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Oct 27, 2011 06:19 AM

What do you substitute for cheese in fleishig (meat) recipes?

Yesterday's NY Times, for instance, had a moussaka recipe that called for parmesan cheese, which, I think, is mostly for taste. Other recipes often need cheese as a binder to hold other ingredients together.

Generally, I just skip those recipes where the cheese and it's texture and melting properties are integral. In the case of something like moussaka, I just make it without the cheese, and use a non-dairy cream for the milk.

Any of you have a better suggetion?

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  1. In general I prefer fake meat to fake cheese. If I think the recipe needs cheese/dairy I will make the dish dairy and use fake meat.

    2 Replies
    1. re: avitrek

      second replacing the meat with a substitute as there some very good choices out there -

      1. re: weinstein5

        Ditto (squared). I made a pasta with soy Italian sausage and fake meatballs the other day and using real cheese is what elevated the dish from darn good to really great. Ground beef is usually a bit player in so many dishes (lasagna, moussaka, tacos) that it's not really missed by substituting soy.

    2. The parmesan cheese is wholly unecessary for Mousaka. This authentic Greek/Turkish dish woukd not have been made with an Italian aged grating cheese. The key toi this dish is whether or not you can make a quality faux bechamel with your non-dairy creamer.

      I have adapted this dish and make it with a whipped potato topping instead of the bechamel and my family loves it.

      5 Replies
      1. re: bagelman01

        Personally I find it strange that people who make a conscious choice to be kosher spend an inordinate amount of time finding ways to circumvent the law or the laws intention but that is another essay. I suggest getting a copy of Mira Sacerdoti's Italian Jewish Cooking. The adaption of a particularly non kosher cuisine to the demands of kashrut takes millenia . I believe if it is chemical artificial or sophistry laden it can't be kosher. Regardless of how holy my Rabbi is or if the Meshgiach is a most gifted alchemist kosher should imply a reverence for a quest for a natural humane existence.

        1. re: Moedelestrie

          I have no clue what your respoonse has to do with my post about a Greek/Turkish dish. It is not Italian, I do not advocate using an artificail creamer, but say I use a whipped potato top layer.

          Nothing about adapting the recipe circumvents Jewish Law, and as for you belief that chemical artificial laden items cannot be kosher, you are in complete disagreement with the recognized kashrut authorities. I don't know by what authority you pontificate, What smicha do you have? What community made you its dayan?

          As to a natural himane existence, since Gan Eden Jews have been permitted to eat meat. I am a carnivore and proud of it. Kosher slaughter should ensure humane tratment of the naimals. The conservative movement has a certificate for humane treatment of workers as well, but this part of the discussion is NOt appropriate for Chowhound.

          1. re: bagelman01

            Firstly I am sorry if you misunderstand my response. All In wished to say is I do not understand the need to quickly adapt recipes to suit a dietary restriction when through the millenia if have adapted to our environment using the foods that were provided by providence. When we seek instant gratification we open ourselves to self delusion.
            I agree with your premise completely but I think there is something wrong when we abrogate our responsibilty to examine why we ourselves do things.

            1. re: Moedelestrie

              "Provided by providence" is a slippery slope. At what point do you determine the cut-off for human intervention? Before the agricultural era, before animals were domesticated? Isn't man's ability to adapt an act of providence? You're arguing about angels dancing on the head of a pin. So much of religious belief and observance is personal, so I get it that you are a purist of sorts, but that doesn't suddenly make the rest of us heathens.

              1. re: ferret

                Actually I am in complete agreement with you I guess my writing is quite obtuse. I am trying to say to thine own self be true. My reference to Sacerdoti's book which I think should be in every cookbook library is because in that Mediterranean kosher library pizza moussaka, and other dishes are essential vegan, kosher and vegetarian to look at a single incantation does disservice to the essence. With so many of my friends family, friends and acquaintances kosher, vegans and vegetarians I try to be as close as possible to purpose of their food choices. Moussaka is the quintessential Mediterranean dish to make up for everybody. I just could not understand why anyone would want to duplicate a recipe that is not suitable for her particular diet. I guess I just lost my mind because I am a purist about good food being appropriate, fresh and simple. I guess I should have said pine nuts or chopped pistachios would be good if not better substitutes for the Parmesan.

      2. I, too, eyed this dish with an eye towards adapting it.

        Vegans use nutritional yeast to replace the flavor of parmesan. I've never tried it, but it's apparently a love-it-or-hate-it sort of thing.

        1 Reply
        1. re: GilaB

          I do love nutritional yeast flakes, there is something a little nutty about them. Also, Daiya is a new dairy free shredded cheese that is fantastic, and also kosher. It's much better than the other vegan cheeses that are out there. Also WholeFoods carries a vegan parmesan which is good too. You'd have to check the label to see if it's kosher.

        2. Wow! Where to start. As a kosher vegan with a meat loving husband, I've learned a lot about how to adapt recipes. We serve food from a different country every Friday night, going through the alphabet. We always have a meat/chicken main dish and a vegan main dish. Often, but not always the vegan is a version of the meat dish. Enhancing Shabbat in this way is part of our Shabbat observance. It can be a challenge. Fortunately, there are more and more vegan dairy substitutes. Many are organic and much better for health than the dairy originals.

          The easiest way to find suggestions for substitutions would be to search the internet for vegan versions of the item to be substituted or the recipe itself. There are, for example, many recipes for vegan Parmesan substitutes and pesto.

          There are also excellent vegan cook books by Bryanna Clark Grogan and Nava Atlas, among many others. Even a vegan Kosher Cook Book "The Jewish Vegetarian Year." Because vegans don't eat dairy, these books give hints on substitutes you could use in meat dishes. Of course, this will be a matter of taste. Some people hate nutritional yeast, for example. (Most vegan pesto recipes include it, but not all). There are several new kosher soy cheese that are amazing close to the dairy versions. Daiya cheeses (mozarella and cheddar style) actually melt. Veg Cusine makes decent substitutes for bleu and feta. Go-to books for a variety of non dairy alternatives are "The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook" by Jo Stephaniak and "Nonna's Italian Kitchen" by Bryanna Clark Grogan.

          As someone else suggested, you can always choose meat substitutes or leave out the cheese. And dairy substitutes will not often exactly produce the taste and texture of the originals, but they are delicious in their own right. My husband and our guests particularly appreciate having non-dairy versions of favorite desserts after consuming the Shabbat meat main dish.

          3 Replies
          1. re: lburrell

            Non-dairy cream substitutes can be very good. And we have a Kosher Breadsmith bakery in the Chicago area that produces some exceptionally good parve baked goods (pies, cakes, cookies). When you're eating fake cheese, on the other hand, you know you're eating fake cheese.

            1. re: lburrell

              My family and i are trying to start the long trek to being completely vegan so I am always looking for vegan recipes that are worthy of a celebratory shabbat meal. As a vegan, could you recommend one or two of your favorite cookbooks or meals?

              1. re: azna29

                In addition to what i posted before, I'd advise checking out the following blogs.





                Fat Free Vegan posts frequently with family friendly recipes that are generally easy to make and have ingredients that are easy to find. They don't taste "fat free" at all.

                Post Punk Kitchen is by Isa Chandra. She's written a number of great vegan cookbooks, including a good basic one for a start: Veganomicon. A great source for learning basics.

                Veg kitchen is Nava Atlas who started out vegetarian is now vegan and features frequent posts with recipes and menus for all occasions, including Jewish Holidays. She is very kind and generous with personal responses to emails. Her latest book on vegan celebrations will out in November.

                Vegan Feast is Bryanna Clark Grogan. She is known as "queen of vegan" in our house. Her Vegan feast is amazing. She includes a lot of basics, including recipes for vegan pot roast and worscestershire sauce. She is also responsive to emails.

                Space does not allow me to list all my "favorites." Have fun with the websites, subscribe to a few vegan blogs and soon you'll have too many favorites to list. (For a real novelty, check out The Shannons who are "veganizing the entire Betty Crocker Cookbook."

            2. I have a moussaka recipe at home that has a mixture of egg and non-dairy creamer and at first I didn't realize that it was supposed to be cheese. I have a similar recipe for lasagna.

              I think that the point is to cut the acidity of the tomato sauce, and it does that nicely.

              I have used the soy cheese in quiche. Just don't use too much because it has an odd taste.

              There is a recipe for parve parmesan I found on the web someplace but it has a lot of ingredients that I don't normally use so I haven't tried it yet. I can't usually find good parmesan where I live so I am hoping that this will substitute.