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Not Milk …. NUT Milk!

It's not just the growing bunch of vegans that are choosing non-dairy milks… lactose- intolerant and allergic folks are using store-bought soya, rice, almond and coconut milks. They come at a price and are often pre-sweetened or chemically charged with stabilisers and emulsifies to maintain consistency. Going back to the source is not only cheaper but yields a really delicious nutritious product that can be used in all the familiar ways. Buying nuts in bulk from reputable stores is essential – the nuts must be raw and fresh to make decent milk. I bought a kilogram of raw cashews and, as each cupful yields one cup of cashew cream or two cups of cashew milk, it worked out better in every way.

Simple Cashew Nut Cream and Milk

Soak a cup of fresh, raw cashews in a cup of water for at least three hours. Discard the water and lightly rinse the cashews. Place in a high wattage blender or Nutribullet with one cup of filtered water. You can sweeten lightly with stevia, real maple syrup or honey. A drop of real vanilla extract also gives this milk a very delicious taste if you are using it for sweet dishes. Blend until completely smooth. You can now decide whether you want to push the mixture through a muslin cloth to catch the tiny grounds or just use it as is. The grounds should be saved and added to any puddings or sauces to thicken them. You now have nut cream, so for nut milk, thin it down with another cup of water. A small glass of this delicious milk, drunk immediately after blending, is a fabulous pick-me-up!

Now you can start to use your cashew nut milk in any number of yummy ways. It keeps for up to 4 days in the fridge so is best made when needed.

Cashew Nut Custard & Cream with Poached Pears

Peel the pears, quarter them and remove inner core. Place a cup of sugar and a cup of water in a pot and bring to the boil. If you want a very pretty pear dish add half a peeled beetroot to the pears - this makes them a lovely soft pink. Add one clove and a little bit of vanilla extract to the light syrup. Add the pears and lower the heat. Poach until cooked but still firm. Reserve.

Heat one cup of cashew milk (unstrained) and add custard powder and a little sugar that has been dissolved in water. The custard will firm up very quickly, so add the powder before the milk boils then lower the heat immediately, whisking vigourously. Cook on a very gentle heat, stirring all the time until you have the desired consistency, then place cling wrap on the custard’s surface to prevent a skin forming.

To assemble the pudding: place three or four pear quarters in a dessert glass with a tablespoon of the light syrup, add cashew custard and then top with cashew nut cream. Sprinkle with shredded coconut or pomegranate seeds or grated chocolate. If you are making for a crowd, you can make a layered pie instead of individual glasses. Delish!

Mushrooms in Cashew Nut Cream Sauce

Finely chop a red onion and fry in olive oil at medium heat. Add two cloves of chopped garlic, and a handful of chopped parsley. When the onions have wilted, add 500 grams of chopped mushrooms. Turn up the heat and cook until the mushrooms have yielded their liquid and the liquid has reduced completely. Wait until the mushrooms have started to fry and are becoming golden - this is optimum flavour time! Lower the heat to 2 or 3 and slowly add the cashew nut cream stirring well - it thickens fast and needs no flour. Stir until the sauce is nicely mixed, then season with Himalayan salt, coarse black pepper and a flurry of cayenne pepper. Use as a pasta sauce, or as a topping for baked or boiled potatoes, or, using a baking dish, do alternating layers of cooked cous cous, mushroom sauce, and homemade tomato sauce. Top with grated cheese and bake at 180oC until the cheese is bubbly and golden. Serve with green salad and enjoy! The mushroom sauce is delicious with braai phutu as well.

More delicious NUT MILK recipes in the next issue!

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