So, I have Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory to blame for my latest addiction here. It was that episode where he goes back to his mom's house annoyed at a prank his friends played on him. While there she makes him a grilled cheese sandwich and I instantly wanted it. Not a fancy grilled cheese but the old school style with white bread and processed cheese. They were easily my favourite growing up, sure, later on I loved a grilled cheese with some fancy artisan cheese as much as the next person but I would still come back to this style.
I know there are vegan "processed cheese" style slices out there but lets face it. They're gross. I've used them when I'm desperate but it's never satisfying. Then I remembered that The Un-Cheese Cookbook had a recipe for a grilled cheese where you basically made a thick nutritional yeast based cheese sauce and spread that onto toasted bread. I've always loved the way Chef Chloe's Macaroni and Cheese sauce recipe reminded me of a processed Velveeta style sauce so I adapted hers but made it thicker. I was really happy with the result but found making a sauce for a sandwich a little awkward, for example you have to toast the bread first and for me the golden rule of a grilled cheese is buttering both top sides of bread and frying it. It's essential.
So, I experimented with making slices using a gelling agent. First I tried agar as I figured more people can buy that but it didn't work. I only have flakes and they never dissolved properly. Next up was using Vege-Gel, a veggie gelling agent which is a fine powder and, success! Well, after several attempts with lots of rather expensive nutritional yeast, agar and vege-gel being dumped in the bin that is. But, it was worth it. These taste so much like my old grilled cheeses of my youth I couldn't get over it. They hold together as slices but be warned, are a little delicate, just not delicate enough to justify 2 sachets of vege-gel. They melt fantastic too, I even tried one grilled and they melted just like I remember processed cheese slices melting, by getting a little brown and puffing up in spots so these should be great topped onto a vegan soy burger and melted. Still, it's these grilled cheeses I'll be making often - so happy to have them back in my life!!!
Vegan Unprocessed Cheese Slices
Yields 6 large slices.
• 30g vegan butter (2 Tbsp) I used Vitalite.
• 30g plain flour (3 Tbsp)
• 1 cup unsweetened soy milk (240ml)
• ¼ cup nutritional yeast
• 2 tsp tomato paste (puree).
• ¾ tsp salt
• ½ tsp garlic powder
• 1 sachet vege-gel *
* I have only used the Dr. Oetker brand vege-gel here. Each sachet is about 6 grams each. Other brands may need some adapting to work. As I mentioned I tried agar flakes but it didn't work. Agar powder I feel will work but I can't buy that here. So I'm afraid if you can't buy this brand you'll need to do some experimenting of your own :-) EDIT - A HUGE thank you to Laina who mentioned in the comments below that she had success using 2 teaspoons of agar powder. I've said it before I'll say it again, the vegan community...is awesome :-)
Line a 7.5" x 11" jelly roll pan with cling film so that it overhangs enough that you can cover the top.
Place the nutritional yeast, salt and garlic powder in a mortar and pestle and grind until the yeast is a fine powder. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the flour and vege-gel.
In another bowl whisk together the soy milk and tomato paste until the paste dissolves. Add to the dry ingredients and whisk really well until no lumps appear.
In a small saucepan add the vegan butter then pour over the mixture. Turn the heat to medium-high (I used my smallest element on high heat) and whisk all the while until the butter melts and incorporates into the mixture. Keep whisking until the mixture thickens and changes from a somewhat nothing colour to a vibrant orange. You can now change to a wooden spoon and keep stirring until nice and thick. It took 3 minutes for mine to get the the wooden spoon stage and another 3 minutes of simmering once thick. I kept the heat on high but again, I used my smallest element here.
With a rubber spatula scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and spread out with a knife until it fills the pan and is nice and even. Take the overhanging cling film and cover the top, pressing down slightly just to get it all nice and even.
Chill until set, it'll take a couple of hours. Peel back the cling film then lift out of the pan and place on a chopping board. Slice into 6 large slices then they are ready to use.
Keep leftover slices on individual pieces of baking paper and covered with cling film in the fridge.
I found it easiest to get them onto bread by picking up the paper and placing them down onto the sandwich then removing the paper.
The Ultimate Vegan Grilled Cheese
Essential rules: use good quality white bakery bread and butter both sides that are getting fried. Don't be skimpy with the butter either. A good grilled cheese should be golden, crispy and buttery on the outside. And, if you old school like me, served with a dill pickle on the side :-)
|These slices work great in a sandwich maker too! Look how melty that is!! This is a recreation of an old favourite sandwich of mine filled with 1 unprocessed cheese slice, 5 slices of Redwood Foods Beef Style slices and lots of French's mustard. Photo taken from my daily blog.|
Nutritional Information: based on 1 cheese slice (not the sandwich).
Sat Fat: 0.7g
Sat Fat: 0.7g
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