Foodiva's Kitchen: French Fridays with Dorie – Vegan Tomato Cheese Tartlets

Saturday, August 4, 2012

French Fridays with Dorie – Vegan Tomato Cheese Tartlets


This week’s French Fridays with Dorie assignment was easy enough, it’s a concept more than it is a recipe of tomato and mozzarella (or goat) cheese slices arranged over puffed pastry rounds. The perfect dish for when you have an abundance of tomatoes and very little time or idea on how to use them up.

What’s interesting here is that the puff pastry discs aren’t supposed to be cooked to puff-fection but rather, are flattened during baking by weighing them down with another baking sheet on top. They result in heavier but still crisp and flaky rounds, with the flat base making it easier to spread a pesto paste or olive tapenade on them and place the tomato and cheese toppings.


For the spread, I made some fresh lemon basil pesto from my plant that was growing out of control in the garden. It seemed I had run out of ideas on ways to utilize that basil too lately, so what a relief to be able to store some of the leaves in a jar in the form of pesto. 

I’m also slowly trying to give up dairy products (it’s damn hard, given my love for baking and desserts!) so this week, I used store-bought vegan puff pastry and also came up with a quick and easy version of mozzarella cheese. And what is quicker and easier when it comes to setting ingredients in a semi-solid form than agar agar? Yes, it seems odd, but the texture of the vegan cheese turned out very similar to soft mozzarella. Plus it crumbles and shreds too if the consistency is made a little thicker and it sets firmer. Think healthy pizza, yay!


I haven’t shared my own recipe with my FFWD posts in a long time, so I’m happy to share this cheese one with you. It’s basically a mix of silken tofu, agar powder (not flakes), ground cashews and almonds, rice vinegar and garlic. Blitz everything in a food processor, bring the mixture to a quick boil and pour into a mold, leaving it to cool down and then set in the fridge for several hours. If you have access to this non-dairy cream substitute, MimicCreme (I don’t), then just replace the nuts with a cup of this vegan cream and your ‘cheese’ texture will turn out smoother than mine looks here.

The blended 'cheese' mixture 

This vegan tomato tartlet salad, drizzled with balsamic vinegar, tasted better way than I expected. Vegan food in general tends to get a bad rep, because we do expect it to taste bland and often look boring, and as you can see that’s clearly not the case here. In many of my future FFWD posts, I’m going to show you how to bring sexy into vegetarian or vegan cuisine. I’ve had so many successful experiments with substituting ingredients for the real deal that I need to put them down as solid recipes and share them with all of you out there - before I forget it all! The French may not approve of my cheese blasphemy this week, but hey, sometimes I feel we should do what we need to in order to align the outside world with our evolving inner selves. :)


Have a peaceful weekend, everyone!

Homemade Vegan Mozzarella
Ingredients:
1 package extra soft silken tofu (about 340g)
1/2 cup ground raw almonds
1/2 cup ground raw cashew nuts
3/4 cup water
1/2 tablespoon salt
2 cloves garlic, finely grated (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
4 teaspoons agar agar powder

Method:
1. Place all ingredients except agar powder in a blender or food processor, and blend on high until it becomes a completely liquid consistency. Place the mixture in a small saucepan, stir in the agar powder, and allow to sit for 5 minutes.

2. Bring the contents of the saucepan to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Be careful, as the hot mixture will sputter. Remove from heat and pour immediately into a baking dish or mold. 

3. Smooth over the mixture as if you were making a batch of brownies, then place into the refrigerator for a few hours until completely set. Use as you would like any of your favorite cheeses. It shreds, slices, and even melts like real cheese under a hot grill!


 

12 comments:

Kathy said...

Maya, Your tarts look so pretty and I love your vegan mozzarella…a good thing! It all looks so delicious!! Have a great weekend!

Maya Mohd said...

Thank you so much, Kathy. First time I tried making vegan cheese, and I'm glad to say it probably won't be my last! :)

Cher Rockwell said...

Your mock-zarella looks perfect :-)
I love watching how people adapt food to fit their dietary needs - and I am certain you will bring an amazing twist to all your substitutions.

Sandra M. said...

This is very interesting, but I love your creation! Have a wonderful weekend, Maya!

Andrea_TheKitchenLioness said...

Maya, you actually made a vegan version of mozzarella - it does not only sound interesting but it also looks delicious, summery and very pretty as a component of your Tomato-Cheese Tartlet! Very nicely presented!

Have a wonderful weekend - it is nice to see you are posting again I am looking forward to your "substitution" recipes!

Parsley Sage said...

You make your OWN vegan cheese!? Holy crap, that's hot. I've got all that stuff in the cupboard right now and I had no idea they could make awesome cheese!

I'm so making it.

Teresa said...

Love your vegan version! I'm sorry you've had to give up dairy, but I'm looking forward to seeing your creative workarounds for our French Fridays assignments.

Vicki Bensinger said...

Maya I'm so impressed, this looks very tasty. As for your cheese not being smooth, if you soak your nuts overnight then blend them, they'll have a smoother texture. At least this is what I've been reading in all the raw cookbooks I've been studying. Try that to see if it works.

Pacheco Patty said...

Hi Maya!
I enjoyed reading about your transformation of the FFWD recipe, it looks beautiful and I would be very curious to taste the vegan mozzarella;-) Look forward to seeing your take on future recipes as you show us creative ways to eat healthier;-)

Nana said...

That vegan mozzarella looks very interesting and I
give you a lot of credit for trying to work around dairy
products. It will be interesting to see what you can come up with. Great job and lovely photos.

Lizzy Do said...

Beautiful, as always, Maya...and love that you made your own vegan "cheese." I know getting away from dairy would be good for me, too...I just haven't the guts to do it yet. You are always an inspiration!

PS...so wonderful to have you join us on FFwD again!!! xo

Spicie Foodie said...

Hi Maya,

Your vegan treat looks perfect! I would have never guessed the cheese was vegan, or tofu for that matter. So have you gone vegetarian now? If so I'm sure you're recipes will be just as delicious as all your others:)

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