New York based fashion stylist and writer Jennifer Smith decided to give up cow's milk some years ago when I doctor suggested she 'lay off the dairy'. Not a huge fan of black coffee, Jen's daily dilemma was how to get that milky taste she craved in her morning cup o' joe, but without using regular milk. On a recent visit to Jen's cute, 6th floor walk-up apartment in the East Village, she talked me through the steps of making her daily nut milk. Jen uses it in any place she would ordinarily use milk, and finds it quick and easy to do.
JENNIFER SMITH'S NUT MILK Jennifer Smith uses a variety of nuts for her 'milk' based on what she can source at the time. At any given time she has used raw almonds, cashews, macadamia, brazil, walnuts and hazelnuts (seen above) for this recipe. Not pecans, though, as Jen says they will make the milk bitter.
Take a 1 Quart Mason Jar and fill half (2 cups) with raw hazelnuts (skin on, or off the hazelnuts, it doesn't matter). Cover with water and soak the nuts overnight, or for 8 hours. This softens the nuts making them easier to grind in the blender, but it also allows them to possibly germinate, making them a living food which is supposedly a health benefit. Put the soaked 2 cups of nuts in the blender. Add 2 cups of water. (Jen likes a 1:1 ratio of nuts to water, because it makes for a creamier 'milk'. If you like a lighter milk, add more water to taste.) Add to the blender 1 tablespoon of Coconut Oil, a splash of Vanilla Essence, and a pinch of Nutmeg, or Cinnamon and Salt (optional). Blend. Strain through a fine mesh strainer nut bag. Wring to release liquid. Store in the fridge. Jen likes to drink her milk the first 2 days. Wash and dry bag ready to use again.
What to do with nut 'milk'? You can use the milk wherever you would use regular milk. It makes a delicious hot chocolate. For a savory dish, Jen sauté's some mushrooms with onion, some cut up chicken, and herbes de provence and then stirs in a little almond milk and some fresh ground pepper to make a nice gravy. (A perfect fix for those who are trying to avoid dairy but still crave a creamy taste).
What to do with the leftover nut 'pulp'? After you've squeezed out the milk you will be left with a lot 'pulp'. Check out this cool tumblr site that has a collection of recipes that includes cookies, whole-wheat berry muffins, and even an avocado, almond and sun-dried tomato spread. Click here.
Also here, you could also use leftover pulp to make your own Pistachio Almond Biscotti.
Need a nut bag? Jen recommends this one from Etsy, it's undyed, unbleached, and 100 percent organic, so that you know there's nothing other than nuts going into your milk. Click here.
Almonds: If you are going to make your own milk, why not take the opportunity to make it as healthy as you can. The best nuts to use are non irradiated, non-pastuerized. You can find raw almonds at WholeFoods and Trader Joe's, or a regular supermarket, but if you want to be completely pure, you can try a place like Organic Pastures. Which has non-pasturized almonds. Click here.
Coconut Oil: Jen prefers raw, unprocessed coconut oil. She buys the Organic Virgin Coconut Oil from Trader Joe's. Click here.
JENNIFER SMITH: is a New York-based fashion editor, stylist, writer and consultant for a number of online magazines and shopping sites. She is also the ex-Fashion Director at the now defunct "Cookie" magazine (RIP). She is an obsessed researcher in the worlds of fashion, beauty, interiors and photography and adores cake, especially layer cake. She loves spice cake with vanilla frosting straight out of the Duncan Hines cake mix box, or a homemade Betty Butter cake from an old Betty Crocker cookbook with chocolate frosting. Jennifer's grandfather owned a bakery in Tucson, Arizona, so she was weaned early on hand-baked products. Her mom and aunts would pile the family into the car and drive downtown to the bakery where they would position the kids on the steps behind the screen door and hand each one of them a hot glazed doughnut fresh out of the oven, which of course they devoured. To this day, Jen concedes that there is nothing like the smell of an old-fashioned bakery. Jennifer's grandmother, who is from Mexico, would make the family homemade tortillas. She would line up flour balls on the counter like little soldiers, and then pat them out and cook them on a huge, thin, cast iron griddle her father made for her. They also had homemade tacos every Saturday night growing up, without fail. Check out Jennifer's beautiful work here.