Festive Sharp White Cheddar Cheese Logs

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The Festive Sharp White Cheddar Cheese Logs are made with my recipe and technique for Sharp White Cheddar Amandine from my Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook (available through this website), but rather than using toasted almonds for the crust, the cheese logs were rolled in a mixture of finely chopped dried cranberries and crushed toasted walnuts for the first log, and then freeze-dried chives and minced red onion for the second log. The colors and flavors make a nice holiday cheese plate presentation. Serve with your favorite crackers.

Sicilian Panelle

DSC01470-001Panelle, also known as Panella di Ceci, are Sicilian fritters made from chickpea flour and seasonings and are similar to fried polenta. They are a popular street food in Palermo and are often eaten between slices of bread or on a roll, like a sandwich. Panelle are believed to be of Arabic origin. The panelle can be cut into various shapes and sizes before frying.

Ingredients for the Panelle

• 1 cup chickpea flour
• 2 T dried parsley flakes
• 1 tsp onion powder
• 1 tsp dried basil
• ½ tsp garlic powder
• 2 cups water
• 2 T olive oil
• 1 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
• high-temp cooking oil for frying

Ingredients for the Relish (optional)

Mix together in a bowl:
• 3 campari tomatoes, seeded and diced
• 3 T finely diced onion
• 3 T finely chopped flat leaf parsley
• 2 tsp olive oil
• 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
• sea salt or kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Preparation
Oil and 8”x8” baking dish or line with parchment paper. Set aside.

Combine the chickpea flour, parsley, onion powder, basil and garlic powder in a bowl.

In a medium saucepan, bring the water, oil and salt to a boil. Reduce the heat to a vigorous simmer and sprinkle in a small portion of the flour mixture while whisking vigorously to avoid lumps. Continue to incorporate the flour mixture in increments. Cook the mixture until it begins to pull away a bit from the sides of the saucepan. It will be very thick.

Transfer the mixture to the baking dish and spread evenly. Let cool a bit and then cover with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or until completely chilled and firm set.

Cut the panelle into any desired shape and fry until golden brown in hot cooking oil. They take a little time to brown, so be patient. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to blot excess oil. Serve warm.

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Greek Potato Salad

DSC01454Potato salads tossed with red wine vinaigrette are popular in Greece. The potatoes soak up the dressing and the salad is served warm or at room temperature. The addition of capers and lemon zest impart a citrusy, salty flavor.

Ingredients
• 1 and ½ lbs small red potatoes
• sea salt or kosher salt
• 2 T red wine vinegar
• 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 tsp ground coriander
• 1 tsp fresh lemon zest
• ½ tsp coarse ground black pepper, or more to taste
• ½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
• 2 T finely minced shallot or red onion
• 1 T capers, drained and chopped (salt-packed capers should be rinsed and drained)
• 1 T chopped fresh dill
• caperberries for garnish (optional)

Preparation
Cut the smallest red potatoes in half and cut any larger potatoes into 1-inch chunks. Place the cut potatoes into a large cooking pot and add plenty of water to cover. Add 2 teaspoons salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a soft boil and cook the potatoes just until fork tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Avoid overcooking. Drain thoroughly and set aside in a large mixing bowl.

In a non-reactive bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, coriander, lemon zest, black pepper and 1 teaspoon salt until emulsified. Pour over the potatoes in the mixing bowl. Sprinkle in the chopped parsley, shallot or onion, capers and dill. Toss thoroughly and set aside for 20 minutes for the potatoes to absorb the dressing; season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature and garnish with caperberries if desired.

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Lentil Hummus

DSC01430-002Hummus is a classic Middle Eastern dish and is excellent served as a dip or sandwich spread. This variation is made with cooked red or yellow lentils instead of the traditional chickpeas. It’s smooth, creamy and delicious! Sweating the garlic prior to blending mellows the garlic flavor. Serve with warm or toasted pita or other flatbread, and/or crunchy fresh vegetables. This recipe yields about 2 cups.

Ingredients
• 1 cup dry red or yellow lentils
• 1 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for garnish
• 3 medium cloves garlic, chopped
• ¼ cup sesame tahini
• 1 T fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• ½ tsp ground coriander
• ½ tsp fine sea salt or kosher salt, or more to taste
• ¼ tsp ground white pepper
• water sufficient for processing
• 1 T chopped fresh parsley for garnish
• other garnish(es) of your choice*

*Other garnishes might include but are not limited to: Non-dairy feta (from the Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook); sweet or smoked paprika; powdered sumac; roasted or sautéed minced garlic; chopped roasted red peppers; dairy-free pesto; toasted pine nuts; chopped cilantro or basil.

Preparation
Sort through the dry lentils and remove any foreign matter. Rinse the lentils thoroughly in a sieve, drain and add to a medium cooking pot. Add 4 cups water and 1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt and bring to a boil. Stir the lentils, partially cover the pot, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain the cooked lentils thoroughly in the sieve.

While the cooked lentils are draining, add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a small skillet and place over medium-low to low heat. Sweat the garlic about 10 minutes to mellow and sweeten the flavor and remove the raw pungency. If you hear an audible “sizzle” from the oil, the heat is too high; turn it down slightly.

Place the drained lentils into a blender or food processor and add the sautéed garlic and remaining ingredients except for the parsley and other optional garnishes. Process until very smooth. Add water as needed to assist processing. The hummus should be creamy and smooth, not thick and pasty.

Taste and add salt or more lemon juice as desired (lemon juice plays a supporting role in flavor development but the hummus should not have an obvious lemon flavor). Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes to thicken and blend the flavors before serving, or for up to 1 week. The hummus will thicken a little bit upon refrigeration; if it becomes too thick after chilling, simply incorporate a little water.

Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and garnish as desired before serving.

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Mediterranean Herbed Feta (From the Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook)

73This tofu-based cheese is simple to make and is reminiscent of dairy feta cheese in both taste and texture. It has a very tangy, salty flavor and is wonderful for topping Mediterranean salads, pizza or for using in recipes such as Greek Spanakopita.

A food processor is recommended for efficient processing. You will also need a silicone, glass, ceramic, metal or BPA-free plastic container that will hold a minimum of 2 cups liquid to act as a form to shape the cheese. Line the form with plastic wrap, leaving plenty of excess hanging over the sides. This will help lift the cheese from the form after firming. This recipe yields about 8 ounces.

Ingredients
• ½ block (about 7 oz before pressing) extra-firm tofu (not silken tofu)
• ¼ cup refined coconut oil (not virgin)
• 1 tsp lactic acid powder (recommended and available from ModernistPantry.com) or 4 tsp fresh lemon juice
• 1 T white wine vinegar or raw apple cider vinegar
• 1 and ¼ tsp fine sea salt or kosher salt
• 1 tsp dried basil
• 1 tsp dried marjoram
• 1 tsp dried oregano
• ¼ tsp onion powder

Note: The basil, marjoram and oregano are optional; omit if plain feta is desired.

Preparation
Line the form with plastic wrap or a double-layer of cheesecloth, allowing some excess to hang over the sides. This will help lift the cheese from the container after firming.

Press the tofu until it is not releasing any more liquid. It is important that the tofu be as dry as possible. To do this easily and efficiently, wrap the tofu in a lint-free kitchen towel or several layers of paper towels and place on a flat work surface. Press down firmly with your hands while using your upper body weight. Crumble the tofu into a food processor and set aside.

Remove the lid from the coconut oil and place the jar or bottle into a microwave. Heat until melted (about 30 seconds to 1 minute depending upon the solidity of the coconut oil); avoid overheating the oil. Alternately, place the jar or bottle into a container filled with near boiling water and let stand until the oil melts. Measure ¼ cup and add to the food processor with the remaining ingredients. Process the contents until very smooth.

Transfer the cheese mixture to the lined form. Pack the mixture with the back of a spoon and smooth the surface as best you can. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 8 hours. This will ensure that the coconut oil has completely solidified. Once firmed, lift the cheese from the container and crumble as needed.

When using as a topping for salads, toss the salad first with the dressing and then add the crumbles. Cubed feta is wonderful drizzled with olive oil and served with falafel and other Mediterranean favorites. Store in a zip-lock bag or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap in the refrigerator.

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Mediterranean Herbed Feta (From the Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook)
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