Archive for the ‘Food and…’ Category

My father texted the other day to say that he was making a dish from my childhood, Mrs. Chiang’s Eggplant with Chopped Meat. The name brought back memories of hot chili and flavorful meat with rice. I should make that too, I thought. Where is my wok?

Several days later I made the dish with what I had or could get. Two eggplants became one, eight scallions became two huge handfuls from my bag of pre-chopped and frozen, peanut oil became avocado and pork became turkey. Fortunately, the recipe is quite forgiving.

The chili paste stayed the same, as did the complex and satisfying taste. And the fond memories.

I still haven’t found my wok.

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Eggplant with Ground Turkey
(adapted from Mrs. Chiang’s Szechwan Cookbook)

  • ½ lb. ground turkey, pork or beef
  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 8 scallions
  • 2 medium eggplants
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger
  • 5 Tbsp. peanut or other high-temperature oil
  • 2 Tbsp. hot chili paste
  • 1 to 1½ tsp. sugar
  • 1½ tsp. salt
  • ⅔ cup water
  1. Put the meat in a bowl and stir in the soy sauce and sesame oil.
  2. Clean and chop the scallions into small pieces. Mix half the chopped scallions into the meat. Reserve the rest for later use.
  3. Peel the eggplants and cut into ½-1 inch cubes.
  4. Smash the garlic, peel, and chop into little pieces, about the size of grains of rice.
  5. Peel the ginger and chop into pieces the size of match heads.
  6. Heat the pan on high until the oil just begins to smoke. Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 30 seconds.
  7. Add the hot chili paste and stir-fry for another 30 seconds.
  8. Add the chopped meat mixture and cook for 2 minutes, stirring to break up any large lumps.
  9. Add the eggplant and stir-fry everything for another 4 minutes or so.
  10. Sprinkle the sugar and salt over the eggplant mixture, stir-fry for another 2 minutes. Stir stir stir stir stir.
  11. Pour in the water and add the reserved scallions. Wait until the water comes to a boil, then cover the pan without reducing the heat. Cook for another 15 minutes, until the eggplant is soft.

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Photo by Tijana Drndarski on Unsplash

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I spent much of the day in the kitchen, enjoying the fact that my oven works. Now that we have electricity again, I decided to make some “thank you” gifts for the neighbors and some “stay strong” gifts for friends who are still without power.

Menu: brownies, blueberry torte, and a new recipe from Stella Parks via Serious Eats: Sunny Lemon Bars.

The new lemon bar recipe is a win, as tangy as I like with what is essentially a shortbread crust. I needed a double batch and I won’t lie, it was a little shocking to go through six whole eggs plus sixteen egg yolks for one 9 by 13 inch pan. I also ran out of lemon juice at about 90% of requirements and had to make up the difference with Meyer lemon and lime juices, but it worked well.


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Photo by Auguste A on Unsplash

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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!


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)


  • 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


  • 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.


  • 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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