Thursday, November 17, 2016

Cashew cheese




There are hundreds of recipes of cashew cheese to be found these days. This is the version I make almost weekly in large batches to be used in various culinary creations during the week. It's easy, simple, neutral and it fits well in a lot of dishes. 

Here are a few examples of where I use this “cheese”:



panini, pure or with fresh basil, tomato and arugula
pizza, calzone, and lasagna
as topping for filled vegetables: paprika, courgette, aubergine, or champignons
filled empanadas or various pastries
risottos
with stir-fried veggies
soups - added at the end 
pasta, gnocchi
quiche

Even though the amounts of each ingredient vary every time I make it, here is a recipe that gives you an idea of which amounts more or less to use.

Ingredients:

1 cup cashews 
2 cups water
2 tbsp tapioca starch, dissolved in 3 tbsp water
1/3 cup nutritional yeast (Beware! Some brands are quite bitter and do not add that special cheesy taste, so make sure to get the best brand you can find)
1 tbsp sea salt (less if you prefer or if using a different type of salt)
2-3 tsp citric/lactic acid (or apple vinegar or lemon juice if you don’t have citric or lactic acid at hand)

optional: replace some of the water by 1/2 cup coconut milk (it adds a nice creaminess and it takes the cheese taste to an entirely new level)

People with nut allergies can use coconut milk to replace cashews in this recipe. Use 2 cups of milk instead of 1 cup cashews + 2 cups water. Feel free to adapt the amounts of tapioca starch depending on the consistency required for a certain recipe.  

If you want a sliceable or shreddable cheese, add 6 g agar agar or 14g kappa carrageenan 

Version with miso, sundried tomatoes, smoked paprika and agar


Method:

Soak the cashews in some of the water for at least 4 hours. 

Blend it well in a high speed blender, food processor or any device that can turn it into a smooth cream. 

Bring all ingredients to a saucepan and cook it over medium-low heat while stirring regularly (I do it with a whisker). When it starts boiling, reduce heat and keep stirring for further 3-5 minutes. 


baked champignons with cashew cheese and thyme


Pour it into a mould (in case of making the cheese harder with agar or carrageenan) or into a container that can be closed (after cooling) with an airtight lid. Keep the cheese in the fridge for up to a week (or longer, depending on how it's been handled).

If you want to make a hard cheese and doubt whether to use agar or carrageenan, here is a blogpost that might help you. 

Bottom line: Carrageenan produces a better texture than agar and it melts when heated - agar doesn’t. Carrageenan is a controversial product (health concerns).  

If you have no problems with extra calories and wish for an extra greasy, extra meltable cheese, then perhaps the following recipe could make you happier. ;-) 




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