A few months ago, though, I was treated to a wonderful girl’s night out: a vegan wine and cheese!
A vegan cheese party in Texas.
An oxymoron like no other?
I don’t buy processed vegan cheeses and while I have tried my hand at simple homemade cheeses, I was blown over by all.the.vegan.cheeses. There was a complete spread from Door 86 (the cheese ball was my favourite), Heidi Ho, and a bunch of homemade cheeses from Artisan Vegan Cheese (the sun-dried tomato and garlic cream cheese was fabulous). I have been intimidated by recipes requiring room temperature fermentation. My biggest kitchen disasters have been sauerkraut and pineapple vinegar from Mastering Fermentation. No fun.
Enter The Cheesy Vegan. A bit more complex than cashew spreads, but recipes not as complex to require fermented rejuvelac. I started with this recipe for a vegan cheese log crusted in pecans and cranberries. Not hard to make, but with a few steps over the span of 2 days, you need a bit of advance preparation. Coconut and olive oil are blended with cashews, lemon juice, tahini and salt and then left to drain/ferment overnight. Instead of cheesecloth, my fine-mesh strainer worked like a charm. The following morning, a fair amount of liquid had dripped from my cashew spread.. and in case you were wondering, it looked mostly like oil. A bake in the oven at a low temperature is akin to a faster dehydration (I presume) and assists with getting the cheese to firm up. Refrigerate, top with the nuts and cranberries, and you are good to go. The salty/lemony spread paired really well with the buttery pecans and sweet cranberries.
I will confess that I did not bring any vegan cheeses to the original cheese party but was inspired to make the cheese log for a subsequent vegan potluck. It was a hit. With so many recipe requests, I knew I had to share it… and lucky for you, you can also win your own copy of the cookbook!
Thankfully the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States (sorry to all my non-US readers). To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite vegan cheese or cheese dish. If you haven’t made anything cheesy yet, have a look through the table of contents of The Cheesy Vegan on amazon and tell me what you want to cook the most. I will randomly select a winner on December 26, 2013. Good luck!
PS. Other recipes from The Cheesy Vegan spotted elsewhere:
PPS. My other vegan cheese/dairy recipes:
I consider my blog to be a public food journal. And as I share my favourite recipes, I may unearth some trends.
Right now, I seem to be all about pecans.
(As evidenced by my maple pecan shortbread cookies, vegan cheesecake with a pecan shortbread crust, baked caramelized banana & pecan oatmeal and even a savoury brussels sprouts slaw with pecans and cranberries)
I say pee-cans, but recently, I can catch myself with a Southern drawl muttering pe-cahns, too.
Pecans are a taste of the Southern United States, and I am trying to relish in all good things here.
Take this pumpkin pecan butter frosting.
I originally made this as a way to tame our consumption of nut butters… and cookie butters. Did I mention how fast my parents devoured the cookie butter? Three days, three people, finito.
Rob declared this spread tasting like a hug. With the warming cinnamon with a pumpkin backdrop, I could see why. This was not as rich as our regular nut butters (obviously!), but it worked remarkably well as a frosting. Thanks to Gaby and Max, we used it to frost Sinfull Bakery’s monster vegan cinnamon bun for a fall-inspired treat.
Now it is your turn: How do you pronounce pecan?
The recent cold, wet and rainy weather put a temporary hiatus on our weekend cycling. Thus, with a bit of extra time on our hands last weekend, Rob and I crafted a delicious weekend brunch.
Rob was becoming a bit overwhelmed by our weekly banana surplus. I agree 4 bunches for a $1 is great, but probably not the best idea 2 weeks in a row. After packing our freezer with frozen bananas, we then caramelized the leftovers ones into this spin on a bananas foster baked oatmeal.
There are two ways to make this. When Rob and I team up together, we can easily divvy up the tasks: him caramelizing the bananas, while I mix together the rest of the oatmeal, which are then combined before baking. However, I have also made this solo, where I found it easier to simply caramelize my bananas, deglaze them with the milk and then directly mix the rest of the ingredients in the skillet, which is then subsequently baked. Less dirty dishes is always a perk.
While we have added the rum, we couldn’t really taste it, so it is definitely optional. Or, conversely add more if you want to taste it. Or perhaps drizzle it at the end.
In any case, you have a delicious breakfast. I prefer it warm, fresh from the oven. The sweet, caramelized bananas melt tenderly amongst the creamy baked oats. I have used both walnuts and pecans, with good results. If you have any leftovers, this is good chilled, too. Of course, that only works if you have leftovers.
Baked oatmeal made previously:
Baked Apple Banana Oatmeal
Baked Pumpkin Cranberry Oatmeal Breakfast Pudding
Baked Blueberry Oatmeal Breakfast Pudding
Apricot Oatmeal Breakfast Clafoutis
Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal
Peanut Butter Cookie Baked Oatmeal
This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.
While I prefer Brussels sprouts roasted, I also like them slipped into scrambles, skillets, stir fries, pastas, soups and salads. The last on my bucket list (I think) was to try them raw, shredded into a slaw.
Raw versus cooked. Talk about something new. Now the endearing term “little cabbage” comes to light. Shredded Brussels sprouts let their true Brassica family roots shine through, with a definite cabbage undertone. Here it is paired with a sweet maple Dijon mustard dressing with sweet dried cranberries and local Southern pecans for some crunch.
Not sure whether raw Brussels sprouts are for you? I am certain this would be delightful with roasted ones, as well. Sometimes, it is nice not to wait for your vegetables to roast or to try something different. Something a bit lighter in spite of its wintery feel.
This salad is courtesy of Raw & Simple, which I verily enjoyed (un)cooking through this summer, amid Houston’s hot heat. Judita has written a cookbook with easy, tasty recipes without the fuss of complicated raw show-stoppers. Some delicacies are included, too, though. She incorporates a few non-raw ingredients like maple syrup, as evidenced by this recipe. I recommend her simple Raw Chunky Tomato Marinara with zucchini noodles, Calexico Salad, Five-Pepper Vegetable Chili, and still want to try her Southwest Corn Chowder, Healthy Mary (a spin off a Bloody Mary), Thai Veggie Noodles, Raw Meat and Cheese Pierogies and her Wild Blueberry Meyer Lemon Cheesecake.
A few typos aside, I really enjoy this cookbook and want to share it with you.Thankfully the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States, Canada or the United Kingdom (YES!). To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me which recipe you’d like to try the most (or if you have a recipe from Judita that you recommend). Have a look through the table of contents of Raw & Simple on amazon (or my list below) or pick something from her blog and tell me what you want to cook the most. I will randomly select a winner on November 30, 2013. Good luck!
Other recipes from Raw & Simple shared online:
Mushroom Miso Soup
Strawberry Spinach Salad with Sweet Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
Sunny Peach Salad with Chipotle-Maple Dressing
Nacho Cheese Dip
Thai Veggie Noodles
Raw Chunky Tomato Marinara Sauce with Zucchini Noodles
Pumpkin Spice Smoothie
Apple Pie Smoothie
Hazelnut Fig Shake
Oatmeal Walnut Raisin Cookies
Superfood Seed Bar
Wild Blueberry-Meyer Lemon Cheesecake Squares
Note: I purchased my own copy of Judita’s cookbook. I was under no obligation to share a review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.
What is better than a potluck with delicious vegan food? A potluck with delicious vegan food, complete with recipes!
Recently, some new friends invited me over for a Ripe-themed supper. Stephanie, the mastermind behind Ripe Cuisine, serves vegan eats at a few farmer’s markets in Houston but also has a recipe blog. I have gushed about her homemade coconut-almond ice cream before and since I knew her recipe for brownies was good, I was excited to see how her other recipes fared.
Broccoli “cream” soup with polenta croutons, baked zucchini chips, tahini mustard carrots, and cauliflower piccata were on the menu. Veggie extraveganza! Everything was delicious. I really enjoyed the carrots and polenta croutons.
My small contribution to the menu that evening was this cheesecake. I say small due to its size, not its taste. For my birthday, Rob surprised me with a smaller 6″ springform pan. I left my larger one in Toronto and brought this one so I could make smaller versions of dessert.
I love raw/no-bake cheesecakes. I have made them with cashews as well as tofu, but this time, I used them together. And I baked it. Both for synergistic results.
This cheesecake is a combination of a few recipes and both are knock-outs. The filling is courtesy of Ricki Heller‘s new cookbook, Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free. Since these recipes are all gluten-free and sugar-free, they employ ingredients I don’t have in my (mostly) minimalist pantry. I tried to stay mostly true to her recipe, though, even scoping out lemon extract. I realized that having a concentrated lemon flavour without the sourness would be a good way to reduce the amount of sweetener needed, without resorting to Meyer lemons.
This was a delicious cheesecake. Possibly our favourite vegan cheesecake of all time. Very rich in a non-heavy sense, which can happen with raw cheesecakes, relying on cashews and coconut oil. However, sadly, after chilling in the fridge, it was no longer a lemon cheesecake; it morphed into a creamy, rich, vanilla cheesecake. Equally as good, just a different flavour. The lemon flavour disappeared considerably. I really like the tang from lemon juice, so next time I would add more lemon juice in addition to more lemon extract. It was a very nice cheesecake, though. I also liked how I had the height to really get a good size piece on my fork with the smaller pan. You’ll understand when you look at my (much more flat) lemon cheesecake squares. Rob agreed, and we both thought this was the best, most “real” vegan cheesecake we have eaten (albeit a fluffier European-style cheesecake, which is our preference).
And the crust? A perfect foil for the rich, more mellow filling. A salty-sweet cinnamon pecan crust with oat flour that I snagged from Angela’s pumpkin pie adventures. She tasted a few crusts and proclaimed this the winner. Definitely one of my favourite crusts, too. I liked that it was sweet and salty (no dates) and the cinnamon spike brought it over the edge. I was worried the crust was a bit crumbly but it held together well when serving from the fridge.
I try to keep this blog real, and yes, this cheesecake was utterly delicious. However, it also cracked. This could be due to a few things, but next time, I will add a basin of water in the oven. I did that with the Meyer Lemon Cheesecake Squares, and it worked well. With some strategic slicing, you could hide the cracks. Or find a saucy topping. (Ricki suggested a blueberry compote which I think would have been divine!) But really, it doesn’t matter unless you are photographing it because it still tasted delicious. Do you have any other tricks for cracked cheesecakes? What is your favourite vegan cheesecake recipe?
Ricki has been travelling the interwebs with her blog tour and I have been enjoying seeing her recipes all over the place. With all the thoughtful Q&As, I feel like I am really getting to know Ricki, the chef/baker, but most importantly, the person behind her recipes. A trained chef with a former catering company, watching her on video is like a fun cooking class, with so many tips about ingredients and techniques. I also recommend these recipes from Ricki’s new cookbook:
Ricki’s recipes from Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free shared elsewhere:
PS. Today is the last day to enter my giveaway for Isa Does It.
No? Good, me neither. Not yet, at least. The week of salads continues!
One of my foodie goals in Colombia was to munch my way through quinoa and maybe bring some cheap quinoa back home with me.
Turns out I couldn’t do that in Colombia. Quinoa is hard to find and when you find it, it isn’t any cheaper than what I can buy from my local favourite health store. Most Colombian locals had no clue what quinoa was.. except for the sole vegan I met (hi Juan!).
I obviously went to the wrong country. Apparently, Bolivia is where it is at. Not only for the cheap and plentiful quinoa, but also for the amazing salt flats, jungle hikes, glacier climbs and vibrant city life. We loved asking other travellers about their favourite places to see in South America and Bolovia kept popping up. It is now on our ever-growing list of countries Rob and I want to visit… along with Russia, Ukraine, Indonesia, Vietnam, Brazil, Jordan, Nepal, India, gosh you name it. Although Rob’s covered most of South-east Asia and Australia, he is willing to return with me.
My latest kick is adding quinoa to vegetable sides to make it a more sustaining meal, and here I go again with this salad. This would be a delightful salad without the quinoa, too, as it highlights the crisp asparagus and colourful baby greens with some crunch pecans. The dressing, a maple-mustard flavoured one, definitely brings the salad together with the tang from the soy sauce, the sweetness from the maple syrup and the deeper flavour from the mustard.
When we asked my kitchen-challenged friend if we could pick up anything from the grocery store for her, she asked for Brussels sprouts.
Of all things, she wanted Brussels sprouts.
Nothing in her fridge and freezer other than drinks and some frozen dinners, and she asks for Brussels sprouts?!
She explained that she loves to microwave them and sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper. Delicious, she assured us.
My curiosity was piqued. I will confess, I have never had Brussels sprouts. My mom doesn’t like them so she never served them. Thus, I have never eaten them.
Some people may be tempted by elaborate cakes and cookies, whereas I am in a tizzy by new vegetables. There are so many (cruciferous) vegetables I have yet to try. Today is the the day to try something new.
I noticed a trend: people like their sprouts caramelized either through roasting or pan-frying. They like to be off-set with something sweet – caramelized onions or shallots, or even dried fruit, then finished with nuts for crunch. Usually served as a side, I wanted to beef them up as a main-course salad. Enter the lentils.
I based this dish off of my Mujaddara, which is a Middle Eastern dish lentil and rice dish with caramelized onions. I replaced the rice with caramelized roasted Brussels sprouts, omitted the cinnamon from the simmering lentils and added some toasted pecans. A simple warm salad that is more than the sum of its parts. The earthy lentils lend a base of the sweet yet earthy sprouts, contrasted by the sweet caramelized onions with a crunch from toasted pecans. And the Brussels sprouts? They taste like little dense cabbage. Sweet, after the roasting. I think I’ve found a new veggie friend.
I was salivating when I spotted these muffins at Eat Me, Delicious: maple, pecans and Ashley declared: “[These] are my new favourite healthy-ish muffins, and possibly my new favourite muffins period. I adore them.“ I made them, hoping to bring them as a dessert with ample leftovers for a friend who had just had a baby. I, obviously, didn’t read the next part where Ashely commented that these were dry like cornbread. I think the tip-off that these were not suitable for dessert was when Ashley said they were healthy muffins. Thankfully I ate one before I brought them over to my friend’s house, as these are not dessert muffins. They are healthy breakfast muffins.
Not too sweet, despite a half-cup of maple syrup, but crumbly and dry, likely from the half-cup of wheat germ and whole-wheat flour, these muffins are packed with a lot of good nutrients, but the texture was off for me. I’d prefer something a bit more moist and sweet. Granted, once I accepted their fate as breakfast muffins, ate them with a big glass of milk, they grew on me and I slowly appreciated their beauty.
And then I had to whip up another portable dessert for the new mommy.
Can a coffeecake be served as part of breakfast or brunch? Sure! I love how, in theory, most of my dishes for breakfast or brunch also double as desserts. What a sweet breakfast! In actuality, I usually have a pretty standard breakfast of Bob’s Red Mill Old Country Style Muesli with maybe a fruit thrown in on the side, and the baked goods get added to my lunch as dessert.
I liked the following pumpkin coffeecake from A Harvest of Pumpkins and Squash by Lou Seibert Pappas. It wasn’t in-your-face pumpkin flavour, more mellow with a hint of spice, but there was an interesting texture with the cornmeal and nicely moist. The walnut topping added a nice crunch. I doubled the amount of fresh cranberries (to 2 cups) which was good, if not bursting with cranberry. Only 1 cup would have been piddly. I don’t think I have professed my love of fresh cranberries, yet… but I will.. with one of my many cranberry recipes in the draft folder.