O Bean-sanity

I am currently in a dangerously preoccupied state about beans (beans!), and the blame rests entirely on my friend Lynn's shoulders. It all started with an innocuous email, whereby Lynn began to enthusiastically describe the upcoming IMBB 11, whose theme is beans. "Let's do it!" she wrote.

I demurred. IMBB is for people who regularly cook and bake things that they are proud to exhibit and share with others. They usually are part of a food blogging ring and are confident of their right to such a membership. As you can see, I do not belong to Blogs that Cook or any such assemblage.

But right after I hit send in reply to Lynn's mail, I suddenly could not stop thinking about the possibilities. I've been going crazy! The first thing that popped into my head was miso--fermented beans, you know. I recalled a miso manju I once ate that had tasted quite good. I then pondered the possibility of a cake with miso. I then tried making such a cake.

And it was sickening. Okay, the first attempt was not sickening. But it did not...rouse me.

Today, I tried again. This time, miso cheesecake.

This time definitely sickening. I really love miso. Drink miso soup almost every day and all that. But I never realized until now that it has, well, a cheesy odor--quite natural, actually, since it is fermented material--which you would think would work nicely in a cheesecake.

But no, no it did not work nicely. It was sickening. And salty.

Well, it could just be a matter of fine-tuning. I don't actually have a basic recipe to work with. I have, in fact, simply been haphazardly scooping lumps of miso into my batter and doing little salmonella-friendly finger taste tests (if you live in Japan long enough, you really have to get over any FDA-conditioned fear of eating raw eggs, or you'll end up hiding in a cave, nibbling on sand and straw).

I did make a non-miso cheesecake at the same time, and I must say it was delightful. In keeping with the beans theme, soy milk and tofu have also been flitting about in my head, so I made a tofu souffle cheesecake. It was bloody excellent. Airy, fluffy, aromatic. Unfortunately, it also had cracks the size of North Dakota and it shrunk and sank pitifully after being removed from the oven. Still, it tasted wonderful.

So now I'm torn. Do I buckle down and keep working on my miso cake. Or do I turn to gentle, not-so-pungent soy for inspiration--possibly, a delicate soy milk custard tart or perhaps a soy milk pound cake with little candied beans.

But the main problem is that I'm obsessed. I cannot stop thinking about beans. I've never had so many bean byproducts in my little fridge at one time. This is insanity.


(I just returned to my miso cheesecake, which has since cooled down. Setting aside memories of my earlier "ugh" response, I went back in for another taste. You know what? Not so sickening. It actually tastes much better now that it's cold. Of course there's too much miso. But even so, it's actually...kinda good! It has a rather bold flavor, nicely complemented by the cream cheese. Hmmmm... Will have to have my husband give me his opinion. He thought yesterday's cake was pretty okay, but he wasn't thrilled either. Asked me why I didn't bake things like chocolate chip cookies--grrrr.)

(Me again. I just had some miso soup for dinner, and I was running out of my usual stuff, so I added a dollop of the red miso I bought for my cake experimentation. It's the red miso! It smells cheesy! My regular miso doesn't--it just smells divine. Of course it would seem the solution would be to simply use my regular miso. Unfortunately, after some quick calculation, I discovered my regular golden brown miso has double the salt content of the red miso. This means I'd have to use half as much, and perhaps my cakes would still be on the salty side. What to do?)

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I think you should definitely do both: give soy the baking attention it deserves, AND go out on a limb to invite miso into the soiree. Maybe you'll make cooking-blog history, who knows? 

- Jessica

1/15/2005 12:27:00 AM  

Jessica, I can always count on you to maintain that strange faith in my baking--sniff, teardrop.

I don't know, though... there are just so many bean-ish things all over my kitchen, and I think my husband is going to freak out when he gets home tonight.

By the way, I haven't forgotten my promise to research rice-cooker recipes. I just can't seem to find any online. I'll have to, erm, borrow recipes from an excellent book I saw at the store.  

- Rachel

1/15/2005 12:48:00 AM  

Sorry Rach, didn't know it was this serious when I saw your message on my tag board. Hope you are having better success at the cheesecake recipe. Will definitely be interested to try. BTW, where are you putting the miso? In the shell or in the cheese?

Meanwhile, I am having a strawberry attack weekend. 

- Lynn

1/16/2005 04:10:00 PM  

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