Raw cashews are the perfect base for vegan cheeses and creams. They have lots of fat (flavor) but feature no dominant taste, so they are perfect for soaking and blending with other spices and ingredients. This recipe has been adapted from Chad Sarno's Cashew Cheese recipe, featured in VegNews. I've added some oil cured olives here for some saltiness and texture and layered it here with fresh chopped tarragon, which gives it a hint of herbiness and anise. The flavors worked really well here—the use of a ring mold to layer everything here isn't necessary, but it does fancy it up nicely if you're into that kind of thing.
2 cups cashews, soaked overnight
1 teaspoon (or the contents of about 6 capsules) New Chapter Probiotics All-Flora powder, dissolved in 1 1/2 cup of warm water
2 tsp nutritional yeast
1/2 TB onion powder
1/2 TB garlic powder
2 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper
12 oil cured olives, depitted and chopped
4 TB fresh tarragon, chopped
In a high-speed blender, blend soaked cashews with probiotic mixture until smooth. Line a large fine mesh strainer with 2 layers of cheesecloth or a tea towel and, using a spatula, scrape the cheese mixture onto the towel. Wrap the corners of the cheesecloth or towel up and over the cheese and twist the top until the mixture is sealed in. Place the mesh strainer into a bowl to catch any moisture that may seep through.
Place a weight on top of the cheese mixture. A heavy jug will work, but I like to use a sandwich bag with change, as it applies an even amount of weight across the entire surface. Place in a warm spot (I place mine on a radiator), to culture for 14 to 16 hours. During this culturing process, the cheese will really develop a good depth of flavor.
Once culturing is complete, you can add in some other flavors to the cheese. In a small bowl, combine the cheese with nutritional yeast, onion and garlic powder powder, salt and white pepper. Blend well with a spatula.
To serve: Take a round ring mold and place it on a plate. (I use a 1.75 X 3 inch mold.) Using a spoon, place a 1-inch layer of cheese on the bottom of the mold and press gently but firmly. Add a layer of the chopped tarragon and then spoon another layer of cheese over that. Add a layer of chopped olives and then a final layer of cheese. To serve, simply lift the ring up.
This also travels well if you'd like to bring along to a potluck or party. Just lay some saran wrap under the ring mold with plenty of overhang and assemble as described in the paragraph above. Once completed, gather the edges at the top and tie off tightly with a twist tie. It holds everything together perfectly until ready to serve.