Aquafaba: Sweet and Savory Vegan Recipes Made Egg-Free with the Magic of Bean Water by Zsu Dever released Oct 4, 2016 reflects the ground-breaking discovery that has set the culinary world afire with egg-free and oil-free possibilities from meringues to marshmallows to mayonnaise to butter to baking and more. New recipes for using aquafaba (the juice from cooking beans) appear every day in Facebook groups, magazine articles and all over the internet. With the release of Zsu’s book, Aquafaba, with the forward by aquafaba pioneer Goose Wohlt of Aquafaba.com, we have been treated to a beautiful and diverse collection of some of the finest vegan aquafaba recipes with Zsu’s personal flair.
Disclaimer: I am not a vegan (although I was for several years, then a vegetarian and now I am an omnivore), but I am a huge aquafaba fan and I have been using aquafaba since almost its beginning on Social Media, so I am reviewing this book as such. I am sure that vegans, and especially those who use soy and specialty ingredients such as soy milk, tofu, miso, psyllium husk powder, nutritional yeast, non-dairy yogurt, lactic acid etc. will have no problem with these recipes. However, those who are using aquafaba but are not vegans, and do not desire to be, may run into some difficulty in using or tweaking the vegan recipes for their use.
To be totally fair, this IS designed to be a vegan cookbook (the subtitle states it clearly) written by a recognized and popular vegan cookbook writer, published by a vegan book publisher, so a review from a non-vegan POV may seem to be counterproductive, as much as a vegan reviewing a cookbook on meat, however, even as a non-vegan, I enjoy making, collecting and sharing vegan recipes and foods with my friends who are vegan and I am always looking for good vegan recipes, especially with aquafaba. In addition, aquafaba is used by non-vegans who seek its egg-like qualities for those who need egg-free recipes due to allergies or cost or just for choice, but do not choose or need to give up other animal products. I am reviewing from both these viewpoints.
Review: There are many positive aspects about this book, and it is one that most vegans will love. The Aquafaba book starts out with a primer explaining what aquafaba is, what it is about it that is special, how to get it, make it, use it, store it and more. Very informative and helpful section. There is a statement that I must disagree with however, from my own experience on the topic of making aquafaba from cooking dried garbanzo beans in a pressure cooker.
Zsu Dever writes: “Pressure cooking: I do not recommend pressure-cooking the beans. Although pressure-cooking will make aquafaba, it will not be strong or consistent enough for use in the recipes in this book.”
I have found just the opposite to be true. I started off using canned beans for aquafaba, then moved on to cooking organic soaked garbanzo beans on the stovetop to cooking organic soaked garbanzo beans in a pressure cooker – the Instant Pot – and found the latter to be the best method of making concentrated, perfect aquafaba which performs well in any and all recipes. In addition, the pressure cooking method is my preferred method of cooking garbanzos for beans and aquafaba. To get lovely, dark and potent aquafaba, I soak organic garbanzo beans covered with double the amount of water for 24 hours. Then, I drain and rinse and place the beans in the stainless steel cooking pot of the Instant Pot. For every 1 cup of soaked garbanzo beans, I add 3 cups of fresh cold water to the pot. I lock the lid and choose the Manual setting and set the timer for 30 minutes. I let the Instant Pot return to normal pressure, by letting it sit to cool down (also known in lingo as NPR – natural pressure release), then remove the lid, remove the inner cooking pot and place it, with a lid on it, in the fridge to cool completely. Both the beans and the liquid are in the pot. After several hours to overnight, I strain out the cooked garbanzo beans and use them in a myriad of ways, and lo and behold, what is left is thick, rich, concentrated aquafaba! Strong and consistent each and every time. **Although I do recommend soaking beans all the time, I have cooked unsoaked garbanzo beans when soaking was impossible and they work very well in the Instant Pot by increasing the water 3 1/2 cups per 1 cup of beans and increasing the cooking time to 45 minutes.
The following sections include: Condiments, Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, Sweets from the Pantry, Sweets from the Oven, Bonus: Bean Recipes, Ingredients and Equipment as well as Resources and additional information from the “mother” of aquafaba Facebook groups, where it gained popularity. The recipes are beautifully photographed and written in Zsu’s clear and easy to understand style. They run from basics to exciting new applications for egg-free vegan foods. Recipes include:
Chile Relleno Quiche
Lemon Meringue Pie
Caramel Praline Cashew Ice Cream
Strawberry Shortcake Macarons
Dutch Butter Cookies
Autumn-Spiced Bread Pudding
Zsu includes non-dairy yogurt in most of her recipes and there is an excellent recipe on how to make non-dairy yogurt from scratch using soy, yet she also provides a nut-milk alternative to soy.
I personally love the bread section of Aquafaba, as a home baker of more than 30 years, and the recipes for homemade breads are a plus in any aquafaba book. I also appreciate the recipe for Gluten Free Artisan bread and Challah bread using aquafaba and instructions on using aquafaba instead of an egg wash on homemade breads. Vegans and egg-free bakers will rejoice!
This book also highlights candy, cookie and dessert making which is made possible using aquafaba. Yummy confections are now available to those who need to be egg-free and yet love their candies, marshmallows, cakes, puffed cereal bars, and of course macarons. The section on macarons includes a large trouble-shooting guide and several tempting flavors and variations. egg-free macarons are a thing of beauty and now can be made with aquafaba.
Conclusion: Aquafaba: Sweet and Savory Vegan Recipes Made Egg-Free with the Magic of Bean Water by Zsu Dever is a wonderful, diverse and exciting collection of egg-free (vegan) recipes that will thrill most vegans and non-vegans alike, IF, they comfortable purchasing and using specialty ingredients. Most households with food allergy sufferers, are familiar with specialty ingredients including these found in Zsu’s recipes. However, for the persons who are just egg-free, some of these recipes and ingredients may be too complicated and expensive and easier non-vegan recipes using aquafaba might be preferable. Overall, I highly recommend this book for ALL serious aquafaba enthusiasts!
Enjoy this Latke recipe from the book Aquafaba by Zsu Dever.
These latkes are perfectly crisp on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth on the inside. The added potato starch increases their crispiness, but it is not essential. Some russet potatoes tend to be on the drier side, but to be safe, place them in a lint-free kitchen towel, fold up the edges and give them a good wring to remove excess water. Serve this the traditional way, with non-dairy sour cream and applesauce. (From Aquafaba, copyright © 2016 by Zsu Dever)
2 pounds russet potatoes
1/2 medium onion
1/4 cup aquafaba (see Note)
1/4 cup potato starch, optional
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, optional
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
High-heat oil, for frying, such as canola or peanut
Peel the potatoes and shred them using either a food processor with the shredding blade or a box grater. Place them on a kitchen towel, fold up the edges, twist the towel around the potatoes, and squeeze out all the water that you can. Place the potatoes in a large bowl. Shred the onion and add it to the potatoes. Add the aquafaba, starch, parsley (if using), salt, baking powder, and black pepper. Mix very well.
Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add two or three kernels of popping corn and heat the oil until the corn pops; this is an indicator that your oil is hot enough. Remove and discard the popped corn.
Using a 1/4-cup measuring cup, place 3 to 4 portions of the potato mixture in the hot oil and cook them until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Do not press down on the latkes. Flip the latkes and continue to cook another 2 minutes. Drain them on paper towels and serve as soon as possible. Make sure to give the potatoes a stir before measuring, and do not crowd the skillet or your latkes will not be crispy.
Makes 14 to 16 latkes
Note: Although aquafaba is best if homemade using the recipe provided in the book, you can use aquafaba from canned chickpeas. Use the organic, low-sodium, canned chickpeas and strain off the liquid into a measuring cup using a fine mesh strainer. Note the amount of liquid you acquired, then add it to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the liquid reduces by 1/3. Cool the aquafaba completely before using.
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