This post was written several months ago, but I never got a chance to post it between one thing and another. However, it is a dish I really enjoyed, so I decided to post it, unedited. But before I go ahead into that post, I want to briefly discuss my blog and kitchen goals for this year.

sustainability

Most of you who have been reading this blog for the past 2 years, will notice that the posting content has made a subtle transformation over the years from Mediterranean foods to incorporating more local and organic (when possible) foods, still within that cuisine’s flavor. This year I am going to continue to talk about making the best out of your leftovers, but I plan take it further to continue to my goal of becoming more sustainable by trying to make more of our daily diet foods at home (it started with making our own bread in 2008), things like yogurt and begin to learn the basics of canning and preserving. We are also going to be trying to expand our porch garden to include more than just a tomato plant and a few herbs. I have always loved gardening, and in our current living space, that has no yard, we have been unable to do that. But this year we are going to get creative and see how we can expand the space with which to work. I really want to get more and more away from the grocery store and begin relying on local producers and ourselves for food. In some cases this will not work entirely, but the point it to try to move more and more towards these goals. Now onto the post…

present-moments_avocado-salad

As I have often mentioned before I have a real respect for raw food cuisine. I am not talking about people who blog about eating a mango and a banana for dinner with some grapes and a shot of wheatgrass. While that is all well and good, if you are into that sort of thing, for me that is more of a diet plan than a cuisine. Cuisine is reflective of something that transforms raw (no pun intended) ingredients and creates something beautiful, delicious and imaginative. Cuisine requires creativity and finesse. When you have only a small set of ingredients with which to work, and you are still able to make something gourmet -that is what I call really thinking outside the box. This is food I really get excited about.

One blog that I always love reading is Lyra’s blog Gluten-Free Hippie. Here is an example of a person that really takes simple and often raw ingredients to all new heights of sophistication and beauty. She has featured various varieties of raw cheeses on her blog – no, not like raw milk cheese, but “cheese” like foodstuffs made from nuts and or vegetables. I have always been really curious about it. Then, recently we went to a raw food restaurant here in Saint Augustine called The Present Moment Cafe, which I reviewed on my other blog, Jenn’s Travel Closeup . I had a salad that was topped with macadamia nut cheese and it was awesome! So when my friend Ani emailed me a recipe for Native Chi’s Non-Dairy Cheese, and I had all the ingredients, I decided to go for it. I did make some changes to the recipe – like making it spreadable instead of sliceable, and adding some extra spices and whatnot, but still, it was wonderful and a great raw food treat !

nut-cheese-sandwhich

We ate it as a sandwich filling with lettuce, basil leaves, olives and red onion on home baked bread. I am sure it would be great as a dip for veggies or scooped into an avocado like the way it was presented at Present Moment. I am going to be making this again for sure!!!

Native Chi’s (non-dairy cheese)
adapted from The Native Foods Restaurant Cookbook by Tanya Petrovna

goo

INGREDIENTS:
3 cups water
3/4 cup agar flakes – or a one ounce package
(I skipped these two ingredients all together)

2 cups raw cashews (unroasted, unsalted)- I used cashews and macadamias.
1/2 cup lemon juice (or juice from 2 lemons)
2 TBS tahini
2 tsp salt
1 clove of fresh garlic
1 tsp cumin

To make the original, sliceable “cheese”:

Place agar and water in saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking occasionally. Turn down to low and continue simmering and whisking for about 5 minutes or until mixture thickens.

Grind nuts in a food processor to form a powder (the size of kosher salt). I did it in two batches so it would grind evenly. Put all nuts back in the processor and add lemon juice, tahini, salt, and garlic. Then pour in the water/ agar mixture. Blend until smooth and creamy.

Pour into an oiled loaf pan and refrigerate until firm, slice and serve – store in the fridge. You can even put a chunk in the freezer until solid and grate it.

I made it the same way, but omitting the water/agar. However, when I processed it all in the processor I did add 3/4 cup of water to make it the right consistency.