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Archive for the ‘Faux Cheese’ Category

This dish was an awesome pairing of two of our favorite seasonal offerings:  asparagus and morel mushrooms.  I’ve found that roasting [rather than steaming] asparagus takes this already sublime stalk to its ultimate level of tastiness as those natural sugars caramelize and the tips slightly crisp.  I figured that if I then smothered that roasted asparagus in some earthy mushrooms, cooked in a tartly sweet and creamy balsamic sauce, and then further wrapped it all up into a calzone that had been spread with a lemony cashew “cheese”, it might just delight H.  Phew…what a mouthful; and it was!  I was right, but I had a pretty good hunch going in that this would be a winner.

This recipe yielded 4 calzones.

 

Creamy Balsamic Morels

Ingredients:

½ cup diced shallot

2 large cloves garlic, minced

2 oz mushrooms, diced [I used morels; you could use whichever mushroom you enjoy most.]

1 T olive oil

2 T balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup plain non-dairy yogurt [I used So Delicious Plain Coconut Yogurt]

Directions:

Add olive oil to a pan over medium heat.  Sauté the shallots and garlic until translucent.  Add the morels and sauté until softened.  Add the balsamic vinegar and cook until the mushrooms have absorbed the liquid.  Add the yogurt and mix well.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Lemony Cashew “Cheese”

Ingredients:

½ cup cashews, soaked for one hour

1 tsp lemon zest

1 T lemon juice

Directions:

Drain the cashews and place in a food processor.  Add the lemon zest and juice.  Pulse until a paste forms.

12 roasted asparagus spears [Toss in olive oil and roast at 450°F until they start to caramelize ~10-15 mins.]

One large pizza dough at room temperature [I buy this at my local grocery; your local pizzeria would probably sell you a ball of pizza dough]

***

Assembling the Calzone:

Preheat the oven to 425°F. [Also preheat your pizza stone or sheet pan.]

Divide the dough into 4 portions.  Stretch each into a small pizza-sized round.  Add ¼ of the cashew cheese to ½ of each round.  Lay 3 spears of asparagus [trimmed to fit] atop the cashew cheese.  Add ¼ of the creamy balsamic mushrooms.  Fold the top of the pizza round over the bottom and seal the edges by crimping and rolling over as you make your way around the semi-circle [as you would a pie crust].  Using a knife make a couple of vent holes on the top to allow steam to release as they cook.  You can also brush the surface with some olive oil.

Place upon a pre-heated pizza stone or sheet pan.  Bake until golden.

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This “cheese” has enabled me to take my vegan cooking to another level, creatively.  I used to absolutely love goat’s cheese and that creamy, tangy textural flavor has been something I’ve truly missed.  By fermenting raw cashews with probiotics this already amazing seed/nut gains new heights of culinary glory in my book.  It’s also an incredibly tasty way to boost your digestive system’s probiotic population.

I’d heard of the technique of using probiotics to ferment nuts, and my first attempt used a homemade rejuvelac as the probiotic source because I wanted to keep it as natural as possible.  Using rejuvelac, which is obtained by soaking grain sprouts in water overnight and allowing them to ferment, worked really well and I loved the end product.  The only problem was that I didn’t want to have to plan ahead for a week in order to make the fermented nut cheese.  That led me to an investigation of commercially available probiotics.  My requirements were pretty straightforward:  It needed to be a quality product that came in a powdered form and packaged in gelatin-free capsules.  After looking into myriad brands and formulations, I felt most comfortable ordering a blend from Udo’s. 

 

Soured Cashew Cheese

This recipe makes @ 2 cups of soft cheese.  After it is made, you can divide it up into portions and freeze for later use. 

Ingredients:

2 cups raw cashews, soaked for one hour in filtered water

2 cups filtered water at room temperature, not chilled

1 capsule Udo’s Adult Advanced Probiotics

Cheesecloth or nut milk bag [The nut milk bag works great for this!]

Directions:

Drain the cashews and rinse.  Place the cashews and water into a blender and purée until smooth.  Empty the probiotic capsule into the blender.  [Throw away the capsule.]  Blend briefly to combine.  Pour the contents into a nut milk bag that has been placed in a bowl large enough to accomodate it.  Set aside and let sit out at room temperature overnight to ferment.

The next morning, lift the nut milk bag out of the bowl and place in a colander.  Depending upon the size of the colander either place within a bowl or over a baking sheet.  [You are going to be draining the fluid away from the cashew cheese and will need a resevoir to catch it.  Alternatively, you could place in the sink.]  Place a weight over the nut milk bag to help compress the liquid away from the solids.  [I used a bowl that fit inside the small colander I used and filled that bowl with water to give it added weight.]   The longer you leave it to drain, the denser the cheese will become.  [I let mine sit for about 4 hours.  If you won’t be around to tend to it, you could place the cheese with the weight in the refrigerator and deal with it when you get home later in the evening or even the next day.]

Remove the nut cheese from the bag and place upon a piece of plastic wrap.  Form into a log and roll it tightly in the plastic.  Place in the refrigerator until it has chilled enough to be able to cut it into even slices. 

At this point it is ready to eat as is, or you could do as I did above and roll the log in some freshly chopped herbs and/or nuts prior to cutting into slices.

 

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Vegan RO*TEL Dip

Ingredients:

2 cups hemp or oat milk [I prefer one of these more full-bodied milks for this recipe]

10 oz can RO*TEL

¾ cup nutritional yeast

2 T flour

2 T oil

1 T Bill’s Best Chik’Nish

1½ tsp chili powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

½ tsp chili flakes

½ tsp paprika

½ tsp cumin

Optional garnishes:

cilantro

freshly diced tomato

jalapeño

Directions:

Place the oil in a pot over medium heat.  Stir in the flour to create a light roux.  Cook for a few minutes until the color darkens a little bit and there is a nutty scent.  Stir in the seasonings and cook for another minute or so.  Slowly add in the milk while whisking to prevent clumps.  Add the nutritional yeast and RO*TEL.  Bring to a low simmer then remove from heat.  Serve warm.

 

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Tangy Greek Custard-Style Tofu

 

Ingredients:

1 recipe homemade tofu, at curd stage

1 cup non-dairy yogurt

¼ cup nutritional yeast

Juice of one lemon

¼ cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

¼ cup capers

½ cup caper/olive brine

2 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp freshly-cracked black pepper

 

Directions:

Transfer tofu curds into a cheesecloth-lined colander to drain off the whey.  Once drained, move to a bowl and gently mix in the brine, olives, capers, oregano and pepper.  Set aside.

In a food processor, pulse together the yogurt, lemon juice and nutritional yeast. 

Add the yogurt mixture to the tofu curds and stir through, gently.  Transfer to a cheesecloth-lined tofu mold and press for an hour.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Unmold [It will be wet and sticky because of the yogurt] and place upon a silpat-lined [or any other non-stick oven-safe surface] baking sheet.  Bake for an hour.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool at room temperature to set.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

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We were in Trader Joe’s recently and picked up some whole wheat lavash.  It’s a bit thicker than a tortilla and far thinner than the traditional pizza crust Americans are used to piling toppings upon.  If you’re in a hurry, or want a lighter style pizza, this is the way to go.

 

Eggplant,  Zucchini and Kale Pizza with a Sun-Dried Tomato and Cashew Cheese

Ingredients:

one eggplant, peeled and cut into a medium dice

2 zucchini, medium dice

1 bunch kale, washed and cut into ribbons

1/3 cup dried apricots, cut into slices

1/2 onion, diced

1 head garlic

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

fresh oregano

For the Sundried Tomato and Cashew Cheese:

1 block extra firm silken tofu

1 cup raw cashews

1/2 cup sundried tomatoes packed in oil

1 tsp dried oregano

2 cloves garlic

a squeeze of fresh lemon juice [about a tablespoon’s worth]

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°. 

Lightly spray eggplant with olive oil and toss to coat.  Spread upon a baking sheet and place in the oven.  Cut the top off the entire head of garlic and drizzle with olive oil.  Wrap in foil and place in the oven.  Bake the eggplant and garlic for 45 minutes, tossing the eggplant halfway through.

While the eggplant and garlic are in the oven, sauté the onion in a bit of olive oil until softened.  Add the zucchini and sauté until the edges are caramelized.  Transfer to a bowl.  Place the pan back on the stove and, once heated, add another drizzle of olive oil and add the kale.  Toss until coated then add a cup of water and the dried apricots.  Turn down to a simmer and cook until the greens have wilted and the apricots are rehydrated.  Drain, if necessary, and set aside.

To make the cheese:  Add tofu, cashews, sundried tomatoes, garlic, lemon juice and oregano to a food processor. Pulse until incorporated.  Season with salt and pepper.

Once the eggplant and garlic have roasted, remove and add the eggplant to the sautéed onions and zucchini.  Place a lavash bread upon a baking sheet and pop into the oven for 4-5 minutes to crisp up a bit.  [You do not want the lavash to get gooey when you add the toppings.]  Spread the cheese onto the lavash using a spatula.  Top with the cooked vegetables and cloves of roasted garlic.  Bake for a few minutes until warmed.  Garnish with the toasted pine nuts and fresh oregano.

 

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I was really craving a big Greek-style salad the other day and, although, as a vegan,  I could bring together nearly all the ingredients to fashion one, there was one glaring omission:  feta cheese.  That tangy and salty flavor coupled to a creamy and crumbly texture; oh how I miss feta.  It was time to go back to the kitchen and tinker. 

Turns out, this tofu is delicious enough to stand on its own merits and serve as the star of the show upon a homemade flatbread cracker.  It’s not nearly as salty as feta cheese, but it’s a really nice compassionate stand-in that has worked very well in all the dishes I’ve since used it in.  Plus, it’s just am incredibly beautiful bite of food.

 

Feta-Style Tofu with Olives

Ingredients:

one recipe homemade tofu, at the curd stage

1 cup caper brine

2 T capers

1/2 cup Greek olives and their brine, pitted and halved

juice of one lemon

2 T dried oregano

Directions:

Once you have the tofu at the curd stage, drain in a cheesecloth-lined colander.  Transfer to a bowl and add all of the ingredients.  Gently mix to incorporate.  Let sit for one hour at room temperature to marinate.  Transfer to a cheesecloth-lined tofu mold and press for an additional hour.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

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I’d made a batch of Gyros-style seitan and wanted to use it in some traditional Greek-style dishes.  This impulse just happened to coincide with the arrival of a sample of  Teese’s newly revamped stretchy mozzarella-style faux cheese.  So there you have it, Greek-style comfort food was on the menu.  It was absolutely carb coma-inducingly decadent and delicious.

 

Pastitsio

Ingredients:

½ onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 T tomato paste

½ cup red wine

1 28 oz can crushed plum tomatoes

2 bay leaves

1 T dried oregano

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground cloves

2 cups ground Greek Gyros Seitan

4 oz Teese Mozzarella Cheese, medium dice

olive oil

1 lb tubular pasta

For the Béchamel:

4 T unbleached whole wheat flour

4 T olive oil

3 cups non-dairy milk [I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut milk]

¼ tsp Freshly-grated nutmeg

3 cloves garlic, smashed

4 oz Teese mozzarella cheese, grated

Directions:

Sauté onion in a drizzle of olive oil until softened.  Add garlic and oregano and cook for a few minutes.  Add the tomato paste, stirring it about the pan to ensure that it’s being cooked.  [Canned tomato paste will taste tinny unless you first caramelize it a bit in the pan.]  Add the wine and cook until the alcohol has evaporated.  Add the tomatoes, water, cinnamon, clove and bay leaves.  Cook until the sauce is no longer watery.  Remove the bay leaves and season with salt and pepper.

For the Pasta:

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water about ¾ of the way through.  Drain and toss with some olive oil to prevent sticking.  Set aside. [The pasta will continue to cook once placed in the oven.]

For the béchamel sauce:

Heat the non-dairy milk in a pan and add the crushed garlic and nutmeg to infuse it with their flavors.  In a separate pan, heat the olive oil and flour, whisking the entire time.  Cook for a few minutes to ensure the rawness of the flour has been cooked out and the roux is bubbly.  Carefully pour the heated milk into the roux while whisking.  Add the shredded Teese and bring the béchamel to a simmer to thicken.  Season with salt and pepper.

Pulling it all together:

Preheat oven to 350°.

Mix the tomato sauce with half of the pasta and the ground seitan.  Place into a greased casserole dish.  Randomly add pieces of the diced Teese throughout the layer, using a knife to plant them well into the pasta.  Top with the remainder of the pasta.  Pour the béchamel sauce over the entirety and place into the oven.  Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly and browned on top.

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