new years


i don’t know about you, but the thought of creating on e of those beautiful cheese boards i have seen on pinterest and food publications over the years. was enough for me not to ever give one a go. that was until frank and i moved from nyc, to la, had a home large enough to have people over to “entertain”. not only that, but i don’t even really eat dairy-based cheese (sometimes i’ll have an occasional bite), so if i was going to make a vegan cheese board what cheeses do i buy? how many of those teeny forks will i need? what do i serve next to said cheese? and most importantly: what wine does one serve with exclusively vegan cheese?!

i’m happy to report, that over the past few years i’ve done research on the above questions. long gone are the days when vegan cheese meant rubbery, odd tasting little shreds on top of your pasta or veggies. today there are a plethora of nut-based, cultured vegan cheeses that are legitimately delicious. even though dairy-free cheese lacks milk-fat, it does contain fat which lends a richness to it all the same. but that is to say, vegan cheeses are a bit more delicate than dairy-based cheeses, and therefore are best when paired with light or medium-bodied wines.

what are medium and light bodies wines? generally medium and light bodied wines have an alcohol content between 12.5%-13.5%, and commonly have that refreshing, crisp vibe. and that’s what we want - light and refreshing. i tend to love serving chilled rose (even in the winter, controversial, i know!) and white wine, and a light and fruity pinot noir with a vegan cheese board. and since vegan cheeses tend to be a bit more mild than dairy-based cheese, you don’t have to go overboard with the pairing of them with specific wine varieties. think floral or citrusy, crisp wines if you’re serving fruit, dried fruit, or preserves alongside your cheese, as to not overpower your tastebuds with too much sweet flavor.

here, i served a light bodied pinot noir as an option (even if it’s not your cup of tea, a guest may prefer it), a bright and citrusy sauvignon blanc, and a faintly acidic rose pinot noir from one of my favorite online retailers that has a wonderful array of great wines from around the globe, millesima. it’s almost better than going to a store because their wines are beautifully curated, giving you the best of options at all price points. and they also offer a number to call for advice (where you get to talk to an actual human!), which is super convenient.

this post was created in partnership with millesima wine. all thoughts and opinions, as always, are my own.

how to choose which cheese to serve? and what to look for.

  • first, go with availability. LA is a mecca for plant-based cheese options, but being a life-long new yorker, i know this isn’t the case everywhere.

  • second, look for cultured cheese. essentially, this means the cheese is going to have more of a traditional cheese flavor. cultured means probiotics have been added, which in turn gives you that cheesy, pungent flavor that is so common with dairy-based cheese.

  • variety. even if your options are limited and you can only find spreads, look for various flavor profiles - whether that’s chive, herbs de provence, truffle, etc. if you are afforded the option of variety, then i would suggest 3-4 different cheeses: goat-style cheese log, a cheese that slices hard (i.e. a cheese that’s not a spread), a cheese-like dip, and/or a ricotta-style cheese. this gives your guests an assortment to choose from, and gives you more options when it comes to styling your cheese board.

  • be aware of cheeses that include hard-to-pronounce ingredients, sugar, food coloring, and vegetable oils such as: canola, safflower, soybean, and sunflower.

  • happy tummy and tastebud ingredients: coconut oil, nuts (if you can tolerate them), tapioca starch, agar, and cultures. the best vegan cheeses i’ve had have the least amount of ingredients. of course, if you’re nut-intolerant it can be quite difficult to find good options out there (sorry!).

what you need to build a vegan cheese board

  • surface - this is going to dictate your cheese board arrangement. i personally like going with a round cutting board/cheese board, but a rectangular shape works just as well. and gather a few small bowls to hold a softer cheese, preserves, nuts, etc. first i placed my bowls, from there i placed the cheese rounds and cut one into hunks (i think it makes it more visually pleasing, but it’s also easier for guests to pick as opposed to cutting it themselves). slice apple or pear and fan them out, fan more pieces in an opposite direction to get some texture on the board.

  • 1-2 different varieties of crackers - if you’re going with 2, purchase one with a different flavor profile, shape, and texture, just for variety.

  • add some sweetness - i like to go with seasonal fruit. winter fruit i love to include are: grapes, sliced apples and ripe pears. i like purchasing extra fruit, especially if it’s fresh like satsumas with their leaves still on, or little ornamental pears or crab apples - anything that’s going to add some softness. and i especially love fig conserve to serve with your cheeses (if you can find it, i highly recommend it - i use june taylor’s) , if you can’t find something similar try a cranberry or maybe even a fruit chutney.

  • nuts - i’m a big fan of roasted and salted pistachios, cracked walnuts, or maybe some flavored mix of nuts.

  • fresh herbs - i used fresh rosemary and fresh bay leaves here for just to give the board a bit more of seasonal vibe. but you could also use eucalyptus stems, olive branches, or evergreen/pine tree snips.

  • lastly, i would suggest some sort of low key floral arrangement. i tend to go less “floral”, and more leafy. this has all to do with your aesthetic, but i generally don’t buy anything too fragrant for fear of it distracting from the food.

more holiday recipes:

chocolate tahini cake w/ sugared cranberries

chocolate tahini cake w/ sugared cranberries

a weeknight holiday party

a weeknight holiday party

christmas morning cranberry, lemon & poppy seed cake

christmas morning cranberry, lemon & poppy seed cake

spicy sweet potato chip + avocado sammie by Lindsey | Dolly and Oatmeal

hey all!  hope you all had a lovely new year's celebration, whether you hunkered down at home or partied the last of 2014 away.  frank and i enjoyed a quiet one at home, as he's been traveling throughout the holidays for work, and was setting off the next day for another trip.  while our last hours of 2014 were quiet and without 2015 hats or glasses, confetti, or champagne, we set out to make a special meal together including a mole sauce that's been our list to make since before we got married and this cake!  i've had a few recipes and half written grocery lists for months and months, but the one we decided to go with was kelsey's oaxacan black mole.  it took just about all day to make it, as there are a series of steps that included toasting, soaking, blending, reducing, and blending some more.  we had laughs and blunders, and mole that splattered on just about everything in our kitchen, but in the end we enjoyed some killer enchiladas (and enough leftover sauce to last us the year!).  so, thank you, kelsey!

the 1st of january often marks the day that people start new diets, resolve to lose weight, or exercise more, etc., etc.  but this year i'm trying to take the pressure off all of those green salads and smoothies, and offer a not-bad-for-you, baked sweet potato chip sandwich..?  there was a lunch spot near us that offered a sweet PLAT sandwich (sweet potato, lettuce, avocado, and tomato) that was kind of insane; and ever since it closed, and i saw this sandwich, i knew making some variation of it was in my near future.  and ever since making ashley's special sauce (from her new book!) over christmas break, i knew that needed to make an appearance in this sandwich as well.  so, if you're a fan of sweet potato fries, sandwiches, spicy sauce, avo, and some greens for good measure, then i've got you covered! here's to a happy 2015, all! xo

spicy sweet potato chip + avocado sammie (v + gf)

i like cutting these potato slices quite thin, as i prefer a crunchier sandwich.  however, if you prefer a softer chip, slice the potatoes to 1/4-inch thickness - you may have to adjust the cooking time as well.  

| makes 2 sandwiches |

  • 1 large sweet potato, sliced lengthwise to about 1/8-inch thickness
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • large grain sea salt + fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon mild paprika
  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • micro greens, sprouts, small lettuce, etc.
  • 4 slices favorite gluten-free bread (or 2 rolls), toasted

spicy special sauce 

i slightly adapted ashley's recipe, and added sriracha for spice.  i also divided the recipe in half since the recipe is for 2 sandwiches.  (i actually wish i had made the full portion of sauce, and refrigerated the rest for another time!)

| adapted from Date Night In by Ashley Rodriguez|

  • 1 teaspoon good dijon mustard
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons mayonaise or vegenaise
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha
  • 1/4 teaspoon maple syrup


spicy special sauce

  • whisk all ingredients together in a small mixing bowl; cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at 1 hour or up to 1 week

sweet potato chips

  • preheat oven to 375° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  set aside
  • mix sliced sweet potatoes, oil, paprika, a couple pinches of salt, and a few grinds of pepper, until potatoes are evenly coated.  spread potatoes in a single layer, do not overlap or overcrowd.  bake for 15 minutes, then flip each potato over and bake for an additional 15 minutes.  at this point some potatoes might be crisp; if so, remove from baking sheet and transfer to a large platter or plate.  continue this process until potatoes are lightly browned and crisp.  let potatoes cool in a single layer. (placing them on top of one another while still hot will result in a soggy chip.)

assemble the sammie!

  • remove spicy sauce from fridge and spread a good amount on both sides of the bread.  add onion, avocado, chips, and micro greens, top with remaining slice of bread

chow down and enjoy!