Biscuits & Gravy

Every Christmas Eve, my father’s side of the family gathers at his house for a potluck brunch.  In years past, I’ve made baked oatmeal with fruit, quiche (when I ate eggs), or hashbrown casserole.  This year I made biscuits and gravy from two recipes from Vegan with a Vengeance:  Baking Powder Biscuits and White Bean & Tempeh Sausage Gravy.  The flavors in the gravy were awesome (savory and more flavorful than traditional sawmill or “white” breakfast gravy) and I felt like a true chef making my own biscuit dough and cutting out perfect circles with the rim of a juice glass (I don’t actually own a round cookie cutter).  It’s the first time I’ve ever made cut-out biscuits! I think I did pretty well:

Everything was incredibly easy to make, so don’t let the idea of making your own biscuits turn you off.  They’re pretty hassle free!

To make the gravy, you’ll first need to make the Tempeh Sausage Crumbles:
1 8-oz package of tempeh
1 Tablespoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon dried sage
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon

In a small pan, crumble the tempeh by breaking it up with your fingers and add enough water to almost cover it.  Cover and simmer over medium-high heat until most of the liquid is absorbed.  This will take about 12-15 minutes.  Drain and add the rest of the ingredients and brown over medium heat, stirring occasionally (about 10 minutes).  Set aside.

White Bean & Tempeh Sausage Gravy

To make the gravy, blend 1 15-oz can of white beans (I used cannellini) with 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a food processor until creamy and relatively smooth.  Add the bean puree to the pan with the sausage crumbles along with the following:

¼ cup vegetable broth
½ teaspoon salt
pinch of black pepper
6-8 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped (the recipe originally calls for 10-12, but that’s just way too much sage for me)

Heat everything through, adding more broth if you want a thinner gravy.

For the Baking Powder Biscuits:

2 cups all-purpose flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons shortening (I use the Earth Balance brand)
2 Tablespoons margarine (Earth Balance)
2/3 cup rice or soy milk

Preheat oven to 450°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut the shortening and margarine into the flour (use a butter knife, slice the sticks, and then break each slice up into pea-sized bits with your fingers and drop them into the flour mixture). Add the milk  and mix to form a soft dough. I found it’s easiest to mix with a spoon first and then use your (clean) hands to sort of knead it.  Pat out on a floured counter top until about 1/2 inch thick and then cut out 2 inch rounds with the rim of a glass or cookie cutter. Place on prepared cookie sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes.

Don’t expect huge fluffy biscuits like you get from the Pillsbury dough boy.  I don’t know if you can tell from the picture, the these biscuits are more like really thick cookies.  They will rise slightly though.   They also won’t be what I would call fluffy, but they’ll still be soft enough.  They wouldn’t be the best biscuits for a sausage biscuit, for example, but you’re just going to slather them in gravy anyway, right?!  Plus, you made homemade vegan biscuits. You’re awesome!

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