Monday, June 20, 2011
Vegan Strawberry Shortcakes or How I Ate So Much I Nearly Exploded
Those of you in other countries may not know that Canadians sh*t-talk my home city of Ottawa all the time. The city has a reputation for being boring, reserved, bland, and for, as I remember my parents saying in the '80's, "rolling up the sidewalks at 8PM". I'm not going to say that all of that is patently untrue, but I will say that usually people who complain like that either a) don't live here and haven't spent much time here, or b) live here, but don't do much themselves to turn the city into the kind of place they'd be less likely to complain about.*
All this to say that the sidewalks were not rolled up at all this weekend and I have the sleep deprivation to prove it. I spent most of the weekend attending rock shows as part of the aforementioned Ottawa Explosion, and I had a truly great time. Over three nights I saw sixteen bands, most of them local, and enjoyed (almost) all of them immensely. The weekend was amazingly well organized by a very enthusiastic guy named Emmanuel (he's vegan!) and I hope lots of people thanked him profusely for working so hard on something that allowed us all to have a good time. For my part I brought him some homemade chocolate donuts to express my gratitude.
And, as if to prove that fun is the rule rather than the exception for our fair city, this week continues with a reading by yours truly and the talented Jessica Westhead on Thursday night, an outdoor Elvis Costello concert on Friday night, and a roller derby bout on Saturday. But first I need to rest and eat something.
Actually, I needed to rest and eat something last night, which is when I made these delicious strawberry shortcakes for the Man of Science and I to eat after we'd enjoyed some chickpea cutlets, mashed potatoes, miso gravy, and chard. Which is, just in case you were wondering, way too much food.
I'd had strawberry shortcakes on the brain for a while, but hadn't made them because I never seemed to plan ahead long enough to make the cream. I was also not confident when it came to making the biscuits, since my attempts at biscuits in the past yielded only pasty hockey pucks. Blargh.
But as you can see from this photo, these biscuits rose well and were not puckish at all. I was a bit worried about how they'd be when they were no longer fresh from the oven, but even one day later they are still fluffy and delicious. The strawberries are fresh and local right now here in Ontario and these ones came from a giant basket that my mom bought and generously shared with me. The cream is the same one I always use: Tal Ronnen's cashew whipped cream from his book The Conscious Cook. It is generally very tasty, but I find it a bit coconutty when I eat large amounts of it. I prefer it in recipes like this where it is combined with a few other elements. It's not hard to make once you learn not to combine any warm ingredients with the cashew base unless you want the whole thing to curdle and make you cry and want to smash things.
Vegan Strawberry Shortcakes
Biscuits (adapted from The Joy of Cooking)
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp vegan margarine
3/4 cup soy milk
1 tsp vinegar
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar together into a large bowl and mix until they're combined.
Cut in margarine until mixture is somewhat crumbly.
Add vinegar to soymilk and let sit for a minute until it is curdled.
Add curdled soymilk to flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon, until just when a blob of dough forms.
Dump the blob of dough onto a floured countertop and knead for about one minute until dough is smooth. Add more flour is necessary.
Pat dough down into a disc about 1/4 inch high.
Using a drinking glass or a circular cookie cutter, cut out as many biscuits as you can, then knead excess dough back into a ball and pat it down again to cut more biscuits. Repeat until all of the dough has been used. (I got 10).
Place biscuits on parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until biscuits are firm and the bottoms have browned slightly.
Let cool, then pull into two halves and cover with cream and strawberries.
Makes approximately ten shortcakes.
*I'll give a bit of a pass to my husband on this one, since he complains mostly about the city being cliquey, which is often true and hard to remedy. Also he moved here from San Francisco, which provides a very tough act to follow.