Tuesday, July 23, 2013

scrambled tofu

Just some pics of one of my favourite meals to have - scrambled tofu. I use either medium or extra firm tofu and add turmeric and tamari sauce which gives the tofu an egg-like appearance. Toppings include mushrooms, fresh herbs (e.g. chives), onions, tomatoes, spinach, zucchini and basically anything in my fridge! I eat this as breakfast with a slice of toast, for lunch/dinner or as a healthy snack.

I feel pretty lazy at the moment and want some warm comforting food such as scrambled tofu. I went to Sydney for the weekend and it was good to get a change of scenery. However, with my back pain and other things, I over exerted myself so I don't feel like I got much of a weekend. Socialising and being in my home town wasn't as satisfying as I had wished. Oh well. I'm going to try to do something for myself this weekend. Maybe I'll start a creative project. Maybe I'll write about my project on this blog :).

Thursday, July 4, 2013

tofu pancakes

I took a much-needed day off work to relax, rest and recuperate. Somehow, I spent 6 out of 8 hours of the day cooking. I'm not sure if it was exactly relaxing and I felt slightly hopeless for using up my day on chore-like activities. I probably need more hobbies other than cooking or those that revolve around food. Oh well. Let me embrace it for a moment.

I've read many recipes that include silken tofu in pancakes. Many of these recipes are vegan and tofu is used as an egg/protein substitute and can lighten up the texture of the pancake. However, I wondered whether tofu can be used to complement conventional pancakes that use eggs. Are eggs really necessary in pancakes/tofu pancakes? I tried making both.

My recipe consisted of gluten free self raising flour, oat milk, silken tofu and 1/2 egg for one pancake. I used egg in the batter and pancake shown on the left whereas the batter/pancake on the right has no egg.
Both pancakes are a similar colour to their batter - the egg added a yellow tinge to the left pancake whereas the pancake on the right remained a beige tofu colour. Both pancakes cooked decently. As you can see, the pancake with only tofu broke a bit, but this isn't significant.

I was experimenting with pancake batters so I thought I'd take it a step further and try out different pancake toppings. I microwaved frozen raspberries and added fig jam to it to remove the berries' occasional sourness. I also used rice malt syrup.

The tofu pancake with egg was light and fluffy. The taste of the tofu was noticeable so I probably wouldn't recommend it to tofu haters.

The pancake without egg was a bit more mushy and had the texture of firm porridge. It was less like cake and more like a moist pudding. I still enjoyed it but if you try this, don't expect it to taste like the conventional flour, egg, milk, butter pancake.

I would definitely cook tofu pancakes again. They were also pretty light on the stomach. I prefer the one with egg as I anticipate a cakey texture when I eat pancakes. If I cooked the one without eggs again, I'd cook it for a bit longer on a lower heat. Also, tofu pancakes would probably be fluffier and rise more with wheat flour, rather than gluten free flour.

zucchini dill and feta pie

I've got a love/hate relationship with cheese. When I was young, my family was infamous among my friends for our cheesy remake of McCain's frozen pizza. My family would often have McCain's Hawaiian pizza for afternoon tea or when friends came over. At the request of my brothers and I, my mum would pile an extra ton of shredded cheese on the pizza, bake it and serve it with corn.

My teenage years marked the beginning of a very long phase of not liking cheese for its high fat density. I enjoyed the taste of most cheeses but disliked how it was often used to complement large dishes where the cheese becomes barely noticeable. It adds fat to the dish but not much taste.

Then when I went to university, I studied exchange in England. With their supermarket aisles of specialist cheese and a French housemate who constantly snacked on cheese, I started to eat cheese again, like a child rediscovering ice cream. I realised what type of cheese I liked and how I could use it more efficiently in dishes.

I don't often eat feta cheese as I find it extremely salty. However, it's amazing in Belinda Jeffery's recipe for zucchinni, dill and feta pie. Actually, the whole recipe is amazing. I cooked this around 2 years ago:
I remember it being very tasty yet not overwhelming. There wasn't too much cheese in it but it was still moist after a few days. It was perfect winter home food and had a fluffy and heart-warming (awww) texture.

chirashizushi (sushi bowl)

When I see my mum in Sydney or if she visits me in Canberra, she often provides me with an abundance of food, ranging from home made minced beef, to abalone soup and fish/corn stirfry. Last year she gave me a couple of packets of Japanese style eel, something that I love eating in restaurants... but haven't figured out how to cook.

I've also been trying to overcome my fear of eating carb-dominated food at any meal except breakfast. When I say carbs, I mean brown rice, wholemeal pasta and bread rather than the carbs you find in fruit/veges. However, I realised that I need carbs for longer term energy (2-4 hours) rather than relying on the sugar boost that fruit will give me. I stomached the courage to remake chirashizushi, which is sushi in a bowl. I tried it once in a Sydney restaurant and loved it. I made this before but burnt the eel by overcooking it in the microwave. Silly me.

My nutritionist recently advised me that if I continue to maintain my underweight BMI, it is likely my bones will crush and I will have huge skeletal surgeries when I'm an old shruken lady... okay not exactly, but being underweight is a huge risk factor in having low bone density and all sorts of issues in the long term. So this is the first meal I've cooked in ages that has rice.

The base of the dish should include sushi-style rice (rice cooled with sushi vinegar). At the last minute, I realised that I didn't have sushi vinegar so tried to substitute it with rice wine and white vinegar... haha and it was nothing like sushi rice.

I topped the rice with blanched carrots, snow peas, green beans and chinese cabbage. I also added shitaake mushrooms marinated in soy sauce and mirin. I made a Japanese style omelette - this consisted of egg, soy sauce, mirin, sugar and salt and I tried rolling in the way Japanese restaurants do. (visible in the second picture). This time I didn't burn the eel (yay). I added some wasabi for a kick and sesame seeds. 

The second time I prepared this, I also add bits of seaweed. More of a sushi experience! 
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