Category Archives: Dip

Vegan Cream Cheese

I am so proud of myself! I made vegan cream cheese today and it’s delicious!

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You know, sometimes I lack confidence in the kitchen. I enjoy cooking and creating delicious and creative vegan dishes and meals, but, most of the time, I follow a recipe. I get a bit anxious about launching off on my own without a recipe to anchor my creativity. Oh yes, there are several dishes I can make off by heart or have invented (humous, various salads and salad dressings, chili, bowls …), but most cooking days find me consulting a recipe. Now, this cream cheese recipe … I based it on Kaylie Johnson’s Dairy Free Paleo Cream Cheese Recipe on the blog Paleo Gluten Free Eats. I followed her recipe, but I wasn’t pleased with the flavour. So, you know what I did? I added a bit of this, a bit of that until I was satisfied. While I was adjusting, I realized that I was feeling confident and sure, that I have enough experience to just go for it. Although I used someone else’s recipe to start, I made this recipe my own. I can truly call it my own because I used what I know, what I like, and made something that worked for me. Yay me! So here it is:

1 cup cashews, soaked

1 1/2 tbsps water

1/8 cup + freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tbsp coconut oil

1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1/8 tsp salt

1/16 tsp finely minced garlic

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until very, very smooth. If you are using a high powered blender like a Vitamix, you shouldn’t have to blend for too long to get everything blended and the right consistency. If you have an ordinary blender, like I do, you will have to blend for at least 5 minutes, probably more, scraping down the sides as you go. I was able to keep the blender going while using a spatula to push the mixture from the sides into the middle. This way, the blender didn’t get stuck and I got everything really well blended together.

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This cream cheese is a savoury type, due to the salt and garlic, so use it in that way – on crackers, on bagels, on toast, with tomatoes … whatever your cream cheese thing is! I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m sure you could use this cream cheese in things like a layered mexican dip or in a salad dressing. Try it and let me know what you think and how you used it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to have a snack!

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Greek(ish) Salad and Humous(ish)

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I really love Greek salad and humous! I love the freshness of the vegetables in the salad and I love the wholsomeness of humous. Humous, of course, is a mainstay of a vegan’s diet and I make it weekly if not more often. And I make some version of Greek salad regularly as well. I call this one Greekish salad because it has what I consider the base of a Greek salad – cucumbers, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes with a lemon juice and olive oil dressing – then has a few other things thrown in that you wouldn’t typically find in a Greek salad. Same goes with the humous – a base of chickpeas, tahini, garlic and lemon juice –  it’s a bit “ish” because I changed the type of beans. Read on to find out more.

Greekish Salad

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1 English cucumber, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

10 (or so) grape tomatoes, cut in quarters

5 green onions, diced

1 cup of quinoa, cooked

handful of chopped green cabbage (optional)

1 tsp olive oil

2 tsps red wine vinegar

2 tsps fresh lemon juice

1 clove garlic, pressed

1/2 tsp salt

several sprigs fresh oregano, minced (if you can get it)

Put the vegetables and quinoa in a large bowl. Whisk the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, salt and oregano together then pour over the vegetables. Toss together.

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Humous

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1 1/2 cups navy beans

2 tbsps tahini

1 clove garlic, minced

juice of 1/2 lemon

zest of 1/2 lemon

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup water

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend for at least 5 minutes until very smooth, adding water 2 tbsps at a time. I like my humous to be not too thick and not too runny.

 

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Vegan Raita and Kachumber Salad

Over the weekend, I made a new curry … well, new to me … or rather, a new take on a familiar curry. I found a great recipe for Chana Saag (Curried Chickpeas and Spinach) in Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s cookbook, Isa Does It.

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The recipe, as I said, was for Chana Saag … Coconut Chana Saag as a matter of fact:

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Now, I’ve made Chana Masala (curried chickpeas) before and I’ve made different types of Saag (spinach curry) and I’ve made curry with a coconut milk sauce, but this recipe kind of combines all of this – chickpeas, spinach and coconut milk – and turns out a really delicious curry. Try it out why don’t you? It’s pretty easy and quick to make and it’s very tasty.

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So, yep, I decided to make the curry, but I wanted some interesting sides to go along with it. Of course, I cooked some rice – white basmati with peas (“Tom’s” favourite) – but I really wanted a salad. I did a little research on Pinterest and on the internet and discovered that curries are often accompanied by a salad called Kachumber Salad. The name alone is enough reason to make it! This salad is usually made up of chopped cucumber, tomato and onion with a bit of acid and salt as a dressing. I changed this up a bit by adding cabbage and using green onion. As for the raita (yogurt and cucumber or other chopped/grated vegetables), it’s a standard condiment for curries, so I decided to invent a vegan version of raita using cashews to replace the yogurt. “Tom” and I were very pleased with not only the curry, but the salad and the raita, so I thought I would share the love and post the recipes. I really hope you try one or more of these recipes next time you’re cooking Indian. And please use the comment section to tell me what you think.

Kachumber Salad

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1/2 English cucumber, peeled and chopped

1 tomato, chopped

about 1 quarter of a small head of savoy or green cabbage, chopped

3 green onions, chopped

handful of cilantro, coarsely chopped

4 or 5 leaves mint, coarsely chopped

juice of a lime (2 tbsps.)

1/2 tsp salt

Combine the vegetables, cilantro and mint in a bowl and gently toss. Pour in the lime juice and sprinkle in the salt and gently toss again. Leave the salad to marinate for a bit, maybe 20 minutes. If you leave it too long, the juice from the cucumber and tomato will dilute the salad. This salad is best eaten all at once. This recipe makes 3 servings.

Cashew Cucumber Raita

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1/2 cup cashews, soaked overnight or soaked for an hour in boiling hot water

1/4 cup plus 2 tbsps. water

juice of 1 lime (2 tbsps.)

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger

1/8 tsp cayenne

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 English cucumber, peeled and grated

1 green onion, chopped

handful of cilantro, finely chopped

4-5 leaves mint, finely chopped

Put the cashews, 1/4 cup water, lime juice, cumin, ginger, cayenne and salt in a blender and blend for 1 t0 2 minutes until everything starts to blend together. Stop, scrape down the sides and add 1 tbsp. water. Blend again for a couple of minutes. Add another tbsp. water if needed to make everything blend smoothly, but not too runny. Blend for a total of 5 minutes for the smoothest results.

Mix the cucumber, green onion, cilantro and mint together in a bowl. Pour in the cashew mixture and mix well. Let sit for a few minutes then taste and adjust for seasoning. (If your curry is quite hot and spicy, you might want to add more cilantro and mint to the raita; if it’s a milder curry, you might want to add some more cayenne and/or cumin).

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Vegan “Cheese” Sauce and Garlic Aioli

I made another yummy taco salad last weekend. I had a house guest staying so I thought it would be a good opportunity to try out some new recipes … you know, give “Tom” a break from being the only taste tester. The new recipes we sampled were vegan taco “meat”, vegan “cheese” sauce and a cashew garlic aioli. All were pretty good, but the cheese sauce and the aioli were outstanding!

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The cheese sauce is made from potatoes and carrots! I found the recipe on A Dash of Compassion. Here it is:

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Vegan “Cheese” Sauce

(adapted from A Dash of Compassion’s Easy Vegan Cheese Sauce – http://www.adashofcompassion.com/2016/06/my-favourite-taco-salad-with-spicy-lentils-and-easy-vegan-cheese-sauce/)

Serve the cheese sauce with this taco salad or make nachos or however and wherever a cheese sauce goes in your world! 

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2 cups peeled and chopped potatoes (about 4 or 5 medium sized potatoes)

3/4 cup chopped carrots (about 1 large and 1 small or 2 medium carrots)

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

1/3 cup sunflower oil

1/3 cup water

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1 1/2 tsps. salt

Cook the potatoes and carrots together until very soft. Drain, rinse with cold water, set aside to cool a bit. Combine everything in a saucepan and blend with an immersion blender. Add more water, 1 tbsp. at a time, if needed to make a pourable sauce. (I added 2 tbsps. water).

Cashew Garlic Aioli

(adapted from Vegan Heaven’s Vegan Sour Cream – http://veganheaven.org/recipe/vegan-taco-salad-lentil-walnut-meat/)

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Use this aioli anywhere you would use sour cream or mayonnaise. We ate it as a dip for fresh-from-the-garden vegetables and as one of the condiments for the taco salad.

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1/2 cup cashews, soaked overnight or soaked for an hour in boiling water

2 tbsps. lemon juice

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup + water

Drain the cashews from their soaking water. Put cashews, lemon juice and garlic in a blender. Blend for about a minute. Add 1/4 cup water and blend again. Add more water, 1 tbsp. at a time, to the blender in order to get the sauce to blend freely, but not so much to make the sauce too runny. Blend for 5 minutes in total to get a smooth sauce.

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Vegan Queso

I feel like the Cat in the Hat!

Why?

Because the Cat in the Hat says, “Look at me! Look at me now! It is fun to have fun, but you have to know how!”

And that’s what I’m saying right now! Look at me! Look at me now! I’m posting on my blog for the second day in a row!

(Of course, when the Cat in the Hat said it, he was balancing a cup and some cake and some books and a fish and lots of other things!)

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So, yeah, I’m posting another recipe today. This one is for vegan queso. You know, I’d never heard of queso until I became a vegan! Until I started reading and subscribing to other food blogs. Since then I’ve learned that Americans (that is, people from the U.S. of America) really like queso! Even vegans! Traditional queso is a cheese sauce, so creative vegan queso lovers have invented all kinds of cheeseless queso recipes. While I was looking for a Mexican flavoured appetizer to kick off a dinner party that I’m about to host, I came across this interesting take on queso on Minimalist Baker (http://minimalistbaker.com/cashew-less-vegan-queso/).

I made this queso tonight and I thought it was really tasty. I just ate some with tortilla chips, but I’m thinking of using it to make nachos – chips on a pan, a layer of queso, a layer of diced tomatoes, green onions, black olives, jalapenos, repeat layers, broil lightly, eat. I’m also wondering if I could use it for a pasta sauce.

Vegan Queso

(slightly adapted from Minimalist Baker’s Cashew-Less Vegan Queso)

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about 1/2 medium sized eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds (Unusual ingredient, that’s for sure! Whether you like or don’t like eggplant, you’ll really like this queso! I know because I taste tested it on an eggplant hater!)

salt

olive oil

1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk

3 tbsps. nutritional yeast

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

2 + 1 tsp cornstarch

Sprinkle the eggplant rounds on both sides with salt and leave to drain in a colander for 15 minutes. Rinse with cold water, pat dry and lay out on a lightly greased baking pan. Brush a little olive oil on the eggplant rounds. Broil on high close to the top of the oven for about 4 minutes, then flip and broil for another 4 minutes. Don’t let the eggplant burn. Broil to a golden-brown colour. Transfer rounds to some foil, loosely wrap and let steam for a couple of minutes. Peel off the eggplant skin. The broiled, skinned eggplant rounds, packed into a 1 cup measuring cup, should fill the cup.

Put the eggplant rounds, milk, yeast, garlic, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika and 2 tsps. cornstarch into a blender and blend on high for 2 to 5 minutes (depending on how powerful your blender is) until smooth and creamy.

Transfer to a saucepan and warm over medium heat, stirring slowly. It will start to thicken and bubble (watch out for those bubbles!). If it doesn’t seem thick enough after 3+ minutes, mix the remaining 1 tsp of cornstarch with a splash of almond milk and a couple of tbsps. of the queso until smooth then stir into the saucepan. Keep cooking and stirring until thick.

Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

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Next time I make this, I will roast the eggplant whole, then scrape out the inside to fill 1 cup .

The original recipe calls for 1/4 cup of drained salsa to stir into the queso after it has been heated and thickened. I didn’t do this because I wanted to serve the salsa alongside the queso.

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Dill Pickle Chip Dip

I’ve probably  mentioned it a time or two on this blog, but I’ll say it again … I LOVE POTATO CHIPS! Have you noticed at this time of year, potato chips are on sale? You can’t afford to not buy them when they’re such a deal! So, of course, I have chips in the cupboard. Actually, they’re on the table right now. Right beside the computer while I type this. Open bag. Testing the recipe while I type!

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Earlier today, I thought I might like to have a potato chip snack and I started reminiscing about potato chip dips. The ones that we only had at Christmas time. The ones full of dairy! Well, I wanted a dip, a vegan dip, to go with my chips, darn it, so I just … made one! Here it is:

Dill Pickle Chip Dip

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1/2 cup organic, raw cashews

2 dill pickles

2 to 3 tbsps. dill pickle juice

1 tsp onion powder

Soak the cashews for several hours (or if you’re in a hurry like I was, soak them in boiling hot water for 20 minutes). Chop up the pickles, reserve about a tbsp. for garnish. Throw the drained cashews, pickles, 2 tbsps. pickle juice and onion powder into a blender and blend for about 2 minutes. If you need a bit more liquid, add in the extra tbsp. of pickle juice. Continue to blend for another 2 to 3 minutes. Pour into a bowl, garnish with the reserved chopped pickle and eat with your favourite potato chips.

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Here’s the dip chillin’ in the fridge just after I made it.

 

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