If you don’t eat dairy for whatever reason, because you’re vegan, lactose intolerant, or just trying to cut down on animal products, chances are that you’ve forayed into the world of non-dairy cheeses. You’ll know that not all non-dairy, vegan cheeses are made the same – they melt differently than dairy cheese, often have… unique textures, and more importantly, they vary in taste. For me, the ultimate test of a good alternative to conventional cheese is none other than the grilled cheese sandwich – a classic comfort food (especially if you’re in college).
I think the best non-dairy cheese on the market is currently made by Daiya, Deliciously Non-Dairy Cheese. Why? It makes a dern good grilled cheese sandwich and doesn’t taste like I just licked a orangutan’s foot.
Here are my steps for a perfect grilled cheese sandwich (great for Daiya cheeses, but also works for your regular shredded cheddar too):
1) Butter both sides of two pieces of nice bread. I like to use Earth Balance.
2) Heat the pan to medium-high heat before putting in the sandwiches.
3) Add your sandwich and turn down the heat to medium.
4) Put a lid over your sandwich, this is trap the heat and guarantee melted cheese-y goodness.
5) Grilled on each side until golden brown (about 3-4 minutes per side).
And what’s a grilled cheese sandwich without tomato soup?
The burger has a special place in my heart. It’s a portable, utensil-less package of goodness that deserves no less than the utmost respect. This mushroom burger does the burger justice. Juicy, flavourful, and downright tasty – it’ll give the one dollar burger deals a run for its money! It also trots a little lighter on the environment. Makes two burgers.
2 portobello mushroom caps (washed)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
2 teaspoons dhana jeeru*
1 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons chilli powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon of salt
*You can find dhana jeeru at East Indian grocery stores, or you can use 1 teaspoon cumin and 1 teaspoon ground coriander.
1. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the marinade and mix well.
2. Place the mushrooms a shallow baking dish cap side down. Pour the marinade over the mushrooms, cover, and let sit for 15 minutes or longer for better flavour.
3. Turn on the oven broiler or get the BBQ ready.
4. Broil for 6-8 minutes on each side, or until the mushrooms are juicy and tender.
5. Serve on a nice crusty bun with your choice of fixins’.
Nothing beats a good burger – it’s like a golden package of hand held deliciousness. This black bean burger recipe is easy, hearty and satisfying; it just so happens to be meat-free! What really makes this burger is the fresh and spicy chipotle mayo. It’s good on anything from sweet potatoes fries to your Grandma’s apple pie (maybe). Omit the egg and put in a bit of flour as a binder in the burger and use non-egg based mayo to make this recipe completely vegan.
• 1 (14-16 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed*
• 1/2 red bell pepper
• 1/2 onion, cut into wedges
• 3 cloves garlic, peeled
• 1 egg
• 1 tablespoon chili powder
• 1 tablespoon cumin
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1-2 teaspoon Sriracha chili sauce or hot sauce
• 3/4 cup bread crumbs
• 1/2 cup mayonnaise / Veganaise
• 2-3 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
• 1 tablespoon adobo sauce from chipotle peppers
• 1 tablespoon fresh lime / lemon juice
• 1 clove of garlic
Buns and burger fixings.
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C), and lightly oil a baking sheet.
2. In a medium bowl, mash black beans with a fork until it forms a thick paste (but some lumpiness adds texture).
3. In a food processor, add the bell pepper, onion, and garlic and pulse until finely chopped. Stir into mashed beans.
4. In a small bowl, stir together egg, salt, chili powder, cumin, and chili sauce.
5. Stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in bread crumbs until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide mixture into four patties.
6. Place patties on baking sheet, and bake about 10 minutes on each side.
7. For chipotle mayo: In a food processor, combine the mayonnaise, lime juice, chipotle chilies, and adobo sauce. Pulse until smooth and well blended.
Early in January, I went on a road trip down to Portland, Oregon – one of my favourite places to visit in the ol’ U.S. of A. While en route, we stopped in Seattle for a day. I find Seattle to be pretty similar to my ‘hood, its sister city, Vancouver BC. They share the same dreary skies, unfair amount of precipitation, and love for an overpriced cup of joe. They both also have an exciting food scene, with more and more residents feeling hungry for good, locally-sourced food.
We hit up the Pike Place Market for breakfast and while maneuvering through the hungry morning crowd, and stumbled upon a little sandwich joint called Sisters European Snacks, tucked away in Post Alley. They offer an assortment of amazing grilled focaccia sandwiches stuffed with hearty deliciousness like avocados, eggplants, cheese, and eggs. I had the aptly named Eggspensive sandwich, an arrangement of avocado, alfalfa sprouts, provolone cheese, and a fried egg, all sandwiched in between two slices of grilled focaccia bread. Best sandwich ever.
This sandwich was permanently filed in my brain under awesome. When I got home, knowing I could never justify driving to Seattle for a sandwich run during my lunch break, I decided to make my own variant. Continue reading