Here are some enjoyable ways to create vegan cheese pairings and crowd-pleasing cheese plates. In Super Easy Vegan Cheese Cookbook, Janice Buckingham has created a guide for beginning vegan cheesemakers as well as more advanced cooks wanting fresh ideas to expand their repertoire of plant-based cheeses.
In this book, there are helpful introductory notes on basic kitchen equipment and cheesemaking staples like homemade nut milks and rejuvelac.
Plus, you’ll find 70 recipes arranged by category, including:
- Cheese sauces, spreads, and shreds
- Soft cheeses
- Semihard, pressed cheeses
- Hard and aged cheeses
- Fermented, cultured cheeses
Following is an excerpt from Super Easy Vegan Cheese Cookbook: 70 Delicious Plant-Based Cheeses (Rockridge Press, ©2018 by Janice Buckingham, reprinted by permission) to whet your appetite.
PERFECT VEGAN CHEESE PAIRINGS
Is the greatness of cheese determined by its pairings? Some might say yes! I personally love cheese on its own, paired, on a house, with a mouse … or any way I can get it. But there is definitely a wow factor when you taste cheese with the perfect accoutrements to accentuate its flavor.
I like to pair soft mild cheese with something sweet while looking for hearty sharp flavor profiles to pair with aged cheese. Wine, olives, and herb crackers go really well with cheeses that also have a distinctly developed flavor.
I encourage you to have fun and improvise your cheese indulgences, but am happy to share a few of my favorites:
- Baked brie topped with orange marmalade on a soft baguette
- Soft ricotta with tart berry chia jam
- Spicy cheese with a nice bold Shiraz
CROWD-PLEASING CHEESE PLATES
The most impressive dish at any gathering is a cheese plate, or as I like to call them, “Abundance Boards.” These vibrant platters are over- flowing with artisanal bites that are carefully selected to accentuate one another while putting the cheeses on a pedestal.
When preparing a cheese plate, I like to pick three cheeses to feature. One soft cheese, one semihard cheese, and one aged cheese. This gives you different tastes and textures and helps you move around the plate and experience something unique with each bite.
After selecting the cheese superstars, I move on to the condiments. I love having a sweet and fruity compote, maybe even with chia seeds mixed in for crunch. You are welcome to use any storebought marmalade or jelly, but preparing them from scratch is quick and helps you keep track of what ingredients are in it. Just simmer the diced fruit in a small saucepan with a bit of lemon juice and sugar for about 10 minutes, and voilà!
A pickled element
Next, I add a pickled element, like quick pickled onion or, well … pickles! To quickly pickle any vegetable, slice it thinly and add to a small bowl with equal parts salt and sugar, and then drizzle liberally with vinegar. Let it sit for about 10 minutes and it will be ready to enjoy.
Fresh fruits and candied nuts
After that, I fill in the platter with a bounty of fresh fruits and candied nuts. I love to candy nuts in sugar over the stove and then sprinkle with a little cinnamon and salt at the end to really bring out the sweetness and take them up a notch. Adding in a dash of cayenne to the nuts will add an interesting and unexpected spice that might be welcomed on your platter.
Last, but not least, crackers! Cheese and crackers are BFFs, so we can’t forget to include these crunchy vehicles for cheese devouring. I think opting for the higher-end crackers that have true quality is important. Look for a rosemary sesame lavash or garlic pita. Or make your own with leftover almond pulp!
After you assemble your platter with the ingredients you love, garnish it with herbs and flowers to let your guests know this is a special treat that was tended to with great care and pride. You want to present an irresistible plate at the very first glance so your cheese has a stage it deserves.
Super Easy Vegan Cheese Cookbook is available wherever books are sold
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