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105degrees, L2/W2/D3-4: creative cheeses

December 10, 2010

My post-workout snack on Wednesday was a “chocolate-covered strawberry” protein smoothie, made with the help of my Tribest personal blender. It had frozen strawberries, half a banana, a few drops of stevia, and Sun Warrior raw chocolate protein powder.

My fruity smoothie helped power me through several hours of cheese-making in class. We’d started our nut cheeses on Monday, and they’d been fermenting and draining ever since.

I made two batches of cashew cheese (left), Brazilnut cheese (top right), and pistachio cheese (bottom right).

Remember my cheeses from Level I? I utilized similar flavors in these cheeses, but implemented them in a bit more advanced way. On the left is a gojiberry Mexican cheddar cheese, and on the right is a kalamata olive Brazilnut cheese.

After dehydrating overnight, they formed some very nice rinds.

On the left here is my honey-balsamic-fig pistachio cheese, plus a small wheel of plain cashew cheese on the right.

I also made this raw version of my mom’s Christmas cheese ball. (How 80’s of me!) It’s made of cashew cheese (replacing the cream cheese in the original), crushed pineapple, minced green onions, dried cranberries, chopped pecans, and garlic powder. It’s the weirdest combination of flavors EVER, but somehow, it works amazingly well. Maybe someday I’ll share this recipe with you all!

After a whole day of cheese-making and -tasting, is it any wonder we all felt the need for a cleansing shot of wheatgrass?

Tomorrow, I’m going to blog about the project I’ve been working on all week: Academy specials! Haylee paired us up, and my partner Cristina and I spent the week creating, developing, testing, and perfecting recipes for an original entrรฉe and dessert. Tonight, we actually sold these meals in the restaurant! What sort of wondrous raw cuisine did we prepare? If you follow me on Facebook and/or on Twitter, you’ve already heard what our dishes were! (And if you’re not following me, why not?!) Stay tuned for the full scoop tomorrow.

By the way, if you’re at all interested in raw-cheese-making, my Level I instructor Russell James‘s all-cheese e-book is absolutely indispensable. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you should really take a look!

Raw Nut Cheese Recipes

22 Comments leave one →
  1. December 10, 2010 9:06 pm

    I love Russell’s cheese book. I love the idea of pisachio cheese. I will have to try that. You’re so creative!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      December 15, 2010 10:59 am

      Aw, thank you Aimee ๐Ÿ™‚ The pistachio cheese may actually have been my favorite of the bunch!

  2. December 10, 2010 9:31 pm

    Looks very interesting! I’ve been looking at the “aged” “cheese” recipes out there. I think those interest me more than the soft dip-type recipes. They usually call for probiotics….is there a certain combination that you know of that is recommended, or can any old colon health blend do the trick?

    And we need to plan our prep session!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      December 10, 2010 10:20 pm

      All of these types of cheeses we’ve made, in L1 and L2 both, have been or can be aged. My cheeses from L1 are still aging in my fridge at home, and these will likely join them ๐Ÿ™‚ We use probiotic powder to ferment them; a non-dairy blend made by New Chapter Organics, I believe. I think you’d really like these! Also, the dehydrated ones, even without being aged, are extremely firm.

      Prep session: yes! Post X-mas! Hard to say, yet, when exactly…

      • December 12, 2010 8:03 pm

        OK, picked up the books and dehydrator today. It’s a round, on or off dehydrator. I’ll test out the temperature later, but if it’s less than 200F then that’s already way better than my oven can do! I’ve read the manual, and it appears that the recommended dehydrating times are comparable to the Excalibur. I don’t know how reliable a method that is as far as guessing the temperature, but it’s something. Like I said, I’ll run it later with a thermometer in it to get a better guess.

        The books are “Raw Foods for Busy People,” “The Raw 50,” and (the one Steph said she used the most) Juiano’s “UnCook Book.”

      • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
        December 15, 2010 11:03 am

        That’s seriously surprising to me that she says she used Juliano’s book the most. It’s has more off-the-wall ingredients and ridiculously long prep times (and yet LEAST detailed instructions) of just about any. But I will say, the food is mouthwatering! I still contend you must check out Ani Phyo’s books, she’d be right up your alley.

        • December 16, 2010 2:10 am

          I had read reviews of Juliano’s book, and they were terrible. Looking through it though, it’s really not that bad. Maybe for people who aren’t accustomed to cooking and food prep it would be more difficult….but it seems pretty standard to me.

        • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
          December 16, 2010 12:12 pm

          That’s good to hear! I’ve neglected to purchase it for so long precisely due to all the negative reviews I’ve seen. But just a week or two ago, I decided to ask for it for Xmas! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. December 10, 2010 9:38 pm

    I am continually blown away by how good these ‘cheeses’ look to me, a lifelong cheesehater! I remember making pistachio cheese _years_ ago: it was astonishing how easily it fermented and puffed up.

    How incredibly exciting that they’re serving your creations at the restaurant. What major kudos and what major career confidence building! Looking forward to hearing more about it.

    I saw my first _ever_ cheeseball this thanksgiving and was sure it typified a certain era, so thanks for placing me in the 80’s. It was cream cheese/bacon/shredded cheese/onions/some other things (?dried cranberries): i.e. absolutely gagsomely gross to me if I’d stopped to think about it. I’m quite proud of myself that I didn’t – stop to think about it, that is, and that my response to it, as I watched others chow down, was a very detached curiosity coupled with slight amusement.


    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      December 15, 2010 11:05 am

      Get this – I actually took some of my cheeses home over the weekend to eat, not because we were supposed to, but because I WANTED to! I’m making big strides in the raw cheese department! ๐Ÿ˜›

      Haha, cheese balls usually do epitomize “gagsomely gross” ๐Ÿ™‚ I was thrilled this one translated so well into raw. Those crazy flavors somehow work!

  4. December 10, 2010 11:17 pm

    I could pretty much live off of cheese and sushi if I were to choose based on taste alone.

    Must…obtain…VitaMix! I really want to start making these creamy “cheeses” at home!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      December 15, 2010 11:07 am

      Separately, or together? ๐Ÿ˜› I don’t think I could eat both of those things in the same meal!

      Yes yes, a Vitamix is a MUST. If Jeff needs to know what to get you for Xmas… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. December 11, 2010 2:02 am

    Hey Amber, I’ve got so much to catch up on with your blog, not been online much lately, but I am always assured a fantastic read when I do. Your cheeses look great. My cheeses have not had much success since returning from 105 so I need to bite the bullet and get back in the kitchen to create some genius. This week I was thinking of a mac cheese with aromatics, so will see if I get around to it. Also love the strawberry smoothie you tribested up. Great combo of flavours. My favourite smoothie whilst there was the strawberry seduction so I often recreate it but with a chunk of frozen spinach to make it more ‘healthy’ I guess. Level II is looking great.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      December 15, 2010 11:08 am

      I still wasn’t sure after Level I if I had any desire to make cheese once I got home, but after this, it’s solidified: I WILL be utilizing these skills long after class ends.

      I saw your cheeses on FB! Love that you made a plan and went for it!

      Mmm, strawberry seduction…that sounds so good right now…

  6. December 11, 2010 4:01 am

    balsamic-fig pistachio cheese!! Yes please!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      December 15, 2010 11:09 am

      Hehe, I did make enough to share!

  7. December 11, 2010 5:44 am

    Oh gosh, I indeed saw your creations on twitter, and I did my usual little envious moan of yearning. I do that a lot when reading your blog, actually…

    Like when I saw that pistachio fig cheese creation.

    Yep. I’m making the noise again.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      December 15, 2010 11:12 am

      Aw, I knew you’d like these…’specially the pistachio creation. I wish I could give some to you!

  8. December 15, 2010 6:40 am

    Ok, Wow, your balsamic fig cheese looks amazing – I love the idea of using pistachios! However, The kalmata olive cheese shuts it down, I need to make that!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      December 15, 2010 10:58 am

      I think I actually liked my previous olive cheese better, where I made a tapenade of kalamatas & garlic and stuffed it between layers of macnut cheese. However, I don’t think you can go wrong with olives in cheese! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. December 17, 2010 8:56 am

    I LOVE raw protein powder…especially the chocolate. You did good by mixing it with bananas and frozen strawberries. Probably one of my all time favorite protein shakes. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Now the wheatgrass…I’ve really tried with the wheatgrass. I know all the health benefits, I just can’t get the whole thing down without it coming back up. LOL I think I’ll stick to sticking some in my green smoothies where I can hardly taste it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      December 17, 2010 11:16 am

      I think the chocolate flavor is my favorite, too, of the Sun Warrior powders. It seems the least chalky ๐Ÿ™‚ Have you by chance tried any Garden of Life raw powders? I’ve been curious about those.

      This was only my second or third wheatgrass shot EVER, haha. Honestly, they are so disgusting! I’ve even been afraid to put it in green smoothies…I reeeally don’t want to taste it. Maybe I’ll try that sometime, though.

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