The Blooming Platter of Vegan Recipes

I am a Starbucks unsweetened green tea soy Frappuccino devotee (their soymilk is plenty sweet without the addition of syrup). Since those beverages are a bit pricey, I have always wanted to make them at home, but a grocery store matcha powder that I purchased a few years back was pretty much undrinkable, and I have not been able to recreate the taste and consistency I crave until now.

Recently, Kiss Me Organics offered me a free sample of their Green Tea Matcha Powder.  These offers always make me a little nervous as I want to love the product and review it positively, but what if I don’t love it?  In the case of this matcha tea, fortunately, I didn’t have to worry.

KMO Organic Matcha did the trick. It definitely has a robust flavor, but I like that and, in fact, in my Frappuccino of 1 cup ice + 1 cup unsweetened soy milk + 3 packets of Stevia + 1 teaspoon arrowroot starch (to prevent the frapp from being icy) whipped up in my Nutri Bullet, I used 1 whole tablespoon of this matcha powder and loved it. (The recommended serving on the package is ½ to 1 teaspoon.) Even so, each drink is still far less expensive than my beloved Starbucks versions. I am going to experiment with reducing the amount of matcha just to make it last longer. And I look forward to experimenting with it in baking, as well.

The color is beautiful and the flavor earthy and deep…some homemade vegan green tea cupcakes, frosting, and shortbread is in my future.  And I will share them here!

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Cantaloupe SorbetYield: 1 quart

Tomorrow night is our much anticipated annual Julia Child Birthday Bash.  This sophisticated French potluck dinner brings out the best in our foodie friends each year and I can hardly wait for the parade of beautiful people and food to begin.

Among my contributions will be this sorbet inspired by a MS grown cantaloupe that a friend of my parents’  brought to them when I was visiting there last week.  I like cantaloupe fine, but “don’t wake up screamin’ for it,” as my father would say.  That one, however…wow!  It was so creamy and delicious that it tasted like ice cream with a mouthfeel to match.  I knew at that moment, that I would come home to try my hand at a vegan sorbet, as the “rules” of the party are that all food must be either made from a Julia Child recipe or French-inspired.  Sorbet fits the bill perfectly.

I am so glad that I made it for a party, as I might just polish off the whole carton if we weren’t expecting guests!

Note:  make this sorbet 1-2 days before you plan to serve it, as the base needs to chill and the ice cream is best of allowed to ripen.

1 medium-large cantaloupe, halved, seeded, and flesh scooped out with a spoon, divided

1/4 cup arrowroot starch

1–15 ounce can Cream of Coconut (Coco Lopez is a common brand sold where drink mixers are sold; not coconut milk or coconut creamer)

Juice of 1 large lime

Place flesh from one half of cantaloupe in food processor and process until smooth.  Strain into a medium bowl, return any large pieces to processor, and whisk 1/4 cup arrowroot starch into the puree.  Process remaining half of cantaloupe with Cream of Coconut until very smooth.  Strain  into a 4-quart saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.  (Pop any large unprocessed pieces right into your mouth!)  Remove from heat and immediately whisk in cantaloupe-arrowroot mixture.  Allow to cool, whisk in lime juice, and then chill several hours or overnight, covered.  Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions; this took about 40 minutes in my Cuisinart.  Serve  immediately or scrape into a covered carton and freeze to allow to ripen until serving time.

 

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Diane's Dad's Sandwich--stackedYield: 1 sandwich (easily mulitplies)

Visits to my family’s home in MS always involve food adventures.  Last week, one of them came in the form of a mere description of a sandwich by my good friend since childhood, Margaret Deavours, who had heard about it on, of all places, NPR.  This sandwich  has become her go-to and I now see why!

Called *Diane’s Dad’s Sandwich, it consists, in part, of summer garden favorites: thinly sliced vidalia or red onion, cucumbers, and tomatoes.  These fresh ingredients are “sandwiched” between a top layer of (vegan) cheese ( white cheddar is used in the original recipe) and, believe it or not, a bottom layer of crunchy peanut butter.  Stacked high between 2 slices of whole grain bread–untoasted for ease of eating–this sandwich is a winner in more ways than one!!  *Be sure to read all about the sandwich by following the link.  Recipes entered into the contest had to be accompanied by a story; it is NPR after all!

Margaret made the sandwich sound so intriguing that I created a special Vegan Sharp Cheddar Cheese just so I could partake because, apparently, the magic of this sandwich is attributed not only to it’s fresh and unusual combination of ingredients–unusual, at least, for a sandwich–but the precise order in which each and every one of them hits one’s palate.  That being the case, be sure not to flip the sandwich as you lift it from plate to face!

Margaret’s only addition is, to me, essential because I tried it with and without:  fresh basil or cilantro in keeping with the Thai flavor profile (not pictured below, as I added it later and LOVED it).   To stay even more true to that profile, I chose Thai basil with it’s hint of anise, and will never make it any other way–wowza!   Because fresh herbs are an add-on, I wasn’t sure where to place them in the all-important stacking order, but I chose the middle, between the cucumber and tomato.    Other than swapping out the cheese for my delicious vegan version and adding a sprinkling of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, the only other change I made to the directions was to soak the red onion in unsweetened soymilk for a few hours to temper some of that peppery bite and strong aroma.

Don’t be put off by the peanut butter!  Besides the synergistic effect of all the ingredients, it is probably the peanut butter that makes this simple sandwich so extra-special!

2 slices whole grain bread, untoasted

1-2 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter

1 thin slice of vidalia or red onion (to rtemper strong flavor and aroma, soak in soymilk for a few hours, covered in refrigerator)

4 thin slices cucumber

Several fresh Thai basil leaves (you may substitute Italian basil or cilantro)

2 thin slices tomato

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1-2 tablespoons Vegan Sharp Cheddar Spread (recipe follows)

Spread 1 piece of bread with peanut butter and then layer on ingredients in the order given.  A note to you sandwich flippers: be sure to eat the sandwich with the peanut butter on the bottom!

 

Vegan Sharp Cheddar Cheese Spread

2 cups raw cashews, covered in 2 cups water and soaked overnight

1/2 cup white miso (which is actually golden; this amount is needed for that “sharpness” unique to cheddar)

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon turmeric (for color; I decided to go for a yellow cheddar for more color)

1/2 teaspoon mustard powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt or to taste

1/3 cup dry champagne, prosecco, white wine or beer (a non-alcoholic wine or beer may be substituted)

Place all ingredients in bowl of food processor and process several minutes or until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.  Store leftovers covered in refrigerator.

Diane's Dad's Sandwich--open

 

 

 

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Red Zinfandel Pasta with Golden Grape TomatoesYield: 4 modest servings (will need a substantial side dish or side salad to make a full meal)

This easy recipe yields pasta that looks like those made from doughs “dyed” with various vegetable dyes (or animal, like squid ink–ick!). But, instead, taking Giada de Laurentiis’s lead, prepared pasta is cooked in red wine and turns this beautiful color.  Clever, no?  Giada also adds a little bit of tomato paste to hers, which you can certainly do.  It will deepen the color for sure.  But I really wasn’t after that rich cooked tomato flavor, so I left it out and my husband and I both loved it.

She serves hers with herbs and goat cheese.  If I had had an of my Homemade Vegan Ricotta Cheese, I would have stirred little pieces of that into it, but we ate that right up!  So, I had some beautiful yellow-orange grape tomatoes from the farmer’s market that I thought looked striking in contrast with the pasta.  And it tasted delicious too.

Feel free to add whatever cooked vegetable you choose (though tomatoes are best added fresh).  You can hardly go wrong unless the color is too close to the pasta color and doesn’t show up.

8  ounces whole wheat pasta (I like a thin vermicelli–not the Asian rice variety–but spaghetti is nice too, just adjust cooking time)

Sea salt

2 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup finely diced red onion or shallot, red if available (about a medium shallot)

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups of dry red wine, like a Zinfandel or whatever you have on hand

16 golden grape tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup finely chopped basil

Garnish: sprigs of basil and optional nutritional yeast

Bring a large (4 quart) pot of well-salted water to boil over medium-high.  Add pasta and simmer pasta for about half it’s cooking time (about 4 minutes for whole wheat vermicelli); lower heat if necessary.   Meanwhile, in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high, heat olive oil.  Add onion and garlic and sauté, stirring continually, until softened and fragrant, about a minute or two.  Add red wine, and bring to a simmer; adjust heat if necessary.  Drain pasta and add to skillet with red wine mixture, or scoop pasta directly into mixture using a slotted spoon.  Cook pasta for its remaining time or a minute or so longer, stirring occasionally.  When almost all of wine has cooked off, add tomatoes and basil, and gently toss until all of the moisture has simmered away.  Serve immediately dusted with nutrition yeast if desired (but not enough to hid the beautiful color), and a sprig of basil.

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020Yield: 6 servings

In this lovely summer lasagna–a guest recipe I was asked to create for Tofutti Brands, Inc.–a fluffy and creamy Swiss Chard Filling finds its perfect counterpoints in rich Walnut Pesto; zippy, pleasantly acidic, lightly cooked Fresh Roma Tomato Sauce; and a crunchy topping.

Creamy Swiss Chard Filling (recipe follows)

sea salt

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil

6 dried lasagna noodles

1/2 pound (about 3 large) fresh Roma tomatoes, unpeeled, stem end removed, and halved

3 tablespoons loosely packed fresh basil leaves

1 cup walnut pieces

1 large garlic clove, halved

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

Make Creamy Swiss Chard Filling in food processor, transfer mixture to a medium bowl, set aside, and rinse out bowl of  food processor.

Noodles:  Fill a large pot (4-quart)  3/4 full with water, add a tablespoon each of sea salt and olive oil, and bring to a gentle boil.  Add lasagna noodles, partially cover, and simmer 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente, lowering heat if necessary.  Drain and arrange noodles in a single layer on a baking sheet, covered with a kitchen towel to prevent drying out.

Fresh Roma Tomato Sauce:  Place Roma tomatoes in food processor with basil and a pinch of sea salt and process until smooth.  Transfer to a medium (2-quart) saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens and most of watery moisture has evaporated; lower heat if necessary to prevent scorching and sticking on the bottom.  Remove from heat.

Walnut Pesto:  Rinse and dry bowl of food processor and add the nuts, garlic clove, and about a 1/2 teaspoon sea salt.  Pulse until finely chopped and, then, with motor running, drizzle in 1/4 cup of olive oil to make a thick paste.  Set aside.

Topping:  Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large cast iron skillet, add bread crumbs and toast, stirring occasionally, until crumbs begin to turn golden brown, lowering heat if necessary.  Add nutritional yeast and continue toasting and stirring for another minute or until crumbs are golden and yeast is fragrant.  Remove from heat.

Assembly:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Oil the bottom and sides of two 5 x 9″ metal or ceramic loaf pans.   Trim all of the lasagna noodles to fit the length of the pans and then cut the trimmings in half.  Line each of the pans with 2 overlapped lasagna noodles, spread each with 1/4 of the Creamy Swiss Chard Filling, and cover the surface of each with small dollops of 1/4 of the walnut pesto.  Top each with a single lasagna noodle and 1/2 of the noodle trimmings tucked along the sides if desired (or you may discard these).  Repeat layers, ending with a final single lasagna noodle.   Spoon half of the Fresh Roma Tomato Sauce over each, sprinkle with half of the bread crumbs, and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes.  Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes, slice with a sharp serrated knife, and serve.

 Note: if you are watching your calories, this lasagna is equally as successful and delicious without the last lasagna noodle layer  Simply spoon the tomato sauce over the second and final Walnut Pesto layer, top with crumbs, and bake as directed.  In this case, you will need only 6 lasagna noodles.

Creamy Swiss Chard Filling:

1/2 pound stemmed Swiss chard leaves

14 ounces extra firm tofu, drained

8 ounces Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese

Juice and zest of 1/2 large lemon

2 large cloves garlic

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves

1/2 teaspoon Bragg Liquid Aminos

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon turbinado sugar (or any granulated sugar)

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper to taste

Finely chop Swiss chard in the bowl of a food processor.  Transfer chard to a medium bowl, set aside, and rinse out bowl of food processor.  Place all remaining ingredients in the food processor bowl and process until smooth, scraping down sides as necessary.  Transfer to bowl with Swiss Chard and fold together until completely combined.

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Crispy Mustard-Roasted New PotatoesYield: 4 servings as a side dish

This recipe is based on one of Ina Garten’s, the Barefoot Contessa, as seen on the Food Network. My main changes are the addition of fresh minced mild chili pepper, which is optional, and garlic.

I had seen the introduction to one of her shows recently, where she mentioned these potatoes, but I didn’t watch it. So, when our farmer’s market had beautiful new potatoes that they call “creamers” this week, I bagged some planning to make the recipe, as I knew I could find it online. And I did.

But I didn’t write it down; I just created it from memory, adding a couple of ingredients. They are just delicious and quite beautiful…something about those mustard seeds.

3/4 pound golf ball size new potatoes (quartered; halved if potatoes are smaller)
1 medium onion, halved, and sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices
1/4 cup olive oil
2-3 tablespoons stone ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Optional: 2 teaspoons finely diced mild red chili pepper, seeds and membranes removed
1 large clove garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Oil a large roasting pan and place potatoes and onions in a single layer in the pan. In a small cup, whisk together olive oil, stone ground mustard, sea salt, and pepper. Drizzle over potatoes and onions, and toss well to completely coat; I like to use my hands for this task. Roast for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Sprinkle chili and garlic over potatoes, stir to distribute, and roast 20 more minutes, stirring after 10, or until potatoes are very crispy and brown and some of the onions are charred. Serve immediately.

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Thai Coconut Milk and Vegetable Soup 1Yield: 4 servings

This soup is as delicious as it is nutritious and lovely. Thicker than most Thai restaurant soups (due to the starch in the squash), it is very filling, yet still light.

It was inspired by my love of all things Thai, but also by an over-zealous trip to the farmer’s market this week considering I am leaving town on Sunday.  In a little bit of a panic about not wasting food, I created this soup brimming over with vegetables like red bell pepper, fresh chili pepper, pattypan squash, grape tomatoes and Swiss Chard.

I had purchased 2 bunches of the chard–what was I thinking–so I created a really tasty Swissh Chard and Pumpkin Seed Pesto out of the remainder, which will freeze nicely.

I used the vegetables I had on hand, but feel free to substitute other veggies, keeping flavor, texture and color contrast in mind. In addition to the onion and bell pepper, you will want about 4 cups of vegetables. Precokl firmer vegetables like squash and carrots, and simply heat softer ones like tomatoes and mushrooms.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, thinly sliced
1 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and very thinly sliced
1 large cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons minced red or green mild chili pepper
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1-15 ounce can coconut milk or lite coconut milk
2 cups water
2 regular or 1 large vegetable bouillon cube (enough for 2 cups of water)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 pounds pattypan squash (unpeeled and unseeded weight), baked, roasted or grilled until tender, peeled, and cut into wedges [you may substitute eggplant, zucchini and/or yellow squash]; approximately 2 cups cooked chunks
1 cup (approximately) red or gold grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup finely chopped Swiss chard (I use a food processor for this task)
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, rough chopped
Zest of 1 large lime
1/4 cup basil leaves, preferably Thai basil
4 teaspoons vegan fish sauce (sold a “vegetarian” in Asian markets) or rice wine vinegar
Garnish: 1/4 cup chopped roasted and lightly salted cashews and peanuts and sprigs of basil or cilantro

In a large (4-quart) saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high. Add onion, bell pepper, ginger, garlic, chili pepper, and a pinch of sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper, and sauté, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add coconut milk, water, bouillon cube, and soy sauce, and heat until barely simmering. Add squash, tomatoes, and Swiss chard, and return to a gently simmer. Avoid boiling. Stir in cilantro, lime zest, and basil leaves and heat through. Serve in large bowls with 1 teaspoon of vegan fish sauce or rice wine vinegar stirred into each. Garnish with chopped nuts and a sprig of basil or cilantro.

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Almost Two BallsYield: 2 dozen cookies

The only thing better than a moist chocolate cookie is one with a hint of cherry flavor, a juicy maraschino cherry tucked inside, and a buttery cashew on top.

Quite deceiving in appearance, the exterior of these cookies keeps a secret of the bright red maraschino cherry surprise hidden within.

Simple to prepare but quite fancy in appearance, these cookies are equally at home in school lunch boxes or on cocktail party trays.

Sunday night, I served them to our dear friends and houseguests, Juliane and Marc Curvin.  Health conscious, like me, we eacg enjoyed one cookie perched in a stainless steel Chinese spoon, all lined up on a long and narrow contemporary white rectangular plate.  Neither they nor my husband are vegans or even vegetarians, but all thought these treats were the perfect 1- or 2-bite sweet ending.

8 ounces vegan chocolate chips, melted

1/2 cup vegan butter

1 cup turbinado sugar (or any granulated sugar)

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice

1/4 cup cherry liqueur (or substitute 1/4 cup maraschino cherry juice)

2 tablespoons non-dairy creamer or non-dairy milk

2 cups white whole wheat flour (or unbleached all-purpose)

Pinch sea salt

24 maraschino cherries, drained

approximately 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

24 lightly salted and roasted cashew halves

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with Silpat.  In a medium bowl, melt chocolate in microwave or over simmering water.  Remove from heat and stir in butter until it melts.  Add sugar, vanilla, cherry juice, cherry liqueur, and non-dairy creamer and whisk to combine.  Whisk in half of flour and then incorporate remaining flour using a fork.  Dough will be somewhat stiff.  Using a small scoop, form a ball of dough.  Using your thumb, create a depression in the center and place a maraschino cherry inside.  Press dough around it to completely encase and gently reashape into a ball.  Roll in powdered sugar and place on prepared baking sheet.  Place a cashew half on the top pressing down ever so slightly to adhere.  Repeat with remaining dough, cherries, confectioner’s sugar, and cashew halves, placing balls about 2 inches apart.  Bake 12 minutes.  Let cool slightly on baking sheet and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.  Dust with additional confectioner’s sugar before serving.

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On Straw Mat--Bird's Eye PerspectiveAbout a year ago, I purchased Artisan Vegan Cheese by Miyoko Schinner.  Last week, I invited one of my vegetarian foodie friends, Trish Pfeifer, over to try out a couple of recipes…with disappointing results…except for our own Homemade Vegan Ricotta (pictured at right)!

I love the cheeses that  I have created both for my blog (search “cheese”) and The Blooming Platter Cookbook, but I was intrigued by the promise of Schinner’s meltable and sliceable cheeses, as I am not a big fan of market varieities, even Daiya.  Her photos make the cheese look like the real deal.

My Search for Rejuvelac

Many of the cheeses I was interested in called for “rejuvelac,” a liquid made from sprouted grains.  I am busy, like everyone I know, so I knew that the number of times the grains must be rinsed, the water changed, etc., not to mention the days necessary for the grain to sprout, were deal-killers for me.  So I thought I would purchase it but, alas, not so much.  No one in our area carries it, but I found it online from Herbspro.com.  It arrived sometime the week of July 7 while I was away–after ordering it on June 26–and it arrived wrapped in bubble wrap in a brown paper box though it was clearly marked “Perishable–Keep Refrigerated.”  Oh, and the shipping for 2 bottles, which together cost $9 and change, was $20!  I had decided to splurge for the sake of research.

I emailed the company to ask if  the product only needed to be refrigerated after opening.  They responded promptly that they “weren’t trained on the products” and provided the manufacturer’s contact information, also in CA.  I called and was told that absolutely the product must be refrigerated every moment of its life and that I should throw it out and contact Herbspro for a refund.  Easier said than done.  I called and had to give my phone number to the person who answered who sent an email to shipping who would be in touch, though they weren’t there at that time (and it was mid-morning even in CA).  I told him, after our brief conversation, that I had absolutely no confidence that anyone would call me back, though he assured me.  And, guess what? No one did.

So I called back about 4 p.m. PST and got the same man to whom I explained why I was calling.  He transferred me to “shipping,” where the phone rang interminably until I hung up.  I called back for a third time and this time the phone was answered by a woman who knew exactly what was going on with the product–she knew it should have been shipped in a cold pack–and issued a refund.  However, as I explained, they need to ship it with a signature required because I was out of town for a week and, even if it had been shipped cold, it wouldn’t have been when I returned home to open it.

Plan B

Without any Rejuvelac, I was forced to choose cheeses that didn’t call for it, which limited our options significantly.  One also can’t purchase unsweetened plain vegan yogurt here and choosing recipes that didn’t call for it would have, again, limited our options down to almost nothing.  The amounts of yogurt called for were small, though, so I bought some plain sweetened yogurt and hoped for the best with Schinner’s Cashew Cream Cheese.  I also selected Farmer’s Cheese (really, a ricotta), which only called for soymilk, vinegar and salt.  THe latter also involved actual dairy cheese-making methods, which I wanted to try.

Schinners Farmer’s Cheese/Ricotta–A Dud!  (my SUCCESSFUL recipe follows at the bottom)

Our first attempt at Schinner’s”Farmer’s Cheese” was a complete flop.  We added the vinegar to 200 degree soymilk exactly as instructed and watched as beautiful curds formed and then watched as they just as quickly melted, leaving us with nothing but a pot of warm milk.  The problem with this recipe is incomplete instructions.  She never says to remove the pot from the heat after the vinegar is added.  She just says to add the vinegar and that curds will continue to form over the next 10 minutes.  Ten minutes, we assumed, of cooking, since NOWHERE did she say to remove the pot from the burner, nor to turn it off.

I decided to look up homemade dairy ricotta recipes online and both that I consulted said to remove the pot from the heat as soon as the vinegar is added.  That worked beautifull and we were thrilled with our results.  But, Schinner’s yield says 2 cups and ours was 1.  Because both online dairy recipes called for dairy milk and cream, we thought we should perhaps compensate for the lack of cream in some way.  So the third time we made it, we reduced the milk by 25% to 6 cups, but kept the amount of vinegar the same at 1/4 cup.  We saved milk and got the same beautiful results–a yield of 1 cup–with no vinegary taste.  The only other change was not to let the curds form over the course of 10 minutes before pouring the mixture through a cheesecloth-lined strainer, but 1, as one of the online dairy recipes instructed.

Schinner’s Cashew Cream Cheese–A Disgusting Dud!

“What could go wrong?,” we thought.  Afterall, I have made plenty of nut cheeses.  But what I haven’t done is make them with live yogurt cultures AND leave them to cure, ripen, or whatever at room temperature as instructed in the book.  The cheese was tasty–albeit not very similar to cream cheese–as soon as we took it out of the food processor.  But as it sat for the recommended amout of time, it started becoming a bit foamy–not the consistency of cream cheese at all–and tasting spoiled.  Schinner notes that the longer the cheese is left out, the “tangier” or “sharper” it becomes.  It was not tangy or even sharp to our palate–as a vegetarian, I loved stinky cheese and Trish still does–rather it began to taste fishy and spoiled.

Because we wanted a firmer product, we weighted ours in a cheesecloth-lined colander and, as instructed, left them out for even more hours, at our respective homes.  The results were completely inedible, as in gag-reflex inedible.  I even tried salvaging mine with sea salt, pepper and olive oil.  But, no good.  Plus, I’m not sure if they would have made us sick if we had been able to choke them down.  Honestly, they were disgusting and we both, independently, threw them out in our outdoor waste bins.

My Recommendation

It appears that we are not the only ones who met with some disappointing results when usuing this book.  Though the 4- and 5-star reviews far outweigh the 1-stars, I read some of the latter who share my concerns.   My advice would be to 1) make MY version of Vegan Ricotta, and 2) if you are still tempted to purchase the book, read a few reviews, and then do so fully informed.  *Evidently, a lot of people are achieving fine results with the recipes in the book.  However, this ain’t my first culinary rodeo, I can follow a recipe with the best of ‘em, and still didn’t achieve edible cheese.  I gave the book to Trish to give to her niece who lives near DC, can hopefully obtain rejuvelac there and, perhaps, have better luck with the rejuvelac-based recipes.  I am left believing that there must be something about working with live cultures and probiotics that is far more variable than the level for which this book takes into account.

*Another vegan cookbook author friend reports that the Meltable Mozza from the book is nice.  One of the reviews on Amazon, however, reports that it didn’t work.  Buyer beware.

 

The Blooming Platter’s Homemade Vegan Ricotta Cheese

6 cups unsweetened soymilk

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

Line a strainer or sieve with 2 thicknesses of culinary cheesecloth (not the hardware store variety), available at some grocery stores, at kitchen shops, and online.  Place strainer over a deep bowl (I used my Kitchenaide mixing bowl) so that the bottom of the strainer won’t be suspended in the milk as it drains, or you can just pour off the liquid as it collects.  In a large (4-quart) saucepan, heat milk and salt over medium-high heat to 200 degrees, stirring occasionally.  Stir in vinegar, remove from heat, and very gently stir as big fluffy curds form and separate from the liquid (which would be whey in dairy cheesemaking).  After about 1 minute, pour mixture into prepared strainer and allow to drain for one hour.  It will be soft at this stage and can be refrigerated and then enjoyed like this.  Or you can create a firmer cheese, as we did, by gathering up sides of the cloth, twisting, tying with cord, and hanging from your kitchen faucet or from a wooden spoon set across the top of your deep bowl as I like to do (to keep the dogs out of it!).  Let draindrain for about 8 to 12 hours, unrefrigerated.  Carefully remove cheese from the cheesecloth, cover, and refrigerate.  Note: use the drained off liquid to water your plants!

Simple Steps to Perfect Ricotta–A Visual

Warming milk for ricotta with equipment/ingredients at the ready

Warming milk for ricotta with equipment/ingredients at the ready

Curds form as vinegar is added

Curds form as vinegar is added

Curds draining in cheesecloth-lined colander

Curds draining in cheesecloth-lined colander

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GreekStyleYogurtVeganYield: 3/4 cup

This recipe (or, really, more of an ultra-easy formula) was inspired by an invitation from Tofutti to create a plain Greek yogurt using any of their products.

Wanting a nut-free version, I had initially thought I would combine their Better than Cream Cheese or Better than Sour Cream with tofu, until I remembered how pronounced is the soy flavor of processed tofu.

So, then I wondered what would happen if I combined only the two Tofutti products.  Eureka!  Perfect in thick creamy texture and almost pure white color.

The remaining issue was the particular “tang” of Greek Yogurt.  (Sorry, but I had to take tiny tastes of my husband’s dairy variety to try to match it as closely as possible.)  The flavor is is definitely NOT lemony, so neither juice nor zest would do the trick.   I wondered about vinegar, but white vinegar is too astringent, apple cider vinegar to dark in color, and balsamic to pronounced in flavor, as well as deep in color.  But rice wine vinegar proved to be the ticket!   One teaspoon wasn’t quite enough; two was perfect!

The purity of the flavor of Greek yogurt is tricky to duplicate, and my version admittedly has a little more complexity of subtle flavor notes than its dairy-based cousin.  But it comes exceptionally close.  Enjoy using it however you use plain Greek yogurt!

Get the recipe here!

Greek Yogurt (Plain)--Homemade--Tofutti

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