No, I don’t just make cheese.
I began my culinary journey long before I was anointed the Queen of Vegan Cheese. I relish making all sorts of fancy things. And I make everything from scratch. Really from scratch. Even the things you would normally buy at the store, I generally make from scratch.
Take vanilla. Why spend $15 for a little bottle when you can make a quart from some leftover vodka and some vanilla beans? Leftover vodka? I don’t know about your house, but at mine there’s always some hanging around after a party. And fear not the price of vanilla beans. Buy grade B in bulk online (on Amazon, or a host of vanilla sites), and you’ll be in the vanilla business for years. With that quart of vanilla you now have, you can bake to your hearts content or pour it into little bottles to give as gifts.
But here’s the best reason of all to make your own. You can turn the soaked vanilla beans into vanilla paste, which means you get double bang for your buck. There’s no need to waste those fragrant pods – there’s life to them yet reincarnated as a potent paste that can be added to cakes, cookies, ice cream – you name it.
So get soaking.
Feel free to double, triple, or quadruple the recipe. I usually make a quart at a time, The more vanilla beans you use, the stronger your vanilla will be.
- 1 cup vodka, rum, or brandy
- 8 or more vanilla beans, grade B (buy in bulk online - at least 1/4 pound -it's about a tenth of the cost of buying individual beans at the store)
- Pour the liquor into a jar.
- Cut the beans into 1-inch lengths. Put them in the jar. Secure the jar with a lid, then set in a dark place, such as a pantry or closet. Then forget about it for a couple of months or more. Go have a party and squirrel away some more liquor for your next batch. When you remember that you had that vanilla in the pantry, it'll be ready.
- Strain through a sieve into a bottle of your choice. Use the strained vanilla beans to make Vanilla Paste (below).
- To make Vanilla Paste, put the soaked, strained vanilla beans into a food processor or blender. Add 2 - 3 tablespoons of sugar, and process until a thick paste is formed. Pack into another jar.