Vegan cheese

Tyrokafteri -hot cheesy spread- vegan & raw with nuts -Βέγκαν τυροκαυτερή με κάσιους και αμύγδαλα - Veganinathens.com

Vegan & raw tyrokafteri -raw vegan, hot and cheesy spread

The appetizers -or “mezedes” as they are called here- are a characteristic and basic element of the Greek table. I can’t imagine of a Greek person who would say “no” to a meal with friends, composed of many -hot or cold- small appetizers accompanied with ouzo or raki, instead of a main course.

However, eating a variety of appetizers as a meal, apart from being a Greek custom, is more or less a common way of spending time with friends as well as eating out, in other Mediterranean countries too. For example the Spanish “tapas” are correspondingly small appetizers and in Spain people often order many different tapas and combine them to make a full meal. I guess there must be a reason for that. Maybe it’s that the appetizers we share with our fellow diners may bring us a little closer: firstly we learn how to share our food, we approach each other to take a few bites from each saucer, we experience the same tastes and we eat, drink, talk and relax together with our friends or our family.

One of the most famous delicacies of northern Greece is tyrokafteri (spicy and creamy white cheese spread). As my partner is a huge fan of anything “cheesy”, we often make the raw vegan version of the original recipe. The basic ingredients that we use are various soaked raw nuts blended with olive oil, salt and fresh spicy and sweet peppers for a delicious raw vegan snack.

Tyrokafteri -hot cheesy spread- vegan & raw with nuts -Βέγκαν τυροκαυτερή με κάσιους και αμύγδαλα - Vegan in Athens

 Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups raw mixed nuts, soaked for 4-6 hours and drained (I usually use: ½ cup cashew nuts, ½ cup blanched almonds and ½ cup Brazil nuts)
  • 1 fresh red hot chilli pepper
  • 1 red sweet pepper
  • 1 garlic clove (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2-3 tbsp water (only if necessary for blending)

Tyrokafteri -hot cheesy spread- vegan & raw with nuts -Βέγκαν τυροκαυτερή με κάσιους και αμύγδαλα - Vegan in Athens

Method

  1. Wash the chilli and the sweet pepper and half them lengthways. Remove the seeds and the stalks and discard them. Chop them coarsely.
  2. In a blender put all the ingredients and blend at medium speed for several minutes until a relatively smooth and creamy mixture is formed.
  3. Keep in a glass container in the refrigerator for several days.

Note: This vegan spicy cheese dip can be also made with soaked blanched almonds only, in case no other nuts are available.
If your skin is sensitive you’d better prepare the chilli wearing rubber gloves, as chillies contain a substance that burns sensitive skin. Of course, never rub your eyes or lips after handling chillies and wash the knife, board and your hands with hot soapy water.

 

 

 

 

 

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Μελιτζάνες "παρμεζάνα" φούρνου - Veganinathens.com

Aubergine parmigiana (Melanzane alla parmigiana), vegan and with a gluten-free option

Since I am passionate with Italy and everything that is Italian (including the Italian kitchen) I have collected several Italian cookbooks (oh yes I’ve learned Italian!), I’ve enjoyed all the Italian vegan food I could when I travelled there and I cook Italian dishes very often. One of my favorites is my veganized version of the traditional side dish “melanzane alla parmigiana” (aubergine parmigiana), which may not contain cheese, but it is just as good.

Use gluten-free bread and gluten-free flour such as rice or corn flour, for the gluten-free and vegan version of “Melanzane alla parmigiana”

Ingredients
(for a small baking dish, 4-6 servings)

3 large aubergines

For the tomato sauce

  • 2 medium ripe tomatoes, grated
  • 1 medium sized onion peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • ½ cup red wine
  • ½ cup concentrated tomato juice (or one more grated tomato)
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves (or parsley if basil not available)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ tsp chilli flakes
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

For the béchamel sauce

  • 2 cups vegan milk (I used soy this time)
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  • ½ tsp curry powder
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

For the bread crust

  • 2 slices of bread
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 tbsp of parsley chopped
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Aubergines with parmezan vegan and gluten free - Μελιτζάνες παρμεζάνα βέγκαν και χωρίς γλουτένη - Vegan in Athens

Method

  1. Remove the stalks from the aubergines, slice them up into 1cm thick slices, put them into a strainer, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and let them in one side for half an hour. By this way their bitterness will be reduced.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200 oC, and lay the eggplants on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper. Brush them with olive oil and bake for 30 minutes until soft.
  3. Prepare the tomato sauce: Add the olive oil in a pan and fry the onion and the garlic for 1-2 minutes. Add the wine and the remaining ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Taste and set aside.
  4. Prepare the béchamel sauce: Pour 1 cup milk into a saucepan to boil and in the other cup of milk, dissolve the flour, the nutritional yeast and the spices. When the milk’s comes to boil, add the milk-flour mixture into the pan and stir constantly for a few minutes until it thickens.
  5. Prepare the bread crust: crumble the bread in a bowl with your hands, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
  6. Assemble: Brush a bake dish with olive oil, lay on the bottom a layer of eggplant slices and spread over half of the tomato sauce. With a spoon pour half the béchamel over the tomato sauce and repeat the process for one more time. Over the last layer of aubergines – tomato – bechamel spread the bread crumbs. Bake for half an hour in a preheated oven at 200 °C. Wait for another half an hour to cool slightly before serve.
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Φυτικό τυρί με καρύδια και λιαστή ντομάτα - Raw vegan walnut cheese with sun-dried tomatoes - veganinathens.com

Walnut cheese with sun-dried tomatoes – Raw vegan

Few days ago I bought lots of fresh and tasty walnuts from a farmers market and I was trying to think what to do with them. Since I love nut cheeses, walnut cheese seemed to be a good idea to experiment with. And actually it was! The nutty taste of walnuts together with the sun-dried tomatoes  create a unique, special taste and makes this cheese delicious!

Φυτικό τυρί με καρύδια και λιαστή ντομάτα - Raw vegan walnut cheese with sun-dried tomatoes - Vegan in Athens

Ingredients

  • 2 cups peeled walnuts
  • ¼ cup filtered water
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 5 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

Method

  1. Soak the walnuts 12 hours in cold water. It’s better to change the water 1-2 times in order to reduce their bitterness.
  2. Drain and add the nuts with the water, lemon-juice, apple cider vinegar, yeast and salt in a blender and blend for 3-4 minutes until creamy. Stop blending every few seconds and clean the walls with your spatula until all the solid parts are blended.
  3. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and mix with the spatula.
  4. Place a strainer over a bowl and line it with cheesecloth.
  5. Spoon nut mixture into the center of cheesecloth and sprinkle some salt and 1-2 tbsp chopped sun-dried tomatoes or spices of your choice over the cheese.
  6. Fold the sides of the cloth over the cheese and form into a spherical loaf. Twist the ends of the cloth and secure with rubber bands or a strip of cloth or a thread.  Set in the strainer over a bowl and let it stand in a warm place for 12 hours (e.g. in a dehydrator or your oven at 50oC or even a sunny, airy room or balcony in a hot, summer day).
  7. Put uncovered in the fridge for at least 48 hours so that the drying process continues.
  8. Now it will be easy to unwrap the cheese. Serve it over crackers, bread or with a salad. You can keep it in the fridge for over 2 weeks.

 

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