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This blog design and all original content © 2013 by Rachel Ball / Elephantine.
Recently I ran across a video of Mark Bittman making chocolate tofu pudding, and I was delighted because I used to eat a similar version of this dessert all the time when I was growing up. Why tofu? For its smooth, silky texture. This isn't as decadent as regular chocolate pudding, but it still hits the spot. As Bittman says in the video, "You have to try this. I'm serious." (And no, it doesn't taste like tofu.)
Mexican Chocolate Tofu Pudding (serves 4)
recipe by Mark Bittman
3/4 cup sugar
1 pound silken tofu*
8 ounces high-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp chili powder, or more to taste
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
chocolate bar for shavings (optional)
Dissolve sugar in 3/4 cup hot water. Cool slightly. Add the tofu, melted chocolate, vanilla extract, and spices. Blend until very smooth, scraping down sides with a spatula if necessary. Pour into 4 small containers (I used 6 oz ramekins) and chill for at least 30 minutes. Use a peeler to make chocolate shavings from the chocolate bar and sprinkle them on top of the pudding before serving.
*make sure you buy silken/soft tofu and not firm tofu (which is "meatier" and meant for stir frying)
Today I brought home this potted freesia and it has the sweetest fragrance. Now to decide which room to keep it in...
Inside, it was not at all what you would expect. There was none of the rain or thunder or howling as in the simulations we'd been disciplined with for weeks. How to explain? The ground, the air: it was all yellow. A wash of it, on every surface, so that to navigate within the space I had to feel my way around, grope the landscape blindly and backtrack whenever I ran into a barrier. I radioed the station. I asked, are you sure I'm in the right place?
Yes. Coordinates are correct.
Is it supposed to be...
Sorry? Repeat that?
Hold on, I said. I'd stubbed my toe on something. A rock, no—a handle. It lifted up and over, and I slipped down into the cavity below. Underneath, it was warmer and just as bright, and the air was tinged with the scent of burnt cotton. Of molten metal. Of decaying fruit. Maybe we'd gotten there too late. But I heard something then: the muted warble of a whippoorwill, as if muffled under layers of cloth.
Report your status, please.
I blinked and there she was, crouched in front of me. Her tiger-striped feathers were ruffled. I had been mistaken, but not far off. Come here, I whispered. She hopped backward. My radio crackled and the little beast hopped again—and though they never believed me later on, she looked me up and down and laughed. Nice try, she sang, and flew away, until she was only a speck high in the yellow horizon. ♦
love, just imagine the boat you could build
if only you had the time,
the peace and quiet, and reassurance
from someone with nothing to gain.
if only you knew the anatomy of seafaring vessels.
take out your thread and twine,
your chisel, your spade,
your notebooks with incoherent scrawlings
accumulated over the years.
beg the dog to stay quiet,
even if he has to sneeze.
tell him all you need is an hour today,
and another tomorrow,
and so on, until
the landscape before you
is coaxed into being,
until the fog curls back,
and the boats can be unmoored.
he will stay quiet for you, will sleep soundlessly for you,
and will be at the door
when you emerge
from your locked room,
his sable colored tail thumping the oak floor
in the language of dogs.
A quick recipe for you today: crispy, flaky, buttery palmiers. I had no idea how simple these were to make until a few days ago. All you need is sugar and puff pastry. That's it. (My local grocery store only stocks Pepperidge Farm, but I always hear that the all-butter versions by Dufour and Trader Joe's taste better... so I'll be trying those soon, too. As if I need an excuse to buy more puff pastry.)
Palmiers (makes about 20)
1 puff pastry sheet
1/2 cup sugar, plus more as needed
Thaw the puff pastry sheet. Sprinkle 1/4 cup sugar evenly on a work surface, unfold the puff pastry sheet on the sugar, and sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup sugar on top. Add more if needed; you want to evenly coat the front and back of the puff pastry. Use a rolling pin to gently work the sugar in and to slightly thin the puff pastry (increasing the sheet's size no more than an inch or so).
Fold in the left and right edges so they meet in the middle, then repeat, folding the edges in again. Bring the two sides together as if closing a book. Slice into 1/4" thick pieces and spread on a baking sheet, leaving room between each cookie. Nudge the tips outward (like bunny ears). Bake at 400°F for about 15 minutes, flipping as soon as the bottoms start to brown/caramelize, about halfway through the baking time. Keep a close eye on your oven – the caramelized sugar is what makes the cookies tasty, but the sugar can also burn if they bake too long. Enjoy!
Have you read anything great recently? I read the tome everybody's been talking about and completely loved it too, savored more Mary Oliver poetry, got around to a French classic, and read a book I have no idea how to describe besides telling you that it involves apricots and Iceland and illness and fables. Here are tastes of all four:
1. The Goldfinch (Donna Tartt) – "I remember a few weeks before she died, eating a late supper with her in an Italian restaurant down in the Village, and how she grasped my sleeve at the sudden, almost painful loveliness of a birthday cake with lit candles being carried in procession from the kitchen, a faint circle of light wavering in across the dark ceiling and then the cake set down to blaze amidst the family, beatifying an old lady’s face, smiles all round, waiters stepping away with their hands behind their backs [...] I thought about it again and again after her death and indeed I’ll probably think about it all my life: that candlelit circle, a tableau vivant of the daily, commonplace happiness that was lost when I lost her."
2. Dream Work (Mary Oliver) – "Some kind of relaxed and beautiful thing / kept flickering in with the tide / and looking around. / Black as a fisherman's boot / with a white belly. / If you asked for a picture I would have to draw a smile / under the perfectly round eyes and above the chin / which was rough / as a thousand sharpened nails. / And you know / what a smile means / don't you?"
3. The Stranger (Albert Camus) – "At the time, I often thought that if I had had to live in the trunk of a dead tree, with nothing to do but look up at the sky flowering overhead, little by little I would have gotten used to it. I would have waited for birds to fly by or clouds to mingle, just as here I waited to see my lawyer's ties and just as, in another world, I used to wait patiently until Saturday to hold Marie's body in my arms. Now, as I think back on it, I wasn't in a hallow tree trunk. There were others worse off than me. Anyway, it was one of Maman's ideas, and she often repeated it, that after a while you could get used to anything."
4. The Faraway Nearby (Rebecca Solnit) – "A pie might be eaten warm from the oven by the cook and her companions but a book is read many months or years after it’s written, out of sight of the writer, who never knows quite what she’s done. Ars longa, vita brevis—art is long, life is short—used to be a popular saying, and cooking is usually on the side of life, but making preserves is an art of stalling time, of making the fruit that is so evanescent last indefinitely. [...] I wish that I could put up yesterday’s evening sky for all posterity, could preserve a night of love, the sound of a mountain stream, a realization as it sets my mind afire, a dance, a day of harmony, ten thousand glorious days of clouds that will instead vanish and never be seen again, line them up in jars where they might be admired in the interim and tasted again as needed."
...and a sweet Valentine's Day! I baked a petite version of this chocolate cake for tonight... I can't wait to try it.