DDD #97 – REVIEW! Miyoko, Punk Rawk, and Follow Your Heart Vegan Cheeses

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

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Vegan Black Jasmine Pork Fried Rice with Egg (Thai Rice Berry)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Follow Your Heart came out with a vegan egg (photo above stolen from Google).  The first time I tried it – I was put off by the fact that it is a powder you add water to & that it takes FOREVER to set & become eggy.  It seemed like a chemical rubber to me & I talked shit about it a bit.  When I decided to make a fried rice – it crossed my mind that this egg might work better as part of a larger dish – without the pressure of having to stand on its own.    So – I made it again.  I noticed that the powder even has a very faint eggy-sulfur smell – that I did not notice the first time.  And – this time – I let the pan get very hot before I added the mix.

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And – this time – it came together a bit more quickly.  I added some salt to it before it set & scrambled it until it was no longer wet.  And tasted it.  And, this time, I kinda liked the result.  The visual isn’t perfect but the taste & texture were actually pretty good.  I wonder how a quiche or chilaquiles might turn out with this stuff.  I will experiment & report back.  But – if you crave breakfast eggs – I am changing my thumbs down on these to a pretty enthusiastic thumbs up.   Omelettes might be the ideal way to use this stuff – because added flavors & textures can only help.

One thing – once set – these eggs don’t break up like real egg & so – cut up – they look sorta plastic (visually – see below) and were lost & overwhelmed in this rice.  Just FYI.

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As to this rice dish – it was just an excuse to make my awesome Vegan Char Siu or Chinese BBQ Pork Ribs – above.  Those fuckers are so convincing & delicious – I just had to make them again the very next day!  I also had a myriad of random vegetables to use up & I really wanted to experiment with the vegan egg again – so – this dish was born.  It is a pretty straight-forward stir-fry & you can add anything you want to it or lose anything from it that you don’t like or have around already.    Two notes – the egg gets sorta lost in this so it might be a waste to use them for this dish and – I stirred the chopped “pork” into the stir-fry where the heat sorta steamed their crispy, stickiness away.  In the future – I would top each plate with a portion of the ribs — on top or on the side.

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Also – I made this with my newest rice discover – Thai Rice Berry (black jasmine) rice.  ANY rice will work – but I had this left over so that is what I used.

I saw this new rice at my favorite Thai grocery store – Bangluck.   $10 for 5 pounds – so I could not resist.  I looked it up online & found THIS:

Riceberry  Rice is the new variety of rice that has been bred in Thailand. The rice is deep purple in colour; this rich dark colour is typical of plants that yield high nutrition. Rice berry rice is cross pollination of three hardy and loved rice strains; they are:

  • Thai Hom Mali Race – also known as fragrant jasmine rice, the highest quality and most sort after rice in the world, after cooking it retains its structure but takes on a soft fluffy consistency.
  • Hom Nin Rice – has well known and documented antioxidant properties, but this grain can become a little chewy if it isn’t cooked through.
  • Khao Dawk Mali 105 – a hardy seed which will grow in a broad range of agricultural environments.

The cross-pollination of these three rice plants has resulted in Riceberry Rice, a new and exciting rice variety. Riceberry takes on the best attributes of each of the grains that were used in its inception. The light fluffy texture and flavour from Thai jasmine rice, high in minerals and antioxidants from Hom Nin rice and hardy and high yield characteristics of Khao Dawk Mali 105.

Riceberry Rice Nutrition Profile

Riceberry rice is rich in many antioxidant that help our immune system stay healthy. It contains significant levels of:

  • Beta-carotene
  • Gama Oryzanol
  • Vitamin E
  • Folic Acid
  • Tannin
  • Zinc
  • Fiber
  • Bran Oil

These antioxidants, vitamins and minerals give riceberry rice a nutrition profile that is relatively unique. The dark purple colour it matures signifies it high nutrition content and gives it a unique appearance when served.

The rice is also extremely high in fiber and bran oil, this natural aids digestion and helps keep the stomach free from disease.

Thai Rice Glycemic Index

Riceberry rice has been graded as low-medium in the glycemic index. The abundant fiber and bran oil which it contains helps to reduce the risks of diabetes by hindering the absorption of sugars into the blood through the stomach. It also helps the pancreas function better.

– See more at: http://www.thenaturalhealthmarket.co.uk/riceberry-organic#sthash.388tjdGM.dpuf

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Vegan Black Jasmine Pork Fried Rice with Egg (Thai Rice Berry)

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

Vegan Char Siu or Chinese BBQ Pork Ribs

3-4 cups cooked rice

2-3 TBS olive or coconut oil

1 small onion – diced

1 large carrot – diced

1 red (or other) bell pepper – diced

1-6 chili peppers (I used 2 serrano & 4 jalapeno – but I love heat)

2 cups purple cabbage (or green or both) – chopped

1 head Swiss chard – ribs removed & chopped

4 radishes – sliced

1 cup peas

4 TBS liquid aminos (or soy sauce or tamari)

1 TBS minced ginger

1 TBS minced garlic

2 Follow Your Heart vegan eggs (optional)

GARNISH – more radish slices and/or lime wedges, sliced scallions or sliced green garlic

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DIRECTIONS

Make the pork ribs & set aside.  When cool enough to handle – chop them up.

If using the eggs – make them, chop them up & set aside.

Heat the oil in a large saute pan or wok.

Basically – just dump everything (except the rice, egg & ribs) in there & cook until the veggies are soft.  You might want to wait until it is close to done before adding the peas so that they don’t get all smooshed.  Add the rice & combine.  My photos show adding the egg & ribs to the pan but I think they would work better added to each serving when you plate the rice.

Plate the portions & top with chopped egg & pork and any garnish you prefer.

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Leftover Vegan Meatloaf Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Mississippi Come Back Sauce & a Vegan Cheese Review

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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vromans back

OK – let’s talk vegan cheese for a minute.  I read somewhere that saying you don’t like vegan cheese is tantamount to saying you don’t like cheese – and, I think we can all admit, that is just crazy talk.  I mean, I guess there are folks out there that really do not like ANY kind of cheese but who wants to know or hang out with THEM?  They probably don’t like dogs, either, and are also likely prepared to vote for Trump. Fuck them.

Let’s talk about reasonably sane people.  So – the point was, there are SO MANY kinds of vegan cheeses that sweeping & strident statements about not liking vegan cheese come off as either unattractively petulant or willfully ignorant.  Nobody likes people like that, either.  Still, I must say, I have said things that could be interpreted to mean, “I don’t like vegan cheese.”  In fairness, I have not yet ventured out to Vromage – but I intend to next week when my mom is in town visiting.

I have, however, ponied up the $10+ per cheese at Miyoko’s Kitchen – sampling these four:

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My opinion is that the hard cheeses are not “there” yet – in that they are unpleasantly sharp & really do not replace the things they are meant to with much success.  They might fare better on a cracker or burger but naked – not so much.  The two soft ones, however, the Garlic Herb & Double Cream Chive are pretty good – even naked.  Additionally, they melted beautifully into cream sauces, like my 5-Ingredient Creamy Vegan Garlic Herb Pasta with Roasted Golden Beets & Chard, seen just above.  So – if you are looking to make creamy pasta dishes – I recommend these guys with full-throated enthusiasm.

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I have also tried one of the earliest vegan cheese contenders – one that met with general, vegan approval, that is – Daiya.  Many a vegan has sworn by the awesomeness of this stuff.  I must admit – my first efforts with it let me down but it is certainly possible that I had not managed my expectations properly & my disappointment was a result of expecting it to be a really cheesy product.  It is not.  I used to argue that it doesn’t melt but these shreds here did melt in a recent quesadilla that I made.  I actually enjoyed that quesadilla, too, because I have learned to be a more generous audience for these early attempts at what is surely to evolve, eventually, into something as convincing as Beyond Meat’s faux chicken & beef-free crumbles are.  This Daiya stuff is to mozzarella what veggie burgers are to real burgers – a decent substitute – not a product that will fool anyone into thinking they are getting the real thing.  And it has a very distinct flavor – specific & not terribly cheesy – but not unpleasant either – once you adjust.  But really – there is only one other vegan product (like Beyond Meat’s line) that, I think, CAN fool people is the Morning Star Sausage Patties – seen below.  They are AMAZING & complete with seems like gristle & everything!  They look & taste like the real thing.  In fact, the first time I had one was at Duke’s, on Sunset in West Hollywood (now closed! ).  I took one bite & blanched.  These were REAL sausage patties!  I complained to the waitress who assured me they were, in fact, veggie.  I persisted – until she explained that their real sausage was served link-style.  They had no real sausage patties.  And it was then & there that I fell in love with these guys. (UPDATE 10-30-15 – these sausage patties are NOT vegan and they contain egg & dairy.  See the full ingredients list in the comments below.)

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The next vegan cheese I want to rag on are these guys.  Kraft & Velveeta cheese slices are dreamy – even if they are likely to be more petroleum than dairy.  So – I naturally thought that these guys above would be good.  After all, the product they are there to replace is as chemically & fake as any food on the market.  How hard could that be to reproduce?  Apparently – very hard.  These two flavors, as far as I am concerned, are downright yucky.  Still – some got mixed in with real ones at a BBQ recently & the kids there were ripping the plastic off the real & vegan ones, indiscriminately, oblivious the word “vegan” I had written with a Sharpie on the impostor slices.  They shoved them in their faces & happily munched – unaware that my dogs won’t even eat those things.  But, to be fair, two of my dogs won’t eat the “real” cheese ones, either.

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Onto Follow Your Heart brand mozzarella.  Follow Your Heart, indeed.  Follow it to some other brand of cheese – vegan or otherwise.  I had high hopes for this stuff – primarily because it was very soft & smooshy in the package & that made me think it would be one of the rare vegan cheeses that really & truly melts near heat – like real cheese.  I found it amid a plethora of vegan cheeses at the kinda awesome Lassen’s in Los Feliz.  This is a health food HEAVEN with nearly every vegan option you can think of – even vegan bacon bits sold in bulk!  GOOD ones, too.  But this place is only frequented by those with pockets as deep as Madonna’s.  Or those that want to go bankrupt faster than MC Hammer – or the reckless regular shoppers at Gelson’s.   But Lassen’s is a great one-stop spot to find vegan staples like nutritional yeast, vital wheat gluten and a wide selection of vegan cheeses.  So – go there for specialty & hard-to-find stuff & a huge selection of bulk items.

Anyway – this Follow Your Heart shit is slimy & mushy & flavorless and does NOT melt in an oven at 350 – on top of a tortilla pizza.  I know.  Because I tried.  It softened a lot but the the pieces never melted enough to lose their shape – like real cheese does.  More importantly, it tastes like nothing & the raw texture is just unforgivable.  I am almost motivated to write a strongly worded letter.  Almost.

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Next in the hot seat – Lisanatti brand mozzarella.  UPDATE – THIS IS NOT VEGAN – AS IT CONTAINS CASEIN.  I almost opted not to try this brand of vegan mozzarella – primarily because the packaging is so ugly.  It makes me think of that Cracker Barrel logo above.  I possess an inexplicable & irrational loathing for that Cracker Barrel logo.  It is Just.  So.  Ugly!  Look at it!  What the fuck?  Were the powers that be too cheap to hire a real branding company to design their logo?  “Cousin Betty took a course in graphic design at Bodunk City College & she works cheap.  A pack of Pall Malls & a handle of Fireball and you’re golden.”

Apparently, Cousin Betty took that course in the fucking seventies because there is no other explanation for the color and…ugh.  It just makes me nuts.  I’d rather starve than eat there & support their bad taste in graphic design & poor marketing strategies.  But – I digress.

Lisanatti Foods seem to have let either Lisa or Natti design the packaging – unless Cousin Betty is still moonlighting but – you know what?  It is OK.  It is OK because whomever they put in charge to make this cheese did a fucking great job!  Still – there is a lot of info on that ugly label.  Apparently, Oregon is the landmark of quality, which is news to me.   This cheese is not only gluten-free but Kid Kritics approved.  I am always mystified when things to do with kids are deliberately misspelled – but whatever.  Apparently these kids approved of this vegan cheese but after I saw those kids eating that gawdawful Tofutti shit – my faith in kids as kritics is shaken.

The label declares, “Shreds, melts and tastes great!”  And, I am happy to report, it really does taste great!  Naked.  Really good.  It is soft like mozzarella & truly tastes good.  I did not try to shred it but I did try to melt it – on the same tortilla pizza I tested the Follow Your Heart cheese.  Neither cheese really melted.  They both got very soft & had I used this Lisanatti cheese in something pressed – like a quesadilla – the melting quality might have been facilitated more.  So – not a true melt but I am feeling forgiving here because they got the taste to be pleasant & that is more than half the battle.  PS – this is the cheese I used on my meatloaf grilled cheese here and I even nuked it for a minute and a half – hoping to just radiate the fuck out of it so it lost its will to not melt but I failed.  SOFT – but not ooey-gooey melted.  You can see in the photo below – it has not even melted enough to obscure where one slice ends & another begins – after nuking AND pan frying.  But it tastes good and I will buy it again!

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Now – on to Field Roast Chao slices.  These guys get the real cheese thing across best.  I have tried all three flavors & find them each to be distinct & genuinely yummy.  The creamy original is like a provolone or mild white cheddar.  Tomato cayenne is a very nacho cheese kinda thing & the coconut herb with black pepper is just a mild white cheese.  The texture is right on & the flavors are good.  And the packaging is attractive!  This is the bar, in my opinion, for vegan cheese that is widely available in supermarkets & not just in specialty shops.  While this cheese also failed the melt test in a 350 degree oven – it passed the “melt in a pan” test with flying colors!  This is the only cheese I have attempted that with because I was certain that the tomato cayenne cheese & some Rotel would make an amazing queso – and I was right!  Behold – my 5-Minute 2-Ingredient Vegan Nacho Cheese Dip!

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Maybe all of these cheeses would melt in a pan – if given the chance – and that might be the secret to getting it gooey for sandwiches & pizzas etc…melt it in a an & pour it on top.  I will experiment & get back to you on that.

Oh – and Soledad Sanctuary used to make cruelty-free goat cheese but they recently turned vegan & are developing their own vegan cheeses!  If you live in LA, they have a stand at the Hollywood farmer’s market & are happy to let you sample their efforts.  Eventually, they will be selling the cheeses through their site, too.

So – now – let me present my Leftover Vegan Meatloaf Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Mississippi Come Back Sauce!

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Mississippi Come Back Sauce is, basically, a homemade vegan & spicy Thousand Island – not unlike the Delta Dipping Sauce I presented in my Spicy Southern Fried Cauliflower and Delta Dipping Sauce with Smashed Baked Potatoes and White Gravy and Buffalo Mac & Cheese – seen above.  This recipe makes quite a bit but it should keep in the fridge for a week so you can use it on other things – like a dip for tater tots, on burgers or tacos – even a salad dressing.

Mississippi Come Back Sauce

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup vegan mayo

2 TBS ketchup

1 TBS Dijon

1-2 TBS sriracha

1 TBS vegan Worcestershire sauce

1 TBS fresh lemon juice

1 tsp dry mustard

1/4 cup onion – minced

2 garlic cloves – minced

S&P to taste

DIRECTIONS

Blend & chill.

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Leftover Vegan Meatloaf Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Mississippi Come Back Sauce

Feeds as many as you like – depending on the amount of leftovers you have.  Here are the ingredients I used:

Leftover vegan meatloaf

Jewish rye bread

Vegan butter

Mississippi Come Back Sauce (recipe above)

Vegan cheese (I used Lisanatti mozzarella)

DIRECTIONS

Make like you would make any grilled cheese.  Butter the bread on one side & place it in a frying pan on medium heat.  Top with the other ingredients & put another slice of bread on top – buttered side up.  Turn a few times – pressing the sandwich with the cover of a pan to help heat it through – until the bread is golden to your taste & the cheese is at least pretending to wilt.

Eat.  🙂

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