So, following on from yesterday, a couple more party dishes for you.
A good time was had by all, I think. It is always lovely to share food with friends, especially at a party.
I also made an onion tart, and a few other bits and pieces, but I didn’t take photos of them. The tart, especially, is something that I do regularly, so I will get the chance to blog about them again.
Chinese Tea Eggs
These marbled little beauties are widely available at street vendors in China. I had read that they were supposed to be a sign of prosperity and good fortune, and where often given away at New Year because of this. However, I can’t seem to find that again, so I suspect that it is a bit of a myth, considering how widely used they seem to be. Over here, we seem to be told that so many Chinese things are a sign of prosperity and given out at New Year that they can’t all be exclusively for one festival, no matter how important it is.
I thought that the look of them was really fitting for a party, so I decided to make them for ours.
The spice mix varies from region to region, but this is how I made mine.
Bring a number of eggs to the boil. I did 12, because that I what I had in, and I hadn’t yet tested them on friends over here, so I didn’t want to get carried way. Let them boil for 10 minutes, then take them off the heat and leave to cool in the water. I find doing them this way prevents that grey ring that you sometimes see around the yolk from forming.
Once the eggs are cool enough to handle, gently tap them so that they are cracked all the way around, but so that none of the shell actually comes off. This will create the marbling effect of the final eggs.
In another saucepan put 2 tbsp soy sauce, a black tea bag (or a tbsp of loose leaf), a cinnamon stick, a tbsp chinese five spice powder, and 2-3 strips of citrus peel. Use what you have in, I had a mandarin, so I used that. Put in the cooked, cracked eggs, and enough water to cover them.
Bring this to the boil, and simmer for an hour. Remove from the heat, and allow the eggs to sit in the liquid for as long as you can, overnight if you are organised, but at least a couple of hours.
They look so pretty when they are peeled and arranged nicely on the plate that people find them hard to resist.
White Bean and Rosemary Dip
If you are a vegetarian or a vegan at any party, you will more than likely be pretty bored of humus. It seems to be everywhere. I like it, myself, but if I were to be served it at every single social gathering, and had few alternatives, I would get pretty bored too. In the same way that it took me many years to be able to look a Cornish pasty in the face, after living there for two years and being served cocktail pasties for every single working lunch ‘do’ that I had to attend – and there were very, very many of them!
This dip is a great, and surprising alternative to them. Use dried beans instead of tinned, and it will be even better.It is almost like the humble white bean, rosemary and lemon were made to go together.
200 g dried cannellini beans, or a tin of them
2 sprigs rosemary, removed from stalks and finely chopped
Zest and some juice of 1 lemon
Glug of good extra virgin olive oil
If you are using dried beans, soak them. For cannellini, I find a couple of hours is fine, and that it is not great to soak them for too long, because the skins come off, and they turn to mush when you cook them. About two hours should be plenty.
Cook them in a large saucepan and in plenty of fresh water. Do not salt the water, it makes the skins tough. Bring the beans up to the boil, then reduce them to a vigorous simmer. the time they take to cook will depend on how old they are, but check after 4o mins. The best way to see if the beans are cooked is to eat one. If it is hard at all, then it is not done. When you can bite through them easily, and the bean is soft, they are ready.
If you are using tinned beans then you can skip this step. I know that tins are easy, and I have definitely used them myself, especially if I have not remembered to soak the beans in time for making the dip, but I do ask that you please try to used dried at least once – it makes such a difference to the texture of the finished dip. Cooked dried beans also freeze easily, so you can just cook one big lot and freeze them in batches if that is easier.
Drain the beans and blend them to a smooth paste using a food processor or a stick blender. Or you can pass them through a food mill or sieve, if you don’t have those. You can also mash them with a fork if you really have nothing else.
Add the rosemary and the lemon zest, and stir them in. Season to taste with salt and a little pepper (white, if you have it). then make the paste more of a dip consistency using the lemon and the olive oil. Keep adding small amounts of each and tasting in between, so that you get a good balance of acidity and the oil.
Serve with breadsticks, crudités, or good old tortill chips, or you can use this to spread in a sandwich too.