img_1259Transitioning from cow’s milk to almond milk wasn’t too far of a stretch.  But next to bread, I love cheese. And don’t get me started about Haagen Daz ice cream. I should be arrested by the food police for the wicked thoughts I have when I lust after a carton of it in the freezer case.  Fortunately, I don’t have dietary issues with dairy the way I do with gluten. It has more to do with cutting back my dairy dependency. More to the point, a little abstinence never hurt anyone. If nothing else, it facilitates an opportunity to expand my options and broaden my perspective. Who says there’s only one type of whipped cream, or that cheese has to be made from milk? Take this vegan herbed cheese made from cashews for instance. I wouldn’t have given it a consideration before. But now, I have a newfound appreciation for the ingenuity and imagination that went in to conceiving it. It’s easy to make. In fact, I’ve enlisted more effort making mashed potatoes. Not to mention, it’s a whole lot healthier than mashed potatoes and just as tasty. The creamy tanginess is reminiscent of goat cheese. Schmeared on some GF flatbread, it’s the perfect mid-afternoon snack, or accompaniment to a crudite platter for a gathering. And just like the vegan parmesan cheese, this recipe was inspired by fellow food blogger: Minimalist Baker. I’ve only one other point to add to this post: Pass some more of that yummy, herbaceous, cashew cheese, please.

Recipe notes: What you will need: Food processor, strainer, cheesecloth, and medium size mixing bowl. Active prep time 15-minutes. Cheese is made in 3-easy steps. Difficulty level: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • 1-Tbsp fresh minced garlic minced
  • 1-tsp garlic powder
  • 1-tsp onion powder
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • ¼ -cup fresh lemons juice
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • ¼-cup nutritional yeast (find it in the seasoning section of market)
  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan or sea salt
  • 2-Tbsp olive oil

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  • ¼-cup thinly sliced sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2-Tbsp chopped chives
  • 1/4 –cup chopped herbs for garnish

Method:

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  1. Place cashews in a bowl, top with water and cover with plastic wrap. 
  2. Refrigerator 12 hours or overnight to soften.

Next day: Step-2

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  1. Drain cashews thoroughly and add to Cuisinart food processor.
  2. Add minced garlic, garlic powder, onion powder, lemon zest, lemon juice, almond milk, nutritional yeast, salt, and olive oil.
  3. Process until smooth. and creamy. 
  4. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Add chopped chives and sundried tomatoes and pulse on and off 10 seconds.
  5. Place strainer over bowl.
  6. Double layer strainer with two sheets of cheesecloth making sure they’re large enough to overlap strainer. Using a spatula, scoop cheese into cheesecloth then gather the corners and gently twist the top to form a ball.
  7. Secure ends with a rubber band. 
  8. Place cheese back in strainer over bowl.
  9. Lay a weight over the top of cheese to press moisture out of it.

Note: I used a 3-lb bag of rice. It seems to work. A bag filled with dry beans like a pastry weight may do the trick as well. The original recipe called for it to be refrigerated for 12-hours before serving. However, I found that it took an extra day for the excess moisture to drain away, and for the cheese to holds its shape. Plus it allows the herbs and spices a chance to marry. If preparing this for a party platter, plan 2-days ahead.

 

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Step-3

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  1. To serve, unwrap and gently invert onto a serving platter.
  2. Re-form with hands to give shape.
  3. Sprinkle with chopped herbs, using your hands to coat sides. Cheese is soft in consistency like goat cheese, so handle gently.

Note: Best served chilled and not left out more than an hour. As for leftovers, wrap in cheesecloth for better handling. It should stay fresh kept in refrigeration for about a week, but I had long since gobbled it up before the week was out.

Recipe adapted from the Minimalist Baker