Tofu Cheesecake

I believe I got the concept for the tofu cheesecake from somewhere, but it is pretty unique and very good tasting.  It is lemon flavored with enough honey added to balance the tanginess of the citrus and you cannot taste the soybeans.  Once the cheesecake is baked and refrigerated for an hour, its texture is slightly less firm than cheesecake made with cream cheese, but it has little saturated fat.

There was a tofu shop around the corner from the bakery named Mu Tofu which was operated by a married couple named Yoshi and Becky. “Mu” is the name of a Zen Buddhist koan or riddle asking the question “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”  Yoshi had a lot of boiled, ground soybeans left over from the process of making tofu, which he called okara.  I thought that this moist, oily, nutritious food substance had potential uses in baking, and I soon was adding it to some baked goods, as well as buying his tofu to make tofu cheesecakes.  We became good friends with Yoshi and Becky and they invited Randy and me to their home for dinner at times.


Filling                                                                                      Crust

1-3/4 lbs. soft tofu (2 14oz. pkgs.)                                        1 cup oatmeal, ground

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice                                                      3/4 cup whole wheat flour

2 tablespoons grated lemon peel                                         1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup safflower or sunflower oil                                        3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon honey                                         1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract                                                   1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt                                                                      6 dates, ground

2 tablespoons arrowroot powder                                       6 tablespoons safflower or

or cornstarch                                                                     sunflower oil

1 tablespoon cold water


  1. For the crust, grind the oatmeal in a food processor until it is a coarse meal and place in a bowl. Mix in the whole wheat flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
  1. Grind the dates in the food processor, adding 1-1/2 teaspoons flour or oatmeal to prevent clumping, and add to dry ingredients.
  1. Add the oil to the mixture gradually and toss in with a fork. Add the water and toss with a fork.  Evenly press the crust material into a lightly oiled 9” round cake pan.
  1. For the filling, blend the tofu in a food processor until smooth and creamy and place in a bowl. Add the lemon juice, lemon peel, oil, honey, vanilla, salt, and arrowroot powder and mix with a whisk.
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350o Pour the filling into the crust.  Bake for 65-70 minutes until filling has set and top of filling is light tan or golden in color.  Remove pan from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.  Place in the refrigerator to chill 1-2 hours.  Serves 16.


Jasmine’s Story (with Onion Dill Biscuit Recipe)

Jasmine was a young woman of Puerto Rican descent who often came to the bakery with her young infant daughter in tow.  Jasmine was her name on the streets.  The father of the child who she lived with had a violent temper and she often would come seeking refuge in the bakery.  Eventually he found out where she would flee and he would come down in the evening on a rampage, pounding on the plate-glass storefront windows so hard I thought they would break.  She would reluctantly leave us, so he did not begin destroying the bakery and punching us.  Despite these rocky moments, we offered her as much support and friendship as we could, and she became a part of this family of people.


2-1/4 cups whole wheat flour                             1/4 cup olive oil

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda                               1/4 cup canola oil

3/4 teaspoon salt                                                     1 cup plain low-fat yogurt

1-1/3 tablespoons dried dill weed                       1/3 cup water

3/4 cup finely chopped onion

2 eggs, beaten


  1. Mix the flour, soda, salt, and dill weed in a bowl.
  2. In a separate large bowl, mix the olive oil, canola oil, yogurt, water, onion, and beaten eggs.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 400o  Oil 12 muffin cups.
  4. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir so that the dry ingredients are moistened and the batter is homogeneous. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups.
  5. Bake for 27 minutes until the muffins are firm and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove pan from the oven and take the muffins out of the cups to cool on a wire rack.


For cheese muffins add 1-1/4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese to the wet ingredients.  Be sure to oil the muffin cups well, as the cheese tends to stick, and allow the muffins to cool in the pan after baking for the cheese to set.

Challah (from A Whole Foods Baking book)

       Randy was an integral part of the bakery its first year. I had met Randy in Champaign-Urbana, where I heard him sing and play his guitar on an open microphone at the Red Herring Coffeehouse.  Randy used to wail out his original compositions, and I do mean wail, but what he lacked in musicality he made up for in heart.  He was a person of great sincerity and had insightful perspectives on life.  When he heard that I had opened up a whole wheat bakery in Chicago, he came up to talk to me and offer his help.  He said, “I want to learn how to bake good bread,” and I said I would teach him what I know.

I had no money to pay Randy a salary so he came to live with me in the bakery.  In order to conserve funds, I was living in the bakery and sleeping on a mat in a small office space left by the former tenant.  Randy chose to bunk in a loft area I had built above the oven, which was nice and warm in the winter.  We got up early in the morning and began our work together.

East Rogers Park, where the bakery was located, had been a Jewish neighborhood at one time and I wanted to bake Challah, a traditional Jewish bread.  Randy was our resident expert on things Jewish, and he taught me how to pronounce the name correctly, although I could never get it quite right.  The “ch” is pronounced as an “h” coming deep from the back of the throat.

I first baked Challah using all whole wheat bread flour, but we found it too dense, dark, and heavy, and this did not suit the character of the bread.  We began using 50% unbleached white flour in the bread and we were happier with the end result.


1 cup lukewarm (105 – 115oF) water

1 teaspoons dry yeast

1/4 cup honey


2-1/2 cups whole wheat flour                                   Egg Wash

2-1/2 cups unbleached white flour               1 egg yolk, beaten

2 teaspoons salt                                             1-1/2 teaspoons water

2 tablespoons melted butter

2 tablespoons oil

3 whole eggs, beaten

1 egg white


  1. Proofing the Yeast: Pour the lukewarm water into a bowl, sprinkle the dry yeast on the water, add the honey, and stir until dissolved.  Wait 8-10 minutes until the yeast begins to grow and create a tan-colored foam.
  1. Mixing the Dough: Add 1 cup whole wheat flour to the water and stir to form a homogenous batter. Add more flour on top of the batter and place the salt, beaten eggs, melted butter, and oil on the dry flour, mixing this into the batter. Continue adding the rest of the wheat and unbleached white flour, reserving 1/2 cup for kneading, and mix to form a stiff dough.
  1. Kneading the Dough: Dump the dough in the bowl onto a floured work surface.  By pushing on the dough with both hands, form the dough into a ball and incorporate the fragments and loose flour into the ball.  Knead this dough for 10 minutes, adding as little flour as possible to the work surface and the ball if the dough sticks to the surface or your hands.
  1. The First Rise: Clean and dry the bowl.  Sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoons oil on the bottom of the bowl and place the dough into the bottom of the bowl and flip it over once so that the entire surface of the dough is lightly covered with oil.  Place the bowl in a warm, non-drafty place and cover with a damp towel.  Let rise for 1-1/3 hours.  This soft dough rises quickly.
  1. The Second Rise: Remove the towel from the bowl and gently press on the dough which has doubled in size to deflate it.  Flip the dough over so the moist bottom is now on top.  Place the damp towel back over the bowl and let rise for 45-60 minutes.
  1. Shaping the Loaf and the Final Rise: Remove the towel over the bowl and gently press on the dough to deflate.  Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on the work surface.  Cut the dough in two equal pieces, shape each half into a rough ball, and let them rest 10 minutes to relax the gluten in the dough.

Challah is typically braided, and it can be braided with 3 to 6 strands.  To braid with three strands, cut one ball of dough into three equal pieces, roll each piece into a rope about 12 inches long and 1/2 inch in diameter, and lay the three ropes parallel to each other with about an inch between each rope.  Starting in the middle of the ropes lay the rope from one side over the center rope.  Now take the rope from the other side and lay this over the new center rope.  Continue laying the side ropes alternately over the center rope until one half the loaf is braided.  Pinch the ends of the braids together and tuck under the end of the loaf.  Now beginning in the middle of the loaf, braid the other half of the loaf using the same method of alternately laying the side rope over the center rope.

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Place the two loaves on a flat metal baking sheet covered with cornmeal or oil.

Brush the egg wash evenly on each loaf.  The loaves may be sprinkled with sesame or poppy seeds.  Cover the loaves with a damp cloth and place in a warm, non-drafty place and allow to rise 20 minutes until soft and puffy.  Pre-heat the oven to 350oF during this rise.

    7. Baking the Loaves: When the loaves have risen remove the towel and place the pan on the center rack in the middle of the oven.  Bake for 45 minutes until both the top and bottom of the loaves are browned, and are firm to the touch.  Remove the pan from the oven and place the loaves on a wire rack to cool.


Tremors In The Cloister is the first book I have published and it came out in July of 2015.  Several people have asked me what inspired me to write the work and so I hope this piece will answer the question for those who are interested.

One reason I wrote the book is that it is a unique and interesting story in its own right which would interest a wide category of readers.  It is a true story which has one theme of a younger immature man being mentored by an older man, but an unusual twist is that the setting of the story is in a monastery.  Very few people, even Roman Catholics, know about the life within a monastery.  Another aspect is the changes which have occurred in the Roman Catholic Church in the past fifty years and some of the controversial issues of the past and present.

Father Julian was an older man who had had Parkinson’s Disease for years and we developed a close friendship when I became his chauffeur and assistant in his many naturalist pursuits.  He felt strongly that marijuana helped alleviate the symptoms of his disease and although he wanted to publish an article on his experience, he was never able to do so due to his physical problems and the unsympathetic social climate.  As there are over one million people who have Parkinson’s Disease in this country and four million worldwide I felt morally impelled to present this information to others.  It is not a cure, but it at least helped reduce some of his suffering, particularly allowing him to sleep at night.

I  also feel that Julian provides an example for those who suffer from some chronic illnesses of a person who coped with his illness well and lived life as fully as possible.  He faced the difficulties of his illness with courage and did not give up or  become depressed. He was not one to complain about his illness or seek the sympathy of others, but tried to relate to others as normally as possible.  As I have had fibromyalgia and chronic pain issues for several decades, I find my memory of him helpful in this regard.  If he lived his life as full as possible without giving up, why should I not do likewise?