Category Archives: Vegan Dairy

Cooking Butter

Vegan Cooking Butter

Special equipment: Immersion/hand held blender

Time: 10 minutes plus 1 hour chilling

For a very long time, I ate margarine. Vegan margarine, but margarine none the less. Then I learned about palm oil, and that margarine is carcinogenic. I never loved the taste on bread, but I used it in baking. Once I gave it up, I thought I would never be able to bake again. In fact, I didn’t, for almost two years. I  know, I know, it’s possible to bake some things with oil instead,  but what about shortbread, butter cake and snickerdoodles? They need a solid fat that tastes good.

Then, I discovered something wonderful. Home made vegan butter. A big shout out to Matt from veganbaking.net for his incredible groundbreaking recipe – my recipe is largely based on his with a few modifications to better suit my tastes and purposes.

This is not the butter I use for serving at the table, or for making baked goods that are all about the butter, such as croissants. For those I use my cultured butter, which I will get around to posting soon. I make such large batches I haven’t run out since I started this blog. I also include xanthan gum in table butter, as per the veganbaking.net recipe, but I find it’s no good for cooking because it can become chewy when beaten and doesn’t melt as well. I once tried to make buttercream frosting with my table butter, and ended up with a very stretchy ball crawling up my beaters.

However, this cooking butter is infinitely better tasting than margarine and you can absolutely spread it on toast under your vegemite or jam if you’re out of table butter.

I use this butter for cakes, cookies, biscuits, slices, pastry, breads, gravy and frosting/icing for fantastic and delicious results. It takes less than 10 minutes to make, and you can keep it in the freezer for up to a year or in the fridge for several weeks. If you avoid palm oil, hydrogenated fats or don’t like margarine, this will change your life.

*Note: This butter is made from refined coconut oil, which is just coconut oil without any taste or aroma. It still melts at room temperature, or between your fingers, more slowly than straight coconut oil but definitely doesn’t hold up to very hot weather. If you need a butter that CAN hold up to summer heat, then replace the coconut oil with Copha. Copha is hydrogenated refined coconut oil, which means that it is a solid at room temperature.

 Ingredients

210ml plain homemade soymilk, Bonsoy or similar (if using homemade unsweetened add 1/2 tsp sugar)

2 1/4tsp lemon juice

1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt for unsalted butter, or 2 1/4 tsp for salted butter

465ml melted refined coconut oil* (see note above)

45ml canola oil

3 tsp liquid soy or sunflower lecithin

Method
1. Melt the coconut oil/cocoa butter and place into the beaker of a hand blender. Mix with the canola oil and allow to cool to room temperature.
2. Once the oil is cool, add the remaining ingredients to the beaker. Blend until creamy and emulsified, approximately 1 minute.
3. Immediately pour into large silicone ice cube trays (or even one big container if that’s all you have) and place in the freezer to set. You can use the butter or move it to the fridge after an hour.
healthy nacho cheese

Healthy Nacho Cheese Melt

When people started telling me about a cheese made from potatoes and carrots, I have to confess that I turned up my nose. It sounded a bit like the awful vegan ‘cheeses’ I encountered 20 years ago, long before the days of home made vegan cultured cheeses. However, with so many rave reviews, I had to at least give it a go.

I found a recipe and I have to admit, it wasn’t awful. However, it tasted far too much of nutritional yeast, and it was more like thick soup than cheese. For me, a cheese sauce needs to be stretchy, and bubble and brown under the grill.

Still, I loved that the carrot and potato cheese was allergy friendly (soy free, nut free, gluten free) and lower in calories, and also doesn’t taste like anything other than cheese. I looooove cashews, but they still taste a little like cashews no matter what you do. Also, this is much cheaper than a nut based cheese sauce and faster than making your own soymilk. So, I adapted the recipe to give it the right texture and perfect flavour.

For things like enchiladas, nachos and corn chips, I actually prefer this to my cashew and soy cheese melt recipes. It’s less rich, which is a good thing when everything else is spicy and fried. It’s also great when you want healthy nachos, such as those shown in the picture, that taste even better than the unhealthy version. Plus, it’s nice and yellow and really, really delicious.

Ingredients

*measurement are for US cups and spoons*

1 cup diced peeled potato

1/2 cup diced carrot

1 cup cold water

1/4 cup neutral tasting oil (safflower, canola, rice bran etc)

3 tbsp nutritional yeast

4 tbsp tapioca starch

1 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

1 tsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, or to taste

Method

1. Bring some water to boil in a small heavy based saucepan. Add the carrot and potato and boil until tender. Drain.

2. Place the cup of cold water, potatoes, carrots, nutritional yeast, garlic and onion powder, salt and oil into the saucepan and blend with an immersion blender until totally smooth. Alternatively you can blend it all in an upright blender and then pour into the saucepan. Test the seasonings and adjust to your preference, then whisk in the tapioca starch.

3. Place the saucepan over a low heat and stir constantly until thick, smooth, glossy and stretchy and the starch has completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice/vinegar. Serve warm, preferably immediately after making, but you can reheat it on the stove.

parmesan sprinkle

Vegan Parmesan Sprinkle

Makes about a heaped cup

I’m not sure who to credit with the idea of whizzing nuts, salt and nutritional yeast up in a blender to make vegan parmesan, because everyone is doing it.

This is hardly a recipe, just the way I make it. I use it in a lot of recipes so have put it up here as a reference. I sprinkle it very generously on pasta, use it in white sauces, in savoury ‘ricotta’ dishes, quiches, meatballs, arancini and so on.

It takes less than 5 minutes and can be stored in the cupboard for ages. If you don’t have a food processor, it could be done in a mortar and pestle.

Ingredients

1 cup raw cashews

1/3 cup nutritional yeast

1 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp garlic powder

Method

Put everything into a food processor and whiz until fine. Store in airtight container or jar in the cupboard (or fridge, doesn’t matter).

Oh, and if you’re wondering about that mountain of vegan bolognese in the background, yes I did make that all for myself, but realised how ridiculous a portion size it was a third of the way in. At least now I have lunch in the fridge for the next couple of days.

 

cashew cheese melt

Stretchy, Gooey Cashew Cheese Melt

This cheese melt recipe is the only one you will ever need. Seriously, it’s delicious, gooey, melty, cheesy goodness and you can use it wherever you need melted cheese: topping lasagna, cannelloni, enchiladas, potato bake, in a toastie, on a quicky-pizza, stirred into refried beans, you name it and you can use this recipe.

I actually made this by accident when I didn’t have time to make soy milk from scratch to make my usual cheese sauce recipe. I had some cashew cream in the fridge, because you should always have cashew cream in the fridge, used that instead and the results were amazing. The cashew milk thickens as it cooks, so you get extra stretchy and firmer cheese, which is fantastic for when you don’t have time to make a block cheese using carrageenan. It bubbles and browns and makes you wonder how you ever lived without it all those years.

This is my basic naked recipe, but you can also add onion, chilli, spices, garlic, wine, herbs or miso to get different kinds of cheese flavours.

This stores in the fridge for at least a couple of days, just reheat it before using or spread it on cold if it’s going in the oven. I live with vegan cheese fiends, so if anyone manages to test the shelf life beyond this without eating it all, I’d love to know how long it keeps.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups thick cashew cream

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup canola oil

8tbsp tapioca starch

1.5 -2 tsp sea salt (to taste)

1 – 3tbsp nutritional yeast (1 for mozzarella, 2 or 3 for nachos or cheddar cheese)

2-3tsp fresh lemon juice (or to taste), OR apple cider vinegar if you prefer

Method

1. In a small, heavy based saucepan, whisk together the cashew cream, water, salt and nutritional yeast. Once smooth, add the oil and tapioca starch and whisk until totally smooth and combined

2. Place the saucepan over a medium flame on the smallest burner of your stove top and heat, whisking constantly. When the mixture gets thick and starts to form lumps, reduce the heat to low and swap the whisk for a firm spatula. Continue stirring vigorously until the mixture is really thick and the starch has cooked out, around 10 minutes. The lumps will disappear.

It’s not an exact science – it could take more or less than 10 minutes, so just taste a little when you think you’re getting close. If it tastes powdery, keep cooking. The mixture will be quite thick long before the starch cooks out. When it is done, a little of the mixture lifted out of the pot will set into a melty ball on the spatula, and you will have a gooey mass of melted cheese that makes you want to put your face in it. Don’t actually do this, it will burn you.

instructional cashew cheese

3. As soon as you can no longer taste the starch, remove the pot from the heat. Add 2 tsp lemon juice and mix in vigorously. Taste and add more lemon juice if desired to get the amount of tang you want. Serve warm.

I spread it on some bread and put it under the grill. Just look at that gooey goodness.

cashew cheese melt with bite

Basic Cashew Cream

A staple so simple, and so widely published, it hardly seems worth posting. However, I refer to cashew cream as an ingredient in a lot of my recipes (it’s got magical powers), so here it is.

Ingredients

1 cup raw cashews, soaked 6+ hours

1/2 cup cold water, plus more as needed

Method

Place cashews and water into a high speed blender. Blend until totally smooth. Add more water as needed to get the consistency you want (my recipes will specify ‘single cream’ or ‘thickened cream’).

Can’t be bothered measuring or don’t want to make a whole cup? Put soaked cashews in blender and add just enough water to barely cover the top of the cashews. Blend. Yep. It’s that easy. You can now make all the creamy pastas, soups, mousses and anything else you want to eat that’s got cream in it.

 

Porcini pot-3

Olive Oil ‘Butter’

 

A recipe so simple it can hardly be called a recipe, but so useful to have in the fridge it had to be included here. I always have some on hand to make pastry or to spread on toast or jaffles.

Solid olive oil is much easier to work with when grilling porous breads such as sourdough, as you can spread it on evenly with a knife. It is also very useful when making garlic bread, as it can be mushed up with roasted garlic and spread on like garlic butter.

This is just the basic method for making olive oil butter, but you could of course infuse the oil with whatever you wanted. If you are using this as a margarine alternative, a pinch of salt can be a nice addition also.

 

 

Ingredients

Olive Oil (whichever kind you like)

Method

1. Pour olive oil into a freezer and fridge  safe container with a lid

2. Put the container, with the lid on, into the freezer for 3 hours or until solid

3. Move the container to the fridge to keep the olive oil at spreadable consistency

 It’s really that easy.