Soya wadi manchurian and collard greens stir-fried with curry.

Indo-Chinese cuisine courtesy of the Hakka Chinese community in Kolkata.  Which may be the only cuisine in the world that combines soy sauce with cheese.  Anyway, I discovered this dish not by researching the Indo-Chinese, but by looking at the shelves of Indian grocery stores, noticing “soya wadi”, and wondering “What on earth are those?”

They’re basically large chunks of textured vegetable protein.  And honestly, they’re a minor revelation – if you’re into substituting tofu for meat in things like flavorful curries, stews, and stir-fries, I’d say it’s time to stop that and use these guys instead.  Enjoy tofu for its own specific texture if you like, but if you’re looking for something that soaks of sauce and has something like the mouthfeel and protein content of meat, this is a far more convincing substitute, and much cheaper than branded meat replacements.  The texture might be a bit distracting in more lightly flavored dishes, though.

The stir-fried collard greens with curry powder may or may not be an authentic Indo-Chinese dish – it was basically a guess based on the Wikipedia article.  It was good though!

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Another pavlova.

My third pavlova in about as many months, and the second success of the bunch.  Kumquats, raspberries, blueberries, and mint.  I flatter myself with the notion that these are probably slightly healthier than other desserts, but really I just like the way they look and taste.

I mentioned an unsuccessful pavlova, and in addition, there was one initial unsuccessful attempt that never even became a pavlova.  Egg whites are not an easy thing to work with.

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Ma po tofu

A food photograph defiantly free of glamor.  Ma po tofu is a classic szechuan dish, featuring silken tofu, chile/bean paste, and szechuan peppercorns – a fascinating spice than contains a chemical, called hydroxy-alpha-sanshool, that stimulates certain touch receptors in the mouth.  It also has baby corn, because there was a can of that on hand.

Unfortunately, the dish was too spicy for my girlfriend to eat, so I plowed through the leftovers at work, lunch after lunch.

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Yes, I own a cake caddy.

It looks like a pile of whipped cream, but it’s actually a pavlova with raspberries, blueberries, kiwi, and mango on it.  This was my second attempt; the first time, I made two errors, at least one of which kept the egg whites from forming stiff peaks:

  • I put the eggs in a plastic bowl, which may have trapped some oil in it.  Oil is game over for whipping eggs whites.
  • I didn’t have an egg beater, so I tried to do it first with the immersion blender, and second with a hand whisk.  The hand whisk should have worked, so I think the plastic bowl may have been the problem?

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