"How to Boil an Egg" is the follow-up to the lovely Breakfast, Lunch, Tea: The Many Little Meals of Rose Bakery, the first collection of recipes from Rose Bakery. This latest installment is dedicated to turning the egg ("nature's humble hero") into breakfast, lunch, or tea. The title itself is tongue-in-cheek, as there is only a very brief one-page overview of various egg-cooking methods (boiled, poached, scrambled, fried, omelette) before launching into breakfast offerings (including standards such as eggs Benedict, Egg In the Middle and French toast along with delightful alternatives like Eggs Baked in Dashi and Scrambled Eggs with Tomato), scones and muffins, and pancakes, popovers, and oats. The various sections are full of quick, easy recipes that all star eggs in some form or another, whether it's a gratin studded with roasted veggies, lacy strips of eggs over veggies, curried (and other) egg salads, moist quick breads, or silky flans, puddings or custards (there's even a dairy-free soy crème caramel option).
I tried making the chocolate orange muffins in two different incarnations, one with low-fat sour cream and Splenda and one as written. I also added about ½ cup chopped candied orange peel to the batter, and it made a wonderful counterpoint to the chopped chocolate studded throughout. The sour cream results in a moist (but not wet) springy batter, while the chopped chocolate (and candied orange peel) added a nice contrast of texture. Note that the 6- 8 muffin yield seems to refer to panettone-style paper muffin cups like Kitchen Supply Mini Panettone Paper Mold, Set of 25, as I easily got 12 full-sized muffins out of my USA Pans 12 Cup Cupcake/Muffin Pan, Aluminized Steel with Americoat.
The next recipe I tried was from the Lunch section; having lived in Japan, I am addicted to the delicate steamed egg custard known as chawanmushi and brought home a set of lovely blue chawanmushi cups. I was thrilled to see not one, but several chawanmushi recipes here, and chose the "My Chawanmushi with Spring Vegetables." Most chawanmushi cups I've seen hold between 4 - 8 oz. of liquid. I filled four of my chawanmushi cups with the stock and veggies and still had an additional cup of custard left over, so you may want to try cutting the amount of stock in half. Also, the chawanmushi recipes call for tasting the raw custard for seasoning before steaming; I skipped that step. The resulting custards were wonderfully creamy and full of little morsels of spring goodness. **There appears to be a typo in the recipes for gratins on pages 60-61; the recipe intros mention using "4 pretty cups or heatproof bowls and a steamer," but this actually refers to the chawanmushi recipes on pages 77-78. The rest of the gratin recipes reference baking the veggies and eggs in an ovensafe dish.**
Finally, I tried the Pumpkin Cake and the Semolina Custard from the Eggs for Tea chapter. I chose to make the pumpkin cake in the form of muffins, and the recipe yielded 20 standard muffins. The cake calls for olive oil, which loaned a fruity softness to the muffins, and the recipe calls for apple pie spice and cinnamon. **Note that the equivalent measurement for the pumpkin puree is not accurate; it calls for 2 cups pumpkin puree (with its original metric measurement of 425 grams); one can of pumpkin is exactly 425 grams, which yields about 1 ¾ cups. I felt like 2 cups of packed pumpkin, plus the 1 cup of olive oil and the ½ cup water, would result in too wet a batter, so you may want to go by the metric measurements if something seems a little off.** I made the optional white chocolate drizzle and topped with toasted pumpkin seeds as pictured. The Semolina Custard comes with a lovely citrus glaze that is also fantastic as a marinade for tofu or chicken!
Overall, "How to Boil an Egg" contains more wonderful recipes from Rose perfectly suited for a light lunch or afternoon tea. Rather than use photos, the book is gorgeously illustrated with photorealistic watercolors by award-winning botanical artist Fiona Strickland. Most of the ingredients should be easy enough to find in your supermarket other than one or two exceptions like matcha, dashi, or purple corn powder, and the results were delicious and simple enough that I would make them on a regular basis. This is comfort food at its best, and fans of Rose Bakery will certainly want to add this to their cookbook collection.
(Review copy courtesy of Phaidon Press)