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I am a firm believer in the truth that most things can be turned into patties or fritters and they will taste good.
At the moment I am putting grated zucchini into everything. My hand has been forced by the neglect of a few zucchini that have grown into monsters in just a few short days. You can see a couple of them lurking in the background of the photo. They are about 40cm long.
For dinner I decided to make some green fritters, so called because everything in them is green. They are not spiced apart from some parsley, garlic, salt and a small amount of grated dried up vegan cheese that I found lurking in the fridge. The zucchini and broccoli are not hidden in these fritters. They are the stars. The two work well together with the zucchini forming a soft background and the broccoli providing a little bit of bite.
They are easy to make and delicious and they take just five minutes to prepare, and a little more than 10 minutes to cook.
It has been an odd summer in the garden, not really super hot like last year, although February isn’t over yet. I’ve used far less water, partly due to some welcome rain, and partly due my wonderful new wicking beds. These work on the self watering principle and they use a lot less water than other watering systems. My rainwater tanks also haven’t run dry like they usually do.
My tomatoes are finishing up earlier than usual, and are making way for a second crop of beans and beetroot before the autumn and winter planting of kale, broad beans and peas.
I had a smaller crop of peaches this year due to my aggressive winter pruning of the tree, so I only ate them fresh and had no excess for preserving. But luckily my neighbours have an apricot tree that had an absolutely bumper year. I preserved about 25 jars of them and split them between us. They also made jam and I have several jars in my cupboard that they gave me.
This year I let the self-sown pumpkins survive and I have surrendered most of the back yard to them as they ramble over everything. I’ve been rewarded with several large pumpkins. I have harvested one already and I can spy at least another six under the vines, so there will be some pumpkin recipes coming!
I also have a big crop of eggplant and peppers, which is very exciting as I have never had a lot of success with them. I put this down to my wicking beds keeping them constantly moist.
My zucchini plants have succumbed to mildew and, being a glutton for punishment, I have planted a few more plants so I can get some more before the season is over.
And today I ate my very first (and only) bunch of grapes from my vine.
|Photo Credit: The Telegraph UK|
It is summer time, so my thoughts have naturally turned to salads.
I love salads that are a whole meal. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with green salads, but I tend to think of them as a side dish, rather than the main event.
This is one of my favourite substantial salads. I sometimes vary what goes into it, adding spinach or some other leafy green, but the chickpeas and either roasted sweet potato or pumpkin are always a constant.
I roast vegetables on a cooler day in summer so that they are ready in the fridge for using in salads. If I have some veggies already roasted, it makes it very quick to throw this or any other salad together. The dressing is what makes it so delicious. You could probably use it with any firm vegetable and it would work.
The dressing has all those special Thai hot, spicy, sweet and salty notes that make everything taste good.
I took this recently to a family meal and it was a big hit.
Today I've been feeling under the weather, so I made a simple and comforting kitsune udon soup, inspired by an adorable anime I've been watching. In Gourmet Girl Graffiti, the main character cooks this for her cousin when she has a cold.
It was very warm and filling! Definitely something good to whip up on a weeknight.
Recipe here. I also added some wakame seaweed for extra nutrients.
Char kway teow is probably my favourite noodle dish of all time. That’s a big call because I am a BIG fan of any noodles, and rice noodles in particular.
I’m lucky because my volunteering at Fareshare takes me down Victoria Street in Richmond, which is Asian grocery central. It is a rare week that I don’t pick up some kind of Asian ingredient on my way home.
Since becoming vegan I don’t think I’ve eaten char kway teow, as the classic recipe contains lots of meaty or fishy items as well as egg. I’d really consigned it to one of those things that I probably wouldn’t eat again.
But last week on my way to volunteer, I noticed a trolley delivering fresh rice noodles to a Vietnamese grocer and I made a mental note to grab some on the way home. I wasn’t really thinking about char kway teow at all, just the rice noodles with something.
But then I got a bee in my bonnet about char kway teow and decided I had to give it a try. I made a really simple version and I am happy to say that it was swoon worthy. I’m really delighted that the flavours in char kway teow don’t really depend hugely on the bits and pieces in the dish, but the sauces and the scorchingly hot wok. The dish is really all about the noodles.
There are heaps of differing opinions on the web as to what goes in the sauce, but I’m really happy with mine which contained garlic, kecap manis, sriracha and light soy.
It tasted just the way I remember it should, salty, sweet, savoury and hot. I added some bean sprouts, spring onions and mock vegan prawns from Vincents for a bit of texture.
I’m in heaven.
East Elevation is a cafe in East Brunswick which resides in a delightful light filled space with an abundance of greenery.
The all day breakfast menu offers up a good old fashioned 'Full veggie' breakfast ($18), with a choice of chipotle tempeh or mushrooms along with spicy beans, oven dried tomato, avocado and sauteed spinach on sourdough. The chipotle tempeh is moist and cut thick, and while it's pretty awesome—I just don't find it as irresistible as thin, crispy tempacon.
The 'King and swiss brown mushrooms' ($17.50) are grown on the cafe's rooftop and come with sauteed spinach, avocado and sourdough. The mushroom dish is good, but lacks a salty element to replace the feta (the avocado replaces feta). The pick of the "brunch bunch" is the 'Coconut & rhubarb tapioca' ($14 GF) w/ orange, strawberries and pistachios. It's accompanied with a jug of coconut milk to pour over and is the perfect light summery breakfast or snack.
There are options for lunch too and you won't need to 'veganise' the "Roast eggplant & tahini" ($17.50 GF) w/ pumpkin purée, green beans, moghrabieh (giant cous cous salad) & fresh pomegranate.
Coffee is $4 with a 50c soycharge for Bonsoy.
A trip to Aunt Maggies on Carlisle Street always results in a yummy haul … and a considerably lighter wallet.
I love this shop. It’s large and bursting with interesting healthy foods, natural supplements and organic skincare products. I can easily spend half an hour browsing, reading labels and filling my basket; much to my hubby’s frustration if he’s been dragged along with me. Shopping alone is my preferred option. Then I can take as long as I want.
Maggies is one of my all-time favourite health food shops. I’ve always felt that Melbourne doesn’t do health food shops as well as London but I think the tide has turned with the arrival of Maggies in recent years. It reminds me of the sort of earthy, hippy, pine floorboard health food shops my mum used to take me to back in the 70’s in London’s wonderful Camden town. Back in the day before the tourists took over.
I took a pic of my goodies this week because it contains a few of my favourite things. Check out the case of organic mangoes I picked up for $23. And three days later we’ve only got seven left! They are truly wonderful and given that the end of the season is approaching I might have to pop back for another case before they sell out.
I also snapped up the last two tins of shitake mushroom Tartex pate in the shop. I’ve loved Tartex since I was really young. When I first moved to Australia it wasn’t for sale here so my mum used to send it over in bulk in old shoe boxes for me. These days I can buy it at a few specialised health food shops and it comes in all sorts of wonderful flavours. Shitake is definitely my favourite.
I’m looking forward to trying the Bragg’s nutritional yeast in a new batch of rawmesan this weekend and see how it differs from my usual Lotus Foods. I also picked up an interesting looking jar of dairy-free basil and kale pesto and some essential vitamin D3 drops. Even living in the wonderful Australian sunshine doesn’t make you immune to vitamin D deficiency unfortunately.
Aunt Maggies is at 270 Carlisle St, Balaclava.
I love a good pizza, but making it at home is always a bit of a gamble. Domestic ovens can never be relied upon to give the same crispy base that you get from a scorchingly hot commercial pizza oven. I’ve tried many things in search of pizza perfection, ranging from special perforated pizza trays to pizza stones.
Pizza stones work, but only if you preheat them for AGES until they are incredibly hot. This uses an enormous amount of energy which is fine if you are making a heap of them, but not so good if you are making just one.
I usually have a batch of no-knead dough on the go a couple of times a week and often I steal a bit for a pizza. This morning I’d run out of bread for breakfast and so I grabbed a piece and made a flatbread in a heavy frying pan. Apart from being delicious, guess what? The base was super crispy and of course I immediately thought of pizza.
For lunch I grabbed another bit (that loaf of bread is getting smaller!) and made a pizza.
This time I threw the dough base into a dry frying pan for a few minutes until it was lightly spotted and starting to crisp up on the bottom. I then removed the base and added the toppings, just some simple oven roasted tomatoes, a very light dusting of Cheezly mozzarella and some fresh basil and put it into the oven as normal. Pre-cooking the base like this has the added advantage of making the base rigid and thus easy to wrangle into the oven.
And it worked. Perfect. Crispy. Delicious.
And just for funsies, I thought I'd post some random pics of other things I've made and eaten recently, including baba ghanoush, pumpkin spring onion pancakes, and mejadra (lentil rice dish with fried onions and cucumber coyo sauce, also from Ottolenghi's Jerusalem) made by my friends for a dinner party last week. Yummm.
My last aubergine post for a while, I promise! I've just been excited that the footscray market has them super cheap.
Today I made Chermoula aubergine with bulgher and yoghurt, from Ottolenghi's Jerusalem.
I used a spice mix from my favourite Middle Eastern market, Oasis Bakery. It's a little way away from where I live, but whenever my friends and I head down that way, we always stop there for falafel wraps and yummy Lebanese donuts. They stock an amazingly diverse range of spices, each of which have funny little stories printed on the lid. :-)
The Chermoula mix (which contains paprika, cayenne, black peppercorns, among other things) had instructions on the pack to blend it with some onion, fresh mint and coriander, and garlic. I also added some chopped preserved lemon, and oil, as per Ottolenghi's recipe. This mix was spread on the aubergine halves and then they were baked for about 40 minutes.
The bulgher was really easy, I've never made it before but it turns out to be a lot like couscous: just pour a cup of boiling water over a cup of the grain and let it sit to absorb. Then I added some currants instead of sultanas because that's what I had on hand, flaked almonds, some more fresh herbs, spring onion, lemon juice, and salt. The recipe also calls for chopped green olives but unfortunately I'd run out. It was still tasty though. I served the aubergine and bulgher with some plain coyo coconut yoghurt.
Overall, the Chermoula was maybe slightly too spicy for me, next time I think I'll use less of it in the blended mixture, or make my own spice mix with less cayenne.