Friday, September 10, 2010
Vegan cheese has been something I've long approached with trepidation. For those of us that lived in dark ages when all but a couple of non-dairy cheese options existed, the phrase "vegan cheese" has often been syonymous with the word "plastic". Luckily for the new generation of the non-dairy consuming and lactose intolerant alike, living through those horrid times is like looking back at old school cell phones. Oh yes, a necessary evil that paved the way for better things... like cell phones that actually fit in your pocket (wow!) and non-dairy cheeses that don't taste like a garbage can lining.
Chicago SoyDairy recently hooked me up with a selection of their fine vegan cheeses (which are also gluten-free to boot) to poke, prod and slice here on the blog. Did they pass the taste test?
Teese Creamy Cheddar Sauce: True to its name, this is a nice little creamy cheddar-y sauce. I was actually expecting a solid brick o'cheese to melt down, but at room temperature this cheese is already in liquid form. Not liquid liquid, but more along the lines of thick sauce similar to fondue or melted chocolate. The saucy consistency at room temperature is nice because (1) cleaning hardened cheese off pans is NOT fun and (2) the cheese heats up super quick.
I also tried the cheese sauce on top of corn tortilla chips with a little bit of salsa & hot sauce. This was a huge hit in my house! The consistency again was wonderful, but the addition of the salty chips and heat of the salsa helped quite a bit flavorwise since it masked the soy flavor a little better than in the mac and cheese. Ideally, this cheese would be great mixed with lots of bold flavors, however, even in moderately plain dishes the cheese performs well.
From the Chicago Soydairy website: "Our Cheddar-style Teese has an excellent mild cheddar flavor, giving it the potential to be used in a wide assortment of dishes. It is amazing on cold sandwiches or round crackers, but really shines when melted in a "roast beef" sandwich, panini, or in a simple "grilled Teese" sandwich!"
Teese Mozzarella: Unlike the sauce varieties of Teese, the mozzarella comes in a classic solid form, but, although solid, the cheese is quite soft at room temperature. The soft texture of the cheese makes it a dream to shred and crumble (oh Teese, you are sooo dreamy). I was pretty surprised with how smoothly it shreds to leave behind light, soft ribbons of pretty cheese!
I sampled this particular cheese on a whole wheat english muffin "pizza" with some slices of fresh tomato & pasta sauce- the result was excellent! This cheese would probably melt best at a very high temperature (I only used my toaster oven) as the packaging recommends cooking a teese covered pizza at 500 degrees F. However, even in the toaster oven the cheese melted quite nicely leaving behind a light, soft, slightly stretchy topping.
The flavor of the cheese is much more mild than I was expecting which I LOVED. It wasn't overwhelmingly salty and didn't seem to have as distinct a soy taste as I was expecting. Combining with ingredients like pasta sauce and tomato probably also helped a bit to tone down any soy aromas. Definitely another keeper, super easy to work with and doesn't taste like a garbage can lining (YES)!
From the Chicago Soydairy website: "The authentic taste and excellent melt characteristics of this Teese flavor is why it's our most popular product... and why it is used in some of the best pizza restaurants in the country! You'll love Mozzarella-style Teese in everything from lasagna to a rueben!"
Teese can be purchased from various online shops & natural food grocers. To find a retailer near you, visit the Chicago Soydairy website: http://www.teesecheese.com/where_to_buy.php.
Coming soon: A review featuring Chicago Soy Dairy's vegan, gluten free marshmellows: Dandies!
**I was provided with the products mentioned in this post free of charge. I did not receive any monetary compensation for this post & was not obligated to give a positive review of the product. All opinions expressed here are mine. Others experiences with these products may differ from mine. **