As I've made clear many times, I eat all food groups. I'm not vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, grain-free or low carb. The only things I limit as much as possible are refined carbs, sugar and red meat.
Nevertheless, I am obsessed with vegan cheese. Why? For one, I like them (I don't mean Daiya, which is just oils and starches, I mean like ones made from nuts or homemade substitutes). I think nutritional yeast is amazing. In addition, since I have a husband who is both lactose intolerant and who adheres to a Kosher-style diet which means no dairy and meat products together, they come in handy when I'm cooking for us.
I've made all sorts of vegan cheese sauces and spreads, but have always wanted to try making hard vegan cheeses that can be sliced. I haven't tried until recently because it just seems intimidating. I finally gave it a shot but, instead, ended up with a thick spread (still yummy, but not what I was going for).
So when I was offered the chance to review The Best Homemade Vegan Cheese & Ice Cream Recipes by Marie Laforet, I was very eager to agree. Laforet is a Paris-based food blogger and author of over a dozen vegan cookbooks.
Part 1 starts with an introduction to the fundamental ingredients and techniques required for making vegan cheeses. Most I have on hand in our pantry, except for agar agar. The fermentation agents include sauerkraut juice, kombucha and kimchi, all which I can find easily in stores around here. Rejuvelac, made from sprouted grains, however, I'd never heard of. She gives you instructions for making it yourself but I'll be honest, I am totally freaked out about making fermented food myself because I worry I'll screw it up and make myself, or someone else really sick. I know this is kind of irrational, but anyways. I did a little research and wasn't able to find any stores in Toronto that carry it, nor anywhere online you can buy it. So I think I'd just stick to using the other fermenting agents.
There are 3 chapters of vegan cheese recipes:
1. The classics
2. Fermented cheeses
3. Specialty cheeses
The base for most of these is nuts, soy, and or other legumes. They all sound delicious and I would definitely try them. But one thing many recipes call for is "hulled, drained, brined lupini beans". If that just means standard canned lupini beans, I can find them easily, but I am not certain this is what she means. Other recipes call for lacto-fermented tofu. I don't think I've ever seen this product and a Google search did not lead me to any place you can purchase it online.
One thing to remember is that these products are not low in calories or fat. Sometimes they have more than the standard dairy variety, so just switching from dairy cheese to these products, is not a great weight-loss strategy. They are, however, pretty nutritious and perfect for vegans or those with dairy allergies or intolerances.
The section on ice creams doesn't interest me at all. First off, most recipes require an ice cream maker and we gave ours away years ago. Second, they may be vegan but most are made with
'cane' sugar, which is a fancy name for plain old sugar. Some use agave, which nutritionally isn't much better, and some of the fancier frozen desserts are made with refined flour. Thanks, but my family gets too much of this crap already so I don't use it in our home.
The dessert section has the following 3 chapters:
1. Ice cream and sorbet
2. Ice pops, bars and cones
3. Delicious frozen desserts
There are lovely photos, however, not all recipes are featured. The instructions are clear and concise and Laforet provides many serving suggestions, tips and variations.
So do I recommend this book? I absolutely do if you don't find having to source out some potentially difficult to find ingredients and time consuming recipes. If you are vegan or don't eat dairy for any other reason but miss things like cheese and ice cream, its a great guide to get started from. You can always experiment with the ingredients to suit your tastes and dietary needs (I am sure some of the desserts can be made with healthier sweeteners and flours).
Disclosure: I was asked to review this book, but all opinions on this blog are my own.