Sunday, September 13, 2009

September 13, 2009: Vegan crackers and cheese

When Miss T opened the doors on her newly renovated home for a 'new'-themed potluck, I wasn't sure how best to bring something novel to the table. Trying a new recipe for a potluck would not be a new strategy at all; swapping sweet and savoury responsibilities with Michael was certainly a start! There was an additional constraint - a two-day work trip and some social plans meant that I would have little time to shop or cook.

The solution seemed to be a recipe for a food I'd never before tried to make - Clotilde's raw cashew cheese. Though the cashews need a few hours' soaking, this dish requires no more than minutes of attention as the ingredients get stuffed into a food processor. I set my expectations for 'creamy dip' rather than 'cheese substitute' and was pleasantly surprised. This had a savoury taste that reminded me very much of the ubiquitous vegan cheese sub, nutritional yeast flakes. I was rather pleased with my adaptations; replacing the lemon juice with champagne vinegar, reducing the quantity of pungently raw garlic, and stirring through some finely chopped chives.

Then on Sunday morning I tempted fate. I tried making another new food, home-made crackers, on very little sleep. I will admit to cursing once or twice (this is nothing new in our kitchen, even when I'm well rested) but I have rarely made an easier or more gratifying recipe than this one. The dough, though moist, rolls out well enough and tastes delicious. As the crackers bake, their colour and flavours deepen and by golly, they actually crisp up! Evenly, perfectly! Their taste was a teensy bit bitter (I'll tone down the turmeric next time) but the cashew dip knocked off its edge. It is quite remarkable just how complementary these two recipes are. Like crackers and cheese, really.


Creamy cashew dip
(based on the raw cashew cheese recipe at Chocolate & Zucchini)

200g raw cashews
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons champagne vinegar (or substitute with lemon juice or another type of vinegar)
1/2 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper, to taste

Put the cashews in a bowl, cover them with water, and allow them to soak for at least 2 hours.

Drain the cashews and put them in a food processor with the 1/4 cup water and remaining ingredients. Whizz the lot until it's as smooth as possible, occasionally pausing and scraping down the dip on the sides of the bowl.

Clotilde says the the 'cheese' will set over the first 24 hours, but I didn't observe this with ours. I'd suggest just dipping in whenever you're ready!




Oat Herb Crackers
(a recipe by Anni of Tofu for Two)

1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 cloves garlic, crushed
4/5 cup rolled oats, finely ground
1/2 cup plain flour
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/3 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric (I'll use less next time)
extra flour for rolling and dusting

Preheat the oven to 175°C.

Whisk together the water, olive oil, lemon juice, mustard and garlic.

In a separate medium-sized bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients. Stir in the wet ingredients with a fork until it all forms a dough.

Line a tray with baking paper and generously dust it with flour. Plonk the dough onto the tray and dust the top with more flour. Gently roll the dough to about 3mm thickness, using more flour if you need it to prevent sticking. Slice the rolled dough into cracker shapes, using a pastry wheel or pizza slicer if you have one. I also poked each cracker with a fork. Bake the crackers for about 20 minutes (but watch them carefully!), until browned and crisp.

11 comments:

  1. It's been a long, long time since I've had cheese & crackers, what you made looks fantastic. I like that you added chives too, sounds yummo.

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  2. love the plate - I keep seeing crackers recipes I want to try, and find the cheese interesting - great savoury contribution to a vegan pot luck - I want to make both of these now

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  3. Thanks, Mandee! Have you found any decent gluten-free cracker options?

    Hey, thanks Lisa!

    Thank you, Johanna - the plate is a one-off op shop find. :-) I was surprised how easy the crackers were to make and bake, you might find that you can fit them in during one of Sylvia's longer naps!

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  4. They were both so yummy, I didn't think the crackers where bitter at all :-)

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  5. Thanks Kristy!

    Just happy to see them enjoyed, Pip. :-)

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  6. They were great! What is champagne vinegar? Cheeze and crackers is just about my favourite and I liked your cashew cheese much much more than slices of Cheezley.

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  7. Thanks, Miss T! The bottle doesn't provide much extra information but here's some from online. I guess it's like other wine vinegars, with a lighter taste that works well in this dip. I just picked it up at Safeway!

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  8. I finally got around visiting, how sweet! I must try that cashew cheese, it looks so inviting.

    I actually find oat flour sometimes slightly bitter-tasting, especially in sweet baking. Boiling oats probably helps since my oatmeal is never bitter! So if cutting down on turmeric doesn't work, maybe less oats and more wheat might just work.

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  9. Hi Anni - thanks for the note on the oat flour, I would not have expected that at all! We'll have to experiment further. :-)

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