Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cashew Cheese!

Our very favorite school lunch blogger, Mrs. Q, fedupwithlunch, has recently posted about the trials and tribulations of choosing not to eat cheese.  As a long time vegan, I feel ya!  When I went to France recently over my winter break, I put on hold on being vegan in order to taste the tastes of France and enjoy all of those delicious cheeses from the farmers market (read, not produced by factory main reason for being vegan).  Oh that and, my belly hurt like HELL after all of that cheese!  

This is a recipe from the Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen, a book that has seriously changed some of my main staple recipes...and if you do not already own this book, I do highly recommend adding it to your cookbook shelf!

The following is a recipe for cashew cheese, creamy and yummy and will help satisfy that craving for those of you living dairy free!  And for those of you who do enjoy your fromage, this recipe is still a keeper!

Cashew cream can be kept for a few days in the fridge, or 6 months in the freezer.  If you do keep it frozen, you must re-blend it after you thaw it out.

Recipe for Herbed Cashew Cheese YUM! 

- 2 cups whole raw cashews (make sure they are whole, already chopped pieces of cashews are too dried out and will not yield the creamy results you are going for!)
- 1 tsp New Chapter All-Flora probiotic (powder from 6 capsules) (you can find this at Whole Foods, or online)
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- 2 tbsp tarragon, chopped (you can substitute any herb here: basil, oregano, etc!)
- 2 tbsp chives, chopped
- pepper
- Dash of nutmeg, grated

1.  Cover the cashews with cold water in a bowl and let it sit overnight.

2.  Mix together the teaspoon of New Chapter All-Flora probiotic powder in 2 TB of water.

3.  Drain the cashew nuts and put them in a blender with the probiotic powder mixture.  Blend until super smooth (The recipe calls for a Vita-Mix as a lot of raw food and vegan cookbooks do...I still have not splurged on this coveted piece of kitchen food processor worked just fine!)

4.  Cover the bottom of a sieve with a few layers of rinsed, dry cheesecloth.  Pour the cashew nut mixture into the cheesecloth.  Fold the layers of cheesecloth to cover the top of the vegan cheese.  Place the sieve and cheesecloth holding the cashew cheese over a bowl.  Put some weight on top of the cheesecloth.  Let the cashew cheese stand in a warm area for about 14 hours. (I use a water jug or canning jars filled with water to add weight to the can also use bricks or anything else you have that you have handy.)

5.  Remove the cheesecloth and put it into a bowl.  Mix in the onion powder, nutritional yeast, white pepper, salt and nutmeg in a small bowl. 

6.  Form a 2 inch log on a piece of parchment paper and put it in the fridge until firm (a few hours, or best is overnight)

7. Spread the herbs on a plate and roll the cheese log over the herbs to season.


Friday, January 28, 2011

snow sounds!

I LOVE the sound of snow underneath my feet.  Walking through the park with Malomar each night is only made better by the lovely crunch of snow under my feet...not to mention, it is nice seeing him run around and enjoy himself.  Watching him toot around in circles with snow all over his nose definitely beats the feeling I have when I am scraping it off my car pre-early morning commute!

Chickpea Spinach Soup (vegan of course!)

This is one of my favorite (easy) soups to make.  It is easy to get almost all ingredients at the farmer's market, and it is so yummy and filling (yet not heavy).

2-3 garlic cloves
1 shallot (optional)
1-2 onions (yellow is preferred but red will work in a pinch without changing the flavor too much)
potatoes (I use about 4-6)
large handful of spinach

vegetable stock
2-3 tbs tahini (I almost always add tahini, but if you cannot use tahini or are just plain out of stock, any sort of nut butter will work..or you can skip it.  I just find that the tahini makes the soup a bit richer and adds some extra creaminess.)

Saute garlic and onions until golden in olive oil, add curry and keep on low heat until aromatic.

Add vegetable stock and water (to your liking...I usually add about 6 cups of veggie stock and 4-6 cups of water)
Add potatoes and increase heat to bring to a boil.  Once at a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until you can pierce potatoes with a fork.

Add chickpeas and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add spinach to wilt, and add 2-3 tbs of tahini (optional) this point I always add more curry and some salt and pepper to taste.

This soup is SO quick and easy...saves well for bring-it-to-work lunches, and always leaves me feeling warm and satisfied!