Testing New Teese on Pizza

Vegan Pizza Night

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 . . .

Dustin

Tasha

Hugh

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.

I'm so excited for teese!

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 . . .

fresh out of the oven

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?

The teese did, indeed, stretch and stay more solid than the old formula.  It cut nicely, served, nicely, looked authentic.  I was getting excited.

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 . . .

The tasting . . .

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?  😉

Pizza cat is pleased with your offering.

Kickass Mac and Teese

Hello folks!

Good lord has it been an awfully eventful month.  Thus, the EXTREME lateness of this post.  I’ll tell you about it later.  So first, I would like to talk about some of the best mac and faux cheese I’ve ever made . . .

Cheezy cheezy cheeze

What makes it soooooo goood?  Teese vegan cheese alternative!  (Ok, that sounded like a commercial, I’ll stop, I promise.)  But seriously, I love teese.  It’s one of the best anti-cheeses on the market.  It melts well, tastes pretty darned good, and for the most part, looks like dairy cheese.  Dare I say that it is omni-safe.  And our friends at Chicago Soydairy sent me some for free!  So I just had to make some seriously kickass mac and teese with it.

The Recipe:

Kickass Mac and Teese

Ingredients:

The ingredients

Tofu Ricotta

  • 1 14-ounce block tofu
  • zest of ½ a lemon
  • juice of ½ a lemon
  • pinch of garlic powder
  • pinch of onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Nutritional Yeast Sauce

  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • slightly heaped ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ¾ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 quart unsweetened soymilk
  • ½ cup margarine (1 stick)
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard

Everything Else

  • 1 pound dry macaroni noodles (I use whole wheat)
  • 1 10-ounce log of Cheddar Teese
  • 2 cups dry breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup cold margarine
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Grease either a 4-quart casserole or a 13x9x2 inch pan.

Lemon Zest action shot!

First we make the tofu ricotta.  Wrap the tofu in a few layers of paper towels and squeeze out the water.  You don’t have to worry about getting it as dry as you would if you were going to fry it, you just don’t want watery tofu ricotta.  Crumble the tofu into a medium bowl and add the lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and olive oil.  Stir with a fork, breaking the tofu up a bit more, until very well combined.  Set this aside to marinate.

For the macaroni, fill a large stock pot about 2/3 of the way with water.  Add a tablespoon or so of salt and put this on the stove to boil.

While the water is coming to a boil, start the nutritional yeast sauce.  In a large, cold saucepan, combine the flour, corn starch, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, turmeric, paprika, and nutritional yeast.  Mix very well and then whisk in soymilk.  Put the pan on the stove over medium heat.  Cook, stirring frequently, until it comes to a boil.  Simmer this for 2 or 3 minutes and then turn off the heat.  Whisk in the margarine and mustard and set aside.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Whenever the water starts boiling, add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package . . . or just guess.  Mine took about 8 minutes.  Cook until just past al dente.  You want the macaroni done, but not over done.  Drain all the water, rinse the pasta in cold water and return to the pot.

Mmm saucy . . .

Add the tofu ricotta to the macaroni and pour the nutritional yeast sauce on top of that.  Stir it all up and set it aside.

Grate the cheddar Teese on to a piece of parchment paper to keep it from sticking to things.  You ought to get about 2 cups out of the log o’ Teese.

Now take your macaroni/sauce/tofu mixture and pour about half of it into your greased baking dish.  Smooth it out.  Sprinkle about half the Teese on top of the noodles.  Carefully spoon the rest of the macaroni mixture on top of this, being careful not to disturb the Teese too much, and smooth it all out.

This is what makes it good.

If you are making this dish ahead of time, you can stop here, cover the baking dish, wrap up the remaining Teese and leave it in the fridge up to 24 hours.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Put the dry breadcrumbs in a food processor (or use the food processor to create them and just leave them in there).  Cut up the cold margarine and disperse that in the food processor.  Season the breadcrumbs with a bit of salt and pepper.  Pulse everything in the food processor until crumbly and well combined.

Sprinkle about half the breadcrumbs evenly on top of the macaroni, making sure to get the crumbs all the way to the edges.  On top of this layer, evenly disperse the rest of the Teese, again being sure to get it along the edges so it gets all crusty and brown and tasty . . . mmm.  Lastly, sprinkle the rest of the breadcrumbs on top of the Teese.

All done! Om nom nom . . .

Cover the baking dish and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  Remove the cover and bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned and the Teese on top is melty.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 6-8 as a main dish 8-12 as a side.  Or just one with lots of leftovers.

I brought this dish to a potluck for the philosophy department.  More than one of my professors asked if they could take home some leftovers.  I think that makes this dish a success.  It’s definitely an omni-safe vegan mac and cheeze, which you don’t find many of.

And it’s all thanks to teese! Yummy, yummy teese.

Thanks, Chicago Soydairy!

Bonus!

Here’s a shot of my happy macaroni face!

Macaroni and teese makes me so happy!