vegan cheese

Homemade Vegan Labneh Balls – Simple to make, delicious cream cheese

Vegan Labneh with Middle-Eastern flavours, enjoyed in Welsh garden with crusty sourdough

 

This is the easiest and most delicious way of making a tart and creamy vegan cheese

 

Have you tried making your own labneh?  You only need a few ingredients and a little time to make the best vegan cream cheese/ strained yoghurt.  Rolling it in herbs and spices takes it to the next level!

I’ve been meaning to post my vegan labneh recipe for ages, some of you have tried it at our events and vegan holidays.  I love this one and use it often!  It’s so versatile, inexpensive and fun to make.  

 

We love dipping into this pot! Labneh balls in a deliciously flavoured oil

 

Labneh (or labna, labni, lebni…) is a strained yoghurt from the Middle East region, something like cream cheese.  It can also be called Greek Yoghurt, Skyr (in Iceland), Chakka (Central Asia), Sheelanch (Balochistan) or even Sack Yoghurt.  In many cultures, strained yoghurt is a staple, enjoyed from Albania to Iran, Denmark to India.  I reckon this vegan version is good and creamy, a staple for a new way of living! 

We use unsweetened soya yoghurt here and only add a little sea salt, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice.  The balance of tart, tanginess comes from both the lemon juice and vinegar.  I find they work in tandem to make a more authentic flavour.  

The yoghurt must contain the cultures, meaning it will ferment and flavours will develop as we’re straining the yoghurt.  I normally strain the yoghurt for 2-3 days.  Things will get more tangy the longer you leave it.  Making your own strained yoghurt at home means that it has no weird extra thickeners added into mass produced versions.    

Once the yoghurt is strained, you can enjoy the labneh as it is, or roll it into balls, coated in any herbs, spices, seeds, citrus zest, chilli flakes, whatever takes your fancy.  Sometime labneh is dried in the sun, a traditional way of preserving it used by bedouins, but I haven’t tried that.  Not enough sun in Wales you see!!  

It’s a nice idea to store your labneh balls in olive oil.  Labneh in oil or Labaneh bil zayit can be stored for more than a year, the flavour will mature the longer it’s stored, but I’ve never tried it for more than a couple of weeks.  They never hang around long enough!  This flavoured oil can then be used for salads, dipping or dressings.  No waste.  

 

Vegan Labneh rolled in Palestinian za’atar and sumac

 

I wrote more about this special Palestinian Za’atar in the last post:

 

Mediterranean Vegetable and Chickpea Bake with Za’atar and Vegan Labneh

 

I used my homemade labneh in that bake and those who’ve made it have mentioned that the labneh really stands out.  Labneh tends not to curdle when cooked due to its higher fat content and adds some creaminess to a spicy tomato and chickpea stew. 

Sumac is something we love adding to dishes.  It has a zesty flavour and comes from a deep red berry, which is dried and ground.  A condiment that really brings a pleasant tangy flavour, it looks vibrant and stores well.  Not to mention that it’s full of sparkling nutrition.  Sumac and Za’atar go together brilliantly, but a combination like mint/thyme and lemon zest would also work well.       

 

Strained vegan yoghurt rolled in Za’atar

 

We like labneh served simply with bread, salads, olives, pickles, in a sandwich with fresh herbs and green leaves, as a colourful mezze/ tapas.  Labneh is also delicious for breakfast, with warm flatbreads, olives, chopped vegetables like tomato and cucumber and a nice tea.  Spread it out on a plate and serve it as you would hummus, topped with olive oil, herbs, olives, spices. 

We eat yoghurt most days over here, not only is it delicious, but it’s a top source of friendly bacterias that are great for our digestion and wellbeing in general. 

 

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We hope you get to try out this recipe soon,

 

Happy cooking!!:) 

 

Middle-Eastern Cream Cheese Balls

 

Recipe Notes

I’d recommend doubling this quantity if you’re serious about your labneh.  As I mentioned, they don’t hang around long (too tasty) and it’s nice to taste the labneh developing with a little age.  

You may like to flavour the oil with fresh herbs.  This is a lovely way of adding more dimensions of flavour.  Thyme, oregano and rosemary are especially good. 

If you don’t have apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar will work well.  

I just made a batch with added fermented garlic, they’re knockout!  Labneh is an awesome base for flavour adventures. 

 

Easy to make and even easier to enjoy! Vegan Labneh

 

Homemade Vegan Labneh Balls rolled in Za’atar and Sumac

 

The Bits – For 8-10 balls

 

500g unsweetened soya yoghurt (with cultures) 

1/2-2/3 teas sea salt

 

Flavouring 

1 tbs lemon juice

1/2 teas apple cider vinegar

 

Extra virgin olive oil

 

Pressing your yoghurt, removing excess liquid. Use whatever is heavy and to hand.

 

Line a sturdy sieve or colander with muslin/ cheese cloth.  Place this over a bowl, which supports the edges of the sieve, raising it above the base of the bowl.  

Pour your yoghurt into the seive, gathering the edges of the muslin together to cover the yoghurt.  Now place something nice and heavy on top.  This will press the yoghurt, helping to drain excess liquid. 

Leave the yoghurt for 1-3 days.  Draining the bowl of liquid every now and again.

 

The yoghurt will be firm after a good pressing.  This is after 2 1/2 days, you can see how dry and crumbly it has become.

 

You can now flavour your yoghurt.  Scrape it out into a bowl and add the lemon juice, vinegar and salt.  Taste and find the balance that works best for you.  Go easy on the flavouring, you don’t want it to be overpowering and remember, the flavours will develop more when stored. 

You may roll into balls now, but I’d recommend popping it into a fridge for a few hours to chill and firm up even more.  

To roll, lightly oil your hands and form small balls, the size of fat olives.  

Add a flavourful crust by scattering herb or spices into a small bowl and toss the labneh balls in the bowl, covering them completely. 

 

Vegan labneh balls rolled in sumac

 

Place your labneh balls snugly into a sterilised/ very clean jar or sealable container.  Jars look cooler.  Cover with olive oil, until all labneh balls are fully immersed.      

They will keep well for a few weeks at room temperature.  Any longer is unknown territory for us.  If they last that long, without you eating them first, you deserve some kind of medal! 

 

I just want to dive in there! So many flavours, rich and delicious vegan cream cheese

 

Foodie Fact

All soya yoghurts will vary, but generally they’re a good source of protein, calcium, and minerals like iron and magnesium.  Many soya yoghurts are fortified with other vitamins and minerals too.  

 

 

Categories: Fermentation, gluten-free, healthy, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan, vegan cheese | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Hot off the press! Our New Vegan Wine and Tapas Tasting Menu

 

Join us for award-winning wines, creative plant-based tapas dishes….

 

Hot off the press, a sample menu for all you lucky people heading over to our vegan wine extravaganza in Manchester in a few weeks!

BOOK NOW

 

Click here for bookings and details

 

 

VEGAN WINE AND TAPAS EVENING – MANCHESTER
9th November ‘19

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SAMPLE MENU
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ARRIVAL CHAMPAGNE
Nicholas Feuillate, Vintage 2009
A special treat with notes of brioche, baking apples and hazelnuts

Roasted Herb and Maple Nuts, Vegetable Crisps, Piri Piri Chickpeas

 

WHITES
Vinalba Torrontes
A refreshing wine with delicate flavours of lychees, white peaches and pears

Thai Ghost Pumpkin and Coconut Soup

Martin Codax Albarino
A fantastic expression of the coastal community of Rias Biaxas, tasting of white peaches, lime zest and salty sea-spray

Smoked Carrots, Dill, Labneh

Albana Secco Campodora
An exceedingly rare grape, not found outside of Romagna. It has delicate flavours of apricots, quinces and white flowers

Kichi Muri and Sage Farroto

Escarpment Chardonnay
A far cry from the clumsy, mug-you-in-an-alleyway Aussie Chardonnays that many people remember, this critically acclaimed wine has long and slow flavours of peaches, apricots, melons and toasted nuts

Roasted Cauliflower and Butter Bean Hummus, Confit Garlic

 

REDS
Louis Latour Bourgogne Pinot Noir
This offering from Burgundy tastes of cherries, bramble, strawberries and liquorice

Wild Mushroom Sausage, Red Cabbage and Apple Sauerkraut

Domaine Tourelles Pierre Brun
A Lebanese wine, it brings flavours of dried dark fruit against complex herbal notes of liquorice, black pepper and cardamom

Roasted Lebanese Vegetables, Pomegranate, Tahini Sauce

Springfield Thunderchild
Grown on the estate of the Herberg Children’s Home in South Africa, all the profits from this wine go straight back to that same orphanage. A complex wine full of dried mint and smoky forest fruit flavours

Glazed Umami Burgers, Pickled Ginger, Wasabi Mayo, Baechu Kimchi

Masi Costasera Amarone
A premium Italian wine that is full of indulgent flavours of baked plums and cherries, spices, coffee and dark chocolate

Porcini Ragu, Caramelised Artichoke, Smoky Parmesan Crumb, Black Kale Leaf

 

CHEESE BOARD
Roast Garlic Cream Cheese, Nettle Moxarella, Radish Bombs, Fermented Mushroom Pate – platters

 

DESSERT
Royal Tokaji
A Hungarian dessert wine, this is what emperors used to give as presents to one another. Have this in very small glasses because the delightful sweet flavours of orange zest, caramel, raisins, honey and exotic spices are a real treat to be savoured

Cacao and Hazelnut Brownies, Single Estate Chocolate, Lavender Oranges

 

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Vegetables supplied by Tyddyn Teg Organic Farm, Bethel, North Wales
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Categories: Events, plant-based, Vegan, vegan cheese | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chipotle & Cashew Queso Dip

Vegan Cashew Queso – Get Dippin’!!

Treat your nachos/ tortilla/ enchilladas (anything you fancy really) to this creamy, smoky queso!  This is a classic tex mex style dip gone vegan, it has a lovely thick texture that clings to your nachos and it’s a load healthier too.

Chilli con Queso (basically cheese plus chillies) is the national dish of Texas (Texas is a nation isn’t it?!)  That’s what I’ve been told….. Either way, the lone star state is pretty obsessed with this creamy, dippy, lovely stuff.

We love it poured over spicy sweet potato fries, now your nibblin’.  I’ve also found it makes an interesting twist on Welsh Rarebit…Texas Titbit?  Serve with your favourite Mexican style bean dish, this queso takes yum wherever it goes.

There are loads of ways of making a comforting vegan queso, but I like this one because it’s simple and uses easy to find ingredients.  You can add to it what you like, I’ve heard people are making kimhci queso!  But let’s face it, Kimchi goes well in most things.

There’s nothing flashy here, but it tastes goooooodd!  In the realm of dips, this is way up there for me.  Like a Texan hummus, a sunshine guac, but calling these dishes ‘dips’ seems to belittle them.   What do you think?

Nachos have always been a thing with me, I think there just perfect party food, they’re fun (Jane disagrees) and a mountain of nachos is perfect for sharing and enjoying with drinks and a giggle.  Why is that?  I think it’s the sharing aspect.  Communal nibbles.  I’ve always preferred sharing food, when we go to restaurants, I’m that guy who wants to taste everyone else’s food.  Hah!  You have been warned…..

Stone cold Tex Mex Classic

Thing about ‘normal’ queso is that its made with processed, ultra orange, cheese.  Bahhh!  This queso recipe has cashews which are creamy and lovely and packed with healthy stuff, also tapioca flour, gluten-free and a good source of carbs, chillies (super high in vitamin C), turmeric (outrageously good for us), paprika (see chillies), garlic…..you get the idea, this is a super healthy dip.  But, it tastes creamy and delicious too.

I have limited queso experience but I have fortunately been to Mexico, from North to South, totally awesome country and such a diverse food culture.  I travelled up along the border with the US, which can be a pretty dicey and spicy place in some towns and for a clueless wanderer, it was an eye opener.  But the nachos were always sensational.

I’d only known nachos from the UK, as say Doritos, but never with all the add ons and embellishments.  Making this queso really got my tex mex hat twitching, I’m going to do my fully loaded nachos for you, watch this little ol’ space.  They’re coming…..

I use tapioca starch here, many use corn starch, but tapioca gives it a really nice stringy, thick texture.  I’ve made mozzarella style cheese with tapioca starch, Moxarella recipe here, it really is a genius ingredient.  You’ll find it in health food shops across the land for sure.  Of course, you can order it online, we get ours from Suma but they do a minimum order.  Check out the website here, get some friends together and put an order in.  Suma will also sort you out with all those tricky to get vegan products that you may be struggling with.  We’re not sponsored in anyway by Suma, we just think they’re great.  We’re not sponsored by anyone actually!  The BHK is free!!

If you like what you see here, let us know in the comments below.  Are you in Texas?  Are you in Mexico?  Are you in Wales?

Chipotle Queso – The smokiness and chilli kick of the chipotle gives this dip something a bit special

Recipe Notes

If you have a really good blender, you don’t even need to soak the cashews, although soaking nuts is good for your health.  See what we wrote about that here.

If you’re not a chilli/smoky fan, leave out the chipotle, it’s still really tasty.

This queso is quite thick, just stir in more milk or water when you’re cooking to make it thinner, like a pourable, double cream consistency is nice drizzled over nachos (Fully Loaded Nachos coming soon).

We want a nice kick of chilli here, go for it!

Chipotle chilli paste, you’ll find in most supermarkets.  Stir it into stews and soups for lovely smokiness with chilli-ish benefits.

Not into mountains of nachos, toast or grill some corn or wheat tortillas and cut them up into little triangles.  Or go for veggies, chop up some of your favs and dip away.

Cashew & Chipotle Queso – Vegan, Gluten-free, low in fat, high in yum!

Chipotle & Cashew Queso

The Bits – For one large bowlful 

375ml soya milk

125g cashews (soaked in water for 2 hours)

2/3 teas turmeric

1 teas paprika/ cayenne pepper (if you like it really hot!)

4 tbs nooch (nutritional yeast flakes)

2 tbs tapioca starch/ flour

1 small garlic clove (crushed)

1/2 – 1 teas salt

 

2 – 4+ teas chipotle paste (as you like your fiery-ness)

 

Topping

2 tbs jalapeno chillies

Fresh coriander

 

Do It

Add all the bits to a blender, except the chipotle paste.  Blend until smooth.

In a saucepan on medium heat, add the queso and simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring.  Tastes the queso, if it tastes a little chalky due to the starch/ flour, keep stirring and cooking.  Taste again, add chipotle paste and more salt as needed.

You may like to top with jalapeno chillies, a light dusting of paprika/ cayenne pepper and fresh coriander.

Very nice when served warm with nachos/ tortillas.  I also like to serve the nachos warm, pop them in a low oven for 5-10 minutes.

You can also serve this dip alongside Mexican/ Tex mex style bean dishes, burritos, tacos, quesadillas etc.   All very tasty.  I love it especially served with a tangy salsa.

 

Foodie Fact 

Cashews are low in fat for a nut and are a good source of protein and iron.

Categories: gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Snacks and Inbetweens, Vegan, vegan cheese | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Moxarella – Homemade Vegan Mozzarella

Moxarella (Gluten-free, low fat) – Good homemade vegan cheeze is easier than you might think

Here is our little offering to the coming of Spring.  A simple vegan cheese recipe which is so versatile and can be enjoyed on pizza and melts nicely.  As you may know, the way a vegan cheese melts can be quite an issue, we don’t want cheese like rubber on our pizzas!!  I also like this as it is, especially with these kinds of accompaniments, this is like a rainbow ploughman’s really!!  The texture of this cheeze is similar to Mozzarella and the flavour is light.

We enjoyed this in the garden, with bright sunshine and birds singing.  After the recent snow storms, it really feels like Spring is finally on the way in Snowdonia.  We’ll see….

Some vegan cheeses can go a little off piste.  Not much like their namesake, cheddar or blue cheese style, you’ve probably been there.  But this one delivers!  A cheese that is simple to make, pretty healthy actually and also similar in texture and taste to the original.  We’re using a handful of cashews here, so don’t expect over to top creaminess, but I love this and for an inexpensive, fuss-free, vegan cheese, I think this is top truckle!

ALL THE WAY FROM UTAH!

My friend Somer over at Vedged Out (coming straight outta Utah) calls this recipe ‘Foxy Moxy’.  Which I like, but when punched into Google, you get some pretty unappetizing results!!  So we’ll stick with Moxa.  This is basically Somer’s awesome recipe, given a slight tweak, but when a recipe is this good, simple and tasty, why mess with it?  Thanks for the inspiration Somer!!

Rainbow Platter!  Moxarella served with mango and chilli pickle, artichokes, olives, sun dried tomatoes, chopped veggies, salad leaves, hazelnut, German rye bread.

EXCITING CHEESE!

Moxarella is so simple to make at home and has the stretchy texture of Mozzarella, coming from the flour we use.  You’ll have to seek out some Tapioca Flour, found online or in your local health food shop.  You can use other starches/ flours to make cheeses, but this one is the very best for Mozzarella style cheese.  I’m going to be sharing one of my favourite Mexican-style Queso recipes soon, where we’ll use corn flour, the texture is subtly different, but perfect for a slightly thinner cheese.  It’s exciting playing with these cheese making techniques!

If you’ve bought a bag of tapioca flour, you can also use it a a thickener for soups, stews and the like or it adds a really interesting, springy texture to baked goods.  Ideal in bread I’ve found.   It may be known as ‘Tapioca Starch’ where you are.  Same thing.

FOOD FOR THE SOUL – VEGAN COOKING DAY RETREAT

The unusual snowy snap this Sunday forced us to cancel our ‘Food for the Soul – Vegan Cooking and Yoga Day Retreat’ in Mynydd Llandegai.  We woke up to a foot of snow outside, an unpleasant surprise.  We managed to make it up there, but the mountain roads were pretty frozen and slip slidy.  We’ve re-scheduled to the 19th August ’18, booking and info here.  A day of healthy soul food cooking, peaceful yoga and meditation and a nourishing lunch.  We have a few places available.  Contact Claire here to book directly.

But now the sun shines and spring is in the air, time to prepare ourselves for picnics and eating outside, what a joy!  We’re coming out of the dark winter and bright platters like this really help to wake us up; eyes, tastebuds all tantalised by the colours an textures and it only takes a few minutes to make special.

Please feel free to share this recipe and leave us a comment below if your like the look of it or try it out.   It’s always wonderful to hear from you!

Vegan Mozzarella – Our spring celebration platter

Recipe Notes

A little more salt and lemon will really bring the flavours out, experiment with your preferred quantities.

If you’re not using oil, that’s cool, leave it out, it will still be a hit!

Somer likes to add a little nooch (nutritional yeast flakes) to the recipe.  If you like them, go for it!!  They will add a little more savoury cheesiness.

 

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Moxarella – Vegan Mozzarella

The Bits – For One Small Bowlful

75g cashews (soaked for a few hours in water)

250ml/ 1 cup hot water

2 tbs tapioca flour

1 teas extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove (peeled and crushed)

½ tbs lemon juice

¾ teas salt

 

Do It

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth.  

 

Pour into a saucepan, warm on a medium heat and stir constantly.  The mixture will thicken and become gradually more elastic in texture.  Keep stirring throughout to ensure the moxarella does not burn on the bottom.   

 

Stir and cook for 10-12 minutes until thick and the edges leave the pan.  Remember it will firm up even more when cooled.  

 

Line a small bowl or ramekins with cling film/ baking parchment, once the cheeze has cooled a little, spoon in the moxarella mix and tap on a surface to remove any air bubbles.  Smooth the top with the base of a spoon, once cooled enough, cover and pop in the fridge to set for an hour.

 

Keeps well in the fridge for a few days and can be used for pizza, cheese on toast or on your rainbow ploughmans…….you know how you like your mozza!

Homemade Vegan Mozzarella – Give it a try!

Foodie Fact

Tapioca flour may be a new one for some of you.  Tapioca is made from the root of the Cassava plant, its a big knobbly tuber basically.  Being a starch, this is high in carbs and has a smidge of calcium in there.  It’s low in calories and fat and is something that will become really popular in vegan/ gluten-free baking I reckon.

Categories: gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Snacks and Inbetweens, Vegan, vegan cheese | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

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