Monday, April 9, 2012

Tofu and Zucchini Fusion Salad

What did you do during Earth Hour?

I, for one, sat in the 'dark' with some candles and ate this great fusion salad. All the lights were off but the TV just may have been on (shh!). 

I love taking part in Earth Hour although I constantly wonder how much of a long-term impact it has. I'd like to statistically analyze how much it increases awareness, sparks environmental concern, and reduces consumption levels. But that isn't something to do on this blog. You're here to read recipes and check out photographs of course. 


The environment is something that get me very gloomy very quickly. Reading any statistics or case studies leaves me feeling so bleak. Moreover, in my Public International Law class today we discussed how there is very little accountability when it comes to the environment. Oil companies can empty out their tankers in the middle of the ocean killing thousands of fish but no one will ever know. This leads to marine life obviously being contaminated but even if someone does manage to find out, how easy is it to bring a company to justice?

We treat the Earth- who gives us everything we need to survive on- like trash. And we're slowly going to turn it into that. How can a person not feel a sense of responsibility? Just because the air in the atmosphere, or the ozone layer, or the seaside doesn't officially "belong" to you doesn't entitle you to deal with it in any manner you please. But would you go wreck somebody else's couch just because it's not yours? No. 

People fail to grasp that the Earth IS theirs. We are all from this Earth. Maybe this sounds a bit hippie but I wish people saw each other not in terms of religion, ethnicity, race, or nationality, but as people just like them- belonging to the same earth, breathing the same air, drinking from the same water, and eating from the same soil's bounty. 

But enough of my rant. Keeping in spirit with the hippieness- here is a fusion recipe. I find fusion cuisine to be the hippie of the culinary world- it's all about coexistence and harmony between two or more diversely different ingredients. And fusion is something that, in my opinion, you must get right. It's not like normal cooking where changing just one or two ingredients still makes the dish work (sometimes exponentially so). If you put just one wrong ingredient into a fusion dish- you've had it. 

Maybe my analysis is totally off the mark but it's what I think based on the fusion food I've tried making and the ones that I've eaten. Getting it right requires a special level of talent and skill- an ability to instinctively know what to pair together. 

I did no sort of that instinctive analysis when making this salad- The sauces that went into the tofu were a totally last minute thing that I used just because I happened to see them lying on the kitchen counter. 


250g tofu, cut into 2cm cubes
2 tbsp sweet chili sauce
2 tbsp sweet and sour sauce
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large green zucchini, sliced lengthwise
1 tbsp vegetable oil
200g rucola leaves
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
2 tbsp pitted green olives
1 tbsp basil pesto

20g crumbled feta cheese

Mix the tofu cubes with the combined sauces and set aside. 
Heat half the olive oil on a grill plate. Grill the zucchini slices for 1-2 minutes on each side until softened and lightly browned. 
Heat the vegetable oil in a wok and add the tofu cubes with the sauce. Stirfry for about 5 minutes or until cooked through. 
In a large salad bowl, mix together the rucola leaves, grilled zucchini slices, tofu, pine nuts, and green olives. 
Mix together the remaining olive oil with the basil pesto and drizzle over the salad- mixing together thoroughly. 
Garnish with feta leaves. 
This salad can be covered with a plastic wrap and refrigerated. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Lemon and Blueberry Jelly Cheesecakes

We all have our favourite ways to unwind. Yours might be to curl up with a book (I like that, too). Another person might go for a long walk (I also like that, too). I, for one, first head into the kitchen. There's nothing like shutting yourself off from the world for a while and indulging in your creativity. The scene is perfected if you have someone keeping you company who you can talk to or if you have some of your favourite music playing (what I like to play when I cook is some Chopin or Mozart, Arabian or Latin lounge music works too, though). 

This week I'm on spring break. That means nine days of not attending class and also, in my case, not looking at anything remotely academically related. I think we all need to tune out for a while; it helps re-energize and motivate. 

After seeing this beautiful post I was inspired to create something with the same jell-o technique which I find absolutely gorgeous. But I made it cheesecake style. Because I had also seen a picture of  individual no-bake cheesecakes in jars on Pinterest. So voila I combined the two. And what better flavor combination than lemon and blueberry? Ok there's raspberry and white chocolate and pumpkin and sage and caramel and apple. But you get my point. The lovely thing about this is that it's so versatile- you can experiment with so many different fillings. 

I had to make my own jello as all the supermarkets were out of lemon-flavored jello, but it was healthier (if that's possible!) since the flavors were real and not artificial like the ones we get in sachets here. The result was fabulous at the end but I would've loved to have a deeper yellow for the jelly. 

Also, only after eating it did the ditz in me realize that gelatin is not vegetarian-compatible. And I was at 5 days short of 6 months of being vegetarian. 

Anyways, the past is in the past. Let's move on and get to the recipe. This makes 10 servings. I made four and turned the rest into a trifle.

for the lemon jello
2.25 tbsp unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
750ml lemonade
Juice and zest of one lemon
2tsp sugar
Soak gelatin with water. 
Boil the lemonade and pour over gelatin.
Add lemon juice and zest with sugar and stir through. 

for the cheesecake
300ml sweetened condensed milk
500g cream cheese
Juice of half a lemon
2 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 cup blueberries
Beat together the sweetened condensed milk, cream cheese, lemon juice, and vanilla essence. 
Gently mash the blueberries and stir through the cheesecake mixture. 
Refrigerate until needed. 
Just before using, beat once more.

for garnishing
40g crumbled digestive biscuits
blueberries, extra
1 tsp lemon zest

Place a quarter cup of liquid lemon jello in a 250ml glass. 
Place the glasses in a loaf tin at a slant angle and refrigerate until set. 
Once set, fill the other half of the glass with the cheesecake mixture.
Sprinkle the crumbled biscuits as a topping and garnish with some lemon zest and blueberries.

 This is what I did with the leftovers: made a trifle!

And this is post-munching status.....