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Unless otherwise noted, all recipes on this blog are free of gluten, peanuts, soy, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, shellfish, cane sugar, oranges, and yeast. Most recipes are also free of egg, dairy, and tree nuts (if used, reliable substitutions will be provided for these when possible). Check out my recipe index for a full list of recipes by category. 

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Saturday
May082010

Pepper-Crusted Cashew Cheese with Herbs (gluten free, vegan, raw, ACD)

Aubree Cherie at Living Free, my choice for the Blogger Secret Ingredient hostess, selected the noble cashew for this week's event. Since the cashew is probably one of my favorite foods, I had to participate.  I've been a bit obsessed with baking this week and my coworkers and friends have been employed as my guinea pigs. Scones, skillet bread, a chocolate torte, blackberry buckwheat swirly buns - my oven has been working overtime.  Anyway, the cashew slid to the back of my mind, and I kind of forgot about it.

Until last night.

Cashew cheese is a pretty standard dairy-free thing to make, so I like to dress it up a bit by making cute little wheels crusted with coarsely ground peppercorns. This recipe isn't anything groundbreaking, but it is a handy - and most importantly, delicious - thing to have in your repertoire.   Back in the day, I was a sucker for those lovely herb or peppercorn-crusted logs of fresh chevre.  This reminds me a bit of that, but without that tricky lactose.  Cashew cheese really couldn't be easier to make and it takes well to adaptations, so if you don't like my choice of seasonings, feel free to mix it up with your own! If I could, I would add sun-dried tomatoes.

When made into these lovely little wheels, cashew cheese is a wonderfully fancy-looking addition to the snack table at a party, a special treat for picnics, or added to a tapas plate with some olives and dried figs. If you don't want to make it into wheels, feel free to use the cheese as is.  Either way, it is delicious and "cheese"like and very satisfying, and would be perfect for the Mother's Day brunch table! Use it on crackers or fresh vegetables - it is great with thinly sliced radish.  Spread it on bread, or use it on pizza.   Do anything with it!  I spread some on a slice of my Pumpkinseed Teff Sandwich Bread, and also crumbled some up and threw it in to my first attempt at a savory filled braid bread. 

Savory Filled Braid Bread, round 1, with a little gooey cashew cheese inside.

Feeling cashewliscious?  Here are some other tasty cashew recipes from my site:

 

Pepper-Crusted Cashew Cheese with Herbs 

yield: 2-3 cheese wheels, or roughly 1 1/2 cups cheese

If you don't tolerate pepper, feel free to garnish with minced herbs instead. It will still be delicious and beautiful!  See note at end of recipe.

1 1/2 cups raw cashews
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp vitamin C crystals (or 2-3 tsp lemon juice if you do citrus)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black peppercorns
optional: 1 tsp chickpea miso (adds a nice yeastiness that is somewhat cheese-like) 
water, as needed 
2 Tbsp minced fresh herbs (I used chives, dill, and parsley)
 

2 tsp coarsely ground fresh black peppercorns
fresh chive flowers 

Place cashews in 4 cups of water and let soak for 4 hours.  Drain and rinse well.  Place in a food processor fitted with the "S" blade or a high powered blender (like a Vitamix). Process until coarsely ground, then scrape sides and garlic powder, vitamin C crystals, salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and miso, and continue to process until smooth, adding water by the 1/2 teaspoon as necessary for it to come together.  Once smooth, add fresh herbs and additional salt/pepper to taste, and pulse a few times to incorporate.  

Use the cheese as is as a tasty spread, or to make lovely little wheels continue to the next step!

Line a 1/2 or 1/3 cup measuring cup with plastic wrap, smoothing the bottom as much as possible, and leaving at least 2 inches of plastic wrap around the edges.  If you use a 1/2 cup measure, you will end up with 2 wheels and some leftover cheese. If you use a 1/3 cup measure, you can get 4 slightly smaller wheels.  You could also form one big ball (or a bunch of smaller ones) and just roll it in peppercorns.  Whatever, the choice is up to you.  :)

Once lined, sprinkle in black pepper to fully coat bottom of cup, then pack cashew "cheese" firmly into the cup.  Lift gently on edges of plastic wrap and pull out wheel, wrap well, and refrigerate until ready to serve, or at least 1 hour. It will become firmer as it cools.  When ready to serve, gently peel off plastic wrap and place on a plate. If desired, garnish with chive flowers.

HERB GARNISH VARIATION: to make pepper-free, omit pepper from the recipe, and use 2-3 tsp of finely minced fresh herbs in the plastic lined measuring cups.  Your cheese wheel will have a lovely green top!

ROASTED GARLIC VARIATION: omit garlic powder and add 3-4 roasted garlic cloves while processing.  So tasty!

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Reader Comments (12)

This looks amazing! I specifically bought raw cashews a few days ago because I am always seeing wonderful recipes - thank you!

Oh my , as usual... EVERYTHING looks so beautiful as always, I sure enjoyed getting to read about this , I have never tasted anything even close , but it looks delicious, as does everything you prepare . I loved getting to read about this special treat and getting to see these out standing photograghs of such delightful faire . Thank you :)

May 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

Ha! You're always one step ahead of me. I was just getting my brain around trying some of this nut cheese that's floating around the internets. I'll definitely give this one a try.

May 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLeah

Ooh, I adore cashew cheese! And I bet it would be stellar with the miso added. What a great recipe, Kim! I seem to have missed the BSI challenge yet again. . . but I won't forget about making cashew cheese, anyway. ;)

May 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRicki

I made this for an appetizer with last night's Mother's Day dinner and it was a huge hit! I used parsley and basil as my herbs - outstanding!

Seriously amazing Kim! I love making nut cheese, but this black pepper combo, over the top.

May 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlisa

Cashew cheese is one of my favorite things in the world! Your pictures are gorgeous and I feel I can actually taste the pepper and chives :)

May 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterA-K

Thanks for all the great comments guys, it is very tasty indeed!

Tasha - I'm so glad that it was a hit at Mom's Day dinner with your family. Thank you for sharing that, it made my day!

Kathy - thanks for your kind comment, as always :)

Leah - great minds think alike, yes? i'm excited to see what kinds of nut cheese you come up with!

Ricki - One must never forget the nut cheese.

Alisa - You are too kind, your comment made me giggle. Thanks so much!

A-K - I adore cashew cheese too, it is such a wonderful indulgence! Thanks for the compliment on the photos; I admire your photography, so I'm flattered!

Herbal plants used in the Ayurvedic system of medicine are facing extinction.
Definite cause of concern, as Ayurveda is increasingly being used around the world to treat various disorders such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, ulcers and many others.

Some herbs that have been identified are - Ulteria salicfolia, Hydnocarpus pentandra, Gymnocladus assamicus, and Begonia tessaricarpa.


Conservation of traditional herbs and plants should become a high priority for all. Challenge
becomes more severe as many of these herbs grow in the wild and are not cultivated.


Planet Green (a discovery.com venture) reported on this earlier this month.


More details on the Ayurveda Group blog (http://www.ayurvedagroup.com/blog)

Direct link to the blog post
http://ayurvedagroup.com/blog/2010/93-of-ayurvedas-wild-medicinal-plants-threatened-with-extinction/


Link to planet green site
http://planetgreen.discovery.com/food-health/ayurvedas-medicinal-plants-extinction.html

May 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSasha

Presentation is so adorable! Love the roasted garlic variation.

May 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDJ Karma

Would white miso work as well? :)

August 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermeg

Hi Meg, yes any type of miso would work just fine in this recipe. I hope you enjoy it! -Kim

August 24, 2011 | Registered CommenterKim @ Affairs of Living
Sorry, no comments/questions allowed right now.
Hi reader! My schedule as full-time grad student with two part-time jobs doesn't allow me the time to manage comments. I hope you enjoy what you find and can figure out answers to any questions you may have. xo