Vegan Herb & Garlic Almond Cheese

Almond Cheese with Chevre Knife | thelittleredspoon.com

I found an AMAZING recipe for vegan Herb & Garlic Almond Cheese on the CookingWithPlants YouTube channel. I’ve keeping this one in my back pocket for a few weeks now and finally tracked down some blanched almonds so I could give this recipe a try.

Slice of Almond Cheese | theittleredspoon.com

You could also make this cheese with cashews but I wanted to try an almond cheese since I haven’t experimented with those yet. The results were really great! The cheese was nice and firm enough to slice without being too mushy, but it was also creamy and easy to spread. You could also melt this cheese, but if you ask me that defeats the point of adding the agar-agar powder and pouring it into molds. There are plenty of melty/saucey vegan cheese recipes out there. I was excited to try this one because it was sliceable and on the firmer side. And it turned out exactly how I imagined!

Almond Cheese Slice on Baguette | thelittleredspoon.com

I was having an intense cheese-craving and I knew I needed to make a nice fresh vegan cheese with some crispy toasted baguette slices to go with it. So that’s what I decided to spend my Saturday afternoon doing.

As any fellow vegan or lactose-intolerant person knows, sometimes you just can’t resist that craving for a GOOD cheese… A realistic, edible-on-its-own, “fancy” kind of cheese. You know what I’m talking about. Daiya has its purpose, but it does NOT fill that void in my life where delicious, tangy, creamy, fresh cheese used to be. Nut cheese does.

Almond Cheese Spread on Baguette | thelittleredspoon.com

Check out the recipe for this herb & garlic almond cheese on CookingWithPlants website or YouTube channel. Anja has some amazing cheese recipes for you to browse through and try for yourself. Her videos are really relaxing for some reason too, she really seems like a genuinely calm and friendly person that would be chill to hang out with.

The gist of the recipe is this:

  • Put all your ingredients in a blender and process. There aren’t too many ingredients but you will need agar-agar powder and tapioca starch. (These are basic ingredients for most other vegan cheese recipes too so you might as well stock up. If you can’t find either of these locally, just buy them from the internet.)
  • Boil in a pot or pan 5-10 minutes to activate the agar and thicken the cheese.
  • Pour into molds and set in the fridge ~30-60 minutes.
  • Remove from molds and roll edges into a mixture of spices or almond meal if desired. (Original recipe calls for herbs mixed with paprika, I used herbs mixed with almond meal instead. I think hemp seeds would make a good crust as well!)

Easy-peasy! Trust me, anyone could make this and you would NOT regret having a couple little wheels of this stuff in your fridge for when a snack craving hits. For me the recipe made enough to fill 3 small ramekins.

Almond Cheese Board Zoom | thelittleredspoon.com copy

Daiya cheese and other store-bought processed vegan cheeses are wonderful for pizza, tacos, scrambled tofu and other stuff, but when it comes to making an actual nice cheese board for lunch (you know, like when you’re heckin craving a Nuts For Cheese cheese board and charcuterie plate from Glassroots vegan restaurant in London, Ontario but you’re living 200km away in downtown Toronto), you’re better off making your own cheese. (Or buying Nuts for Cheese wedges. That works too. Definitely do that.)

Huge Cheese Plate | thelittleredspoon.com

(And if you thought that other picture was enough of a cheese board for me, you clearly don’t know how much I love a good cheese board… I ate this entire plate and half the cheese wheel myself and only shared one little baguette crisp with Mr. Spoon who, by the way, gave a solid thumbs-up for this recipe!)

Try this almond-based vegan cheese recipe and let me know what you think! I love the herb and garlic twist to this cheese and it really has a great texture. Leave a comment if you try this one, or another of Anja from CookingWithPlants recipes.

Vegan Buffalo Mozzarella Balls

Making these vegan “buffalo mozzarella” balls is actually really easy. The most tedious part of making this cheese is gathering a couple of ingredients you might not already have.

A lot of vegans are already aware of agar-agar powder (aka vegan gelatin). But another ingredient you might not already have in your pantry is tapioca flour. It has a similar texture to corn starch, but it adds a stretchiness that other thickeners like corn starch or potato starch won’t.

Caprese Salad Board | thelittleredspoon.com

The texture of these vegan mozzarella balls is actually very close to the real thing. It doesn’t have the exact same stringy texture when you pull them apart, but it does have that squishy, chewy, moist and tender texture of bocconcini.

You can decide how big to make these little cheese balls. I used two spoons to scoop the cheese mixture into the ice water bath, but they would probably turn out even cuter and more uniform if you used an ice cream scoop. Make big tennis ball-sized or egg-sized cheese or make little tiny grape-sized cheese. Make some of each! I think the smaller you make them, the cuter they turn out and the more surface area you have for drenching them in high quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Yum!

Mozzarella Balls | thelittleredspoon.com

Here you can see some of the naked cheese blobs I made on the left. They slice very well for making into a caprese salad with heirloom tomatoes and fresh-picked basil from the window sill. The agar-agar is great for firming them up without adding any weird taste or texture. They really are nice and soft and silky while still retaining their shape. You could easily cut them with the side of your fork but they’ll still hold up to being tossed with salad dressing. Basically, these aren’t gooey and they won’t melt.

If you’re looking for a good vegan mozzarella to slice and melt onto your next Margherita pizza, this isn’t the cheese you’re looking for. But if you’re (like me) looking for a cheese that’s so delicious on it’s own that you’re gobbling them up before you can even put them in the fridge, you’re going to want to try this recipe.

I used to buy tubs of baby bocconcini and snack on half of the container with my bare hands WHILE putting the rest of my groceries away. So you know I was glad to find this recipe for homemade vegan mozzarella balls on Miyoko Schinner’s Artisan Vegan Life website. This recipe was originally written for VegNews Fall 2012 edition and is an updated version of the recipe included in her vegan cheese cookbook Artisan Vegan Cheese which is definitely up next in my to-read list since making this wonderful mozzarella.

Caprese Salad Zoomed | thelittleredspoon.com

2.0 from 1 reviews
Vegan Buffalo Mozzarella Balls
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8 servings
 
Recipe from Miyoko Schinner's Artisan Vegan Cheese with a few of my notes added
Ingredients
  • 1 cup plain, unsweetened vegan yogurt (I used coconut, soy is also fine)
  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 3 – 8 hours and drained
  • ½ cup water and another ½ cup water for later
  • 1½ teaspoons sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons tapioca flour
  • 1 tablespoon agar powder
Instructions
  1. Blend the yogurt, soaked cashews, ½ cup of water and salt in a blender. Blend for 2+ minutes or as long as needed until completely emulsified.
  2. Transfer to a bowl or container covered loosely with a clean kitchen towel and set aside at room temperature 12 to 24 hours to culture. It should taste slightly tangy and salty at this stage.
  3. After culturing, whisk in the tapioca flour.
  4. In a medium saucepan, bring the remaining ½ cup of water to a bowl and whisk in the agar. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Simmer 3-4 minutes.
  5. Pour in the yogurt mixture and whisk well with a whisk. Continue to cook over medium heat while stirring with a wooden spoon 5-10+ minutes until the mixture is "smooth, glossy and stretchy." (Yes, you will become bored while sitting at the stove stirring constantly for 5-10 minutes. Play music or a podcast while you're doing this and do not step away or you will get lumps.)
  6. Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Using an ice cream scooper, drop balls of the cheese into the ice bath. Let sit for 20 to 30 minutes until firm.
  7. Store in the fridge in brine (salted water), olive oil, or vinaigrette and it will keep for 2 weeks or so.

Thank goodness for people like Miyoko Schinner who can come up with such creative vegan cheese-making methods! Stay tuned for more vegan cheeses because I’m sure this will be just the beginning of my homemade cheese-making journey.

Leave a comment below to let me know if you’ll be trying this recipe! This even got the thumbs up from my carnivore Italian boyfriend and (dairy) cheese-loving mum so don’t be afraid to try this one.

Caprese Salad Undressed | thelittleredspoon.com

Nuts For Cheese

Nuts For Cheese Board Spread | thelittleredspoon.com

Nuts For Cheese! A great vegan cheese company from London, Ontario. Find these ridiculously delicious cheeses at the Western Fair Farmer’s Market in London – and luckily you can also find them here in Toronto at Urban Acorn, Yam Chops and on the V Word Market website.

Margaret Coons is the owner of Nuts for Cheese and was the former chef at Veg Out on Richmond Street in London, which has been permanently closed and replaced by Glassroots vegan restaurant at the same location. (run by Chef Yoda who is also super awesome )

Nuts For Cheese Packaging | thelittleredspoon.com

We bought these cheeses 3/$25 at the Toronto Veg Food Festival 2016 which was on at the Harbourfront Centre from September 9-11 this past weekend.

Margaret was there giving away free samples of all the tasty cheese and was definitely drawing a big crowd. It was great to sample a couple different kinds (like the super “blue” – vegan blue cheese! how cool ) but I already knew before I even got to the festival I was going to have to make a beeline for this place and get some fresh flavourful cheese to bring home.

Nuts for Cheese Packaging Sticker | thelittleredspoon.com

Vegan, gluten-free and made from organic cashews

Nuts For Cheese Nutrition Label | thelittleredspoon.com

Each box also had an ingredients list and nutrition information sticker.

Nuts For Cheese Brie Packaging | thelittleredspoon.com

I just love the cute packaging! Individually wrapped in cheese paper and closed with a sticker, then tucked in an adorable wedge-shaped box. So cute, I felt like I was unwrapping a delicious Christmas present.

Nuts For Cheese Chipotle Cheddar | thelittleredspoon.com

Ta-da! Looks so tasty I could just bite into it! Love that chipotle smell that just hits you right when you open this one.

Nuts For Cheese Board | thelittleredspoon.com

Step 1: assemble a fancy cheese plate like you used to do when you were a cheese-obsessed vegetarian.

Nuts For Cheese Brie Sliced | thelittleredspoon.com

Step 2: demolish said cheese plate like the hungry cheese-loving vegan you now are!

(This may remind you of that time I had a hella good cheeseboard at Glassroots – that’s cause it’s the same cheese! Go try a cheese board of your own there and get a vegan glass of wine to go with it. And post pics cause I want to eat that with my eyezzz )

Nuts For Cheese Brie on Cracker | thelittleredspoon.com

Oh god, so creamy….

To the people who are like “wah but I could never go vegan I’d miss cheese too much!” – seriously? You don’t think you could eat this? Now you CAN go vegan because of fucking wonderful people like Margaret who make the world a better place with their completely cruelty-free vegan cheeses. Hallelujah!

Nuts For Cheese Board Slicing Cheddar | thelittleredspoon.com

Chipotle “Cheddar” flavoured wedge – “Bold and spicy. Marbled with crushed chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.”

Ohhhhh yesssss. Get that chipotle adobo goodness in my mouth…

Nuts For Cheese Cheddar Spread on Cracker | thelittleredspoon.com

Words are failing me right now. I hope these pictures are helping you to understand how fricking tasty all these cheeses were. Because I literally can’t even.

SO. GOOD.

ALL OF THEM. WERE AMAZING.

AND I NEED TO BUY THEM AGAIN.

This shit’s on another level, people. This ain’t no nasty Daiya. This is the real deal for real fancy cheese lovers. You could serve these to anyone and they would not complain.

Nuts for Cheese Board Overhead | thelittleredspoon.com

Make an incredible fancy cheese board of your own with Nuts For Cheese vegan cashew cheeses and impress your friends! Let me know what you think of these (and other) wonderful dairy-free cheeses in the comments.

Glassroots

These pictures don’t do the food justice…

Glassroots Cheese Plate | thelittleredspoon.com

Mr. Spoon and I were in London, ON earlier this month and were super excited to try out the coolest new restaurant in town – Glassroots! We started off with a cheese plate and charcuterie platter to share. These cheeses were fricking amazing. They were all totally vegan Nuts For Cheese cashew cheeses! When you go vegan you sometimes really miss just munching out on a big plate of cheese, pickles and bread. Well at Chef Yoda’s restaurant, you can do that! Everything on this board tasted incredible. I still have dreams about eating this cheese board. And you better believe I’m going back in a few months to do it again..

That combination of soft, creamy cheese on a crisp toasted baguette… Mmm.. You just have to try for yourself.

Glassroots Charcuterie Plate | thelittleredspoon.com

The charcuterie included (clockwise from 12) house-made red lentil pepperoni, baguette toasts, pickled beets, pickled garlic greens, mustard, field roast sausage and a nice green mushroom and garlic pate. Everything was so delicious. Even Mr. Spoon (a definite meat-eater) who tends to be very discerning about vegan meat whole-heartedly approved of the pepperoni and sausage. (And everything else on these boards)

Glassroots Charcuterie | thelittleredspoon.com

Those pickles tho That sausage I’m drooling just re-living the moments when I was eating this tasty food. Take me back!  I wish this restaurant existed back when I still lived in London so I could eat there all the time.

Glassroots Beet Burger | thelittleredspoon.com

I ordered the beet burger which came with a candy-striped beet salad on the side. So good! So juicy, so smothered in tasty vegan toppings…. Oh man, now I want to eat this all over again, too! This picture doesn’t even slightly capture the deliciousness here, guys. I wish I could have done it justice but I was too excited to dig it to be fiddling around with my camera for too long. The bun was heavenly soft. The patty was the perfect texture, moist and juicy and not totally crumbling to bits. (like when I make my veggie burgers lol) Topped with more beets and greens and dripping with tasty vegan mayo. It’s like being in vegan heaven!!!

Glassroots BBQ Plate | thelittleredspoon.com

Mr. Spoon ordered the BBQ plate which was creamy vegan potato salad, grilled cauliflower steak, cauliflower buffalo wings, and grilled stuffed cheesy zucchini. Oh man! I wished I had enough room in my stomach to eat both of our dinners! And then polish off the rest of the menu! Holy smokes everything was so tasty and actually healthy! We both ate a lot and didn’t feel like bloated pieces of junk after. I’m telling you now, book this place for valentine’s day or a romantic special occasion and you will be so happy you did. Because you can eat tasty, healthy food to your heart’s content and not feel like you need to pull on your sweatpants after dinner. I mean I don’t know if you can tell from these pictures, but you can tell from eating the food here that everything is made with so much love and attention to detail. It’s amazing.

Glassroots Shortcake Cookie | thelittleredspoon.com

So not being too disgustingly full (side-note, I’ve been asked this question before and YES vegans can get disgustingly full on unhealthy junk food just like omnivores) meant we could order dessert! Yay. This was awesome because the dessert for the week we visited was strawberry shortcake cookies piled high with vegan meringue and delicious juicy ripe strawberries.

Glassroots Strawberry Shortcake Dessert | thelittleredspoon.com

O. M. G. Strawberry heaven

I don’t usually go in for desserts but this was the good stuff. So light, fresh, airy and juicy. It was sweet and tart and fluffy and the dense shortbread cookie was just right. Amazing combination.

Chef Yoda’s food is out of this world. You will feel so welcomed and comfortable here. You can even bring your dog to the patio outside! Which means Shaggy will definitely be coming for a visit one day.

They even have a ton of amazing vegan wine options and a friendly sommelier to guide you through them. (Surprised that not all wine is vegan? It’s true!) Mike Fish, Chef Yoda’s partner and co-owner of the restaurant will help you find your new favourite vegan wine.

I seriously can’t recommend this restaurant enough. You need to go here. Now.
Like, if you don’t live in London, get in a car and drive there. Not joking. And when you do go there, send me pictures of all the amazing food you’re eating so I can fantasize that I’m eating there, too.

Glassroots Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chicken Taco Soup

Chicken Taco Soup Napkin | thelittleredspoon.com

Chicken Taco Soup…. aka my favourite excuse to eat nachos for dinner.

Okay, so, it’s not technically chicken. But I always make this taco soup with some kind of vegan “chick’n” and it just wouldn’t be the same soup without it.

I’ve tried various vegan chicken strips over the years and I have to say, Tofurky’s Slow-Roasted, Lightly Seasoned Chick’n is the best by far. For a long time I would use Yves Veggie Chick’n Tenders since that was the only brand of chicken strips available to me. Now I live and work in downtown Toronto where there is a beautiful, bountiful Whole Foods full of delicious vegan options nearby that stocks tasty meat substitutes like Tofurky Chick’n and Tofurky Pepp’roni Pockets (uhhhhhh vegan hot pockets??? YES PLEASE). Not to make this sound like a Tofurky commercial (I’m not getting paid for this) but dang, they are one awesome brand. I have yet to find something made by them that I didn’t love.
Chicken Taco Soup Mise en Place | thelittleredspoon.com

This recipe is literally so easy. It’s one of the main reasons I keep coming back to it again and again. The other reason being, you know, the nachos. Really all you need to throw this together is a couple of cans, a packet of taco seasoning and some toppings.

Chicken Taco Soup in Pot | thelittleredspoon.com

My vegan version of this recipe is based on this recipe that I’ve been using for years.

Chicken Taco Soup
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 5-6 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can mixed beans (or legumes of your choice)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (aka strained tomatoes)
  • 1 jar passata
  • ½ cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 package low sodium taco seasoning
  • 1 package vegan chick'n strips
  • optional: 1 can diced green chilis, handful of baby spinach
  • optional toppings: vegan sour cream, vegan cheese shreds, crushed tortilla chips, green onion
Instructions
  1. Dice and saute onion. Cook until soft and translucent. (I bring them to almost caramelized but this is optional)
  2. Add 1 can black beans, 1 can mixed beans (or chili beans, or chickpeas, or whatever you like. I used chickpeas here but pinto beans, kidney beans and black eyed peas also work well), 1 can diced tomatoes with liquid, 1 jar passata, frozen corn kernels and package of taco seasoning.
  3. In a separate pan, cook vegan chick'n strips in oil until golden brown and slightly crispy. I like to pull them apart into even smaller shreds with my fingers before cooking - you might be surprised how realistic the texture can be with vegan products, it really is similar to shredded chicken!
  4. Add cooked chick'n strips and cook on medium-low heat covered, approximately 20 minutes. You can cook longer (you could definitely make this in a slow cooker) or eat as soon as its thrown together if you're hungry. Great either way. (I added a handful of baby spinach when it was done cooking for a nice dash of green but you could also add green onion, cilantro or leave out the green all together).
  5. Top with vegan sour cream, vegan cheese shreds and crushed tortilla chips.

 

Chicken Taco Soup Chips | thelittleredspoon.com

So what do you think? Ready to try this incredibly easy, tasty soup? It makes the perfect weeknight dinner because it’s so simple to throw together, and you’ll definitely want the leftovers for lunch the next day.

Chicken Taco Soup | thelittleredspoon.com

Just pack your lunch-nachos separately so they don’t get soggy. And then be prepared to fend off your hungry co-workers who are totally jealous that you’re using nachos to scoop food into your mouth instead of a boring old spoon like some basic person.

Chicken Taco Soup Served with Nachos | thelittleredspoon.com

Seriously, did I mention the nachos?

Drop a comment to let me know if you make this recipe. It’s seriously one of my favourite, most-used recipes EVER and I’m really excited to share it with you guys.

Vegan Mac and Cheese Sauce

Cheesy Noodles in Bowl | thelittleredspoon.comYou ready for this? Totally VEGAN cheese sauce to smother your favourite kind of noodles in!! And not made of some weird chemical goop, either! It’s made of VEGGIES Cheese Sauce Ingredients | thelittleredspoon.comGot this stuff lying around your kitchen? Or, at least most of it? Then you can make a pretty awesome cheese sauce. Even if you substitute the coconut milk for almond/soy milk and omit the cashews, you’ll still be able to whip this up. And, if you don’t have nutritional yeast, you’ll probably still be okay but it does add a certain cheesy taste and some very important B vitamins. The turmeric is mostly optional too but it makes the sauce nice and yellow. The carrots are really what make everything nice and cheesy orange.

Cheese Sauce Chopped Veggies | thelittleredspoon.comStart by soaking your 1/2 cup raw cashews for at least 30 minutes. Chop up 2 small (or 1 medium) potatoes, 1 small/medium carrot, and 1/2 a medium size onion.

Veggies Boiling | thelittleredspoon.com

Get the veggies boiling in a pot of water. Cook until they’re soft. Depending how small you cut them, it will be around 20-30 minutes.

Cashews In Blender | thelittleredspoon.com
Once the veggies are cooked and the cashews are done soaking, get them in your blender.

Liquids and Spices in Blender | thelittleredspoon.com

Add the liquids and spices.

Cheese Spices | thelittleredspoon.com

Clockwise from 12: fine sea salt, nutritional yeast, cayenne, paprika, turmeric, garlic powder, onion powder.

Blended Cheese Sauce | thelittleredspoon.com

Blend well. Use the liquefy/highest setting on your blender for 90 seconds or so. Blend longer than you think you might need to, basically. If the cheese sauce isn’t coming together, you can add a couple of tablespoons of the boiled veggie water.

Cheese Sauce in Blender | thelittleredspoon.com

It will be nice and yellow! Just like the boxed stuff, except way healthier.

Dripping Cheese Sauce | thelittleredspoon.com

Warm and cheesy Noodles Boiling | thelittleredspoon.com

Speaking of the veggie water – don’t throw it out! Scoop the vegetables out using a slotted spoon and keep the water to cook your noodles in. Cook them slightly under and then drain the water. Add the cheese sauce back to the pot and let the noodles cook for the final 2-3 minutes in the cheese sauce.

Mac and Cheese in the Pot | thelittleredspoon.com

Oh man! So good.

Recipe measurements adapted from here – originally I saw this recipe in a YouTube video posted below.

Vegan Mac and Cheese Sauce
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 2½ cups pasta
  • 1 cup diced potatoes (yellow or russet)
  • ¼ cup peeled diced carrots
  • ⅓ cup chopped onion
  • ¾ cup water (from the boiled veggies)
  • ½ cup raw unsalted cashews (soaked at least 30 minutes or overnight)
  • ¼ cup coconut milk (substitute any vegan milk if needed)
  • 2 Tbsp (or more) Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika (more for garnish if desired)
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne (more or less to taste)
Instructions
  1. Bring several cups of water to a boil in a large pot.
  2. Get cashews soaking in water and chop vegetables.
  3. Boil vegetables until soft, about 20-30 minutes.
  4. Add boiled vegetables to blender with slotted spoon and keep veggie water for cooking pasta.
  5. Add soaked cashews and remaining ingredients to blender and blend until smooth.
  6. Cook pasta in veggie water until about 2-3 minutes undercooked.
  7. Drain pasta and add pasta and cheese sauce back to pot, cook for remaining 2-3 minutes.
  8. Serve immediately, or spoon into baking dish, cover with bread crumbs and melted vegan butter and cook until golden brown.

Fork or Spoon | thelittleredspoon.com
So, what do you think? Do you eat your mac and cheese with a fork or a spoon? Personally I like to make mine very soupy and use a spoon. With these mufalda corta noodles and how thick the sauce came out, a fork seemed to work best this time. I’ll definitely be experimenting with how runny I want to make the sauce next time (and there will be a next time…)
Close up Noodles | thelittleredspoon.com

Do you like cheesy noodles? Let me know in the comments! Did you have everything on hand to prepare this recipe or did you swap some ingredients? Nutritional Yeast is one of those things that a lot of vegans use frequently, but not a lot of omnivores know about. I bought mine at a local specialty/health food kind of store called Fresh&Wild at Spadina and King. It’s not super cheap but it will last you a long time, is very versatile, has a TON of B vitamins and is great on popcorn. Check it out! Get some for yourself and it will grow on you – I promise!

Macaroni Served | thelittleredspoon.com

Check out this video to see where I got the inspiration! These guys have some great videos on their channel – like a 2-part series on how to make the entire Taco Bell menu at home! Sick! Not all their videos are vegan but they’re definitely accessible and fun to follow along with.