Best Ever Vegan Boursin Cheese with Herbs!!

I’ve now made The Buddhist Chef’s Vegan Cheese enough times that I’ve adapted the recipe, streamlined the process, and doubled the quantities, so I figured it was about time I posted my changes. This recipe is probably my favourite vegan cheese recipe for a cheese-and-baguette type meal. It’s not really a meltable vegan pizza cheese, but rather a sliceable, spreadable cheese–and a delicious addition to a vegan charcuterie!

I’m making it today for Em and her cousins, who came up for the weekend for a big family birthday party for my brother, Steve, who has been very ill for the past few years.

Everyone was to arrive on Friday afternoon and planned to stay until later today (Sunday). Early in the week, however, a number of family members dropped out for various reasons…and then on Friday morning, we received a message from Steve’s daughter, Erin, that she, her dad, and her daughter wouldn’t be able to make it either! Apparently, Steve was too ill to make the trip and is now in the hospital for a week battling a staff infection :(.

We continued with the party, however, and Face-Timed in the evening with Steve and Erin.

P1080021 (1).jpg

P1080023.jpgP1080024.jpgP1080027.jpg

P1080028.jpgP1080025.jpg

And though (sadly) the birthday boy was not in attendance, the eight of us have had a lovely time. Em, Annie, Joey, and Melissa (Joey’s girlfriend) stayed with us from midday Friday until midday Saturday when the went over to Hornby to stay at Bid and Paul’s cabin. We’re all meeting up at The Thatch pub later today (Sunday) for an early dinner before the kids take off on a late ferry for Vancouver. I’m making the vegan boursin so they’ll have a nice picnic for the ferry. Don’t worry–I’ll pack a couple of freshly baked baguettes for them as well!

Best Ever Vegan Boursin with Herbs

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 TBS nutritional yeast
  • 2 TBS lemon juice
  • 1 TBS cornstarch
  • 1 TBS vegetable broth powder (I use Knorr)
  • 1 TBS agar agar
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 garlic clove

Throw everything into the Vitamix and run on high until smoooooooooth.

Next, throw in a big handful of freshly picked….

  • basil
  • oregano
  • rosemary (just a bit–a little goes a long way with rosemary)

And pulse a couple of times. You want to see little green flecks, but you don’t want it completely blended so the cheese turns green.

P1070576

Pour the contents into a saucepan on medium heat and stir continuously until the cheese bubbles and eventually turns shiny (an indication the cornstarch has cooked).

P1080030.jpg

Spray a bit of oil into three one-cup ramekins and pour the cheese into the ramekins.

Refrigerate for at least two hours.

I’d lined up a Beatles playlist for Steve for the party on Friday evening, but since he wasn’t here, we ended up listening to another oldie playlist (most of which seemed to be James Taylor).  Thus, the song of the day is James Taylor’s “She Thinks I Still Care”….

 

A July of Whole-Food, Plant-Based Feasts!

July was a month packed full of visitors and, while we don’t usually impose vegan food on our omnivore guests, we usually end up with many vegan meals simply because that’s the way I cook most of the time now. And, of course, even if a meal isn’t vegan, it’s always vegetarian because neither of us has cooked meat in decades (well, okay, for James it’s been one decade; for me, it’s been close to three).

Anyway, the month started off with a quick visit from Dana who stayed overnight on her way over to Hornby Island.  She’s always fun to cook for because she’s completely vegan, so I usually pack her up a bunch of vegan food to take over to Hornby as well. I baked her a couple of baguettes and made her some herbed vegan boursin and later received a phone call from my omni sister raving about the boursin!

Bid stayed over later that week because the septic system at her Hornby cabin was out of commission. Because I didn’t have tons of warning, all the food we served her was plant based, and she snarfed down the lot without complaint!

Next up was a visit from Johnny, Kevin, and Gerry. They were here for three or four days and a number of their meals were also vegan, but they really didn’t register the lack of meat and cheese. I did make them a big frittata one morning and some scrambled eggs and pancakes, but I didn’t partake because I don’t eat breakfast anyway (and James is always happy to get a bit of cheese and eggs thrown in to his usual vegan fare!). IMG_20170714_175816.jpg

Next, Emily managed to get a few days off work and came up for a birthday visit. James made her a rich vegetarian feast for her birthday dinner, but for the next evening, she requested the vegan charcuterie I posted about last time–complete with two different kinds of vegan cheese.

A Plant-Based Weekend Menu

Em left Thursday morning, and Annie and her boyfriend, Chris, and their two friends, Jamie and Brandon, arrived for the weekend. Last summer, when Annie and Jamie were visiting, I was trying out various vegan inventions on them, so I proposed that their next visit be an entirely plant-based menu.

This was good news for Jamie’s husband, Brandon, because he’s a full-on, never-deviates-from-the-plan, vegan! It was great fun and involved three full days of entirely plant-based meals.

Most of the recipes I’ve linked to in the menu below are whole-food, plant-based (WFPB), but a few of the recipes can’t be classified as “whole food” because they contain extracted oils or processed food (for example, filo pastry brushed with olive oil). I haven’t included links to those recipes.

Friday lunch was cheezy broccoli soup with a vegan charcuterie table (including hummusvegan herbed boursin and vegan smoky cheddar) with freshly baked baguettes….

P1070859.jpgunnamed.jpg

The kids then went off for a swim in the lake and came back to jackfruit pulled “pork” in freshly baked pitas with dilly potato salad and James’ famous cole slaw (I don’t have links for James’ recipes because they tend to be from cookbooks).IMG_20170711_194426.jpgIMG_20170402_184610.jpg

Saturday breakfast was chickpea omelettes with sauteed chard and kale (from the garden) topped with smoky paprika sauce, and seitan “bacon” made by Jamie and Brandon (it was delicious!!)…

IMG_20170729_105332.jpg

For lunch, we had vegan zucchini-mushroom quiche, topped with smoky vegan cheddar sauce, and tomato salad, plus, more freshly baked baguettesP1070864.jpgP1070866.jpg

We followed this with vegan berry tarts. These tarts are actually raw, contain no extracted oil, and are made from nuts (pecan and cashew), medjool dates, vanilla pods, berries, lemon zest, and a bit of fresh mint…

P1070868.jpg

The kids went off to the beach while James prepared a vegan feast for the evening. Now, when I cook, I try to avoid all extracted oils (though I do include nuts to make the dressings and cheese creamy). James imposes no such stipulation on his vegan feasts AND he makes A LOT of food. The evening meal was grilled Caesar salad, spring rolls with hoisin and plum dipping sauces, and Sauvignon Blanc linguini with trumpet mushrooms/asparagus and cream sauce. The spring rolls recipe is from The White Water Cookbook and the linguini is from Plum). Oh, and more fresh baguettes! By the time the linguini arrived we were all too stuffed to make it even halfway through our plates…

P1070895 2.jpg

P1070876.jpg

This was followed MUCH later in the evening with a vegan pecan pie (made by James). The pecan pie is a veganized version of a Chez Piggy recipe. It was snarfed down long before I was able to get a picture though!

Sunday breakfast was a tofu scramble topped with guacamole and cilantro on a bed of fresh garden greens with more fresh baguettes. I was going to make homemade corn tortillas, but they’re a bit labour intensive, and I already had the dough ready for the baguettes!

P1070881.jpg

Our lunch was hot-and-sour mushroom soup with soba noodles…P1070883.jpg

And dinner was cauliflower-chickpea tikka masala on red rice with a coconut-cucumber raita and mango chutney. I made fresh naan bread to sop it all up…P1070887.jpg

P1070888.jpg

The next morning, I baked zucchini muffins with some of my zucchinis from the garden, but they took so long to bake that the kids had to take them to eat in the car so they wouldn’t miss their ferry.wpid-20150809_141446.jpg

No sooner were the kids out the door than Dana arrived with her new dog, Guinness–a beautiful red standard Poodle!

We spread the table with a lovely array of the left-overs from our vegan weekend and James cracked open a bottle of champagne and we spent the afternoon nibbling on food and sitting in the sun on the deck.P1070895.jpg

P1070897.jpg

unnamed-1.jpg

unnamed-2.jpg

And, after a guest-packed July, we relaxed on the eve of my birth-month (yes, I get a month this year because I’m turning 60!!) in our fabulous deck tub! Note the pink bubbles: Jamie and Brandon brought us an amazing-smelling Karma Bubble Bar from Lush..P1070901.jpgP1070903.jpg

 

 

 

Vegan Charcuterie and a Summer Vegan Pizza

My darling Em has been up at the cabin for the past couple of days, and I was delighted to make her some of my latest vegan food discoveries (and she was delighted to eat them!). She loved the two-ingredient quinoa bread I’ve been making–especially topped with a smear of smoky paprika sauce and sliced avocados!

Her first night was a celebration meal (complete with Jamie-made birthday cake) for her 28th birthday. I asked her what she would like for a meal for her second evening here and she requested a vegan charcuterie!

So that’s what I did–and it was great fun to make and to eat (and everything was succulent!).

P1070853.jpg

I made three baguettes, a vegan herb cheese, a vegan smoky cheddar, hummus, grilled marinated portobello mushrooms and zucchini (from the garden), and zucchini-chard-chickpea patties with a smoky paprika sauce for dipping. I served it all with some of Biddy’s sweet and sour pickles, medjool dates, cashews and pecans, grape tomatoes, olives, and mango chutney (which tastes great with the smoky cheddar!). Oh, and a bottle of Ravenswood Zinfandel that Johnny brought up last time he was here.

Em loved it so much that I packed her a mini-version to take on the ferry today (with a couple of fresh baguettes). She also suggested I make the vegan charcuterie for lunch for our guests this weekend, which I just may do!

The other recipe for today is also a bit of an assembly, rather than an actual recipe: Summer Vegan Pizza!

For this, I made some quinoa flatbread, and then topped it with very thin slices of vegan smoky cheddar and placed it under the broiler until the “cheese” melted. I then topped it with sliced avocado, slices of marinated grilled portobello, and thin slices of raw onion.

I would make this again in a heartbeat…even for guests!

IMG_20170727_133458.jpg

And in exciting garden news, this happened!!!unnamed.jpg

 

 

UH-MAZING Zucchini-Mushroom Tofu Quiche

I’ve been dying to try making a vegan quiche forever, but hadn’t come across what looked like the perfect recipe until a couple of weeks ago. This is an adapted version of a Susan Voisin (of FatFreeVegan.com fame) recipe. If you haven’t heard of this blog, get yourself over there ASAP because Ms. Voisin is some kind of WFPB genius when it comes to creating recipes. I adapted the recipe because I wanted a greater vegetable-to-tofu ratio, I have tons of zucchini in my garden (and no asparagus), and I just had plain old regular tofu (not silken).

IMG_20170716_203422.jpg

This recipe makes two very pretty little vegan quiches that I’m planning to serve to company this weekend!

Zucchini-Mushroom Vegan Quiche

Step One: Blend until completely smooth in Vitamix….

  • 1 package extra-firm tofu
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 2 TBS nutritional yeast
  • 1 TBS vegetable broth powder
  • 1 TBS cornstarch
  • 1 tsp tahini
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • tsp salt

Add a handful of fresh herbs and pulse for a few minutes…

  • fresh basil, oregano, chives, rosemary

IMG_20170719_175815.jpg

Step Two: Saute for a few minutes in a bit of vegetable broth…

  • 1/2 cup shallots or onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cups chopped zucchini
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • cloves garlic, minced

IMG_20170719_174120.jpg

Step Three: Mix together and press into the bottom of two quiche pans, lightly sprayed with oil…..

  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 3 TBS of the above mixture from the Vitamix
  • 1 TBS vegan parmesan 
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

IMG_20170719_180826.jpg

BAKE the crusts at 350 for eight minutes.

Step Four: Divide the vegetables from step two between the two quiche dishes and pour the mixture from step one into the two quiche pans.

IMG_20170719_182100-1.jpg

IMG_20170719_182557.jpg

Step Five: Slice and press into the mixture….

  • 10 grape tomatoes

IMG_20170719_182817.jpg

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes….

IMG_20170719_192315.jpg

And serve topped with this smoky vegan cheddar sauce….and a side of delicious vegan potato salad!!

IMG_20170719_192800.jpg

This is a perfect lunch for company on a hot summer day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zucchini-Chard Falafel Patties

Zucchini-Chard Falafel Patties

Mix together and set aside (this is your flax egg):

  • 1 TBS ground flax seed
  • 2 TBS water

Mix in the food processor….

  • 4 cups grated, drained zucchini
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • 2 cups chopped fresh chard
  • 1 15.5-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 TBS nutritional yeast
  • 1 TBS vegetable broth powder
  • 2 TBS tahini
  • 2 TBS lemon juice
  • 2 TBS soy sauce
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • the flax egg from above

Pour mixture into a bowl and add….

  • 1 cup chickpea/fava flour

Use a small scoop to form little patties.

Mix together in a saucer….

  • 1 cup panko crumbs
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Coat the patties in the panko mixture and place in air fryer.

Bake for twenty minutes at 400 in the air fryer, turning at midpoint.

P1070824.jpg

 

 

An Easier Approach to Quinoa Flat Bread

Since I discovered the recipe for  two-ingredient quinoa flat bread, I’ve been making it a couple of times a week; however, the problem is that I always end up throwing away half because I can’t eat the equivalent of two cups of quinoa in a day….and by the next day, the flat bread is too hard to eat.

Today, I decided to half the recipe AND to “bake” the flat bread on my electric grill (closed).

The result was brilliant: it’s quicker and the texture is better! Plus, there are no leftovers.

I’m going to make this easy, healthy flatbread every day!!

Here’s the method:

Quinoa Flatbread

Preheat electric grill to 425.

Blend the following in the Vitamix until smooth, white, and creamy:

  • 1/2 cup unrinsed quinoa
  • 2/3 to 3/4 cup water (to achieve a consistency similar to pancake batter)
  • 2 TBS nutritional yeast
  • 1 TBS Knorr vegetable broth powder

Pour the mixture onto the hot grill. Start in the middle and pour in a circular, outward motion (as though you’re drawing a spiral). You might need to smooth out the top with a spatula to ensure the flat bread is even.

Close the grill and bake for fifteen minutes. Flip at the halfway mark.

IMG_20170711_130843.jpg

IMG_20170711_131212.jpgIMG_20170711_131627.jpg

IMG_20170711_131912.jpg

Now smear that flat bread with some smoky paprika sauce, load with a couple of ounces of avocado, some chopped onions, capers, and a few dots of sriracha.

This is ZOMG delicious!

IMG_20170711_132349.jpg

And in other exciting Sideways Cottage news, I saw a new butterfly this morning as I was watering my garden–a Cabbage White Butterfly.

IMG_20170711_114329.jpg

 

 

Smoky Mushroom-Walnut Burgers

James spent the day constructing a temporary workshop (from a shed-in-box) that he can use to construct….his permanent workshop. I’m now used to James’ staged processes, so this didn’t particularly surprise me, but I wanted to surprise him with a new vegan burger this evening–if you recall, James has never found quite the right burger, either in a restaurant or from a recipe. I think I might be close today, however.

This is a much changed version of my attempt of a few days ago; however, I added quite a few ingredients, changed the spices, and marinated the mushrooms before I started. It’s a bit labour intensive, but anything for my Jamie-boy!

Smoky Mushroom-Walnut Burgers

Make this marinade and marinate the following for at least an hour:

  • 1/2 lb. mixed mushrooms, roughly chopped (I used three portobellos)

After they’ve marinated for an hour, process the mushrooms in a food processor until finely chopped.

Meanwhile, saute in a non-stick pan…

  • 3 scallions, finely chopped

Add the mushrooms and saute until the onions are translucent. Set aside to cool.

 

Next, combine the following in the food processor and blend until smooth:

  • 2 TBS tomato paste
  • 2 TBS sambal oelek
  • 2 TBS soy sauce
  • 1 tsp miso
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp Better Than Bouillon Vegetable base
  • 1 TBS liquid smoke
  • 1 TBS cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp oregano

Add the following and pulse a few times until blended, but not homogenous:

  • 3/4 cup walnuts

Pour the contents of the food processor into a bowl, add the contents of the saucepan as well as:

  • cup cooked basmati brown rice
  • 3/4 cup vital wheat gluten

Mix well–use your hands here. Now, I’m not sure whether it’s necessary, but I did kind of knead it for a few minutes because of the vital wheat gluten, which I understand needs some kneading to develop (…or at least it does when you make seitan).

 

Refrigerate for at least an hour, so the burger mix can set up.

This recipe will make six nice sized burger patties, but today I used a small scoop to make little 2.5-inch patties because I’m putting them inside pitas, and it’s nicer to have a couple of little patties, rather than one big one.

Next, fill a saucer with…

  • 1/2 cup of panko crumbs
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast

Mix together and coat each patty with the panko-crumb mixture.IMG_20170706_185301.jpg

Place in the air fryer at 370 degrees for 20 minutes, flipping at the 10-minute mark.

And here’s James’ plate piled high with his favourite fat-free roasted potatoes!

 

Oh, and check out Jamie’s transitional workshop. Note our peek-a-boo view of the ocean in the upper-left-hand corner!

He spent about six hours in the hot sun today putting this baby together….which means our lovely side deck will soon be clear of all of James’ huge power tools. This is excellent news because we’re expecting a series of guests over the next few weeks.

And we’re listening to Leonard Cohen’s “There Ain’t No Cure for Love” as I finish up this post…