During a busy work afternoon last week, I received this SMS from my daughter: "I'm making you supper tonight."
"Great!" I SMSed back, "what's it going to be?"
"It's a surprise - but if it's horrible, you don't have to eat it."
Far from being "horrible," it was one of the best tofu dishes I have eaten, and very creative.
AVITAL'S TEHINA TOFU-FOR-ONE
1â„2 a block of firm tofu (about 170 gr.)
1â„4 onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 1â„2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 ears of canned whole baby corn, cut up
4 Tbsp. prepared "green" tehina with parsley
1 sun-dried tomato in oil, chopped
2-3 squeezes of tomato ketchup
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
salt and pepper to taste
Reserve two tablespoons of the tehina. Mix everything else well in a shallow heatproof dish, and put under the grill (broiler) at 180Â°. Grill for up to an hour, mixing from time to time. When it looks browned and well done, mix with the reserved tehina, and serve with a green salad.
MY COLLEAGUE Esther Rosenfeld, with whom I went to high school back in the UK, says: "There are five things I make in enormous quantities for my eight children and 18 grandchildren, and among those, chocolate cornflake cups are the most popular. They're not original, but for success you've got to know exactly how to do it. They taste best when I use Kellogg's cornflakes."
There are two "secrets" to the method, Esther says.
"1) You mustn't let the minutest drop of water touch the chocolate, otherwise it will immediately solidify and become unmanageable.
2) You have to be prepared to work a bit, stirring and stirring and stirring; because in order to be scrumptious, the cornflakes have to be covered with the thinnest possible layer of chocolate. That's why you need a really big, heat-resistant bowl.
"And spooning out the mixture afterwards can get a little boring - so have something good to listen to on the radio while you're doing it."
CHOCOLATE CORNFLAKE CUPS
600 gr. cooking chocolate
500 gr. Kellogg's cornflakes
Break up the chocolate into squares and place in a large, heat-resistant bowl. Put the bowl onto a saucepan of water. Bring the water to the boil. Lower the heat to simmer and wait for the chocolate to melt. (Meanwhile, separate up to 120 size No. 2 paper cases onto a few trays.) Add all the cornflakes in one go.
Stir - and stir and stir - with a wooden spoon over the lowered heat, taking the mixture up from the bottom constantly, until all the cornflakes are covered with a thin layer of chocolate. (Esther: "Be patient; it can be hard work.")
When all the cornflakes are covered, spoon into the prepared cases, leave to cool - and wait for them to disappear!
I AM grateful to dietician Elana Kideckel for correcting a point in my last column.
"True," she writes, "omega-6 fatty acids are an important part of healthy nutrition, but in today's society we actually consume too much of them! "Soy, corn, safflower and sunflower oil are all excellent sources of omega-6, with relatively small amounts of omega-3.
"While flaxseed is a tremendous source of omega-3 fatty acids, it has relatively little omega 6... [but] adding two tablespoons per day to one's diet, as suggested, can contribute significantly to overall health - including lowering the risk of heart disease, various cancers and depression."
HOSTING some Taiwanese friends for lunch on a recent Friday felt like a culinary challenge and turned out to be something of an eye-opener regarding how much salt we put in our food.
This Buddhist couple are vegans, meaning they don't eat eggs or dairy products; they also eschew the more "excitable" vegetables and spices such as onion, garlic and ginger. In addition, for health reasons, they use almost no salt. How was I going to produce anything eatable?
In the event, I was surprised that the meal, though lacking the above ingredients (I used a little salt), was not only eatable, but tasty. The delicate flavors of the quinoa, ratatouille and crispy tofu (browned under the grill in a little olive oil) came through very pleasingly.
My friends had told me they eat "low-salt humous." To achieve this, I opened a can of chickpeas and blended them with enough of their liquid and a little olive oil to get a good consistency. The result was a refreshingly light and surprisingly tasty humous that everyone enjoyed. (It helped that I also had some lovely whole-wheat bread baked with sunflower seeds.)
As my guests departed, they said: "Better than a restaurant!"