Cheap Eats

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Homemade Soymilk - So many possibilities!


The strangest thing about this endeavour is that I am allergic to soymilk. Yup.  I am Asian.  I am lactose intolerant.  I am allergic to soymilk.  Yet... I refuse to shy away and head for the rice milkaisle.  
Christ. Some people are just so good at marketing free stuff.  My mother would scoff at the fact that rice milk is basically the dust that coats rice kernels + water. 
So my rebuttal to physiology is to eat as much stinky cheese and soy products as I can.  Makes sense, right?
My best memories of soymilk were when we used to go visit my grandparents' grave and eat at this one Beijing style restaurant. We would order hot sweetened soymilk (dou jiang) and pieces of fried dough, an oriental coffee and doughnuts if you will.  My dad's patients sometimes bring him cartons of their own soymilk, still warm to the touch.  I envy him.  He gets the best presents--like a roasted duck, one half wrapped in a take out carton, the other wrapped in a plastic bag. 
To be more than honest, this soymilk was just a pit stop to homemade tofu. I stole the recipe from Just Hungry.  She actually has a much more informative post.  Instead of repeating her didactic recipe, I will show you how simple and intuitive it is to make soymilk. 
HOMEMADE SOY MILK (makes 2 quarts) Total time 11 hours; Active time 3 hours 

SUMMARY: You will have to start the night before to soak dried out beans.  The next day you will blend boil and strain.  Very simple. Just a bit time consuming. 
WARE: This is the most important part of the process.  Having the right stuff.  You will need a blender (or immersion blender), a large pot (probably 6-7 quarts), a strainer, and some cheese cloth.
INGREDIENTS: 1/2 lb of soybeans
1. Soak beans in a large bowl of water undisturbed all night long. 
2.  In the morning, uncover your beans.  They should be twice the size they once were. In batches, blend the beans to a thick yet light puree.  There will be foam and froth.  Just ignore it. 
In fact, the froth looks so deceivingly inviting that you make think that you have already arrived at a delectable morning beverage.  You haven't.  Move on.   
3. Put on a large pot of water, filled with 8 cups of water, on the stove and begin to heat on high. The pot must be large enough so that the liquid is about 1/2-2/3 up the side of the pot.  As the water is heating, pour the puree into the pot.  Continue to heat.
4. Eventually your mixture will come to a boil and develop a bubonic foam growth, like a top hat willing on top of the soy milk.  Turn down the flame to a medium or at whatever setting you can control that mangy fro. Splash some cold water onto the froth if it threatens the top of your pot.  Boil thusly for 20 minutes. 
5. Line a strainer with cheesecloth.  Place a bowl large enough to catch all the liquid underneath.  If you don't have a large bowl, manage straining in batches. 
6.  When the boiling mixture looks as if it has spit into soy milk and lonely shards of ruffage, it is done.  Kill the heat and pour through the strainer.  Cool or continue on to make tofu!  Wheeee! Or eat with fried doughnuts. 
Of and about that other part of the mixture, the fibrous part.  They call that Okara. I am not sure what i want to do with something that has essentially given all its nutrients and taste to thesoymilk, but I am sure I can find something to do with it... thoughts?


Fried Matzo: Jewish French Toast

When I was growing up, my dad used to make me breakfast in the morning. We had all sorts of inventions: Hotdogs and Eggs, Fried Salami, Potato Chip Omelettes, and my favorite: Fried Matzo. This is a fairly simple recipe which my grandmother passed along to my father, who in turn taught me. It's supposedly an old Jewish standard, but I've never seen anyone else make it outside of our family. The recipe is similar to French Toast, except here, the matzo is first softened with hot water in order to be able to soak up the eggs. Here's what you'll need to make a large serving of this delicious and easy recipe:


-4 sheets Matzo

-2 eggs, scrambled

-1/2 cup hot water

-1 tbsp vegetable oil


-butter and jam for topping (I recommend blackberry, boysenberry, loganberry, or lingonberry jam for best results.)


To make:

-break your matzo sheets into bite sized pieces (should be about 2” x 1”)

-place broken matzo into a bowl and pour hot water over matzo pieces, stirring to insure every piece soaks up some water

-pour scrambled egg over matzo and mix well

-heat a large, nonstick frying pan and add cooking oil

-pour matzo and egg mixture into pan, spreading out evenly

-cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes until bottom is cooked and beginning to crisp (but be careful not to burn!)

-flip and repeat process for the other side until every piece is thoroughly cooked

-remove from heat and serve lightly salted with jam and butter

Bougey Pork and Beans - Yes Please!

In preparation for April showers I am culling the last of my hearth recipes. Like most others who entertained cassoulets and lentil stews, I too approached the legume. These beans were my first try at beans and I thought them to be a vibrant success. My second try at beans ended in disastrous disappointment.


Oddly enough, I cooked these beans based on pure sensory diagnostics, whereas I pulled the others from a Mexican cookbook that I bought at the airport, looking to spend the last of my pesos. In it, they specified 16 cups of water for 2 cups of beans.

Got Rice?

fried riceWhenever I prepare rice, I tend to make more than I need. It's great to have a tupperware full of white or brown rice in my fridge, and my favorite thing to do with it is throw it in a pan and cook up some fried rice.

Recipe for a Housetoasting

img_1232 I only have a sec--this weekend got away from me, and I am already late for a workshop I have this morning--but I wanted to share with you a marvel of the modern world--the Peep. We had a "housetoasting" on Saturday (named after the three toasters we inherited, along with one pull out sofa and vitually nothing else when moving in to our new house).

Fresh Made Pasta

img_1199.img_1200 It began with a stew hen. I was at the Greenmarket in Union Square on Saturday, and I wanted to buy a chicken.

Creole Okra with Shrimp from Cooking Up A Storm

okratexture This is a recipe from Cooking Up A Storm, a new cookbook compiled by the food editors of the New Orleans Times Picayune. The cookbook is great: it's made up of recipes requested by readers of the Times Picayune, attempting to gather up the beloved New Orleans recipes that had been lost to the storm or simply lost to history.


I think great chefs make everyday items taste ridiculously brilliant. They showcase at their best. This is how I view the Rosa sauce. Simple ingredients in, technique applied, and a phenomenal result in the end. It will impress any crowd and the best thing is that it is CHEAP!!!! You will have to make a ton because it is irresistible.

Sticky Rice Pudding: The Affordable and Irresistable Desert

I recently discovered the ease of sticky rice.  Being not of the south-eastern Asian descent, I have never gotten to know how to cook sticky rice, but  found it in the  small bamboo baskets they pass out at Thai restaurants or in the confusing beans-as-dessert section of Vietnamese markets.

Recipe For An Off Day


On Sunday, it was beautiful. People go a little wild when the cold abates. An Irish friend of mine once described seventy degrees in Dublin finds offices empty, streets filled with pasty Irish folk sprawled half-undressed on parks and medians. Central park was somewhat similar, only more barelegged runners and such.

I walked through the park to the Met, which had a show of a number of Bonnard’s interiors. Bonnard lived in his own world, a vision that included his own Lolita (nee Marthe), a bath, many windows and baskets of fruit. Shadows in vermillion and lemon.

On my way out, I passed through the medieval hall, where they have incredible tapestries and illuminations. I have a thing for the tiny drawings that decorated the letters in books, little men and women patterned within Os and Ms. Many of them are saints, and within the drawings are scenes of decapitations, holy births, and little tortures. The colors have survived brilliantly, and there, ghastly and bleeding and oddly serene, are the saints in all their glory.

At any rate, my original plan for the day was to make something to bring to a Sunday dinner—a classic pear tart or this or even this, a recipe I came across that sounded a bit different, from a Brooklyn restaurant. I thought I had all that I needed, and then, of course, I did not. No tart or springform pan. That would have been manageable but for the lack of flour. This, my friends, was troublesome. I began to run late and lazy, and nothing baked materialized at all. A small blessing, in the end, for they had planned ahead and bought the incredible chocolate cookies from Levain. Good god. I have a cookie recipe to share at some point, but these, fat and rich and coma-inducing, were delicious.

So instead I have for you something I tried earlier this week—almond milk—inspired by an age in which people were boiled and milk often soured. I love foods and their stories, and the best often come by accident or necessity (pain perdue, par example). In medieval times, animal products could not be kept for long without spoiling, nor could they be eaten on “lean days” (Friday through Sunday) or Lent. The enterprising cooks of the time therefore devised ways of using vegetable products to stand in (it appears it wasn’t the crunchy vegan types that started all of this). Oats, walnuts, but mostly almonds provided a base for a milky substance whose thickness and richness could be adjusted as a stand in for milk or crème.

The other day, I got a craving for these banana smoothies that my friend Anna and I fell in love with on a trip to Spain. Down a set of stairs off the street, the place was dark, and often empty, and the stone basement refreshingly damp and cool in the summer heat. The drinks were incredibly simple, yet so good, and when I bought the cookbook from Rose Bakery and saw a version of them there, I wanted to go back.

Originally made with whole milk, the drinks are meant to be served rich and in small doses. I didn’t know what I would do with an entire container of whole milk, so I thought I would take the opportunity to try out the almond milk thing. With some honey or dates blended in, and a little cinnamon, the almond milk is a drink in itself. Or blend it with half of a ripe banana (or, I suppose, other preferred fruit) for a frothy bev. In the summer, this could be great with oversoft peaches or apricots.

There are several approaches to making nut milks, which appear to take varying degrees of time and effort. Here is a low-impact version. You can also add vanilla, vanilla bean, or other flavorings.

Almond (or other nut) Milk
1 cup raw almonds
2 cups water
2 dates or 1tbs honey, or adjust to taste
Other potentials: vanilla, rose water, vanilla bean

Take raw almonds, place in a container, and cover with water, preferably but not necessarily overnight.

The next morning, drain the almonds, blend with fresh water. By adjusting the amount of water, you can make it as thin or thick as you desire. I hear you can use this milk as a substitute for all different recipes that call for milk. Unconfirmed…

You can drink this as is (if it’s in a smoothie, I wouldn’t bother straining) or pour through several layers of cheese cloth.

Banana Smoothie 1 cup whole milk or almond milk
1 banana
1 tbs honey, or other sweetener, adjusted to taste
1-2 tbs apple juice, if you have it

Lazy Sunday

Those who do this whole food-blog thing more and better than I will tell you that the great trouble with soup comes not in the making, or the eating, but in the documenting. Soups, but for things like butternut, do not pretty pictures make. Lentil soup, the product of world wide-thriftiness, poses a particular problem. Those with great lighting and better cameras can overcome it. Since I had neither, I decided to pump up the flash and just own it. So here, in all it's stunned, mug shot glory, is today's recipe:

Chickpea Salad, Fit for a Pocket

chickpea pita I recently moved to New York City. This means, among other things, that the budget has tightened up. I take my lunch to work, and of late it has been various variations on an old standard—hummus and pita. I had hummus and pita plain, with arugula, pita and sautéed broccoli rabe, pita, hummus, and roasted vegetables. My office sits two blocks from Union Square, the home of the best greenmarket in the city.
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