Friday, September 30, 2011

Tofu - recipe #1

Tofu is the unknown, magical, oriental secret that we plebian westerners only have access to in hip healthy grocery stores. In China my friends and I would buy what they called "brain tofu" off street venders in little cups with brown sugar and plastic spoons - that variety was softer, almost like a fuller (yet lighter...) yogurt with a bit more "squish." In college we cut and fried it and ate it with broccoli and soy sauce and now Mansour and I throw it in with mozzerella as an afterthought when we thaw soup for dinner. But I've honestly never known where it really comes from.

It turns out tofu-making has a very similar method to yogurt/cheese making (heat milk, add fermenter/hardener, let sit, strain as needed) but the differences in ingredients makes it tofu instead of the cross between sour cream and cream cheese that is fromage blanc. So! Here is the first of the two recipes!

NOTE: the second will require my new fromagerie... which requires for sitting for 18 hoursto plan.

The only special equipment you will need for #1 is a cheese cloth. Nigari might also be a bit annoying to locate, but most crunchy, hippy, healthy-ish stores seem to carry it. In the package it looks like large white fish flakes, but when you touch it it is almost glassy and makes pretty clinking noises when you spill it on the counter (and floor, in my case). Otherwise, over-the-counter magnesium works, too, in the same quantities.

1L soy milk
2 heaping teaspoons Nigari flakes disolved in
4 teaspoons water

Pot for boiling
sieve (like you use to drain boiled pasta, yes?)
heavy pot/pan with a flat bottom, or a large plate you can put some water in (this is just for weight, to put on top of the tofu, so dont worry about it being anything special)
wooden cutting board (eh... probably not required)

Bring the soy milk slowly and gently to a boil. Pour in Nigari dilution and stir minimally. It will start to "curdle" (if we can call it that with soymilk?) almost immediately, which means it will look like really bad sour milk floating in water. lovely. I know.

Leave it for a bit longer as the curdles grow and lump together until there are very distinctly two different substances in the pot; one a yellowed clear liquid and clumps of soon-to-be homemade tofu.

Pour all of this through the sieve that you have lined with the cheesecloth, gather the corners of the cloth and start squeezing to drain the liquid out of the tofu. CAREFUL, though, the liquid that comes out is REALLY HOT. boiling, actually. I ran this all under cold water as I squeezed and still burned myself a little.

This will be the basic shape of your finished tofu, so shoot for "pretty ball." Place the tofu, still in the cheesecloth wrap, on a wooden cutting board and put your heavy pot on top. Leave for 10 minutes, flip, leave for 10 more. This both evacuates more liquid, making it firmer, and gives it a nice flat disk shape.

Gently unwrap the tofu and place it in a tupperwear (or whatever you have) container, submersed in water in the fridge, where it will continue to firm.

It should keep for 3 or 4 days, but keep it immersed under the water!

Okay, I failed on "pretty" this time. BUT ITS TOFU! Also, this is a half recipe, so don't worry, you'll have more than this tiny ball's worth!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Chocolate Rice Pudding

80g sugar
200g milk chocolate (150g will do it for most, but Estelle's husband is a fool for that rich chocolate flavor)
1L milk
100g rice
~ I'd love to try this recipe with sushi rice! Just think... those imagine the thick morsels drenched in chocolate...)

Pan, wooden spoon, serving size containers (I guess you could use a larger pan and scoop out servings, but the way the rice settles, its nice to have your own little cup. You can use recycled tomato sauce jars or whatever you have around.)

1.Heat the first three over medium heat to melt the chocolate and sugar, and then turn the flame way, way down.

2.Rinse the rice 3 times in warm water for good Iranian sufi love, drain as well as you can wet rice and add to the mix.

3.Heat for about 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so to keep the rice from sticking together at the bottom

4.Pour into serving size containers and refrigerate to let it cool and set before serving.

Pictures to come!

**Note** whole grain rice kills this recipe...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Menemen à Mao

Sunday lunch: always a good time to learn a new Turkish breakfast food. Enter: Muharrem (aka, Mao) and his delicious Menemen.

For two or three:

1/2 an onion, chopped
a chunk of green bell pepper, spicy or not, chopped
note: I must admit, I don't know much about the varieties of green pepper, but a lot of turkish food has these smaller, lighter colored bell peppers that have a very distinct, almost spicy taste. Im sure whatever other variety would work, but these definitely give your food a particular flavor
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 beautiful tomatoes
a handful mushrooms (canned works!)
spicy turkish sausage, or whatever variety you'd like
3 eggs

grated swiss cheese to top with
salt, spices of choice - here in France they have "spices of the country" that is a mix of things very similar to Italian blends. Twas yummy
oil to sautée (generous)
~ we used olive oil, but I think other standard oils would be better...

1. sautée onions, garlic and pepper "until they're dead," as the Turkish saying goes (meaning, really well)
2. add the chopped tomatoes, sautee a bit more, then the mushrooms, then the sausage and spices
3. sautée this on a medium heat until it all blends together.
4. when most of the liquid is gone, and it starts cooking onto the bottom of the pan, beat the 3 eggs together and pour in.
5. you will want to fold this together as it cooks, but don't stir too much. Honestly, dont "stir" at all. Have a sense of subtlety and gently make sure the eggs don't burn to the bottom of the pan.
6. the ratio of "eggs to other stuff" is high enough that this will never take on the look of an omelet, so to see when it is done, you'll have to just watch to make sure there isn't any runny eggs left.
7. sprinkle the swiss cheese on top

note: this dish takes some time on the stove. it has to cook down and get the right consistency, so don't rush it!


Afiyet olsun! (bon apetite!)