Yummy and Super Easy Vegan cheese recipe (cashew nuts)

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Here is my second attempt at vegan cheese. Mum’s wheat crackers were models of the day. The cheese was firm enough to be cut into slices with a knife, but for some reason, mum prefers to spoon them up and smear them into mush.

(Mum is my ‘non low-fat food obliterator’ – sounds like an appliance on an infomercial. Many vegan cakes and whatnots have disappeared under her protective wings)

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(The peak was squashed by the clear film when the cheese firmed up, hence the weird shape).

So, this recipe is super easy and simple for a vegan cheese recipe which most of the time require weird shenanigans like nuts fermentation or 12 hours of dehydration in the oven or a dehydrator which most of us don’t own. Not many of us have that luxury of time for double procedures or complicating instructions in these fast-paced lives of ours…

This vegan cheese recipe only requires: the grounding of cashew nuts in a food processor(I’m sure most of us own a food processor or blender, otherwise one can resort to the desperate measure of primeval in-a-bag with heavy object crushing and thumping) and heating agar flakes(made from seaweed) with non-dairy milk then combining with the nuts, then chilling.

In my opinion, this vegan cheese tasted better the first time I made it, and that’s because of three things; I used 2 tbsp of soybean paste instead of using a mixture of miso and soybean paste. I’ve also reduced the amount of salt(damn you salt! You win this time), but that depends on your salt taste receptors. This time around, I may have also put a bit too much lemon juice in(about 1 tbsp), which made the cheese a bit sweet and slightly too sour for my liking(overtook other flavours). The other change I made was using rice bran oil instead of sesame oil. Mum have said the sesame oil provided a flavor too strong, which made the cheese tasted more like firm tahini. But I preferred that additional, distinctive and nutty flavour of sesame oil.

By all means, try whatever version sounds better to you, or one that you’ve got the ingredients of. This cheese still tastes awesome with both variations. It might not be exactly ‘cheese-like'(I haven’t had cheese for ages, but I can still remember its taste pretty well). It’s more like:

Cheese #1 taste description(As in my first attempt): (Mum) liver pate blended with peanut butter. (Me) Creamy, savoury, nutritional yeast, tahini.

Cheese #2 taste description: (Mum) liver pate blended with peanut butter, but too nutty this time around. (Me) Creamy, savoury, with a slightly sweet undertone.

Note: Liver pate and peanut butter is supposed to be a positive taste description(although have never tried this combination, should taste pretty good?)

As adapted from: part-time health nut blog http://parttimehealthnut.com/2012/09/26/a-tale-of-two-vegan-cheeses-smokey-and-dill/

This recipe had also been halved because there’s no way that my mum and I could obliterate(on a second thought, my mum probably can) 4 cups of vegan cheese unless we wanted to gain enough weight to qualify for a heavy weight boxing championship.

Cashew Vegan Cheese

Makes 2 cups/ Prep time: 15 minutes/ Cook time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup and 1 tbsp raw cashew nuts
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon of make-shift mix*
  • 1 teaspoon of salt and curry powder mix*
  • 1 1/2 cups soymilk
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup agar flakes
  • 1 1/2 tbsp rice bran oil or sesame oil(for a more nutty taste)
  • 1 tbsp yellow miso
  • 1 tbsp soybean paste
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp of rubbed parsley

Instructions

  1. Lightly oil 2 large salad bowls(if you want to invert your cheese out into a nice ‘cheese-like’ appearance, otherwise just use some jars or something).
  2. Using the pulse button, finely grind the cashews in a food processor.  Don’t over-grind and make a paste. Add the nutritional yeast, make-shift mix, and salt and curry mix. Pulse a few more times to blend in the spices.
  3. Combine the soy milk, agar, and oil in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the agar is dissolved.
  4. With the food processor running, gradually pour the milk mixture through the feed tube. Blend for 2 minutes or until the mixture is very smooth and creamy. Blend in the miso, soybean paste, lemon juice and special seasonings.
  5. Pour the cheese mixture into your oiled bowls. Cover and refrigerate until it is very firm, about 4 hours. When it’s firm, use a knife to gently remove the cheese from the bowl.
  6. To reheat and melt the cheese, place in a pot over medium heat, stir frequently.  Add more milk if needed.
  7. The cheese will keep for 4 days, covered and refrigerated.

*About these ingredients: I’ve made a few changes due to lack of required resources, which have probably changed the cheese’s taste from its very original recipe(from the blog) quite a tad. (Still thumbs up from my mum and a bunch of vegan friends though, or could be because they hadn’t known of the original’s deliciousness).

Here are some of the changes: I omitted the onion powder, garlic salt, liquid smoke/dill(They are just not my typical cupboard inhabitants, and am not prepared to go buy a bottle of everything that will only sit neglected in the cupboard). I also only used 1 tbsp of miso paste because I basically had one instant packet left, and replaced the rest with soybean paste.

This is the ‘make-shift mix’ which I’ve used in place of the ‘onion powder’

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A little bit of pepper, curry powder, paprika and salt. They became the make-shift mix for convenience and my typing fingers’ sake.

‘Salt and curry powder’ was substitute for ‘Garlic salt'(enunciating posh-ly)

This is the miso brand that I used for 1 tbsp of miso;

I basically used 1 packet which is slightly less than 1 tbsp. However, I preferred my first tweak of the recipe much more, where I only used soybean paste(That instant pack I found left lying could’ve been a bit iffy… which have made the cheese tasted a bit ‘unique’ this time around…)

This is the soybean paste brand I used;

I also used ground parsley instead of the dill or liquid smoke. I had no idea what liquid smoke was and it sounded dangerous. I did burn the bottom of my pan a little though while heating the soy milk, so hopefully, that helped serve as the ‘smokey’ taste.

A FEW TIPS FOR THE COOKING PROCEDURE:

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This is how your fine your ground cashew nuts should be, before adding in the other mixtures.

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This is what my agar agar looked like. The first time around(that I made the cheese) I didn’t know I should’ve ‘flaked’ it first, so I just chucked long strands into the pot. As a result, not all of them had melted although I’ve been stirring the pot on the stove for ages(so gave in to laziness). It had resulted in a cheese that’s much less firm(more like hummus) but that’s also why me and my mum preferred it(We like baby food). It just tasted more velvety and yum(kind of like hummus or tahini paste). But if you want a firm cheese, be sure to flake the agar in either the food processor or cut them up(with cooking scissors) very laboriously like I’ve done.

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This is what your mixture should look like after 10 mins of melting agar agar. Completely smooth and free from still intact seaweed(Fine, I did have a few flakes left floating around, but I couldn’t be bothered, didn’t affect the results anyways).

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After mixing in with the cashews. Yummy. I couldn’t resist pigging out by eating the leftover remnants in the food processor(Don’t worry, I had removed the blades). The perfect cooking pig out excuse; eliminating wastage left in cooking equipment. I did limited myself to about 1 tbsp though, and reduced my meal intake as a result(all actions have consequences).

This cheese also tastes über delicious with bananas(I guess you can treat it like peanut butter).  Although this cheese is slightly high in calories, it still beats processed and preservatives-abusing hummus from the supermarket anytime. Probably have a bit more calories than hummus per serve(i.e. cashew nuts acted as base instead of chickpeas). I don’t know the exact, but I’d say one heaped tbsp = 100+ calories, which for easy measure is about the same calories as a medium sized banana or a large apple. So treat it as those if you may.