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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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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Βέγκαν, ωμοφαγικά τυράκια με ξηρούς καρπούς παπαρουνόσπορο και πιπέρι - Raw vegan nut cheese with herbs - Vegan in Athens - Veganinathens.com

Raw vegan nut cheese with herbs

One of the biggest challenges that one has to deal with during the transition to veganism is cheese. Even though I had never been much of a “cheese” person, I was surprised to find out that cheese is a basic ingredient in so many dishes I used to like and one of the most common things I used to eat -usually with some bread and vegetables- for breakfast or lunch.

Luckily, being vegan doesn’ t mean that one has to be deprived of cheese, since a lot of vegan genius chefs work intensively into creating vegan-cheese recipes. So I was happily surprised to find out a fantastic vegan cheese book, the “Artisan Vegan Cheese” (Miyoko Schinner, 2012) which gave me many “uncheese” recipe ideas and helped me develop my own recipes by using my imagination and some basic techniques found in it.

The following recipe, is a completely raw and vegan nut-cheese recipe, in which I combine three different kind of nuts, in order to achieve better texture and increase it’ s nutritional benefits, since every nut comprises different nutritional elements. In order to keep the recipe low-fat I don’t use any coconut oil, but I dry the cheese a little bit, following a traditional method of cheese making. This process allows its natural fermentation which is the key to the cheesy taste and texture I want. All these may seem complex but actually they aren’t! This recipe is so simple that everyone can make it, provided that we have a good blender and of course patience.

Personally I love this recipe, since the taste is fantastic and somehow it resembles that of a traditional Cretan, mostly homemade, goat cheese my grandma used to make.

Βέγκαν, ωμοφαγικά τυράκια με ξηρούς καρπούς παπαρουνόσπορο, λιαστή ντομάτα και πιπέρι - Vegan in Athens

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews soaked for 6-8 hours
  • 1 cup raw almonds (blanched if available) soaked for 6-8 hours
  • ½ cup brazil nuts soaked for 6-8 hours
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. apple-cider vinegar
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt (it may seem too much but it acts as a conservative that protects our cheese from spoiling)

Topping: You can use one or more of the following ingredients:

  • finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • finely chopped dried herbs or spices (such as pepper, chives, thyme, rosemary, oregano etc)
  • ground dried red chillies
  • pesto sauce
  • nuts or seeds

Method

  1. Drain the nuts and skin the almonds if they are not blanched. An easy way to skin almonds is to soak them for 2 minutes in hot water after the 6-hour soaking. The skins get softer and thus it’s much easier to remove them.
  2. Combine all the liquid ingredients in a jar.
  3. Add in your blender half of the nuts with half of the liquid ingredients and blend until a smooth, creamy paste has been formed. Stop blending every few seconds and clean the walls with your spatula until all the solid parts are blended. Empty the nut paste in a bowl and repeat the process with the rest of the nuts.
  4. Add the salt in the bowl and mix well.
  5. Place a strainer over a bowl and line it with cheesecloth. Sprinkle some salt and 1-2 tbsp of the dried herbs or spices of your choice (e.g. cracked peppercorns) over the cheesecloth.
  6. Spoon nut mixture into the center of cheesecloth and sprinkle some salt and 1-2 tbsp herbs or spices of your choice over the cheese.
  7. 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).
  8. Put uncovered in the fridge for at least 48 hours so that the drying process continues.
  9. 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.

Note: If you want your cheese with a shape, put over a flat strainer a metal ring (use one or two from your small springform pans) and line it with the cheesecloth. The rest of the procedure is the same. Just make sure that your mini cheeses “breath” also from the bottom side.

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