It's our last recipe for 2022, so we thought why not go out with a bang!
It's rare to see a grazing platter without cheese and charcuterie. So I wanted to make some festive party fare that didn't leave dairy free,vegan or vegetarian folk out in the cold.
This Grazing Platter involves 3 recipes - 2 brand new ones and an old favourite - plus a jumble of ingredients you can grab in-store to bring it all together.
Now to the two new recipes. We've got a super easy cashew cheese, and a truly yummy mushroom pate. Both are vegan-friendly and can be easily adapted to suit any dietary requirements.
Supporting the two stars of the platter is an old favourite that goes with them perfectly - Seed Crackers.
The accompanying ingredients are mere suggestions; feel free to replicate what I've used or go rogue and make it your own!
If you're new to creating a platter, here's an easy guide to building one:
The key to an inviting platter is colour, focal points and a variety of small bowls and ramekins to create height and interest.
Firstly assemble your ingredients, platter (or board) and a variety of small bowls. Decide what will be scattered directly onto the platter and what will be put into bowls, ramekins or jars, then arrange them around the platter. Then you can have fun adding your scatter items like nuts, dried fruit and crackers. Voila!
Please note that you'll need a food processor for both the cashew cheese and mushroom pate.
Prep Time: 20 min, Cook Time: 15 min.
Makes approx 2 x 250ml Jars
2 slices of sandwich bread
¼ cup liquid vegetable stock or milk of choice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic minced
4 cups chopped mushrooms of your choice - I used button mushrooms
2 tablespoon tamari, coconut aminos or soy sauce
½ tsp teaspoon ground black pepper
¾ cup raw walnut pieces
¼ cup + an extra tbsp olive oil
1 teaspoon maple syrup
½ tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan forced).
First, soften the bread: Roughly tear the two slices of sandwich bread and place it in a bowl. Add the stock or milk and mix to combine. Set aside whilst you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Heat a large non-stick frypan over medium heat. Add walnut pieces to the dry pan and toast them for 2-3 mins. Remove from the pan and place them in a food processor.
Now add 1 tbsp olive oil to the pan and add the onions and garlic, and cook until onions start to brown, 3 or 4 mins. Next, add the mushrooms and cook for another 5-7 minutes. Don't overcrowd the pan as you want to get a nice golden colour on the mushrooms.
Pour in the soy sauce and pepper, and stir to coat the mushrooms. Remove from heat and add to the food processor with the walnuts. There is no need to let the mushrooms cool before processing. Add the soaked bread, the rest of the olive oil, maple syrup, thyme, rosemary and salt.
Blend, scraping down the sides from time to time, until you get a very slightly chunky texture. If you want your paté to be smoother, blend longer.
Transfer the paté mixture to two small glass jars and bake for 15 minutes.
(Feel free to bake in ramekins if you prefer, then transfer to jars after baking. I just prefer to use jars alone as there's less washing up!).
Remove from the oven and let cool completely at room temperature before popping the lids on the jars and transferring to the fridge.
This paté is delicious eaten with crackers, toast, sandwiches and crudités. It will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge.
Cashew Cheese with Herbs
Prep Time: 8 hrs soaking, Cook Time: 10 min, Setting Time: 8 -12 hrs in the fridge.
Note: If soaking cashews for 8 hours, start the recipe 2 days ahead. For the quick soak method, the recipe can be made the day before.
Makes 2 small wheels or 1 larger wheel
2 cup raw cashews
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 medium lemon, zested
1/4 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup water
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs - I like dill, parsley and mint
Soak cashews: Place cashews in a bowl and cover with cool water. Then cover the bowl and put it in the fridge to soak for 8 hours.
Time Saver Tip: if you don't have time for an 8 hour soak, use boiling water instead and soak for 1 hour, but slow, cool soaking gives you a silkier cashew cheese.
Once soaked, drain cashews thoroughly and add to a food processor. Add minced garlic, garlic powder, lemon zest, lemon juice, half of the water (⅓ cup), nutritional yeast, salt and olive oil.
Process until very creamy and smooth, scraping down sides and adding the remaining water if needed. (The consistency should be similar to a thick muffin batter). Then taste and adjust seasonings as needed: for a tangier taste add more lemon juice, or add more nutritional yeast to up the cheesiness. Or you may prefer more garlic or salt.
Now it's time to remove a little moisture from the mixture, to replicate that cream cheese texture.
Place a fine colander or mesh strainer over a large mixing bowl, and lay down a clean tea towel or cheesecloth. Spoon the cashew cheese mixture over the cloth, then gather the corners and twist the top gently. Secure with a rubber band.
Place in the fridge to set for at least 6 hours, ideally 12. The longer it's refrigerated the more it will firm up.
Next, unwrap from the cloth and gently invert onto a plate. Form into one large or two small disc shapes with your hands (or use a scone cutter or similar), then coat with the chopped herbs.
Enjoy chilled with crackers, bread or chopped vegetables. Leftovers will keep well covered in the fridge for 5 days. It freezes well and will keep for 1 month in the freezer.
Prep Time: 20 min, Cook Time: 1 hour
Recipe makes approx 24
½ cup Linseeds
½ cup Chia seeds
⅓ cup white Sesame seeds
⅓ cup Sunflower seeds
⅓ cup Pumpkin seeds
2 cups super seed mix
½ cup natural almond meal
Additional, optional flavourings - pick 1 or pick many:
1 tsp salt or smoked salt
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
½ tsp chilli flakes
½ tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp Italian herbs
½ tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp veg stock
2 tsp falafel mix
Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan forced). Line a baking tray.
Combine ingredients in a bowl along with 1 cup water and any additional flavourings from the suggestion list. Leave for 15 minutes for the seeds to soak up the water.
Give everything a good stir. ( It should feel like a very thick batter. If necessary, add a splash more water before stirring again. Then spread the mixture thinly over a lined baking tray. The ideal thickness is about 3-4mm. Too thin and the crackers will be too fragile, too thick and they won't be crunchy enough
Bake for 1 hour or until golden and crisp. If they don't feel crunchy after an hour, return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes.
Tip: often what I do after 45 mins baking is remove from the oven and carefully break off the outside pieces, which are usually cooked perfectly by this stage. I then return the tray to the oven for another 15 mins to continue baking the centre.
Remove from the oven, allow to cool, then break into shards. Store in an airtight container for up to 8 weeks.