Many Days, July 2020
VBC Meeting #89: Break the Rules
Host of the Month: The Internet
Location: The Internet
For July, the Vegan Bake Club “theme” was Break the Rules! One could add a no-no ingredient to a classic dish, fold pastry the wrong way, give a pie a soggy bottom, make a dessert into breakfast…
This is what we made (in the words of those who made it):
Lauren: Tofu “Ceviche”
For my rule breaking entry, I made ceviche without any seafood! This I made because Annette was coming over for a long past due visit and bringing a refreshing watermelon, so I wanted to make something refreshing-ish too. I roughly followed a shrimp ceviche recipe, substituting tofu for shrimp and not boiling it like in the recipe. Making this dish allowed me to make use of the following ingredients grown by Billy: English cucumber, red onion, little yellow tomatoes, jalapeño (that I substituted for serrano), and green bell pepper (not in this recipe, but I saw it in another ceviche recipe, and we’ve got to use what needs using!). These ingredients joined the tofu as well as fresh lime juice of 2 limes, zest of one lime, juice of 1 lemon (I would probably use 2 like the recipe says next time), orange juice, avocado, cilantro, extra virgin olive oil, and salt. We ate this with blue corn tortilla chips and, of course, watermelon and, also of course, mosquito bites because we were eating this outside in the evening. Awww, summer!
Shannon: Biscuit Parade
For my entry, I made my own mini theme within the larger “Break the Rules” theme that I am calling “Fun with Biscuits,” because y’all know I like a good carb. I photographed something a week and a half ago as back up in case I didn’t come up with anything better. And then it just became a thing. So…
Dish 1: Biscuit substitute for when you really want a Caribbean bake
It all started when I woke up one morning really wanting a Caribbean bake so that I could have a bake with this smoked gouda Follow Your Heart cheese that I got (and super recommend) (also, I have made the Caribbean bakes for VBC before; see here: http://veganbakeclub.com/july-22nd-2017-merica/; ironically enough, also in July). But I didn’t really want to mess with bakes since you have to let the dough sit and then it requires frying and it’s a whole thing. And I am way too lazy right now to deal with all that. But then I thought “Well, why can’t I just make an easy drop biscuit and put a cheese slice on that?! I make my own rules here!!” So I googled and found this recipe for super easy drop biscuits. I veganized it by using Earth Balance butter and oat milk as the substitutes. I also threw in some Old Bay seasoning and garlic powder because I also super like cheddar bay biscuits but when I was making the biscuit dough I didn’t really think I wanted to do the butter brush that those require. So I put the seasoning in the dough instead to see what would happen (I have also made the cheddar bay biscuits for VBC before; see here: http://veganbakeclub.com/june-17th-2017-bbq/; apparently, I did this one in June of the same year, because I like bread). Funny enough, once the biscuits were cooked, I decided I could muster up enough energy to do the butter brush (which has salt, garlic, and bay seasoning in it). So I can’t say for certain what adding seasoning into the dough did. But I then split them in half and put on a slice of smoked gouda “cheese” and grilled tomato slices (because, why not, they are from my parents’ garden and they are quite fabulous). And voila! A cheese and tomato biscuit sandwich with nectarine slices on the side (it was breakfast, so it needed a fruit…obviously). I really enjoyed this one.
Dish 2: Jumbo sized “sausage” biscuit sandwich
Then yesterday, being low on groceries and far too lazy to be too industrious in the kitchen, I was trying to figure out what to have for dinner. I had Boca Turk’y burger patties but no bread. And I didn’t really want to make a real bun, because again, yeast, resting, whole thing. So I thought, “Why can’t I just make a really large biscuit and put the burger patty on that?! I bet it will taste like a sausage biscuit. I make my own rules here!!” So I made up the same recipe of drop biscuits but did it plain this time (no extra seasoning), and just put the whole dough in one lump. I also let it bake longer due to its size. Slice, burger, salad on the side (it’s dinner, so vegetables were necessary…obviously). And voila! Dinner is served. Worked out surprisingly well.
Dish 3: An attempt at piña colada biscuits
Then all this biscuit making had me thinking “Well, what if I substituted coconut oil for the butter and threw in some pineapple?! Could I get it to be like a dessert piña colada biscuit? I make my own rules here!!” So, same recipe, this time with unrefined coconut oil in place of the butter, a dash of coconut extract for good measure, and then some crushed pineapple. And voila! Tropical biscuits! This one didn’t have quite as much of a punch of flavor as I was hoping for, but I think it’s definitely worth trying again. I think I could use sweetened condensed coconut milk instead of oat (I was going to use coconut cream, but it had gone bad). And I think next time I would put in a lot more pineapple and maybe a bit of the pineapple juice. Also, I think it would be nice if I tried sprinkling brown sugar (or white) on top before baking. So many experiments one can do! But none of you can taste the difference, so let’s just assume that I got the ratio of ingredients right on the first go (I’ll update you if I perfect my piña colada biscuit).
It might also be helpful to know that I cut down the recipe to 1/4 size for each dish. I’m pretty good at cutting down recipes for a single person. I think as I attempt further piña colada experiments, I will try cutting it down to 1/8 size so that I only make one biscuit per version.
So that’s all for this episode of “Fun with Biscuits.” This is what you get when you are extremely lazy but super love white bread.
John: Freestyle Ice Pops
It’s not Texas hot here, but warm enough that I haven’t wanted to turn on the oven. The other morning I made some freestyle ice pops with different combinations of things in the house that seemed like they might be good together – frozen strawberries, mashed fresh nectarine, orange juice, vanilla, unsweetened dried coconut, Silk brand dark chocolate almond milk (the most delicious non milk-milk?), Special K cereal, and crunchy peanut butter. I did not have any popsicle sticks in the house, so they’re tiny pops you eat with a spoon or your cold, bare hands – no rules!
I’m about halfway through the variety of pops now, and they’re all varying levels of good. As creamy as Silk’s dark chocolate almond milk is on cereal, it turned out way more icy than I’d hoped when frozen (I was hoping it would turn out like a pudding pop). Freezing cereal into almond milk makes it a little reminiscent of the semi-soft cone on a Drumstick. The brownish orange pop used more vanilla than I’d intended and looks pretty crazy, but as a vanilla lover, a strong vanilla-orange-strawberry pop was a-ok. Putting the ingredients directly into trays unmixed made for some funny looking layers (like the white dry coconut pockets), but the overall taste came out fine.
Drew: Vegetable Paella
For the July 2020 VBC theme “Breaking the Rules,” Drew made Vegetable Paella and I made Coconut Cake with Coconut Dream Frosting. Macy napped in another room(s).
Drew took a page from Lauren’s rule-breaking-book and made a traditionally seafood dish non-seafood (have we ever done a “Seafood” theme?). The Coconut Cake with Coconut Dream Frosting broke the rules because it sucked.
Paella (recipe from The Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook by Nisha Vora… Yes, after all that back and forth with my sister for the macaroni & cheese recipe from last time, I realized I had the damn book the whole time…):
For the paella we used Kroger brand vegan sausage. Also, the recipe called for orange and yellow bell peppers but Drew used red and green—big time rule breaker here. He omitted cooking the paella with crushed pepper but we used it optionally and to taste later. Also, I’m the only one who ate olives with my paella because I love things that taste good and Drew has been breaking the rules since he first decided he didn’t like olives.
Caroline: Coconut Cake with Coconut Dream Frosting
Cake (recipe from what was fool proof until now Eat, Drink & Be Vegan by Dreena Burton): For the frosting, we couldn’t find macadamia nut butter so we used almond. We also got imitation coconut extract which, for all I know, could be made with beaver anal gland liquid so, RULE BREAKING! We also got Kroger brand vegan cream cheese because Tofutti was out. These three things were all in the frosting, which was the worst part of the failed cake. The cake recipe was actually followed exactly save for the imitation coconut extract. Another frosting note–although I don’t know why anyone would try making this as I am certainly not making it sound good–is that 1 and ½ tsp of xanthan gum was too much. Break that rule, yes.
I just want to end by saying I’m really bummed my last two attempts at making cake have failed.
On a positive note, that paella was super good!
Slynn: Minted Potato and Chickpea Curry
Lately I’ve been trying recipes from one of the many cookbooks I’ve been gifted over the years, but haven’t had time to cook anything from. Last weekend I made the Minted Potato and Chickpea Curry from The Gourmet Vegetarian Slow Cooker: Simple and Sophisticated Meals from Around the World by Lynn Alley. This recipe starts with dried chickpeas. We’ve been cooking more dried beans lately, and this was an easy method for cooking dried beans: just add the beans and water early in the a.m. and cook on low for 6-8 hours. No pre-soaking or watching a hot pot of boiling beans on the stove while a toddler is running around. After the chickpeas are cooked, the remaining ingredients are added: chopped potatoes, tomatoes, coconut milk, chili powder, turmeric, and salt. I broke the “rules” by finishing this on the stove because after 10 hours the potatoes were still not cooked and we were hungry! This meant washing an extra pot, but it was worth it to finish the meal in 10 minutes, instead of another hour or two. I found the end result to be slightly watery so I added an extra half cup of coconut milk. Neva liked this, so I always consider a recipe to be a “keeper” if I can get a 2 year old to eat it. I was also able to use mint growing in the garden, as this “minted” part of this recipe is a garnish of chopped fresh mint, along with chopped cilantro and jalapeños. It is nice that these elements are added later so you can leave them out if someone doesn’t want the peppers or cilantro. My dish is pictured with some brown rice, leftover steamed veggies from Oriental Garden, and peas that Neva didn’t eat.
Billy: Cucumber Slaw
Rules broken by food processing English cucumbers (10+lbs shown) into a slaw with carrots seasoned by salt, sugar, vinegar, lime juice and pepper.
Rámon: Vegan Hot Dog Experiment #1
Better late than never. I am breaking the rules by submitting after the theme for next month has been sent. Apologies for not sending many updates, email is my worst form of communication but I have cooked lots of vegan items throughout the pandemic that I meant to submit and never did. (Oops!)
In July I embarked on a journey of making the best vegan hot dog imaginable. Inspired by a recipe that mixed tofu with vital wheat gluten (and the fact that Natural Grocers was out of refrigerated tofu so I had stocked up on silken which I found out is not as good as refrigerated and a huge pain to take out of the package) I decided to throw caution to the wind and attempt my own recipe.
Here is my hand written recipe. I blended all of the ingredients together and added them to the vital wheat gluten, mixed and did the tootsie roll style foil wrap, steamed for 45 min and then grilled (on our grill pan, it was very hot outside). I really thought I would get a more hot dog looking color because of my addition of beet juice but no dice.
We enjoyed these with many condiments, possibly in a clairvoyant moment of anticipation of next months theme, however the flavor of the “not hog” as I lovingly dubbed them didn’t stand up as well as I’d hoped. The texture however, was great, I attribute this to the blended tofu.
To try to salvage them (for my taste anyway, Sarah and Neva liked them) I then marinated them further the next day in the mixture at the bottom of my recipe for several hours and then grilled again. We enjoyed them bánh mì style with some homemade pickled cucumbers and carrots as well as other condiments and toppings pictured. This flavor was way better to me, and I will try to incorporate straight into the dog next time.