Myra's Kitchen Blog  

Homemade Nut Milk
Tuesday, April 8, 2014

In today’s video, I show just how easy it is to make your own nut milks. Homemade versions are not only fresher than the store-bought (which contain synthetic vitamins, thickeners, and sweeteners): they are also healthier and more flavorful. You can use these versatile beverages as a base for smoothies, hot chocolate, or cereal, or as an alternative to dairy in your baked goods. Or, add a touch of natural sweetener and a dash of spice to make a simple nut-milk drink.

Nut milk video

The basic prep technique is the same for most nuts. Step one is to soak the nuts. Almonds require a good overnight soak; it’s even okay to let them go for as long as 12 hours. The reason for the soak is as follows: nuts and seeds are naturally adapted to lie dormant in nature until proper sprouting conditions are present. When it rains, nuts and seeds get wet; then they germinate, and the plants grow. When we soak the almonds, we are mimicking nature’s incubating process. When there is moisture, enzyme inhibitors and toxic substances called phytic acid are washed away naturally. In other words, phytic acid is nature’s padlock, and water is the key. Once the nuts are soaked, all of the enzymes & minerals available in them—almonds have phosphorous, magnesium, manganese, & copper—become available to the body. These soaked nuts become swollen and soft so that they blend easily into a rich nut milk, and they are noticeably easy to digest.

Next you rinse and drain the nuts. If you’re not ready to make nut milk right away, leave the drained nuts refrigerated for up to 3 days. When ready, blend them with fresh water at a ratio of 3 parts water to 1 part nuts. A high-speed blender, such as a Vitamix, is convenient for whizzing the nuts into a foamy beverage in a blink; other blenders take a couple of minutes. The last step is to squeeze the frothy liquid through a nylon mesh nut bag, which you can conveniently use over and over again, or a double layer of cheesecloth draped over a strainer. The leftover pulp has all the flavor squeezed out of it; you can simply compost or discard it.

Cashew milk is different from the typical nut milk. Cashews blend up so pulverized that the particles squeeze through the fine mesh of the bag, so don’t bother to strain them! Do add an extra cup water for a 4 to 1 ratio of water to cashews; this way your milk won’t be too heavy or too thick.

In the last part of the video, I demo a speedy hot chocolate made with only two other ingredients besides the cashew milk. I stir a tablespoon of cocoa powder and 2 tablespoons maple syrup in the bottom of a small pot until bubbling; then I add a couple cups of nut milk and let the liquid come to a boil. That’s it: soothing and delectable, and just one of the many luscious comestibles that you can concoct with homemade nut milk.

 

Cashew Milk and Hot Chocolate

Cashew Milk and Hot Chocolate

 

What I’ve been cooking this week: Breakfast
Wednesday, August 7, 2013

I’ll be teaching a workshop on traditional foods in March at the Natural Gourmet, which will include bone broths and lots of stuff to do with them, as well as lacto-ferments.

I’ve been making loads of lacto-ferments lately, with ruby kraut and beet kvass being among my favorite. Here’s one of my go-to breakfasts that includes those two ferments as well as my favorite coconut muffins. These coconut muffins have a healthy amount of tumeric added to them, which serves to give them a vibrant yellow color as well as an anti-inflammatory boost.  I split the muffins open, add a dollop of coconut oil and a slab of smoked salmon, and accompany  it with the homemade ruby kraut (cabbage, caraway, carrots) and the beet kvass (beets that have fermented with whey, garlic, and ginger.) This is a light, energizing, vibrantly-colored breakfast. (All that deep pink!)

To make beet kvass, all you have to do is chop up a beet,  grate some ginger, and chop up a clove or two of garlic if desired and add it to a 2-quart jar. Add 1 cup whey (the liquid left when you drain yogurt over a cheesecloth-lined strainer), 1 tablespoon of a very good salt such as celtic, and fill the rest up with water. Leave a one-inch space at the top of the jar, seal the jar tightly, and ferment for 2 to 5 days on the counter. Transfer it to the refrigerator and leave for a couple of weeks. Then strain the liquid if you like and drink a few ounces a day. It will give you a great boost!

Coconut muffin with smoked salmon, ruby kraut, and beet kvass.

Coconut muffin with smoked salmon, ruby kraut, and beet kvass.

 

Ayran, National Beverage of Turkey
Monday, July 16, 2012

I’ve been immersed in Turkish culture and food lately.  Tonight I’m giving my first class of three Turkish classes at the New York Open Center. We will start off the meal with Aryan, which is one of the national beverages of Turkey. Rumi, the great 13th century mystic and poet, who cloaked spiritual truths in food terminology, referenced this beloved drink when he said that “just as the fat is hidden in ayran, the essence of truth is buried in lies.”

Just like any other food, in Turkey there are delicious versions of this drink that are made fresh, and then there are insipid packaged varieties. You make it yourself by straining yogurt until really thick, which takes about 6 hours. Make sure to use full-fat organic (preferably with the cream on top) for best results. Whisk a cup of the thick yogurt with water (about three cups) until frothy. Add about ¼ teaspoon salt and whisk that in as well.

I like serving it in small tea cups like an aperitif.

Ayran Served in a Turkish Tea Cup

This is what ayran looks like in Turkey, when it’s made fresh. It’s frothed with a machine and resembles cappuccino foam on steroids.

Ayran Foamed by Machine

It’s often served in beautiful mugs.

This next example was the most spectacular and  the foamiest ayran that I tasted.

Direct Way to Drink Ayran

How does this man, with the most dashing mustache in Turkey, drink his Ayran? Amazing hair this man has, but a little awkward when drinking Ayran.

You can drink Ayran with a ladle, especially when it’s that frothy.

Taming the Froth

What a way to enjoy yogurt!

 

 


Photo: Tess Steinkolk

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