One of my favorite ways to procrastinate is reading vegan blogs–I love all the recipes and ideas, reviews of products and cookbooks, and links to websites. Some of my must views are listed on Beyond Generation Cake, including Vegan Crunk, a Southern vegan blog written by slick chick and self-proclaimed bad-ass, Bianca Phillips. Based out of Tennessee, Phillips knows how to throw down some seriously tasty eats as evidenced in her debut cookbook, Cookin Crunk: Eatin’ Vegan in the Dirty South.
As a longtime fan of the website, this vegan take on Southern classics was met with great excitement when I found it waiting in my mailbox. I actually sat the in pick up lane at my daughter’s school, marking page after page of possibilities. The actualities do not disappoint. At first glance, some of the recipes might seem overwhelming–many of them contain cross references to other parts of the book and, like yesterday’s review, this book does not rely heavily on prepackaged faux foods. What I love about it is that, once you read it, the recipes are actually simple and they can be adapted to a variety of lifestyles and situations. Unlike some cookbooks I’ve come across, which encourage you to purchase premade faux meats, Phillips actually teaches you how to make simple, cost effective, and healthy alternatives to the packaged stuff. But, if time isn’t permitting, you can still use the packaged and the recipes will work. I’ve gained some basic skills from Cookin Crunk that extend beyond the recipes in its pages. Many of the recipes do require some time, but any Southern cook will tell you that is the nature of this type of cuisine. You have to be patient if you want the flavor.
So what, you may ask, does all this have to do with vegan holidays? Well, I don’t know about you, but there some nights when the holidays kick my butt a little and I need something easy and homey. Last night was one of those nights. After a week of final exams and grading until my eyes bled, a car accident, and a weekend of grappling with holiday crowds and my increasingly nutso kids, I was worn out. I didn’t want to go out, but I didn’t want to really cook (plus we had like next to zero food in the house). The Hungry Jill Casserole just happened to be the perfect fix.
Start to finish, this recipe took me about 45-minutes. Because of the lack of supplies, I had to make some substitutions. I have noted in red my comments and the changes I had to make in order to work with what I had on hand. And because my daughter was helping, my biscuits got placed in the wrong way (see picture below). But even with those tweaks, this was so delish. My husband and two-year-old son destroyed it (having fourths and thirds, respectively).
Hungry Jill Casserole by Bianca Phillips
- Meat eater husband and kid approved
- Kid friendly
For Biscuit Topping
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour, plus extra for sprinkling
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 TBS vegetable shortening
1 TBS vegan butter
- Mix soy milk and vinegar in a small bowl and let sit for 2 minutes until thickened.
- Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda together and mix well. Cut in shortening and butter with a pastry blender. (I don’t have a pastry blender, so I do it the old school way my grandmother taught me. One table knife in each hand, pull away from each other through mixture.) Repeat until it is the texture of bread crumbs.
- Pour in the milk mixture and mix by hand, kneading lightly until the ingredients are well combined but not overmixed. Sprinkle some pinches of flour on top of the dough while it remains in the bowl, but don’t mix it in. (I love this tip and the tip in step 5 about not twisting the cutter–I never knew these things and they made my biscuits amazing.)
- Transfer the dough onto a flour work surface. Roll out or pat down the dough until it is about 3/4 of an inch thick.
- Cut as six biscuits from the dough, rerolling as necessary. Use a 2 1/2 inch round cutter (I used a drinking glass). Press the cutter into the dough and lift straight up. Don’t twist the cutter or the biscuits will be flat (who knew?).
- Cut each biscuit in half crosswise.
For the Filling
2 tsp canola oil
1/2 cup chopped onion (I used about 3/4 of a medium Texas onion)
2 cans (14 to 16 ounces each) Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed (I used canned vegan baked beans with their sauce)
1 cup TSP Beef–recipe for homemade available in the book (I used a frozen package of faux ground beef)
3/4 cup barbeque sauce
1/4 cup water
3 TBS nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 cup shredded vegan Cheddar cheese
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 5 minutes. (I threw in the frozen beef crumbles for the last two minutes of cooking so that they were thawed but not fully cooked.)
- Transfer contents of skillet into a large bowl. Add beans, barbeque sauce, yeast, garlic powder, water, and cumin. Mix well. Season with salt to taste.
- Spray a 2 1/2-quart casserole with cooking spray. (I used a 3-quart 11X17 and it was perfect. And I just realized I did not use cooking spray. Oops.) Pour the filling into the baking dish.
- Place the biscuit halves, cut side down–rounded edge facing up–along the edge of the casserole. If you run out of room, put the rest in the center. Scatter the vegan cheese over the exposed filling between biscuits, making sure not to cover the biscuits.
- Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, until the biscuits are golden.
PS. What is Christmas without cookies? Tomorrow I tackle classic cookies with the vegan twist.