This is a pepper jack cheese wheel from a recipe in the non-dairy evolution cookbook. I have discovered that my 6″ cake pan works well as a cheese mold, hahaha…. duel purpose! I grew the peppers that I used in there this summer, so I felt extra proud. The Vegan cheeses aren’t like real cheese…. but…. the taste is similar, and I can cut these into cubes and skewer them with cherry tomatoes and other veggies…. or grapes, and it will work well for lunches, or just putting a slice on a cracker! (usually a homemade gluten-free one) The option to have a variety of cheese is liberating. But when it comes to vegan cheese….. less is definitely more.
In my pre-dairy-free days (that seems like a lot of hyphens…), I experimented with all sorts of things…. I made yogurt, sour cream, cream cheese, butter from cream that I scooped off of chilled raw milk, mozzarella, and ricotta cheese…. I think that’s it… the raw milk was my last attempt to see if maybe it was just the quality of milk that was causing problems for me.
Because I had done all those things I felt especially “cramped” when I initially began my new life dairy-free. Until I discovered that I could make any of the milks by myself easy enough! (Although, silk soymilk remains our family favorite.) But, that got the ball rolling for me…. and now…. I have made dairy-free yogurt (which I haven’t been super successful with, but have cultures from cultures for health and a new recipe I intend to try out this week.), sour cream, cream cheese, butter, buttermilk, mozzarella, parmesan, cheddar, a cashew soft cheddar, and pepperjack…. plus whipped cream from coconut milk, various ice creams (coconut milk bases are our favorites, and all sorts of milks….. and in order to make some of these I had to make quinoa rejuvelac, which was surprisingly simple.
Now, when I think about it, leading a dairy-free life as a DIY kitcheneer…. there are actually WAY more options of things to try!
One cookbook in particular that I have used a bit is The Non-dairy Evolution Cookbook. While the cookbook and the chef are most definitely not gluten-free, it IS vegan and so becomes very handy for things like dairy and egg replacement ideas. Mayo, dressing, cheese, butter, eggless egg dishes, etc… and discovering all sorts of cheese has been so fun!! Mostly the only recipes he has in there that involve gluten based items are not the ones required to make staples. It’s really, really easy to make most of these cheeses…. you do need to order a few items before you get started, unless you happen to have a store near by that sells lactic acid and kappa carrageenan…. but once you have them, you can get started and play with it for a LONG time to come. (Initially I wanted to make every kind of cheese all at once, but pulled my own reins back when I realized I had plenty of time to play and could pace myself.) And if you are a little leary of carrageenan, fear not, the majority of the recipes do not use it. Pretty much just the block and wheel cheeses because they can be grated and melted… and the carrageenan is mostly for meltability. (and they do melt…. better than daiya.)
From that particular cookbook, I have learned that I much prefer the cultured cheddar to the “block and cheese” cheddar…. and I haven’t tried the tofu based cheese yet, I needed to pick up agar agar and it took me a few weeks to get to it. And the mayo recipe he has is about as close as it gets. I mean, really…. it is good. And his ranch dressing recipe is practically spot on. We tried out quite a few bottles of dressing (store bought) and most of them were not there…. and I was getting a little depressed.
Anyway…. food for thought……. The kitchen is a playground!