I loved mac and cheese – from the blue box or nothin’ – with cut up hot dog and peas as a kid. Because my palate was garbage. Though I have revisited mac and cheese since going vegan – so many variations, so little time – I never bothered with veggie dogs because blech. Processed bland crap. Hard pass.
For today’s prompt, I thought, I’d get as close as possible to that thing I made on lazy days off, but homemade. Even the cheese powder, FFS. The Homemade Vegan Pantry has a serviceable cheese powder recipe with finely ground cashews that’s combined with nondairy milk and simmered quickly for a suitably runny, salty sauce; Super Fun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook has a “smoky dogs” veggie dog recipe, which is rather like the steamed seitan and beany snausages I make all the time.
I made a half recipe of veggie dogs, then sliced up and pan-fried one of them to put on top of my mac and cheese (with peas). It was just like childhood, only not.
My mom is an awesome cook. She can feed armies and menu plan with the best of them. Of course she taught me to cook, too–I’ve been in the kitchen as long as I can remember. (I made up my own, admittedly terrible, cookie recipe in the 1st grade.) Perhaps my mom’s most requested dessert is boccone dolce, a layer cake of sorts with meringue, chocolate, fresh whipped cream, and strawberries. After I went vegan, I thought I’d never get to enjoy it again, but then I heard about the vegan meringue group on Facebook and how people were using canned bean liquid to replace egg whites, calling it aquafaba. Armed with a stand mixer, I had to give it a try.
However, the first time I attempted this didn’t go so well. So I took more precautions this time. And I didn’t use my silpat – if I gotta clean disintegrated sugary goop off of something, it might as well be parchment.
I used The Homemade Vegan Pantry’s recipe this time, which relies on flax egg whites that are frozen, then defrosted and whipped. Xanthan gum is added, presumably for stability. And, miraculously, it WORKED. Not as beautiful and crispy and perfect as my mom’s, but it should do the job.
The whipped cream comes from the same book – almond milk pureed with cashews, then whipped fluffy. Except…not so fucking much. The mixture was chilled overnight (as instructed), but when I put it in the mixer, it broke – the fat separated from the liquid. I tried re-melting and re-freezing, to no avail. So I just re-blended it and let it chill for a bit. A rich, scoopable cream isn’t too terrible, if you don’t know what you meant for it to be, right?
The chocolate is simple melted dark chocolate, which I smoothed out with a little almond milk to ensure it would spread well without crushing the delicate meringues. Of course…things deflated and softened overnight. Not exactly the texture I was going for, but maybe still good. I mean, meringue isn’t supposed to be bendy.
And strawberries? Luckily we have a long summer here in California, and my market is on Sunday (today!), so it’s the final piece of the puzzle. At least that’s hard to fuck up, but I wouldn’t put it past me today.
Oh, strawberries, you still get me, right?
Anyway…after all that disappointment, I decided the best thing I could do was to make it into a taco.
That makes it look tastier than it actually was. The cream had a good flavor, as did the chocolate. The “meringue” was a big nothing. The strawberries failed to stand out (thx, strawberries, next time I’ll just use raspberries, maybe they will appreciate it more) but it was fine.
Oh well. Onwards and upwards. Next few days’ themes are a lot more up my alley, or at least I planned them better, I hope.