Monday, November 10, 2014

DIY Velveeta | Better Than the "Real" Thing

With all due apologies to Kraft, I never liked Velveeta. As a child, I never remember having Velveeta in the house. Once when I visited a friend's house and watched her mother make macaroni and cheese with this rubbery block of orange stuff, I was less than impressed. But when I tasted the finished dish, I certainly was. It was rich, smooth, creamy and cheesy. All good.

When I went home and shared the story with my mother, she was less than impressed.  She just said something like, "Oh, honey, that's not real cheese."

But every once in a while, I'd eat something and find out that it had Velveeta in it and decided I should be a little more open-minded, less snobbish about my cheese preferences - although I've never met a cheese I didn't like.

And while I certainly enjoyed whatever cheesy something I was tasting, a part of me still harbored some kind of mistrust about a cheese you can pick up off a shelf, not from a refrigerated case.

That's why I was so delighted to happen upon this "how to" from Pittsburgh blogger The Brown Eyed Baker.  When I scanned the list of ingredients, I thought to myself, "Hmmm . . . . cheese jello."

What intrigued me even more was that TV food celebrity Michael Symon apparently developed the recipe after there was a rumored shortage of Velveeta in the northeast earlier this year. Imagine! A world without Velveeta ;)

If you'd like to read all about how "cheese food" is made, read this piece.

But I could not resist trying it. And it worked and it works in recipes like this from Brown Eyed Baker. Always a crowd pleaser. And isn't that why we cook after all?

DIY Velveeta Cheese
from The Brown Eyed Baker
¼-ounce packet unflavored gelatin
6 tablespoons dry milk powder
1 cup boiling water
16 ounces mild cheddar cheese, shredded

Line a small loaf pan with plastic wrap, covering all sides and leaving excess to hang over the sides.
Place the unflavored gelatin and dry milk powder in a blender or food processor. Pour the boiling water over top and immediately pulse to combine. Add the cheddar cheese and puree the mixture until smooth.
Immediately pour and scrape the cheese mixture into the prepared loaf pan, smoothing it into an even layer with a spatula. Fold the excess plastic wrap over the cheese, pressing it against the surface of the cheese, ensuring that it is completely covered. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours, until set. The cheese will keep in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 1 month.
(Recipe from Michael Symon)