Thyme-Roasted Grapes and Cheese on Grilled Bread

IMG_1668     Thyme-Roasted Grapes and Cheese on Grilled Bread is one of those recipes that’s almost too good to be true.  Quick, easy, elegant and especially delicious.  The earliest origin of roasted grapes I could find online was around 2004.  Here, we’re using vegan cheese, because nobody has to die so we can have really good food.  Having a sweet, salty, creamy and crunchy appetizer is wonderful, but knowing it’s also good for your body and the planet and the animals is priceless!

THYME ROASTED GRAPES AND CHEESE ON GRILLED BREAD

Makes enough for 2 to 4 people, for appetizers

INGREDIENTS
1 lb. seedless red grapes
2 ciabatta loaves, or a baguette
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
spreadable vegan cheese, such as Kite Hill Cream Cheese Style Spread.  Or, Miyoko’s CreameryTreeline, etc.   Or even just Tofutti Cream Cheese (non-hydrogenated).  Any of them should work.

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (218 Celsius).  Line baking dish with parchment paper.  In a mixing bowl, place grapes, olive oil, sea salt and thyme, and fold gently with a wooden spoon to coat the grapes.  Tip ingredients into prepared baking dish and roast for 15 minutes or so, until grapes are a bit shriveled but still juicy.  Set aside.  Also set out your vegan cheese so it can warm up a bit while you prepare the toasts.

Slice ciabatta loaves in half the long way so you wind up with two wide/flat paddles, or if using a baguette, slice into rounds.  If grilling, brush bread with olive oil on both sides.  If baking in oven, brush oil on just the cut sides.  Grill bread 1 to 2 minutes per side–do not walk away, as it can burn quickly.  If baking bread, have oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 Celsius) and bake for about 7 minutes, keeping an eye on it.  Smear bread with vegan cheese and garnish with thyme-roasted grapes.  Serve.

Notes:  If using a good nut cheese, this can easily be a main meal, especially if served with a salad.  I used the Kite Hill Cream Cheese Style Spread (made from almond milk) in the Chive flavor.

Miyoko’s Creamery Vegan Cheeses

IMG_2814    We ate a lot of good food on Thanksgiving, but the highlight for me were these vegan cheeses by Miyoko’s Creamery.  These are gorgeous, cultured nut cheeses that taste like good European cheeses.   It’s possible that my favorite is the Classic Double Cream Chive (above photo), which is like a rich Boursin with a lovely herbal flavor from organic chives.    I admit to eating too much of it on Thanksgiving.  Like, I could hardly wait for lunch the next day to break out the crackers, not kidding.  A few days later, that wheel was polished off, and we broke open the Fresh Loire Valley cheese which is wrapped in a fresh green fig leaf (see photo below).  Talk about presentation!  The Fresh Loire Valley cheese is a bit similar to the Classic Double Cream Chive except perhaps a bit milder, with a nice subtle tang–addictive in its own way, let me assure you.  I thought I tasted a hint of lemon in it, but it’s probably the organic wine that it’s made with.  The last one we tried was the Double Cream Sundried Tomato Garlic, which, despite its name, tasted like a delicious very-mild smoked-cheddar cheese ball.  These are KILLER, the bees knees, the awesome sauce, the cat’s pajamas, and the bomb.  Thank you, Miyoko!  In case anyone doesn’t know, Miyoko has also written a cookbook called Artisan Vegan Cheese.  I’ve made a couple of the cultured cheeses in the book, with good results.   To make simpler vegan cheeses at home, please check out the Vegan Cheese category on this site.  To order Miyoko’s incredible cheeses, go to Miyoko’s Kitchen.  If we are eating dairy, we are killing veal calves, and subjecting female cows to lifetimes of extreme suffering, while simultaneously ruining our planet, giving ourselves cancer, diabetes, strokes and heart attacks, and starving children across the globe.  As we awaken, we can choose a different path.

IMG_2804  My favorite so far.
IMG_2807   Classic Double Cream Chive
IMG_0026  Fresh Loire Valley cheese in fig leaf.
IMG_0017
IMG_0019  Fresh Loire Valley cheese.

Easy Fig Jam with Lemon and Sesame

IMG_0598    Vegan Mofo 2013.  For weeks, we’ve been having a contest to see who could get to the figs first–me or The Squirrels.  As you can imagine, the Squirrels are way ahead, but I did manage to snag a pound a half of these White Italian Honey Figs, and make some easy, vegan fig jam.  This fig jam is great with salty crackers on a vegan cheese board.  You can double this recipe, and you can use any type of figs–I’ve also made it with Brown Turkey figs.

EASY FIG JAM WITH LEMON AND SESAME

Makes about two 8-ounce jars.

INGREDIENTS
1/2 Cup water
1/2 Cup sugar
1.5 pounds ripe figs, rinsed
zest from one organic lemon
1 Tablespoon lemon juice (no more)
1 Tablespoon white sesame seeds, toasted

DIRECTIONS
In a small skillet over medium heat, toast sesame seeds, shaking the pan gently until seeds turn golden.  Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, simmer water and sugar, until sugar is dissolved.
Cut each fig into about 8 pieces.
Into the sugar-water, add zest and lemon juice and figs.
Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thick and syrupy, 1.5 to 2 hours.
Stir in sesame seeds.
If you want to, you can now use a potato masher to break up some of the fig pieces.
I like a mixed consistency.
Let cool a bit and then ladle into heavy little canning jars.
When fully cool, cap the jars.
Keep in fridge for one month, or put in freezer for up to six months.

Notes:  I’ve tried making this with stevia, and did not like the flavor at all.  One time I added extra lemon, but that made it taste kind of like Pledge, so keep it subtle.  I also tried adding more sesame seeds, but it was too much, threw the balance off.  This fig jam is great with salty crackers and vegan cheeses.  If you need to collect figs over 2 or 3 days, gently rinse and dry them, and keep them in a covered container in the refrigerator until you get enough.
IMG_0579  White Italian Honey Figs

IMG_0510  Here’s my haul from day one.  It took me two more days to steal enough from the squirrels to make jam.

IMG_0591  The picture of health, but not ripe yet.

IMG_0589  This fig tree gets cut back each Spring and then it grows about 4-6 feet in one season.  You can see it towering over our one-story garage roof here.  This fig tree faces SW, and is protected from wind by the garage.

Vegan Cheese Ball

IMG_0307    This recipe is straight from Josh Latham of My Vegan Cookbook.  And it’s really good!   For me, Josh’s original recipe here has a flavor reminiscent of mild cheddar, but with the texture of goat cheese.  Josh has suggested variations such as Black Pepper & Rosemary, or Hawaiian-style (with Baco Bits and Pineapple).  However, I’m thinking a swirl of reduced port wine would be just the thing to mix into this vegan cheese ball, especially for the holidays.  The only thing I did differently was to soak the almonds overnight, just to make them a bit creamier.  Josh seems to have a way with making decadent food that’s also healthy, and this easy vegan cheeze ball is no exception.  p.s.  I made another one of Josh’s recipes for Vegan Mofo last year, his Salted Caramel Popcorn.

JOSH LATHAM’S CHEEZE BALL,  ORIGINAL FLAVOR

INGREDIENTS
1 Cup slivered and blanched almonds
1/4 Cup pine nuts
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/3 of a 14 oz. block of firm tofu  (refrigerated kind, well drained)
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon canola oil  (I used grapeseed)
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoons fresh chives  (I like 2 teaspoons)
3/4 Cup finely chopped walnuts  (to coat outside)

DIRECTIONS
(I soak the almonds in a jar of filtered water overnight, but this is my optional step.)
Place almonds and pine nuts in food processor with salt and sugar, and blend for about 2 minutes until clumps start to form.

Measure 1/3 of a block of tofu from a 14-ounce block.  It’s important to use firm tofu.  Silken or extra-firm tofu will not work.  An average block of tofu is about 4.5 inches long, so measure 1.5 inches off.  Drain tofu in a strainer by smashing and pressing firmly.  Using a clean lint-free dish towel to soak up some of the water also helps.  It’s important to get as much water as you can out.   (I just used a Tofu Xpress instead).

Now add the tofu to the almond and pine-nut paste that’s already in the food processor, along with the red wine vinegar, lemon juice, oil and onion powder, and blend about two minutes.  Mixture should resemble extra-thick mashed potatoes.

Add chives to food processor and pulse them into the mixture, just until distributed.

Spray a small bowl and a square of plastic wrap with cooking oil spray.  Press mixture into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Place in fridge and let this chill for at least five hours or overnight.  It will get nice and firm and can now be shaped into a ball and rolled in chopped walnuts to coat.  If you lightly oil your hands, it will keep it from sticking to your hands while you roll.  (I did not bother oiling my hands and did not need to, it was not sticky.)

Here are Josh’s variations on the same recipe.  Just leave the chives out and add:

Black Pepper & Rosemary
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Coat with pine nuts or chopped walnuts.
or
Hawaiian
1 Tablespoon Baco Bits
1 Tablespoon pineapple, well-drained and finely chopped
Coat with chopped pecans that have been lightly coated with maple syrup and toasted until crispy on a parchment-lined cookie sheet in a 200 degree oven.

Notes:  I’d like to do a port-wine reduction and swirl it through the cheese mixture (by pulsing it in the food processor) before the initial chilling.  I made this two days in advance, with great results.

Puff Pastry Squash Tart with Almond Feta

This rich, savory tart is great for lunch, brunch or even a fancy dinner.  The Almond Feta from a previous post provides lots of protein and antioxidants.  And honestly, it tastes a lot like feta in this dish, but better.  I put this together in under one hour, so we could have it for lunch, and it made 6 generous slices.  The only phyllo style sheets I could find were Pepperidge Farm brand, but it worked out.  I looked at the Trader Joe’s phyllo recently, and was disappointed to see that it was NOT vegan.  I did use Penzey’s Greek Seasoning, but you could just improvise with lemon zest, oregano, and marjoram.  Lars had to have another half a slice, so depending upon whom you’re feeding (and what else you’re serving), the yield does vary.  Another photo below.  Vegan Mofo 2012.
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PHYLLO SQUASH TART WITH ALMOND FETA

Serves 4 to 6

INGREDIENTS
1/3 Cup chopped parsley (flat leaf or regular)
1 teaspoon Penzey’s Greek Seasoning
1 garlic clove, crushed and minced
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 small zucchini, cut into 1/8 inch thick rounds
2 small summer squash, cut into 1/8 inch thick rounds
one package Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed
1/3 Cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced the long way
1/2 Cup Almond Feta, divided in half

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Make sure Puff Pastry sheets are thawed but very chilled.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, stir together parsley, Greek Seasoning,  garlic, only 2 Tablespoons of the oil, salt and pepper.
Place squash rounds in a large bowl, and add the remaining Tablespoon of oil and only 1/4 Cup of the Almond Feta, and mix well with a wooden spoon.
Unfold one sheet of puff pastry/phyllo and place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
Unfold second sheet of pastry, and slice off long, one-inch-wide strips and use them to build up the edges of the bottom sheet of phyllo  (see photo below).  I built mine up twice.  Visualize a picture frame.
Spread parsley mixture all over the bottom phyllo sheet.
Spread zucchini and squash rounds on top of the parsley.
Top with sliced olives and the remaining 1/4 Cup of Almond Feta.
Bake 30 minutes, until phyllo crust is golden brown.
Cut into six pieces, garnish with a light sprinkle of tiny oregano leaves (optional).

Notes:  It is important that the squash slices be cut no thicker than 1/8 inch, so that it cooks through with everything else.  In hindsight, I would cut the kalamata olives lengthwise (not in rings) as it would be prettier.

Here below is a photo of the built-up pastry edges.

Vegan Meltable Muenster Cheese

Vegan Mofo 2012 is keeping me on my toes, but it’s also motivating me to try things that have been on my wish list for a while.  After doing the post on Rejuvelac, I of course, decided to try Myoko Schinner’s vegan Meltable Muenster, which requires no Rejuvelac or culturing.  It’s in her category of Meltable Cheeses, and I can attest that it’s very quick to make.  You can find this recipe online, but her newest cookbook, Artisan Vegan Cheese, is sort of fascinating so I really recommend buying this one, or have Santa bring it to you.  Below are my experiences with this particular cheese, which is only one of many in her book.
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It’s easy and fast.  You don’t need a fancy blender; any one would do.

I did not use soy yogurt because I didn’t have any on hand.  I used Amande almond yogurt, the Plain flavor.  I took the lid off the yogurt and it was very watery, so I whisked it with a fork until it came back together, before measuring it into the blender.

I used a small, heavy-bottom stock pot and had no problem with the mixture sticking.  For me, this came together on the stove like magic, in about three minutes of constant whisking.  I’m guessing the Kappa Carrageenan is responsible for this wizardry.  First it’s liquid and then all of a sudden it’s looking and feeling like melted mozzarella.  It even stretches and gets stringy on the whisk.

The finished cheese is very creamy and mild, and would be good with something else.  Myoko recommends putting it on a sandwich or eating it with apples, pears and crackers.  I could see making some little canapes with this and garnishing the top with something salty, like a tiny caper, or a thin slice of olive or something.  I’m going to try it on a  sandwich and see what’s up.  Where dairy Muenster is mild (I remember it to be mild), this is even milder in taste.

Here below are photos of gathering Carrageenan on gorgeous Prince Edward Island, Canada.  Some years ago, Lars and I spent part of an afternoon watching this harvesting process, which seemed to be just a mom-and-pop deal.  Carrageenan is in a lot of products we use every day, such as toothpaste, and I ordered mine from Modernist Pantry, as Myoko recommended.

 
 

Rejuvelac

Just for Vegan Mofo, I’m going to discuss a hot topic, and something I had not heard of until recently; rejuvelac.  I will discuss here why to make rejuvelac, how it can go horribly wrong, and the various paraphernalia one obsessive person can end up buying in the quest for cultured vegan cheese.  I recently bought the new vegan cookbook Artisan Vegan Cheese by Myoko Schinner.  I have not been this excited about a vegan cookbook in over a year.  It seems cheese is the stumbling block and reason why many vegetarians don’t just go vegan already.  Not so surprising when you consider the natural pregnancy hormones present in any dairy product.  These powerful hormones are there to draw the calf back to the teat, and they are natural, not added.  Any cow giving milk is impregnated over and over for her whole life until slaughter, because unless a cow is lactating and giving birth, she cannot give milk.  So, these natural opiates in cheese and dairy are no joke;  the dairy addiction is not all mental.    I recently posted the most delicious non-cultured Almond Feta, and it’s a total classic in my opinion.  However, it’s not cultured like dairy cheese or yogurts are.  What sets Myoko’s cheeses apart is the culturing, which is done by the use of natural probiotics, which is exactly what rejuvelac is.  You soak grains, then rinse them twice a day until they sprout, which takes about 24 hours.  Then you put water over them, and just let them sit with air circulation until the natural fermentation of these grains creates a probiotic situation in the water.  If you don’t know what probiotics are, it’s good bacteria, the kind that helps humans digest food, etc.  There are entire books written on this stuff, trust me.  Anyway, so in my little town on the sleepy Eastern Shore of Maryland, I went in search of the requisite wheat berries to ferment my very first batch of rejuvelac.  Myoko’s instructions are very simple, and as it turns out, a tiny bit too simple.  You see, I could only find wheat berries in the bulk section of our little health food store, and my rejuvelac ended up stinking to high heaven, and I mean it literally reeked of totally rotten cheese or something, or rancid vomit.  Horrified, I dumped it out and started over.  Same thing.  Rejuvelac is super simple to make, despite tricky-looking instructions on some sites.  So, I went to my Internet guru–You Tube.  And found some great videos there, like this one,  and this one,  and this one.  Once I watched these videos, I realized I should be using something called Soft White Wheat Berries (not mentioned in Myoko’s rejuvelac recipe).  Also, my local health food store bulk section probably does not get the turnover it should, and my original regular brown wheat berries were probably stale.  It was also helpful to see the rinsing and draining process, which was different from what was explained in the book (in the videos, the jars were tilted to really drain well to avoid mold).  I only had about 15 minutes of actual hands-on effort in each rejuvelac batch, but rejuvelac takes a few days to develop, so I lost some time there.  For my first two batches, I was covering the jars with cheesecloth, which did shed some little cotton fibers into the rejuvelac also.  So, I went to the online site Sprout People and ordered some nifty Screen Lids for the jars.  I thought about making my own screen lids, but read that the metal jar rings do rust.  After watching several amazing documentaries, such as The Vanishing of The Bees,  and Food Beware: The French Organic Revolution,  and King Corn, I absolutely knew I should be using organic wheat berries.  So, I found Purcell Mountain Farms and ordered Organic Soft White Wheat Berries,  and just for the hell of it, Organic Rye Berries, since the food buzz on You Tube is that the rye rejuvelac tastes the best.  I ordered a pound of each, plenty to launch my experiments.  Then there are other interesting things to order, such as Carrageenan from Modernist Pantry.  Be aware that one should order Kappa Carrageenan, (not Iota).  This fact was also not explained until I looked in the very back of the cookbook, but luckily, I had heard on You Tube that I should order the Kappa variety.  I might have also gotten my Agar Powder from Modernist Pantry, but I can’t recall.  I was able to get Xanthan gum and miso paste at my local hfs.  Other items I purchased in this relentless pursuit are Tapioca Flour, non-dairy yogurt, refined organic coconut oil, etc.  Phew, I think I am done.  Luckily, rejuvelac keeps in the fridge for weeks, so now I am set to begin.  The good news is that there are recipes in Artisan Vegan Cheese that are “Almost-Instant,” and all the recipes look easy, but you need various ingredients.  You can find some of these recipes in the October 2012 issue of VegNews (The Cheese Issue), and some articles on sites like Vegansaurus, and additional notes on one of Myoko’s web sites.  So, my final batch of rejuvelac came out perfect, and it does NOT smell bad.  It smells of grains and water, and it tastes mild, with only a faint taste of lemon, like you have to think about it to associate lemon with it.  And I let this third batch sit for three full days (a day longer than the two bad batches), so I know I gave it enough time and it still did not go bad.  So, the talk about it tasting like lemonade eludes me.  Wish me luck and stay tuned for the results this month.  After all this, I’m still totally fascinated.

Sprouted Almond Feta Cheese Spread

IMG_3004     I made two different tofu feta recipes and did not like either one.  This recipe, however, is delicious and worthy of any buffet table or dinner party.  Although you have to plan ahead, it’s easy and doesn’t take much hands-on time.  I adapted and simplified my easy version from an Editors’ Pick from Vegetarian Times magazine.  I skipped the cheesecloth/chilling, which saves a bunch of time and trouble.  I skipped the herbed oil topping because it interfered with the tangy, cheesy flavor of this spread.  I also added a bit of mild white miso for more umami.  If you don’t care about a whiter appearance, you don’t have to blanch the almonds.    Note: I made this one time using an entire 6-ounce bag of Diamond Blanched Almonds, and it worked great (see photo below).

Almond Feta Cheese Spread

Serves:  10

INGREDIENTS
1 Cup whole almonds
1/4 Cup lemon juice
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon mild white miso
1/2 Cup water (not the soaking water)

DIRECTIONS
Place almonds in a quart glass jar and cover with 2 Cups of water.  Let soak 48 hours in refrigerator, changing the water at least once.  Drain and rinse well.  You will see that the almonds may have started to sprout a tiny bit.  Squeeze each almond between thumb and forefinger of your dominant hand and the brown skin should slide off pretty easily.

Puree lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, miso and the 1/2 Cup of fresh water in blender (or food processor) for up to 1 minute, until creamy.  Add almonds and blend for about 5 minutes.  You will probably have to finesse the blender several times–sliding a spoon down into it, and using the blender on lowest setting, and increasing speed slowly.

Spoon almond mixture into a ramekin or small casserole dish.  At this point, you can chill it and eat it raw on crackers, fold it into recipes, or whatever.  Or you can bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.  Serve warm or chilled, on thin slices of buttered toasted baguette, or crackers, in Greek salad, etc.

Notes:  I did make this in my Vitamix, but I guess in lieu of that, i would try a food processor, unless you have a powerful blender, not sure.   This vegan feta can be used in a myriad of dishes, such as vegan Spanakopita, or my Greek Phyllo Squash Tart.  Or for a party, simply spooned into little store-bought phyllo cups and topped with something else in contrasting color and taste.  Here’s a YouTube video showing how to blanch almonds, or you can buy them already blanched.   You can also make this with rejuvelac if you’re so inclined.  I tried making it with almond meal but did not care for the slightly-pasty texture.  The original recipe calls for baking the cheese at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes, but I haven’t tried that yet.  Pier One has great larger ramekins for about $5 and they mimic the white ramekins from Cordon Bleu.

  I tried the original method before, but it didn’t make much of a difference to me, so since then, I’ve skipped it.

This bottom photo is using a six ounce bag of Diamond Blanched Almonds, so it’s quicker if you want to save the time.

Vegan Con Queso Dip

IMG_2754

This is an old recipe from the 1970’s that I’ve veganized.  It’s sort of like the vegan Rotel Dip but has more vegetables and spices in it, and it’s really good.  Served with Doritos, Tostitos or Frito’s, it’s perfect for nacho night or watching football at home.  If you don’t want to use the beer in it, I suppose you could use soda water, but I haven’t tried that yet.  If you really want to do it up right, you could also serve the Excellent Bean Dip from this site.
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Vegan Con Queso Dip

Serves 6 to 8,  I’m guessing.

INGREDIENTS
2 Tablespoons oil
1 large onion, diced
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes, drained (any kind, even fire roasted)
4 oz. can diced green chili peppers (we like mild or medium heat)
1 clove garlic, pressed, or crushed and minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
8 oz. bag of Daiya cheese
up to 1/2 Cup of beer

DIRECTIONS
Saute onion in oil on medium heat.
Add tomatoes, chili peppers and seasonings.
Simmer on low until blended and some of the liquid is gone.
Put in double boiler and add cheese.
Simmer, stirring occasionally, until cheese melts.
Add splashes of beer as you stir, maybe a Tablespoon or two at a time, to smooth out the mixture and keep it “open.”
Serve with nacho chips or Fritos.

Notes:  You could probably substitute soda water instead of beer.  I haven’t tried this yet, but I can’t see why it wouldn’t work.

Vegan Welsh Rabbit – Vegan Welsh Rarebit

The first time I ever had Welsh Rarebit was in London at one of the restaurants in Fortnum and  Mason.  Obviously, I was not yet vegan.  My mother wanted to see the Crown Jewels, and I wanted to go to Fortnum and Mason.  We did both, and after lunch, we browsed through Hatchards Books, right next door–it was heaven.  Back to Welsh Rabbit;  the good news is that vegans can still have it, and it’s delicious.  My old Amy Vanderbilt cookbook (1961) lists this dish as Daisyfields Welsh Rabbit, under the section entitled “Use Your Chafing Dish.”  It calls for processed American cheese and a 12 oz. can of V-8.  No doubt, any Brits reading this are shuddering now.  I also recall that Fortnum and Mason served their Welsh Rarebit with a big slice of broiled tomato.  My old Joy of Cooking has at least four versions of rarebit; one calling for grilled tomatoes, and another, entitled  Tomato Rarebit or Woodchuck, calling for some sauteed onions, and a cup of condensed tomato soup being added to the melting cheese.  The most common denominators are a bit of cayenne and some type of mustard.  Thinning liquids include water, soup, milk (ugh) and any type of beer. I’m guessing we could substitute soy milk for the beer, but I haven’t tried it yet.  Please let me know if you do.  Either way, serving with tomato soup on the side is favored by many.  One last note is that I personally can’t think of any other vegan cheese (besides Daiya brand) that would really taste good here, but I could be wrong.
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Vegan Welsh Rarebit  or  Vegan Welsh Rabbit

Serves 3 to 4

INGREDIENTS
3/4 Cup beer
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tablespoon of tomato paste or 2 Tablespoons catsup (optional)
2 Cups Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds
slices of bread, toasted and with crusts trimmed
tomato soup to serve on the side (optional)
pickled red onions to serve on top (optional)

DIRECTIONS
In a small double boiler over medium low heat, mix beer, mustard, cayenne, vegan Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste or catsup.
Add Daiya vegan cheese and stir constantly to make a smooth sauce.  You will find that you need to stir often and it takes at least 10-15 minutes to get the cheese sauce really smooth.
Toast your bread, remove crusts, and slice on the diagonal to make triangles.
Arrange toast points on plates and pour cheese sauce over bread.
If tomatoes are in season, you can grill them and add to the plate, or chop them and sprinkle over the rarebit.
Very nice to serve with tomato soup on the side.

Vegan Rotel Queso Dip

I once met a girl from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who told me you could not have a party without Rotel dip.  She was horrified when I asked, “What’s Rotel dip?”  So she made it for me, and I was shocked to see there was Velveeta in such an apparently popular party food.  But there it was, and it tasted good.  So, I decided to give it a vegan whirl.  And guess what?  It was really good!  This would be a killer snack for Super Bowl parties and what have you.  No other vegan cheese would do but Daiya brand, and I decided to mix up the mozzarella and cheddar flavors to get the color and taste that might approximate Velveeta, and also added some beer to thin it out and keep it “open” and give it a bit of live culture, like bad cheese would have.  These little successes keep me going and I hope you like them too.

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Vegan Rotel Dip     or     Vegan Queso Dip

INGREDIENTS
one 10 oz. can of Rotel Original Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies
4 oz. Daiya mozzarella cheese
4 oz. Daiya cheddar cheese
1 bottle of Corona beer (or some other beer)

DIRECTIONS
Put Rotel and cheeses in a saucepan, on medium-low heat.
Add 1/2 Cup of the beer and stir with a wooden spoon.
As it heats up, add another 1/4 Cup of the beer if necessary.
Stir often until bubbly.
Keep warm in a chafing dish or on the stove, on lowest heat.
You can add a Tablespoon (or two) more beer as time passes, and stir occasionally.

Vegan Herbed Cream Cheese Spread

This is a takeoff of a Daniel Boulud recipe.  A simple, elegant little spread for crackers and I was thinking it would be fabulous on tiny cucumber sandwiches, such as for a formal tea.  You could fancy it up for canapes; spread it on crostini, the possibilities are many.  You can make this a  day ahead, and it tastes even better the next day.  At Thanksgiving in Maryland, we still have lots of herbs in the garden; flat-leaf parsley and chives among them, so it’s a nice thing to do!

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Vegan Herbed Cream Cheese Spread

INGREDIENTS
8 oz. container of Tofutti cream cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
3 tsp fresh chives, minced finely
2 tsp flat-leaf parsley, minced finely
1/2 tsp fresh French tarragon, minced finely (optional)
1 T olive oil
3 tsp Sherry or sherry vinegar

DIRECTIONS
Bring vegan cream cheese almost to room temperature.
Mix all.
Spray a round cereal bowl or other small round bowl with olive oil.
Pack cream cheese mixture into this bowl.
Cover and chill for a few hours.
Remove from fridge, run knife around edge and upturn onto a plate.
Smooth surface of cream cheese with back of a spoon.
Garnish with a sprig of the flat-leaf parsley or a chive or two.
Surround cream cheese with crackers.
Enjoy!