Monthly Archives: October 2012

Baked Pumpkin-Orange Custard

At thirty one, there are certain things I have come to understand about myself.  I am never going to be a ‘morning person.’  I prefer reading to watching and can sit in silence all day as long as my hands are full.  If I like how something tastes, feels, looks, I always want more of it…beyond reason (I’m looking at you, Salt of the Earth Smore).  I’m never going to get that growth spurt I always wanted.  I like my pumpkin pie without the crust.

It feels so wasteful, so insulting, especially when someone has hand-rolled a pie crust.  I have been guilted (by myself) into eating pumpkin pie crusts.  But when it comes down to it, I’d just rather have the pie without the crust so I can enjoy the creamy filling without the interruption of a thick slab of dough.  So imagine my excitement when I saw that this week’s Food Matters Project recipe, chosen by Sandra over at Meadowsknits, was essentially a pumpkin pie without the crust… with the added twist of incorporating silken tofu as well as some orange juice and zest.

The custard came together quickly and easily, just tossing everything into the stand mixer and pouring into a pie pan.  An hour later my home smelled lovely and I was tucking into some custard with whipped cream and candied ginger.

Some notes…the custard wasn’t as smooth as I had hoped it would be.  The tofu didn’t fully incorporate into the batter.  I suggest blending the tofu then adding it to the batter for a smooth finish.  I would also add 1/4 cup more sugar next time for some added sweetness–the finished product using the recipe below is lightly sweetened and could use a bit more sweetness, in my opinion.  Overall, an easy, healthier dessert I plan to experiment with, and soon!

Baked Pumpkin-Orange Custard from Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Project Cookbook

  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 12 oz. soft silken tofu
  • 3 cups (two 15-oz. cans) pureed pumpkin (unsweetened and unseasoned)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, or more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
  • pinch of salt
  • Whipped cream (optional)
  • Sliced candied ginger (optional–I like Reed’s Candied Ginger)
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch or 9-inch square pan or pie plate with a little butter. Use an electric mixer or whisk to beat eggs and sugar in a large bowl until light. Add the tofu and beat until smooth, a minute or two longer.
  2. Add the 2 tablespoons melted butter and remaining ingredients and beat until everything is thoroughly combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until set around the edges but still a little jiggly at the center, about 1 hour. Let cool completely before serving, or refrigerate up to a day and serve cold.

Raw Butternut Squash Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

Welcome to week 38 of the Food Matters Project.  I know I’ve mentioned this before, but this project has been really fulfilling to me.  It’s been really great to be part of a cooking community.  It’s also been really inspiring to see what all of the other Food Matters Project bloggers create each week.  I’m not always the most creative, especially when I start with a recipe so it’s been fun to watch the ways in which everyone steps out of the box to create unique dishes from the launch-point of a Mark Bittman recipe.  I think he would be proud.  I’ve also been encouraged through this project to try new recipes I would normally skip over in the cookbook (fig and brussel sprout casserole, I’m looking at you).

At this point, I want to encourage anyone who is reading this to participate in the Food Matters Project.  If you have a food blog, and want to cook along with us, please send an email to Lexi and Erin at this email address and let them know you want to hop on board!  We have several more yummy dishes coming up in the next couple of months and would love you to join us on this great cooking adventure!  If you want to know more, head over to the Food Matters Project website and have a look.  You can also browse each week’s project photos on the FMP Pinterest board–be prepared to have your mouth water!

This week was one of those weeks where we made a recipe I completely would have skipped over in The Food Matters Cookbook.  I have never eaten raw butternut squash despite loving raw zucchini and summer squashes in my salads.  This salad was pretty good.  Good enough that a bunch of 9 to 11 year olds actually ate it up at a Harry Potter birthday party on Saturday (but I have to say they were a group of some pretty cool, adventurous kids so this may not be representative of all of kid-land).  I say pretty good because I personally like the salad better with roasted butternut squash.  This salad also tastes good tossed into a wok and sauteed (spinach, squash, cranberries and all) and that is how I will serve it going forward.  I modified my recipe slightly because I didn’t have fresh cranberries or orange juice.  For the original recipe, check out Erin’s gorgeous blog, The Goodness Life, for whole foods inspiration and mouth-watering photography.

Raw Butternut Squash Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette; adapted from the Food Matters Cookbook

  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1 butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and seeded
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • Pepitas to serve (optional)
  • Feta, crumbled, to serve (optional)
  • Spinach to serve (optional)
  1. Combine the cranberries, water, and ginger in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries soften, 10 minutes or so. Remove the cranberries from the heat and add the oil, honey, lemon and some salt and pepper. Stir until well combined.

2. Meanwhile, grate the butternut squash by hand or in a food processor. Transfer the squash to a large bowl, add the warm cranberry dressing, and toss to combine everything. Serve warm or at room temperature on a bed of spinach with pepitas and feta, if you like. (Or cover and refrigerate the salad for up to several hours; bring to room temperature before serving.)

Tofu Nut Spinach Burgers

This week’s Food Matters Project recipe was spinach tofu burgers, chosen by the adorable vegetarian food blogging couple, Matt and Claire of It’s Not About the Recipe.  I love veggie burgers and welcome the opportunity to try a new version and this one was definitely new to me, having never made veggie burgers with tofu.  Bittman’s version has asian inpired seasonings and being that I get a little bored with asian seasonings always accompanying tofu, I wanted to mix things up a little.  A while back I spotted some tofu burgers on 101 Cookbooks, a blog I have a major crush on.  I’ve been wanting to try her version so combined elements of both to create the tofu nut spinach burgers you see here.

Having now tried them, the verdict is that these were quite good but really rely heavily on the seasonings.  While I was happy with them, there was an umami element that I felt was missing and I kept thinking that next time, I’m going to add a bunch of sauteed onions to the mix along with some crumbled feta and that will take it to exactly where these need to be for me in terms of flavor.  The texture was great and a welcome change and these were easy, peasy, pumpkin pie to make.  Just throw everything into the food processor, give it a whirl, make patties, cook ’em up.  Done.  Easy.

I served mine open-faced with havarti, tomato pesto (store-bought), avocado, sauteed red onion, arugula and a little slather of my tofu mayo from last week.  Experiment with whatever toppings you like and enjoy adding this new burger to your repertoire…it’s worth keeping around.

Tofu Nut Spinach Burgers; modified mostly from 101 Cookbooks and a little bit from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Project Cookbook

Makes 10

  • 5 oz of baby spinach or frozen spinach (if you use frozen, drain and pat)
  • 1 pound / 16 oz extra-firm tofu, drained and patted dry, then sliced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup fine dried bread crumbs or panko
  • 1/2 cup cashew nuts
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon shoyu or soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

extras: whatever buns & condiments you like. I had mine open faced with grilled onions, tomato pesto (from a fancy food store), havarti, avocado, and arugula.

Give the spinach a few whirls in the food processor until chopped up.  Put spinach in a bowl and set aside.

Place all the remaining ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture comes together and is free of most chunks, stopping to scrape down the sides of the food processor once or twice if needed. If it seems a bit thin to you, add more bread crumbs a small handful at a time until everything comes together.  Mix spinach back in with a spoon (I do this so the mix doesn’t become green but rather has flecks of spinach in it).

Divide the mixture into eight equal portions and use your hands to (really) press and form into round but flat-ish patties.

Pour the olive oil into your largest skillet over medium-high heat, and arrange as many patties as you can without crowding. Cover, and cook turning once, until deeply browned on both sides. Roughly ten minutes. You want to make sure the middle of the patties cook through. If the pan is too hot you’ll burn the outsides before the middle cooks up, so be mindful of that.

Serve with your favorite burger fixings.

Makes ten tofu burgers.

Roasted Garlic and Siracha Tofu Mayo With Sweet Potato Fries

My best friend came with her cousin and baby to spend the day with me at Artprize 2012 yesterday.  As we sat down to tuck into some addictive seasoned fries at Stella’s Lounge, we turned to a conversation of condiments for fries.  Gobs of ketchup, mayonnaise, vanilla ice cream (!), malt vinegar, siracha-mayo.  When I returned home and looked at the Food Matters Schedule for this week’s recipe and found that it was tofu mayo (chosen by Sopie at Biographie de ma faim), I knew what had to be done!  The good old fry was about to get a makeover in my kitchen…and it was about to be served up Amsterdam-style with some mayo (albeit a vegan version)!

I roasted up some hand cut sweet potato fries and some teeny fingerling potatoes.  Then whipped up some tofu mayo from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cookbook.  A couple of dips later…I wasn’t really feeling it.  The tofu mayo wasn’t really doing it for me.  Maybe it was because I used Nasoya tofu and it turned out kind of runny…maybe the color was a little too non-mayo for me.  Whatever it was, I knew I needed to make some changes a la Aura.  I roasted a head of garlic (wrap a head of garlic in some tin foil and pop into the oven at 350° until the garlic is smushy on the inside, about 1/2 hour) and pureed it with the tofu-mayo.  Better.  Still not satisfied, I reached for one of my tried-and-true kitchen weapons–Siracha, aka Rooster Hot Sauce.  A generous squeeze went into the mayo and voila!  A perfect, guilt-free vegan dipping sauce/mayo.  For the original recipe, head to Sophie’s blog, where she has also posted a bread-and-nut mayo recipe.  To see what the other Food Matters Project bloggers came up with, head here.  For my Roasted Garlic-Siracha Tofu Mayo recipe, read on!

Roasted Garlic Siracha Tofu Mayo adapted from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Project; Makes about 1 cup

  • 6 ounces soft silken tofu (about 3/4 cup) *
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon honey or sugar, optionnal
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  1. Put all the ingredients in a blender. Turn the machine to a medium speed that keeps things moving without splattering. Let it run for a minute or 2, then turn it off.
  2. Scrape the sides of the container with a rubber spatula, turn the blender back on, and repeat the process two more times. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Serve immediately (or store in a jar for up to several days).

*I used Nasoya silken tofu and found my mayo to be a little on the runny side.  I would use Mori-Nu for better results.

Aged Cheddar Almond Cherry Spread

This week’s Food Matters Project recipe was cheese-nut balls…chosen by Jess at Cheese Please.  Think holidays and those orange cheese balls covered in sliced almonds that can be found on many a buffet.  Well, in classic Bittman style, he has reinvented this classic to a more flavorful and less processed version that is so much tastier than the store-bought kind.

I used Bittman’s recipe as a starting point but created my own version, which can be served as a spread or chilled and formed into a patty or ball.  This recipe will certainly find its way onto my holiday tables!  Feel free to substitute different cheeses, nuts, or additions like caramelized onion, roasted garlic, or fresh herbs.  This is one of those recipes that if you use quality ingredients, you can’t go wrong.

Aged Cheddar Almond Cherry Spread; adapted from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Project Cookbook

Time:  10 minutes

  • 1.5 cups raw almonds
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne, optional
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 ounces aged cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup sliced dried cherries or cranberries
  • sliced almonds for garnish or for rolling, optional
  1. Put the nuts in a food processor and pulse until very finely chopped and almost paste-like.  Add the lemon juice, cayenne, Parmesan, cheddar, a pinch of salt and pepper, and 1/3 cup water.  Process until the mixture is creamy and spreadable; add a tablespoon or 2 more water if it seems too thick.
  2. You can serve this as a spread (as in my photos) or chill for 1/2 hour and shape the mixture into balls or disks.  If you go that route, shape the mixture into 1 large or 2 medium balls.  Roll the balls into sliced almonds, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate to set up firmly.
  3. Serve with crackers, bread, or crudites.