This month we review a book that shows how you can create vegan cheese that will make you forget the other stuff.
Artisan Vegan Cheese:
From Everyday to Gourmet
By Miyoko Schinner
Book Publishing Company, 2012
A cultured person is a delight to meet. A cultured cheese is often admired. But a cultured artisan vegan cheese that actually melts and delivers that familiar richness of flavor and pleasing sharpness--well, that's vegan nirvana. Ask anyone who has recently become vegan if there is any food they miss, and without hesitation, they'll say, "Cheese! I really miss cheese!"
In her kitchen, laden with ripening vegan cheese experiments, author and gourmet restaurateur Miyoko Schinner took up the cheese challenge and succeeded in creating the ultimate in vegan cheeses. In her book Artisan Vegan Cheese she offers recipes for a raft of cheeses: traditional sharp, soft, hard, spreadable, sauces, and most of all, cheeses that melt.
Many food manufacturers and home chefs have attempted to fill the missing cheese gap and created imitations of various sorts, but rarely have they come close to resembling the texture and flavor of traditional dairy-based cheese.
Miyoko turned her focus to the missing links--the art of culturing and aging that produce the umami, the flavor quality that delivers pure satisfaction. The author says, "Achieving this complexity of flavor is something you simply cannot rush--you must let the process unfold naturally." She emphasizes making quality cheese takes patience.
She offers a brief overview of the cheese-making process and begins the recipe section with mouth-watering cashew-based cheeses like Chevre, Boursin, Sun-dried Tomato and Basil, Brie, Gruyere, Cheddar, Mozzarella, Ricotta, and Cream Cheese. Yogurt cheeses, including a homemade basic yogurt, feature her recipe for Sun Dried Tomato and Garlic Cream Cheese.
Well covered are details about hard cheeses that must be aged by air-drying and require special attention to prevent mold and bacterial growth. This chapter contains recipes for creating many beloved favorites like Gouda, Cheddar, Emmentaler, Parmesan, and Camembert.
Miyoko's meltable cheeses like Muenster, Jack, Cheddar, and Mozzarella, along with recipes in the Almost Instant Cheeses chapter, are ideal for pizza, grilled cheese, and gratin recipes and can be ready to eat within minutes or a few hours, rather than days, to satisfy the less patient cheese lovers.
Once the cheese-making techniques are mastered, there are a host of tantalizing recipes for sauces like Alfredo or Low-fat Chipotle along with temptations like Figs Stuffed with Lemon-Scented Chevre, Stuffed Squash Blossoms, or an elegant, classic Brie en Croute that can double as an entrée served with a salad.
Old favorites like Baked Macaroni and Cheese, Eggplant Parmesan, Stuffed Shells, and Gnocchi are found in the chapter of Entrees. Also included are Pizza Margherita and stuffed main dishes like Calzones, Spanakopita, and Chiles Rellenos.
Cheese also figures prominently in the dessert chapter with amazing indulgences like the stunning Chocolate-Chestnut Cannoli pictured on page 126. For the chocolate lovers there is Chocolate Cheesecake along with several fruit filled desserts and several cheesecake choices.
The book concludes with a Glossary and a list of Suppliers for some of the more unique ingredients like agar, carrageenan, and xanthan gum.
From the front cover to the back and everything in-between, the book is graphically appealing using sepia ink for the recipes. Recipe titles are accented with white lettering on a dark sepia bar, with headnotes above the bar on a sepia tinted background. Only a few full-page color photos are included, but each is beautifully styled and eye appealing.
Artisan Vegan Cheese will quickly find a comfy niche on any vegan's cookbook shelf and will soon wear the beloved drips and drops of a well-loved cookbook. The recipes are clearly written and easy to follow and offer amazing variety for all the favorite cheeses and classic cheese-endowed recipes one could want. Gotta have those Nachos with Chipotle Cheese Sauce on Page 63.