Marin’s Miyoko Schinner tempts flexitarians with her vegan meat cookbook
The title sounds like an oxymoron but San Anselmo’s Miyoko Schinner is absolutely serious about “The Vegan Meat Cookbook: Meatless Favorites. Made with Plants (Ten Speed Press, $28).
Schinner is the founder and chief executive officer of Petaluma-based Miyoko’s Creamery, the fastest-growing plant milk cheese and butter company in the country. She’s also the author of “The Homemade Vegan Pantry,” cohost of “Vegan Mashup” on PBS, host of a weekly cooking show on Facebook and cofounder of Rancho Compasión, an animal sanctuary.
Born in Japan, she grew up in the United States, got hooked on meat and cheese, then gave it up when she was in middle school. So, she understands carnivores and vegans.
This book presents recipes using made-from-scratch and purchased vegan meats. She provides a primer on the growing market of commercial meat alternatives that clues readers in to the latest offerings, including “raw” style products such as the “it kids” — Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods.
A much sought-after speaker, she’s articulate about “the future of food” and gave us some striking insights into the world of meatless cooking, whether you’re changing your eating habits out of compassion for animals, for your own health or for the health of the planet.
Q What inspired this project?
A This is my sixth book. What inspired it was, I had written a book that sort of kick-started the artisan vegan cheese revolution, “Artisan Vegan Cheese,” back in 2012 that became sort of a cult classic. And my publisher for my prior book to this one called “The Homemade Vegan Pantry,” said, “Hey, can you write a book on vegan meat?” And I was thinking, “Well, you know, I’m the queen of vegan cheese, but I’m not the queen of vegan meat yet. But cheese, meat, they kind of go hand-in-hand. So, why don’t I try it?”
Q You write that you can use fresh ingredients to make your own vegan meat and you recommend specific vegan meats to purchase, which is helpful because they vary a lot.
A Many of them are bland … so, the recipes were developed with that in mind, to amp up the flavor.
Q I don’t want to get off on a controversial tangent, but you have this great quote, “Making food from animal milk is like making energy from fossil fuel.” I take it you don’t see lab-grown meat as the future?
A Well, it could be. But I’m not interested in eating it. … I’m more interested in making foods that consumers understand that grow from the ground that are made out of fresh organic grains, legumes and vegetables.
Q It’s better for the environment too, right?
A According to the USDA, the average cow needs between eight and 12 acres of land. So 50% of landmass in the United States is allocated to mostly animal agriculture.
Q That floored me.
A I think it’s just hidden. People don’t see the resources that go into that piece of steak. That’s why I say it’s like getting energy out of fossil fuels. We’ve got to create the future.
Q Who’s this book for?
A I actually wrote it for flexitarians and anybody who really wants to learn to cook.
Q. I enjoyed the recipes. The roasted cauliflower with Soyrizo was so tasty and the Indian butter chicken had a velvety sauce. The calzones with Beyond Meat Italian sausages and preserved lemon were fantastic. The way you roasted the sausages in the oven with olive oil to give them extra richness was genius. Where did you get your cooking skills?
A In the 1980s I became a vegan, and I did a deep dive into food and started experimenting because I lived in Japan, and I loved French food and Italian food, and I had to figure out how to recreate that. So, I’m self-taught. I worked my way through “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” I tried to veganize every single recipe that Julia Child ever wrote. I have a cassoulet recipe in this book. … I started experimenting and basically taught myself. I’ve had a couple of bakeries and I had a restaurant in San Francisco.
Q It shows in the tips and tricks you reveal. You bring out the best in these ingredients and there’s something for everyone.
A Chapter one is “Starters, Small Bites, Salads and Side Dishes” and chapter two is “Comfort the Soul.” So these are both relatively straightforward and easy to make. “Weeknight Wonders” is so you can just throw things together, but then the chapters where I feel like I really shine are the two following chapters, “Wow Them” and “Around the World in Eighteen Dishes,” because I really am about the elevated. My very first cookbook was all about how do you take a concept like veganism and really elevate it, show that it’s worthy of your time.
Q Well, these recipes certainly are.
A My entire life has been to get people discovering food in their own kitchen and empowering them with the ability to cook. The art of cooking is such a huge power; throughout history that’s what’s brought people together, breaking bread. We find our joy and our humanity in food, so I’ve always been interested in teaching people to cook.
Gluten- and oil-free ground beef crumbles
Makes 12 ounces
Olive oil (optional) for oiling the sheet pan
10 ounces king trumpet mushrooms
1 cup raw walnuts
1 cup cooked chickpeas, rinsed
1⁄2 cup rolled oats or steel-cut oats
2 tablespoons soy sauce, tamari, or Bragg Liquid Aminos
1 tablespoon vegan beef base, such as Better Than Bouillon
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or oil it well.
Pulse the mushrooms in a food processor until chopped into little bits, but do not process too long or it will turn to a puree. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside. Next, put the walnuts into the food processor and pulse until they are finely chopped. Transfer them to the bowl with the mushrooms. Next, pulse the chickpeas in the food processor until they are finely chopped but not completely pureed, and add them to the bowl with the mushrooms and walnuts. Finally, pulse the oats to break them down and add them to the bowl. Add the soy sauce, vegan beef base, and garlic powder to the bowl and mix everything well. Spread out on the prepared sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven and break up the mixture with a wooden spoon or spatula into crumbles. Put it back in the oven and bake for another 20 minutes, or until chewy but not dry. You can use it right away, refrigerate for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 3 months (thaw before using).
— Reprinted from “The Vegan Meat Cookbook,” copyright © 2021 by Miyoko Schinner. Photographs copyright © 2021 by Eva Kolenko. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House.