When I told my grandma, Mimi, I was transitioning into a life of veganism she gasped. "No Cheese?". That is one of her main staples of cooking as she is french. "No, no, not 'no' cheese- different cheese". I swear she looked at me like I had two heads. Cheese made out of nuts? Blasphemy. Not quite, Mimi, not quite. I think she surprised herself more than she surprised me when she went back for seconds and thirds of this feta that I brought over for family dinner.
There is a lot of down time in preparing vegan cheeses as they have to rest for a good 24-48 hours, but it is certainly easy to make.
2 cups raw macadamias, soaked for a minimum of 4 hours
1 cup water
1 teaspoon non-dairy probiotics, I use Solaray Multidophilus 3 billion microorganisms
3⁄4 scant teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
Olive oil, for garnish
Juice from 1 lemon wedge, for garnish
Olives or olive tapenade, for garnish
Cheesecloth, nut-milk bag, or new pantyhose
1 fine mesh strainer
1 bowl that the strainer can sit on top of
1 weight (such as a smaller bowl filled with water or can of beans)
1 loaf pan
Blend together, preferably in a vitamix or other high-power blender, the macadamia nuts, water and probiotics until completely smooth. It may take some time if you're not using the vitamix but the smoothness in this step determines the quality of the cheese. Gritty nut blend, gritty feta.
Set up your bowl by placing the strainer over top.
If using cheesecloth: line the bottom of the strainer with the cheesecloth, spoon the nut mixture onto the cheesecloth lined strainer, lining the top with another few pieces of cheesecloth before balancing the weight on it.
If using a nut-milk bag: fill the nut-milk bag with nut mixture and place it in the strainer, balance the weight on it.
If using brand new pantyhose: cut a leg off the pantyhose and fill with the mixture. Squeeze the mixture down to the foot of the pantyhose before knotting and cutting off all the excess fabric. Place the filled pantyhose in the strainer, balance the weight on it.
The weight should not be so heavy that it pushes the cheese through the cloth, but heavy enough to gently start to press the liquid out. Cover the entire thing with a clean dish towel and leave to culture for 24 hours at room temperature.
After the 24 hour period has passed, remove the cheese from the strainer. You'll notice a bunch of water sitting at the bottom of the bowl, which is exactly what we wanted to happen. In a clean bowl add the contents of the cheesecloth/nut-milk bag/pantyhose along with the salt and nutritional yeast, stir until completely incorporated.
Line a loaf pan with parchment paper, having the edges of the paper come up over the top of the pan. Spoon the mixture into the pan, spreading it evenly with a spatula. Grind some black peppercorns over the top.
Place the loaf pan in the fridge for 24 hours, this will allow the feta to set. After the 24 hours has passed, carefully remove the feta from the loaf pan by lifting up the sides of parchment paper that are hanging over. Place on a cutting board and gently cutting bite-sized pieces. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and olives or tapenade before serving.
This makes about five times the amount that is shown in the picture.
Recipe adapted from Russell James
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