Monday, June 26, 2017

Award Winning Vegan Buffalo Mac and Cheese

This past Sunday, I had the honor of being one of nine chef's competing in the first annual Mac Down LA! It was a super fun and super hot day in Pasadena, but the energy was on point! A few hundred folks came out to sample and vote for their favorite vegan mac and cheese...and there was some fierce competition. All of this, of course, for a good cause.

Sponsored by Vegan Outreach, the Factory Farming Awareness Coalition, The Shumei America National Center in Pasadena, and hosted by Gwenna Hunter of Vegans of LA.

Each and every dish was completely different from the others, really making it hard to pick a favorite. I would happily eat any of the entries for dinner every night!  From truffled mac and cheese, to gluten free and organic pumpkin seed based cream topped with red onion fondue mac and cheese, to a thirteen-cheese rich and decadent mac and cheese, the voting was going to be close.

My two favorites were Chef Ron's from Sun Cafe (I mean, duh, that stuff is ahhmaazing!) and Lemel Durrah's from Compton Vegan (He brought the heat, and in my opinion had the best texture of any other mac and cheese there!)

Each attendee received a plate with all nine choices, then each person
voted for their favorite by dropping their macaroni in the box! (photo by: TyLeigha Black)

Guess what? I won! I am the 2017 Mac Down LA Champion! And, man, I couldn't be more honored. I passed out recipe sheets at the event, but promised to post the recipe here for those who were unable to attend. Now you can make this Award Winning Vegan Buffalo Mac and Cheese at home...

Award Winning Vegan Buffalo Mac and Cheese
Cheesy Buffalo Sauce
1 ½ pounds (24 ounces, or 681 g) peeled red potatoes,
2 cups (224 g) cashews, soaked overnight or boiled, rinsed and drained
1 cup (235 ml) unsweetened soy milk, more as needed
1 cup (235 ml) of your favorite hot sauce (I used Franks Red Hot)
¼ cup (30 g) nutritional yeast
½ cup (60 ml) refined coconut oil, melted
½ cup (120 g) vegan sour cream (I used Tofutti, but any brand, even home made would work here)
½ cup (120 g) vegan cream cheese (I used Tofutti, but any brand, even home made would work here)
½ cup (112 g) vegan butter (I used Earth Balance, but any brand, even home made would work here)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon black pepper
salt to taste

Add potatoes to a large pot of water and bring to a boil.
Boil until very tender. Drain and return to the pot.
Add remaining ingredients to the pot, and using an immersion blender, puree until silky smooth.
Add additional milk a tablespoon at a time, as needed, to get to your desired consistency, which should be smooth and creamy, not gritty or clumpy.
Set aside.

Crunchy Topping
1 sleeve Ritz-Style Crackers (I used Whole Foods 365 Brand Golden Rounds)
¼ cup (28 g) vegan parmesan cheese (I used Follow Your Heart)
2 (28 g) tablespoons vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
2 cups crushed Dill Pickle Potato Chips

Add crackers, parmesan, and butter to a dry food processor and pulse into crumbs.
Set aside, along with crushed potato chips.

Assemble, Bake, and Serve
1 pound (454 g) large elbow macaroni, prepared according to package instructions in lightly salted water
1 cup (64 g) riced (or finely chopped) cauliflower
Vegan Blue Cheese Dressing (Such as Daiya or Follow Your Heart), optional
Celery Sticks, optional

Preheat oven to 425°F.
Add elbows and cauliflower to the pot of Buffalo Cheesy Sauce. Stir to combine.
Spread mixture into a casserole dish.
Sprinkle Crunchy Topping in an even layer all over the top of the mac and cheese and top with crushed potato chips.
Bake for about 20 minutes, or until topping is golden brown and crispy.*
Remove from oven.
Drizzle with blue cheese dressing, and serve with celery sticks, if desired.

*If you make this ahead of time so you can reheat later, do not add the Crunchy Topping until you are ready to bake. If cooking from cold, cover with foil and bake for 30 to 45 minutes at 375°F to heat through, then uncover, crank up the heat to 425°F, and bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes to brown the topping.

I hope you enjoy it!


PaganAngel said...

Congratulations! This looks amazing! Alas, I have no immersion blender. Any other ideas for getting the potatoes sufficiently creamy? I tried a food processor once, and ended up with glue. I'm afraid a blender would lead to similar results.

Joni Marie Newman said...

Oooh. Well, I would say a blender in small batches. First mix all of the ingredients together with a spoon, then add the mixture into the blender. It shouldn't be to difficult to get a creamy consistency, and not glue, lol. But I know what you mean. Been there. Honestly, I couldn't get by without my trusty stick blender. I have a Kitchen-Aid one now that cost me about $35, but also have a $12 one I got at Walgreens when I was in a pinch, and it does the trick just fine! I do not, have not, or ever will own a VitaMix. I just cannot justify the expense. When I worked in a commercial kitchen, I used one regularly, and was not impressed. I do have a Ninja that works for most things, but I honestly don't drag it out much. The majority of my needs are met with my trusty immersion blender. It's way easier to clean, and takes up way less cupboard space :)

Erin said...

Congrats lady! Wish I was there to taste it! Will definitely be giving this recipe a try once it cools down a bit here. <3

Unknown said...

Congrats! Thanks for posting your amazing recipe.

Joni Marie Newman said...

Awwe. Thanks mama! Miss you already! Can't wait to come and visit!

Joni Marie Newman said...

Thanks :)

Bianca said...

Omg congrats Joni! I think "Mac & Cheese Champion" is pretty much the highest honor one can have (at least in my book!). Your pic looks stunning, and the recipe sounds amazing. Thanks for sharing!

Also, someone made 13 cheese?!! I would love to know what 13 vegan cheeses there even are! Hahaha. Amazing.

Joni Marie Newman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joni Marie Newman said...

Haha! I know, right? I know she used a lot of Daiya products, but 13 is easy these days! Between Follow Your Heart, Daiya, Miyoko's, Heidi Ho, Tree Line, Dr. Cow, Scheese, Violife, Chao...super easy to get to 13 :)

BTW, your article in this issue of VegNews is bangin'!

AwaludinUser said...
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2012 Copyright/Permissions/Disclaimers

All recipes written by me, Joni Marie Newman, unless otherwise noted. Please feel free to refer to or link back to any of my recipes, but please ask for permission, and remember to give credit when reprinting recipes in their entirety. I do provide links to affiliate programs (such as Amazon) in which I receive a small commission for items purchased. I do not provide paid reviews. All reviews done on products or books are of my own unsolicited opinion. On occasion I may receive a book or product to review. I will note when this is the case, but rest assured, it will not affect the authenticity of my review. Thanks!--Joni