Tofu Halloumi

The success of the feta and my tried-and-true tofu cream “uncheese” made me want to try and recreate another cheese favorite – halloumi, the gummy, salty cheese you can bake or grill to perfection. Turns out someone has already thought about this – the awesome Nada from One Arab Vegan has a great recipe! I made a few modifications to prepare it as follows:

Half a block of extra firm tofu–Hodo Soy extra-firm has the perfect consistency for this dish. It’s firm and springy, just like the cheese, and requires very little squeezing.
1-2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1-2 tsp of sea salt (halloumi is a fairly salty cheese, but we found it a bit too salty for our taste, though after grilling it the flavors worked really well)
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp dried oregano (Nada’s original recipe calls for dried mint, which would’ve been preferable, but oregano was a tasty substitute)
1/2 tbsp olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Press the tofu (though not essential for Hodo Soy). Mix up all other ingredients in a little bowl into a thick, pasty marinade. Slice tofu to 1/8-1/4 inch slices. Layer the slices in a shallow dish and rub the marinade on both sides of each slice. Leave for 20 mins to absorb the flavors.

Nada uses a waffle iron to cook them, but I don’t have one. Fortunately, years ago, before I knew anything about cooking, my mom gifted me this amazing grilling pan, and I suspect any pan or griddle will do. Grill the slices for about 5 mins on each side, and you’re good to go.

Another idea I had was to do cubes in lieu of slices and put them on mediterranean-style skewers with mushrooms and tomatoes. I’ll do that for my next bbq party!

Tofu Ricotta

We spent last weekend being spoiled at the Stanford Inn by the Sea and eating marvelous vegan cuisine at Ravens Restaurant. One of their signature dishes is a ravioli stuffed with tofu ricotta. We ate that dish with delight over the weekend, and were thrilled to see the recipe for this magical ricotta in their newly published cookbook. I just made two cups of it, which I plan to use in a lasagna I’m serving tomorrow to my students, and it came out like a dream:

14oz firm tofu (a whole standard package)
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tsp orange zest
big handful of basil leaves
5 garlic cloves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tbsp nutritional yeast

Place all ingredients in the food processor and process until smooth. Do not overprocess, because it will become watery. Use within three days.

Almond Yogurt

This yogurt is the bomb! I’ve made it several times now and, once you figure out the two-step process, it’s easy and yields wonderful tangy yogurt. You can see it in the picture on the left in the blue bowl. The recipe comes from Miyoko Schinner’s wonderful book The Homemade Vegan Pantry. And it’s pretty fortunate, because while now there are marvelously tasty vegan yogurts available, they are also fairly expensive, and this recipe gives you a nice quart of yogurt for the price of an almond milk carton.

The key thing to remember is not to add the yogurt in Step Two before the contents of the jar cool enough to allow the cultures to do their thing. Beyond that, easy peasy.

1 container unsweetened almond milk
1/3 cup cashews
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp agar flakes
2 heaping tbsp vegan yogurt (I use the last of a previous batch; to start the process, you can buy a little container of Kite Hill plain almond yogurt, or any soy yogurt, and use that.)

Step One

Place almond milk, cashews, cornstarch and agar flakes in blender and blend until smooth. Pour into saucepan, place on stove, and whisk while bringing to a simmer. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, until the mix thickens somewhat. Then, turn off the heat and pour the contents of the saucepan into glass jars (I like larger ones.) Place the jars outdoors or on the counter until they chill to 110 degrees (warm, but not hot – so that you can put a finger in the mix comfortably.)

Step Two

When the contents have chilled enough, add the vegan yogurt and mix a bit. Then, close the jars and place them somewhere warm, at about 105-110 degrees. We have an old-fashioned oven, so we just place it inside with the pilot light on; you can put it in a modern oven and turn it on and off, or put it in a dehydrator at a very low temperature, or outside if it’s warm. Leave it in the warm space for about 8 hours, then retrieve and place in fridge. The yogurt will continue to thicken in the fridge.

Almond “Feta”

This was a massive pantry day! We made three loaves of seitan–Italian, Berbere, and Cajun–and froze most of them. And I also made almond “feta”, which is now happily brining in the fridge.

The recipe comes from Miyoko Schinner’s The Homemade Vegan Pantry, which is turning out to be an extremely useful resource. Here’s the process:

Step 1

2 cups blanched almonds
1 cup liquid from sauerkraut
a bit of salt

I soaked the almonds for a few hours in water, then drained them and processed in the blender with the liquid and salt. I poured the remaining mixture into a container and put it on the counter to culture. With the warm weather we had, it cultured the following day! (how do you know? you taste it to figure if it’s tangy.)

Step 2

2/3 cup water
2 tbsp agar powder

I simmered these together on low heat until the agar dissolved and solidified. Then, I turned off the heat, added the almond mixture, and whisked. I then poured the mixture into a container lined with cheesecloth and placed it in the fridge for a few hours.

Step 3


The cheese is ready and solid! I cut it into four pieces and placed them in a different container, pouring salt water on top. I’m told it will be wonderful and improve as time goes by.

Oh, and just for fun – here’s what we had for dinner: fresh sourdough with hummus and mature ful, green ful lightly steamed with lemon juice and za’atar, caprese with vegan mozzarella from Miyoko’s Kitchen, and a cucumber-dill salad. It was atrociously hot and this is all we could manage. The only thing here that might not be obvious is the ful topping on the hummus, but all there was to it was opening a can and sauteeing it a bit with sliced onion and some baharat.

UPDATE: The cheese came out wonderful!

Collard Pesto and Caprese

To your left is a nice, summery Italian meal: pasta with a Pesto of Hidden Value and magical caprese. All of this is vegan, with a helpful hand from Miyoko’s Kitchen!

First, the clandestine pesto. I added an entire giant bunch of raw collard greens to the classic recipe, to which it adds some intense green color and a bit of flavor. It’s the newest addition to my old bag of tricks–I try to add leafy greens to everything I make, partly because of their fabulous calcium content–and pesto is the ideal delivery vehicle for it.

To make this marvel, you’ll need:

1 bunch collard greens
4 large garlic cloves
3 tbsp pine nuts
1 cup basil leaves
olive oil (in a bottle that allows drizzling)
a dollop of Miyoko’s Kitchen Double Cream Chive

Cut collard greens into ribbons and place in food processor. Process until very thinly chopped. Add garlic, pine nuts, and basil, and continue processing; slowly drizzle olive oil from the top as you’re processing everything else until it reaches a consistency you like. Add a few small chunks of Miyoko’s Kitchen cheese, if you like, and continue processing until more or less homogenous. Mix with pasta and serve.

Second, the caprese: this salad was one of the grand loves of my pre-vegan life, and today a marvelous thing happened: I received my shipment of Miyoko’s buffalo-style vegan mozarella. We had a giant heirloom tomato lying about, so I sliced it, placed a piece of mozarella on each slice, and decorated each with a basil leaf.

Now that I’ve eaten this salad I can happily say that veganism does not entail even a shred of sacrifice, and all my culinary pleasures are well satisfied without cruelty. Thank you, Miyoko!

Fast Red Tofu Uncheese

Another variation on the tofu “uncheese” theme, this time a soft reddish variety, that tastes somewhat like ricotta but with a bit of a punch. This is really good stuff. I made it to take over to our friends Shachar and Amit’s house tonight, with some crackers; I had a small container of matbucha, which is basically a Moroccan salad/salsa/dip made of tomatoes, garlic and spices cooked together for a long time, sort of like jam. If you like, you can make your own matbucha, but if you don’t have any and don’t want to bother, you can try doing this with roasted peppers or with canned roasted tomatoes.

1 block of tofu
2 tbsps matbucha; or 2 roasted peppers, cut into pieces; or 2 tbsps canned roasted tomatoes (the Glen Muir variety I remember from the Bay Area is pretty good)
1 handful fresh parsley
2 small chili peppers
Optional: paprika; basil; black pepper.

Place in food processor; blend until smooth. Taste and season as desired.

Dill Tofu “Uncheese”

One of my favorite places to eat when I just moved to Tel Aviv was Taste of Life, run by the Hebrew Israelites. This is a fascinating community of folks of African ancestry who live mostly in Dimona, a town more toward the south, and who abide by vegan nutrition principles as part of their spiritual practices. It’s a tiny place, but one that was offering tofu cheeses and patties long before these creative dairy and meat alternatives were popular in Tel Aviv. While the Hebrew Israelites refrain from meat and dairy for spiritual reasons, it is well known today that dairy allergies are quite common among folks of African ancestry, so there may be very good health reasons for their abstinence, too.

My favorite dish there was their tofu “uncheese” with dill, and I would buy small containers of it and snack on them on my way home… nothing would be left by the time I arrived to my fridge.

I’ve just managed to recreate the recipe, and here is my version, for your enjoyment.

200 gr soft tofu
4-5 tbsp fresh dill (big heaping fistful of chopped herb)
5 garlic cloves (don’t be shy with the garlic on this one)
juice from 1 lemon
pinch of salt and black peppper

Place dill and garlic in food processor, pour lemon juice in, and chop up; add tofu, cut into cubes, then process again until smooth or a bit chunky. Add salt and pepper to taste.