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One of my favorite food memories growing up was fondue night at the Oatmans’.   We’d have a bunch of people over, long tables of fondue pots and reclettes, and a three-course feast.  Far from vegan, our fondue courses featured chunks of steak and chicken cooked in oil, several different cheese fondues (we lived in Wisconsin, enough said!), and a killer chocolate fondue that far exceeds anything served at The Melting Pot.

So due to the the recent release of Artisan Vegan Cheese and my desire to health-ify food from my roots, I’m planning a legendary Thanksgiving weekend vegan cheese fondue feast.  And as you may or may not know, culturing your own vegan cheeses often starts with a healthy probiotic drink they call rejuvelac…

Step 1: Soak your grains overnight. They should be just immersed in water. Here I am soaking quinoa (left) and hard red winter wheat berries (right). Make sure you’re using whole grains and not a processed version. On the top of the jars is a double layer of cheesecloth secured with rubber bands.
Step 2: Drain the grains well and return them to the jars with enough water to just moisten the grains and not immerse them (I did 1/3 to 1/2 the way up from the bottom of the jar). Drain and replace water 1-2 times a day till sprouts appear.

Step 3: When the grains start to sprout, drain again and return to the jars, immersing them with filtered water (6x the amount of water compared to the amount of grains you started with).

Step 4: When the mixture smells tangy (somewhat like lemon juice), after 1-3 days, strain the liquid of the grains and store in jars! 1 cup grains yields 6 cups rejuvelac.

So about the same time I discovered Miyoko Schinner and her vegan buffalo mozzarella recipeWhole Foods had a sale on heirloom tomatoes… and you just can’t ignore a coincidence like that.

This mozzarella was simpler to make than I expected, and very delicious.  For me, It turned out a little softer than the dairy version, but my testers and I didn’t really care because it made for a perfect caprese salad either way.

Oh and Miyoko is coming out with a book called Artisan Vegan Cheese available for pre-order on amazon today, and it will be released on August 8th!  The recipes are rumored to take cultured vegan cheeses to the next level, and according to her blog, a majority of the recipes are made without oil!

Vegan Caprese Salad

Tomatoes: Buy heirloom tomatoes if you can!  As you can see in the pictures, they have a lot more meat to them and don’t fall apart when you slice them.

Balsamic Reduction: Buy some cheap balsamic vinegar, and pour a third to half the bottle in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat then simmer over medium-low heat till the vinegar is reduced by half and has a light syrupy consistency.  Let it sit in the fridge for 10-20 minutes and it will thicken up to a maple syrup consistency.

Basil: You can serve fresh basil leaves as shown above or do a chiffonade (click here for a step-by-step tutorial) and sprinkle on top.

Vegan Buffalo Mozzarella: Use this recipe from Miyoko Schinner.  You can also watch her demo it here.  Do not use the oil, and you might want to consider using some more agar flakes because my mozzarella could have been just a bit firmer.

I noticed that the closer you hold your ice cream scoop to the water, the more round the mozzarella balls turn out.