Vegan cheese master Jules Aron shares her do's and don'ts of preparing & serving vegan cheese, along with three delicious recipes you'll want to try ASAP
Follow these simple rules to ensure a winning cheese plate every tIme:
Pick three to five cheeses to avoid overwhelming your guests.
Try to include a variety of textures and flavors:
Soft: Camembert, Herbed Farmer’s Cheese, Triple Peppercorn
Hard: Cheddar, Swiss, Aged Feta, Apple Smoked Gouda
Blue: Gorgonzola, Danish Blue Sweet: Maple Fig Double Cream, Dark Chocolate Brie, Chai Spiced
Try the “opposites attract” rule: pair a hard cheese with a soft baguette, a soft cheese with a crispy cracker, a salty cheese with a sweet jam or preserve, and a dry cheese with a serving of juicy fruit.
Set out a variety of sweet and savory tidbits to accompany your cheese: a selection of breads, including sliced baguette, bread sticks, and crackers in all different shapes and sizes. It’s a good idea to vary taste and texture among the breads as well as the cheese. Condiments and pickled vegetables, such as sweet preserves, tart chutneys, and spicy mustards, along with marinated artichoke hearts, cornichons, olives, and roasted red peppers. Various sweet and salty items, caramelized pecans or spiced nuts, and fresh, seasonal, and dried fruits, such as apricots, gs, cherries, apples, and pears.
Label each cheese so that your guests know what they’re eating and can jot the name down if they find one they really like.
It can also be helpful to pre-cut hard and semi-firm cheese into bite-size pieces. Creamy cheese should always be kept whole on the plate with a spreader for guests to use. Blue cheese should be served in chunks or the wedge.
Display the cheese in different forms; it can be cut into spears, wedges, and cubes for visual appeal.
Finally, allow for about three ounces of cheese per person. Unless you’re inviting me. You’ll need a lot more if I’m coming!
Cheese Pairing 101:
When pairing cheese with alcohol, whether wine, beer, or spirit, it helps to think of either complementary or contrasting avors. Typically, the more pungent the cheese, the more of a full character you want your wine, beer, or spirit to be.
Some cheese show their best qualities when the pairing is very different, while others stand out when paired with a complementary flavor. I’ll leave it to you to explore!
You are now ready to put all this information to good use. Vegan Cheese and Simple, Delicious, Plant-Based Cheese Recipes is now available to preorder!
I look forward to seeing all your cheesy creations, so please be sure to tag me @julesaron with #vegancheesebook. Cheers and happy entertaining!
French Brie Style
1 cup cashews 1 cup water 1⁄2 cup plain unsweetened nondairy yogurt 1⁄2 cup refined coconut oil, melted 1 tbsp nutritional yeast 1 tsp sea salt
Agar and Tapioca Mix
2 tbsp tapioca our 1 tsp agar powder
Soak, rinse, and drain the nuts. Place all the cheese ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Transfer the cheese mixture into a glass container and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let the cheese culture at room temperature for 24-48 hours. After culturing is complete, pour mixture into a saucepan. Whisk in tapioca our and agar. While the mixture cooks over medium heat, stir constantly, using a exible spatula. Cook until mixture is thick, glossy, and pulls away from the side of the pan, about 8-10 minutes. Line a cake pan or a round glass container with cheesecloth, or plastic wrap, with excess hanging over the sides. Pour in cheese mixture and spread evenly. Let the cheese cool, then cover and put in refrigerator for 6-8 hours until firm. Once firm, lift the cheese from the container and remove cheesecloth or plastic wrap. Place the cheese on a wax paper-lined plate. Dust the cheese on all sides with tapioca flour. This will help dry the exterior and imitate the white rind found on the traditional brie cheese. Place uncovered cheese in the refrigerator to air-dry for 12-24 hours. Wrap the cheese in wax paper and store in a covered container in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.
Olive & Roasted Pepper Cheese Terrine
1 cup cashews 1 cup Brazil nuts 3 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar 3 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice 1⁄2 cup water 1 tsp probiotic powder
3 tbsp nutritional yeast 1 tsp salt 1 tbsp chickpea miso
Soak, rinse, and drain nuts. Place all the cheese ingredients in the blender. Process, starting with half a cup of water and slowly adding as needed until a smooth and creamy consistency is achieved. Place a strainer that has been lined with a cheesecloth over a bowl. Transfer the cheese mixture into it, and then twist the ends of the cheesecloth together and secure with a rubber band or twine. Place a plate on top of the wrapped cheese ball and add a weight on top, such as a mason jar lled with water, which is heavy enough to gently press the extra liquid out of the cheese. Cover the mixture with a clean kitchen towel and allow to culture for 24-48 hours at room temperature. After fermentation is complete, unwrap the cheese and place it in a glass bowl. Add the seasoning ingredients and mix to combine. Taste and adjust to your liking.
Cover and refrigerate for 6-8 hours until the cheese is very firm. Separate cheese mixture into three equal amounts. Prepare a small loaf pan lined with plastic wrap extending over all the sides. Place one third of the cheese into the lined pan and pack firmly with the back of a spoon. Spread olive tapenade on top, cover with second layer of cheese, add roasted red pepper spread, and layer with remaining cheese. Cover with the plastic wrap and refrigerate 4-6 hours until firm.
2 cups raw cashews 11⁄2 cups cooked pumpkin 2⁄3 cup re ned coconut oil, melted 1⁄2 cup raw maple syrup 1⁄4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice 1 tsp vanilla 1 tsp sea salt 1⁄2 tsp cinnamon 1⁄2 tsp nutmeg
Soak, rinse, and drain the nuts. Transfer all cheesecake ingredients into a blender. Process until the mixture is smooth and creamy. If the mixture is too thick to blend, add nondairy milk one tablespoon at a time until the mixture thins slightly. Pour mixture into the chilled crust, smoothing out the top. Chill in the refrigerator overnight. Keeps refrigerated for up to 5 days.
Jules Aron is a holistic health and wellness coach, a green lifestyle expert- and the best-selling author of Zen and Tonic: Savory and Fresh Cocktails for the Enlightened Drinker. Her new book, Vegan Cheese: Simple, Delicious, Plant-Based Cheese Recipes, is now available to pre-order.