I went vegan in 2001 and the first cookbook I bought was The New Now and Zen Epicure by Miyoko Schinner. It was through that book that I learned how to make tofu scramble, dairy-free sauces, and egg-free desserts. It’s amazing how much book cookbook collection has expanded in that time, and it’s fitting that the newest addition to it is Miyoko’s new book The Homemade Vegan Pantry.
My cooking has come a long way since 2001, but I’m always up for learning more. In The Homemade Vegan Pantry, Miyoko teaches us to make many vegan pantry staples such as non-dairy yogurt, mayo, bacon, cheese, mustards, pancake mix, crackers, pasta sauce, and much, much more. This isn’t shoddy, “throw some things together and see what happens DIY either” – it’s artisan hand-crafted food that is easy to make and doesn’t take a lot of time to put together. These foods are fresher than store-bought, and there’s no need to worry about chemicals and fillers, because you know exactly what’s in them. The Homemade Vegan Pantry is a gorgeous hardcover book filled mouthwatering photos, and it’s a must for any library, whether you’re vegan or not.
I’m honored to be hosting Miyoko on her blog tour today. As she is becoming well known for her amazing cheeses, I’m sharing her almond feta recipe, and I have a copy of The Homemade Vegan Pantry for one lucky winner. Instructions to enter are after the recipe.
- 2 cups blanched almonds soaked in water for 12 to 24 hours
- 1 cup rejuvelac or juice from sauerkraut
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2/3 cup water
- 2 tablespoons agar powder
- 6 cups water
- 3/4 cup sea salt or kosher salt
Drain and rinse the almonds. Place them in a high-speed blender with the rejuvelac and salt, and process on the highest setting for 1 to 2 minutes until smooth and no longer grainy to the tongue. Pour the mixture into a clean container and cover with a nonpermeable lid or plastic wrap. Leave on your kitchen counter for 1 to 2 days to culture, making sure you taste it each day, until it begins to get tangy. Keep in mind there is no hard and fast rule about how long it needs to culture—your taste buds will have to guide you in determining the right length of time. In warmer weather, it could be just a day, while in cooler weather, it could take 2 days or even longer.
Once the cheese is slightly tangy, you can move onto solidifying it. First, prepare the mold for the cheese by lining an 8-inch square pan with cheesecloth. Combine the water and agar in a medium saucepan and whisk well. Cover the pan with a lid and bring to a simmer over low heat. Don’t peek for 3 to 4 minutes, then check to see if it is bubbling away. At first, if you peek too early, it may look as if it has solidified. However, if you let it simmer over low heat for a couple of minutes more, it will start to liquefy again and bubble away. When the agar is fully dissolved, pour in the cultured almond mixture and whisk immediately until fully combined. Pour the cheese mixture into the cheesecloth-lined pan. Refrigerate for several hours, until hard.
Prepare the brine by whisking together the water and the salt in a large bowl until most of the salt is dissolved. Cut the cheese into four pieces and place in the brine. Cover and let sit for 8 hours at room temperature. Transfer the cheese to a storage container and pour the brine over the cheese until it is halfway submerged. Add more plain water to completely cover the cheese and dilute the brine. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 or 4 months. The flavor vastly improves after the first 3 to 4 weeks.
Reprinted from THE HOMEMADE VEGAN PANTRY Copyright © 2015 by Miyoko Schinner. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
I have a copy of The Homemade Vegan Pantry for one lucky winner. Follow the instructions below to enter. US Residents only, please. Contest ends at midnight eastern time on June 28th. Good luck!