Archive for Vegan

KimChi Grilled Cheese

For a Christmas gift this year, I got Samin Nosrat’s Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat cookbook.

I have been in love with Nosrat since I discovered her on a cooking show a while back, and was tickled pink when she released the Netflix documentary based on her cookbook (see some of my other favourite Netflix cooking shows here)

What I love about Nosrat is that she is truly a food nerd. I spend a lot of my time doing chemistry experiments in the kitchen, and so does she. I feel like I could just nerd out with her.

Her cookbook is huge, but also in some ways not so much a cookbook and more of a how-to guide. She explains, in great detail, the properties of salt, fat, acid and heat, and how to use them to make the best possible food.

Oh by the way, she has a pandemic podcast as well.

Vegan Kimchi Grilled Cheese

One of things Nosrat has been very vocal about loving is a Kimchi Grilled Cheese.

Now, if you are at all familiar with this blog, you’ll know that, despite not being even a tiny bit Korean (that I know of), I love KimChi. For those of you unfamiliar, KimChi is a fermented cabbage condiment that has been made for thousands of years in Korea. Its base is cabbage, and then you add salt and spices to it and let it sit for about a week and it gets all funky and spicy. It’s weird and hot and also because it’s fermented, it’s really great for your gut health.

KimChi, however, is usually made with fish sauce, so it’s not considered to be vegan. However, we have a local Vancouver business that does make a vegan version, and I’ve been loving Salty Cabbage KimChi since they launched a year ago, and have been including it in loads of recipes.

But I’d never had a KimChi grilled cheese.

Nosrat is right. It’s great. I used a nice crusty homemade sourdough bread, and the play of the textures and flavours makes this a winner. You’ve got the crusty bread, the spicy, funky kimchi, and the soft, melty, fatty cheese.

If you aren’t vegan, or you don’t want to make it vegan, just use regular cheese.

Here’s how to make a Kimchi Grilled Cheese: 

Sugar Free Aquafaba Meringue

One of the questions I get asked a lot, as an aquafaba expert (should I even be bragging about that?!?) is, can you make a sugar free aquafaba?

The answer is, of course, yes. However, it depends on a few factors.Sugar Free Aquafaba

If you’re using the aquafaba as an egg replacer in say, a cake, you’ll most likely use it straight up (ie unwhipped) or whipped, but without sugar. When I make waffles, for example, I whip the aquafaba, but I don’t add sugar to it, because there’s sugar already in the recipe. Some recipes, I just add it straight to the batter.

The challenge comes when you’re using aquafaba for meringue. Aquafaba is much less stable that egg whites are. The protein structures aren’t as strong, so that’s why sometimes it deflates, or doesn’t even make a meringue at all.

Even more so than when you’re using egg whites, aquafaba needs a little assist. I primarily use cream of tartar, though if extra support is required, I bring in the xanthan gum.

Sugar also helps to stabilize the meringue. I’ve experimented with different types of sugars, and some work better than others. You can see those results here.

So, to answer the question, yes, you can make aquafaba without sugar, but if you’re making a meringue out of it (mousse, pie topping, or making macarons or pavlova), you’ll want to add some sugar to stabilize it.

For those of you trying to kick the evil sugar habit (and good for you, you’re a better person than I), there are loads of sugar substitutes. My own personal favourite is monkfruit, but in my experiments, it did not react well with the aquafaba.

Stevia works, most certainly. But I am not the biggest stevia fan. I’ve tried many times, but I can’t get past the metallic aftertaste. Hey, maybe my taste buds are just super sensitive, but as a recipe developer, that’s not a terrible thing!

The sugar substitute that’s worked best for me is xylitol. Unlike stevia and monkfruit, which are plant-based sugar substitutes, xylitol is a sugar alcohol. It comes from, weirdly enough, the bark of birch trees. It only rates as a 7 on the GI, whereas regular sugar is somewhere around 60.

I like that you don’t have to do any math with it. It works in equal ratio to sugar, so when you’re substituting Xylitol for sugar, you just use exactly the same amount. This is one of the other things I do not like about stevia–I can never seem to figure out what the exact right amount to use is.

So there you go! Sugar free aquafaba meringue is incredibly accessible.

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