Monday, September 19, 2011

Glorious Vegan Nut Cheese

Back in my pre-vegan days, I loved cheese. On any given day, there would be a wedge of cheese in the refrigerator- a creamy reblochon or a sharp shropshire blue or a simple piece of edam or soft-spreadable Alouette. Once I gained the full knowledge of the horrors & cruelty & pure heartbreak of dairy production, no piece of dairy cheese could ever taste delicious again.

Of course, there are amazing vegan substitutes for cheese like Daiya nowadays, but sometimes I crave a little wedge...

So what's a former cheese-lover to do? The answer is pretty damn simple. Make your own fabulous cultured nut cheeze! Guess this was always somewhere on my to-do list, along with making vegan kimchi and once I conquered that I was on the fast-track to fermentation. And once my Vita-Mix arrived, I had the tools to make my own glorious vegan cheeze. I found some adapted recipes from The Sunny Raw Kitchen and voilĂ !

Here they are just flavored:
Peppercorn & himalayan sea salt being molded:
I varied the recipes a bit with extra probiotics instead of rejuvelac, but definitely want to try that next time. These were all cashew nut based- one with peppercorn, the paprika one based more on an Alouette flavoring with added white wine and one herb flavored. They fermented in a warm spot above the 'fridge for about 16hours and then the real fun begins- adding all the yummy flavors. The hardest part of all- was waiting for the cheeze to really firm up in the 'fridge. Had to wait about three weeks, though they were definitely ready for snacking in about two days as a soft spread...The beauty of fermented food is the pungent taste but also added health bonus of probiotics. I have all kinds of nutty cheezy plans dancing through my head...apparently cashew based will always be softer, plan on experimenting with pecans soon!

Finished product three weeks later:


Do yourself a favor and make some cultured nut cheeze now!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hamptons Getaway - Vegan Style

Can't believe it's September already- summer has just flown by & fall is sweeping in, it's either been really busy or I'm having way too much fun or both? We didn't go anywhere- just out to the beach a few times, but we did have one especially fun experience....

One summer weekend, we were invited out to Southampton by some dear friends, who just happen to be way fancy...they rented a small house for the season and by "small", I mean small for them which is six bedrooms (Universe, if you are listening- I would be happy with a one or two bedroom bungalow by the beach)...anyway, we were looking forward to a fab few days!

It happened to be the hottest weekend ever in NYC & we were just happy to be out of the concrete jungle and in the lushness of the Hamptons. The icing on the cake? Quality time with our friends and well, them having a personal chef definitely did not suck. Chef never cooked vegan before, but she's a pro & as she put it- cooking vegan was no problem!

Here's a quick show & tell:

Friday night dinner:
a most delectable watermelon avocado salad and yes, it was delectable, delicious, delicate & perfect...
My entree was curried tofu- was super tasty- everyone else had fish in curry & Chef apologized for my dish not looking as pretty...um, no complaints here!
Poached pears for dessert- sans honey mascarpone topping for me...
 
 Here's where we spent most of our time- lounging, eating & drinking by the pool- well we also got a great beach day in, but forgot to grab some pics...


Here's where Chef prepared our meals- this was mushroom risotto in the making:
Note to Universe: I would also like a nice Viking outdoor grill at my beach bungalow- thanks!
The roasted artichokes were divine.
Am not a big fan of zucchini or summer squash, but this raw dish with meyer lemon dressing was quite edible!
Buffet style & ready to eat- the vegan risotto was incredibly delicious.
 
We were in a lovely octagonish bedroom:
The pups know exactly where to dry off after a swim in the pool!
Earlier in the day, we went into town for lunch- which was an unmemorable salad for me, but then I found an Organic Avenue - hurray!
Got some Hail Merry raw chocolate almond butter tarts- tasty.
There was a lot more shopping & then back to the house....
Table dressed for a Sunday get-together:

Ready to feast!



Assortment of sauteed mushrooms
My plate consisted of: amazingly roasted/charred corn on cob- sans butter, portobello burger, beet salad, quinoa salad & more roasted veggies- YUM!
Monday's light breakfast- watermelon, pineapple, canteloupe & mint:
Chef built a yummy tower of leftovers for lunch:
We had taken the train out & our friends offered to bring us back to NYC- I just assumed that we would drive...silly rabbit, why drive for three hrs and that's not counting traffic when you have your own helicopter that can get you back to NYC in thirty minutes?

It was quite cinematic...just a lone spot along the road with helicopter waiting. As cool as the whole production was, I was simply unimpressed because I was just plain scared!
Yep, never been in a helicopter & have retained all the random helicopter crash stories heard over the years for an occasion such as this...there were six of us altogether including three schnauzers. Everyone engaged in conversation except me...frozen in fear & breaking into a cold sweat. I was also super nauseated- combination of fear & the giant headset/noise buffers trapping heat. Tried to stay calm and after what felt like forever, I calmed down a teeny bit...
The views got more amazing as we got closer to NYC...

And here's our little ole Long Island City- we were able to kind of spot our building...
And pulling in to land at the 34th Street helipad...
We watched pilot & helicopter head back out as we waited for the ferry to take us home straight across the East River. The weekend was definitely relaxing, but it was also nice to get back to the furry kids in our little abode....
I know they felt us fly by in the helicopter...and they were probably by the window...
 Hope everyone had a great summer!
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