Monday, March 30, 2015

Maple Bacon Donuts

I'll start out by admitting that I've never had the famous maple bacon donuts from Voodoo Donuts that everyone has raved about for years. When I was a meat eater, it was low on my list of flavor priorities for donuts. I'm more of a cinnamon sugar or mint chocolate kind of guy. Strangely, it wasn't until after I went vegan that I started to wonder what they tasted like. Maybe it's the part of me that loves a challenge. Either way, these things are delicious.

These donuts may look complicated, but they're not. Don't be intimidated. The dough making and frying are the hardest part. They're admittedly time-consuming, but well worth the time and effort. If you want to impress an omnivore who thinks you eat nothing but kale, this is the way to do it.

The bacon recipe is from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's wonderful book, The 30-Day Vegan Challenge. This stuff is easy to make and comes very close to the real thing, in both flavor and texture. It makes next-level BLTs as well. You can find the coconut flakes in the bulk section of most grocery stores. You're looking for the unsweetened, bigger kind. Some stores have the shredded coconut, which doesn't work well for this (trust me, I've tried).

For the donuts:
1 1/2 cups warm water (110-115 degrees)
2 tbsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup evaporated cane sugar
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
4 tbsp Ener-G egg replacer
1 tsp salt
1/4 canola oil
2 quarts vegetable oil (or other neutral oil), for frying

For the maple icing:
2 cups powdered sugar
5-6 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp maple extract

For the bacon: 
2 tbsp liquid smoke
2 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp water
3 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Make the bacon: Do this first, because you may need the oven space for raising the donuts. In a large bowl, mix together the water, liquid smoke, tamari and maple syrup. Put the coconut flakes into the bowl and stir them around until they're well coated and all the liquid has been absorbed.

Pour them out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake them for 25 minutes. Stir them around after 10 minutes and then again every 5 minutes while they're baking. By the end, they'll be crispy and browned up and the whole house will smell like bacon. Once they're done, set them aside to cool.

Make the dough: Pour the water into a bowl, then add the yeast and half the sugar. Stir it around a bit and then let it sit for 15 minutes. The yeast should bloom out like this:

Mix the flour, egg replacer salt and remaining sugar together in a large bowl. Add the oil and mix it in. Pour the yeast mixture in and stir it around with a sturdy wooden spoon. You could also attack it with floured hands, but be warned: it'll still be a mess at this point. Once it's kind of holding together, you can dump it out on a floured surface and knead it there as well. Work it around until it's smooth and holds together. Shape it into a ball, put it back into the bowl, cover the bowl with a towel and set it aside to raise for 1 hour. If your kitchen is cold, preheat your oven to 200, turn it off for a bit, and put the bowl in the oven.

After an hour, the dough should be raised, puffy and somewhat sticky. Punch it down, scrape it out onto a floured surface and knead it a bit. With a rolling pin, roll the dough out flat to 1/2 inch thickness. Use a donut cutter or wide-mouth glass to cut the shapes out. Place them on baking sheets lined with parchment paper and set aside to raise again for 45 minutes. The oven is another convenient, out-of-the-way spot for them this time as well.

While that's going on, you make your icing and get your frying station all set up and ready to go.

Make the maple icing: In a medium bowl, mix the powdered sugar, maple syrup and maple extract with a whisk.

If you have a deep fryer, add the oil and set the temperature for 375 degrees. If you're frying on the stovetop, use a deep, heavy-bottomed pot. Add the oil and turn the heat up to medium high. Don't go higher than that initially, because you want the heat to be around 375. You can always turn it up, but it takes time to bring the oil back down once it's gone beyond that.

Once you're ready to start, carefully drop 2-3 donuts into the oil. Let them cook 3-4 minutes, checking the undersides to see if they're browning. Once they're done, flip them over and cook the other side.

After they've cooked completely, remove the donuts from the oil and set them on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. When they're cool enough to handle, dip them into the icing and twist them around while you're pulling them out. They should be totally covered on top. Set them on a rack or a plate and sprinkle them with bacon bits. Repeat until you have this:

Friday, March 20, 2015

Cheeseburger Pie

Did your parents ever make the cheeseburger pie recipe on the back of the Bisquick box? Mine did, and I always loved it when I was a kid. It's like sloppy joes, but with biscuits instead of buns. What's not to love? At some point when I was older, they stopped making it and I eventually forgot about it. It wasn't until someone mentioned it at work that I remembered it. After chatting about it with my mom one day, I decided that it's time for this fondly-remembered dish to make a cruelty-free comeback.

Standing in for ground beef is textured vegetable protein, or TVP. It's inexpensive and very easy to to cook. If you can make couscous, you can make TVP. The soy sausage or vegan ground beef that you see in grocery stores are usually made from TVP. Making your own is cheaper and allows you to flavor it however you want. Look for it in the bulk section of the grocery store. If it isn't there, it might be nearby, grouped with all the special flours that Bob's Red Mill makes. It runs $1.50-$2.00 a pound, usually. Don't be put off by it's pre-cooked appearance. It doesn't really look like it could ever be made to resemble ground beef, no matter what you do to it, but once we're done, it'll be able to fool any omnivore you put it in front of. Before you cook it, though, it really just looks like Grape Nuts:

One trick I used to make it resemble ground beef a little more is browning liquid. This stuff is vegan, and is used to darken up gravies and sauces. I use it to give my beef seitan and TVP dishes more of that "beefy" color. I use Kitchen Bouquet, but Gravy Master is really good, too. You can find it in the sauce aisle at most grocery stores.


For the crust:
1 cup unsweetened soy milk
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
5 tbsp Earth Balance, cubed and kept cold
1 tbsp chives
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried thyme or parsley

For the filling:
2 cups TVP
2 2/3 cups water
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
2 tsp browning liquid (optional - see note above)
2 tsp oregano
1 6 oz. can tomato paste

1 package vegan cheese (melty ones work best. I used Daiya Pepper Jack flavor for this one)
1 tomato, sliced

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

Make the crust: In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and soy milk. Whisk it until it thickens up a bit (it won't take long). Set it aside for a few minutes while you prepare the flour.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, garlic powder and salt in a large bowl. Add the Earth Balance and, using a pastry cutter or two knives. cut it down to the size of small peas. You can use a food processor for this as well.

Now add the chives, thyme or parsley (or both) and milk mixture and work it all in together with a wooden spoon. Once the dough is close to where you need it to be, dump it out on a floured counter or board and work it into a smooth ball.

You can use a square 8x8 baking dish for this, or a round cake pan, whichever you prefer. Spray the pan with cooking spray, put the dough into the pan and start working it out and up the edges of the pan with your fingers. You want a semi-thick crust on this. Don't go as thin as you would a pizza. There should be plenty of dough for you to work with. Go almost all the way up the sides of the pan. Some areas will be thicker than others, but don't let that worry you. This is a rustic kind of dish, so it doesn't need to look perfect.

Once it's done, put the pan in the fridge until you're ready to add the filling.

Make the filling: In a skillet, combine the water, garlic and onion powders, tamari and browning liquid (if using). Turn the heat on to medium-high until it starts to boil in the pan. Pour in the TVP and stir it around so that none of it is dry or above the surface of the liquid.

Cover the skillet and watch it closely. Once it starts to boil again, turn the heat down to a simmer. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and turn it off. Let it sit, covered, for another 5 minutes or so. The liquid will be mostly gone and the TVP will have a ground beef texture to it.

Put the skillet back on the stove over medium heat. Add the oregano and tomato paste and stir it around to combine it. Keep stirring while it heats up. The tomato paste will soften up and combine as it heats. You're looking for the consistency of sloppy joes.

Pour the filling into the prepared crust and cover the surface with cheese and sliced tomatoes.

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the crust is nicely browned. Let it cool for a few minutes, slice and serve.