Miyoko Schinner comes up with a cookbook that strives to meet the demands of “ die hard cheese lovers” around the world
I’ve asked many a vegetarian why they’re not vegan and the answer is always cheese.
Apparently it’s just too hard to give up.
There are countless non-dairy cheeses on the market these days which is great for those transitioning to veganism, but most still lack that certain “something-something”.
Artisan Vegan Cheese by Miyoko Schinner strives to meet the demands of die hard cheese lovers with recipes for authentic tasting homemade non-dairy cheeses that retain all the complexity and sharpness of their dairy counterparts, while incorporating nutritious nuts and plant-based milks.
If you’re already vegan, you may well have tried cashew cheese before, but likely this relied on lemon juice or vinegar for its tangy flavour. What makes the cheeses in this book differ is that they gain their cheese-like qualities from culturing and/or aging, giving them a depth of flavour you don’t otherwise get.
If you’re thinking this all sounds like a lot of effort, you’re probably mistaken. Though some of the recipes do take time, you don’t need much more than a bit of patience. And if you’re short on that, there’s a whole chapter of “Almost-Instant Cheeses”!
I’ve seen some cheese recipes calling for powered probiotics. These do culture the cheese like those in this book, but are often expensive. Instead, this book uses, what’s known as “rejuvelac” to culture the cheese- an easy to make fermented beverage made simply from whole grains and water.
With my rejuvelac ready, I was ready to start off my cheese adventure!
I first tried out the Cashew Chèvre as I wanted to compare it to my own recipe. I enjoyed this and did find that it had more sharpness than a non-cultured version. It was lovely on salad, and when figs are back in season here (it’s a little early yet), I plan to try the recipe for Figs Stuffed with Lemon-Scented Chèvre.
Next up was the Boursin. Now, I don’t think I’ve ever had dairy Boursin but however it compares, this was a wonderful garlicky, herby, creamy cheese. Divine spread on crackers or bread or as part of a cheese plate.
I love that this book has recipes which put your homemade cheeses to use too. You’ll find a chapter on “First Courses & Small Plates” which includes the likes of Gruyère & Pear Croustades with Red Wine Glaze, Italian Stuffed Mushrooms and Brie en Croûte with Dried Fruit & Nuts.
In the “Entrées and Accompaniments” chapter, you’ll find various pasta dishes, Chard & Ricotta Calzones, a classic Pizza Margherita (which is topped with your homemade Meltable Mozzarella), Gratins and more. I tried out the Fettuccine Alfredo with Gruyère and Mushrooms and it was a big hit.
The book finishes with “Sweet Cheese Dishes and Desserts”. I haven’t had the chance to delve into this chapter yet but am excited to do so as there are cheesecakes galore and cheesecake was my favourite pre-vegan dessert. I’m sure using homemade, cultured creamy cheese will make a really stand-out dessert. If cheesecake isn’t your thing, there’s still plenty to try: Tiramisu, Chocolate-Chestnut Cannoli, Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting…
There’s a lot of substance to this book as you can see and I’ve barely scratched the surface.
If you’re already vegan and had resigned yourself to sub-par, store-bought non-dairy cheese or simply tried to forget about cheese altogether; or if you’re an omnivore or vegetarian whose sticking point is cheese- that no longer has to be the case! Artisan Vegan Cheese shares the secrets to making all your old favourites at home, vegan-style, and will provide a lot of fun for those who simply love to experiment in the kitchen too.