Red Berries Tofu Cake

Today’s Jan‘s birthday. Happy Birthday!!! And since I’m a poor student and can’t buy him the gadgets I’m sure he’d love to get as pressies, I made him a cake. I also got him a movie, but it was on offer ;-)

It’s very moist here, and so it makes the 25ºC or so feel like a lot more. And really, who wants to bake for hours when the weather is so sticky. So we settled for no-bake (nearly) cheese cake, but made with tofu, because it’s a bit healthier ahem.

Red Berries Tofu Cake Slice


  • For the cookie base:
    • 120 grams cookies (Graham crackers, McVities, Maria… whatever rocks your world)
    • 40 grams butter (this is about 3 tablespoons)
  • For the tofu layer:
    • 300 ml pineapple juice
    • 2 tablespoons agar-agar
    • 90 ml lemon juice
    • 5 to 6 tablespoons runny honey
    • 1 teaspoon lemon oil / essence
    • 450 grams tofu
  • For the gelled topping:
    • 100 ml red berries syrup (the kind used for cocktails)
    • 300 ml water
    • 2 tablespoons agar agar
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
    • bunch of red currants and raspberries

Make it:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC / 350 F (this is the only time you’re gonna use the oven, I promise). Whizz up the cookies in a food procesor until sandy, then add butter and whizz some more until it looks like wet sand. Line the bottom of a springform pan with baking paper, press the cookie slash wet sand into the base of the form. Bake for ten minutes until nicely golden, turn off the oven and breathe deeply.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the pineapple juice until steamy, add the agar agar, and cook, stirring, until completely dissolved, about 5 minutes. Cool for about five minutes.
  3. Using the blender of your choice, blend the tofu, the pineapple juice with the agar agar, the lemon juice, lemon essence, and honey, until smooth. Pour over baked cookie base, put in the fridge, and have an iced tea, or two. Let the tofu layer chill for at least two hours, four is even better. A few more won’t hurt.
  4. In a small saucepan (clean, please :p), heat the red berries syrup with the water and lemon juice until steamy, add the agar agar, and cook, stirring, until dissolved, about 5 minutes. Let cool as much as possible without setting. Pour over chilled tofu layer. Decorate with berries. Chill in the fridge until completely set, about 3 to 4 hours, or even better, overnight.
  5. Cut using a long sharp knife, serve yourself a generous portion, sit back, dip the spoon into the cake, and let it melt on your tongue. Or in short: Enjoy!

Yield: One 26 cm cake, 8 to 10 portions.

Wanna see the full cake before it was cut?

Red Berries Tofu Cake Slice

Samosas and Green Curry

Friday night I set out to discharge my mother in law from cooking yet another meal for the family, since she’s doing so a lot more than when she’s working. I looked through my recipe books, and the recipes that kept calling me were Potato – Greenpeas Samosas, and Green Thai Curry, both from Vegan with a Vengeance.

Revised both recipes, hoped I could find everything, and did my shopping list. I did find everything, but I did substitute a couple of things. For instance, the Samosas call for green soy beans, not green peas. And that’s the one thing that I knew I wouldn’t find, however the recipe says green peas are a perfect substitute and actually make the samosas a bit more authentic. So green peas it was. Of course, the can of peas was too big, so the leftovers were added to the curry. We all know nearly everything goes well with curry. I also halved the recipe for the samosas, cause we’re only four for eating. I also used lime juice instead of lemon – I had to buy limes for the curry and the coconut mint chutney I served with the samosas.

The curry had little mods. Since the choice of hot peppers is very limited, I used four of what looks like Thai hot peppers, but I am not sure, because they’re not labeled as any special pepper. And used no jalapeños. I also used preserved lemongrass instead of fresh because I am lazy and it was cheaper. And black pepper instead of white cause I wasn’t going to buy a jar for 5 pepper corns. I added the leftovers peas from the samosas to the curry (hey, they’re green, so it matches!), and also added some 125grams (dried) basmati rice, cooked. Love me some rice to soak all the curry.

It was all served, and all devoured. I thought there’d be some leftovers, but apparently every body was starving on friday night. Also, I spend about 3 hours in the kitchen in total, so it was a looooong cooking session. But so worth it.

Samosas and coconut mint chutney Samosas and coconut mint chutney

Oh, I made eight samosas total, I just took the picture after serving four so I could put the sauce in the middle.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

We usually only eat chocolate chip cookies when we stop at Subway to eat when we’re out shopping in Aalst. And that happens once every two-three months. Oh, their local specialty? Veggie Pattie! Direct way to my heart, with loads of veggies, jalapeños and chipotle sauce. Then a coffee with a free chocolate chip cookie of your choice nom nom.

This week I found chocolate chips (meant to use for melting for a chocolate fondue, techincal detail) in the supermarket, and decided on baking chocolate chip cookies. LiveLoveKnit from the #knitty chat recommended me this recipe from Smitten Kitchen and I liked it. It has metric measurements 1. So off I went to make these cookies and of course I had to modify the recipe, because you all know me! The result:

Chocolate Chip Cookies

On to the modified recipe, shall we?

Chocolate Chip Cookies With Added Ooohmp

Grab the ingredients:

  • 80 grams granulated sugar
  • 10 grams vanilla sugar2
  • 100 grams light brown sugar (in this case, I used light cassonade de candi)
  • 110 grams unsalted butter, warmish but not melted, chopped in small pieces at random3
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence4
  • 1 tablespoon runny honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon5
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda6
  • 175 grams flour
  • pinch salt
  • 200 grams chocolate chips

Make them:

  1. With electric beaters and lots of patience, cream together butter and sugars, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Yep, that long. Add honey, cinnamon, vanilla essence and egg, and beat again till mixed properly.
  2. Shift together baking powder, salt and flour. Add to butter mixture and mix in very well, but do not overmix. Clean the beaters with a rubber spattula. You know how much dough they keep? Add chocolate chips and fold in with spattula.
  3. Stick dough in fridge for at least a couple of hours until quite firm.
  4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 150ºC / 300F, and line two or three cookie sheets with baking paper. Make balls with the dough about 4cm in diameter. Place nine per cookie sheet. Flatten if you want the thin cookies that I got, otherwise let them be round.
  5. Stick in oven for 15 to 18 minutes, until nicely golden. Remove from oven and let cool in the cookie sheet until firm, at least 10 minutes, then transfer to rack to finish cooling.
  6. Eat with delight, slightly warm even better!

Yield: approx. 30 dosis of sin.

They’re so good, even our little kiss furball (freeby from certain very famous cola drink) wanted to eat them while I was taking pics of them:

Chocolate Chip Cookies

da footnotes:

  1. this is a pet peeve of mine. I hate hate hate when a baking recipe comes in cups. Cups are for drinking not for measuring. Liquids in liters (or even fl oz) and solids in grams (or plain old oz, pounds, whatever, but not cups!). Now, I also dislike all those super fancy schmancy pantalones of baking chefs that insist baking is an exact science, and then sell all their books with measurements in cups “because otherwise no one will buy them because no one has a scale at home”. Well, maybe if you started insisting in measuring weights people would get a scale. They cost what? Fifteen bucks for a cheap one? – End of rant
  2. preferabily, home made. Re-use your vanilla pods that you were going to discard after making pudding or icecream. Rinse them well, let them dry completely, and stick them in a lidded jar with granulated sugar. Best vanilla sugar ever.
  3. can’t be arsed with the cut in 1cm cubes
  4. nope, I don’t measure this, I just pour from the tiny bottle and eye it.
  5. again, eyeball it
  6. more or less, not gonna be sooo picky about it

Good Pics vs. Not So Good Pics

Living in Belgium, I’m stuck with not much natural light. Most days are over cast, or plain down pouring, and then if by any chance the sun shines without a cloud to hide it, most of that light doesn’t make it into the house. The brightest room is the bathroom (upstairs) followed closely by the hallway (upstairs), they’re the two places blessed with roof windows. The rest of the rooms have normal wall windows, and most of them are shadowed by a huge amount of ivy. That’s another thing, the never ending ivy trimming. If it was for me, I’d just tear it down, but at this point, it might be a point in the stability of certain walls where the ivy roots show inside.

To the case in point, we all know to get good pics, you need a pretty decent lighting (amongst other things, such as a decent camera, doesn’t have to be exceptional, some artistic view, and perhaps a good item to take a pic of). The solution to take pics of most still life, food that won’t get cold cause it’s already cold, or won’t melt in the heat, yarn, toys, rubber stamps, and a long etcetera, is to make a light-box, or purchase one (if you’re in for the 50 euros or more). I searched the internet for a foldable light-box, cause I didn’t want to have it taking room, and found the expensive foldable light tents, or a DIY solution that called for foamcore cardboard, tape and vellum paper. Obviously I went for the DIY option. You of course need some lamps, but I make do with what I have at home that can be moved around.

Off I went to AVA, to get the foamcore and the vellum. Since I wanted to be able to take pics of things bigger than a moddle figure, I doubled the size. Some hard work later, I got my light box made up (although I left the “roof” unattached). I set up to find the perfect place to take pictures with the new toy, and found out that our mini dinning room table was ideal. It already has one light over it, so I only need to provide the side illumination. Wanna see my setup?

Light Box Light Box

First pic there, it’s taken with flash, so you see things clearly. The tiny camera in the mini tripod is my trusty Olympus :mju mini 5.0 mpixel. It’s so small it fits in my pocket, and I don’t mind carrying it in my purse more often than not. It also takes great pictures if you take the time to get to know all its quirks. Of course, I’d love to get a dSLR, but I can’t cough the dough for it at the moment (and probably not for a few years), so I make do with what I have. The Olympus, by the way, was a present from Jan.

You’ve already seen proof of what such a small camera and a light box can do, but in case you don’t remember, let’s post the picture again, ok?

Ball of yarn

Now, what I could do with even better tools!

Mmm Ice Cream

Lets start by saying how nice and lovely and sweet Jan is. While I was in Spain, taking exams (better not talk about those grumble), he went to Aldi and bought me an Ice Cream Machine! Yesh! All for us! He told me he had bought me a surprise that day, and I wondered if it’d be the ice cream machine I had been showing him for the previous week. But I didn’t ask, wanted to be nice ;) In the end he told me, and I was already looking forward to make ice cream!

Fast forward to last friday (the previous was around the 20th June). I finally had time and peace to make the base of the ice cream. I decided on plain vanilla, because you can’t go wrong with vanilla ice cream. I followed the recipe that came with the ice cream machine, and got a nice vanilla custard that I let chill for a full day – while the ice cream machine bowl froze. Then I set up the machine, poured the custard, set it to “soft serve” and let it work for 30 minutes. Lovely result, a sweet intoxicating vanilla icecream. Simply delicious:

Ice Cream Ice Cream

You can see how creamy and soft it is in those pictures. And yes it has vanilla speks from using a real vanilla pod and scrapping all the seeds so the ice cream would taste like real vanilla and not those chemically loaded ones they sell out there.

Basic Vanilla Ice Cream


  • 3,5 dl milk (I used half-skimmed)
  • 2 dl cream (I used 30% fat)
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 150 grams sugar
  • 3 egg yolks

Make it:

  1. The day before you want to make ice cream – yes it’s time consuming in the waiting department, it is definitively no instant gratification here – make your custard, and put the ice cream machine bowl to freeze. You want a good 24 four hours of cold in that!
  2. In a deep sauce pan, heat up the milk and cream, with the vanilla pod. Make sure to slice it in half lenghtwise and scrap all the seeds. Once it’s reached boiling point, remove from the heat and let cool with the pod still inside.
  3. While the milk cools down, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until foamy and creamy. When milk is warm, remove vanilla pod and add milk to eggs slowly while whisking non-stop to keep the custard from going, well, custardy and lumpy before time.
  4. When the eggs have been warmed up by part of the milk, add the egg mixture to the rest of the milk and heat the pan again. Do not let it boil and stirr constantly. When custard has thickened, about 10 minutes, remove from heat, pour in a bowl, and cover.
  5. Chill your custard to fridge temperature, ideally over night (that way the machine has less work to do!). Once everything is nicely cold and chilled, assemble your machine, pour the custard in, and let it do its thing for around 30 minutes.
  6. Dive in, enjoy.

Yield: One liter of frozen orgasmic vanilla ice cream.

I Won!

Nope, not a contest, or a raffle, or a give-away. I never win on those. But I had this hank of Seacell Lace yarn from HipKnits, that is actually more of a cobweb weight. You tell me at 1600 yards (1463 meters) per 100 grams. Anyway, I want to use it to knit Seascape from Knitty. The hank looks pretty for selling, but unless you have a lot of patience, not good to knit for. So I had to wind the beast of a hank into a ball. OK, in hank form it didn’t look that big. But the yarn is just thicker than a sewing thread!

Now, I don’t have a ballwinder, because most yarn sold here comes in balls or any other wound shape that requires no work to start knitting from it. So I took out my skein winder (that is different than an umbrella swift). I attached the skein winder to our salon table. In front of the couch. So I could watch tv while winding. And then placed the skein on the skein winder. Untied the skein, found the ends, tucked the bottom one and started winding away. Three hours later (half the time before dinner and the other half afterwards) I got a nice cute ball of yarn. It is not a center pull ball, but I do not care. I’ll just put it in a ziplock and knit from the outside of the ball. Look:

Ball of yarn

It’s so cute on it’s pedestal made of a mokka cup.

“Crispy” Peanut Butter Cookies

A couple of months ago I bought a jar of chunky peanut butter at the local Aldi. It was the “American Week” and I was curious about this ubiquitous ingredient in certain baking recipes and the also famous PB&J sandwich. Reports of friends and family trying peanut butter as is, or in a sandwich, had put a warning in my brain, but still I tried a bit, for the shake of experimentation. The result, I can say, is I do not like peanut butter as-is. It’s too sweet, with an underlying saltiness, and way too sticky. Both in consistency and in flavour. Not for me, I’ll stick with Nutella thankyouverymuch.

So off I went to decide what to do with this peanut butter, and thought cookies was the way to go. If we didn’t like them at home, Jan’s coworkers would get rid of them in no time. They don’t say no to free food! Seeing as I’m trying to bake my way through (selected recipes from) Vegan with a Vengeance, I chose their “Big Gigantoid Crunchy Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Cookies”.

Off to the kitchen with all my stuff I went. Because for once I had all the ingredients at hand, yes. And started mixing everything. May I say, thank you so much for (metric) weight and volume measures of the ingredients? Whoever came up with baking by cups should be tortured to the failing cake every single time muahahaha. Anyway, mix I go and so on and so forth, the goop called cookie dough was softer than I expected. The recipe says:

The dought will be very firm and moist.

This was slightly confusing, because a cookie dough that is at the same time firm and moist does not compute in my brain. Anyway, being sure as I was that I has weighed all the dry ingredients, and measured in ml all my liquids, I thought the dough I got should be good enough as is, even tho scoopable rather than shapeable. So, instead of packing 5 tablespoons in a cup to make a single cookie, I scooped a portion the size of a small icecream ball, and let it glop down to a flatish shape on its own accord.

My biggest surprise came after baking. This took longer than stated for my smaller cookies, too. I went up to 12 minutes in the oven for my “slightly less than 2 tablespoons of dough per cookie” cookies, instead of the 8-10 minutes the recipe recommends for “normal-size” cookies. So yes, they take longer. They don’t really turn nicely golden brown, at all. They do puff up, and then take over the cookie sheet and join the other cookies and sooner or later they’ll be bossing you around. And the worst part: they came out of the oven softer than they went in. This was a big (bad) surprise. Yes, recipe also says:

Allow to cool at least 10 minutes to firm up before moving off the baking sheet.

What it doesn’t tell you is the bottoms of said cookies will be completely sticky, and that even if you move them with great care, after a good 15 minutes resting, they will will try to make a Dalí clock but with cookie and a cake spatula. This also caused an accident by which I lost 3 cookies: When I took the tray out of the oven, a barking mut was driving me insane, and thus I moved too fast, the paper liner slid over the tray, and three too soft cookies colapsed into a useless pile of dough.

The resulting cookies are far from crispy, the only crispiness in them is the pieces of peanuts from the chunky peanut butter. They’re too sweet as well, even tho I used sugar that’s less sweet than normal sugar. And they’re kind of oily as well. After several days, they haven’t dried out, which is nice, but they’re still more chewy than I like my cookies. I don’t think I’ll repeat this exact recipe, maybe if I can find something that’s dryer and crunchy I’ll give peanut butter cookies another try. And now that you’ve come this far reading, mandatory food pic:

Peanut Butter Cookie