Kat Odell is one of the most Southern California people you could ever meet in Manhattan. Her hair is wavy and often beach blond, or some light color like lavender. Her wardrobe would look perfectly de sa place strolling down Venice's Abbot Kinney, and she talks about healthy living year-round the way only Angelenos truly do. Perhaps fittingly, she also makes some of the best nut milks I've found on the right-hand side of the country.
Her nut milk-making habit started mainly when she left SoCal for NYC for her gig at Eater, where she's currently its drinks editor. She was disappointed with what she could find, so she experimented at first with a basic vanilla almond milk recipe, eventually trying out different nut-and-spice combinations like cashew coconut and goji, turmeric-pine and a blue cardamom-spirulina almond milk she made for a collaboration between Mimi Cheng's and Il Buco Alimentari baker Kamel Saci (look out for other collaborations she's brewing in 2016).
Our favorite she makes, though, is a lightly rose-scented cardamom almond milk. Odell prefers this milk to be on the less sweet side, and we agree. Black cardamom, green cardamom's bolder cousin hit with a hint of smoke, adds a nice bit of spice. Pay attention to those nuts: Buy the highest-quality ones you can find. And if you don't have a nut milk bag or cheesecloth, strain the nut milk through a fine-mesh sieve twice.
Drinking the milk fresh is delightful, but we recommend chilling it for 20 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld and come through. As for the leftover pulp? Spread it onto a parchment-lined sheet tray and dry it overnight in a warm oven. We like to sneak it into our breakfast bowls and substitute it for the applesauce in our sweet potato bread.
Unicorn Milk (Rose-Cardamom Almond Milk)
Recipe adapted from Kat Odell, Eater drinks editor
Yield: 2 cups nut milk
Prep Time: 15 minutes, plus overnight soaking
Cook Time: N/A
Total Time: 15 minutes, plus overnight soaking
2 cups raw almonds
4 cups water, plus more for soaking
1 vanilla bean
Pink Himalayan salt, to taste
3 tablespoons dried rose petals, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon ground black cardamom powder
1. In a quart-size jar, add the almonds and cover with cold water by 2 inches. Let soak in a cool place (but not in the refrigerator) overnight to release their natural enzymes and soften for blending.
2. Drain the almond water and rinse the almonds with fresh water. Add to the base of a blender, along with the water, dates, vanilla and a pinch of the pink Himalayan salt. Blend on high speed until the nuts have fully broken down, about 2 minutes. Pour the liquid through a nut milk bag or cheesecloth, separating the pulp from the milk.
3. Rinse the blender and pour the milk back in. Add the rose petals and cardamom, and blend on medium-high speed until fully incorporated and the milk is a soft pink hue. Serve fresh or chill in the fridge.