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Monday, November 30, 2015

Biscuits and Gravy for One

I’d heard about biscuits and gravy for years but never tried it. It sounded strange to me. But when a friend from the south danced around my living room touting the virtues of this particular dish, I decided that I had to find out for myself.

For the Biscuits:
¼ cup almond milk
1 tsp vinegar
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking soda
1 ½ TBSP cold vegan butter
For the Gravy:
1 ounce white button mushrooms (or a variety), about half a cup
1 teaspoon vegan butter
1 teaspoon minced shallot (or onion)
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour (possibly a pinch or two more)
¼ cup veggie stock or water
Pinch of fresh or dried thyme
Pinch of salt
A few grinds of pepper

Make the Biscuits:
Preheat a baking pan or baker’s stone in a 450 degree Fahrenheit oven. A hot pan makes browner, crunchier edges. If you don’t want it crunchy, don’t preheat the pan.
  1. Add the vinegar to the milk and stir. Set it aside
  2. Place the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a small bowl and combine. Cut the butter in with a fork or a pastry knife until it resembles wet sand.
  3. Add the milk and vinegar, which should be nicely curdled by now, slowly and stir until combined. (You may not need all of the liquid, so add it slowly. It shouldn’t be too wet, but all the pieces should clump together.)
  4. Turn the dough onto a floured surface, sprinkle a little flour on top, and knead the dough two or three times. You’re not trying to get a glutinous mixture, you’re just trying to make sure the fats are well-distributed.
  5. Press the dough into a circle or rectangle. Don’t overwork it, or the biscuits will be tough. Cut with a biscuit cutter or shape into disks. This should make three very large biscuits or four or five medium/small ones, depending on how thin you press it out. It doesn’t rise much, so keep that in mind.
  6. Place the formed biscuits on a hot stone or line the hot baking pan with parchment paper and put the biscuits there. Bake for 10-13 minutes.

While the biscuits are baking, make the gravy.

Make the Gravy:
  1. In skillet over medium to medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the shallot and mushroom and cook for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Cook until the mushrooms are soft and brown, and most of their liquid is evaporated.
  2. Stir in the flour and reduce heat to medium. Cook for another minute or two.
  3. Slowly add veggie broth or water while stirring to reduce clumps.
  4. Add in the thyme and stir it in too.
  5. You may want to use an immersion blender at this point if you want smooth gravy. I love the tang of biting into a mushroom, so I almost always skip this step.
  6. Reduce the heat to simmer and continue to stir until it reaches desired thickness, about 5 minutes. If it appears too thin, add a touch more flour and whisk. If it’s too thick, add more broth or water.
  7. Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.  

Assemble the Plate:
  1. Place the baked biscuits on a plate in a pattern that pleases you. I like a straight line or a slightly curved one, depending on how many biscuits I plan to eat in a single sitting.
  2. Slosh the gravy over the top of the biscuits. Again, I like a line, but another way to go would be to make a puddle of gravy and settle the biscuits into it. 

Shown here with fresh fruit salad.

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