Friday, October 17, 2008

Vegan biscuits and gravy

I am so freaking proud of this one.

I got home from work on Monday thinking I would make the scrambled tofu in Vegan with a Vengeance, but I didn’t have the necessary vegetables. I browsed through the adjacent pages instead, and was hit with a bolt of inspiration when I realized I had tempeh in my fridge. Three recipes, a truckload of dirty dishes, and an hour later, I emerged from my kitchen flour-dusted, sweaty, and triumphant.

As it turns out, making vegan biscuits and gravy is quite an endeavor. But despite the fact that I wrecked my kitchen, and even though some things came out imperfect, this is SO worth making. My modifications were minor, but as always, I’ll show you how I made it. First up: from-scratch vegan baking powder biscuits.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3T shortening
2T Earth Balance
2/3 cup plain soymilk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet and set aside. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Cut the shortening and Earth Balance into the flour with a pastry blender (or two knives, or your fingers).

Add the soymilk to form a soft dough, and scatter some flour on your countertop. Mix well and pat out until it’s roughly 1/2 inch thick. Flour the rim of a glass (or use a biscuit or round cookie cutter) and cut out 2-inch rounds. Keep smooshing the dough back together to get as many biscuits as you can out of it.

Place the biscuits on your cookie sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes.

But hold it right there! Be very, very careful here. Remember how, in my last entry, I told you that I always forget that my oven runs hot? Well, in this case, it ran SUPER hot. I ended up kicking myself for not checking on them at the 10 minute mark. I had them in there for 12 minutes, and they burned :( There’s no getting around it, I have to use a sad face to express how I felt when I pulled them out.

But you know what, not everything always goes according to plan in cooking. Imperfection comes with the territory. So I figured, hey, they’re a little too brown on the outside, but so what? Inside they were still soft, and I’ve never minded my bready foods a little overdone. No use crying over spilled (soy)milk. They were tasty, and that’s all that matters.

Meanwhile, I was making tempeh sausage crumbles.

8-oz. pkg tempeh
1T fennel seeds
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dried sage
2 cloves garlic, minced
2T soy sauce
1 tsp olive oil
Splash of lemon juice

In a small saucepan, crumble the tempeh and add enough water to just barely cover it. Over medium-high heat, simmer the tempeh until most of the water is absorbed, about 12-15 minutes. Drain the remaining water, if there is any, and add the rest of the ingredients. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

This recipe is incredible. The sausage flavor is duplicated impeccably, and goes amazingly well with the chewy tempeh. The smell will blow you away. It is just too good—and versatile, too. There are so many possibilities for usage: in pasta sauce, on pizza, in casseroles…my head swims. It made quite a bit, so I actually set aside about 1/3 cup to add to my spaghetti the following day.

While that simmered on the stove, and as my biscuits baked, I was ALSO making gravy.

1 can cannellini/navy beans, drained and rinsed
1T olive oil
1/4-1/3 cup water (or vegetable broth)
1/2 tsp salt
A few dashes of black pepper
A dash of dried sage

Puree the beans with the olive oil and water in a blender (or a food processor, which I probably should have used instead) until relatively smooth. I found that I had to add more water to get it liquefied, about 1/3 of a cup total in the end.

Not very appetizing at this point, I gotta tell ya. But it will be: pour the gravy into the saucepan with the tempeh crumbles, and add the salt, pepper, and sage. Heat through on medium-low for a few minutes. At this point I had to add a little extra water again to thin it out. But oh, baby...

Overbrowned biscuits couldn’t ruin this; no way. I gratefully sat down to comfort food at its finest, with that added ray of satisfaction that can only come from toiling in one’s own kitchen.

Healthy, homemade, and vegan—if you ask me, it’s the best triptych in the culinary world.

PS—I'm running my first marathon tomorrow- wish me luck!

Yield: 10 biscuits. Per biscuit: 150 calories, 6.6g fat (2.3g sat), 19g carbs, 2g fiber, 3g protein.
Yield: 4 servings gravy. Per serving: 240 calories, 9.5g fat (1.7g sat), 23.5g carbs, 7.6g fiber, 18g protein.

If you like this, you might also like...
Tempeh bolognese

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1 comment:

  1. Here's another way, if you're up for experimenting w/ another. I made it twice this week and just thinking about them makes my mouth water:
    2 c flour (I usually use half whole wheat and half unbleached all purpose)
    1 T baking powder
    1 t salt
    1/3 c oil (I use safflower)
    2/3 c milk (I use almond)
    1/2 t cream of tarter
    1-2 T unprocessed sugar

    Mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients in separate bowls. Slowly add in flour mixture until moistened. Roll out dough, cut biscuits and bake at 375 15-20 minutes.