01 April 2012

Puffy Parathas

Sadly, I ran out of rice to eat with the palak tofu I made from Andrea Nuygen's Asian Tofu book (I recommend it!), so I had to turn to bread. The traditional pairing for saag dishes are roti made from corn, but I decided to forgo tradition and make some parathas. Parathas are a rich, unleavened, flat bread made from a simple wheat flour and water dough. The way they are deep fried gets them to puff up like pita bread. The trick is to fry it in hot oil, and baste the top of the bread by ladling or splashing hot oil over it while it cooks. This helps generate steam faster, and makes a skin that retains the steam for longer. Once out of the frier, they don't stay puffed for too long, so serve them quickly for maximum effect. The oil I used is vegetable oil, but I had previously cooked carnitas and tohu goreng bacem (twice cooked coriander tofu, also from Asian Tofu), so it was very flavorful.

The recipe such as it is:
AP Flour (may use a fraction or all whole wheat) 100
Water 60
Salt 1

26 March 2012

Okara Granola Mark 1

Okara parched in a slow oven with a little sugar, salt, and oil. Served with plain yogurt, raisins, honey, and cinnamon.

In it's current form and formula, the okara doesn't hold its crispness long enough. Needs work.

25 March 2012

Making Tofu: The Soy Milk

First you gotta soak your soybeans. There's a whole time and tempurature curve involved. Just soak them over night. You want them to be uniformly hydrated and crumble easily between your thumb and finger. I discarded the soaking water. You'll want to puree them as fine as possible in a blender. Remember when adding your water to the blender to blend the beans, you need to ration it. Since I'm making block tofu, which calls for light soy milk, I can only use 1.33 cup of water per ounce of dry soy bean. In this case, I'm allowed 21 cups of water for 16 oz of soybeans. It'll take a few minutes to get the bean puree, or go, fine enough. The first half of my beans weren't pureed as fine as they should have been, and I think that impacted my tofu yield. Pour your go into a big pot, and proceed to cooking. Some folks have you already heat part of your water ration in the pot while you puree the beans. This has the advantage of speeding up your cooking time and limits the soy's 'beany' taste because you are allowing the enzymes that you released during blending less time to work on the soybean's oils and proteins.

18 March 2012

And they call it dumpling love...

Beef, cumin, and cilantro dumplings. The combination of cumin and soy is something new to me, and I'm really enjoying it. Tried the half moon shape, I still think it's ugly and ungainly for a dumpling. Still working on the slipper fold. For now, my variation of the pleated crescent continues to rule the roost.

14 March 2012

Modernist Chile Con Queso Part 1

I got a hankering for chips and dip the other night. Salsa wouldn't cut it, I wanted cheese. The kind of creamy gooey cheese you get on convenience store nachos. The kind I'd been reading about how you can make it at home in Modernist Cuisine. So I took a look at the recipes from the 'constructed cheese' parametric table, and cobbled together a formula based on what I had in the pantry.

08 March 2012

Making Your Own Tofu Press

Last week, I bought Andrea Nguyan's new cookbook on tofu for my Kindle. http://www.vietworldkitchen.com/blog/2012/03/asian-tofu-enhanced-ebook.html (I also own her Asian Dumplings book on Kindle, which is excellent.) I've only scratched the surface, but it's enticing. I've made the Ma Po Tofu from it twice, and the pork-kimchee-tofu mandu once so far. Asian Tofu strikes me as a reincarnation of Shurtleff and Ayogi's Book of Tofu. My only gripe with Asian Tofu is the lack of technique for making puffy fried tofu.

Anyway, I was paging through Asian Tofu and dreaming of making fresh tofu. I had everything I need, but a press. The plastic press looked kinda dinky, and I didn't want to pay out the nose for an expensive Japanese wooden one. I also wanted something reusable, so the disposable loaf pan idea was also out. After looking at the picture of the wooden press in the book, got to thinking that I could make this. So I went to Home Depot and came back with about 10 bucks worth of poplar cuts and gorilla glue.

07 March 2012

Irish Soda Bread

Saint Patrick's Day is coming up quickly, and I've been put in charge of cooking the Paddy's Day feast at my local community center. We're doing the required corned beef, potatoes and carrots, braised cabbage, horseradish, and of course soda bread.

Soda breads became popular in Ireland because they could only grow soft wheat reliably. Hard wheat just wasn't suited for that region. Soft wheat flour lacks the protein needed to trap the gasses produced during yeast fermentation, so the Irish needed to turn to chemical leaveners to do the job. At first, this was done by a combination of acidic buttermilk and one of a variety of alkaline carbonate salts. Sometime in the 19th century, baking powder started to be incorporated into soda breads. Our modern baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) eventually became the default alkaline in the Western baking world.

It's worth mentioning that soda bread is part of the farl and scone continuum of the British Isles. If you can master soda bread, you can easily master the others. In Ireland, the addition of the raisins and caraway technically puts us in the category of tea breads (sweeter and garnished soda breads) rather then soda bread proper. This is, then, an Irish American version of soda bread. Since we generally eat it only once a year (if that), we can be a little extravagant.

Irish Soda Bread Formula in Baker's Percentages
AP Flour .....................100
Baking Soda ...................1.25
Salt .................................1.25
Sugar ..............................5
Baking Powder ...............5
Butter ...........................10
Raisins ..........................20
Caraway Seed ................1.25
Buttermilk .....................70
Mixing Method: Biscuit

Scale at ~1lb (450g) per unit

Makeup: Ball shaped loaf scored with a deep cross.

Baking: 375 deg F ~30-40 minutes.

NB: Plump up the raisins with a little hot water after scaling, then drain.