Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

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OMG! Let me say that these are one of the best things I make. Hands down. They are literally perfect and I can’t stop eating them which is why I make small batches!

I started making biscuits because during my Rouxbe.com Vegan Desserts course I had to make biscuits but I didn’t like that recipe. So I googled around and found an oldie but goodie from Cook’s Country that I veganized with a lot of success. The flavor is perfectly biscuity and delicious. The texture is perfectly flaky and crumbly.

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Funny, I recently got the new America’s Test Kitchen Vegan for Everybody cookbook (same people as Cook’s Country) which veganized the same recipe I veganized (ha, anyone can veganize anything!) I am not crazy about that one because they use coconut milk and lemon juice to make the buttermilk. I am not a fan of using coconut milk in baking. I much prefer homemade plant milk, in this case cashew milk. And I like to use apple cider vinegar to curdle the milk. Lemon juice works just fine too.

Makes 6 biscuits

1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegan buttermilk (1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar + 1/2 cup plant milk (I prefer homemade cashew milk))
6 tablespoons sunflower oil

Preheat the oven to 475. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Double it up on top of another baking sheet to be sure the bottoms don’t burn.

Make the buttermilk by adding the vinegar into the plant milk. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt together.

Whisk the oil into the buttermilk. Pour into the flour mixture and mix well until a nice ball of dough forms.

Using a 1/4 cup (4 tablespoon) ice cream scooper and drop scoops of batter about one inch apart on the baking sheet.

Bake until the tops are starting to turn golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes.

We usually can’t wait to eat these but it is a good idea to wait a few minutes for them to cool. Enjoy with homemade butter and jam!

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Book Report: The China Study Family Cookbook + Interview with Del Stroufe + Bonus Recipe!

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I am a huge fan of all things The China Study and this book is no different. It’s a plant-based family cookbook written by Del Stroufe, an accomplished, chef and recipe creator.

This book is a little different than most of the books I talk about on this blog because this is not “vegan” per se, even though it is. Rather, it is “whole foods, plant-based” which is essentially the same thing but different. Here’s why.

Veganism is an ethical stance based on abstaining from eating animals and using animal based products whereas a whole foods, plant-based (WFPB) diet is based purely on health reasons. There is evidence, ahem, see The China Study, that shows that eating a WFPB diet can reduce and/or eliminate many diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.

What does this mean? It isn’t just semantics, it’s ingredients. The recipes in this book are different than perhaps you are used to because they are free from oil and sugar and use little to no salt. You may be thinking, oh no, but will the food taste good? It will!

The recipes are super simple, call for not a lot of ingredients, and use interesting substitutions like tofu in salad dressing, potatoes in cheese sauce, and beans in brownies and “nutella” style spread. Everything is incredibly healthy and nourishing and you will soon realize you don’t need as much oil, sugar and salt as you may think you do.

Ever since I did my month-long oil-free experiment back in September of 2013, I have significantly reduced my oil intake. I am about 80% oil free now, maybe even 90%. I water sauté vegetables and make most of my salad dressings with cashews or tahini. If I am using oil, it is usually to pan fry tofu or tempeh for a quick dinner or to butter my homemade bread. But the butter is homemade too so at least I am controlling the ingredients. As for sugar, I don’t use cane sugar unless I am making cake or cupcakes and that is just for parties, so I take a pass there. If I am making cookies or other baked goods, I try to used coconut or beet sugar. And salt? Well, a few pinches make everything taste better! So I guess you could say, I am a whole foods, plant-based vegan (WFPBV!)

Anyway, let’s get to the recipes. There are over 100 including plenty of family classics that will be familiar to you like Mac & Cheese, Sloppy Joes, Creamed Corn Casserole and Biscuits and Gravy.

My favorite is a chorizo made with millet. Millet! I never ate chorizo in my pre-vegan days but all of a sudden these plant-based versions are really talking to me! And the really exciting news is that I got permission to reprint the recipe below. Others among my favorites are the the MLT, a portobello mushroom bacon BLT, the Portobello Reuben, the Thai-style Peanut Noodles, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Tofu Yung, and the plant-based Cobb salad with easy stovetop mushroom bacon.

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Chorizo Hash

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MLT

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Cobb Salad

The only thing I am not crazy about in this book are the salad dressings made out of tofu. I am not a fan of using tofu in that way; I prefer to use nuts or tahini to make my oil-free salad dressings.

In addition to the recipes, there are “At Home with the Plant-Based Family” callouts, super inspiring stories and interviews with people who advocate a plant-based diet, who have transitioned to a plant-based diet along with tips for transitioning to a WFPB way of life and for getting kids involved in cooking.

Speaking of interviews, I had the opportunity to interview Del. I love the way he thinks about food. And remember to check out the Chorizo recipe below and follow me on Instagram (@lisasprojectvegan) to see what else I am making from this book!

LPV: Del! Thank you for talking to me. I have a few of your cookbooks and what I love about them is how easy the recipes are. And this book too! Especially for kids. You make cooking easy. Can you talk a little bit about your philosophy?

DS: My philosophy of cooking has evolved to become about whole foods that are tasty and simple to prepare with ingredients that are easily accessible for most consumers. Let’s face it, most people don’t cook as much as our parents used to, and eating out is not healthy. I also believe that if you are going to get people to make changes in their diet, you should make the food familiar to them, and we do that in this cookbook with recipes like Grilled Cheese or Mac and Cheese—familiar foods made with healthy ingredients—that also taste familiar, and good.

LPV: One way I know I am going to like a book is if there are recipes that I have already made myself. And there are some in here. But, the millet chorizo, brilliant. The MLT, also brilliant! How do you constantly come up with new ideas?

DS: I feel as if I am just getting started with creating new recipes. Everywhere I look I see ideas; my goal is to make them healthy.

LPV: I notice a lot of recipes call for silken tofu. I am not a fan of tofu being used that way. What is your recommendation for the dressings or other recipes? Any possible subs?

DS: One of my favorite substitutes for silken tofu is pureed cauliflower. It is versatile like tofu and takes on the flavor of whatever you do with it. I use it to make everything from mayonnaise to cream sauces.

LPV: I love the interviews with different plant based folks. They all give such great advice. What is your favorite piece of advice?

DS: If you are just starting out on this new way of eating, take it one recipe at a time. Don’t feel like you have to have a whole cookbook’s worth of ideas. Most people cook the same 8 to 10 recipes over and over again.

LPV: What is your favorite recipe in the book?

The cheese sauce. I like how it can be used in a variety of dishes to make different things—mac and cheese, grilled cheese, pizza, etc. If I can pick a second favorite, it is the Mediterranean Meatballs. They too can be used in a variety of dishes

LPV: And lastly, what is your favorite recipe ever?

DS: I make an oven fried tofu that is crispy and garlicky without oil. It makes me very happy.

LPV: Maybe one day you will share that one with me!

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Official Chorizo Hash photo from the book!

Chorizo Hash

I never liked sweet potatoes growing up unless they were in a casserole covered with marshmallows. And I had never had chorizo until a friend invited me over for brunch one Sunday and served a version of this dish. It was a favorite of her children, who eagerly gobbled it down and asked for more. I asked for more, too. This dish is a good one to let the family help with chopping and measuring, preferably on a lazy weekend morning.

Serves 6 to 8

1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 (10-ounce) bag frozen corn (about 11/2 cups)
1 recipe Chorizo (recipe below), coarsely crumbled
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime

Sea salt and black pepper

Sauté the onion and red bell pepper in a large saucepan over medium heat until the onion is translucent and starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Add water 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time to keep the vegetables from sticking to the pan.

Add the garlic, chile powder, cinnamon, cumin, and allspice and cook for another minute.

Add the sweet potato and corn and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the crumbled chorizo, lime zest, and lime juice to the pan, season with sea salt and black pepper to taste, and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Chorizo

Makes 14 to 16 patties

2 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups millet
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch ground allspice

Sea salt, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350°F (or 425°F if you plan to serve these as patties).

Combine the water and millet in a 2-quart saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and cook the millet until tender, about 20 minutes. Add all the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Using a 1/4-cup measure or small ice cream scoop, shape the millet mixture into patties and place them on a nonstick baking sheet or a regular baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (If you will not be using all the patties right away, stack them between sheets of waxed paper and pack them into a ziptop bag. Freeze for up to 1 month.)

If you will be using the chorizo to make hash or tacos, bake the patties at 350°F until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Turn the patties over and continue to bake for another 10 minutes. If you will be serving these as patties, bake for 10 minutes at 425°F, turn them over, and then bake another 10 minutes.

NOTE FOR THE COOK

For the millet to work as a binder in this dish (to hold everything together in a patty), you almost need to overcook it. If it seems crumbly when you first make it, add 2 to 3 tablespoons more water to the pan, cover tightly, and let it cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. The millet should hold together when pinched between your fingers or pressed against the side of the pan.

Cauliflower Cutlet Parmesan & Spaghetti

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I got the idea for this meal from the cookbook “But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan.” I wasn’t crazy about the method in the book so I decided to take the concept – cauli parm – and make it my own. It’s easy, fast, fun and really, really good!

Note: you are going to cut cauliflower cutlets out of a head of cauliflower. Usually I can only get two, maybe three, if you are lucky. And even if what you cut out is not huge, you can can still use the cauliflower pieces in the same way.  Start by taking the leaves off the head of cauliflower, and if there is a long stem, cut it down so you can rest the cauliflower evenly on the cutting board.  Slice it right down the center. Then slice a 1/4″ thick piece from the long side of each half.

Makes 2 servings

2 cauliflower cutlets
1 chickpea flour egg (1 tablespoon chickpea flour + 3 tablespoons water)
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons of oil
1/2 lb. spaghetti (or enough for everyone you are serving)
1 cup tomato sauce
A drizzle of cashew cream (recipe follows)
A sprikle of nutty parm

Get the pasta going. Heat up the sauce.

Set up a breading station. In one dish, whisk together the chickpea flour and water to make the chickpea flour egg. Add the breadcrumbs to another tray.

Dredge the cauliflower in the chickpea flour egg and then into the breadcrumbs. Handle the cauliflower gently so the breadcrumbs stick.

Heat the in a big nonstick skillet. When it is hot, add the cauliflower cutlets. Cook the cauliflower on the first side for a good 5 minutes before gently turning. Cook the other side. The cauliflower should be al dente.

To serve, toss the spaghetti with sauce. Top with a cauliflower cutlet. Drizzle with cashew cream and a sprinkle of nutty parm. Enjoy!

Cashew Cream
1 cup cashews (soaked if you don’t have a Vitamix)
1/2 to 3/4 cup filtered water
Salt, a pinch

Place the cashews in the Vitamix or blender with 1/2 cup water.  Let it rip until creamy. If too thick, add a bit more water. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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Taco Tuesday: The Raw Edition

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It’s summer time and what better way to celebrate Taco Tuesday than with a cool, easy-to-make, raw taco. It’s walnut meat, which I have posted about before, but I never thought to wrap it in lettuce until I did the raw challenge a while back. I love it for lunch or dinner or any day of the week!

Walnut Meat (makes enough for 4 tacos)
1 cup walnuts
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (nooch)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon tamari
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Place all ingredients into the food processor. Pulse until the mixture comes together. Set aside.

Cashew Sour Cream
1 cup cashews *
1 cup water
The juice of 1/2 lemon
Pinch salt

*Soak if you don’t have a Vitamix. Drain water and use new water.

Place all ingredients into the blender and let it go until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust lemon if you want it more tart and salt.

4 big pieces of Boston lettuce
Guacamole
Thinly sliced scallions
Diced tomatoes
Shredded purple cabbage

Drop the walnut meat into the lettuce wrap and top it with everything. Enjoy!

My Big Fat Greek Salad

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When I was growing up, and well into my 20’s, my family frequented two local Greek restaurants. I have a love of all things Greek from those days, including one of the very first things I ever veganized, spinach pie. I think it is the dill and the freshness of it all. I have veganized other favorites too including tzatziki sauce and spinach and rice.

Anyway, to this salad. I love every single ingredient – the radishes, scallions, cucumbers, dill and tofu croutons. And now that I am growing radishes in my garden, I think this will be making a very regular appearance on our table this summer!

This makes enough for 2 or 3 people depending on how hungry everyone is. You can always double the dressing and save whatever you don’t use for another time.

Dressing
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
A few shakes of oregano
A shake of garlic powder
A shake of onion powder
A shake of mustard powder
A pinch of salt
A pinch of coconut sugar

Add all of the ingredients to a little jar. Seal and shake it up.

Salad
1 head of romaine
3 scallions
Big bunch of dill
4 radishes
2 Kirby cucumbers

I like a chopped style salad but cut everything up any way you like to!

Tofu Croutons
1/4 block of tofu
A shake of oregano
A shake of garlic powder
A tiny bit of oil

Press the tofu for as long as you have time for. Dice it up into little squares. Heat a little bit of oil in a pan and add the tofu. Shake the pan to coat the tofu with the oil. Add the oregano and garlic powder and stir around to coat the tofu. Cook until the tofu is starting to get just done, a little crispy and brown.

Toss everything together. Enjoy!

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Roasted Broccoli Steaks over Vegetable Quinoa Pilaf with Toasted Pine Nuts

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Move over cauliflower steaks. Here come broccoli steaks! We eat broccoli almost every day in my house so I am always trying to come up with new ways to eat it. Roasted, yes please. The stems? Yes, they are my favorite part. So, how about cutting the broccoli the long way and utilizing a big portion of the stem for a fantastic roasted steak.

Now, this is not a perfect science, and you might need three heads of broccoli to get six good steaks but any florets that fall off or pieces that are not steak-y enough, save for straight up steaming, mashing with potatoes or cauliflower, or roasting pieces. Also, save the rest of the stems for sautéed broccoli stems, one of my all time faves.

Broccoli Steaks
3 heads of broccoli
Sunflower oil, for brushing
Salt, a pinch

Cut the broccoli stem off at the point where it is just getting tender. Toss the really woody part and use a vegetable peeler to peel the stems. Slice the broccoli into steaks. Try to get two out of each head and keep them together as best as you can.

Brush with oil and sprinkle with a little salt. Place on a lined baking sheet and roast in a 400 degree oven until browning, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Quinoa Pilaf
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 small leek
1 red pepper
1 carrot
1/4 cup pine nuts
The juice of 1/2 a lemon
Salt, a pinch

Toast the pine nuts in a skillet until just fragrant.

Thinly slice the leeks and dice the peppers and carrots. Sauté until just softening.

Toss with the quinoa, pine nuts, lemon juice, and salt to taste.

Serve the broccoli steaks over the pilaf. Enjoy!

Black Bean Burgers v2 with Special Chipotle Sauce

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I freakin’ love these burgers! I am not kidding. I have made some great burger recipes over the years. My top three are my beet burger, my lentil burger and my quinoa burger. But now I am adding a fourth. This is my new black bean burger. I updated my original recipe – it’s simplified, streamlined, less fussy, and oh, so much better. The texture is out of this world. How, you ask? Just a simple mash of the beans!

Now, I have to say that these burgers stand out on their own, but what takes them to the next level is the chipotle mayo. Ever since I cracked open a can of chipotles in adobo for the Sopa Seca recipe in the Smith & Daughter’s cookbook, I need to figure out things to put it on. The smoky, tangy, almost sweet flavor combined with my homemade cashew cream makes this a super special sauce. And if you totally dig smokiness, you can even add a little smoky chipotle powder to the burgers.

Makes 3 to 4 burgers

Black Bean Burgers 
1 cup cooked black beans
2 scallions
1 clove of garlic
1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flax + 3 tablespoons of water)
1/4 cup toasted pecans
1/4 cup oats
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Handful fresh cilantro
Salt, a pinch

Make the flax egg and set aside. Chop the cilantro and set aside.

Add the pecans and oats to the food processor. Rough chop the scallions and add them to the food processor. Add the garlic. Process until just crumbly.

Turn the mixture out into a mixing bowl and add the flax egg, beans, spices, cilantro and salt. Use a potato masher and mash until the beans are squished the the mixed holds together.

Form into burgers. Bake in a 350 oven on a parchment lined baking sheet for 30 minutes, flipping them halfway through.

Serve on toasted buns or English muffins with your favorite toppings and a healthy serving of chipotle mayo!

Chipotle Mayo
1/2 cup cashew cream (1/4 cup cashews + 1/2 cup filtered water)
1 chipotle in adobo
1 tablespoon adobo sauce
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Drizzle of agave, or more taste

Whisk together. Use at will. Save any extra. Enjoy!

Vegan Egg Rolls v2 (Baked, Not Fried!)

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I love making egg rolls, okay really they are technically spring rolls, but I am no longer into deep frying anything! So, I am coming up with baked versions of all of my favorites, like these baked little numbers with Twin Dragon VEGAN egg roll wrappers! You can add anything you want. Today, I switched up snow peas for scallions. And of course, no egg roll is complete without homemade duck sauce.

Egg Rolls, makes 6 to 8
1/2 head of cabbage, shredded
2 carrots, shredded
3 scallions
2 tablespoons tamari
1/2 tablespoon arrowroot (or cornstarch)
6 to 8 vegan wonton wrappers
Water, as needed
Oil, as needed

Shred the cabbage and carrots and water sauté until they start to soften up. Thinly slice the scallions and add the pan.

Whisk together the tamari and arrowroot powder. Add to the vegetables and mix well. Take off the heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375.

Set the wonton wrapper down in front of you so it is in a diamond shape. Brush water around the edges and place about a tablespoon (maybe more, eyeball it) of the mixture in the bottom corner. Roll it once and then tuck in each side. Keep rolling until done.

Brush both sides with oil and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until nice and brown. Enjoy!

Taco Tuesday: Mushrooms & Spinach with Chipotle Crema

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These tacos are all about the chipotle crema – silky smooth cashew cream mixed with smoky, tangy, sweet chipotles in adobo. I just recently discovered this culinary delight when cooking from the Smith & Daughter’s cookbook and now I am trying to find any excuse to use them.

Truth is, it doesn’t really matter what is under that sauce but this combo happens to work beautifully and I always have the elements on hand. When I make these, I don’t even bother seasoning the vegetables because, again, it is all about the sauce. But feel free to riff on this and make it your own!

Chipotle Crema
1/2 cup cashew cream
2 tablespoons chipotles in adobo

Ok, so if you read this blog regularly you know that I have a Vitamix and I think you should have one too. I use it every day, sometimes two and three times. If you don’t have one, soak your cashews.

To make cashew cream, add a 1/2 cup cashews to the Vitamix and just cover with water. Process until creamy and smooth. Add a bit more water if necessary. It tends to thicken up over time.

For the chipotles, it is a good idea to drop the whole can into the food processor and process until they are combined with the sauce. That way you can store it in a jar in the refrigerator and use it whenever.

To make the chipotle crema, whisk together the cashew cream and chipotles. Store in a jar in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Makes 4 tacos

8 corn tortillas (I like to double them up)
1/2 small onion
8 white or cremini mushrooms
1 bunch spinach
1/2 cup corn (frozen or canned or straight off the cob if corn is in season!)

Slice and sauté the onion. Slice the mushrooms. Add to a skillet and cook together until the onions are soft and the mushrooms are fragrant. The natural water from the mushrooms will help cook the onions.

Add the spinach and cover to let it wilt. Add the corn and heat through.

Char the tortillas. Double them up and stuff them with the vegetables. Douse them with chipotle crema. Enjoy!

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Roasted Beets & Orange Supremes with Toasted Pecans, Fresh Dill & Kite Hill Ricotta

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There are almost no words to describe how much I love this plate of food. Beets are one of my all time favorite foods and they are super healthy too. My mother used to buy them canned (omg!) but I loved them so much I ate them straight out of that can! Now I buy fresh beets every week, with their greens on, and roast them saving the greens for smoothies and scrambles. I didn’t know beets had green tops until I was well into adulthood!

With this salad, I combine the earthiness of the beets with the sweetness of the orange, the dillyness of the dill and the toastiness of the toasted pecans. And of course, Kite Hill ricotta cheese (but it’s optional because it is kind of hard to find.)

You can use purple beets only or you can use any color you find like white ones or golden ones. And my friend recently taught me how to supreme an orange (go online, tons of videos) and now I am obsessed.

The dressing makes about 1/4 cup. I am going to tell you what is in the salad. Make as much or as little as you want!

Dressing
3 tablespoons olive oil
The juice of half a lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon champagne or white balsamic vinegar
Salt, a pinch

Salad
Roasted beets
Navel oranges
Toasted pecans (toasted walnuts work too!)
Kite Hill Ricotta
Fresh dill

Roast the beets. Supreme the orange. Toast the pecans. Break up the ricotta. Chop the dill.

Arrange on a serving plate. Drizzle with dressing. Enjoy!