The New Milks
By Sarah McColl
Got milk? Yes, it turns out we all do, and in greater and greater varieties. “Gone are the days when milk always meant cow’s milk,” Dina Cheney writes in the The New Milks. “Today, the term could just as well connote a creamy beverage made from water plus nuts, seeds, legumes, grains, coconuts, or tubers.”
While this isn’t a new trend—we’ve been making milk from nuts and seeds for millennia—we’ve seen a rapid increase in non-dairy consumption. Indeed, since 2011, almond milk sales have zoomed past soy, goat, and sheep, growing 250 percent, and hovering at close to $1 billion in sales, according to the Nielsen Company.
Whether you’re vegan, lactose-intolerant, Paleo or just “mil-curious,” there are now shelves of non-dairy milks offering nutritional, philosophical and culinary alternatives to the moo juice. Better still, you can DIY them all like almond milk.
“I make plant-based milks a couple of times a week, and always have several varieties stocked in my pantry,” Cheney said. “I think they taste better than cow’s milk — which is a good thing since I’m lactose-intolerant,” she added.
Beginning with the basics for making every kind of non-dairy milk, Cheney also suggests experimenting in the kitchen by mixing raw ingredients to make coconut-pistachio or brown-rice buckwheat versions for a malty pancake batter. From there, the sky’s the limit for culinary creativity, flavoring milks with saffron, ginger and turmeric, matcha, espresso or rose water essence.
But she doesn’t let cooking aspirations get in the way of real life. “In general, I recommend cooking with store-bought milks, since they’re so convenient,” she writes in her book, and the 100-plus recipes revealing how to mix the new milks into every meal was developed with packaged milks in mind.
From curries to koftas, mattar paneer to mac and cheese, there’s a whole wide world out there beyond the almond milk breakfast smoothie. The New Milks shows us the way. Try Cheney’s recipe for Strawberry “Buttermilk” Sherbet and her Buttermilk “Fried” Chicken, below, both of which are perfect for summer parties.
Buttermilk “Fried” Chicken
2 cups plain unsweetened soy milk
2 tablespoons fresh, strained lime juice
3 tablespoons Sriracha sauce, divided
1½ tablespoons crushed chopped garlic
1¼ teaspoons coarse kosher salt, divided
18 grinds black pepper, divided
About 2¾ pounds bone-in chicken thighs and drumsticks (about 4 thighs and 5 drumsticks), skin removed
4 cups cornflake cereal, crushed (about 1¼ cups)
4 tablespoons vegan butter, melted
¼ cup honey
In a large bowl, whisk together the soy milk and lime juice, and let sit for 10 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of the Sriracha, the garlic, ½ teaspoon of the salt, and 10 grinds of the pepper, and whisk again. Add the chicken, covering with the marinade. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
When ready to bake the chicken, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, and place an oven rack in the second highest position. Place a wire rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet, and spray the wire rack with cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the crushed cornflakes with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 8 grinds of pepper. One at a time, remove a piece of chicken from the marinade, shaking off the liquid. Discard the marinade. Dredge both sides in the seasoned cornflakes, and transfer to the rack. Repeat with the remaining chicken and cornflakes. Evenly drizzle the melted vegan butter over the chicken.
Bake until the outside of the chicken is golden brown and the meat is 165 degrees F when poked with a meat thermometer (not touching bone), about 40 minutes. (Do not turn over the chicken.) Let cool for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the remaining tablespoon Sriracha plus the honey to a small saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat and keep at room temperature. Gently transfer the chicken to plates. Serve with the Sriracha honey on the side for dipping.
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