Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Candle re-lit, or: the next stage in our campaign to end Same-Same Cookering

Is anyone else having problems with the new Blogger settings? Photos are very strange to upload and I can't seem to position them properly. Spaces are also weird and hard to control. 

I have previously waxed lyrical about the joys of Candle 79, the organic vegan haute cuisine restaurant in New York that Buzz and I eatered at twice, and fell desperately in love with.  We didn't get a chance to visit its younger, chilled out sister, Candle Cafe, so I was thrilled when Miss T Junior (with connivance from the tricksy Buzz) gave me the Candle Cafe cookbook for Christmas. She had helpfully tagged the recipes she wanted to me cook for her first.

It's a plain-paged cookbook with only one section of photographs, but with over 150 recipes there will be enough to keep us going for a while. As part of the T-House's campaign to rid itself of same-same cookering, we chose Tex-Mex Tostadas with Coriander Tofu Sour Cream as our first attempt. 

The Coriander (Cilantro if you're from Noo Yawk) Tofu Sour Cream was a doddle to make. We skipped the optional agar agar and didn't bother to blanch the tofu first, and then whizzed tofu, lemon and lime juice, olive oil, sunflower oil, coriander, sea salt, cayenne pepper and minced garlic. It turned out to be one of those strange concotions that changes as you taste it more. At first try, this was seriously awesome, but it went downhill from there until it just tasted a bit wrong. Not sour creamy, not tofuey, and not like dip. Next time I would just use Tofutti Sour Cream (or even the Better Than Cream Cheese) instead of tofu and skip the oil. However, Buzz really liked this one so it's probably worth a go.

The tostadas fared better, although not until I discovered we have a faulty timer buzzer on our new oven, which failed to go off and resulted in cindery-burnt tortillas. In a fit of annoyance I had to go and buy more. 

The recipe was reasonably involved.  Firstly, it called for seitan to be  charcoale grilled  and then shredded in a food processor. This we replaced with diced fried tofu.


The fried tofu, onion, garlic, oregano, thyme, salt and kaffir lime leaf mixture.

Secondly, it called for the sauteeing of various ingredients (including kombu, which we immediately struck off), to which the charcoal shredded seitan should then be added. We did this, but next time would combine these two steps. We also subbed kaffir lime leaves for Pico De Gallo.

The recipe also wanted refried pinto beans. Nothing doing. After purchasing an imported can of pinto beans at vast expense, all they got was a quick heat through and a mashing. 

My little salad with the yellow tomatoes.

Finally, I chose to make a little salad with cos lettuce, cucumber and yellow Roma tomatoes, as I couldn't really see enough greenery on my plate. 

The three main ingrdients for layering on the tortillas.

Having finally secured some baked but not burnt tortillas, we spread them with the bean mixture, topped it with the tofu mixture and some salad, and then dolloped some tofu sour cream on top.

All combined, it was an enjoyable, varied and filling meal. Next time I'd definitely make things simpler, which is more in line with how I imagine something simple like toasted tortilla wraps to be (which is essentially what this is). Nonetheless, it was a definite success in the campaign to end same-same cookery. Same-same cookery is marked by the regular appearance of the same type of meal, along with the regular appearance of the same ingredients. This was something entirely different to what we'd usually make (our burrito attempts to date have been fairly pitiful) and actually tasting like something different too.

We're looking forward to trying more recipes from the Candle Cafe cookbook; we just might try some where we don't have to sub quite so many ingredients and skip quite so many steps.


Johanna said...

Looks delicious. I always used to make the same old chilli non carne for mexican food til I started blogging and discovered all the fascinating mexican food other there - these look just my sort of thing - though some of these restaurant cookbooks are quite complicated for the home cook - but good for a challenge

Johanna GGG said...

just trying to do a post with the new editor in blogger and it is doing my head in with the silly photo editing - might have to change back to old one - let me know if you get any success dealing with it

Polka Dot Rabbit said...

I'm having trouble with blogger too...

Pinto beans can be bought at the Mediterranean Wholesales in Sydney Road Brunswick :)

Miss T said...

JohannaGG, I have totally suffered from a lack of knowledge, experience and imagination in regard to Mexican food in the past!
Thanks for the tip, PD Rabbit. Unfortunately Brunswick is a bit of a way from my usual stomping grounds!