“Growing up in a second generation Italian-American family there was a great deal of attention given to cheese. Every meal was centered around some variety or another; whether it was the Parmesan or Romano on the pasta, soup and vegetables at dinner or the Cheddar, Swiss, Provolone, and/or Jack on the sandwiches at lunch. And of course, there was the stretchy chewy meltable white cheese we’d put on pizza— mozzarella. Early in life I was introduced to Buffalo Mozzarella, round balls of soft white spongy cheese that you’d slice thick and put on a sandwich made with crusty french bread, freshly picked tomatoes from my parents garden with some drizzled olive oil and a few basil leaves. Or sliced paper thin and put between layers of lasagna or on pizza. The reason it was called buffalo mozzarella is that in the old days it was literally made from buffalo milk. But since buffaloes became a rare sight on the Italian range, they began making it with cow’s milk. After switching to a plant-based lifestyle, I tried all of the vegan cheeses out there on the market and to me all of the mozzarellas taste like salty slime. I also read all of the vegan cookbooks I could get my hands on and I found a couple of great recipes for homemade cheese in Ann Gentry’s Real Food Daily cookbook and Miyoko Schinner’s, Artisan Vegan Cheese. For me these books were literally lifesavers. Ann’s for her great cashew cheddar and Miyoko’s for her meltable mozzarella made with unsweetened nondairy yogurt. This recipe is inspired by what I learned from those two revolutionary cookbooks. Thanks Ann and Miyoko!” – Gary De Mattei
1 cup unsweetened coconut yogurt (we use So Delicious brand)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup cashew cream
1/3 cup tapioca starch
1 Tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon of carrageenan powder or xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt (plus one teaspoon for the brine made with 2 quarts of water and ice)
In a blender mix the yogurt, water, olive oil and cashew cream. Blend on medium speed for about a minute. Turn off the blender and add the tapioca, carrageenan (or xanthan gum) and salt. Mix it with a spatula before turning on the blender. It will immediately start to thicken and look like cheese. Put the blender lid in place and remove the center cap. Turn on the blender to low and stream in a little water at a time, turning off the blender to scrape down the sizes. Continue this process until the cheese is thoroughly blended. It will be thick.
Prepare the brine. Add the teaspoon of salt to two quarts of water. After the salt has dissolved, add enough ice to make the water very cold.
Scoop the cheese mixture into a heavy-duty sauce pan on medium heat. I use a spatula to scrape out the blender making sure I get all of the cheese.
With a wooden spoon (I use a rice paddle) cook the cheese over medium heat stirring constantly for at least 10 minutes. As it bubbles and hisses it will start to get smooth, shiny and elastic, just like melting mozzarella. Keep stirring. What you’re doing is cooking out all of the flour taste. As you stir you’ll start to see the cheese forming itself into egg-shaped balls. With your wooden spoon shape the cheese into 2 to 3 balls, keeping the cheese in the pan on the heat, and dropping them into the ice water brine. The cheese will immediately start to harden. It will look like a large hard boiled egg that has cracked open during cooking. The cheese is ready after it has chilled in the brine for about an hour in the refrigerator. It will keep in the brine for a few days. To shape it into balls, trim the excess “fringe”. Don’t throw any of it away, however, it’s all delicious!