Monday, 29 October 2012

Chefs That Inspire Me: Miyoko Schinner of Miyoko's Kitchen Home!

It's true, I am in love with Miyoko Schinners recipe books! Who couldn't be in love with a recipe book dedicated to vegan cheese! From her robust cheese flavours to her delicate Japanese recipes featured in her first book Now And Zen Epicure, Miyoko has a true touch with vegan cooking and is a true culinary inspiration!  

DBB: Hi Miyoko! You have a vegan TV show called Miyoko's Kitchen and you have also written a number of books including the 'Now And Zen Epicure' which is just beautiful, and your newest book the amazing 'Artisan Vegan Cheese' which was out in august this year. What made you write a book dedicated to all things 'cheese' (not that I'm complaining!) and where do you get all your cooking inspiration and ideas from?! 

MS: I wrote a cheese book because someone needed to do so. Over the years, despite the increasing number of vegan cheeses on the market, I still felt that that something was lacking - complex flavors, a variety of textures, a rich mouthfeel. I wanted to explore the possibility of unlimited styles of cheese, just like their dairy counterpart. I drew inspiration from raw food nut cheeses, but felt that they needed could be tweaked and taken a step further in order to develop all the flavor and texture profiles I wanted. And really, I had been thinking of developing credible vegan cheeses for decades - I just finally got around to actually doing it. 

DBB: It must be so much fun to make a cookery show! Is it a fun process?

MS: Making a cooking show is indeed a lot of fun. I wanted to make a show that would not only be instructional, but fun and engaging for the viewer to watch. I should also add that while it is fun, it is an incredible amount of work from the writing of the segments, figuring out the shot list, shooting it in a way that it looks spontaneous (but isn't!), to editing. I am now going to be on a public television show called Vegan Mash-up produced by Delicious TV. All I had to do for this was cook and be on the show, not produce it, so it was a lot easier!

DBB: Tell us about a meal or dessert that evokes a special memory for you and why?

MS: Okay, here's a funny one. Every time I make chocolate mousse, I recall a time in my early twenties when I entertained a lot. I had served a fabulous meal to my friends and we were all enjoying our dessert -- chocolate mousse -- when I bit into something that shouldn't have been there - garlic. I was petrified, and spent the remainder of the evening on edge, looking at people's expressions, wondering whether or not they, too, had had garlic in their chocolate mousse. I think I was a bit sloppier back then. I've learned now to clean up before moving onto making dessert! 

Cheese Platter Plate from Artisan Vegan Cheese.

DBB: What are three ingredients you couldn't live without?

MS:  Three ingredients I couldn't live without: soy sauce (I'm Japanese!), chocolate (can anyone?), and really good pasta. If I really had to, I could, but I wouldn't want to. 

DBB: We give you a bag containing these ingredients: almonds, oranges, miso, spring greens, tofu, ginger, strawberries, what would you make?

MS: I'd marinate the tofu in the miso and ginger, then encrust it in sliced almonds and saute. That would go on top of a bed of spring mix and sliced strawberries. I'd then make a sauce of miso, a couple of strawberries, orange zest, and orange juice (and maybe some mirin) that would go on top of the tofu. 

DBB: What is your favourite recipe book?

MS: Favorite recipe book: Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I have read it cover to cover, and tried to replicate vegan versions of many of the dishes. In my twenties, I practically learned to cook from it, although I was a vegetarian. I simply made vegetarian or vegan substitutions for the meat or dairy, but learned so many culinary techniques from it.

DBB: What was the first vegan meal you ever cooked?

MS: I have been vegan for almost 3 decades, so I really can't remember the first vegan meal I ever made. I do remember that at the time I decided to become vegan, I started to entertain every Friday night, trying to come up with a ten-course tasting menu. A lot of those successes went into the Now and Zen Epicure, 1st edition (1991).
DBB: What would be your perfect afternoon?

MS: A perfect afternoon can take so many forms -- jumping from boulder to boulder along the Yuba River by our cabin in the Sierra Nevada mountains, then jumping in and swimming in the crystalline waters, to relaxing at home with my family and pets, eating fresh figs off the tree and cooking an Italian meal, to an occasional get-away with my husband to go wine tasting in Napa Valley. Last year, we had many perfect afternoons in England, driving through the Cotswold's, exploring London, finding great vegan eats. I could go on and on. Life is good.

To find out more about the amazing Miyoko check out her websites and blog here:

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