Horta = Vegetable. Hortamatic = Traditional recipe gone veganized goodness.


December 27, 2009

Cinnamon Rolls

Intros and Inspirations

For Christmas 2002, the artist Susan Tabor (otherwise known as Rob's mom) gave her family a collection of recipes she had compiled through the years. It is from this cookbook that I first adapted the vegan version of Cinnamon Rolls back in February 2006 while Susan was visiting. The resulting rolls were Susan-approved, meaning she ate them approvingly.

This recipe combines her “Sweet Roll Dough” and “Cinnamon Rolls” recipes, as well as a glaze based on several online versions. The changes I made include addition of walnuts, use of brown rather than white sugar for the filling, removal of eggs, and substitution of soy milk instead of cow's.

History of Cinnamon and Rolls: A love story

Cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka, and was referenced in Chinese writings as early as 2800 BC. The spice was used in ancient Egypt as an embalming agent, and, later, relatedly, to keep rotten meat from smelling. 1,2

Cinnamon became more glamorous years following, finding a less socially awkward role by combining forces with sweet bread (like chocolate and peanut butter). By the 18th century the Cinnamon Roll was in use, but it was not until 1910, the year my maternal grandfather was born (Papa), the first known recipe for Cinnamon Rolls was published.2

Sweden even designated a day for this roll, "Kanelbullens dag" (Cinnamon roll day).3 After tasting them (plural) fresh from the oven, I can get behind this holiday. So don't expect me to work on October 4th, unless the work is making fresh kanelbullens.

Yield and Preparation Tips

These rolls take longer to get outta bed and dressed in the morning than I do -- there is a lot of risin' and waitin' -- but they are worth it. However, if you have guests and want to present them with some hot rolls for breakfast before they pass out from hunger, you can always prepare unbaked rolls the night before.

This recipe makes about 9-10 rolls.



  • 1 package active dry yeast dissolved in ½ cup warm water (to activate)
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 t baking powder + ½ t baking soda + 2 T flour + 3 T water (whisked together)
  • ½ cup lukewarm soy or almond milk
  • 1/3 cup shortening or Earth Balance
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 ½ cups flour


  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 T slightly melted Earth Balance
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup tiny tiny walnut pieces


  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon melted Earth Balance
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 T warm water


  • In a medium mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast into the warm water to activate.
  • Stir in the rest of the ingredients except the flour. Then pour the flour in slowly until the dough can be handled easily.
  • Knead the dough for about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic.
  • Place the round dough in the bowl, covered with a damp cloth on top. Let this rise for 1.5 hours in a warm location.

Rolling, Rolling, and Rising

The dough is ready to roll once it has displayed its propensity to rise. Usually this means about double in size from when you left it 90 minutes ago.

  • On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to about 20” wide and 10” tall.
  • Mix the Filling together, then spread evenly onto the body of the dough.

Begin to roll from the 20” wide side, tightly.

Once rolled, cut into about 9 or 10 rolls.

Place rolls on a greased baking sheet, with some distance apart.

Rob made the premie-buns to the far left and right. Just kidding. These are the ends (still tasty and good for dieting).

Allow to rise for 40 minutes.


  • Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15-20 minutes (depending on your oven).
  • Remove and let cool.

Pre-glazed rolls


Stir the Glaze ingredients together with a fork until smooth. Add more water if thinner glaze is desired. Pour over the rolls. Like so:

I kept this picture despite the 'black eye' suffered by the roll on the left.


Together, we ate 7 rolls in less than 30 minutes. This is not recommended.


Delicious. Soft, puffy, warm, sweet, cinnamon butter meltiness.


You can gross us out and add raisins. Just don't invite us over for breakfast. Pecans would be a nice addition.


1 http://homecooking.about.com/od/foodhistory/a/cinnamonhistory.htm

2 http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1092443/cinnamon_rolls_the_sweet_sappy_truth.html?cat=37

3 http://www.kanelbullensdag.se/

December 19, 2009

Avgolemono, or Lemono

Intros and Inspirations

This really is the perfect wintery soup, though I first tasted it in the summertime. My Yaya (grandmother in Greek) was the first person who made Avgolemono for me. My brother and I called it “chicken-rice soup,” but Avgolemono literally means, “egg-lemon,” and was a playa in my eventual transition to veganism.

When I was around 12, we all went to the market and picked up some chickens for the soup. The chickens were tied together by their feet and thrown in the trunk. Afterward, they remained tied together, awaiting their soup-fate under the balcony. I remember somehow passing them up and then returning when I noticed how frightened they looked, all tied together and forgotten on the cement like that. Then, 'chop!' and my Yaya made the soup.

That day, I refused to eat it. This would be a great story of a heroic young Vegan of Arc except the next day I remembered a burrito I couldn't give up at Taco Time, and continued to eat animals. (Taco Time!) But it was this experience, along with many others, that would pave the way for my future as vegan-cupcake-maker and eater. And presently, as avgo-less Avgolemono soup maker.

History of Dish

It's Greek. Homer ate it.


In our first installment of not re-inventing the vegan wheel, Hortamatic presents to you a recipe created elsewhere by another vegan, in this case, One Chubby Vegan. The recipe in entirety can be found here, awaiting your lemons:


For the version I made (pictured here), I made the following changes:

  • No tamari or nutritional yeast
  • I added 1 teaspoon salt
  • Rather than at the end, I added a chopped Delight Soy chicken patty in the beginning with the broth, to better seep into the soup

And here he is, Hortamatic's biggest fan, while talking to his sister and enjoying the fire from our wood stove:


Next time I would omit the fresh parsley. Yuck. Feel free to keep if you're not a parsley hater. Cilantro would be a nice addition though anti-Greek.


Delicious....creamy, zesty, filling...as I remembered it, without worrying about the chickens under the balcony.

December 16, 2009

The Salisbury Steak Challenge

Syba says, "Where're the Greens?

Intros and Inspirations

Full disclosure: I cannot remember what a salisbury steak tasted like, apart from a hazy memory of a tv dinner I did not much like. However, Hortamatic has been challenged by food critic Joe (we'll call him Joe H.) to make salisbury steak, and thus, to defend her honor, accepted the challenge!

To discover what this steak was I reviewed several meat recipes, most of which included some form of gravy, ketchup, and oats. Bon appetite!

History of Dish

It appears that Salisbury Steak has had a bit of an identity problem throughout the ages, being insultingly called 'hamburger with gravy,' and so-on. The dish itself was created by Doctor Salisbury, who foreshadowed the loopy Adkins diet with his recommendation to eat his steak and less vegetables.1 Dr. Salisbury was also convinced that “Diarrhea suffered by the troops could be controlled with a diet of coffee and lean chopped beefsteak.2 We honor him here today eating our salisbury without any greens and a double shot of espresso.


This recipe will make you about seven steaks. This is enough for two people if you are Rob and I, or three people if you eat normal, healthy portions.

Making the Steak

  • In a medium saucepan, boil 4 cups of water with 6 T soy sauce and 3 bay leaves
  • In a mixing bowl, measure out 1 cup of vital wheat gluten.
  • To this, add and stir together: 1 T garlic powder, 1 t fresh ground pepper, 1/8 t tumeric, 2 heaping T nutritional yeast flakes, 1 T ketchup, and 2 T oil (canola or olive)
  • Take 1/3 cup of the warm broth and stir it into the above mix.
  • Knead the resulting ball until firm (about 2 minutes).

  • Flatten the ball and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place it in a pre-heated frying pan and sear on both sides for about 2 minutes each until brown and crispy.3

  • Remove seitan from frying pan and slowly plop into the awaiting broth.
  • Cook at a low simmer for 30 minutes, then flip and cook another 30 minutes.
  • During the last 10 minutes, add ¼ cup red lentils.4
  • When finished, strain out the lentils and retain the broth for your gravy.

Making the Gravy

In the meantime, don't just sit there and eat the biscotti you made for another post, start making your gravy.

  • In 2 T Earth Balance, saute ½ of a chopped onion and 1 cup chopped portobello (about 1 mushroom)
  • Add 1 T soy sauce, ¼ t thyme powder, and ¼ t sage powder. Stir well.
  • Once mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes, add mixture of ¼ cup flour and ¼ cup corn starch and let cook for about a minute.
  • Slowly whisk in the strained broth to the mushroom mixture, keeping heat medium.
  • Cook and whisk for another 5 minutes, until gravy is bubbly and thick.

Putting the Salisbury Into the Steak

Now we're getting down to business. Into what Dr. Salisbury intended all those years ago. Get ready to kiss those runs goodbye.

  • Into your blender, put: 2 T ketchup (ew!), 2 T canola, and the reserved (shy) lentils.
  • Squeeze out your straining seitan, and add to blender.
  • Pulse the mixture several times until well blended like so. Pulse rather than blend because you want it to be like ground beef, not like a smoothie.

Vegan brains!

  • Scrape mixture into the mixing bowl you used earlier.
  • Add ¼ cup of oat flour and mix will. Now you are ready to form your patties.


Some bake, some fry. Tomayto, tomahto. I added about 2 T oil to my cast iron fry pan, shaped these into patties, then fried them for about 4 minutes each side.


All done! Serve with mashed potatoes, as we did (“Please don't add soymilk to me!” – Potatoes) or broccoli, green beans, and coffee. Both out of respect for Dr. Salisbury, and for Joe H., we omitted any greens even though it is the holiday season.


Whether or not this actually tastes like salisbury steak is up to you to decide, but Rob reports it did taste like the dish he remembers, only missing the green beans (and cardboard box).


1 http://www.foodreference.com/html/artsalisburystk.html

2 http://www.case.edu/artsci/dittrick/cemetery/stop9.htm

3 The searing seitan idea inspired by Vegan Lunchbox's Potroast recipe.

4 Inspired by this wonderful site: http://www.myvegancookbook.com/recipes/recipe.php?id=50 . While you're at it, try his recipe! I have not, but it looks delicious.

December 13, 2009


Kale-a-kopita is spanikopita's calcified cousin from Asia Minor. Kale grows like weeds here in Durham, NC, and when we had it in our garden I'd make this all of the time. Traditionally, spanikopita contains spinach and feta and is made with phyllo dough by my aunt Katie.

This version uses spring roll wrappers instead of phyllo dough, and an almond olive blend for the feta.
Originally I used kalamata olives and crumbled tofu for the feta. Here I retained the olive/tofu mixture but also included inspiration from my friend's almond feta post.

Yield: Makes about 16 kale-a-kopitas.

Estimated Cost: $6 - $8
(about .38 - .50 cents per roll)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.


First make your new and improved 'feta.' In your blender or food processor, deposit the following ingredients, then blend until smooth (there will still be tiny almond granules, that's OK).

  • ½ cup almonds
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 T tahini
  • ¼ cup firm tofu (not silken)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 t salt
  • ¼ cup kalamata (preferred) or green olives
  • 2 cloves garlic (or as you prefer)

Transfer the blend to a large mixing bowl, big enough to fit your chopped kale.


To the above mix, add:

  • 1 t oregano from the village mountains of your Greek father's home town (or store bought)
  • ½ cup chopped leek (preferred) or onion
  • 1 bunch kale, washed, drained, and chopped*
  • Optional: add 1 t dill weed


Now that your 'feta' is all cozy in the big bowl with the other ingredients, mix them all in using tongs. You will need to remix as you make the wraps to keep the liquid from remaining at the bottom of the bowl.

To coat your wraps, get a plate (a big serving plate works well) and place about ¼ cup of olive or canola oil on the plate, then:

  • Place one wrap on the oil, moosh it around, then flip it.
  • Take another wrap, and place it on top of this one to coat one side.
  • To coat the other side, flip this new wrap.
  • Then, take both wraps and flip them together upside down.
  • Repeat with about 5 wraps until the oil runs out. Now you are ready to stuff the first 5.


  • Place about ½ cup of the mix onto the mid-corner of the wrap.
  • Flip the bottom corner over the wrap, then flip the left and right sides over the stuffing.

  • Roll it up, tucking the wrap as you go along under the rolled stuffing.
  • Place each roll on an ungreased non-stick sheet (you can grease if you'd like).

Keep going until the filling runs out. You will need to add more oil to the plate and repeat the coating step above once or twice.


I like to sprinkle the finished wraps with garlic powder. You might not like that.

Place the finished sheet of wraps into your preheated oven and bake about 15 minutes until lightly brown and crispy at the top.

Remove and let cool for about 5 minutes.

* You can use spinach if you want. Also, I chop up the stems and add these to the mix. If you're serving more 'sensitive' (picky) guests, you might not want to use the base stems and retain those for other uses (such as throwing them at picky guests).


So good the bowl can fly.

Healthy or just hortamatastic?

Both. With both almonds and kale as a main ingredient, then adding tofu and tahini, you're getting a good dose of calcium. Tasty, too. By the end of this post, Rob and I had eaten them all.

December 12, 2009

Basic Pancakes

Basic pancakes are simple. If you want something a little fancier and more interesting, there are some suggestions below. This recipe makes about eight small-medium sized pancakes.

Ingredients & Mixing

  1. In your mixing bowl, mash up one banana (preferably ripe).

  2. To this, mix in:

  • ½ t salt
  • ½ t baking soda & 2 t baking powder
  • 2 T melted Earth Balance or canola oil
  • (Optional: add ¼ t ground cloves and ½ t cinnamon)

3. Add to the mix:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour (you can substitute whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1 cup orange juice*, soy milk, or almond milk
  • 1/8 cup water (omit for thicker pancakes)

4. Stir slightly until mixed.

5. Stir in ¼ - ½ cup walnuts, chopped.

* I have made these with water ONLY and they're still good. Fruit juice is best. You can also use other fruit juices. Any orange-ish blend such as peach juice will do. I have not used apple juice, but try it and let me know how it works. If it works well, gimme some of that pancake.


  1. Preheat a non-stick (I use cast iron) frying pan over medium-low heat and add ~2 T olive oil.
  2. Once oil sizzles when you add a drop of batter, the pan is ready.
  3. Add about ¼ cup of the batter to make each little medium pancake. My pan fits about four:

4. Cook
for about 2-3 minutes, until bubbly, then flip for another 2 minutes or until it is cooked as you like it.

Now you will have very lonely, sad, and naked pancakes.

Meanwhile – Hats for your Pancake

Baseball Cap

Certainly you can go the traditional route and pour some of that real or pretend maple syrup on top of these guys. I prefer to cut up some fresh or frozen strawberries and heat them on low with agave nectar or maple syrup.

Top Hat

Spread them with Earth Balance if you'd like, though they are already oiled up nicely from the frying process.

French Beret

You can also grind up almonds, then lightly cook them with agave and earth balance for a most delicious and healthful calcium-y topping.

If I Were You Pancakes

Which I'm not. But if you want to try some other variations, this is for you. My typical pancake includes chopped apples and blueberries.

Try adding to the batter some of the following:

  • chopped apple (with skin is great I think)
  • blueberries
  • peaches
  • mangoes
  • orange or lemon zest
  • chocolate chips
  • cocoa powder
  • pecans
  • black strap molasses (full of iron, calcium, and potassium!)

December 10, 2009

Yellow Cake

Today Hortamatic is taking on CAKE. How to veganize it properly?

Arguably, vegan bakery has greatly improved over the last five years. One of the challenges I initially experienced, however, was locating a piece of cake that did not crumble in dry bits upon meeting my fork.

The other challenge was finding a good vegan yellow cake recipe. It seemed that both bakeries and individuals had contracts with the cocoa growers to exclusively manufacture chocolate cake. I love chocolate as much as the next vegan, but give me a little yellow cake love, please.

A few years ago, while searching for Vasilopita recipes for a New Year’s party, I accidentally stumbled upon a cake recipe that required about 14 eggs. Not one to give up easily, I decided to take it on, Vegomagic-style. The resulting recipe can be adapted in various ways noted below so that you can eat more of it by celebrating virtually everything (holidays, birthdays, Thursdays, etc.).

The cake is moist, sweet, and undetectably vegan.


HortaMatic Yellow Cake


  • 1 cup earth balance or other vegan margarine
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3 cups all purpose white flour
  • 1 cup warm soymilk
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ t salt
  • Fluffy stuff #1: 3 t baking powder, 1.5 t baking soda, 1/4 cup + 2 T flour, 1/2 cup + 4 T water
  • Fluffy stuff #2: 1/2 cup soy vanilla yogurt OR 1/2 cup orange juice; 1/4 cup coconut milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10 inch round cake pan.


  • In a large bowl, cream the earth balance & sugar with a beater.
  • Stir in the flour & salt and mix until the mixture is mealy.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the fluffy stuff #1 ingredients together until fluffy. The mixture will foam up like a rabid egg. Slowly mix this into the margarine/sugar mix.
  • Mix together then add the fluffy stuff #2 to the margarine/sugar mix.
  • Warm the soymilk, add the lemon to it, then fold this into the margarine/sugar mix.


Pour the mixture into the greased pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Cool on the rack for 10 minutes before putting onto a plate.

Dressin’ ‘Er Up

Frost when cool. Optional: put a mixture in the middle of two cakes, such as Tofutti cream cheese and strawberries. Or a coconut cream mixture.

Frost with:

  • 3 sticks of Earth Balance shortening & spread (2 sticks shortening to 1 stick spread is nice)
  • 1 bag or box of confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 t vanilla OR ½ t almond extract and 2 T cocoa powder
  • 1-2 T of Coconut Milk fat (for added fluffyness)


  • For a White Russian style cake, 1/2 replace the OJ or soy yogurt with Kaluha. Add 1 T vodka to t frosting.
  • For cupcake minis (see picture below) decrease baking time to 18 minutes.
  • To make chocolate minis, add 2 T cocoa powder to the mix.

Pantry or Cranky

I get very cranky if my pantry is empty or missing critical players.


The question to ask is: if you were stranded on a dessert island, yes, dessert, what would you have on hand to keep the island bountiful with your favorite treats?

Earth Balance in all of its spreadable goodness

1) Earth Balance Spread = Butter

Sorry butter! See you later Crisco! Earth Balance sticks and tubs are all I need for good baking … cookies, biscuits, cakes.

I am baking powder.

2) Baking Soda & Powder = Eggs

Sorry egg! A simple substitution of powders readily available in all pantries has voted you off our island. Thanks to Dilip for this chemically natural wonder.

Here is the most simple way to replace an egg in baked goods:

One Egg: With a fork, whisk together:

1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 Tablespoons flour
3 Tablespoons water

For moist baked goods such as cakes or muffins, use the substitution above for 1/2 of the eggs in your recipe, then for the other half use soy yogurt, orange juice, coconut cream, bananas, or applesauce (depending on how subtle you want the flavoring to be — soy yogurt is the most subtle).

3) Coconut Milk
The fat from the can of Thai brand coconut milk can be used to make whip cream!

Fat! (Tip: You don't have to buy a 12-pack)

Not Baking

Following are a host of products that you will find useful and referred to throughout Hortamatic.

Hi! I’m Bragg’s! I like hats!
Think dignified but kooky soy sauce. I use this for soups, gravies, and all sorts of stir fries. In fact, here is a quick gravy recipe:
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 portobello or other mushroom
  • The rest as below.

Saute these in about 1 Tablespoon of Earth Balance until the onion is a little translucent.
Add about 3 Tablespoons of Bragg’s, to taste (more can be added later) and saute for 3 – 5 minutes, stirring often.
Sprinkle with about 1/4 cup flour. Stir all around.
Add about 1/8 cup corn starch to 1/2 cup water. Mix, then add to pan.
Add another cup or two or three of water until desired thickness. Whisk until thick.

I am totally guessing at the measurements here, folks, but the basic idea is here and I think you’ll make a fine gravy. If you don’t, send me pictures of your failed experiments.

2) Nutritional Yeast Flakes or Powder
Friendly flakes.

Usually, when talking nutritional yeast (NY) you know, at parties and such, the first thing mentioned is their nutrition. What a way to kill the conversation! So for you, I am going to first exploit the other point about NY: it’s delicious when used responsibly. I’m talking creamy scrambles, potatoes au gratin, omelets, dips, and more. It’s cheesy and tangy.
And now for the soy whip cream on top: some, but not all, nutritional yeast contain B12.

And lastly, Why replace?