Saturday, June 7, 2014

Grilling "Cheese"

Yes, I realize that the image above is absolutely terrifying. But now that I've seen it, I'm not not about to keep it myself. (Sorry.)

Now let's talk about grilled cheese sandwiches: sometimes you just need one. I'm not generally a big buyer of commercial vegan cheese; lots of it is fine, some of it is great (OMG blue Cheezly when I can get it), but on the whole it's more of an occasional treat around here. So when that grilled cheese craving strikes and there's no processed analogue available, the options are limited: one can go shopping, give up on the idea entirely, or allow necessity to become the happy mother of invention. One recent craving hit on a day when I was disinclined to shop, and I really wanted that sandwich, so I chose option three and headed into the kitchen to see what could be done.

Google led me to the "gooey grilled cheese" from Jo Stepaniak's by-now classic Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook, which I used as my basic model with one or two tweaks. The end result was a yummy, semi-soft, just spreadable  Welsh Rabbit/Cheez-Whiz hybrid, perfect for smooshing between two slices of bread and grilling. The finished product firms up as it sits, especially once it's been refrigerated, but softens quickly when heated; some additional liquid would give you an easy sauce for vegetables or pasta.

Grilling "Cheese"
~ 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
~ 2 tbsp. flour
~ 1/2 tsp. each: onion powder, salt, smoked paprika
~ 1/4 tsp. turmeric (for color)
~ 2/3 cup water
~ 3 tbsp. tahini
~ 1 tbsp. ketchup
~ 1 tsp. each: Marmite, prepared English mustard, vegan Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce (optional; I used Frank's)

~ In a mixing bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients and set aside.
~ In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the water, tahini, ketchup, Marmite, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce (if using). Mix well and keep stirring until the ingredients are beginning to blend together.
~ Gradually add the combined dry ingredients and keep stirring constantly, until everything is incorporated and the mixture is smooth.
~ Bring nearly to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens (this will only take a minute or two). You can add a splash of water if it gets too gloppy; we're going for a texture similar to a thick tahini.
~ Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes before spreading between sliced bread of your choice and grilling until browned. Any further additions like sliced tomatoes, tempeh bacon, sliced onions, etc. are entirely at your discretion.
~ Refrigerate any remaining cheese in an airtight container for further use.

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