Thyme-Roasted Grapes and Cheese on Grilled Bread

IMG_1668     Thyme-Roasted Grapes and Cheese on Grilled Bread is one of those recipes that’s almost too good to be true.  Quick, easy, elegant and especially delicious.  The earliest origin of roasted grapes I could find online was around 2004.  Here, we’re using vegan cheese, because nobody has to die so we can have really good food.  Having a sweet, salty, creamy and crunchy appetizer is wonderful, but knowing it’s also good for your body and the planet and the animals is priceless!


Makes enough for 2 to 4 people, for appetizers

1 lb. seedless red grapes
2 ciabatta loaves, or a baguette
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
spreadable vegan cheese, such as Kite Hill Cream Cheese Style Spread.  Or, Miyoko’s CreameryTreeline, etc.   Or even just Tofutti Cream Cheese (non-hydrogenated).  Any of them should work.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (218 Celsius).  Line baking dish with parchment paper.  In a mixing bowl, place grapes, olive oil, sea salt and thyme, and fold gently with a wooden spoon to coat the grapes.  Tip ingredients into prepared baking dish and roast for 15 minutes or so, until grapes are a bit shriveled but still juicy.  Set aside.  Also set out your vegan cheese so it can warm up a bit while you prepare the toasts.

Slice ciabatta loaves in half the long way so you wind up with two wide/flat paddles, or if using a baguette, slice into rounds.  If grilling, brush bread with olive oil on both sides.  If baking in oven, brush oil on just the cut sides.  Grill bread 1 to 2 minutes per side–do not walk away, as it can burn quickly.  If baking bread, have oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 Celsius) and bake for about 7 minutes, keeping an eye on it.  Smear bread with vegan cheese and garnish with thyme-roasted grapes.  Serve.

Notes:  If using a good nut cheese, this can easily be a main meal, especially if served with a salad.  I used the Kite Hill Cream Cheese Style Spread (made from almond milk) in the Chive flavor.

Vegan Southern Sweet Potato Buttermilk Biscuits

IMG_2784    These vegan Southern Sweet Potato Buttermilk Biscuits are especially good.   If we follow a few simple guidelines, Southern biscuits are easy to make.  With the addition of mashed sweet potato whisked into the vegan buttermilk, these achieve a bit of nutrition, and a lovely golden color.  The sweet potato flavor is not pronounced, so don’t look for it.  These would make good vegan ham biscuits.  Other vegan biscuits on this site include Yogurt Biscuits, Sweet Potato Biscuits by Nava Atlas, and plain Buttermilk Biscuits.


Makes about 6-12 biscuits depending on cutter size

2 Cups self-rising flour  (I used Gold Medal)
1/4 Cup Spectrum All-Vegetable Organic Shortening
2/3 Cup cooked finely-mashed sweet potato, chilled
3/4 Cup full-fat plain soy milk  (I used WestSoy)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

2 Tablespoons Earth Balance Organic Whipped Buttery Spread, melted
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder  (no more)

Put rolling pin and pastry cutter in freezer.  Cut shortening into chunks and chill in  freezer.  In a mug, stir vinegar into plant milk and chill in fridge (this is your buttermilk).  Measure flour into bowl and chill in fridge.  Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a very small dish, stir garlic powder into melted vegan butter.

With pastry cutter, cut shortening into flour until lumps are pea sized or smaller.  Whisk mashed sweet potato into buttermilk until well blended.  Add buttermilk mixture to flour and stir with a wooden spoon just until dough comes together.  Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and gently fold dough over onto itself 4 or 5 times, adding more flour by the Tablespoon if the dough is sticky.  Folding the dough creates the layers.  Gently roll dough out until it’s 1/2 inch tall, no less.  Cut out biscuits close together with a biscuit cutter, using a straight up-and-down motion–do not twist cutter.  Lay each biscuit immediately upon the baking sheet.  Brush all biscuits with the melted butter.  Bake 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown (not brown).  Remove from oven and immediately brush biscuits with butter again.

Notes:  If freezing biscuits, freeze the cut-out biscuits unbaked.  Then bake from frozen as normal.  If you don’t have a biscuit cutter, you can use an empty 15-oz. can.  If you don’t want to use parchment paper, make sure to use a greased shiny silver baking sheet, because dark baking sheets can over-brown the biscuit bottoms.   Here’s a good  video.

Vegan Yogurt Biscuits

IMG_0721    Vegan Mofo 2013.  These quick Vegan Yogurt Biscuits work out to about one gram of fat apiece, which means we can crack them open and slather them with some vegan butter!  They’re really Southern style, if you follow the simple technique below.


Makes at least 6.

1.5 Cups self-rising flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
6 oz. container So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt, Plain flavor only
1 Tablespoon Earth Balance vegan butter and a pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Melt the one Tablespoon of vegan butter, stir the pinch of salt into it, and set it aside.
Whisk the 1.5 Cups of flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt together in a large bowl.
Add the yogurt to the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until a dough forms.
Sprinkle counter with extra flour, and turn dough out onto the floured countertop.
Sprinkle a bit of flour onto the dough and fold it in half 3 or 4 times, adding a bit more bench flour as you need it, but be sparing.
Pat dough until it’s no more than a half-inch-tall round.
Dip a 2-inch biscuit cutter into flour and cut out biscuits without twisting the cutter.
You can use a thin drinking glass if you don’t have a biscuit cutter, no worries.
Place biscuits 2 inches apart on baking sheet, and brush them with the salty butter, do not skip this step!
Bake 10-14 minutes, until golden.
Serve hot.

Notes:  These are best served hot and fresh.  For me, nothing compares to Earth Balance Organic Whipped Buttery Spread.  My friend Jan hails from North Carolina, and years ago (before I went vegan) she taught me to brush Southern biscuits with a buttery, slightly-salt glaze, it makes all the difference.


IMG_0159     Bananas and flax seeds are some of the best egg replacers around, so there are no eggs in this recipe (not that we need them any anyway).  Flaxseed meal is simply ground up flax seeds, one of the best sources for Omega 3 essential fatty acids.  I use Florida Crystals brand brown sugar.  Florida Crystals is the first and only certified organic sugar made in the United States!  Unlike most other sugars, It’s processed without bone char or any other animal products, and it is not genetically modified.  Either way, this delectable banana bread is easy enough for kids to make, and is great either served as a dessert, or smeared with peanut butter or Earth Balance organic whipped vegan butter.  p.s.  I love walnuts and dates in this bread, but you don’t have to put them in.

BANANA FLAXSEED QUICK BREAD  (with optional walnuts and dates)

Yield:  one loaf

1 Cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 Cup Spelt flour
1 Cup Florida Crystals Brown Sugar  (packed) (or demerara)
2.5 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (or regular salt)
3/4 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1/4 Cup Flax Meal
1/4 Cup Safflower oil  (or other oil)
1/2 Cup apple sauce
1/2 Cup almond milk  (or other plant milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Cup banana, mashed well  (approx. 2 bananas)
1/2 Cup finely chopped walnuts  (optional)
3-4 dried dates, pitted and diced (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.    Grease one regular sized loaf pan with Earth Balance Buttery Sticks.    In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
If using the walnuts and/or dates, add them to dry ingredients now, and stir.
In another bowl, mix together the plant milk, oil, applesauce, vanilla and mashed bananas.    Gradually stir wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, just until incorporated.
Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan.    Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.    Cool pan on a rack for 5 minutes.    Invert pan onto rack until loaf pops out, and then invert bread again, so it’s right-side-up.    Cool on rack completely.

Notes:  Stirring the walnuts and dates into the dry ingredients just before adding the wet gets them coated with flour which should help prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the loaf during baking.  In the Fall, you could replace the Cinnamon with Pumpkin Pie Spice.  I like to keep a six-pack of 4 oz. organic applesauce cups in the pantry, to replace some or all of the oil in baking recipes.  I use an old-fashioned potato masher to mash the bananas on a cutting board until they are a fine consistency.   p.s.  If you want to go crazy, add in 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric for an enhanced golden color and natural anti-inflammatory for the body.

Vegan Spiced Parsnip Bread

Here’s a delicious, unusual little quick bread, perfect for Fall.  The slightly-spicy parsnips create sort of an Autumnal zucchini bread.  Due to the sugar and perhaps to the generous greasing of the loaf pan, there’s a thin caramelization on the outside of the crust that’s pleasantly chewy.  Zap it in the microwave and put a little Earth Balance vegan butter on it, and it’s surprisingly good.  Vegan Mofo 2012.
Vegan Spiced Parsnip Bread

Makes one loaf,  serves 8-10

1.5 Cups all-purpose flour
1.5 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 Cup white sugar
1/2 Cup brown sugar
1/2 pound parsnips (about 2 medium), peeled and finely grated  (I used a little food processor for this)
1/3 Cup Safflower oil, or some other oil
2 Tablespoons flax seed meal plus 6 Tablespoons of water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 Cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mix flax seed meal and water well, and set aside to thicken.
Generously grease a 9×5 inch or 8×4 inch loaf pan.  I generously sprayed my loaf pan with cooking spray laced with flour.
In a medium bowl, dry whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice and salt.
In a large bowl, stir/mix together sugars, parsnips, nuts, oil, flax-seed binder liquid, and vanilla.
Add flour mixture to parsnip mixture and stir well.
Spoon batter into pan, pressing batter gently into pan with your hands.
Bake 55 minutes, until a straw or knife comes out clean.
Remove from oven and cool in pan for 15 minutes.
Invert onto baking rack to cool further.

Notes:  I like to use a Caffe Latte Frother or tiny whisk for my flax seed mixtures.  My pan was 9×5 inches (regarding cooking time).  The flax seed liquid is a must, as it’s the binder in the recipe.

Vegan Buns for Char Siu Bao a la David Chang

Here, I have veganized a recipe by David Chang of Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York City.  One of my favorite things to eat growing up was manapua, or Char Siu Bao.  With these authentic bao buns, we can have vegan Char Siu Bao.  First I will give this recipe for the buns themselves.  I used these buns to create a vegan, cruelty-free version of David Chang’s steamed pork buns.  David Chang does not make his bao buns in the traditional shape, but rather folds them into little sandwich buns, so that’s what I’ve done here too.  I simply eliminated the needless milk powder he puts in his recipe, and used vegetable shortening instead of Lard.  I can’t let this recipe go without lamenting the fact that David Chang is a victim of old society, which wrongfully teaches us that we have the right to enslave and murder other beings, and that it’s healthy to eat them.  I pray that he wakes up one day and chooses to put his considerable talent and work ethic toward compassion.

Makes 40-50 buns

These buns are easy and keep in the freezer for months.  You need to make at least this many buns or there won’t be enough dough in the mixing bowl for the dough hook to pick up.

1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1.5 Cups water at room temperature
4.25 Cups bread flour
6 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon fine sea salt
Rounded 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 Cup vegan vegetable shortening, such as Spectrum brand, at room temperature.

Add the yeast, shortening and water to the bowl of a stand mixer outfitted with a dough hook.  (or check Youtube for a video showing hand-kneading of bao dough)
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda.
Add flour mixture to the yeast water.    Mix on the lowest speed, just above a stir.
Note:  if you are using a KitchenAid Mixer like mine, mix on Speed 2 only with dough hook (check your directions).    Mix this way for 8-10 minutes.
The dough should gather into a neat, not-too-sticky ball on the hook.
When it does, lightly oil a medium mixing bowl, put the dough in it and cover with a dry kitchen towel.    Put in a warmish place and let rise until dough doubles in bulk, about one hour and 15 minutes.

Punch dough down and turn it onto a clean surface.    Using a bench scraper or knife, cut dough in half and then divide each half into 5 equal pieces.
Gently roll the pieces into logs, then cut each log into 5 pieces, making 50 pieces total.
The pieces should be about the size of a ping-pong ball and weigh about 25 grams, or a smidge under an ounce.    Roll each piece into a ball using your palm on the counter.
Cover the balls with a damp, lint-free towel, and allow them to rise for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut out fifty 4-inch squares of parchment paper.
Put some grapeseed oil or canola oil in a ramekin.    Coat a chopstick with the oil.
You’ll also need a pastry brush.    Flatten one ball with the palm of your hand.
Use a rolling pin to roll it out into a 4-inch-long oval.
Brush one half of the oval with some of the oil.
Lay the oiled chopstick across the middle of the oval, and fold the oval in half to form the bun.
Withdraw the chopstick, leaving the bun folded, and put the bun onto a square of parchment paper, and then stick it back under the kitchen towel, and form the rest of the buns.
Let the buns rest for 30-45 minutes; they will rise a little.

Set up a steamer on the stove (I just have a metal pot with steamer insert).
Working in batches so you don’t crowd the steamer, steam the buns on the parchment squares for 10 minutes.    Remove parchment.
Use buns immediately, and if they get cold, you can re-steam them for a minute.
Or, let buns cool completely, and freeze them in plastic bags for up to a few months.

To reheat frozen buns, steam for 2-3 minutes per side until puffy, soft and warmed all the way through.

Notes:  During both rises, I was interrupted and had to leave for a couple of hours at a time, and the dough still came out fine, but I don’t recommend it.  I used a metal pot with a steamer insert, and the buns did not stick to it because of the parchment squares.  If you want slightly larger buns, try making 40 instead of 50.

Carrot Bread by Jim Lahey

This accidentally-vegan bread recipe is all over the internet.  You can even see a video of Jim Lahey baking this bread with Martha Stewart.  It’s delicious, with a subtle carrot flavor, the tiny sweetness of currants and the richness of walnuts (although you can’t really taste the walnut flavor).  In his wonderful book My Bread, Jim Lahey says there’s a “whiff of chocolate” in this bread that is somehow produced by the combination of ingredients.  I did not find this, but I didn’t care either, because, hot from the oven with some Earth Balance organic vegan butter on it, this bread is so good.  I also made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with it (really good).

I made two loaves of this bread in two days because I wanted a better result the second time.  The first loaf was delicious, but the second loaf had a better crumb, rose a bit higher, etc.  I made the first loaf by measuring out (not weighing) cups of flour and used the specified 1.5 Cup of carrot juice.  The dough was a bit too dry and so then i had to handle the dough more than I should have, etc.  Here are my notes for the 2nd loaf that had better results:

Of course, you can buy the carrot juice and save a lot of time.  However, I had a LOT of organic carrots.  So, I used my old Breville Compact Juice Fountain to extract my own juice and I ended up needing 1.5 pounds of carrots.  This yielded 1-2/3 Cups of carrot juice and I needed it all in order to achieve a decently-wet dough.

Using a food scale, I weighed the flour and then the carrot juice, for better accuracy.  It’s interesting to compare the volume amount of juice with its weight.

I dry-whisked the currants and walnuts into the flour before adding the carrot juice to the dough, for a more-even incorporation of those ingredients.

I oiled a clean bowl and let the dough do the first rise in that bowl.  When it was time to shape the dough for its second rise, the dough slid pretty easily out of the bowl, so I handled it less.

Once I removed the lid mid-bake, I only baked the bread for another 15 minutes in my accurate, electric, non-convection oven.

It’s best not to let this dough sit beyond the 18 hours.  You really want to catch this dough on its way up in the rise.

This first photo below is of the finished bread.  I found an old pottery covered casserole at an antique shop a few years ago for $25 and that’s what I use for the Lahey breads.  The 2nd photo is of the properly-wet dough (after the first rise) sitting in a clean, oiled bowl.

Rosemary Infused Olive Oil

I catered a small vegan dinner party last night, as an item I had donated to a Silent Auction held by our local library here in St. Michaels, Maryland.  For the bread course, I made Jim Lahey’s Olive Bread using Kalamata olives.  Kalamata olives make me think of sunny Greece and so does the herb Rosemary, which continues to flower in my garden despite the cold weather right now.  This Rosemary Infused Olive Oil is so delicious when sprinkled with sea salt; the perfect thing to dip good bread into.  I found some tiny white porcelain ramekins at Pier 1 for a dollar each and that’s how I served it.  Quick and easy to make, you can use other herbs such as basil, but rosemary is my favorite.  If you don’t have a perennial rosemary plant in your garden, you’re missing out.  One good old hardy variety is Arp but now there are others.  Mine has lived through 2 or 3 blizzards already but I do have it in an extremely sunny spot, sheltered by a garage wall.  Rosemary is great for that dry spot where the sun beats in the afternoon!
Rosemary Infused Olive Oil

1 Cup extra virgin organic olive oil  (Trader Joe’s has a good, affordable one that is cold pressed).
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves (or basil, etc.)

Pick several younger sprigs of rosemary.
Wash rosemary sprigs and set to dry for a few minutes.
Take the prettiest sprig and set it aside.
Pull the leaves from the other sprigs, and chop them finely.
Warm the olive oil and herbs in a very small saucepan over low heat.
Remove from heat and let steep, covered, for one hour.
Strain through a very fine sieve, into a slender little bottle.
Shorten the pretty sprig to make sure it will stand under the oil in your bottle (be fully immersed).
Refrigerate and use within one week.
The pretty garnish sprig is beautiful and shows what the oil is flavored with.

Notes:  Be sure to discard this oil after a week because it will not be safe to use after that.

Vegan Banana Cake a la Pichet Ong

Chef Pichet Ong says his recipe is the best banana cake ever.  He makes it with “baby bananas” which I actually used to grow, but we called them “apple bananas” because of their flavor.  I can attest that baby bananas are indeed more flavorful than your standard, full-size grocery-store banana, but I only had regular organic bananas.  I switched out the honey for agave syrup, used cake flour (because I had it in the pantry), vegan sour cream, and cut the cinnamon in half.  I wanted to taste the bananas foremost, and have the cinnamon take a back seat.  And I used Florida Crystals brown sugar.  After tasting it, Lars and I both agreed that any more cinnamon would be too much.  Instead of chocolate chips, I added finely chopped walnuts and the resulting cake was rich but delicate with just a hint of spice.  This is a keeper, even when made with regular bananas.  I hope Pichet Ong will explore cooking more compassionately and realize he doesn’t need eggs or dairy, especially since bananas are often used as an egg substitute in baking.  We ate it hot with a little Earth Balance vegan butter on it, and it was so darn good.  Please check out my other excellent vegan Banana Flaxseed Quick Bread with Dates and Walnuts.
Vegan Banana Cake a la Pichet Ong

Makes one 8.5×4.5 inch cake, about 8-10 servings

1/3 cup Earth Balance Buttery Sticks vegan butter at room temperature,  plus more for greasing pan
1 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup agave syrup
1/2 cup Florida Crystals organic brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 bananas, mashed with a potato masher
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, or real vanilla extract
Ener G egg replacer to equal one egg (1.5 tsp Ener-G plus 2T water, frothed)
1/2 cup Tofutti vegan sour cream at room temperature (non-hydrogenated)
1/3 Cup finely chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Lightly butter an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan and set aside.  I put my loaf pan in the fridge until I was ready for it.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda and set aside.

Put the vegan butter, agave syrup, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat the mixture on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the bananas and beat on medium speed about 1 minute at most. The bananas should be smashed, with a few small chunks remaining.

Turn the speed to medium-low and beat in the egg substitute until incorporated.
Turn the speed to low and gradually add the sifted flour mixture, mixing just until no traces of flour remain, about 10 seconds.
Add the sour cream and mix until the batter has only a few remaining white streaks, about 10  seconds.
Gently fold in the finely chopped walnuts.

Transfer the batter to the greased pan. Bake in the center of the oven until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes, then unmold and cool completely on the rack.

Notes:  Florida Crystals are the only organic sugar grown in the U.S., and they are non-GMO and carbon-free.  My single loaf pan measures 8″x4″ when I flip it over and measure the bottom of it.

You can see the cake has pulled away from the loaf pan a little.
I did test the cake to make sure it was done.

Jim Lahey’s Irish Brown Bread – No Knead

This is another no-knead bread recipe from the cookbook “My Bread” by Jim Lahey.   I had to veganize this one because it calls for buttermilk.  I just added one Tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to the 3/4 Cup of unsweetened soy milk, and voila, nice thick buttermilk.  I do have something to say about this recipe, however.  The dough is dry, so add more of the Guinness stout beer if your dough is also dry.  The recipe calls for 3/4 Cup of beer, so next time, I’d make it an even cup.  His dough is usually so wet that this took me by surprise.  I did the slow rise on this one, just to be sure.  Also, after removing the lid during the baking, I baked the bread only a final 20 minutes, not 30, and it was done perfectly in my non-convection, electric oven.  Jim Lahey describes “Jim’s Irish Brown Bread” as “pungent with a hint of barley and the tartness of the buttermilk.”  I did not find this bread pungent or tart.  I didn’t taste barley.  It tasted very close to Lahey’s basic white bread, so am wondering if he was talking about the raw dough.  Not sure.  In texture, this bread is very dense, and actually harder to cut than Lahey’s basic white bread, even with a proper bread knife.  Know that this bread did not rise quite as high as the white bread, probably due to the whole wheat content (I don’t know).  But, it’s excellent, like 10 times better tasting than store-bought bread, of course.  And easy as pie.  Lahey suggests adding currants or raisins and I think that would be great, will try that next time, maybe on St. Patrick’s Day.  Second photo below.  You can find lots of postings on the bread online.

Blueberry Lemon Muffins from The Joy of Vegan Baking cookbook

Blueberry Lemon Muffins  from  The Joy of Vegan Baking, were a success (see second photo below).  I did make a couple of slight changes.  First, I used sea salt instead of regular salt.  Secondly, and most importantly, I used only 1 teaspoon of baking soda, because this recipe was a bit over-leavened, especially since we have the white vinegar as our acid for the baking soda to react to.  And these muffins rose nice and high.  In order to create a “buttermilk,” I added the vinegar to the non-diary milk separately, stirred it and gave it a couple of minutes to thicken.  I added the lemon zest to the wet ingredients in order to keep it away from the baking soda until the combining of the flour mixture with the wet ingredients.  This batter just fit in my standard 12-cup muffin tin.  I had to poke a few berries into the last two cups I filled because most of the berries had poured into the other cups.  Because the cups had been filled so full, I was a bit concerned.  As I did the dishes, I peeked through the oven-door glass every now and then, and hoped these muffins would not overflow the pan.  They did not, and they are delicious.  In the end, I was glad I had chosen to use the full cup of sugar, because they were not too sweet in taste.  You may need to run a butter knife around each muffin in order to get it out of your pan, as I did, even though i had generously greased each cup with Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, which is made for baking (recipe calls for only a light greasing).  I broke one muffin open while it was still hot, and put some Earth Balance Whipped Organic Buttery Spread on it while it was still steaming, and it was wonderful.  The hint of lemon is nice, and the crumb is very tender and light.  The outside of these muffins have a very thin buttery golden crust to them.  Lars gave them a thumbs up too.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins from The Joy of Vegan Baking

Here’s just a quick review on this recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick Goudreau.  This recipe is quick and simple and tastes very good!  A deliciously quintessential muffin.  The four bananas provide all the binding this vegan recipe needs and of COURSE there are no eggs in it.  This photo is not representative of the recipe, because the recipe calls for all-purpose (unbleached) white flour, which yields a much lighter-colored muffin.  But, I’m trying to get more onto the whole-grain train, and so used whole wheat pastry flour.  So, they are not quite as pretty, but still delicioso.  Here are my tips for this recipe.  If you’re making these for any special event, bringing them to work, serving them to omnivores, for example, make them with the white flour.  The original recipe calls for way too many (1 cup) chocolate chips.  I used 3/4 Cup and felt it was still too many.  Next time, I’ll use one half cup for a perfect ratio.  I did use the walnuts, and they’re fantastic in this recipe.  The recipe says to fill the muffin cups halfway, so I’m guessing Colleen or her recipe tester has really large muffin cups.  I filled my regular muffin cups 3/4 of the way and still had leftover batter and got 14 or 15 muffins out of it, instead of the cited 12 muffins.  I think I baked them in my electric, non-convection oven for 25 minutes.  Again, for presentation, I would use my larger muffin tin (I have an old popover muffin tin) and make the 12 large muffins with the white flour, but I would still cut the chocolate chips in half.  If you don’t have a larger muffin tin, just fill your muffin cups right up.  But again, these are really good.  2nd photo at bottom, below.

Here’s what I found online about whole wheat pastry flour:  A flour similar to refined white pastry flour, however not all of the bran and germ portions of the wheat kernel have been removed during the milling process. Whole-wheat pastry flour is produced from soft-wheat and it has a fine-texture and a high starch content. Because of the presence of some of the bran and germ, pastry items made with whole-wheat pastry flour are more nutritious than pastries made with white pastry flour, but they are not quite as light and airy.

Pane all’Olive – Kalamata Olive Bread by Jim Lahey

From the cookbook My Bread by Jim Lahey.  This is my second time making this Pane all’Olive (Olive Bread) but this time I used Kalamata olives, and this bread is so good that you’ll only want a little vegan butter on it.  Since I found the original recipe to be a bit too wet with olives last time, I used only 3/4 cup of chopped kalamata olives (as opposed to 1.5 cups), and found the result to be superior to last time, and still have plenty of olive goodness.  Once I removed the lid mid-bake, I continued baking the bread for another 30 minutes (not 15).  The bread was definitely not overcooked in my electric, non-convection oven; it was perfect.  For this bread, I actually prefer the kalamata olives to the green olives.  There is a French baker (Bonaparte Breads) who comes to our local farmers market in St. Michaels, Maryland, and he brings a $6 kalamata loaf that is superb, and this is just as good.  Here is the post from the first time I made it with green olives.   Keep in mind that in his cookbook, Lahey suggests weighing the ingredients as opposed to just using cup measures, and I do use a small kitchen scale.  This bread goes great with the Rosemary Infused Olive Oil also on this site.  See below for a photo of the entire loaf of kalamata bread.  postscript dated July 2011; I did a quick rise on this, where I put 1/4 teaspoon of red wine vinegar in almost-hot (not cool) water, and did first rise for 4 hours, second rise for one hour, and the bread came out perfectly.  Also, let it be known that this bread makes the best croutons, so don’t waste that heel of bread that’s too dry to eat!

Vegan Irish Soda Bread – With Spelt or Brown Rice Flours

These two vegan Irish Soda Breads are prettier, more delicious and healthier than the norm.  I took this to an Irish St. Patrick’s Day party and it was the best soda bread there, hands down, and I was asked by the Irish women for the recipe.   I developed this recipe two different ways;  a more traditional-looking one with all-purpose and spelt flours, and another version with all-purpose and brown-rice flours (see photo at bottom).  These are refined enough for a celebration, but still rustic enough to hold with tradition.  If you look at the bottom of the post for the photo of the brown-rice-flour version, you’ll see that it’s a pretty golden color.

Vegan Irish Soda Bread

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
a bit of coarse corn meal to sprinkle the pan with
1-1/3 Cup all-purpose flour
1-1/3 Cup spelt flour (or brown rice flour)
5 tablespoons sugar, and set one teaspoon out of this sugar aside
1- 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Sticks vegan butter, chilled.
1 cup cold soy milk (I prefer WestSoy unsweetened organic)
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or regular vinegar)
1/3 Cup golden raisins
1/3 Cup regular dark raisins
Plenty of bench flour (just extra flour to work with)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Cut up butter into small (1/2″) pieces and put in freezer to chill.  Add vinegar to cold soy milk, stir and put back in refrigerator (this will thicken and is your vegan buttermilk).   Set raisins to soak in a cereal bowl, in a little water or juice.  Spray an 8-inch-diameter round cake pan with nonstick spray, and then sprinkle bottom of pan with coarse corn meal.

In large bowl, put flour, 4 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and dry whisk to blend.   Cut in cold vegan butter with a pastry cutter, until a coarse meal forms.   Make a well in center of flour mixture, add cold buttermilk and stir just until blended.   Drain raisins and then stir in the drained raisins, just until mixed.   Flour your counter generously.

Using floured hands, gently shape dough into a ball. Dough will be very sticky so add more bench flour as you shape the dough, several tablespoons if you have to, but know this is a pretty wet dough anyway.  Gently fold the dough ball over onto itself a few times. Transfer to prepared pan (seam side down) and flatten very slightly (dough will not come to edges of pan).   With an oiled knife, cut a cross into the top of the dough, and then sprinkle dough with remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar.

Bake bread until golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.   Cool bread in pan 10 minutes. Transfer to rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cranberry Cornbread Muffins

These fruited cornbread muffins are delicious with chili or soup, but are also fancy enough to grace the Thanksgiving table.  Drizzle them with a bit of Suzanne’s Just Like Honey Rice Nectar, and/or simply serve with a pat of Earth Balance vegan butter.  While you won’t taste the pinch of turmeric, it makes the muffins brighter in color.


Makes 12 muffins

1 Cup all-purpose unbleached flour
1/3 Cup brown rice flour (or use all-purpose again)
2/3 Cup yellow cornmeal (not coarse)
1/3 Cup sugar
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 stick Earth Balance vegan butter, melted and then cooled
Ener-G Egg Replacer  (2 eggs worth) (3 teaspoons Ener-G powder mixed or frothedwith 4 Tablespoons of water)
1.5 Cups soy milk (I like whole organic unsweetened but any is fine)
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
1/2 Cup dried cranberries
1/4 Cup golden raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pour soy milk into a tall glass, stir the vinegar into it, and set aside (it will now curdle into vegan buttermilk).   Generously grease muffin tin(s), and dust with flour, shaking off any excess.   In a large bowl, stir together flours, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and (optional) turmeric.   In a smaller bowl, stir together melted vegan butter, frothed egg replacer and vegan buttermilk, until well combined.   Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until combined.   Fold in dried fruits.

Divide among 12 muffin-tin cups.   If using 2 six-muffin tins, bake them one at a time, for 25 to 26 minutes each, until tops are golden and just a hint of darkness appears at the edges (see photo below), and a tester comes out clean.   Cool in pan 5 minutes.
Run a butter knife around the muffins to loosen them and then invert the pan onto a cooling rack, or lift the muffins out with a teaspoon or the butter knife.   Let cool.
Serve with Suzanne’s Just Like Honey and/or Earth Balance butter.

No Knead Rye Bread by Jim Lahey

OK, I had actually put away the cookbook My Bread by Jim Lahey.  But then I started to wonder what to blog for St. Patrick’s Day.  Vegan Corned Beef and Reuben sandwiches came to mind.  But first, we need rye bread, right.  So, here are my comments on this recipe.  The rye bread will not rise quite as high as the other boule loaves in the book, due in part to the rye flour.  I substituted one cup of stone-ground whole wheat flour for one cup of the white bread flour, with good results.  I added 1/4 teaspoon of caraway seeds and it was not enough, virtually undetectable.  So next time I’ll add 1/2 teaspoon at least.  I have found every recipe in this book to be very forgiving and would not hesitate to do a quick rise on this rye bread, even with the whole wheat flour in it.  To do this, you would simply add 1/4 teaspoon red wine vinegar (or other vinegar) to the very-warm (almost hot) water (instead of the usual cool water).  Allow 3-4 hours for the first rise (instead of 18), and one hour at least for the 2nd rise.  That’s it.  I did it the slow way and with the whole wheat, got a denser, shorter (in height) loaf without so many big holes in it.  It was good and had a nice rye flavor without being overpowering.  p.s.  The bread you see above was grilled in a cast-iron pan to make the vegan Reuben sandwich, but it is a pleasingly dark bread anyway, especially with the subbing of some whole wheat flour.  And, if you go to make a vegan Reuben sandwich, check out the vegan Russian Salad Dressing also on this site.

No Knead Ciabatta Bread – Adapted from Jim Lahey

I hope Mrs. Lahey knows I’m not after her husband, I just like his cookbook, My Bread, by Jim Lahey.  So here we have Ciabatta, named after old-fashioned carpet slippers.  One interesting thing is that I found this crust to be thinner and not quite as chewy as the boule-shaped loaves I tried previously, so it’s great for European-style sandwiches, subs, etc.  This is a very versatile bread that can be used for sandwiches, panini, for dipping in good olive oil, making garlic bread, etc.  There are various types of ciabatta bread, and supposedly there is a whole wheat version called ciabatta integrale.  I hope to move back into more whole grain breads in 2011.  After 20 years of nagging Lars to eat whole grain breads, and telling him that white flour has all the nutritional value of Kleenex, here I am making white breads all of a sudden.  I think part of it is that I want to show (and prove to myself) that our favorite foods can be vegan, from the everyday meals to the special-occasion offerings.  My goal was to make this particular bread without the clay pots or pizza stone called for in the book, and to make two long loaves instead of one wider one.  I was unable to find a link for this recipe, but if you have the book My Bread, you might appreciate the following notes, IF you want to make it the way I did:

1)  Let the 2nd rise happen right on your cutting surface, whether that is your counter or a cutting board.  You will still sprinkle dough with flour and cover dough with a lint-free cloth during the second rise.  Best not to let it rise on a very cold surface such as marble or granite or soapstone, however.

2)  I do not have the clay pots and pizza stones Jim Lahey uses for his ciabatta, and I did not want to buy them.  So, here’s what to do:  oil a cold rimmed baking/cookie sheet with a half teaspoon of safflower oil, and then sprinkle the oiled baking sheet with corn meal.  Do not put this baking sheet into the oven during pre-heat.

3)  I wanted two long loaves, suitable for slim sandwiches (think baguette size), so I cut the dough in two after the second rise, right on the surface where it rose.  Then gently stretch and lay the two dough pieces on the prepared baking sheet, so that each piece of dough is approx. 10-14 inches long.  Place each raw loaf more apart from each other, and closer to the long edges of the baking sheet.  Bake the loaves for approx. 18-20 minutes, depending upon your oven.  I use a non-convection electric oven and the temperature is pretty accurate.

This bread has a delicious taste right out of the oven with a little smear of Earth Balance vegan butter on it; rich but not too heavy.  If you want to save calories and have more room for veg and filling, you can slice away some of the crumb or center of the loaf before putting sandwiches together.  Another photo below:

Pita Bread

My best vegan girlfriend, Piliki, sent me this fabulous little cookbook for Christmas.  It’s called The Vegan Family Cookbook by Chef Brian P. McCarthy, whom you can see cooking on EverydayDish TV.  This is the first recipe I’ve tried out of the book, and it came out great.  I did reduce the oven temperature to 475 degrees Fahrenheit, and cut the recipe in half because there’s no way we’re eating 12 pita pockets.  Other than that, I followed the recipe.  What I like about this cookbook is that the recipes are all written very simply and have the least amount of ingredients.  This book is only 8 inches tall and many of the recipes only take up half the page!  So I made the pita pockets, and they were easy and actually better than the ones I get from the Lebanese restaurant in Annapolis.  Tender and forgiving, and they open easily into a nice wide pocket.  These would be perfect for stuffing with falafel, hummus, tabouleh, Better-Than-Tuna Salad, etc.  I don’t own a pizza stone but I do have a vintage cast-iron skillet, which worked wonderfully for baking the pita in the oven  (the recipe does say you can also use a cookie sheet).  Among the other recipes I’ve now got sticky notes on are: potato latkes, baked beans, blueberry crepes, spanakopita, curry baked tofu, watermelon agua fresca, banana bread, banana pudding, tapioca pudding, Grandma’s caramel corn, etc., etc. 

Pane all’Olive – Olive Bread by Jim Lahey

Yes, I’m a bit obsessed with the book My Bread by Jim Lahey.  So here’s another one; this Pane all’Olive (Olive Bread).  It’s just as easy as the others, because you’re simply adding about a cup and a half of chopped olives to the dry mix before adding the water.  One thing to note, however, is that once I removed the cover mid-bake, I had to finish baking this bread for at least 20 minutes.  With the Basic Bread and the Walnut Bread, I only baked the loaves for 15 minutes more after removing the lid (mid-bake).  I’m guessing all the salt and moisture from the olives has something to do with this, and this bread does remain a bit softer than the others, after baking.  Don’t go by me, though, just check it.  I’ve got a simple, glass-topped electric oven, and the oven temperature is correct.  I know some gas ovens can be way hotter, though.  OK, this bread is delicious, as are the rest of them.  I mean, all of a sudden, this bread technique turns your kitchen into an artisanal bakery with minimal time spent, it’s pretty amazing.  And there’s a certain aesthetic and philosophy about this particular type of bread.  By that I mean its crumb is a bit holey, and chewy and there’s a hint of char on the crust.  It’s got a rich, eggy taste but it’s eggless.  It’s the holey grail of bread, ha ha.  It’s not the homogeneous, bland type my expensive bread machine will make.  And it’s better than the hand-kneaded bread I’ve made before too.  So, getting back to THIS particular olive bread.  I think it would make killer “olive loaf” sandwiches using Yves Meatless Deli Bologna and some crunchy iceberg lettuce, because this bread itself supplies the olives.  A myriad of other sandwiches could be made with this bread, and it’s good just toasted with a smear of Earth Balance vegan butter and a bowl of soup.  As you might know, I love the flavor profile of cream cheese and olives so I just toasted a single slice (the slices are large), cut it in half and spread some Tofutti cream cheese on it as my sandwich filling.  Lars gave this a thumbs up too.  p.s.  The next time I make this bread, I’ll use Kalamata Greek olives for a more sophisticated approach.  I was also thinking the leftovers would be good next summer in Panzanella salad, and gazpacho.  Think of the BLTs (with vegan bacon) next summer when the tomatoes are ripe and the Mediterranean sandwiches that are in store.  Trader Joe’s, is a good place to buy reasonably-priced jars of Greek and green olives, by the way.

Pan co’ Santi – Quicker No Knead Walnut Bread

This is another recipe from My Bread by Jim Lahey, wherein a lot of the recipes are “accidentally vegan.”  According to his book, this is a classic Italian holiday bread, which he ate first on All Saints’ Day in Tuscany.  OK, so simple enough, right?  But I took a gamble, because I saw this video with Jim Lahey and Mark Bittman, where they endeavor to make this cult no-knead  technique quicker, as in approximately 5 hours of rising instead of 20.  And what changes do we make to achieve this?  Only by adding very warm (almost hot) water, instead of cool water, and then also adding a measly 1/4 teaspoon of red wine vinegar–that’s it!  This video was not quite didactic enough for me, but I did manage to catch Bittman’s comment that the 2nd rise would be half an hour.  I let my first rise go at least 4 and a half hours, and then the second rise go one hour.  So I even exceeded their timing, and the bread came out very, very good.  You can smell the cinnamon but you have to think about it to taste it, it’s so faint.  Perfect. The photo below is of the entire loaf.  There is a lot of wheat bran on the shown finished loaf, but you simply brush that excess off, no worries.  I had a slice toasted with a bit of Earth Balance vegan butter;  heaven.  I can imagine this making killer French toast, or amazing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, too.  You can see lots of postings for this bread online, including this one.

Jim Lahey’s Stecca or Italian Baguettes

Here’s another creation from the cookbook “My Bread” by Jim Lahey.  I brought these “stecca” to a supper on the night before New Year’s Eve, and we all really enjoyed them, slitting them open and stuffing things inside them like little sandwiches.  And needless to say, they’re gorgeous.  If anyone brought these to my house, I’d have to sit down and put my head between my knees, seriously.  You can see postings for this recipe on other sites, including this one.  Be aware that I have not proofed this linked site to make sure it exactly matches the cookbook, but I’m guessing it might, because it looks more official than the others, like maybe they’re reprinting with permission or something.  After I made these, I made two notations in my copy of the cookbook.  One was to place the dough directly onto a cutting surface for the 2nd rise.  This way, you can simply remove the flour sack towel or tea towel and cut the dough without lifting it.  I do believe this would yield a slightly higher rise, making these little Italian baguettes easier to slice and stuff.  Also, I would pinch the dough up around the garlic cloves and olives, so they would be sitting more inside the dough rather than on top.  The book shows them sitting further down into the dough almost like they’re peeking out of a window at you, if that makes any sense.  So, with those two changes, I would definitely make these again.  Second photo below.  p.s.  I think I would use a couple less tomatoes also, for the sake of having them sit further down into the dough too.


Jim Lahey’s No Knead Bread

I was listening to Meat Free Radio and Mikeypod was saying how he’s been making the bread from this book called “My Bread” by Jim Lahey.  There’s an iconic article about it in the NY Times that started a groundswell of fans.  Jim Lahey owns and runs a very famous bakery in New York City, called Sullivan Street Bakery, and here is the recipe as posted on that site.  So, I got the book and yesterday, decided to give it a go.  I have a Zojirushi bread maker, and have made a little bread over the years, but nothing that stopped me in my tracks or anything.  Until now.  I think I literally have about 20 minutes of labor in this bread and WOW, it’s amazing.  It’s got a serious crust, with a hint of char on it, and the inside is reminiscent of homemade popovers; almost eggy despite the fact that this is totally vegan (no eggs).  It’s just real and artisanal and uber good.  The hardest part is wrapping your brain around the fact that you throw some ingredients in a bowl, stir and leave it for 18 hours.  There’s about 10 minutes spent in the second rise, including washing a dish or two, and then it’s a matter of baking it in a covered Dutch oven or casserole dish for 30 minutes.  Then you remove the lid and bake for 15 to 30 minutes more.  I ended up baking it for only 20 minutes more.  I didn’t want quite the amount of blackening that Jim Lahey likes.  I sat and read from page 45 through 55 and I was ready to go.  The illustrations are crystal clear and help you visualize the process before starting.  I created a time chart (of course I did), and just figured in general that if I made the dough the day before between 4 and 6 p.m., I could have this bread easily for dinner the next day.  I used an old vintage casserole dish that I had.  One caveat is that you should not use your Le Crueset French oven unless you have replaced the lid knob with a stainless steel replacement knob, the availability of which possibly came about due to this bread.   The old lid knob will melt at these temps.  The legend of this bread is layered and you can find many cult postings online.  But start with the book; you can even check it out from your local library, hopefully.  The best part is that once you do the initial basic loaf, you can use the same technique and timing to make olive bread and walnut/fruit bread and rye bread and whole wheat bread, and . . .

Vegan Sweet Potato Biscuits

Veganized from a recipe by Nava Atlas, no one would ever guess these delectable biscuits are vegan.  Quick and easy, these have that “baking powder biscuit” flakiness, and are surprisingly tender.  I love the tiny bit of pecan nuttiness and the pretty flecks of sweet potato inside the biscuit.  With their pale orange color, they’re a rustic addition to the Autumnal table.  Serve with a pat of Earth Balance butter, of course.  Next time I might try rolling them out and cutting them with a straight-up-and-down motion, with a biscuit cutter, just to see what happens.  You could also try these easy Yogurt Biscuits.
Vegan Sweet Potato Biscuits

Makes 16

1-1/4 C whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 C unbleached white flour
2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp salt (iodine free)
3 T Earth Balance vegan butter
1/3 C apple juice or apple cider
1 C well-mashed, cooked sweet potato (about one medium to large sweet potato)
3 T Lyle’s Golden Syrup (in the green can)
1/3 C finely-chopped pecans or walnuts (I like the pecans)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt.
Work in the vegan butter with a pastry cutter or a fork until mixture resembles coarse meal.
Add apple juice, mashed cooked sweet potato, Golden Syrup and chopped nuts, and work them quickly into the soft dough.
Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead in just enough extra flour to make the dough lose its stickiness.
With floured hands, divide dough in half, and again, until you have 16 equal parts.
Shape into small balls and arrange on a lightly oiled cookie sheet.
Pat them down just a bit to flatten slightly.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean.
Transfer to a plate and serve hot, with vegan butter on the side.

Vegan Buttermilk Biscuits with White Lily Flour

Generations of American women have taken pride in their biscuits, especially in the South.  I mentioned to my girlfriend Debby that I wanted to learn to make real Southern biscuits, and she did me a wonderful kindness.  While on a trip home, she and her mother drove way out into the Tennessee countryside to buy me two bags of White Lily Self-Rising Flour.  They bought the flour at St. John Mill in Watauga (Washington County), Tennessee.  White Lily flour is made from a soft winter wheat, especially conducive to making high, light and fluffy biscuits.  There’s a recipe on the bag for Buttermilk Biscuits and I decided to try veganizing them.  And . . . they turned out fantastic!  They taste exactly like the best buttermilk biscuits you ever ate, as good as the classic Angel Biscuits, better than Popeye’s biscuits.  Lars said, “Side by side with regular biscuits, you’d never know these were vegan.”  I’ve done some reading about how to make Angel Biscuits and there are some easy tips for success.  Here is a video called “Baking Perfect Biscuits” from the White Lily web site that shows how simple it really is.  One tip that is not on either of these videos is that one should NOT twist or turn the biscuit cutter, ever.  You may be tempted to twist the biscuit cutter as you go into or pull out of the dough, but don’t, because doing so can sort of seal the outer wall of the biscuit and prevent it from rising as high as it otherwise could.  I forgot this because I had not made biscuits in a while, and so mine could have been a bit higher.  Just use a straight-up-and-down motion when cutting the biscuits.  Lastly, here is another video from youtube, and I put this here to show yet another way to fold and knead the flour.  Also, you can see again how little one should work the dough.  So, you can make biscuits like your great grandma made, in 15 minutes.  Also, supposedly, you can make the dough and keep it in the fridge.
Vegan Buttermilk Biscuits with White Lily Self-Rising Flour

Makes 8-12 biscuits, depending upon cutter size

2 C White Lily Self-Rising Flour  (or other self-rising flour)
1/4 C Crisco All-Vegetable Shortening, chilled, or Earth Balance
2/3 to 3/4 C vegan buttermilk (see below)

2 Tablespoons melted vegan butter, such as Earth Balance
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

-Please note that at any time you need to do other things, put your dough ingredients in the fridge to keep them cold.  Place your shortening or Earth Balance vegan butter in the freezer shortly before you begin,  to really chill it.
-Heat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
-Spray a shiny metal baking sheet with cooking oil.  Do not use a dark colored baking pan as this will over-brown the bottom of the biscuits.
-Put 3/4 C of cold soy milk or rice milk into a drinking glass, and add 1 teaspoon of vinegar to it, stir and let it sit to curdle a bit (this is your buttermilk and it’ll help make a tender crumb).
-Measure flour into bowl.  Do so by spooning the flour into the measuring cup lightly, and then level it off with the back of a knife.
-Cut shortening into flour with a pastry cutter until lumps are the size of peas.
-Blend in just enough vegan buttermilk with a fork, until dough leaves sides of bowl.
-Turn dough onto lightly-floured surface.  Knead gently about 3 times, folding the dough upon itself each time.  This will create the flaky layers.
-Quickly roll out dough to 1/2 inch thickness.  At this point you have the option of docking the dough with a floured dinner fork.  Supposedly this releases steam and helps them rise straight.  Yes, you would dock the dough before cutting.
-Cut out biscuits with a biscuit cutter, dipping the cutter in flour each time, and do not twist the cutter–go straight up and down.
-Place biscuits on baking sheet one inch apart for crisp sides,  or almost touching for soft sides.
-Brush with melted butter and garlic-powder mixture.
-Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown (not brown).
-Brush with melted butter and garlic-powder mixture again.

TO FREEZE.  Place uncooked biscuits on a tray and freeze them.  Then place frozen (uncooked) biscuits in a freezer container and place back in freezer.  When ready to bake, place frozen biscuits on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake in a 425 degree Fahrenheit oven for 15-18 minutes.  Glaze before and after baking.

p.s.  I’m a sucker for vintage kitchen items, so I use this old cookie cutter as my biscuit cutter.  Well, for all I know it is a biscuit butter, not sure.

p.s.  I found this other little tip online:
Place the pieces on a greased baking sheet upside down. This ensures a taller, lighter biscuit by making sure any edges crimped by the pressure of the cutting don’t interfere with the rise. (The French use the same trick when making French pastry.)  Note:  I have to wonder how this affects the docking, so I’m putting it here instead of into the body of the recipe.

Quinoa-Quinoa Cornbread

This is from the cookbook Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry.  This quinoa cornbread is the first recipe I’ve tried out of it, so far.  Serve hot with a bit of Earth Balance Organic Whipped vegan butter, and a drizzle of brown rice syrup.  And the results are good, especially when you consider how healthy this is when compared to regular cornbread.   You use Ener-G Egg Replacer instead of eggs,  and a little agave syrup instead of sugar.   Instead of the traditional buttermilk, you simply curdle a cup of rice milk by adding a splash of vinegar.  This gives you the same tender crumb as buttermilk and nobody gets hurt.  While using less white flour and cornmeal, this recipe also has a double dose of good stuff–quinoa and quinoa flour!  Quinoa is truly a super food; high in protein, with a low-glycemic index.  I buy truRoots brand quinoa, which is organic, pre-washed, and helps support Andean farmers.