The Cooking Chronicles: Spicy Tofu and Pork

Instead of The Cooking Chronicles I feel like I should create a sub-category containing all of my tofu-related experiments titled “The Tofu Trials”. At any rate, a Company’s Coming Cooking at Home spicy pork and tofu recipe was my third attempt to gradually introduce tofu into our diet, a slow road to my eventual hope of edging Mack’s tolerance for tofu into a fondness.

Armed with Ying Fat tofu and Four Whistle Farms ground pork, I set to make the quick stir-fry dish. I thought the half pound of pork would be overwhelmed by all of the tofu, but the proportion was just right, really highlighting how economical the dish is to make, so long as the cook’s pantry is stocked.

The result? A textured dish full of subtle heat with just the right amount of sweetness for balance.  I would double the sauce mixture next time, however, as there was only enough to coat the ingredients in the pan, and not enough to drizzle on our accompanying rice. And while Mack would have preferred more meat, this was his favourite of the three tofu dishes we’ve tried thus far.

Spicy Tofu and Pork

The Cooking Chronicles: Zucchini Muffins

With baby zucchini languishing in the fridge, I decided to make some muffins using a Company’s Coming recipe I have never attempted myself, but have enjoyed many times. My Mum is always whipping up baked goods in between meals, ensuring our caloric intake isn’t bound by breakfast, lunch or dinner. As a result, my family usually has access to fresh muffins, loaves, or whatever else my Mum has decided to tempt us with, requiring no effort on our part.

Over at Mack’s, unless my daydream does come true one day and he has a rack of freshly-baked goods waiting for me on the counter after work, the task for supplying us with treats falls to me. Having recently procured my own copy of Muffins & More, I set to work.

The zucchini muffins recipe isn’t a difficult one – my only point of uncertainty was whether or not I had overmixed the batter. It turns out that I did, and my hope of obtaining a muffin consistency as light and fluffy as my Mum so easily creates was lost. It also dawned on me that there was actually a point of the whole wet-into-dry-well thing – to try and incorporate the two masses into one with the least number of turns. What you learn by actually trying something, eh?

Zucchini Muffins

Mack thought they were good (turns out, they freeze like a charm too), but I know of a higher standard that can be reached. Next time.

The Cooking Chronicles: Warm Spinach and Mushroom Salad

Mack hates tofu. I love tofu. This tends to put our meal planning a little at odds, particularly when I am craving tofu.

While Mack has been amenable to the deep fried cubes of tofu typically included in an Asian hot pot spread, my personal favourite variety are the firm yet silky squares of fresh tofu. We have a wonderful local producer of tofu – Ying Fat in Chinatown (which Brulee Blog wrote a great post about), and really, any easy-to-prepare alternative to meat protein is always a welcome addition to my kitchen.

I earmarked two recipes to experiment with in order to test the tofu waters, so to speak, with Mack. The first was a warm spinach salad recipe from Company’s Coming Cooking at Home.

I tossed some Edgar Farms spinach with sautéed brown mushrooms, a light vinaigrette, and cubes of tofu that had been marinated in the same vinaigrette for an hour. I had thrown the tofu into the skillet containing the mushrooms to warm it gently just before serving, which suited the dish as a whole better, in my opinion.

Warm Spinach and Mushroom Salad

The marinade didn’t seem to penetrate the tofu at all however, and I could have done without that step. I really enjoyed the vinaigrette though (made with olive oil, red wine vinegar, grainy mustard, honey, garlic, salt and pepper), and can see myself using it as a base for other salads. Lastly, some freshly grated parmesan would have provided a needed savoury aspect. Mack’s opinion: after his hesitant first bite, he said the texture was still a bit off for him. He did finish his plate though!

A light summer meal, this salad has a quick turnaround time, but is hearty enough to satisfy warm-weather hunger pangs.

Company’s Coming Scratch & Dent Sale 2009

I dragged Mack to the Company’s Coming Scratch & Dent Sale, that took place today, and continues tomorrow (he’s a trooper – it was Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals after all). While we didn’t spend that much time there, we did make the trip worth our while.

Cookbooks were priced at up to 80% off, and really, the deals were better than I anticipated. All of the Original Series titles were just $4, while the hardcover Lifestyle, Moved Loved Recipes and Special Occasion titles were $6.

Pallets of books!

After completing a simple survey outside the tent, I collected a free copy of Company’s Coming Cooking Tips. To that, I paid for Muffins & More (a classic!) and a book brimming with colour photos called Cooking at Home: The Magazine Recipe Collection. The only downside was that their offerings were not comprehensive (as it wouldn’t be), but a few titles that I was looking for weren’t there (here is a shot of what they do have for sale).

Happy additions to my cookbook collection

The best thing about the event, however, was the opportunity to have Jean Paré autograph my cookbook! (Limited to one per person though). It was quite interesting, as she had a list of comments pre-drafted, and depending on the cookbook presented, she would insert a specified line.


They also had a few random utensils on sale – I picked up a vegetable peeler and a small knife for $1 (yes, I’m a sucker for cheap deals).

The sale continues on Saturday, June 13, from 9am-3pm at the Company’s Coming warehouse located at 2311-96 Street.

The Cooking Chronicles: Vegetable Tortellini Bowl

Darn, another recipe that was great to eat but I can’t locate on the internet…

On a day when I was feeling under the weather and craving something warm with vegetables, I turned to a trusty Company’s Coming cookbook for Vegetable Tortellini soup. I figured the filled pasta would give the soup that extra filler, and if nothing else, the tricolore tortellini provided some nice color.

Instead of diced tomatoes, I used a can of whole tomatoes, which, by the time we were ready to eat the soup, lent the chicken stock a lovely red hue. Along with the tomatoes, I threw in the recommended carrot, zucchini, bell pepper, and substituted celery for spinach, and the recipe turned out wonderfully. I remember Jane saying that she was in a “soup phase” at one point – if all soups are this easy and tasty to boot, I may be in one soon too.

Vegetable Tortellini Bowl

The Cooking Chronicles: Friendship Cookies

The cookbook I most remember from my childhood was a dog-eared, coil-bound Company’s Coming edition. I knew at some point I’d start my own collection of these seemingly indispensable books, and last year, I did. My first, Christmas Gifts from the Kitchen, supplied the recipe for Mack’s absolute favourite cookies, and on Wednesday, I turned to it again for an intriguing recipe for Friendship Cookies.

Calling for cake mix, water, oil, 1 egg, and white chocolate chips, it was the simplest chocolate cookie recipe I had ever come across. I was interested to see how the final product would turn out (and wondered how many experimental batches were made before the version made it to print).

I should have sifted the cake mix (it would have saved a lot of time trying to pound out the lumps), but other than that, it was a straightforward dump-and-combine recipe. I did only end up with about half of the four dozen that the recipe claims to make, but that was fine, as I couldn’t complain about having to put in much effort at all.

The cookies were soft out of the oven, and remained so the day after baking. The off-classic combination of dark cocoa with white chocolate was nice as well.

I just wonder about the name – one would assume that friends would be worth more trouble than a cleverly-developed secondary use of prepared cake mix.

Friendship Cookies