Cultured Raw Cashew ‘Cheese’ w/ Cracked Pepper, Wild Fennel & Chives

After tasting nut cheese at an event serving raw food (I think it was Little Bird) a few years ago, I got really curious about how to make it. At the time, the lovely young lady who served me a slice told me “it’s actually easy, just Google it”.

There are some great recipes out there (and some not so great ones) but this one seems to be the basic ‘industry standard’ and has worked every time. My personal tip is to go the whole 9-yards and make a cultured cheese like this one – the texture, taste and thrill of creation are much more enjoyable. It takes time (like a proper cheese) but don’t be put off, each step is only 5 minutes and the results are shockingly good!

Apologies for the long instructions I just wanted it to be really clear.

nut cheese

INGREDIENTS

2 cups cashews, soaked for a minimum of 4 hours (macadamias are another option)
2 cups water (as needed)
1 teaspoon probiotic powder or 1 teaspoon miso will also work (fresh, not the manky stuff at the back of the fridge)
¾ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup fresh, finely chopped wild fennel tufts & chives (you can use any herbs you like of course)
cracked pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

Place cashews, 1 cup of the water and the probiotic powder into a high speed blender until it becomes smooth. If the mixture is too thick add more water until it loosens. You want the mix to be smooth but not at all watery.

Transfer the the mix into a cheesecloth, fold over and place into a strainer sitting over a bowl. Place a weight on top of the cheesecloth (such as a plate with a copy of Shantaram on it). Cover everything to keep it protected from debris and any unwanted bacteria and place it in a warm area to culture (room temperature is good). Leave for a minimum of 24 hours – no more than 48. After this time you’ll notice that it has become slightly airy or fluffy which indicates the culturing process has worked a treat.

Now place into a bowl & add in the salt, yeast and lemon juice. At this point I usually add in a few of the chopped herbs and maybe a little cracked pepper. Shape your cheese into a round (or if you want to get fancy you can use a metal ring mold). Gently cover the round in the remaining herbs and place into the fridge to firm up and let the flavours mellow together – at least overnight. If you want to go a litte further and get an even more impressive result you can place your cheese into a dehydrator instead of the fridge. Set at 105°F/40°C for 24 hours. This will form an impressive rind and make your cheese that much more spectacular.

There are endless possibilities for flavours here, so go wild and crazy and get all gourmet on it!

Refreshing Pea, Cumin & Mint Soup

Just before Christmas Jess asked me if I would like to join Tahini Sauce as a contributor of some raw recipes. I said yes of course, not only because I thought it would be good reason to post photos of what I eat on the internet but also another way of keeping myself in check with what I am eating and preparing everyday. I am pretty new to raw food, having turned to this style of eating mid 2012 for health reasons. I haven’t been 100% raw the whole time (being a big transition and all), but so far I have been consistent in what has been nothing short of a creative and physiological revelation!. Being a steadfast foodie of the highest order I really had thought the good times were over. How wrong was I? Despite not being able to sautée, simmer, or flambé anything, possibly ever again, I have never felt so deeply rewarded in the kitchen – and I haven’t cooked a thing!. And really, it makes me feel so virtous! It really is a satisfyingly beneficial and endlessly creative way to prepare and eat. I have, my new friends, been humbled by these undisturbed enzymes.

So here it is, my first contribution. A fittingly humble dish – a simple fresh, summer soup to serve 2.

Pea Soup

INGREDIENTS

2 cups garden peas
1/4 large or 1/2 small avocado
Handful of fresh mint (washed)
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
Salt
Pepper
1 cup water

INSTRUCTIONS

Put peas and half the water into the blender along with the mint, avocado, cumin seeds, salt & pepper. If you are using frozen peas* sit them in the sun or a bowl of water until they start to thaw. Blend on Low, adding more water if necessary until everything is smooth and your favourite soup consistency is reached. Check seasoning. Serve. Devour.

* Although frozen peas are not raw (they are blanched before they are frozen), they work well if fresh peas are not available.