Thursday, September 17, 2015

Vegan Mofo: Traditional Local Food

When I read that today's Vegan Mofo theme was "traditional local food," my first thought was barbecue. Memphis is the self-professed barbecue capitol, and we host the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest (read: disgusting pig murder fest) here every May.

But I'm about barbecued out. In the past couple months, I've had barbecue tofu nachos, barbecue jackfruit sandwiches, barbecue soy curls, barbecue everything! Plus, I had some Miyoko's Creamery Aged English Sharp Farmhouse that needed using!

So I made Vegan Cheese Straws! Cheese straws have their roots in British biscuits. But the Southern U.S. has adopted them for our own. They're huge down here! In Memphis, just a few blocks from my house, is the HQ of Aunt Lizzie's — a Southern purveyor of gourmet cheese straws. I pass by their shop on my morning runs, and every time, I dream of the days when I could eat those crispy, aged, tangy cheese straws.

They're biscuity. They're sharp. They're just good junk food. And since going vegan in 2004, I've been without. I googled a quick cheese straw recipe and adapted it using Miyoko's cheese. The result were perfect crackers with a melt-in-your-mouth aged cheddar flavor. They do break pretty easily, so you have to be very careful with the dough. But I learned that you can freeze these, and they stay fresh longer and are less likely to break apart.

Also, I recommend using Miyoko's sharp cheddar for this so you get that tangy flavor. But I'm sure a milder vegan cheddar could work. I'll definitely experiment with this recipe using Daiya soon. Anyway, here's the recipe.

Vegan Aged Cheddar Cheese Straws
Adapted from Southern Living

Yields about 2 dozen

1 package Miyoko's Creamery Aged Sharp Farmhouse, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup vegan margarine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 Tbsp. unsweetened almond milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put the vegan cheese, flour, margarine, salt, and crushed red pepper in a food processor and pulse until coarse crumbs form. Add the almond milk and process until the dough forms a ball.

Transfer the dough onto a floured surface. Roll out to an 8x10-inch rectangle. Cut the dough into 1/2-inch-wide strips, and cut each of those strips in half. Very carefully pick up each strip and transfer to an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until cheese straws are golden brown. Allow to cool before moving off the baking sheet. These will be very fragile, so store them carefully. You can freeze them to make them last longer.

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