Round 8 Vegan Taste-Off: Mac & Cheeseon February 26, 2013 at 9:37 pm
Time for some serious comfort food. As I mentioned, I’d had an intense craving for some mac & cheese, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to try a couple recipes for my taste-off party. I chose two very different recipes. One, a very complex recipe, and another very simple recipe. I figured between the two of them, that I should get lucky and find a recipe that worked.
Our panelists would know the two versions as ‘with breadcrumbs’ which was Baked Mac and Cheeze from 1000 Vegan Recipes by Robin Robertson, and ‘without breadcrumbs’ which was Mac ’n Cheese from Vegan Cooking for Carnivores by Roberto Martin. The baked version was super complex, with a sauce containing about 13 ingredients, and the unbaked version using less than 5. I was curious to see whether the more complex sauce would win out, or whether it was better to keep it simple.
Sarah: “The one with breadcrumbs has a nice nutty flavour – I liked the breadcrumbs but it could have used more. I liked the texture of the sauce better, and the overall taste better too. The one without breadcrumbs was too plain – not enough seasoning. It basically tastes like nothing – starch. Mac and cheese needs real cheese. The first one was ok as a casserole, but not mac and cheese. Honestly, I didn’t like either all that much.” Sarah’s pick? Baked Mac and Cheeze
Abid: “The pasta falls apart easily in the one with breadcrumbs, but that’s ok. The crumbs are chewy and it’s sort of watery feeling. I like the mac pieces better in the one without breadcrumbs, but it’s not creamy enough. It’s a bit plain, but I like that better.” Abid’s pick? Mac ’n Cheese
Steve: “The texture of the pasta in the one with breadcrumbs was a little grainy and the sauce was quite nice. In the one without breadcrumbs, I preferred the texture of the pasta better, but the taste of the sauce was less rich in this mac and cheese. Maybe a little paprika and I could eat a big bowl… no problem!” Steve’s pick? Mac ’n Cheese
As a vegan I thought that the sauce was a bit much in the baked version- super tasty, don’t get me wrong, but as Sarah said, as more of a casserole, not as a mac and cheese. The Mac ’n Cheese from Chef Martin once again rings truer with a brand like Kraft Dinner for instance. Just a very simple sauce. I had difficulty with getting the cheese to melt, and I think that it might have been better to use less pasta, and make it a bit more saucy. I felt like it could have used a little bit more of a creamy sauce.
Now, even though the two dishes used a drastically different amount of ingredients, I’d say the fussiness factor was about equal for both recipes. In the baked version, obviously the sauce had a ton of stuff in it, but it was rather straightforward. It worked. With the Carnivore recipe, I had to make a cashew cream, which required me to soak cashews, and blend it up. Then I had a very difficult time making the cheese melt, so all in all, at the end of things, I was more stressed about the way that the unbaked version was turning out. I would make both recipes again, but I would like to try some of the other mac & cheese recipes first. So you might see an encore of mac & cheese in our future taste-offs.
Next week we’ll move onto the sweeter things in life with chocolate chip scones. Two very different recipes again, and it’s almost a sure thing that we’ll have a clear winner.