The Intrepid Herbivores

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The briesults are in!

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This is going to be a relatively terse missive, because I am actually quite speechless. How ’bout listen to this picture and you’ll get the overall gist:

I hope smartphone technology will one day allow you to simply lick your screen and fully understand what I’m talking about.

I’ve been spreading the good word about the recent “Cheese Issue” of Veg News Magazine. I’ve been living cheese-free for quite some time but rarely if ever feel compelled to purchase vegan cheese substitutes, because most of them seem like just that–substitutes. Not so good. A chintzy stand in for something I don’t want to eat anymore, so why bother? That said, one of the most common things that people I meet say, in an almost involuntarily reflexive way, is that they are down with the idea of veganism but can’t imagine ever being able to live a happy or fulfilled existence without cheese. And they aren’t always just saying that to be combative jerks–it is a fact that dairy cheese contains something called casomorphins, which are essentially opiate molecules. That’s right–dairy cheese has a toned-down form of morphine–so of course it’s difficult to break away from it. Many of us are, or have been addicted. I consider myself a recovering cheese addict. I’ve been vegetarian for two decades but for a loooooong time I thought I couldn’t be vegan because of my uncompromising love of cheese. I finally got through to a place where I no longer crave it because the overall product no longer appeals to me for many reasons, but I admit I do occasionally indulge in pleasant memories of my cheesy past. Many vegan cheeses seem an insult to that nostalgia (plus they don’t taste particularly good), so I just don’t bother.

So anyway, the recipes for artisan home-crafted dairy-free cheeses by Miyoko Schinner in the recent issue of Veg News are, so far in my experience, absolutely inspired. Obviously these don’t contain that addictive substance you might be jonesin’ for, but seriously. These have not felt like crappy substitutes. They have been delicious, satisfying, pleasurable to eat, and give me a sense of triumph–I really feel like creating a vegan cheese this good is an accomplishment that’s been a long time coming in the vegan world. Thank you Veg News!

Hangin’ out in a cheesecloth. I understand this is where the magic happens.

Step one: soaked cashews, soy yogurt, coconut oil, food proccessor.

So brie: again, you need to plan ahead to allow it to culture and age, but the effort is minimal. Soy yogurt gives it the essential probiotics to allow it to ferment, cashews give it substance and creaminess, and–I was initially skeptical about this ingredient–coconut oil gives it a mild sweet undertone but provides that silky texture that is signature of soft French cheeses.

We busted into this last night with a fresh baguette and this is where my words stop. It was slightly different from my admittedly-fading memories of brie, but it had a decently complex flavor and a really wonderful smooth texture. I think allowing it to age for even longer (I only kept mine on the counter, once assembled, for about two days) would increase its depth.

Next time I’m going to make it in much larger quantity and tuck a few away to mature and see what happens. I don’t want anybody to get too excited yet, but I’m thinking a vegan wine and cheese party is going to happen here at Intrepid Herbivores HQ sometime this winter. There are still several recipes in that magazine to attempt, and my experience so far suggests that I probably won’t be disappointed. Maybe Swiss will be next?

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This entry was posted on October 11, 2012 by in recipes, Uncategorized.