The Cheesy Vegan by John Schlimm fits right in with the universal love of sandwiches, pizza, pasta and cheesecake - which most often involve cheese.
When people go vegan, they don't lose their taste for foods they've eaten all their lives, and become instant converts to brown rice, veggies and tofu - at least not right away. They also don't necessarily become teetotallers.
John Schlimm understands all that very well and gives ordinary vegans what they want with The Cheesy Vegan, and his other cookbook, Grilling Vegan Style. His vegan cheese recipes are simple to make, and closely mimic the taste and texture of the dairy based originals, with none of the downsides.
Even if you're not vegan, you'll love these fantastic cheesy recipes - they are that good!
It could be that vegan nut cheeses made with fermented and probiotic ingredients, such as those in Miyoko Schinner's cookbook Artisan Vegan Cheese, are more authentically cheesy, but those recipes are often too complex and time consumng for beginning cooks to produce at home.
Artisan cheeses like that are now being produced commercially on a small scale, or are being developed for commercial production. I'm excited about that possiblility for the future.
In the meantime, The Cheesy Vegan fills two needs:
1. An easy alternative to commercial vegan cheeses, which often taste odd, have little nutritional value, are way too salty, have suspicious ingredients, and are quite expensive.
2. Easy recipes for popular American foods using the homemade cheese recipes, or store bought vegan cheeses - your choice.
John Schlimm makes the point that there is no need to give vegan cheeses a different name, such as cheeze or veggie shreds, because his recipes are cheeses. In the sense that cheese is produced from milk that has been curdled, processed and aged with enzymes, the recipes in this book are not true cheeses. But as long as they look and taste and perform as cheeses, it makes sense to me to call them cheese.
I tried making the cheddar cheese recipe in The Cheesy Vegan, but I didn't have pimentos, and don't care for onion and garlic powders. So I didn't use those, and substituted paprika for pimentos. Even though the result was edible, I strongly suspect that for the most successful results, it's best to follow the cheese recipes as given in this cookbook.
I had great success with the super simple Vegan Parmesan Cheese Recipe. It took 10 minutes to make the walnut parmesan variation, and tastes delicious with everything. There's also an almond parm variation, which I didn't try - next time!
We sprinkled Walnut Parmesan on steamed veggies served over a quinoa lentil casserole. I also mixed it with gf bread crumbs and a little oil to make a yummy crumb topping for my Baked Tofu Vegetable Casserole.
For me, walnut parmesan is a satisfying stand in for the dairy parm I once loved, and I'm thrilled to have it in my fridge.
Next I plan to try the feta, ricotta and cream cheese recipes, which are made with tofu, and have no onion or garlic powder. My aversion to those foods means that I won't be making most of the cheese recipes in this book. But that won't stop me from enjoying many of the recipes using the cheeses, and it certainly won't keep normal people from enjoying the whole book.
The breakfast and brunch recipes will work for any meal. I loved the frittata recipe (I'll just leave out the onions) on page 55, the parmesan popcorn, all the sandwich recipes, pasta and cheesecake recipes.
The last chapter on vegan cheese pairings for wine, beer and cocktails was wasted on me, but it's a thoughtful addition that will be helpful for many people, along with seasonal and holiday serving suggestions, and cheese accessories for seriously cheesy vegans.
The only quibble I have with the cookbook is I would have liked to see more of the excellent pictures of the finished recipes, rather than pictures of recipe ingredients - however artfully done. Of course I realize that would have added to the production costs, raising the price of the book from the modest price of $13.88 on Amazon.
The Cheesy Vegan is fun, well laid out, easy to read, and it's now my go-to cookbook for vegan recipes involving cheese. A big thank you to author John Sclimm!