by Alison Vellas
Native Foods Cafe
If any of you Chicago vegans had
the privilege of going to Vegan Mania
last summer, hopefully you got a chance to sit in on vegan chef extraordinaire and
artisan “cheese” maker Miyoko
Schinner’s cooking demo, promoting her book Artisan
Vegan Cheese: From Everyday to Gourmet. Schinner whipped up a few
“almost-instant” cheeses for the audience: meltable muenster, almond ricotta
and butternut nacho cheese. All were delectable, and I jumped at the chance to
get my hands on this (signed!) book of magical recipes for vegan cheeses.
A few months later and I have
successfully made my share of “aged” and instant vegan cheeses from Artisan Vegan Cheese, as well as some of
Miyoko’s cheesy entrees included in the book. Let me warn you now: these
recipes are not for the impatient, nor are they for those new to veganism. Many
recipes require hard-to-find ingredients like carrageenan (irish moss), rejuvelac, and fermented tofu.
And all the soaking, aging, and more aging time requires quite a bit of
dedication. However, even just a few of the recipes in this book make it
absolutely worth your money. These cheeses have flavors that store bought vegan
cheeses just can’t match.
Here are the recipes I’ve made and loved:
- Cashew Chevre: Super simple and probably the
easiest aged cheese, you basically just blend the ingredients together and let
age for a few days. It’s creamy and tangy just like real Chevre. I rolled mine
into a log with ground peppercorns on the outside to make it extra fancy.
- Brie: my absolute favorite recipe from this
book, it’s also probably the least healthy because of all the fat. Coconut oil
is used to firm the cheese: since coconut oil is solid at cool temperatures and
liquid at hotter ones, it can achieve the runniness of real brie. The flavor is
to die for too—I’m not sure if it’s like real brie, but it’s buttery and cheesy
and delicious. This is the vegan brie I made, topped with dried herbs and rainbow peppercorns:
- Air-dried gouda: this cheese builds off of the
basic aged cashew cheese, but adds in miso and white wine to give the cheese a
deep, rich, amazing flavor. Unfortunately it was difficult for me to get the
texture right and the cheese fell apart before I could air dry it properly, but
I salvaged it and turned it into a fancy sauce for macaroni and cheese!
yogurt: Most vegan (nut or soy based) yogurts I’ve tried to make have always
come out incredibly thin and runny, to my never-ending frustration. However,
Miyoko’s yogurt uses blended raw cashews to thicken the “milk” before
culturing. This did the trick, and after I strained my yogurt I had a nice,
For most of the solid cheeses, and
anything that requires blending nuts, I would recommend having a high-speed
blender (Ninja, Vitamix, etc.). I lucked out and received one for Christmas,
but for those who don’t have 100-500 bucks to spend on a fancy blender (which I
do recommend, it’s amazing) you’ll have difficultly getting a good creamy
texture for your cheeses.
Like I mentioned before, this is
not a book to pick up on a whim. Vegan cheese-making has turned into something
of a hobby (obsession) of mine, and I’m always learning something new from each
Vegan Cheese is an investment, but an exciting and rewarding one.
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