The Ultimate Spreadable Vegan Butter Recipe

It's been four years since I posted my original recipe for spreadable vegan butter! I've made it so many times since then, and it's gradually evolved into a much improved version, so I thought I'd share it! This spread has more depth of flavour than the original recipe, and is closer in taste and texture to dairy butter. The main differences are the addition of miso and cashews, and I've left out the natural food colouring this time; it's a pale yellow anyway, but if you'd like it to be a sunnier yellow, feel free to add some colouring. You might think because of the nutritional yeast and miso that this butter recipe is only suitable for savoury dishes, but like dairy butter, you can use it with sweet things too, and just leave out the sea salt if you'd like unsalted butter.

It's not only great as a spread on toast and sandwiches, but it is amazing on corn on the cob, stirred through mashed potato, makes delicious pastry, hollandaise sauce, tossed through noodles or steamed vegetables, added to salted caramel sauce, etc. You can also use it to saute things in the frying pan, but like its dairy counterpart, it burns easily, so keep the heat low.

Ultimate Spreadable Vegan Butter

1/2 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup raw cashews (no need to soak them if you use a blender - I have a NutriBullet and it blends them until creamy)
1 teaspoon shiro miso (mild white miso)
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast (savoury yeast flakes)
salt to taste (I put in 2 pinches of sea salt flakes)
1/2 cup mild tasting vegetable oil (such as canola, macadamia, grape seed, rice bran)
1/2 cup refined coconut oil (the kind with no discernible coconut aroma - I use organic extra virgin expeller pressed)
3 teaspoons granular soy lecithin, dissolved in a little boiling water
scant 1/8 teaspoon guar gum (or xanthan gum)

Start by measuring the lecitihin into a small bowl and adding the small dash of boiling water. Stir it and leave it aside for at least 10-15 minutes until the granules have started going soft and translucent, and the mixture is thick and gloopy.

Add the lemon juice to the soy milk and set aside for a couple of minutes to curdle, then add it to your blender with the cashews, miso, nutritional yeast, salt and vegetable oil. Blend until thick, smooth and creamy without any graininess.

Warm the coconut oil until it's only just melted (microwave is fine) - a few soft lumps remaining is okay, it should not be too warm. Pour it into the blender with the lecithin and guar gum (don't overdo the guar gum - a tiny pinch - or it will have an unpleasant texture). Blend for 1-2 minutes, scraping the sides half way through.

The butter mixture will be thick and creamy, Pour it into a small container (about 400-500 ml/14-17 fl oz capacity is perfect). The emulsion can split if it's not chilled quickly, so pop it in the freezer for 30-60 minutes, then transfer it to the fridge and use once it's firm. It will be just the right consistency to spread straight from the fridge, and will keep for around a week.

A Big Plate O' Yum

I started off with this recipe but went off on my own tangent. It's roasted new potatoes, broccolini, mushrooms, red capsicum and onion sauteed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, crispy little spicy chickpeas, on a bed of barley that I cooked in vegetable stock, with not one, but two homemade sauces, zesty green goddess with green peppercorns, and roasted garlic aioli. It was so delicious.

And here's a pic of some recent Breton style crepes that I made. Buckwheat crepes filled with Tofurky smoked ham slices, tomato, wilted baby spinach, swiss brown mushrooms roasted with sliced onion, chopped spring onions, homemade swiss cheese style melt (a highly recommended recipe from this book), and cheddar Biocheese on top. Very yummy!

Keep Your Sunny Side Up

I thought I'd share one of my favourite breakfasts with you. As far as egg alternatives go, I like this even more than scrambled tofu, and it's really easy! For want of a better name, I call it Tofu Sunny Side Up, and here are the steps...

Tofu Sunny Side Up, with sauteed asparagus, on grainy toast.

STEP ONE:
Cut three slices of firm tofu (slices about 1 cm thick). Put them in a bowl, pour about a teaspoon of tamari over them, then cover with freshly boiled water (if you don't have tamari, a pinch of salt will do). Steeping tofu in boiling water just before sauteeing makes it go nice and crispy in the pan.

STEP TWO:
Make a batch of Yolky Sauce either on the stove top or in the microwave (makes enough sauce for about 2-3 serves). I made up this sauce recipe for the yolk of my poached "egg", but it's useful in so many ways where you want a rich, eggy-saucy element (I also used it for my Salade Nicoise Royale). I've started to make Yolky Sauce with dijon rather than English mustard, for a milder flavour, but that's up to you. By the way, the sauce keeps in the fridge for a few days, so you can definitely make it ahead of time and zap it in the microwave to warm through.

STEP THREE:
While the sauce is gently cooking, saute 6-8 stalks of asparagus in a little vegan margarine or butter, adding ground black pepper and a pinch of sea salt. Set the asparagus aside once it's done - we now need the pan for the tofu. PS. Wilted spinach is a nice alternative to asparagus.

STEP FOUR:
Take the tofu slices out of the water (no need to pat them dry), add a little more margarine to the pan then add the tofu. To get it nice and crispy, you can turn the heat up a little, but not too high or it can get a tough crust. While the tofu is sizzling, season the "up" sides by sprinkling with nutritional yeast,  sea salt and ground black pepper. Check the bottoms at intervals to make sure the tofu isn't burning, then when they're crispy and golden, gently flip onto the seasoned side, just for one minute.

STEP FIVE:
Meanwhile, make the toast (two slices - and perhaps a pot of tea too!). Top your toast with the tofu slices (I cut one in half lengthwise so there are 1.5 slices of tofu per piece of toast). Arrange the asparagus on top, then spoon over a generous amount of yummy Yolky Sauce.

STEP SIX:
Tuck into the very best eggs-on-toast alternative in the whole world (in my opinion, that is)!

Serves 1-2 people.

Delicious Knishes

I have never come across knishes for sale anywhere in Australia - I can't believe I've lived a knishless life up until now! I read an article about vegan knishes a little while ago and was instantly won over by the idea of a potato-filled baked dumpling - double carbs! I kind of think of them more as pastries than dumplings, but whatever you classify them as, they're delicious!

I have the ebook version of a fantastic cookbook called Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World, which is encyclopedic in its size and scope; I just knew I'd be able to turn to it for a great knish recipe, and it didn't disappoint. Before I move on to knishes, a mini book review... Olive Trees is vegetarian rather than vegan, as the name suggests, and because I own so many vegetarian cookbooks (I was a vegetarian for a long time before going vegan), it has to be something really special for me to buy it rather than expand my collection of exclusively vegan cookbooks, and this book most certainly is very special. The good news is, there are a lot of vegan recipes included, and many other are easily veganised, so it's well worth adding to your cookbook shelf.

For me, it's an introduction to different types of dishes and flavours that are completely new to me, and I absolutely love that element of surprise when you run through the ingredients of a recipe and aren't quite sure how it's going to turn out - and everything I've tried has turned out deliciously (the Moroccan Pumpkin Soup, flavoured with cinnamon and ginger, is my very favourite pumpkin soup recipe). Olive Trees is more that just a cookbook too, because it's so rich in background information about the regions, traditions and ingredients. I really love the inclusion of maps showing the way foods have migrated around the world, such as The Spread of Stuffed Cabbage and The Spread of Lentils and Rice - so interesting! It's a five star cookbook in my opinion.

Olive Trees delivers a huge chapter on savoury pastries from across Europe and the Middle East, starting with knishes. There are options for different pastry recipes and fillings, and I have to admit, I did deviate a little from the traditional fillings, but only a little. I chose to veganise the Ashkenazic Sour Cream Pastry recipe (see below), because I used to make a lovely sour cream pastry in my vegetarian days, which was very flaky and tender. It worked out really well, but I ran into some issues re. splitting - too-moist filling plus super-tender yet delicious pastry equals splittage. It was my own fault, because I got too fancy with my mashed potato filling and it was really soft. I chose to make two kinds, potato and leek, and spinach and almond cheese. Here's what I did...

Potato and Leek filling:
I used lovely Dutch Cream potatoes, but also added about a quarter of a cauliflower when I boiled them. Big mistake. Tasty, yes, but my resulting mash lacked the firmness you need when forming knishes, and many of them split in the oven (a problem I didn't have with the spinach and cheese variety). Next time I'll leave the cauliflower out. I wanted to make sure the potato filling was really tasty, so I sauteed two finely chopped leeks and an onion in plenty of margarine, and added those to the mash with some of my homemade cashew sour cream (recipe here), chopped dill, and plenty of salt and pepper.

Spinach and Almond Cheese filling:
I steamed and chopped a bunch of spinach (stems and tough bits removed), sauteed a leek and onion (both finely chopped), seasoned the vegetables with salt, pepper and nutmeg, then stirred in some cashew sour cream and my homemade almond cheese mixture. If you're wondering about the cheese recipe, I've been making a baked almond and/or cashew cheese based on this recipe for a while now (here's a pic of some of the cheeses I've made).  What I've found is that straining the mixture makes little difference, so once blended, I just pile it in to greased ramekins and bake. Another discovery is that when you take it to the blended stage, you don't need to bake it first before using it in pastries such as Spanakopita, Borek and Gozleme (and knishes, of course) - it firms up when you bake the pastries. For my knishes, I blended about a cup of almond meal with some soy milk, a big pinch of citric acid (lemon juice works too), a tablespoon of canola oil, about 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, and a couple of generous pinches of sea salt. Then I folded it through the seasoned spinach, etc, and the resulting knishes are so cheesy and rich, I bet you could fool some dairy lovers with them!

Since Olive Trees doesn't have any photos, I had to look up instructions on how to form knishes. There seems to be different ways, but I chose the roll, chop and squash method (here's a good demonstration but the recipe isn't vegan). I do love how they're free-form, so you can make them whatever size you like. I made mine about 3 inches in diameter, but made some tiny bite-size ones too. Since I made two varieties, I topped the potato ones with poppy seeds so I could tell them apart. The knishes are rich and buttery, so I felt I needed something to accompany them that cut through the richness a bit. That lovely magenta coloured side dish you can see in the above photo is what I decided to make - German Red Cabbage with Apples, also from Olive Trees and Honey. This is the perfect accompaniment: sweet, acidic, and peppery (and so pretty!). I won't include the cabbage recipe (you should buy the book!) but here's my veganised sour cream pastry recipe. It also works beautifully for strudel type pastries, pasties, turnovers and rolls, both sweet and savoury. It might be a little tender for the base of a pie, but would also work well as a top pie crust (such as a pot pie). I brushed the formed knishes with some egg replacer mixed with soy milk, but I wish I'd just used arrowroot and soy milk as I usually do because it's shinier when baked and works just as well at making sure seeds stick to it.

SOUR CREAM PASTRY (veganised from Olive Trees and Honey)

The recipe says it makes enough dough for 12 knishes, but I made quite a few more than that, probably since my knishes were smaller, and I do tend to roll pastry quite thinly.

3 cups unbleached plain (all-purpose) flour
3/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
3/4 cup vegan margarine (I used Nuttelex)
2/3 cup homemade cashew sour cream (or a bought variety)
egg replacement powder made up to the equivalent of two eggs, as per instructions (I used Orgran No Egg)

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and work through margarine to form crumbs. Make a well in the centre and add cashew sour cream and "egg" mixture, working through with a fork to form a soft dough (add a little water if too dry). Shape into a ball, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least half an hour before use.
 

Sweet Things

I've had a lot of fun browsing through my photo folders for food pics to post on my shiny new food-dedicated blog. Here is a batch of cakes and other sweet things...

A Frangipane Tart with Pink Lady Apples adapted from a recipe in Vegan Pie in the Sky.

Served with a generous dollop of whipped cashew cream.

Lime Tart with gingernut crust served with cashew cream.

Carrot and Walnut Cake. The cream cheese style frosting is a vegan adaptation of this recipe and I highly recommend it. I add lemon juice and finely grated lemon rind when I use it to ice a carrot cake.

Here's the same frosting (minus the lemon), topping a Chocolate Carrot Cake with chocolate ganache.

You can never have too much chocolate cake. This is my favourite chocolate cake recipe of all time. Moist, rich and fudgy, but not too dense, and really delicious. It's a Chocolate and Almond Cake from Big Vegan, and the only modification I make is to use ground almonds instead of slivered in the batter, but as you can see, I've topped that generous heap of moussey chocolate frosting with toasted almonds for some crunch. Yum!

And last but not least, some lovely little Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache. Recipe from The Post Punk Kitchen.

Special Occasions

Here are some photos from various celebratory get-togethers. This is a Bastilla filled with spicy chickpeas, nuts and other goodies. I wish I could recall where I found the recipe!

I have made this Baked Almond Feta recipe many times, adapting it with different nuts and flavours. On this cheese platter, from left to right, I made tasty cashew cheddar, cheddar and chili, creamy almond walnut, and creamy chive. I also made French Onion dip and Cranberry and Red Onion Jam, and my friend Mark made Creamy Spinach and Spicy Red Bean dips too.

Another party platter! In the large ramekin is a Seitan Pate topped with cranberry jelly, and in the smaller ramekins from left to right, Muhammara, Spinach and Basil Pesto, Red Onion Relish, and a tangy goats cheese style dip.

Cashew-based Chili Con Queso.

Chickpea-Artichoke Bites with Rosemary Aioli. Recipe from Party Vegan.

Caramelised Onion and Walnut Tart.

A little of everything...

Have you ever made a chocolate tart from silken tofu? It is really quick and easy and absolutely delicious - no one will realise there's tofu lurking in there. There are lots of versions around; here's a basic recipe. I usually add some sweetener to the tofu mixture to counteract the bitterness of the dark chocolate; just some rice malt syrup or agave. I also like to mix it up by adding liqueurs and/or fruit. Here are a couple of versions I've made. Firstly, Chocolate, Cherry and Hazelnut Tart. A chocolate and toasted hazelnut crumb tart shell, Frangelico flavouring the mousse, and fresh cherries beneath the filling. I've decorated the tart with whipped cashew cream and chocolate dipped cherries.

And here is a strawberry version topped with lots of lovely vegan white chocolate.

Celebrating Mushrooms

I'm not sure that a week goes by without eating mushrooms in some form or other. One of my favourite mushroomy dishes is this Forestiere Sauce from Quick-Fix Vegan - it is so full of rich flavour. It's supposed to be served with seitan, but I'm not keen on the way seitan softens when you simmer it with a sauce, so I served my Forestiere Sauce with baked tofu instead. It would also be lovely spooned over a seitan cutlet just before serving.

I didn't follow the recipe to the letter, but my mushroom pies were inspired by these by the author of one of my favourite cookbooks, Caribbean Vegan. I served my little mushroom pies with grilled asparagus and an Italian lentil stew recipe from one of my other favourite cookbooks The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen.

Mushroom pierogies served with dill sour cream. The pierogi dough recipe is from World Vegan Feast. I've also served these pierogies in a puddle of roasted beetroot soup topped with fried onions and sour cream.

Mushroom tart topped with grated Cheezly. Look how nicely my tart shell worked out!

Mushroom Pate on grainy toast topped with homemade tartar sauce. The pate recipe is from 1000 Vegan Recipes.

This omelette is my own recipe I've been experimenting with. I might post it on my blog soon. Here I've filled it with lovely fresh mushrooms that I've seared in a really hot cast iron pan. Topped with a blob of homemade aioli.

What's for Dinner?

Some photos of dinners past, starting with one of my favourites that I've made a few times now, Soft Tacos with Cauliflower. Cauliflower is amazingly versatile and roasts beautifully. For the taco on the right I used this recipe to make a spicy cauliflower "mince". For the taco on the left I roasted cauliflower with sliced onion, cumin, cayenne pepper, lemon juice and olive oil, pouring in a little vegetable stock too. Both tacos are topped with salsa and homemade chipotle mayo.  I made the tortillas myself too!

There's a great recipe in 1000 Vegan Recipes for quick and easy seitan that you don't need to steam or poach before pan-frying. They're called Soy-tan cutlets (they contain tofu) and I love to crumb them and serve them with homemade Tonkatsu sauce and salad.

Spicy Peanut Noodle Salad. Recipe from Serious Eats.

I made my own egg roll wrappers - kind of like thin crepes - and filled them with lots of vegetables, tofu, split mung beans and rice noodles. I brushed them with oil and baked instead of fried them. They worked out nice and crispy!

This is a very quick and easy dinner option - Orange and Soy Glazed Tofu with Salad.

You steep some firm tofu slices in salted boiling water, pat dry, then crisp them up in a lightly oiled pan. Add orange juice and light soy sauce as well as a generous shake of nutritional yeast and some ground black pepper, then let it reduce for a bit, turning the tofu regularly. The orange juice thickens into a lovely sticky glaze. Set the tofu slices aside, then deglaze the pan with a little water and use the remaining sauce as dressing for the salad (it's also nice if you add a little drizzle of maple syrup). The salad is avocado, red onion, blood orange segments, cucumber and baby spinach.

Breakfast Time!

Sometimes I think that breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. 99.9% of the time, I simply have tea and toast, and I love tea and toast, but sometimes I have fancier fare, and I usually photograph it...

Starting off with some sweet breakfast/brunch dishes, here's some homemade toasted muesli - so much nicer than bought varieties.

Let's face it, any time is pancake time...

When I make waffles, it's usually an extravagant affair involving multiple homemade sauces and toppings. In this case we have orange-cornmeal waffles with strawberries, citrus syrup, chocolate sauce and cashew cream, topped with toasted hazelnuts.  Another favourite is salted caramel sauce.

Rather more wholesome, homemade cashew-soy yogurt with blackberries.

Please excuse the atrocious photo - I was obviously eager to get down to the eating rather than taking pretty pics! I love a cooked breakfast but I have yet to have a decent vegan breakfast at any of the Adelaide cafes I've visited. I made this one day when friends visited for brunch. My version of Tofu Florentine: wilted spinach and toasted almonds over crispy pan-fried tofu, topped with hollandaise sauce (I'm pretty sure I used Bryanna Clark Grogan's hollandaise recipe). Along with homemade seitan sausages, sauteed mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, and homemade baked beans, served with toasted Turkish bread (and a non-homemade hash brown).

A couple of other breakfast recipes you can find elsewhere on my blog, my version of a tofu scramble, and a tofu poached "egg".

Lunchtime!

One of the best things about working from home is how much choice you have at lunchtime. No soggy sandwiches or greasy takeaway. I often just zap some homemade soup in the microwave, but if I have more time and energy, nothing beats a salad or sandwich. 

Sauteed field mushrooms, roast potato, tomato, onion and baby spinach with homemade chipotle mayonnaise on Turkish bread.

Homemade smokey seitan and salad on a crusty roll with a side of avocado potato salad.

A BLT made with Redwood fake bacon. Yum!

Homemade chickpea seitan sausage with loads of sauce on a hotdog bun.

Homemade chickpea seitan sausage with loads of sauce on a hotdog bun.

Sometimes I make my own bread - like this majestic organic spelt loaf.

Gorgeous, colourful salad with homemade wasabi mayo.

Gorgeous, colourful salad with homemade wasabi mayo.

Citrus salad with navel and blood oranges and ruby grapefruit.

Pizza...Who Needs Cheese?

Browsing my folders of food photos I found a few of the many pizzas of my past, and a bonus shot of some focaccias. I don't buy a lot of vegan cheese, mainly because it's expensive, but also because there aren't many varieties I really like (I must dedicate a blog post to commercial vegan cheese soon!), but there are lots of other ways to make your pizza tasty and delicious that don't involve copious amounts of grated cheese...

For example, topping your pizza with creamy homemade aioli once it's out of the oven, as I have with this mushroom pizza with a cornmeal crust. My aioli recipe is here.

I topped this potato and roasted fennel pizza with generous spoonfuls of homemade pesto.

Another roasted fennel pizza that I topped with a cheesy cashew cream sauce before baking.

Here's another topped with cheesy sauce. I use a squeezy bottle for exceptional cheesy coverage!

Sometimes I replace the traditional tomato sauce with a base of roasted, pureed eggplant enriched with roasted garlic, olive oil and ground almonds - just as rich as cheese, and twice as delicious. A base of cheesy white sauce is particularly yummy topped with potato and artichoke. With this pizza below, I used homemade pesto as a base, and topped with a small amount of homemade melty cheese (cheese recipe here).

I have to say though, putting aside all of these cheese alternatives, one of my favourite pizzas is from a local cafe which is simplicity itself. Just beautifully cooked and seasoned vegetables on a thin, crispy base, and lashings of good quality olive oil. I never miss the cheese.

As promised, a bonus focaccia shot (pizza's delicious cousin!). I use a recipe from The Bread Bible which always works out a treat.