Sunday, January 2, 2011

Black Eyed Peas, Greens + Biscuits...Mmmm, biscuits.

Despite only having lived in Dallas for the first and least remembered five years of my life, I retain a strong attachment to the rituals involved in celebrating the new year. So, every January 1, for as long as I can remember, I have eaten spicy black eyed peas and a pile of greens, regardless of how harrowing a hangover I might have and without thought of whatever disappointments or excitements happened the night before. Despite a few small complaints, I've led a rather charmed life until this point, so I'm not one to mess with fate by skipping out on the meal that at least 20% of me believes might have some small part in preserving my quality of life and persistently Pollyanna-ish nature.

Yesterday afternoon a small, comfy clothes clad, pack of my nearest and dearest sat on my living room floor, reading cookbooks, playing with the cat and munching our way through a delicious first real meal of 2011. I'm not one to sit around and share resolutions...yet...maybe when I get a real table and some chairs?!  But, I really can't think of any better way to spend the first frigid day of any year.

My first serving...

Hoppin' John 
I've never quite figured out exactly what spices are supposed to go in Hoppin' John...I make it up every time and my version tends to be a little more Southwestern than Creole. But, I've yet to receive any complaints on that front.

3 cups cooked black eyed peas
1 cup long grain brown rice, soaked over night
1 large red onion, diced
2 shallots, diced
5 stalks celery, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 fresh red chile, diced (pick your heat level)
1 package of Tempeh bacon, crumbled
1 t red pepper flakes
1 t smoked paprika
1 t dried thyme
1 t cumin
1 t coriander
1 bay leaf
1 T brown sugar
3 cloves of garlic, roasted
~3 cups vegan stock
3 T olive oil + 1 T earth balance buttery spread

Heat the oil and earth balance in a large stock pot. Keeping the heat at medium-low, add the onion and shallot and sautée until translucent. Then add the chopped chile pepper, bell pepper and celery. Stir to coat and then cover the pot and let the veggies sweat for about 10 minutes. Add the spices, bay leaf, and sugar and stir for about 1 minute until fragrant. Then add the rice, and stir int he oil for about 2 minutes. Add the beans, tempeh and stock and cover the pot. Let the Hoppin' John simmer for about 30 minutes before removing the lid to reduce the liquid over low heat. When the rice is done cooking, taste for salt and pepper and season to your taste.

Rosemary Cashew Gravy
1 cup raw cashews
3 cups veggie stock, divided
1/4 c earth balance butter spread
2 heaping T all purpose flour
2 large shallots, sliced thin
1 clove garlic, minced
2 sprigs worth of rosemary leaves, minced
1.5 t nutritional yeast flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Soak the cashews in enough veggie stock to cover them for at least an hour. Drain the cashews (I drain the stock into a measuring cup so I can keep using it in the gravy.) and place them in the blender with 1 cup stock. Purée until totally smooth.

In a medium soup pan, heat the earth balance over low heat until melted. Whisk in the flour and keep whisking for one minute. Add the shallots and garlic and then slowly pour in the cashew cream. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking regularly to avoid clumps. Reduce the heat to low and keep whisking as the gravy thickens. Add veggie stock until the gravy reaches your desired consistency. When the gravy is where you want i, add the rosemary, nutritional yeast, and salt and pepper. Whisk well and add another small glug of veggie stock. Serve as immediately as possible.

Southern Style Flaky Biscuits
2 c all purpose flour
3 t baking powder
1 t salt
1 t nutritional yeast
1 stick earth balance
1/2 cup plain unsweetened soy milk

Sift the flour, baking soda, nutritional yeast and salt into a large bowl. Cut in the margarine until the mixture resembles the texture of small peas. Do not over mix and be sure to use cold margarine. Stir in the soy milk and form the dough into a ball. Wrap in plastic and chill for one hour. When the dough is chilled roll it out to about 1/2" thick on a heavily floured counter. Using a water glass or a biscuit cutter with a 2" diameter, cut out your biscuits and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Stick the whole sheet in the freezer while you preheat the oven to 450 and then bake the biscuits for 10 minutes. Serve as immediately as possible.

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