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  All About the Ingredients

Most of the ingredients that we'll use in this workshop are straight forward and can be found in every supermarket. You can review the shopping lists for a list of all the ingredients used.

Here, I’m going to focus on the more “exotic” ingredients and talk about substitutes.

Like with the small appliances lesson, if you’ve been cooking with these ingredients for a while, you can skip this lesson. I just want to make sure you all get the best results when you follow the recipes.


"Exotic" Ingredients In Use

White Miso Paste

Used in the Cashew Cheese Balls/Log recipe.

Miso paste, in general, is a fermented bean paste that enhances the flavor of the dish and gives it depth.

There are three main kinds of miso pastes: white miso and red miso which are soy based, and chickpea miso which is chickpea based.

Usually, miso paste is located where the tofu is, in the refrigerator section with all the Asian stuff. 

You could substitute miso paste with dry seasoning, but you will not get the exact bold flavor as you will with the miso paste. You can also do without the miso paste completely. However, again, the flavor will be different, not in a bad way, just milder.

Nutritional Yeast

Used in the Parmesan Cheese, Cashew Cheese Balls / Log, Sliceable Cheese with Camembert Flair recipes.

Nutritional yeast is a spice that gives the plant-based cheese its cheesy flavor as well as its cheesy yellowish color.

Most grocery stores carry nutritional yeast; Trader Joe’s carries it. It's normally found either with the spices or in the bulk section. Nutritional yeast comes in two forms: powder and flakes. I use flakes in all the recipes in this workshop. You can certainly use powder.

There isn't really a substitute for nutritional yeast that I know of. You can do without nutritional yeast, but the flavor and color will not be the same.

Agar Agar

Used in the Sliceable Cheese with Camembert Flair recipe.

Agar agar is a jelly-like substance that comes from algae. We use it as a thickening agent. It becomes thick when you cook it.

Agar agar is a good source of iron, calcium, and fiber. It contains no sugar, no fat, and is said to promote healthy digestion.

You can find agar agar in health and specialty grocery stores. Whole Foods carries it.

You can’t really make the Sliceable Cheese with Camembert Flair recipe without agar agar.

Vegan Puff Pastry

Used in the Burek Rolls recipe.

Puff pastry is obviously not a health food item, but it creates very tasty dishes and works well for hosting.

Vegan puff pastry is very easy to find. Pepperidge Farm® is one popular brand that sells puff pastry sheets. Read the labels to make sure it is vegan.

Another brand I use is Aussie Bakery, frozen puff pastry which you can find at Whole Foods or amazon.

Himalayan Salt  

I prefer Himalayan salt to regular salt simply because it tastes better to me and it has some other benefits such as:

  • It is loaded with minerals
  • It is less processed than regular salt
  • It has fewer additives than regular salt

You can find Himalayan salt in almost any grocery store, but if you can't find it, you can substitute it with kosher salt or your favorite salt.

Remember that with salt, less is more, so use it sparingly. Also, remember that different salts have a different level of saltiness so you may need to do some trial and error to get to the level of saltiness that you like.

Toppings and Spices

Some of the recipes call for toppings. Here are a couple of topping options that I'm usually asked about:

  • Zaatar is a very common spice mix in the Mediterranean cuisine, which I grew up on. It has thyme in it and some sesame seeds and some salt. It’s very, very good when fresh (green color).
  • Nigella seeds are dark black seeds. They look like sesame seeds. They actually come from the cumin family, and they're very crunchy and have a really nice flavor and texture.

Both za'atar and nigella seeds are found in every Mediterranean grocery store. Some regular grocery stores and many specialty grocery stores carry them too.

If you have problems finding any of the ingredients, just contact me. I will be happy to help you.