Cashew Cheese

I shudder at the thought of eating most storebought vegan cheeses, particularly the kinds that try to imitate the texture and meltyness.  As a general rule, I stick to vegan cheesy products that I can prepare myself (tofu ricotta/chevre, cashew cheese, walnut parmesan)

This is a recipe I’ve had bookmarked for months now.  I ended up making two versions, and they definitely didn’t disappoint.  One was the original, flavored with liquid smoke.  In the second, I omitted the liquid smoke and instead included a couple pinches of dill.  They were both delicious on crackers and pizza, or warmed up inside a toasty torta roll.

When I was flipping through these photos on my computer, I realized how similar the smoked cheese looked to the babybel wax-encased gouda I ate as a kid.  The stripe of smoked paprika garnishing the wheel of “cheese” must have been a subconscious nod to my childhood love for the stuff.  When I think about it, though, the cheese in itself wasn’t all that great.  It was just so fun to tear out that center strip of wax and, subsequently, roll the wax into balls and have fights with my older brother using the little red pellets.   (Sidenote: my brother is far from vegan, but he was surprisingly willing to try a slice of this.  The first thing he said was, “how does it taste so cheesy?”.)

Since I’m a devoted lover of vegan pizza, here’s one I made using this cheese.  Topped with smoky cashew cheese, fresh corn, mushrooms, and tempeh. So great.


Vegan mushroom risotto

Father’s Day wasn’t a big ordeal this year.  A simple match of tennis with dad and a homemade dinner followed by his favorite dessert (Veganized, of course. German chocolate cake post to come. )

I think the meal made up for the defeat on the court (sorry, pops).  He declared this the best risotto he’d ever eaten.  And I didn’t even complain when he tainted his vegan dinner with cheese.  Yeah, happy Father’s Day.

Risotto is such a simple dish that it’s flavor comes down to the quality of the ingredients used.  I sprung for the most gorgeous mushrooms available – fresh morels, chanterelles, and basic brown shrooms

When I tasted the cooked risotto, I couldn’t help but feel that it was a bit flat.  I took a risk and added something I’d never thought of before: A squeeze of fresh lemon juice.  It brought the dish from earthy to perfectly balanced in a second.


  • 2-3 cups assorted mushrooms, cleaned
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Saute mushrooms in a bit of oil until tender. Set aside.

2. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat, until onions soften (about 2-3 minutes)

3. Add arborio rice.  Saute until rice is translucent.

4. Add white wine.  Stir until absorbed

5. Add stock 1/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly.  Repeat until rice is fully cooked.

6. Stir in cooked mushrooms and lemon juice.

Happy Vegan Pizza Day!

It’s Vegan Pizza Day, and I’m going to keep this post short and sweet.  Pizza doesn’t need much explanation.

Pizza is delicious.  Vegan pizza is seriously delicious.  Vegan pizza is worth celebrating.  And celebrate I did.

This pizza is a perfect combination of spicy, sweet, creamy, and tangy.  With chipotle garlic tomato paste, creamy tofu chèvre, caramelized onions, and a bit of fresh arugula, there’s no room to miss melty cheese.


  • Favorite store-bought or homemade pizza dough
  • 1 recipe chipotle garlic tomato paste, below
  • Tofu chèvre, below (adapted from Keepin’ it Kind)
  • 1 onion, caramelized (instructions below, if needed)
  • Handful of baby arugula, optional

(preheat oven according to your own pizza dough recipe or instructions)

1. Stretch/roll pizza dough to desired shape and size (as you can see, I go for a rustic look- AKA as thin as I can get it, no matter the shape).  I bake my pizza on a pre-heated pizza stone for optimal crispness

2. Spread tomato paste on pizza

3. Top with caramelized onions and crumbles/balls of tofu chèvre

4.  After baking: top with arugula, if desired.

Chipotle and garlic tomato paste:

  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1-2 tablespoons adobo sauce from can of chipotles
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • olive oil

1. Smash garlic cloves.  Saute in a teaspoon of oil until lightly browned and softened. Mince.

2. Mix garlic, tomato paste, and adobo sauce.

Tofu Chèvre (adapted)

  • 8 oz. super firm tofu
  • 1.5 tbsp white miso
  • 1/2 T. apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • Salt to taste

1. Combine all ingredients in food processor, blending until smooth. Adjust salt to taste

Caramelized onions

  • 1 large onion (any color)
  • Olive oil

1.  Slice onion in half, and then into segments about 1/2 cm. wide.

2. Saute onions in 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat.

3.  After 2 minutes, reduce to simmer, cover with lid, and cook for about 30 minutes.

Vegan Blueberry Buckle

I blame Costco for this one.   What else would have possibly possessed me to buy a 3 pound bag of frozen blueberries?  After drinking enough blueberry smoothies to last me all summer, I had to put them into something new.  Naturally, I baked.   Never having made a buckle before (and, admittedly, not really even knowing what it was), I looked for a recipe online.

This cake is delicious – a bit dense, not too sweet, but brimming with ripe blueberries.  And crumbly, brown sugar-y streusel topping just makes all problems disappear.

And, hey, it’s full of fruit, so this is totally an acceptable breakfast.  And it’s so delicious alongside a mug of coffee.

Vegan Blueberry Buckle

Based on this recipe, with some adaptations

For the cake:

  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup agave nectar (or maple syrup, or a combination)
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk (or 2 more tablespoons oil)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups blueberries (if frozen, thaw first)

For the streusel

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (or canola oil)
1. Preheat oven to 350 F
2. Prepare streusel: In a bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Add oil and mix until crumbly
3. Sift together 2 cups flour with 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt.
4. In a small bowl stir together agave, 3 tablespoons oil, 2 tablespoons milk, and vanilla
5. Add wet ingredients to dry. Stir.
6. Fold blueberries into cake batter
7. Pour batter into a greased springform pan.  Sprinkle with struesel
8.  Bake for 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
9. Allow to cool before unmolding
The batter will be uberpurple if you use frozen blueberries.  When I cut into the cake, I was expecting to find the interior a bright purple.  After baking, though, it just has a tinge of purple color.  It was absolutely gorgeous inside.
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Simple vegan meals: Grilled Japanese eggplant

I’ve been meaning to start this series on Heart Via Stomach for months now.  Obviously, though, I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus from writing lately.  I’ve still been cooking and taking photos, so I’ve got a few posts lined up.  I’m also hoping to chronicle some of the veg*n food I come across while traveling next month, so expect some delicious international eats!

This dish is easily scalable for a larger crowd, but it’s also a super simple, delicious option for nights when you’re dining solo.  The aluminum foil package can even multitask to become your serving vessel, especially if you’re eating alone and don’t mind looking less than classy.  And I sure don’t.  I ate this meal straight from it’s shiny metal envelope.

Not only is this easily prepared, it’s completely adaptable to whatever cuisine you’re in the mood for.  The tender, stringy, melt-in-your mouth flesh of the cooked eggplant makes a gorgeous foundation for any kind of topping you can thing of.

Throw some miso and sesame seeds on top after cooking for a Japanese side dish.

Top it with tahini, lemon, and parsley for a deconstructed baba ghanoush of sorts.

Stuff with vegan cheese and marinara or pesto sauce before grilling, and serve alongside a loaf of crusty bread.

The Basics:

  • Make a slit down the middle of each eggplant.  This will ensure that the eggplant does not burst, but also provides you an opportunity to add any seasonings that you’d like (see above and below).
  • Enclose 1-3 Japanese eggplants in a large piece of aluminum foil, sealing packet completely so that no steam escapes
  • Place aluminum foil packet straight onto grill and cook over medium-high heat for 15-20 minutes, until eggplant is completely tender.
  • Season as you wish.
  • Note: If you don’t have a grill, try roasting the eggplant in the oven at about 400 degrees until tender

For tonight’s version:

I stuffed some slices of sauteed garlic into the eggplant to flavor it while grilling.
To make this entree-worthy, I topped it with some slices of tempeh, as well as fresh parsley, nutritional yeast, and sriracha (because few meals are complete without it)

Roasted tomato and arugula pesto

While I’ve been known to love the classic Italian basil pesto, I also love a good food experiment. Especially one that turns out as insanely delicious as this one.

I first made this as a pizza topping a few weeks ago, when I was figuring out what to make for an Oscar get-together.  Since then, I’ve made this pesto four times.  And I’ve discovered that it tastes good on just about everything.

Throw it on top of pizza, pasta, vegetables, a salad, or a sandwich to add a burst of fresh, savory flavor.

Roasted tomato-arugula pesto

1 pound cherry, plum, or other smallish tomatoes

4-5 cloves garlic, peeled

2.5 cups fresh arugula

3 tablespoons raw walnuts

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

1.  Preheat oven to 300 F. 

2. Slice tomatoes in half (optional: scoop out seeds – no me gusta)

3. Toss tomatoes with about 1 tablespoon olive oil and a few pinches of salt.  Coat garlic cloves in olive oil as well.  Place tomatoes and garlic on sheet pan and into the preheated oven

4.  After 15 minutes, turn garlic cloves over.  Allow to roast 10 more minutes before removing garlic from pan.  Toss tomatoes in pan and return to the oven to roast for 25 minutes more (for a total of 50 minutes)

5.  Add tomatoes, garlic, walnuts, and arugula to food processor and pulse.  Add enough olive oil to smooth out the mixture.  Salt to taste.

Classic fruit tart, veganized

The most challenging part of vegan baking is, without a doubt, finding the proper substitute for an egg. There are so many different ingredients cooks use to fill the role of eggs- to leaven, to bind, to add creamy texture- none of which works as a direct substitute in every recipe. I’ve experimented with most of these substitutes, from ground flax to chia to powdered egg replacers, but this was my first real foray into a recipe which is so dependent on egg: custard.

One of my coworkers requested that I bake a classic fruit tart, the kind that you see displayed so beautifully behind the glass case in french bakeries (like the one two blocks away from work). I’d never made a fruit tart before, vegan or not, but my mind immediately started racing with recipe ideas. My first thought was to use silken tofu, but I quickly nixed the idea because, while I appreciate the jiggly wonder that is tofu, I prefer to keep it in the savory realm.

Quickly, I thought back to Christmas of last year, when I was helping my dad make English Trifle, a holiday staple in our family. I was tasked to make the custard and, upon reading the ingredient list, discovered that it’s doesn’t contain any egg or dairy. Bingo. That tidbit of knowledge was stored away in the recipe-centric region of my mind (which I believe takes up about 73% of my brain’s capacity) until a few weeks ago. All I needed to do was sub in non-dairy milk and hope to God that nothing would go awry. I think the pictures are evidence that things worked out pretty well.

Basic tart crust:

– 1 + 1/4 cups flour

– 1/2 cup Earth Balance

– 1/2 tsp salt

– 1 tsp sugar

– 2-3 tablespoon cold water

1. Combine all ingredients except water in a food processor until well incorporated. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time until dough forms. Alternatively, mix ingredients by hand, adding water once the dough has a crumbly texture.

2. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or as long as 24 hours

3. Roll out dough to about 1/4 inch thin and press into tart or springform pan. Puncture crust with a fork multiple times to prevent bubbling.

4. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes, until lightly golden.

The custard

– 3 tablespoons custard powder (yes, it’s vegan) or cornstarch

– 1/4 cup organic sugar

– 1 cup dairy free creamer or non-dairy milk. (Creamer will give a richer flavor, but soy or almond milk works as well)

1. Mix custard powder or cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of the creamer/milk and 1 tablespoon sugar. Stir with a fork until no lumps remain. I like to pass this mixture through a mesh strainer to ensure the custard comes out smooth.

2. Heat remaining milk/creamer with remaining sugar on the stovetop, almost to a boil. Pour hot milk over the cornflour mixture and stir.

3. Return custard mixture to the pot and continue to cook over medium-low heat for about five minutes stirring continuously, until thickened. It will take a few minutes to start to thicken up, but once it does the custard thickens very quickly.

4. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before pouring into the prebaked crust.

Finally, top the tart with the fresh fruit of your choice, sliced up beautifully. I used classic fruits: kiwi, strawberry, and raspberry, but almost anything will work. Mangoes or peaches would add a gorgeous extra pop of color, not to mention delicious flavor.