Monday, January 07, 2008

Adventures in Uncheese

Just after I got my copy of the Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook, I posted about some of my experiments. At first, I was cooking mainly uncheese sauces. We went a little crazy and had them more than once a week, on top of bakes, or on pizza. Then when I visited Canberra, I found some agar at an Asian grocery, which made the block uncheeses finally do-able.

But, when we had agar, we ran out of tahini. Or we didn't have raw cashews. Or we were out of lemons. Andy got impatient and made the Gouda anyways. He cut the recipe in half. He used hazlenut meal instead of cashews. He used dark, unhulled (very bitter) tahini. And he just chopped and mashed everything, but didn't blend or process (due to our lack of a blender or a processor). The result? Tasty, but more like a pate than a cheese. Note to self: use the proper equipment and ingredients.

When we finally got all the proper ingredients, we decided to make the Colby Cheez. Instead of roasted capsicum, we subbed tomato paste, as per the suggestion in the book. We boiled the hell out of the agar, blended everything with our new (well, used) stick blender, and poured it into a tupperware to take shape.After a few hours we tried a bit. It was okay.... the tomato paste flavour was almost overwhelming. We had some on crackers, which was better. We sliced it thinly and made grilled cheez and tomato sandwiches.It was good in sandwiches. We cubed some and put it in a salad, which was not so great. Then, Andy minced up half the block and mixed it into a veggie and refried bean mixture and turned it into a mexican bake. This was probably where it shined the most, which is sort of a waste of agar.

Determined to stay happy with the book, we tried another recipe, for Gooey Grilled Cheez. This is probably my favourite recipe from this book. The cheez was thick, gooey, and the perfect yellow colour. We made some sandwiches, as well as quesadillas.My current opinion on this cookbook? The cheez sauces are great. The pie crusts are fab. The block uncheeses? Maybe we lack some equipment to make them just right, so we might steer clear for a while. Still, the book was definitely worth getting.

14 comments:

Melody Polakow said...

I didn't like the block uncheese from that book at all.. it was such a bummer.

Vegetation said...

I'm not a fan of the block uncheeses either. I always feel like I'm eating flavoured plastic, I'd much rather spread something with a dip type consistency than eat plastic (and like you said, they do well when mixed through a dish and melted but then why bother with the agar?).

You're right though, some of the sauces are great.

Amy said...

We haven't had success with the block uncheezes either. Cam says our food processor should do the trick, but I say the agar is the issue...

We'll have to try those other ones!

Amy said...

Clarification: We have inconsistent results - The consistency of the block cheese depends on how well the agar is dissolved and how well everything else is blended in.

UndergroundCooking said...

I have to get that book!! it sounds like heaven in my ears! i see you don't like the block of cheese but i just gotta try it, it looks so fun!

Thanks for this great blog, it makes me wanna go to Astrailia. And that Sanataium roast looks sooo goooood.

Anna said...

Such an interesting post. I find the whole vegan cheese-making process fascinating!

cristy said...

Now I want to get the book and I have no real attachment to cheese. I can't really remember what it tasted like anyway... You just make it sound like so much fun.

the pleasantly plump vegan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
the pleasantly plump vegan said...

i was way too big of a cheese snob, prevegan days, to try making the uncheeses (wayyyy too picky!)
i do like the traditional mac and cheez recipe in that book though.

Amy said...

Maybe that book will help me get over my fear of un-cheeses. What is the main ingredient for the cheese part of the grilled cheese sandwich?

VeggieGirl said...

wow, look at all the ways you tested out the "uncheese" - kudos to you for thoroughly testing the book's recipes!! good luck if you try the blocks again!!

Ashasarala said...

I was tempted to buy that book when I want to the Vegetarian Fest, but I opted for 'Joy of Vegan Baking' instead. Perhaps that book will be next on the long list.

I miss grilled cheeses. :( I have made plenty of yummy cheese sauces, but I have yet to try homemade block cheese. I just don't think anything can compete with Vegan Gourmet mozzarella!

Emmie said...

I make block uncheeses regularly and I love them! My blender broke a few weeks ago when making it though and I ended up with liquid (but rapidly setting) cheeze all over my kitchen. I cried a lot that night. Now I sadly have to wait to get a new blender before I make some again. It's truly missed in this house though!

textual bulldog said...

I have this book but got seriously burned by the first recipe I tried (for faux cream cheese). It was indescribibly awful. So, I've been sort of gun shy for a while now. I think your post convinced me to give it another go, though, starting with the gooey grilled cheez recipe. Mmm, I love me some quesadillas...