Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Cashew Cheese Spread (with beer!)

A few years ago I realized that certain kinds of miso, when mixed with tahini, tasted a lot like how I remember a certain technicolor port wine cheese spread that my grandparents liked.  In terms of both taste and texture, this cashew cheese is continuation of this phenomenon.

There are tons of cashew cheese recipes that I'd like to try, but I recently made this one because it was much faster than many, including the cashew goat cheese I blogged about last summer (which requires hours of soaking, setting, and baking).  Also, this one has BEER in it!

Because misos and beers have such distinct flavors, this recipe will vary a ton depending on what kinds you use.  I used my favorite miso--Cold Mountain brand light yellow shiro miso--which has a very nutty flavor, and a pretty dry, pretty hoppy pale ale.  Between the beer and the miso (and a bit of nutritional yeast), the flavor was STRONG.  I loved it, but it sure wasn't no Velveeta.

The possibilities are endless, though!  You could also add turmeric or a little pureed carrot or beet for color, and some lemon juice or spices or herbs (dill? sundried tomato?) might yield nice variations as well.  You could also actually use port wine instead of beer.

Cashew Beer Cheese Spread

2 c lightly salted and roasted cashew halves or pieces
1/2 cup beer or non-alcoholic beer (or white wine? or port wine?)
2 TB miso paste (the darker the color, the deeper/saltier the flavor)
1/2 cup soymilk (I started with 1/4 c and added to desired consistency)
1/2 c nutritional yeast (I started with 1/4 c and added to taste)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt to taste, depending on your miso (I didn't use any)
turmeric (optional)

In a small food processor, process cashews until they form a rough paste.  Then add remaining ingredients and process for a few minutes or until quite smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  I recommend adding ingredients gradually and adjusting to the taste and texture you want.  Makes 2-3 c.

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