Friday, 12 October 2012

WW Chickpea and hemp seed cheese

I recently met someone who had spent a year on a project where she read through journals to search for a topic and then compared her work to expert use of search engines to find the same topic in those journals.  The search engines were no match for a human.  We expect we type a search term into Google and find exactly what we want.  But it doesn't work that way.

When I bought my first bag of hemp seeds ($17 per 250g at Wholefoods), I was so excited yet unsure what to make.  A lot of them have gone into our morning smoothies.  I didn't find many recipes to inspire me.  (When I buy a new ingredient I often curse myself for not having the foresight to bookmark recipes I have seen using it.)  Searching the web can be so frustrating!  However, one result was most fortuitous.  I found Nava Atlas's Chickpea and Hemp Seed Cheeze.

Before I rave about vegan cheeze, I must quickly say how pleasing I have found hemp seeds.  I bought them because I kept reading how nutritious they are (full of iron, omega-3s, protein, calcium, fibre etc etc).  They actually remind me of finely chopped walnuts with a buttery nutty texture.  For those who are unfamiliar with them, I have read somewhere that they are not from the same plant as cannibis, so the only natural high they will give you is from the knowledge that they are super healthy.

Onto the cheeze.  I made my first cheddar style vegan cheeze a few months back and loved it.  So much better than buying expensive over-processed vegan cheeze from the shops.  It sliced and diced and grated.  Not exactly the same as dairy cheese but close enough for jazz.  So I was keen to try other recipes.

I made this before we went swimming one morning.  Sylvia loved helping out.  As I only needed a cup of chickpeas I left the rest in the colander, intending to put them in the fridge for later.  Sylvia ate them up.  I love a recipe where I don't mind her nibbling on the ingredients!  This cheeze is nut free (if you choose to leave out the almond butter or use tahini).  It is full of good stuff without being too heavy.  I would even claim it is reasonably cheap to make if hemp seeds weren't so expensive.

Making this cheeze wasn't as simple as the previous one.  I got bamboozled by the agar, an ingredients I am still getting to know.  I thought I could thicken it in the microwave but that didn't work so I ended up using the same method I had used previously, rather than Nava Atlas's method (as described in the Notes below).  On the plus side, it gave me an opportunity to address the lacklustre colour.  Turmeric gave it the yellow colour that we associate with cheese.

I've been enjoying this cheeze in slices on dry biscuits (crackers), in burgers and on pasta.  It is tasty and slices well.  Like the previous cheese, the texture reminds me of that processed German sausage that I had in many sandwiches with tomato sauce when I was a kid.  Yet don't be put off by this.  It is tasty and a lighter alternative to cheese.

I am sending this to Ricki for her Wellness Weekends event that features amazing healthy vegan food each week. 

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Vegan pastry and tofu pies experiments
Two years ago: Quicklinks from my archives
Three years ago: Chocolate cookies, bbq and mum’s sponge
Four years ago: Broccoli Soup from AWW

Chickpea and hemp seed cheeze
Adapted from Nava Atlas
Makes about 500g (2-3 blocks)

1 cup tinned, drained and rinsed chickpeas
1 1/2 cups soy milk, divided
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise (see notes)
1 teaspoon mild english mustard
2 tablespoons lemon juice, or to taste
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
1 tablespoon almond butter (or tahini), optional
1 and 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp turmeric 
3 tbsp agar powder

Set aside half the milk and the agar powder.

Place the remaining ingredients in a blender.

Blend until smooth.  I think I blended mine for about 3 minutes, scrapping down the sides every now and again.

Mix the agar and the milk together in a small bowl (see below NOTES).

Given my experiences (see below NOTES), I would transfer the mixture from the blender into a medium saucepan, stir in the agar mixture and slowly cook over medium heat, stirring the whole time, until the mixture thickened and started to come away from the sides as I stirred.

Pour thickened mixture into (ungreased) ramekins and allow to cool to room temperature (or if you are in a hurry put them in the freezer to cool quickly).

Keep in an airtight container in the fridge.  I have had this batch of cheese for about two weeks and it is still fine.

NOTES:
  • I forgot to set aside some milk so I scooped out some before I blended my mixture.  I tried to cook the agar and milk mixture in the microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes.  I tipped it into the blender and blended as Nava Atlas instructed but the agar hadn't thickened enough and after overnight in the fridge it was still more sauce than block of cheese.  I poured the cheese mixture into a saucepan and heated until it thickened.  Once the agar had thickened, the mixture set within an hour or two.  
  • I also added turmeric for more cheesy yellow.  See above photos to see the difference in colour before and after I added turmeric).  
  • Before the mixture had thickened, I used three ramekins but after it thickened, two ramekins were enough.
  • I left some of the mixture in the fridge for a few days before thickening it on the stovetop and it was fine. 
  • If you don't have vegan mayonnaise, I suggest using a mixture of 1 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch) and 1 tbsp cider vinegar and 2 tbsp olive oil.

On the Stereo:
The World of Michael Nyman

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food October 2012.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my Vegan MoFo posts.

25 comments:

  1. Another cheese I am dying to try!! It looks just beautiful in the photo and I bet it tasted great. Your first one looked fantastic, too, but I agree--sounded a bit easier!

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    1. Thanks Ricki - I think the other recent cheeze had a better consistency but I really liked the ingredients in this one and it tastes great

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  2. you are a wonder Johanna! this recipe looks super interesting! xx

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    1. Thanks Carla - very kind - it is an amazing recipe

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  3. This looks a little tricky but actually has me excited and I think you're the first person who has achieved that with a cheese recipe :) What a lovely use of hemp seeds - definitely putting your bag to use.

    I was interested to read the point about searching, too, especially because one of my slight fears is that when I search for things comprehensively I am actually missing crucial articles or pieces of information that someone will point out to me at a public and embarrassing time! There is just so much information, I have no idea how to stay on top of it all.

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    1. Thanks Kari - it is not too difficult and I wouldn't claim it tastes exactly like cheeze so maybe try it (also put hempseeds in pancakes this morning and thought of your pikelets)

      It was heartening to find that I am not the only one that doesn't find exactly what I am looking for when searching. I sometimes feel that finding the right search engines/databases is a help - but trusted blogs are often where I look too because I know the sort of thing I will find there

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  4. Ooo very cool! That cheeze looks delicious!

    I'm always buying ingredients that I've seen around the web and then, of course, once I get them I have no idea what to do with them. Usually I'll search foodgawker or tastespotting for ideas! Or epicurious!

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    1. Thanks joanne - amazing the ingredients I have amassed and learnt about since starting blogging! Haven't looked at foodgawker or tasteepotting for ideas so might try that too

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  5. This sounds like a cheeze made of ALL THINGS THAT I LOVE. Wheeee!

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    1. Thanks Hannah - that is why I had to try it - so many good things in it

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  6. I would like to make this for Graham, but I haven't been able to find nutritional yeast anywhere and I don't have a clue what liquid smoke is. Mill have to think on.

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    1. Thanks Jac - am sure graham would love it - nutritional yeast flakes are great for vegan cooking - I would try real foods in Edinburgh if you are down that way. Do you have smoked paprika - we have that in the supermarket here and it is much easier to find than liquid smoke (I use these a bit interchangably even thought they are a bit different)

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  7. I don't think I've ever seen hemp seeds before! Although when Mr NQN wakes up I'm going to ask him if he has, it sounds like the kind of thing his family would have eaten :D

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    1. Thanks Lorraine - will be interested to hear if Mr NQN'a family use hemp seeds - I am not really up on the whole story but apparently they have been illegal to sell in Australia but are now being sold as skin care or something so they aren't so easy to get hold of

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  8. What an interesting recipe not too difficult for a novice to attempt! Agree with Lorraine of NQN: I do not know where to get hemp seeds either, but remember to have heard of them, so . . onwards :) !

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    1. Thanks Eha - Hemp seeds are fairly new to me too - they taste quite like finely chopped walnuts so I wonder if these could be substituted in the recipe????

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  9. Love the sound of the ingredients in this and I do prefer making a cheese that you don't have to strain with cheesecloth. I'll have to pick up some hemp seeds one day so I can try it.

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    1. Thanks Mel - I've moved away from the straining through a cheesecloth cheeses because they could take so long. Hope you find hemp seeds - they are great

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  10. I do like the look of your cheeze - it's an interesting idea.

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    1. Thanks Cakelaw - it is fun to be making my own cheeze

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  11. This looks great. I've made cashew cheese but haven't made anything more time consuming or that needs to ferment. I have a few new books staring at me waiting to be used.

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    1. thanks omigosh - I've made cashew cheese and found it far more work to soak and grind it than this cheese

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  12. Finally a nut free vegan cheez! I can't tell you how excited I am to try this, I find it so difficult to find nut free vegan cheeses and this sounds awesome! I absolutely love hemp seeds too and is my preferred non dairy milk so this is perfect!

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    1. Thanks Nutriwife - I've never tasted hemp milk but I've never met a milk that I love (though I do like to use it in cooking). Hope you enjoy this vegan cheese - it misses some of the fattiness of nuts but means it is not too heavy

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  13. It looks cool, I will try as well.

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