By Kay Stepkin, Special to Tribune Newspapers
January 16, 2013
I've been a vegetarian for many years, gradually transitioning to veganism after closing my bakery, grocery and restaurant — with one exception. I couldn't resist the free samples of brie offered at the grocery store. It got so that I knew exactly where they were offered and looked toward that spot as soon as I entered the store.
I recently watched Miyoko Schinner, author of "Artisan Vegan Cheese" (Book Publishing Co., $19.95), make several kinds of cheese at a local vegetarian festival. I loved her results and decided to try making her vegan brie at home, not only because this is my favorite cheese but also because her version takes just minutes of actual work.
The result was scrumptious. And I'm not saying you would have to be insane to come up with Miyoko's recipe. Let's just say lucky for the rest of us that some of us are original thinkers.
Prep: 9 minutes
Soak: 3 hours
Cook: 7 minutes
Rest: 2 days, 16 hours
Servings: about 16, one 6-inch round
1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 3 hours, drained
1 cup water
½ cup plain unsweetened soy yogurt
½ cup refined coconut oil
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1 ¼ teaspoons sea salt
2 tablespoons tapioca flour or starch
1 teaspoon agar agar powder or flakes
1. Combine cashews, water, yogurt, coconut oil, nutritional yeast and 1 teaspoon salt in a blender; process until smooth. Transfer mixture into a large bowl, cover with a towel. Let sit at room temperature, 24-36 hours.
2. Pour mixture into a medium saucepan. Whisk in tapioca flour and agar; heat over medium heat, stirring frequently. Cook until mixture is thick and pulls away from the side of the pan, about 5 minutes.
3. Line a 6-inch cake pan with cheesecloth; pour in hot cheese mixture. Spread mixture evenly; cover with cheesecloth. Let cool in refrigerator until firm, 4 hours. The inside will still be very soft.
4. Remove cheesecloth. Wet hands; sprinkle them with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Rub wet salt over cheese. Place cheese on a wire rack; let sit in a cool corner, 24 hours. Flip cheese over; let rest until it appears dry, 12 hours. Wrap in wax paper; store in refrigerator up to 2 weeks. For longer storage, freeze in a sealed plastic bag.
Per serving: 107 calories, 10 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 4 g carbohydrates, 1 g protein, 221 mg sodium, 0 g fiber.
Kay Stepkin is a vegetarian cooking instructor and former owner of a vegetarian restaurant/whole-grain bakery. Email her at email@example.com.
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