First off, got a really special pre-order offer for you: A chance to win a framed, limited edition print, made just for us by the wonderful Alex Testere. Three lucky winners who pre-order my upcoming book, “Animal, Vegetable, Junk,” and fill out this form by Feb. 2nd will receive a print (check them out below), and everyone who enters will receive a special postcard. Good luck, and, as always, thank you.
Now for a little more business: To all of you who joined last Friday’s conversation about our food resolutions for 2021, thank you! It was not only fun, but pretty productive (I learned some things, and hope you did, too). And don’t worry if you weren’t able to make it; you can read the whole discussion here if you’re curious, and my hope is to start doing them more and more, so there will be plenty of opportunities to dive in.
Before closing the book on that conversation, I wanted to dedicate today’s newsletter to tying up a few loose ends. A handful of you were asking about specific recipes, so I figured I might as well post them here for everyone.
A couple of people mentioned that their goal for 2021 was to learn how to make their own cashew cheese, which turns out to be quite easy (as long as you can get your hands on some nutritional yeast) and infinitely variable. That recipe, which is adapted from How To Cook Everything Vegetarian, is below, along with 10 different ideas for how to flavor it.
Another recipe request was for Chocolate Lava Cake. (Who doesn’t like lava cake? My younger daughter, that’s who.) I worked on a version of that for How to Bake Everything; it’s called Molten Chocolate Cake, and it’s a simplified rendition of the unbeatable rendition developed by my friend and collaborator, Jean-Georges Vongerichten. It’s the perfect dessert.
Two other things that came up:
1) There was a lot of interest in trying new spice blends and at one point I suggested roasting winter vegetables with a bigger dusting than you think you should use. I’ve shared this before, but wanted to remind you of this collection of nine blends you put together yourself. They’re all good on roasted winter veggies (except for the pickling spice), but baharat is particularly transformative (za’atar too, and it doesn’t require a spice grinder).
2) Someone also asked, “Best protein breakfasts? Besides eggs.” To which I’ll now respond: tofu. I know, I know, but it’s high in protein and no less appropriate for breakfast than for any other meal. I like to crumble it into stir-fried broccoli or spinach for a quick vegan scramble; I usually use firm, but soft silken tofu gets you texture more akin to soft-scrambled eggs. You might also try these savory pancakes.
Okay, I think that’s enough business for now. Thank you all, again, for making our conversation so lively and inspiring; I can’t wait for the next one. Enjoy the weekend.
How to Make Your Own Cashew Cheese
Makes: 2 cups
Time: At least 4 hours, mostly unattended
Like other spins on cashew milk, only spreadable like cream cheese. By adjusting the amount of water you add, you can make cashew cream as thin or thick as you prefer. This can be doubled, tripled, or more, and will keep for a few days in the fridge.
1 1/2 cups unsalted raw cashews
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1. Soak the cashews in 3 cups water until swollen and soft, about 4 hours. Drain; reserve the liquid.
2. Put the cashews in a blender with the lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and a pinch of salt. Purée on high until smooth, adding the soaking liquid a few tablespoons at a time until it reaches the desired consistency. Eat as is, or at this point you can add flavors from the list below and pulse until incorporated.
10 Directions to Take Cashew Cheese
Feel free to adjust any of these amounts up or down to suit your own personal taste. And if you can let the cheese sit for a couple hours after seasoning, all the better.
1. Herbed Cheese: Add 1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs, like chives, parsley, basil, dill, or mint (alone or in combination).
2. Garlic-Mustard Cheese: Add 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard and 1 teaspoon chopped garlic.
3. Chipotle Cheese: Add 1 or 2 minced canned chipotle chiles, plus some of their adobo.
4. Lime-Cilantro Cheese: Add up to 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro and 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice.
5. Sesame-Soy Cheese: Add 1 tablespoon each soy sauce and toasted sesame seeds and 1 teaspoon sesame oil.
6. Lemon-Dill Cheese: Add another tablespoon lemon juice and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill. (This is even better the next day.)
7. Ginger-Mint Cheese: Add 1 heaping tablespoon minced fresh ginger and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint. (This is even better the next day.)
8. Vanilla-Orange Cheese: Use orange juice instead of lemon juice and add 2 tablespoons grated orange zest and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
9. Berry Cheese: Skip the nutritional yeast and add 1 cup mashed berries and 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar.
10. Tangy Cheese: Add 4 teaspoons cider vinegar and 11/2 teaspoons white or yellow miso.
Molten Chocolate (aka “Lava”) Cake
Molten Chocolate Cake
Makes: 4 individual cakes
Time: 30 minutes
Also known as “lava cake,” molten chocolate cake is a classic restaurant dessert, but it’s a winner at home too — super-easy and fast, dramatic, and loved by all. This is a simplified adaptation of my friend Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s recipe, and it’s hard to beat. Cut into the cake and allow its molten center to ooze onto a scoop of ice cream or sorbet or Whipped Cream.
1 stick unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
4 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Liberally butter four 4-ounce molds or ramekins (make sure not to miss any spots, or the cakes will stick).
2. Put the butter in a medium bowl and melt it in the microwave or over a double boiler. Add the chocolate to the hot melted butter and stir until it’s melted. Set aside.
3. Crack 2 eggs into a large bowl and add 2 more yolks (save the extra whites for another time). Add the sugar and beat with an electric mixer until light and thick, about 1 minute. Whisk the egg mixture, flour, and salt into the melted chocolate until combined.
4. Divide the batter among the molds. (At this point you can refrigerate them for up to 3 hours; just bring them back to room temperature before baking.)
5. When you’re ready to bake, heat the oven to 450°F. Put the molds on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the cakes have puffed up a bit, the tops are barely set and the cakes still jiggle slightly when shaken, 7 to 9 minutes (better underbaked than overbaked). Let sit for 1 minute.
6. Put a plate on top of each mold and (with a pot holder to protect your hand) carefully invert the cake onto the plate. Let it sit for 10 seconds, then lift up the mold. Serve right away.
What To Cook This Weekend
Talk To Me, Goose!
Questions, comments, brilliant suggestions? Just want to share the recipe for your grandma's potato salad, or your mom's meatloaf, or your uncle Drew's three-day 100-percent rye loaf (yes, please)? Don't hesitate to reach out anytime.