I got my Mother Earth News (MEN) October/November 2013 issue in the mail today and, as usual, I
hid in a found a secluded place to read the pages from cover to cover. Inside is an article about tree nuts – Page 20 – and about making your own Almond milk! Wow – this was great timing as I recently was able to harvest about four cups of shelled almonds from our volunteer tree out back! The crows got most of the nuts. I got the ones on the ground that they dropped – shell intact, of course! You can read my previous post about wrestling the almonds from the rats first, then the crows, HERE.
On page 21 there are instructions on how to make the almond milk, but also a blurb about the fact that you can turn any nut “into milk, which may then be transformed into cheese, yogurt or ice cream.” Holy cow – cheese from almonds! Are you kidding me?
A quick google search for “cheese made out of almonds” brought up several sites! Apparently, when you make cheese out of almonds is very similar in taste to feta cheese. Okay – I’m in!
I found three recipes that I wanted to follow – all very similar – and decided to try a combination of the three. The website at Maple Spice had a Baked Almond Feta that sounded wonderful – but the best part was the step by step tutorial. A bit too much garlic and salt for me, however. Then on About.com I found a recipe that I felt had the right amount of salt, but didn’t call for any garlic, and I do like some garlic. At Rawmazing I found a recipe that seemed just right, but it wasn’t cooked. So, I ended up using the recipe from Rawmazing, decreased the amount of water to 1/2 cup like the Maple Spice recipe because I added in some garlic, then baked it at 300 degrees for 40 minutes as suggested at About.com! Whew!
The results? Well, pretty darned amazing……. considering.
You see, I had to “wing it” with a couple of items. I didn’t have any cheesecloth, so I used coffee filters instead. Luckily this worked. And then my oven broke.
Yes – as the oven was preheating to 300 degrees, I heard a large pop – something like a champagne cork being set free. My hubby heard it also. Since I have several wine bottles on my kitchen countertop
and also some of those decorative peppers and whatnot in vinegar jars here and there, we searched around to see which bottle lost it’s seal. They all appeared to be intact. But just when I decided to turn my attention back to the cheese making process, I noticed that my oven digital display was blank. Oh No. Rats! Dear hubby went to the breaker box and, sure ’nuff, it had tripped. When he flipped it back on this allowed af poltergeist to entered into the soul of my oven. On it’s own, it started to lock the oven door, like it was going to do a clean cycle, the beeper started beeping constantly (and wouldn’t stop) and strange numbers were flashing on the digital display! Holy smokes! We tried hitting the cancel button, hubby tried flipping the breaker again, nothing worked. 🙁
So, since we were having smoked, grilled pork chops for dinner, I figured I could cover the cheese with foil and let it bake in the bbq. I really didn’t have any other options at this point! I watched the dial on the bbq and tried to keep the temperature inside as close to 300 degrees as possible, which wasn’t too difficult. But after the 30 minutes or so at about 300 degrees, and when the top began to get a golden color, I pulled the cheese out of the bbq to let it cool off.
How did it taste? Well, the first taste was a bit like hummus with garlic in it. Not bad, but not really cheesy. However, I let it set in the refrigerator overnight and the next evening made pizza with it. You know the old saying that “most things get better with time”? Almond cheese is one of those things. After 24 hours the almond cheese was a bit more “creamy” and the garlic taste had mellowed out a bit with less “bite” – kind of like feta cheese! Kinda
The pizza was really good. I used a homemade whole wheat bread
crust, put on some tomato sauce, sundried tomatoes (from my backyard) artichoke hearts (I wish had come from my backyard) black olives, a little bit of italian sausage, and the almond cheese. Both hubby and I decided this pizza was a winner! Without the sausage this would have been totally vegan and totally delicious!
So I got braver and decided to make some stuffed shells with the rest of the ground italian sausage, artichoke hearts and almond cheese. Wow – you would never know that this was not cheese from a mammal!
The repairman came out the next day. Yes – the next day and on time! Unfortunately his estimate to repair the oven (oven temperature sensor blew up, which fried the electronic control panel) was ridiculously expensive – especially since our oven was already 9 years old! So, that afternoon we went oven shopping, and thank goodness a model very similar to our old one was on clearance (last year’s model). We got the new oven for less money than it would have cost to repair our old one!
I think my next experiment will be to make some almond milk ice cream! Wish me luck!
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