Friday, November 28, 2008

Heavenly Biscuits

I had such a great Thanksgiving feast with my friends. A friend of mine brought over stuffed squash filled with wild rice, nuts and even pomegranate seeds. These were an interesting addition to the dish which gave you bursts of flavor in every bite. Great idea! I made my gluten roast with stuffing and these biscuits which helped cheer me up after having a sad morning. Just watching the biscuits puff up nicely and tasting the flaky layers made me remember good things do happen. I joked to a friend that these biscuits took a trip to heaven while in the oven. Hope you like them as much as I did!

"Buttermilk" Biscuits

4 cups Unbleached White Flour
1 Tb. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. salt
1 Tb. sugar
1 cup Soy Margarine
2 cups Soymilk + 1 Tb. Lemon Juice

Combine the soymilk and lemon juice and let stand a few minutes. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Using a pastry cutter, cut the soy margarine into the flour mixture until pea sizes or smaller. Pour the soymilk mixture and blend until combined. Place dough on a floured work surface and knead a couple times. Spread the dough out to about 3/4 inch thickness and cut with a biscuit cutter. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake at 375°F for 15-18 minutes. Makes about 20 biscuits.

*This tastes great with Cranberry "Butter". Simply mix up equal proportions soy margarine and cranberry sauce. So if you use 1/2 cup Soy Margarine, you will use 1/2 cup Cranberry Sauce. Simply put this in a food processor (or blender) and blend until smooth.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Give Turkeys A Chance

This time of year can be difficult. Even though people eat just as many animals every other day of the year, hearing "turkey day" coming out from everyone's mouth drives me crazy. Thanksgiving has become more about eating turkey than anything else. Although I find myself lucky that my family is open-minded to vegan food during the holidays, I think it is insane that other families would not be. How much intolerance towards a vegan is due to the inconvenience of "different" food versus the inconvenience of being reminded that you're eating the flesh of another.

In the news, Sarah Palin has again made headlines due to her stupidity. During a news conference while she was giving a turkey a "pardon", other turkeys were being slaughtered in the background. Although people understood the irony of such an act, maybe this mistake was a good thing. It exposes the ridiculous notion of forgiving a turkey of having tasty flesh, yet millions of others are brutally slaughtered. Read Farm Sanctuary’s statement about this.

The whole notion of giving a turkey a pardon is completely absurd. How did this become a presidential tradition in this country? Isn’t a pardon something you give to someone when you forgive them of some wrongdoing? What has a turkey ever done to anyone? What happens to these turkeys after Thanksgiving? Today, these animals are sent to Disney World to live out there life as a spectacle. Their life is short lived however, since these animals are bred just like any other turkey meant for slaughter, so their heart and other organs cannot support the size their body has grown to.
During the 2003 turkey pardoning ceremony, President George W. Bush states, "I appreciate you joining me to give this turkey a presidential pardon. Stars is a very special bird with a very special name. This year, for the first time, thousands of people voted on the White House website to name the national turkey, and the alternate turkey. Stars and Stripes beat out Pumpkin and Cranberry. And it was a neck-to-neck race." Was this meant to be a pun on their previous fate?

This is why you should make my tasty vegan Thanksgiving recipes or buy a tofurky or anything else you can do to spare another life from being taken for this ritualistic murdering holiday. That is my rant. It is important to not only give alternatives to eating animals in this world, but explain why as well. A wonderful NEW tradition you can do for a turkey every year is to Adopt-A-Turkey!

Friday, November 21, 2008

So Thankful for Stuffing

I am truly thankful that I have a family who is open-minded. Although I grew up eating meat, I also was taught to care for animals. My compassion towards lost and injured animals was honored by my parents who helped me, help animals. When I went vegan, and my little sister followed quickly behind, my parents were receptive to the possibility of having no meat on the table at Thanksgiving to respect our beliefs. My family had the extra bonus that I made the entire meal. It was a wonderful win-win situation since I love to cook and I knew everything on the table was something I could eat. My parents and sister got to enjoy tasty food and relax for the day. This has been my family tradition for many years now. Although I take a year off now and then to spend time with friends instead of family, this new tradition is always open to me.

Traditional Stuffing

3 1/2 cups Bread Crumbs
1 cup Vegetable Broth
1/4 cup Margarine (Non-hydrogenized)
6 celery stalks, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 tsp Sage, rubbed
1 tsp Marjoram
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper

Melt the margarine over medium high heat in a skillet and add the onion and celery. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. In a medium sized pan, heat the vegetable broth until boiling. In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs, herbs, salt and cooked celery and onion. Stir all of this to combine thoroughly. Slowly add the vegetable broth, stirring occasionally to cover all the bread crumbs. Use as directed in the Thanksgiving Gluten Roast or place stuffing in a greased 9-inch square pan bake at 375°F for about 30 minutes.
*To make your own bread crumbs, cut a loaf of bread in cubes. Place on a large cookie sheet and bake at 300°F for about 20-30 minutes, using a spatula about every 5 minutes to move around the bread so it will dry out evenly.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Thanksgiving Recipes

Jess and I taught the Cooking for the Holidays cooking class as a part of Try Vegan PDX. It was tons of fun! We had 16 people taking the hands-on class and they were all super nice. I have taught a few cooking classes before, but this was a first for Jess who did awesome! She'll have to be convinced to do more of them.

My portion of the cooking class was the Thanksgiving Gluten Roast and the Flaky Pie Crust. I developed the gluten roast recipe many years ago to share with my family on Thanksgiving. Most people would guess I would not be a fan of Thanksgiving since it is otherwise known as "turkey day" and did not had very ethical roots. I say lets take back the day to celebrate our families and communities. I love creating tasty recipes for all to enjoy and trying my best to support others in sparing a turkey.
Thanksgiving Gluten Roast

Gluten mixture-
4 cups Vital Wheat Gluten Flour
1 Tb. Nutritional Yeast
1 Tb. Marjoram
1 Tb. Onion Powder
1 Tb. Sage
2 tsp. Salt
3 cups Warm Water
¼ cup Tamari
½ cup Oil
Onion mixture-
1 cup Onion, chopped
¼ cup Oil
½ cup Nutritional Yeast
1 Tb. Paprika
1 cup Tahini
1 Tb. Salt

Basting Liquid-
¼ cup Sesame Oil
2 Tb. Tamari
Mix together all the wet ingredients for the gluten mixture in one bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, stirring quickly. This will form a sponge-like dough. Knead the dough a few seconds so the dough will tighten up a bit.

For the onion mixture, fry the onion in the oil until soft and starting to brown. In a small bowl, combine the cooking onion and the rest of the ingredients together. In a food processor, blend together the gluten and onion mixture, ¼ the amount at a time. Process the mixtures for about 10 seconds. A blender can work as well but you will want to blend in smaller batches. Set the processed dough in a bowl and slightly blend all the mixtures together. Oil a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Place about 4 cups of stuffing in the middle of the pan and form into a neat mound. Form the gluten mixture over the stuffing and slightly fold in the edges.

Blend the oil and tamari of the basting liquid together and brush the outside of the roast with this basting liquid. Use about half the basting liquid and reserve the rest for later. Bake the loaf at 375ºF for 1 hour. Half way through, remove the roast from the oven and brush with the remaining basting liquid.

*Optional: Surround the roast with cut potatoes, carrots and other vegetables and pour basting liquid over them as well. Tastes great!

Later this week I will post a recipe for stuffing which works perfect for this gluten roast recipe.
Jess found a great Pecan pie recipe for us to use for the class which is the filling in the pie. This was not too sweet and had a great texture.

Flaky Pie Crust

1 ½ cups Unbleached White Flour
½ cup Soy Margarine (Cold)
½ tsp Sea Salt
4-6 Tb Ice Water

Place flour and salt in medium-size bowl. Break up margarine and cut into flour with a pastry cutter until there are pea-sized pieces of dough. Slowly add ice water and blend with fork. Do not overwork; blend until just mixed and dough holds together. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough to be slightly larger than your pie pan. Place in pie pan and form dough as desired.
Dough can be used right away or cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. Place pie contents on top of crust and bake according to pie instructions. Makes one 9-inch pie crust.
Thanks to Jess for teaching the class with me and for everyone who attended the class!

Thanks to Chris Emery for taking the photos!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Making You Own Pizza Crust

Everybody loves pizza, right?  Making pizza from a freshly made dough is cheap, easy and fun!  I think people can be intimidated by pizza dough since it is a yeast risen dough which needs rising time and kneading.  Hopefully these directions will help you successfully make you own pizza.

Basic Pizza Dough

1/2 cup Warm Water
1 tsp Agave Nectar
1 tsp Active Dry Yeast
1 Tb Olive Oil
1 1/4 cup Unbleached White Flour
1 Tb Vital Wheat Gluten Flour
1/2 tsp Salt

Dissolve the agave nectar in the warm water.  The water should be a little warmer than room temperature but should be comfortable on your skin.  Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water and let stand for 5 minutes.

Add the olive oil to the liquid ingredients.  You can then add the flour, gluten and salt.  Mix this all into the liquid ingredients and blend until combined.  Pour the contents on a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes.

In the kneading process you will want to create a pattern of folding the dough and pressing it out again.  You will need to add more flour as you go, but it is best just to add a little at a time.
Once I have pressed the dough out and start folding it again, I often rotate the dough to make sure the entirety of the dough is being kneaded properly.  Kneading the dough allows for the gluten in the dough to develop.  Kneading too little can cause the dough to not rise as much.  Kneading too much can cause dense results.  
You can tell when the dough is finished kneading since it will have a smooth, elastic feel and will spring back when pressed out.  

When I am done kneading the dough I cover my hands with a little oil and then use my hands to cover the dough with oil.  Put this dough in a bowl, cover with a cloth or plastic wrap and let rise for about 20 minutes.  The dough will get about double in size.  

This is a good time to preheat the oven and prepare all the great topping for your pizza.  My favorite vegan cheese on the market is the brand Follow Your Heart.  Sometimes I will use a tofu spread, cashew sauce or pesto instead.  

When the dough has finished rising, simply spread the dough out on an oiled pizza pan, put on the toppings and bake it at 425ºF for 15-20 minutes.  Enjoy!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Cooking Vegan for the Holidays Cooking Class

Try Vegan PDX is hosting a cooking class called Cooking Vegan for the Holidays!  I am teaching the class along with Jess of Get Sconed!  I am super excited about the class since I will be showing how to make a Thanksgiving Gluten Roast and making a pie shell.  Jess will be teaching us to make her Sweet Potato Pie Casserole and the insides for Pecan Pie.  Yum!  We plan to share other traditional foods gone vegan at the end of the class for all to enjoy as well.

The class is Sunday, November 16th and starts at 3pm.  It will take place at Cleveland High School in their home-ec classroom so the class is hands-on!  Cost if $10 in advance and $15 at the door.  If interested, and you know you are, register here.

For those who do not live in the Portland area, I will be sharing the recipe for the Thanksgiving Gluten Roast before Thanksgiving so you will want to watch for that.