Everyone’s Talking About The C-Word!

With our first event of 2017, Vevolution Topics: Vegan Food Innovation happening tomorrow (7th February) we have asked vegan foodie blogger & chef Kind State Of Mind aka Ellie Phoebe Brown to be our guest blogger and talk about the hot topic of cheese! 

Tickets are still available for our Food Innovation tomorrow at The Trampery. Ellie will be there giving out samples of her incredible food. To help get you in the mood for some food innovation inspiration we will leave you with Kind State Of Mind...over to you Ellie!  


Everyone’s Talking About The C-Word!
By Ellie Phoebe Brown
Kind State Of Mind

Oh but I could never give up cheese!" If I had a penny for every time I’ve heard that phrase in response to any mention of being vegan, well ... I’d be paying myself actually because even I’ve uttered those - now clichéd - words. I was a major cheese lover for years and although my reliance on dairy is over, it seems cheese is still a hot topic with both vegans and non-vegans alike. 

Why is cheese such a big deal? You may remember the headlines a few years ago stating that cheese is as addictive as hard drugs. While the attention seeking articles were referencing genuine research into “addictive-like eating”, the actual journal (published in early 2015) unsurprisingly concluded that matters were in fact - as ever - far more complex than the simplistic, and awry conclusion spun by the media. 

If it’s not purely biological, what else makes us crazy about cheese? I think there’s a compelling argument to be made for the role of psychological factors in our apparent cheese dependance. Cheese is, by and large, a comforting food. Its high fat and calorie content render it synonymous with special occasions, treats and well, really tasty things! Cheese on toast, macaroni cheese, pizza, the Christmas cheese board, it’s all about pleasure and indulgence (which helps somewhat in explaining why the cheese salad never caught on!) No wonder our brains tell us we love it. Cheese is also often a food we are brought up eating, so it additionally has positive associations from our childhood. Growing up as a vegetarian I ate a lot of cheese and therefore it’s linked to many of my happiest food-related memories from home. Bearing in mind the comfort and memory associations that people have with cheese, on top of possible biological reasons, we can begin to understand the hold it has over people’s eating habits. 

So if you’re vegan you’re just supposed to give up all that good stuff then? Nope! You just have to make a few changes. There is a whole world of dairy free cheeses out there, and it’s growing at a fast pace! With availability increasing in response to growing demand it’s easier than ever to get your hands on some vegan cheese. Large retailers such as Ocado and Holland & Barrett sell vegan cheese products, and last year Sainsbury’s brought out their own range of vegan cheeses in collaboration with Vevolution's sponsor Bute Island Foods. The latter has proved so popular that it exceeded their sales expectations by 300% in its first month, a sign if there ever was one of how mainstream the desire to ditch dairy has become. 

It’s not just large retailers either. There are now many smaller suppliers emerging too, selling their own tasty hand-crafted cheeses. Companies such as Mouse’s Favourite, a London-based company making artisan nut-based cheeses, and Nutcrafter Creamery from Glasgow, who make an impressive array of aged and organic vegan cheeses. International companies are also looking to get in on the UK’s booming vegan cheese market. The American company Follow Your Heart recently launched a small selection of their vegan cheeses over here, which I personally really love. I hope more companies follow suit, to increase the selection of products available to U.K. vegans as The States seem to be streets ahead of us in the product development stakes and this, in turn, will generate some healthy competition and innovation between brands. 

For many people giving up cheese is the main barrier to becoming vegan. However, with more and more vegan cheeses coming on to the market all the time, with even better textures and flavours than before, this last hurdle to becoming vegan may soon be a thing of the past! 

And lastly…. Of course, you can make your own vegan cheese! Here’s a cheap, simple and tasty way to make your own cashew cheese. With a bit of practice, you can adjust the flavours with different herbs and spices but garlic and chive are a great place to start!\

Garlic and Chive Cashew Cheese
By Ellie Phoebe Brown
Kind State Of Mind 

Makes: One round cheese
Prep time: 30 minutes plus chilling time

Ingredients:

  • 100g raw cashews, soaked overnight

  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

  • 2 cloves of garlic

  • 1/2 tsp fine salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tbsp water

  • Small bunch of chives (or other herb)

Method:

  1. In a food processor or blender place all ingredients except for the chives. Process until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy in texture. You'll need to keep stopping to scrape down the sides to ensure it all gets blended. Keep blending until it stops being lumpy and grainy and looks like a smooth soft cheese. This may take 5 - 10 minutes so keep going! You can add a little more water to get it moving in the blender if absolutely needed - but if you want to make a firm cheese try to avoid adding too much extra liquid.
  2. Finely chop the chives and stir into your smooth cheese mixture. If you add them to the blender to combine you will end up with a green cheese - so best to stir them in! Have a taste and add more salt if needed.
  3. If you want to make a soft cheese spread, like a cream cheese, then all you need to do is transfer the cheese to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate for a few hours. You can eat it immediately - but it will set slightly if you leave it to chill, making a slightly thicker spread.
  4. If you want to make a firmer cheese, like the one pictured above, then you'll need to remove some of the moisture from the cheese. For this you'll need a square of double layer cheese cloth, or a thin, clean tea towel. Lay out the cloth and scrape all of the cheese mixture into the centre of the square and roughly shape it into a round shape. Gather the corners of the cloth, bring together the top and fasten with a  rubber band to create a little parcel (see pics)  I tie it above my sink to drain for a few hours (you could also put it in a sieve above a bowl) and then place it in a dish lined with kitchen towel in the fridge for a further 3-4 hours or overnight. (You can also put it straight into the fridge in a sieve or wrapped in kitchen towel but I've found the 2 step process removes the most water, resulting in the firmest cheese.)
  5. Once it's been in the fridge you can gently remove the cheese cloth and there will be your little cashew cheese!
  6. The cheese will keep for about 4-5 days in the fridge, in an airtight container - but it never lasts that long around me!

For a more detailed version of the recipe with photos go to my blog post here: https://kindstateofmind.com/2017/02/02/easy-garlic-and-chive-cashew-cheese/


Be sure to check out Ellie's other recipes and food tips over at her blog Kind State Of Mind and follow her foodie adventures on her social channels - Instagram, Facebook & Twitter.

Ellie will be at Vevolution Topics: Food Innovation tomorrow Tuesday 7th February and will be giving out samples of her yummy food creations so don't miss out and grab your ticket now: https://vevolution-topics-food.eventbrite.com/