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Archive for the ‘Food and…’ Category

I took a little time today to test out a recipe for baked milk.

Sounds funny? A little, but I’m hoping it will also be good. Baked milk is one of those niche products that spark my culinary curiosity. We had some a couple of years ago (thanks, Costco!) but haven’t been able to find it since. It’s both fermented and naturally sweet, somewhere between milk and yogurt in thickness, with an interesting caramelized depth and slight tang.

I’m using this recipe via The New York Times as a springboard, but it will be a couple of days before I know if it works. Fingers crossed!

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Friends gave us a batch of chili this weekend and I thought:

1) Thank you! So kind. And spicy, delightfully spicy!

Also:

2) Fantastic, an excuse to make my favorite cornbread recipe.

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My Favorite Cornbread

(adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything)

Ingredients

  • 275g / 1¼ C kefir (or yogurt, buttermilk, or 1¼ C milk warmed with 1 T white vinegar)
  • 50g / ~3.5 T butter
  • 183g / 1½ C medium-grind cornmeal
  • 62g / ¼ C all-purpose flour
  • 7.5g / 1½ t baking powder
  • 6g / 1 t salt
  • 50g / ~3 T sugar
  • 2 eggs

Instructions

  • preheat oven to 375F
  • add butter to an 8×8” pan, put it in the oven to melt*
  • whisk together dry ingredients in a bowl
  • whisk together kefir and eggs, add to dry ingredients and mix well
  • pour the batter into the pan with preheated butter
  • bake 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean
  • serve with more butter, because delicious.

* Alternately, melt butter and add to pan right before baking but why make more dishes? Getting it hot but not burnt is the goal.

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This is not my cornbread. It may be cake, for all I know, but it looks about right. The important thing is that this is not my cornbread because my cornbread smelled delicious and we ate it before I remembered that I might want a photo. Photo by Jose luis on Unsplash

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My day? Mostly bread and mushrooms.

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My doctor may not agree* but some days you just need to go all in. This recipe is one example**:

Mom’s Mashed Potatoes

Peel, cook, mash, mix. The secret to success is lots of everything good; more butter, more milk, more salt.

Simple. Good.

* I use this rule in moderation, which makes the times when I do even better.

** Lest one accuse my mother of writing an incomplete recipe, I admit that there was originally more to it than this. I’ve stripped it down to the essentials:)

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Photo by bernard buyse on Unsplash

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It’s Monday and it’s Spring and (despite the fact that we are expecting snow tonight) what better time to direct you to this helpful video about asparagus? 

America’s Test Kitchen reviews the basics and useful methods of preparation, but also busts several asparagus myths wide open.

I know, I’m excited too!

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Photo by Art Rachen on Unsplash

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I’ll go back and update the main pudding page once I’m sure I’m done, but the experimentation continues!

This latest version worked out well, so here’s the recipe.

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Mocha Tofu Pudding

  • 1/3 C. sugar
  • 1/2 C. strong coffee
  • 349g / 12 oz. silken tofu, firm
  • 170g / 6 oz dark chocolate
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  1. Stir sugar and coffee over medium heat just until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool slightly, then add chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.
  2. Blend all ingredients together until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Chill for at least 30 minutes, although longer gives a denser texture and reduces the tofu flavor.

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I spent a little time last night working out a new recipe for the mocha tofu pudding. What’s different? Double the espresso. 

And am I using post-lunch dessert as an excuse to test the caffeine-fueled recipe results right now, on this busy busy Tuesday?

Why yes! Yes I am.

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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You may be tired of hearing about chocolate tofu pudding, and honestly, I’m a little sick of making it. But! I didn’t go through another five batches of the stuff not to document the results, so here we go.

In the end, I tested five different versions of this chocolate pudding: caramelized white, orange caramelized white, milk, maple milk, and dark.

Pudding flight. Because that’s how I roll.

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Hang on, you may say, you made five batches and each batch made five pudding cups?

That’s right.

That’s hmm, let me think, a *lot* of freaking pudding!

You aren’t wrong. The good news is that it turns out that this pudding freezes quite well. My initial research discouraged freezing, and it’s true that regular tofu undergoes a fairly dramatic texture change when frozen and then thawed. It’s a great way to make a ground meat substitute, but I wasn’t sure what would happen to the creamy texture of the pudding. Fortunately, the silken tofu had no trouble with the temperature change and after defrosting a few hours in the fridge I couldn’t tell it had been frozen.

My favorite variant changes depending on my mood. The orange white has a really good citrus flavor, but there’s something about the acidity that keeps the tofu taste more front and center. I like it anyway, but Mr. Man liked this one least. He wouldn’t eat it straight from the blender but after two days actually liked it. Surprisingly, after a concerted lobbying for the milk chocolate option, his favorite is the dark chocolate. (Also, caramelized white chocolate straight from the spoon.)

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Chocolate Tofu Pudding: The Recipes*

Ingredients vary slightly but the method is the same for all.

Instructions

  • Caramelize any chocolate that may need caramelizing.
  • Heat sugar and water or syrup over medium-low heat. Cook until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool slightly, then stir in any additional liquid, add chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.
  • Blend all ingredients together until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Chill for at least 30 minutes, although longer gives a denser texture. Serve straight, or with fresh fruit and whipped cream.
  • Serves four. Or two. Or one. You’ll find no judgment here.

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Additional Notes: 

Chocolate, flavor and related characteristics

  • the dark chocolate option was much thicker than the other variants, especially after chilling.
  • chocolate quality is front and center with all versions of this recipe, but even more so with the white chocolate
  • I still want to try mocha, with half syrup and half coffee, but that will have to wait. I’m out of tofu. Again.

Tofu, obviousness of

  • firm and extra firm tofu both worked well, no discernible difference in the end result.
  • the tofu flavor was more obvious with the lighter chocolate versions, but mellowed after a day or two

Sweetness, excess of

  • replacing the simple syrup with maple syrup worked structurally, but wasn’t my favorite. The end result was both more sweet and less maple-flavored than I’d like, and it seemed like waste of good Canadian tree juice. That said, I still want to try it topped with a bit of crumbled bacon.
  • cutting back even more on the sugar would be possible, particularly with the already sweetened lighter chocolates.

Melding, which is what I’m calling time spent in the fridge for the pudding to think about what it wants from life

  • given two days in the fridge for flavors to develop, the white chocolate versions had very different flavors, and all varieties gained more depth and complexity. 

And that, folks, is all I have to say about this pudding.**

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* Because I scribble notes on scraps of paper and then forget where I put them.

** For now. There’s still mocha to try, and peanut butter, and raspberry basil white, and…

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Photo by Adam Bartoszewicz on Unsplash

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I have three bags of chocolate, white, milk and dark, 5.5 pounds each. (Thanks, Costco!)

Time to perfect multiple variations of that tofu chocolate pudding recipe, don’t you think?

See you on the other side!*

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* Yes, I’ve been working on my taxes. No, they are not done. Yes, chocolate will help. Obviously!

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Photo by Maria Georgieva on Unsplash

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Thinking Again

It’s easy to form an opinion and stick with it.  It’s arguably one of the things humans are best at. This process allows us to categorize our experiences in ways that help us move through a complex world. 

We all make judgements, snap and otherwise, about topics as varied as food, ideas, books, events and people. We’re also often wrong. A lot.

Perception Is Not Reality | Psychology Today

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Let’s take white chocolate as an example.

“It’s gross. It tastes like fat, and not the good kind.* It’s not even real chocolate.”

I have said all of this and more. Here’s the thing.

Sometimes white chocolate is gross. Sometimes it does taste like paste. And sometimes it bears little resemblance to what we think of as chocolate.

But sometimes, just sometimes folks, white chocolate can both surprise and delight the senses.

Once I started paying attention, I realized that my preconceptions had blinded me to something good.

Caramelized white chocolate does take more time but the flavor was a mini revelation. And now as a result I have a new ingredient in my arsenal and a new version of my tofu pudding recipe. It’s still not quite perfect but I’ll keep at it until it’s right. For me, this one’s pretty close.

Just one of the many benefits of keeping an open mind.

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Caramelized White Chocolate Tofu Pudding

(a.k.a. No Preconceptions Pudding)

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 349g / 12 oz. silken tofu, firm
  • 200g / 7oz good white chocolate, caramelized
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

  • Heat sugar and water over medium heat. Cook until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool slightly, then add chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.
  • Blend all ingredients together until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Chill for at least 30 minutes, although longer gives a denser texture. Serve straight, or with Biscoff cookies crumbled on top.

Notes: I had leftover simple syrup so I used 1/4 cup of that, plus another 1/4 cup of juice from the fruit of Mr. Man’s orange tree. (He has a potted orange tree that produces bonbon-sized fruits with very sour yet flavorful juice. If you’re using regular orange juice tweak the sugar ratio accordingly.)

This version has a bit more chocolate than the previous pudding recipe which does a good job of hiding overwhelming disguising neutralizing that distinctive tofu flavor.

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* I’m looking at you, bacon.

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