Spiced Chocolate Milk

Makes about 1 cup (1 serving)

1 cup plus 2 TBSP plain unsweetened non-dairy milk, such as almond, cashew, or hemp

1 ounce semisweet chocolate, broken up

1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1 Tablespoon agave nectar

1 cinnamon stick

3 whole cloves

2 cardamom pods

1. Add all of the ingredients to a small saucepan, whisk well, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer until the cocoa powder and chocolate dissolve, whisking, about 3 minutes.

2. Strain into a small-medium bowl, cover, and chill until cold, about 1 hour. Remove the spices, pour into a glass, and  serve cold.

Copyright © 2016 by Dina Cheney from THE NEW MILKS: 100-Plus Dairy-Free Recipes for Making and Cooking with Soy, Nut, Seed, Grain, and Coconut Milks, published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Smoky Eggplant "Cream" (Babaghanouj)

Makes about 2 cups

Smoky and creamy, this Middle Eastern dip or spread is an apt replacement for Greek yogurt. Here, I serve it over roasted red peppers, with fresh parsley for garnish.

Nonstick cooking spray

2 large black eggplants

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or vegan mayonnaise)

1 Tablespoon fresh, strained lemon juice

1 Tablespoon tahini paste (well-stirred)

2 large garlic cloves

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/18 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For serving: 3 roasted red peppers

  1. Set your oven to broil. Arrange a broiler pan over a foil-lined baking sheet, and spray the broiler pan with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange the eggplants on the broiler pan. Broil, turning occasionally with tongs, until soft and blistered, 15-20 minutes. Arrange on a cutting board and cover with a large bowl. Let steam at room temperature until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Slice open and scoop out the insides, discarding the skin.
  2. Add the flesh (including the seeds) to a food processor bowl. Add the oil, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, salt, and pepper, and puree until very smooth, about 1 minute. Chill until cold.
  3. Dollop over roasted red peppers, and garnish with fresh parsley leaves.

Pistachio Oatmeal

Makes 4 cups (4 servings)

Feel free to vary this delicious and creamy vegan oatmeal with different types of plant-based milks, especially pistachio or walnut. And try topping with various fruits, nuts, and seeds.

2 cups rolled or old-fashioned oats

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup plain unsweetened pistachio milk

3 Tablespoons agave nectar

1 tsp pistachio or almond extract

For serving: Pomegranate seeds and pistachio nuts

  1. Add four cups of water, the oats, and the salt to a medium saucepot.Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the oats are cooked, about five minutes. Stir in the pistachio milk, agave nectar, and extract.
  2. Ladle into four bowls, and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and pistachio nuts.

Pistachio Strawberry Cake

Makes 1 cake (10-12 servings)

To prepare this delicious (dairy-free and whole-grain!) cake suffused with the flavors of the Middle East, first make homemade pistachio milk and pistachio flour. To make the milk, soak two cups of raw unsalted pistachios in water to cover overnight. The next morning, rinse and drain. Puree with 5-1/2 cups fresh water in a high-speed blender, then strain using a nut milk bag, squeezing out as much pistachio milk as you can. You should yield about 5-1/2 cups pistachio milk, though you will only need two cups of it for this cake.

Reserve the ground nut solids in the bag. Pour them onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and bake in a 250 degree F oven until dried out, about 2 hours. Cool to room temperature. Grind in a food processor until the texture of fine sand, about 1 minute. You should yield about 1/2 cup pistachio flour.

Nonstick cooking spray

2 cups white whole-wheat flour

1-1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup pistachio flour (see above)

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs, separated, then warmed to room temperature

8 oz vegan butter, such as Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

2 cups plain unsweetened pistachio milk (see above)

2 teaspoons orange blossom water, divided

1 13-oz jar (1 cup) high-quality strawberry or cherry preserves

2-1/2 cups confectioner's or powdered sugar

1/2 cup fresh-squeezed, strained orange juice (about 2 navel oranges)

1 quart strawberries, hulled and sliced

1/4 cup raw unsalted pistachio nuts, lightly toasted and finely chopped

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place a rack in the center. Grease two 9-inch cake pans with nonstick cooking spray (or with softened vegan butter). In a medium bowl, whisk together the first five ingredients until well blended.
  2. Add the egg whites to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (reserve the egg yolks), and beat on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Transfer the beaten egg whites to another bowl, and clean out the mixer bowl. To the mixer bowl, add the butter and sugar, and fit the standing mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat the butter and sugar over medium speed until lightened in color and texture, about four minutes. To the butter-sugar mixture, add the four egg yolks, and beat until mixed, about one minute.
  3. Alternately add the pistachio milk and flour mixtures, in four batches, beating on low speed just until blended. Add half of the orange flower water, and beat just until mixed in, about 20 seconds.
  4. Evenly pour the batter into the two greased cake pans. Bang against the counter to make sure the batter fills each pan evenly. Transfer to the oven and bake, switching the pan positions after 15 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center of both cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes total.
  5. Let the cakes cool completely at room temperature, then carefully invert onto a clean cutting board. (Do not skip this step, or the cakes will crack.) Transfer one cake to the cake stand or plate you use for serving. With an offset spatula, evenly slather the top with the preserves. Place the other cake on top to cover the preserves.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining orange flower water, confectioner's sugar, and orange juice until a smooth white glaze forms. Pour all over the top of the cake. Top the cake with the strawberry halves. Sprinkle the rim of the cake with the finely chopped pistachios. Serve.

Curried Pumpkin Apple Soup

Makes 7 cups (about 7 servings)

Cashew milk adds creaminess to this slightly sweet pureed soup full of pumpkin and apple. Curry powder and cinnamon lend warmth and complexity. For garnish, try sauteing apple slices with a touch of sea salt in olive oil until tender and slightly golden brown.

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 small red onion, finely chopped (1 cup)

1 teaspoon minced garlic (about 2 medium cloves)

1 medium-large sweet apple, such as Braeburn, peeled and finely chopped (about 1-1/4 cups)

2 15-ounce cans unsweetened pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon yellow curry powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

A few grinds black pepper

2 cups apple cider or juice

1 Tablespoon agave nectar or honey

1/2 cup unsweetened plain cashew milk, ideally homemade

Optional garnish: sauteed apple slices

  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When hot, add onion and garlic, and saute until the onion has softened, about 4 minutes. Add the apple, and saute for another 3 minutes. Add the pumpkin puree, curry powder, salt, cinnamon, and pepper, and saute for 30 seconds. Add the apple cider, 2 cups water, and agave nectar, and bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. Once boiling, cover and simmer over low heat until the apples become tender and the flavors meld, about 20 minutes. Uncover, and puree in the pot until smooth with an immersion blender. (Alternatively, transfer in batches to a blender and blend until smooth.) To the pureed soup in the pot, add cashew milk, and bring to a simmer over medium-high. The second the soup comes to a simmer, turn off the heat (do not let the cashew milk boil, or it could separate).
  3. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve, if desired, topped with the apple slices.

Turmeric and Saffron Almond Milk

Makes 2 8-ounce servings

Turmeric, related to ginger root, is an anti-inflammatory used to treat countless conditions, encompassing headaches, arthritis, colds, bronchitis, depression, Alzheimer's disease, and more. Here, I infuse homemade almond milk with turmeric and saffron, yielding a warm and frothy, slightly sweet tonic.

2 cups plain unsweetened almond milk, preferably homemade (using a 1:3 ratio of almonds to water)

4 tsp agave nectar

1 tsp grated fresh peeled turmeric root

1/8 tsp salt

Small pinch saffron threads

  1. Add all of the ingredients to a deep, small-medium saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat (watch carefully to prevent a boil-over), whisking occasionally. Froth with an electric frother, such as an Aerolatte. Pour into two mugs, and serve immediately.

Sweet Almond Milk with Orange Blossom (Sharab al Loz)

Makes 4 cups syrup (for 8 servings)

Very sweet and ethereal, this delicious Middle Eastern drink is served at special occasions, such as engagement parties. My father remembers his mother preparing it, spending an hour squeezing a cheesecloth bundle full of ground almonds in a bowl of water to release almond milk. Thanks to blenders, the formerly labor-intensive drink is incredibly easy to prepare. Begin with homemade almond milk, prepared with a 1:3 ratio of whole almonds to water, and then strained. Serve solo, or with butter cookies.

3 cups homemade plain unsweetened almond milk

2 cups granulated sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1-1/2 TBSP orange flower water (or rose water, if you prefer)

Ice cubes and ice-cold water for serving

  1. Add almond milk, sugar, and water to a small-medium, deep saucepot (it must be deep; otherwise, the almond milk will boil over). Bring to a boil over high heat. Immediately reduce to a simmer. Simmer over low heat until the mixture thickens a bit, stirring, about six minutes. Stir in orange flower water, and simmer for two more minutes. The almond milk syrup will be ivory in hue and relatively thick. Let cool to room temperature.
  2. Ladle 1/2 syrup into each of eight small-medium glasses (each should hold 1 to 1-1/2 cups). To each glass with syrup, add two ice cubes and 1/4 cup ice-cold water. (For a milder version, use larger glasses, and dilute with more cold water, to taste.) Stir well, and serve immediately.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Serves 1

Pumpkin spice lattes have become very popular at coffee shops in the cold season--for good reason. Here, I use actual pumpkin puree for true winter squash flavor. For a dessert-like latte, add more maple syrup.

1/2 cup plain unsweetened dairy-free milk, such as soy, coconut, or cashew

2 tbsp canned pumpkin puree

1 tbsp maple syrup or agave nectar

1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

Scant 1/16 tsp ground nutmeg

8 oz fresh-brewed coffee, hot

  1. Add the non-dairy milk, pumpkin, maple syrup, cinnamon, and nutmeg to a small sauce pot, and heat over medium. Heat, whisking, until smooth and hot, about 5 minutes. With a frother, such as an Aerolatte, froth until bubbly, about 30 seconds.
  2. Pour the coffee into a 12-oz mug. Spoon the frothed pumpkin-spice milk on top. Serve immediately.

Vegan Coconut Rum "Eggnog"

Makes about 5-1/2 cups

This dairy- and egg-free version of eggnog is rich and creamy from coconut milk, with the boozy punch of dark rum. For ultra-thick eggnog, akin to the real thing, add 1/4 cup coconut cream. For children, just omit the rum.

2 13.5-ounce cans light coconut milk (about 3-1/2 cups), chilled

1 13.5-ounce can full-fat coconut milk (about 1-3/4 cups), chilled

1/4 cup dark rum

1/4 cup plus 3 tbsp agave nectar

2-1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, plus extra for garnish

1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp sea salt

  1. Add all of the ingredients to a blender, and blend until well-mixed and frothy, about 1 minute. Pour into four or six glass cups or mugs, and garnish with extra sprinkles of freshly-grated nutmeg. Serve immediately.