If you have read any of my other posts, besides my deep and abiding love of collards, I also profess to having had a love affair with cheese. Before becoming plant based, I was a major cheese aficionado. In the years before the internet and global shipping, I would specifically bid San Franciso layovers to hunt down certain foods, including Laura Chenel goat cheese. When I became plant based, meat was no problem at all. Cheese was a problem. While everyone is different, I am not a person that can taper off. I had to go cold turkey. I purged my fridge and just said no. It took a while, but I quit thinking about it. I quit wanting it. I didn’t even miss it. I would happily order pizza, no cheese. I did however have a real test of faith if you will on a layover in San Francisco not long after going cold turkey. I wandered into the Ferry Plaza market and stumbled into Cowgirl Creamery. Oh my God. They had every artisanal cheese imaginable. They had a grilled cheese station going. I literally had drool pooling in my mouth. I had a real pain in my heart and most likely tears in my eyes as well. I stood and just inhaled. Then I walked out and hoofed it to a wine bar. I let my misery be quelled with a delicious glass of California wine. Now, several years down the road, I don’t care anymore. I feel so good physically that I am happy with the lack of dairy in my diet. There are some really good vegan cheese products on the market now, but for the most part I just eat meals that are delicious with no cheese. I recently met a client and while we shopped at Whole Foods, we also set up for a cooking class. She espoused her love of goat cheese and asked if I could teach her and her friends how to make creamy sauces and cheese without dairy. The sauce was an immediate check. But the goat cheese gave me pause. I had heard of this. I had toyed with some kind of potted tofu recipe that frankly sucked. It was touted as an awesome Feta replacement. Not. I had quite a few cashews at home so I thought why not. I trolled the internet and found a recipe from Vegetarian Times that had tons of great comments. So, I dutifully soaked the cashews overnight and broke out the Cuisinart food processor. I followed the directions exactly. I wrapped it in the cheesecloth and let it drain overnight. The next morning there wasn’t even 1 drop of draining liquid. Not to be deterred, I scraped the mixture into a new cheesecloth and baked it as instructed, then chilled it. When I went to unwrap it, I am telling you, it was soft. A spread consistency. It was not the “log” pictured in the VT recipe. It tasted fantastic. I just put it into a small mason jar and literally couldn’t stop sampling. But I was disappointed it ahd not produced this picture perfect “log.” I vowed to try again. I flew home to Florida where my Vita-Mix lay in wait. Perhaps it was because I had used a food processor. So I started over and this time used a Vita- Mix. It was perfect. Picture perfect. I honestly can say both textures were delicious, and in some ways I prefer the spread. But the firmer log is perfect for salads. This is really good. By using different herbs and spices on the outside, you can use this in many adaptations. If your’s is like a spread, use it on flatbreads with roasted veggies like a pizza. Enjoy!
|Vegan Cashew Goat Cheese||
- 3/4 cup raw cashews
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns or coarsely ground black pepper, herbs of choice, lemon zest
- Place cashews in large bowl; cover with 3 inches water. Soak overnight.
- Drain liquid, rinse cashews under cold water, and drain again. Puree cashews, oil, lemon juice, salt and 2 tablespoons water in a food processor for 6 minutes, or until smooth and creamy. [Make sure to blend for 6 minutes for a firmer texture.]
- Place 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. [Don’t worry if you can’t get this into an oval loaf shape. Even if it’s more round, it’ll still work just fine.] Set in strainer over bowl, and let stand 12 hours at room temperature. Discard excess liquid. Chill.
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees. 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. Sprinke with peppercorns and herbs, pressing to adhere.