Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Better Than Grilled Cheese: Part 1

 I had to pinch myself to make sure I was still alive because I was pretty sure I died and went to heaven when I met Artisan Vegan Cheese author Miyoko Schinner and a dozen of her cheeses at Tofurkyfest's welcome reception last weekend. Indeed, I was not only alive, but I was in store for two "Better than grilled cheese" cooking classes with her as part of Turtle Island Foods' 1st Annual Tofurkyfest.

Amazing, delightful, "rock my world" vegan cheese!
Up first, was vegan gruyere fondue, almond ricotta in stuffed shells, and easy buffalo mozzarella (improved from the recipe in her book.) Oh hellz yeah! My single, biggest struggle with being vegan is my love for good cheese with its salty, nutty, or sometimes sharp creaminess. Vegan cheese alternatives have definitely approved, and my new favorite is Go Veggies' dairy free mexican shreds which melt REALLY well. While they've improved, I feel like most of the vegan cheese you can buy in the store just doesn't measure up. I can say definitively that Miyoko Schinner's cheese recipes do. 

Miyoko Schinner making mini vegan fresh mozzarella balls
She made all three cheese and demoed them to a crowd in less than an hour. I mean she is some sort of vegan cooking wizard, but I've got to be able to do this too (with more time and no crowd watching) right? We got Artisan Vegan Cheese as soon as it hit the shelves because I love fancy cheese, but I froze when I realized I needed to ferment things to make the cheese. Um, duh, right?...but the fear of me poisoning myself with mold was strong. The other challenge preventing me from diving into the cheese recipes was the time required...soak the nuts, pre-make a sprouted water mixture called rejuvelac over a few days. I'm a girl who likes instant gratification. Mold paranoia and time requirements were preventing me from what I now know is some pretty simple and insanely tasty recipes that will help me fight my urges for dairy cheese. For the ricotta and gruyere recipes, the ingredients are common stuff you can get at any store. For the buffalo mozzarella, you will need agar powder and tapioca flour. Don't be intimidated, you can find them at coops, vegan stores or asian groceries.

You will definitely see a blog on my experience making these cheese varieties soon. So good!

If it wasn't clear that Miyoko Schinner is a rockstar in my book, she is. In addition to her cheese recipes, you should check out her veganized classic french recipes featured in VegNews and her website. Where others saw roadblocks for vegans in terms of enjoying rich, often butter or dairy based foods, she saw a challenge and came up with some crazy delicious food.


  1. That stuffed shell looks so good! Actually it all does. Can't wait to read about your cheese making adventures! :)

    1. Elyse, they were! Here's my attempt at making the ricotta for a veggie lasagna (Success!!)