Our very good friends at Chicago Soydairy were nice enough to send me a sample of their new formula of mozzarella teese for testing. Having not had any decent vegan pizza since I was in Chicago in February, it was the only thing I could foresee myself making with it. And making pizza by one’s self is no fun at all, so I got my friends over to my house . . .
These are my good friends from the philosophy department, Dustin, Tasha, and Hugh. They are all omnis, but due to my superior cooking abilities, they were all willing to test the new teese formula on some mushroom, vegan sausage, and artichoke heart pizza.
In the email sent to notify me that I’d be receiving this sample, Chicago Soydairy noted that all their Teese varieties would soon be undergoing a similar change to their formula. They promised that Teese would be stretchier, and more solid when melted, as well as having an improved flavor. I had always been fairly satisfied by Teese. It has, thus far, always sated my cheese cravings. The formula I was used to melted well on pizza, but always did have the problem of being too liquidy, and sort of flowing over my pizza rather than holding it’s shape and stretching. However, it always tasted halfway decent, and as long as there were some toppings on the pizza to hold the teese in place, it worked just fine.
For those of you unacquainted with the world of vegan cheese substitutes, let me tell you, no matter what a package says, vegan cheeses usually don’t melt or stretch like you would expect them to. And the taste of many vegan cheeses is, well . . . lacking. That’s the nice way to put it. After eating them I’ve always been left thinking: In a world with so many chemists and engineers, one would think that SOMEONE could come up with a substance chemically identical to cheese without using any animal in it. Granted, that would probably involve some scary chemicals and processes that would leave the substance devoid of any nutritive value whatsoever . . . but damn it, I’m vegan and sometimes I miss cheese!
Okay . . . so pizza. I started with some agave-whole wheat crust that I just whipped up in my trusty bread machine. For those of you who are vegan and don’t own a bread machine, I highly recommend purchasing one. It will save you so much time and worry at the grocery store when you’d be looking over ingredient labels just praying to find one that you can eat. Also, you can make pizza crust in like 45 minutes with one. And other stuff . . . anyway, pizza . . .
I also made some sauce by chopping up half an onion, sauteing it with 3 cloves of garlic, adding basil and oregano, and then pouring in one can of tomato sauce and one can of diced tomatoes and letting that simmer for around 10 minutes. It makes a nice, fresh tasting sauce that isn’t too heavy and doesn’t overpower anything else that you want to put on your pizza.
When it came time to top the pizza, we sliced up an Italian “smart sausage” from Light Life, some mushrooms, red peppers, and drained a can of artichoke hearts (about half of which ended up in our mouths before even touching the pizza . . . tee hee . . . I ❤ artichoke hearts).
Then it came time for the teese grating. From previous teese experiences, I knew that it could be a bit sticky and hard to sprinkle on pizza. However, when we grated this log o’ teese, the shreds were much less sticky and more solid. This could only be a good sign.
And indeed it was! The teese sprinkled easily on the sauced and topped pizza. I didn’t really have to break up too many clumps of sticky shreds or anything. It found its way onto the pizza very nicely. It even looked like “real” cheese. And this was certainly encouraging.
Then into the oven it went! Now, normally the deal with pizza is you bake it as hot as you think your ingredients can stand it until your crust is done and things are bubbling. With other vegan cheese alternatives, you have to be very careful, because sometimes things get over melted or they burn or they just don’t do anything, they just sit there, all shredded getting hotter and hotter but not melting. The instructions that came with the teese sample said go ahead and bake it up at 500 degrees. I was a little scared to do that on the first pizza, so I baked it at 450 for about 17 minutes. And this was the result . . .
Crispy crust, hot toppings, melty teese that didn’t look like it was too liquid or buned. In short . . . it looked perfect. But was it, indeed, perfect vegan pizza? Could this be?
There would be nothing more awesome in my little vegan life for there to be a convincing cheese substitute. I mean, we’ve got marshmallows now, meaty things, milky things, eggy things, but no real cheesy things. No cheese alternative that looks, acts, and tastes even close to dairy cheese. That is, it appears, until now . . .
The taste test . . .
It was good. Very good. It definately reminded me of mozzarella, if not tasting pretty damn close to it (I scarcely remember what dairy cheese tastes like anymore, but I knew that this stuff was really good). It had a creamy, delicate taste with that little bit of fatty mouthfeel that one really craves in a cheese. The only thing that seemed off was the salt level. The teese didn’t seem salty enough. Though, I really really like salt. I mean I REALLY like salt. So I sprinkled some on top of the pizza. Problem solved! My verdict: This stuff is friggin’ awesome!
The verdict from the omnis was mixed, but still fairly positive. Tasha noted that the taste was good, but not like mozzarella. She agreed with me that it needed salt. And she also thought that the texture was something like “undercooked egg yolk.” Dustin said roughly that, though it didn’t taste like cheese, it was still pretty good. Hugh wasn’t very talkative about it, I remember him saying “yep, it’s good,” and then shoving another piece of pizza in his mouth. I think he approved.
So general verdict: Vegans will be very satisfied by this new formula. Omnis will find it pretty acceptable, too.
In fact, they found it so acceptable that a second pizza had to be made. Having more confidence in the teese, I baked the second one at 500. It was even better when it was baked hotter. The only thing I wish was that the teese would have browned a bit in some spots. Perhaps next time I acquire some, I’ll try a light misting of oil before it goes into the oven. So I recommend baking it at 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Though, I do wonder what would happen in a commercial pizza oven, baking up at 800.
Just so you folks know, I got hungry while I was writing this, so I went to go make a grilled teese sandwich with the bit of leftover teese I had. Holy. Effing. God. That was possibly the best vegan grilled cheese I’ve ever had. Teese makes FANTASTIC grilled cheese sandwiches. It melts just right and stretches like you want a grilled cheese sandwich to. I cannot wait until this formulation is on the market.
You win again Chicago Soydairy! You folks are my favorite vegan food producer. Next time, how about some temptation vegan ice cream samples? 😉