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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.

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Let’s just say my search for the perfect vegan grilled cheese is over.  And I will say the same for this tomato basil soup.  Although, if you’re making the soup for yourself, cut the recipe in half as it makes a lot!  The vegan grilled cheese is based off of VegNews mac and cheese sauce here. The tomato soup is a simplified and veganized version of Ina Garten’s Tomato Basil Soup here.  I have to say, I really love these two together!

I’m not sure if this is three pounds, but it worked out perfectly!

Purchased at Whole Foods… it has a lot of salt in it, so if you’re avoiding that, just use water.

I made this delicious chili a few days ago and man does it go far!  This quinoa cornbread goes amazing with it… it’s moist, savory, and and the quinoa gives it a bit of a nutty flavor that’s really nice.  Both recipes are from Cathy Fisher at StraightUpFood.com.

Both of these recipes are gluten-, oil-, sugar-, and salt-FREE!

A couple modifications and tips:

For the cornbread (click here for recipe)

  • Don’t use the banana unless you want to taste it in your bread.  I subbed out 1/2 cup applesauce (one of those little containers) for the banana and it worked perfectly.
  • I also left out the cinnamon, because I thought that was weird for cornbread.
  • If you want a sweeter cornbread, you are either going to have to add a few more dates to your soaking liquid (discard any additional liquid you use to soak) or use sugar.
  • Use a coffee grinder to grind your whole flaxseeds, oats, and cornmeal.  I just bought this one recently, and I LOVE it!  I put it next to my 13-inch macbook so you could see how compact it is.  Click the photo for an amazon link to purchase it. 

For the chili (click here for the recipe):

  • Use Pomì Tomatoes (pictured above and can be purchased here in bulk on amazon, or in Arizona at Sprouts or Whole Foods).  Then you don’t have to worry about what’s leeching from the cans.
  • Don’t leave out the celery.  In her cooking demonstration at True North, Cathy said that celery gives the impression of saltiness… and it really does work in this chili.  I ALWAYS miss salt when they are left out of soups and stews, but I don’t miss it here.
  • If you like your chili spicy, then add come chipotle chili powder and some cayenne.  I also doubled all the spices she listed.
  • I heard this great tip about beans that I haven’t tried yet… If you want to avoid canned beans, but don’t want to be soaking and cooking dried beans every week, cook them in larger batches, then store in plastic sandwich bags or small jars in 1 1/2 cup portions in the freezer.  Most canned beans equal about 1 1/2 cups, so if a recipe calls for canned beans, you just pull out a bag or jar from the freezer!  I’m so doing this.

This nacho cheese was wonderful.  Great consistency and flavor.  Just right.

The recipe is from Happy Herbivore (click here for the recipe).  After making the sauce, I added two tomatoes (diced) and half a mini can of diced green chiles.  Both of these veggies added a little extra liquid, so I had to stir for a few minutes more to re-thicken up the sauce.  The chips are La Reina baked no-salt tortilla chips (from Whole Foods, only $2.19 a bag, only ingredients are corn and lime!).

I think next time I will ALSO add:

edit 7/7/12: I made this again, but omitted the cayenne and added 1/2 a chipotle in adobo sauce (click here to see on amazon) with about 1/4 tsp of the sauce added too.  This added a nice smoky, but mild kick.  If you are a spice lover, I say go for a whole chipotle and a bit of the adobo sauce.