she don’t use butter, and she don’t use cheese

That’s right, it’s another classic “Laura is tired and braindead and has been too busy with work to do a blog post” blog post! But because I’ve got like an hour until I start my next shift I’m going to dispense with the usual self-disapproval posturing and crack on with the post itself, as I’m determined to not let yet another day of October go by without me getting anything done on here. Besides, though work has occupied all my spare time lately, it’s also work stuff that gave me the content for the following recipes, so like, when one door closes you fall out a window or however the saying goes. 

 make it till you fake it

make it till you fake it

Ya girl is majorly into her sustainability these days. Let’s face it, the world is absolutely completely garbage currently and attempting to recycle like, one small thing a week is my tiny way of doing some good and reducing my impact on this crumbling trash earth. As a bartender it pains me how much stuff we throw out – straws, plastic bottles, fruit offcuts – but also when it gets to 3.30am and you just want to go to bed (or to the next bar that’s open slightly later than yours) you don’t necessarily have the energy to suddenly start seventeen different craft projects. So I’m doing little things here and there. One of my more successful missions was taking all the soaked almonds I’d used to make orgeat (almond syrup) and turning them into vegan feta. Last time I took them home I made this almond brittle that I blogged about a few weeks back, but feta has a more practical application, let’s face it. 

There is some work involved here – some soaking, some straining, some waiting, but you end up with a vast tray of rather wonderfully delicious feta-like stuff – creamy, slightly crumbly, tangy, basically everything you could want from something without dairy in it that’s trying its best to convince you that it is what it’s not. On top of that I can only but speculate wildly at how good it is for you to be eating this much condensed almond, they’re absolutely stacked with vitamins and minerals and will give you a glossy coat and supple fetlocks, or something.  

The recipe below is pretty closely modelled on this one here, and there’s nothing stopping you clicking through to their site and following their clear and useful instructions and ignoring my extremely general and vague ones. 

vegan almond feta

a general recipe inspired directly by this one. 

  • blanched almonds
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • garlic cloves
  • sea salt

Cover your almonds in water overnight, or for at least six hours. Keep them refrigerated while you’re doing this. 

Drain the almonds (retain the water if you have any particular purpose for it) and blitz said almonds, in batches if you need to, in a blender with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic cloves, water, and a generous pinch of sea salt, till it forms a smooth, thick mixture. As far as quantities go, for every, say, cup of almonds, you want to add a tablespoon of olive oil, a tablespoon of lemon juice, and half a cup of water. Use your instincts though and add more of anything as you go if you feel you need it. 

The next bit requires some creativity. You want to take this thick white almond mixture and pour it into a cheesecloth lined sieve, and then place that sieve over a bowl of some sort and leave it overnight so that the excess liquid in the almond mixture can slowly drip out. 

After this – you’re so close – press the drained almost-feta into a baking paper lined baking dish and put it in an oven that you’ve set to 160C/325F for about 30 minutes until it’s firm and a little golden on top. Allow it to cool, and you’ve got yourself a ton of vegan cheese. 

Now that you’ve got all this damn stuff, what are you going to do with it? Why, anything you like! I first had it, as photographed above, simply crumbled in a bowl, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with smoked paprika, rosemary, salt and pepper. I roasted potatoes and sprinkled the feta over for the last ten minutes in the oven. I also, as you can see from the picture at the top of this post, did the following recipe with it, which was honestly pretty wonderful. Obviously you can also extremely make this with regular feta, either way, please accept this extra recipe as a peace offering to make up for my lack of, well, literally anything lately. 

potato wrapped roasted red chilis stuffed with vegan feta

  • three large red chilis
  • 100g vegan feta (or, again, regular feta) 
  • one garlic clove, chopped
  • one tablespoon dijon mustard
  • one small floury potato
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil

Set your oven to 220C/450F, generously drizzle a roasting tray with olive oil and pop it in to heat up while you get on with everything else. Slice an incision along the length of the chilis, using your finger to prise it open gently, and pull out as many of the seeds and membranes as you can. Giving the insides of the chilis a quick rinse in cold water helps with this process. 

Mix together the feta, garlic, and mustard in a small bowl and pack as much as you can into the now empty chilis till they’re nicely bulging. 

Carefully, using a peeler, create long ribbons of potato by peeling around and around the potato for as long as you can without breaking said ribbon of peel. Once you have three, wrap them carefully around the stuffed chillis, tucking the ends underneath. The starch in the potato should act as a kind of glue to keep it in place but it really doesn’t matter if it slides around a bit.

Gently place the stuffed, wrapped chilis onto the hot oven tray and roast for about 20 minutes or until the potato is crisp and the chilis are softened and slightly blistered. Turn them over and roast for another five or ten minutes, then remove from the oven and sprinkle over salt and pepper. 

This recipe is admittedly fiddly but it looks fairly spectacular and tasted wonderful – the kettle-chip crispness of the potato against the soft, sweetly hot chili and the creamy salty feta. You want to eat them as soon as possible so that the potato stays crisp, but having wolfed one down several hours later there is a certain charm to a soggy room temperature stuffed chilli as well, however unappealing that might sound. 

My other forays into reducing, reusing and recycling have had mixed results – I made a fantastically tasty fermented Mexican drink called Tepache out of leftover pineapple skins and cores, and some intensely bland cordial out of fruit offcuts. It’s fun though. Really the only hard part is, as I said, not locking myself into seventeen million different projects at the end of a long night – eg, picking my battles – and not getting the Captain Planet song stuck in my head interminably.  

title from: the lovely and weird song She Don’t Use Jelly by the Flaming Lips. 

music lately: 

MF Doom, Fenugreek. This song makes me SO happy. 

Intro by The XX. This song is extremely calming and some clever wag made an hours long loop of it on YouTube, which is amazing, because the only bad thing about the song is when it comes to an end and you’re like damn it there goes my calm vibe! 

next time: My blog turns TEN ACTUAL YEARS OLD this month which is somewhat unreal to me but I want to do something celebratory about it – maybe an enormous cake? I don’t know. 

2 thoughts on “she don’t use butter, and she don’t use cheese

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