Dairy Free Vegan Cheese: Mozzarella

April 23, 2015

Another vegan cheese recipe for you!

This time it's the dairy free alternative to mozzarella. Though not quite the same texturally, the addition of agar agar gives the mocks-a-rella (... see what I did there?) a more formed consistency much like a very (very) soft buffalo mozzarella ball.

It can be sliced and served raw, with some fresh tomato and basil as a great dairy free version of a Caprese salad, or sliced and baked atop a pizza or pasta dish. It won't give you the stringy quality baked dairy mozzarella will, but the flavour is delicious.

Rather than use almonds for this recipes, I chose cashews. Their naturally smokey flavour adds an extra depth that results in a cheese so much like a smoked mozzarella I once had at Jamie's Italian, I had a little Eureka dance around the kitchen when I first tried it.

Start off with the recipe for basic vegan savoury ricotta here but use raw cashews in place of almonds.

In addition to the Ricotta you will need:


1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
6 heaped tablespoons agar agar- not sure what that is? Check out my Introduction to Vegan Cheese
1 cup almond milk


Add the additional ingredients to your savoury ricotta, mix, then pour into a sauce pan.

Place on a medium heat, and cook through until the mixture bubbles and steams. Keep stirring, the agar agar needs heat to activate and will thicken as it cools.

Cook the mixture on the stove top for about five minutes, stirring continually. It will seems very, very thick which is alright but if it gets to a point that you can't stir it or it becomes dry then splash in a little more almond milk and combine.

Take the pan off the heat and prepare a bowl of cold water with ice cubes in it. You don't have to do this but it is fun to make the cheese into the traditional buffalo ball shapes. If you aren't too bothered about your mozzarella looking like dairy mozzarella then simply smooth the mixture into a dish and let cool throughly.

Allow the mixture to cool to a point that you can handle it, warm but not piping hot. Using a tablespoon, scoop a dollop of mixture out of the pan and plop it into the icy water. This will quicken the cooling process and keep the cheese in the ball shape.

The scoops will be quite rough, you can smooth them with your hands but don't over work the cheese in the water as it will start to dissolve, be gentle!

Remove the cheese ball from the water after about 30 seconds and place on a tray covered with a sheet of baking parchment. When you've formed the cheeses, pop the tray into the fridge to cool and the cheese to firm up throughly.

As with the feta, this is never going to form the same texture as a dairy cheese as it can't develop the same structural bonds, as such it won't be as 'rubbery' (I tried to think of a more appealing word but this really is the word that best describes mozzarella's unique texture). It will have the smoothness of it's dairy counterpart, and the cashew's smokiness makes it not just an imitation of a smoked mozz but a delicious and more-ish dish all of it's own.


The Lady Project Summit: Free Kitchen Conversion Postcard Printable

April 20, 2015

This past Saturday I surrounded myself with the amazing energy and enthusiasm of 249 other members of the Lady Project, at the annual Lady Project Summit here in Providence.

A full day of speakers, workshops and totally-not-stuffy-and-intimidating networking with amazing women from all over the Lady Project's (currently) seven chapters, including the INCREDIBLE key note speakers: Jennifer Romolini, Editor in Cheif of Hello Giggles, Naama Bloom of Hello Flo, and Shauna Causey from EveryMove.

It was an amazing weekend of inspiration, giggles, and learning that taking risks and getting it wrong is a huge part of actually getting it right.

As one of the goody bag contributors I created some hand drawn kitchen conversion postcards, complete with teeny weeny magnets on the back for convenient fridge sticking. 

As a special little freebie to all of you who weren't in attendance at the Lady Project Summit I'm making my kitchen conversion postcard available to you as a downloadable PDF!

Print it, frame it, pop a magnet on the back... it's yours to do what ever you want with!*

To get it just click the download button below:

*it would be super awesome if you didn't sell it and make a billion dollars/pounds because it's so awesome... yeah I know. If you love it that much, let me know and we could, you know, make a billion dollars/pound together?


DIY Pizza Party

April 14, 2015

Having people over to share food might be one of my all time favourite things. That being said, my perfectionism and tendency to overthink myself out of doing stuff has lead my sum total of hosted events since arriving in America to stand at two. Over the past two years. And those two we're in the last month.

Worrying about putting on a fabulous menu that would distract people from my lack of ceiling or walls that are not made of paper, almost led me to once again shy away from hosting- but then I thought, 'if these people are my friends they won't care what the kitchen looks like'... I also bought A LOT of booze.

With the guest list growing rapidly once I realised I am in fact a grown woman with my own home that I can fill with drunk people, it was essential to plan the menu to be simple.

Ultimately, what's more simple than a pizza party? A pizza party where the guests make their own food, that's what.

Here's what you'll need to host your pizza party:

  • Pizza dough- use this Garlic Breadscotti recipe for the basic dough but triple it to make 6 pizza bases
  • Tomato sauce- Here's a quick sauce recipe
  • Cheese- I like a stringy mozzarella so always have a standard grated mozz on hand, but you can also add some fresh buffalo mozzarella, blue cheese, parmesan...
  • Toppings galore! I had a bunch of platters of vegetables and meats but you can go with what you fancy, here are my favourites

  • red +white onion
  • mushrooms- sliced
  • spinach
  • fresh garlic- pop the cloves out with a microplane grater so people can load up depending on their preference
  • zucchini
  • artichoke hearts
  • fresh tomatoes (FIY beer and chopping tomatoes with a REALLY sharp knife don't mix.. as I found out)
  • peppers- bell, sweet, hot...

  • cured meats- pepperoni, salami, prosciutto...
  • ham
  • shredded chicken
  • cooked sausage
  • cooked bacon
  • chorizo/chourico
  • anchovies

  • chili flakes
  • hot sauce
  • bbq sauce- this can be used as a base sauce as well
  • salt and pepper

Other ideas:
  • pears- top the pizza with stilton/blue cheese
  • apples- use a dulce leche or toffee sauce as a base for a dessert pizza
  • crack an egg into the center of your pizza just before baking, it'll be cooked with a runny yolk by the time the dough is ready!
  • Fold your pizza over to make a calzone, seal the edges with a little water on the dough to make it sticky, then crimp the edges with your fingers so it doesn't explode all over the oven
  • Use a cheesy white sauce as a base sauce- use the one from the leek dish here
Much as I like some inventive and unique pizza combinations, sometimes keeping it simple is a winner. Some of my favourite pizza's are a combination of only two or three ingredients.

To set up your DIY pizza party:

  • Prepare the pizza dough and roll out into bases onto pizza trays or large baking pans. You can also make mini bases for a kiddo party so they all get to try out their own ideas and flavour combinations.
  • Slice all the vegetables, lay out the meats and grate the cheese. If this is a grown up party, the last thing you want is drunk people wielding knives (see above comment about beer and tomatoes).
  • Have your cooled tomato sauce in a pot with a couple of spoons for ladling and spreading. and make sure if something is not sprinkle-able by hand there are spoons ready. 
  • Pre-heat the oven so the make up pizza's can go right in to bake- large ones will usually take about 25-30 mins, less time for small ones, just keep and eye on them for browning cheese and sneak a look at the bottoms of any you think are about done to check the dough is baked all the way to the center.
  • If your oven won't fit all the pizza's in in one go (who's would?!) try and stagger the pizza making. I distracted guests with beer.

Charlie isn't a fan of restaurants that involve making your own food, he's of the opinion that the chef and servers are all in the kitchen laughing at us mugs paying to make our own dinner.

I was all prepared for this to be the reaction of our friends when they arrived to find out they would be the ones cooking tonight (you turn up to someone house who's blog is called 'Holly Likes to Cook', you expect to be cooked for). But that was not the case- people went cray for those DIY pizzas.

All in all it was a roaring success that ended up in us getting very merry, and drunk booking tickets to  a gig in Portland, ME for which we would have to leave for the following day at 10am.

What I drunk book shall now be the metric by which I judge all dinner parties.


The Rhode Show: Tomato + Basil Bruschetta and Cantaloupe + Prosciutto Salad

April 08, 2015

I was on the telly!

I was super dooper lucky to be asked back (because, you know, that's always a worry) to The Rhode Show to cook something for the lovely team.

Aside from being really glad I'd done the washing up last time and made a good impression, I was delighted to be heading back to the studio kitchen and trying my best not to make a giant prat of myself on live TV.
Aside from saying that 'if it isn't squirting all over the place you're not doing it right', in reference to tomato smushing (obviously), it went really rather well.

I also gave them an English lesson, because they asked, not because i'm some evangelical accent pusher.

A video posted by The Rhode Show On WPRI 12 (@therhodeshow) on
So, thanks very much Rhode Show team!


Best of Rhode Island: Vote for Holly Likes to Cook!

April 08, 2015

Do you like my recipes, kitchen tips and British ramblings?

It goes against all of my Englishness to outright ask for you to vote for me, but here it is: Please vote for my blog to be considered in the best of RI Reader's Poll.

*cringing on the inside at shameless self promotion*

You do have to sign up to have your vote counted but if you have the time and inclination it would be much appreciated!

How to vote:

1) Click on the 'VOTE NOW' picture above to go to the voting site

2) Register or sign in with Facebook

3) Click the 'vote!' middle tab

4) in the first lot of categories in the 'Statewide' section, scroll down to find 'Local Lifestyle Blog'- that's me!

5) Fill it in with the name or address of my blog: 'Holly Likes to Cook' or 'www.hollylikestocook.com'

6) Show some love for other categories of RI favourites, or if you're in England treat it like the Grand National and take a punt with some names that sounds like a good idea.. you never know

7) Sumbit!

Thank you!


Dairy Free Vegan Cheese: Feta

April 07, 2015

This was far an above the break out success of the vegan cheese making odyssey.

Baked to create a dryer, crumblier texture with its flavour enhanced with a little extra salt and nutritional yeast, this savoury cheese alternative even had Charlie sneaking spoonfuls straight out of the fridge when he thought I wasn't looking.

Ingredients: Makes about 10 portions (portion size shown above)

Use recipe for my Vegan Ricotta as a base
1 teaspoon finely ground salt
juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons really good olive oil- it's about adding flavour not changing the the consistency


Follow the method detailed in my Vegan Ricotta recipe, adding the additional ingredients above to the mix when blending.

Pour the mixture into an oven proof dish and bake in the oven at 350f for about 40 minutes, or until the mixture is completely set. 

Use a skewer to poke the middle of the cheese to check if it's done, the skewer should come out clean when it's removed. You don't want the top to colour too much, the overall colour of the surface will turn a pale yellow, but you want to retain that white, light colour feta is known for.

Allow the cheese to cool completely then turn out on to a board and slice.
This is really great with fresh parsley, a squeeze of lemon juice and a little drizzle of olive oil!
This will keep in the fridge for about a week.


Hello Spring: DIY Door Wreath

April 01, 2015

With spring taking its sweet time showing its face up here in the North East, I though I'd be the change I want to see and stick some flowers on my door.

I LOVE the American tradition of door wreaths. Christmas wreath are a thing in the UK but the idea of seasonal or celebration themes wreaths isn't something that's seen that often on the doors of English homes. Maybe it's because Americans (in my experience) are much some free and confident about expressing their participation in holidays, or their pride in their community- seeing the starred and striped flags proudly fluttering outside people's house is one of my favourite things about American neighbourhoods.

We put up a pretty standard Christmas wreath on our current house this past Christmas, partly because it was the first time in the States we wholly owned a door that wasn't part of a multi-family home or ruled by a grumpy building management agency, and partly to fool burglars into thinking we actually lived there.. which we didn't, but I can say that on the internet now because we do actually live there. Suckers.

Wanting to throw myself into full on Martha Stewart-eque homeownership, I was all for embracing the seasonal wreath.

Not having the patience or attention to detail to manage, water and maintain a living wreath (see: wearing swimwear as underwear) I knew I was going down the faux route.

I found some FANTASTIC fake flowers (and some not so fantastic ones) in Walmart- this link the actual product not just the homepage of Wallymart.

For $8 a branch, and looking a realistic as it did, it was a bargain. I bought four to make my wreath along with some wired (although it's didn't really need to be) hessian 1 inch ribbon.

To start, with I bent all of the non flowery stems of the branches into half-rounds. The branches I had, had integral wires so bent easily and stayed put, they were encased in a resin, branch effect coating which wasn't as bendy so I was gentle and coaxed it into the shape I wanted so it wouldn't end up cracking- let them warm up to room temp if it's pretty cold where you are to prevent cracking.

Next up, lat one branch on top of another so that they create a full circle, use 3 inches of your ribbon to tie them together.

Repeat the last step but turn your newly made circle around by ninety degree so that when you tie the end together you end up with connections at four evenly space points around your wreath.

When you tie the ends up on your second circle, tie the new branch to the original circle as well so it's all tied up together.

Use your ribbon to wrap the branch circle all the way round, this will give a pretty, rustic base to the wreath that will show through here and there. It will also strengthen the wreath so it'll keep it's shape.

Keep the excess loose, secure it with a knot then let it hang. This extra ribbon can be used to hang the wrath or cover the wreath hook if you use one.

This next step was a little unwieldy (which is why I failed to take an instructional photo), wrap the flowered end of one of the branch around the wreath, like you did with the ribbon, so that one quarter to a half is covered in flowers. It might look a little patchy to start with bit that's ok. There branches are pretty bendy and flexible, so it might feel like it's going to snap but just be gentle and it'll wind its way around your wreath.

Repeat with all the flowered end of the branched until your wreath is entirely covered, then go back over it and tuck and twist the unruly sprigs into order, weaving them in to themselves to that they form a more uniform circle shape.

I like the wild and natural look, so I kept mine a little haphazard with some twigs poking out here and there.

I use a wreath hook, which hooks over the top of the door, to hang mine so I don't have to put any holes in my door. It's shiny silver and doesn't really match the look of the flowers so I folded the excess ribbon over it to cover it up.

I'n total this cost me $40 and is maintenance free. Being fake it'll also last for ages so is basically a massive bargain.

I'm definitely well and truly on team wreath so i'll be changing it up come summer.. maybe I'll have a number of summer costume changes, we'll have to see whats in stock in Wallymart.