Smoked Chipotle Cheese
The Zen Maven, Jules Aron
Jules is a holistic wellness and nutrition coach and the best-selling author of Zen and Tonic: Savory and Fresh Cocktails for the Enlightened Drinker and the newly released Vegan Cheese: Simple, Delicious, Plant-Based Recipes
With so many folks embracing different diets these days, it’s easy to get overwhelmed trying to accommodate everyone at your party... or not! One thing everyone has in common in their diet, whether they realize it or not, is plant-based foods. Throwing a vegan cocktail party is actually an easy way to bring people closer together. For starters, no one needs to worry about whether they can eat something or not. It’s also more economical for the host. And if you’re worried you don’t know enough vegan recipes, think again. Most snacks, dips, spreads and condiments are vegetable-based, and those that include mayo and dairy are an easy sub. So, let’s get started!
When inviting guests, don’t emphasize that the menu is vegan. We tend to judge labels. Instead, let the food speak for itself. Plant-based cuisine is made up of the foods we all eat and love: vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, beans, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices, and all the flavor, texture and color needed to satisfy all of our taste buds.
When I Dip, You Dip, We Dip
Have fun with your dips, spreads, sauces and condiments. Most of the condiments we eat are naturally vegan, so use them to flavor or complement your dishes. Vinegar and lemon juice perk up veggie and pasta salads, mustard and barbecue sauce create tangy marinades, and everyone loves a delicious hummus, salsa and guacamole— just make sure to put out a variety of veggies, chips and crackers! Serve Seasonal Each season offers a bounty of veggies. The spectrum of colors will dazzle your guests and create a visually enticing buffet. It will also leave them satisfied and clamoring for your recipes. Just remember to count about eight appetizers per person when you’re not serving a meal.
It wouldn’t be a cocktail party without a few cocktails, now would it? To keep things simple, create a cocktail list with no more than three drinks for the occasion. Otherwise, you will be stuck behind the bar all night. To make things even easier, create a signature punch for the evening. Not only will you get to enjoy the party with your guests, you’ll also create a more communal vibe by sipping punch with each other rather than everyone having a different cocktail.
Be sure to have plenty of small plates and napkins for your guests. Arrange them by the crudité or cheese platter to encourage guests to make up plates and enjoy them standing up. Finally, no self-respecting cocktail party would be complete without CHEESE!
Smoked Chipotle Cheese
This smoky, firm-textured cheese with a delightful heat can be sliced, melted and shredded. Try on top of soups or baked dishes or grated and sprinkled on baked potatoes.
1 cup Brazil nuts
½ cup water
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
3 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tbsp miso paste
1 tsp salt
¼ red onion, minced
1 chipotle pepper, minced
½ tsp liquid smoke
¾ cup water
1 tbsp agar powder
Soak, rinse and drain the Brazil nuts. Place all cheese ingredients in a blender. Process until creamy. In a saucepan, whisk ¾ cup cold water with agar powder, and bring to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, whisking often, for 5 to 8 minutes, to activate agar-agar. In the blender with the cheese mixture, quickly pour the agar gel and blend until combined. Pour into container, cover and let the cheese set in the refrigerator, at least 2-4 hours. To store, wrap in a wax paper and keep in a closed container in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.