In further adventures in recipe testing, I tested a recipe for vegan mac & cheese that came in pretty handy this week when my poor omnivorous sweetheart came down with a terrible bug and had to stay home from work. This was the requested lunch and I was happy to oblige. Vegan mac & cheese that's so omni-friendly it's comfort food on sick days? Indeed!
Once upon a time I thought making my own tofu was impossible. Of course, once upon a time I'd eat a can of chickpeas for dinner and call it a day. Times have changed! Though I still love chickpeas.
It started with Hodo Soy. Delicious, fresh, non-GMO, medium textured Hodo Soy. Aseptic packaged tofu from the grocery store paled in comparison; my omnivorous sweetheart turned out to like fresh tofu, so I knew we could never go back. When the Hodo Soy stand left our usual farmers market, I tracked it down at another, then another. Then it left the East Bay farmers markets completely! I hunted it down, packaged, at Berkeley Bowl West, then at Whole Foods. One day, the medium tofu was inexplicably gone forever. I started hoarding the firm tofu. What were we to do? "You'll have to start making tofu," my omnivorous sweetheart said.
Her instructions are clear and her troubleshooting tips super helpful. I won't reprint the recipe here, but I really do recommend picking up either Asian Tofu or the smaller e-book. I do have some notes for first time tofu makers!
Be sure to use a large enough pot when cooking the initial soymilk. It foams! It rises! It really, really does. I had to stop halfway through the first simmer and pour it out into a larger pot. Dangerous! Even if you think it's silly to use that giant soup stockpot, do it.
Save the pulp that results from straining the soymilk. This is okara, a food in itself, high in protein and fiber. Traditionally it can be simmered in broth or sautéed with vegetables; it can also be added to baked goods or hot cereals. I made a scramble with some of my first batch and it was incredibly - almost alarmingly! - eggy in texture.
If you, like me, stock up on cartons of pumpkin purée during the autumn months, surprise! A one pound carton fits perfectly into the top of some particular tofu molds. You can also use a colander instead of a specialized mold if you don't mind having a non-rectangular block.
Be very careful when moving your brand new block of tofu from the press to your partially water-filled storage container. New tofu is delicate! Be equally careful when topping off the water to completely cover the block, use low pressure.
Clean up quickly - soymilk and tofu both are very, very sticky.
Feel like a wizard! You just made tofu!
Recipe testing has been pretty interesting! I've been learning a lot since I have to follow the recipe exactly - for science! - and not improvise by skipping or changing steps or switching up ingredients. I didn't think I was a crazy free-wheeler in the kitchen or anything, mind you.
When I saw a tester recipe that included avocado in a sweet application, I was a goner. My omni sweetheart says I'm forever putting sweet things in savory dishes and savory things in sweet dishes.
Of course, once my omni sweetheart tasted a paleta de aguacate y limón, it was like the heavens parted. It turns out there was a devious plan and a secret hope that it would not be very tasty and I would be cured of at least one savory dessert inspiration. But we were both blown away - it was so creamy, so lush, so tart. The very next week the gentleman I buy avocados from (2 a week) at the farmers market was selling 10 avocados for $10, so my path was clear.
paletas de aguacate y limón doble
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 small ripe avocados
- pinch of salt
- 2 limes for zest and lime juice
You'll need a zester, a small saucepan, a blender, and popsicle molds and sticks. Zest (first) and juice (second) your limes and allow the lime juice to sit while you complete the remainder of the recipe.
Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil and the sugar has dissolved. Let cool to room temperature.
Cut the avocados in half lengthwise. Remove the pit and scoop the flesh into a blender, along with the cooled syrup and salt. Blend until smooth, scraping the sides as needed. Add the lime juice and zest and blend just until combined.
If using conventional molds, divide the mixture among the molds, snap on the lid, and freeze until solid, about 5 hours. If using glasses or other unconventional molds, freeze until the pops are beginning to set (1 1/2 to 2 hours), then insert the sticks and freeze until solid, 4 to 5 hours. If using an instant ice pop maker, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
I can't give you the recipe for the tester avocado dessert - but I can show you a picture! Feast your eyes on the verdant tart below.
Big news, everyone! I've signed up to be a tester for Joni Marie Newman's upcoming book!
I'm excited about this for a few reasons – I'm really interested in the recipe testing process, I'd like to hone my cooking skills to a razor edge so I can be a wizard in the kitchen, and Joni created the recipe for the most delicious tofu salad in the entire world. Even my omni sweetheart loves it.
I can't share the recipes with you yet, but I've been taking some pictures along the way. I'm thrilled to be involved behind the scenes!
Previously, I posted about making empanada fillings and dough in advance. Now comes the easy part of the empanada making process: filling and baking! You've got your fillings and your dough, so it's smooth sailing from here on out. Preheat your oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl or cup, mix together the sugar and cinnamon.
filling and baking empanadas
1/4 cup non-dairy milk or creamer
dough rounds or squares
1 TBSP sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Take your dough shapes, gently stretch the edges, then brush with the milk or creamer. Scoop 1/3 cup filling into the center and spread lightly over half; leave about 1/2 inch of space along the edges. Fold the unfilled side over the filling, press down with your fingers to seal, then crimp with the tines of a fork.
Carefully place on prepared baking sheet, brush with more milk or creamer and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture. Repeat until out of filling, then bake for 24-26 minutes, or until the tops have golden spots. Wait five minutes before digging in!
If you've cut rectangles, you can fold the dough to form rectangle or squares.
For circles you can fold in half to form half-moons, or put one circle on top of another for a round pie. Be warned: the round pies make really big servings!
You may need more or less milk or creamer depending on how sticky your dough is. You can also brush the outsides with oils - canola is nice and neutral and olive oil complements many fruits - but something like hazelnut or pumpkin might be unexpected and fun as well!
These transport well and reheat easily at 350 for 10 minutes.
Really do wait a few minutes before eating, as the filling can get incredibly hot.
Experiment with fillings. I was most nervous about the maple lime pumpkin - the most savory and least conventional of the fillings - but it was the surprise favorite of the evening!