Last week I was doing a 10 day Master Cleanse fast, while having a lot of down time I decided to catch up on re-reading some older issues of Vegetarian Times. There I sat, reading, no, DROOLING over the delicious looking pictures and wanting to make/eat everything I saw. It was torture, but I made it through and today I made some things from one of the VT back issues that caught my eye. Vegan Cheezes.
These cheezes were super easy to make and taste really good. Try it out on your dairy loving friends and see what they think. They won’t be disappointed.
The first one I made was the easiest, a Cheddar Cheeze. The second was a Pepper Crusted Cashew Goat Cheeze and the last one was an Almond Feta. All three have nuts as the main ingredient, but vary somewhat to give each a distinctive flavor and texture.
The following recipes have been taken from Vegetarian Times in their original text.
Pine nuts are so small and tender, they don’t need to be soaked before using to make this cheese. Agar flakes lend firmness and sliceability and eliminate the need for a straining step. Try adding other ingredients, such as chopped jalapeño chiles, cumin, caraway seeds, or a dash of smoked paprika.
1 1/4 cups unsweetened plain soymilk
1/4 cup agar flakes
1/2 cup raw pine nuts
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tbs. dry white wine
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tsp. granulated onion
1 3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. ground black pepper
Whisk together soymilk and agar flakes in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, set a timer for 8 minutes, or until agar dissolves completely and mixture is thick, keep stirring.
Blend nuts, oil, lemon juice, wine, garlic, granulated onion, salt, and pepper in blender or food processor for 5 minutes, or until smooth, scraping down sides frequently. Add soymilk mixture, and blend 2 minutes more, or until smooth.
Line a 2- to 3-cup rectangular (or whatever shape you prefer) container with 2 layers of cheesecloth, allowing cheesecloth to hang over sides. Pour mixture into the container; smooth top. Fold overhanging cheesecloth over cheese.
Refrigerate 1 hour, or until firm. Unwrap, slice, and serve.
Pepper Crusted Cashew Goat Cheeze:
Cashews become very creamy and smooth when blended, which makes them perfect for this cheese. It’s aged at room temperature, then baked just until dry to the touch.
3/4 cup raw cashews
6 Tbs. canola oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 Tbs. tahini
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cracked black peppercorns or coarsely ground black pepper
Place cashews in large bowl; cover with 3 inches water. Soak overnight.
Drain liquid, rinse cashews under cold water, and drain again.
Purée cashews, oil, lemon juice, tahini, salt, and 2 Tbs. water in food processor 6 minutes, or until smooth and creamy.
Place large strainer over bowl, and line with triple layer of cheesecloth. Spoon cashew mixture into cheesecloth.
Fold sides of cloth over cheese, and form into 6-inch-long oval loaf. Twist ends of cloth and secure with rubber bands. Set in strainer over bowl, and let stand 12 hours at room temperature. Discard excess liquid. Chill.
Preheat oven to 200°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Unwrap cheese, and scrape into 7-inch-long log on cheesecloth. Rewrap, and twist ends to secure. Place on prepared baking sheet. Bake 35 minutes, or until cheese becomes set on outside but still soft, turning occasionally. Cool, and chill. Unwrap cheese. Sprinkle with peppercorns, pressing to adhere.
Almond Feta Cheeze:
Blanched almonds give this creamy-crumbly cheese a rich texture. Unbaked, it will be smooth and spreadable. Baking will make it a bit more crumbly, like traditional feta cheese.
1 cup whole blanched almonds
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 1/4 tsp. salt
As with the Cashew Goat Cheeze, place almonds in medium bowl, and cover with 3 inches cold water. Let soak 24 hours. Drain soaking liquid, rinse almonds under cold running water, and drain again.
Purée almonds, lemon juice, 3 Tbs. oil, garlic, salt, and 1/2 cup cold water in food processor 6 minutes, or until very smooth and creamy.
Place large strainer over bowl, and line with triple layer of cheesecloth. Spoon almond mixture into cheesecloth.
Bring corners and sides of cloth together, and twist around cheese, forming into orange-size ball and squeezing to help extract moisture. Secure with rubber band or kitchen twine. Chill 12 hours or overnight. Discard excess liquid.
Preheat oven to 200°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Unwrap cheese (it will be soft), and transfer from cheesecloth to prepared baking sheet. Flatten to form 6-inch round about 3/4-inch thick. Bake 40 minutes, or until top is slightly firm. Cool, then chill.