Monday, November 15, 2010

Vegan Cheezeburger Pizza

Long-time supporters of the now-closed TJ Scallywaggle's, Alyssa and I had sampled all of their pizza offerings. The cool thing about TJ's was that they weren't afraid to push the envelope on pizza or politics, no matter how outlandish. Some recipes were great (chicken w/ funny mustard!), and some were flops (nacho??). Since they closed every so often I'll have a craving for our Favorite TJ's Pizza of All Time: Cheezeburger.

Vegan Cheeseburger Pizza

Cheezeburger pizza sounds like a horrible idea. I thought it was at first, but having tried my first slice, I couldn't get enough. The pizza tastes exactly like a cheeseburger, and you don't need to slaughter a cow to have the experience!

Here's our take on a TJ's classic:

Cheezeburger Pizza
Yield: 2-4 Servings
1 Pizza Dough
1/4 C Pizza Sauce
50:50 Vegan Cheddar:Mozzarella Cheeze Blend (or any vegan cheeze)
1/4 Medium White Onion
Gimmie Lean "Beef" OR Okara Meatballs
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F (if using a baking stone, ensure stone is in the oven).
  2. Roll or toss the pizza dough onto a pre-cornmealed baking sheet.
  3. Spoon pizza sauce evenly on top of the dough. Leave 1 cm or so around the edge for crust.
  4. Grate cheeze on the pizza, leaving 1 cm around the edge.
  5. Slice onion into rings and add to pizza with pickles.
  6. Crumble the "beef" onto the pizza.
  7. Drizzle on the Ketchup and Mustard.
  8. Place pizza in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until crust is golden brown.
  9. Remove pizza from oven and slide onto a wire rack.
  10. Let cool for 5 minutes before cutting on a solid surface.
  11. Enjoy!
The Finer Points:
I usually make a dough from scratch when I get home from work. By the time I've relaxed a bit, I head back into the kitchen and the dough is risen and ready to work with. The recipe I use is straight out of the Joy of Cooking. A simple dough recipe from a quick google search will do fine. Alternatively, if you don't want to make a dough yourself, most supermarkets (Shaw's and Whole Foods around here) have pizza dough available. I have tried this also and this can save you some time.

For the sauce, I usually use whatever is sitting in the fridge, provided that it's still good (no mold, tastes okay, etc.) For pizza, there is a rule that "less is more" so I tend to go with a red sauce on the plain side. I find that a sauce that is too complex can conflict and overpower the toppings. You want these flavors to be complimentary, so go easy on the garlic and basil. In a pinch I've used canned tomato sauce which can be a bit bland. I doctor this up slightly with a little garlic and dried herbs to taste.

For the cheese, there are a few options. The actual TJ's cheezeburger used a 50:50 blend of Cheddar:Mozzarella Teese, so I felt I needed to keep true with the written recipe. We ended up using Cheddar Daiya alone for the one in the photo, which worked fine. Use any vegan cheeze you'd like.

Now come the toppings. Remember that with pizza "less is more". You don't really want to over-do it with any one topping, because you'll end up with a mountain of same-tasting food with a big patch of undercooked dough underneath. Place down the pickles, sliced onion, and "beef" crumbles evenly and sparingly. This holds true for the ketchup and mustard, too. Remember that you plan to eat what you're playing with here.

When you're satisfied that you've created a masterpiece, you may run into some difficulty popping the sucker into the preheated oven. I recommend using a baking stone (heated with the oven), as it distributes the heat evenly and gives you a nice crispy crust from the soft dough's contact with a hot surface. This is why I recommended building the pizza on a flat cookie sheet dusted with cornmeal. In theory you should be able to slide the pizza off the cookie sheet and onto the hot stone. Sometimes I find that with all these toppings, and the size of my oven that I can't slide the pizza off. If you can't, don't worry, just place the whole cookie sheet on the stone. It will all work out fine.

Additionally, I check the pizza after 10 minutes to turn it around because my oven is hotter in the back than in the front. Your crust should be solid yet soft at this point, so rotating is easy. In 10 minutes the pizza will be done and ready to eat.
So Good
Congratulations! You're now enjoying delicious cheezeburger pizza!

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