I've been on a cheeze kick ever since the release of Russell James' new Raw Nut Cheese Recipes ebook this summer. He says that of all his e-publications it almost instantly became the most popular. Why am I not surprised? I mean, healthy non-dairy alternatives to cheese would tantalize many a vegan, raw or nay!
I have played with nut cheese making a number of times in the last couple of years (make sure to check out this post if you haven't already!) but as in virtually anything he touches, the talented 'Raw Chef' takes it to the next level. “Goats” Cheese, Olive & Sundried Tomato, Lemon & Thyme Cheese, Feta, Ricotta... My gosh, where to begin?
The first recipe I tried was his Macadamia Pesto Cheese. Russell points out that macadamia nuts make a firmer and slightly whiter cheese than cashews which piqued my curiosity. For the most part, his basic technique is identical to mine. One minor difference is that he uses water instead of rejuvelac, which I think is great as it simplifies the process. On the other hand, it means a longer fermentation time, which is no big deal.
The Pesto turned out rather oily and I ended up with a puddle of oil on the plate. Hum. *scratching her head* Perhaps I over processed the pine nuts? In spite of that minor booboo, the combination of Pesto and nut cheese was not only beautiful but also delicious!
Onion & Garlic Cheese
This was really very good! I made the slight adjustments mentioned above regarding the amount of water and weight and the texture turned out much firmer than the Macadamia Pesto Cheese. While the Onion & Garlic Cheese recipe has a cashew base, I decided to use macadamia nuts instead. I also replaced shallot with extra green onion.
Caraway, Fennel & Olive Cheese
This was my favorite of the three. I wasn't too sure initially about the fennel and caraway which I very seldom use, but they gave such a lovely and subtle flavor to the cheese.
Needless to say that we completely blew the taste buds of our non-raw friends with these nut based cheeses! Such a wonderfully tasty and healthy alternative to the dairy stuff! Yay!
In addition to a large variety of mouthwatering cheeses, Russell James' Raw Nut Cheese Recipes ebook also features other recipes to perfectly complete your cheese plate such as a berry compote, fruit chutney, Almond Thins and Garlic Bread. When I saw a photo of the latter, I immediately thought of the amazing bread that we enjoyed at Au Lac. The closest to the 'real thing' that we'd ever tasted in the raw. I therefore was thrilled to try his version using almond pulp.
I first dehydrated the 'loaves' (I was so excited I even doubled the recipe!) before cutting them into individual slices. As you can see, the surface cracked in several places.
However that didn't really show once they were cut up and the slices looked pretty darn authentic. While the flavor was awesome, I found that the almond pulp made the bread so dry that I had trouble swallowing the bites. ;-( Ah well, guess the quest for 'perfect' raw bread isn't over just yet...
I have to say that Russell's Raw Nut Cheese Recipes ebook is very well done. With clear instructions and photos for every great recipe, it is a wonderful resource for anyone interested in mastering the art of raw cheese making. I warmly recommend it!