A blade shines in the darkest of the nights
What to do with my home-made tofu? That question that has been floating in my head for days - awake or in sleep mode (yes, that's how dedicated I am with my food). Don't worry, I'll spare you the juicy details of what I did with my tofu in my dreams. I did thought of making curry out of it but I have already made my tofu curry in my earlier post. So strike that out. How about stir-fried tofu? Nah...too plain and uninteresting. Now the idea of turning tofu into something sweet is actually quite appealing and challenging. So many sweet desserts started floating in my brain: 1) Tofu Cheesecake: now this is out because my mom's place doesn't have the necessary equipment. 2) Tofu Ice Cream: don't have any ice cream making machine. 3) Tofu cake or muffins: Too hot to bake in Singapore. What to make? What to bake? The pressing question with no answer. Oh dear, the 4 Velveteers' dateline is drawing very near like TODAY!...then out of the blue, my inner bulb just went 'blink!' - Tofu Onde-Onde! Tofu what??? Yes you heard me right - Onde-Onde made out of tofu. I'm not explaining myself clearly, am I for those of you who haven't the faintest idea what this is. But for those who had this before, I can see you rubbing your eyes with disbelief at the title of this post. Is that even possible? Well, you already know the answer to this question or else you wouldn't be reading this, would you?
Onde-Onde (pronounced ‘on-day') is a Peranakan dessert made up of glutinous rice flour with pandan leaves flavour, filled with palm sugar and coated with freshly grated coconut flesh. It can be eaten at any time of the day - be it for breakfast, tea time or as snacks. This is one of my favourite childhood dessert.
It's very soft and slightly chewy like a mochi with the delicious oozing palm sugar in the middle. One definitely can't taste the tofu in them. My mom said it is as good as those made completely with glutinous rice (that is after I managed to convince her to try it. You should have seen my mom's doubtful look on it when she finally popped it in her mouth because I was standing right in front of her waiting for her verdict. LOL!). Pierre, who isn't a big fan of such Asian dessert, admitted that it was pretty good. As for me, I like this version very much and will definitely make it again.
For the flavours, I didn't have pandan essence or leaves at home, so I used vanilla essence. The flavour didn't quite come out but it still tastes good all the same. You may also omit the flavours and make it plain. Or you can make it plain with out any fillings or flavour and serve it with some sauce on top of it.
If you don't like the palm sugar filling, you can experiment with other types of fillings to your liking like peanuts or coconut mixed with palm sugar, etc.
You can also turn the above recipe into soup dumplings by replacing the fillings with red bean paste or peanuts and serve it in a sweeten broth.
Guess what? It's the 4 Velveteers' Challenge again! This is an exciting month - firstly, we welcome 2 new Velveteers: Ken & Jaya to our club and join us in our challenge. Secondly, we are going to make TOFU from scratch, plain or flavoured, and create a savoury or sweet dish with it. For those of us who live in Asia, tofu is easily found at the local supermarket everywhere, but for those of us who live overseas, tofu is a rare commodity and even if we do find it in a local Asian store, the tofu doesn't tastes the same as we are used to (sometimes it also tastes funny and smells rather sourish too). So making this challenge is not only interesting for me but a useful recipe to learn. Initially I thought making tofu would be rather difficult but after some research on the Internet, I found it surprisingly easy. Now before we start making tofu, let's learn something about it.
Tofu or bean curd is a soft and cheese looking food (my father-in-law often referred it as Asian Cheese) made from coagulated soya bean milk. Traditionally, it is made using a curdling agent like nigari, a compound found in natural ocean waters, or calcium sulfate, a naturally occurring mineral. However, you can also make it using lemon juice or vinegar. After that, the curd is pressed into blocks.
According to wikipedia, tofu originated from China, during the Han dynasty to be precise. Li Shizhen (1518-1593), one of the greatest physicians and pharmacologists in Chinese history, wrote on methods of making tofu in Bencao Gangmu during the Ming dynasty. Tofu and it's recipe subsequently spreaded to Korea, Japan, Taiwan and other parts of east Asia.
For this challenge, I opted for lime juice as it is a fruit that is easily available in supermarkets in France. Making tofu at home doesn't require any fancy apparatus like you see in documentaries on TV. All you need is a piece of muslin cloth or a big handkerchief or some cotton kitchen towel and a container with holes like a sieve or strainer or you can punch some holes all over the sides of a plastic container. That's all you need - easy enough?
Homemade tofu is so fragrant and definitely taste better (yes, tofu has taste !). Since I used lime as coagulant agent, the tofu has a slight acidic flavour in it but once you make savoury or sweet dishes with it, you won't notice it anymore.
Now hop over to my next post to find out what I made with my homemade tofu.
From my experiment, I found out that the more acidity you use, the firmer the tofu. You can also make tofu using store bought soya bean milk (non-sweeten).
The 4 Velveteers
The 4 Velveteers was started by Pamela, Aparna, Asha, and Alessio, who are passionate about a new dish/ style of cooking/ cuisine and food in general. Each month, we will share with you our recipes, experiences & verdicts on our blogs. If you are interested in joining The 4 Velveteers! in our monthly adventure, please feel free to drop by our food blogs and leave a comment.
Do, check out what other Velveteers have created:
Alessio - Recipe Taster with his Tofu mousse with sesame seeds & matcha green tea
Aparna - My Diverse Kitchen with her Tropical Home-made Tofu Smoothie
Asha - Fork, Spoon & Knife with her Mapo Tofu
Ken - Hungry Rabbit with his To fu or not tofu
Jaya - Desi Soccer Mom
For our June challenge, the 4 Velveteers (Aparna, Alessio, Asha & I) picked Mint and a seasonal fruit or vegetable (we settled on that because all 4 of us reside in different parts of the world so seasonal fruits/vegetables differs from continent to continent). For me, mint doesn't pose a lot of problem now as I have learnt to use it in some dishes ever since I live in France. Now if I was still living in Singapore, that would be a different story for mint is not very much used (or none at all) in Chinese cooking or dessert. At the start of this month challenge, I had in mind different ideas about what to do with mint and fruits or vegetable but in the end, somehow I got swayed to making Ichigo daifuku, a Japanese dessert. Ichigo what? I hear you. Don't worry, full explanation below. Don't ask me how that came about for I still have no idea. It just popped up in my head one day and refused to go away until I made this dessert. Ok, now let me introduce this infamous Japanese dessert, mochi.
Mochi is a Japanese dessert made of glutinous rice pounded into paste and molded into shape. Traditionally, it is made and eaten during Japanese New Year but these days it can be eaten all year-round. This dessert is very popular in Asian countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Hongkong, Thailand etc. There are many different types of mochi sold, for example:
This is a surprising dessert for most westerners as the mochi is soft and chewy, a far cry from cakes found around Europe and North America. The combination of strawberry and Nutella is actually pretty nice with a minty green tea taste. I also made some with just Nutella filling. Little One loves both version. This mochi is so soft and melt in your mouth that it's quite addictive - I kept eating them while making my Ichigo daifuku.
The original recipe said to microwave the mixture for 2 minutes at 800 watts but mine was cooked by 2 minutes. It could be that my microwave oven is higher than 800 watts (I thought). So I would suggest to try it at 1 minute 30 seconds first and proceed another 30 seconds until it is cooked.
I don't know if it is true or not but it is said that the green tea for baking is more fragrant and green in colour than the drinking matcha type. I didn't have any of the baking type in my pantry and I just used the normal matcha I have on hand. And I didn't use spoon, just pinch a bit off and roll it into a ball. It's a bit sticky so make sure your coat your fingers/hands with some cornflour.
As for the filling, you can put any filling you wish - it can be ice cream, ground peanuts, jams, fruits, palm sugar, sweet shredded coconut etc. If you want just plain mochi flavour, just omit mint and matcha (green tea).
The 4 Velveteers
The 4 Velveteers (as we called ourselves) host a monthly event that explores food/cuisine and share our recipes, experiences and verdicts on our blogs. Every month will be a surprise - we never know what we'll make next. So if you're interested in joining the Velveteers, please feel free to drop by our food blogs and leave a comment and we will get back to you.
Do check out what the other Velveteers have come up with:
* Aparna created Apple Tomato & Grilled Paneer Salad
* Asha created Potato Frittata with Garlic Scape and Mint
* Alessio created Flat Chinese peach salad with cherries, mint and a sesame butterscotch sauce
Dear Readers, my apologies for not blogging anything new for a week. After my laptop died on me a few weeks ago, I started using my old PC (used to work on this PC before Little One was born) as an alternative but there were a few things I didn't quite bargain for. Like it used to have very weak Wifi signal that would most of the time prevent me from saving my post, but that was finally fixed by Pierre with a €69 plug. However it didn't fix the age of this PC - surfing or even typing something online is something else when we are also used to newer and faster PC. Just to give a general idea: I can type faster than it can print the letters on screen! I can take 40 winks while reading newspaper or blogs. Yep, it's that slow. So please do bear with me for a while until I get a new laptop.
Today, we are going to make a Verrine. I'm sure you have seen lots of cookbooks specialising on Verrine and even had it in the restaurants, as they have become very popular lately. You might be wondering like I did, what precisely is Verrines?
"A verrine is a confection, originally from France, made by layering ingredients in a small glass. It can be either sweet or savoury, making a dessert or snack." (Wikipedia)
So what has today's 'Verrine' got to do with The 4 Velveteers? Well, after our great adventure at making au naturel Red Velvet Cake (hence our name sake - Aparna, Asha, Alessio & I) and enjoyed it thoroughly, we decided to make it into a monthly event to spur each of us to great heights in our cooking/baking arena. For this month, we decided to make a savoury Verrine. To make it more challenging, we decided to do a blind concoction: each of us picked a secret ingredient and the 4 ingredients were revealed at the same time. I picked Salmon, Aparna chose Cheese while Asha decided on Squash/Pumpkin. Now, of course, Alessio being Al, has to throw all of us out of the loop with his pick of Chocolates. Yes you read it correctly. CHOCOLATES!
This month challenge is quite a difficult one for me as I'm not a great cook like Aparna, Alessio, or Asha. I still have a lot to learn. To be honest with you, I have never made anything with pumpkin or made a verrine before. The last time I tried to make a pumpkin tart, it turned out to be a disaster but my in laws and Pierre bravely ate it all the same. (Well that's another story) Anyway, I toyed with different mix and layers in my head for weeks. At first I wanted to make a curried pumpkin version to go with fresh salmon like sashmi but my curried pumpkin turned out awful. (had to dump it in the bin) so I stroke off that idea. Smoked salmon came to my mind a little bit too late as we have already done our grocery shopping for the week, so I had to stick to original idea of using fresh salmon. Then my mind was roused by the delicious fragrance of steamed gingered salmon with nice crunchy refreshing cucumber. Now how to pair it with cheese, pumpkin & chocolates was another challenge. Soon the idea of chived mixed with cottage cheese with small bits of dark chocolates started playing in my mind - then came the idea of having something crispy like chips ...voilà pumpkin chips was born. So with all that in mind, I finally set out to make my very special verrine. Hope you'll like it too.
Preparing Salmon layer
Making Pumpkin Chips
Preparing Cheese layer
Assembling Velveteers Verrine
To my great surprise, it actually turned out good. The ingredients really blends well. The crushed layer of pumpkin chips gives a good flavour and texture to the chived cheese. The introduction of dark chocolate bits in the cheese was kinda odd at first but once we get over the surprise, we start to enjoy this new taste and find that it actually fits. The gingered salmon turned out really good. Overall, you have a very fragrant taste with a crunchy yet springy and refreshing savour all at once.
On the hindsight, I think mozzarella cheese would have been more ideal than cottage cheese as mozzarella is more firm and springy in taste which would go better with the soft textured salmon. For the salmon, perhaps it might have been better to steam it as a whole instead of in small pieces, to make it firmer. And also a more generous layer of roughly crushed pumpkin chips on top. I would like to make this again with this adjustment and experiment with making one with fresh raw salmon with a squeeze of lemon juice (perhaps).
When making pumpkin chips, it is best to wipe the plate now and then or else oil accumulates and your chips will turn out to be very oily.
The 4 Velveteers (as we called ourselves) are hosting a monthly event that explores food, cuisine or our passion about something that catches our interests. All of us shares our recipes, experiences and verdicts on our blogs. Every month will be a surprise - we never know what we'll make next. So if you're interested in joining the Velveteers, please feel free to drop by our food blogs and leave a comment and we will get back to you.
Do check out what the other Velveteers have come up with: