Hodo Soy Beanery

Minh Tsai, Hodo Soy Beanery

Hodo Soy Beanery

A few months ago, Spenser magazine approached me to photograph a story about the craft behind the tofu at Hodo Soy Beanery. Knowing nothing about the whole process, and always game for a new challenge, I jumped at the opportunity. Julie Wolfson and I spent a morning at the beanery before hopping across the bay to sample an array of tofu dishes at The Slanted Door. You can read the full story in the latest issue of the magazine (which also features work from fellow bloggers Rick and Asha) and, if you really really like it, purchase a printed copy for posterity!

After that visit, Minh invited me back for a stage at the beanery where I could really dig in and get a hands-on experience for the tofu and yuba (tofu skin)-making process. Despite being fully kitted out with state-of-the-art tofu-making equipment flown in from Taiwan, it is the human touch that does most of the work to create a slab of Hodo tofu. Machines steam the organic, non-GMO soybeans specially trucked in from the Midwest, crush it into a slurry to produce deliciously rich soymilk, some of which is bottled for consumption, and some reserved for yuba-making. The rest is transferred to another machine that adds filtered water and calcium sulfate (the coagulant), stirs it altogether and lets the mixture sit for a bit before piping it out into sturdy metal molds lined with cheesecloth. Now this is where it gets fun.


  • Thank you Danielle!

    I absolutely adore yuba! We went to Nikko, Japan last year where they are really well known for their yuba and the riyokan we stayed at served yuba at each meal. It was so delicious! You just reminded me I have some dried yuba from Japan I’m itching to have!
    I haven’t made my own tofu as I prefer having fermented soy (natto or tempeh), but I’d love to try making it!ReplyCancel

  • Awesome Danielle. I did see your feature in the magazine and it’s beautiful. I love that he wore the “who is your tofu master” t-shirt too. Great photos!ReplyCancel

  • Love stories like this….just had some tofu last night and was wondering how it was made, now I can picture the process!

  • Very much enjoyed learning about the making of tofu. Informative and interesting post!ReplyCancel

  • Wow, great story, a real insider’s view on something I really enjoy, tofu is amazing! And that tofu master shirt is pretty cool too.ReplyCancel

  • love seeing the extra photos and reading the behind the scenes perspective from your point of view. great job, danielle!ReplyCancel

  • Ann Becker

    I have been so concerned about our eating habits and this is just what I have been looking for to help in my food choices.ReplyCancel

  • I love tofu! Thanks for the info on this so organised and clean beanery. Like your post at etsy as well 😀ReplyCancel

  • How did I not know about you staying in Bay area!
    Loved your portfolios, beautiful photos. And this post is so informative .. specially the tofu skin .. never heard of that before!ReplyCancel

  • Your passion is showing. Thank you for being such a foodie–I love that you are looking at so many areas of food production and how you’re showing that enjoyment is also found in larger production systems–we all have to eat and isn’t it nice to create pleasure and healthiness for lots of people! Your nostalgia for childhood food experiences and love of domesticity warms my heart.ReplyCancel

  • beautiful photography! I’m impressed, I just recently did a behind the scenes photo shoot at a Colorado cheese maker and it can be challenging to capture the industrial beauty. And yes, I do want to try some artisan tofu now! 🙂ReplyCancel


Pea Ricotta Spread

You know you’re a foodie when you drive on a wet highway and all of a sudden you feel the car “microplaning”.


I read this on Facebook last week while the Bay Area was soaked in much-needed rain, and it tickled me so much that I had to share it with M on our way to dinner. After politely letting me giggle it out, he looked at me pityingly and said, “Sorry honey, but that’s SO GEEKY.”


After recovering from the sting of the failed joke, I got to thinking about his remark and our attitudes towards geekiness in general. Why do we react sheepishly, even apologetically, when someone says that we’re a geek? Shouldn’t it be a compliment, a reflection of the work you’ve invested into something that you’re passionate about?

Pea Ricotta Spread


  • Well I have to say, I’m not too sure spring has sprung yet in seattle. We still have a lot of root veggies going on at the market, but I loved this post. Sometimes certain lines from books/even the newspaper strike me — other times, like last night, I make a pretty perfect cake and the science behind the whole thing kind of blows me away. Geekiness confirmed. Miss you!ReplyCancel

  • Danielle

    Geekiness rules!

    As much as our weather here is lovely, I have to confess that I wouldn’t mind if the clouds and rain stayed a little longer. Sending some of our sunshine up North!ReplyCancel

  • Haha, your 32 year old self sounds exactly like my 27 year old self! I’m totally in bed early, up early, NPR radio listener, food/seasonal produce geek to the core, yoga, camera obsessed! And now I’m geeking out over this spread : ) Sounds amazing!ReplyCancel

  • This is right up my alley, smothered all over a piece of bread. NomReplyCancel

  • I’m your new fan, love your recipe and your photos!
    So true how we evolved in different stages of our life.
    As a new food blogger, I constantly geek about ingredients, new recipe experiments, food cultures.. until my family & friends go crazy.. haha. Recently bought my 1st DSLR had me geeking photographs and lenses!ReplyCancel

  • Love this kind of simple spread – perfect on homemade sourdough, yum!ReplyCancel

  • I am so glad you posted this recipe as it was amazing! We are all about garlic over here so 5 may not be enough. 😉ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie

    In French there is no word for geek or nerd; reading or thinking deeply about a subject is considered normal or good, not something to be dishonored!ReplyCancel

  • A lovely welcome for spring, Danielle! I’m all about embracing my geek-dom. When it comes to chatting about food with Matt, I’d go so far as to say his geek-dom for music surpasses mine for food. I think the older you get, the more you love it 🙂 xoReplyCancel

  • Let your geek flag fly, my friend!ReplyCancel

  • After an unseasonably sunny week at the end of March in Dublin, April has started with snow and hailstones. All I can do for the moment is look at these gorgeous photos and dream of Spring.ReplyCancel

  • […] can’t help but be intrigued by Beyond [the Plate]’s pea and ricotta spread. Blogger Danielle’s recipe combines creamy ricotta and sweet peas with […]ReplyCancel


Food & Wine, Dill seed biscuits, Curried Winter Squash Soup

Food & Wine, Vegetable Stir-Fry, Roasted Cod with Orange and Fennel

Food & Wine, Tuna Tabbouleh, Tomato-miso soup

Clockwise from top left: Dill seed biscuits, Curried Winter Squash soup, Roasted Cod with Orange and Fennel, Tomato-miso soup, Tuna Tabbouleh and Five-vegetable stiry-fry.

Goodness has it really been more than a month since my last post? Sorry about that, time really does fly when your schedule is packed with assignments, playdates and the joys (read: soul-sucking) tasks that come with running a business. Book-keeping anyone? I’m happy to pay you in cookies, donuts, or if you prefer, some Nutella?

That’s not to say that I haven’t been writing or photographing at all. On the contrary, many projects have been underway, lots of ideas are being shared, tested and executed, and I wanted to share some images from recent projects. Read More >>

  • congrats on the food & wine project! looks like you had a nice spread to share with friends. i’m still waiting for mine to be posted, seems like so long ago i worked on that.ReplyCancel

    • Danielle

      Well clearly, congratulations are in order for you too sir! So exciting, I can’t wait to see what everyone came up with. Promise me you’ll share when it’s up??ReplyCancel

  • Eileen

    LOVE the piano portrait!ReplyCancel

  • so delicious! it stir my appetite, and the child is so lovely.I like child very much.ReplyCancel

  • What an awesome post packed full of great stuff. Congrats on the F&W project, that sounds perfect for you.ReplyCancel

  • Such lovely pictures and a big congrats to you on the Food and Wine project!ReplyCancel

  • so pretty! love how you capture real life. Your food+wine photos do just the same. so nice!ReplyCancel

  • Danielle

    Thanks so much for your kind words folks. @Eileen – I have a host of other piano images, most of which involve the book falling on the kids’ faces 😉ReplyCancel


Pear Frangipane Tart

I thoroughly enjoyed Midnight In Paris. Apart from being set in Paris, of all places, I loved the script, the costumes and the plot, and how sentimentalism – a potentially heavy and tired subject – was treated in an entertaining way without being trivialized.

I thought I knew why I enjoyed it so, until a dinner at Magali et Martin in Lyon, when the staccato notes of gypsy jazz came piping through the speakers as I dug into what is possibly the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever had. Tapping my feet in time, M remarked, “That’s what Woody Allen used in the movie”.

The penny dropped. It dawned on me that the whimsical, syncopathic beats of this genre were the real reason why I count the film as one of my top favorites of 2011, for its ability, above all, to transport me to a different time and mood.

Pear Frangipane Tart


  • […] Django Reinhardt/Pear Frangipane Tart from Danielle at Beyond the Plate […]ReplyCancel

  • HI Danielle, nice to meet you for #LetsLunch! This is a drop dead gorgeous tart. I also loved the flamboyant sentimentality of Midnight in Paris.ReplyCancel

  • I loved Midnight in Paris for the same reasons! The soundtrack is great! Django, as well as a lot of classic jazz and gypsy jazz musicians provide such a warming and nostalgic feel, I cannot get enough of it. There are some really great jazz radio stations of all genres on iTunes radio. If you haven’t poked around I suggest you do. I always listen to jazz when I cook and bake!ReplyCancel

  • Great LetsLunch post. Loved the music in Midnight in Paris, so much, that we (I) downloaded it the day after. It definitely takes one back to that magical place called Paris. I am happy that we were able to sample taste this delicious tart; have been thinking of it ever since. And Kate’s tart dough recipe is the best!! I enjoyed that cool summer day, in her Gascon kitchen, learning the proper way to make the dough. Perfection!ReplyCancel

  • Danielle

    @Linda: Likewise! Happy to meet other M.I.P lovers through this post 🙂

    @Sweet road: Thanks for the jazz recommendations. I listen to Pandora and Spotify most of the time – create a “Django Reinhardt” station and off it goes!

    @Chez Us: You’re lucky to have had the chance to learn from Kate herself. We have more than enough slices for the both of us, drive on over 🙂ReplyCancel

  • […] Beyond the Plate: Django Reinhardt & Pear Frangipane Tart […]ReplyCancel

  • I can happily imagine dancing round the kitchen cooking as I listen to this! The tart looks wonderful – it’s hard to beat the combination of tart pears and sweet frangipane.ReplyCancel

  • If you like Midnight in Paris and the music of Django Reinhardt then you’ll adore this other film by Woody Allen (whom I loooove), Sweet and Lowdown. Have you seen it? It’s about a jazz guitarist, played by Sean Penn, whose idol is Django. Great soundtrack as well.

    Your tart looks incredible. I have never made frangipane but have always wanted to give it a try. Thanks for a great recipe!

  • […] Good Things Put the Lime in the Coconut Macaroons ~ from Emma at Dreaming of Pots and Pans Pear Frangipane Tart ~ from Danielle at Beyond The […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Beyond the Plate: Django Reinhardt & Pear Frangipane Tart […]ReplyCancel

  • yum! I have been tons of apples and pears in my csa box and am running out of ideas. They usually turn in to quick breads or muffins but this looks like a real treat!ReplyCancel

  • A beauty! I hereby vote you: prettiest tart maker!

    And I agree with the comment above re: Sweet and Lowdown. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen it, but I remember loving it.

    Hope you’re having a good week. Miss you!ReplyCancel

  • Danielle

    @thelittleloaf: Yes, it’s a combination that’s pretty hard to beat 🙂
    @My Little Expat Kitchen: No I haven’t heard of it, I’ll have to check with the husband who’s a big Woody Allen fan. You may just have given us our movie selection for Valentine’s Day!
    @sara: Oh this will use up your fruit in a pinch, hope you enjoy the recipe!
    @Megan: Aww you’re too sweet my friend. Hope the settling in is going well xxReplyCancel

  • Miam miam. Délicieux ! A table !ReplyCancel

  • Anything with fruit and frangipan wins me over every time…this looks like such a classic elegant tart.ReplyCancel

  • This looks absolutely delicious, and awesome photos!ReplyCancel

  • Oh I just loved this post and thanks for the fabulous and fun music. Coming home is always a time for reflection, to digest where you were, what you gained and what you want to hold on to. And what a gorgeous Pear Frangipane Tart. You set the bar pretty high on this one, I may just have to leave it on this page!ReplyCancel

  • I love your site! Beautiful pictures!ReplyCancel

  • I love Django Reinhardt. If you get the chance you should listen to Paris Combo – Living Room. It’s a contemporary approach but the guitar in it is heavily influenced by Django. Yes, I’ll have a slice of that delicious looking tarte aux poires too. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Visiting from Etsy–what wonderful photos you have. I hope to have enough almond flour left to make this tart.ReplyCancel

  • I loved that movie, too. It caters to so many things that artists of many kinds love – and plays with them – but without, as you point out, trivializing them. What a treat.ReplyCancel

  • Mi

    oh, your pear tart is absolutely amazing – delicious! thank you and have lovely weekend:)ReplyCancel

  • […] Beyond the Plate: Django Reinhardt & Pear Frangipane Tart […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Get the Sweet Potato Pear Soup recipe from Love and Lemons 16 Pear Frangipane Tart   Get the Pear Frangipane Tart recipe from Beyond the Plate 17 Vanilla Bean Pancakes With Maple Butter Pears Get the Vanilla Bean […]ReplyCancel

  • Stefanie

    Just wanted to say thank you! Loved the music, will bake the tart tomorrow!ReplyCancel


After landing at San Francisco on New Year’s Eve with just enough energy to shower, share a glass of champagne and crawl into bed, I went through a phase best diagnosed as “Europe Withdrawal Syndrome” (E.W.S.). You won’t find this condition anywhere in the DSM IV, but it’s happened to me often enough that I feel qualified to label it as such. The lament begins at SFO’s baggage carousel, worsens with the drive South on the 101 and really hits home the next day, waking up a view of Silicon Valley suburbia instead of a picturesque French countryside. And so it goes on for the first week, then the second…reuniting with good friends over a meal certainly help with the post-holiday transition, but the best remedy, I’ve found, is time.

Another side effect of E.W.S. this time around too, is a stronger inclination towards saying less and doing more. Part of that came from a compulsive motivation to sort through mounds of paperwork ahead of tax season (oh joy!), egged on by the prose of Stephen Pressfield’s books, a call to action so compelling it would rouse even a sloth from its perch.

But this desire for silence, I have come to realize, was a product of our vacation as well. Stepping out of the Silicon Valley bubble to a place where people don’t check their phones every two minutes starts to have an effect on you after a while. It was strange, at dinner, to leave my iPhone out of sight (quelle horreur!!) and resist the urge to scratch that “itch” of pressing the home button every five minutes. It was a powerful lesson in being present, of lingering over a meal and taking one’s time. We’ve brought that practice home, and, five and a half weeks into 2012, I’m happy to say that the majority of our meals have been iPhone-free. And we plan to keep it that way.

All this is a rather roundabout way of reconnecting on the blog and an excuse for me to share some of the photos from the trip. Thanks to the iPhone’s excellent camera and apps like Instagram, the Nikon got a lot less attention than it deserved. I’m thinking twice now, about lugging it around on our trips, because, as I hope these photos show, these smartphone cameras do the job pretty well. In tandem with photo-sharing apps like Instagram, I’ve found that the iPhone has actually helped me become a better photographer (Penny sums it up perfectly in this post).

Bref, I won’t keep you from the photos any longer. Enjoy them and I’ll be back soon enough with a recipe. Promise!

  • Welcome home. I’m glad you had a relaxing trip away from everything. The photos are beautiful (and I agree the Nikon is heavy). I love the photo of the chef with the giant pan- amazing.ReplyCancel

  • Welcome back, my friend. I know, so painfully, what you mean about not wanting to come back. Being away from your everyday makes you realize just how much you check your email, Facebook, Twitter, your phone, etc…I’m trying to be more present myself, spending more time away from my computer (when I can) but it’s hard 🙁 I can’t believe that those photos were all taken with your iPhone camera. It’s truly phenomenal to see how far technology has come. It’s nice to see you back here again. xoReplyCancel

  • Thanks for sharing what I have experienced first hand since moving to Europe, Germany to be exact. I too use my IPhone less while at dinner and with my family. And you know what, IT’S OKAY, the world didn’t come to an end because I was having dinner. Life is more relaxed here, and I for one, love it! I won’t experience EWS until I venture back to America in June. Instagram I can’t live without…VeronicaReplyCancel

  • Such incredible photos. Even though I enjoyed those you posted in real time on Instagram, I’m delighted to have an opportunity to see them here again. Your series on doors really drives home that a talented photographer with an open mind and a careful eye can bring visual magic to everyday objects and scenes.

    Bien fait.ReplyCancel

  • Danielle

    @El: Thank you El. My right shoulder is still sore thinking about those days spent lugging it around while I snapped endlessly with the iPhone. Sigh.

    @Kasey: Thanks, it feels great to be back 🙂

    @Muy Bueno: I checked out your blog and…wow, from California to Germany? That must be a huge transition, climate-wise at least. I can live without Instagram for a day or two at most, ha!

    @Cheryl: Merci mon amie!ReplyCancel

  • Nickie Gorsky

    That first photo (the large one) is truly incredible! Are you telling me that it was taken with an iPhone? Where in Silicone Valley? Lovely blog…I check in often…ReplyCancel

  • Glad you had a great trip! Lovely photos! I can’t wait to visit Europe one day. Its been my dream to go to France for as long as I can remember.
    I love my iphone too. The camera is great for travel pics. What are your favorite photo apps?ReplyCancel

  • Danielle:
    I agree with you. It is hard to let go. But in time we miss so much while taking care of so little. I really enjoyed your last post. While listening to the music, I was right there with and your family bobbing my heard to the sound of it.ReplyCancel

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