04 August 2011

Star Biscuits

These biscuits are quick to whip up and go equally well with southern-style gravy or jam.  My kids love them!  If you don't want to use a cookie cutter, you can cut the dough into 1-1/4" squares, roll it into wee balls, or just spoon gobs of it right onto the baking tray.

Preheat your oven to 450°F/225°C -- very hot!

Mix or sift together 2 cups all-purpose/plain flour, 1 tbsp baking powder, and a pinch of salt (you can use self-raising flour instead of the plain flour and just skip the baking powder).  Stir in 4 tbsp of oil (I use sunflower oil or grapeseed oil, but pretty much any neutral-flavoured oil will do -- you could even use olive oil if you'd like these to taste all nice and olive-oily) OR cut in 4 tbsp of margarine or shortening (don't use hydrogenated -- it's bad for you and tastes funny).  Your biscuits will be a bit flakier if you use a solid fat, but it takes more work to incorporate that into the flour.  (You can probably use coconut oil, too, although I haven't tried it.  As a sidenote, coconut oil is a fantastic moisturiser.  I can slather it all over my face (it is great for the under-eye area) and it never makes me break out.)

Now you want to stir in about 3/4 of a cup of soy/rice/coconut/oat/whatever-milk.  I say about 3/4 of a cup because you want the dough to be moist, but not enough to stick to the sides of the bowl-moist, so use as much or as little as you need.  Once your dough is at this stage, dump it onto a lightly-floured surface (I use a plastic cutting board), knead it around a few times, and roll it out/pat it down (I just use the palms of my hand, not a rolling pin) so it is about 1/2 to 3/4" thick (about 1.5 cm for you metric folks).  Then get a wee cookie cutter (mine is star-shaped and about 1.5"/3 cm in diameter) and start cutting out shapes.  When you can't cut out any more shapes, roll the leftover dough back into a ball, pat it down, and cut out some more.  You should get about 3 dozen wee biscuits out of this dough (I always end up with 38).

Put your little dough cut-outs on an ungreased baking tray and pop them in the oven for about 10 minutes.  Keep an eye on them towards the end -- you want them to be golden brown, but not too toasty-looking.  You can eat them as soon as they are out of the oven, but they still taste delish once they've cooled down.  I don't know how long they will keep because I've never made a batch that lasted more than a few hours.  ;D

02 August 2011

Macaroni Thingy (by special request)

macaroni thingy, originally uploaded by ^ nightingale.

This is a pretty standard vegan Mac & Cheese-style dish. The first thing you do is cook your pasta. You'll want to use something like macaroni, penne, shells, or rigatoni.

The second thing you want to do is boil about a cup and a half of fresh or frozen peas. If you're lazy (some would say economical with your time), you can just cook them right along with your pasta. You can skip this step and use a can of drained peas if you want, but I like using fresh or frozen peas better.

The third thing you want to do is make the fake-cheese sauce, which is rather like making gravy. I don't use exact measurements for this, but if you want something more exact, check out this post here: http://www.grouprecipes.com/81388/vegan-mac-daddy.html. You want to make about 3 cups of gravy.

What you want to do is fry some onions and garlic in oil or margarine (if you add a splash of oil to the marg, it will usually stop it from burning). Add a pinch of turmeric, cayenne pepper, and some thyme. Once the onions are starting to turn clear, go ahead and stir in a bit of flour (use cornstarch, xanthan gum or arrowroot if you want this to be GF -- just a tbsp or two should do, but if you are GF, you probably have a feel for how much to add). You will get to a point where you can't really incorporate any more flour (ignore this if you are not using flour). Now you want to start slowly stirring in some broth/water/milk-substitute (be it soy, oat, coconut, or whatever). Add some of the liquid, stir it until there are no clumps (using a whisk or a fork helps), wait for it to thicken, add a little more liquid, stir, wait, etc. until your gravy is the right consistency. You don't want it to be too runny -- you want it to be on the thick-side, but not so thick that it's pasty. Now, stir in some nutritional yeast. If you don't have any, you can skip this, but the nooch really enhances the cheesiness of the dish. Finally, stir in a glob of prepared mustard (whatever kind you like best), a splosh of lemon juice, and some salt and pepper and your sauce is done.

The fourth thing you want to do is drain a tin of stewed tomatoes (go ahead and save the juice for something else). If they are not chopped, you'll want to chop them, too. If you are feeling fancy, you can chop some sundried tomatoes and use them instead.

Now for the easy part -- mix everything together and dump it into a greased casserole dish and cook that baby in a preheated oven at 350°F/175°C for about half an hour. Let it chillax (try that portmanteau on for size!) for about 15 minutes so it firms up a bit. During this part, I circle the casserole dish anxiously, nibbling and picking at yummy, crusty bits of macaroni, like some kind of vegan vulture.

Now for the best part -- eat that baby!