The one thing that people say to me time and time again when they find out I’m vegan is; “I just couldn’t live without cheese!” Well I probably would have said something along those lines not that long ago. But when I turned vegan I didn’t think about missing cheese, I thought about animal cruelty and environmental issues.
In my first year as a vegan I hadn’t really given cheese much thought, I’d had a pizza with some questionable vegan cheese and thought I’m better off without any weird cheese resembling products. It wasn’t until I went to SAF restaurant in November and had their cashew cheese that I realised you could have delicious and healthy vegan cheese. No, its not quite the same as a slice of cheddar but its deliciously creamy and has a lovely cheesy flavour.
Over Christmas we would normally have delicious lunches of cheese, pâté, crackers, pickled onions and bits of left overs and I’m determined not to feel like I’m missing out on anything for my first vegan Christmas. So behold my vegan cheese, pâté and cracker feast, not only is it delicious and cruelty free, it’s a whole lot healthier for you than actual cheese and pâté.
Individually these recipes are pretty simple and easy but it is a bit of work making them all. However, I find there’s plenty of time around Christmas to spend a few hours in the kitchen and these recipes will make enough to keep you and your family going over the festive period.
Cashew Nut Cheese
280g Cashew nuts
2 tbsp Lemon juice
2 tbsp Nutritional yeast
1 1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Onion granules
1/4 tsp Ground nutmeg
1. Place the cashews in a glass bowl and cover with water, leave them to soak for at least 2 hours or leave them overnight.
2. Drain the cashews, blend them with 250ml water, the nutritional yeast, salt and lemon juice. If your nutritional yeast flakes are quite large you might want to put them in the blender first to break them down so they are nice and small. Keep blending the mix until you get a nice creamy paste.
3. Stir in the onion granules and nutmeg.
4. Pour the mixture into a tin or bowl and leave it at room temperature, covered for 12 hours.
5. Put the mixture into the fridge and leave to chill for at least 2 hours.
Mushroom and Chestnut Pâté
500g Mushrooms (I used chestnut mushrooms)
250g Firm tofu
3 Cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp Nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp Peppercorns
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Chopped or dried herbs such as sage or thyme
3 tbsp Mushroom Ketchup (optional)
1 tbsp Lemon juice
1. Cut a cross in the shell of each chestnut and roast them on a baking tray for 30 minutes at 170C.
2. Place your block of tofu on a flat surface between two folded sheets of kitchen paper and place something heavy on top to press out the water.
3. Whilst the chestnuts are roasting, sauté the onion and garlic in a large frying pan until soft. Roughly chop the mushrooms and add them to the pan, cooking them for 10-15 minutes until all the liquid has evaporated.
4. Stir in the crushed peppercorns, salt, herbs and mushroom ketchup. Cook for another few minutes until the ketchup has reduced down, then set aside to cool.
5. Once the chestnuts are roasted, take them out of the oven and leave them to cool before shelling them.
6. Put the chestnuts into a blender and blitz until roughly chopped. Add the cooled mushroom mixture, tofu, nutritional yeast and lemon juice. Blend to a fairly smooth paste.
7. Spoon the mixture into a springform tin or lined loaf tin and press down firmly. Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
Flax Seed Crackers
This recipe makes about 30 crackers, 15 plain and 15 flavoured. I used cavolo nero but you can use any leafy greens or even sun-dried tomatoes, or whatever you fancy to flavour them.
300g Flax seeds (you can used half golden and half brown if you have them)
30g Sunflower Seeds
1/2 tsp Salt
A small bunch of cavolo nero
1. Grind half the flax seeds with the sunflower seeds in a blender or spice grinder.
2. Mix together the ground seeds with the whole flax seeds, salt and water.
3. Put half this mixture into a blender with the cavolo nero.
4. Line two baking trays with baking paper and spoon out the two mixtures on the trays and press down firmly with the back of a spoon.
5. Score the mixture into small squares and bake at 170C for 30 mins or until the begin to crisp slightly and aren’t too chewy inside. (If you have a dehydrator, even better!)
6. Lift the baking paper and crackers out of the trays and place on a wire rack, serve once cooled.
With all this to feast on over the shortest days of the year I certainly won’t feel that my cruelty free lifestyle is meaning I miss out. I can have my cheesy fix this Christmas along with delicious, healthy crackers and pâté.
I hope you’ve all enjoyed our 12 days of Christmas series and found some useful festive tips and recipes. We’ve really enjoyed testing out our ideas and veganising our favourite traditional Christmas foods. From all of us here at Wrapped in Newspaper, we wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas!