Hi Everyone! I am so honored & excited to be a part of the blog tour for Karen Page’s THE VEGETARIAN FLAVOR BIBLE! I’d had the original version on my Amazon wishlist forever, but for some reason I always held out on buying it. Perhaps a deeper intuition was serving me as a vegetarian version was in the works! I recently received my copy & let me tell you – WOW! This book is a must have for any home cook, blogger, recipe developer, you name it! But more on the book (& a giveaway) next week. Today I have an exclusive guest post written by Karen Page herself, & it covers everyone’s favorite subject VEGAN CHEESE!
“Life After Dairy” by Karen Page (adapted from THE VEGETARIAN FLAVOR BIBLE)
When I interviewed legendary cookbook author Deborah Madison, founding chef of San Francisco’s famed vegetarian restaurant Greens, for THE VEGETARIAN FLAVOR BIBLE, she told me, “Greens in 1979 [the year it opened] was a very stylish restaurant…In the early days, the food was pretty cheese-y. Of our early customers, there was only one who didn’t eat dairy, which was so rare that he had his own nickname: Non-Dairy Jerry.
As Madison acknowledges, today that part has really flipped. There are, of course, growing ethical concerns as the public comes to realize that an estimated 99 percent of dairy products consumed in the United States were created via “factory farms.” But there is also more widespread acknowledgment of lactose intolerance, which the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) estimates affects as much as 75 percent of the population worldwide. PCRM’s Dr. Neal Barnard has pointed out that the lot of us are starting to be referred to as “normal” and those who are able to digest lactose as “lactose persistent”!
As someone who has become increasingly lactose intolerant over time, I stopped drinking milk more than a decade ago and more recently have virtually eliminated other dairy. But cheese had admittedly been one of my last holdouts – and is often what gets in the way of other vegetarians going vegan.
I’m sorry to admit that I have never met a Daiya-cheese-based dish I ever liked, although I know this popular vegan cheese brand has its admirers. I did have a slice of whole-wheat vegan pizza in Sebastopol last week that I enjoyed, which I was told was made with Follow Your Heart Mozzarella.
But the first-ever vegan cheeze that I really, truly loved was the peppercorn-flavored Brie-style cheeze made by Lori Robin of Cheezehound, located in Fleishmanns, New York (cheezehound.com or facebook.com/veritablevegan), that was served to me and my husband Andrew Dornenburg last summer when we were houseguests at the home of our friend Susan Dey.
Cheezehound’s Vegan Cheezes
Lori Robin handcrafts her “Route 28 Peppercorn” cheeze from a blend of hemp seed and macadamia nut milks. Her “Qasbah” cheeze uses the same base, but infuses the cheeze with 10 freshly-ground spices, including anise, cardamom, cayenne, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, and paprika. She recommends serving both at room temperature.
Lori’s jalapeno and hot red pepper “Catskill Fire” cheeze is meltable, so it’s ideal for burritos and other Mexican dishes – or for making good old-fashioned grilled cheeze sandwiches.
Umami lovers will take note that she’s also started making her own vegan paté from 100 percent raw cultured cashews and stout plus Northwest Pacific wild mushrooms (e.g., lobster, morels, porcini) accented by a hint of tarragon. As each pound of cheese is made from a half-pound of wild mushrooms, you can imagine the intensity of its flavor.
Thanks to the growing league of dedicated artisanal vegan cheesemakers like Cheezehound’s Lori Robin (above), I have tasted the future of vegan cheese. And it’s absolutely delicious.
The next time anyone you love is trying to kick their dairy cheese habit, just share the handy chart in Chapter 2 (pp. 76-80) of THE VEGETARIAN FLAVOR BIBLE adapted here for other ways to tame the crave:
IF YOU ARE CRAVING….
This Try This Instead ~
- cheese cashew or other nut-based cheese
- cheese, cream soy cream cheese
soft fresh cheese made from almond milk
- cheese, Parmesan Parma brand vegan “Parmesan”
- cheese popcorn popcorn sprinkled with nutritional yeast
- cheese, ricotta ground almond, cashew, macadamia or pine nut “ricotta”
- half nondairy cream cheese + half firm tofu, mashed
tofu “ricotta,” made from crumbled tofu
- cheese, smoked smoked tofu (e.g,. on sandwiches, in salads)
Thanks so much, Karen. I really want to try some of those Cheezehound flavors. Mmmmm, mmmmm. I think we can all agree that we’ve come a long way & not only is it becoming a delicious phenomenon, vegan cheese is here to stay!
Check back in next week for a chance to win your very own copy of The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna make a grilled cheese, “Non-Dairy Jerry” style, of course!