Showing posts with label cheese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cheese. Show all posts

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Antipasto and Peach Sucking.

The chance to win Allyson Kramer's Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats is still alive, kickin' and breathing red hot sorghum flour.  Since a winner won't be chosen until Tuesday morning, you'd best parade yourself over to the review for a chance to win and grow your xgfx brains real big.
Caprese salad with tiny fresh cashew mozzarella balls from Artisan Vegan Cheese.
When I scrunch my eyebrows real good, I can remember a few things mom used to make for us back in the day.  One of my favorites is the antipasto madness she'd sometimes whip together for a special occasion.  I loved the ritual involved in arranging all of the appetizers on a giant platter and then dabbling around the platter snacking on whatever I thought looked yummy.

The antipasto producing bug has since been passed onto me, and every now and again, I'll make this for friends, too.  It's actually a great dish for company since it's easy to prepare ahead, makes for good chattin' food and translates well into xgfx-land.

Nibbles 'n' noshes.
Last weekend, I decided to make a bunch of stuff for some visiting out of town friends.  My spread wasn't quite as fancy as I remember my mom's, but I made up for it in vegan cheese.

We had more cheese from Artisan Vegan Cheese, my family's caponata recipe (ours is from an old family friend, no idea of the original source), marinated artichoke hearts, black bread, pepperoni balls, olives, a fancy caprese salad and drinks.

Along with the air-dried gouda and fresh mozzarella balls in the caprese salad, we also tasted smears of pub cheddar.  Miyoko is pretty smart.
The fun is all in the details, don'tcha think?  If you're inspired and wanna see more ideas, check out this little page I wrote on PakuPaku a million moons ago.

❤ Caprese Salad--homegrown tomatoes and basil nested amongst fresh cashew mozzarella balls, drizzled with a basil and garlic infused olive oil, then seasoned with salt 'n' pepper.

❤ Pepperoni Balls--TVP based balls seasoned with yellow mustard seed, fennel, red pepper flakes, garlic, smoked paprika and black peppercorns.

❤ Marinated Artichoke Hearts--canned artichoke hearts quartered and marinated in lemon juice, zest, S&P and EVOO.

❤ Black Bread--From Jennifer Katzinger's Gluten-Free & Vegan Bread.  The recipes in this book are insane and good.  Full review coming in late October.  Sorry to be such a xgfx dick-tease.

❤ Caponata--recipe below!

❤ Olives--We had all sorts including a new favorite--green olives stuffed with whole almonds. 

Caponata is one of the easiest dishes to make, once you gather everything you need.  It's also perfect for anyone who has a fear of undercooked eggplant, since the eggplant has no choice but to soften into a smooth buttery texture under the weight of olive oil and lots of steaming.  I like to eat this in a bowl with a fork, but dear Kim will only eat it with scooping tools like bread or crackers.
Makes a Big Bowlful.
What You Need:
  • 1 large globe eggplant, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 small red pepper, diced
  • 1 pound button mushrooms, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons unbleached granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup pimiento stuffed green olives, sliced
What You Do:
  1. In a medium large saucepan over medium high heat, combine the eggplant, onion, red pepper, mushrooms, garlic and olive oil.  Cover and cook for 15 minutes stirring often to prevent sticking.
  2. Then add everything else and stir well.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for an additional 25 minutes, stirring often to make sure nothing's scorching.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve room temperature, or chill and eat cold.
Now you have the know-how to antipasto with the best of 'em.  Those Food Network stars can go suck a peach.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Miyoko Schinner's Artisan Vegan Cheese

I love to stack cookbooks and shuffle them around, I'm really good at it. My hobby spot of choice is The Bed.  Then I turn out the lights and fall asleep dreaming and scheming about new recipe concoctions, like Buffalo Salad Rolls (that's a new recipe I made, coming later this week).

Anyway, it's one thing to boast about book cracking, and a whole 'nother thing to get crackin' in the kitchen and put a book through its paces.  Miyoko Schinner's new book Artisan Vegan Cheese is so razzle dazzling, it inspired me to get busy in the kitchen even before the book ding-donged the doorbell on my front porch (you can see a bunch of the recipes via Amazon's "search inside" link on their website).

This is August's stack, and that's Vegan Diner hiding up at the top.
I've only had this book for a few weeks, and yet I've already made five successful recipes and hope to work my way through all of Miyoko's cheeses, and then back again.  I need to pace myself tho, 'cuz cashews are spendy on the budget and spendy on the belly.  Actually, Miyoko's cheeses are so good, for the first time in 22 years, I'm reminded of my old cow cheese habit. 

While there's a bit of a learning curve to the techniques (especially on making them pretty--mine all look like the inside of a Pyrex bowl), Miyoko is super available via her blog and on a dedicated thread over at the PPK.  She's also featured in this month's Veg News with new improved versions of some of the varieties in the book.  All good stuff.

So far I've made three cheeses, quinoa rejuvelac and cashew yogurt.  Most of the cultured cheeses are made tasty with the rejuvelac and yogurt, but Miyoko's instructions are simple, easy and spot-on.  I especially recommend using quinoa for the rejuvelac (instead of a different grain), because it sprouts and ferments quickly.

Most of the recipes use about 2 cups of cashews and many require rejuvelac and/or yogurt.
The first cheese I made was the Sharp Cheddar.  This cheese is cultured for a few days and then thickened over heat and refrigerated to age.  If you can wait.  Most of mine was gone before I even had a chance to cook it.  As a raw cheese, it was great dolloped onto bowls of rice and beans, and awesome off of the finger, too.  I was a bit disappointed with the texture after I'd cooked it, but Miyoko addresses this particular issue, and the texture does not compromise the flavor one bit. I'd love to taste this one again after it's been aged for a few months in the fridge, but I'm not sure I'll be able to stop eating it long enough to make that happen.

This cheese may look like a slice of Tofurky, but OMG it's not. 
I also made a batch of Air Dried Cheddar, which I believe came out fucking awesome (sorry to be so technical).  I've been eating this on local xgfx Happy Camper bread topped with salted and peppered fresh tomato slices. Please feed me this every day.

The last cheese I made was the Fresh Mozzarella.  This was a particularly fast cheese to make, since not much culturing is required and forming the balls in water is cool!  In fact, I was so excited to make the balls I didn't culture my cheese long enough, so mine lacked tang.  Even so, I've been mashing mine up with salt, pepper, garlic and herbs and stuffing it into collard wraps with shredded beets, carrots and apples.  Very yum to the yum.  Another keeper, and yes thank you, I know I'm a hippy.
  • Title: Artisan Vegan Cheese
  • AuthorMiyoko Schinner
  • BlogThe Vegan Manifesto
  • Publisher:  The Book Publishing Company
  • Photos:  Yes, with color
  • Amazon Search Inside Link
  • Focus:  Nut based cultured cheese
  • 5 Recipes to IntrigueAir Dried Brie, Figs Stuffed with Lemon-Scented Chevre, Gruyere and Pear, Air Dried Gouda and Boursin
  • XGFXness: The cheeses are all xgfx.  The last three chapters include recipes for incorporating the cheeses into meals.  Many of these are also xgfx or can be adapted.   

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Portland is quite brrRRR brrrRR for most of the year, so when the weather warms up in August, I like to take advantage of the short heat window and ferment and preserve stuff.  Last summer I made the simple South Indian style lemon pickle from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian.  The problem is they came out so good they didn't make it past the fall, and I was left bereft for the rest of the year.  I remedied the situation this year and sextupled the recipe.  Oh, yes yes yes I did.  The pickle jars have been living outside on our back patio soaking up sun for the last 11 days, and today I brought them in for a quick taste before stuffing them into the fridge.  Jackpot. 

I've also been busying myself with Miyoko Schinner's new book Artisan Vegan Cheese, although it's giving me really funky food memory flashbacks.  Like I suddenly remember feeling crazy-excited when soda manufacturers started using aspartame instead of saccharin in diet soda.  It also reminds me of the release of The Uncheese Cookbook, 'cuz that was pretty exciting back in the day, too--albeit loads more healthy.

I think Miyoko's book has the potential to be quality of life changing (as long as cashew prices don't go up any more), and I like feeling like a mad kitchen scientist fermenting and culturing all of her delicious concoctions.  Too delicious actually, because they also sorta remind me of my old cow cheese addiction.  So far her stuff is really tasty.

In the last few days I've successfully made quinoa rejuvelac and cashew yogurt and am in the process of making her sharp cheddar and air-dried cheddar cheeses.

Patience is required.

I'll report back in a few days once the cheeses are further along in their curing journeys, assuming I don't eat them all first, because they're delicious enough to want to devour straight outta the blender.  If you're curious about the book, Amazon has a "search inside" preview available online with many of the recipes accessible.