Wild Mushroom Pasta

I'm a big fan of Good Eats and Alton Brown. I've learned a lot from him. So when he suggested that dried exotic mushrooms were an umani flavor bomb I took to amazon to procure some. 

When you only cook with and eat plants, sources of deep and real flavor are important. 

His advice was spot on. I got a dried exotic mushroom mix and used it in my pressure cooker to create a sauce/broth for pasta and even though I forgot to add olive oil, it still had tons of flavor. 
After the pressure cook was finished I added the oil I forgot and cooked it off for a  few minutes. I then stirred it into my precooked pasta. Let it rest 5 minutes to tighten up. It was a perfect sauce to enrobe my pasta. . 

Dried exotic mushrooms are not cheap. But if you don't eat/cook with animal products, they feel like a bargain. There's so much flavor to be had. It's worth it and then some. 

Ingredients
1/2 box pasta, cooked to al dente

2 ounces dried fancy mushroom mix, big pieces broken or diced
1 pint …

Holiday Biscuits - Plant-Based

I came up with the idea for these plant based biscuits to avoid using vegetable shortening to make classic cutter biscuits. Vegetable shortening is an easy plant based sub for butter, but it's not very good for you.

I thought about using commercial plant butter, but  I'm not really thrilled with the ingredients in that. I don't care for the fact that they have palm oil as one of the main ingredients.

So I figured some tofu and olive oil might make an appropriate substitute for butter. Butter is simply fat suspended in water with a little protein thrown in the mix. Tofu is basically a protein and water suspension and oil is fat.

The math worked in theory. I wasn't sure if it would work in practice. Nevertheless, I gave it a shot.

The first batch turned out really good. Nice texture. Nice richness. Tender, moist and flavorful. They came out  better than I had hoped. But there was room for improvement.

I made my second batch for Christmas and adjusted my ratios a little bit for texture and flavor. The second batch came out pretty much perfect. Really, really airy, tender and rich with flavor. A biscuit to rival any dairy based version.

Biscuit Ingredients
2 cups ap flour
1 tbl baking powder
2 tsps salt
3 tbls olive oil, plus some for brushing the biscuit tops
1/2 block (4 ounces) silken firm tofu, straight from the fridge cold
1/3 cup straight from the fridge, cold seltzer
2 tsps garlic powder
2 tsps oregano

I used seltzer to give the biscuits an extra lift in addition to the baking powder. It helped to make them lighter and fluffy, like classic biscuits.

Add flour, baking powder, salt, garlic powder and oregano to medium mixing bowl and stir to combine. Break tofu into small chunks and add to flour mixture. Just like cutting butter into traditional biscuits, use a fork or pastry cutter to cut the tofu into the flour mix. Stir in olive oil and cut again to combine.

Drizzle in the seltzer. Don't add it all at once. Add just enough to form a very soft, but shape-able dough. The ideal biscuit dough is very soft, easy to mold, but not at all sticky. Keep in mind, the less you work the dough, the more tender your biscuits will be.

Understanding when your dough is right will come with practice. But look for a very soft, just barely holds together as a dough consistency. Try to work it as little as possible to get the seltzer and flour incorporated into each other. Broad, slow folds. Use your hand. No forks or spoons.

Shape into a loose rectangle. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450 F

Remove dough from fridge. Lightly dust work surface with flour. Gently pat the dough out into a 1 inch thick rectangle. Use a ring cutter to cut circles from the dough. Place them on an ungreased non-stick cookie sheet. Nestle the biscuits so they just touch each other. This helps them rise. Gently work excess dough back into a rectangle and continue cutting circles until you've used up all your dough.

Brush the biscuits with some oil. Just a light coating.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 18-20 minutes or until just set and golden on top. When they are done they will give a little if lightly pressed. Keep in mind that this is not a traditional dough. Over baking will turn them chewy. Better to take them out if set, but not golden on top. But the oil should help them color as they bake.

Allow to cool at least 5 minutes before removing from the baking sheet and enjoying.