Dairy delights & parev pleasures

Not everyone celebrates Shavuot with a myriad of milky meals. Some of us prefer to stay completely dairy-free and go for a vegan option. 

And so, in praise of parev pleasures, we’re delighted to share with you a truly delicious recipe for Lemon Tofu Cheesecake from Lara Smallman of the Jewish Vegetarian Society (http://www.jvs.org.uk). Lara will be appearing at Gefiltefest talking about the history of Jewish veganism and will also be doing a demo which will include a vegan sweetcorn shakshuka. Hear and meet Lara by booking online or by calling the JW3 box office on 020 7433 8988.

We’re also delighted to announce that Gefiltefest regular Anne Shooter will also be appearing at this year’s Festival doing a demo on the Kvetch-Free Kitchen! She’s also given us a yummy-looking recipe for a delightfully dairy pashtida.

– Lemon Tofu Cheesecake –
From the kitchen of Lara Smallman

On Shavuot we celebrate the giving of the Torah. Shavuot is also known as Chag HaKatzir (the Harvest Festival), since it marks the start of the wheat harvest and the end of the barley harvest. It may remind us that many more people can be sustained on vegetarian diets than on animal-based diets. The Torah stresses that farmers are to leave the corners of their fields and the gleanings of their harvests for the hungry. Yet in today’s world one third of all cereal crops, and more than 90 per cent of soya, is turned into feed for farmed animals. This plant-based cheesecake is a good way to celebrate Shavuot using fewer of our planet’s precious resources.


200 g vegan digestive biscuits (e.g. Hob Nobs, or a supermarket own brand variety)
75 g vegan margarine (e.g. Tomor)
50 ml soya milk
350 g silken tofu
200 g vegan cream cheese (e.g. Tofutti Original)
1-2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Finely grated rind of 2 lemons
2 teaspoons arrowroot
Optional topping – 150g fresh raspberries or strawberries OR a drizzle of apricot sauce with lemon decoration


1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC / 350ºF / Gas Mark 4.

2. Put the biscuits into a polythene bag, secure lightly then crush with a rolling pin. Make sure there are no large lumps left.

3. Melt the margarine then put this along with the crushed biscuits into a bowl. Mix to combine.

4. Spread in a greased flat tin (preferably a 20 cm /8 inch flan tin with a removable base) and bake in the oven for 5 minutes.

5. Blend all of the topping ingredients thoroughly (soya milk, silken tofu tofu, vegan cream cheese, golden syrup, vanilla essence, lemon rind and arrowroot), using a hand blender or mixer, until smooth.

6. Remove the crumb mixture from the oven and pour the filling over the base. Bake in the oven at the same temperature for 20 minutes. Remove and leave to cool.

Serving option 1: Top with fresh berries and chill before serving.

Serving option 2: Slice and plate up, then top each individual piece with a twist of lemon and a drizzle of apricot sauce. For the apricot sauce place 50 g brown sugar, 100 g tinned apricots – chopped – and the juice from the apricots into a pan. Bring to the boil and simmer for five minutes. Allow to cool slightly before drizzling over the cheesecake slices.


– Green pashtida –
From the kitchen of Anne Shooter

Pashtida is the Israeli version of quiche and this version is a crustless one, like a baked frittata that is perfect for Shavuot as it is full of cheese and eggs but also lovely, fresh, green vegetables including asparagus, which is in season and so good right now. This makes an excellent lunch or supper and can also be served cold so you can keep any leftovers in the fridge, covered with cling film, for a couple of days.

Serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
6 spring onions, finely chopped, including the green ends
2 leeks, finely chopped
300g spinach
200g frozen peas
150g broccoli, broken into small florets
100g fine asparagus
8 eggs
125g ricotta
300g grated mature cheddar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon English mustard
few grinds of nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper
oil or butter for greasing


Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas mark 5.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the spring onions and leeks. Fry gently for ten minutes until softened.

Meanwhile bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add the broccoli and cook for
three minutes, then add the asparagus and cook for a further two minutes. Strain
and set aside.

Add the spinach and peas to the onions and leeks  and stir until the
spinach has wilted and the peas are defrosted. Turn off the heat and set

Meanwhile bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add the broccoli and
cook for three minutes, then add the asparagus and cook for a further two
minutes. Strain and set aside.

Beat the eggs and stir in the ricotta, cheddar, baking powder, mustard,
nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Grease a 30cm x 21cm rectangle oven dish with oil or butter. Tip in the
vegetables. Pour over the egg mixture and stir everything together gently.

Bake for 25 mins or until set and golden brown on top. Allow to stand for
ten minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature with salad and bread.

The recipe is from Anne Shooter’s new book, Cherish: Food to make for the people you love, published by Headline in Feb 2018, available to pre-order on Amazon now. (Photograph: Emma Lee)

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