So I don’t follow, pay attention to or watch football (well, I should say US football. I do follow what football is to the rest of the world, especially around the World Cup). But one thing that I have liked in the past are the snacks and food associated it the game – the unhealthy, carb loaded, cheesy, fatty and sometimes spicy treats. Of course I almost never eat them. But with everyone so focused on football and speaking about it non stop compounded with the cold rainy weather and my current Whole30 restrictions, suddenly it is what I am craving. So what do I do – get down to business and make it my way – dairy-free, gluten-free, nut based and baked.
I have been playing around with faux cheese lately – combining various nuts, flavors, techniques to see what works best with which dish. I made a cheese that was very tasty – but very flavorful and slightly tannish in color. It was fine as a pizza topping but it was not the perfect match. I tried some other applications with similar results, but it was such a tasty cheez that I did not want to give up on it. Then on my way home while stuck in traffic, listening to an NPR story about a Bengals game that was going to be played in extremely cold weather, I craved something warm and spicy. Jalapeno poppers, of course…the perfect dish for this cheese.
The cheese is simple to make but it does require a blending and cooking. The cashews make it smooth and creamy. The pine nuts and nutritional yeast make it nutty. The tapioca flour makes it sticky and stringy like cheese. And the lemon helps that process. The cheese is rich, flavorful and smooth.
After soaking nuts and blending all the ingredients together, the mixture needs to be cooked.
It is blended to a smooth perfect consistency and after continuous stirring, it begins to clump and become gooey. Keep stirring.
And stirring and eventually it becomes smooth and sticky – almost like a roux. Remove it from the heat and let cool.
It you let it cook for a period of time, it forms a mass that easily crumbles. You can use it smooth or as the mass – once cooked in the popper, it all comes out the same. The cheez can be stored in the fridge, covered, for about a week. I let ut cool to room temp before stuffing the peppers.
The poppers are easy to assembly. For the crust, I made fresh almond meal – it is coarse and has a lot of texture from the nuts, but you can use already ground almond meal if you prefer. I whisked it with the tapioca flour, herbs and spices. Tapioca flour replaces what would be the gluten in a normal popper. Tapioca is the starch from the cassava plant, which is related to yuca and often found in south america cuisine. Tapioca flour is a carbohydrate with one cup having about 100 calories, but in a recipe that is diluted and it is a great binder.
That was set aside, along with another bowl with 1 egg + 2 egg whites beaten. The jalapenos were cut in half lengthwise and deseeded.
The filled with the cooled cheez.
Then completely covered in the egg.
And dredged in the meal crust, completely covering the entire popper.
I placed these onto an oiled tray and sprayed them with a coconut oil to help crisp up the crust. I used a spectrum natural oils coconut spray but it is not needed. It cooks fine without.
These were baked for about 30-35 min at 350 degrees F, to the point when the cheez became gooey and oozing out.
I only have three syllable. O.M.G.
A very tasty and the perfect application for this robust, tangy and tasty cheese.
Pops off to the perfect popper! Happy eating.
“Nut Based Dairy-Free Faux Cheese”
- 1/2 C. raw cashews
- 1/2 cup raw pine nuts
- 2 Tbs nutritional yeast
- 6 Tbs tapioca flour
- 1.5 tsp sea salt
- 1 small garlic clove
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
Soak cashews and pine nuts in room temperature water for 3 hours or hot water for 15-20 minutes and then drain. Blend all ingredients together in a blender until completely smooth, about 1-5 minute depending on the power of the blender until smooth and blended. Pour into a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. The mixture will separating – becoming gloopy or curdled – but this is normal. Keep cooking and stirring until very thick (about 5 min) and starts to become gooey and stretchy – like a thick roux or paste. Remove from heat and and let cool to room temp. If not using or and left over, cover and place in the fridge for up to one week.
- 1 cup almonds or almond meal
- 1 cup tapioca flour
- 1.5 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)
- 1 egg + 2 egg whites
- 9-12 jalapenos, cut in half lengthwise and seeds removed
heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place almonds into a processor and pulse into a meal. Place almond meal into a bowl with the tapioca flour, garlic powder, salt, pepper and cayenne and whisk together to break up clumps.
Beat eggs in a separate bowl.
Fill jalapenos with cheez. Coat the jalapeno halves in egg and then in the almond meal mixture. Place onto an oiled baking tray. Spray top with coconut oil (optional).
Bake for 30-35 min until crusty and cheez is oozing. Check after about 25 min to be careful to not overcook.
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