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Soy Cheese

It's hard at times being a vegan vegetarian. For me the toughest is cheese. I like hard, aged cheese - specially sheep's milk, or very old Gouda, or similar. And I like it with a glass of wine and an oatcake in the evening. So sometimes I do break down and eat cheese!!

Vegan/vegetarian cheeses are mostly pretty horrible – well to my taste anyway. And they always seem to be full of chemicals and other things that I don't know the purpose of.

Recently I came across a recipe for home-made cheese that is actually (again to my taste) pretty good. The basis of this recipe is from The Nutritional Yeast Cookbook by Jo Stepaniak. Nutritional Yeast seems to be a peculiarly American foodstuff – though I have discovered that it is now available in the UK: Marigold Engevita Nutritional Yeast Flakes.

Anyway here is (the slightly adapted) recipe:

125g (4.5 ozs) Firm Tofu.
3 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
2 - 3 Tbsp Tahini (sesame seed butter)
2 Tbsp lemon juice (about the juice of one lemon)
1.5 Tbsp Sweet White Miso.
1/2 tsp salt

3 Tbsp Agar Flakes or 3 tsp Agar powder
175 ml (3/4 cup) water

Mash the Tofu thoroughly in a bowl. I use a fork, which seems to work well. Add the other ingredients except the Agar and Water. Mash everything together until you have a reasonably smooth paste. It doesn't have to be "blended" smooth.

Heat the water and the agar in a tiny pan for a few minutes until the powder or the flakes are dissolved and the mixture starts to thicken. Add to the rest of the ingredients and stir in and mix very thoroughly.

Scrape the cheese out of the bowl into a plastic or ceramic container, press down and smooth over. I use a stainless steel spatular for this job. Pop into the freezer for a couple of hours and then remove to the fridge.

The cheese is reasonably firm and will cut into thickish slices OK. It will also melt, brown and go bubbly under the grill (broiler). And it can be used in cooking just fine. Not totally like real cheese but pretty good.

And the taste is very good!! The texture is not like hard cheese - A bit softer than, say, fresh cheddar – but it is perfectly tolerable.

And it is vegan. And you pretty much know what is in it!

For increased quantities, I guess it could be made in a food processor or blender. This small quantity gets lost in a blender and there is too much wastage. The result would however be a smoother cheese (is that good or bad I wonder?).



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