Hard Shreddin’ Chedda’ (Non-Dairy)

Hard Shreddin’ Chedda’ is a hard, golden block cheese with a mild cheddar cheese flavor. It’s ideal as a cold-snacking cheese. Slices are wonderful for serving on crackers or cold sandwiches. It’s also ideal for shredding as a topping for tacos and other Mexican cuisine, when melting isn’t necessary. When shredded and stirred into hot high-moisture foods, or covered with a sauce and heated, it melts moderately well.

Homemade soy or almond milk yogurt is used in this cheese to impart a natural cultured aroma and flavor that cannot be achieved using commercial lactic acid powder alone. However, for the sake of convenience, you can replace the yogurt with additional plain unsweetened soymilk or almond milk and ½ tsp lactic acid powder. If you have commercial vegan cheddar cheese flavor on hand, add a teaspoon or two to the mixture when blending (strictly optional).

This cheese is very easy to prepare since it does not rely upon stirring or emulsification during cooking; and you will never experience a broken emulsion or a block that does not set and firm properly! It also does not rely upon gels for firming and is therefore free of carrageenan or agar.

The cheese can also be seasoned with additional ingredients to create interesting flavor combinations. Ingredients might include a teaspoon or two of prepared horseradish or hot pepper sauce blended into the liquid mixture before cooking. Dried herbs, spices and low moisture ingredients such as crushed peppercorns, chopped sun-dried tomato, dehydrated garlic, dried minced onion and/or chives, red pepper flakes, etc., can be stirred into the mixture just before cooking.

For this recipe you will need a flexible silicone form/cheese mold that will hold a minimum of 2 cups liquid. Avoid using a metal or Pyrex™ container because the cheese will be very hard after chilling and difficult to remove. Do not use a plastic form as it will not be able to withstand the cooking temperature. You will also need a cooking pot with a lid and an open steamer basket for steaming the cheese in the mold.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup refined coconut oil, melted (not virgin coconut oil)
  • ½ cup unstrained soymilk or almond milk yogurt, room temperature
  • ½ cup plain unsweetened soymilk or almond milk, room temperature
  • ½ cup tapioca flour/starch
  • ¼ cup unmodified potato starch or corn starch
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 tablespoon mellow white miso paste
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 and ¾ teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon dry ground mustard
  • 2 teaspoons raw apple cider vinegar
  • optional additional high-moisture ingredients, such as prepared horseradish, liquid smoke or hot pepper sauce (2 teaspoons maximum)
  • optional additional low-moisture ingredients (2 tablespoons maximum)

Preparation

Add water to the pot, but just below the bottom of the steamer basket, and place over high heat to bring the water to a boil.

Process all ingredients, including any optional high moisture ingredients, in a blender until very smooth. If adding herbs and spices, stir them in after blending.

Transfer to the cheese mold and rap the mold gently on a firm surface to settle the mixture and remove any air bubbles.

Place the uncovered mold into the steamer basket. Place the basket into the pot over the boiling water and cover with the lid. Set a timer for 30 minutes.

Remove the mold from the steamer and allow to cool about 1 hour. The cheese mixture will have a puffy appearance but will settle upon cooling. If steam condensation has settled on the surface of the cheese, or any oil has pooled, very gently blot with a paper towel to remove it (a shiny oily appearance is fine).

The cheese will be very sticky until fully chilled and hardened. It will also have a translucent appearance but will become opaque upon cooling. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until hardened. This will take upwards of 12 hours with 24 hours being ideal.

Remove the cheese from the flexible silicone form. Slice or shred the block as desired. Wrap in a dry paper towel and store airtight in the refrigerator. Change the towel every few days. Stored properly, the cheese will last for weeks.

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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.

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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Cheddar and Sour Cream Potato Chip Seasoning

DSC00726This cheesy, creamy and mildly tangy seasoning powder was created specifically for dusting pre-salted potato chips and popcorn. For unsalted chips and popcorn, consider increasing and even doubling the amount of salt in the recipe. Freeze-dried minced chives can be added for a “loaded baked potato” flavor. This recipe yields about 1 cup of seasoning.

Ingredients
• ¾ cup nutritional yeast flakes
• ¼ cup organic soymilk powder (do not use soy protein powder or soy flour)
• 3 T tomato powder
• 2 T onion powder
• 4 tsp fine sea salt or kosher salt, or more to taste
• 1 and ½ tsp lactic acid powder (available from ModernistPantry.com)
• ½ tsp dry ground mustard
• ⅛ tsp garlic powder

Preparation
Process the ingredients in a DRY blender until finely powdered. Store the seasoning blend in an airtight container at room temperature in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months (but you’ll never keep it around that long!)

To season a large bag of commercial potato chips, open the bag and add about 3 tablespoons of seasoning. Close the bag tightly and gently shake and turn to distribute the seasoning. Open the bag and enjoy.

Alternately, add the seasoning powder to a shaker dispenser and season your favorite foods and snacks according to taste.

Loaded Baked Potato Variation
Process the ingredients in a DRY blender until finely powdered. Add 1 tablespoon freeze-dried minced chives and process again until the chives are reduced to small particles but not completely powdered. Season the chips as directed above.

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Cheddar and Sour Cream Potato Chip Seasoning
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Fried Mozzarella Sticks (Non-Dairy)

DSC08968-001An appetizer favorite, fried mozzarella sticks can also be made with Mozzarella di Campana or di Tuscano (from The Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook) for additional zesty Italian flavor.

Ingredients
• 1 block Mozzarella Fior di Latte (from the Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook)
or Mozzarella di Tuscano or di Campana variations
• 1 cup plain unsweetened non-dairy milk
• ½ cup all-purpose flour or rice flour
• 1 T nutritional yeast flakes
• 1 cup plain fine dry breadcrumbs
• ½ cup panko-style bread crumbs
• 1 and ½ tsp fine sea salt or kosher salt
• 1 tsp onion powder
• 1 tsp garlic powder
• 1 tsp dried oregano
• 1 tsp dried basil
• ½ tsp coarse ground black pepper
• high-temp cooking oil, such as grapeseed, safflower, sunflower
• marinara sauce, for dipping

Preparation
Cut the mozzarella into sticks and keep chilled until ready to prepare the breading. Prepare the marinara sauce ahead of time so it can be reheated just before serving the fried mozzarella.

In one bowl, whisk the milk, flour and nutritional yeast together until smooth. Set aside.
In another bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and seasonings.

Dip a mozzarella stick into the milk/flour batter, shake off the excess and roll in the breadcrumbs until thoroughly coated. Handle them gently so as to not dislodge the breading. Place the stick on a plate and repeat with the remaining sticks. If the breading is not adhering completely, repeat dipping in the milk/flour mixture and then the breadcrumbs. It’s important to achieve complete coverage. Place the plate into the refrigerator uncovered for 30 minutes to allow the breading to dry a bit and thoroughly chill the mozzarella.

Add 1-inch of oil to a deep skillet or wok and place over medium-high heat. Place the marinara sauce over medium heat to warm while frying the mozzarella sticks.
When the oil begins to shimmer, gently lower a few of the sticks into the hot oil and fry until golden brown. Fry the sticks in batches; remove with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.

Serve immediately with the marinara sauce. If the sticks need to be reheated, place them in a hot oven for about 10 minutes; they also respond well to brief reheating in a microwave (they heat from within, which is very efficient for melting the cheese).

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Fried Mozzarella Sticks (Non-Dairy)
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Crock Beer Cheese (Non-dairy, of course)

DSC00019-001Crock Beer Cheese is a spreadable sharp non-dairy cheddar enhanced with the flavor of beer. The beer is first reduced to eliminate the alcohol and a good portion of the water thus concentrating its flavor (the beer flavor is not a primary note in the cheese but rather contributes to the overall flavor profile). To spice things up, ground cayenne pepper can be added before cooking the cheese. For a robust cheese, prepared horseradish can be mixed into the cheese after it has set.

Crock Beer Cheese is superb for spreading on crackers, hard or soft pretzels or chunks of crusty bread. It can be melted on sandwiches or used in any application where spreadable sharp cheddar might be used.

Note: For this cheese, you will need a working understanding for preparing the Block Cheeses in the Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook (see the main page of the TheGentleChef.com website for information on where to purchase the book). A cheese form is not required since the cheese will be stored in a crock or other suitable container. Any heat-proof container that will hold a minimum of 2 cups liquid will suffice for chilling and setting the cheese.

Ingredients
• 1 bottle (12 oz) beer of your choice, alcoholic or non-alcoholic
(please note that dark beers will darken the cheese)
• 1 T raw apple cider vinegar
• ½ tsp vegan lactic acid powder (available from ModernistPantry.com) or 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
• ½ cup refined coconut oil
• 1 cup organic plain unsweetened soymilk (no additives) or homemade almond milk
• ¼ cup tapioca flour
• ¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes
• 2 T mellow white miso paste
• 1 T tomato paste
• 2 tsp kappa carrageenan (available from ModernistPantry.com)
• 1 tsp fine sea salt or kosher salt
• 1 tsp dry ground mustard
• ½ tsp onion powder
• ½ tsp garlic powder
• optional: ¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper, or more to taste
• optional: 1 T prepared horseradish (not creamed) for stirring into the cheese after cooking and chilling

Technique:
First, gather all ingredients. Combine the vinegar with the lactic acid powder or lemon juice in a small dish and set aside near your cooking area. The acid mixture will be added to the cheese mixture after cooking.

Next, melt the coconut oil. Measure ½ cup and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, bring the beer to a simmer. Watch carefully while heating, as the beer will foam excessively and possibly boil over if brought to a vigorous boil. Skim and discard any excess foam. Simmer until reduced, about 15 minutes. Let the mixture cool until warm. Measure ⅓ cup and discard any remainder.

Transfer the beer reduction to a blender. Add the soymilk or almond milk with the remaining ingredients (except for the optional horseradish). Do not add the coconut oil or acid to the blender. Process the contents until smooth, stopping as necessary to dislodge any dry powder from the sides of the blender with a flexible spatula.

Now add the coconut oil (but not the acid) to the blender and pulse the mixture once or twice only to disperse the oil but not completely blend. This is important. After pulsing, pour the mixture into the saucepan.

Cook the cheese according to the Preparation and Cooking Technique instructions in the Block Cheese section of The Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook. Be sure to incorporate the acid mixture into the cooked cheese before pouring into a minimum 2-cup container to set.

Cover with plastic wrap and chill for a minimum of 6 hours. After chilling, transfer the set cheese to a mixing bowl and mash and stir thoroughly with a fork until smooth. Stir in the optional prepared horseradish. Transfer to a crock or other suitable container and chill until ready to serve.

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Crock Beer Cheese (Non-dairy, of course)
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