This month I’ve been highlighting the beautiful, talented, and trailblazing Dorothy Dandridge. Dottie is the inspiration behind these vegan hush puppies!
Dorothy’s stunning beauty, stylized singing performances, and dramatic abilities demanded attention. And in 1954, with her electric and timeless performance in Carmen Jones, Dorothy Dandridge became the first African American female movie star. Her portrayal of the film’s title character would also earn her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress, making Dorothy the first African American to achieve the honor.
But like Esther Williams, behind the glamorous image, Dorothy Dandridge loved to cook. Dottie was known among her friends and family for the spotless homes she owned and the delicious meals she cooked.
As a girl, Dorothy learned how to cook soul food from her mother Ruby. Dorothy’s love for these flavors from her youth never left her.
Before Dottie’s film career, she was one of the most popular nightclub performers of the early 1950s. And after a long night of performing, Dottie loved nothing better than
“to stop being the elegant lady up on the platform singing…When I get into my own kitchen, I can find corn bread and hush puppies and rice, and it helps me to get my footing again.”
For Dorothy Dandridge, cooking offered a way to stay connected and true to her roots as she ascended into the rarified stratosphere of superstardom.
Dottie’s other favorite soul foods to cook included collard greens and chitlins, though she was known to experiment with French recipes as well. As a Hollywood star, Dorothy’s parties would be known for her elegant and unique way of serving both her soul food and European cuisine favorites.
My Homage to Dottie 💛
To honor Dorothy this month, I wanted to create a soul food recipe worthy of this amazing star, my own take on one of the dishes that Dottie specifically names as a favorite in her autobiography [aff. link].
I’ve got a soul food rice dish recipe (inspired by Louis Armstrong) on the website already. And I’m pretty sure the only way I’d be able to think about even trying chitlins is if Dorothy Dandridge came down from heaven and made them for me herself. (Look chitlins up, you may find that you feel the same way!)
So I decided on hush puppies—those delicious, deep fried cornmeal balls that seem to melt in your mouth as you devour the whole plate of two dozen sitting in front of you…
This obviously so didn’t happen to me.
Well, ok, it did.
But that is how addicting these hush puppies are!
My Dorothy Dandridge Hush Puppies are vegan, so perhaps that cancels out about .05% of the deep frying??
No? Oh well. They’re so worth it!
Studded with red onion, green chilis, and nutritional yeast, the only way to make these vegan hush puppies even more delicious is by serving them with my Sriracha Maple Sauce, and my Herby Ranch Sauce.
A New Favorite
Thanks to Dottie, hush puppies are now a favorite in our house. We’ve already made these vegan hush puppies countless times this month, and I can tell this trend will continue! It’s no wonder hush puppies were one of Dottie’s favorite foods.
So make my Dorothy Dandridge Hush Puppies this week! I’d love nothing better than to sit down with Dottie over a big platter of these hush puppies and hear all about her amazing life and career. But enjoying these hush puppies while marveling at the perfection of Dorothy’s Oscar nominated performance in Carmen Jones (1954) would be a pretty good trade off. (You can rent or purchase the film here on Amazon [ aff. link].)
(And now you know what I’ll be doing this weekend.)
A Few Things!
One of the secrets to these vegan hush puppies is nutritional yeast [ aff. link]. Nutritional yeast has a nutty, cheesy flavor to it, and is so incredibly good for you. (Just 1/4 cup of this stuff has 8 grams of protein!). It really adds a nice, slightly cheesy flavor to these hush puppies, which really complements the green chilis.
If you don’t have nutritional yeast on hand, you can find my favorite brand and deal on Amazon here [aff. link].
My Favorite Fryer Skimmer
And you’ll definitely want a fryer skimmer for frying these hush puppies! A good fryer skimmer will help you to lower the hush puppies into the hot oil, and get the hush puppies out of the hot oil, without getting burned! Here is my favorite on Amazon [aff. link].
Dottie’s Hush Puppies
For the dry ingredients:
- 2 cups cornmeal
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 Tbsp red onion, chopped
- 3 Tbsp green chilis
For the wet ingredients:
- 2 Tbsp butter or Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, cold and cubed
- 1 flaxseed egg, 2 Tbsp flaxseed meal + 3 Tbsp water
- 1 cup milk of choice
- 48 oz canola oil
For the Sriracha Maple sauce:
- 1/4 cup sriracha
- 3 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
For the Herby Ranch sauce:
- 1/2 cup Vegenaise, or mayonnaise
- 2 Tbsp milk of choice, just don’t use a flavored milk, like vanilla or sweetened almond milk, for instance. It will add a sweet flavor to the sauce and be weird. I prefer to use unsweetened almond milk here.
- 1 Tbsp parsley, minced
- 1 Tbsp dill, minced
- 1 Tbsp green onion, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Pinch of salt
Make the sauces
- I like to make the sauces first so that the flavors can develop and deepen while I make the hush puppies
Make the Sriracha Maple sauce
- For the Sriracha maple sauce, simply whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl. If it’s too spicy, you can add an additional tsp or two of maple syrup.
- Sriracha maple sauce is done! Set aside.
Make the Herby Ranch sauce
- For the herby ranch sauce, whisk together the Vegenaise (or mayonnaise) and milk together in a small bowl.
- Now add in the diced herbs and garlic. Mix until well combined.
- Add a pinch of salt, mix until incorporated, and taste. If it’s not salted enough, add a little more.
- Herby ranch sauce is done! Set aside.
Make the hush puppy batter
- Start by making the flaxseed "egg." In a small bowl, whisk together the water and flaxseed meal. Let the mixture sit until it gets goopy, about five minutes, while you prepare the rest of the batter.
Mix the dry ingredients
- Add all the dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Whisk until all the dry ingredients are evenly distributed.
- Add the butter/Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
- Now add the cubed butter/Earth Balance Buttery Sticks to the dry ingredients. Use your fingers to cut the butter into the dry ingredients (like you are making a pie crust) until it is pretty well distributed and the hush puppy batter looks a little shaggy and clumpy.
Add the milk and flaxseed “egg”
- Now add the milk and flaxseed “egg” to the batter. Mix until completely combined.
- Hush puppy batter is done! Now it’s time to fry.
Heat the oil
- To a large soup pot, add all the canola oil. You want the oil to be just about two inches deep.
- Heat the oil over high heat until it looks like the oil is separating in the pot, about five minutes.
- Turn the heat down to medium-high.
Fry the hush puppies
- Each hush puppy should be the size of 1 slightly heaping tablespoon.
- Using a 1 Tbsp measuring spoon, measure out 1 slightly heaping Tbsp of dough. With your fryer skimmer, lower the dough, loosely shaped like a ball, into the hot oil.
- Make two more hush puppy dough balls, and lower those into the hot oil as well. I prefer to fry 3 hush puppies at a time, but I lower them into the oil separately to avoid having them stick together in the pot.
Fry for 2-4 minutes
- Fry the hush puppies for 2-4 minutes, until they have turned a golden brown color on the outside.
- Note: if the hush puppies are cooking faster than 2-4 minutes or burning, simply lower the heat a bit to cool down the oil. And if the oil gets too cold and the hush puppies aren’t getting golden brown in 2-4 minutes, simply turn the heat back up. You will have to adjust the oil as you fry.
- Place the fried hush puppies on a plate lined with a paper towel to remove excess oil.
- Repeat the process until all the dough has been fried.
- Note: once the hush puppies have cooled down, if you open one up and find that you didn’t fry them long enough, simply lower the hush puppies back down into the hot oil, and fry for another minute or two.
Serve and enjoy!
- Serve the hush puppies and sauces as a snack or appetizer, or make them a meal, and use one of the sauces as a dressing over a bed of spinach, and put a few hush puppies and black beans on top.