Tag Archive for vegan recipes

What Kinds of Sugars Work with Aquafaba Meringue?

A few months back, while I was working on my cookbook, I spent a day playing with different kinds of sugars.

There are lots of folks out there (especially in the vegan community) that are trying to avoid sugar, or at least cut down on it.

An additional note to make is that most people assume that granulated sugar (which is what I primarily use to make Aquafaba meringue) is vegan. I mean, why wouldn’t you?

Different Sugars and Aquafaba

But it turns out that some sugar is processed by filtering it through bone char, which would render it non-vegan for most, given that the sugar has come into contact with an animal product (despite the fact that it contains no animal products). If you live here in BC, our main supplier of sugar is Roger’s, and their sugar is indeed filtered through bone char.

Again, it all just depends on whether or not you are vegan–there are certainly lots of people who may use aquafaba for other reasons.

But let’s go with this–let’s say you are vegan and you’re trying to avoid granulated sugar–which, let’s face it, is the worst kind for you, anyway.

You have lots of options! Basically any sugar that is unrefined, organic or raw, will not be filtered through bone char (here’s a list of vegan sugars). BUT if you’re making aquafaba meringue, will these sugars work?

Sugar is important to the process. When you’re making a meringue, sugar helps to stabilize the aquafaba, and of course, if you’re adding it to desserts, it adds sweetness. I’ve made aquafaba meringue without sugar (just some stabilizer like cream of tartar) and it worked fine for non-sweet recipes, but most of the time, I’m using it in sweeter interpretations, so I do add sugar.

I was curious to see what sugars worked best with aquafaba, so I did a little experiment.

I tried making meringue with aquafaba and 6 different kinds of sugars.

For these, I used the ratio:

  • 3 tbsp aquafaba
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

I then fired all of that in my KitchenAid stand mixer and let it go for about 6-10 minutes.

Organic: Organic sugar is less processed than white sugar. First off, it comes from organic sugarcane, and secondly, there are no chemical processes done to the sugarcane. So it’s a much purer result.

Coconut sugar: Coconut sugar has a lower GI (about 30-35) than regular sugar, which is why it’s becoming so popular right now. I actually like this one quite a bit.

Turbinado: this is “Sugar in the Raw” or raw sugar. It’s a coarser grain and a darker colour.

Brown Sugar: So, while it might seem less refined than white sugar (and to some degree it is), brown sugar is mostly white sugar with molasses added back in for flavor and colour. So, again, ideally buy the organic version of this to ensure it’s vegan, if that’s your deal.

Xylitol: made from the bark of birch trees (I know, sounds weird, right?) Xylitol is as sweet as sugar, so you can use it cup-for-cup, but it’s natural, and doesn’t have an aftertaste like stevia does. It’s also basically zero on the GI scale, so it’s kind of like sugar free sugar.

Monkfruit: It’s made from a tropical melon, and it’s pretty sweet, though it has a GI of zero. I’ve been using it for about a year. You have to be careful not to use too much. I put some in my coffee the other day and couldn’t drink it. Monkfruit was the only sweetener that did not work at all with the Aquafaba.

Conclusion: they all worked with aquafaba to some degree. Some formed better peaks than others. Surprisingly, Xylitol worked really well. The browner sugars changed the colour of the meringue, so if that’s an issue for you, stick to to organic white sugar.

 

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Vegan Scallops

I am Top Chef obsessed. Always have been. I’ve watched them all. My favorite, of course, were Top Chef Canada, because I loved seeing my local chefs (whose work I was a big fan of) shine on a national level.

The Top Chef Canada franchise only lasted 4 seasons, sadly, but just recently, they brought it back, with Top Chef Canada All Stars.

vegan scallops

A couple years back, I got to attend a Top Chef event that featured the food of the ladies who had competed. One of my faves on the show was Lauren Marshall, who has been the only vegan, as far as I know, to compete. There was this one episode where she made a vegan scallop dish, and we got to try it that night. It was amazing.

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago when I got invited to a lunch at Diva at the Met. Now, we have some great restaurants here in Vancouver, but weirdly, Diva was a place I had never eaten at, and upon reflection, I’m not sure why. The food was wonderful, and they represent all the things I love: they cook locally, in season, and they strive to make as much as possible in-house (including these incredible chocolates made by their pastry chef!).

scallops diva at the met

One dish that was served at the lunch was a scallop atop a kind of salsa made from avocado, hearts of palm and cucumber. I was determined to veganize it.

The key to vegan scallops are King Mushrooms. I had to go to a few places before I found them, but I eventually found them at a little Korean produce store in my ‘hood. When you slice the stems into rounds, they look exactly like scallops. They even have that slightly rubbery bite that you get with scallops. They are dead ringers.

Given that rhubarb is so in season right now, I wanted to incorporate it into the recipe as well.

You could serve this on a platter (like the Diva version) or as I did, in individual portions on spoons. Either way, it’s an elegant starter for your next party. In fact, I think I’ll serve this at my book launch!

Shameless plug: my cookbook, Aquafabulous!: 100+ Egg-Free Vegan Recipes Using Aquafaba is now in bookstores! You can also order it from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com and Chapters-Indigo.

Vegan Scallops with avocado salsa

Vegan Scallops

Ingredients

  • 4 king mushrooms
  • 1-2 stalks rhubarb, cut into 1/2″ squares
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vinegar (preferably apple cider)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 avocado, cut into 1/2″ squares
  • 1/2 cucumber, cut into 1/2″ squares
  • 1/4 cup edamame beans or fresh corn
  • fresh chives or green onion

Method:

  1. Quick pickle the rhubarb. In a small saucepan on the stove, heat together the water, vinegar, sugar and salt until they are all melted together. Bring just to the boil. Place the rhubarb in a heat-proof bowl and pour the pickling liquid over it and allow it to stand while you do the rest of your prep.
  2. Chop the avocado and cucumber, and place in another bowl. Add the edamame and stir well.
  3. Top and tail the king mushrooms. Set aside the caps and ends for another use. Cut the mushroom in half and then each half into halves, giving you 4 circles of mushroom stem.
  4. Heat a heavy frying pan over medium-high heat, and add oil to the pan. It’ important that the pan and oil are hot to get a good sear. Place the mushrooms into the pan, and allow to cook for about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and a little garlic powder. Once they are caramelized on one side, flip, and allow to cook to a similar doneness on the other side.
  5. Drain the rhubarb, reserving some of the pickling liquid. Add the rhubarb, a little of the pickling liquid and some olive oil to your salsa, and stir well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Place the salsa on a plate in a pile, and then top with “scallops.” Garnish with sliced green onions or chives.

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