This is the first time I have ever used tofu to make a vegan cheese, and, oh my goodness, it is soooo good and soooo easy! You would absolutely never know this was made from tofu, at all. To me, it is very like what I remember dairy soft herb cheeses being like, although it's around a year since I ate any, so my taste bud memory has probably faded. Regardless, it is very delicious.
I adpated a recipe I found in Ann Gentry's Vegan Family Meals for this. She has a 'tofu chèvre' recipe in the book, and I have made that with some little changes, and my own crust. I didn't want to call my version a chèvre (goat's cheese) though, because, well, it isn't. And it doesn't really taste like that either, from what I remember, it's just more like a herby garlicky soft cheese (but barely any fat, and zero cruelty!).
Whatever preconceptions you have about using tofu though - banish them now. There is no way anyone would guess this was a tofu-based cheese unless you told them. Tofu when pressed and blended with flavourings takes on an entirely different personality, like Mr Benn going into the changing room, it goes into the blender in one guise, and comes out in a completely new one.
This creamy garlic tofu cheese would make a delicious addition to a vegan cheese platter for serving after dinner, or is perfectly good on toast, or served with corn bread (like in my photo) or with crackers. And great for lunch sandwiches as well, or spreading onto a baguette and topping with grapes.
The recipe is gluten free too, if you use a similar brand of miso paste as me and which states gluten free (mine is Hikari Medium Sweet White Miso Paste). You can buy the miso in Asian supermarkets.
In terms of preparation, the cheese is really easy to make but needs a few hours waiting around as the tofu needs pressing for a minimum of 4 hours, and the cheese roll will also need chilling (1 hour) and a little baking (25 minutes). There isn't a lot of work, just a lot of waiting. I started pressing the tofu in the morning so I could eat the cheese for supper.
If you're not vegan, I would especially love you to give this recipe a go and just see what you think. I bet you'd be surprised at how good it tastes. And also - this recipe has all the taste of a creamy cheese but contains hardly any fat at all - compare that to dairy cheese or even vegan nut cheeses, which contain the nut fat, and you can see how it's a winner. I think that's one of the things I really love about it.
Pressing the tofu:
The point of pressing the tofu is to remove much of the water from it to make it a lot drier. It also removes some of the 'beany' taste. I think you can buy a fancy tofu press, but if you have a seive, a bowl and a couple of heavy tin cans or jars, and some plastic wrap or film, that will do!
1. Take the tofu from the package and halve it, then pat dry with kitchen towel.
2. Place the tofu into the sieve and put the sieve over a bowl.
3. Put some clingfilm or a plastic freezer bag over the top of the tofu.
4. Take two or three very heavy cans/jars, and put them on the top, over the plastic wrap.
5. Place in refrigerator and leave for at least 4 hours or overnight. You will see the water collect in the bowl below.
6. When the tofu is ready, remove from the apparatus and pat dry with more kitchen towel before using.
So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and make this! The recipe is below. Let me know what you think in the comments, too!
Creamy Garlic Tofu Cheese with a Herby-Hazelnut Crust
Makes a roll approx 8-10 inches
For the cheese:
400g / 14oz firm tofu
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons white miso paste (it looks yellow/orange really! I use this brand)
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon sea salt
For the crust:
40g / 1/3 cup hazelnuts (you may toast lightly first, if you like)
1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence
¼ teaspoon sea salt
Freshly grated black pepper
1. First you need to press the tofu! See the steps above. When your tofu has chilled a minimum of 4 hours or overnight, take from the sieve and pat dry with more kitchen towel.
2. Mince the garlic by turning on your food processor then dropping the cloves into it as the blades are spinning. Then add the tofu to the processor and blend with garlic.
3. Add the salt, olive oil, lemon juice and miso paste, and blend further. You will need to turn off occasionally and scrape down the sides, blending until smooth.
4. Take a large piece of plastic film and lay on your work surface. Scoop the tofu onto it and then use the film to wrap the tofu and make a roll. Tighten at the ends, and then place on a tray in the refrigerator for about 1 hour to chill.
5. In the meantime, make your crust. In the blender, blend the hazelnuts until they are fairly ground, along with the herbs, salt and some pepper to taste.
6. Almost when the tofu roll is ready to be removed from the fridge, preheat the oven to 190 C / 375 F. Take the roll and unwrap the plastic but leaving the roll inside it.
7. Sprinkle the crust onto the roll, and onto the plastic, using the wrap to help you cover all the sides and the end of the roll in the nut crust. Once covered in crust, discard the plastic and place the roll on a baking tray. Bake for about 25 minutes until warmed inside.
8. Serve warm or cold with crusty bread, on toast, sandwiches, with crackers, etc. Yummy!