Category Archives: Vegan

Olive Oil Crackers

Olive Oil Crackers

Listen, I am not going to try to convince you to always make your own homemade crackers because I am not insane. I buy so few things pre-made, but crackers are one that I do—even dedicated home bakers need a convenience food every now and then! You know, like when you get home at 10pm after working 14 hours straight and if you have to cook one more thing, you will throw a toddler-style tantrum of epic proportions right there on the kitchen floor.

Not that I’ve ever done anything like that. Ahem.

Olive Oil Crackers

That said, sometimes it’s fun to DIY, especially when it’s both fancy and easy, and it doesn’t get much fancier or easier than homemade Olive Oil Crackers. The recipe is only five ingredients long, takes less than an hour start-to-finish, and makes the most delicious crispy, crunchy crackers I’ve ever had.

The recipe itself is a breeze—just mix together flour, salt, olive oil, and water, then roll, cut and bake ‘til crispy—but there are a couple of unusual things that I want to explain before I get to it.

First, you need to rest your dough before rolling it out. This isn’t a prolonged thing, just 15 minutes to let the gluten in the flour relax before you roll it out paper thin. If you skip this step, the dough will shrink back somewhat dramatically at the edges when you roll it—not the worst thing that’s ever happened, but not the best if you’re seeking wafer thin crackers, which I very much am.

The other thing is the way you roll, cut, and bake these crackers, which happens to be on the back of a sheet pan. I learned this technique from my favorite food writer, Julie Van Rosendaal, and it’s…well, it’s genius. This allows you to get the crackers extra thin with your rolling pin without running into those pesky pan edges and negates the need to transfer each individual cracker to the pan, which usually results in thicker, irregularly shaped results. No thanks! If you have coated pans or simply don’t want to use this method, roll your dough out on a large piece of parchment and transfer that to the pan.

Olive Oil Crackers

These crackers bake up in about 15 minutes. You’ll know they’re perfect when the edges are dark and the center has browned in places. In my experience, it’s better to brown them a little too much than leave them pale—nobody wants chewy crackers. You may have to sacrifice some of the edge pieces, but honestly, I kind of dig the overdone parts.

Olive Oil Crackers

Olive Oil Crackers are a great blank slate cracker because their primary flavors are—you guessed it—olive oil and salt. You can absolutely leave them plain, but I love dressing them up with whatever spices sound good. The batch pictured was seasoned with cracked pepper, Maldon salt, and dried rosemary, but I’ve included a bunch of suggestions in the recipe.

You can save this recipe for your next get-together or cozy night in with someone you like, or you can just make them for yourself, like I do. Because I like to eat Olive Oil Crackers and extra sharp cheddar for dinner after 14 hour workdays. And also because I’m a little bit fancy (but only a little bit).

Olive Oil Crackers
Olive Oil Crackers
makes lots

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup warm tap water
spices of choice

Spice suggestions: freshly cracked black pepper, flaky salt, dried rosemary, dried thyme, everything bagel seasoning, za’atar, sesame seeds, poppyseeds

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Add oil and warm water and whisk just until combined. Divide dough in two. Wrap each portion in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Place oven racks in central positions. Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly flour the backs of 2 sheet pans.

Roll out the crackers. Place one half of the dough on one of the floured pans. Use a rolling pin to roll it as thinly and evenly as possible (without being transparent) in all directions. The edges will shrink back slightly; if they are snapping back dramatically, cover the partially rolled dough with plastic wrap and let rest for another 15 minutes. Once rolled out, the dough should cover most of the pan and have irregular edges. Repeat with remaining dough and pan.

Sprinkle desired spices over the dough and lightly roll the rolling pin over the top to adhere.

Cut the crackers. Use a sharp chef’s knife, pizza cutter or bench scraper to cut dough into crackers. Mine are roughly 1 1/2 x 2 inches, but you may cut them as big or small as you like, keeping in mind that baking time may be affected. Prick each cracker with a toothpick or fork.

Bake crackers for 15-18 minutes, or until dark at the edges with some browning in the center. If they are pale, in the center, return them to the oven for a minute or two until they develop some darker spots.

Let crackers cool completely on their pans. Serve with cheese, cured meat and/or fruit.

Crackers will keep in an airtight container for at least a week.

Lentil Chili

Lentil​ Chili

Being from Texas, I was raised to believe that beans have no place in chili, but that is not something I ascribe to as an adult. For one thing, I don’t want to make both a main and a vegetable side dish if I don’t have to, and for another, I happen to like beans in chili. So there.

Lentil​ Chili

Now, I do have a go-to beanless meat-based chili recipe on here, but as of today, I have two vegan variations. What can I say? I like vegetables.

The secrets to great vegetable-based chili are the same as anything else: heat, seasoning and time. The ingredients are added with intention:

First the onion, then the garlic. Caramelize the tomato paste a bit, then stir in the spices, a splash of soy sauce for depth, and most of a pound of lentils. Simmer everything in vegetable stock until the lentils are tender, then scoop some out, purée and add it back for texture. Taste for seasoning and, well, that’s it. As far as chili goes, this is simplicity itself.

Lentil​ Chili

Lentil Chili is good right out of the pot, but give it a few hours (or days) in the fridge and it’s truly spectacular. Rich and hearty and meaty in a way that you wouldn’t expect from a meatless recipe. It’s particularly good after a long day, when reheated and topped with heaps of shredded cheddar, avocado, corn muffins, and anything else you like. Because, make no mistake, cooking at home is almost entirely about making what you like.

Chili “rules” be damned. This is comfort in a bowl.

Lentil​ Chili
Lentil Chili
makes about 6 servings

1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium Spanish onion, diced small
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 cups dried green lentils, rinsed and picked over
7 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari

Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed 4-6 quart pot over medium heat. Add diced onion and sauté until it begins to take on color, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until it begins to take on color (about 7-10 minutes). Stir in chili powder, cumin, oregano, cocoa and cayenne, followed by lentils. Stir in soy sauce and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and let cook uncovered for 30 minutes or until lentils are tender.

Turn heat to low. Remove 2 cups of cooked lentils to a heatproof bowl. Let cool 5-10 minutes before pureeing with an immersion blender, regular blender or food processor. Return purée to the pot. Stir and taste for seasoning. Adjust as needed.

Lentil Chili will taste good immediately after it is made, but is best after a few hours or a day in the refrigerator. Serve it up with cheese, avocado, scallions and/or any other toppings of choice.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Crispy Chickpeas

Crispy Chickpeas​

I first tried making Crispy Chickpeas when I moved to NYC back in 2007. They were weirdly trendy at the time, so I decided to brave the tiny kitchen I shared with five people and give them a shot. Following a recipe written by a former Food Network personality who I won’t name, I drained a can of chickpeas, patted off as much of the moisture as I could, and then roasted them at a high temperature for a short period of time. I was very excited to see what all the fuss was about, but my efforts were for nothing. The resulting chickpeas weren’t crispy at all, just vaguely dry and mushy on the outside and steamy on the inside. It may have been the recipe or user error—I don’t know. I ate them because I don’t like to waste food, but needless to say, I never attempted them again after that.

Crispy Chickpeas​

Or at least I didn’t until the last day of our trip to Maine in the fall of 2020, when I needed to do something with the large amount of chickpeas I had on my hands after using their aquafaba (cooking/canning liquid) in a multitude of vegan bakes. With limited time and groceries, I decided to try Crispy Chickpeas again. If they didn’t work, I’d just blame it on the faulty oven and call it a day.

But they did work. They worked *well.* By roasting them at a lower heat for a longer time and tossing them frequently, I ended up with a perfect crispy, crunchy snack. After that, there was no turning back. I’m a Crispy Chickpea machine, y’all.

The big secret to homemade Crispy Chickpeas is no secret at all: you just need heat and time. In 35 minutes and a few shakes of a pan, the chickpeas go from damp and soft to crispy and light-textured, perfect for a snack or garnish for soup or salad.

You can make Crispy Chickpeas in any flavor you like. Get fancy by combining miso & maple or sriracha & lime zest, or use pre-mixed blends from your spice cabinet; garam masala, taco seasoning, za’atar, and everything bagel seasoning would all be great. Oh, and Spicy Chili Crisp is perfect on them, too. Of course, you can also just mix and match whatever is in your spice cabinet or your condiment collection—you’ll need 2-4 teaspoons of flavorings total per can of beans. The chickpeas pictured are flavored with chipotle and maple. Whatever you choose, taste as you go!

Crispy Chickpeas​

Crispy Chickpeas are incredibly cheap to make, clocking in at just a couple of dollars per batch. Though they shrink a bit as they roast, one can’s-worth still makes enough for at least a couple of people to nibble on. That said, if you’re quarantining or maybe just don’t like to share, I don’t think you’ll have any trouble putting these away on your own.

Crispy Chickpeas
makes 1 1/2 cups

1 15-ounce can chickpeas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2-3/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt (to taste)
2-4 teaspoons spices or flavorings of choice

Preheat oven to 400F.

Drain and rinse chickpeas. Scatter them onto a paper towel or clean kitchen towel and blot well to remove excess moisture. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and toss with olive oil and salt. Roast for 25-30 minutes, shaking the pan every 10 minutes. Add spices of choice (taste and adjust as you go).

If using only ground spices/flavorings, you may eat the crispy chickpeas immediately. If using hot sauces or syrups, I recommend returning them to the oven for up to 5-10 minutes to set, if you prefer (I do!). Do not burn. Let chickpeas cool for at least a few minutes before serving.

Crispy Chickpeas will keep covered at room temperature for up to 2 days. They may soften very slightly over time.

Vegan, Gluten-Free Linzer Cookies

Vegan, Gluten-Free Linzer Cookies​

After nailing the perfect snappy texture in last week’s Vegan, Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies, I couldn’t resist taking that formula and making it into linzer cookies.

Vegan, Gluten-Free Linzer Cookies​

Traditional linzer cookies are made from a dough that isn’t much more than a sugar cookie with a smattering of ground nuts tossed in for depth and tenderness. My vegan, gluten-free cookie formula already gets all its structure from almonds, but I still found a way to make the final product uniquely linzery. Linzerian? Linzeresque? Anyway…

The gist is that I removed the dark molasses and spices from the dough, lightening the flavor profile with maple syrup and a small, but effective amount of toasted ground hazelnuts. If you can’t get your hands on hazelnuts, pecans will work just as well (plus you won’t have to peel them).

Vegan, Gluten-Free Linzer Cookies​

This dough requires a short chill before the usual rolling, cutting and baking. Don’t forget to stamp out a little window in half your cookies for that signature linzer cookie look!

As far as filling goes, you can use any spread you like, but jam is traditional. I’m not much of a jam person, but I had a jar of homemade blueberry jam from my friend Suzette up in Maine, so I used that. Raspberry and strawberry would give festive Christmas red vibes, but I think orange marmalade might be absolute magic paired with the nutty cookies. I’ll have to try that another day though—for now, I’m extremely into these blue-black little picture windows and the signature flavor of my favorite place.

Vegan, Gluten-Free Linzer Cookies​

Vegan, Gluten-Free Linzer Cookies are initially very crunchy, but soften a bit as they soak up some moisture from the jam. This is not a bad thing at all, as it makes them easier to eat without getting crumbs on your shirt. That’s very important if, like me, you plan to casually snag a cookie every time you walk by the plate from now until 2022.

Vegan, Gluten-Free Linzer Cookies​
Vegan, Gluten-Free Linzer Cookies
makes about 2.5 dozen sandwich cookies

1/2 cup whole hazelnuts (or pecans)
2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup vegan butter, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup or light corn syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For assembly:
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
~3/4 cup jam or spread of choice

Special equipment:
rolling pin
2-inch cookie cutter
smaller cookie cutter (I used the large end of a piping tip)

toast and peel the hazelnuts. Place hazelnuts in a dry skillet over medium heat. Stir frequently until fragrant, 7-10 minutes. Immediately transfer hazelnuts to a clean, dry hand towel. Fold towel around the hazelnuts and then rub the towel with the palm of your hand. This will allow the hazelnut skins to loosen. This step does not have to be done perfectly. (If you are using pecans, you do not need to peel them.)

Let hazelnuts cool completely. Transfer to a food processor and pulse until they are a fine meal. Do not over-process or you’ll have hazelnut butter (delicious, but not helpful here).

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together ground hazelnuts, almond flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate medium-large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat vegan butter until fluffy (about 2 minutes). Add sugar and confectioner’s sugar and beat until fully combined (about 2 minutes). Beat in maple syrup and vanilla.

Add dry ingredients in two installments, mixing completely after each addition. Dough may look rubbly, but should hold together extremely well when pinched.

Divide dough in two. Form each half into a disk, then wrap with plastic wrap. Chill for 1 hour or up to 3 days.

Place oven racks in central positions. Preheat oven to 325F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment.

Use confectioner’s sugar to dust a surface and rolling pin. Unwrap one disk of dough and place it on the surface. Use the rolling pin to roll it out to 1/8-inch thickness. A thin offset icing spatula or bench scraper (or similar) will make moving the dough much easier, as will adding more confectioner’s sugar to the surface and rolling pin.

Use a 2-inch rom d cookie cutter to cut cookies, then use the icing spatula to move them to the prepared pans, keeping them 1.5 inches apart. Use a smaller cutter (I used the wide end of a piping tip) to cut windows in half your cookies—these are the tops of your linzers. Bake cookies 12-14 minutes, rotating the pans top-to-bottom and front-to-back at the 7 minute mark.

Let cookies cool 10 minutes on their pans. Use a spatula to remove them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Repeat rolling, cutting, and baking as needed, re-rolling scraps as needed. Let cookie sheets come to room temperature between batches.

Set a cooling rack over a piece of parchment. Once all cookies are baked and cooled, set the cookies with the centers cut out on a prepared rack. Sift confectioners sugar over the tops.

Spread each whole cookie with jam (amount is based on your preference). Carefully sandwich cookies together. Serve.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week. Place wax paper between layers for best storage. Cookies will soften a bit over time.

The Best Vegan, Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies

I am delighted to present this recipe as part of the Sweetest Season Cookie Exchange. This my fourth year participating in this event during which food bloggers post holiday cookies, raise awareness and donate money in support of Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. We believe in their mission to raise funds for innovative pediatric cancer treatments and research through bake sales and cookie swaps. Many supporters (“Good Cookies”) do this throughout the year, and I am happy to contribute by participating in the Sweetest Season. If you’d like to learn more and/or make a charitable donation to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, click here. For cookies, keep scrolling!

The Best Vegan, Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies

I’ve spent years making different variations on gingerbread cookies, and though I will go to the mattresses for my Maple Spice Stars, I think these Vegan, Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies are my best to date. They’re sweet and snappy, and if I didn’t outright tell you that they are egg, dairy, and flour-free, you’d never know it. They just taste like Christmas.

The Best Vegan, Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies

These sweet little cookie people are every bit the soul-warming ginger-spiced cookies we all know and love, just made more accessible. Baking is rarely something I do with only myself in mind and that goes double for the holiday season; it makes perfect sense to have recipes that can feed more of my community in my repertoire. My community happens to include a lot of people who are gluten-free or vegan or both, so these festive treats certainly fit the bill!

Let’s talk process. This dough is simple and straightforward, relying on easy-to-find ingredients like almond flour, vegan butter, and confectioner’s sugar in addition to classic gingerbread fare like molasses, brown sugar, and a bevy of spices. It takes just minutes to mix up and only needs an hourlong chill before it’s ready to roll and cut. You can use any cookie cutter you like, of course, but I am a sucker for classic gingerbread people. So cute!

Baking is business as usual. These little buddies take 12-14 minutes at 325F, with crisper results coming more toward the 14 minute mark. Heads up: keep an eye on them in that last minute so they don’t over-brown. Even if they do get a little overdone though, you can fix them right up with icing. Vegan Royal Icing to be exact!

Where classic royal icing is made with egg whites, the vegan stuff uses my favorite egg replacer ever: aquafaba! Yep, the liquid from a can of chickpeas is the secret to pipeable, reliable egg-free royal icing! Its protein structure allows it to whip up just like egg whites do, making it a perfect 1:1 replacement here.

With the exception of swapping aquafaba for my usual mix of water and meringue powder, this Vegan Royal Icing comes together exactly the same way as my traditional recipe, and is just as delicious! I used the icing as-is for decoration, but feel free to dye it any color you like or to thin it for making flood icing if you’re interested in more intricate designs.

The Best Vegan, Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies

Oh, and for those concerned, this icing doesn’t taste like beans at all—it just tastes like icing.

The Best Vegan, Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies

And these vegan, gluten-free gingerbread cookies? They just taste like Christmas.

The Best Vegan, Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies
The Best Vegan, Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies
makes about 2 dozen 4-inch cookies

3 cups blanched almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup vegan butter, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For decoration:
Vegan Royal Icing (recipe below)
sprinkles of choice

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together almond flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves. Set aside.

In a separate medium-large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat vegan butter until fluffy (about 2 minutes). Add dark brown sugar and confectioner’s sugar and beat until fully combined (about 2 minutes). Beat in molasses and vanilla.

Add dry ingredients in two installments, mixing completely after each addition. Dough may look rubbly, but should hold together extremely well when pinched.

Divide dough in two. Form each half into a disk, then wrap with plastic wrap. Chill for 1 hour or up to 3 days.

Place oven racks in central positions. Preheat oven to 325F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment.

Use confectioner’s sugar to dust a surface and rolling pin. Unwrap one disk of dough and place it on the surface. Use the rolling pin to roll it out to 1/4-inch thickness. A thin offset icing spatula or bench scraper (or similar) will make moving the dough much easier, as will adding more confectioner’s sugar to the surface and rolling pin.

Use a cookie cutter to cut shapes, then use the icing spatula to move them to the prepared pans, keeping them 1.5-2 inches apart. Bake cookies 12-14 minutes, rotating the pans top-to-bottom and front-to-back at the 7 minute mark.

Let cookies cool 10 minutes on their pans. Use a spatula to remove them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Repeat rolling, cutting, and baking as needed, re-rolling scraps as needed. Let cookie sheets come to room temperature between batches.

Once cookies are all baked and cooled, decorate with Vegan Royal Icing (recipe below) and sprinkles. Let cookies dry at least 8 hours before layering with parchment paper and stacking.

Cookies will keep covered at room temperature for at least a week.
Vegan Royal Icing
makes more than enough for 1 batch of gingerbread cookies

1/3 cup aquafaba (liquid from a can of chickpeas)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 pound (3 3/4 cups) confectioner's sugar, divided
1 tablespoon corn syrup

Special Equipment:
gel food coloring
piping bags (or plastic sandwich bags)
small round piping tips and couplers
sprinkles

Beat aquafaba and cream of tartar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until doubled in size, about 1 minute. Mix in vanilla. With the mixer running on low, add half of the confectioner's sugar. Mix in corn syrup. Add the remaining half of confectioner's sugar. Scrape down the bowl before beating on medium-low for an additional 30 seconds.

To ice as pictured here, transfer 1/4 of the icing to a piping bag fitted with a coupler and tip. Ice as desired, sprinkling with any sprinkles immediately after piping (the icing hardens very quickly). Let cookies dry in a single layer uncovered for at least 8 hours, or until fully dry, before stacking.

For storage, press plastic wrap to the surface of your container of Vegan Royal Icing, it may be kept covered at room temperature for up to four days or in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. Beat with a mixer before using, as it may slowly separate over time. If if needs to be thinned, add 1/2 teaspoon water at a time until icing dribbled into the bowl forms a ribbon that fades within a few seconds.

For information on more intricate decorating like outline/fill icing, using multiple colors, etc., click here.