Cookbook Update #2: A Cheesy Breakthrough!

Okay, so the cookbook was off to a bit of a rough start, but I’ve had a breakthrough.

Cheese is, by far, the most difficult thing I’ve tackled to date. There are few other toughies on the list: namely marshmallows and macarons. I’ve tried making marshmallows several times, and it’s been all failure, all the time, and I’ve not even attempted macarons yet (thought I have made the non-vegan version). I’ll get to those eventually.

For now, I’ve been experimenting a lot with vegan cheese.

Now, for those of you who are vegan, you’ll probably know that most vegan cheeses are nut-based. There will be recopies for these in my book. You basically soak almonds or cashews in water overnight, then you blend them up with some nooch and some other stuff, and it makes a cream-cheese, dip-like consistency “cheese” that’s quite tasty.

I, however, because I do like a challenge, decided I wanted a. my cheese to be nut-free for those who have allergies, and b. to be more like the kind of cheese I’d sit down and eat with crackers and a glass of wine. I wanted something resembling an aged, nippy cheddar. Maybe something smoked.

vegan cheese aquafaba

I’ve been working with chickpea flour a lot since I started writing this book. Not only is the main ingredient of the book chickpeas, but chickpea flour is pretty darn amazing. It’s gluten-free, and it also has a kind of cheesy taste. It makes a great alfredo sauce. And–it makes great cheese. I can’t give away the recipe, you’ll have to wait for the book but I think this one could be a game-changer.

Cheeses I’ve made in the past had a kind of spongy consistency, but this one slices clean, and has a nice, flaky consistency, just like an aged cheese. I’ve added a few dashes of hickory for a smoked flavour, and I gotta say, it’s pretty darn good.

One of my vegan taste-testers: “The cheese was great! It has been so long since I’ve tasted something actually like cheese.”

I’ll take that as a win.

This week, I worked a ton on breakfast stuff and quick breads. There will be recipes for pancakes, waffles, banana bread, muffins, zuchini bread, and actual bread in the book–all made with aquafaba!

Progress is being made. Slowly, slowly…

I have to take a break from the book for a week, however. I’m off to Chicago for a conference next week, so you won’t hear from me for a while. But I’ll be eating my way through Chicago, and hopefully that will lead to some inspiration.

Until next time, cheers!

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Purple Nice Cream {Vegan}

When I was first learning how to to cook, my dad would often label my creations “the wild, the weird and the wonderful.” And this recipe belongs in that category.

Don’t knock it, though. Despite being weird, it tastes pretty wonderful.

Purple nice cream vegan

Vegan ice cream can be a challenge. I mean, if you think about it, ice cream is basically 3 things: sugar, eggs and milk or cream, or a combination of milk and cream. Two out of three of those ingredients are things vegans don’t eat. And just plain sugar is not an option.

One of the great challenges, chemistry-wise, is the lack of fat content in many vegan ingredients. Ice cream works because the fat content is usually pretty high, and the water content is usually pretty low. Too much water leads to crystals and hard ice cream, and nobody wants that.

I’ve made it with coconut milk, and I’ve also had tons of success using aquafaba. This recipe, however, gets its body from sweet potatoes.

Yes. Sweet potatoes. There’s vegetables in that thar ice cream.

I’ve used sweet potatoes in vegan desserts before, like this vegan creme brulee. And a local vegan ice cream shop, Nice Vice, uses sweet potatoes in some of their recipes. So, why not me?

These aren’t just any sweet potatoes, though. These are ubes. Ubes are purple yams, pretty popular in Philippine cuisine. But unlike purple Japanese sweet potatoes, they are purple all the way through, and the shocking colour of this ice cream is partly what gives it its appeal.

You should be able to find ube at most Asian grocery stores, though I surprisingly found these at my local Safeway. Just be sure to snap the top off of one to make sure they are purple all the way though.

The taste is interesting. I’m not saying everyone is going to like it, but the blueberries add sweetness, and honestly, this is tasty stuff. You know I wouldn’t post it if it wasn’t.

purple yams ube

Purple Nice Cream

  • 2 smaller purple yams or 1 larger one
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup coconut cream (see directions below)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp aquafaba
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp xanthium gum

Method:

  1. Peel the yams and cut them into chunks. Place in a saucepan, and then add water just to cover. Place on the stove and bring to a boil. Cook until soft. Drain and allow to cool.
  2. Place the can of coconut milk in the freezer for 15 minutes, unless using coconut cream, then you can use it straight from the can.
  3. Place the blueberries, water, sugar, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Bring up to a simmer and allow to cook for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
  4. Remove the coconut milk from the freezer, and open the can. Scoop out the top coconut cream that has risen to the surface, and measure out 1/4 cup.
  5. Place the blueberries mixture and the yams in a blender along with the coconut cream and the vanilla. Blend well until smooth. Pour out into a large bowl.
  6. Place the auqafaba, 1 tbsp of sugar and xanthium gum (it keeps the ice cream from crystallizing) in a stand mixer, and whip to stiff peaks. Carefully fold the whipped AF into the blueberry/yam mixture.
  7. Freeze according to your ice cream maker manufacturer’s instructions. Note: my ice cream maker, a Cusinart, usually takes about 20 minutes to make a batch of ice cream. This one took a little longer.

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