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Zsu Dever has been involved in the restaurant business most of her life. She hails from a long line of culinary professionals and restaurateurs. She is the author of Everyday Vegan Eats, Vegan Bowls and Aquafaba, (published by Vegan Heritage Press) and publishes the blog Zsu’s Vegan Pantry. Zsu is a passionate vegan and resides in San Diego, CA, with her three wonderful children, her three adorable felines and her one amazing husband.
Caryn Hartglass: Hello everybody, I’m Caryn Hartglass and thank you for joining me for the second part today of It’s All About Food. Okay, now we’re all cleared out and decluttered and detoxed, right? Good. Take another big breath, all that good stuff, breathe it out. I’m ready now for that exciting part or the fun part of this program. My guest is, and I hope I get her name right, is Zsu Dever, and she has been involved in the restaurant business most of her life. She hails from a long line of culinary professionals and restauranteurs. She’s the author of Everyday Vegan Eats, Vegan Bowls, and drumroll, Aquafaba, and publishes the blog, Zsu’s Vegan Pantry. Zsu is a passionate vegan and resides in San Diego, California with her three wonderful children, her three adorable felines, and her one amazing husband. Welcome to It’s All About Food!
Zsu Dever: Hi Caryn. Happy to be here.
Caryn Hartglass: Hi! So first tell me how do you say your name?
Zsu Dever: Zsu Dever.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, I blew that! Zsu Dever! Welcome! Love it!
Zsu Dever: Thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: You’re Hungarian, I read. Is that Hungarian?
Zsu Dever: Yes. Hungarian, I was born there in Budapest.
Caryn Hartglass: So you’re name, is that… a typical Hungarian name.
Zsu Dever: Yes, yes. It’s actually “Zsuzsanna”, just like Zsa Zsa Gabor, but she kind of switched it out to, just to make it easier.
Caryn Hartglass: Ah. I love it, okay. Well… Your book is coming out. When is it released?
Zsu Dever: October 4.
Caryn Hartglass: October 4th. So we’re a little bit early, so we’re going to get some excitement going, and I’m excited, and I’ve looked at the book and I’m just so thrilled with it. I feel like… It’s crazy, but it’s just like a part of the… wonderful part of the 21st Century, where we’re really starting to go to a better place in so many ways, and we’re figuring out that we don’t need to harm sentient beings anymore, and we can still have all the wonderful traditional treats that we’ve have through centuries and aquafaba is an amazing piece of that, and it’s so much fun, and I’m so glad you came out with this book because you’re making it easy for everybody, so let’s talk about aquafaba! Why don’t you first tell me what it is.
Zsu Dever: All right, it is very simply, it’s the water that beans are cooked in. That is what aquafaba is.
Caryn Hartglass: And the story… Let’s just… A little story, you talk about it in your book, and for those who are on some of the Facebook pages that have seen this discovery just give us a quick update, cause the history is not very long.
Zsu Dever: No, no it’s not. In fact, the whole thing started snow balling back in March 2015, so about a year, maybe a year and a half, nothing, not too long at all. It turns out there was a French tenor, and he was a singer, and he also liked to play gastronomy in the kitchen. His name was Joël Roessel, I’m pretty sure I butchered that one too, and he posted a video about his discovery and Goose Wohlt saw this idea of whipping meringue from bean water and he made meringue cookies out of it by adding sugar to it too, just like a regular meringue cookie that you would, and Goose just posted it on “What Fats Vegans Eat”, and just a couple of days later, it wasn’t even that long, a brand new Facebook group called “Vegan Meringues – Hits and Misses!”, was rolled out and now it has about 40-50 thousand members. It’s amazing!
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. It’s crazy. But that’s how important this is and it’s… what I love is, it’s so simple and there have been many things in the vegan world, I’ve been vegan since 1988, and I’ve seen all kinds of new products come out, but this isn’t even a new product, it’s something that’s been with us forever!
Zsu Dever: All this time! All this time!
Caryn Hartglass: All this time! And we’ve been throwing down the sink!
Zsu Dever: No more. Nobody’s allowed to do that anymore.
Caryn Hartglass: No more. Okay now before we talk about…
Zsu Dever: You can save it, you can freeze it.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, I didn’t know that. I’m glad I read the book because I have not done a lot of aquafaba dabbling but you answered almost every question that I had in the book, but I do have one more question and I don’t know if you’ll have the answer to it. But I just want to get this one out of the way before we talk about the fun stuff. So when I think about soaking beans, and rinsing them, and refilling them, and then cooking them, and then rinsing them, and letting the water go, I have learned about the oligosaccharides that are in the bean water that cause gas, and so the question is, does aquafaba give us gas?
Zsu Dever: Well, what I do is I cook the beans with kombu, which is a seaweed. And traditionally it’s a macrobiotic way to cook beans. It helps to render this oligosaccharide that you’re talking about, not important. In fact, I have not had any of my testers, or me, I’ve gone through 200 pounds of chickpeas in a matter of I think 7 months doing this cookbook, and we have had no issues with that problem.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. So, maybe just using the kombu. Kombu will be helpful. Also people that have been eating beans for a long time, have the micro flora, the gut flora, to helps digest those oligosaccharides so that can be helpful too.
Zsu Dever: And also it depends on how long you cook the beans. A lot of people undercook the beans and that also causes some digestive issues.
Caryn Hartglass: Right, so the idea is… Okay first, everyone should know that you can, you don’t have to cook and soak your beans, although I think that’s the best thing to do, it’s the least expensive and you can control it, and there’s a lot of wonderful reasons why you want to do that, but the aquafaba is in the can too, in the can beans.
Zsu Dever: Yes it is, yes it is. I recommend that you reduce canned aquafaba by about a third, because that seems to be the… the consistent way that canned manufacturers add water to beans, because what they do is they actually cook the beans in the can, so they add a specific amount of water to it.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh!
Zsu Dever: Right. And to get a nice thick viscous that you would need for these recipes, because not all canned beans also have the kombu in it, which you would be doing if you cooked it at home, so to get that nice viscous, thick aquafaba you would reduce it by one third and refrigerate it, then it thickens up for you.
Caryn Hartglass: Right, I have to admit I did make one recent meringue and I loved it, but I didn’t reduce it and the meringue was like cotton candy almost. I liked it, but it was very, very light. It just like disappeared on my tongue!
Zsu Dever: Yes. So, not only do you reduce it, but you really have to whip it properly. To get aquafaba to whip to stiff peaks takes about 15 minutes, and that’s with a machine.
Caryn Hartglass: 15, one five, 15 minutes.
Zsu Dever: One five, yes.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, okay. Yeah, well anyway it is… I don’t know if I’m going to be tickled by this the rest of my life, but I am so tickled by it, because, like I said, I’ve been vegan since 1988, and just like cheese for example, it was just one of those things, egg whites, that I just decided I could live without this, and now I know I don’t have too, and it’s just so much fun!
Zsu Dever: It is. You can make meringue cookies with it, macaroons. Macaroons have been out of my spotlight for many years, ever since it came out, they became really popular. But now you can actually do macaroons too.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, so you mentioned that the meringue once you’ve whipped this aquafaba into a frenzy for 15 minutes, and you can add cream of tartar to it, you mentioned that alcohol can deflate it. So I’m thinking a vanilla extract that has alcohol in it, is that something we shouldn’t add to it because it’s deflating.
Zsu Dever: Well, if you have experience with the texture that aquafaba needs to get, then I do believe that you can add any number of strange things that if you… if you don’t have the key points of aquafaba ready yet, then you shouldn’t, you should really go for non-alcoholic extracts, which I believe Trader Joe’s has. That’s where I usually get my vanilla extract because it is non-alcoholic. But you can also use vanilla powder, and once you whip this thing into a frenzy like you say and it’s really a stiff peak, you can even add oil to it, and it won’t deflate on you terribly.
Caryn Hartglass: Ah! And what does the oil do, make it richer?
Zsu Dever: Well for instance in my whipped aquafaba, it’s like a whipped cream substitute, it makes it rich and thick, and it actually tastes like whipped cream!
Caryn Hartglass: Mmmmmmm! Okay, I’m trying to control my explosive excitement.
Zsu Dever: I was very excited for that recipe, cause I really didn’t think I could do it but it happened.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, and it’s really easy! Now, I have to admit, I’ve only used a K5 mixer to do this so I imagine doing it by hand would be exhausting.
Zsu Dever: A workout.
Caryn Hartglass: A workout.
Zsu Dever: Yes, definitely.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, so maybe if you some upper body workout before you indulge in a sweet treat maybe that’s the way to go but a hand mixer at least is necessary, right?
Zsu Dever: At least. Yes, I would recommend at least a hand mixer, but once you get really into it, you can pull it out of your garage, the thing that you haven’t thought of using it because, you know, what is good for, it’s made for bread and that’s about it. Now you can use that balloon attachment.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s funny that you say take it out of the garage because my partner Gary, we live in New York City, and we don’t have a car, he calls the K5 mixer his car, and we don’t have a garage to put it in, but it just seems like you could take it out… anyways. It’s good to have.
Zsu Dever: It is. It’s real nice.
Caryn Hartglass: So, I will be making your lemon meringue pie later this week, I was just sent a box of Northern California lemons from Gary’s cousin Nancy, and I’m just so… We were in California for 3 months this summer and I was really missing the fresh lemons, so she sent me a box, so I’ve got these great California lemons. You talked about adding sugar to the meringue and a sugar syrup.
Zsu Dever: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: And can you explain the difference between meringue without sugar, with sugar, and with sugar syrup?
Zsu Dever: Sure. There are three different types of meringues, the French meringue, the Swiss, and the Italian. The Italian meringue, this is the same thing with egg whites, so basically, you do the same thing that you do with egg whites, you just do it with the aquafaba meringue, you add the hot sugar syrup, and that makes a very stable meringue, but again, your meringue has to be at stiff peaks otherwise you will deflate the whole thing. So it’s like making candy really.
Caryn Hartglass: So that’s Italian.
Zsu Dever: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay.
Zsu Dever: I remember that because “hot” Italian.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. And the French and the Swiss, they do it differently?
Zsu Dever: The French is the easiest one. That’s where you whip it into a meringue, and then you just add the sugar, a little at a time, and the sugar starts incorporating into the meringue, and it makes the lattice work of the meringue strong, which is why you can bake it, technically bake it, but it’s really dehydrating. You can make it into meringue cookies. Now Swiss meringue is where you combine the sugar and the aquafaba and heat it up a little bit, just to melt the sugar, and then you whip it into a frenzy. And that’s the term.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. Well the wonderful thing is that you’ve figured all this out for us, to know what to add to what, and to bake it or not bake it, and that makes it all easy.
Zsu Dever: I try.
Caryn Hartglass: And so you have added to the universal consciousness that we all share and we are all going to elevate and evolve our compassionate culinary skills as a result.
Zsu Dever: I firmly hope so.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. Now this isn’t just about aquafaba, you’ve got lots of other recipes in there, some with aquafaba and some without. I just wanted to talk a moment about yogurt. And I’ve made yogurt before, but I had no idea you could make a mother culture from jalapeno peppers.
Zsu Dever: I was so excited to find that out. It’s a very classic, ancient Indian way to incorporate the beneficial bacteria into your milk, and with that, you can make this mother culture last years. If you try to make yogurt using store bought yogurt, that culture eventually will die out, and you won’t be able to make yogurt from it. But with this, I have been able to do it ever since I discovered it 7 months ago and it hasn’t died on me.
Caryn Hartglass: Now, how long can that mother culture last. If for some reason you can’t make yogurt right away and replace it. Does it last for a while?
Zsu Dever: Well, about 7 days. But I have a theory you can actually freeze it because it’s like a yeast thing, and you know you can freeze your yeast and you can use it again, even bread dough, a lot of time you can freeze the bread dough and then let it thaw and then it poufs again, so your culture is still there, it’s not like a mammal that would break itself, it’s a bacteria.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, that’s fascinating. I used to have my own bread starter which I loved, but it’s… I never thought about freezing it, and maybe I can do that because I’m not home sometimes for long periods of time, and you have to feed these guys.
Zsu Dever: Yes, definitely try that.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, so there’s a lot of many creative recipes in this book. Not just aquafaba, the bean water, which you mentioned can also, you can use any bean to make aquafaba but the lighter color beans tend to have less of a bean flavor.
Zsu Dever: Correct. And less of a bean color.
Caryn Hartglass: And color.
Zsu Dever: Yup.
Caryn Hartglass: But I’ve been praising chickpeas now the last few weeks, just because it is the most amazing bean, not just for the aquafaba, but for chickpea flour and all the things that you can do with it. And it’s… who needs eggs anymore! I mean really! We can do everything; pretty much an egg can do with plants. It’s not just one plant that can do all the things that one egg can do.
Zsu Dever: Yes. We have to get a couple of plants, but hey the chickens live.
Caryn Hartglass: Right, now is the aquafaba, is it… can it be used as a binder.
Zsu Dever: It does have limiting binding abilities. So you would have to mix it with something else to help it bind a bit. It does bind, but I can’t really say that you could use it exclusively to bind something.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, we’ll we’ve got plenty of binding plant substitutes for eggs that work phenomenally well, I was just curious about it. I loved your tamagoyaki rolled omelet recipe.
Zsu Dever: I like that one too.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah! I mean I’ve made a lot of vegan omelets, chickpea flour, tofu, and I never even thought about making a tamagoyaki it’s beautiful and looks like it would travel well, make a nice lunchbox filler, amongst other things.
Zsu Dever: It is. Right, that’s the way it was originally intended and this one works just like that. You pull it and you eat it from your lunchbox, it’s really good.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah! And then the other thing, which I had to go eat lunch after seeing this recipe cause I was just like, I have to eat now I’m so hungry, was the Levantine kebabs.
Zsu Dever: Yeah, that’s really one of my favorites too. I was really wanting to replicate one of those Middle Eastern kebabs, you know the ones that come on the stick, and its ground meat, but I really wanted to something that was very akin to it, and the aquafaba makes the batter nice and light, so it’s just like… yeah it’s really delicious. The flavors are really nice.
Caryn Hartglass: I heard from listener today when I posted this program on Facebook, and she shared a story that I wanted to mention. She said that when she was talking to her mom about aquafaba, her grandfather overheard, and he told them both that his mother used to use the water of beans and chickpeas during the war in Europe because they had a shortage of eggs and they couldn’t afford or get any, and now she didn’t clarify if they were using it for aquafaba or not, so I’m not sure if that was the case, but she was implying that people were using these products a long time ago and now we’re rediscovering it as new. I’m going to have to dig a little further on that one, I just… I also wanted to send out a shout out to this listener, she’s from Australia, and her grandfather, I want to send them a little healing energy because he had a stroke last year, and it took his vision and he’s done a lot of wonderful things in his life, and just thank you for the story, and sending healing energy there. But I don’t know if people were using aquafaba before and I’m not sure which war it was, World War I or World War II. I do know that during those times we got creative and ended up using plants for many things and people were making chocolate cake without milk and eggs because they didn’t have them, and a lot of creativity happens from a lack.
Zsu Dever: Right. And at that time though I don’t think we had quite the agriculture that we have now, all the pushing towards the meat and the dairy and the eggs. That just wasn’t a thing back then.
Caryn Hartglass: Right.
Zsu Dever: So it made sense that you used everything you had, which is what a lot of people did throughout history.
Caryn Hartglass: And they also didn’t have K5 mixers back then so it…
Zsu Dever: They did not! They did not! They didn’t have macaroons either!
Caryn Hartglass: Really a workout to whip that meringue into a frenzy like I like to say.
Zsu Dever: But that’s when we were carrying buckets of water.
Caryn Hartglass: Excuse me?
Zsu Dever: That’s when we were carrying buckets of water, and cast iron dishes, all that stuff.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh please! People have no idea how easy we have it today, many of us, unfortunately there are people that still are struggling in many parts of the world. Okay so this is a great book, and it’s coming out October 4th I think you said by Vegan Heritage Press. There are lots of vegan cookbooks by this publisher. But you’re so much more than that! You already have two books out and you have a blog, you’re, Zsu’s, I don’t, I can’t say your name.
Zsu Dever: Zsu’s Vegan Pantry.
Caryn Hartglass: Zsu’s Vegan Pantry.
Zsu Dever: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: And. You have three children, and I’m imagining that they love the things that come out of your kitchen.
Zsu Dever: I tell you, they’ve had enough of the sweets though. I had to do those things so many times! They are done with them.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s funny. So how old are they?
Zsu Dever: They’re older, 21, 19, and 16.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh okay. And are they vegan too?
Zsu Dever: They’re all in college. Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: Awesome! I love when people make vegan children.
Zsu Dever: I love it when they stay.
Caryn Hartglass: Did they start out vegan?
Zsu Dever: No, no. They were 3, and 2, and 1 when we became vegan. Well 4, 3, and 1.
Caryn Hartglass: Right. And I imagine there were some challenges along the way as you were learning what foods…
Zsu Dever: Yes, hot dogs were a big problem. They loved their hot dogs, and chicken nuggets. We had to replace those. And hot dogs weren’t that good then, the veggies dogs.
Caryn Hartglass: Right, but they’re pretty amazing today.
Zsu Dever: They are just so good right now. There’s just no reason not to.
Caryn Hartglass: No reason not too! Say that out loud three times!
Zsu Dever: Indeed. Everyone.
Caryn Hartglass: There’s no reason to eat meat, or eggs, or milk, there’s no reason!
Zsu Dever: There is none. It’s all propaganda.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m sorry. Because… I’m sorry I interrupted you. No, no, no you talk.
Zsu Dever: Oh no! Oh no, no! I was just repeating, repeating your saying, there’s no reason not too.
Caryn Hartglass: The challenge about this, and I love technology, and I love what we’re doing, but there’s this delay, and then if we get caught up in this cycle of delays we’re just on top of each other, one after another, so I’m just going to breathe here. Yes! Okay, so just a couple minutes left… What would you like to share with us about your discoveries as a vegan.
Zsu Dever: As a vegan. Wow. I discovered that a lot of people get duped into eating meat, dairy, and eggs. And a lot of people have a hard time giving it up because that’s what they have learned for so long. They are so scared.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. There’s nothing to be afraid of. All the great foods are out there and now you can meringue, and macaroons.
Zsu Dever: Yes. Get a couple of good cookbooks and just start. Start with one meal at a time.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. Well, I’m so excited about this. I know a lot of people are excited about this. I’m glad you’ve done the groundwork and I’m going to be digging into every page of this book. Thank you for joining me on It’s All About Food, and let’s get this to the New York Times Bestsellers list. Everybody needs to have this book.
Zsu Dever: Thank you so much Caryn.
Caryn Hartglass: You’re welcome. Take care.
Zsu Dever: Thank you. Bye.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. You’re welcome. That was Zsu Dever and you need to check out the Aquafaba cookbook. Okay, we just have a few seconds left, and I wanted to remind you once again that today is the release date of a book that I am a contributing author in, 25 Women Who Have Survived Cancer, Notable Women Share Inspiring Stories of Hope, and if you go to www.responsibleeatingandliving.com, my website, you can buy the book, and I will write you a lovely note. I’m Caryn Hartglass. Thank you for listening to It’s All About Food, and remember have a very delicious week.
Transcribed by Zia Kara, 10/14/2016