My friend Jacqui (who I interviewed here and who wrote about her stay at Jacob’s Ridge/The Pig Village here) mentioned the other day how much she and her family like the Tesco Free From Soya Medium Cheese. Although there are almost as many opinions on vegan cheese varieties/makes as there are actual vegans, I took her recommendation in good faith, especially as she’s the only vegan in her house. I mean, if dairy-cheese eaters like it, it must be good, right? Wrong. Really wrong. So wrong I immediately unfriended her and asked her for the package of chocolate orange I gave her back, even though I hate chocolate orange (this isn’t actually true (the unfriending bit, that is – the ‘I hate chocolate orange’ is most definitely true) and she’s probably eaten the chocolate already anyway).
I grated some of the cheese and mixed it with spring onion to top a roasted courgette and I ate it all up, so it can’t have minged that much but it’s definitely – shall we say – an acquired taste. I’d been put off from it the moment I unwrapped it – it was hard, clay-like and to grate it was like grating a candle (at least, how I imagine a candle would be like if I grated one). It wasn’t all bad though – it melted well and had a strong cheesy taste (although not quite an authentic cheese taste) but the overall experience of eating it was just odd.
However, because of its cheesy taste and melting capabilities, I thought it would be good used sparingly in cheese straws. And I was right – it improved the cheese by approximately twenty-three billion percent. You need to make these cheese straws because they’re so quick and easy and I should have made double the amount as these aren’t going to last the day out. You can leave the chilli and mustard out if you like but I enjoyed the fiery kick it gave them.
So, my advice to you is, buy Tesco Free From Soya Medium Cheese and use it sparingly if you want to add a cheesy taste to something baked (I imagine it’d be good in muffins) but I don’t recommend you eat it as you would ‘normal’ cheese. Of course, my opinion is subjective and you might think this is the best vegan cheese in the world ever but if you want a vegan cheese to put in a sandwich, I’d stick to Violife.
- 25g vegan spread (I used Flora Freedom)
- 50g plain flour
- 20g vegan cheese, grated
- Chilli powder to taste
- 1 tsp mustard (I used wholegrain)
- salt and pepper
- Soya milk to glaze
- Rub together the vegan spread and flour in a bowl.
- Add the cheese, chilli powder, mustard and season with salt and pepper.
- Work into a dough (if it's not sticking together, add a tiny bit of water, but I found the mustard bound it together well).
- Roll out onto a lightly floured surface, trim the edges (or don't bother if you don't mind them looking 'rustic') and cut into strips about 1cm wide (I used a pizza cutter).
- Line a baking tray with baking paper, lay the strips down, leaving a bit of a gap between them, glaze with soya milk and bake at 200C for about 10 minutes, until golden.