In The Kitchen: Kite Hill
Serving fantastic vegan food to guests these holidays (or any day) is the best way to show everyone that vegan can mean delicious. I guarantee your guests will be very satisfied if you serve them the incredible products by Kite Hill.
This September we were able to take a trip out West to see first hand where all the Kite Hill magic happens. Jean Prevot (Kite Hill's Vice-President) walked us through the plant, explaining the ins and outs of the cheese making process and even letting us taste test along the way. Our minds were blown. Join us on our behind the scenes tour!
learning the time-honored process of (plant-based) Cheese Making
Kite Hill's cheesemaking technique is based on the age-old artisanal technique for making dairy cheeses. Almonds harvested in California's San Joaquin Valley are blended and mixed with enzymes, cultures and salt. The cheeses are moulded, aged in small rooms of different temperatures, and left to form a hard external rind. What results is a variety of cheeses with a texture and taste that so closely resembles traditional dairy cheese it's incredible.
Although we tested our share of artisanal cheese during the tour, we were hungry for more! Lucky for us, Monte Casino (Kite Hill's co-founder and product developer) was busy cooking us the perfect lunch - we couldn't get enough of the delicious salad (filled with Kite Hill cheeses and insanely flavorful roasted veggies) and green tea ice cream, and there was no stopping us from digging into the dill and chive cream cheese just a little more. Yum!!!
discovering the added benefits of KITE HILL
Over lunch, Kite Hill's CEO, Matthew Slade, made us feel really good about ourselves as he explained all the ways the products we were eating were good for our environment, our health, and animal welfare.
The almonds used in Kite Hill products are grown in California’s San Joaquin Valley. They require a little over one gallon of water per nut (a fraction of what it requires to raise animals), which is important considering California is currently facing a drought. As well as being water-efficient, the harvesting and hulling machines used to craft the products require a significantly lower amount of energy compared to the amount needed to produce dairy milk, which needs energy for transport and pasteurization. Almond trees also trap carbon, while livestock are responsible for the emission of much of the greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.
Almonds are a natural source of protein, vitamin E, potassium and unsaturated fat. The almonds in Kite Hill products can help build healthy muscle (just like dairy milk), can improve the health of artery walls, can improve the body’s ability to heal tissue, can help to reduce blood pressure, and so much more. They are also lactose and casein free - an added bonus!
ANIMAL WELFARE BENEFITS:
Kite Hill products are made of almonds, which simply means that no cows are harmed in the making of their products. No calves are forced to go without their mother's milk, no mothers are forced to be separated from their young.
using kite hill on our holiday table:
Baby Beet Salad with Apples, Candied Walnuts, and Balsamic Reduction
BABY BEET SALAD:
When buying beets, choose the younger, smaller ones—large, mature beets can have a bitter, almost dirty taste, whereas baby beets have a sweet, more concentrated flavor (you can even eat them raw). For this recipe, use a mix of rainbow baby beets, not just the familiar red ones. Not only are golden and candy-stripe beets (also known as Chioggia) gorgeous, each adds its own flavor. And don’t discard the beet greens; they’re wonderful simply sautéed in olive oil and garlic or tossed into a soup, stew, or risotto.
4 fresh thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons with balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
16 baby rainbow beets, such as golden, red, and candy stripe (about 3 bunches total; about 1 ½ inches in diameter), rinsed and tops trimmed
1 large Granny Smith apple
¼ cup Balsamic Reduction (page 271)
½ cup Candied Walnuts (recipe follows)
¼ cup Kite Hill almond ricotta
¼ cup micro arugula
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
1. To prepare the beets: Pour 8 cups of filtered water into a medium pot and add the thyme, bay leaves, vinegar, agave, peppercorns, and salt. Add the beets and bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the beets are tender, 30 to 40 minutes. To check for doneness, insert a paring knife into the center of a beet; it should slide in without any resistance.
2. Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl halfway with water and adding a tray of ice cubes.
Drain the beets and transfer to the ice bath to cool.
3. Once the beets are completely cool, drain them and rub off the skins with paper towels. If using red beets, it’s wise to wear rubber gloves and put a piece of wax paper on your cutting board so everything doesn’t get stained red! Cut the beets in half or into quarters, depending on size. Put them in a bowl and refrigerate until chilled. (The beets can be prepared a day in advance, covered, and refrigerated.)
4. To prepare the apple: Remove the stem and halve the apple from top to bottom. Using a mandoline or a very sharp knife, slice the apple lengthwise as thin as possible; cut each slice in half so you end up with half-moons. Trim the remaining core.
5. To serve: Dip a pastry brush in the balsamic reduction and paint a long stripe along the base of a platter or on each of four individual plates. Arrange the beets decoratively on top and nestle the apple slices in between them. Top the salad with the candied walnuts, dollops of the cheese, and the arugula. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil, and serve.
These candied walnuts will add a spicy-sweet crunch to your salads. Take note that cooked sugar is stubborn to remove from even nonstick pans. To clean, while the candied walnuts are drying, add water to the empty skillet and bring to a boil to dissolve the baked sugar. Remove from the heat, let cool, and wipe the pan dry.
1 cup raw walnut halves and pieces
½ up unrefined cane sugar
2 tablespoons filtered water
½ teaspoon cayenne
MAKES: 2 cups
1. Put a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, add the nuts, and lightly toast them, shaking the pan from time to time to prevent burning, until they smell nutty and are light golden, about 8 minutes.
2. Sprinkle the sugar over the nuts and cook, tossing, until the sugar melts, about 5 minutes. Add the water and the cayenne and cook, stirring constantly, until the nuts are caramelized and well coated in the sugar syrup, about 5 minutes.
3. Transfer the candied walnuts to a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper, making sure that the pieces are not touching or sticking together. Set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Leftover walnuts can be kept in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag for up to 1 week.
Made from the slow reduction of balsamic vinegar and agave nectar, this intensely flavored condiment is tart and thick. Be sure to keep an eye on the syrupy reduction as it simmers to prevent it from burning. Use it for Balsamic-Roasted Mushrooms with Shallots and Toasted Marcona Almonds (page 124), among other recipes, or drizzle over fresh strawberries.
½ cup agave nectar
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 shallot, halved
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
MAKES: ½ cup
1. Heat the agave in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until it thins out and is warmed, about 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and shallot and gently simmer, swirling the pan a few times, until the sauce has reduced and thickened to the consistency of maple syrup and coats the back of a spoon, about 50 minutes.
2. Remove the shallot and add a good pinch each of salt and pepper. The reduction can be stored covered at room temperature for up to 3 months.