Smile and Say Cheese
Three Cheeses walked in to a crowded bar. The bar went silent.
“Why has everyone gone quiet?”, asked the new barman.
The manager called him over and whispered in his ear, “Everyone knows the Cheeses, don’t mess with them, they´re NUTS!“….
Okay, okay, its a bad joke, but I couldn’t think of another way to start this post, and when I came up with the punchline, I had a few laughs myself…
Cheese. Made from nuts. Nut Cheese. They´re NUTS! (lol again).
Ok, seriously though, they are made from Cashew Nuts.
On a recent trip to London I was introduced to a vegan restaurant by my brother. I was pessimistic at first as I am known for my love of big juicy bloody stakes as well as my unsavoury comments to my waiting staff when asked to cook something vegetarian out of the blue.
Ignorantly I had always thought that vegetarian restaurants only served salads, pastas and grilled vegetables. Even more ignorantly I thought that a vegan restaurant would only serve chickpeas and spinach.
I was so, so wrong. Not only was I pleasantly surprised and pleased with the gourmet meal, it was a real culinary eye opener. I have no intention about becoming a vegetarian or vegan, but good food should be shared.
Of the many starting dishes on offer was the Cheese Tasting Plate.
“Nothing vegan about this dish”, I started to think to myself, a bit confused. It was only when I was told that the selection of cheeses were in fact Cashew Cheeses, made from cashew nuts. (Cashew Nuts, no longer to be only used in Chicken Stir Fries or as salted bar snacks).
They looked like regular cheeses, had the same texture and same tangy creamy taste of cheese made from dairy products. They were so good that I knew that I would be making something similar on my return to Spain. “Good food should be shared”.
Cashew Truffle Cheese.
The basic recipe for these types of cheeses involves soaking raw cashew nuts in water overnight before straining them and blitzing them with lemon or lime juice and whatever other ingredients you wish to add. Once well binded they can be shaped in cling film and left to firm up in the fridge for a day or two. The taste gets better the longer you leave it, but they can also be eaten straight away.
My first batch was very basic and I only added salt and truffle oil. If I had some real truffles, I would have added them too, plus a few shavings on top.
Cashew, Coriander and Tahini Cheese.
This one tasted more “herby”. Loads of coriander, garlic and a blob of tahini gave this cheese more body. So good in fact that the testing dish was finished by the tasting staff (without knowing that it was made from cashew nuts!).
Cashew Parsley Cheese.
In order to get a more creamy texture I added more water to my blender, and also left it running a little longer than the other cheeses. This resulted in a very spreadable creamy cheese, great on toasted bread drizzled with olive oil and crushed nuts.
All in all I am happy about the results and will definitely be making more versions.
I also plan on rolling the cheeses in chopped herbs, adding liquid smoke and drying them out. Should be interesting!
Basic Cashew Nut Cheese Recipe.
- 300g Raw Cashew Nuts, soaked in water overnight
- 1 or 2 Cloves of Garlic
- 50ml Water (you may need less or more depending one how creamy you want it)
- 50/60ml Fresh Lemon or Lime Juice (you may need more or less depending on how tangy you want it)
- Pinch of Sea Salt
- Pinch of White pepper
- Other ingredients or herbs of your own choice (fresh herbs such as mint, coriander, dill etc.. should be added towards the end of the recipe , powdered spices can be added at the beginning)
- MSG (only joking, we don’t use added MSG in our kitchens)
- Drain cashew nuts and rinse.
- Place in to a good blender with the garlic and blitz until crumbly.
- Add lemon or lime juice, continue to blitz, stopping the machine now and again to scrape down the sides.
- Whilst the machine is running add water to reach your desired consistency, a drier cheese will be easier to roll and will set firmer.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Add other ingredients that you have chosen and continue to blitz.
- Taste and adjust seasonings. Remember that the flavours will develop and merge whilst being stored.
- For creamy cheese, store in an airtight container, if rolling the cheese, place the mixture on to a damp cheesecloth and hang in the fridge for a few hours or overnight to help firming. Once firm enough to handle place the mixture on to some cling film and roll in to a sausage shape then tie both ends together. Return to the fridge.
- Eat. Drink. Savour.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
We must be NUTS!