beverages, dairy free, personal, recipes, Uncategorized

Cashew-Almond Milk

In the last year or so, my cooking has slowly gravitated towards staple-making. I like the idea of preparing the things that Jon and I eat super regularly, that form a sort of foundation from which we can assemble other dishes. Nothing super complicated.

I credit the origin of this idea to a few years back, when I read Tamar Adler’s Everlasting Meal.  She writes, “Cooking is both simpler and more necessary than we imagine. It has in recent years come to seem a complication to juggle against other complications, instead of what it can be – a clear path through them.” Though I’ve loved food for a long time, reading this is one of only a small handful of moments that I can credit with changing my approach to cooking entirely.

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Around here, staples include almond butter, milk & cheese; various salsas, tomato sauces, pestos, aioli, hummus, etc.; granola bars and granola; roasted and puréed vegetables; brown rice, soba noodle, or quinoa salads; and always something sweet- chocolate chip cookies and almond butter cups are the most popular. The process of staple-making has taken me through a rhythm of refining, adventuring out with new flavors & combinations, and returning to old favorites. These are the things I enjoy making the most and, time willing, will continue to make.

So, here is my process for making almond milk. Since almonds can be pretty expensive, even more so now that I’m not living in California, I’ve switched to a 50-50 cashew almond blend, which I find to be even creamier than straight almond milk.

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Cashew-Almond Milk
Makes 2 quarts

1 cup cashews (unsalted)
1 cup almonds (unsalted)
8 cups Filtered water
4 Medjool or 8 deglet noor dates, split between two batches
1/2 tsp. salt, divided
1/2 tsp. cinnamon, divided

Tools you’ll need: a high-power blender, and nut milk bag or tight-woven linen cloth 

Place the cashews and almonds in a large bowl and cover with water. Soak for at least 24 hours, but up to 48-72 hours if time allows.

After soaking, pour the nut mixture into a strainer and rinse under cold water, stirring with your hand, until the water runs clear.

Combine 1/2 of the soaked nuts with 4 cups water, 2 (or 4, depending on the variety) dates, 1/4 tsp. salt & 1/4 tsp. cinnamon. Blend on high for 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, take a clean bowl or wide-mouthed pitcher and line with the towel or nut milk bag. Pour the blended milk into the bowl, being careful not to let it spill over the edge. Gather the ends of the towel and, working slowly, squeeze to filter the milk out of the pulp.

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Once you have a roughly 1/2-3/4 pulp remaining in the towel, you should be done. Pour the milk into an air-tight storage container and repeat the process with the remaining ingredients.

Store the almond milk in the fridge. I find it tastes best when consumed in the first 4-5 days. Since there isn’t a preservative other than the salt, it will start to turn around then, but if it does and you haven’t used it all, it can still be used in place of a buttermilk in baking.

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A few other notes:

C O F F E E : I drink this almond-cashew milk almost every day in my coffee. It froths really well (maybe best 1-2 days after making it). Some separation happens after it sits in the coffee for a bit, but you can quickly stir to recombine and it tastes exactly the same.

D A I R Y  S U B S T I T U T E S: If I know I’ll be using this almond-cashew milk as a substitute for milk in a savory recipe, I’ll just use a little salt and leave out the dates. If you make it this way, it’s worth removing the skins (from the almonds) and using the pulp to make cheese. Season with lemon juice, salt, nutritional yeast & chili flakes and it makes a pretty convincing goat cheese substitute- especially if left out to ferment for a few days at room temperature.

V S .  S T O R E  B O U G H T : This is definitely a recipe that is worth every bit of time and effort. Those of you who have already made almond milk at home may not need convincing, but homemade has been a total game changer for me. The best store-bought version I’ve found is Marin Living Foods, which, to my knowledge, is only available in the Bay Area. Until I find something that compares, I will be making my own!

V A R I A T I O N S : Cocoa Almond Milk – blend 1 cup of this cashew-almond milk with 2 tsp. coconut butter, 2 tsp. dutch process cocoa powder & 1 date

Please email me with questions! I’ve been making this once a week for the last year (ore more!), so am happy to help however I can.

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dairy free, events, gluten free, personal, recipes, snacks, Uncategorized

Curate Chicago Pop-up in Kalamazoo!

This weekend I’ll be in Kalamazoo for Curate Chicago‘s Holiday Pop-up shop! My cousin Christina is the talented co-founder and owner, and decided to host her first ever holiday pop-up in our hometown.

I am really excited to be joining her on Saturday and Sunday to sell some of my favorite food “staples” – almond milk, granola bars, and almond butter cups. For those who are or were able to attend, I wanted to share some information about ingredients and sourcing here. Details about the event are also included below. Hope to see you!

Curate Chicago Kalamazoo Pop-up

  • Location: 116 W. South Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49007
  • Date: December 1 – December 7
  • Hours: 10am – 5pm

Here’s a list of everything I’ll be selling:

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Cherry Almond Granola Bars 
Ingredients: gluten-free oats, brown rice cereal, slivered almonds, dried dark cherries, cocoa nibs, homemade almond butter*, Fase Apiaries wildflower honey, cinnamon, sea salt. Allergens: tree nuts.

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Toasted Oat Tahini & Hazelnut Bars
Ingredients: gluten-free oats, brown rice cereal, hazelnuts, coconut, raw tahini, Michigan raw honey, Dutch-process cocoa powder, coconut oil, Michigan maple syrup, Nielsen-Massey Madagascar bourbon pure vanilla extract. Allergens: tree nuts.

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Salted Almond Butter Cups
Ingredients: Enjoy Life chocolate chips, homemade almond butter*, Fase Apiaries wildflower honey, organic powdered sugar, Nielsen-Massey Madagascar bourbon pure vanilla extract, sea salt, Maldon sea salt (for finishing). Allergens: tree nuts.

Cinnamon Date Almond Milk 
Ingredients: California almonds**, medjool dates, cinnamon, sea salt. Allergens: tree nuts.

Cacao Almond Milk
Ingredients: California almonds**, medjool dates, sea salt, coconut butter, Dutch process cocoa powder. Allergens: tree nuts.

*the almond butter is made with almonds only – no oil or salt added
**the almonds were purchased from D&S Ranch in Oakhurst, California, and are from a crop harvested in September.

All ingredients and packaging were sourced from small businesses or farmer’s markets in Southwest Michigan whenever possible. For the almonds, I purchased them directly from D&S Ranch in California for two reasons- 1) to support the grower! and 2) freshness matters so much, especially when it comes to the almond milk & almond butter. The almonds are the foundation of every one of these recipes, so starting with a quality ingredient makes for a much more delicious finished product.

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One final note: shelf life! Almond milk is best consumed within 4-5 days, the granola bars will keep in the fridge for at least 3 weeks, and the almond butter cups can be frozen & consumed whenever!

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k-town with roy choi

400 miles north of los angeles on highway 5 last weekend the warnings signs for carmageddon began. packed into a toyota camry with a trunk full of camera equipment, we drove on; passing by the san luis reservoir and finally snaking through los padres national forest before emerging in the hollywood hills. my first trip to los angeles went astonishingly well.

i say this not just because of the anti-climactic two-day closing of interstate 405; but to the nature of our trip. along with three clients and three staff members from la cocina, i experienced a small portion of what gives vibrancy to the city. for five hours on saturday afternoon, chef roy choi  gave us a true taste of koreatown: beginning with rotisserie chicken at pollo a la brassa, ending with the blood sausage and pickled daikon near macarthur park. the nexus of our questions was street food; the fusion of cuisine, and the harsh reality of building a successful business. a short documentary of our day is in the works; but for now i’ll share these images and say thanks to the kogi team. i’m already looking forward to my next trip south, and especially to those views from the 405.

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back in january

 

these are a few photos from the first weeks i was in boston. even though its still cold, we’ve come a long way since those january storms. in the meantime, i’ve cooked an impressive amount of soups, stews, and pasta-fagiole-esque recipes; shuttled myself between my apartment and boston university’s library bundled in multiple layers (and a down jacket); and not spent near enough time outside.

needless to say, the past four days we’ve had blue skies, and it’s been fantastic.

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