Nourishing Day 4 & 5
Day 4 was a day for modification and it worked out surprisingly well.
Lemon Cucumber Tofu – adapted from 101 Cookbooks
We made this dish the week before and felt it lacked true flavor. Tofu isn’t the most particularly fragrant or flavorful protein (or general food for that matter) substitute. As a result, I made a marinade for the bland soybeans. You want to use hard tofu as soft tofu will not keep form so well.
First, I drained each block of tofu by wrapping them in paper towels. For the more eco-friendly approach, dish towels would work well, as long as they are clean. I didn’t have any clean ones though and I was too lazy or rushed to hunt any down. Once the tofu seemed drained, I smashed some garlic and whisked it in with some balsamic, honey, soy sauce, sesame oil (not toasted), and red chili peppers. I marinated it while I went to practice (around 2 hours). Afterwards, I laid them all out flat on a pan, sprinkled sesame seeds on top, and placed them into the oven at 400F/204C for around 20-30 minutes.
Dill is not my favorite of the herb family. Although, I know its a great accompaniment to fish and I felt like we could use a different herb to match our side dish . We used cilantro, A LOT of cilantro instead. Also, I think we were running out of avocado, so we didn’t include that in this dish, but this time around we found it much more flavorful anyway.
Finally, we served it with mung beans AND rice on the side.
Sunburst Carrot Salad – majorly loosely adapted from 101 Cookbooks
This salad looks superb, but the original recipe was a bit bland. It would’ve been different had it just been the two of us eating, but because I was serving a group of 20, I wanted to make sure to have some pizzazz. Ribboning enough carrots for that many people was a bit of a nightmare, but it looked cool.
The actual recipe itself is really simple. I also didn’t have any pumpkin seeds so that was eliminated entirely. I grated in some fresh ginger and cinnamon. To add some sweetness to contrast the main dish, I chopped up some fresh dates and threw in some raisins, which plumped up from the heat of the dish. It turned out absolutely delicious!
No-Fuss Fruit Tart – adapted from Nigella Lawson
If there is one woman, other than my mom, that I look up to for cooking inspiration, it is Nigella Lawson. I don’t know what it is, I just love watching the way she cooks and entertains. There’s something much more relaxed and less rigid in her approach than Martha Stewart.
Again, had I been making this for five people it would’ve been different, but because I was making it for so many, I didn’t want to go out and buy a 5 different pints of berries (they’re rather expensive). So, I splurged on some blueberries and settled for one of my favorite berries: the strawberry. I think Nigella does a much better job because hers just looks so overloaded with colors (next time). I also couldn’t find lemon curd to save my life, so I settled for lemon marmalade. I think this wasn’t as tart or thick as lemon curd, so it ended up tasting more like cheesecake. But, Norwegians apparently aren’t so familiar with tarts. To add more tang, I whisked in freshly squeezed lemon and grated some zest into the cream cheese. I think this dish would’ve been even more superb to chiffonade in some fresh mint between the layer of cream cheese and fruit.
After a week of fabulous cooking, we were asked to make a grand finale on the 5th day. Of course, with expectations usually comes great disappointments. Also, I didn’t take any pictures because I was so frantic and frustrated that morning. Looking back, I wish I would’ve.
The mission was to make Indian food. As I’ve said before, I don’t make Indian food. It’s not because I don’t like Indian food, it’s just because I find it too complex with all the spices and unfamiliar flavors. Food sometimes has to be prepared far in advance (soaking dhal) and finding ingredients isn’t always so easy. Anyway, we were going to make some Indian dessert, but couldn’t find everything we needed. So, I ended up with the idea of making good old Strawberry Shortcake.
Now, excuse my ego, but I honestly thought this was fool-proof. I’ve made enough desserts, including this one, to feel confident that I can bake. However, apparently I am the bigger fool. I’m not sure what happened, maybe it was too much cream, doubling the recipe too much, a wrong temperature, or something, but my calculations were wrong. My shortcakes ended up looking like puffy pancakes. Consequently, I layered the cakes onto a glass dish topped them with the strawberry mixture and freshly whipped cream and placed another layer of cakes on top. Talk about a huge disappointment. Anyway, it still tasted great, but it wasn’t the cute, individual appeal I was aiming.
My sidekick was making palak paneer and some sort of mung bean dish. I threw up my hands after the shortcake disaster and left him hanging, alone. We were short on time and the paneer dish seemed too watery. The mung bean dish tasted bland – and upon asking my opinion, I did one thing I never do: I was too brutally honest. Actually, I didn’t say anything, it was my face that said it all. I even attempted to make lassi and was ready to throw that down the drain immediately, but I didn’t want to waste all that yogurt.
So, serving time came and I announced my disappointment before people even had a plate.
AND To my surprise, people really loved the food. The consensus was that the food just needed more chillies and maybe salt and pepper. Once I served myself up some of the leftovers, I couldn’t have agreed more. It was really good!
SO, what did I learn?
I can be way too critical. It’s one thing if I’m only critical on myself, but I don’t like being critical on other people, especially my loved one. Just because things don’t work out exactly as planned, doesn’t mean they won’t work out.
Regardless of the stress of the week, I found that cooking with my bf really helped us bond. Even if we weren’t talking, it was sharing the experience of creating, serving, and cleaning. It further reinforced how great of a team we’d make if we decide to do something with this in the future…expanding the mind and cultivating creativity can create endless possibilities.