Monday, April 25, 2011

Cashew Cream

This is the BEST thing to happen to vegetarian cooking, ever! Cashew cream is a versatile ingredient and a vegan substitute for butter, milk or cream. Whipped up with a little vanilla and sugar, it makes a wonderful dessert topping. Added to soups, you have all the texture and richness of cream, without the dairy product. It even makes vegan mashed potatoes just as comforting as their traditional counterparts.

A great dairy substitute
I discovered Cashew Cream in Tal Ronnen's cookbook, The Conscious Cook. Since then, it has become a staple in our kitchen. Freshly made, it will keep for about 3 days in the refrigerator, but it freezes well. Freezing can make it a bit lumpy, so give it a whirl in the blender once it has thawed.

Cashew cream is made with raw cashews and water. Raw cashews have little flavor, but with just a little nudge, they happily take on the personality of other ingredients. They contain enough fat to provide the creamy texture needed to fill out many recipes, and they provide a foundation for delightful sauces, soups, and even vegan "cheeses". This recipe is reproduced verbatim from The Conscious Cook. It is also published on Tal Ronnen's web site. If you are not already familiar with his creative cooking, I encourage you to visit.


2 cups whole raw cashews (not pieces, which are often dry), rinsed very well under cold water

  1. Put the cashews in a bowl and add cold water to cover them. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Drain the cashews and rinse under cold water. Place them in a blender with enough fresh cold water to cover them by 1 inch. Blend on high for several minutes until very smooth. (If you’re not using a professional high-speed blender such as a Vita-Mix, which creates an ultra-smooth cream, strain the cashew cream through a fine-mesh sieve.)
  3. To make thick cashew cream, which some of the recipes in this book call for, simply reduce the amount of water when they are placed in the blender, so that the water just slightly covers the cashews.
Makes about 2 1/4 cups thick cream or 3 1/2 cups regular cream
Prep time: 10 minutes, plus soaking overnight.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Falafel Salad with Tzatziki (Cucumber Sauce)

Featured on Meatless Monday!
Honestly, I am a falafel newbie. Don't ask me how this wonderful treat escaped my attention for so long, I simply do not know. Falafel, a food of humble origin, has attained status at the most discerning tables simply because it is so straightforward and honest. Despite it's being 100% vegan, falafel satisfies all of our cravings for something tasty, substantial, savory and FRIED! Frying sure takes the "skinny" out of any recipe.

We grilled this falafel, and saved a ton of calories in the process. We greased up our Griddler with a healthy layer of olive oil (top and bottom), turned it to Medium-High (panini setting with flat griddle plates), and grilled our patties for about 12 minutes.

This falafel does not use egg. Some cooks claim that traditional falafel contains neither egg nor tahini, although several recipes I looked at called for sesame seeds. Everyone knows that chick peas and sesame seeds are meant for each other, so why not save a step and just toss in the pureed sesame seeds in the form of tahini? Besides, I had some serious concerns about whether or not these patties would hold together in cooking. The tahini added just a little bid of a binding agent. Everything held together beautifully, though. Dinner was a very satisfactory success.

You will need a food processor, blender, or a bit of patience for chopping