Inside The Oven: A trip back to fun houses, funnel cakes, and grotesque looking teddy bears. Week Links: Flexitarians-those part time vegetarians.
Around this time of year, there’s a week long festival in a Midwestern town I lived in for years. It’s the pretty standard carnival type atmosphere with games, rides, and several blocks of food booths containing your traditional fair food of pizza, bratwurst, haystacks, and all things not vegetarian. My most repulsive memories were that of seeing and smelling fried brain sandwiches-made from brains of pigs and cows…As they say on airplane flights: there’s a trash bag or can at your side. Please regurgitate and get back to reading this when you’re done.
Anyway, there were a few, but scarce veggie options if you were a lacto-ovo. I was still eating cheese at the time (but not anymore) and every year I looked forward to finding the cheese stick booth of choice, as there were several to choose from. Depending on the year, it could have been Future Farmers of America to St. Anthony’s Catholic Church where I chose to be a cheese stick patron.
Normally, I’m a pretty flexible and laid back kind of person. So, in the company of friends at the festival, I had no problem standing around for hours as they futilely attempted to win life size teddy bears that frankly so looked so bizarre, you’d wonder what child actually liked taking these to bed. However, when it came to getting my cheese sticks, all manners, cooperativeness, and “thinking of the other person,” were pushed aside. Once satisfied with the taste of warm, soft, stretchy mozzarella cheese dipped in marinara sauce, I couldn’t care less how many teddy bears my friends and family threw horseshoes for.
Fast forward a decade. No longer doing the cheese thing, I thought I’d never bite into the fried mozzarella festival goodness again. Until I began thumbing through recipes for regular mozzarella cheese sticks and thought to myself, “Let’s veganzie this.” Learn how I veganized fried mozzarella cheese sticks and get the recipe after the break…
Teese vegan cheese has become a favorite non-dairy staple. Depending on where you live, it usually has to be ordered online, but in some cities there are stores that sell it. I believe it melts better and resembles the flavor of real mozzarella better than others, but if for some reason, you can’t get your hands on a tube, feel free to use any other vegan mozzarella cheese.
Breading is extremely important when frying cheese to prevent it from leaking into the oil, but I think vegan cheese gives you an advantage because it does take a little longer to melt. Still, we’ll be double and even triple dipping the cheese to make sure it’s coated well.
These brought back great memories of the tilt-a-whirl, funnel cake, and fun houses with mirrors that sometimes, ironically, made you look better. Smells and images of fried brain sandwiches are thankfully still suppressed.
-Vegan Egg Replacement, such as Ener G Egg Replacement
-¾ cup Italian Seasoned bread crumbs
-¼ teaspoon garlic granules
-1/3 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
-3 tablespoons cornstarch
-2 cups safflower oil to fry sticks in
-½ tub of Teese Vegan Mozzarella Cheese or Vegan Mozzarella Cheese of Choice
1. Prepare Egg Replacement. For Ener G, this usually means 1 ½ teaspoons of replacement mixed with 4 tablespoons of warm water. Be prepared to add a drop or two of either until mixture is frothy. Or follow instructions to making equivalent to 1 egg on box of egg replacement of choice.
2. Use 2 bowls. In one, mix bread crumbs and garlic granules. In the second, mix flour and cornstarch.
3. Heat 2 cups of safflower oil in saucepan deep into to fry sticks in to 365 F.
4. While oil is heating, slice cheese this way: Take ½ tub and place upright with flat cut side on bottom. Slice cheese vertical, with approximately 1 inch slices, then take those slices and slice in half to resemble “mini” cheese sticks that are shorter than what you would normally see in mozzarella sticks in stores.
5. Time to double and triple dip! One stick at a time, coat each stick with the mixtures in this order: flour and cornstarch mixture, egg replacement, breadcrumb mixture. Be sure to coat the ends as well. Repeat 2x.
6. Gently slide a few but not all sticks into oil, not crowding the sticks. You will probably use half the batch for each fry, for a total of two 30 second frying sessions. Fry until golden, about 30 seconds. This is crucial: Anything more than a few seconds more will result in the cheese bursting through the breading and into the oil. Repeat with other sticks.
7. Remove from oil, drain, on paper towels.
8. Once cooled, continue dipping-into marinara or sauce of your preference.
Paul McCartney’s Girlfriend Giving Up Meat For Him (Now Magazine)
Is There Such Thing As A Flexitarian? (Marie Claire UK)