Thursday, December 15, 2011

Raw Cashew Cheese

I recently found a café north of Boston specializing in raw, vegan cuisine.  There's really nothing else like it around these parts.  It makes me swoon.  I suppose if you live in California, places like these are a dime a dozen.  I've never been to the West Coast, but I envision cafés of this sort filled with sun kissed faces, basking in the land of eternal sunshine.  I also picture people rollerblading up and down boardwalks.  Do people even roller blade anymore?  Probably not since spandex and the Discman went hand in hand.  For obvious reasons, we are better off without the two.   It appears my only frame of reference for my trite perception of California is a few teen movies I'll withhold the names of.  If you live in California, set me straight or send along some restaurant recommendations for my someday trip, because on a more serious note, Yosemite National Park looks breathtaking, and the thought of sipping wine in Sonoma Valley is mighty alluring.  Before sitting down to write this, I blasted the heat and peered outside at a looming gray sky, foreshadowing the rain that will likely follow.  You can see how this might be appealing.  

I have a friend who keeps what she calls 'magical itineraries', printouts and clippings stashed away in folders for trips she dreams of taking.  My approach is a bit less systematic and involves googling last minute airfare to remote islands I've just witnessed on the travel channel.  Surely, this is nonsense.  There are things like vacation time to consider, obligations, ever-dwindling funds; but always a dreamer, I get swept up and carried away.  My husband, (who I will now refer to as Donny from here on out, because we've gotten to know each other and you should be on a first name basis with him too), intentionally avoids the travel channel for this very reason.  Nevertheless, I'm going to get another trip jar going and see where it takes me someday.  But in the meantime, I'm here to tell you about something else I've gotten carried away with; cashew cheese.

The café I mentioned is where I first encountered cashew cheese.  I religiously order a bagel smeared with it each time I visit.  It's light and creamy, without the heavy, dense feeling dairy cream cheese has.  I've been using nuts to make milk, and recently used cashews to make a dairy free cheesecake.  The idea of making cheese with cashews seemed to follow suit with my endeavors as of late.  I've gone nutty.  Join me.  I made a handful of batches recently; the first for the purpose of recreating those bagels, then to make a gorgeous appetizer for no apparent reason.  With no party to go to, no gathering of any kind, I had the plate all to myself.  And for the record, whisper thin slices of raw beets topped with cashew cheese and a sprinkle of thyme is heavenly.  Finally, I made eggplant, stacking baked layers with cashew cheese and covering them in a cascade of tomato sauce.  I hope you'll give this new cashew cheese thing a whirl.  Pun intended.  Now excuse me while I attempt to shake California Girls out of my head and dig the loose change out of my couch to start that trip jar.

~Raw Cashew Cheese Recipe~
Adapted from Real Food Daily via Chocolate and Zucchini

1 1/2 cups raw cashews (be sure they are unsalted and not roasted)
1/4 cup vegetable stock/broth
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp chopped onion
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
3-4 grinds from pepper mill

Soak cashew overnight in enough water to ensure they are covered.  Drain soaked nuts and rinse in fresh water in the morning.  Add cashews to the food processor first, letting it go for a few minutes to really break them down.  Add vegetable stock, olive oil, and lemon juice.  Give it another whirl, scraping down the sides if necessary.  Add chopped onion, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, sea salt, and pepper.  Give one last whirl until all the ingredients are combined.  It should resemble the texture of ricotta cheese.  Transfer to your fridge for a few hours so the flavors have a chance to come together.  I like this best served cold.  Use some of the ideas above as inspiration, or serve it on top of veggie burgers, in wraps and sandwiches, or with crackers or crudités.  Serves 4.


Sue/the view from great island said...

This looks really interesting, I don't think I've ever seen anything like it, but I haven't been to a vegan restaurant yet. Those beet slices topped with the cashew cheese is such a great appetizer.

Clair said...

I have heard so much about using cashews as cheese substitute and really need to try it. I'm always a little worried I won't be able to get them ground fine enough in my cheap appliances. =)

Beautiful choice to pair it with the beets!

Zoe said...

This is a great idea!...replacing cheese with cashews for this dip!

I would love to follow your blog for more of great cooking ideas.

Stephanie said...

Thanks Sue-it was super easy.
Clair-thanks, it was great with the beets. Maybe Santa will bring you a new food processor ;)
Zoe-nice to meet you! Thanks for following. You have a great blog yourself!

Rachana said...

Replacing cheese with cashew is a great idea. I love the recipe. I was just wondering, if I could make this without the nutritional yeast?

You have a great blog here. Glad to follow you.

A Spoonful of Yumm said...

love this spread !! unique combination of flavors...

Sarah (Snippets of Thyme) said...

Cashew cheese! I've also never heard of it. I do like cashews and I love peanut butter's creaminess so I undoubtedly would enjoy this spread.

Stephanie said...

Hi Rachana-You could certainly make it without the nutritional yeast-that's what gives it a cheesy flavor of sorts, but I think it would still work without it.

Marina {Yummy Mummy) said...

Hi Stephanie, thanks so much for your comment on yummy mummy. I LOVE your beautiful blog and am so happy to have found it. Your newest follower :)
Have a great Sunday and please come visit me again soon at :)

Gerry @Foodness Gracious said...

Great blog and look forward to more posts! I live in California and yes you can witness people rollerblading on the boardwalk and other quirky activities. There are lots of awesome restaurants around Los Angeles and a few raw places. I love raw food but dont eat it enough, I think I would do better if I had a dehydrator, but I have a great raw taco recipe if you want it, it's so tasty!!
Take care..

Stephanie said...

Hi Gerry-nice to meet you. California-jealous! It's freezing here right now! I don't have a dehydrator either, but all that food intrigues me. I'd love to try your raw taco recipe! That sounds great. I've never had raw tacos. I usually make lentil tacos.