Artisan Vegan Cheese: From Everyday to Gourmet is finally out! Shipping out of Amazon now, and available in bookstores soon as it winds through the distribution channels, I hope my new book will bring cheese back into your life. I know I promised back in my Sneak Peek post that I would share a recipe, but never did. I know, I am guilty of being among the most non-prolific of bloggers. One of the reasons is that photography is not one of my strengths, and as I cook, I usually forget to take a photo (ask my kids why we have a fraction of the photos of them growing up as other families. Being Japanese, I’m supposed to have a camera around my neck, but somehow, that part of my heritage escaped me.). But last night, I remembered, and snapped a shot with my phone before the dish disappeared to a hungry group.
For the last three weeks, we have had the pleasure of hosting two French boys at our home. We have been doing an informal exchange of kids with a family from Toulouse for the past four years, our girls visiting their family, their boys coming to California to stay with us. The arrangement has been mutually delightful, and it’s been fun to see their foreign language skills develop over the years. I’ve also enjoyed cooking for teens that appreciate more than pizza and fries, and have delighted watching these growing boys devour each of my vegan meals, vegetables and all. Although I assure you that they are French in every way, the older one is seriously allergic to dairy, and has therefore never had cheese. He was fascinated by my vegan cheeses, and flipping through my new book, commented that he had never had fondue before. “Can you show me how to make it?” So for their last night here, I designed a fabulous menu that started out with the Gruyere Fondue from my book, followed by Almond-Cheddar Stuffed Artichokes, Roasted Tomato Risotto, and Arugula, Orange and Pine Nut Salad. (We’d been snacking on brownies all day, so I skipped dessert.) As I watched the boys scraping the sides of the bowl with chunks of bread and roasted veggies to gather up every last drop of delicious gooeyness, I chuckled at the thought of serving vegan fondue to the French. But then I recalled the first time I served one of my vegan cheeses to French guests over thirty years ago, and how they remarked that they couldn’t tell it wasn’t cheese. I think that’s the goal of my book: to make cheeses that are close enough to the real thing that even the French can be fooled.
So, I share the recipe for my Gruyere Fondue at last. It’s remarkably easy to make, and you can skip the culturing if you like (we did last night). Go ahead and go beyond dunking chunks of bread in it – try roasted baby potatoes and mushrooms or lightly steamed broccoli and asparagus, serve it with a salad, and you’ve got yourself a meal. After all, it is the ultimate cheese sauce.
To make this, you’ll need to first make the Gruyere.
2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water for 3 – 8 hours
1/2 cup Rejuvelac, either commercial or homemade
1/4 cup refined coconut oil, melted (do not use extra-virgin unless you want it to taste like coconut)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1 – 2 tablespoons medium brown miso
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
To make the cheese, drain the soaked cashews well, then put into a high-speed blender (if you are using a regular blender, soak the nuts for 6 – 8 hours) along with the other ingredients. Process until smooth and creamy. You can use this right away, or transfer to a clean dish, cover, and leave at room temperature for 24 – 48 hours to culture and deepen in flavor. For the fondue, it’s not really necessary, as the wine will add another layer of flavor.
Put the cheese into the top of a double boiler or a fondue dish and mix in well, using a wire whisk:
1 cup dry white wine
Heat the mixture until very hot. Stir into the mixture, whisking well:
3 tablespoons tapioca flour dissolved in 2 – 3 tablespoons of water
Cook until the mixture is thick, stretchy, and shiny. To serve, keep it over the double boiler or a votive candle. If you prefer, you can thin it out with a little more wine or water. Serve with warm chunks of French bread or ciabbata, or an assortment of roasted or steamed veggies. Bon apetit!