Gaz Oakley wants to change your preconceived notions of veganism. His dishes, while meat- and dairy-free, are the kind of recipes that he believes everyone can enjoy—even those who swear by juicy hamburgers and cacio e pepe. His recipes are a testament to that mentality, brimming with plant-based recipes for familiar favorites: ramen swimming with curly noodles, mushrooms, and tender tofu; macaroni and “cheese” studded with coconut bacon and cauliflower; and smoked pea and chickpea pizza, which swaps pizza dough for socca flatbread.
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The Welsh chef got his start cooking in fancy restaurants, but it wasn’t until he heard a speech by American activist Gary Yourofsky that he decided to become vegan—and transfer all his cooking to fall under that umbrella. He started an Instagram and YouTube account, both called Avant-Garde Vegan, where he posts images, recipes, and videos, all focusing on his vegan recipes. He’s published a slew of cookbooks, but his most recent book—which comes out in April—is called “Plants-Only Kitchen,” packed with 70 simple, protein-filled vegan recipes. Under its cover, you’ll find everything from jackfruit cakes with ancho sauce to Italian-style meringues.
Plants-Only Kitchen: Over 70 Delicious, Super-Simple, Powerful and Protein-Packed Recipes for Busy People, $24.75 on Amazon
So next time you’re looking to test out a vegan recipe, try Gaz’s take on Portuguese tarts. Though these kinds of tarts normally boast plenty of butter and eggs, Gaz’s riff swaps those baking staples for a custard built out of coconut milk, oat cream, and non-dairy milk. The thick custard is spooned into the baked puff pastry tart shells, then slipped back into the oven to get nice and brown on top.
Oatly Organic Creamy Oat, $12.99 on Amazon
While the delicate pastries are in the oven, make sure to download Gaz’s episode of Table Talk (or stream it below), a new podcast from Chowhound. Gaz sat down with executive editor Hana Asbrink to talk about his cookbook, veganism, and so much more.
Plants-Only Kitchen by Gaz Oakley (Quadrille) Photography: Peter O’Sullivan & Simon Smith.
Portuguese Tarts Recipe
- Vegetable oil, for greasing
- 3 tbsp plain (all-purpose) flour or gluten-free flour, for dusting
- 1 pack ready-to-roll puff pastry
- 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
- For the custard: 1 x 400-ml (14-fl oz) can of coconut milk or 400ml (1½ cups)
- Soy or oat cream
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 240ml (1 cup) non-dairy milk
- 5 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
- 4 tbsp icing (confectioners’) sugar
- Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F) and lightly grease 8 holes of a non-stick muffin tray.
- Dust your work surface with a lit tle flour, then roll out the pasty into a large rectangle, about 2mm (1/16in) thick. Sprinkle over the cinnamon, covering all of the pastry.
- Tightly roll up the pastry widthways into a log shape, th en cut the log into 8 rounds.
- Roll each round into a disc, about 10cm (4in) in diameter, then press the rounds into the muffin tray holes, making sure the pastry reaches all the way up the sides.
- Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the custard. Add the coconut milk to a saucepan with the vanilla and place the pan over a low heat. Bring to a simmer.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the non-dairy milk, cornflour (cornstarch) and icing (confectioners’) sugar until smooth.
- Add the cornflour mix to the saucepan and mix until it’s thick and creamy. I alternate between using a rubber spatula and a whisk to stop lumps from forming. It should take around 5–6 minutes for your custard to thicken up.
- Turn off the heat once thick.
- Remove the pastries from the oven, then use a little spoon to flatten the base of each pastry if it’s risen high, making more room for custard.
- Spoon the custard into each pastry case, then place the filled tarts back into the oven to colour on top for 15–20 minutes. Be careful not to let them burn. Once golden on top, remove the tarts from the oven and leave to stand for 10 minutes before removing them from the tray and placing them onto a wire rack to completely cool.
- The tarts will keep fresh for 2 days if covered.
Header image by Simon Smith.