Saturday, June 9, 2018

Sausage and Okra Purloo

Purloo is a hearty Southern dish of rice and meat cooked together. It's made differently, depending on the part of the South you're in and can be customized a million different ways. Because of that, it's also very easy to veganize. You can use any vegan meat substitute in this and it would work, but my favorite is sausage. I'm currently obsessed with Beyond Meat's new sausage, which comes in brat, Italian and hot Italian varieties. Any of them would work here, but the hot Italian was especially nice. The texture and flavor are uncanny and, because it has a casing, there's that "snap" that you get biting into sausage that the other vegan varieties lack. Any sausage would be good in this, though. I'm sort of a wuss about heat, so add some hot sauce or hotter peppers if you like. The "hot" Italian Beyond Meat sausage does not have much kick by itself, in my opinion. This purloo is a one-pot dinner, which is always a good thing.


1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced
1/2 poblano pepper, diced
2 vegan sausages, sliced
2 cups sliced okra
1 cup sweet corn, cut off the cob
1 cut short grain rice
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp basil
1/4 tsp marjoram
2 cups veggie broth

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

In a dutch oven, deep cast iron skillet with a lid or other oven-safe pot, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and poblano pepper and stir to coat. After a couple of minutes, add the sausage and stir to incorporate. Cook it for about 3 minutes, stirring often, until the sausage is browned a bit.

 Add the garlic and cook it a bit, being careful not to brown it. Add the spices, corn and okra and cook them for another couple minutes, then add the rice and stock. Stir it all up to incorporate.

Lower the oven temp to 325, put a lid on the pot and put it on the middle rack. Set the timer for 35 minutes. Don't stir it while it's in the oven. The rice should be perfectly done by this point. If it isn't, let it cook for another 5 minutes or so. Fluff it up with a fork and serve.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Southern Jam Cake

I love making cakes, but I'm terrible at making pretty cakes. That's fine, because I really revel in the eating of the cake than in admiring its beauty. This cake has a certain rugged beauty, but its flavor is where it shines. If you've never had a southern jam cake, you're in for a treat. Two characteristics of this spice cake make it unique: jam in the batter and a caramel frosting. These cakes are usually associated with Kentucky or Tennessee, but you can find them in lots of places. I can remember eating them occasionally growing up in Missouri. The best one I ever had was at a party I went to while I was briefly stationed in Mississippi back in my Navy days. This veganized version really captures the flavor and texture of a good jam cake. You can customize this by using a different flavor of jam or by adding pecans to the batter or on top of the frosting.


 For the cake:
2 sticks Earth Balance, softened               
1 1/2 cups evaporated cane sugar
1 10-ounce jar blackberry jam
1 cup plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used soy)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar 

4 prepared vegan eggs (I used the Vegan Egg for this)
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
For the frosting:
1 stick Earth Balance, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup non-dairy milk
3 cups powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray and flour two 9-inch cake pans.
Make the cake:
In a small bowl, combine the milk and apple cider vinegar and set aside. In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Set this aside as well.
In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, cream together the Earth Balance and sugar. Add the whole jar of jam and the vegan eggs and incorporate, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. With the mixer running on low, add the dry ingredients and milk mixture a bit at a time, going back and forth. Start with the dry and end with the dry. The color will change from this... this. Kind of a bummer, because a purple cake that doesn't need food coloring would be very cool.

Divide the finished batter between the two cake pans equally. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
Make the frosting:
In a small saucepan, bring the Earth Balance, brown sugar and milk to a boil, stirring it to combine well. Let it cool a bit before pouring it into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, incorporate the powdered sugar until the frosting is fluffy and smooth.

After the cakes cool on a wire rake, turn one of the cakes out onto a cake plate or other type of plate that you want the cake to stay on (once it's there, you won't really be able to move it). Frost the top and sides, then repeat with the other cake. As you can see from the pic at the top, I'm not much of a cake decorator. We ate this so fast that it didn't matter anyway.