Cashew nut cheese is the classic vegan version of cheese. The subtle taste of the cashews, along with their soft texture when soaked, mean that they make a wonderfully creamy, soft cheese (and also cream). The mixture can then be flavoured – whether it’s with herbs, spices, or other ingredients to make delicious cheeses. I’ve used a recipe from Nicola Graimes’ new book New Vegetarian Kitchen, which I featured a few weeks ago and is full of inspirational and creative recipes for vegetarians, including this recipe for a trio of (dairy-free) cashew nut cheeses.
These cheeses are delicious just as they are, eaten with gluten-free bread or toast. But they’re also wonderful when added to a recipe. I made the herb one with rosemary instead of the suggested thyme, oregano or chives because I wanted to add it to a tomato-based pasta sauce I’d made to make it creamy, and wanted the strong rosemary flavour. The bland flavour of cashew nut cheese will work with a myriad of flavours, both subtle and strong – whatever you feel like trying!
Makes 3 different cheeses Preparation time 10 minutes
- 300g/10½oz/2 cups cashew nuts
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- a large pinch of smoked paprika
- 5 tbsp shelled pistachios, finely chopped
- 5 tbsp chopped mixed herbs, such as thyme, oregano and chives
- freshly ground black pepper
- Put the cashews in a bowl, cover with warm water and leave to soak for at least 2 hours, then drain and transfer the cashews to a food processor or blender. Add 185ml/6fl oz/¾ cup water and blend into a coarse paste. (For a softer ‘cheese’, add a little more water and blend into a coarse purée.) Add the salt and season with pepper.
- Divide the nut cheese into 3 equal portions. Stir the garlic, lemon juice and paprika into 1 portion and spoon it into a ramekin. Put the chopped pistachios on a plate. Using your hands, divide another portion of the nut cheese into teaspoon-sized balls, then roll each ball in the pistachios until evenly coated. Roll the last portion of the nut cheese into a log and roll it in the herbs to coat.
Tomorrow I’m signing copies of Simply Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free at Dulwich Books, on Croxted Road in West Dulwich, as part of the Independent Booksellers Week. I’ll be there from 4–7.30pm – come and sample some Raspberry & Rosewater Cupcakes and Chocolate Birthday Cake and it will be lovely to see you!
Quinoa is a true wonderfood. This gluten-free grain contains all 8 essential amino acids and is rich in calcium, making it a great choice if you’re following a gluten-free and also dairy-free diet. But many people think quinoa is hard to cook. The good news is that it isn’t. You simply need to use the right ratio of quinoa to liquid and make sure you don’t overcook it. You want it tender but not mushy – so stop cooking while it’s still in a discernible shape and then it will be delicious.
It’s good to add lovely flavours to quinoa. I developed this recipe around ingredients I know Zoe (my little 2-year old girl) loves, so that she would eat the quinoa, too. I added toasted pine nuts, raisins and chickpeas, and mixed these into stock-flavoured quinoa. And it worked – she ate masses. So now I’m feeling pleased that I’ve got some great nutrition inside her today!
gluten-free, wheat-free, yeast-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soya-free, seed-free, citrus-free
Preparation time 5 minutes Cooking time 15–20 minutes Serves 2
- 150g/5½oz/¾ cup quinoa
- 250ml/9fl oz/1 cup stock made with gluten-, yeast- and dairy-free stock powder
- 50g/1¾oz/⅓ cup pine nuts
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 230g/8oz/1 cup drained, tinned chickpeas
- 50g/1¾oz/scant ½ cup raisins or sultanas
- 1 handful parsley leaves, chopped
- 2 tbsp chopped mint leaves
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Put the quinoa in a sieve and rinse well under cold running water. Transfer to a saucepan and pour over the stock. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to a low heat, cover with a lid and leave to simmer for 15–20 minutes until the quinoa is tender and the water has been absorbed. If any water is left in the pan, drain the quinoa thoroughly through a sieve.
- Meanwhile, heat a large heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Add the pine nuts and dry-fry for 2–3 minutes, until just starting to turn golden. Remove from the pan and leave to one side.
- Pour the oil into the heavy-based saucepan and heat on a medium-low heat until hot. Add the onion and fry for 2–3 minutes, stirring frequently, until just starting to turn golden. Add the garlic and fry for a further 30 seconds, stirring all the time. Add the chickpeas and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- When the quinoa is cooked, transfer to the heavy-based saucepan and add the pine nuts, raisins or sultanas, parsley and mint. Season lightly and stir thoroughly until well mixed. Serve warm or cold.
Here’s another fantastic recipe from Christine Bailey’s The Top 100 Baby Foods, full of delicious tastes. And it features buckwheat which is a brilliantly useful gluten-free grain (it’s not related to wheat, despite its name). It’s full of B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc, and it’s a low-GI grain that helps keep blood sugar levels steady. With a lovely firm texture when cooked and a nutty taste, you can add it to stir-frys, stews and soups, or add some extra ingredients and use it like rice or couscous.
When you’re starting your baby on food, it’s good to introduce gluten later on in the weaning process because it is harder for little babies to digest and process. So buckwheat is great for the early stages. Once you’re past the first stage of weaning, this is a lovely recipe for babies. (Use olive oil instead of the sesame oil, though, and leave out the sesame seeds, if there’s any possibility of allergy.) Pork is an ideal protein for your baby. It’s naturally low in fat, and a great source of B vitamins that help with the development of your baby’s nervous system, as well as promoting hormonal balance and the production of brain neurotransmitters. And here you’re also adding beta-carotene-rich red pepper and antioxidant-filled spinach, too. Feeding your baby can be very daunting but this nutrient-rich recipe makes it easy. Whizz it into a puree for your baby, or eat it yourselves – you’ll all love it!
About 4 servings for little ones Preparation time 10 minutes Cooking time 30 minutes
- 50g/1¾oz/¼ cup buckwheat
- 125ml/4fl oz/½ cup vegetable stock (without added salt), or water
- 200g/7oz pork fillet, cut into thin strips
- ½ tsp Chinese five spice
- 1 tsp sesame oil (or olive oil if any possibility of nut allergy)
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 4 tbsp apple juice
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds (optional if any possibility of nut allergy)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ red pepper, finely chopped
- 4 tbsp frozen sweetcorn
- 100g/3½oz baby spinach leaves
- Put the buckwheat in a saucepan with the stock. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and keep covered. Put the pork a dish with the five spice, sesame or olive oil, garlic and juice to marinate.
- If using the sesame seeds, heat a non-stick frying pan over a high heat and add the sesame seeds. Toast for 1 minute until golden. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Add the pork and marinade. Cook for 2–3 minutes until the meat browns. Add the pepper and cook for a further 3 minutes. Add the sweetcorn and spinach. Cook for 3 minutes until the pork is cooked through. Add the sesame seeds, if using, and buckwheat and heat through.
- Serve hot or pulse in a blender or food processor to make a chunky purée.
These really are delicious. Unfortunately I didn’t get much as Peter polished off a couple and then Zoe ate not only hers, but most of mine, too!
I’ve used a lot of water in the pastry mixture because this makes it much easier to process it in a food processor, but it also means that it is malleable enough to work with it when you’re folding the pastry. If it’s fairly dry (like traditional pastry made with gluten) it will crack. Plus it cooks better when you add more liquid – without catching or burning. You’ll find it very sticky, but bear with me!
Spinach is an amazing food to cook with. It’s delicious, packed with nutrients (it contains 13 different antioxidants, it’s rich in lutein which helps to guard against eye disease and is bursting with calcium, magnesium and vitamin K) and it has a great texture when cooked – perfect for these pastries.
gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, seed-free, citrus-free
- 120g/4¼oz/¾ cup rice flour
- 120g/4¼oz/1¼ cups gram flour
- 60g/2¼oz/scant ½ cup buckwheat flour
- 50g/1¾oz/⅓ cup maize flour
- ½ tsp dried active yeast
- 1 tsp xanthan gum
- ½ tsp crushed sea salt
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 500g/1lb 2 oz baby spinach, thoroughly washed
- 3 tbsp sultanas
- 3 tbsp pine nuts
- 100g soya cheese, grated or crumbled
- ½ tsp allspice
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- To make the pastry, sift the flours, yeast, xanthan gum and salt into the bowl of a food processor with the dough blade attached and blend to mix together. Add the olive oil and blend again, then add 300ml/10½fl oz/1¼ cups warm water and process for 10 minutes to aerate the dough. It will be very sticky!
- Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise for 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, to make the filling, put the pine nuts in a frying pan over a medium-low heat and dry-fry for a 2–3 minutes, shaking the pan frequently, until the nuts have turned golden brown. Remove and leave to one side.
- Heat the oil in a large heavy-based frying pan or wok over a medium heat and add the garlic. Fry for about 30 seconds then add the spinach leaves, working in batches if necessary. Cook the spinach for 2–3 minutes until wilted. Remove and put into a fine sieve. Using the back of a metal spoon, push any excess liquid through. (Don’t discard the liquid, though, as it’s full of vitamins – drink it, instead!)
- Mix together the pine nuts, spinach, garlic and the sultanas and allspice and season lightly.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 and put a sheet of baking paper onto a baking sheet. Liberally dust a large chopping board with rice flour. Transfer the dough to the board and roll it round gently, so that it can absorb enough rice flour for you to be able to work with it, sprinkling more rice flour onto the board whenever you need it. You want it to be dry enough that it won’t stick to the board. Divide the dough into quarters and gently roll out a piece of pastry to a rectangular shape, about 5mm/¼in thick. Working quickly, put a quarter of the mixture in a wide line in the middle of the pastry and cover with a quarter of the soya cheese. Turn the ends of the pastry up and then fold the sides over, making sure that the last side folds over the first side slightly. Turn the pastry over carefully, using a metal spatula to pick it up from the chopping board if you need to. Place on the baking paper and repeat with the other 3 pieces of dough.
- Bake for about 30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Serve either hot or cold.