Almond Milk

I’ve been experimenting with non-dairy milk alternatives recently and have made a variety of nut milks: of hazelnut, pecan, and almond, the almond has definitely been the favorite. Besides being really easy, an added benefit to making these at home is that they are free of additives, preservatives, and a large amount of packaging. Any one of these would work in the Almond Jello recipe – you will need to play with adding some sugar, as the homemade nut milk is not sweetened – most of the store-bought versions are. I would still keep the almond (or other) flavoring in the fruit syrup, but you can eliminate it from the “jello” portion of the recipe.

makes about 2.5 c milk + 1/2 c nut flour

ingredients

  • 1 c raw nuts (not a problem if the skins are still on them)
  • 3 c filtered water

method

  1. In a bowl, cover the nuts with enough cold water to cover, and soak for 10-12 h.
  2. Drain and rinse the nuts, then put in a blender with the 3 c of filtered water and blend until smooth.
  3. Strain the milk through cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel into a bowl, then squeeze the cloth to extract all the liquid you can. (If you use scented detergent and/or fabric softener, don’t use kitchen towels – you can buy cheesecloth  or a “jelly bag” in the canning section of most hardware/kitchen stores. The jelly bag is great – very easy to rinse out by hand.)
  4. Pour the milk into a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid – can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Use as you would cow’s milk for drinking and in baking or cooking.
  5. You can spread the pulp on a baking sheet and dry it for using as nut flour, breading, etc.

Chinese-Style Creamed Cauliflower

Due to the tainted milk scandal that is ongoing in China, it may be an odd time to offer this recipe, but lest you think Chinese recipes ignore dairy products completely, here is my version of a recipe that occurs occasionally in Chinese cookbooks. I suspect it’s an Americanization or at least Westernization, but so be it – it’s tasty and features cauliflower, a vegetable that is coming into season and is readily available at the local farmers’ market. The dish is often garnished with minced ham, but I prefer to make it vegetarian.

I urge you to seek out organic milk – you may not notice a flavor difference, but you will be doing your body and the environment a favor.

ingredients:

  • 1 lb cauliflower, cut into “chopstickable” florets
  • 8 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems reserved for making broth, caps cut into 1/4″ wide strips

sauce:

  • 1/2 c lowfat milk (I recommend 2%)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 T water

method:

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
  2. Combine the sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
  3. When the water boils, add the cauliflower and mushrooms and cook just until the cauliflower is barely tender – it should not be mushy – then drain.
  4. Bring the sauce ingredients to a boil, stirring constantly.
  5. Add the cauliflower and mushrooms, return to a simmer, stirring constantly, for 1-2 m to cook out the starchy taste.
  6. Adjust the seasoning and serve immediately. This dish does not do well cooled, as the sauce will start to look dull.

variations:

If you are not concerned with increasing the fat and calorie count, you can add 1-2 T melted butter to the sauce ingredients -it will add a pleasant creaminess to the sauce.

As mentioned in the introduction, you can garnish the dish with 1-2 T minced ham.

nutritional data:

I have used 2% milk for these calculations. Because of the milk, the fat and protein content is relatively high for a vegetable dish, so it is a good way to add protein to a meal that is vegetable-centric. The recipe serves 4 as part of a larger meal, and figures are given per serving.

  • Total calories 69, calories from fat 7
  • Total fat 1 g, saturated fat 0 g
  • Cholesterol 2 mg
  • Sodium 338 mg
  • Total carbs 14 g, dietary fiber 4 g, sugars 4 g
  • Protein 4 g