Cheese and I go way back. Back to the days of my childhood, where a box of Velveeta seemed to continually self-replicate on the same shelf in the fridge. We were never without it, and I can still see its distinct orange color in my mind’s eye, and taste that creamy, extremely fake flavor. A grilled cheese sandwich was made with none other than Velveeta when I was young.
My tastes developed as I got older, moved on adventurously to Monterey Jack, on to what we Americans call cheddar, then when I moved to England, my cheese mind was absolutely blown. Has anyone heard of Neal’s Yard Dairy? (UK friends: No prizes for guessing.) This place is incredible. It is like Mecca for cheese lovers, the Holy Grail. Seriously, if you’re a cheese lover, you’d weep when you enter. Why? Because they let you taste everything! EVERYTHING.
I lived in the UK for 11 years. That’s right, 11 years of cheese-eating (Marmite and cheese on toast, anyone?), milk-in-my-tea, custard-on-my-dessert (or “pudding”, in the local patois) dairy-loving madness. And then I moved home.
And I don’t know what it is, if its the antibiotics in our beef or just that lactose intolerance supposedly can hit between 35 and 45, but man, all dairy started sending me into horrible extended periods of stomach pain. Not fun at all. And even the Lactaid pills don’t really help. They help a bit, but they don’t solve the problem.
Why, why, WHY did you desert me, cheese? Why can I no longer partake of your creamy, salty, oozy goodness? There’s nothing better than cheese. Except, of course, melted cheese.
I can’t stand all these fake cheeses. Especially since some of them still have milk protein in them, which really defeats the whole point of the exercise. Overall, they’re all over-processed and taste nothing like cheese. Plus, I’m off soy so that cuts out some vegan cheeses right away.
But with Annie and Somer as my inspiration—these ladies don’t let anything stop them, and they’re always cooking up something delicious—I decided to take a chance and make some cashew “cheddar” from my new raw-food cookbook: Eat Raw, Eat Well by Douglas McNish. This cookbook is a delight—the recipes are really easy to follow and they taste delicious.
I love his recipe for the cashew “cheddar. I’m going to post it here (with one addition), but the vegans, vegetarians and raw-food eaters out there (and even people who just want to incorporate more fresh produce in their diet) should run and buy this book!
I’ve been slathering it on everything: Lauren will appreciate this. I had it on my sausage wrap with grilled onions the other night, this morning I had it in a scrambled egg and salsa green “burrito” and for lunch I invented the Paleo tuna melt. Well, I think I invented it. Someone else might have come up with this crazy combination: Tuna mixed with a dollop of mayo and a splash of salsa, covered in cashew cheddar and wrapped in a Swiss chard leaf. That’s right. It’s freaking delicious. Lauren, I’m going to shove one of those in the face of Cafe Gratitude! You’ll have to help me think of something extremely pretentious to call it, like the “I am full of wonder[bread]”.
So here’s the recipe—let me know what this cheddar substitute inspires you to make!
CASHEW CHEDDAR CHEESE
2 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 30 minutes
1 cup water
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
2 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ancho chile powder (My addition. If you use cayenne, use 1/4 tsp and see how it tastes.)
In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process water, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, turmeric, chile powder and salt until incorporated. Add soaked cashews and process until smooth, stopping the motor once and scraping down the sides of the bowl. Transfer to a container, cover and refrigerate. Lasts around 4 days.