Okay, let’s just address this upfront. “Say whaaa?“
Well, there is a very big NEED for gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free cheese slices and I can’t seem find a commercial one anywhere! I got excited the other day when I found some “cheese” that looked like it would fit the bill perfectly BUT then (there’s always a but, isn’t there?), I flipped it over and read the ingredient label: casein (milk protein):
Is it just me, or does that make about as much sense as adding gluten to rice bread??
So, since Luke recently tested positive for anti-casein antibodies, I’ve now found myself seemingly back at square one, just like when I was handed my celiac walking papers 5 years ago and having no idea what I would be eating for the rest of my life (only with a much better attitude!).
Most things are easily tweaked to be dairy-free, well, everything except cheese! Add to that dilemma, I try to avoid soy at all costs (not because of an allergy, but because my mom is a breast cancer survivor and any added estrogen freaks me out).
Luke’s new preschool also has strict guidelines for snack time, and each snack has to be low in sugar and contain a protein. While I think this is great, their primary suggestion was cheese. I am thankful that he does not go to a peanut/tree-nut free school, because I would not have all the nut butters to fall back on and while I have a great homemade beef jerky recipe, I’d rather not send meat for every snack!
Enter my life motto: “where there is a will, there must be a way,” (it’s just a matter of finding it)!
When I stumbled across an out-of-print cookbook on Amazon called “Make Your Own Convenience Foods“ by Don and Joan German, I just had to order it. The tag line of the book is “How to make chemical-free foods that are fast, simple and economical.”
The cookbook is something of a “Back to the Future” time capsule and politically correct, it is not!
I suppose we would fall into the “invalid” group, LOL!
This cookbook has all sorts of crazy recipes that can be easily tweaked to fit one’s particular dietary restrictions. There are recipes for “Gee Whiz,” (Cheez Whiz), bologna, “Lecithin Pan Coating,” which is a non-stick spray, so you could make your own non-stick spray with Sunflower Lecithin (instead of soy) AND…
There is even a recipe for “Extended Butter” which I presume is a margarine. So for folks that are corn-free (but not dairy-free), you can easily make your own corn-free buttery spread! I am curious if it would work to sub the butter called for in the recipe with palm shortening and just add some butter extract/flavoring to it (assuming it’s corn-free) for a dairy-free and corn-free buttery spread??
This cookbook is the perfect example of why I affectionately call myself a “glutadoodle!” Living a healthy, dietary-restricted life in a world of processed food can make one a little wacky (in a good way, mind you), so why not embrace it and have some fun?
Okay, before I share the recipe there are a few things I need to mention, because I think this recipe still needs some tweaking (and I could use some help)!
- While my tweaks make it dairy-free, it is not vegan because of the gelatin. I am wondering if pectin would work, but I fear that the “cheese” may end up with a fruity aftertaste. I was also thinking that agar might be a good alternative, or even xanthan gum (I used this as a substitute for gelatin in a recipe for corn-free marshmallows last January. I found the idea to use xanthan gum in a super cool downloadable (and free) e-book called “Texture-A Hydrocolloid Recipe Collection,” I definitely encourage you to check it out and tap into your inner “food scientist!”).
- I subbed the instant non-fat powdered milk with powdered rice milk and it did lend a slightly sweet taste to the end product. I can’t seem to find a dairy-free/casein-free powdered milk that is not sweet. I am wondering if there is something else that would work instead, maybe even just replacing the powdered milk and water altogether (and just using a very hot dairy-free milk instead?), or replacing it with a gluten-free flour/starch (since I am not a chemist, I have no idea what purpose the powdered milk serves. If I knew, that would help narrow down the potential substitutes!).
- The “processed” dairy-free cheese turned out on the soft side, not really like American cheese slices or even Velveeta. The consistency reminded me more of a cheddar cheese spread, like Kraft’s Old English, which is okay, because having something to spread on a cracker is much easier and less messy than sprinkling on some Daiya vegan shreds (I am really hoping that a sliced cheese is next on Daiya’s “to-do” list!).
I will share the original recipe with my dairy-free tweaks next to it (the recipe is for a 2-lb. bar of cheese, so I only made 1/3 of it just in case it bombed; Daiya is not cheap!) so experiment away (and if you figure out a way to improve it, please let me know)!
If you are not dairy-free, but are dye-free, you could just follow the original recipe and use white cheddar cheese to make a food coloring free Velveeta-style cheese!
1 1/2 lbs. Grated Mild Cheddar Cheese (I used 8-oz. of Daiya Cheddar Shreds)
1 1/2 cups Very Hot Water (I used 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs. Instant Nonfat Dry Milk (I used 3 Tbs. Powdered Rice Milk)
1/2 Envelope Unflavored Gelatin (1 1/2 tsp.) (I used 1/2 tsp.)
Because your blender will not handle all of the ingredients at once (a Vitamix will hold all of the ingredients but they weren’t around in 1978!), make the cheese according to the following directions:
- In a blender or food processor put 1/2 cup very hot water, 3 Tbs. Instant nonfat dry milk and 1/2 tsp. gelatin.
- Whip until the gelatin is dissolved.
- Quickly add 1/2 pound of the grated cheese and blend until well combined.
- Pour into an 8 x 4 x 2 1/2 inch loaf pan that has been lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper (since I made a smaller batch, I used a mini loaf pan).
- Repeat this process two more times, until all of the ingredients have been used and the loaf pan is filled.
- Cover the pan with more plastic wrap and chill overnight before unmolding. Keep cold and slice as needed.
Like I said, the recipe could still use some tweaking (for dairy-free and vegan), but I figured I would go ahead and share the recipe, so we could make this a collaborative project! If you find something that works really well, please let me know and I will update this post (or if you are a blogger and post the recipe with your tweaks, let me know and I will link up to you from here)!
Yeah, I am definitely off my rocker…
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