September 17, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: Spice Girls

When I was in primary school, you were either team Hanson or team Spice Girls. Admittedly I was team Hanson, however that doesn’t really fit into the theme I’m going for, so I’m going to throw the Spice Girls a bone and include them in MoFo.

I probably should have made something hot and spicy, but ah well, this’ll have to do.


spicegirls3My mum recently bought me a jar of really nice organic spice rub which I have been using to make baked tofu for an easy weeknight meal. When my stocks started running low, I took a squiz at the ingredient list and tried to create my own version which I think came up pretty well. You could easily multiply this recipe and keep a jar of it on hand to cut down prep time.


Spice Rubbed Baked Tofu
(serves 3-4)

350g firm tofu, pressed and sliced
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp olive oil

1 Tbsp dried rosemary
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp coconut sugar

Preheat your oven to 200C and lightly grease a baking tray.

Prepare your spice rub.Depending on what form your herbs are in, you may need to grind them up a bit. I had home dried sprigs of rosemary, and I ran out of dried oregano so used fresh, so I had bits of all different sizes and consistencies. Regardless of the others, you will need to grind your mustard seeds – use a mortar and pestle to do this. After grinding the seeds, I added the remaining ingredients and just ground them all up together. Tip spice mix onto a small plate.

Combine lemon juice and oil in a small bowl or dish. Brush each tofu piece with the lemon mix, then dredge through the spice mix. Get your hands dirty and give each piece a good rub as you go. Lay out on baking tray.

spicegirls4Bake for 15 minutes, then flip and bake for a further 10. At this point, I like to turn on the grill and chuck them under just to crisp them up a bit.

spicegirls2Serve with a lemon wedge and a side salad, such as this strawberry balsamic salad.



Posted September 17, 2014 08:43 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Spaghetti Pie and Random Notes

Readers and friends often comment at how much work I put into cooking.  Here is my secret.  Leftovers!  Yes I love to cook up a big bake or lasagne and let it feed us the rest of the week - if we run out I make a simple soup.  So when I share this pasta bake which took quite a lot of time, bear in mind that the extra effort on one night meant very little effort for a few nights afterwards.

The crazy idea of spaghetti pie comes from Kate of No Meat and Three Veg. I saw her post at the end of August when I was thinking about dishes starting with the Letter S for Vegan MoFo.  The vision of this dish would not go away.  Finally I had some leftover vegan cheese sauce and a cauliflower I had bought on special for $1 that needed to be used quickly.  Suddenly the dish presented itself. 

I had already decided that I would use puff pastry rather than shortcrust like Kate's.  I had a huge packet of vegan puff pastry in the freezer.  So I was surprised to find myself running short on the pastry.  It seems that  the three batches of sausage rolls made a bigger impact on the stash than I had expected.  Hence the lattice topping.  I never planned for it to look that pretty.

And the verdict!  This was great.  I was a bit nervous about using the puff pastry on the bottom of the pie.  I even rang my mum for advice.  She suggested I use a metal tray and bake it on a pizza stone.  The double carbs of pasta and pastry made fantastic comfort food.  I wished that I had more and less intense cheese sauce.  I made Ricki's walnut and cauliflower mince meat which gave the back a really rich flavour.  A light milky cheese sauce would work well with it.  I also considered grating my vegan bio cheese on top but didn't have quite enough left.

Indeed it was a very substantial pasta bake.  (Note that the above slice was actually a bit too generous!)  It is a recipe with lots of components that requires lots of time.  Yet it is worth the effort and it can be made ahead of time if you are entertaining or going to a potluck.  I would recommend eating it with lots of salad or green vegies.  However, if like me, you don't have lots of energy leftover to prepare sides to eat with it, you can console yourself that it has lots of vegies in it.  Even if it does get drowned in tomato sauce.

I am sending this pie to Shaheen's combined Eat Your Greens and Pasta Please blog events with this month's theme being pasta with green vegies.  Jac is the coordinator of Pasta Please.  I am also sending it to Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary for the Extra Veg blog event that is overseen by Fuss Free Flavours and Utterly Scrummy.  Though the pie looks like a lot of carbs, it hides a head of cauliflower, carrot, zucchini, tomato, onion and spinach.

And now for a few random notes:
  • Last night we watched a really interesting tv show called Brilliant Creatures about intellectual Aussie icons and I was surprised to find I had seen three of them live.  I saw Germaine Greer speak at Queens Hall in Edinburgh, Barry Humphries perform as Sandy Stone at The Athenaeum in Melbourne and a live taping of the Clive James Show at the BBC Television Centre in London.  I have never seen Robert Hughes live.  And the show made me think about how we hear so much less about The Female Eunuch than when I was younger.
  • I am enjoying reading Tony Blair's autobiography.  It is surprisingly readable and gives great insight into government.  I have been surprised that Sylvia seems to like me reading it out loud to her when she wakes late at night and I am reading it.
  • On the weekend my dad and I test-drove a car.  The guy at the car sales lot had to charge the battery before we started.  We forgot this when I turned off the engine midway through the drive so we could swap drivers.  Then my dad and I had to search for the car sales lot on our phones so we could ring them to come and recharge the battery.  We are not buying the car but not because of the battery.  The search for a new car goes on.

More vegan spaghetti and fettuccine recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Spaghetti Pie
Serves 8

1 batch of cauliflower and walnut mince meat
1 batch of tomato pasta sauce (below)
500g spaghetti (I used wholemeal)
2 cups of vegan cheese sauce*
4 to 5 sheets of puff pastry (I used vegan)**
milk to glaze pastry

Preheat oven to 220 C.  Place a baking/pizza stone in the oven.

Cook and drain spaghetti according to package instructions.  Mix "mince meat" and tomato pasta sauce with spaghetti.  (I used my stockpot and pasta insert to cook the pasta and then mixed the sauce into the pasta in that pot.)

Grease a roasting tin (about 13 x 9 inch) and line with puff pastry.  Tip the spaghetti mixture into the lined tin and spread out evenly.  Spread cheese sauce over the spaghetti mixture. (I didn't have much cheese sauce and it resulted in a pleasing marbled effect but I quite fancy more cheese sauce.)  Cover with either full sheets of pastry or a lattice of pastry strips.  Brush pastry with milk.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and flaky.

* I used 1/2 batch of hurry up pumpkin alfredo but would probably do a simple white sauce with seasoning, nutritional yeast flakes and seeded mustard for a simpler flavour.  I think more cheese sauce would be good so I have specified 2 cups.  You could always just do a simple margarine/flour/milk white sauce and cover with a vegan cheese like biocheese.

** This bake would work well without the pastry but then it would be a pasta bake not a pie and that wouldn't be so much fun!

Tomato pasta sauce

2-3 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 medium zucchini, grated
750g passata (pureed tomatoes)
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp red wine
1 tbsp tahini
2 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp seeded mustard
1/2 tsp salt flakes
handful of chopped spinach

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and fry onion and carrots for 5 to 10 minutes or until vegies soften.  Add zucchini, passata, tomato paste, red wine, tahini, maple syrup, mustard and salt.  Use about 1/2 a cup of water to rinse out the passata bottle and add to saucepan.  Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes or until mixture has thickened.  Season to taste.  Remove from heat.  Stir in spinach.

On the Stereo: 
Jack White Presents The best of Third Man Records (MoJo freebie) - Various Artists

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Surprising Wednesdays.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Posted September 17, 2014 11:46 AM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Mantra Lounge

September 10-11, 2014

Recently reader Natalie alerted us to a new vegetarian cafe just a few doors down from Animal Orchestra. Lucky for me I had a couple of quiet lunch breaks to check it out right away. Mantra Lounge is doing its level best to attract students from the neighbourhood, advertising its $7.95 main/salad/dessert special with pamphlet distribution and travelling trailer signs. It's going for a funky, chill-out atmosphere and doesn't hide its Eastern spiritual leanings - there's a soundtrack of chants, inspirational quotes on the wall, plus yoga and meditation events on the notice board.

The menu is on chalkboard and changes daily, with all foods clearly on display at the counter. In addition to the three course special there are a few wraps and snacks, salads, sweets and drinks. Gluten-free options are marked and almost everything is vegan - I think just a couple of the drinks contained dairy, but even their chai latte is based on rice milk.

On my first visit I tried their vegelicious chickpea wrap ($4). Though it looked small, the chickpea masala was filling. The tomato sauce I was offered on the side didn't do the subtle spices of the filling any favours. I was surprised that my lemon mint lagudi drink ($3) turned out to be pink, with fragments of dried mint - it was refreshing and sweet, but not necessarily something I'd order again.

I felt ambivalent about the 'amazing apricot slice' ($4) too - the apricot filling had a jellied texture (but also pieces of real fruit) and the coconut cream top was fatty and bland.

The $7.95 meal deal proved much more successful the following day - it was a huge plate of pasta dotted with salty soy meat, covered in a sweet saucy lentil and pumpkin tagine with a little lightly dressed salad. An unassuming square of coco-lemon cake was the surprise star, with an open coconutty crumb shot through with sweet-and-sour lemon syrup.

It seems that we should heed Mantra Lounge's advertising and make the most of their cheap meal deals - these plates are simple, filling and fresh. The staff were friendly, aren't inclined to rush you through, and the setting is cheerfully coloured. This cafe will surely become a student staple in Carlton.


Mantra Lounge
167 Grattan St, Carlton
0433 531 345
menu: visit one, visit two

Accessibility: Mantra Lounge has clearly given accessibility some thought - there's a ramp up from the footpath (see photo above) and plenty of space around the counter, where ordering, payment and food pick-up occurs. There's a unisex toilet with wheelchair accessibility signage on this level. There are a few moderately spaced tables downstairs; the stairs themselves are wide and sturdy with a new hand rail.

Posted September 17, 2014 09:18 AM by Cindy

September 16, 2014

Thoughts Of A Moni

Chez Dre

Chez Dre had been on the breakfast bucket list for a while, and it was only one Saturday morning that we randomly decided to visit. We were wary of long wait time, given that we were planning to arrive there at about 9, but luckily we had no reason to worry. We walked straight in and were seated next to the window, overlooking the alley. 

A waitress promptly attended to us, to take our coffee orders, and I stuck to my usual latte. Unfortunately I hadn't perused the menu at this stage, but if I had, I would have knows that they also serve Prana Chai, and I would have definitely chosen that!

The coffee arrived promptly, but unfortunately, it was nothing spectacular, infact I think the Nespresso machine does a better job which was a little disappointing. I must however, commend Chez Dre on their fabulous service. We had spilt an almost full coffee, and the staff were immediately there to wipe everything down, and a new coffee was brought to us, free of charge. These little touches make a big difference.

I looked through the menu, and totally against the norm, decided to order a sweet breakfast. I opted for a spiced porridge, with rhubarb, cardamom, candied orange, vanilla mascarpone and pistachio. It was a tasty combination, but as is often the case with porridge, it was extremely filling and I struggled to finish it. 

All in all, Chez Dre was a pleasant experience, but nothing special. Given all the hype that surrounds this place, I must say that I was somewhat disappointed. There are many places that do much better coffee and food, and are much cheaper too.

Chez Dré on Urbanspoon

Posted September 16, 2014 11:51 PM by Moni

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: Fiona Apple

For some reason, every time I think of Fiona Apple I picture Fiona Horne – remember her, the white witch? I know they aren’t the same person so I don’t know what’s causing the mix-up, but I just can’t help it. Sorry Fiona Apple. I’m not sure if you guys have heard any of Fiona Horne’s songs, but well, I’ll let you have a listen for yourselves. Scroll down if you dare…

This is the first thing that springs to mind when I think of apple desserts. It has fond memories for me, it was a regular in mum’s winter repertoire alongside other favourites such as golden syrup dumplings, sago, and custard with dessicated coconut on top. It’s a relatively easy one to whip up, and is super comforting, particularly when you’re all snuggled up on a cold night.


Baked Stuffed Apples
(makes 4)

4 Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup dates, chopped
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
2 Tbsp coconut sugar
2 Tbsp nuttelex or coconut oil
1 tsp lemon or orange zest (different but both delicious!)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 180C.

In a small bowl, mix together dates, walnuts, coconut sugar, zest, spices and salt. Add nuttelex and vanilla and stir to combine into a kind of paste.

Now, core your apples. This can be a bit tricky without a corer, but I use a small sharp knife to make the first cut, then use one of those old school melon ballers to remove the rest. I have done it with just a sharp knife, however it does take a bit longer. Make sure you don’t cut all the way through to the bottom or your filling will leak out – try to leave a centimetre or so.

fionaappleUsing a sharp knife, cut a line around the width of the apple. This will prevent the skin from bursting in a funny way.

fionaapple2Now stuff your apples full of mix and pop them in a baking tray or dish.

fionaapple3Put a little bit of water in the bottom of the tray, then cover with a lid or some foil. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove cover, and bake a further 5-10 minutes until apples are tender.

Serve with vanilla ice cream, cream or custard.


This is the first Fiona Apple song I ever heard.

And as promised, this is Fiona Horne on good old Hey Hey It’s Saturday…


Posted September 16, 2014 10:11 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Simple vegan chocolate cupcakes

Sylvia had just arrived home from school.  She was hungry.  Usually she is happy with bikkies and hummus as a snack.  Instead she suggested I make chocolate chip and cola muffins.  Those muffins were great but quite rich.  I wanted something lighter.  I remembered the vegan chocolate cupcakes that I baked for her birthday.

Back then I had accidentally added only half the flour.  They were good but very soft.  I decided to make them as the recipe said.  Then I tweaked them.  They were excellent.  More substantial and satisfying this time.  We all loved them.

Somehow Sylvia has gone off icing (frosting) on cakes.  Perhaps she has picked up on my dislike of it.  Too sweet, she says.  I just sieved a bit of icing sugar (powdered sugar) on top.  Somewhere - Pinterest no doubt - I saw someone had placed lace over their cupcakes to make pretty patterns with icing sugar.  It didn't quite work the same with me.  Possibly my cupcakes were too small or the paper doily not lacy enough.  It just looked like a light sprinkling of snow.  Which is not a bad thing.

I am sending these little cakes to Stuart of cakeyboi for September's Treat Petite blog event.  The theme is Anything Goes.  He runs the event with The Baking Explorer.

More vegan sweet treats from Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Vegan chocolate cupcakes
Adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World via Chow
Makes 24-30 mini cupcakes

1 cup soy milk
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 plain white flour
1/2 cup plain wholemeal flour
1/3 cup cocoa
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup rice bran oil
1/2 cup of choc chips
icing sugar, for sprinkling

Mix soy milk and vinegar in a large jug and leave aside to curdle.

Preheat oven to 180 C and line two to three mini muffin 12 cup tins with mini muffin papers.

Mix dry ingredients in a medium large mixing bowl. Whisk the sugar and oil into the milk mixture. Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and gently mix until just combined. Spoon the mixture into cupcake papers, filling about 3/4 to the top.

Bake for 15 minutes or until cooked (when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out cleanly). Cool on a wire rack.  Sprinkle with icing sugar or frost if desired.

On the Stereo: 
Nightclub Jacks and Undertakers: Chicken Tractor Deluxe

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Same Same Tuesdays.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Posted September 16, 2014 10:26 AM by Johanna GGG

quinces and kale

Driving to Buffalo

Chipotle bowl

Today we left Western Pennsylvania. It is remarkably beautiful, but fairly thin on vegan options, apart from the occasional surprise. Our hopes were higher for Buffalo.

We drove the 4 hours from Connellsville to Buffalo via Erie, where we planned to stop for lunch. We didn’t know our way round, and the Happy Cow app had drawn a blank, so we pulled off the highway into a vast plaza full of food chains of various kinds. We had never heard of most of them. I chose Bob Evans. Wrong.

I’m fairly optimistic about being able to pull together a vegan meal in the most unpromising circumstances, but here I met my match. I think we may have stumbled across the most vegan unfriendly chain restaurant ever. EVERY dish with meat, dairy or eggs. Every one of them.

In addition, it was possibly the most creepily cheerful, super clean, plastic place I have ever been in. So. Not. Me.
We settled for coffee and then left, desperate to get some food.

We had remembered that Chipotle had been talked about in some Facebook groups and found one just a mile or two down the road. I have never been so happy to eat in a chain restaurant! The staff were helpful, the food was actually fresh, delicious and vegan. You get to choose what you want in your bowl or wrap. There a lots of choices: beans, salads, sauces, guacamole and sautéed veg.

We hit the road onwards to Buffalo, happy and FULL. :)

Chipotle Mexican Grill
6611 Peach Street
Erie, PA 16509


Posted September 16, 2014 10:00 AM

September 15, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: Jello Biafra

We don’t really call it Jello here – it’s Jelly – but I am not going to let that get in the way of some good edible audio.

Today’s beats to eat come to you from the great Jello Biafra – you might know him from acts such as the Dead Kennedys and his collaboration with the Melvins, or for having a sense of onomatopoeia about him, with a voice that sounds somewhat like wobbly jelly. Today, however, he comes to you in the form of a delicious dessert.

jello5It’s like trifle, but not as daggy. Truth be told, I never really liked that weird sponge cake layer in trifle anyway, so this suits my tastes juuuuuust fine.

Jelly is another one of those foods that reminds me of being a kid – in fact, I’m pretty sure I haven’t had it in years. I used to love when my mum would make it for me when I was home from school with a sore throat – it was such a treat!

jello4I’m still impressed with just how cool this looks. I love the way the berries are suspended at different heights, reminds me of being in space or something (obviously I know all about being in space).

Fancy Layered Jelly Cups
(makes 2)

1 pack vegan jelly crystals
400ml boiling water
Handful of blueberries and strawberries

1 cup cashew milk (or other nondairy milk)
1.5 Tbsp vegan custard powder
1 Tbsp coconut sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped

1-2 squares chocolate, shaved

Empty jelly crystals into a heat proof jug, then pour in boiling water and stir until dissolved.

Prepare two fancy glasses by popping a few blueberries and some chopped strawberries in the bottom. Distribute jelly mix evenly amongst the glasses, then place in the fridge to set.

Next, prepare the custard. In a small bowl, whisk together a couple of tablespoons of cashew milk with the custard powder and set aside.

Heat remaining cashew milk in a saucepan over medium heat until it starts to bubble. Pour in custard powder mix, whisking constantly. Add vanilla, then turn the heat down and simmer for a couple of minutes, until mixture is noticeably thicker. Continue whisking to avoid lumps forming.

Remove from heat and set aside to cool – you don’t want to put hot custard onto your jelly as it will melt. Allow to cool, but check in every so often to whisk up and ensure it doesn’t set. When cool enough, divide custard among the glasses and return to the fridge to set.

When cool, garnish with some extra berries and shaved chocolate.



Posted September 15, 2014 09:45 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Sesame Hummus Bites

The truth is that I find Sylvia's lunches quite boring.  It makes me a little guilty for not giving her more interesting food.  Yet she seems quite happy with them and has little desire for new ideas.  Every now and again I try a little harder.  Like when I made Emma's Sesame Hummus Bites.  She resists my new ideas.  Then I think why bother and happily eat the leftovers of yet another failed lunch attempt.

Honestly I thought I might be onto a good thing with the Sesame Hummus Bites.  Sylvia loves hummus and she loves carrot.   Perhaps I should have factored in that she wont eat my homemade hummus.  It has to be from the shops.  Yet I still didn't expect a huge list of other women she would prefer to be her mother when I insisted that she try these little balls.

On the up side she ate two of them.  (She seemed to like the sesame seed coating!)  So there was some justification for reducing the spring onion and spicy flavours!  On the downside, it just seemed too much to expect her to eat any at school without my gentle persuasion.

At least I enjoyed them.  And forgot them.  And rediscovered some left in the fridge a week later and enjoyed them all over again.  So I can confidently tell you that they last up to a week very well.  They are great little snacks.  They would work brilliantly in a platter, or a picnic, as well as in a lunchbox of someone less fussy than Sylvia.  They are just the thing for a hot summer's evening when you don't want to turn on the stove.  And I can confirm that they are great with salad and work well in a salad sandwich.

I am sending these cookies to Healthy Vegan Fridays #12, hosted by Kimmy of Rock my Vegan Socks and Robin of Vegan Dollhouse.

More vegan finger food from Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Sesame Hummus Bites
Adapted from Coconut and Berries
Makes 20 balls

400g tin of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 spring onion, white part only, finely sliced
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp tahini
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1 medium carrot, finely grated
1-3 Tbsp water, or as required
3 tbsp chickpea flour, or as required
1/2 cup sesame seeds (white, black or a mixture)

Mix chickpeas, spring onion, lemon juice, tahini, paprika and salt in food processor.  Stir in carrot by hand.  If required add water or chickpea flour to make a firm paste/mixture that you can roll into balls (make a little ball to test if it holds together).  I found my mixture very wet even with only adding 1 tbsp of water and added 3 tbsp of chickpea flour to bind it.  Lightly dry fry sesame seeds.  Roll chickpea mixture into walnut sized balls and roll in sesame seeds.

On the Stereo: 
A Story to Tell: Starbucks presents powerful songs from the coffee house - Various Artists

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Speedy Mondays.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Posted September 15, 2014 11:34 AM by Johanna GGG

quinces and kale

Polymath Park, Kentuck Knob and not very much vegan food at all


Today was probably the worst day ever for vegan food finding. The kind of day where you feel like the weirdo, the only vegan in the village, and that’s because you are.

It started out well with a good breakfast from our lovely B&B hosts.

After that we headed off Polymath Park, a site which contains three houses, two by Wright apprentices and one by Frank himself. All three houses were ok, with the Wright Duncan house being by far the best. But even this wasn’t his greatest. These houses were built to a budget and Wright did his best work when spending truckloads of other people’s money.

Balter house Balter house Lamp Blum house Polymath park Duncan house image
Then on to lunch, oh dear! We had a plan to get to a bar in Ohiopyle where we’d had a coffee the previous day. Sadly,it was inexplicably closed. We knew that we’d have been able to get something there. Even though nothing was vegan on the menu, there were lots of vegan bits and pieces there to assemble into a meal. The woman who ran it was friendly and seemed like she’d have been up for the challenge.

We went instead to slightly dodgy place, with many veg options (to give them credit) but fairly ordinary food dripping with oil. Fuel rather than pleasure and not enough of it to keep us going. The day was hot and by now I was indulging in vegan fantasy #413 where we happen upon a vegan ice cream truck as we round the corner. It didn’t happen. Not in rural Pennsylvania, in a town with a population of 56.

After our very, very disappointing lunch we went to Kentuck Knob, another Wright designed house, this one with way more budget. Though modest, it was beautiful. Unfortunately no interior photography allowed.


For dinner, unable to stand any more meal disappointments we opted again for the Italian Oven, some pasta and a cheeseless veggie pizza.


Posted September 15, 2014 10:00 AM

September 14, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: Vanilla Ice

Oh Vanilla Ice. How your song always used to get me excited, thinking I was about to hear Queen and David Bowie sing Under Pressure. The disappointment every time…

Still, there’s no denying that the song has entertainment value, especially with the 80’s film clip. Ha ha ha. Oh lordy.

vanillaicee1I originally made this ice cream with coconut milk but found that the coconut was a little too overpowering, outshining the vanilla beans. I decided to give it a go with cashew milk, as I thought the flavour might be a bit more neutral and the consistency creamier. I think it worked out really well, and I enjoy the subtle hint of cashew.


Vanilla Bean Cashew Ice Cream

400ml cashew milk
400ml coconut cream
1/3 cup agave nectar
2 vanilla beans
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp arrowroot
1 Tbsp vodka

Heat cashew milk, coconut cream, agave and salt in a pot over medium-low heat. Scrape vanilla bean out and add to pot, chucking the pods in as well to cook out all the flavour.

Remove a small amount of liquid from the pot and whisk arrowroot into it, before returning it to the pot.

Turn off heat and stir through vodka. The vodka helps by acting as an ‘anti-freeze’, which means your ice cream will stay creamy rather than going as hard as a rock. Cool trick huh?

Transfer to a bowl and place in the fridge until mixture is completely cool. Remove vanilla bean pods and pour mix into ice cream maker to do its magic! Once complete, eat straight away for a soft serve style ice cream, or transfer to the freezer to firm up.

If you don’t have an ice cream maker, do not fear, you can still make ice cream! You will just need to pour the mix into a dish of some sort and place it in the freezer, and check in on it every half an hour or so to whisk it up until it freezes. This is important to ensure you get the creamiest ice cream possible!

I served this with some pureed strawberries on top and a shaving of chocolate and/or a sprig of mint. Deeelicious.



Posted September 14, 2014 10:34 PM

Vegan Bullsh*t


Overdosa, back from six months in India (did anyone else keep up with their FB? I sure did.), are very much back in the swing of things and spinning dosas at The Emerald Peacock for the month of September. I finally made it there. They didn't disappoint!
They're tucked upstairs and there's a handy sign alerting you out on the Lonsdale St. sidewalk:

Fair warning, these pics are horrible. There was almost no light upstairs. Either way, we split two dosa, the spicy tamarind pumpkin and a potato masala, $10 each:

As well as these bites of heaven: DOSACADO. Deep fried avocado chunks in a salty spicy crispy batter with lemon to squeeze over:

Both of these were amazing. The food was delivered at the speed of light - seriously, I think the dosa arrived in about two minutes flat. The dosa themselves were lovely - super thin and crispy. A potato masala filling is always delicious, but the pumpkin was crazy good: chunky smash with a sour tamarind hit and a nice burn. Yum. As for the avocado - they called this vegan fish and chips, and that's a pretty good comparison. The squeeze of lemon cut through the fat and made these completely addictive. As far as Melbourne deep fried snacks go, this was pretty much the best drunk food I've ever encountered. I hope it becomes a permanent option wherever these guys end up.

AND. Because delicious food wasn't enough, the bartender screwed up and the lovely guys gave us the avocado for free! So naturally, I wandered up to the bar and grabbed some lentil poppers as well, $6:

These are some kooky snacks.There's something distinctly fishfingery about them and I have no idea what, but it's tasty - if they were rectangular and served with lemon I'd have a hard time telling the difference. Inside they're even fluffy and white like a fish finger:

Overdosa are well worth the hype: nice people, service under 5 minutes (at 8 pm on a Friday! if that isn't magic I don't know what is) and the food is incredible - I love dosa and these were probably the best I've had. Please go and support these guys, they're brilliant and I can't wait to see where they end up next!

Posted September 14, 2014 04:49 PM by L

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Smith and Daughters: Sunday Brunch

It seems that all of vegan Melbourne has been raving about Smith and Daughters.  It boasts a sophisticated and exciting Mexican-style menu.  This is a new breed of vegan restaurants that attracts a broad range of punters with excellent food rather than just a vegan clientele.  We went there for brunch a few weeks back.  I wish it was easier to visit more often because it is an amazing place.

The decor is a mixture of eclectic kitsch and simple rustic charm.  I loved the little salt and pepper shakers on each table and the back wall hung with all manner of artwork.  E and I noticed the old wooden tennis racquet in the wooden frame (below).  My first tennis racquet was wooden.  I was told not to let it get wet because it might warp.  We had one of these frames to keep the racquet head in shape yet I don't remember if we used it.  But I digress.

We arrived at midday for brunch.  The place was packed.  I feared that we had finally got to Smith and Daughters only to find there was no room.  The staff were just lovely and suggested we sit at the bar until a table became available.  It wasn't long.  During our brunch the service was really welcoming and friendly. 

First up we ordered a drink.  E had a latte with almond and coconut milk.  He enjoyed it very much and was very pleased to try a new milk combination in his latte.  After watching the juicing at the bar, I had to try one.

The first juice on the menu is called a Brutal Green.  It consists of kale, celery, cucumber, spinach, mint and lime.  Other combinations are available that mix sweeter juices with the Brutal Green.  My Easy Green was apple, lemon, ginger and brutal green.  Only I am not so keen on ginger in juices so I swapped it for passionfruit.  It was lovely: tangy, leafy, a little spicy and just sweet enough for me.

Until 3pm on a weekend, Smith and Daughters offers a brunch menu.  I chose the breakfast burrito.  It was full of so much good stuff: scrambled tofu, crispy chorizo, black bean, garlic kale, cashew cheese and served with a dollop of guacamole.

I was so excited by the good stuff that I forgot I am not so keen on burritos.  I find that everything is too mushed up.  It was nice, though quite smoky andintense, but I would have preferred everything to be more separate.  However I have seen enough others who have loved it to claim this is just a personal preference rather than a reflection on Smith and Daughters.

I love how Smith and Daughters challenged us with unsual dishes.  While I was not bowled over by the burrito, I was unexpectedly smitten with the Horchata rice pudding with grilled pineapple.  It was so soft and gently spice and not too sweet.  With the pineapple it was just right.  Actually E ordered the rice pudding but did not eat it all.  I quite fancied just a small dessert and polished off his leftovers.

By the time we left at 1pm, it was a lot quieter than when we arrived.  Which was more relaxing because it was quite noisy when we arrived.  I can't wait to return.  I really loved the friendly staff, the beautiful space and the chance to eat fancy hipster vegan food.  Hopefully one day I can try out the dinner menu as well.  It looks amazing.

Smith and Daughters
175 Brunswick Street Fitzroy, VIC 3065
Tel: 03 9939 3293
Open: Tues-Fri 6pm-1am, Sat 10am-3pm, 6pm-1am, Sun 10am-3pm, 6-11pm.

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Smith and Daughters.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Smith and Daughters on Urbanspoon

Posted September 14, 2014 11:46 AM by Johanna GGG

September 13, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: The Cranberries


My ex-housemate loves the Cranberries, and Enya makes her cry when she drinks gin. FACT.

This is a simple and delicious festive side dish. Save it to impress next Christmas!


Green Bean Cranberry Salad

400g green beans
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
1/3 cup dried cranberries
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp lemon zest
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

Top and tail your beans. Prepare a large bowl of iced water.

Soak cranberries in hot water.

Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Add green beans and cook for 2-3 mins until they turn bright green and slightly tender.

Drain and transfer to iced water for 30 seconds – 1 minute. Drain.

Whisk together lemon zest, garlic, oil and salt and pepper in small bowl.

Combine beans, nuts, cranberries and dressing. Serve.



Posted September 13, 2014 08:11 PM

quinces and kale

Fallingwater, small town Pennsylvania and vegan food


The big news for today is that we finally visited Fallingwater, the Frank Lloyd Wright designed house in Mill Run, PA. The trip was centred around this visit and it was wonderful to be here after all the planning. Unfortunately, although I took over one hundred photos, I am not allowed to post any of them on a web site. You can however view pictures of the house and its amazing setting on the official website.

Although I loved it, Fallingwater is not my favourite Wright building from a details point of view. There are some really lovely small design details in the building such as the lamps and shelves, but this building is so much more minimalist than the prairie style houses which I love. However, there is no argument that the setting is stunning and the house is embedded (literally) amazingly into its environment.

So since I can’t show any photos, let me show you instead how lucky we were today with vegan food.

It started at breakfast. Our lovely hosts at the Connellsville Bed and Breakfast had made a real effort for us after I’d let them know in advance we were vegan. We had a choice of juices, freshly cut fruit, muesli, fried potatoes with onion, apple and thyme, and some fresh heirloom tomatoes, along with coffee and almond milk. I particularly appreciated the almond milk, as non dairy milk options around here are non existent and they had clearly gone to some trouble to get it for us.

Home fries Fresh fruit Muesli with almond milk

It continued at Fallingwater itself where they had a vegan black bean, chipotle spiced wrap with a corn and tomato salad at the cafe. We shared one for a snack at 11, since breakfast had been very early so we could have time for the drive. No photo, but you know what a wrap looks like. :)

We took a drive towards the historic town of Ligonier, on the way we stopped at a roadside stand to buy some apples and I photographed the pumpkins and corn.

Pumpkins Gourds Corn Corncobs

In Ligonier itself we found the lovely Connections Cafe. They serve salad plates of two or three choices on salad greens. Four were vegan and we chose all four between us. A red quinoa and pear, a black bean with peppers, a corn and tomato and a red quinoa and kale.

Salad Salad

Afterwards we wandered around the pretty town, and stopped by a local gallery to admire some beautiful handcrafted furniture before driving back home through lovely hilly scenery.

For dinner, we managed to scratch together a meal at the Hometown Diner in Connellsville with the help of the waiters and the cook who were really accommodating. We had a Philly Cheese Steak without the cheese and the steak, some home fries and some corn. They charged us less because we had no meat or cheese. In the cook’s words, “I’m not charging you full price, I’ll work something out”.

Diner Dinner Diner

People are just so great sometimes. :)

Connellsville Bed and Breakfast
316 W Crawford Ave,
Connellsville, PA 15425

Hometown Diner
103 Memorial Blvd
Connellsville, PA 15425

Connections Cafe
109 S Market St
Ligonier, PA, 15658


Posted September 13, 2014 09:20 AM

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Gnocchi pesto soup

September 8, 2014

This week I pulled out Isa Does It for weeknight dinner inspiration. I was quite taken by the pesto pasta dish that Linda made recently but we'd just had pasta ourselves; instead I transferred my pesto enthusiasm to Moskowitz's recipe for pesto soup with gnocchi, beans and greens.

The thickness of this soup comes from blended cauliflower and basil with a touch of arrowroot, so it's not excessively rich. Then it's dotted with white beans, gnocchi and chard (or in my case, spinach), providing lots to get your teeth into. Like the book's sweet potato and red curry soup, it comes off as much a stew as a soup.

I used homemade stock so I increased the amount of salt in the recipe. While I loved the textures of this soup, I thought that the flavour was lacking a bit of depth - again that might be down to my vege-scrap stock, but I reckon I'll try stirring a bit of white miso into the simmering broth in future. Otherwise, the only thing preventing me from making this all winter long will be the unseasonal basil - I guess it will be better savoured as an autumn recipe.

Gnocchi pesto soup
(slightly adapted from a recipe in Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Isa Does It,
which also appears on PPK)

2 teaspoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
1L vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt (add some white miso next time?)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon arrowroot
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
250g fresh gnocchi
400g can cannellini  beans, drained and rinsed
1 small bunch spinach leaves, roughly chopped
toasted pine nuts, to garnish

Pour just enough olive oil into a large pot to cover the base; set it over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook it, stirring, for about a minute, ensuring it doesn't burn. Add the cauliflower and 3 cups of the stock. Stir in the thyme, salt and pepper (plus future miso). Place a lid on the pot and bring it to the boil, cooking for around 10 minutes until the cauliflower is tender.

Place the arrowroot in a cup and gradually pour in the remaining stock to form a smooth paste. Remove the lid from the pot and pour in the arrowroot-stock, stirring it around and cooking for 5 minutes until thickened (mine never did). Turn off the heat and stir in the basil leaves. Blend the soup until smooth, preferably with a stick blender.

Return the soup in the pot to medium heat. Add the gnocchi, replace the lid and cook for 3 minutes. Pour in the beans and spinach leaves, stirring everything together gently, until the leaves are wilted. Serve in bowls, sprinkled with pine nuts.

Posted September 13, 2014 08:39 AM by Cindy

September 12, 2014

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Stuffed squash with tex mex rice and beans

We are almost halfway through Vegan MoFo.  How are you finding it?  I confess that I have less energy for it than previous years.  Less energy to visit other Vegan MoFo blogs, to comment and engage.  Less time for my new Green Gourmet Giraffe Facebook page.  Less time for visiting the blogs I visit regularly.  And between you and me, I don't think I would even be getting up so many posts if I hadn't prepared ahead so much.

I had known it would be a busy month with three weekends out of town.  I just hadn't counted on the stolen car really turning it into a horror month.  We now find ourselves in the position of trying to find a new car so that we can go away on holiday at the end of the month.  (And I hope there are no thieves reading this and deciding to find out house and break in while we are away .  I couldn't bear it!)

But when you see these cute little squashes you will know that I shouldn't really complain.  After all I am lucky to be able to go to our local farmers market and buy such cuties.  I couldn't resist.  And while I probably should have been talking to the farmer about where they were grown and what variety of squash they are, instead I was asking how to make them sit up straight and  been told that maybe I would like square squashes like those square watermelons in Japan.

It was a shock to me when I started food blogging to discover just how narrow the definition of pumpkin is outside Australia.  What we call pumpkin is often called squash elsewhere.  Those funny orange halloween pumpkins from America are rarely seen here though the imports are now seen in the shops each October.  I have always thought that "pumpkins" (eg Butternut Pumpkin, Queensland Blue and Jap Pumpkins which are similar to kabocha) have lovely orange flavoursome flesh whereas squash has pale bland flavourless flesh.  These little squash definitely were quite bland and stringy.

Truth be told the squashes were all about style and elegance rather than taste.  I wasn't so keen on eating the stringy flesh but I loved the filling.  Fortunately I had so much filling that I baked the leftovers in a casserole dish.  It served as handy leftovers for E when I was out to dinner with a friend.  You might notice in the above photo that I used biocheese in it.  I love that stuff.  So yummy and melty.

In case you are wondering about how I made them sit nicely, I took out the stem and was able to sit them on their heads so the peaked bottoms were at the top like little pixie hats.  So cute. Perhaps this might explain why Sylvia felt the need to surround it with her little and tiny things while I took some photos the next morning.

I am sending this to Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary for her Shop Local blog event, that celebrates bloggers cooking with locally sourced food.  The squash and leek came from the farmers market and the lemon from our backyard.

More stuffed recipes from Green Gourmet Giraffe: 

Squash Stuffed with Tex Mex rice and beans
An original Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe
Serves 4-6

2-3 small squash
Slurp of olive oil
1 large leek, washed and chopped
2 cups brown basmati rice, cooked
2 tbsp chipotle sauce
100g vegan cheese, grated
400g tin corn kernels, rinsed and drained
400g tin black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp lemon juice

Bake squash for about 1-2 hours at 180 C until they feel soft.  Chop off the top and scrape out seeds.

Fry the leek for about 10-15 minutes until soft.  Mix with the remaining ingredients and taste to check seasoning.

Stuff as much stuffing as possible into the squash and bake for about 1 hour at 180 C.  If you have remaining filling, bake in a greased oven dish until top is crispy - possibly a bit less time then stuffed squash.

On the Stereo:
Together Through Life: Bob Dylan

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Smoky Fridays.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Posted September 12, 2014 11:57 AM by Johanna GGG

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: Infected Mushroom

Infected Mushroom? Infected with DELICIOUSNESS!

I apologise. We haven’t even quite reached the halfway point in MoFo and I’m already getting a bit loopy. Perhaps I was a bit ambitious in aiming for a new recipe every single day. Regardless, I’m here now, and I have a recipe for you.


Have you noticed my posts are getting less and less talk? I’ve been spending too much time cooking and browsing the blogroll, and so by the time I get around to actually making my own posts, I just want to get them out there.


Stuffed Mushrooms with Pesto Cashew Cheese

12 – 18 button mushrooms (depending on size)
1 recipe of cashew cheese
3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted
Juice of half a lemon
3/4 cup basil
2 Tbsp olive oil + extra for brushing
Salt and Pepper

1 Tbsp pinenuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 180C.

Carefully remove stems from mushrooms and lay mushroom caps upside down on a lightly greased tray.

To make your pesto, place garlic, walnuts, lemon, basil, oil and salt and pepper in a blender, and blend until combined. If more liquid is needed, add water 1 tablespoon at a time.

Prepare cashew cheese and place in a bowl. Add pesto and stir through.

Fill each mushroom with pesto mix, then brush the mushroom flesh with a little oil.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until mushrooms are tender and the pesto begins to look a little golden.

Serve on some rocket (straight from your parents’ garden!) and cherry tomatoes to brighten the plate up. Garnish with toasted pine nuts.

infectedmush5I’m going to play you a song called Converting Vegetarians. Obviously they mean converting vegetarians to vegans, right? Ha!


Posted September 12, 2014 11:50 AM

quinces and kale

USA day 9 and 10 – Amtrak NYC to Pennsylvania


Day 9, we left the vegan safe house that is New York City and headed out to Pennsylvania. We stocked up on food for the journey as we really didn’t know what we’d find. While waiting for the bus we grabbed some bagels with tofu cream cheese in the West Village. Bagels, when warm and fresh are heaven, and these were.

At Penn Station there were not a lot of choices for food to take on the journey, but we cobbled together a meal by stocking up on a large salad at a build your own salad shop, and also grabbed a vegan spicy tofu wrap and some hummus and veggie sticks from a place called Chickpea. For coffee, all was not lost, they even have almond milk at Dunkin’ Donuts these days. Not great, but better than nothing. The train had a vegan burger, which I didn’t try as we were already well stocked with food.

The 8 hour train journey ran through some post-apocalyptic landscape outside NYC and eventually gave way to green rolling country with picture perfect barns and farm silos around Lancaster in Pennsylvania. I missed the famous horseshoe bend near Altoona as I was deep in a conversation with another passenger about what vegans eat. I showed her my blog :)

This ended up in an interesting wide ranging conversation late in the journey with some fellow passengers about US and Australian politics and vegan food.

We arrived at Latrobe and were picked up by our super friendly hotel people from the station.

My impression so far is that rural Pennsylvania is a bit of a vegan wasteland, but then I guess rural anywhere mostly is. In the course of a couple of days we’ve become adept at stitching together meals from peanut butter, fruit and bread and we’ve drunk our coffee black. Mexican restaurants from chains to locals have been good source of food. Removing the cheese and sour cream opens a whole world of possibilities. We’ve had helpful people make a genuine effort to find ways of making a vegan meal out of what is to hand, and others just shrug. Hats off to The Italian Oven and their cheerful staff in Connellsville, PA who served us some delicious pasta and made us some fresh bread with no cheese on it, without being asked.

Pasta with fresh tomato and basil image Mushroom pasta

But generally it is harder outside the city and I am constantly reminded and grateful for how lucky we city dwellers are with vegan options. Our fellow rural vegans are not so lucky.

We have picked up our car for the next few days to get to Fallingwater and a couple of other Frank Lloyd Wright designed houses in the region. I made my first tentative driving attempts around the car park at the small airport where we picked up the car, to try to get the feel of being on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. Since then after venturing out of the car park, I have done pretty well, but we still chant “narrow right” or “wide left” when doing a turn to make sure I end up on the correct side.

We are in a region called the Laurel Highlands and it is stunningly beautiful. We headed up the road to a small town called Ohiopyle and walked along a very small section of the Great Allegheny Passage, a walking and bike trail that runs 400 miles from Washington DC to Pittsburgh.

Youghiogheny river near Ohiopyle Laurel highlands woodland Ohiopyle falls image image

The Italian Oven
623 Highland Ave
Connellsville, PA 15425
(724) 626-6836



Posted September 12, 2014 09:10 AM

September 11, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: Martha and the Muffins

Holy moly there’s some great alliteration going on in the title today. A mouthful of muffins!

I had heard of the band Martha and the Muffins in passing before now, but didn’t really think I knew who they were. I did a bit of the old internet research, and the first song that came up on youtube was Echo Beach. As soon as I started playing the song I recognised it – it is so familiar, I just have no idea where from. The Bear felt the same too…perhaps it is in a movie or something? 

Regardless of where it’s from, it’s a catchy tune with a perfect 80s film clip – the outfits, the hair styles, the split screen shots – it’s all there! I probably should have made some daggy 80’s cookbook muffins to match, but I will leave that to Hasta La Vegan, who is doing a spectacular job of with her theme of Bizarre and Outdated Cookbooks. Check. It. Out. Some serious dishes happening over there.


Zucchini and chocolate are the perfect partners in crime in the creation of lovely moist cakes. Not only that, but using veggies in sweets is a great way to sneak them in for those who do not look so kindly upon them. I reckon that if I had zucchini-hating children, I would definitely test this recipe on them – I bet they would barely notice the vegetables in amongst all that delicious chocolate.

marthamuffins4I don’t know what it is about muffins, but Ruby can never seem to keep her eyes off them. She is definitely my dog! Or maybe it’s the sneaky cats on the tea towel that she’s got her eye on this time…


Chunky Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
(makes 12)

1 1/2 cups spelt flour
1/2 cup cacao powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup overripe banana, mashed
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 flax egg (1 Tbsp flaxmeal = 3 Tbsp water)
1/4 cup non-dairy milk
1/3 cup chocolate, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 180C and lightly grease or line a muffin tin.

In a large bowl, combine flour, cacao, baking powder, bicarb soda and salt.

In a separate bowl, mix together the banana, vanilla, oil, sugar, flax egg and milk.

Stir zucchini into the wet mix, then pour the whole lot into the dry mix and stir until just combined, being careful not to over mix. Fold through choc chunks.

Spoon into muffin tray and bake for 20-25 mins until they bounce back when you press them lightly. Allow to cool slightly, then turn onto a cooling rack.



Posted September 11, 2014 07:40 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Sweet potato and poppy seed nut roast with strawberry glaze

I wanted to make a nut roast during this Vegan Month of Food.  As I chose The Letter S as my theme, it somewhat narrowed down the nut roasts I could make.  Initially I wanted a strawberry glaze, strawberries being cheap in the shops and jammy in my house.  I had all sorts of crazy ideas like using purple carrots, making a green spinach tofu filling or even a savoury chocolate nut roast but then my stolen car took up my energies.  Sweet potato and poppy seeds would have to be inventive enough.

I liked the look of Kevin's Roasted Strawberry BBQ Sauce on Closet Cooking as the inspiration for the glaze.  He said that the roasting tin should be lined with foil to catch the juices of the strawberries.  As you will see in the above post, catching strawberry juices wasn't something I had to worry about.  I was more concerned that I put too much mustard powder in the strawberry glaze.  It was too spicy when cooking but worked well on top of the nut roast.

Sadly the theft of my car also robbed my time to look over recipes for ideas.  Instead I spent time talking to neighbours and insurance company about boring stuff about cars.  So I just threw in ingredients that I usually use in nut roasts.  I find the texture most challenging with vegan nut roasts.  They are usually too soft.  As was this one.  Once baked the loaf was like warm sausage filling.  But nicer.  Which is not terrible.  (I hope I am not the only one who loved raw sausage filling as a kid!)

I was also concerned that I shouldn't have simmered the sauce for 10 minutes.  It looked rosy red when going into the oven but a little overcooked after baking.  Perhaps I just needed to cover it with foil.  Though my oven is slow to crisp and char the top of any bakes.  It didn't taste charred.  In fact the topping was the best bit of the loaf.  (NB the below photo is at night and the glaze looks much darker than the photo at the top taken in daylight.)

The glaze was great and I would repeat it.  I would like the nut roast texture to be more cooked.  What I think I got right was making the loaf quite firm to carry the glaze.  This is especially important if you want it to look appetising.  I have had my fair share of nut roasts that just collapse into mush and could not be transferred to a serving platter or sliced up.

All too often I get the side dishes right on the second night but throw side dishes together hastily on the night of baking.  This was no exception.  On the first night we had mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli with the nut roast.  It was a little plain.  The second night I served it with a colourful salad and some overnight focaccia.  So much better!

Nut roasts are good for the soul.  They nourish and comfort in the most satisfying of ways.  This nut roast was most pleasing despite the soft texture.  It sliced up well, which makes for excellent sandwiches as well as a prettier dinner.

I am sending this nut roast to Ros at the More Than Occasional Baker for Alphabakes, a blog event she runs with Caroline of Caroline Makes, challenging us to bake focusing on a different letter each month.  This month the letter is K and so I have K for kumara (aka sweet potato).

More vegan nut roasts on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Christmas walnut version
Golden beetroot nut roast
Lentil and walnut roast
Parsnip nut roast 
Purple nut roast
Tomato nut roast with buckwheat and seeds 

Sweet potato and poppyseed nut roast with strawberry glaze
An original recipe by Green Gourmet Giraffe
Serves 6-8

Strawberry glaze:
250g strawberries
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp strawberry chia seed jam (or 1 tbsp regular strawberry jam)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp strawberry vinegar
1 tsp smoked paprika or more
1 garlic clove (I forgot)
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp mustard powder

Nut roast:
450g sweet potato - baked 1 hour til soft - cool, peel, mash
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
1 small parsnip, peeled and grated
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup almond meal
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 tbsp poppy seeds
2 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 tsp salt flakes
1/4 tsp stock powder

Ahead of time: 

Bake the sweet potato for about 1 hour at 180 C or until soft.  Cool, peel and mash.

Make the strawberry glaze: Roast strawberries at 210 C in a lined roasting tin at for 15 to 25 minutes until soft.  Place roasted strawberries and all ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer uncovered, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes until slightly thickened.  Puree with a hand held blender (or your regular blender).

When you are ready to prepare nut roast:

Preheat oven to 180 C and line a loaf tin with baking paper so there is a generous overhang of the paper over the long edges.

Fry onion over medium heat in olive oil for a few minutes until soft.  Add parsnips and carrot.  Fry for about 5 minutes or until vegetables are soft.  Stir in garlic cloves briefly and remove from the heat.

Mix mashed sweet potato, onion mixture and remaining ingredients to make a thick mixture.  Spoon into prepared loaf tin.  Smooth with the back of a spoon.  Pour the strawberry glaze over the loaf and spread evenly over nut roast mixture.  If your oven likes to burn the top of anything, cover with foil for most of the baking time.

Bake for 45 minutes.  Cool in the tin for 15 to 30 minutes.  Carefully life the loaf out of the tin using the overhang of the baking paper and place on a chopping board to slice and serve.

On the Stereo:
On A Clear Night: Missy Higgins

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Sticky Thursdays.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Posted September 11, 2014 11:05 AM by Johanna GGG

quinces and kale

New York day 4 and 5

Beyond sushi

We were up early on day 4 for an almost 3 hour boat trip that sailed completely around Manhattan, looking at bridges and buildings. It was run by the Architecture Institute of New York. It was quite wonderful to see everything from a different perspective, and the architect on the boat was knowledgeable about both the history and construction of the buildings.

Afterwards we grabbed a quick early lunch at Blossom du Jour (good sandwiches, another Philly ‘cheese steak’ and a ‘chicken’, avocado and pesto, but Champs Diner still win hands down).

Philly cheese steak Blossom sandwich

We then headed down to Battery Park to the Skyscraper Museum (mildly interesting but not great) then to Moo Shoes near Chinatown to check out the vegan shoes and smooch with the resident cats, before heading home and frocking up to dine out at Candle 79.

Dinner was good, though somewhat marred by a loud guy at the next table who generally behaved like a jerk and, among other crimes of behaviour, ordered for his girlfriend without consulting her, which gobsmacked me. What century are we in?

We are cornmeal poppers and a raw coconut Pad Thai salad for starters followed by seitan piccata and a Moroccan chickpea cake. We shared tastes, and I have to say I was completely envious for not having ordered the Pad Thai salad to have all to myself. Food envy is a dreadful thing.

Dessert was cannoli, shared.

The photos are bad as the light is so dim.

Poppers Pad thai Seitan piccata Moroccan chickpea cake Cannoli

Several days of too much eating, heat, humidity and pounding the footpaths of NYC left us tired and with blistered feet, so we opted for a lie in instead of breakfast. Strange I know. I’m not usually inclined to relegate food to second place.

Around 11, we headed for an early lunch to Beyond Sushi. It may be hard to believe, but the sushi we ate were so sensational they are a candidate for the best meal of the trip. Made fresh in front of you, using different types of rice, they are works of art, bursting with flavour and taste utterly fabulous. They are a far cry from the ready made sushi we normally get.

Beyond sushi Sushi

Later that evening we attended an incredible concert celebrating 200 years of American song. The venue was the historic Federal Hall in Wall St, where George Washington was inaugurated. It is a small, intimate, resonant space and we were there with an audience of probably 60 people to hear four very talented singers and an equally brilliant pianist perform works ranging from the Star-Spangled Banner to music by George Gershwin, Bob Dylan and Cole Porter.

On the way home we stopped at Benny’s Burritos in the East village for some late night vegan nachos and beer. Somewhere in between we fitted in a trip to Lula’s Sweet Apothecary, another vegan ice cream place. I’m not sure when that was. I do remember it was delicious though.

Lula’s Sweet Apothecary
516 E 6th St,
New York, NY
(646) 481-5852

Candle 79
154 E 79th St,
New York, NY
(212) 537-7179

Blossom du Jour
259 W 23rd St
New York, NY
Also other locations.

Benny’s Burritos
93 Avenue A,
New York, NY
(212) 254-2054

Beyond Sushi
229 E. 14th Street
New York, NY


Posted September 11, 2014 09:35 AM

September 10, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: Vanilla Fudge

Vanilla Fudge are awesome. They do heaps of sweet psychedelic covers of famous songs. Need I say more?

They are also named after a delicious food, which I have quite literally tried to recreate here. I haven’t used cacao butter too much in the past – in fact I’ve only ever used it to make raw chocolate – so I was unsure of how this might turn out. I had hoped that it would help the fudge to be a bit more solid and hold form, which it did. Funnily enough, it turned out tasting very white chocolatey, maybe more so than fudgey. Regardless, I reckon it tastes pretty damn good. I cut it into bit sized squares with the intention that one as a little afternoon treat would be adequate. Obviously I ate it all within a few sittings. Ahem.

vanillafudgeRaw Vanilla Fudge

Vanilla layer:
3/4 cup cashews, soaked
1/2 cup cacao butter
1/4 cup coconut oil
3 Tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp maca (optional)
1/3 cup coconut cream
2 vanilla beans
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of pink Himalayan salt

Chocolate topping:
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp agave nectar
1 1/2 Tbsp cacao
Pinch of pink Himalayan salt

Prepare a slice tin by lining with baking paper.

Blend cashews until they resemble coarse crumbs.

Melt coconut oil and cacao butter over double boiler, then add to blender along with agave, maca, vanillas and salt. Blend until combined. Add coconut cream and blend until smooth and creamy. Pour into prepared tin and place in the freezer until set.

For the topping, melt coconut oil over a double boiler. Remove from heat and whisk in remaining ingredients. Pour over fudge base and return to the freezer until set.

Store in the fridge to avoid meltiness.

vanillafudge2I totally dig this cover of the Zombies song, She’s Not There. Ch-ch-check it out! The last chorus just kills it! Yeeeeow!


Posted September 10, 2014 08:38 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Smoky walnut and zucchini chocolate brownie

I made my first foray into smoky chocolate treats earlier this year when I made chocolate bark with coconut bacon.  It combined two of my favourite flavours.  So no surprise that it was an amazing experience.  The chocolate bark disappeared far too quickly.  It was only a matter of time before I tried the combination again.  Enter a tub of smoked walnuts and a fat free vegan zucchini brownie recipe.  I was inspired!  And most pleased!

Where do I start to tell you about this wonderful brownie?  Let me start with some generosity towards those of you who aren't convinced that chocolate can benefit from a hint of smokiness.  The smoked walnuts aren't strictly necessary.  I only sprinkled walnuts over half the cake.  Sylvia chose without.  I was pleased enough that she tried the brownie, despite knowing it was made with zucchini.  (She said she couldn't taste it.)  She is only young.  There are many years ahead of her to learn to love smoky chocolate flavours.

Even without the walnuts, the cake was beautifully soft and intense.  My changes made it less healthy but nevertheless it is on the healthy end of the scale.  I added more sugar, found it too sweet so then I added more cocoa and salt.  I also used oil rather than applesauce.

I had some oven problems.  Halfway through baking I discovered that I hadn't put on the fan.  In my slow oven that makes quite a lot of difference.  So it probably baked at the equivalent of 160 C for 25 minutes and then more at 180 C minutes.  It was a little on the cakey side around the sides but dense and fudgy on the inside.

Next let me tell you have much I loved the chocolate frosting.  I would go as far as to say it is life changing.  It is incredibly simple, easy and delicious.  I loved that it just used milk rather than cream and it only made enough for the cake.

I seem to constantly be confronted with a chocolate ganache frosting using oodles of chocolate and cream.  This frosting is mostly chocolate with just a few spoonfuls of milk and nut butter.  It is soft and sticky and tastes as good as any ganache.  It doesn't set much so if you want a frosting that will not stick to the roof of a cake tin it might not be for you but if you want a frosting that tastes like melted chocolate, embrace it.  Since making it for the first time, I have made two different versions of it. 

And finally let us return to the surprisingly sweet and smoky nature of this brownie.  When it was hot, the smoky flavours were not overly noticeable.  Once cooled and stored in a cake time, the flavours strengthened.  Taking the lid off, the cake would hit you with smoky scents.  Which feels all wrong as you look at a chocolate cake.  Take a bite and you are hit with the flavour of the smoked walnuts.  Then as you continue to chew on the cake, the sweet chocolate flavours make themselves known.  The sweetness is all the more pleasing for the smoky start.  It is a strange yet exhilarating experience.

The last comment on the cake is a note on cake plates.  As a child we only ever used a round cake tin or a loaf tin.  Perhaps that is why I now only have round or oblong cake plates.  I mentioned to E that I need a square cake plate.  He tells me they are unnatural.  Yet when a cake it this good, it deserves a fitting plate.

I am sending these cookies to Healthy Vegan Fridays #12, hosted by Kimmy of Rock my Vegan Socks and Robin of Vegan Dollhouse.

More vegan chocolate bakes from Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Zucchini chocolate brownie with smoky nutty ganache topping
Adapted from Fat Free Vegan

1/2 cup pitted and chopped medjool dates (about 6)
3/4 cup hot water
1/3 cup rice bran oil, or other neutral flavoured oil
1/2 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
1/2 cup cocoa 
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup white plain flour
3/4 tsp bicarbonate soda
1 cup finely shredded zucchini (not drained)
1/4 cup smoked walnut pieces, optional

Chocolate Nut Frosting:

1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips*
3 tbsp milk (I used soy)
1 tbsp cashew butter or other nut butter

Soak dates in the hot water for half an hour.  Blitz in blender with oil until smooth and creamy.  I used my hand held blender in a jug.

Preheat oven to 180 C or 350 F.  Grease and line a 20cm (8 inch) square cake tin.

Scoop date mixture into a medium bowl.  Stir in brown sugar, cocoa and salt.  Stir in flour and bicarb soda, then zucchni.  Spread the mixture int the prepared cake tin - it will be quite thick.

Bake cake for about 25 minutes until cooked around the edges and no longer liquid in the middle.  It will still feel quite soft but a skewer inserted in the middle will come out clean.  Cool in the tin.

Tip cooled cake onto cake plate.  Melt choc chips, milk and cashew butter in a small mixing bowl in the microwave for about 30 seconds (or melt on the stovetop).  Spread warm chocolate frosting on the cake and scatter with smoked walnuts.

*Note:  I looked up how much this chocolate is by weight, as I often just use a block of chocolate.  It seems to be between 75 and 90 grams.

On the Stereo:
Times Aint What They Used To Be, vol 1: Various Artists

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for S for Surprising Wednesdays.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Posted September 10, 2014 11:09 AM by Johanna GGG

quinces and kale

New York day 3

Monte Cristo sandwich

On day three of our New York stay we ventured over to Brooklyn to try Champs diner. After Cindy and Michael at where’s the beef had blogged so enthusiastically about it, it had become a must-try on my already large and ever expanding list of eateries.

After a lazy morning we arrived starving and ready to eat. The menu is vast and offers diner style sandwiches, salads and breakfasts. I wanted to eat it all. Champs is also definitely cool, with a retro diner look,friendly staff and good music.

We tried the Monte Cristo, a French toast style ham and cheese sandwich with maple syrup, home fries and salad, and a seitan Philly cheese steak roll with salad. I stupidly ordered a side of home fries before understanding how HUGE the servings are! :)

Sadly I seem to have lost my photo of the Philly Cheese Steak. You will just have to believe me it was magnificent.

Both sandwiches were great. The Monte Cristo was a great combination of sweet, savoury and smoky, and the Philly Cheese steak roll was incredibly delicious with caramelised onions, peppers, cheese and seitan on a crispy on the outside, soft on the inside roll that must have been about 35cm long. I gave up on the home fries to leave room for dessert.

For dessert we ordered an oatmeal streusel cheesecake and an Oreo cheesecake brownie. The cheese cake ‘slice’ was enormous, think of half a brick and you won’t be far off. We had espressos to wash them down. Best coffee I’ve had since arriving.



We love Champs!

Later we picked up some cheap tix in Brooklyn for the musical avenue Q. On the way home we stopped by van Leeuwen ice cream for a vegan sundae of chocolate and pistachio with chocolate sauce and almonds, plus an extra cup of salted caramel ice cream. Delicious!

Vegan sundae

Salted caramel icecream

Champs Family Bakery
176 Ainslie St
Brooklyn, NY

Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream
48 1/2 E 7th St
New York, NY


Posted September 10, 2014 09:14 AM

September 09, 2014

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Banana oat slice

September 7, 2014

I've been valiantly snacking on all the bananas that arrive here by vege box, but the most recent cohort were a particular challenge - they numbered a dozen and were all destined to ripen at precisely the same time. This called for some serious baking. Not just subbing an egg in a vegan cake, or even a standard banana bread; no, I needed Clotilde Dusoulier's four-banana breakfast slice.

With a couple of substitutions - coconut flour instead of almond flour, peanut butter instead of almond butter - I found that I had everything I needed right at home. It all mixed together into a thick dough with little fuss and baked in precisely the directed time. It's simultaneously kind of banana-gooey in the middle and crispy-oaty on the outside, and impossible to slice neatly.

Bananas and coconut and chocolate go well together, but I found that the flavour here was lacking a little oomph. The sweetness is very understated, and I wonder if some dried fruit might do the trick. Alternatively I'd consider swapping out one of the bananas for some extra peanut butter. I'm at some risk of just converting it into this other slice recipe, but I reckon it's worth persevering. There's the foundation of a fine everyday snack, not to mention a banana-buster, here.

Banana oat slice
(slightly adapted from a recipe on Chocolate & Zucchini)

2 cups rolled oats
2/3 cup coconut flour
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 medium bananas
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
120g dark chocolate chips

Preheat an oven to 180°C and line a small baking tray with paper.

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the rolled oats, coconut flour, shredded coconut and salt.

Peel the bananas and drop them into a large mixing bowl. Mash them thoroughly with a potato masher or fork. Whisk in the peanut butter and vanilla. Pour in the dry ingredients from the medium bowl and mix well. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Tip the mixture into the baking tray and use the back of a spoon to even it out. Bake the slice for around 25 minutes, until it's golden brown around the edges. Let it cool completely before slicing.

Posted September 09, 2014 09:31 PM by Cindy

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Scotch broth.with lentils and barley

We eat so much soup that it gets a little embarrassing.  Just look at my recipe index.  And yet it is so healthy satisfying and delicious that I continue to eat it no matter what the weather.  Fortunately I have persuaded E that soup is a good thing.  He hated it when I first met him.  Now he embraces it with enthusiasm.  Especially when it reminds him of his mum.  Barley soup is always a winner with him as he had it regularly when he was young.

I based my soup on Karen's Meat-Free Scotch Broth.  I loved how simple and clear it looked.  My regular barley soup often gets very thick stodgy with the vegies that soften around the corners.  This soup had a tin of tomatoes and some red lentils, two of my favourite things.  When I came to making it I had lots of barley but not much carrots - Sylvia just keeps eating them - and a dearth of onions. 

The great thing about this soup is that it is very forgiving.  It is healthy, fat free and cheap.  It will welcome whatever is in the fridge.  It is easy to make.  You just need some time.  All the ingredients just get thrown in the pot and simmer for an hour.  I used home made stock and a little leftover miso lentil gravy from Isa Does It.  I found that I needed to add some extra water both during cooking and after it had rested overnight.  Extra water seemed to require extra salt.

We still had candles about after our Christmas in July dinner so Sylvia decided to eat dinner by candlelight.  Barley soup is peasant food.  Not at all posh.  Candlelight made it seem a bit more special.  Yet in reality barley soup in the past might have been eaten by candlelight because that was all the light that was available.  Which reminds me yet again how lucky I am to eat this when I crave it rather than because there was nothing else to eat.

Random photo of my baby lemons after today's spring rain
Update: I wrote this post a few weeks back when it was winter.  After some lovely spring weather on the weekend, today has brought us thunderstorms, heavy rain and flooded gutters.  I have been caught in the rain twice on my bike today.  I have been cursing the robbers who stole our car, which has now been written off.  Now I have to buy a new car (at least we are insured), to deal with the speeding ticket from when they were hooning around in my car, and to dry off all our clothes (and handbag, schoolbag, shoes etc) after Sylvia and I got home from school on our bikes.  Most displeased.  I wish I had a big bowl of this soup now.  Meanwhile a warm dry home is much appreciated!

I am sending this soup to No Croutons Required, a monthly vegetarian soup and salad blog event hosted by Lisa this month and run with Jacqueline.

More hearty vegan stews and soups from Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Scotch broth.with lentils and barley
Adapted from Lavender and Lovage
Serves 4 to 6

1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
2 potatoes, diced
1/8 large cabbage, diced
400g tin of diced tomatoes
2 sticks of celery, diced
2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup dried red lentils
1/2 cup dried pearl barley
4 1/2 cups vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients into stockpot.  Bring to the boil and simmer for about 1 hour or until vegetable soft and barley is cooked.  Stir regularly to check the lentils aren't sticking the bottom of the pot.  Will last for a few days.

On the Stereo:
American Favorite Ballads: Pete Seeger

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for S for Same Same Tuesdays.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Posted September 09, 2014 08:12 PM by Johanna GGG

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: The Smashing Pumpkins

I bet you were all waiting for these guys to come along. It was definitely one of the first foody bands I had thought of when coming up with the list. Yet another teenage discovery, the Smashing Pumpkins were definitely high on rotation back in the day. I don’t listen to them a lot anymore, but when I do I always feel reminiscent of those days. Just like getting on like a house on fire with an old friend you haven’t seen in years, the music just comes back to me.

For today’s meal, I’ve smashed some pumpkins (sort of? the blender smashed them for me I suppose..) into a creamy delicious risotto. This is actually the best risotto I’ve ever made. I think the taste is great, but I also really just cooked it to perfection – I have a habit of cooking risottos on high heat to try and get them done quickly. This time I was patient, cooked it slowly, and reaped the rewards.

So many songs, how to choose one for this post? I’m playing Tonight, Tonight, because it’s a great song and the film clip is awesome. It’s inspired by the Georges Méliès silent film, A Trip to the Moon. I looove Georges Méliès films, they are so whimsical and wonderful and absolutely captivating. If you haven’t seen any, look them up after watching the Pumpkins homage – you won’t regret it! (The ones with added soundtracks and hand colouring are especially magical!)


Creamy Pumpkin and Leek Risotto with Crispy Sage
(serves 4)

1/2 butternut pumpkin (about 1 cup once pureed)
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

1 brown onion, diced
2 leeks, white and green parts, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp coconut oil
2 cups arborio rice
4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chopped sage
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp chili flakes
Salt and pepper

2 Tbsp coconut oil
Sage – approx 20 leaves
Pinch of sea salt

First up, you’re going to want to roast your pumpkin. Preheat your oven to 200C. Remove all bits of skin and seeds, and dice pumpkin flesh. Place in a baking dish, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Chuck in two garlic cloves in their skins as well, just because how can you roast a vegetable without adding some garlic? Exactly, you can’t. Roast for about 25-30 mins until tender.

When the pumpkin is about half done, heat up 1 Tbsp coconut oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and half of your leek, and saute for five or so minutes until the onion is translucent. Add garlic and saute for another minute.

While this is happening, bring your stock to boil in another pot, then turn down to a mild simmer.

Add rice to onion mix and dry fry for about a minute. Add white wine, and cook for about 2 or 3 minutes, until most of the wine has been absorbed.

From here, start adding stock. I like to use a ladle and scoop it in one ladle-full at a time. Your rice should always be JUST covered by stock. Turn heat down to medium-low, so that it is never more than a slow simmer. DO NOT walk away from your risotto…this takes some time, but it’s best to be patient. Continue to add stock as needed to keep liquid above rice, then wait for it to absorb. Stir your risotto frequently so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom.

When your pumpkin is done, remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Place in a blender, and squeeze your little garlic cloves out of their skins and into the blender too. Blend until smooth and set aside.

Once all your stock has been added, check texture of rice. If it is al dente – perfect! If it still has a little way to go, you may need to continue adding liquid until it reaches the desired texture.

Add remaining leek, sage leaves, nutritional yeast and chili flakes and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour pumpkin puree in and mix well.

For the crispy sage – heat 2 Tbsp coconut oil in a small pot until very hot. Have some paper towel on a plate ready next to you. One at a time, drop your sage leaves into the oil. Have a fork ready to scoop them out after about 10 seconds, when they become crispy. Follow this process with each sage leaf, then sprinkle the lot of them with a bit of crushed sea salt.

Remove risotto from heat, serve and garnish with sage leaves.





Posted September 09, 2014 06:45 PM

quinces and kale

New York day 1 and 2

Pizza and beer

Our flight to NY arrived at Newark airport at 2am so we opted for an airport hotel so we could get a decent night’s sleep before heading to Manhattan in the morning. Faced with a journey of a couple of hours to our accommodation, we needed some fuel for the journey so opted for breakfast at the airport hotel. I figured we should be able to find something to eat on a buffet, but the pickings were pretty slim. After some eye rolling from the waiter at our query about soy milk, we ended up with dry toast, peanut butter with banana and black coffee. There was also some oatmeal without milk in it. None of it great, and expensive at $36 for the two of us, with barely civil service and a handily added (not) compulsory 18% tip.

After arriving in Manhattan we walked to Two Boots for some delicious vegan pizza topped with daiya cheese, artichokes, pesto and a red pepper sauce. New York really does do excellent pizza.

That evening we headed to Caravan of Dreams. Not my favourite spot, with ok, but uninspired food that you could easily cook at home. It was made worse by being relatively expensive, compounded by the addition of an in house pianist playing maniacally.

The next day was action packed, with a visit to MOMA, the Guggenheim to see some early Kandinsky works and an exhibit about Frank Lloyd Wright. We grabbed a snack of dips and bread at Le pain quotidien, a small chain sourdough bakery that has some good marked vegan options on their menu. I’m always pretty happy when I find vegan food in mainstream cafés and restaurants. Their bread is top notch.


Afterwards we went to see the Book of Mormon. It was pretty hilarious, if occasionally overstepping the mark into puerility. I still have a couple of the songs running in my head.

On the way home we grabbed a late night Brooklyn lager and pizza from Two Boots again!

Le Pain Quotidien
58th St & 7th Ave
New York, NY

Two Boots Pizza
3rd St & Ave A
New York


Posted September 09, 2014 09:43 AM

September 08, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: Neutral Milk Hotel

Neutral Milk Hotel are another one of those bands from my teenage-hood – I think I first stumbled across them through the song at the bottom of this post, and I was hooked. I listened to that song alone on repeat for weeks before I even discovered the rest of their music. The whole In The Aeroplane Over the Sea album is just stunning, and even in later years the Bear and I would listen to it start to finish on repeat. I still do!

So I’m not going to take too much away from the song here, but just leave you with a simple, neutral milk recipe.

neutralmilk1Nut milk is so easy to make, and anybody who has done it will vouch for the fact that it tastes soooooooo much better than store bought nut milk. The best thing is you can add your own flavours like cacao or cinnamon or vanilla, and you can make it as creamy or thin as you like.

neutralmilk2As you can see from all the speckles, I added some vanilla bean to mine. Me and vanilla beans are such best buds.

Cashew Milk

I cup cashews, soaked overnight
3 cups filtered water
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 medjool date, pit removed
Pinch of pink Himalayan salt

Put all ingredients in a blender and whizzzzzzzzz until smooth. For a thinner milk, add one to three more cups of water. If I’m just using the milk for smoothies I like to extend it a bit further with more water, however if I want to drink it on its own or in coffee or otherwise, I like it nice and creamy like this.


Far out it’s so freaking beautiful.


Posted September 08, 2014 03:30 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Super smoothie with berries, pear and banana

Today I bring you our current favourite breakfast smoothie.  It is especially good for late winter when it is harder to find fresh fruit I want to eat: yes I eat a lot of fruit but I get fussy at this time of year.  We usually have porridge for breakfast but occasionally I buy bananas and they are not too manky.  Overripe bananas don't do it for me in smoothies.  They go into pancakes and cakes.

Sylvia loves it when I make smoothies.  I like them thick but have worked out that if they are too thick she struggles to drink them because she insists on using a straw.  Pears really help to thin down a smoothie.  Sometimes I just only use half a banana.  Ice blocks also help.  For this smoothie I just wanted to use up the last of a small bunch of bananas we had. 

It is a great way to start the day!  Healthy, easy and satisfying.

More Smoothies on Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Breakfast Smoothie
serves 2-3

1 banana, peeled and broken up
1 ripe pear, cored and chopped
1 handful frozen raspberries
1 small handful rolled oats
2-3 tsp chia seeds
1 1/2 cups soy milk

Blend all together until smooth.  I use a hand held blender

On the Stereo:
Secrets profane and sugarcane: Elvis Costello

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Speedy Smoothies.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Posted September 08, 2014 12:30 PM by Johanna GGG

quinces and kale

San Francisco day 3

Baked eggplant

The day we left San Francisco was the Labour Day holiday, and not a lot was open. If Herbivore had been open I’d have happily gone back for breakfast, but it wasn’t.  Instead we headed to a small coffee/bar place near our hotel called Vinyl where we had the BEST soy latte of the trip so far and a bagel with some hummus. Good old reliable hummus is the vegan standby when all else fails. It was yummy.

Luckily we had time to fit in Gracias Madre for lunch before heading off to the airport.

Gracias Madre is another all vegan place serving delicious Mexican food. It had come highly recommended. We’d been unable to get in on the Saturday night before, as it was crowded, with hour long waits, but on the Monday we were unfashionably early and in luck.

In our excitement at there being so many choices we over ordered, but that was ok because we took some of it with us to supplement our DIY airline meal.

Here’s what we ate:

Tamale – stuffed with zucchini, onions, garlic and grilled corn and served with black beans and tomato, onion and coriander dice. This was my least favourite dish, perhaps I’d been spoilt by the utterly sensational version I’d had at Millennium, but I thought this was a bit bland.


Quesadilla – sweet potato and caramelised onions in soft tortillas with cashew nacho cheese and toasted pumpkin seeds. Delicious but we were defeated by its size.



Kale salad – this was delicious. Massaged kale (who massages kale?) with a creamy orange chipotle dressing, orange segments, and toasted almonds.

Kale salad


Baked eggplant – I deliberately left the best to last. This is a dish on a shortlist to take to a desert island. One where you would discard all manners and fight your dining companions for the last scraping of it at a shared meal. Roasted eggplant, tomatoes, onions, poblano chillies baked in cashew cheese with garlic breadcrumbs. Soft, unctuous, full of flavour and utterly delicious. I must try to make it at home.

Baked eggplant

Next stop New York!

Gracias Madre
2211 Mission St
San Francisco


Posted September 08, 2014 09:00 AM

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne


September 5, 2014

We've been more baffled than enticed by the new Emporium shopping complex in the city, but news of a vegan eatery on facebook managed to draw us in. Supercharger lacks an online presence of its own for the moment but owner Paul Mathis helped us out on twitter, informing us that they're open until 7pm every day and through until 9pm Thursdays and Fridays. That gave us plenty of opportunity to sneak in for dinner before a movie.

Once you find it IRL (tucked behind Jimmy Grants on level 3), the Supercharger MO is clear - fresh mix'n'match vegan bowls, beverages and desserts. Though there isn't clear dietary labelling, each dish's name is pretty instructive and almost everything looked to be gluten-free. Bowls start with a grain or spinach base, and then it's time to choose 3-5 extras ($10-14) - veges served raw, smashed, fermented or simmered.

I started with a steamed quinoa base and built up green peas and avocado smashed with lime, coconut oil and mint, some gently fermented cauliflower with black sesame, and thinly sliced seitan braised with shiitake mushrooms.

Meanwhile Michael ploughed through steamed brown rice, a raw blend of beetroot, carrot, radish and ginger with Bragg's apple cider, a smash of sweet potato and broccoli with tahini and barley, a yellow parnsip khadi with coconut, turmeric, lemongrass, galangal and lime, plus lightly caramelised tempeh in tamari.

We didn't think we wanted a beverage but the jars of apple, lemon, makrut/kaffir lime and lemongrass ($8) looked too good to miss - this was blended up for us on the spot for maximum impact (... and blended makrut lime leaves do make quite the citrussy impact!).

We ordered jars of the two available desserts to takeaway - raw cocoa mousse with coconut agar and berries on top, and a blueberry cashew 'cheesecake' with a jammy top and a date-and-nut base ($5 each). They're definitely some of the smoother, tastier raw desserts around. The jars were great for packing but less easy to eat from, causing sticky fingers and struggles to reach the base (maybe shallower receptacles would work better?).

We were otherwise very impressed by Supercharger. All the food was in rude health even towards the end of their shift, with the colour and crunch of produce just picked. The prices measure up favourably against other bowl-based vego venues around town. When we want a quick meal in the city we typically call on Shandong Mama, but Supercharger will stand out as a fresher alternative.

Level 3 Emporium, 287 Lonsdale St Melbourne
menu: one, two

Accessibility: The entry from Emporium is flat and wide. All ordering options are visible from low counter height; we ordered and paid at this counter. We picked up food from a high bench, though I'm sure accommodations could be made. Toilets are elsewhere in the Emporium complex.

Posted September 08, 2014 07:00 AM by Cindy

September 07, 2014

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Sourdough chocolate bread pudding, Villa Alba, Geelong train and Father's Day

It was an intense week of the school concert, lots of phone calls about our stolen car and now a new blender has gone missing in transit.  Which is why I needed to make chocolate bread pudding so much on Friday night that I asked a neighbour to babysit Sylvia so I could go and buy milk.  We had a really nice weekend of trains, cake, birthdays, food trucks, and a trip to the magnificent Villa Alba.  I was exhausted at the end of it and was very pleased to have some pudding to come home to.

Then E also bought milk so we have plenty.  I discovered he had very helpfully been making his way through the dry ends of sourdough loaves I have been stashing in the freezer.  Except I hadn't told him I was saving them for bread pudding.  I managed to cobble together enough bread and make the pudding.

I didn't plan well for the pudding and it wasn't ready until Sylvia was in bed.  I added cinnamon for depth of flavour, dried cranberries because I love them and cashew butter because I had it.  The pudding was slightly on the sweet side - next time I will add sugar more cautiously and preferably use 70% chocolate.  E and Sylvia were not so keen on the cranberries but I loved them.

It was after 9pm when E and I enjoyed some in front of an episode of Borgen.  It was scrumptious.  Lots of dense chocolate chunks of bread with some - but not much - custard in between.  As Sylvia didn't get any for dessert, I let her have some for breakfast.  I heated some frozen raspberries with a splash of maple syrup to make a sauce.  It was lovely.  I will definitely make this pudding again when the dried old bits of sourdough threaten to take over the freezer.

After breakfast on Saturday we took two trains to Geelong to visit the family.  (Though our stolen car has been found, we are still waiting for our recalcitrant insurance company to assess the damage!)  I have never been in the Quiet carriage on the Geelong train before.  It was very relaxing.  No loud ipods or people watching movies.  I think we managed to keep our voices down.

Sylvia enjoyed watching the scenery.  E thinks the landscape is terribly boring between Melbourne and Geelong.  It might not be splendid Scottish hills but it has a certain Australian attraction.  

I love seeing the You Yangs in the distance and have grown to love some of the industrial landscape.

Once in Geelong, my dad had this crazy idea for us to go with Sylvia and her cousins to a cafe in Torquay called Mobys.  By the time we arrived it was closed.  Instead we had a drink at Front Beach.

We couldn't stay in Torquay long because there was a family dinner on that night for birthdays and Father's Day.  As it is Vegan MoFo I will save the cake for another day.  Instead I will share this lovely salad that my mum made to go with the roast dinner.  Lots of leafy greens, vegies, chickpeas and herbs.

This morning was Father's Day.  Here is a gift that Sylvia made at school.  E slept in while she played with her cousin Stella.  Then we served him croissants for breakfast.

Once Stella had gone home we set off with my mum and dad for a day out in Melbourne.  First stop was Yarraville Park where food trucks gather on Sunday.  It was really busy with lots of father's day gatherings.  We had tacos, quesadillas and churros.  Delicious.  And Sylvia enjoyed the playground.

Then we headed to Villa Alba in Kew.  It is an Italianate mansion from the 1880s that was turned into a hospital and now is slowly undergoing renovations to restore the elaborate decorations.  It is a beautiful building to wander through, even though the rooms are empty of furniture.  I loved it all the more because it is clearly a work in progress.  Seeing the floral paintings clearly visible behind the white paint in the stairway and the paint scrapes in other places interests me.  I love seeing the processes as well as the finished product.

The fireplace in the drawing room.

Details from ceilings, doors, fireplaces and walls.

The old kitchen range with an old gas oven to the right.

The dresser in the kitchen.  (I didn't photograph the women making the afternoon teas in the more updated section of the kitchen.)

The amazing wall murals in the vestibule.  On one side is a view of Edinburgh with 's castle, Royal Mile, Salisbury Crags, Arthur's Seat and the Firth of Forth (above).  Decorated for the master of the house who hailed from Edinburgh.  On the opposite wall is Sydney Harbour, reflecting the home town of the mistress of the house.

Villa Alba is open on the first Sunday of the month and well worth a visit.

I am sending this pudding to No Waste Food Challenge, hosted by  Chef Mireille’s East West Realm and founded by Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary.

More warm baked puddings from Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Chocolate sourdough bread pudding
Adapted from The Joy of Vegan Baking
Serves 8-10

230g dark choc chips
1/2 cup  sugar
3 cups milk
1 small banana
1/2 cup cranberries
1 tbsp cashew butter, optional
dash cinnamon
pinch salt
300-350g sourdough bread, chopped in chunks

Mix the choc chips, sugar and 1 cup of milk in a large heatproof bowl.  Melt in microwave (or over saucepan of hot water).  Mix in remaining milk, banana, cranberries, cinnamon, salt and cashew butter.  Stir in bread chunks and leave for 1 to 2 hours so the chocolate milk mixture soaks in.  Stir occasionally while it soaks.  Transfer to a 23 to 25cm diameter greased baking dish and bake for 55 to 65 minutes at 180 C or 350 F.

On the Stereo:
The World of Michael Nyman

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Sticky Sourdough Sunday.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Posted September 07, 2014 11:08 PM by Johanna GGG

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: Chuck Berry

You Chuck the Berry in the salad and what do you get? Strawberry salad, duhh.

Um hello! Day 7: Week 1 of MoFo complete! I can’t believe I’ve managed a post every day, it’s pretty crazy. I’ve been loving reading everybody’s posts, I’m about one quarter of my way though the blogroll – I’m trying to visit every blog by the end of the month. I’ve already found some killer blogs and met some great new people. Yay MoFo!

chuckberry3Onto the food! – This is a lovely side dish, and a winner to take to a barbecue or potluck. With juicy red berries and zesty cashew cheese, I reckon it just screams summer (even though we’re not quite there yet!)


Strawberry Balsamic Salad with Cashew Cheese

3 tightly packed cups of baby spinach
1 1/2 cups strawberries, quartered
1/4 cup pepitas
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced

Cashew Cheese:
1 cup cashews, soaked
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 Tbsp water
Salt and pepper

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tsp red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper

First, prepare the cashew cheese. Place cashews in blender or food processor and blend until they resemble coarse crumbs. Add remaining ingredients and blend until desired consistency. It’s nice to make it super creamy, but to chuck in salads, I like it to be a bit chunky/pasty. If you want it smoother, just add a little more liquid.

Put all salad ingredients in a bowl. Take blobs of cashew cheese and toss through salad.

In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients. Pour over salad and toss.

Refrigerate until ready to use.

chuckberry1I wasn’t going to put Johnny B-Goode up, because it’s the obvious choice – but then I went to listen to it and he just rips right in with that opening riff and how could you not? So GOOD!


Posted September 07, 2014 08:32 PM

September 06, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: Peanut Butter Wolf

I was just thinking to myself the other day how peanut butter and chocolate is one of the best flavour combinations – you can’t beat salty and sweet. Then, yesterday, out of nowhere, my housemate was talking about how much she loved peanut butter, but hated it with sweet things like chocolate. Whaaaa? Different strokes for different folks I suppose!

Peanut Butter Wolf is a DJ who spins some funky tunes, which are great to listen to in the kitchen. I tell ya, it’s the best for getting into a smooth rhythm of measuring and pouring and sauntering from the cupboard to the bench. And if I were a peanut butter wolf, I would definitely be hunting down peanut butter cups, that’s for sure.

I’ve made pb cups using melted choc and roasted pb before, but when I decided to make these ones I didn’t have any chocolate on hand. As a result I came up with these little raw fellas, and I think they make a pretty sweet replacement.


Raw Peanut Butter Cups
(makes about 12 cups)

1/3 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup cacao powder
1/4 cup agave
Pinch pink Himalayan salt
3/4 cup raw natural peanut butter

Set out twelve small muffin papers or chocolate cases, ready to go.

Melt coconut oil in double boiler, remove bowl and add cacao, agave and salt. Stir well to combine.

Pour about a teaspoon of the mix into cases and spread around the edges.

pb1Place cases in the freezer and allow to set.

Remove from freezer and fill each cup with about a teaspoon of peanut butter.

pb2Fill to the top of each case with chocolate and return to the freezer until set. Enjoy!



Posted September 06, 2014 10:44 PM

quinces and kale

San Francisco day 2


After a latish start sleeping off some jet lag, we headed just one block down the road from the hotel to Herbivore for brunch. We had been told it was good for breakfast by the vegan hotel office manager. It is an all vegan place with a huge number of choices, so, naturally, I suffered the usual vegan menu paralysis.

I ordered a corn fritters breakfast with all the Mexican trimmings  of guacamole, salsa, black beans and sour cream plus some home fries, and S ordered the southwestern scrambled tofu with blueberry cornbread.  The food was great, particularly the cornbread and the home fries, the coffee adequate as a caffeine hit, but not a pleasure for this coffee snob. Oh Melbourne coffee I miss you!

image Breakfast at herbivore

We headed to the Castro to the GLBT history museum. They have a great exhibition from their archives that reminded me of just how courageous the early gay campaigners were. That afternoon we walked up one of San Francisco’s many hills to Alamo Square to admire the view before we headed home to get ready to eat out.

image Houses

That evening we dined at Millennium.

I had high expectations of Millennium. Lots of people have said it was great, but I also wondered whether a vegan restaurant that has been running for 17 years might be stuck in the past. I need not have worried. We ate wonderfully. We chose a 3 course menu for $42 with a wine pairing of 3 half glasses for $13, just a perfect amount of wine for me.

Here’s what we ate.

August salad Raw pad thai Tamale Eggplant choc almond midnight Sweet potato pie

august salad – greens  with shaved green beans, creamy sesame ginger dressing, apples, croutons, toasted sea lettuce and red shiso
raw pad thai - finely shaved vegetables with a creamy cashew dressing, a spicy shallot nut seed crumble
tamale – stuffed with poblano chilli and Lima beans with grilled corn, roasted tomato and roasted pepper salad with greens, habanero sauce, guacamole and toasted pumpkin seeds
arborio crusted eggplant - with okra, zucchini, mustard green and coconut sauce with tofu lemon cheese and a French lentil and apple salad with a  mint vinaigrette
chocolate almond midnight – seriously rich white and dark chocolate dessert with roasted almonds dessert that I couldn’t finish
sweet potato pie – thin crusted with cinnamon spicing



351 Divisadero
San Francisco

580 Geary St
San Francisco



Posted September 06, 2014 01:00 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

September 2014 In My Kitchen - Vegan MoFo edition

It that time of the month when I give you a peek into my kitchen.  As it is Vegan MoFo let's start with a visit to the Cruelty Free Shop in Fitzroy.  I didn't get to Vegan Day Out.  Probably for the best as I  prefer to browse when it is quieter.   It is always such a pleasant place to shop.  Such great vegan products.  A tyranny of choice.

I bought the Rhubarb and Custard nakd bar on the recommendation of the guy behind the counter.  It was very good, despite there being no rhubarb in the bar.  What I loved about the packaging was how large the ingredients were.  So often ingredients are so tiny they are a challenge to read.  As if the company has something to hide.  The Seed and Bean Coconut and Raspberry chocolate is just lovely too.  I am yet to eat the bean soup.  Too busy eating bio cheese on toast!

Yes I am in love with Biocheese.  If cheese was the only thing stopping me going vegan, Biocheese could possibly solve that problem.  It is so melty and yummy on a cheese on toast.  I have added it to bakes and pizza and it works brilliantly.  As others have noted, it is not really intensely flavoured and it doesn't seem to crisp up the way cheese does but it is the texture of cheese that I find most difficult in vegan dishes.  If you want more information, you could check out Veganopoulous' Biocheese review.

I managed to get along to Coburg Farmers Market a few weeks back.  The bagels went quickly, as did the Cocoa Rhapsody mint chocolate, beetroot dukkah dip and apples.  You will see the cute little squash soon.  The oranges and purple carrots are still in the kitchen.

I have had fun experimenting with the strawberry vinegar.  Great in a salad dressing.  The chilli sauce has been left to E.  We had found the jar challenging.  In fact half the sauce ended up on the floor after one particularly frustrating night trying to open the lid!

I have lots of vegan puff pastry in the freezer after buying it to make sausage rolls for a recent party.  Any suggestions are welcome.

I also bought these gluten free oats for the sausage rolls.  It is rare to see gluten free oats in Australia so I was surprised to see them in the supermarket.  I prefer rolled oats but bought quick oats because I wanted to make gluten free sausage rolls.

My mum often makes a contribution to my kitchen.  Here is an apricot jam she made from dried apricots - great with scones.  Also some apples she bought me from Newton farmers market and a kiddie mosaic craft set.

I was interested to see a new range of Fry's vegan goods in the supermarket.  We are yet to try the hot dogs.  I like the idea of them but it is not a regular meal in our house.  I bought them because my mum used to make us hot dogs for lunch quite regularly on weekends when I was little and little hot dogs were a staple of kids parties.  I hoped they might give give nostalgia value.

I was really curious about the polony.  Yes it is a vegan baloney.  I thought it might make a similar sandwich to the German sausage with sauce that I used to have a lot as a child.  I was not keen.  However I fried up the polony and added it to some split pea soup.  It was delicious.  I was amused at how much it looked like there were chunks of ham floating in the soup.

Here is one of Sylvia's lunches: sushi rice in nori, carrots, roasted chickpeas, porridgies, dates and dried apricots.  It was a day when we didn't have any fresh fruit but this time of there there have been a lot of apples in sylvia's lunch box.

Regular readers will know that Frozen fever has hit our house.  Sylvia just loved this frozen plate, bowl and cup set.  Pink, princesses and flowers.  What more could a little 5 year old girl want!

Lastly here are our blueberry plant a week or two ago.  A lot of blossom has already fallen off and I am less hopeful of growing blueberries.  No doubt the birds are keeping an eye on them.  Last year they ate most of the blueberries.

Everything in this post is vegan as I have written it as part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  

Today is S for the September edition of Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial's In My Kitchen even.  Head over to join in and/or check out what is happening in other bloggers' kitchens.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Posted September 06, 2014 08:56 AM by Johanna GGG

September 05, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: Red Hot Chili Peppers

The Red Hot Chili Peppers! Of course!

So many songs to choose from! I was going to go with something from their funky days, but I was browsing videos and remembered this one, which I love – gosh, all this music clip watching reminds me of staying up late/getting up early to watch Rage. And look at young Anthony, isn’t he cuuuute?!

It’s kind of hard to believe that Soul to Squeeze was recorded back in ’91. That’s 23 years ago! Where did the time go?! I always find it really strange when I hear the Chili Peppers on Gold 104 (the golden oldies radio station) – the songs seem so recent to me still.

I got to see the Chili pepper some years ago, I went along with my mum and brother. We were right up the front, and Mum got her elbows out and ‘moshed’ (don’t tell her that there wasn’t a mosh pit). But if there HAD been a mosh pit, this would be the perfect food to fuel your moshing. GREAT SEGUE!!!!

chillipeppersIn Australia, we don’t really call these peppers, however the Red Hot Chili Capsicums are not a band as far as I am aware. Yep, just googled it and did not find anything.

This was a good opportunity for me to make stuffed capsicums as I’ve never done them before, which is surprising because anybody will tell you that I love food stuffed with food. I thought these were pretty good for a first attempt, and a nice change from the usual tacos or burritos when going for Mexican flavours.

Mexican Stuffed Capsicums
(makes 4)

4 red capsicums
1/2 cup uncooked rice (I used one of those rice barley blends)
1 tsp coconut oil
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped finely1/2 small red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup corn
1 small tomato, diced
1/2 cup black beans
2 Tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Juice of 1/2 lime
Cayenne to taste
Salt to taste
Vegan cheese (optional)
Spring onions to garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 200C.

Cook rice according to instructions. I’m sure you’ve all got your methods for cooking rice. I don’t, and I’m terrible at it.

Cut out tops from capsicums with a sharp knife, then remove seeds from inside. Set aside.

In a small pan, heat oil over medium heat and add onion. Saute for a couple of minutes, then add garlic and jalapeno and cook for another minute. Add smoked paprika, coriander and cumin and cook until fragrant – about 30 seconds.

Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Add corn, tomatoes, beans and cooked rice, and stir to combine. Add remaining ingredients – fresh coriander, nutritional yeast, lime juice and salt.

Place capsicums in a baking dish, fill each one with mix, then grate some cheese on top. Bake for 15-20 mins, until capsicums are tender. Garnish with spring onions.



Posted September 05, 2014 10:31 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Smoky Mexican Nacholada Casserole

I had tried hot water, rubber gloves and a knife to open that wretched jar of olives, with Sylvia cheering me on.  'When your dad gets home, he might be able to open it', I told her in desperation.  Then suddenly the lid gave way and olive brine dribbled all over my jeans.  At that moment, I regret to say, I was cursing Ricki Heller for her love of olives.  I would never think to use olives in a Mexican meal but I have learnt to trust Ricki in her wonderful recipes.  If we ignore the olive moment, her Layered Mexican Casserole was worth every bit of effort!

Ricki posted the recipe in 2010 and I have looked at it with desire on a quite a few occasions since.  Then suddenly the planets aligned.  I had this interesting sounding Black Bean and Chipotle Salsa lingering in the pantry.  And a couple of avocados were softening rapidly in the fruit bowl.  I never need any urging to make tofu bacon.  It is one of my few recipes that Sylvia eats every time with enthusiasm.  A good vegan cheese sauce makes me happy.  And unlike Ricki, we will never have stale tortilla chips in our house but I don't mind a reason to buy them.

So I blitzed and blended and chopped and fried and layered and scattered and sprinkled.  And it was very good.  Exact quantities aren't important.  Nor are exact ingredients.  I got away with cashew butter rather than blending raw cashews and I made important inroads into some coconut butter by using a spoonful instead of tahini.  I sprinkled seeds on top because I read about this in my early days of being a vegetarian, when I enjoyed learning about vegan cooking.

Ricki might like to scatter her baked casserole with coriander.  I would have preferred to heap mine with lime tossed avocado and spring onions.  However the avocados had seen better days and I don't keep spring onions regularly in winter.  I also find myself eating dinner in the dark in winter, hence the lack of natural light for photos.  (My brother has a new lightbox that he has offered me a chance to experiment.  One day!)

I made this casserole when Sylvia had been sick and dropping off to sleep with no effort.  I avoided trying to eat this while managing a cranky kid who was not up to eating much in the evening.  Instead I prepared all the layers, took Sylvia to bed and then layered up the casserole, baked it and ate it in peace.  It deserved a bit of respect.  It was that good!

The casserole was smoky and creamy with chewy chunks of tofu bacon and some crisp corners of tortilla chips.  Ricki amused me by calling it Nacholada Casserole because it fell somewhere between nachos and an enchilada casserole.  The black bean and chipotle salsa was excellent.  E considered it spicy enough that his reflex reach for the tabasco was on hold.  We will definitely buy the salsa again.

Next time I made this casserole maybe we will try the green tomatilla salsa and a tin of black beans.  I am feeling quite content now that I have finally made the casserole.  Now my hope is that it will appear on our table many times.

I am sending this casserole to Jacqueline's Bookmarked Recipes at Tinned Tomatoes. 

More vegan tex mex recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Borlotti bean mole with roast pumpkin and silverbeet
Lentil and cauliflower taco filling 
Mexican lasagne with corn tortillas
Mexican rice in the microwave 
My breakfast burritos
Potato and kale enchiladas
Sweet potato, zucchini and olive quesadillas

Mexican Nacholada Casserole
Adapted from Ricki Heller
Serves 4 (or less)

230g packet of corn chips (I used Mission white corn)
250g jar of black bean and chipotle salsa, or salsa or choice
1 red capsicum (red pepper), diced
1/2 cup sliced black olives
1/2 batch tofu bacon (see below)
400g tin of brown lentils (or black beans), rinsed and drained
1 batch “Vegveeta” cheese sauce (see below)
sesame and poppy seeds to scatter

Preheat oven to 200 C.  Lightly grease a casserole dish (mine was about 22cm square).

Layer half each of the corn chips, salsa, red capsicum, olives, tofu bacon, lentils and cheese sauce.  Repeat another layer with the other half of each of these ingredients, setting aside some red capsicum.  Sprinkle with some seeds and the red capsicum.

Bake for 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown.  We kept ours overnight at room temperature and reheated for another 30 minutes the next night.  It is best on the day of baking but quite yummy the next.

Tofu bacon:
Slightly adapted from here

250g firm tofu, pressed
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tbsp tomato sauce
1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp liquid smoke
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1-2 tbsp rice bran oil, (or other oil) for frying

Cut tofu into small dice (about 0.5 cm square or even a bit smaller).  Mix a marinade of the remaining ingredients (except oil).  Add the tofu and mix until all pieces are covered in marinade.  This can be done hours or even a day or two ahead of time to allow the tofu to soak up the flavours.  Heat large frypan over high heat and swirl around about 1 tbsp oil. Fry the marinated tofu pieces over high heat until the marinade is absorbed and the tofu pieces are firming up.  They should be chewy rather than crisp when they cool.  You may need to drizzle in more oil if they are too soft.  Drain on kitchen paper and set aside.

"Vegveeta" cheese sauce:
Slightly adapted from this one

125g cashew butter*
1 tbsp coconut butter*
1 cup soy milk, or milk of choice
2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1½ tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp sea salt (or to taste)
¼ tsp yellow mustard powder
¼ tsp turmeric (for color)
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp cornflour

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth.  Taste to check and adjust seasoning as desired.

*NOTE: My little blender is broken and I know my food processor will not blend nuts well so I used cashew butter.  If you have more powerful equipment you could use 1/2 cup of raw cashews instead of the cashew butter.  I actually had almond, brazil nut and cashew butter because that is all I could find when preparing for this dish.  I used the coconut butter instead of 1 tbsp tahini because I want to use up the coconut butter.

On the Stereo:
Protest Songs from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings: Various Artists

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is Smoky Friday.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Posted September 05, 2014 11:01 AM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Potato waffles

September 1, 2014

I worked from home on Monday, and it gave me a little extra time for housekeeping around my report-writing; slow cooking a big batch of stock, picking up a few groceries, and preparing dinner in stages. It was a nice opportunity to pull out my copy of Veganissimo, mixing and matching dishes with the vestiges of our vege box.

Look, it was mostly an excuse to make the potato waffles again. I think they're terrific - crisp around the edges and fluffy inside, but not greasy like a hash brown. A lot of parsley and a little chickpea flour set the savoury tone. I'd highly recommend them to anyone with a waffle iron (and suggest that anyone without try frying this batter as pancakes and report back).

To round out the meal and use up my veges, I whipped up small batches of Veganissimo's chunky beet dip and chive and cashew creme cheese. I couldn't believe how easy it was to handle pre-baked beetroots compared to peeling and grating raw ones, and their sweetness really gets to shine here - there's no filler, just some onion and garlic sauteed with red wine vinegar and a piquant dose of white pepper to add some complexity.

The chive and cashew creme cheese took me by surprise too. I've been around the mock-cheese block a few times, and this one uses ingredients I'm familiar with, but there's something deeply right about the quantities that Leigh Drew sets out in this recipe. I'm not going to give it (or the beetroot dip recipe) away here - grab the book and try 'em for yourself.

I'll share the potato waffle recipe (very slightly adapted below) as a taster. We previously ate these waffles with the Veganissimo scrambled tofu, yet another tasty reason to acquire this cookbook for yourself.

Potato waffles
(slightly adapted from Leigh Drew's Veganissimo!)

2 medium potatoes
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chickpea flour
3/4 cup plain flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup soy milk

Scrub the potatoes and place them in a medium-sized saucepan. Cover them with water and boil them until they're cooked through but still reasonably firm, about 8-10 minutes. Drain the potatoes and set them aside to cool. 

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, grate them into a large bowl. It's fine to let the skins in, though I fished out a couple of larger pieces. Stir in the parsley, chickpea flour, plain flour and baking powder. Once the potato is well coated in the dry ingredients, add the oil and milk and stir well to combine.

Heat up a waffle iron and grease it as necessary. Pour in and cook the potato batter in batches, until the waffles are golden and crispy on the outside.

Posted September 05, 2014 07:34 AM by Cindy

quinces and kale

San Francisco day 1




Airline travel has the allure of getting from A to B very quickly. The downside, which I always forget, is just how long it takes to get out of the airport and to where you want to be!

By the magic of the international dateline we arrived, after 16 hours, at 12.30pm a mere 45 minutes after we departed.

By the time we got to our hotel after getting lost, encountering both helpful and grumpy bus drivers, and settled in it was several hours later. Our hotel (The Metro) was fabulous and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Cheap, clean and friendly, it is located in Lower Haight, handy to the Mission District and the Castro.

We headed off to Gracias Madre, a vegan Mexican restaurant in the Mission district. It was packed and there was an hour long wait to get in, so we settled for Weird Fish just up the street, a strange Mexican fish/vegan combination, good, but still we were left wanting to go to Gracias Madre which we had heard so many good things about. At Weird Fish we settled for some tacos and beer. There are lots of other vegan options on the menu including fish and chips.

We wandered home by foot and bus through the mission, past bodegas, thrift stores, and beautiful multi-storey timber houses. So many contrasts, a mixture of hip gentrification and raw poverty, with shop front church services spilling out onto the footpaths. Everywhere the beautiful sound of Spanish being spoken.

And at last, glorious sleep, after a long time without it.





Posted September 05, 2014 02:18 AM

September 04, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: Blind Melon

I’m not going to muck around too much with today’s post, I only have a couple of minutes to upload it. So straight to the point, today’s Music for our Mouth comes to you from Blind Melon. And what have I made? A blind melon! Party on!

blindmelonI listened to a bit of Blind Melon when I was younger – the song at the bottom is probably their most well known and it’s pretty darn catchy. I had never seen the video clip before though – check it out! The beginning made me really sad (why do I always feel so much empathy for characters, even when I know they are just characters?) but the ending brought me joy! Seriously, I should start watching this every morning. Precious little bumble bees!

Japanese Slipper

30ml Midori
30ml Cointreau
30ml lemon juice

Put Midori, Cointreau and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker. Add ice, and shake it like a polaroid picture. Strain into glass and serve with a lemon garnish. Easy.



Posted September 04, 2014 10:28 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Strawberry chia seed jam and strawberry fairy folk

Chia seed jam has been doing the round of blogs for some time now.  I never thought it was for me.  I was so wrong.  I made it because strawberries were cheap.  Within a few days of making this strawberry chia seed jam, it was gone.  It isn't intense and syrupy like regular jam.  The berries taste so fresh and delicious, Sylvia and I could have just eaten the whole lot from the jar.

Recently I was amused by the Superheroes episode of Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom - a children's cartoon that Sylvia loves.  One fairy character is called Strawberry and was The Ice Queen.  She was called Strawberry Ice Cream by other fairies who couldn't get it right.  So I did a quick online search for strawberries and fairies.  (If you have been following my blog for years you might remember my history posts where I loved finding quirky information about fruit and vegetables.)

Here are a few fun 'facts' about strawberries and fairies:
  • In parts of Bavaria, country folk still practice the annual rite each spring of tying small baskets of wild strawberries to the horns of their cattle as an offering to elves. They believe that the elves, are passionately fond of strawberries, will help to produce healthy calves and an abundance of milk in return. From The London Strawberry Festival.
  • If you walk into a room or garden and you can smell strawberries but there are no strawberries to be seen, a fairy has been there. Fairies have a very mild strawberry scent.  From The Irish Fairy Door Company.
  • Bean-Tighe are known as faery housekeepers that watch over children, hearth and even pets. She even helps with household chores! These friendly faeries can be attracted by leaving out their favorite food-strawberries and cream. They are especially drawn to people of Milesian ancestry.  From Faery Lore (Ireland)
  • I was pleased to see that Cecily Mary Barker who draws those sweet flower fairies has a Strawberry Fairy.

As for the jam, it seemed like magic that such a short simple process could produce such yumminess.  The berries tasted fresh and only slightly sweet.  It was like a jelly (in the Australian/British sense of the word) that blobbed about rather than runny.  Most of ours went on porridge in the morning.  Some was stirred into yoghurt, spread on bread and some went into a nut roast.  But that is a story for another day.

More vegan strawberry recipes from Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Strawberry chia seed jam
Adapted from Oh She Glows
makes about 2 small pots of jam

500g strawberries (makes 2 cups hulled and chopped)
4 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp chia seeds

Hull strawberries and chop finely. *  Mix berries, maple syrup and chia seeds in a small saucepan.  Bring to the boil gently and simmer uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes until it is just thickened.  It will thicken as it cools.  Spoon into jars (or tubs) and cool before eating.   It should be ready after 15 minutes in the freezer.  It will keep in the fridge for about a week.

*NOTE: I chop them finely so the jam is not so chunky.  I have also seen someone who has mashed her berries with a potato masher and I guess you could chop in food processor too.

On the Stereo: 
Costello Music: The Fratellis

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is Sticky Thursday.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Posted September 04, 2014 10:49 AM by Johanna GGG

September 03, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: The Honeycombs

I’m going to be honest with you – I had never heard of the band the Honeycombs until I started researching more foody music. But I found them, and it gave me an excuse to make some honeycomb. The Honeycombs are a pop band from the 60s with catchy tunes and a groovy girl drummer. Yeah, I said groovy.

Unlike yesterday’s recipe, there is nothing healthy about this sweet. It is basically sugar with sugar, coated in sugar. But boy is it delicious! Plus it’s kind of like doing primary school science in the kitchen. Remember making volcanoes erupt with bicarb and vinegar lava? Or what we used to do as kids – go across the road to the park with those little eggs from inside Kinder Surprises. We would fill one half with vinegar and the other with bicarb and you would have to join them together REALLY QUICKLY and throw them up in the air before they exploded. If you timed it right they would explode in the air and we would all rejoice.


1 cup raw sugar
1/4 cup glucose syrup
2 Tbsp agave nectar
2 tsp bicarb soda

Line some kind of vessel (I used a 27x18cm slice pan) with baking paper and set aside. Get baking soda ready by measuring it into a small bowl and ensuring there are no lumps. Grab a whisk and place it nearby.

Place the sugar, glucose syrup and agave nectar in a large pot and heat on medium. Don’t stir the mix while you do this, rather, try to poke it together with a wooden spoon to ensure the sugar dissolves. Once dissolved, turn the heat up to high and bring mix to a boil.

Allow to bubble away until it turns golden in colour – if you have a candy thermometer, this should be around 150C.

Working quickly, take the pot off the heat, pour in bicarb soda and whisk together. The mixture will expand rapidly and become foamy. Quickly pour it into your prepared pan and then LEAVE ALONE. It is imperative that you do not touch at this point, or your honeycomb will deflate.

honeycombsAllow to cool for at 45 minutes to an hour.

Once set, break or cut into pieces.

honeycombs2And voila! Your very own bowl of honeycomb to do with what you please.

Obviously, I melted some chocolate and coated it all to made mini crunchie bites.



Posted September 03, 2014 10:04 PM

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Little Ramen Bar

August 30, 2014

We had a few spare hours in the CBD on a Saturday and, rather than returning to Shandong Mama for yet another round of scallion pancakes, figured it was time we got on board Melbourne’s latest food obsession: ramen. The Little Ramen Bar is one of a handful of places that have all of Melbourne reminiscing about all the good times they’ve had in Japan (see also: Shop Ramen, Fukuryu Ramen, Menya Ramen, Ramen Ya etc). It’s a tiny place, tucked down Little Bourke Street and, like its dumpling focussed neighbour, it regularly draws queues out the door.

Things were busy but not overflowing when we visited at 1ish on a Saturday. We were drawn there by the veg-friendliness of its menu, with one vegetarian ramen and four other dishes that can be rejigged to remove the pork or fish stock. Vegans have options too, but will need to be clear – most of the ramen come with egg by default. You can customise your soup a bit too, by adding various bonus ingredients (e.g. kim chi ($3), garlic bombs ($1), corn ($1) etc) and there are a few other non-soup dishes to choose from (e.g. fried rice, edamame, gyoza, all $5.90).

We stuck to the soup menu, with Cindy going for Taku’s vegetarian ramen (built on a broth with miso, spices and rice wine, topped with bean sprouts, seaweed, bamboo shoots and a seasoned egg, $10.90).

Cindy was very impressed by her soup - rich and flavoursome, with the seaweed adding a nice oceanic flavour to the base and the bamboo shoots and sprouts keeping the textures interesting.

I couldn’t resist the word ‘spicy’ and ordered the vego version of the spicy miso ramen (a miso-heavy base with cabbage, spring onions and an egg, $12.50).

This was just okay – the soup itself had a good chilli kick and a strong miso flavour and the noodles were springy and delicious, but the toppings otherwise were pretty limited. The egg was delicious, but the cabbage chunks and raw shallots didn’t really rock my world – I was craving some more variety (tofu? dumplings? I’m not sure).

I must confess to not really understanding all the excitement about ramen. It’s essentially a pretty basic noodle soup and has never excited me as much as, say, laksa. I suspect that, as with pho, part of the issue is that we’re vegetarian. Reading reviews of Melbourne’s many new ramen places the words “pork” and “fat” appear an awful lot, suggesting that perhaps the key attributes of a good ramen were unlikely to turn up in too many vego versions. Still, Little Ramen Bar was worth a visit – the food is decent, the service super efficient and the prices reasonable. I wouldn’t queue here, but dropping in for lunch on a Saturday is definitely worthwhile. 



Little Ramen Bar
346 Little Bourke St, Melbourne
9670 5558
Menus: drinks, starters and sides, ramen, ramen toppings

Accessibility: The entryway is flat, but things are super crowded inside, with a mix of low and high tables. Orders are taken at the table and we paid at a high counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

Posted September 03, 2014 07:05 PM by Michael

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Strawberry sushi with chocolate sauce

Surely if you read ancient books of Japanese wisdom it would be written somewhere that when your sushi isn't sweet enough, chocolate sauce will solve the problem.  Well maybe not.  And the traditionalists might not even appreciate the humour of sweet sushi that looks a little like salmon sushi.  I suspect I made these more to amuse myself but I did enjoy the fresh strawberry against the slightly sweet rice.

Ancient Japanese wisdom might be more likely to tell me to just follow the recipe.  Yet I was in a moment where I was determined to use up the coconut nectar on the bench.  I substituted it for sugar and used lime instead of lemon.  I really like lime and strawberries but the rice was slightly too dry and not quite sweet enough.  (Actually I should have made the rice as I usually do rather than following that bit of the recipe - perhaps Ancient Japanese wisdom might also say to follow your instinct.  I have amended this in the recipe.)  A little tweaking is required.

While it is a fun recipe, it is not one to make in large amounts.  Wrapping each piece in clingfilm is a little fiddly.  Possibly there is a sushi mould that could be used instead.  But only a few would be needed on a dessert platter at a dinner party.  Wouldn't it be a great conversation starter!  Then you could see if guests could use chopsticks to dip their sushi in chocolate sauce.

Oh yes the chocolate sauce!  When I was thinking that the sushi wasn't quite right, I decided it would be so much better with a chocolate or caramel sauce.  And then nothing seemed simpler to whip up.  The sauce really took the sushi to another level.  Sadly I either failed in wrapping the sushi tightly enough or in manoeuvring my chopsticks.  As soon as I tried to pick up the sushi that way it fell to pieces.  No elegant photos of my sushi being dipped in the chocolate sauce!

I thought this strawberry sushi would be Sylvia's idea of heaven.  She loves sushi and sweet food and strawberries.  She surprised me.  "Take off the strawberries."  Then I have to remind myself that she doesn't need encouragement to eat fruit.  (Hence when a woman selling chocolate and caramel covered apples told me this is a great way to get kids to eat apples, I decided it was better to just eat the chopped apple in our bag.)  However I wonder if I can get the sweetness right if she might just fall in love with the idea.

I am sending these cookies to Healthy Vegan Fridays #11, hosted by Kimmy of Rock my Vegan Socks and Robin of Vegan Dollhouse.

Other sushi recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Snowman sushi 
Sushi stack with carrot, tofu omelet and avocado 
Sushi with sticky walnuts and edamame 
Sushi rice salad

Strawberry sushi with chocolate dipping sauce
Adapted from Thyme Bombe
Makes about 10

1/2 cup short grain rice (sushi rice)
1 cup water
the zest of one lime
2 tsp. lime juice
2 tsp. coconut nectar or other sweetener
5 or 6 medium-sized strawberries, sliced
black sesame seeds (or cocoa nibs) for garnish if desired

Chocolate sauce:
60g chocolate, broken into chunks
4 tbsp soy milk
2 tsp maple syrup

Place rice in a small saucepan with water, cover and bring to the boil.  Gently simmer for 20 minutes.  Mix hot rice with lime zest, lime juice and coconut nectar.  Cool briefly.

Cut clingwrap into squares (about 20cm square).  Place a slice of strawberry in the middle of the clingwrap.  Make small balls and place on strawberry slice.  Bring edges together and twist to make a tight ball of rice.  Repeat with remaining rice.

Chill in fridge.  Serve with warm chocolate sauce (see below).

To make chocolate sauce mix chocolate, soy milk and maple syrup.  Melt in microwave or on stovetop.  Serve warm.

*NOTE: Coconut nectar was not terribly sweet, as is its nature.  If you used sugar, I suspect it would be a lot sweeter.  You can try any sweetener of choice: sucanat, agave syrup, maple syrup, coconut sugar etc.  You will need to adjust sweetness by tasting the rice.

On the Stereo:
Trans Europe Express: Kraftwerk

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is Surprising Wednesday.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Posted September 03, 2014 10:00 AM by Johanna GGG

September 02, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: The Lemonheads

The Lemonheads remind me a lot of being in high school. A time when I was absorbing a LOT of music, much of it from before my time. The song at the bottom of this post was the first I ever heard from the band, and it got me interested enough to find some more tunes, which led me to some of their earlier, heavier stuff, such as the recommended blending song below. I’m pretty excited to spotlight this band, because they’re coming to Australia at the end of the year, and I’m going to see them! Yeehahhhh!

I guess this is kind of a strange dessert to match the Lemonheads – I don’t think they are really a raw dessert kind of band. Nevertheless, these tarts are a tasty treat. To be honest, I just thought it would be an easy lemon thing to make. I’m copping out already – on day two! Ahhhh…who cares, it is a delicious cop out at worst – I can live with that.

lemonheadsApart from setting time (and even then, they only really need about 45 mins), these are such a quick and simple dessert to whip up that is sure to impress any guests. The filling is super zesty and not too sweet, which is how I like my lemony desserts. The tarts have had the tick of approval from the Bear and the family, so they are definitely being added to the repertoire.

A song for you to drown out the whizzing of the blender:


Raw Lemon Tarts
(makes 3 tarts, maybe 4 if you use smaller tins)

1 cup pecans
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup medjool dates, pits removed
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of pink himalayan salt

1 cup cashews, soaked
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp agave nectar
Pinch of pink himalayan salt

Dash of turmeric for colour

Lemon zest and strawberry to garnish (optional)

Place pecans and walnuts in a blender or food processor and blend until they resemble coarse crumbs. Add dates, vanilla and salt and blend until the mixture holds together. Press into tart tins and put in the freezer to set.

Blend filling ingredients until smooth and creamy. The mixture should be pourable – add a little more coconut milk if necessary. Spread evenly amongst tart bases, then return to freezer to set.

Garnish with some extra lemon zest and strawberry.

lemonheads3As I said, this is the first Lemonheads song I ever heard, and it has always had a knack of sticking in my head for ages – I’m too much with myself, I wanna be someone else, I’m too much with myself, I wanna be someone else.

I love the little vocal harmony from Juliana Hatfield. The folky tune and smooth warm voice meant I could listen to it over and over and over. Sit back, relax and enjoy the delicious tunes.


Posted September 02, 2014 10:17 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Choc chip, walnut and date sourdough cake

A couple of months ago I baked my first cake using sourdough starter.  It seems fitting to start this year's Vegan MoFo with a recipe from Vegan MoFo last year.  I really enjoyed seeing Alex at In Vegetables We Trust experimenting with her sourdough starter in baking cakes and biscuits.  In the school holidays I had sourdough starter that needed using because I had been too busy.  By the time I got around to baking the cake, I discovered my dried figs were beyond rescue and I had used sourdough starter in pizza.  Never mind.  There were medjool dates to be used.  I made a very nice choc chip, walnut and data tea cake.

I also found an old orange and used the juice instead of milk.  So my final cake was quite different to the recipe I was following that used fresh figs and spices.  Both cakes have one thing in common.  The starter.  Once you have a sourdough starter it demands to be fed and it grows at an alarming rate.

The cake came out of the oven in time for dessert.  We ate a warm piece with gooey choc chips while talking to my mum in Ireland via Skype.  If only I could I would have passed a piece through the computer to share with her.  Just as I would to you. It was so good straight out of the oven.  Once it cooled it was firmer but still lovely.

The cake was moist and crumbly.  You can see a crack in the middle in my picture.  I decided to only bake mine for about an hour rather than an hour and a quarter.  In the middle it was slightly underdone but edible.  In fact I found it quite enjoyable with a spread of nuttalex margarine.  My parents always slathered butter on tea cake.  E was less certain.

As a kid I loved date and walnut tea cake.  This cake was like that, only better.  Sylvia very proud of herself having a piece with a walnut even though she could taste it.  I told her that everything is better with chocolate.  She said she wished she could have dinner with chocolate.  Hmmm wonder if she would like some mole sauce.

More vegan fruity tea cakes from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Apple fruit cake
Banana cake with maple syrup
Blueberry chocolate cake
Chocolate and coconut and date cake
Chocolate spice cake
Orange, choc chip and hemp seed cake 
Plum kuchen

Choc chip, walnut and date sourdough cake
Adapted from In Vegetables We Trust

1 scant cup brown sugar
1/4 cup ground linseeds (flaxseeds)
2/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (or milk)
1/2 cup rice bran oil (or other neutral oil)
1 cup sourdough starter, preferably room temperature
1 cup wholemeal flour
1 cup white flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
1 cup dark choc chips
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup chopped medjool dates (about 5)

Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F).  Grease and line a loaf tin.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the brown sugar, linseeds, orange juice and oil until it has melded into a glossy oily mixture.  Now mix in the sourdough starter until well combined.  Gently mix in the flours, bicarb and salt until you have a fairly thick batter.  Fold in the choc chips, walnuts and dates.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 60 to 90 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer comes out cleanly.  Rest 5 minutes and turn out onto a wire rack to cool.  Eat warm or room temperature.

On the Stereo:
Tempest: Bob Dylan

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is Same Same Tuesday where I bring you a recipe that is quite similar to others I have made before on my blog.  (Yes sourdough in a cake is new but I do love baking these sturdy honest tea cakes with lots of fruit and nuts.).  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Posted September 02, 2014 11:14 AM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Thinking & Drinking at the Melbourne Writers Festival

August 23-27, 2014

Michael and I threw ourselves whole-heartedly into the Melbourne Writers Festival these past 10 days, attending all sorts of sessions - dress memoirs, life anti-hacks, TV tapings and queer commentaries among them. I was especially drawn to the food-themed events, turning up at four of those alone.

On the first Saturday I listened to American food writer Ruth Reichl. She seemed completely at ease on stage, with a warm, playful and occasionally passionate manner. Reichl was motivated to develop a discerning taste at a very young age, as her mother was an untalented and occasionally dangerous cook. In spite of this setting, she grew to love rather than fear food and went on to strike a deal for her first cookbook at just 21 years of age. She's been writing about food for decades since, working at Gourmet magazine in its heyday of extensive recipe testing and 10 onsite cooks. Seeking anonymity in her restaurant reviewing, Reichl developed an elaborate range of disguises and characters (even impersonating her own mother!) and these ultimately led to her recent foray into fiction. A newcomer to her work, I was as enthralled with Ruth Reichl's life story as any of the more clued-up fangirls in the audience.

Just half an hour later I slipped into a session on Crowdsourced Criticism featuring Lorraine Elliott (aka Not Quite Nigella), Tresna Lee of Yelp, and freelance food writer Dani Valent. The obligatory initial discussion of defamation gave way to some more interesting reflections on the unique opportunities of social media (e.g. conversations that include business owners) and challenges of providing rigorous critique.

On Monday night it was my turn to step up, joining a panel on Australian Fine Dining with Ronnie Scott and Andrea Frost (pictured above). Estelle Tang was our friendly and funny moderator, teasing this blog's "fancy schmancy" tag one moment and rightfully schooling us all on fair working wages the next. Ronnie and Andrea were clever co-panelists and I did my best to keep up. While we all agreed that food can be art, I think the session proved that we have as much affection for everyday eating as the posh stuff - Andrea's book really cuts away the pomp around wine culture, and Ronnie confessed to eating Pizza Hut for lunch.

Two nights later I returned to the Duke for a session on Food Ethics. This time Leanne Clancey MCed a panel comprising farmer Tammi Jonas, Sustainable Table's Cassie Duncan and sustainable designer Ewan McEoin. They highlighted the Aussie demand for cheap food; McEoin astutely pointed out that if it's cheap for us to buy, the cost is probably borne elsewhere - by the environment, by the farmed animals and by our fellow humans on the supply chain. The panel also discussed solutions, from long-term overarching structures to everyday actions. Their ideal is to shorten the string of transactions between food grower and food eater and Jonas boldly challenged the audience to make a difference by immediately ceasing to eat chicken from suppliers they don't know personally.

It's been wonderful to hear from some of Victoria's more thoughtful eaters during the festival (plus a couple of out-of-town guests) - credit goes to festival director Lisa Dempster and especially the Thinking & Drinking convenor Yasmeen Richards for seeking out such diverse opinions and styles.

I received free entry into Ruth Reichl's Delicious, Crowdsourced Criticism and a number of other Melbourne Writers Festival events as a participating artist of the festival. I will likely be paid a fee for my contribution to the Australian Fine Dining panel. I paid full-price entry to the Food Ethics panel.

Posted September 02, 2014 07:36 AM by Cindy

September 01, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: Bread

It’s that special time of the year – Vegan MoFo is back, and so too am I for my second go at it. This year, my theme is Music for your Mouth (pretend you can see a spiffy banner which will hopefully be ready by tomorrow). Oooh, ahhhh!

Yes, Music for your Mouth – this month I’m dedicating all my posts to bands with food-y names. And what better way to start than with this classic – Bread!

No prizes for guessing what I made to match this band – a good old fashioned loaf of bread. Now this loaf of bread ain’t perfect, but since it’s MoFo, there’s no time for messing around so I’m going to post it anyway (this month will probably see a lot of ‘it’s not perfect but…’ from me). I wouldn’t really eat this bread as bread, as it is super dense – I think it is best suited to toast. It has a rich, dark, sweet flavour from the molasses, and lots of nuttiness from all the seeds. It reminds me of all the beautiful artisan loaves we used to get in Tasmania (in appearance at least!)

Seeded Spelt Bread

500g spelt flour
300ml warm water
2 Tbsp blackstrap molasses
1 pack dry yeast (approx 7g
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil + extra for bowl
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds

2 Tbsp non dairy milk
1 tsp rolled oats
1 tsp pumpkin seeds
1 tsp sunflower seeds
1 tsp sesame seeds

Firstly, proof your yeast by dissolving molasses into water, adding yeast and setting aside for 5-10 mins. This is not totally necessary, but it’s fun watching the little explosions of yeast bubble to the surface.

In a large bowl, mix together flour and salt. Add the yeast mix along with the olive oil and stir as long as you can with a wooden spoon, then turn the dough out onto a floured bench top.

Start kneading away, adding flour if the dough is too wet or extra water if too dry. Knead for 10 minutes, then make into a ball. Get a clean bowl and swish some oil around in the bottom so that your dough doesn’t stick. Put your dough in the bowl, cover with a clean damp tea towel and set aside to rise for a couple of hours (I did two here).

Punch your dough, then knead again for another 2-3 minutes. Shape into a logish loaf shape, then place on a greased baking tray. With a sharp knife, do a couple of slashes along the top of the dough, so that you don’t have any explosions or deformations in the baking process. Set tray aside and allow dough to rise for another hour or so.

Preheat oven to 200C.

Brush dough with milk, then sprinkle seeds over the top. Place in oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when you knock on it.

Allow to cool on rack before slicing.


As I said, this bread totally works best as toast. It’s perfect for some avo, chilli and lemon on top. Nothing really beats the satisfaction of eating a slice of bread that you made by hand, it really feels wholesome or something.

Now please enjoy the sweet sounds of bread as you munch away on this.


Posted September 01, 2014 07:50 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

So begins Vegan Mofo 2014: list of posts and The Letter S

So it begins. Vegan MoFo is Silly Season in the blogosphere for vegans and vegan-friendly folk*. I have Started it by deleting today’s post. Argh! My Second act is to back up my blog.

So let’s Start again. Vegan MoFo is an opportunity to Share Scrumptious vegan food all September. Some “MoFoers” Set a theme. My Silly theme is THE LETTER S. Somehow every post was Starting with S. So I went with it. After all it was September and Spring and Sunny. It meant I could make Smoky, Spicy, Sweet, Sticky, Saucy and Scrumdidliumptious food.

So let’s Skip trying to remember all the Sophisticated, Stylish, Sensational chatter I deleted. Sadly you will never read my Sparkling wit on Spam and Sourcery and Snozzberries. Instead, onto my Vegan MoFo Scheme and Some teaser pictures of what you will See this month.  I can't wait to Share it with you.

My Vegan MoFo posts in September 2014 will be organised under these headings (to be updated as I upload each post):

Speedy Mondays:
Super smoothie with berries, pear and banana
Sesame hummus bites 

Same Same Tuesdays:
Sourdough cake with choc chip, walnut and dates
Scotch broth with lentils and barley
Simple vegan chocolate cupcakes 

Surprising Wednesdays:
Strawberry sushi with chocolate sauce
Smoky walnut and zucchini chocolate brownie
Spaghetti pie 

Sticky Thursdays:
Strawberry chia seed jam
Sourdough chocolate bread pudding (ok it was posted on Sunday!)
Sweet potato and poppy seed nut roast with strawberry glaze

Smoky Fridays:
Smoky Mexican nacholada casserole
Stuffed squash with tex mex rice and beans 

Sensational place to eat out:
Smith and Daughters: Sunday Brunch

Standard Vegan MoFo posts:
September 2014 In My Kitchen - Vegan MoFo edition

* NOTES: I am a vegetarian who eats lots of vegan food. I cook a broad range of food and couldn’t decide between healthy food and comfort food in the Vegan MoFo categories. In fact I can’t remember which I chose. And if you don't know where to start finding other Vegan MoFo blogs have a Squizz at

Posted September 01, 2014 12:34 PM by Johanna GGG

quinces and kale

vegan airline and airport food

Rice and beans

Hardly a promising name for a food blog post!

I was scared about what we might receive for our meals but I was actually pleasantly surprised. Not haute cuisine obviously,  but not dire either. They were all pretty good.

We ate three meals on our recent flight to the USA: rice, lima beans and roasted vegetables, a nut cheese and spinach lasagna, and a spicy rice with creamy mushrooms. They came with a vegan cake and fruit or a salad. We got soy milk for the coffee on the Australia to New Zealand leg but not on the longer leg of the flight.

Rice and beans Lasagna Cake Rice mushrooms

Thanks Air New Zealand for making a decent effort and actually understanding what vegan food is!

On our leg from San Francisco to NY we bought our own food at the airport – a vegan salad and a roasted red pepper hummus wrap. Both were marked as vegan and they were delicious. We combined them with some leftover kale, orange and almond salad from lunch at Gracias Madre and made a delicious meal. Before we left the  airport we managed to devour a frozen soy yoghurt with berries.

image image

So no need for despair at vegan airport food either.

We didn’t even need to raid our emergency snack rations.

Posted September 01, 2014 10:00 AM

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Radhey Kitchen & Chai Bar

August 27, 2014

Back in May I spotted an empty shopfront on Brunswick St promising "wholefoods-vegetarian-raw-organic-vegan-Hare Krishna"; by July it opened as Radhey Kitchen & Chai Bar, and Brian reported enjoying lunch there on Fitzroyalty. A couple of our friends have checked it out, too, and gave us tips on what they liked best. We had our chance to sneak in for a very early dinner last Wednesday night.

The menu follows a basic formula with the details varying from day to day. Entrees include soup and pastries at around $7 per serve, mains include a curry, a burger, pastas and bakes ($13.50), while the display cabinets show off a range of salads, sandwiches and sweets. Everything is vegetarian and the staff are very mindful of vegan and gluten-free diets, not to mention super-friendly - they'll gladly talk you through your options.

We tried out the tandoori tofu burger with chips ($13.50). Tofu slabs run a high risk of being chewy and bland, and when this arrived at our table I thought the bun looked burned around the edges too. I could not have been more wrong on all counts: the tofu was tender and spicy, with a soft gently toasted roll and plain but fresh salad fillings. The chips were good too, with two fine dipping sauces.

The vegan meatballs seemed to be a mix of TVP and vegetables with a comforting (possibly fried) crust; they were served with spaghetti and a thick dousing of sweet tomato sauce ($13.50), plus our choice of the fresh salads - I chewed my way through some creamy-dressed kale and crunchy carrots. These were both generous, home-style meals - presented simply but executed skillfully, and great value for money.

We didn't have the time or appetite for sweets, and I want to go back for their specialty chai and something from the dessert cabinet. Everything in it was vegan on the night of our visit, an unusual achievement even for a vegetarian cafe.

This section of Brunswick St is already overrun with veg*n eateries, yet Radhey Kitchen has something extra to offer - simple, comforting food that steers away from the mock meat and (for now, at least!) a quiet, personable atmosphere.

The only other blog post we can find about Radhey is the abovementioned one on Fitzroyalty.

Radhey Kitchen & Chai Bar
336 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
9077 8858

Accessibility: I think there's a half-step up on entry and a flat interior. Tables are quite densely packed with a clear wide corridor through the middle. We ordered and paid and a low-ish counter, where much of the food is on display and chalkboard menus are easy to read. We didn't visit the toilets.

Posted September 01, 2014 07:29 AM by Cindy

August 31, 2014

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Orange, choc chip and hemp seed cake and a rally

It has been a busy weekend of catching up with friends, marching and baking.  It was sunny enough for Sylvia to play in a friend's blow up pool yesterday and to make light work of marching against the government's budget cuts today.  When we got home I made a cake that I had been planning in my head since I bought blood oranges last weekend.  With Vegan MoFo starting tomorrow, I decided on a vegan cake.  It was crumby and yummy, albeit not quite what I had envisioned.

We went on a March in August rally today.  Speeches and placards raised a broad spectrum of discontent with the government.  Refugees, education, welfare, climate change, racism, live exports, the media, gender, health care, transport infrastructure and sexuality.  We saw a few familiar faces, bought badges, signed petitions, cheered the speeches and walked and walked.  Afterwards we had churros and chocolate at San Churro.

With sunny weather, wearing unfamiliar summer shoes meant I was rather footsore by the end of the day and happy to get home.  With Sylvia in the bath, I set about making an orange, choc chip and hemp seed cake.  It started as a raspberry and orange cake with coconut crumble, which I found in Emma Rose's Have your cake cookbook.  By the time I had finished with it, she probably would not recognise the recipe.

Perhaps it is the thought of Vegan MoFo that had me ditching honey and eggs in favour of maple syrup and linseeds (or flax seeds).  I had some vegan choc chips so used these instead of raspberries.  And I threw in some hemp seeds because they were there.

The cake was good but not great.  It was quite crumbly rather than being moist and dense.  The orange flavour was there but not quite as prominent as I had hoped.  Nor was the colour of the blood oranges in evidence in the final cake.  And the choc chips were like choc specks.  The maple syrup was far less sweet than honey would have been.  Despite all these quibbles, it was full of flavour and texture and tasted lovely with a dollop of vanilla yoghurt.  I think I would love it with a chocolate sauce.

So the lesson of the post is not to experiment with recipes after a long day of rabble rousing.  I got confused about how much flour I had put in the crumble mixture - was it one third or two thirds of a cup?  Even worse was my discovery that I had totally miscalculated the conversion of the tin size in the recipe to one of mine.

However it does feel good to have cake at the end of a long day and to have cake in the house to start the week tomorrow.  When I shall see you for the start of Vegan MoFo, with perhaps the silliest theme I could have come up with. The Letter S.  More about that soon.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Sourdough Basics 103: Baking a loaf of bread
Two years ago: WW Experiments with Vegan Cheese
Three years ago: Coconut brittle, leftovers and a week of eats
Four years ago: Banana buttermilk muffins
Five years ago: Carrot Cake and the Lost Sock
Six years ago: Shepherd’s Pie Traditions
Seven years ago: Collingwood children’s farm – peppercorn trees and part time vegetarians

Orange, choc chip and hemp seed cake - work in progress
Heavily adapted from Have your cake by Emma Rose

2 tbsp flax seeds (linseeds)
6 tbsp water
3/4 cup rice bran oil
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp finely grated orange rind
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup dessicated coconut
1 3/4 cups wholemeal flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup orange juice
1 scant cup choc chips
1/2 cup hemp seeds

1/3 cup wholemeal flour, or more
1/3 cup dessicated coconut
1/4 cup rice bran oil
1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup

Mix flax seeds and water in large mixing bowl.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 180 C.  Grease and line a cake tin (recipe said 18cm square tin, I used 20cm cake tin - too small, but in future would use 22cm round tin).

Add oil, maple syrup, and orange rind to flax mixture and whisk lightly or stir vigorously.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Spoon into prepared tin.  Mix crumble ingredients to make crumbly mixture.  (I think I had to add more flour).  Scatter over cake mixture.

Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes.  (Mine took 1 hour 15 minutes in a 20cm round tin.)  Rest in tin for 5 to 15 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.  Great served with cream or yoghurt or other sauce (such as chocolate?).

On the Stereo:
The Captain: Kasey Chambers

Posted August 31, 2014 11:29 PM by Johanna GGG

The Good Hearted - Vegan Food in Melbourne

True North

 True North Reuben ($12)

True North Reuben ($12)


True North
2a Munro St,
Coburg VIC 3058

(03) 9917 2262

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 7am-4pm
Sat-Sun: 8am-4pm

True North is a cosy little cafe in Coburg churning out vegan sandwiches and excellent coffee.

All but one of True North's six sandwiches are available as vegan, including a 'BLT' ($12.50), 'Chicken' sandwich ($12), 'Chorizo' sandwich ($12.50) and a 'Summer Salad Sandwich' ($10). I recently tried the 'True North Reuben' ($12) with vegan pastrami, dijon mustard, vegan mayo, sauerkraut and vegan cheese on toasted white sourdough w/ dill pickles and crisps on the side. It was an indulgent delight, and with smotherings of vegan margarine on top, would probably fit in into the category of a 'sometimes' food.

The veganised 'True North Breakfast Roll' ($13) is a popular breakfast choice w/ vegan bacon, bubble n' squeak, avocado, rocket and house made spicy relish on a toasted Rustica roll.

For something sweet, a Crumbs Bakery organic vegan muffin will set you back $4.

Coffee is $3.80 plus a 50c soycharge for Bonsoy.

 True North on Urbanspoon

Also visited by where's the beef?, Quinces & Kale and Green Gourmet Giraffe

Posted August 31, 2014 04:30 PM

August 30, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Las Vegan Cafe

One more pre-MoFo post, before the madness begins..

Las Vegan Cafe is around the corner from my work in Collingwood, and I’ve enjoyed a meal there many a time. I’ve only ever photographed it once about four months ago, when my friend Liz from I Spy Plum Pie and I met up for a bite of lunch.

Las Vegan serve a range of standards, from parmas to pizzas to burritos to salads. The servings are generous, the prices are reasonable, the staff are friendly and they have cake. What more could you ask for?

lasvegWe were having trouble choosing, so decided to share two plates. First up the rice balls, which came with a side of salad and some thick satay sauce. The balls were really crunchy, and the satay was tasty – even Liz, who is an ex-peanut-butter-hater, enjoyed it.

lasveg2And nachos! Full of black beans (my favourite bean for Mexican), jalapenos, salsa, sour cream, and a huge dollop of guacamole. Nice thick corn chips that aren’t compromised by the weight of the topping when scooping.

Get amongst it!

Las Vegan Cafe
22 Smith St, Collingwood
Tues – Wed – 11am – 3pm
Thurs – 11am – 3pm and 5pm – 9pm
Fri – 11am – 9pm
Sat – 10am – 9pm
Sun – 10am – 3pm


Posted August 30, 2014 02:16 PM

August 29, 2014

Thoughts Of A Moni

Pope Joan

Breakfast out on a weekday is virtually a non occurrence for me, but when I had to travel all the way to Tullamarine for work, a fellow foodie colleague and I took the opportunity to indulge in brunch at Pope Joan.

I have driven past Pope Joan many times, but the long line outside on weekends always deterred me from making the visit, but luckily there was no such issue on a Monday morning. Located on the busy Nicholson St, we were fortunate enough to find parking right in front of the shop front, and we hoped this was a sign that we were off to a good start!

We walked in to find an array or tables available to us, so we chose to sit in the left hand section of the cafe, where are waitress promptly greeted us, handed us menus and took our coffee orders. I ordered my standard latte, which arrived quickly.

Pope Joan serves All Press coffee, and the quality and flavour was evident from the first sip. A very smooth coffee with a subtle bitterness and rich aroma gave me confidence that this was going to be a good brunch, and my attention quickly turned to the menu.

At first glance I was super excited, with three quarters of the menu being vegetarian friendly! It then got even better when I realised that other than the standard toast and muesli options, all the other offerings were savoury! I scanned through the list and settled upon an Indian looking option, saag aloo (also known as spinach and potatoes), smoked yoghurt, almonds, pickled radish and grilled flat bread. I think it was here that the morning went down hill.

I should have picked up on the fact that saag aloo is obviously Indian, and pickled radish definitely has Asian connotations. The two cuisines are both delicious independent of each other, but combined, they really do not work. The saag aloo was also rather flavourless, and whilst I understand that the spice factor may need to be toned down for a western palate, I really do expect better from multicultural Melbourne.

My colleague went for a smarter option and chose the truffled polenta brick, baked eggs, green mozzarella and fried capers. This breakfast was definitely worthy of its place on the menu. I only had a small taste, and immediately regretted not choosing it. Truffle has become the new ‘it’ food on Melbourne menus, and its distinct flavour added an interesting element to the soft polenta brick. The baked egg looked perfectly oozy and the fried capers added the right balance of tang and crunch.

Overall, Pope Joan gets a two out of three. A great coffee, one below average breakfast, and another great breakfast. Would I go back? Yes. Would I order another ethnic or fusion meal? No. Stick to the creative Western options on the menu and you’re in for a good breakfast.

Pope Joan on Urbanspoon

Posted August 29, 2014 10:32 PM by Moni

Ballroom Blintz

Hellenic Republic

Do you know how long I have waited to eat at Hellenic Republic? ALL OF MY LIFE. Or at least it seems that way. For years I’ve been trying to lock it in as my preferred birthday blow-out treat venue, but as I share these outings with my mother as our birthdays are mere days apart, and she has the shocking temerity to not like Greek food (WHAT), it was not to be. Thankfully when catching up with Jen and Zoe for a long overdue dinner of awesome, Jen had the good sense to book at table at Hellenic, throwing me into an excited/nervous maelstrom of “oh yes FINALLY but will it be good oh god I hope it’s good.”

Zoe had thankfully been to Hellenic many a time, and had the good oil on what we should order. As long as we finished on the loukoumathes, the Greek doughnuts that have become chef George Columbaris’ specialty and have long been haunting my most covetous dreams, I was very happy to accept whatever showed up. And very happy I ended up indeed.

To start we went with a pair of dips with grilled pita bread, because I can’t pass up the chance to slather bread in things. The tzatziki of cucumber, dill and olive oil drizzled yoghurt was agreeably tart, but my heart was immediately taken by the fava Santorini – yellow split pea dip with white truffle oil, capers, and shallots. THIS DIP WAS BROUGHT DOWN FROM OLYMPUS BY SOME WILY HERO THIEF OF ANTIQUITY, THIS IS MY FIRM BELIEF. Because how else could it have been so outrageously, surprisingly good? I don’t ordinarily expect dips to rate among the best part part of a meal (who does) but this was extraordinary and a must order.

Our other starter was the tyri saganaki kefalograviera with peppered figs. I’m always happy to eat up hot salty cheese like it is manna, but felt slight trepidation about the idea of a peppered fig. I should not have been so silly and trusted in George, as it turns out peppered figs are quite delightful, the sharp burr of peppery heat mellowing out against the fig’s sweetness so that with the salty cheese it was a fantastic hot-savoury-sweet taste melange.

The Cypriot salad of grains, pulses, nuts and yoghurt was our concession towards vaguely healthy eating, and it was a very good choice indeed, being very nutty, lightly dressed with olive oil yet allowing the simple grains to pop against the tart yoghurt.

And immediately directing spite at any sense of healthy eating was the next dish, the Tiganites Patates – potatoes fried in olive oil, and flaked with oregano and salt. You probably don’t need yet another description from me about crispy fried potato, so I will spare you, but it was good, ever so good.

As my vegie main I got for myself a spanakopita, which as we all know is a Greek cheese and spinach pie in flaky filo pastry. A nice round of a pie, it was light and flaky, not at all greasy or oily, a nice salty golden pillow threaded with green.

I was growing dangerously full by this point, and was worried at the fact I still had two desserts to sample! The much longed for loukoumathes were first – Hellenic doughnuts generously drizzled with honey, dusted with cinnamon and then topped with scattered walnuts. These were as divinely sweet as the description implies, puffed balls of dough liberally coated in thick, oozy, sweet sweet sweet honey. They were in all honestly probably a bit too rich for their own good, we actually couldn’t finish the bowl between the three of us! But they were still very worth trying, I would just recommend either eating less before they are scheduled to hit the table (a very difficult proposition), or having more people to share them with.

Our second dessert was the Bougatsa me Frouta tou pathous – semolina and passionfruit custard pie, encased in filo pastry and topped with vanilla ice-cream. This was the secret stealth winner of the whole meal. Akin to a round roll version of vanilla slice, it was a gorgeous rich custard delight, bright yellow and decadent yet not at all heavy once settled in your stomach, it was somewhat a feat of wizardry. Zoe informed us that this is a dish commonly served for breakfast in Greece, which seems enormously unfair in comparison to cereal and means we should all probably pack up and go to Greece tomorrow.

So did Hellenic Republic live up to my wild expectations? Yes, and then some. The staff were a delight and enormously professional while still being friendly, the space although large manages to make you and your table of diners feel they have an intimate cocoon, and the food, as gushingly detailed above, was well worth the wait. I hope I don’t have to wait as long for a second helping.

Hellenic Republic

434 Lygon Street, East Brunswick

Ph: 9381 1222

Posted August 29, 2014 07:09 PM

August 28, 2014

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Kale & coconut salad

 August 26, 2014

Our veggie box dictates a lot of our cooking these days, and with just half a bunch of kale to finish off before the new box arrived we went scouring our cookbooks for a solution. This salad from Heidi Swanson's book fit the bill nicely - it was easy enough for a work night dinner, didn't require any shopping and held out the promise of delicious toasted coconut.

I didn't do a great job on it - I'm still mastering our rice cooker, and the brown rice wound up being a bit undercooked, while my faffing about with it meant that the kale/coconut mix was slightly overcooked. It was a masterful display. Still, the recipe is pretty forgiving - the kale crisped up almost to kale chip texture, while the extra dressing helped to soften the rice out and the sweet, crispy coconut flakes made everything better. We served it up with maple-miso tofu (another recipe that I messed up but got away with anyway).

Kale and coconut salad
(very slightly adapted from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Every Day)

80mL olive oil
1-2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
100g of kale
85g flaked coconut
250g cooked brown rice (the original recipe uses farro, any grain will do)

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Cut the stems off the kale, remove the biggest stalky ribs and then roughly chop the leaves.

Combine the olive oil, soy sauce and sesame oil in a small jar and shake well to combine.

Combine the kale and the coconut flakes in a large bowl with 3/4 of the dressing and stir well to coat.

Spread the kale and coconut mix in a large baking tray (or two if you need 'em) and bake for about 15 minutes, until the coconut is golden brown - keep an eye on it every 5 minutes or so and stir things around a bit.

Put the kale and coconut mix, the rice and the last drizzle of the dressing into a bowl and toss well.

Serve as a side dish for four (we paired it with maple-miso tofu) or a main for two.

Posted August 28, 2014 11:03 PM by Michael