Saturday, July 7, 2012

Vegan Mozzarella, Cherry Tomato and Basil Skewers




Although I've made melty vegan mozzarella cheese before with success, getting the texture just right for a solid mozzarella cheese has been a bit of a challenge. You need the right ratios of agar for firmness, xantham gum for binding, tapioca flour for stretchiness and potato starch or arrowroot for bulk to get that firm-yet-springy texture of real mozzarella cheese. This version hits the mark not only in texture, but also in taste, and looks lovely skewered caprese-style with some fresh basil and tomato, and finished with a few drops of fresh balsamic vinegar.

INGREDIENTS
for the mozzarella
1 TB potato starch powder or arrowroot powder
1/2 TB tapioca flour or starch
5 TB water
1 can good quality, full-fat coconut milk (403 mL)
3 tsp agar powder
1 1/2 tsp coconut vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 TB coconut oil
1 tsp xantham gum

to serve
cherry tomatoes
fresh basil leaves
balsamic vinegar

METHOD
Combine the potato starch and tapioca flour or starch with the water in a small bowl and stir until fully dissolved. Set aside.

Heat the coconut milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a low boil. While you are waiting for the coconut milk to boil, place the coconut oil and xantham gum in a Kitchen Aid mixer on its highest setting and blend for a few seconds. Once the coconut milk has achieved a low boil, add in the agar powder and whisk briskly until dissolved, then add in the vinegar and salt. Reduce the stovetop heat to its lowest setting, then add in the flour mixture and the xantham gum/oil mixture, whisking very quickly to combine, then transfer to a small-cubed silicone ice cube tray before it gets too thick to pour. Speed with this step is very important. Then place into the refrigerator to fully set for a few hours.

When ready to serve, assemble the mozzarella cubes with the tomatoes and basil leaves on skewers or a toothpick. Spoon or pipe some fresh balsamic vinegar over the top and serve immediately.


30 comments:

  1. Oh, wow! This looks amazing... you have my full admiration. Gorgeous pictures, gorgeous recipe. Looks like I need to get my hands on potato starch!..

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    1. Thanks Basil! You can also use arrowroot in place of the potato starch if you have that handy ...

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  2. I'd say you got it. Those are stunning.

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  3. Oh my! I used to love caprese salad and this would work just perfect! Thank you for another wonderful recipe.

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    1. Thanks Mary -- I hope you enjoy it!

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  4. wow, you are so amazing. I really need to track down some coconut vinegar and get to work on these recipes you've been posting. They look incredible! I love all the food science fun behind it too!

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  5. Those look *SO* elegant... and beautifully photographed!

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  6. I'm so intrigued by your mozzarella! This is definitely going on the to do list.

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  7. Could the mozza be poured into a larger mold and sliced after, or are the small cubes necessary?

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  8. is the coconut flavour pronounced? I like coconut, but I wouldn't want a cheese substitute to taste of it! I hope the answer's no - your photo looks good enough to eat:)

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    1. Thanks Christine! It's a valid question, and I'm happy to say that, no, coconut is not a pronounced flavor here at all! Once the coconut vinegar hits the coconut milk, it transforms everything into a cheesy, mozz-like non-coconutty flavor.

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  9. What a different and delicious vegan appetizer!
    Fantastic photos!

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  10. I just ordered a $12 bottle of coconut vinegar specifically to make this! Is there by any chance a substitute for xanthan gum? I have had weird reactions to it in the past - will use it if I have to but would love to avoid it if at all possible.

    Thank you for the recipe! I'm excited to try it.

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    1. $12! That must be some fancy-schmancy coconut vinegar, Julie! Totally excited that you are going to try this. You could try to double the potato or arrowroot, or sub guar guam for the xantham gum, but I can't guarantee the same result, as I haven't tried that out myself.

      You could also try this in its queso form: http://www.olivesfordinner.com/2012/04/vegan-queso-blanco-dip.html

      or on a pizza:
      http://www.olivesfordinner.com/2012/03/fresh-vegan-mozzarella-pizza.html

      which doesn't require any xantham gum. Good luck and let me know how it goes! : )

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    2. LOL! I've never seen coconut vinegar in a store around here, so I ordered it on Amazon - had no idea if that was a normal price or not. As soon as I can track down some agar powder I'm going to get on this train :)

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  11. Wow, this looks so amazing! And what a beautiful photograph. :)

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  12. I'm desperate to make this cheese! Sadly, I haven't been able to locate coconut vinegar anywhere in Australia. I know it's already been asked, but can you think of any other kind of vinegar that may produce similar results? If not, I'll see if I can order some coconut vinegar through Amazon. :-)

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    1. Thanks Elle! This is a super-picky recipe, almost similar to baking. All of the components have to be really precise, or it won't work. However! I do recall someone else making the vegan queso dip with apple cider vinegar and it turning out okay, so if you have that around, it may do the trick! Good luck!

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    2. If any other Australian's are interested, I discovered Nature Pacific are selling Coconut Cider Vinegar for $6.50 + postage. :-)

      Erin, I'm curious as to whether you've ever tried making tofu-misozuke?

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    3. Thanks for sharing that brand, Elle. I've seen all kinds of ranging in pricing for ACV (up to $14!), but Nature Pacific's sounds reasonable.

      I've read about tofu-misozuke (I believe The Recipe Renovator did this), but it just sounds so unsafe as a home DIY project -- however, if I spotted some pre-made professionally, I'd buy tons of it!

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    4. Unfortuantely I've since discovered that the postage price isn't quite so reasonable... $14 to post a tiny bottle! Ah well, these are the things we do for cheese! :-)

      You're right, I discovered the tofu-misozuke via your blog link to The Recipe Renovator. What makes you feel it's unsafe as a home DIY project? I was wary of the tofu feta recipe, in which the tofu is left to ferment at room-temperature for a few days, but as the tofu-misozuke remains refrigerated, I figured it would be quite safe(?).

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    5. oops! Oh well, these recipes all usually use 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp, so hopefully that bottle will last awhile. ; )

      The misozuke kind of intimidates me because of the whole mold/bacteria aspect. Even if it is refrigerated, I don't know enough about food safety to this myself. However, I would gladly purchase this made by an expert -- it does sound like pretty amazing stuff!

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  13. I have been meaning to make these for quite some time. Initially, I could not get a lot of the ingredients. Over time I have ordered much of the specialty items online, and then sometimes forget which recipes they were for. Recently, when I referenced your full recipe index I saw the picture and was reminded. Still, I did not have potato starch or arrowroot powder--so I thought I would try with EnerG? I think that may have effected the result just a little--and that I neglected to use a silicone tray *note to self for future* Anyhow, the final result was still quite pleasing despite my own little glitch. I expected to taste more coconut, but did not. The texture was close to the buffalo mozzarella I use in vegetarian recipes and caprese stacks. So for this alone, and the smooth taste, I definitely want to make it again. I will order some arrowroot online, as there were a few little clumps in the cubes that had almost a waxy nougat kind of texture, and I am wondering if that is why, or if I did not whisk and pour fast enough? What do you think? I want to perfect this one because visually it is stunning and a very surprising comparison (coming from an Italian is definitely a compliment). So happy I stumbled on this one again. Served it tonight for dinner alongside your vegan scallops over white wine cream sauce and pasta. Yum!

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  14. Ener-G as a sub makes sense here, as it contains potato and tapioca starches! The only thing I can think of re: the clumps is maybe it didn't fully dissolve in the water before you added it to the mix? Glad that it was a good experiment -- actually cheese making like this is a test/trial-and-error exercise for myself as well -- always room for subbing/experimenting to see what you get. Thanks so much for trying this out, Leila!

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