Friday, July 16, 2010

The Uncheese Cookbook

I have to say this is one of my favorite books late.  Yes, I have been making cookies and cupcakes as usual, and I have Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar to thank for that.  Sometimes, though, you want something savory, tangy, cheesy.  The uncheese cookbook takes *nooch to a whole new level and uses ingredients like miso, umeboshi paste, lemon, and nut butters to replicate the smooth and piquant flavors that we associate with rotting cow's milk (I mean cheese).  I love Daiya, but there is a laundry list of ingredients in Daiya and at the end of the day I'd rather feed my family something I made.  I recently made a great pizza using shredded "Brie" uncheese from this cookbook and I liked it better than Daiya as a pizza topping.  Of course I also had roasted eggplant as my base, so this pizza had a leg up on the competition to start with.

I don't want to share any of their recipes, because I feel that is unfair to the author and since I would someday like to write my own cookbook, I have to put out all the good karma I can into the cookbook author world.

I will, however, share a recipe I adapted from reading many of these recipes and combining methods and flavors to create something all my own.  This recipe makes a hard cheese, or "block cheese" that can be sliced, grated, of chopped up and eaten in cubes.  It will melt eventually, and melts best if grated and then broiled.  A spray of cooking oil will help if you want a browned top.  It will not get stretchy melty, so try to have realistic expectations.

Slightly Smokey Cheddar
4 small red peppers or one large red pepper, sliced and sautteed until soft.
1 1/2 cups water
1 Tbsp agar agar powder (NOT FLAKES)
1/2 cup raw almonds (or blanched, they are just expensive so I used regular raw ones)
1 Tbsp tahini
1/2 cup silken tofu
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp smoked paprika (you can used unsmoked for "not smokey cheddar")
1 tsp light miso (light color, not low-fat... I don't think there is a low-fat miso)
1 tsp salt

First you will want to sautte your peppers.  You could substitute roasted red peppers from a jar for this and it would be good as well, just not as sweet, which is fine.  Boil the water in a small pot and add the agar agar.  Stir vigorously and reduce heat to a simmer.  You want all the powder to completely disolve. Then add ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth.  Once it's fully blended, put in a plastic container that has been sprayed with cooking oil.  I used a cleaned out Earth Balance tub and it was the exact right size.  Chill for at least an hour and then slice/shred/enjoy.

*nooch= nutritional yeast or a sauce containing nutritional yeast.  Red Star nutrtional yeast is a great way for vegans to get a healthy dose of B12

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