New Orleans: food capital of my world. Hot, spicy, sweet–the most flavorful mash-ups of bread and meat (well, fake meat now) and beans–it’s just the most delicious city ever. When I first visited six or seven years ago I definitely didn’t appreciate it like I should have, but since then I’ve fallen head over heels with the cuisine. Vegan po’boys are the jam, and vegan gumbo? Don’t get me started. Throw in some perfectly cooked collards and a side of rice and beans and I’m in heaven.

But then, don’t forget, there’s the beignet, the fried creole doughnut. Cafe du Monde, where would I have been without you?  Sadly I don’t have the files of pictures from that trip, but let’s just say that at least half of them are of me and mother sitting in Cafe du Monde with powdered sugar all over our faces. It was beautiful. We also hit the city during a freakish cold spell, so every morning we would wake up, walk over to Cafe du Monde, order hot chocolate and beignets and watch the city wake up in the chilly, October air.

I haven’t had a beignet since I went vegan 2 years ago, so when I had the excuse yesterday to make some I jumped at it. My friend’s sister wanted to learn how to bake dairy-free desserts so we spent the afternoon drinking Muscadine wine and whipping up beignets and banana pudding. We then finished up the day with some awesome Pizza Fusion vegan cheese action (portobello mushrooms, spinach, and pineapple–le yum!).

But back to the beignets. I used Bryanna’s recipe, and wow, they taste just like the ones I gnoshed on back in ‘Nola. Light, airy, and sweet, I couldn’t get enough of them. Bryanna suggested just putting some cinnamon sugar on top, which was good, but I definitely recommend going all out and using powdered sugar. Her recipe also called for all whole wheat flour. Sorry Bryanna, but I believe too much in eating unhealthy sweets. I’m sure the wheaty ones would be good, but I was going for a pure white vibe. Even this morning, the slightly soggy leftovers tasted heavenly with fresh brewed coffee. The recipe was easy to make, easy to fry (yeah 1970s Fry Daddy!), and all too easy to eat. I definitely recommend it!

Beignets

adapted from Bryanna Clark Grogan

2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c hot water (110 degrees F)
3/4 c soy milk
1.5 tsp dry active yeast
about 3 c all purpose flour
oil for frying
powdered sugar

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the oil, maple syrup or sugar, salt, water, milk and yeast. Let sit 5 minutes. Slowly beat in the flour with a heavy spoon until you have a dough that can be dropped from a spoon.

Cover and let rise 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes or so, heat oil to 365 degrees F. Drop the dough by spoonfuls into the hot oil. Don’t crowd the pan—they will expand quite a bit. When golden brown on all sides, remove from the oil and drain on paper.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and eat hot!

Makes 20-25 beignets.

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