It hit 50º in Houston a few weeks ago, so I was pretty sure fall was here to stay! I was trying to decide how to creatively put fall on a plate, and I stumbled across a picture of some sweet potato biscuits I made in November 2017.
This year, I figured I would try to make pumpkin spice biscuits. I bought a pumpkin from HEB and roasted it, but it did not have the richness of flavor that I am used to from local ingredients. I had seen sweet potatoes popping back up at Urban Harvest, so I knew this was going to be the bun for the burger this week!
It turns out local flavors taste better!
I bought about 3 lbs of sweet potato from Gundermann Acres, and I turned to one of my favorite cookbooks for inspiration: The Food Lab. Kenji López-Alt is a nerdy food writer who incorporates science and engineering into the kitchen, and I combined two of his recipes to make these biscuits!
I used natural enzymes to sweeten these sweet potatoes
There is an enzyme in sweet potatoes called beta-amylase that converts the starches in the potato into maltose – a natural sugar. This enzyme is active between 135º and 170º.
I pretty much followed the recipe, it is pretty straightforward. I cubed and parcooked the sweet potatoes within the temperature range for an hour, then roasted them for an hour at 400º.
The only changes I made were
- not peeling the potatoes. The highest nutrient density is at and right below the skin, and I did not want to lose this.
- to season with garlic powder and allspice before roasting. This would be a great recipe by themselves, and these flavors were great in the final biscuit!
Now to veganize these buttermilk biscuits…
You are probably thinking buttermilk biscuits must be hard to veganize. After all, butter and milk are in the name of the dish!! But, with a bit of creativity and time, you will not even realize the difference!
I started with this recipe from Kenji and made some changes:
- I replaced the sour cream with blended super sweet-sweet potato.
- I replaced the buttermilk with coconut buttermilk.
- I used 1 part white whole wheat flour to 3 parts all purpose flour.
The sour cream is meant to moisten the biscuits. The sweet potato provides a natural, plant-based alternative, along with a much deeper flavor!
I made coconut buttermilk by mixing a cup of coconut milk with a tablespoon of lemon juice. I like to replace milk with coconut milk in my recipes, because some people have soy or nut allergies. Vegan buttermilks using soy or almond milk “curdle” in about 5 minutes because these milks have a higher fat content. I let my milk mixture sit for 30 minutes to achieve the same result.
When you use all-purpose flour in baking, it results in a great rise. However, I much prefer to use whole wheat flour as much as I can. Because the rise on the biscuit is crucial, and some people don’t like the taste of whole wheat flour, I replaced 25% of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat. If you try a 100% replacement, let me know!
And for the butter…
Traditional biscuit recipes involve cutting cold butter into your flour mixture, then adding wet ingredients. They also typically call for brushing melted butter on top of the biscuits before baking.
I have been using Earth Balance vegan butter sticks for baking, and a 1 for 1 replacement with butter in the recipe came out great! In my video, I actually used half Earth Balance and half Mill King butter. This local butter comes from Central Texas, and the cows are grass-fed & non-GMO, so I feel comfortable using it in my kitchen! Check out their page to learn more about their health and sustainability practices.
Now I could have eaten these biscuits on their own (and I certainly did with a few of them), but they needed a great filling to create a delicious slider!
What in the world is pumpkin seed tofu?!
A few weeks ago, Chef Keith from Kitchen Ninja Services posted a product on his story called PUMFU. This product is made by Foodies Vegan, and it is an alternative to soy-based tofu. I was a fan when I read the ingredients – organic, non-GMO pumpkin seeds and filtered water. That’s it!
I’ve actually never cooked tofu before, but I just went off of my instincts this time.
In a past life, I would have put some chicken on this biscuit, so I marinated this pumfu like it was chicken. I used jalapeño vinegar (from these pickles), sage, rosemary, parsley, and some satsumas for sweetness.
I let the flavors take over the pumfu for a few hours, and I went to the pan.
Don’t waste that marinade.
I didn’t get much video of my technique, but after an initial sear in olive oil, I basted my pumfu with the juice leftover from the marinade. This produced a beautiful and delicious caramelization that made this slider look so inviting.
I think the pumfu looks like grilled red snapper! It tasted great, and the bite reminded me of chicken. Just a fantastic product.
Now for the toppings!
I was leaving the farmer’s market one day, and I saw a tent that I had never seen before. They were only selling one thing – 5 lb bags of SATSUMAS!
Satsumas may look like mandarins or tangerines, but they have a few characteristics that make them absolutely delightful.
- They are extremely easy to peel. Almost none of the pith/pulp sticks to the fruit when ripe.
- They have almost no seeds. I found 2 seeds in a 5 lb bag – that’s about 20 satsumas!
- They are sweet with just a bit of tang. Versatile, and not as sour as other citrus fruits.
Citrus doesn’t typically make a great jam because of the fibrous skin surrounding the juicy fruit, so I decided to do a quick cook and make a satsuma syrup.
This syrup was pretty straightforward. I cooked down satsumas with a bit of unrefined sugar. When the juices started to melt and the skins started to break down, I crushed some salt, black pepper, thai chili, coriander, curry leaves, and allspice in a mortar and pestle and added it to the fruit.
I finished with a cinnamon stick and a simmer until I got to a syrupy texture. Admittedly, I did this because I didn’t have any ground cinnamon, but the stick packed a lot of great flavor!
And a massage to finish it all off.
This slider was looking pretty orange, and we eat with our eyes. What color goes better on a fall plate than green?!
I looked in the crisper drawer for some greens, and I found some Plant It Forward red Russian kale. This kale is great when cooked down, but I wanted it to stand up a bit. I didn’t want it raw because the stems can be quite fibrous, so I decided to massage it!
I tore the kale by hand, and I added some of the pumfu marinade and a touch of adobo for a smoky flavor. I massaged firmly with my fingers, which loosened up the fiber in the kale. What resulted was a beautiful base layer that stood up to the pumfu and top biscuit bun.
And there you have it, a Sweet Potato Biscuit and Pumpkin Seed Tofu Slider with Satsuma Syrup and Massaged Kale. A fall masterpiece!
Check out the video and read the recipe below!
Sweet Potato Pumfu Slider
- Mixing bowls
- Cast iron skillet
- Food processor
- Sauce pan
- Biscuit cutter or 3.5" to 4" drinking glass
Sweet Potato Biscuits
- 1.5 lbs sweet potato
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp salt half for roasting, half for biscuits
- 1 tbsp black pepper half for roasting, half for biscuits
- 1½ tsp allspice
- 1½ tsp garlic powder
- 1¼ cups coconut milk or other plant-based milk
- 1 tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
- 8 tbsp cold butter cut into ¼" pats
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup white whole wheat flour plus extra for forming biscuits
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 block pumfu
- 1 cup spicy vinegar or vinegar and dried/fresh peppers
- 1 satsuma
- ½ tbsp parsley
- ½ tbsp sage
- ½ tbsp rosemary
- ½ tbsp black pepper
- ½ tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 satsumas
- 1 tbsp unrefined sugar
- 3 dried thai chilis or other dried or fresh pepper
- 4 curry leaves
- ½ tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp allspice
- 2 kale leaves
- 1 spoon adobo sauce
Sweet Potato Biscuits
- Heat 2 qt of water to a boil. Cube potatoes.Add 2 cups of room temperature water and your potatoes and cover. Parcook the potatoes for at least an hour, up to three.
- Turn oven to 400° F. Drain potatoes, and season with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and allspice. Lay flat on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.Turn potatoes, and cook for bake for another 20 minutes.
- Let potatoes cool for an hour.While cooling, add 1 tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to 1 ¼ cups of coconut milk. Mix and let sit for 30 minutes. You can cool in the fridge once 30 minutes is up.
- In the food processor, blend sweet potatoes into a puree/paste. Remove, and measure ¾ cup of blended sweet potato. If you have extra, you can scale the biscuits, or use for cookies, a smoothie, or a bowl.
- Wash and dry the food processor. Add flour, salt (1/2 tbsp), baking powder, and baking soda. Add allspice, cloves, and black pepper. Pulse a few times to combine.
- Cut cold butter into ¼" pats. Add these dispersed around the food processor, and pulse until butter pieces are less than ¼" in diameter.
- Add flour mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add sweet potato and coconut buttermilk. Mix with a rubber spatula until too dense to mix, then use your hands until the dough comes together to a ball.
- Flour a clean surface and place down your dough. Generously flour the surface and dough so the dough is not sticky. Using your palms or a floured rolling pin, press dough until it is about 1 cm thick. Using a bench scraper or spatula, fold the right third of the dough into the center, and do the same with the left third. Repeat with the top and bottom third. You should have a square that is 1/9 the size of the original dough.
- Flour this dough and the surrounding area of your surface, and press or roll down the dough to its original thickness. Repeat the folding process, then press or roll again.
- Pre-heat oven to 425°F.Flour a biscuit cutter or a glass. Start cutting biscuits at the edge of your dough. Be sure to press down on your dough, don't twist. This will mess up your layers you worked hard to create.Gently place biscuits in a cast iron skillet or glass baking dish. Make sure your biscuits are touching close together, this will help them rise taller.
- Brush the top of the biscuits with your melted butter. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove biscuits to a cooling rack. Make sure to let cool for at least 5 minutes before cutting into them!
- Cut pumfu block into 4 squares. Slice each square into three even pieces.
- In a glass dish, add cut pumfu. Add spicy vinegar (or vinegar and fresh/dried peppers), satsumas, parsley, sage, rosemary, salt, and pepper.Let sit for at least an hour. Pumfu will hold together overnight or even for a few days.
- Heat up cast iron pan over medium heat. Add olive oil to pan and place pumfu pieces to sear.After initial sear, baste pumfu with marinade mixture. When marinade hits the pan, run seared portion of pumfu on the liquid. This will help get a great caramelization on the pumpkin seed patty.
- After 5 minutes or golden brown sear achieved, flip and repeat on other side.
- Peel satsumas. Add with unrefined sugar to a sauce pan over medium-high heat.Cook down and gently release juices from satsumas using a wooden spoon.Once juices are released, turn down pan slightly to make sure syrup does not burn.
- To a mortar and pestle, add thai chili, curry leaves, coriander, salt, pepper, and allspice. Crush and add to the pan.
- Cook until syrup starts to hold together, but is still slightly runny. Take off the heat and let set to the desired thickness.
- Tear kale with hands into a small mixing bowl. Add pumfu marinade and a spoon of adobo sauce.Massage with fingers. You should be able to feel the fibrous veins in the kale softening up.
- Cut a sweet potato biscuit in half.
- Place massaged kale on the bottom bun, then pumfu pieces.
- Top with satsuma syrup and top bun. ENJOY!!