Creamy Mac & Cheese – it’s a new Daiya!

Monday, May 16th, 2011

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When I went poking through the archives I was surprised to see that I’ve only written about mac & cheese but once! Just once! Shocking when you consider how often we eat the stuff. Which in itself is shocking, given that I’d never even had mac & cheese until I was in my mid-20s! (Milk allergy, how I’ve learned to love you.) This oversight must be remedied!

Anyhow, in the original Teese vs. Follow Your Heart showdown, Follow Your Heart emerged victorious. (My latest pizza nomz roundup? Full of spoilers. And no Teese!) I found Teese a little salty, possibly with a weird aftertaste; I don’t wholly remember. (Of course, this was the old formula; and while things may have since changed, between Follow Your Heart and Daiya my contentment is so complete that I’ve no desire to revisit the issue. But I digress.) Thus, the mac & cheese recipe I offered up as our “perfect” formulation was a strictly Follow Your Heart-based dish.

Once Daiya finally hit the market, however, we did revisit our previously “perfect” mac & cheese formula and came up with a dish that’s even creamier, worlds yummier and more decadent than the original. This one involves a 50/50 mix of cheddar Follow Your Heart and Daiya cheeses. We found that Daiya alone made for a good enough cheese sauce, but the two combined? Heavenly!

After years of tinkering, I think this is it! THE PERFECT CREAMY VEGAN MAC & CHEESE RECIPE! (Previous disclaimer re: personal tastes still applies.)

Although, there’s no telling what will happen when Pepperjack Daiya reaches Kansas City…

Creamy Mac & Cheese with Daiya and Follow Your Heart vegan cheeses

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Ingredients

2 cups Follow Your Heart cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups Daiya cheddar cheese, shredded
4 cups uncooked macaroni (mini shells are my personal fave!)
8 tablespoons margarine
24 oz plain soy milk

Directions

Make the cheese sauce!

1. In a medium-sized saucepan, bring the soy milk to a boil.

2. Reduce the heat to medium and mix in the margarine, stirring until melted.

3. Add the cheese shreds, stirring gently until they combine with the liquid to form a creamy cheese sauce.

Optional: season to taste with salt, pepper, onion or garlic. If a thicker sauce is your desire, stir in a pinch of corn starch.

4. Reduce the heat to low, stirring even few minutes.

Make the pasta!

5. In a deep skillet or wide, shallow sauce pan, cook the pasta according to the directions provided on the package. Stop when about 90% done and drain, leaving a little hot water with the pasta. (This will mostly cook down as you continue to heat the pasta.)

Combine the two to make mac and cheese!

6. Mix the cheese sauce into the pasta, stirring well. On medium low heat, let the pasta continue to cook, until it’s the desired consistency. Stir constantly during this last step so that none of the pasta or cheese sticks to the pan.

Serve warm and melty!

Or … maybe on a pizza? (You heard me right!)

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Fuck yeah hot carb on carb action! (You’ll find the recipe at the PPP blog: Creamy Vegan Mac & Cheese Pizza! And you will go looking for it; resistance is futile. Muahaha!)

Extra-special bonus nomz!

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Vegan Baked Macaroni & Cheese with Daiya! (Recipe via To Live and Eat in L.A.) Not bad, though not nearly as creamy and cheesy as I like it. Shane is a big fan; he’s partial to the breadcrumbs!

Creamy Mac & Cheese – now with Heart!

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet soy cheese

Vegan Gourmet v. Teese: Who shall emerge victorious?

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Spoiler: Each shall live to melt another day!

Originally, I’d intended this as a side-by-side comparison of Teese and Vegan Gourmet vegan mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, à la the Sweet & Sara v. Dandies showdown. Yes, I had it all planned out: I ordered exactly enough tubes of Teese to make a few batches of cheddary mac & cheese, with an extra tube of mozzarella and cheddar left over to cover a homemade pizza each. The fridge was stocked to nearly-overflowing with brick upon glorious brick of Vegan Gourmet. (Nom!) Unfortunately, we tried so many different mac & cheese recipes – and over such a lengthy period of time – that it quickly became impossible to keep track of the many cheese/recipe variations. (Seriously, I’ve been at this since early summer!)

So while I don’t come bearing a chart or pro/con breakdown of each brand and flavor of vegan cheese, I can say that I prefer Vegan Gourmet to Teese. Teese is a little salty for my taste, and since it’s not available locally, it’s a tad more expensive than Vegan Gourmet, especially when you factor in shipping costs. Of course, I’m not judging either brand against its dairy-based counterpart, since I’ve never been able to eat the stuff. (Something for which I’m quite thankful now; it’s rather easy to “give up” non-vegan products when you never formed taste for/addiction to them to begin with!) My husband – who is not allergic to milk and found cow’s milk cheese the hardest foodstuff to relinquish upon going vegan – nominally prefers Teese to Vegan Gourmet. Take from that what you will.

In terms of cooking with Teese versus Vegan Gourmet, I think the two are tied for convenience, meltability, etc. Both seem to have their own “sweet spot” for achieving maximum gooeyness. For example, when sprinkled atop mini pita bread pizzas, Vegan Gourmet melts best when cooked at 450 degrees F for about 15 minutes. But, um, that’s in the Garbato-Brady oven; my sister has had slightly less luck at these settings. Likewise, the reason we tried so many mac & cheese recipes is because the cheese sauce congealed at different rates, depending not just on the brand, but also how and when the cheese was mixed with the soy milk, margarine and macaroni. So no matter which brand you favor, there’s no small amount of experimentation and guesswork that goes into cooking with vegan cheese. But hey, it’s totally worth it, dontchathink?

Anyhow, after months of laborious taste-testing, the Mr. and I finally came up with our perfect mac & cheese recipe. Again, grain of salt; mac & cheese is a highly personal and intimate subject, particularly in the vegan community, so perhaps you’ll try this dish only to discover that it tastes like dreck. But hey, that’s how I feel about mac & cheese dishes centered around nutritional yeast, and many fellow vegans swear by these recipes. To each her own.

(More below the fold…)