Almond lemon vegan cheese

Alex has been experimenting with vegan cheeses over the last couple of months, using different nuts, flavourings and thickeners. And this almond lemon cheese is an absolute winner!
It’s tangy and satisfying, and makes a great sandwich. You can eat it straight away, but if you keep it a couple of days the texture firms up and it can be grated. So good on a pizza!


Almond lemon vegan cheese

100 g almonds (skin on), blanched for 5 minutes and drained
100 ml cold water
juice of 2 lemons
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp lactic acid or 1/2 tsp vinegar
2 tsp agar
50 ml water
30 g tapioca flour

Put the blanched almonds, 100 ml cold water, lemon juice, salt and lactic acid in a blender (the higher powered the better!), and blend until all of the ingredients have amalgamated and formed an almost smooth paste.
Fold in the tapioca flour, making sure it’s all incorporated.
Heat the 50 ml of water in a small saucepan on a low heat and whisk in the agar. Keep whisking until it forms a thick gel. Turn the heat up a little.
Tip the almond mixture into the agar and beat like fury until it thickens, goes glossy, and comes away from the sides of the pan.
Tip into a suitable mold, we use a tupperware type of pot, 12 x 7 x 6 cm. Cool as quickly as you can, it will firm up.
It can be eaten straight away, it’s delicious, but the flavour develops and the texture improves if you store it.
To do this, turn the cheese out of the mold, wrap in kitchen paper and store in an airtight tub. Change the paper every day, and it will last at least 4 days.

By A. and E.


Creamy courgette and bean layer bake

This is the last one in my trio of recipes from one batch of rich savoury beans! We ate it cold for lunch at work last week, and it made great filling meal without being heavy. The vegan cream cheese is so simple, and adds a lovely richness without being cloying like the dairy version can be.

The courgette is marinated before baking in a very simple water based mixture including cassia bark and oregano, for a little hint of moussaka flavour.

The vegan cream cheese does need to be started a few hours before the rest of the recipe, but it takes only a couple of minutes to set it straining. I used a coffee filter rather than muslin this time, which worked a treat!

When making this recipe I had, for the first time ever I think, a bitter courgette… It didn’t spoil the dish thank goodness, but has reminded me to always taste vegetables before cooking with them!

Creamy courgette and bean layer bake

Creamy courgette and bean layer bake

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Jalapeno poppers

Alex very kindly gave me the tomato and basil cashew cream cheese he wrote about here. It’s so delicious! I thought as well as eating it on crackers (and ahem… straight from the pot with a spoon…), it would be fun to make some jalapeno poppers, the creamy cheese is just perfect with some chilli heat!

I used a little of the coriander and tomato sauce I made for this soup under the cheese, but you could either leave it out or use a little chopped tomato and a few coriander leaves.

Jalapeno poppers

Jalapeno poppers

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Vegan yoghurt ‘cheese’ balls with spiced butterbean pickle

These yoghurt ‘cheese’ balls are so much fun! They’re inspired by my mum who often makes labheh as a party snack, and was telling me that she’d had success with a soy yoghurt version. Mine aren’t labneh as such, as I’ve skipped the steeping in oil step, but you could do that if you liked.

To go with the cool cheese and spiced or herbal coatings, I made another quick pickle salad, this time with fragrant spices in a sweet vinegar pickling juice. The combination is gorgeous!

The cheese balls would be great on crackers or toast too, and you could use any soft herb to roll them in. Black pepper would be lovely too.

Vegan yoghurt 'cheese' balls!

Vegan yoghurt ‘cheese’ balls!

makes 10 small cheese balls, the salad serves 2

for the ‘cheese’ balls

500 ml plain soy yoghurt

salt and pepper

3 tbsp chopped coriander

3 tbsp anardana powder

for the spiced butterbean pickle

1 400 g tin butterbeans

1 tomato, sliced

6 mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 stick celery, sliced

75 ml white balsamic vinegar

75 ml water

4 cardamom pods, seeds only

1 tsp coriander seeds

1/4 tsp fennel seeds

2 bay leaves

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp sugar

To make the soy yoghurt ‘cheese’ balls, first mix the salt and pepper into the yoghurt. Then line a sieve sat over a bowl with muslin and tip the yoghurt in.

Gather the muslin gently around the mixture, taking care not to squeeze! Leave to strain for 24 hours.

Carefully roll the cheese into balls (it will be quite soft!), and then roll in either the herbs or spice to coat.

For the salad, roast the fennel and coriander seeds for a minute or two in a dry pan and then grind together with the cardamom seeds. Tip the spices back in to the pan and add the vinegar, water, bay leaves, salt and sugar and give it a a good stir. Pop the vegetables in with the pickling liquid, mix well and cover the pan. Bring to a simmer and then turn off the heat. Leave the vegetables to cool in the liquid, (with the lid still on the pan).

Spiced butterbean pickle

Spiced butterbean pickle

By E.