When Michael Kitson, 22, learned some facts about the meat industry, he wanted no part of it, and decided to go vegan (he's also an avid dog lover).
So as he plunged into the world of vegan cooking, he was thrilled to find out how creative and delicious vegan recipes can be. Since he's also a food photographer, Kitson decided to start his own website and blog, Discover Delicious, to show off vegan food like Vegan Florentine cookies in all their mouth-watering beauty.
The London resident wants everyone to understand how good vegan food can be. "My hope is that people will be inspired to cook interesting, delicious vegan food and free themselves from thoughts such as 'I couldn't go vegan as it's so restricting.'" Kitson says.
Case in point: His recipe for Vegan Buttermilk Rusks:
Vegan Buttermilk Rusks
Yield: 40 small or 20 large rusks
Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Hands-off time: 1 hour, 10 minutes baking, then 3 hours and drying out.
4 cups Self-rising flour
2 1/2 cup All-bran cereal
1/3 cup Hazelnuts
1/2 cup White caster sugar
1/2 tsp. Baking powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 cup Pumpkin seeds
3/4 cup Raisins
2 1/2 Tbs. Water
1 Tbs. Flax seeds
1/2 cup Coconut oil, melted
1 cup + 2 Tbs. Unsweetened almond milk
1 Tbs. Lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Line a deep-walled baking tray (mine is 13- x 8- x 1.5-inches but it needn't be
the same) with baking parchment.
Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl. Finely crush the bran flakes using your hands. Crush the hazelnuts in a bag using a rolling pin or something heavy. Mix in the bran flakes, hazelnuts and the rest of the dry ingredients into the flour.
Put the tablespoon of ground flax seeds into a small bowl and mix in the water. Stir well and leave for 5 minutes until it has thickened a bit.
Measure out the almond milk and stir in the lemon juice. Set aside for a couple of minutes.
Whisk together the flax mixture and the almond milk mixture with the melted coconut oil.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix well until fully combined. This could be done in a stand mixer, or using a large spoon or your hands. Make sure there are no lumps of unhydrated flour left.
Put the mixture into the baking tin. It will be quite dry and you can push it down and even it out with your hands.
Cover with aluminium foil and bake for 40 minutes.
Take the tray out of the oven (but don't turn it off) and remove the foil. If it’s really not cooked, put it back into the oven uncovered for 5-10 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes. Invert the semi-cooked dough onto a large chopping board.
Using a large, sharp knife, carefully slice the dough into rectangles. The size is up to you; I like my rusks quite small. You will have lots of crumbs left over, but you can cook these in a small oven-proof dish and add them to soy/coconut yoghurt or porridge.
Spread the rusks out on a larger baking tray, or two smaller trays, and return to the oven. Bake for 30 mins (checking regularly) until golden brown. If they're browning too quickly, cover them with foil again. If they don't look fully cooked, give them 10 more minutes. Then turn the oven right down to 50°C/120°F.
Leave the rusks to dry out for a minumum of 3 hours. You could also leave them in the oven overnight with the pilot light on.
Once finished drying out, remove the rusks from the oven, or just turn the oven off but make sure to leave the oven door ajar so they don't steam.
When the rusks are completely cool, store them in an airtight tin.