Cashew Cream 2 Ways

20151219-194506.jpgI have mentioned cashew cream in a couple of my recent posts, so I thought it was about time I elaborated.

When cutting down on or omitting dairy from your diet, it’s good to have an arsenal of alternatives right up your sleeve  The shop bought ones can be handy but often make use of non organic soya or palm oil which are both ethically very questionable.  Also, invariably, when you want to make a dish, or need a quick accompaniment which would make all the difference to a dinner or desert, then you’ve run out of the little carton of soy/oat cream and the dish is all the poorer for it.  Even the dairy lovers among us will know the harsh reality of eating a slice of apple pie naked (the pie, not the diner) because you simple haven’t got the cream in the fridge.

Now what I’ve discovered on my exploratory journey of dairy free substitutes is that you can make a decent alternative out of a whole host of fairly standard store cupboard ingredients.  Lacking ice cream, freeze a couple of ripe bananas and whizz them up in the blender.  Out of butter, spread some coconut oil or avocado on your toast.  Need to thicken a soup, use ground almonds or coconut cream.  No cheese, try yeast flakes…  Now many of these things are not really a ‘substitute’  in the true sense of the word, they are fundamentally different to the thing they are trying to replace; but they are alternative, and often much more interesting, nutritious and varied then their dairy counterparts.

This hands on, thinking out side of the box approach to dairy free cooking is all the more important for someone like me, because I buy most of my whole food groceries in bulk every few months and do not live within walking distance to a decent shop. (We don’t live within walking distance to anything really, unless you really really like walking!)

So I almost always have a vast array of grains, legumes and nuts, dozens of cartons of soya and oat milk (I’ve not quite got into the swing of making my own yet) a decent selection of regular delivered fruit and veg and normally a whole wall of toilet paper in the house at any one time.   It’s the nuts that come into their own when I’m in need of something creamy.

For a long time now I have used ground almonds as a thickener and creamer in soups and sweet baking.  It never occurred to me until quite recently that the whole nuts themselves could be blended with some liquid to make a simple cream in it’s own right.

I’ve tried and tested two versions of this using cashew nuts as they have a mild creamy flavour and a smooth texture when blended, but I’m sure other ‘white’ nuts would work well and add interesting flavours to certain dishes.

Sweet Cashew Cream

1 cup of (unsalted/unroasted) cashew nuts (soaked overnight)

1/2 cup of non dairy milk (I use oat milk as it has its own natural sweetness)

1 tbsp of maple syrup

1/4 tsp of vanilla extract.

Sour Cashew Cream

1 cup of (unsalted/unroasted) cashew nuts (soaked overnight)

1/2 cup of water

juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 tsp of cider vinegar

1/4 tsp of salt

For each of these recipes the method is the same.  Add all the ingredients to a high powered blender.  Blend thoroughly for at least 2 minutes, scraping the mixture back down the sides and adjusting the liquid to your desired consistency.  Et voila!

Even when it looks creamy, blend it for another minute, you’ll be surprised how smooth and cream like it will get.

The former is fab as an accompaniment with any sweet pie, pastry, or scone.  The latter is great with any Mexican style food, or as a savoury dip with raw veggies or tortillas.

I would not recommend you scale this recipe down, using only half a cup of cashews means that a standard size blender is not working to its capacity and it’s difficult to blend it to a smooth consistency.  I know, I’ve tried.  Just make a whole batch, or even a double batch and eat lots of it!

A huge dollop of sour cashew cream on top of a 3 bean chilli on top of a jacket potato. Perfect.

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