Sunday, September 13, 2009

Domesticity Day

Right now, I’m sitting at my kitchen table, surrounded in candle light and pleasant smells. When I woke up this morning, I dubbed the day as “Domesticity Day”. As Jane Austen puts it “There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort”. I feel like I’ll have a lot of these days this year. So I made the schedule for my holiday: Mixed Berry Fool for breakfast, Bread for the afternoon and General Tso’s Tofu for the evening (interspersed with listening to music, cleaning, watching movies and chatting with friends). I’m waiting for my bread dough to rise for a second time so I thought I’d take this chance to start my post.

I really don’t know what fool is…I’ve never really heard of it. I also didn’t follow the recipe accurately A) because the quantities were in grams B) because I didn’t have a sieve to strain the berry seeds out—I don’t mind seeds anyway. This is a perfect breakfast though. Honey has become one of my new favorite ingredients. Here’s my version of the dish

Mixed Berry Fool with Honey
Adapted from Greedy Gormand
(for a single serving)
1/2 Cup frozen frozen raspberries and black berries, thawed
2 Tablespoon honey
1 1/2 Cup Greek-style natural yoghurt or plain yogurt
1/4 Cup granola, crushed biscotti, crushed cookie or crunchy cereal—any thing that is tasty and gives a good crunch.
Extra honey for topping

In a blender or food processor, blend the berries and honey until they are smooth.
In a bowl, mix the berries with the yoghurt. The proportions don’t really matter to me…make it how you like it—more or less yoghurt.
Spoon the yoghurt mixture into a serving glass and top with as much honey as you want and whatever you want to give it a crunch.

What a perfect start to my lazy day. Nice and refreshing. After my breakfast, I got ready for the day and headed back into the kitchen to make bread. I grew up making bread from scratch with my mom and brother and I’ve always loved the process but it has been many years since I’ve made any and I’ve never made it from scratch on my own—though I have made it many times in the bread machine. I absolutely love the feel of bread dough in my hands. I prefer to mix all of the ingredients and knead the dough with my hands—it looks so perfect when it’s in the mixer and I can’t resist my urge to pull it out and do it on my own…so I do. The day has been full of many calls to mom: “How warm should the water be to mix with the yeast and sugar? It says 105-115.. how do I know what that is!?”, “Can bread loaf dough be made into rolls?” etc. Overall the process has been so relaxing. Mix the dough, knead the dough, let the dough rise, clean the kitchen, relax by candle light, deflate the dough, shape the dough, let the dough rise again, sit down to write my blog…I love it. Currently, the dough is rising for a second time and I am so eager to put it in the oven. Baking bread is definitely a test of patience—it smells so good! Can’t I eat it now?

I just put the bread in the oven…now time for another 35-45 minute wait while I sit and enjoy a glass of farmer’s market apple juice.

(Somewhat) Julia Child's White Bread 
Adapted from Une Gamine dans la Cuisine, Originally from Juila Child

2 1/2 Cups water (105-115 F)
1 Tablespoons active dry yeast
1 Tablespoons. sugar
7 Cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoons salt
1/4-1/2 Cup unsalted butter softened

Pour 1/2 cup of the water into a large bowl and mix with yeast and sugar till it looks foamy. Let it sit for 5 minutes until creamy. Add the rest of the water and 3 1/2 cups of the flour into the mixer with the dough hook (If you have one). Mix slowly until blended.
At this point it got hard for me to use the mixer. I don’t have much experience with them and they kind of freak me out. We don’t have a dough hook…as far as I can tell so it got hard to mix with a normal hook. I took the dough out and did the rest of the mixing by hand.
Add the rest of the flour until the dough comes together. (If it doesn't add a tbsp of flour at a time till it does.) Add salt and mix for 10 minutes (or do half in mixer and half kneading) till dough is smooth and elastic.
Now add butter 1 tbsp at a time (dough may come apart, but mixing will pull it back together). The butter needs to be at room temperature for this to work.
On lightly floured surface, shape the dough into a ball then place in a large buttered or oiled bowl. Turn dough so it is completely coated in the oil and then cover in plastic for 45 minutes to an hour at room temperature, till it has doubled in size.
Butter 2 loaf pans. Make sure they are buttered well! Deflate the dough, cut in half and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out into a rectangle.
With the short end facing you, fold the dough into thirds like a sheet of paper to go into an envelope, creating a roll. Pinch the seam closed, and pinch the ends enough so it will fit in the loaf pan. Drop in the loaf pan seem side down, and repeat OR…..
Make a set of rolls. Cut the remaining dough into nine even sized pieces. Do the same rolling technique you did with the bread loaf with each individual piece. Place them in rows in an 8x8 or 9x9 pan.
Cover the loaves with buttered plastic wrap and allow to rise again in a warm place (80°F) for 45 minutes, until they double in size.
Preheat the oven to 375°F and put the rack in the center of the oven. Bake for 35-45 minutes until they are honey brown.
Immediately turn out of pans onto a rack to cool. I was so nervous that my bread wouldn't come out or that it wouldn't be strong enough and it would break but everything went smoothly.
I like to melt a little bit of butter over my bread when it comes out.

The smell of the bread in the oven was completely irresistible. I don’t think I’ve ever been more satisfied by anything I’ve made than I was when I took the first bite of my bread.

After a day in the kitchen baking, it is time to make some dinner for myself. I have never actually cooked tofu or many Asian dishes but I definitely enjoy them so I might as well attempt my own. This General Tso’s Tofu looked delicious to me.

General Tso's Tofu 
Adapted from Grumpy's Honeybunch

For the Tofu:
1 Brick extra firm tofu
3-4 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 Tablespoon oil
For the Sauce:
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
3 Tablespoons Hoisin
3 Tablespoons white vinegar
3 Tablespoons Ketchup
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
1/2 Cup water
1 Tablespoon. Sesame oil
6-8 Green onions, sliced
3 Tablespoons fresh ginger finely chopped
Hot pepper flakes
Prepared rice to serve with (Jasmine is my favorite)

Squeeze the excess water out of the tofu by placing it between a bunch of paper towels and then pressing a pan over it to squeeze everything out. Let it sit like that for 20-30 minutes.
In the meantime, mix together the first 6 ingredients and the
While waiting for tofu to be squeezed dry, mix together the first 6 ingredients of the sauce along with the hot pepper flakes and set aside.
Cut the tofu into desired sizes. Coat lightly with cornstarch and fry in the oil until browned and crispy. Remove and set aside
Wipe the pan clean and then add sesame oil, green onions (reserving some for garnish) and chopped ginger (mmm). Fry for about 1 minute. Add the sauce mixture and bring to a boil and then simmer for about 3 minutes. Add the tofu back into the mixture. Coat the tofu completely. Serve with rice, garnished with extra green onions.

I am so happy with how this turned out! It’s definitely a new favorite. My holiday was a success and now I’m looking forward to making plenty of sandwiches with my bread and having some delicious leftover tofu.


  1. I am drooling on my keyboard!

  2. Now every time I hear about Julia Child I think of Meryl Streep, and I start hating Julia Child. lol.

    These all look orgasmic.

  3. These all look fabulous! I am sooo very proud of you and anxious for you to come home and make me some!!!

  4. Everything looks so good Brit! The bread looks incredible - I wish I could try some. I love how you always have candles lit :)

    I deleted my comment earlier because there was a grammar error. Haha.

  5. Well done. Looks fantastic. Your photography is as interesting as the recipe.

  6. I now know what is in your future. You are going to have your own TV cooking show and you are going to be a huge success. You're going to have everyone drooling in front of their TV - your Nanni for one!!