Vegan Cashew Cheese recipe and book recommendation

I am intolerant to most dairy so Iove to find ways to still be able to eat cheese!

I love this book Artisan Vegan Cheeses by Miyoko Schinner

I’ll share here a photo montage I shared as a story on Instagram of the process:

This last step with blending in the oil is what gives your cheese a cheesy texture when kept cool in the fridge, much like a brie consistency. The nutritional yeast adds a cheesy flavour.

Chaga- A medicinal mushroom, “Would you like a cup of mushroom coffee?”

Mushroom coffee? This question is often met with a look of suspicion or disgust, but happily it is also becoming more mainstream.

I’ve been drinking mushroom tea- or if brewed dark and bitter, I like to call it mushroom coffee.

How I make it:

The chaga mushroom is hard and woody. It is best to break it up into smaller chunks or a powder, although some prefer to use it as small chunks, maybe the size of an average coin.

I do not tend to follow any exact recipe but I might add a tablespoon of powdered or dried mushroom to about 500ml of water.

I might throw some other medicinal mushrooms or herbs such as turkey tail mushrooms into the brew at the boiling and simmering stage, or maybe birch polypore, reishi, artist conk, lions mane, dandelion root, ginger, liquorice or whatever I have on hand. Or keep it simple and just use chaga or any one of these ingredients.

It can be decocted -brought to the boil and then simmered for at least 20 minutes, (or for much longer depending on if you’re sitting next to your warm stove for long stretches of time!) I then strain out the hard and woody mushroom material and drink the liquid. (Don’t toss the mushroom material, it can be re-boiled many times over until it loses its properties.)

I mix it with my milk of choice and a spoon of honey sometimes.

Alternatively I use this medicinal mushroom broth to add to miso soup, as a stock for any other soups or sauces. I use this broth to cook my rice in. Or I mix some of this into my ‘real’ coffee. Get it into you any way you can! You could also add some to your favourite smoothie recipe.

This mushroom has a lot of reported positive health benefits. It is full of anti-oxidants and has been reputed to have anti-cancer benefits among many other things. But beyond all of that, I find it a delicious way to get medicinal mushrooms into my wellness regime and is as satisfying a process as brewing a cuppa coffee.

Here is a link to some dried chaga chunks in my shop should you like to try this for yourself: https://www.hipsandhaws.com/product/wild-chaga-mushroom-medicinal-mushrooms/

Medicinal Mushroom Mousse Dessert

MUSHROOM HOT CHOCOLATE/ CHOCOLATE MOUSSE RECIPE

This recipe was given to me by Barbara Faibish and I can confirm that it is a delicious way to get medicinal mushrooms into you!

50g cacao butter

2T coconut oil

3T cacao powder

3T coconut palm sugar , or sweetener of choice

2t mushroom powder of your choice (I used lions mane and cordyceps)

1/2C cashews soaked for a few hours and then drained

dash of  vanilla extract

pinch of sea salt

2C warm water or mushroom tea (mushroom tea of course! I used a decoction of Turkey Tail, Chaga, and reishi- but you should use whatever you have!)

Melt the cacao butter and coconut oil slowly in a bain marie.  Add the melted butter and oil to a blender with the rest of the ingredients and 2C warm water or mushroom tea.

Blend until smooth.  Taste and adjust to your liking.  You can add more sweetener, more mushrooms, more cacao.

This make a comforting and warming drink.  Alternatively pour into ramekins, set in the fridge and you have a delicious chocolate mousse dessert.

This mousse is delicious as is, perhaps dusted with some cacao powder, but to bring it to another level, top with coconut milk kefir or yoghurt and sprinkle with bee pollen and maybe a borage flower or two

If you would prefer this as a hot drink, I would recommend halving the oils in the recipe.

How to make the best homemade yogurt

Homemade yogurt recipe
After many failed homemade yogurt attempts I was delighted to finally discover this method.
Process:
  • Heat the milk to at least 180°F/82°C.
  • Heat milk slowly and gently, with frequent stirring to avoid scalding.
  • It is possible to omit this heating step and make raw yogurt, never heating the milk above 115°F/46°C. But raw yogurt will never be as thick as yogurt from milk that has been heat-treated.
  • Holding the milk at this high temperature, with constant stirring, will result in evaporation and concentration of milk, further contributing to a thicker end product.
  • After heating the milk, you must allow it to cool before adding the starter culture.
  • Once the temperature reaches 115°F/46°C, remove a cup of the milk into a cup or bowl, and stir in starter. I use 1 tablespoon of starter per quart/liter.
  • Thoroughly mix the starter with the cup of heated milk; once it is fully dissolved, mix it back into the full pot of heated milk. Then transfer cultured milk to preheated jars, seal, and place in the incubation chamber, leaving it to ferment undisturbed.
  • Incubated at 115°F/46°C, yogurt will coagulate within about three hours, but if left too long it can easily curdle. I prefer to ferment it a bit more slowly at a slightly lower temperature, four to eight hours at a more forgiving 110°F/43°C. Even longer fermentations can yield more tangy flavor and fuller digestion of lactose.
My Tips:
-My favourite live commercial starter is Mossfield’s organic yogurt. I buy this and then freeze it into smaller portions.
-Less is more! I use only 1 tablespoon of starter to every litre of milk. Many recipes recommend a cup or more. I’ve found better results and a thicker yogurt with less.
-I find a huge difference in flavour of the finished yogurt from using different commercial bio-live yogurts. Some are more tart, some more smooth, etc.
-Use the best quality milk you can find. Full fat is always best. Organic. It need not be raw milk though as you are effectively pasteurizing it before you inoculate it with the new bacteria.
I personally do a large batch at a time and fill a 5 litre cast iron Le Creuset heavy pot with the milk. It helps to hold the heat in, and doesn’t burn the milk on the bottom easily. I then put this into my food dehydrator to incubate, keeping the temperature at around 110°F/43°C for 6-8 hours.
If you don’t have a large food dehydrator, it isn’t necessary and you can use an insulated cooler, a thermos, an oven with just the pilot light on, etc. Many other options available online.

How to make milk kefir

Basic How to make milk kefir
Add 1-2 tablespoons of milk kefir grains to a litre of milk. Or less grains for less milk. Use the best quality milk you can find. Organic full fat cow’s or goat’s milk is best.
Your grains will multiply quickly with pasteurised milk, so give away or compost the excess grains. Or experiment with them!
I always keep some excess grains in a jam jar in the fridge covered in milk, with a secure lid. In the fridge the cold slows down the fermentation and I change the milk once a week. I strain out the liquid kefir and drink it and cover again in fresh milk. This way I’ve got some grains backed up should anything happen to the ones in use!
If I am not ready to make or use the freshly made kefir I add it to a litre bottle in the fridge. I top this up each day with the kefir I’ve made until I am ready to use it. But a good idea would be to make the amount you or your family would like to consume each day.
I use milk kefir most often:
-to soak my porridge oats the night before breakfast the next day. I add some dried cherries, coconut, banana, or maple syrup.
-to soak in flour for pancakes the next day.
-to use in a smoothie
-to make kefir ice cream
-to make kefir cheese
-as a face mask mixed with oats and clay
Although many people seem to like just taking a shot of it when needed, or mixing with juice.
I have also dehydrated some grains to preserve them and have them as back up. They are easy to re-constitute.

Fermented Mung Bean Pancakes

I can’t stop raving about this recipe. Its become a staple in my diet. Its so healthy and versatile and once fermented it seems to keep very well in the fridge. Perfect then to mix with whatever herbs or veg I have to hand and cook up!

Most of the time spent it in soaking and waiting and fermenting. So this isn’t a recipe you can cook for dinner tonight unless you’ve started the process 2 days ago.

Give it a try though, I’m sure you’ll love them too!

fermented mung bean pancakes – revisted

How to make milk kefir cheese

Ever wondered how to make kefir cheese? I bet you haven’t! But won’t you be so glad to know 🙂

It’s easy to make this live probiotic soft cheese. A perfect replacement for Philadelphia Cream Cheese or Boursin.

First you must make milk kefir. (See my post here about how-to).

Milk Kefir Cheese
Strain the finished milk kefir through a square of muslin or cheesecloth. I line a strainer with the fabric and a bowl below it (to catch the whey), and pour the kefir directly into the muslin atop the strainer. Strain from the strainer into the bowl below. This can take many hours. It strains quicker if you hang it. For example tie the corners of your cheesecloth into a loose knot around a wooden spoon. Dangle the wooden spoon over the inside of a large pot. Or hang it from a kitchen cabinet doorknob.
It does help if the kefir you’re adding to the muslin has been fermented for a little longer, or whey pockets are visibly forming. Either way it should be ok. You want the muslin or cheesecloth to be thick weave enough that just the whey slowly drips through. The milk solids will remain in the cheesecloth.
I like to add chives, parsley, garlic and salt. If you’re using fresh herbs instead of dried the cheese will have to be eaten within 2-3 days maximum. It should last up to a week if stored in the fridge.
*Note I clean my muslin directly after use with cold water first then warm soapy water in the sink.  Just before using the cloth for straining cheese or yogurt- I then boil the cloth with water with a little bit of vinegar or baking soda in it, to remove any odours and to sterilise it.

Ginger Lime Water Kefir Recipe

water kefir grains

I finally got some more water kefir grains today from Healthy Habits in Wicklow Town.

I had water kefir grains in the past but quickly felt overwhelmed from too many cultures on the go. I am now superhuman (ha, you should see my countertops!) at balancing all of my cultures, so I decided to give it another go.

If you’d like to learn more about water kefir grains and read loads of recipes, one of my favourite websites is Cultures for Health.

This recipe is slightly adapted from Bar Tartine’s Cortney Burn’s of San Fransisco. I highly recommend this cookbook.

 

Ginger Lime Water Kefir recipe

Makes 3 cups/ double the recipe if desired. 

Ingredients:

 

3 cups/ 750ml filtered water, preferably non-chlorinated

¼ cup/ 50 gram sugar

½ teaspoon molasses, preferably blackstrap

a washed, organic eggshell (for added minerals)

pinch of sea salt

2 squeezed lemons or limes, including the peel if organic

a couple pieces of dried fruit such as raisins or apricots

1-2 inches of organic fresh ginger, sliced finely.

¼ cup/ 45 grams water kefir grains

Method

 

In a 1 litre non-reactive container, such as a glass milk bottle, dissolve the water and sugar. Once mixed, add in all of the other ingredients: molasses, eggshell, sea salt, lemon peel, (save the juice for later) dried fruit, sliced ginger and lastly the water kefir grains. If you add the water kefir grains loosely in a small muslin sack or bag they are much easier to remove after.

Screw the lid on tight and give it a shake to mix everything. Then (importantly) leave the lid on, but unscrewed so that the carbon dioxide can escape. Or use an airlock if you have one. Bottles can and will explode if you don’t take care! If you’ve screwed the lid on, be sure to release the carbon dioxide every 6-8 hours by opening the container.

Let stand in a warm place of 68-72F/ 18-22C for 48 hours. 72 hours if the room is cooler. It should be gently fizzy.

Remove and discard the fruit (you can eat it) and lemon pieces and eggshell. Remove the kefir grains. Strain the liquid through a sieve to catch any other bits or kefir grains.

Stir in the lemon or lime juice using more or less to taste. In Cortney’s recipe, she also adds fresh ginger juice.

Transfer the liquid to flip top bottles such as glass Grolsch bottles with the rubber gasket. Leave at least 1 inch/ 2.5 cm of head space to allow the carbon dioxide to expand. Let stand at room temperature until pressure builds, about 24 hours. You can use a plastic bottle if desired to remove the possibility of explosions, but also to gauge that the pressure has built up sufficiently. Once the bottle feels hard, move to the refrigerator. Refrigerate for up to 1 month. Serve cold straight out of the bottle.

I’d recommend opening the bottles with care. I open them over the sink and with a plastic jug over the top of the bottle in the event of a surprise geizer!

The kefir grains need to be fed, so once removed from the mixture feed them again immediately in a sugar water mixture of ¼ cup sugar/ 50 grams to 1 quart or litre of water. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks. Drain and add fresh sugar water every 7 days. Or repeat the recipe and start again!

ginger water kefir

Making tofu from scratch

For health reasons, I normally try not to eat too many soy products. However I had a bag of dried organic soy beans sitting in my cupboard so I decided to do something with them. My dear friend Patricia Quinn had written in her book about how easy it was to make homemade tofu, so I decided to give it a go. I enjoy tofu from time to time but until making it myself I was never such a fan. This has all changed now and I shall make tofu more often after tasting how amazing it is fresh from the press. Well worth the work, and most of the time spent was actually just letting it soak and then after, letting it strain.

Ever wondered how to make homemade tofu? I took photos of the process and I’ll try to explain clearly here.

How to make tofu from scratch

First I soaked the beans overnight in water. They expanded to double their size. I used dried organic soy beans.

I strained them the next morning.

Homemade soy milk

I made soy milk by blending and then boiling the beans in fresh water and bringing it to a boil. Actually, thats a lie- this is what you can do though, its not hard!  I actually cheated and used the SoyaBella which made the soy milk for me in about 15 minutes. An unnecessary but handy tool. A gift from the other half many christmas’ ago and something I have put to good use. You can use it to grind herbs, coffee beans, nuts or to make your own flour from grains. It makes it even easier than it already is to make homemade almond or rice milk, as it strains it for you in the metal strainer. I’ll post a photo of the SoyaBella later in case any of you should like to see it?

I made about 4 litres of soy milk for this batch of tofu.

Here’s another link which describes with photos how easy it is to make soy milk and then tofu. http://www.lafujimama.com/2009/09/how-to-make-tofu-no-fancy-equipment/

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Strain out the soy bean paste, also called Okara. I put mine in the freezer to use later to make vegetarian sausages. Or you can feed it to the hens. There are lots of things you can do with it if you do a quick google search.

how to make homemade tofu

Take the soy milk and heat it up to 180F if it isn’t that hot already. You can use a few different agents to curdle to the milk. All of these are recommended: Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate), Nigari Flakes (Magnesium Chloride). I don’t know about you but I hadn’t heard of any of these things. I read that you could also use Epsom Salts, lemon juice or apple cider vinegar- I had Epsom Salts so I used what I had. It worked perfectly. I dissolved 1 tablespoon of Epsom Salts with about a third of a cup of water. (this was added to about 4 litres of soy milk.) I added this into the hot soy milk in batches, first half of the glass, and one quick short stir through the milk to mix it in. Apparently over-stirring can disrupt the curd formation. I waited 10 minutes to see if it had curdled sufficiently to see plenty of amber liquid with the formed curds separating. It had curdled a bit but not enough, the liquid was still quite milky white, so I added the other water-epsom salts liquid along with another quick stir. This time it finished curdling quickly and as you can see in the photo below there was plenty of largish curds with amber liquid.

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I strained the curds and whey through a sheet of muslin or cheesecloth. You can use a clean dishtowel or pillow case if thats all you have.

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I let it sit in the strainer for about 20 minutes, then I lifted up the corners of the muslin and transferred the ball of curds in muslin to a smaller strainer. I put a small plate on top of it to press down and help it exude more whey from the curds. I added a very heavy cast iron pot on top of the plate to add further pressure. I let it sit out overnight like this.

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In the morning I took of the weights and turned the pressed tofu curds onto a chopping board.

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Chop chop chop

If you aren’t going to eat it immediately, cover it in fresh water and put in the fridge. Change the water daily and eat soon.

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Finally I fried the tofu in some sesame oil with shoyu soy sauce and some turmeric sprinkled over it.

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I didn’t know tofu could be so delicious. Try it! Let me know how you get on.

 

Here are some other links you might find helpful:

http://www.culturesforhealth.com/how-to-make-tofu

Here’s the link I followed during this first time that I made it -about how to make homemade tofu:

http://www.brendajwiley.com/making_tofu.html