Thursday, 31 May 2012

Baked almond feta

We have a bumper crop on our potted lemon tree.  In its first few years it only yielded a few lemons.  Now it is flourishing.   I never use lemons in huge quantities, particularly as I don't like sweet lemon desserts, so I am scratching around for ways to use them up.  Which means I am prompted to try recipes that intimidatd me.  Like baked almond feta.  Yes, I mean vegan cheese!

To see my lemon photos you might think that this recipe uses lots of lemons.  I was disappointed to find that 1/4 a cup of lemon juice only requires 1 lemon.  So I added a little more.  I have plans for a lemon cake and to give some away.  It never rains, it pours!

Lemon dilemmas aside, I am quite taken with the idea of vegan cheese.  If only they didn't take so long to make.  I soaked the almonds for 2 nights because I didn't quite get around to making the feta after the first night.

I did a lot of other things instead.  Like baking a honey and oat bread (which I intend to post about later).  I planned that last night's dinner would be a simple affair of bread, 'cheeze' and vegetables.  Even so, I was cutting it fine.  I barely managed to get the cheese into the cheesecloth and get out the door for Sylvia's swimming lessons.  It didn't hang quite as long as the recipe said but I think this didn't do any harm.

I patted it into the baking dish not long before dinner - with Sylvia helping.  If she had had her way she would have made lots of holes in it.  (Or 'oles' as she likes to say because suddenly she has lost her 'aitches'.)  She tried a teensy weensy bit of the cheese and decided she didn't like it.

At least there was something for her in the side dishes.  She loved the roasted cauliflower, the peas and carrot sticks.  She had the tofu bacon without the fried cabbage.  Sadly for me, the pumpkin took too long to roast and sat in the fridge instead of our tummies.  It has been very good in a sandwich today with leftover cabbage and cheeze.

E and I were very pleased with the cheese.  It was very crumbly, but so is feta.  If anything, it could have had a bit more bite.  I am glad I added the extra lemon juice and I think next time I will add a bit of extra salt (like Ricki does).  Not perfect but as Celia says, "the true secret of successful cooking lies not in ingredients and recipes, but rather in experience and practice.'  I highly recommend reading her whole post on Celebrating Failure.  This was no failure but it deserves some practice to be at its best.

I am sending this to Laura of How to Cook Good Food for the One Ingredient: Lemon Challenge.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Breakfast Club #11 Vegetarian Savoury - the round up
Two years ago: WHB Plums: a history, trivia and a cake
Three years ago: Blueberry Soup with Heavenly Yoghurt
Four years ago: Pumpkin Cornmeal Quiche
Five years ago: Posh Bread & Cheese Supper

Baked almond feta
Slightly adapted from Honest Cooking
  • 1 1/2 cups blanched almonds (about 240g)
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp salt (next time I might add a little more)
Soak almonds overnight.  (Mine soaked two nights.)

Blend well with other ingredients until almonds are well blended and the mixture is smooth.  You may have to stop and scrape down the sides a couple of times.  (I did this in two batches in my small attachment for the hand held blender - it took about 2-4 minutes for each batch.) 

Prepare cheesecloth (I poured boiling water over the cheesecloth and then put it on spin cycle in the washing machine).  Wrap almond mixture in a cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band.  Place over a sieve or colander with a container under it to catch any drips and leave over night.  (I left mine for 7 hours and occasionally squeezed it which seemed to draw out some liquid.)

Oil a small baking dish and place almond mixture into this.  We patted it down with our hands.  Bake at 180 C for about 40 minutes until golden brown and showing some cracks.

Serve warm or at room temperature.  Store in the fridge.

On the Stereo:
This is my life: Shirley Bassey

27 comments:

  1. great quote about experience and practice:) love it! and that cheese sounds so interesting! Feta was always my favorite cheese back in the day! I had a saying, "Everything is 'bettah' with feta!" haha...i can't wait to try this out! thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks GF happy tummy - very funny - I would say that too and in fact I was asying that's better, that's feta while I was making it!

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  2. That is a good piece of advice I think and I know you will go back and try this again. Who knew that almonds could make feta cheese? I am very impressed as ever and look at that spread of food. Mmmmmmm!

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    1. Thanks Jac - I think I will try this again - have already tried it in sandwiches and with a lentil and pea salad which I loved (wish I had photographed it for NCR) so it seems to have great possibilities

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  3. Johanna, this is awesome! I desperately want it :D

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    1. Thanks Hannah - I wish I could share it with you - am sure it would go down well in your family

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  4. What an interesting idea this cheese is! I tried making a cashew new ice cream a few years ago and it wasn't too bad (although I couldn't get it ground up finely enough for the ice creamy texture).

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    1. Thanks Lorraine - this is less creamy than the cashew goats cheese I made last year but it is forgiven because it crumbles just like feta - I think a powderful blender (like a vita mix) would help

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  5. I'm so intrigued by this, that I may actually be convinced I want to try it, despite theoretically not liking cheese. It doesn't look like regular cheese, and it has lemon, so I'm figuring if there was ever a winning cheese option this could be it!

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    1. Thanks Kari - it is great in sandwiches and also crumbled on salads - definitely recommend it (though I love cheese so I would be interested to hear what you think)

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  6. I am so impressed with your cheeze making! I tried the cashew goats cheeze last year but it didn't turn out well and I haven't had much luck with making other vegan cheezes. What a shame you don't like lemony sweets with such an abundance of lemons. We planted a lemon tree last year and there are heaps of lemons that are almost ripe now so I'm getting excited about using them!

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    1. Thanks Mel - I have another vegan cheese I really want to try - more like cheddar but am working up to it - hope to hear what you do with your lemons - I made lemon slice and gave some away today!

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  7. That cheese sounds so good! I definitely want to try my hand at vegan cheese someday and this might just have to be it!

    You can make lemon curd with all those lemons!

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    1. Thanks Joanne - this would be great crumbled over one of your dishes full of vegies - not quite so creamy as feta but it gives a good texture and a good source of protein. Sadly I don't like lemon curd (but last night we found that sylvia loved it in a tart - actually she is enjoyed sucking on lemons - odd child!)

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  8. I have lemon envy! Your vegan cheese sounds really good!

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    1. Thanks Jenn - I do enjoy having a tree of lemons even if I don't know what to do with them

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  9. Your baked almond feta looks truly appetizing & is so versatile to use: as a dip, as a paté or as a snack with fruits! YUMMMMMM?...I pust make this soon with my vitamix!

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    1. Thanks Sophie - I wish I had a vitamix when it comes to these recipes - this feta is versatile - though I found it doesn't pair well with jam on toast :-(

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  10. Wow I've never heard of almond feta before! I love the taste of feta and almonds rock so sounds like a goer :)

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    1. Thanks Shauna - definitely worth a try if you love almonds (even better if you have a decent blender unlike me!)

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  11. Chapeau for facing a fear recipe! And the result looks very good to me! I wonder, did the almonds ferment during the time they were in the cheesecloth? Are they meant to do?

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    1. Thanks Kath - I didn't think about the almonds fermenting at the time but have since seen a chickpea cheese recipe where they seem to ferment with the addition of miso - I think the lemon juice does some of the fermentation sort of tang here but am not sure

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  12. Oh I love the sound of your almond Feta and think it would be such a welcome treat plus a change from the regular variety. I am so sorry but your link did not appear on my post, can't think why. I am not sure what happened and would have love to have featured your cheese. You have made something very tasty here and so original too! x

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  13. Hi again, just checked and think that your entry must have come in after I had posted the round up and then I went off on holiday so haven't been able to access my website for over a week. Will try to amend this week, sorry! x

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    1. Thanks Laura - I thought I got it in just in time - esp as the linky was still open but it is often hard to work out timing of blog events closing with all the time differences between Australia and the rest of the world :-)

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  14. Just wanted to let you know that I made this last weekend and loved the texture but found that it wasn't salty or tangy enough even with an extra 1/4 teaspoon of salt. I took a look at Ricki's version and the one on Vegetarian Times which only use 1 cup almonds. I think I'll give it a try like that next time to compare.

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    1. Thanks Mel - look forward to hearing how you go - glad it is not just me that felt it needed more oomph

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