Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Vegan Low-Fat Buttermilk Drop Scones with Dried Fruit

I always thought I didn't like scones.  It turns out that I don't like stale scones.  Warm, fresh scones straight from the oven are a different story entirely.  They're fast, easy, delicious, and divine with a cup of coffee or Oaxacan hot chocolate.

I veganized this recipe from The New All Purpose Joy of Cooking.  It really is a great book, even for vegetarians and vegans.

  • 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 TB ground flax seeds (you can grind whole flax seeds in a dry blender)
  • 3 TB water
  • 1 TB white vinegar
  • ~1 c. soy milk
  • 3 TB oil
  • 1/2 c. dried fruit such as raisins, currants, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, chopped apricots, or chopped pears
  • cinnamon sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and grease a cookie sheet.
  2.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.
  3. In a smaller bowl, whisk the ground flax seeds and water until the mixture is viscous.
  4. Put the vinegar in a measuring cup.  Add soy milk to equal one cup.
  5. Whisk the oil into the flaxseed/water mixture until combined.  Whisk in vinegar/soy milk mixture and dried fruit.
  6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until the dry ingredients are just moistened (don't over mix!).  The batter will be very sticky.
  7. Using a half-cup measuring cup, ice cream scoop, or a soup ladle, drop the scones onto the greased cookie sheet, leaving at least one inch between scones.  Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top.
  8. Bake on the center rack at 400°F until the tops of the scones are golden, 12-15 minutes.  My oven maxes out at 350°F, so I baked my scones for 20-30 minutes. 
  9. Make sure you eat at lease one scone straight out of the oven! 
Makes about 7 scones.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Homemade Onion-Herb White Bread

This bread was a hit at a recent dinner party.  You don't find too many homemade savory breads here in  Mexico, so when you show up at a dinner with one of these loaves, folks will think you're a cooking god... and you are, aren't you?

My favorite part about this bread (aside from the rave reviews that were lavished upon me all night) is that it only cost me $30 pesos, or less than $3 dollars, to make FOUR loaves.

I made two loaves in bread pans and I braided the other two loaves Challah-style.  The braided loaves were beautiful, and the bread pan loaves have made some delicious sandwiches.


  • 2 cups soy or cows milk (I used soy)
  • 5 TB sugar
  • 2 TB salt
  • 4 1/2 tsp bread yeast
  • 2 cups water
  • 12-13 cups white flour
  • 5 TB melted butter or margerine, or olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp crushed rosemary
  1. Combine milk, sugar, salt, and water in a pan and heat on the stove until lukewarm (it should feel warm, not hot, on your wrist).  Remove from heat and dissolve yeast in the mixture.  Set aside.
  2. In a very large bowl (you might even want to use a Dutch oven if you don't have a very large bowl), combine half of the flour and all of the dried herbs.  Add the liquid-yeast mixture from step 1.  Mix until smooth, then add the melted butter or oil and the minced onion. Mix until smooth, then add the remaining flour.
  3. Knead the dough for ten minutes, adding more flour if the dough is too sticky.  As you knead, your dough should be silky soft, elastic, and not sticky at all.  It should be easy to knead the dough, although you will certainly break a sweat as you knead, because the dough will weigh about five pounds!  To avoid making a huge mess on my table, I always knead my dough directly in my bowl or Dutch oven.  
  4. Oil your bowl or Dutch oven, and place your dough ball inside.  Flip the dough ball over so that the whole ball gets covered in oil.  The oil will make sure the dough doesn't dry out as it rises.
  5. Cover the bowl containing the dough with a towel and place in a warm, draft-free place.  If it's a cold or rainy day, you might need to fire up your oven for just a few minutes, then turn it off and put your dough inside to rise where it's nice and warm.  Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
  6. When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and divide it into four equal peices (I cut mine into quarters with a knife).  Shape each peice into a loaf and place either in a greased bread pan or on a greased cookie sheet.  Cover the loaves again with a towell and let them rise until double in size, about one hour.
  7. While the loaves are rising, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F.  
  8. When the loaves have risen, place them in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until the loaves begin to get a golden color and they sound hollow when you knock on them.
  9. Let the loaves cool for about ten minutes, then remove them from the pans and/or baking sheets and set them on a rack to cool.  IMPORTANT! You need to let them cool completely (about an hour) before you cut them.  This is very tricky if you don't live alone!
Makes 4 1-lb. loaves.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Vegan Soy Sloppy Joes

Photo: Learning Vegan
This recipe is for "Messy Mikes" from my favorite cookbook author Joanne Stepaniak's book Vegan Vittles.  She offers two versions: one made with tempeh and one with TVP (texturized vegetable protein).  I'm reprinting her TVP version here because while Mexico doesn't have tempeh, every corner store in the country seems to carry TVP (they call it "soya"), along with the rest of these everyday ingredients.  Make this recipe, and your Mexican friends will once again be so surprised at how you can use common Mexican ingredients to create such an exotic traditional gringo dish!

A note on some of the ingredients: this recipe calls for ketchup and apple cider vinegar.  If you're in Mexico, I highly suggest you work hard to find Heinz ketchup.  I found it in Sam's Club.  US-style ketchup is far superior to Mexican-style ketchup, which is so watered down that it hardly tastes like tomato at all and the color looks like orange soda syrup.  Since Heinz has more tomatoes, it's also more prostate-healthy than its Mexican counterpart.  So splurge.  You won't regret it.

This recipe also calls for apple cider vinegar.  Stay away from the grocery store, because most of those vinegars are white vinegar (you know, the kind made from wood chips) with food coloring.  I kid you not, check out the ingredients.  Traditional Mexican markets (the mercaditos) have fabulous homemade apple cider vinegar!  You'll find them at a lot of vegetable stands.  They'll be in plastic water bottles with the labels peeled off.  They'll look a lot like honey, and maybe you always thought they were honey, but they're not!  If you haven't seen what I'm talking about, go to your local mercadito and ask any vendor where they sell vinagre de manzana casero.  Store-bought vinegar will do in a pinch, but, again, the real thing is really worth the effort.  And it's just better for you.

So, without further ado, here is Joanne Stepaniak's Messy Mikes:


  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 c. TVP rehydrated with 7/8 c. water
  • 2 TB soy sauce
  • 1/2 c. ketchup
  • 1 tsp sweetener of your choice (I use sugar)
  • 1 tsp prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • Bread rolls (try bolillos or hamburger buns)
  1. Soak the TVP in the water while you dice the onions (it should soak at least 5 minutes).
  2. Place the oil in a 2-quart saucepan, and heat it over medium-high.  When the oil is hot, add the diced onion, TVP, and soy sauce, and sauté them until the onion is tender and lightly browned, about ten minutes.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients except the bread, and mix well.  Reduce heat to medium, and simmer the mixture, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring often and making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan.  
  4. Open the rolls as if you were to make a sandwich and stuff them with the TVP mixture.  Serve and enjoy!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Vegan Espresso Shortbread Cookies With Irish Whiskey Glaze

I found this recipe in the Orlando Sentinel.  It was adapted by the Sentinel from a recipe by cooking teacher Janine MacLachlan.  She says about the recipe: "I've deconstructed the classic Irish coffee by using ground coffee or espresso and Irish whiskey in a shortbread cookie."

This cookie recipe is amazing, easy, and completely delicious.  The cookies are crunchy, and the ground coffee gives them a little extra crunch (that's why you want to use ground coffee and not instant coffee powder).  The sweet whiskey glaze makes them anything but your boring old shortbread cookie.

You can whip up a batch in a flash.  The most difficult and time-consuming part is waiting for the cookies to cool so that you can glaze them.

It's easy to make this recipe vegan.  Just replace the butter with margarine.  Make sure you choose a brand that doesn't have trans fats, though, because this cookie is like a whiskey-flavored heart attack.  Look for a tub margarine; they're less likely to contain hydrogenated oils, which is where the trans fats are hiding.


  • 2 sticks (225 g) butter or margarine at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 TB ground espresso or coffee (not instant!)

  • 1/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup whiskey or bourbon
  • 2 TB butter or margarine

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Stir together butter, sugar, and salt in a bowl.  Mix in about half the flour; stir in the ground coffee.  Stir in the remaining flour; combine thoroughly.  Using damp fingers, press into two buttered 8-inch round cake pans.
  2. Bake in the center of the oven until golden brown, 30-35 minutes.  Remove from the oven; immediately cut each pan into 8 wedges but leave in the pan.  Cool completely.
  3. For the glaze, pour sugar and 2 tablespoons of the whiskey into a small saucepan.  Heat to a boil over high heat; boil rapidly, 1 minute.  Remove from heat; whisk in butter.  Whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons of the whiskey.  Let set to thicken slightly.  If it's not thickening fast enough, stick the pot in the fridge.  When thickened slightly, spoon over shortbread, using the back of the spoon to cover evenly.  When glaze is set, remove cookies from pan.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Peanut Butter and Apple Sandwich

When Dan, a friend from college, came to visit us, he brought a jar of peanut butter as a gift.  Here's what we've been doing with it:

  • 2 Slices Whole wheat bread
  • Apple Slices
  • Honey

Spread peanut butter on one slice of bread.  Top with apple slices.  Spread honey on other slice of bread, put on top of apple slices.

The best honey is raw honey because it's generally thicker.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Vegan Shoo Fly Cake

This recipe is from the Vegetarian Resource Group's Vegan Handbook, an old but classic book full of delicious recipes, including homemade gluten and vegan baked goods, like this cake.

I'm Pennsylvania Dutch, and I can attest that this cake really does taste like Shoo Fly Pie.  Since it omits the crust, it takes less than ten minutes to put together.  Fast and delicious.

The key ingredient here is molasses.  It's tough to find in Mexican grocery stores, but they sell it very cheap in cane sugar refineries (ingenios azucareros).  So if you live in Veracruz, Chiapas, Oaxaca, or any other sugar-producing state, this cake is for you.  Since I've never seen anyone cook with molasses in Mexico, Vegan Shoo Fly Cake will impress all of your friends.


  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (in a pinch you can use white flour)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, azucar mascabado, or other granulated sweetener
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup soft margarine (or butter for non-vegan version)
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  1. Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.
  2. Cut in margarine until mixture resembles a fine crumb.  If you don't have a french pastry cutter, cut the margarine into several pieces, toss the pieces into the dry ingredients, and start mixing the margarine into the dry ingredients with your hands until it resembles a fine crumb.
  3. Set aside 1/3 cup of the crumb mixture.
  4. Add molasses and hot water to the crumb mixture that's in the bowl (not the part you set aside), and stir until just mixed.
  5. Pour batter into a greased 9-inch round cake pan or a greased 8-inch cast iron pan.
  6. Top with the reserved crumb mixture.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees fahrenheit for 25-30 min.  When it's done, the cake should have risen to double its original size, and the middle should be just slightly lower than the edges.  A toothpick inserted in the center won't come out clean, but the crumbs that stick to it should be moist but done. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Carrot-Granola Quick Bread

I just got a new oven after going without one for about six months.  I'm on a baking binge now, and nothing's easier to make than quick breads.  They're called panques in Mexico, though your traditional gringo quick bread has more fat, more sugar, and more spices than its Mexican counterpart.  The difference between a quick bread and regular bread is that quick breads don't have yeast.  Instead, eggs and baking soda or baking powder are used to leaven the bread, making preparation a lot faster, easier, and with a lot less mess.

This recipe calls for ground nutmeg.  I've never seen nutmeg in Mexico.  If you're making this bread in Mexico, you'll have to tuck a jar into your checked luggage or ask that someone bring you some.  I've made carrot bread without nutmeg with success, but the flavor loses some of its complexity.

The recipe also calls for granola.  I use a delightful mix I found in the organic farmers market near my house.  It has toasted coconut, toasted pecans, raisins, puffed amaranth, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, and toasted oats, and it is sweetened with piloncillo, a by-product of the sugar-making process which is Mexico's version of brown sugar.

As for the dried fruit called for in the recipe, feel free to get creative.  I cleaned out my pantry and tossed in a mix of the many tiny bags full of the last pieces of dried fruit I had.  I used a mix of dried sweetened cranberries, prunes, chopped candied figs, and raisins.


  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c sugar
  • 2/3 c oil (preferably canola oil)
  • 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 c grated carrots
  • 1 c granola
  • 1/2 c dried fruit
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F or 176 degrees C.*
  2. Combine eggs, sugar, and oil in a small bowl.
  3. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients.  Stir with a wooden spoon until mixed, but don't over-mix the batter.  Add carrots, granola and dried fruit.
  5. Pour the batter into a greased bread loaf pan and bake for about one hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Makes 1 loaf.  This recipe is easily doubled.

* A lot of Mexican ovens either have the numbers 1-5 on their dials instead of temperatures, or the dial controls the size of the flame instead of the actual temperature of the oven, because the oven doesn't have a thermostat (despite the fact that it might actually have temperatures on the dial).  Do yourself a favor and buy an oven thermometer.  It'll save you a lot of heartbreak and burnt breads.