Posted in Food, Recipes

V for Vegan Meringues

Image by Viktoria Hodos at Shutterstock

A passionate supporter of sustainable eating, I am sorry to say I haven’t the willpower to give up meat and dairy altogether. My compromise is to incorporate vegetarian and vegan food into my carnivore diet.

I recently came across vegan friendly meringues. Intrigued by the egg free concept, I researched this further. I was surprised to discover the ingredient replacing egg white was in fact the water from a can of chickpeas. More recently acquiring the name aquafaba, which joins the Latin words aqua meaning water and faba meaning bean.

Image by Ainul muttaqin at Shutterstock

So How Does It Work?

When egg whites are whipped, pockets of air become suspended in the liquid. This occurs because of the presence of protein. Aquafaba contains protein, starch and saponins ( a chemical foaming agent found in many plants). These all work together to achieve the same chemical reaction, which occurs in traditional meringues. Essentially the viscous water from most legumes can be whisked into meringue. Chickpeas are ideal because of their neutral colour.

Image by sergei kochetov at Shutterstock

Aquafaba Meringue Recipe

Ingredients

  • 400g tin of cooked chickpeas
  • 75g caster sugar

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 120°C/Fan 100°C/250°F/Gas Mark 1/2.
  • Line a large baking tray with baking parchment.
  • Drain the chickpeas and measure 150ml/5fl oz of aquafaba. The chickpeas and remaining aquafaba will keep covered in the fridge for 3 days.
  • Whisk the aquafaba for 2-5 minutes until white, light and forming soft peaks, using a stand or hand whisk on a medium setting.
  • With the mixer on high speed slowly add the sugar to the mixture. The sugar needs to be fully dissolved and the meringue firm and glossy. This can take about 5 minutes.
  • Using a piping bag or two dessert spoons pipe/drop 14-16 large meringues onto the baking parchment.
  • Bake for 2 hours and then cool in the oven.
  • These meringues are best served the same day. They can be stored in an airtight container but will soften and become sticky the longer they are stored.
Posted in Food, Recipes

What is a Coddled Egg?

<p class="has-drop-cap" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">A coddled egg is similar to a poached egg. Instead of cracking a whole egg directly into water, it cooks in a dish (often a ramekin) placed in a lightly simmering water bath (bain-marie), for approximately 6-8 minutes depending on the water temperature. The word coddle refers to the soft texture of the egg yolk achieved by gentle cooking. Like poached eggs, the yolk should remain unbroken and slightly runny and the white should be set. The dish is greased with butter or oil to prevent sticking. Depending on the size of the dish more than one egg can be cooked at the same time. A coddled egg is similar to a poached egg. Instead of cracking a whole egg directly into water, it cooks in a dish (often a ramekin) placed in a lightly simmering water bath (bain-marie), for approximately 6-8 minutes depending on the water temperature. The word coddle refers to the soft texture of the egg yolk achieved by gentle cooking. Like poached eggs, the yolk should remain unbroken and slightly runny and the white should be set. The dish is greased with butter or oil to prevent sticking. Depending on the size of the dish more than one egg can be cooked at the same time.

Coddled eggs can be cooked in the oven or on the stove. Preheat the oven to 350°F, 177°C, Gas Mark 4 and heat a bain-marie until it is almost bubbling. The steam produced by the bain-marie helps gently cook the egg, while keeping it soft. On a stove fill a roasting tin with hot water and place over two burners. Place the ramekins in the water and cover with foil until cooked.

Cookingguide on YouTube

Coddled eggs are a traditional ingredient in a classic Caesar salad. Nowadays the dressing for Caesar salad is made with raw egg yolk. They are sometimes called eggs en cocotte. Other ingredients can be added to the ramekins with the eggs.

Image by studio presence at Shutterstock
Posted in Food, Natural World, Social Issues

Sugar: A Bitter Sweet Industry

Image by 955169 from Pixabay

Sugar is one of the worlds oldest documented commodities. Indigenous people of New Guinea chewed it raw in 8000 BC. Now common place in our pantries, it was once considered so valuable it was locked away in wooden cabinets called sugar safes. In 1319 AD sugar was sold in London at two shillings a pound, approximately £72 a kilogram in todays money.

Interesting Fact Demerara sugar is named after the colony of Demerara in Guyana and the surrounding sugar cane fields.

So What is Sugar?

Sugar is a carbohydrate called sucrose. It is produced naturally in all plants through photosynthesis. The image below shows how water and minerals are drawn from the soil by the plant roots. The leaves take carbon dioxide from the air. Chlorophyll found in the cells of leaves absorb sunlight. The energy from the sunlight turns carbon dioxide and water into sucrose.

Image by Markéta Machová from Pixabay

Glucose (dextrose), fructose (laevulose), and galactose are the building blocks of all carbohydrates. These three simple sugars are called monosaccharides, which bond with themselves and each other to produce more complex carbohydrates. Two monosaccharides joined together are called disaccharides. Common table sugar or sucrose is glucose bonded with fructose. Lactose found in milk is glucose bonded with galactose. Maltose is glucose boded with glucose. When more than ten monosaccharides are joined together, they are called polysaccharides. Starch is a glucose polymer.

Carbohydrates are an essential source of energy for the body, providing fuel for the brain, organs and muscles, enabling them to function and engage in everyday activities.

Sugar Cane and Sugar Beet

Sugar cane and sugar beets contain the greatest amount of sucrose, around 14-16%. This makes them the most efficient plants to extract sugar.

Sugar cane is a perennial grass, grown in tropical climate. They grow between 10-20 foot high. They are ready to harvest in 10-12 months, and are cut just above the root so new sprouts will grow.

Sugar beet was first identified as a source of sugar in 1747. The vested interests in the sugar cane plantations prevented sugar beet being explored further until the beginning of the 19th century. They are a root, ready to harvest in about 5 months, weighing a substantial 3-5lbs.

The Dark History of Sugar

A Brief History of Sugar From Slavery to Sweetener by Crafty Knowledge
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