, Tea is one of my favourite cookbooks, written by Rose Carrarini. I love the quiet wholesomeness that she evokes through her food. I was lucky enough a few years ago to visit Paris and have a piece of carrot cake at her restaurant, Rose Bakery. I think we found it just as they were opening in the morning…so basically I had cake for breakfast. Actually today I also had carrot cake for breakfast! How fitting.
And now….she has a new book out! How to Boil an Egg is filled with recipes that celebrate the humble ovoid. Instead of photos, it is filled with charming paintings by Fiona Strickland that illustrate the delicate deliciousness that abound in the pages. Besides the beautiful words and images, I was drawn to a book about eggs in the hopes of discovering new ideas to cook with the star ingredient. Humanely raised eggs seem easier to find (and more affordable) than humanely raised meats, so it seemed an ethically and nutritionally sound decision to have them feature on the dinner table more often – preferably without feeling like we were living at a 24-hour diner.
In my commitment to actually use my cookbooks instead of living in a fantasy la la recipe-land, the other night I tried making Mrs. Carrarini’s chawanmushi! It is the Japanese word for a savoury custard. Stock and eggs are lightly mixed together and steamed with veggies, shrimp and whatever else you decide to add. At first I was greatly inspired by this discovery of a new dish that seemed foreign to my gastronomic landscape, but then again I am forgetful; later I realized that my dad used to make the same thing all the time when we were little. He made his with just water and eggs, whisked in a large ramekin and then lowered into a large stockpot to be steamed. After the custard was cooked, he would add a swirl of soy sauce to it and that would be that.
I decided to follow Mrs. Carrarini’s more elaborate guidelines and ended up with a beautiful, light dinner, evocative of the past and relevant to the present.