by Priscilla Feral
photo by Jane Seymour
As an unabashed foodie, I adore summer weather in the Northeast for more than flower gardens. My herb containers are full of basil. I take frequent jaunts to select fruits and vegetables at farmers' markets "“ envying California residents who enjoy these events year-round.
In July, I joined six other students in northern California for Chef Miyoko Schinner's five-day Summer Cooking Intensive, hosted in the impressive kitchen of Miyoko's San Anselmo home. All students were keen to learn new, make-from-scratch, vegan gourmet dishes "“ especially the innovative recipes from Miyoko's just-released cookbook, Artisan Vegan Cheese.
Miyoko divided the class into two groups. Each tackled a dazzling array of approximately 80 creations: from homemade yogurt, GruyÃ¨re fondue and Philadelphia-style cream cheese to Italian sausages, Umbrian truffle sauce with rice pasta and meringue tarts.
On Friday afternoon, we had a barbeque party on Miyoko's back porch. While sharing the company of teenage children and dogs, cats and rescued chickens, we enjoyed vegan versions of boeuf bourguignon, seared tempeh with peach balsamic glaze, strawberry arugula salad, Spanish potato salad with artichoke aioli, BBQ ribs (started the previous day, as bean curd sticks need to soak), carpaccio of zucchini, nectarines and basil, black bean and wild rice sliders, and Miyoko's famous seitan Zen Kabobs with mango-tamarind glaze. Wowsers!
photo by Priscilla Feral
Then dessert arrived: Miyoko's out-of-this-world chocolate cake.
Miyoko demonstrated cooking techniques that made us all better cooks, no doubt. I over-indulged. But the day after flying home, I started cooking again "“ a few favorites such as zucchini basil soup "“ and roasting lots of tomatoes to produce the most remarkable roasted tomato-skin pesto and, later, roasted tomato risotto.
Peach salad with vanilla vinaigrette is sensational, and curried eggless salad is delicious accented with black salt and enjoyed with homemade no-knead bread. Miyoko's eggplant rollatini is filled with a smooth almond ricotta filling "“ better than any commercial product you'll find.
To recreate some of what I learned, I purchased two covered bread-baking dishes that help produce bread with a delightful crust. And I got ample supplies of cashews, almonds, Rejuvelac and other ingredients for cheese-making. Sold on high-speed blenders for making cheeses, I ordered one that's hardly stopped liquefying something since it arrived.
Next on my to-do list is non-dairy mozzarella. When creating it, we dropped balls of the warm cheese into ice water, and later ate this creamy, outstanding creation on slices of just-baked, no-knead bread with sliced tomatoes and fresh basil, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Miyoko's texture for these cheeses is remarkable, and her excursions into vegan cheese-making break all commercial barriers "“ giving cooks the know-how to make many delectable creations that haven't been replicated elsewhere. Do buy this cookbook. If you'll invest a bit of time in producing the recipes in Artisan Vegan Cheese, this book will be a favorite. It's available now through Amazon and other booksellers.
Miyoko will also be featured on "Vegan Mashup," a public television cooking show starting this season. I'm delighted that Friends of Animals will be one of the show's sponsors.
*Excerpted from the upcoming Autumn Act'ionLine 2012