Friday, August 27, 2010

Just Grab 'Em In The Biscuits!

I admit that I used to be a huge fan of KFC biscuits. Of course now the idea of eating one of those is quite revolting. Even if they were vegan, I'd hate to support that corporation.

One thing I've learned is that broke-ass-ness is the mother of invention. When you're between paychecks or even if you've been too busy to grocery shop, often times you can create really tasty stuff just with what you have on hand. This week I bring you biscuits. Easily made with ingredients you probably have in your pantry. I suggest you smother them with gravy and love.

Vegan "Buttermilk" Biscuits

  • 2 1/4 cups, unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup extra cold, unsweetened, plain soymilk + 3 tablespoons for brushing
  • 1/3 cup extra cold, vegetable shortening (Crisco or Earth Balance work well)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Mix apple cider vinegar with soymilk and set aside for 5 minutes to curdle. The vinegar creates a tangy "buttermilk flavor" and will help create awesome, fluffy texture in the biscuits.

In a large bowl mix together all your dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda and powder. With two forks, a pastry cutter or very quick hands, cut the shortening into the flour, leaving little pieces of fat distributed evenly throughout the flour mixture. The mixture will look crumbly. Now add the curdled soymilk and mix quickly to get a dough to form. Avoid overworking the dough. Once your dough has formed, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.

When your dough is thoroughly chilled, roll out dough to 1-2 inch thickness and cut out circles with a biscuit cutter. Place them 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush with leftover soymilk for a nice golden hue. You can gather up any leftover scraps of dough and form another biscuit or two from that. If you want something a little more rustic (if you're just lazy, like me) grab a nice portion of dough (about 2-3 inches across and 2 inches thick) and drop 'em on an un-greased baking sheet. I like to bake mine a little on the thick side so the interior reaches maximum fluff potential.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 375 degrees for 12-16 minutes depending on thickness and your oven's mood. Biscuits are done when lightly golden brown. Makes 6-8 biscuits.


Not that you would have tuna (assuming you are vegetarian) in your cupboard, but you can always recycle an old can into a biscuit cutter by removing both ends.

Try mixing in vegan cheese and herbs for extra flavor. Those beauties above were made with Daiya cheddar and fresh parsley from my garden. Cheddar and chives or green onions are great too.

Start working on your favorite preserves, gravy and sauce recipes. Biscuits were made for them.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Asian cuisine is probably the most challenging to me. There are so many styles and flavor profiles, my head spins. Sweet, salty, sour, oh! It's all so delicious. I'm fortunate to live near Koreatown, which gives me easy access to some awesome Asian markets. I love strolling down each aisle, drooling over the possibilities. Here's one of the easiest treats I've been able to concoct.

Vegan Gyoza

  • 1 package of gyoza or dumpling wrappers (check for veganocity, some like to sneak in eggs!)
  • 1 cup Bok Choy, Napa cabbage or kale, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Shiitake, King Oyster or Portobello mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup carrots, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onions, finely chopped
  • 1-2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated (microplanes are great for this)
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced garlic (3-4 cloves)
  • 2-4 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil, for frying
  • dash or more, red pepper flakes
  • fresh black pepper to taste
  • 2-6 tablespoon water, for steaming

Preparing the filling

Over medium-high heat, add the vegetable oil to a hot skillet or wok. Once oil is hot, drop in the carrots and garlic and cook for 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the celery and cook for another 2 minutes while stirring constantly. Next toss in the sesame oil, mushrooms, cabbage, ginger, pepper and chili flakes and coat well with oil. Cook this mixture for another 2 minutes, then add in the green onions. Stir in two tablespoons of soy sauce or tamari and taste for saltiness. Add a few more dashes if necessary and allow to evaporate. Again taste while you go and check for balance. If it needs more ginger or soy sauce, adjust to your liking. Once all the veggies are nicely sauteed and soft, transfer to a bowl and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes.

Assembling the dumplings

Take a teaspoon or slightly more depending on the size of your gyoza skins and place the veggie filling in the center of your dumpling. Avoid over-stuffing the wrappers. Moisten the edges with a little water and fold over the wrapper to form a half moon. Pinch or press down the edges and make sure they are well sealed. To make a fancy crimped edge, gather a part of the edge and folding it over on to itself by making a little "S". Repeat this folding pattern 3-4 times on each dumpling. If you need more visual aid check out this guy's video: Warning! These dumplings are not vegan. Skip to 2:00

Cooking the dumplings

In a hot pan over medium-high heat add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Drop in your dumplings and spread them out evenly across the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes until lightly browned, then flip over and brown the other side. When both sides are lightly browned, add in 2-3 tablespoons of water and cover with a lid. Turn the heat down to just medium and allow the water to completely evaporate. Once the water evaporates, check for doneness. Gyoza are done when they are entirely translucent. If there are still some opaque parts, add another tablespoon of water, cover and cook for an additional few minutes. Don't leave them unattended. You are almost done! Flip them over if they are getting too brown on one side and turn down the heat just a touch. Depending on your make of wrappers you may have to repeat the steaming process 2-3 times. Your patience will be rewarded.

Serve these with sesame-chili soy sauce. Just add 3 parts soy sauce, 2 parts rice wine vinegar, 1 part sesame oil and a few dashes of red chili flake.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

More pizza

This was easily one of the best pizzas I've ever made. Portobello and white button mushrooms, kale, Teese vegan mozzarella with a creamy roasted garlic and thyme sauce. Ridiculous. One of the great things about this pizza is the bonus of built-in kale chips. Some of the kale bakes into a thin crisp for textural excitement. I give this pizza 5 stars.

"I declare this pizza to be... awesome!"