Vegansaurus NYC: Champs Bakery in Brooklyn!  »

I stopped by Brooklyn’s Champs Bakery the other day specifically so that I could tell you all about it. I’m so nice to you. It’s not a shiny-happy-people-holding-hands type of bakery but it feels like a neighborhood joint, which has its own appeal. I will definitely have to go again because they had all these sandwiches I didn’t try. I did, however, get some biscuits and gravy! They were jalapeño biscuits so they were a bit too spicy for me (they ran out of the regular, I think you have to show up on the early side for the full selection), but they were still totally great, and the gravy was good too.

I also got a rosemary scone that I was pretty into. It was odd to eat rosemary in something sweet, but it was interesting and good. They don’t have the widest selection but it’s all the necessities—lots of muffins and scones. I love vegan scones! It’s the food of my people, plus vegan. There were also cupcakes and cinnamon rolls and whatnot. I think though that the savory items may be what set this bakery apart from the Babycakeses of the world. And you can totally sit down there and eat so that is nice.

So I say, if you’re in the hood, you should definitely stop by. You can get lunch and then grab a scone to save for breakfast.


Gluten-free biscuits and gravy! Your eyes do not deceive you!  »

I don’t have celiac disease and I don’t have a sensitivity to gluten; nonetheless, I’m into the challenge of making delicious gluten-free, vegan, baked goods and entrees/sides.  The thing that discourages me when I am looking for recipes is that I need to have 5 million ingredients, none of which are in my “pantry” (haphazard shelf in the kitchen). I mean, are 15 different bean and grain flours necessary?

I’ve taken it upon myself to experiment and I came up with this biscuit. Only three flours! Plus xanthan gum, which is expensive, but imperative. It is what binds the flours together, which is what gluten normally does. I like to get mine out of bulk bins, that way I don’t have spend $15 at a time.

1/2 cup corn flour
1 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 cup garfava flour
3/4 tsp. xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp. salt
5 tsp. baking powder
1/3 cup chilled soy margarine or vegetable shortening at room temperature
1 cup unsweetened soy milk or water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
The trick with biscuits is to not play with them too much. This is especially true when working with regular flour, but I like to think the same rule applies for gluten-free as well. The less you handle them, the flakier they will be.

Measure out your flours, salt, xanthan gum and baking powder (dry ingredients) in a bowl.  Whisk to get any lumps out and to mix everything together (you can use a fork for this step-sometimes I find myself with no whisk). Add chilled soy margarine in small chunks.  This is called cutting it in, which is described here. You don’t need a pastry cutter, some people use knives, but I use my hands. Not over mixing or playing with your dough is extremely important once you start adding the fat and liquid.
The different dry ingredients whisked together.

Chunks of fat.

Lightly, by hand, mix everything together. You want the consistency to be “pebble- or sand-like,” with chunks of magerine or shortening visible throughout. Next, add your soy milk or water.  Knead 10 times, no more!
Pebble-like. Maybe closer to sand this time around.

Now, I don’t have a pastry-cutter, I’m not that fancy, but maybe I should look into it. I just spoon out some dough and drop in onto a greased baking sheet. A few inches apart, and you should get about eight biscuits out of it. Place in the center of the oven.

Gluten-free goods bake faster than their regular counterparts. Check them around the 8 minute mark.  If the bottoms are browning, they are close to done. You don’t want the tops to brown, or they won’t be flaky, they will be OVERBAKED. The baking time should be around eight to 12 minutes, depending how long the oven preheated and how quickly your oven bakes.


Gravy is so easy, once you make it the first time, I guarantee you will become a gravy-making machine!

1 medium red onion
4 cloves of garlic
2 Tbsp. rice flour (sweet or regular)
3 cups unsweetened soy milk
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 to 1 Tbsp. salt
pinch of Italian herbs

Dice up your onion and saute it on medium heat until it’s transparent or caramelized. Add chopped or minced garlic, cooking until fragrant, but don’t let the garlic brown. Add 2 Tbsp. rice flour to coat everything in the pan and let it cook in for a minute or two, moving constantly as to not let flour burn. Browning it a little will add a subtle nutty flavor to your gravy.

Onions and garlic, coated with rice flour.

Pour in 2 cups of soy milk, whisking constantly, and bring to a light boil. You will probably need to turn up the heat a little bit. Add your salt and pepper, then the remainder of the soy milk. Don’t stop whisking! Once you get the consistency/thickness you prefer, take off the heat and add a pinch of Italian herbs. Add more salt/pepper as desired. You can either leave it chunky, or throw it in a food processor or blender until smooth.

Adding the soy milk.

Whisk until thickened.

Biscuits and gravy! There you have it!



Well, we’re not sure for how long but for at least the next couple of Sundays SOULEY VEGAN IS SERVING BRUNCH. It goes from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the menu includes:

*scrambled tofu with tomatoes, onions and spices
*pancakes—choice of maple, blueberry, or banana nut
*smothered potatoes
*biscuits & gravy (!!!!!!!!!!)
*vegan sausage made from scratch
*fresh OJ

They’ll also be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving with their regular menu, plus some special holiday treats! YES! The cost for either Sunday brunch or Thanksgiving are the usual prices (2 items for $8, 3 items for $10, etc.).  

We’ll see your hot fat asses there! Or not! More for us!! Also, if you want to call and double-check to make sure they are serving on the Sunday you want to go, holler at 510/922.1615! Ow!


Review: Souley Vegan!  »

July 26 2009: BEST MOST HAPPY NEWS: SOULEY VEGAN HAS RE-OPENED: 301 Broadway at 3rd Street in Oakland. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.! YES!!!

BETTER HAPPIER NEWS: Souley Vegan is now on sale at Rainbow Grocery in SF! Ow! They’re selling red beans & rice, collard greens, mac ‘n cheese, BBQ tofu, and full meals, ranging in price from $4.29 to $9.99! Completely worth it!

BAD SAD NEWS: Souley Vegan has shut their doors permanently. I guess some shit went down with the stability of their building so unless some rich vegan (you?!) gives them tons of money, they will stay closed. Super sad. Bright side: they still sell at the farmers’ market in Oakland on the weekends so for sure stop in and buy their delicious food and let them know that we will raise funds and fists to get them back into a storefront!!

Souley Vegan is vegan soul food. I know, the name is kinda lame. What can you do? Not every place can be named “Magical Unicorn Palace” like it should be. I don’t know why exactly. Anyway, Souley Vegan is family-owned-and-operated with mom in back cooking, dad helping to run food and the adorable, almost-competent son as the cashier. He is very adorable and ALMOST good at working. Whatever, the kid is like 12 and has a more demanding job than I’ve ever had so I’ll cut him some slack. I just had a minor personality split right there. Pray for me.

The menu consists of BBQ tofu, crispy tofu, yams, collard greens, MAC ‘N CHEESE, POTATO SALAD and MASHED POTATOES (the holy trinity of hard-to-find vegan foods! I hear angels weeping! Or singing! Which is it, I don’t understand religion!) Homemade drinks like ginger-strawberry lemonade (SO GOOD) and usually a peach cobbler in the cold case (they will heat it up for if you eat there!). No alcohol but you can go next door to Radio if you need a drink to get through the day, I’m not judging you!*

The only thing I could see someone complaining about is the ambiance, which resembles the mess tent in M.A.S.H. I guess I wouldn’t recommend this place for a first date or to impress your parents. Unless your dad is a major cheapskate like mine and has an entire storage unit in his closet to store all the various shampoos and shower caps he takes from hotels (read: motels) so that he never has to buy toiletries and therefore, save a measly buck.**

Oh and one more bit of advice: I would call ahead to make sure they are open!  Although their hours are supposed to be Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., I’ve been by during those hours, only to be forced to “eat” a soy latte at the cafe next door for lunch! Not cool!

*You are pathetic!

UPDATE: Now open for brunch on Sundays! Pancakes, tofu scrambles, potatoes and sausage are all available… plus rumors of biscuits and gravy!?

[photo via yelp]

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