The world of vegan cheeses scares me. I’m not sure why. Maybe because cheese is the main reason I feel like I could never become a proper vegan? I love cheese, and as someone who doesn’t eat much meat, cheese becomes a pretty big source of protein for me. Cheese and peanut butter.
There are lots of great cheese alternatives out there, like Daiya, which is one of my faves.
But recently, I decided I was going to dive into (what felt like to me) the strange and scary world of vegan cheese making. Turns out, it’s not so scary after all.
This is one of the easiest vegan cheeses you can make. If I had to compare it to something, I’d say it is most like a cream cheese. It has about the same consistency and spreadability. It lacks the tanginess of a cream cheese, and I don’t know that I’d want to try it in a cheesecake (not a baked one, anyway). I should also mention, this is a raw preparation.
I’ve been enjoying this on crackers, but you could also add it to your wraps, enjoy it on a veggie burger, spread it on cucumbers or celery, use it to dip your tortilla chips in… the list goes on.
2 – 4 tbsp water (reserve from the water you soak the cashews in)
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Place the cashews in a large mason jar. Cover with water, place the lid on, and put it in the fridge to soak 4-6 hours or overnight.
Drain the water off of the cashews, reserving some of the liquid. Place the cashews, lemon juice, garlic, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper in a blender, and begin blending. Add water, a tablespoon at a time, until you get it to your desired constancy. You may have to scrape down the sides of the blender a few times.
Spoon the finished cheese into ramekins that have been lined with saran wrap, and refrigerate. When ready to serve, peel back the top of the saran wrap, and flip the cheese over onto a plate. Peel off the saran and enjoy.
With the holidays coming up, many of us are probably thinking of entertaining. Or you will likely get asked to parties, and may be required to bring something along.
Last week, I confessed that I wanted to entertain more… and so I did! I had a little social gathering Sunday night. I’m still writing that blog post, but in the mean time, I wanted to share with you what I felt like was the hit of the party.
This is kind of amazing. It looks like pate. It spreads like pate. It has the consistency of pate. It’s delicious. It doesn’t taste like pate, though. There’s no meat–in fact, it’s completely vegan, so if you are expecting that liver taste, you may be disappointed. Actually, I hope you won’t be, because it’s really, really yummy. The shitakes and rosemary add a beautiful earthiness.
1/4 cup lemon juice, or fresh juice of half a lemon
2 tbsps olive oil
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary, plus a sprig for garnish
salt and pepper to taste
whole peppercorns for garnish
Boil some water, and put the shitakes in a bowl. Cover them with the boiling water, about 1.5-2 cups worth. Let sit for about 5-10 minutes, then add the cashews, and let sit for about 10-15 minutes more.
In the mean time, in a large saucepan over low-medium heat, put some olive oil, and then add the garlic and onions. Allow to sweat out for about 10 minutes.
Drain the shitakes and the cashews, but reserve the water!! Separate the mushrooms from the nuts. De-stem and roughly chop the mushrooms and add to the saucepan, along with the rosemary, and the can of lentils which have been drained and rinsed. Season, give everything a good stir, and allow to marry for about 5 minutes or so.
In your food processor or blender, place the cashews and some of the mushroom water. Blend until it’s a nice paste. Add the rest of the water to the saucepan (hold some back if you feel like it might make your mixture too watery–you can always add more in later), mix well, and then pour the mixture from the saucepan into the food processor. Add the nutritional yeast, olive oil and lemon. Allow to process, scraping down the sides occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until it reaches a nice, smooth consistency.
Lightly grease a 9″ cake pan. Place the sprig of rosemary on the bottom of the pan, and sprinkle peppercorns around the edge. Scrap the pate into the cake pan, and press down and smooth the top.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes, then turn down to 250 degrees and bake for an additional two hours. Allow to cool in the fridge. Invert the cake pan onto a plate, and serve with crackers, vegetables or crusty bread.