18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2013
So far, I've tried the Sharp Cheddar and the Aged Parmesan.
If you are squeemish about food safety (letting things like soy yogurt sit at room temp for a day...), this might not be the best venture for you. I was very nervous about the whole aging processes used, but I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome.
The flavor of the two cheeses I made are ok. The cheddar was rather mild (my fault, probably didn't let it age enough), but it was delicious as a sandwich spread and as a celery topper for quick lunches. It made a TON too. The parmesan was definitely not worth all the effort. I have another super fast and easy recipe for "parmezan sprinkles" that tastes exactly the same.
Next in line: fresh mozzerella (tomato season fast approaches;) and smoky provolone.
All in all, this is a great cookbook for a vegan who still craves the tastes of cheese and who wants to follow a more "raw" whole foods sort of diet. It takes a lot of patience and preplanning, though. So be prepared.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on December 11, 2012
What a wonderful surprise this book has been! I became so bored with the typical "cheese" sauces and dips in most vegan cookbooks, and this book completely broke that boredom. Making the rejuvelac was easier than I anticipated (I bought a sprouting jar, which was great - no cheesecloth needed!), and then making the basic cashew cheese was simple as well. I proceeded with cashew chevre, boursin, soft gruyere, hard gruyere, brie, sharp cheddar, fresh mozzarella and pub cheddar with chives over the next few weeks. Despite a few mistakes, each recipe has resulted in delicious cheese. Things I've learned: agar flakes don't work for these recipes nearly as well as the powder, start with the smaller amount of brown miso - it's really salty!, and the mozzarella really does harden almost immediately in the brine, but only on the surface. Wait until it's thoroughly chilled before expecting the center of the spheres to be like the outside portion. The alfredo sauce recipe is absolutely delicious, and there is nothing you need to do ahead of time - you can make it on the spur of the moment. My family teases me that I need a lab coat to work in my kitchen now, but nothing is that difficult. I highly recommend buying the book, reading it through, then just start making cheese. You'll become addicted!
42 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2012
And now she's written a book documenting her creations. I wanted to try her recipes immediately after tasting them at the San Francisco Veg Fest 2011 where she demonstrated almond ricotta baked pasta shells, mozzarella that solidified almost instantly in a glass bowl filled with ice (very dramatic), and butternut nacho cheese dip. They were all wonderful and I have been waiting impatiently for this book to be published, and now it's out. All her dishes are indescribably, incredibly delicious. You just have to taste her food.
Even my skeptical "what's cheese without cow pus?" crowd were sufficiently impressed to remark "WOW! this stuff actually tastes like *real* cheese ..." and "I could be vegan if I knew how to cook like this".
So far, I've tried the cream cheese, Boursin, Muenster, and Gruyere and the fondue and they have been huge successes. The fondue was indistinguishable from what I remembered as conventional fondue. At Miyoko's cooking class, we had an omelet with the meltable Muenster and my 15 year old vegan was in heaven as she admitted that she did miss cheese, especially on pizza. I tried making my own Rejuvelac, but ended up trusting the Whole Foods' version more and used that instead. Miyoko's cheeses are far superior to anything that is available in stores. Not quite sure why that is, unless it has something to do with the longevity of the product.
There are ingredients in vegan cheese-making which may not be in an average pantry, but Amazon stocks everything that is necessary for making delicious non-dairy cheese. Tapioca starch is very inexpensive and readily available in any Asian grocery. Thankfully, rennet (only found in the stomachs of baby cows) used in most European cheeses is not a required ingredient. It is fantastic that something so delicious is also healthier, both physically and for the environment, and kinder to the animals.
We should thank Miyoko for sharing her genius and celebrate.
44 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2012
As an unabashed foodie, I adore summer weather in the Northeast for more than flower gardens. My herb containers are full of basil. I take frequent jaunts to select fruits and vegetables at farmers' markets -- envying California residents who enjoy these events year-round.
In July, I joined six other students in northern California for Chef Miyoko Schinner's five-day Summer Cooking Intensive, hosted in the impressive kitchen of Miyoko's San Anselmo home. All students were keen to learn new, make-from-scratch, vegan gourmet dishes -- especially the innovative recipes from Miyoko's just-released cookbook, Artisan Vegan Cheese.
Miyoko divided the class into two groups. Each tackled a dazzling array of approximately 80 creations: from homemade yogurt, Gruyère fondue and Philadelphia-style cream cheese to Italian sausages, Umbrian truffle sauce with rice pasta and meringue tarts.
On Friday afternoon, we had a barbeque party on Miyoko's back porch. While sharing the company of teenage children and dogs, cats and rescued chickens, we enjoyed vegan versions of boeuf bourguignon, seared tempeh with peach balsamic glaze, strawberry arugula salad, Spanish potato salad with artichoke aioli, BBQ ribs (started the previous day, as bean curd sticks need to soak), carpaccio of zucchini, nectarines and basil, black bean and wild rice sliders, and Miyoko's famous seitan Zen Kabobs with mango-tamarind glaze. Wowsers!
Then dessert arrived: Miyoko's out-of-this-world chocolate cake.
Miyoko demonstrated cooking techniques that made us all better cooks, no doubt. I over-indulged. But the day after flying home, I started cooking again -- a few favorites such as zucchini basil soup -- and roasting lots of tomatoes to produce the most remarkable roasted tomato-skin pesto and, later, roasted tomato risotto.
Peach salad with vanilla vinaigrette is sensational, and curried eggless salad is delicious accented with black salt and enjoyed with homemade no-knead bread. Miyoko's eggplant rollatini is filled with a smooth almond ricotta filling -- better than any commercial product you'll find.
To recreate some of what I learned, I purchased two covered bread-baking dishes that help produce bread with a delightful crust. And I got ample supplies of cashews, almonds, Rejuvelac and other ingredients for cheese-making. Sold on high-speed blenders for making cheeses, I ordered one that's hardly stopped liquefying something since it arrived.
Next on my to-do list is non-dairy mozzarella. When creating it, we dropped balls of the warm cheese into ice water, and later ate this creamy, outstanding creation on slices of just-baked, no-knead bread with sliced tomatoes and fresh basil, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Miyoko's texture for these cheeses is remarkable, and her excursions into vegan cheese-making break all commercial barriers -- giving cooks the know-how to make many delectable creations that haven't been replicated elsewhere. Do buy this cookbook. If you'll invest a bit of time in producing the recipes in Artisan Vegan Cheese, this book will be a favorite. It's available now through Amazon and other booksellers.
Miyoko will also be featured on "Vegan Mashup," a public television cooking show starting this season. I'm delighted that Friends of Animals will be one of the show's sponsors.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2015
This book is hit and miss, but mostly a big hit in flavor, but sometimes a miss in recipe details. I knocked off a star because I think there are so many details missing that should be printed more clearly in the recipes. But the flavors are worth at least 4 stars, if you're willing to accept a substantial learning curve and possibly some failed batches.
I had success with several cheeses that did not require cooking, but absolutely failed each time I cooked the cheeses, and failed miserably with those that had added oil. The oil kept separating and seeping out, and the cheeses in those case never thickened, and some had an unpleasant starchy flavor. If they're starchy, the author says you haven't cooked it enough. If the oil seeps out, she tells people they cooked it too long. I had both problems, which made no sense. Note that the recipes all say to cook on medium, and while all stoves are different, I never had issues with other recipes using my stove's medium setting. My cheeses would get dried and chunky on the edges of the pot, which I'd constantly stir back in, and then they'd get kind of glossy followed immediately with a puddle of oil and chunks of solids. It never got stretchy, certainly never bubbled, but I finished the recipes anyway. My cheeses never firmed in the fridge, so I'd have crock-style spread with horrible texture. Her videos show a very different product that gets stretchy and bubbly. Mine just did not do this. I finally found the answer, not online, but by trial and error. Once I realized the problem was with maintaining emulsification, and that most egg-custard techniques are cooking low and slow, I decided to turn the heat down. I put my electric glass-top stove on low (2) instead of the usual medium (5) I'd used before. It took at least 20 minutes for camembert to get heated to temperature, but it got nice and stretchy, then a slight sheen. The starchy taste was cooked out. I let it cool at room temperature completely for a couple of hours, and then It firmed up nicely in the fridge (though camembert is still pretty soft compared to other varieties). It had a nice sheen but no puddles of oil.
Here are some other pointers I have found useful from the author and others on various blogs and boards:
If you find your mixture is too soft, try two things. Measure liquids using dry measuring cups, not pyrex. The author does this in her videos that are online, and she stated on a vegan discussion board that there's a substantial difference in liquid amount. (This frustrates me, since I generally am a fan of accuracy in measurements and this should have been mentioned in the book). Second, soak cashews the minimum time that your blender will handle. If you have a high-speed VitaMix, you should only soak just 3 hours. This keeps excess moisture out. And just in general, having a good blender will make a huge difference. I had a chunky-ish cheddar with my old blender, and getting a VitaMix made a huge difference.
Read online for advice on yogurt, particularly if you are making nut-yogurt. Nut yogurt does not thicken like dairy or even soy yogurt. I only incubate mine at a warm temperature, 105-110. Schinner says you can incubate at room temperature, but many commenters on her blog site had problems with room temperature, as yogurt bacteria really likes it warmer than most rooms. I also use non-dairy yogurt starter instead of a scoop of vegan yogurt. I find most storebought vegan yogurt does not have enough culture in it to make my yogurt properly. Also consider making your own nut milk since most (all?) commercial nut milks have preservatives which inhibit bacterial growth, which means your yogurt cultures will be killed instead of growing. I highly recommend reading online for advice. There's a lot of good information out there. I did make the author's recipe for cashew yogurt, using her almond milk recipe as the base. It was brown in color from my almond butter having the skins. And the yogurt made from it with her proportions was very thin and separated. I was able to shake it back together and it still made many fantastic cheeses, despite being almost watery. It was too thin to make yogurt cheese though, as it lost about 80-90% of its volume through strained liquid. Despite that I tried using the resulting yogurt cheese to make a half recipe of air-dried parmesan, but it was so wet it got moldy after 5 days.
I now make a different cashew-only yogurt, made from about 4 cups cashews to 4 cups water, with 1 Tbsp sugar and vegan yogurt starter, incubated 10-12 hours at 110 degrees F. It is pretty thick and very high in fat and calories, and 1/2 cup is a very filling serving, and it also tastes more like cashews than I'd like if I'm eating a serving of yogurt. But it does better in the cheeses I made compared to the thinner/watery types. I have not yet made yogurt cheese with it.
Read online about making rejuvelac. I bought sprouting lids that fit wide-mouth 1-quart mason jars. For sprouting, I moisten the grains (quinoa in my case) then tilt it upside down in a glass baking dish to keep it moist without being soaked and improve air circulation. I found that advice online as well, though I was able to have success following the simpler instructions from the book. If your grains haven't sprouted in a reasonable amount of time, they may be too old. Buy fresh ones and try again.
I reiterate what others say. If you are air-drying, you need the temperature to be 55-65. I believe the author says that somewhere in the book, but that tip is not printed in each recipe for an air-dried cheese. If you have a wine-fridge, use that.
Instructions in the book on using agar as a substitute for carrageenan are confusing at best. Online the author says agar must be mixed in water and simmered first before adding in room-temperature cheese. I believe in the book there is a vague comment about using water with agar, but no details on how to do it. The recipes state the ingredients as though they are interchangeable, but from reading online discussions I cannot tell if they really are. I reluctantly still use carrageenan in most recipes, and hope to someday use agar instead once I understand these thickeners better.
You can read from other reviews about how the cheeses taste. Some are very close to the real thing, others not as much. If you can't or won't eat dairy, these are really great even if not exactly what you remember.
The author has an updated (improved) buffalo mozzarella on her blog, and it uses agar instead of carrageenan.
And finally, for those with allergies, all recipes have tree nuts (usually cashews, sometimes others). Most recipes are gluten-free if you make your own rejuvelac from quinoa. Some people say fermenting wheat removes gluten, but I do not know any celiac or gluten-sensitive person who would ever try anything made from wheat, despite what people say. NOT worth the risk, especially when you can make your own from quinoa. One recipe contains beer, so use a gluten-free beer if you are gluten-intolerant and want the pub cheddar. Most recipes can be made soy-free if you are willing to buy or make your own cashew/almond yogurt. I think all recipes contain tree nuts, mostly cashews, sometimes others. There is coconut oil in some but not all of the recipes, with no substitutes mentioned. There is tapioca flour in most of the recipes. There is xanthan gum in few of the recipes. And yes, carrageenan or agar are ingredients in all the cooked cheese recipes. This is not an all-inclusive list, just what I noticed.
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2012
If you haven't picked up a copy of Artisan Vegan Cheese, I strongly urge you to do so! It is an amazing cookbook that I have definitely become a bit obsessed with. I rarely get a book and immediately start making things out of it. I will say this one came and I was ready. I had already ordered and received my carrageenan and made a batch of rejuvelac. I got to work quickly and made the soft gruyere. It came together so quick and easy and made an amazing addition to my baked potato. I made a batch of the Cashew Yogurt and fell in love. I made a double batch (it works perfectly by the way) within a week. I have tried so many different homemade vegan yogurt recipes and none have worked, this one is amazing! My picky mom is in love with it and she has refused to eat any vegan yogurts because they just don't taste right. This one is just the right amount of tart and super creamy. I even used my dehydrator to culture it and it worked like a charm. Another use for this once uni-tasker! The sour cream in the book is also super easy to make and super creamy and tangy. We had some tacos just last night because the sour cream was just right and demanded to be used. I won't be buying sour cream any more since this one is so quick and just three ingredients! It has become one of my favourite cookbooks and has more than just recipes for cheeses. There are loads of intriguing recipes in the book to use those perfectly crafted artisan cheeses. This one is definitely highly recommended from this (vegan) cheese lover!
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2013
I Love love love love love this book! I have really good cheese back in my life again.
I have many food allergies/intolerances, including dairy, eggs, and soy and that trifecta had me believing that ANY kind of cheese - dairy or non-dairy was gone for good. (Most non-dairy cheese is soy based, and the one brand that wasn't sucked rocks.)
After getting my order of KAPPA (not iota) carrageenan powder, adzuki bean miso (this was the toughest thing to find a non-soy alternative for), and agar powder, I went on a cheese making orgy. I already had guar gum and tapioca flour on hand. (I can't use the xanthan gum because it's made from corn, and the guar gum works just fine.)
One thing to keep in mind: cheese making is cooking with a calendar rather than a clock for the most part. The fastest recipes I tried were for meltable mozzarella and cream cheese (2-3 days) and the longest were for air-dried cheese-board cheeses - cheddar and parmesan about 9-14 days. The first time takes the longest, since you will need to make rejuvelac and possibly also yogurt, so add an extra 1-3 days onto your cheese plans the first time out!
The good news is, these are very simple recipes without much hands on time, mostly aging time, so plan to do this during a week or 2 where you can spend 2 - 20 minutes on it every day or so.
I found yogurt-making (specifically almond) to be the most challenging part of the process as I kept getting separated yogurt. I did NOT want to purchase a yogurt maker, and after trying several different methods of keeping the yogurt warm, found that filling a medium sized cooler with 110 degree F water was the best way to get the stable temp needed for culturing.
On the upside, the separated yogurt worked just fine when I shook it before I used it in all of the recipes, so none of my "flops" went to waste. Also checking out the author's site, I learned that Almond yogurt is the hardest one to get right and it will ALWAYS come out a bit runny.
During my cheese making orgy, I made:
yogurt, cashew and almond
cheesecake with a gluten-free date crust (AWESOME!)
air dried brie,
air dried cheddar,
air dried parmesan,
Every one of these came out A+ flavor-wise and really close texture-wise. I double checked my subjective opinion by feeding them to my non-allergic, meat-eaters and got 2 thumbs up from everyone!
Definitely worth the effort and the cost. (The KAPPA carrageenan, adzuki bean miso, agar powder and nuts added up to a pretty chunk of change, but the agar and carrageenan go a LONG way and it will be a couple years before I need more.)
The recipes make VERY generous amounts of cheese, so plan to freeze some or split it with a non-dairy, cheese-making buddy. The only cheese I've had to make more of is the meltable mozzarella, which we are on our 4th batch of.
Doing my happy cheese dance! :)
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2012
I don't write many reviews, albeit I own over 200 books. (Love the mini-library in my house!)
I would like to take the opportunity to thank Miyoko Schinner. This book is absolutely amazing. I had actually bought a book on artisan cheese this past spring in an attempt to learn the process of cheese-making using dairy so that I could start playing with non-dairy products. I have to admit that the book was great, but I was too overwhelmed with all of the chemical and bacterial interactions to actually do anything with it. Then I found this book.
The instructions are clear and complete. The variety of cheeses with recipes is wonderful and much more expansive than I expected: brie, camembert, cheddar, mozzarella, muenster, gouda, emmentalier, and more. Notes on times and how temperature affects time are useful (I live in FL).
I've made the rejuvelac, cashew cheese, mozzarella, brie and cheddar (nothing in the melt-able or air-dried sections yet). The brie was amazing. It came out nice and firm, but softened beautifully when left on the counter for an hour or so before using. It didn't taste exactly like brie (I'm a big lover of brie and camembert), but it was a superb non-dairy replacement. I finished off 3/4 of a large baguette and almost half of the brie in one setting! It was ADDICTING!!
The mozzarella didn't come out as I'd hoped. Like another reviewer, I used agar flakes as I hadn't received my carrageenan powder yet. I knew going in to it that the agar would cause problems. I've never been able to get good results using agar flakes. The mozzarella taste was fine -- very reminiscent of what I remember mozzarella tasting, but it was extremely soft. The cheese formed balls in the liquid, but half of the balls dissolved slightly before I even finished dropping in all of the cheese. They haven't degraded any further, but when I use them, they are very soft and not slice-able.
The cheddar was incredible before it even cultured. I thought the taste was VERY close to dairy cheddar. (I kept swiping tastes every hour or so). I let it culture for 3 days and then finished it with the carrageenan. It didn't get as firm as I thought it would with the carrageenan. The consistency is more like a thick spread and definitely can't be cut. However, the taste is still fantastic. I think I just need a bit more practice working with carrageenan.
Overall, I'm thrilled with the tastes I'm getting thus far. I am working my way into the air-dried cheeses this week. I would love to get a camembert with a nice rind. That would be so neat!
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2012
This is one of the better vegan cookbooks I've read. Obviously, it is focused on vegan cheeses, and then dishes which incorporate them later in the book. What this bok really does is serve to eliminate the mystery behind the crafting of various vegan cheeses in an easily understandable way. The author approaches this as if you've never made a vegan cheese before, but doesnt insult your intelligence at all. It simply lays out the hows and why's, and what it took for the author to figure these techniques out. It lays it out in a practical, home cooking type way, so that anybody can decide to make the cheeses and then go forth and actually do so. Did I mention that the end results were tasty? They have been so far. I've made six of these cheeses already, and they exceeded my expectations. This is definitely a book I am glad to have purchased.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2014
I am not a vegan. I'm a cheese-loving carnivore dealt a bad hand by late-life lactose intolerance, and I'm cranky about it. I miss cheese. I crave cheese. The stuff you make from this book? Not cheese. But it's very good non-cheese, and it supplies much of the flavor that good cheese does. In fact, the preparations have more authentic sharpness and depth than inexpensive supermarket cheese. Don't expect miracles; nothing can really achieve a perfect cheese texture except cheese. However, many of Ms. Schinner's cheeses are acceptably close, which if you've checked out the commercial vegan cheese on the market is really saying something. More importantly for me, the real cheese flavor continually surprises me. It far surpasses that of anything I've bought in a store.
To get the most out of this book, I suggest preparing yourself mentally and physically. ;) Start as I did: stop eating real cheese for three months. Come to the book hoping that you might get a vaguely cheese-flavored object that doesn't make food worse when you add it in. Hunt up a local Whole Foods or specialty store and track down things like raw cashews (or, if you're lucky, raw cashew butter, which made many recipes easier for me), agar powder, and tapioca flour. Accept that you're going to feel like a major hippie once you've got whole grains sprouting in your cupboard and soy yogurt culturing on your counter. And prepare to be surprised. I tasted my sharp cheddar once it was done cooking and before it set, and I was startled to find that I wanted to taste more of it. Vegan cheese. Wanted more. To me, that's all you need to know about this book.