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Helen Bennett Harvey promises that no animals were harmed in the making of this blog. Vegging Out is a recipe for a new way of life. Or at least a new way of eating. Pull up a chair. Contact me at:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Veganizing old favorites

In my continuing efforts to find new vegan dishes to cook, I've begun warming to the idea of recreating some old dairy-based favorite with vegan ingredients. This was something I'd purposely stayed away from in the past, because I was skeptical it could be done well. Things like fake meat products have always skeeved me out, and I figured fake cheese would be no better.

But, partly in an effort to please my dairy-loving husband, I decided to try making vegan mac and cheese today. My recipe, from Robin Robertson's 1,000 Vegan Cookbooks, required a remarkable assortment of ingredients to try to mimic that cheesy flavor we all know and love. There was nutritional yeast, of course, as well as white miso paste, turmeric, onions, paprika, soy sauce, mustard, cayenne, and soy milk. It certainly looked like mac and cheese, at least the bright yellow kind that comes in a box. I tasted the sauce before pouring it over the macaroni and sticking it in the oven, and it seemed too thin, with a flavor that wasn't even close to "cheesy."

After 30 minutes in the oven, it looked a little more appetizing. The sauce had absorbed partly into the pasta and thickened. The verdict? It tasted pretty good, though I'm pretty sure it wouldn't fool anyone into thinking it was actually mac and cheese. It grew on me as I ate it, and I think I might even make it again (or perhaps look for another vegan mac and cheese recipe to try).

I had more success this afternoon with a veganized dairy favorite. A friend tipped me off that Cafe Romeo in New Haven had begun offering vegan strawberry gelato. I rushed right over. Yum--two thumbs up. The nice man who served me also happened to be a vegan, and we started a conversation about some of our favorite vegan products and restaurants. He also told me Cafe Romeo serves vegan pizza, which I'll have to try soon.

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