Jul 28, 2010

A tale of tofu and tardy – II

Tofu Steak

In case you missed how to make tofu at home (and step by step clicks to go with it! The exclaimation because I don't do it often), check it out here. My first task with the Velveteers is not over until I make something sweet or savory with the tofu that I made at home, from scratch (I can’t mention enough that I made tofu at home, from scratch). But I am patting myself too much on the back, which is uncharacteristic of me and honestly, making me gag, which is the last thing you want to see on a food blog. So, I will quickly move on to the recipe, that I found at La Fuji Mama, while going through her tofu making tutorial. It is called tofu steak and is much easier than cooking or eating steak.
Pat dry the block of tofu with paper towels.

Cut into thick wedges or chunks and dry it furthermore.
Salt and pepper both sides.
Cover both sides with finely minced or grated garlic. Make sure there are no big chunks of garlic.
Lightly sprinkle flour on both sides.

Heat a non-stick or cast iron skillet. Drizzle a couple of tablespoons of sesasme oil in a hot skillet and cook the pieces on two sides till brown and crispy, approximately 2-3 minutes. Do this on medium to low heat to prevent the garlic from burning.

Take them off the skillet and line them on some paper towels to drain any excess oil.

Serve with duck sauce, soy sauce or any other sauce of your choice.

Jul 27, 2010

A tale of tofu and tardy

Punctuality has never been my forte. I have talked about it here before and I have been working on getting there, in time. However, working on something and achieving it are two different things, as is evident by this post for the cool group of Veleveeters, started by Aparna, Asha, Pamela and Alessio, which is late by almost a week.

I was thrilled when they accepted me in their cool circle only to find out that my very first challenge would be making tofu at home and then making a savory or sweet dish out of it. The latter is not that tough but the former! I didn’t even know you could make tofu at home. I mean doesn’t it need industrial sized vats and people scurrying around in surgical gloves and masks? Wrong! Turns out, making tofu at home is as easy as making paneer except you have to make the soy milk first and need to engage two big pots, an assortment of bowls for soaking and straining and a couple of strainers.

I did what everyone who is in a bind does these days. GOOGLE! After that it was just a matter of following links from Pamela’s to fellow newbie Ken to his link to here. I was ready to make soy milk, tofu and a tofu turkey. Ok, I didn’t make the turkey but I made the tofu and it took me a total of 2 hours, not including soybean soaking time. Here’s what I did.

Soak one and a half cup of soybeans in a lot of water. The soak time depends on the weather, anywhere from 8 hours in the summer to 24 hours in the winters. I soaked mine for about 18 hours.

Once soaked, grind them in batches till smooth. I did not know what it meant so I just used my idli/ dosa batter consistency measure. In my trusty Breville, it took me all of three minutes for each batch.

Boil about 5-6 cups of water in a big pot (and I mean the biggest pot you have). Add the pureed soybeans to the boiling water and at medium heat keep stirring till the mix starts to foam and froth. Sprinkle a few drops of cold water if it is threatening to spill over and it will threaten to spill over.

Once the mix boils, turn the heat down and let it simmer for about ten minutes before turning off the heat.

Strain in a colander lined with a cheese cloth. I just used a thin cotton towel from India. Make sure there is a big pot to catch the strained liquid, which is your soymilk.

The stuff you catch in the top is called okara and supposed to be very nutritious and full of protein and other good stuff. I don’t know any use for it at the moment. If I do, will let you know.

pparently, the strained soymilk can be kept in the refrigerator for a couple of days and used like regular store bought store milk. I did not have the time or patience to find out, so I proceeded to make tofu out of it.

The coagulant: Lime Juice
Wash the big pot you boiled the bean paste in and transfer the soymilk in it. Bring to a gentle simmer and then turn off the heat. While the milk is reaching its simmer point, squeeze juice of five to six limes and mix it with a glass of water. I had approximately 1/4 cup of lime juice. This will be your coagulant.

Take the soymilk off the heat and add the watered down lime juice to the cooling soymilk. Stir till it starts to separate into curds and whey. Cover and leave the kitchen for 15 minutes. I vacuumed the living room.
Come back and line the biggest strainer you have with another thin cotton towel/ napkin. Place it on the kitchen sink and dump the coagulated contents in it.

Let as much liquid drain as you can. Carefully lift the towel by the edges and wrap is tightly around its contents. Try to squeeze as much water out as you can.

Place it on the above mentioned colander, with a lid and some weights on top. I used a big can of garbanzo beans.
Depending on how soft or firm you like your tofu, keep the weights anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes.

Take the weights off and rinse the tofu in a big bowl under running water, taking care not to hit the tofu directly.
To store, cover tofu with water and store in an air tight container.

Between completing my assignments for school, a doctor visit and carting the four year old to and fro to his activities, I did not have enough time to cook the tofu I made. The recipe will be coming soon, I promise.

This post was perfect for my B2B event, but the Velveteers’ code forbids me to enter it for any other event, including my own. And after being late for my first task, I dare not break another rule, because I intend to stick around for a while.

If you have stuck around till the end of this post, do pop on over to Sra, who won the title contest and is thus entitled to eight more links from me.

Jul 16, 2010

Garlic and sapphires, and Reichl’s chocolate cake

If you have ever wondered how you will be treated in a snooty, fancy restaurant, Ruth Reichl will tell you in Garlic and Sapphires. It is Reichl’s candid memoire of her stint as a restaurant critic for New York Times, which turns out is one of the most powerful positions a newspaper critic in New York could have.

Besides transitioning from the laidback LA Times to the more staid and rigidly structured NY Times, Reichl has to go through the pains of getting used to the wrath of readers faithful to her predecessor not to mention donning disguises to review restaurants incognito (apparently, every restaurant in NY has her photo tacked in the kitchen).

The disguises turn out to be the most fun part of her job till she finds herself competing with one of her assumed identities, an elegant blond named Chloe, with whom everyone including her husband and son seem taken with. She even gets hit on by a middle aged rich guy and agrees to a date with him at a restaurant she has to review.

Reichl narrates her adventures with a sense of humor and total honesty that makes you want to befriend her. She is generous in her praise and brutally honest with her criticism. Like the time she gets treated differently at a high end restaurant when she dines dressed as a middle class housewife (longer wait, bad table and horrible service) and later as the critic of NYTimes (the King of Spain waits in the bar but her table is ready even when she shows up early!).

However, all good things must end as they do for Reichl when she realizes she no longer likes the person she is disguised as, a bitter, sarcastic *itch. With the realization comes the offer to edit Gourmet, where she has continued to break culinary ground with the same enthusiasm for good food that etched her name as one of the finest food critics of NYTimes. Check out her new PBS series, Gourmet Adventures with Ruth that she sums it up in these words: There’s no better way to experience a culture than to stand at the stove with a wonderful cook.

Jul 11, 2010

Anatomy of an onion and the contest winner


Breakfast on weekdays is a staid affair in our house. He eats his at work (eggs), I eat oatmeal with raisins and the kid loves his cheerios with raisins and milk. Weekends are pretty much the same except on the days when the house doesn’t need cleaning, the laundry is done and folded away and the lawn has been mowed the day before. Then, I like to make the ubiquitous Maharashtrian breakfast of kanda poha, except I make the pimped up version, Indori kanda poha, complete with all the fixings of sev and onions and pomegranate seeds.

Last weekend, while prepping for the aforementioned poha, as I chopped in two the unnaturally big onion, I was struck by the even concentric ridges and the smooth, shiny, beautiful red of the onion. I cradled the half cut onion in my palms and admired the beauty of its contours. This is what I captured with my humble point and shoot digital. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

My favorite!

On a parting note, the Coming Clean call for entrees received a total of one entry from M who blogs at Eating Matters. I am not the least bit insulted by this obvious rejection of the simple call for clicks by the foodie community. For now, I will just assume that none of you had a corner in your kitchen or pantry worthy enough to be photographed and put up on the blog. Except of course M, who gets a second link for being the only participant and for having a smashing, minimalist pantry.

The neat ridges and the smooth texture
On the subject of links and entrees, I was touched by how many of you liked my piece of fiction and suggested a title for it. I stand corrected on my assumption that I was being ignored. There were more suggestions that I expected and I had a tough time deciding the winner. Here are the nominees:

Nupur’s Coming Home, a title liked by a lot of you.

Srivalli's suggestions were in sync with Nupur's: Homecoming and Healed Heart.

The spin offs on curd rice with Fresh curds for a fresh start, rice plate with a clean slate and curd rice for the soul, the first two suggested by SS, and the last one by Sweet Artichoke.

Some titles suggested and inspired by Scarlett O’Hara and the positive ending of the story: Tomorrow is another day, A positive Attitude and Hope, suggested by Vaishali , Bangalore Baker and PJ, in  that order.

Two along the lines of fire and rebirth: Rise of the phoenix and Coming back to life, suggested by Cool Lassie and Aqua respectively.

And the lone category of witty title: Links that matter, because it highlights the bond between mother and daugheter as well as the prize of the contest, suggested by who else but the witty and word wise Sra.

A vote on fb yielded no majority votes so I picked a title that tickled me with its tongue-in-cheek intent. Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, the winner is Sra whose Soup came alive is redolent with much more tongue-in-cheek sentences and titles like The links that matter. In keeping with my promise, starting from this post, Sra’s blog gets linked for the next nine posts I write.

Speaking of which, the next post is my review of Ruth Reichl’s Garlic and Sapphires, which was due on the first of this month and by the time gets posted will be late by two weeks.

Don't forget to send in your entrees for the Back to Basics event.

A parting shot

Possibly related posts

Related Posts with Thumbnails