Sunday, August 6, 2017

This Cheese Is Nuts!

A few years ago, Miyoko made vegan history with the release of her Artisan Vegan Cheese book. With a little patience and forethought to plan ahead, we were finally able to create our own fancy vegan cheeses at home. Since then, I've made many a cashew cheese — some aged, some quick and easy. But cheese-making is no longer intimidating, and I know that my homemade cashew cheeses are just as good (or actually better!) than fancy vegan dairy cheeses.

In keeping with the artisan vegan cheese trend, Julie Piatt (author of the The Plantpower Way and married partner of vegan ultrarunning legend Rich Roll) has released This Cheese Is Nuts! Delicious Vegan Cheese at Home. It's a gorgeous, full-color book with photos of every recipe.

Julie's book is similar to Miyoko's in that she includes recipes for aged and quick cheeses, but her methods are quite different so it really is nice to have both books in my collection. Most of the cheeses in both books are nut-based, but rather than making your own rejuvelac, as Miyoko instructs, Julie recommends using capsules of acidophilus to give cheeses that tangy, aged flavor. It's certainly a quicker tactic, so it's better when you're pressed for time. Making your own rejuvelac takes several days, and this method is instant.

There are recipes for cheese spreads/sauces, quick "form" cheeses, aged & multi-step cheeses, nut-free cheeses, dairy-free staples, and dishes using the homemade cheeses. I opted to try two recipes — one from the spreads/sauces chapter and another from the aged cheeses chapter.

First up, I tried the Cashew Camembert. This is an aged cashew cheese that's flavored with truffle oil and then dried out a little in a dehydrator. I used my Excalibur dehydrator for this. Note: Most recipes in this book don't call for special equipment, but a few do call for a dehydrator. Also, this one does not call for the probiotic capsule. It's simply cashews, truffle oil, and salt with a little aquafaba.

The cheese formed a crusty top layer in the dehydrator, so I thought it would easily come out of the mold as the recipe suggested it would. But under that harder layer, the cheese remained very soft and spreadable.  I really think the hardness of this cheese would depend on what brand of chickpeas were used for the aquafaba. I used the generic Kroger brand, and it's been my past experience that it doesn't do that great in recipes. So I ended up leaving it in the bowl. But that was okay! It tasted AMAZING. That truffle oil really gave it such a special flavor. I've been enjoying it on crackers and bread all week.

From the sauce chapter, I made the Ancho Chili Nacho Cheese sauce and served it over nachos!

This creamy cashew cheese sauce is made tangy from miso paste and spicy from ancho chili powder. It's perfect for nachos, and I'll probably end up using the rest of it as a dip for tortilla chips. Or maybe as a topping on burgers!

Next, I'd love to try some of the dishes in the book. They're mostly for fancier meals that would impress, but they all seem fairly easy to create. For example, Provolone Baked in Phyllo Dough, Beet Goat Cheese Salad, and Gorgonzola Dolce Kale Ancient Grain Pasta.

As much as I love cashew cheeses, I'd also like to try some of the nut-free cheeses. There's a White Bean Cheese thickened with Irish moss and a Creamy Sesame Seed Spread made with 2 whole cups of sesame seeds.

This beautiful book is so inspiring. It makes me want to make and eat artisan cheese and bread with fancy wines every night!

1 comment:

olivia said...

Such cool ideas.