10/5/11

Vegan Mofo: Essential Vegan Skillz 1- Cashew Cream


Hey Mo-Foers! Now that I'm fairly settled back in Berlin and not moving to any other country's capitol that starts with a B until *at least* November, I can start a little bit with my very first Vegan MoFo "theme"!

Its not like I'm going to stick to this every day, because that's obviously too organized for me, however I thought it would be nice to have a little reoccurring item, namely, "Essential Vegan Skillz." I'm talking about those things that you learned how to do only when you started cooking vegan. The innovations made by the cookbook Gods, and perfected in the kitchen and in blogosphere. The simple tricks that have made everyone's life a little easier, and tastier. My idea is to explain the concept, demonstrate how-to, and then to show a few uses, maybe using other people's recipes as well. And then, hopefully, y'all will add variations and stuff in the comments!


First up: CREAMING CASHEWS for fun and profit

Who knows who first thought of using cashews to make a creamy base for dips, sauces, and sweets, but whoever it was may have been allergic to soy. After all, us vegans had to rely on on silken tofu for all of our cream needs for years, with short interludes of coconut milk... and to be fair, it wasn't such a bad choice. But sometimes you don't want to eat tofu in a soy based sauce washed down with a glass of soymilk. We vegans need variety as much as the next fool. Thus, was born the genius idea of blending cashews.

The basic concept is generally this: take raw, unsalted cashews and place them in a container with plenty of water, overnight. (Or at least for 8 hours, like, while you are away at work. )

Cashews soaking, next to some black beans for tomorrow's "skill"
Blend a lot, and scrape the sides of your container with a spatula.
Next, you blend the plumped up cashews with a bit of liquid and some flavoring if you so desire, using a food processor or a handheld immersion blender.

Finally you have something that looks like this (or more liquid and creamier, if you added more liquid and blended longer.) It has a delicate taste and can be enhanced to suit your sordid needs.
Seen here as a topping for rice and beans- heaven
 Of course, there is my favorite use, as a sour cream substitute. (Both Vegan Brunch and Viva Vegan offer variations on this recipe.) A little bit of cooling vinegar blended in with the cashews, plus a little salt and you've got an excellent topping for spicy soups and beans. Used this way its also good blended with fresh herbs, onions, garlic or cucumbers for dips. The other main way I use it blended with a bit of agave nectar for a creamy compliment to pies, as seen below with peach pie.

In addition you can use it as a creamy base for casseroles and stove-top specialties. For instance, Isa uses cashews as the base for her awesome Mac and 'Shews. Its also the basis for her famous Rad Whip, an amazing whip cream substitute. You can even make cashew cheese as an app to serve your skeptical omni friends. (You use a cheesecloth to make the cheese more thick and creamy...yum!)

Once you have mastered the art of taming the cash(r)ew, there is no stopping what you can accomplish. Well, food-wise at least.

So that was my first "Essential Vegan Skillz" topic, stay tuned for more in the month to come!

Song of the Day: The Smiths- This Charming Man

6 comments:

jenojoon.com said...

I love, love, love cashew creams of all kinds!! ;)

Bianca said...

There's nothing better than cashew cream. Nothing!!

Niru said...

I really like the picture of the table and its contents. Very simple and wholesome and the ideal weeknight kind of meal. I also realized that I have the same pot!

Cashews are nature's blessing to the vegan diet.

jessy said...

how to make cashew cream is an essential vegan skill, fo 'sho. i love the tutorial, T!

sometimes when i'm feeling sassy i'll blend up 1 cup of white beans with the rest of the ingredients for the cashew cream. it gives it a nice flavor.

hooray for the mighty cashew & happy MoFo'n!!!

Tea and Sympatico said...

I like the idea of essential vegan skills, great theme!

adriennefriend said...

I LOVE this THEME!!!!!!!!!!!