Saturday, August 6, 2011

tofu fo' you

You know, growing up I never really got the deal about tofu. I found it kinda bland, mushy at times, texturally ambiguous at other times. Not that I really had a strong opinion about it either way, it was just a common component of a lot of the dishes my mom made and so I never really thought about it. I didn't like it or dislike it; it was just kinda there.

As I got older and started perusing the world of culinary creativity, I ran into articles and recipes and blogposts featuring this legendary vegetarian/vegan staple in a variety of interesting ways. Since then, tofu has come into a whole new light for me! Don't get me wrong, ma po tofu and tofu pudding and fried tofu with garlic soysauce and all those other traditional dish will always hold a special place in my heart. But here are some more ways I've spruced up the normal tofu scene.

First up...

Baked tofu!

Okay, so sticking things in the oven does not take a stroke of culinary genius but I've never done this before! It's QUITE popular around the blogosphere and it seems like everyone has some sort of wonder marinade that just makes their hunk of 'fu into the best tofu of all time.

I've experimented a little.

My first marinade/rub consisted of:
  • Spoonful of sesame oil
  • Spoonful of soy sauce
  • Spoonful of rice vinegar
  • Little bit of dijon mustard
  • Tons of ginger powder
  • Sprinkle of garlic powder
  • Spoonful(s) of honey

I've also played with adding five spice rub, cumin, and brown sugar. The best combos are those with a heavy dosing of something sweet or spice-y. I was sad that the sesame flavor gets lost in the oven, and the soy sauce becomes the most overpowering ingredient. I'm thinking that fewer ingredients would actually be better! I tend to go a little overboard.

Top half of pan: dijon mustard + honey glaze + some things listed above; bottom half of pan: soy sauce, sesame oil, and a lot of the things listed above

Use firm or extra firm tofu, drain and rinse and let it dry for a bit. I blotted mine with a paper towel - it depends on the texture of tofu you're going for. If you want something akin to chewy tofu jerky, then try to remove more moisture and slice it thinner. If you're going for the crispy on the outside, soft on the inside thing, go for fatter pieces.

Then coat with your marinade of choice, spread out on a baking pan and bake at 400 degrees for about half an hour. I never bake things at a consistent thickness or a set amount of time. I'm like the OCD cook's worst nightmare like I do and experiment!

So the next tofu concoction is a bit more interesting.


I've heard rumors that tofu can be made into creamy things and you can forego all the heavy cream and butter. Chocolate mousse, cheesecake, smoothies....

This cream sauce actually turned out pretty well. It gets a little clumpy as it cools but hey, then it's kinda like ricotta cheese. Still good.

  • 1 block silken tofu
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of nutritional yeast
  • dried oregano + other italian herbs
  • 1/2 cup of some sort of milk

Blend tofu with soymilk. You can use more or less soymilk depending on whether you want your sauce thicker or thinner. Pour into large bowl. Mix in nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, and herbs to taste. You could just throw it all in the blender, but I didn't want to risk having my blender smell of yeast and herbs forever so I separated the processes.

Sautee garlic + onions with a little olive oil, salt, and herbs in a medium saucepan. Pour tofu mixture into sauce pan and heat on medium heat until starts bubbling slightly. Stir constantly to keep it from clumping! Pour over pasta and serve ASAP!

Once it cools/if you refrigerate it, the sauce congeals into a more crumbly tofu mixture, somewhat like ricotta or cottage cheese. It still tastes great and goes well with pasta despite losing the alfredo creaminess.

Simple, healthy, and delicious!

I took the bit of leftover liquid tofu + milk in the blender and added a frozen banana, some frozen strawberries + black berries. Blended tofu makes smoothies thick and creamy and proteinlicious! Yum.

You're pretty cool, tofu. I guess you and I can be friends now.

Monday, August 1, 2011

when life gives you zucchinis...

...stare at them in confusion.

So, growing up, zucchini was a vegetable that pretty much never made an appearance in the house. It's not really found in Asian cooking and I just never really been acquainted with this green summer squashy entity.

If you may recall, on our recent peach picking excursion, we picked up two hulking zucchini specimens and then also received a couple more from a family friend. Apparently, once you start growing zucchini, you'll have enough in one season to last you a lifetime. That's why we're never growing zucchini.

Of course, being rather dessert oriented, the first idea was to make zucchini bread! And make zucchini bread I did, for the most part following this AMAZING recipe. I used whole wheat flour instead, halved and used brown sugar.

The first batch resulted in one plain loaf and one loaf loaded with chopped up pieces of a 70% dark chocolate bar. UM HEAVEN.

The second batch was, shall we say...naughtier. It may or may not have involved this. Lots of this.

Oooh yes I did. First, I took half a cup of raisins and soaked it in warmed rum for a couple of hours until the raisins plumped up with alcohol infused goodness.

But wait, that's not all. After baking and cooling off for a bit, the entire loaf was then doused in a ridiculous RUM GLAZE:

  • -1/2 cup butter
  • -1/4 cup water
  • -1 cup sugar
  • -1/2 cup rum

  • Heat butter, water, and sugar in saucepan until boiling, stirring frequently. Simmer for 5-10 minutes and then remove from heat before adding rum. Let cool for a few minutes. Poke some holes in your loaf and brush glaze over entire loaf, letting more dribble into the cracks.

I die.

Maybe combine them both for a dark chocolate rum raisin loaf next time? Hehehe...

If zucchini bread doesn't do it for you, you can always chop up the darn thing and sautee it with a little EVOO and garlic.

Or slice it up, rub with a little salt, pepper, oil, and Italian herbs and roast it.

Or use a spiralizer or peeler to make long pasta-like strands and top with your favorite tomato or cream sauce. Raw zucchini strips make an excellent and healthy pasta substitute!

Pasta with chopsticks? Sure, why not.

And with that, I'm off to deal with our one remaining stash. Bring on the zuke!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

going to country...

Gonna eat a lot of PEACHES!

Despite the 100 degree high humidity weather, we made our annual foray up into the mountains of VA for some pick-your-own fun. Hollins Farm in Delaplane has an amazing orchard of peaches, both white and yellow, as well as other fruits, veggies, and farm fresh products. You can also get farm-raised beef from them, which they sell in bulk. Still trying to get enough people together to one day make a purchase from them! Smallest denomination is something like a quarter of a whole cow, which is something like 100 pounds of beef...err......

Anyway, our family members are all loyal white peach eaters so we were after the lovely white lady peaches, that have this amazing peachy floral aroma. We have this kinda crazy gene in our family that when we see fruit on trees, we start making involuntary grabby motions with our hands and foaming at the mouth. And then once we start pickin', we don't stop until we're forcibly put into a straight-jacket, blind-folded and removed from the farm quickly and efficiently. I kid you not.

So we picked a lot of peaches.

And I do mean a lot of peaches.

These photos still don't do our craziness full justice. We have something on the order of 150+ peaches chilling in our house right now. Did I also mention we're going back next weekend? Uh huh. Peach season is far from over.

We also got some beautiful and ridiculously sweet Japanese shiro plums.

And I totally went batshiz for these BLACKBERRIES!!! Just gawjuss!

Have you ever seen blackberry blossoms?

I'm in there somewhere.

Can't contain the crazy.

Yeah we got quite a bit of these too.

But wait, there's more! As if we'd pass up the opportunity to get all the super fresh produce we can. Hello, my favorite members of the solanaceae family!

Seriously, fruit have got to be some of the most beautiful things on this planet.

Last, but definitely not least, we got two of these babies. Overgrown babies. Ignore my messy house.

So, in conclusion, we have fruits and veggies coming out of our ears. If I've turned into a rabbit the next time you see me, please give me a loving home. If this is impossible, just promise me you'll use me to make the friggin most delicious batch of lapin a la cocotte known to mankind.

Until next time! Got a favorite recipe involving peaches or zucchini? Gimme a hollah!

Monday, July 25, 2011

hummus in the house!

Commence attempt number 193282904 to start/restart the whole blogging thang! This time, I've resolved not to put too much pressure on myself and have already accepted the fact that this will most likely not be a daily blog. And most DEFINITELY not a 'here's everything I eat and do in a day' type of blog. While I loooove the food/health bloggers who document their lives in such fun and interesting ways, and would love to try doing what they do one day, I've decided to commit this blog to random food ramblings, my own culinary creations, and my regular adventures in the kitchen, whenever they happen to occur.

And what better way to jump start a new era in the Hummusphere then a recipe involving...dunununuh...HUMMUS!

You know, I realized that hummus hasn't actually had much facetime on this blog. SHAMEFUL I know. I promise, as a loyal citizen of the Hummusphere, that I will pay more tribute in the future to this fabulous food item.

So we had eggs. A lot of eggs. And so in an effort to render them all edible as efficiently as possible, I decided to hard-boil them. But hard-boiled eggs are so...vanilla, you know? So in a fit of rebellion, I grabbed some not-so-typically-found-in-egg-salad ingredients and lo and behold, made egg salad.

  • 2-3 hard-boiled, peeled eggs
  • 2 tbsp hummus
  • splash of olive oil
  • generous sprinkling of black pepper
  • heaping spoonful of nutritional yeast
Mash up the eggs and mix everything together and tada!
Serve on a sandwich, on a bed of greens, on a spoon...

Hummus is an excellent substitute for the usual mayo+ mustard combo. And let me say something about nutritional yeast! I've seen it around the foodie intarweb communities for a while now and I've always been mildly intrigued and terrified at the same time. What is this stuff that looks and smells kinda like fish food but have all these health aficionados leaping in fungus induced joy? So finally, I picked up some and tentatively started sprinkling it on my salads, sandwiches and what not. Verdict? I like it! It gives a nice savory flavor to anything you add it to. I wouldn't call it cheesy, as many others do, but it's definitely not bad. Props for the insta-umami!

Now, let's look at this picture.

Ummmmmmm yeah. There's also an unpictured bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips in the pantry. And another couple of bars in my room. Er. I may or may not have a slight problem.

If anyone knows any fab uses for dark chocolate, hollah at me! Right now, I'm just eating it straight, which is already divine; melting it and drizzling it on things, which is possibly more divine; or forgetting the damn spoon altogether and just drinking it out of a bowl, which is, duh, the best idea I've ever had.

Until next time!

Monday, June 21, 2010


Ever since hearing about one of my friend's foodie adventures on his study-abroad program in Japan this summer, I've had the incredible urge to consume vast quantities of okonomiyaki (Japanese pizza/pancake) and takoyaki (Japanese octopus dumplings). For your own happiness and well-being, I also strongly recommend Google imaging the above foods.

Now, ironically enough, I have never actually had okonomiyaki, but I still craved it nonetheless. After perusing through several online how-tos and recipes, I decided that I could definitely muster up a passable, simplified version of the thing and got to it. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for the takoyaki, which requires a special type of pan...once I get my hands on one of these babies, I will truly be unstoppable.

And now, without further ado:

Not bad, right?

Carol's Version of OKONOMIYAKI
...based on several online recipes and the fact that she has no idea what it's supposed to taste like

The batter (these measurements make a ton of batter; feel free to use a lot less):

  • 2.5-3 cups all purpose flour
  • .75 cups kombu broth
  • .75 cups water
  • 3-4 eggs
  • .75-1 head of cabbage

I used this very versatile kombu broth from the Asian market. It can basically be used as a marinade, soy sauce alternative, dressing, all around flavor booster.

The Sauce:

  • a generous splash of Soy sauce (I used Bragg's Liquid Aminos 'cause it's all I had)
  • a heaping squirt of Ketchup
  • a moderate splash of the same Kombu as above
  • a few spoonfuls brown sugar
Sorry for the awful measurement guidelines - I usually make all of my sauces to taste so I really can't tell you how much of each I put in...I just keep adding stuff until it tastes the right amount of salty/sweet/tangy.

Besides the batter and the sauce, I also threw in some red bell peppers, onions, and shrimp. Okonomiyaki can contain pretty much anything - chicken, octopus, noodles, broccoli, etc etc. Go crazy with those toppings!

And with that, it's time to hit the pan!

Into the pan goes some oil, onions, red pepper, shrimpies. (With shrimp, we discovered that putting them in at the same time as the batter prevented them from overcooking. Other meats like chicken or beef would probably benefit from this pre-batter cooking method, though.)

Gather your extras into the middle of the pan and pour on enough batter to cover it, but don't make it too thick!

After one side has gotten sufficiently solid and browned, give it a good ol' flip! Then, let it sit for a while longer until cooked all the way through. Add more oil if you want a crispier pancake and don't worry if it falls apart a little during the flipping - you can always smoosh it back together :)

Plate it, drizzle your sauce over it, squirt on some optional mayo, serve, and EAT!!!! You can also layer on sauteed veggies (shown at the beginning of the post), seaweed, dried fish flakes, etc.


It turned out great for a first time, spur of the moment cooking adventure. The casa compadres liked it a lot too. I'm not sure how much it tastes like the real thing (gonna take a trip up to NYC to try to hunt down some more authentic stuff) but it sure was tasty nonetheless. It was similar to a Korean seafood pancake, but a little gooier, with a thicker sauce. Traditional recipes call for yam starch, which would make it a little more glutinous and chewy, akin to a Taiwanese oyster omelette (DROOL). Maybe I'll try it again with that missing ingredient and see how it goes.

Well that's all for now! Wishing everybody a good week with good food!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

the return?

Dare I say it??? THE HUMMUSPHERE IS BACK! For now, at least.

It's been way too long, my fellow food enthusiasts, but due to popular demand (a.k.a. my own boredom and guilt at having let this thing fall through the cracks), I will once again be detailing my foodie healthie life-ie adventures for your viewing pleasure.

This summer, I am staying at le university to do research and am currently renting, along with a couple wonderful compadres (who will no doubt be making many a guest appearance on these pages) a cute little house just on the border of campus. The best thing about having our own abode is the kitchen!!!!!! and I've made myself very much at home indeed.

Backtrack a little though- for the past two weeks I've actually been at home and have been flexing my budding culinary muscles (ha!). Alas, any skill or experience I had in this department had sadly atrophied over the last semester, as I was studying abroad in Panama. That is in itself a whole 'nother story...but moving on.

I didn't take a lot of pictures at home, but the things I did manage to grab a few pics of a few concoctions:

Cran-goji-nut oatmeal cookies!

These super chunky babies contained:
  • 1.25 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2.75 cups old fashioned oats
  • 0.5 stick of butter
  • 0.5 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup goji berries
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
Combine wet and then dry ingredients, bake at 375 for 10 minutes and voila!

(Gasp, butter??? I got over my fear of butter and sugar - a little butta goes a loooong way especially in making crisp, delicious cookies.)

Caribbean Island Lime Shrimp

Modified from this recipe.

I didn't have orange juice, any of the alcohol, or turmeric but it still turned out awesome! The fam enjoyed it as well :).

Other things I experimented with but unfortunately didn't get to photograph include:
  • Kale chips
  • Roasted veggies (cauliflower + cabbage)
  • Pad thai!!! <=This is the most amazingly comprehensive tutorial for making pad thai EVER. If you are a pad thai fan, you MUST check this out!
  • Various simple household Chinese dishes

And since moving into our little house on campus, the food adventures have continued! Behold, the spread for our first housemate dinner together. Dawwwww.

Whole wheat spaghetti + fusilli with Muir Glen Italian Herb pasta sauce, sauteed spinach, sauteed marinated Crimini mushrooms, and Chardonnay. Classy ;).

I picked up the pasta sauce on sale at the local organic grocery store and it was awesome!! Full of flavor and tomato chunks, definitely recommend it! The spinach and mushrooms were bought at the local farmer's market last week (be still my heart!) and were amazingly fresh. I love good wholesome food!

Lunches and breakfasts have been more casual - the standard oatmeal/toast concoctions and salads/hummus for lunch. For example:

EPIC salad with arugula, herb salad mix, a carrot, red bell pepper, drizzled with Annie's Goddess Dressing.

I've been meaning to try this salad dressing that everyone raves about and was happy to see it on sale. It's good, but a little too salty for my tastes? I think I prefer my salad dressings slightly sweeter but the strong temari flavor wasn't bad at all.

Tonight, I've got something SPECTAAACULAR planned (well, at least I hope it turns out that way) and I'm really excited to see how it turns out! (HINT: it involves cabbage and eggs and is vaguely pancake-like. haha, sounds great, right???) I'll be sure to take lots of photos and hopefully return to the Hummusphere with news of gastronomic glory. Until then, have a nice day and happy eating!

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Greetings from glorious Maryland! I love home.

Alas, I'm headed back to school tomorrow morning (noooooo) but at least it's been an incredibly restful five days of sleep and laziness and mom's cooking mmmm.

I finally got my lazy butt into some running pants this afternoon and cranked out 3 miles for the first time in at least two weeks. It felt great at first but by the end, I was pretty wrecked. I've been getting pretty inspired by some other bloggies and their insane mileage when it comes to running and I really do want to improve! It seems like everyone else out there is just popping out the double digit miles like it's no biggie. Crazy!

And now for the glorious part, a week's worth of homey eats!

I spotted this baby the moment I stepped into the house on Sunday. A ginormous glorious POMELO!!!! I loooove these! For those of your unfamiliar with these babies, they're like a milder, sweeter version of a grapefruit (which I also love), but about twice as large. These things are huge!

Doesn't look that big here, right?

Totally dominates this TI-84 though.

As well as my head.

Peel off the super thick rind...

Beautiful juicy sweetness inside!!! Yep, I ate the whoooleee thing (over three days hahaha).

This visit was filled with amazing fruit. Mmmm, I can't believe some people don't eat fruit??? I think one of our family friend's never eats fresh fruit. Ridiculous!

Fuji apple, Korean pears, Fuyu Persimmon (which I never cared for before but they're actually really good! My mom loves 'em.)

I didn't take many pics of our actual meals but I assure you they were quite good. Here's today's lunch and dinner though, extra epic since it's my last day here :(.

This may look kinda strange but it was so yummy!

Korean-style seasoned ferns (they look funny but I could eat these all day), yam noodles, mung bean sprouts, and greens. Super healthy and super tasty.

And epic feast of a dinner!!!

Shrimp, egg, and scallion. Omnomnom.

Ridiculously amazing baked purple sweet potater (nothing added!) - can you see the caramelized juices just oozing out of it??? Seriously tastes like CANDY.

Cabbage - plain but I grew up on this dish and miss it all the time.

SALMONNN with a slightly sweet and savory marinade and scallions. Melted like butter in my mouth; definitely been getting my seafood fix lately.

I stuffed myself sillyyyyyy. Good thing I went for that run hahaha.

After dinner, there was a generous amount of fruit-eating, per usual and a special treat!

Glutinous rice balls with sweet black sesame filling (tang yuan in Mandarin). These babies were made from purple rice, hence the color.

The filling is the best part! Soooo foodgasmic.

And lastly, what home visit isn't complete without me busting out my baking skillz (harhar I wish). I made another two loaves of healthy BANANA BREAD, one using an improvised a-little-too-healthy recipe and one with my mom's (but with a few healthy modifications).

The first loaf didn't turn out too hot - it was really dense and chewy, not much like a bread. That's what I get for trying to make a loaf out of bananas, yogurt, whole wheat flour, baking soda, and cinnamon. Hahaha yeah that was all I put in it.

Ok fine, maybe it wasn't that bad, it just didn't rise very much. But I still ate about a quarter of the loaf right when it came out of the oven and my sister pretty much ate the rest of it over the past few days...

It looks pretty good in a picture haha.

And then I used my mom's classic banana bread recipe (this one has egg whites and a little brown sugar among other things) and it came out a lot more bread-like.

It puffed up quite nicely :).

Yep, so I'm heading back to campus tomorrow morning, but not without a suitcase full of goodies. I'm bringing with me:

-the second loaf of b-bread.
-new jar of TJ's almond butter (roasted this time!)
-TJ's pumpkin butter
-bag of purple sweet potatoes
-carton of TJ's butternut squash soup
-box of Ak-mak wheat crackers
-dark chocolate
-instant ramen
-20 mini packs of dried and seasoned seaweed
-couple each of persimmons and pears

Yeah, I'm pretty much ready to feed my own small army.

At least I'll be well stocked and I start to tackle the pile of assignments I've neglected thus far. Woe...