March 05, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne


February 20, 2015

In a single week we had the rare pleasure of sharing two meals in two cities with Another Outspoken Female, and on this second occasion with her Significant Eater too. AOF nominated bills for our Friday lunch in Sydney. Curiously we found an entire cricket team queued up ahead of us in Surry Hills, so we ducked over to the Darlinghurst branch; here we were seated within 10 minutes.

Brunch at bills is a very Sydney thing to do - though I only remember Bill Granger vaguely as that guy in the toothpaste ad he's a chef of twenty years with many restaurants, cookbooks and TV series to his name. And actually - as AOF had in mind - brunch at bills is also a fairly veg-friendly thing to do. Though there aren't any guiding markers on the menu, we were spoiled for choice with muesli, granola and fruit bowls, pastries and cakes, eggs and toast and choose-your-own sides, plus pancakes and fritters. Vegan options are a little more scarce, though there's avo on toast and a more novel brown rice and sweet miso porridge served with coconut yoghurt, mango and lime.

Michael was impressed by his plate of broken eggs, ricotta, spinach, pine nuts and chilli with grilled sourdough ($20) - it held at least as much flavour as it did colour.

I felt obliged (and, let's be honest, keen) to order the famous ricotta hotcakes ($20; turns out I do know one other thing about Bill Granger). I'm generally ambivalent about ricotta hotcakes but these fellas were great! Thick and fluffy with the flavour of fresh curds. It was the embellishments that let me down - the generous honeycomb butter discs didn't taste of much and the banana was fresh and just blandly sweet as bananas are. Amidst all that yellow I would've loved some tangy red fruit as a contrast.

While the bills restaurant prices and pull come from its long reputation and not its current innovation, they didn't come off as awfully complacent. The corn fritters and gravlax of a decade ago compete for space alongside ingredients like kale and coconut yoghurt, and everything we ate was well executed. Whether it's worth a weekend queue and the tick on your Sydney to-do list is up to you.



433 Liverpool St, Darlinghurst
(02) 9360 9631

Accessibility: There are a couple of steps up on entry. Tables are moderately well spaced across two levels divided by a couple of steps. We ordered and paid at our table. Toilets were located outside and down a courtyard. 

Posted March 05, 2015 04:59 PM by Cindy

March 04, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne


February 19, 2015

Cindy's been working more or less non-stop since before Christmas so when I had a work-related reason to visit Sydney for a few days, we decided to sneak in a lazy long weekend, combining some Sydney-time with a trip out to the Blue Mountains. On our first night in town together we put ourselves in the hands of some friends who know Sydney's food scene a lot better than we do. We wanted something veg-friendly, a bit special, but not ludicrously expensive. The came up with Alfio's - a restaurant in the back streets of Leichhardt, run by notorious Sydney food hipsters who specialise in inventive pop-up dining. Score one for local knowledge.

The setting for Alfio's is an old Italian restaurant that closed down a few years ago and has been reclaimed for however long Alfio's runs for. It's a classic trattoria vibe - right down to the murals on the wall. Alfio's only opens Thursday-Saturday each week and the menu changes every day - a shifting mix of 5 or so courses, based on whatever ingredients the crew have rustled up from their various local suppliers. They're happy to cater for vegos, but I think vegans or coeliacs would have a tough time of it. It's cash only, BYO (no corkage) and heaving with people - you'd be well advised to book ahead.

First up was this mixed plate of grilled veggies, olives and pickles. We picked happily at it while enjoying the excellent wine that our friends supplied.

Then came this combination of fresh figs, chives, dill, mint and parsley with goats curd and a fig balsamic vinegar.

This was probably the dish where the seasonal, fresh produce ethos of Alfio's shone through the most impressively - the figs were sublime, and were perfectly accompanied by the creamy cheese and fresh herbs. 

Next up: grilled smoky eggplant with lemon juice, garlic and herbs, served with sourdough that had been smeared with more garlic.

We all politely shared out equal portions of this, but inside I assume everyone had the same urge that I did: to just grab the plate and shovel all of this into my mouth. Somehow we all resisted.

Perhaps seeing that civilisation was about to crumble, the restaurant served up individual plates for our next dish: freshly made ravioli filled with ricotta and served with cherry tomatoes, peas, basil and olive oil. Simple, but effective.

The final savoury course was roast broccoli with white beans, hazelnuts and a generous amount of grated parmigiana cheese.

Again, this isn't an overly complicated dish, but the ingredients and execution were just spot on. There are a couple of shared plates in the background here as well - a pepper ratatouille and a sugar snap pea and almond combo, both of which hit the spot nicely.

The final course was dessert: some lightly poached peaches with a rosemary cookie crumble and ricotta panacotta.

This was a stunner - up there with the figs for best dish of the night.

Alfio's is a very impressive undertaking - for $50 a head you get an amazingly generous meal, loaded up with ingredients that burst with flavour, combined thoughtfully and prepared perfectly. There only real downside is the noise - the place is popular and not designed with acoustics in mind, so you'll find yourself yelling most of the night. That grumble aside, Alfio's promises a fun and affordable night of great food - get in before they wind it up and move on to the next project.


the unbearable lightness of being hungry, Dear Asparagus and Does My Bomb Look Big in This? all have rave reviews for Alfio's.
71 Renwick St, Leichhardt
02 9560 2447
menu changes daily - $50 for 4+ courses

Accessibility: There's a step up on entry into a dimly lit, fairly crowded interior. It's full table service. The toilets were gendered and narrow.

Posted March 04, 2015 12:46 PM by Michael

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Tomato and Kale Soup with Pistachios, Cornflake Balladinas and a week of meals

It is a while since I have shared a week of meals and talked about how leftovers fill our dinner plates.  Today I have a delicious tomato and kale soup for you that was a perfect way to use food that would have otherwise have gone to waste. I also want to make some notes on inspiration for making nut balls, also known by Sylvia as cornflake balladinas, because it used leftovers so brilliantly.

So let's start with a week of meals.  Amazingly leftovers were used in all but one day:

Saturday: Leftover sausage rolls and vegie sticks from picnic
Sunday: Tomato vegetable stew with alphabet pasta
Monday: Leftover stew
Tuesday: Tofu nuggets (and some leftover stew)
Wednesday: Spaghetti with "cornflake balladinas" and tomato sauce
Thursday: Tomato and kale soup with pistachios
Friday: Leftover soup

I didn't take a photo of the pasta stew but it was memorable for my efforts in making Sylvia eat it.  On the first night she just picked out as much pasta as possible without eating any of the vegetables.  So I was pleasantly surprised on the second night when she fell in love with it.  She ate two small bowls of it and asked me to make more.  Then I reheated some on the Tuesday for her to have with her tofu nuggets and she refused to eat it because it wasn't hot enough.  I was running out the door to a school information evening while my mum looked after her and didn't have the energy to pursue it.

One of Sylvia's favourite recipes is tofu nuggets.  I make them occasionally and they are always welcomed.  The recipe calls for the tofu to be dipped in three bowls: milk, flour and cornflakes.  I hate having to throw out the remnants from these bowls at the end.  On the day in question I threw all the mixture together and added almond meal until it was firm enough.

I probably could have baked it up as a nut roast but instead I went for vegan meatballs.  Sylvia called them cornflake balladinas.  If she eats them I am happy to call them whatever she wants!

I rolled the mixture into balls and shallow-fried them.  Then I made a simple tomato sauce (like this one) with some carrots.  For E and me, I tossed the cornflake balladinas into the sauce and placed them on the spaghetti.  Sylvia had hers in a separate bowl to the pasta and was encouraged to eat the cornflake balladinas as well as the pasta and sauce.  She enjoyed slurping the pasta and mixed some tomato sauce with it.  Under sufferance she ate some cornflake balladinas.  Strange how such familiar ingredients from the tofu nuggets become some strange when served in a different way. 

We are making slow but good progress with pushing her to eat more of our food.  However she still loves her plates of vegies.  And while I was really pleased she ate some of the cornflake balladinas, I worry she had less vegies than on her usual dinner.  After pushing her in a few meals earlier in the week I gave her a break from adult dinners when I made this soup.  It also gave me a break from trying to make food kid-friendly.

The soup was one I had admired Joanne making on Eats Well with Others.  I particularly loved the addition of pistachios because I had a surplus of them after Christmas.  Soups are indeed an excellent opportunities to use up leftovers.  I threw in some leftover pasta sauce and some cherry tomatoes that Sylvia had chosen in the supermarket and rejected at home.  I also added some pumpkin just because I worried the soup would be too thin.

I loved this soup.  It tasted of healthy vegetables and yet full of flavour too.  The pistachios added great texture.  It was just the sort of dish I wanted to come home to that night after swimming lessons.  Or any day of the week!

I am sharing this soup with all these events:

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: NCR Taco salad and Sydney Road Street Party 2014
Two years ago: WW Watermelon Curry and CC Green Dal
Three years ago: Butterless Butter Cake
Four years ago: PPN Spring Rolls, Salad, Changes and CNY
Five years ago: Each Peach - baby blocks and ice cream that rocks
Six years ago: Hospital food and mum’s cooking
Seven years ago: WTSIM...Slow Food, Tambo Salad

Tomato and kale soup with pistachios
Adapted from Eats Well with Others
serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt (I used French lavender salt)
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp besan (chickpea flour) 
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp dried oregano
2 x 400g tins of diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable stock
600g pumpkin, peeled trimmed and diced
1 bunch kale, stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped
1/4 cup milk
1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 cup roasted pistachios, chopped

Heat oil in stockpot.  Fry onion, salt and mustard seeds for about 5-7 min or until the onion is cooked. Add garlic, smoked paprika, oregano, besan and tomato paste in this order.  Stir a minute or two until it thickens.

Stir in tomatoes and vegie stock.  Bring to the boil and simmer 15 to 20 minutes.  Add the pumpkin and cook for another 15 to 20 min.  Cook the kale in the soup for a few minutes and remove stockpot from heat.

Stir in milk and nutritional yeast flakes.  Serve soup with pistachios scattered on top.

I consider soups to be dumping grounds for leftovers and tired vegies.  Into this soup at the same time as the tinned tomatoes went 250g cherry tomatoes and 1 cup of leftover pasta sauce.  But they are no essential and most days I would not have leftover pasta sauce hanging about the house.  I also forgot the milk and nutritional yeast flakes at the end so I added a splash of milk and sprinkling of nutritional yeast flakes after I served the soup.

On the Stereo:
Theatre is Evil: Amanda Palmer

Posted March 04, 2015 12:00 PM by Johanna GGG

March 03, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Coconut samosa potato salad

February 16, 2015

Cindy had this samosa salad bookmarked for a while, and with some leftover mint to use up and tons of flaked coconut in the cupboard, we decided it was time to give it a shot. It's a pretty straightforward recipe, although it gets a bit more annoying if you don't realise you need to toast/roast your coconut and cashews until the last minute. Also: the original recipe wants you to make papadums and then crumble them up, but the lazy option of papadum chips worked fine for us and saved on deep-frying. 

We've had curry leaves in our freezer for ages, but suddenly they're cropping up in a few recipes and I'm starting to get a better sense of their role. They didn't add a lot of flavour to this dish - I'd think about doubling the amount next time - but the curry powder and herbs meant that it still packed a pretty flavoursome punch. It really did taste like the filling of a particularly fresh and well executed samosa. On its own, this might be a bit potato heavy - we served ours up with a generous base of baby spinach to mix things up a little bit - but it would make a brilliant potluck contribution or dinner party dish.

Coconut samosa potato salad
(based on this recipe from Terry Hope Romero)

1kg potatoes (the recipe wanted russet potatoes, but I wound up with desiree), peeled and diced into 2cm cubes
1 cup frozen peas
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 bunch coriander, leaves only, washed and roughly chopped (1-2 cups)
1/2 cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 cup unsalted cashews, roasted (we had raw cashews so I roasted them ineffectually under the grill - it's probably easier to buy them pre-roasted)

3 tablespoons sunflower oil
10 curry leaves, roughly chopped
4 teaspoons curry powder
juice of 2 limes
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 small bag of pappadum chips, gently crushed
3/4 cup coconut flakes, lightly toasted

Bring a large pot of water to the boil and throw in the potato cubes - simmer them for about 25 minutes until they're cooked through. Throw in the peas for 2 minutes and then kill the heat, draining the veggies and leaving them to cool.

Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan and then throw in the curry leaves, stir-frying for a minute or so. Turn off the heat and, while the pan is still hot, stir through the curry powder. Add in the lime juice, salt and cayenne pepper when things have cooled off and stir it all together.

Put the veggies in a large bowl and stir through the chickpeas, herbs and cashews. Mix through the dressing and serve, garnishing liberally with the crushed pappadum chips and coconut flakes.

Posted March 03, 2015 12:40 PM by Michael

March 02, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Trang Bakery

January 6, 9 & 24; February 12 & 16, 2015

A month or two back news of a place in Collingwood doing a great vegan banh mi swept Facebook. I stopped by Trang Bakery Cafe to check it out, expecting a tofu roll or something only to be confronted by this menu.

This changed everything - I couldn't do Trang justice with just a single visit, I had to commit to the full experience. So I went back 5 times and fully sampled the menu (sidenote: on my last visit they'd added a vegan prawn option to the list, but my journey was complete).

A Trang banh mi follows a pretty simple formula: some sort of roasted eggplant relish as the base, a pile of fresh vegetables and herbs, generous chunks of your choice of mock meat, fresh chilli, peanuts, and fried shallots plus a couple of mysterious sauces. They're $5 each, made on the spot and they're stuffed to the gills with goodness. The centrepiece below is the mock duck banh mi. It's surrounded by (clockwise from top-left): mock chicken, lemongrass tofu, ham and tempura eggplant.

I've given quite a lot of thought to my order of preference - I think I'm settled on: duck, tofu, eggplant, chicken, ham. They're all excellent though - truly delicious and ludicrously cheap rolls. The word has clearly got out - Trang has had a queue out the door almost every time I've visited. It's not that close to my office, but it's so spectacularly good that I've managed to sneak in five trips in five weeks (actually six trips, but I doubled down on the duck on one of them). Check it out y'all, it's probably the star of Melbourne's cheap vegan eating options.


Trang Bakery and Cafe
382 Smith Street, Collingwood
9722 4352

Accessibility: There's a small step up into a narrow and often crowded space. There are just a handful of seats on the footpath. You order and pay at a high counter.

Posted March 02, 2015 12:04 PM by Michael

Green Gourmet Giraffe

In My Kitchen March 2015

This year in Melbourne we have a good reason to be shocked that March has arrived, bringing autumn with it.  We sailed through summer without one 40 degree (celsius) day.  It was hot but not as uncomfortable as some of the past summers.  My kitchen reflects the end of summer with fresh produce and clearing out the cupboards.

In my kitchen my mum frequently drops off food and books.  She brought some small plums from my brother's tree.  Sylvia and I gobbled them up eagerly.  They were great for taking out and about.  My mum made the chocolate and date cake which disappeared even quicker.  And I have joined a bookclub so my mum loaned me the first book, Richard Flanagan's The Narrow Road to the Deep North.  It was beautifully written with uncomfortably vivid descriptions of World War II PoWs in Thailand but it was disconcerting how the narrative jumped around.

In my kitchen I have been making meals from Ricki Heller's Living Candida Free cookbook.  I wrote a review of the book and gave the recipe for an Asian Napa Cabbage Salad.  I found it challenging to find the right cabbage because apparently we call it Wombok Cabbage in Australia.  The cabbage I found was huge.  I photographed it next to a glass and a regular sized carrot to give some sense of how huge it was.  I am sure it was bigger than my head!

In my kitchen we have more goods dropped off by my mum.  She helped my muso brother (not the one with the fruit trees) to clear out his house before he headed off around Australia with a caravan, a girlfriend and a guitar.   I have used the Low GI sugar and the brown rice but the hot sauce is challenging even to our resident chilli lover, E.

In my kitchen we have done a little of our own clearing out cupboard.  It is always a work in progress but occasionally we make good progress.  We took a couple of bags of household goods to the op shop but stayed and came home with a large bag of purchases.  I bought this Chocolate Bible because it seems to have some great recipes.  However it is too tall for my bookshelves and I am yet to bake from it so who knows how long it will last.  I also bought some great retro glasses for $1 each.

In my kitchen we have been eating lots of chocolate bliss balls with the occasional blow out at the supermarket.  Tim Tams have been tempting me with all sorts of novel flavours.  These coconut Tim Tams are probably my favourite, though I loved the colour on the red velvet Tim Tams.

In my kitchen we had chocolate and macarons for Valentine's Day.  The chocolate ganache hearts went too quickly to photograph but I had to take a picture of these pretty strawberry and ginger macarons. 

In my kitchen we look out the window to the roses in the garden.  My mum keeps them pruned and is teaching me how to do it.  When she last pruned, she cut a rose off and gave it to me to put in a vase.

In my kitchen we have been receiving produce from the other families at Sylvia's school.  One mother (Brenda) gave me these green capsicums in the playground, telling me she had so many that she had exhausted all ideas for them and now just wanted to give them away.  A friend's father had been given a zucchini that was so huge he couldn't eat it all and gave us a portion.  It was so big that E thought we had watermelon in the firdge.  And I am off to get some quinces from another mother's tree.

In my kitchen we have had pesto and cream cheese.  I love them both but sometimes struggle to use them up.  One weekend I mixed some pesto with the remaining cream cheese and some mayonnaise.  It was really good.  Even Sylvia had a little.  It was great on Celia's overnight sourdough bread.

In my kitchen I am yet again succumbing to foodie trends.  At the Fitzroy Market last month I bought a spiraliser from A Vegan Smiles.  I have used it twice on zucchini.  The first time it made these lovely noodles that I tossed with avocado, pesto, chickpeas, tomatoes and lemon juice.  It was a great healthy lunch.  The second time the zucchini refused to go through and turned to mush - I think I had chopped it and that just didn't work.  More experiments are needed.

I am sending this post to Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for her In My Kitchen event.  Head over to join in (by 10th of each month) and/or check out what is happening in other bloggers' kitchens.

Posted March 02, 2015 10:25 AM by Johanna GGG

quinces and kale

green fritters – zucchini and broccoli

green patties

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.


green fritters
prep time
5 mins
cook time
12 mins
total time
17 mins
author: quincesandkale
cuisine: vegan
serves: 4 patties
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup broccoli chopped roughly into about 1 cm pieces or smaller
  • ¼ cup chickpea flour
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 15 grams grated vegan parmesan
  • 2 tsp oil
  1. Put the grated zucchini into a colander, sprinkle with the salt.
  2. Steam the broccoli for a few minutes, it still needs to remain firm.
  3. Squeeze the zucchini firmly with your hands to remove as much water as possible.
  4. Put the broccoli, zucchini, chickpea flour, garlic and parmesan in a bowl and mix until combined.
  5. Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the mix to make 4 large or 6 small patties.
  6. Turn the heat to low and cook each side for 5 or 6 minutes.





Posted March 02, 2015 10:00 AM

March 01, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Smith & Daughters VI

February 15, 2015

Smith & Daughters was our go-to venue a second time within a week; on this occasion we shared brunch and cocktails with Melbourne blogger-turned-Sydneysider AOF and some mutual friends. Co-owner Mo and the youngest Moody Noodle did their best to photobomb our beverages. Michael ordered a gin-based Basil Luchador ($18) but was ultimately envious of others' Bloody Fridas; I went for a Citrus Kick ($8) that burned the throat with ginger and cayenne rather than alcohol.

To eat, we fell back on ol' faves. The gluten- and pea-tolerant all requested tuna & pea croquettas to start ($5 each) - I'm not sure I'll ever tire of their golden crusts and salty centres.

AOF and I shared the queso dip ($15) - she enjoyed the cashew cheese topping as much as I do, and we were treated to extra corn chips at no charge when the first batch failed to scoop it all up. A tart rocket-fuelled artichoke and chickpea salad ($16) was a great way to offset the dip'n'chips.

Michael had a Mexican Hash ($16) all to himself - a skillet of potatoes, peppers, corn and jalapenos topped with queso, salsa and cashew cream with corn tortillas on the side. His verdict? "Killer."

The S&D staff let us linger over our table a while, and we shared a bowl of quince-filled Spanish doughnuts ($12) - if it's at all possible, these are getting better every time we order them. 

Choosing among the confirmed faves and new creations on the menu is always tough, and it's bound to get even tougher soon when Mo and Shannon make an exciting announcement. Keep your eye out and your appetite ready for that one!


You can also read about one, two, three, four, five of our previous visits to Smith & Daughters.

Smith & Daughters
175 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
9939 3293
brunch, drinks
facebook page

Accessibility: The entry is flat and narrow and the tables are pretty crowded. The interior is dimly lit and loud at night. Toilets were located up several steps, were gendered and of standard dimension. There's full table service.

Posted March 01, 2015 11:11 AM by Cindy

February 28, 2015


Vegan Day Out in Fitzroy Plus Radhey Chai Bar Lunch And A Protest

Vegan Day Out in Fitzroy is back! I had a good time at last year’s VDO (you can read about that here) so I was looking forward to today (and tomorrow, though I’m not sure if I’m going for day two). Like last year, you get your VDO map with the specials from the fab...
Continue reading »

Posted February 28, 2015 10:14 PM

February 27, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Apricot, nectarine and vanilla jam

Apricots are all the more precious for having such a short season.  Which might explain my impulsive decision to buy apricots for jam making shortly before Christmas.  Even so, I don't know what sort of insanity propelled me to make jam on Christmas Eve.  Yet I am glad of it.  Being able to enjoy a piece of home made bread with home made jam is one of life's little pleasures.

I didn't have quite as many apricots as I wanted so I added some nectarines.  Being Christmas Eve, I thought maybe I could give this away as gifts.  So I added some vanilla to make it a bit more fancy.  I have enough jam making experience for the process to be fairly straightforward.

My main problem was that it took a long time to thicken up.  Reading about jam making since then, I have wondered if adding the sugar later might have helped or perhaps it was because I use less sugar than most recipes recommend.  I have also read that ripe fruit has better pectin for setting than overripe fruit so maybe my fruit was too mushy.  I think it might have taken almost 2 hours which seems crazy on Christmas Eve.  At 7pm I was ladling the jam into jars and quite relieved to have them done.

Later that evening while watching Carols by Candlelight on the telly I gift-wrapped and labeled the jams.  However I wasn't terribly organised and hadn't thought through who I was giving presents to and most of those who might have appreciated it were people I had already seen.  Perhaps subconsciously this was my way of leaving more for me!

Christmas Eve seems so far away, as does the heyday of apricot season when I was buying oodles of juicy apricots and my brother was gifting me a bag of them from his tree.  However that is the joy of preserving fruit.  When I opened my first jar of this jam, it tasted like memories of sweet juicy apricots.  None of that ridiculously sweet jam from the supermarket.  I add less sugar to my jam so I can taste the fruit better.

I am very partial to apricot jam and cream cheese on sourdough bread.  A friend introduced me to the combination on a visit to Washington DC many years ago and I often think of her when I eat it.  I have thought about baking cakes or slices with the jam but it is so good that I just want to eat it on toast.

As I still have much to learn, I am sharing some useful advice about jam making:

I am also sending this jam to Karen at Lavender and Lovage who co-hosts Tea Time Treats with Jane of the Hedgecombers.  This month the theme is Toast, On Toast and Toasties.  (And thanks to Jane for featuring my lego biscuits on the Lunch Boxes Tea Time Treats round up)

More jam recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Apricot, nectarine and vanilla jam
Makes 6 jars (approximately 1 cup each)

1 kg apricots
1 kg nectarines
2 scant cups castor sugar
2 vanilla pods
juice of 1 lemon

Stone and dice fruit. Mix with remaining ingredients and gently simmer until fruit drops off the spoon in rather than runs off as a liquid (or when you place a spoonful on a chilled saucer you can run your finger through and leave a clean line rather than jam pooling back).  It took me about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  Bottle jam using this method or your own way (such as the dishwasher).  Keeps about 6 months to 12 months.

On the Stereo:
Ivor Cutler Radio Clash Special 2006

Posted February 27, 2015 10:01 AM by Johanna GGG

February 26, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Mankoushe Bakery IV

February 13, 2015

We had a small moment of panic recently when we travelled past Mankoushe and saw that their bakery was papered over. Actually it was a sign of good things to come - a new wood-fired oven and renovated bakery space! On a rainy Friday night, we tested out the new stools instead of retiring to the back courtyard.

The Mankoushe folk aren't ones for staying still, and we typically notice new things on menu with every visit. Nevertheless they're consistent in offering numerous vegetarian options and a friendly nod to vegans - this time there were thirteen vegetarian items, six of them vegan.

Our first experience with the Iraqi pizza ($9, pictured right) was a good one - crispy edged and spread with tomato sauce, filled with spicy chickpeas and potatoes then topped with rocket. I was even more enamoured of the Phoenician ($10.50, last slice on the left); here the rocket concealed sauteed leek, silverbeet, celery and dabs of fresh ricotta. Gosh, do these guys know how to saute - thanks to their skills with a skillet, the oft-maligned celery becomes some kind of vegetable legend here.

Mankoushe classics like the za'atar bread, haloumi pie and falafel wrap are still for sale, but it's well worth trying out what else is new in that wood-fired oven.


You can read about one, two, three of our previous visits to Mankoushe Bakery. Since then they've also been written up positively on Ordinary Girl, Extraordinary Dreamer.

Mankoushe Bakery
323 Lygon St, Brunswick East
9078 9223

Accessibility: There's a small step up through a narrow-ish entry and a bit of space in the front room. Toilets and courtyard are accessed via a couple of steps and a narrow, bricked path. We usually order and pay at a low counter.

Posted February 26, 2015 05:10 PM by Cindy

February 25, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Chocolate pancakes with berries and chocolate sauce

Everyone deserves a second chance.  I had one on Shrove Tuesday this year.  You see, on my birthday I went to the Pancake Parlour to indulge in chocolate pancakes but was disappointed.  It was too much ice cream and not enough pancake.  So I made them myself and they were perfect.  Give me chocolate sauce and berries rather than ice cream any day!

The chocolate pancake recipe was found through Jac's 25 pancake stacks to drool over.  They were too decadent for breakfast so we had them for dessert.  After a simple soup for dinner.  The first pancake I made was a bit one but after that I made them smaller like my usual ones.  Even with crowding a few on the pan I found that this mixture made a lot of pancakes.  We still have quite a few of them in the freezer.

The chocolate sauce was a revelation.  Last year I found an idea on Fat Free Vegan for chocolate ganache using choc chips, milk and nut butter rather than chocolate and cream.  I used this for the sauce and it worked brilliantly.  This uses ingredients we usually have about rather than having to buy cream.

The pancakes tasted so good I wanted to take some photos to do them justice.  They were dark and decadent in flavour, yet light and fluffy with texture.  The rich fudgy chocolate sauce worked perfectly with the juicy berries and pillowy pancakes.  E and Sylvia had some ice cream with theirs but I thought they were crazy!

It was a gloomy grey day.  By the time we had made the pancakes after dinner, the light was dull inside.  I took the pancakes outside where I found it was drizzling.  I then discovered that my camera memory card was full and while I was trying to clear it our cat started taking an interest in the pancakes! 

We had so many pancakes that we were able to have a go at stacking them.  I am always amazed at photos of huge stacks of pancakes.  Do people ever eat that many?  And how do they stay in a neat stack.  I took some photos of Sylvia trying to stack them and you can see it was not easy.  Seriously if I really wanted to do it properly I would make bigger pancakes and stack them without a 5 year old about. 

It was a fitting end to the evening when I read to Sylvia before bedtime and the book was about the Moomins eating pancakes.  We have recently finished the Finn Family Moomintroll.  It has awakened me to the charm of the Moomins.  I really loved it when the Hobgoblin visited and was given some pancakes.  He hadn't eaten pancakes for 85 years.  Yet I think he should eat them more often because the Moomins felt that "one can't be too dangerous, if they like to eat pancakes.  I heartily agree!

I am sending these pancakes to Bangers and; Mash and Eat Your Veg for February's Healthy Family Foodies blog event with the theme of Pancake Party, and to Jac at Tinned Tomatoes for Bookmarked Recipes.

More pancake recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Almond meal pancakes
Banana oat pancakes
Blinis with sour cream and beetroot chutney
Pancakes with oats and cornmeal  
Pancakes filled with potato and lentils
Pumpkin buckwheat pancakes 
Spiced carrot pancakes
Spinach pancakes 

Chocolate pancakes with berries and chocolate sauce
Adapted from Cooking Classy
Makes about 2 dozen small pancakes

1 cup milk (I used soy)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar1/3 cup cocoa 
1/3 cup raw sugar
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
1 cup plain white flour
1/2 cup plain wholemeal flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
3 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp maple syrup
margarine or oil for frying
chocolate sauce (below) and berries to serve

Mix milk and vinegar and set aside to sour.  Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Use a fork to lightly whisk soured milk, eggs, oil and maple syrup.  Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Heat a large non stick heavy bottomed frypan over medium heat.  Rub a little butter, margarine or oil over the surface (I use the back of a teaspoon to spread margarine about).  Drop heaped dessertspoons of mixture onto pan with a little space between them.  Cook for 1 to 2 minutes - a few bubbles should appear - flip and cook another minute or so until lightly browned on each side.

Eat warm with berries and chocolate sauce.  (Leftovers can be frozen or kept for the lunchbox the next day.)

Chocolate sauce
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup soy milk
1 tbsp almond butter

Microwave on 30 seconds or until choc chips are just about melted and stir well until smooth and glossy.

On the Stereo:
Weightlifting - Trash Can Sinatras

Posted February 25, 2015 10:29 AM by Johanna GGG

February 24, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

New Day Rising IV

February 13, 2015

New Day Rising is a charming vegetarian sandwich nook that we don't visit often enough. But I've found the perfect excuse to stop by a little more often - getting my hair cut and coloured next door at Lucky Buster

It's a long time since my last CLT, but I resisted its sweet smoky temptation and tried the Reuben on Rye ($10). This Reuben doesn't make any pretense at replacing the traditional pastrami, relying on good Swiss cheese, a bit of seeded mustard, and plentiful sauerkraut made by their mate Keegan. It's simple but satisfying. 

Noting that the bread was a little on the small side, my server generously offered to toast up a third half if I was still hungry. But having washed this much down with a bottle of orange and passionfruit soda ($4), I had no need.

You can read about one, two, three of our previous visits to New Day Rising. Since then the CLT has earned praise on Veganopoulous.

New Day Rising
221d Blyth St, Brunswick East
food, drinks
facebook page

Accessibility: A small step up on entry into a fairly crowded interior. You order at the table and just pay whoever you can grab by the coffee machine. The bathroom is accessed from outside somewhere - we've not checked it out.

Posted February 24, 2015 10:26 PM by Cindy

February 23, 2015


Product Review: Delicious Skin

I love it when my skincare products run out, because it means shopping for new products! I haven’t been thrilled with the last two batches of skincare I’ve used, one being the Sukin facial moisturiser. I know others swear by it, but it left my face feeling tight and dry and I had to mix...
Continue reading »

Posted February 23, 2015 11:10 PM

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Smith & Daughters V

February 11, 2015

We've been keeping up our semi-regular visits to Smith & Daughters lately, but toning down the blog posts a bit - for a while it felt like every second post was another trip to Fitzroy to rave about their wonderful food. This visit, with James, coincided with an updated summer menu, which seemed like a good enough excuse to whip up another post.

The menu hasn't changed dramatically - old favourites like the queso dip, the tortilla and the croquettas (which we ordered again!) remain, but there's been a steady turnover of dishes in the year since S & D opened and we had plenty of new things to try.

The El Nino (spiced rum, lime, agave, mint, ginger and tamarind soda, $17) on the left and the pink lemonade (fresh strawberries, thyme, lemon, vodka, elderflower and lemon soda) on the right maintained Smith & Daughters' reputation for spectacular cocktails - I've yet to be disappointed.

Our first dish was the brocoli y coliflor fritas ($15), a mountain of broccoli and cauliflower in a saffron and caper batter served on a thick smear of salsa verde.

I loved the sauce, which had a warm, smoky flavour with a good hit of roasted garlic and some tangy citrus. The battered veggies were lightly cooked and had plenty of crunch, but the saffron and caper components of the batter didn't really shine through.

Next up were the taquitos (left, $15), fried tortilla tubes stuffed with black bean and cheese and topped with pickled cabbage, guacamole and a salsa of coriander, onion and a mix of pickled and fresh jalapenos. Again, the condiments were really the star here, with the filling of the crispy tortillas not really adding much to the flavour explosion on top.

We finally talked ourselves into trying the morcilla on this visit (top right, $16). This is a vegan attempt at a dish I've never actually tried - blood sausage. It's beetroot-based, with a soft texture and a strongly citrussy flavour, topped with a tangy chimmichuri sauce. After that adventurousness, we had to play it safe and throw in an order of the tuna and pea croquettas ($5 each), which remain an essential component of any meal here.

We stuck with the greatest hits for dessert - warm Spanish doughnuts filled with quince ($12) and the salted chocolate, almond and chili caramel slice with avocado ice cream ($15), both of which lived up to our previous experiences.

Smith & Daughters remains the must-visit place for visiting vegos - wonderful staff, brilliant drinks, a great atmosphere and an ever-changing selection of innovative dishes makes it pretty damn hard to top.


You can read about our previous visits to here, here, here and here. Since we last wrote about Smith and Daughters it's been enjoyed by I Spy Plum Pie, THEGLOBALRAMBLER, Green Gourmet Giraffe, The Brunch Journal and Occupie Fitzroy

Smith & Daughters
175 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
9939 3293
food menu, drinks list (although the facebook page is really a bit more useful)

Accessibility: The entry is flat and narrow and the tables are pretty crowded. The interior is dimly lit and loud at night. Toilets were located up several steps, were gendered and of standard dimension. There's full table service.

Posted February 23, 2015 04:59 PM by Michael

Green Gourmet Giraffe

White Night Melbourne, 2015

What is not to love about White Night!  The spotlight is on Melbourne's magnificent buildings and it is a fun colourful spotlight.  The streets are closed to all traffic and open to pedestrians.  Fortunately after the thunderstorms, the weather cleared and was a pleasant balmy 31 C.  I was really glad to be one of the crowds to enjoy the beauty in a relaxed atmosphere.

I took the train to Flinders Street Station where the crowds streamed through the ticket barriers. (Though there were lots of people, it was easy to walk along the streets and I actually found the crowds a lot less packed than I had thought they might be.)

A short walk up Flinders Street found me amazed at the projections with the theme of Alice in Wonderland (to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the book).  I once studied the book as an undergraduate and love its dreamy weirdness. 

It didn't take long to see that the projections changed regularly.  Which meant that the crowd stayed to watch and moved slowly rather than rushing by.  I particularly loved the projections on the moorish style Forum Theatre, an amazing old building with griffins, keyhole windows, domes, and cupolas.  The features were all built into the design.

I stayed about the Forum for a while, marvelling at the projections.  It was fun to just watch the crowd's reactions to the lights, especially the anticipation when the lights dimmed before a new projection.

Spending time waiting for new projections, also gave me time to look at the details.

I could have stayed watching for hours but my time was limited so I also spent time walking along the other buildings in the row.

One of my favourite other projections was the black and white projection below.  Walking up the steps to Federation Square gave a great view of the building and the crowd.

Federation Square was lit up with coloured lights and was heaving with crowds.  I overheard someone remark at the crowds without any cost.  Yet all the bars and cafes around the river and Federation Square were doing a roaring trade.  There were also lots of food trucks about.

I didn't stay long enough to stop for food.  My time was limited as I had a busy day on Sunday and couldn't stay out late.  I walked along Swanston Street towards the National Gallery Victoria on St Kilda Rd.  It would have been great to go inside if I had the time but instead I watched the Key Frames light show on the moat.

Lots of structures made of industrial-style metal pieces were placed in the moat.  Light projected on to them made the figures look like they were racing or running or moving about.

Finally they were all it up together into a crowd of figures.  Then it was time to head back to the station for my train home.  It was a great experience.  Maybe next year I will have time to see more.

White Night Melbourne
21 February 2015

Posted February 23, 2015 11:13 AM by Johanna GGG

quinces and kale

summer garden wrap up

tomato harvest

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.

new beans planted

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.

preserved apricots

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.

peppers eggplants

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.

I am currently awash with tomatoes and I’ve been eating them roasted, fresh, with beans and over pasta. I will make some kasoundi with the last of them.

And today I ate my very first (and only) bunch of grapes from my vine. :)

Posted February 23, 2015 10:00 AM

February 20, 2015

Thoughts Of A Moni

Why Am I Vegetarian?

Photo Credit: The Telegraph UK
  Not every vegetarian is an angry, animal rights activist, out to convert everyone, type of vegetarian. Some of us choose vegetarianism for personal reasons, and we really don’t feel the need to explain ourselves. But for those of you who insist on asking a billion questions, here are some points to read before the next time you interrogate a vegetarian.

1.    I am a vegetarian. I am not a vegan. Therefore I eat milk and eggs. Yes, this means that I eat cheese, and ice cream and quiches. Yes, I also know that many cheeses contain rennet and most ice creams contain gelatine, but I have chosen not to extend my vegetarianism that far. I’m allowed to choose what I do and don’t want to eat.

2.    I am a vegetarian for spiritual reasons. Somewhere in my psyche, the thought of eating another soul doesn’t quite gel with me. I feel as though each body (be it of feather, fur or fin variety) was created to house a soul, and I don’t feel that it’s my place to decide when that body’s time is up.  I’m well aware that may make me sound like a tree hugging hippie to you, but just let me be. I’m also an engineer, so clearly there’s some rational thought in my head too, right?

3.    I am a vegetarian because I believe in animal rights. I don’t believe animals should be hurt, much less killed for me to eat them. I don’t need to eat them to survive, so there is no reason for them to suffer or die for me.

4.    I am a vegetarian because I don’t like the taste of meat. Even as a child, before the issues about spirituality and animal rights came into my head, I never really liked the taste of meat. The chicken curry was always pushed to the side of the plate, the lamb curry was always palmed off to my mum because I was too full, and the smell of fried fish made me dry reach. Believe it or not, not everybody like the taste of meat, so when you ask me how I could possible enjoy life without bacon in it, you need to understand that the smell of bacon makes me feel ill.

5.    I am a vegetarian. That’s right. ME. Not you, not my family, not my partner, not my friends. Their dietary choices are theirs to make. I do not want to influence them, or force them into changing their ways. I can enjoy a meal and their company at a table despite that fact that I am eating a different meal. It doesn’t make a difference.

6.    Yes, I understand that plants have feelings too. But plants don’t have a central nervous system. Besides, let’s be a little bit practical here. Remember that rational thought that’s in my head? That’s what kicks in. I need to food to survive. If I’m not going to eat animals, then my only other option is plants. So I’m going to eat plants.

But the most important this I wish people would remember is that this is MY choice that I’ve made for MYSELF. I’m not hurting anyone, or trying to influence anyone, so please just let me be.

Posted February 20, 2015 04:47 PM by Moni

February 19, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Living Candida-Free, Asian Napa Cabbage Salad and recipe testing

I am delighted to have the opportunity to sing the praises of Ricki Heller's new book, Living Candida-Free.  However I have so much I would love to say about it, that I must show restraint.  I discovered Ricki Heller's blog (then known as Diet, Dessert and Dogs) in late 2007, when we were both newbie bloggers.  We have been friends ever since.  I was also lucky enough to be one of the testers for the latest book.  Having long being a fan, it was no surprise that I loved the recipes and can enthusiastically recommend the book to you.  I even have permission to share one of a recipes for Asian Napa Cabbage Salad from the book below.

Ricki is a generous and interesting blogger.  Her writing is always entertaining and her recipes are innovative.  In 2013, I posted an interview with Ricki when her previous book, Naturally Sweet and and Gluten Free was released.  It was great fun to talk with Ricki.  Though I loved her sweet recipes I expressed a hope she would produce a cookbook with her savoury recipes.  And she did.

Living Candida-Free had 100 recipes and about two thirds of these are savoury.  I was amazed when I sat down to write about it and found I had made almost half of these recipes.  Many of these were made when recipe testing, a few I made from Ricki's blog, and I made more when I got my copy of the cookbook.

I want to briefly reflect on recipe testing.  It was a great experience.  I found it challenging to have to follow the recipe precisely, especially where stevia was involved.  Often I substitute where I don't have ingredients but for testing, I bought some unusual ingredients like stevia, coconut nectar and yacon syrup.  (In fact I have been loving making her recipes my way since receiving my copy of the book.  That us the way I usually cook.)

However it was really useful to try different ingredients and learn some of Ricki's techniques, rather than sticking with my usual habits.  I also really enjoyed the interactive natures of sharing notes with the other testers and Ricki through a private blog.

Recipe testing gave me great incentive for trying lots of Ricki's recipes.  Some of these were dishes I had read about but never tried and others were a bit more complex ones that I hadn't got motivated to make.  A lot of the photos in this post were taking during testing.  They are all recipes I would happily make again.  I made the best kale chips I have ever had, discovered how to scramble chickpea flour, made delicious creamy soups, and vibrant satisfying salads.

I should pause to note that Living Candida-Free is targeted at people who are dealing with Candida.  The book has a substantial introduction giving useful information about candida and strategies for dealing with it, particularly through diet.  There is some good general information about digestion and how to develop healthy eating habits.  Ricki has suffered from candida and she shares the gluten free, low sugar and vegan recipes she created to return to good health, while eating well at the same time.

When I told people about that I was testing recipes that were gluten free, low sugar and vegan, they would inevitably ask what I was making.  If anyone can make this sort of diet look good, Ricki can.  I ate so well while I was recipe testing.  The food tasted amazing and I felt really healthy.  And just check out the gorgeous pictures in the cookbook if you aren't convinced by my photos.

Some stand out dishes included a vegan Eggplant Parmesan (known as an eggplant parma in Australia) and a Sunday Night Roast that were so impressive and substantial.  These dishes were a lot of work but worth every moment.  Many dishes, however, delivered a lot of complex flavours from surprisingly little effort such as the Spicy Beans with Chickpea Flatbreads and Creamy Greens with Asian Seasonings.

My diet is not anti Candida, nor gluten free, nor low sugar, nor vegan.  Yet I really love Ricki's recipes because they taste so good.  I would highly recommend them to anyone who wants to eat exciting and healthy food.  For those who eat anti candida, gluten free, low sugar or vegan, there is the added bonus of many made-from-scratch recipes such as Basic Nut or Seed Butter, Sauerkraut and Homemade Ketchup.

Today I am pleased to have permission from the publishers to share a recipe for a fantastic Asian Napa Cabbage Salad.  Ricki makes lots of silky smooth creamy sauces with nut butters and/or coconut milk.  This is one of them.  As well as using cabbage and carrot, she adds toasted nuts and seeds which give lots of wonderful texture and crunch.  The salad was fairly quick to put together and tasted great.  I served it with Glazed Tempeh from the cookbook and boiled brown rice.

To find out more about Living Candida-Free, including a select list of recipes and links to other reviews of the book, visit the book page on Ricki's blog.  You can also find links to buy the book there so that you too can cook yourself some magnificent food.

More posts with dishes from recipe testing for Living Candida Free 
While I was recipe testing for the book, occasionally the tester recipes would appear on the side in photos of other recipes.  As a recipe tester, I agreed not to share anything about the recipes, which was hard because I really wanted to rave about them.  Hence my brief notes in these posts:

Asian Napa Cabbage Salad
Makes 4 to 6 side salad servings
From Living Candida-Free by Ricki Heller. 
Reprinted with permission from Da Capo Lifelong, © 2015.

1/4 cup (60 ml) smooth natural almond butter*
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon (5 ml) minced fresh ginger
10 drops plain pure liquid stevia, or to taste*
2 tablespoons (30 ml) freshly squeezed lime juice
2 teaspoons (10 ml) sesame oil
2 tablespoons (30 ml) Bragg Liquid Aminos or wheat-free tamari
1 tablespoon (15 ml) apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup (60 ml) filtered water
1/8 teaspoon (0.5 ml) red pepper flakes*

1 small napa cabbage, trimmed and cut into shreds*
1 medium-size carrot, grated
2 green onions, sliced
1/3 cup (80 ml) chopped natural almonds, raw or lightly toasted*
2 tablespoons (30 ml) sesame seeds, raw or lightly toasted*

Make the dressing: Blend all the ingredients together in a small bowl.

Make the salad: Place all the salad ingredients, except the sesame seeds, in a bowl and toss with the dressing. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and serve.

I had a huge Napa Cabbage and so I only used half of it.  My nut butter was made from roasted almonds.  I substituted about 1 1/2 to 2 tbsp maple syrup for the stevia (I made a note of this somewhere but can't find my notes so this is approximate.)  I substituted chilli paste for red pepper flakes.  I also toasted the almonds and sesame seeds.

On the Stereo:
Fin de Siecle: The Divine Comedy

Disclaimer: I was sent a complimentary copy of Living Candida Free.  I was not required to write a positive review of the book.  All my opinions are my own.

Posted February 19, 2015 11:38 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Mantra Lounge II

February 10, 2015

Five months since opening, Mantra Lounge attracts a keen queue of students and workers for their cheap, filling and veg-friendly weekday lunches. On a Tuesday date with an old friend, I enjoyed their peanutty vegetable curry served with rice, vibrantly dressed green salad and a square of carob-iced cake ($8). I also added a sweet and very green spirulina-charged Bananarama smoothie (+$2).

As of last weekend, Mantra are extending their trading hours to weekend lunches and dinners. That should render them more accessible than ever to non-locals seeking a cheap and nourishing meal.


You can read about my first visit to Mantra Lounge here.

Mantra Lounge
167 Grattan St, Carlton
0433 531 345
menu on a previous visit

Accessibility: Mantra Lounge has clearly given accessibility some thought - there's a ramp up from the footpath 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 hand rail.

Posted February 19, 2015 05:45 PM by Cindy

Challenge Accepted!

Bring on the Bentos

So lately I've gone on a bit of a bento binge. Watching lots of anime has inspired me to cook more japanese food, and to buy more bento boxes. (My favourite sites are Bentoland and Bento and Co). I recently bought a shikiri compartment bento (pictured below) and an adorable book-shaped one.

So while I haven't cooked anything new this week, I have enjoyed yummy lunches packed with various dishes I made during a day-long cooking frenzy last weekend.

Behold, my delicious lunches:

Peanuts, currants and pumpkin seeds, easy sesame carrot salad, nasu dengaku eggplant, and rice.

Dumplings steaming!

Omelettes are harder than they look...

Imo yokan jelly snack (from Daiso), tofu, currants, potato salad, spinach, tamagoyaki, pumpkin water chestnut wontons, and rice.

New Shikiri bento box!
Pesto risotto with garlic roast zucchini, spinach, tamagoyaki, tofu, potato salad, Bio cheese flowers, and mushroom steamed bun. 

For the buns, I used the sauce from Terry Romero's BBQ seitan buns to cook the mushrooms in, and the simple dough from Jamie Oliver that I featured in the Tofu Dim Sum post.

The dough for these is genius in its simplicity, the only hard part is getting the bloody things closed so they don't leak!

Pumpkin wonton, spinach, tofu, Bio cheese, carrot salad, and sweet potato latkes with apple sauce. I used Isa's regular latke recipe for these, swapping some of the potatoes for sweet potatoes.

Has anyone else ever made bentos? I would love to start up a vegan lunch box photo pool on Facebook. :-)

Posted February 19, 2015 01:26 PM by Kate

February 18, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Charles Weston Hotel

February 8, 2015

The Sporting Club has fast become one of our favourite pubs, so we were a bit anxious when it rebranded itself the Charles Weston Hotel. We peered in the windows a few times when they were closed and nothing really seemed to have changed, but we figured we should go and check it out to make sure. Aside from a couple of shiny signs on the outside, the fit-out is basically unchanged. We set up camp in the courtyard to make sure the food still measured up. The menu is clearly labelled and includes an expanded range of vegan options, including tofu tacos ($10), polenta fritters ($10) and a beetroot and quinoa salad ($18). There's plenty of gluten-free stuff to choose from as well.

Cindy spent all morning craving the haloumi burger ($18), which we've somehow never blogged before despite ordering a whole bunch of times. It's the same as ever: a crumbed haloumi square with some tomato and lettuce on a brioche-y bun. Throw in a side of crispy fries and this was an ideal lunch - it's a simple but effective pub meal that's pretty hard to top.

I ordered the black beans on fried tortillas, with guacamole and Greek salad ($18). This was awkward to eat - soft tacos would be more manageable than these crispy discs, but the beans and guacamole combo was top notch, so I scarfed it down hoping that nobody saw my messiness. The Greek salad was fine, but was a pretty odd fit with the Mexi-themed centrepiece.

We were relieved to find that the Charles Weston Hotel really is just the Sporting Club with a different name - the food is still great, there are even more vegan options and there's always a range of delicious tap beers to choose from. It's a great local pub, but even if we didn't leave nearby I reckon I'd travel to visit it.

Food bloggers don't seem to have discovered the Charles Weston yet. Read about our previous trips (back when it was The Sporting Club) here, here and here.
Charles Weston Hotel

27 Weston Street, Brunswick
9380 8777
menu, specials

Accessibility: The Charles Weston has a flat standard-width entry and plenty of space inside. Ordering and payment takes place at the bar, which in our experience can be very loud. The toilets were easy to get to but were just ordinary sized cubicles for men and women.

Posted February 18, 2015 01:15 PM by Michael

February 17, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

A new millenium for where's the beef?

After more than eight years of blogging, reviews of over 700 restaurants in 34 cities, nearly 900 recipes and more hours than I care to tally up, where's the beef? is poised to publish its 2000th post!

We're going to welcome the start of our third millennium with some tweaks of our design and some long overdue updating of our where's the best? list, but we'd also like to mark the occasion by eating food. Tons of food.

Note: this food is for illustrative purposes only, actual picnic food may vary

So we're going to have a potluck picnic in the park to celebrate. Cindy and I are going to pack up loads of food and plonk down near the pond at the Northern end of Princes Park from midday on March 22. You're all invited to join us - bring food if you want to, but feel free to just swing by and say hi as well. We've set up an event over on our facebook page, so sign up there if you want to keep track of updates and frantic weather-related rescheduling. We'd love to see you there!

Posted February 17, 2015 12:57 PM by Michael

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Banana Oat Pancakes revisited and veganised

It is Shrove Tuesday and I am hoping to be eating pancakes tonight.  Meanwhile I am sharing our favourite pancake recipe.  I wish I could share more recipes that I make as much as this one.  I actually first blogged these banana oat hotcakes back in 2011 when Sylvia was 2 years old so she has grown up with them.  (We always call them pancakes not hotcakes!)  Last year I started to making a vegan version that I am sharing today.

I was inspired to try veganising the recipe again after Vegan MoFo last year.  This challenge to blog vegan food for a month has helped me learn more about veganising foods.  I made so much vegan food we didn't have eggs in the fridge for weeks.  It was a challenge to veganise this recipe.  I tried one vegan version in 2012.  It was too soggy with bananas and flax.  Isa's vegan pancakes made me think I needed more starch.  I turned to a recipe for home made egg replacer.

However I am not vegan and if we have eggs I sometimes make these pancakes with eggs.  So I think it is useful to note that I can barely tell the difference.  The vegan ones are just slightly more fragile but still taste excellent and I am really happy with the fluffy texture.  It is interesting that the photos of the vegan ones are actually more pillowy than the eggy ones.

We often make these pancakes on weekends.  Sylvia loves them as a treat and it is a great way to use a manky banana.  In fact now Sylvia loves it when there are blackening bananas because it means pancakes.  She loves to help make the pancakes and my cunning plan is that she will soon rise on a weekend morning to serve me pancakes in bed. 

We had these pancakes on the weekend.  Drowned in maple syrup.  The lemons are ripening on the tree so we might be having more pancakes with lemon and sugar soon.  When Sylvia had a few sleepovers on the school holidays these were mandatory for breakfast.  However we did find that her cousin would not eat them because they had banana.  They are not for everyone.  But I can see us eating many more of these in the future.

I am sending these pancakes to

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Tomato kitchen sink chutney
Two years ago: NCR Coronationl Potato Salad
Three years ago: Choc almond slice, Valentine and Koorioberee
Four years ago: NCR Creamy lentil salad
Five years ago: Shrove Tuesday Blinis
Six years ago: Potato salad, freak weather and bushfires
Seven years ago: HoTM #12 Prune and Bean Casserole

Vegan Banana Oat Pancakes
Adapted from Coles Winter Magazine 2010 via Green Gourmet Giraffe
Makes 10-12 small pancakes

2 tbsp margarine
2 tsp golden syrup (or other sweetener)
1 banana, mashed
1 tbsp potato starch (not potato flour)
1/2 tbsp tapioca flour
2 tsp chia seeds
3/4 cup to 1 cup milk
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup wholemeal flour
1/4 cup self raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
extra margarine, for frying

Melt margarine and golden syrup together (we do this in the microwave).  Stir in mashed banana, potato starch, tapioca and chia seeds.  Stir in 3/4 cup of milk.  Mix in oats, flours and baking powder.  Add a little milk to loosen it if required.  The mixture should be quite thick but I like to add an extra 2 tbsp of milk.

Heat a heavy bottomed non stick frypan over medium high heat.  When warm, reduce heat to medium.  Take about 1/2 to 1 tsp of margarine and swirl over the pan (I usually use the spoon to swirl it around the pan).  Drop heaped dessertspoons of mixture onto the frypan with about an inch between them if possible.  Fry for a minute or so until a few small bubbles appear.  Flip over (bottom should be golden brown) and then fry about another minute until golden brown on the underside.

Eat warm.  We liked to serve ours with maple syrup or lemon and sugar or stewed fruit and yoghurt.  The pancakes can also be eaten later in the day at room temperature or frozen to eat later.

On the stereo:
24 Hour Party People soundtrack

Posted February 17, 2015 11:49 AM by Johanna GGG

February 16, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Chocolate halva sundae

February 6-7, 2015

Our friend Erin promptly scheduled in a second Ottolenghi potluck one month after the first. I spent that month utterly occupied by my job, working through all three weekends, and by the time the potluck rolled around I was keen to break out and contribute one of the Plenty More desserts.

Predictably, it was the icecream recipe that took my fancy. Ottolenghi's halva icecream is rich with cream and egg yolks, with only a hint of sugar and tahini in the custard. It's fudgy chunks of halva folded through that provide most of the bitter-edged sweetness. The chocolate halva I bought from a local deli was crumbly and breaking it down into the directed half-centimetre cubes wasn't possible - I liked the texture it asserted in bigger blocks anyway.

Ottolenghi elevates the icecream to full-blown sundae with brandy-spiked ganache, peanuts and black sesame seeds. It's the best kind of over-the-top - alternate spoonfuls of smooth chocolate with salted crunchy peanut, rich custard or a stealthy chunk of halva elicited the odd uh!, ohhh and mmmm around the table. 

The quantities below made little more than a half-litre of icecream - enough for a small scoop each - but double the chocolate sauce we could reasonably pour over it. It's no longer my habit to make recipes so heavy with cream and eggs, and I'd be inclined to roll this one back if I made it again - I know a great vegan ganache recipe, and I reckon the icecream could bear a nut-and-coconut milk adaptation.

Chocolate halva sundae
(a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty More)

ice cream
250mL cream
350mL milk
1 vanilla pod
2 egg yolks
40g caster sugar
30g tahini
100g sesame halva, finely diced

chocolate sauce
150mL cream
80g dark chocolate chips
1 teaspoon brandy

60g roasted salted peanuts
1 teaspoon black sesame seeds

Place the cream and milk in a small saucepan. Slice the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape the seeds into the saucepan; place the pods in the saucepan too. Heat everything in the saucepan until it's just starting to boil, then take it off the heat.

In a small bowl, beat together the egg yolks and the sugar. Whisk a little of the hot cream mixture into the eggs, then a little more, and then finally pour the egg mixture into the saucepan and return it all to a medium heat. Continue to stir and cook the custard until it's thickened slightly. Take it off the heat and whisk in the tahini until it's a smooth as you can manage - I found some little oil flecks in mine that just wouldn't go away. Refrigerate the custard until it's completely chilled, preferably overnight.

Strain the vanilla pods out of the custard and reserve them for other uses. Pour the custard into an icecream maker and churn it according to the manufacturer's instructions. Gently fold in the chopped halva and freeze the icecream in a plastic container.

Take the icecream out of the freezer to soften 10-15 minutes before you plan to serve it. Make the chocolate sauce by bringing the cream to a gentle boil in a small saucepan. Turn off the heat and whisk in the chocolate chips and the brandy.

Construct the sundaes by serving modest icecream scoops, topped with chocolate sauce then sprinkled with peanuts and sesame seeds.

Posted February 16, 2015 04:17 PM by Cindy

quinces and kale

chickpea and roasted sweet potato salad with a thai coconut dressing

sweet potato and chickpea salad

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.


chickpea and roasted sweet potato salad with a thai coconut dressing
prep time
15 mins
cook time
60 mins
total time
1 hour 15 mins
author: quincesandkale
recipe type: salad
cuisine: vegan
serves: 6
  • 500g sweet potato
  • 1 400 gram can of chickpeas, or equivalent amount of home cooked ones.
For the dressing
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass, white part only
  • 2-3 red small chillies
  • a small handful of fresh coriander
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves finely sliced
  • 4 tablespoons coconut milk,
  • juice from one lime
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vegan 'fish' sauce (or you could substitute light soy)
  • extra fresh coriander leaves for garnishing
  1. Peel and dice the sweet potato into 1-2 cm chunks.
  2. Roast them in the oven with the smallest amount of oil until just tender. Allow to cool.
  3. Drain and rinse the chickpeas.
Make the dressing
  1. Remove the hard outside layers from the lemongrass until you have just the tender part.
  2. Remove the seeds from the chillies unless you like things really hot.
  3. Add the lemongrass, chillies, fresh coriander, kaffir lime leaves to a mortar and pestle and pound to a rough paste. It doesn't matter too much if there are occasional chunks in it.
  4. Stir in the coconut milk, the 'fish' sauce and sugar and add as much lime juice as you need to taste.
  5. You can keep tweaking it with more lime juice, 'fish' sauce and sugar until it tastes how you like it.
  6. Mix the dressing into the chickpeas and sweet potato and garnish with extra coriander leaves.


Posted February 16, 2015 10:00 AM

February 15, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

GF Jelly Bean Flower Cupcakes, Tim Tam Grubs, and the Zoo

Who would have thought that a packet of jelly beans would run out of matching colours before we finished decorating the cupcakes for my birthday.  It didn't matter.  The cupcakes looked colourful, tasted good and were fun to make with Sylvia.  We took them on a picnic lunch at the zoo.  The lions roared, the giraffes were elegant and the food was good.  The weather was even gentle and mild.  And I took heaps of photos!

The day before the picnic, I made a batch of sausage rolls and some grubs using Tim Tams.  The sausage rolls were excellent as always.  I heated them up in the morning before heading out so they were nice and fresh.  (I also took the opportunity to update my photos on the original post in 2008 when my photography was a few steps behind where I am at today.)

Sylvia had a friend over for a playdate.  They helped me test the sausage rolls as well as roll the grubs into balls and coat them in coconut.  I saw the idea for putting Tim Tams in grubs at Love SWAH.  It had to be tried.  For those who don't know, Tim Tams are an iconic Aussie biscuit made of two crisp chocolate biscuits with a chocolate cream filling that are then covered in chocolate.  (You can also read elsewhere on the blog about my love of my favourite childhood treat, which we called grubs.)

Lately there have been lots of different versions of Tim Tams and I used mostly caramel Tim Tams but also a few red velvet Tim Tams.  The caramel didn't blend up too well which meant there were some gooey pockets in the grubs.  Caramel aside, the Tim Tams didn't make a huge impact on the taste.  I am glad I tried it.  I am not sure it will replace my usual use of Marie biscuits in the grubs.

I can make the sausage rolls and grubs without too much effort because they appear so regularly in my kitchen.  Making gluten free vanilla cupcakes is still a challenge.  I decided to use some Bob Mills gluten free flour mix.  Sadly the pantry moths had made a meal of it and ignored the White Wings GF mix that I don't like so much.  Fortunately I have tried a few GF flour mixes and was able to make my own.  It worked quite well.

The resulting cupcakes were quite dense in the way of a British Victoria sponge rather than light and fluffy like an Australian sponge.  I was happy with that.  The recipe I followed didn't call for xanthum gum but I had it so I used it.  I am curious about how and if the cupcakes texture would change without it.

We made the cupcakes in the morning before heading off to the zoo.  Gluten free baking is best had fresh so I didn't want to risk it being dry.  I made the icing with a large dessertspoonful of cream cheese, a teaspoonful of margarine and enough icing sugar to make a spreadable icing.  I underestimated and found myself running short of icing and jelly beans. 

Sylvia and I had fun doing jelly bean cupcakes.  It was a bit of a rush but even so we were the first to arrive at the zoo.  I guess that is joy of going somewhere near home.  The rest of my family were travelling there from Geelong.

The animals at the top of our list to see were the lions.  Last time I was at the zoo, the lion enclosure was closed while they built a new one.  I was a little sad that the walkover has gone because it is one of the parts of the zoo that I remember being there when I was a child.

The new enclosure is impressive and modern and gave much better views of the lions.  There is a lot more information and buttons to push to hear lion noises.  I still miss the old enclosure.

After the lions, we hung about the meerkats and the tortoise and caught up with more of the family before seeing the seals.  Below is just some of my family - siblings, nieces, nephews, in-laws and parents.  The seal enclosure is so calming.  And the little fairy penguins were also swimming about near the seals.

We spread out some rugs at a grassy area where we stopped eat out picnic.  The sausage rolls made me very happy and were welcomed by quite a few of my family.  We also had dips, chips, vegies and rye wraps. 

By the time we got out dessert everyone was quite full.  I really liked the cupcakes and they seemed to go down well.  My mum had made a chocolate cake and, though there were no candles, everyone sang happy birthday and I cut the cake.

We walked through the elephant trail, which includes tigers, butterflies and orangutangs.  It is a trail that we know well and always enjoy.  The mother and baby elephant were playing with each other, the butterflies landed on everyone and the tigers were out but I couldn't see a thing for the crowds.  The 'zoopermarket' in the orangutang area was interesting.  The kids loved the cash register and the modern scanners that actually scanned where products had palm oil in them.

I did the gorilla and monkey trail for the first time since work has been done on it.  The first animal on this walk is the lemurs.  I really loved all the curly poles and trees that looked a little Dr Suess.  And the lemurs were great fun to watch.

Sylvia and her cousins were fascinated by the exhibits about recycling mobile phones to help the gorillas.  These poles below have old mobile phones in them and buttons that make noises like old mobile phones.  They brought back memories.

I enjoyed seeing all the monkeys as we walked along the trail.  The latecomers had gone to check out the lions.  Meanwhile E was off looking at the wombats.  And Sylvia was playing hide and seek with her cousin along the walkway.

Soon it was time to go home.  We had walked about as far as we could. 

While no one had much room for the grubs straight after lunch, I didn't have so many to take home.  I offered them around after we walked through the butterfly house.  My brothers, always a bit suspicious of my cooking, asked if they really had Tim Tams in them.  When I confirmed it, their eyes lit up as they sampled them.

But I had to just stop in and see the giraffes before we went.  Such magnificent creatures.  Then it was time for our train home for some leftover sausage rolls for dinner.

I am hoping we might get to the zoo a bit more often this year as I have now signed up to a zoo membership.  When I asked Sylvia what animal she would like to see, she said a dolphin.  Um... there are no dolphins at our zoo.  Oh well, there are always the meerkats!

I am sending this slice to Caroline (and Ros) for Alphabakes, the challenge to bake with ingredients or dishes starting with different letters of the alphabet each month.  This month the letter is V - which here is V for Vanilla.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Ultimate chocolate cake with green ombre frosting
Two years ago: Auckland B&B: Braemar on Parliament
Three years ago: NCR couscous salad with chermoula
Four years ago: Samosa Pie
Five years ago: Valentine Scones - raspberry and white chocolate
Six years ago: Tofu Burgers and Tennis
Seven years ago: PPN #52 Gyoza and Salad

Tim Tam grubs
Adapted from Love SWAH and Green Gourmet Giraffe

200g Tim Tams (we used caramel)
1 cup coconut
1 tbsp cocoa
3/4 cup condensed milk
extra coconut for rolling

Put the Tim Tams in the blender and process until the biscuits are pulverised to crumbs.  Mix Tim Tam crumbs with coconut, cocoa and condensed milk.  Roll into balls the size of a walnut and toss in coconut to coat.

Gluten free vanilla cupcakes
Adapted from Gluten Free Gigi and Gluten Free Palate
Makes 24 mini muffin sized cupcakes

60ml butter*
3/4 cup caster sugar*
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp vanilla essence
9 tbsp besan (chickpea flour)
6 tbsp tapioca
3 tbsp sorghum flour
6 tbsp corn flour (starch)
3/4 tsp xanthum gum
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk*

Cream butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  (I used a spoon up to this point but you could use electric beaters here.)  Stir in flours, gum and salt and milk to make a thin batter. Spoon into 2 x 12 hole mini muffin pans.  Bake at 180 C for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean.

NOTES: I used a leftover 1/4 cup and 2 tbsp of condensed milk, so instead of the 3/4 cup caster sugar I used 1/4 cup, and instead of 1/2 cup milk I used 2 tbsp.  I used soy milk which is our household milk of choice.  I also used Nuttalex margarine instead of butter.

On the stereo:
fratellis new album

Posted February 15, 2015 10:51 PM by Johanna GGG


What I Ate And Decoratey Things: Valentine’s Edition

Happy (belated) February 14th! Happy Weekend! Happy CATURDAY! Valentine’s Day is not something we’re in to here, though I do like to have special days for Arthur and DeeW where we have some treats or themed meals. Being Valentine’s Day, the theme for our day was pretty clear For breakfast I made the cornbread waffles...
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Posted February 15, 2015 11:40 AM

February 14, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Code Black Coffee

February 7, 2015

We've had a few nice breakfasts at Brunswick's Code Black Coffee so figured we'd give their new North Melbourne branch a go on our way to the Queen Victoria Markets. It's another warehouse refit, although this younger sibling lets in more light and offers some cheery splashes of colour. With a bare floor, high-energy tunes and enough customers for a wait list, it's loud. The menu is shorter and lacks the vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free symbols that so impressed us in Brunswick. Instead there's just some small text suggesting you "chat to your server". Gluten-free bread is available, and it looks like vegans might be constrained to salad.

After a brief wait in the sun, we were seated at a small table on the mezzanine level. Michael cooled down with an iced latte ($4.50). From there we were in for a bit of a wait for food, though our waiter did regular rounds topping up our water.

Michael ordered black beans with a fried egg, jalapeno and cheese cornbread and grilled lime ($12). He found the cornbread a little dry and lacking in cheese, but deemed the plate good value.

The heat held me back from the salted apple caramel hotcakes and I trialled the seasonal fruit plate ($12), which was interspersed with coconut cream and cinnamon maple coconut chips. Code Black earn points for pulling together something varied and vegan-friendly, but didn't match the sophisticated fruit breakfasts I've enjoyed at Wide Open Road.

Although the veg options seem fewer than at Code Black Brunswick, they also seem a little cheaper. Our experience here didn't impress me as deeply as the neighbouring Elceed and Twenty & Six cafes, but the service was chirpy and the food was pleasant. I might still make room for those hotcakes next time I'm headed to market.


The Howard St outlet of Code Black has already gotten the nod on hungrycookie, Simple Palates, Seriously, Poppet's Window, Coffee in Melbourne, confessions of a little piggy and Brunch Addict; a few flaws are noted on The Brunch Journal.

Code Black Coffee
119 Howard St, North Melbourne
9381 2330
drinks, food

Accessibility: The ground level is flat and spacious, while the mezzanine involves narrow stairs, crowded seats and backless stools. We ordered at our table and paid at a low counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

Posted February 14, 2015 08:15 AM by Cindy

February 13, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Chocolate lime avocado mousse

It seems a good thing to share a chocolate mousse the day before Valentines Day.  Yet we all know that chocolate is not just for Valentines.  Nor always romantic.  When I served this to E he told me it is too rich.  Which I didn't mind.  More for me!  Though not all for me because Sylvia quite liked it.

The recipe is based on Ricki Heller's Chocolate avocado pate that I have been meaning to make for years.  She first posted it in 2008 but luckily reminded me of it in her suggestions for 40+ Sugar-Free  Sweets for Valentine's Day.  Suddenly there I was with ripe avocado (with a spoonful taken out of it) and chocolate.  All I lacked was orange.  Which is where the lime stepped in.

I also bought some gorgeous small wine glasses at an op shop recently.  We took in a bag of donations and walked away with a bag of purchases!  I rarely drink wine these days.  I fell in love with them.  So I justified the purchase by dreaming of filling them with something like chocolate mousse or fruit parfait. 

Ricki says to put the pate in the fridge overnight and the turn it out and slice it up.  That was a bit fiddly for me so we just ate it straight from the glass.  I agree with E that it is very rich.  Yet I really loved it. 

Sylvia gamely tried some, didn't freak out when I told her that the mystery ingredient was avocado, and kept on eating.  It was too rich for her to each much of it.  She guessed that cranberry was the slightly sour fruity flavour.  Close but no candy.  She was tasting lime.

Eating chilled chocolate avocado mousse was just the right way to end to a lovely day.  I had been planning to sign up for membership to the zoo and found that a friend was going on the same day so we wandered about with her and her kid and saw the talk on the seals.  After school we took the kids to the outdoor pool and it felt like we were on holidays.  It had been forecast to be a stinking hot day but it was just perfectly warm with a cool breeze.  It was all good, even the mousse.

My only problem with the mousse was what to call it.  Ricki called it a pate but you don't eat a pate from a glass.  It was like a mousse before I chilled it and more like thick soft fudge once cold.  I am not up on the chilled desserts lingo.  So I am sticking with mousse.  But I agree with Shakespeare that a rose by any name would smell as sweet!  Sometimes it is better not to sweat over nomenclature.  Just eat it!

I am sending this mousse to:

Chocolate lime avocado mousse
Adapted from Ricki Heller
serves 4 (or more)

1 small ripe avocado
3 tbsp maple syrup
juice of 1 medium lime
150g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)

Blend avocado, maple syrup and lime juice.  Melt chocolate and add to avocado mixture.  Blend until smooth.  Spoon into small glasses and chill in the fridge. 

On the Stereo:
Uptown Brown (self titled)

Posted February 13, 2015 11:16 AM by Johanna GGG

February 12, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Apricot, walnut & lavendar cake

February 1-2, 2015

Cindy spent most of January up in the Alpine National Park working like crazy and barely sleeping while I lived a life of leisure back in Melbourne. So it seemed only fair that I welcomed her return home with some sort of cake-ish reward. I had the perfect cake in mind – fellow potluckers had presented a stunning apricot-covered cake at our recent Plenty More-themed dinner and I decided I’d try to replicate their achievement despite its seeming complexity. What’s the worst that could happen? If the cake was a complete disaster I could just scoff down the wreckage and make another weird ketchup cake to replace it.

For all its fanciness, the recipe wasn’t actually that complicated – there was a bit of faffing around grinding up nuts, zesting lemons and beating eggs, but the basic processes were all well within my non-baking skill set. The biggest difficulty was locating some lavender – our plant wasn’t flowering and none of Brunswick’s fancy food purveyors seemed to sell it, so I was reduced to wandering the backstreets and ‘foraging’ some flowers from someone’s front garden. Thanks anonymous Barkly Street benefactor!

The end result: a qualified success. This cake is super delicious with the sweet, juicy apricots really coming into their own. The downside is that the apricot juice soggifies (a technical term) the top of the cake a bit - it definitely needs the full 70-80 minutes in the oven and could probably handle longer if you covered the top to avoid burning anything. I gave it about 75 minutes and the mix was still a little bit underdone – it didn’t really diminish its deliciousness, but it made slicing it up a bit tricky. Still – I was pretty thrilled to be able to present this fruity, floral delight to Cindy on her return from three weeks of exhausting work. We’ll definitely make it again – at least if we can think of a non-vegan non-coeliac audience to appreciate it (or maybe we should try to veganise it!?).

Apricot, walnut & lavender cake
(based on a recipe from Ottolenghi's Plenty More)

185g unsalted butter, diced
2 tablespoons peanut oil (the original recipe wanted walnut oil, but we didn't have any)
220g caster sugar
120g almond meal
4 eggs, beaten
120g walnuts, blitzed to a coarse powder in a food processor
90g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon, grated
600g apricots, halved and pitted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-2 teaspoons lavender, chopped finely

50g icing sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Lightly grease a 25cm spring-form cake tin (if you're using a regular tin you probably want to line it with baking paper).

Beat the butter, oil, sugar and almond meal in an electric mixer until the mixture is combined and is light and fluffy. Add the eggs in slowly, beating as you go until they're incorporated. Fold in the walnuts, flour, vanilla, lemon zest, salt and half of your lavender.

Pour the cake mix into the tin and smooth out the top. Arrange the apricot halves on top, skin side down as tightly packed as you can squeeze them in. Bake in the over for 70-80 minutes - it's a delicate balance between the top burning and the cake cooking through, you can cover it with foil if it gets too brown.

While the cake's in the oven whisk together the icing sugar and lemon juice until you get a smooth pourable consistency. Once the cake is cooked, spread the icing on top (a brush works well) and sprinkle over the remaining lavender. Leave the cake to cool and then feast.

Posted February 12, 2015 07:55 AM by Michael

February 11, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Ocean Grove Hotel - a fine seaside pub

On the last night of our stay in Ocean Grove when there were just a few of us left in the holiday house, we decided to eat out at the Ocean Grove Hotel.  This was a traditional seaside pub with lots of seats, lots of entertainment for the kids and good honest pub grub.  Because sometimes when you are at the beach, you just want to relax and let someone else cook for you.

My dad had a quite look at the pub late in the afternoon and they advised him to book.  It looked pretty quiet but when we got back at about 6pm it was bursting at the seams.  We were lucky the nice waitress found us a table.  Next time we will make a reservation.

We started with drinks.  I had a soda, lime and bitters which I often order.  I have never seen it in a glass like this (and did you see the wee man in my drink)!

Sylvia and Dash couldn't wait to go outside to the play area.  They would have loved to bounce on the trampolines (built into the ground) but there were too many kids on them.  The climbing frame and slides were entertainment enough for them. If the weather had been nicer we would have all enjoyed eating outside.  At least it wasn't cold enough to need the wood fired stove!

My dad enjoyed watching the cricket but my seat faced these historic black and white photos.  I love a good historic photo but these gave me the urge to straighten them.  When I wasn't thinking about the pictures looking awry I contemplated what they told me about the history of the place but didn't come up with many answers.  Not even when brainstorming with my family.

Choosing Sylvia's dinner was easy.  She had the margherita pizza (above).  Tomato and cheese is one of the few combinations I know Sylvia will eat on pizza.  It didn't go down so well with green stuff on it.  She ate around the green stuff as much as possible.

I spent time carefully considering the vegetarian options.  No pizza because I make good pizza at home.  I felt like I had eaten a few salads at the holiday house so I didn't go for the Vietnamese noodle salad or the pumpkin and beetroot salad.  And I really wanted Turkish bread so I would have the dips and olives platter.  However that was off the menu so I made a snap decision to order the vegetarian pizza with spinach, ricotta and roasted Mediterranean vegetables (top photo).  It was a nice pizza with lots of vegies.  I didn't manage to finish it as it was very filling.

We all enjoyed our food.  My sister was impressed that they had half serves of some of the mains.  Sometimes you don't want the huge plate of food.  She and my mum had the fish and chips while my dad had the ribs (I think). 

I quite fancied the desserts: sticky toffee pudding, New York cheesecake and mud cake.  The kids were amused that the desserts not only included frog in a pond (chocolate frog in a jelly pond) but also snake in the snow (lolly snake in a bowl of ice cream I assume).  However we decided we had been eating enough cake for my mum's birthday and left without desserts.

Ocean Grove Hotel
175 Bonnyvale Road
Ocean Grove, Victoria

Ocean Grove Hotel on Urbanspoon

Posted February 11, 2015 10:57 PM by Johanna GGG

February 10, 2015

Challenge Accepted!

Kitsune udon

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.

Posted February 10, 2015 08:08 PM by Kate


Lunch At Wild Timor Coffee Co. Cafe In Coburg

A few weeks ago a fellow vegan mentioned vegan options at Wild Timor Coffee Co’s cafe on Sydney Road. I’m often around that area and as today was officially crowned My Blog Research Day (by me, cos Husband and the kids are out) I decided to head to Wild Timor Cafe for lunch. The space inside is nice...
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Posted February 10, 2015 04:17 PM

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Curried peanut sauce bowl with tofu & kale

January 21, 2015

With Cindy away, I was looking for simple meals that would stretch to a few serves of leftovers - old classics like quinoa salad, basic braised tofu, kale and chickpea salad and miso-curry pumpkin all got a run, but I decided to sneak in one new meal as well. I'd had my eye on this curried peanut sauce bowl in Isa Does It for a while and slotted it in on an otherwise quiet Wednesday night.

It's not a very time-consuming recipe, but there is a bit going on: you've got to steam the kale, fry the tofu, cook up the peanut curry sauce and cook whatever grain you're having as the base of your bowl (quinoa in this case). It means that every burner of our stove was in action, which is always a little overwhelming. It was worth the kitchen chaos at least - the curried peanut sauce is thick and tangy, like the best kind of spicy satay. The tofu and kale worked well, but you could happily pour the sauce over any combination of veggies and protein.

Curried peanut sauce bowl with tofu & kale
(slightly adapted from a recipe in Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Isa Does It)

1 tablespoon olive oil
500g tofu, cut into 2cm cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 small bunch of kale, rough stems cut out and leaves shredded
1/2 teaspoon salt

peanut sauce
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced ginger
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup water
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
3 teaspoons curry powder
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons tamari
2 tablespoons agave nectar
2 teaspoons sriracha

for the sauce
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and saute the garlic and ginger for about 30 seconds. Add the water and, once it's warmed up a bit, add in the peanut butter, curry powder, vinegar, tamari, agave and sriracha. Stir everything together - as the mixture warms up the peanut butter will liquefy and combine with everything else. After it's nicely mixed together, taste and add salt or more curry powder as desired and then leave, covered, while you make the rest of the meal.

for the tofu
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over high heat. Throw in the cubed tofu, sprinkle with salt and fry, stirring often for 5-10 minutes, until the cubes have a nice golden char going on.

for the kale
Pop the kale and salt in a steamer (I used a pair of stacked bamboo steamers) over a pot of boiling water. Steam for about 5 minutes, until it's cooked but not soggy.

Serve it all over rice or quinoa and garnish with coriander if you've got some.

Posted February 10, 2015 02:47 PM by Michael

February 09, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Southern Cross frosted chocolate porridge cake, and peach salad

I made sure I had a lovely sandwich for lunch on my birthday.  I baked the bread myself.  And with fresh sourdough bread it was amaaazing (as Sylvia likes to say at the moment)!  Possibly the most successful cooking of the day.  The peach salad was good but the spices weren't quite right for me and while I loved the cake, the Southern Cross decoration didn't look quite as impressive as my vision.  Having said that, I had a lovely day and despite my quibbles I really ate very well.

Slashing has been one of the most challenging parts of baking sourdough.  Now I have bought a cheap stanley knife it is improving.  Sylvia and I went to the city to see Paper Planes at the cinema.  It has fantastic scenes of rural Australia.  Beforehand we took our cheese sandwiches to eat on the grass in front of the State Library.

This meant we had recovered our appetites after the movie and walked into the Pancake Parlour.  I had decided to have a simple sandwich so we could indulge in a sweet pancake.  I chose a Chocolate Jubilee - a chocolate pancake with cream, ice cream, chocolate fudge sauce and strawberries.  I didn't want cream so they gave me two scoops of ice cream.  Argh!  It was too much ice cream and not enough pancake.  Nice but I think I would have enjoyed a short stack with whipped butter and chocolate sauce.

After some fun time looking around the shops, we came home to the chocolate porridge cake that had also been baked before I left.  It was a recipe that involves making porridge to mix into the cake.  I had it at a work morning tea years ago and loved it so much that I asked for the recipe.  I've never forgotten it despite it taking so long to make it at home.

We were rushing to get out of the house and my main error was to tip the cake out of the tin onto a wire rack too early and it had a huge split on the bottom.  When I turned it over the split was nowhere to be seen but the top of the cake was quite rustic so it probably wouldn't have mattered anyway.

Still full of Australia Day ideas I was inspired to make a cake with a Southern Cross on it.  The Australia Flag was just a bit too much work and so I focused in on my favourite element in it.  The Union Jack and the Commonwealth Star don't interest me so much.  However I love how the Southern Cross star formation was in our skies long before Europeans arrived and it is unique to the Southern Hemisphere.

I made the stars out of white chocolate but I think I really needed smaller cutters or a bigger cake because they were rather close together and that tiny star was hard to cut out by hand.  I decided to use leftover white chocolate in a frosting because it would be easy to tint it. 

I found a recipe for a white chocolate frosting that wasn't too rich or too fussy to make.  It didn't need to cool for ages like this frosting, especially if you kept back some white chocolate and added it to the melted chocolate to bring down the temperature.  I didn't even get out the beaters for it.

I reduced the recipe but it was still a lot and very sweet.  Two thirds of what I made would be sufficient for the cake.  I have adjusted the amounts in the recipe below accordingly.  Mine was a much softer icing than in the photo I original saw so maybe more icing sugar or using butter rather than margarine might change this. 

While Sylvia and I were at the shops we bought some royal blue food gel colouring.  However after I had used what seemed a lot it was still a lot paler blue than the royal blue on the flag but it was enough dye in our cake.  So maybe another time I will have another go at it as I really like the idea.

Then I turned my attention to the salad I had planned for dinner.  I had seen the recipe for Chargrilled Peach with Green Beans and Almonds while on holidays in Ocean Grove.  It appealed to my love of stone fruit and quirky salads.  It challenged me to use star anise and coriander seeds, which are often neglected in my kitchen.

My experiment at trying to chargrill hard peaches didn't work and I ended up using ripe nectarines.  My substitution of pistachios for almonds was fantastic.  Sadly I don't think I was so keen on the spices.  At least, that is my guess why the nectarines did not quite work.  The idea of pickling fruit in spiced vinegar sounded great but was not quite right for me.  I would love to try it again with a mustard, cumin and/or fennel seed flavours.

However you don't think a little star anise could spoil a good dinner, do you!  I had made chickpea pilaf the previous night and also had some tofu bacon and the bread I baked that morning.  The salad worked really well with these and I am happy to say that the spices did not dominate.

I really loved the green beans and pistachios in the salad.  They looked beautiful on the table too.  I don't eat either of these gorgeous green foods enough.  However I found the peaches made the salad too sweet as a main so I would recommend that this is best served as a side dish.

Before knew it we were onto the dessert which was, of course, cake.   We even had blue and white candles to put on the cake, even if some of them were a little wonky.

When we were baking it, the mixture tasted like chocolate porridge and I could have eaten it raw.  It was a good sign of what was to come.  While we waited for it to cool, Sylvia (who is constantly planning her own birthday) told me "at my party we will have porridge cake to eat that isn't cooked".

I was happy that I loved this cake now as much as I loved it years ago.  I think the soft sweet icing worked well with the chocolatey cake.  Why has it taken me so long to make this recipe?  I hope it wont be so long until I make it again.  And I would love to know who is Meryl.  It is the name on the recipe I was given rather than the name of my colleague who gave me the recipe.

It was a lovely birthday.  Though it was a quiet day, it was really nice to go to the letterbox and find quite a few cards and even a parcel that arrives right on time.  E gave me lots of reading and CDs that I have been enjoying (and missed ukelele practice to have dinner with us).  And Sylvia was just so excited, not just because she loves birthdays, but also because we were in a shop a week or two before when she made me go outside so she could choose and buy me a present.  It was a little 10 pin bowling collection of erasers that we had fun playing with.  There were also more celebrations a few days later, which I shall write about soon.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Koko Black: a decadent chocolate afternoon tea
Two years ago: Pea Risotto with Verjuice
Three years ago: The relentless tide of technology
Four years ago: Queso dip, enchiladas and food processor
Five years ago: More baby food, more healthy muffins
Six years ago: WTSIM … Fruit kebabs
Seven years ago: Wanton Dumplings in Ginger Broth

Chargrilled Peach with Green Beans and Almonds
Adapted from Valli Little in Delicious magazine, Jan 2014/Dec 2015
Serves 3-4 as a side dish

1/4 cup caster sugar
100ml apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
1 star anise
Dash of chilli powder
4 ripe peaches (or nectarines), cut into wedges
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for grilling
400g green beans, trimmed
1/2 spring onion, finely sliced
1/4 cup pistachios, chopped

Heat sugar, vinegar, coriander, star anise, and chilli in a small saucepan over low heat until sugar has dissolved.  Set aside to cool

Brush peaches with extra olive oil and grill until slightly charred on either side (1 to 2 minutes either side).  I don't have an outdoor bbq so I used a ridged cast iron pan.  Place chargrilled peaches into the vinegar mixture and set aside to pickle for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile cook the green beans for 2 to 3 minutes in boiling salted water until just cooked and then plunge into iced water to cool.

Arrange beans on a medium shallow bowl, arrange peaches on top.  Drizzle with oil and a little of the pickling liquid.  Scatter with pistachios and spring onion.

Meryl's Chocolate Porridge Cake

1/2 cup instant oats*
1 cup water
125g butter
150g brown sugar
3 dessertspoons cocoa
2 eggs
1 cup self raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
150g chocolate chips

Cook oats and water to make porridge.  (I cooked mine for 3 minutes in the microwave.)  Mix in butter, brown sugar and cocoa.  Stir and cool briefly.  Add in eggs, flour, bicarbonate of soda and chocolate chips.  Stir well.  Scrape into a lined 22cm round cake tin.  Bake at 160 C for 30 to 35 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.  Cool in tin for 10 to 15 minutes* and cool on a wire rack. 

Ice with white chocolate frosting (below) if desired.  If you wish to do the Southern Cross on the cake, melt some white chocolate and chill until just set (too chilled is hard to cut out) and then cut out some star shapes and arrange on iced cake.

*NOTES: I finely chopped 1 cup of rolled oats to make 1/2 cup of instant oats.  I think it took me slightly longer to bake the cake.  I baked mine at 170 C on a rack in the middle of the oven because I had been baking bread just before the cake went in the oven.

White chocolate frosting
Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

60g white chocolate, chopped
66g butter (I used Nuttalex margarine)
80g  icing sugar
1 tsp milk (if required)
pinch salt

Melt about two thirds of the chocolate (I did this in the microwave but it can be done on the stovetop too).  Remove from heat or microwave and stir in the remainder in small chunks until it melts.  Set aside and cool slightly.

Beat butter and icing sugar until creamy.  I did this by hand but it could be done with electric beaters too.  Mix in the white chocolate and a pinch of salt.  Add a little milk if mixture is too thick.

On the Stereo:
Is a Woman: Lambchop

Posted February 09, 2015 03:18 PM by Johanna GGG

quinces and kale

char kway teow

char kway teow

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.


5.0 from 1 reviews
char kway teow
prep time
5 mins
cook time
5 mins
total time
10 mins
author: quincesandkale
cuisine: vegan, chinese malaysian
serves: 1 serve
  • ½ tbsp oil
  • ½ tsp of sesame oil
  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • 4 spring onions chopped into 4cm lengths
  • 200 grams fresh wide rice noodles rinsed in hot water
  • 6-8 bite sized pieces of protein of your choice, it could be tofu, mock chicken or prawns
  • 1 tbsp kecap manis
  • ½ tbsp sriracha
  • ½ tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 handful of mung bean sprouts
  1. Prepare everything first, once you start you cannot pause to do anything because the dish will stew or burn.
  2. Heat the wok over a high heat, add the oils and heat until it smokes.
  3. Add the garlic and spring onions and stir briefly until the garlic starts to colour
  4. Add the noodles, the protein bits and the sauces and stir to mix and fry for a couple of minutes
  5. Stir through the bean sprouts and serve.
It is important to cook this for one, otherwise the wok just won't stay hot enough and the dish will stew rather than fry.


Posted February 09, 2015 10:00 AM

February 08, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Hobart VI

January 16-19, 2015

Another year, another trip to the Mona Foma festival. Sadly, this year saw me flying solo, with Cindy spending the time doing field work up around Falls Creek. Travelling's not quite as fun on your own, so I kept it to a pretty short visit - just squeezing in a long weekend visit to see some great bands and eat as much as possible. We've given Hobart's veggie scene a fairly good shake over the years, but there's always more to discover and I managed to knock off another half a dozen or so places worth documenting here.


Small Fry (3/129 Bathurst Street, Hobart)
I stayed quite close to Small Fry, which opened about six months ago and came highly recommended by our local friend Liz. It's a small space with a relatively brief menu, which is quite meaty. There's nothing obviously vegan, but the menu does note that they're willing to customise most dishes to meet dietary requirements.

I dropped in for a late lunch on Friday arvo, opting to start the weekend with something reasonably healthy: puy lentil, radicchio, fig and goat curd salad with a shallot dressing ($16).

This was all about the figs, which were ripe and sweet and just about perfect. The goats curd and dressing cut through the sweetness a bit and the lentils added texture and earthiness. Small Fry are apparently most famous for their delicious doughnuts, but sadly they were all out when I visited and I didn't get a chance to try again - next year!


Frank (1 Franklin Wharf, Hobart)
For dinner I was in Liz's capable hands, and she suggested meeting up at another Hobart newcomer, Frank. With the restaurant promising an Australian twist on Argentinian barbecue, I wasn't expecting too many vego options, but the menu is surprisingly welcoming - seven veggie sides that can easily be cobbled into a meal. It's a lovely space - down on the waterfront with a beautifully designed dining room that oozes cool. We didn't have a booking but they squeezed us in to some lovely window-side seats and we enjoyed an unhurried feast.

We split four plates: charred sweet potato with goat's curd, muddled almonds, garlic and coriander ($11), a black-eyed pea salad with lime, chilli and onion ($8), a green bean salad with roasted quinoa and queso blanco ($9) and crisp potatoes with salsa criolla ($8).

This was a nice combo of dishes - the sweet potato and crispy potatoes were the stand out, while the beans and black-eyed peas added a bit of bite and freshness. It also left enough room for us to explore the dessert menu. I got in first and ordered the nemesis cake with whisky ice cream and hazelnut and smoked paprika praline ($14). The cake is gooey and loaded with cocoa, but the real highlights are the subtle whisky ice cream and the fascinating smoked paprika praline.

Liz had a more summery sweet dish: passion fruit and mango parfait, white chocolate mousse, coconut shortbread, fresh mango and crisp tuille ($13). I snuck a little taste and was impressed by the fruity freshness.

Frank is an impressive addition to Hobart's booming hospitality scene - it's not really focussing on vegetables, but there's a reasonable selection of savouries and the desserts are top notch. Definitely worth checking out.


Tasman Quartermasters (132 Elizabeth Street, Hobart)
After the first day, my dinners mostly revolved around the festival hub, leaving lunch and breakfast as my chances to explore. On Saturday I kicked things off at Property of: Pilgrim, having the same beany breakfast I had on our last visit. After a good day out at MONA, I came back into town for a late lunch in North Hobart at Tasman Quartermasters. They've replaced the sadly departed Chado with an on-trend burger menu that includes a handful of veggie options. The highlight: the vegan menage a trois, a smoked beetroot, mushroom, pumpkin, rocket and guacamole sandwich ($16). 

It's hard to justify $16 for a sandwich, but this hit the mark nicely - the beets are the star, carrying a good hit of smokiness and a brilliant chewy texture. The sandwich supporting cast was solid, as was the local tap beer they were serving up. The staff are friendly and the vibe is relaxed (at least in the mid afternoon) - it's a good place to stop in if you're looking for vegan food and good booze at lunch.


Farm Gate Market (108 Bathurst Street, Hobart)
Breakfast on Sunday was a return visit to the Farm Gate markets - I won't go into much detail, but my four course brunch was probably the dining highlight of the trip: a blueberry bagel with lemon curd from Bury Me Standing, a vegan burrito with beans, quinoa, capsicum, daikon and ginger cashew aoli from Pacha Mama, a vegan salted dark chocolate cookie from Krumbies and some of the freshest, fattest cherries I've ever tasted. I haven't been back to Salamanca Markets for a while, but Farm Gate (which has moved to a section of Bathurst Street between Elizabeth and Murray) is surely the best food market in town - go go go!


Brat Time (53 Elizabeth Street, Hobart)
I spent most of the morning recovering from that breakfast, but managed to muster up enough energy to wander through the galleries of Salamanca and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, before fuelling up for a night with Shonen Knife and The Clean at Brat Time.

More US-inspired dude-food, Brat Time is a hot dog and beer bar under the mall on Elizabeth Street. The menu is long and involved, but you really only need to focus on the two veggie dogs (both vegan). I skipped the basic veggie dog (veggie sausage, black bean and corn salsa, lettuce and thousand island dressing, $8.90) and went for the volcanic veg (sausage, spicy bean and corn, sauteed onion, jalapeno, guacamole and hot chilli sauce, $9.90).

This was brilliant - great spicy condiments on a decent veggie dog for less than ten bucks. Brat Time is nothing fancy, but sometimes a vegan hot dog and a beer is all you need and you can't go too badly wrong here.


Raspberry Fool (85 Bathurst Street, Hobart)
I had a few hours to spare before the flight back to Melbourne on Monday morning and a reader tip from Kim recommending Raspberry Fool, so my breakfast plans were sorted. Given Kim's enthusiasm, I was surprised how few menu items looked obviously vegan friendly - just the spiced roast cauliflower, white bean puree, pickled carrot and greens toastie ($10). I was tired and hungry, so I didn't quiz them about what else they could do, but there were a few dishes that looked like they'd be veganisable with a few tweaks. I wound up ordering the smashed avocado with chunky herb salsa, soft boiled egg and greens ($16). 

This was a straightforward and successful brekkie dish - generous loads of avo, a good smear of herby spread and some nicely cooked egg. Nothing fancy, but a tasty way to finish up the trip - the coffee fell short of the standards set at Pilgrim, Small Fry and Pigeon Hole, but the staff were friendly, the sweets cabinet looked good and the whole experience highly satisfactory.


Hobart's food and drink scene is booming - I didn't make it to The Winston, Room for a Pony, Burger Haus, The Homestead or Preachers - all new in the past few years I think - or to our old favourites Ethos, Garagistes, Tricycle or Pigeon Hole, let alone the veggie lunch stalwarts Thai Veggie Hutt or Mo Mo. It's a wonderful city - the festival is always great fun, MONA continues to wow and the setting is just spectacular. Stay tuned for another update in 2016.

Posted February 08, 2015 08:20 PM by Michael

The Good Hearted - Vegan Food in Melbourne

East Elevation


East Elevation
351 Lygon st
Brunswick East
VIC 3057
03 9381 5575


Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 8am-4pm
Sat-Sun: 8.30am-5pm

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.

 East Elevation on Urbanspoon

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

Posted February 08, 2015 05:21 PM


Product Review: Goodies From Half Pint Vegan Dairy

Isn’t it great when a business you love sets up a stall near your home! Half Pint Vegan Dairy are now at the Batman Market on Sundays and that’s good for me because their ice cream is my favourite BTW non-Melbourne people, that’s not Batman of the Caped Crusader variety. It’s Batman with a different...
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Posted February 08, 2015 02:01 PM

February 07, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Broccolini & edamame salad with curry leaves & coconut

January 10, 2015

One of our friends had a brainwave recently - why not have an Ottolengh-themed potluck? She noticed that most of her friends had wound up with a copy of  Plenty More over the Christmas period, so she invited a bunch of us over with dishes in tow, so we could all sample widely from our new book. It was a cracking success - there was a stunning sweetcorn slaw, a gorgeous artichoke, mozzarella and candied lemon dish, some slightly disappointing spicy turnips and simple but effective green beans with freekeh. Plus the most beautiful cake I think I've ever seen - a lavender, apricot and walnut concoction that was mind-blowingly good (spoilers: this cake will be turning up here before too long!). We didn't get a very good shot of the whole meal, so multiply this blurry phone photo by about a million to get a sense of how spectacular it was.

We added a typical Ottolenghi salad to the mix - a combination of green veggies with the pizzazz coming from some curry leaves and grated, fresh coconut. Like any Ottolenghi recipe, there's a bit going on. The first (and scariest) step is to crack the coconut - youtube is your friend here. It turned out to be surprisingly easy to break it open, and then a bit trickier to actually dig the flesh off the shell. It's totally worth it though - the fresh coconut kicked this up from a good dish to something really memorable. After that you've just got to juggle your blanching and your frying and everything comes together. The green veggies are just barely blanched so that they maintain their crunch and flavour and the curry leaves, coriander, mustard seeds and lime give a tangy, complex flavour to it all. This was a real success story and a Plenty More recipe we'll return to again in the future.

Broccolini & edamame salad with curry leaves & coconut
(based on a recipe from Ottolenghi's Plenty More)

400g broccolini, trimmed (the original recipe uses sprouting broccoli, but broccolini works fine)
220g green beans, trimmed
200g podded edamame beans (we used frozen ones picked up at our local Asian grocer)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 brown onion, diced
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
30 curry leaves
3 whole dried chillies
zest and juice of 1 lime
10g coriander leaves
the flesh from 1 coconut, coarsely grated

Bring a large pot of water to the boil and throw in the broccoli and beans, blanching for about 2 minutes before throwing in the edamame beans. After another two minutes kill the heat - you want everything to be cooked but still with some crispness. Scoop out the veggies, put them in a colander and freshen them up with cold water. Drain them, pat them dry and pop them in a big mixing bowl and mix with a generous sprinkle of salt.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a frying pan. Throw in the onion with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and stir-fry for 5 minutes, until it's softened. Throw in the black mustard seeds and wait for them to pop. Add in the curry leaves, lime zest and dry chillies. Stir fry for another couple of minutes and then pour the mix over the vegetables. Stir everything up and leave it to combine for a while, at least 10 minutes.

When you're about to serve it up, gently stir in the lime juice, coriander and coconut.

Posted February 07, 2015 09:08 AM by Michael

February 06, 2015


The Vegan Box: The Late Summer Box

After purchasing the October Vegan Box from The Vegan Box last year and stuffing myself on tasty treats, I wanted to try one of the beauty boxes. As always, all the products are carefully sourced for you and are of course cruelty free, natural, nasty chemical free and palm oil free! Here’s what I’ve just...
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Posted February 06, 2015 10:21 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Creamy potato salad with vegan mayonnaise

A bottle of sunflower oil has sat on my kitchen bench for a long time in hope that I might finally try to make a vegan mayonnaise.  I was inspired when Kate recommended Vegan Dad's mayo.  It was really good and I am sure I will make it again.  However it only lasts a couple of weeks so I made sure I used it in a couple of favourite salads, including a potato salad.

I made the mayonnaise in my high speed blender though Vegan Dad suggested a food processor.  He said to use safflower oil but Kate said sunflower oil should work and it did.  I recently noticed that Jac made it with olive oil and I would love to try it with the rice bran oil that I use a lot.  I was amazed just how thick it go when I let it whizz in the blender on a medium speed.

On the first night I made it I just dipped vegies into the mayo.  Here is one of the healthier plates of food I have made lately.  Chickpea pilaf, tofu bacon and lots of vegies.  It tasted so good.

Then I made a potato salad with tofu bacon and spring onions.  This is pretty much the way that I used to have it as a child (but meat bacon not tofu bacon).  It was great comfort food on a lazy evening.  We love to eat it a bit warm but I am sure that it would be great at room temperature and should keep in the fridge.

I still had some mayo left and started brainstorming ideas for using it.  Burgers, tofu nuggets dipping sauce, sushi, dips etc.  Then I made a mock tuna salad and it was so good.  Later in the evening E was looking for some mayonnaise to spread on bread or dip his vegies in.  He gave a little pout when he heard it was gone.

I must make more mayonnaise.  After all the weather is warming up and there is nothing like a good salad sandwich with mayo on a hot day.

I am sending the potato salad to:

More mayonnaise recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Chickpea and hemp seed cheese
Cranberry and mustard coleslaw
Finnish green bean paté
Mock tuna (chickpea) salad 
Nutty fries
Potato salad with spring onions, watercress and sun-dried tomatoes

More mayonnaise recipes on the internet:
Spring wedge salad - Namely Mary
Okanamiyaki - Your Vegan Mom
Mexican salad with creamy avocado dressing - Taste Space
Zucchini crab cakes - Fun and Fud
Chopped BBQ tofu salad - Delish Knowledge

Creamy Potato salad with tofu bacon
serves 2-4

500g red skinned potatoes
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1/2 cup fried diced tofu bacon
2-3 dessertspoons of mayonnaise

Chop potatoes and place in a small saucepan.  Pour cold salted water into the saucepan about half the depth of the potatoes and cover with a lid.  Heat on high until the water boils.  Turn heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are soft when a knife goes into them.  Drain potatoes and rinse under cold water.  Mix with remaining ingredients and serves warm or room temperature.

Vegan Mayonnaise
Adapted from Vegan Dad
Makes about 2 cups

1/2 cup soy milk
1 1/4 cup sunflower oil
3 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp caster sugar
pinch of smoked paprika
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1 1/2 tsp salt (or less)

Put soy milk in high speed blender and start the motor.  Slowly drizzle in oil while the blade is whizzing on low.  Turn off motor and add remaining ingredients.  Turn up to about medium speed and whizz until mixture thickens.  Keeps for about 2 weeks in the fridge in an airtight container (stir every few days).

On the Stereo:
Greatest Hits: Morrissey

Posted February 06, 2015 04:22 PM by Johanna GGG

Vegetarian Life Australia

Goodies from Aunt Maggies

My haul from Aunt Maggies

My haul from Aunt Maggies

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.


Posted February 06, 2015 08:58 AM

February 05, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Spot Burger

January 8, 2015

We've had our eye on Spot Burger for a while - it opened up over a year ago as Il Gobbo, went quiet for a while and then reopened with a new name but the same basic premise: vegan junk food served out the front of a tattoo place in Essendon. With our trusty junk-food liaison officer Clamps in tow we headed off one Thursday night to finally check it out.

It's an unassuming space - basic tables, a few rock posters on the wall and a pretty fast-foody sort of vibe. The menu is all vegan and all Americana: 6 burgers, 4 hot dogs, a sub, the usual fries and nugget sides plus shakes and a few desserts. It's mock-meat heavy and pretty affordable (nothing over $10) - think Lord of the Fries in the suburbs.

The three of us decided to stick with burgers. I went for the volcano: a TVP-based patty with mock bacon, vegan cheese, hot sauce, jalapenos and onions ($10, right in the photo below).

I was pretty  happy with this - the patty had some nice charred crunchy bits and held together pretty well. The bacon had a bit of crispiness as well and the mix of chilli sauce and jalapenos made sure that there was plenty of flavour. Clamps went for the Calabrian, a mock chicken patty with bacon, cheese, onion and bolognese sauce ($10, left in the photo above). It was a big, messy feast - bolognese sauce on a burger is a genius idea. 

Cindy couldn't resist the Sailor Jerry, Spot's version of a fish burger with a battered mock fish patty, cheese, lettuce, onion, pickles and herbed mayo ($10).

The fish was a standard pre-packaged version, but it worked pretty well in a burger, with a good slathering of tartare-style sauce and pickles adding some tang to cut through the batter. She also ordered a chocolate shake ($6, also vegan) - it was sweet and frothy and not particularly subtle, but a worthwhile burger accompaniment. We shared some chips as well ($7), which were crispy, salty and generously portioned.

Spot Burger is a welcome addition to Melbourne's increasingly diverse vegan junk food scene - it doesn't offer a vastly different product to Lord of the Fries, but it's great to have something like it in Essendon, where the vegan options are probably a bit thinner on the ground. I'm keen to sample their hot dogs one day, but the location will mean that we're only occasional visitors to Spot.

The Good Hearted, Veganopolous and vegawesome! were all impressed by Il Gobbo when it first opened, but nobody seems to have blogged it since the name change.

Spot Burger
305 Keilor Rd, Essendon (in the same premise as Down to Earth Tattoos)
9379 9540
facebook page

Accessibility: The entry from the street is flat and there's a reasonable amount of space inside. Tables are a mix of high bar stool style arrangements and regular low tables. We ordered at the table and paid at a high counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

Posted February 05, 2015 04:34 PM by Michael

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Nutella rice bubble slice


We were at the supermarket check out on Monday and Sylvia found there was a jar of Nutella in the trolley.  I acted all innocent.  But she was onto me.  Anyway I had an excuse.  It is World Nutella Day today.  When I told her yesterday that it was all used up in a slice she frowned.  Until she tasted a piece.  Then all was forgiven.  Yes, it is so delicious that it is even better than eating Nutella from the jar!

So the slice is a bit of a Frankenstein's monster with inspiration from all quarters.  Inspiration came from classic Australian childhood treat, chocolate crackles; from a vegan version of the American rice krispies slice; and from a healthier chocolate almond rice bubble slice.

You might notice that I wasn't seeking out and out decadence this year. I added a little rice malt syrup for binding which I have used before instead of marshmallows.  It has some of the stickiness without being so sweet and no gelatine to avoid!  The slice also has lots of coconut because I love it and we were low on rice bubbles. 

I thought of mixing chocolate with the topping but we only had a 70% dark chocolate which might have swamped it.  It did occur to me that to make this slice really decadent, I could top it with half the mixture from this nutella fudge.  I have also wondered if it might work with chocolate and cream/butter instead of nutella.  However then I think these are crazy thoughts because this slice is so good that it is hard to stop at one square.

As well as it being World Nutella Day, we all know that Valentine's Day is looming large.  On the way to school today, Sylvia and I passed a shop window that is suddenly all hearts and red satin!  I am sure you have had a few prompts too.  If you want to treat your loved one or yourself on Valentine's Day, especially in Melbourne where unbaked treats might be welcome in the coming heatwave, then it is quite easy to cut out heart shapes and sprinkle these with a little red sprinkles!

I am sending the slice to The Baking Explorer (and Cakeyboi) for Treat Petite with the theme of Love in the Air.

I am sending this to Ms Adventures in Italy and Bleeding Espresso who founded World Nutella Day in 2007 just because they love it.  Check out the World Nutella Day site for lots more fantastic Nutella recipes.

More Nutella recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Banana, treacle and Nutella cake
Nigella's Nutella cake
Nutella blondies
Nutella cupcakes
Nutella filled doughnuts
Nutella fudge

Nutella rice bubble slice
An original Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe

1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tbsp butter, melted
3 tbsp rice malt syrup (or brown rice syrup)
400g Nutella, divided
2 cups rice bubbles (or rice krispies)
1 cup dessicated coconut
2 tbsp cocoa
extra coconut for sprinkling

Gently stir together butter, golden syrup and rice malt syrup in a large saucepan.   Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup of Nutella.  Gently mix in rice bubbles and coconut.  Press into a lined slice tin (28 x 18cm) using hands if necessary.  Spread with remaining Nutella.  Sprinkle with coconut.  Chill in fridge until firm.  Cut into squares.  Store in the fridge.

On the Stereo:
Yes Virginia... The Dresden Dolls

Posted February 05, 2015 10:34 AM by Johanna GGG

February 04, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Coconut and chocolate chip muffins

We watched the tennis on the telly on Sunday.  It was the grand final of the Australian Open.  Andy Murray vs Novak Djokovic.  We were following Andy Murray because he is Scottish like E.  Sylvia was curious so I let her stay up a bit and watch some of it.  As I sat watching one of the unending volleys I felt glad we weren't on the eve of Sylvia starting school.  Then I remembered more experience parents like me had been asked to bring some baking for a morning tea for the new Prep parents in the morning.

After settling Sylvia in bed I checked recipes for something portable and popular (no crazy ingredients for strangers).  The combination of chocolate and coconut has me excited lately so I chose some coconut and chocolate chip muffins.  It was a really simple recipe that I made slightly more complex by souring some milk with vinegar.  I was happy it didn't keep me from the tennis too long.  It was so tense in the beginning with so much power and athleticism to admire, despite Murray losing in the end.

In the morning I took a tub of these mini-muffins to school.  When I got there I discovered Sylvia didn't have her glasses.  Oops.  So I dropped off the muffins and headed home to find them.  They weren't in their usual place.  No.  Sylvia had left them in a house under the desk!

By the time I had taken them into her classroom and got to the morning tea, it was hard to get near the table of baked goods.  I only got to taste one of my muffins when someone passed a plate of them around.  They were very good, quite dense with the coconut and filled with enough chocolate to please.  I took home an empty tub.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Buffalo cauliflower sourdough pizza with tofu blue cheese
Two years ago: Cranachan
Three years ago: MLLA Nicki's vegetarian dumplings with fried rice
Four years ago: Gang of Four meme
Five years ago: Emergency Zucchini and Rice Burgers
Six years ago: Apricot and Orange Glazed Tofu
Seven years ago: Perfect Purple Potato Bread

Coconut and chocolate chip muffins
Adapted from Best Recipes
made 45 mini muffins

3/4 scant cup milk (I used soy)
1 tsp vinegar
1 cup sugar (I used raw)
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cups dessicated coconut
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg

Line 4 sets of 12 hole mini muffin pans, Preheat oven to 200 C.

Mix the milk and vinegar.  Set aside to sour.

Mix dry ingredients.  Stir oil and egg into soured milk.  Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients to make quite a thick batter.

Drop spoonfuls into muffin tins - they wont rise a huge amount.  Bake for about 16 minutes (that was what suited my oven but I'd advise those with a more efficient oven to check after about 12 minutes or do as I do and turn the muffins around midway through a get a feel for how quickly they are baking).  They are ready when golden brown and smells good.  A skewer test would probably help too.  Sit for 5 to 10 minutes and then cool on a wire rack.

On the Stereo:
Tiny Tim from the Archives, Vol I (Bootleg)

Posted February 04, 2015 09:00 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Burmese tofu

January 4, 2015

I first heard of Burmese tofu a few months ago when our friend Troy got excited about it and made a big batch for a brunch potluck he hosted a few months back. He'd discovered it during a period of soy-free eating when he was looking for an alternative to the usual staples. Burmese tofu is really more like polenta than tofu - it's a pretty simple combination of chickpea flour and water, thickened up over heat to your desired texture and then cooked. Troy had made a soft version, going for an eggy kind of style while we had a firmer version in mind, to serve with some simple stir-fried veggies and rice.

We used a recipe from Veganise This!, preferring Mel's speedy version to some of the recipes that require overnight soaking. It's super easy - about 15 minutes of cooking on the stove and then a few hours in the fridge to set. Mel ate hers straight from the fridge, but we decided to stick ours under the grill and try to get a crispy skin on them - it wasn't entirely successful, but our approach added a bit of texture to the tofu slices. Much like traditional tofu, this dish isn't exactly bursting with flavour on its own. We also copied Mel's dressing - a tangy combo of chilli, tamarind, sesame oil and soy sauce, which did the trick perfectly.

Burmese tofu is a good addition to our protein options - it's easy to whip up, will carry any flavour you add to it and seems to be pretty versatile.

Burmese tofu with tamarind dressing
(based on a recipe from Veganise This!, which was adapted from BestOodles)

4 cups water
1 tablespoon margarine
1 1/2 cups chickpea flour (besan)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 tablespoon chilli oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons tamari
2 tablespoons tamarind puree
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Put 2 1/2 cups of the water and the margarine in a big saucepan bring it to the boil. 

In a bowl, whisk together the chickpea flour, the rest of the water and the turmeric, salt and sugar. Pour the mixture into the boiling water and whisk it all up into a smooth paste. Drop the heat down to low and keep it bubbling for five minutes or so - it should be quite thick.

Pour the mixture into a greased baking dish and smooth the top as best you can. Refrigerate for a few hours until it's solid.

Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.

When you're ready to eat it, carve it up into little rectangular prisms and grill for about 15 minutes, flipping them all over about halfway through.

Serve, topped with the dressing, alongside some rice and stir-fried veggies.

Posted February 04, 2015 04:26 PM by Michael

February 03, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Shakahari Vegetarian Restaurant, Carlton, Melbourne

Shakahari Vegetarian Restaurant is a local institution.  When it opened in 1972 I guess that there would have been very little in Melbourne in the way of vegetarian restaurants and/or restaurants offering interesting vegetarian dishes.  When I started going there in the 1990s that was certainly the case.  These days the competition is tougher but it remains a sentimental favourite.

E and I had dinner at Shakahari's a few weeks back.  The weather was mercifully cool.  Last time we ate there it was 43 C and the air conditioners struggled so much that I found it hard to enjoy the food.  This time I really enjoyed my meal.  Even so, the food felt a little less exciting than in the days when good vegetarian restaurant food was hard to come by.  (Just check out these examples of today's great Melbourne cafes/restaurants.)

It must be hard to keep up with the changing world of restaurant food when you have been in the business this long.  Yet Shakahari has a mixture of old favourites and some new modern dishes.  They include lots of vegan and gluten free options.  I love the lovely terrace house with warm mustard yellow coloured walls and minimal zen furnishings.  My one problem with it is that it is really noisy.  Which wasn't great on this recent visit with E's soft voice and his blocked ears.  Next time I book I might ask for the tables towards the back which seem quieter.

We shared a starter called Avocado Magic. Wedges of avocado and red capsicums are rolled in thin eggplant slices then 'tempura' fried in a rice batter and served with a gorgeous green sesame coriander puree. The crispy tempura batter contrasts beautifully with the creamy avocado.  It tastes amazing and frying avocado in batter is something I would never dare attempt at home.  In fact I think it was my favourite dish of the night.

For main course I had the quinoa croquettes.  These croquettes are made of yam, dark quinoa, buckwheat, macadamia nuts and diced vegetables.  They were crunchy on the outside but soft and pillowy on the inside like mashed potatoes but with lots of interesting textures that hovered on the tip of my tongue rather than dominating.

This is the sort of comforting old school dish that I might have expected to find in the 1970s when Shakahari opened.  Yet like a lot of Shakahari, it had been modernised with add-ins that would have been unusual a few decades back.  As well as quinoa and macadamia in the croquettes, they were served with kim chee, steamed greens and a mild chilli onion wasabi puree.

I am not familiar with kim chee.  It certainly gave the dish a kick, while the broccoli and green beans were nicely cooked so they still had some crunch, though a bit cold.  As a chilli wuss, I cringe at the suggestion of chilli and wasabi in my dinner.  So I consider it a triumph that the mild chilli onion wasabi sauce was so good that I wanted to eat it by the spoonful.

E chose the Rasaan Vindaloo.  It was a mild vegie curry accompanied by turmeric rice, chutney, cucumber pickles, yellow split pea dhal and pappadam.  I had a taste and then wanted more.  E wasn't keen to share!  Both of us were surprised it was not very spicy given that it was called a vindaloo.  But we were not disappointed by the dish.  All the components came together in a most pleasing way.

We both found our desserts disappointing but sharing them made them work.  E chose a vanilla soy ice cream.  He found it a little bland on its own. 

As there was no warm chocolate pudding on the menu (sob), I chose the Avocado Chocolate “Cheesecake”.  It is a "raw cheesecake with a walnut and date base filled with a mixture of avocado, Calibut chocolate powder, maca powder (‘Peruvian ginseng’), coconut sugar and vanilla bean (Non-dairy, gluten free, raw)."  The chewy base was very good but I found the chocolate filling rather bitter (and not at all like a cheesecake).  It was served with a lot of mango which I didn't fancy.

Fortunately the tart was very good with some of E's ice cream.  And he really enjoyed his ice cream with some of the tart mixed through it.  They worked so well together than we might have yelled out "teamwork" and given each other a high five.  But we are not that demonstrative and beside we were finding it so hard to hear each other it probably would have gone "Teamwork", "What's that you say?"  "Come again?"  "Who's going beserk?"  Besides we were busy signalling a waiter for our bill so we could rush off to the cinema.

Shakahari was very busy.  No table seemed to be empty long.  Given the amount of diners, the service was friendly and prompt.  We managed to eat three couses in the one and half hours before our movie.  I got a little nervous we would be late and asked a waiter we had time for dessert.  In response it was brought out promptly.  We got to the Imitation Game in plenty of time.  Which was just as well because it was an amazing movie.  A lovely night out while Sylvia was on a sleepover!

Shakahari Vegetarian Restaurant
201-203 Faraday Street (near the corner of Lygon St)
Tel: 03 9347 3848
(Also Shakahari restaurants in South Melbourne)

Shakahari Vegetarian on Urbanspoon

Posted February 03, 2015 10:08 PM by Johanna GGG

Challenge Accepted!

Tofu dim sum with coconut buns

Since Jamie Oliver has started to offer quite a few vegan recipes on his website, I've been getting more interested in him lately. Recently I was browsing his 15 Minute Meals cookbook and came across this recipe, which intrigued me. 
Originally it had chicken, but veganising it was pretty easy,  as every other ingredient was vegan. What I really liked about it though was the genius idea of two-ingredient coconut buns. This reminded me of a great tip someone offered on one of my Facebook food groups for the easiest vegan cake ever: tin of coconut milk, packet of vanilla cake mix, sliced apricots (or other fruit) on top, baked. 
This was super delicious (although it didn't take fifteen minutes of course) and I'll be making the coconut buns again, possibly with a filling next time. 
I've included the modified recipe below. 

For the Coconut Buns
1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk
2 heaped coconut milk tins (500g) of self raising flour, plus extra for dusting
For the tofu, pickle & garnishes
400g tofu (I used puffed tofu pieces)
140g mixed mushrooms
3 tbsp hoi sin sauce, plus extra to serve
2 limes
200g tenderstem broccoli (I used bok choi and red cabbage instead)
1 cucumber
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice or white wine vinegar
½ a bunch of fresh coriander
3 Tbsp sesame seeds
Pickled ginger
1 – 2 fresh red chilies
Pour the coconut milk into a food processor with 2 heaped tins worth of self-raising flour and a good pinch of salt, whiz to a dough, then tip on to a flour dusted work surface. Roll the dough into a sausage shape, cut into 8 even sized pieces, then place each one into a double-layered muffin case, and squeeze those into one layer of the steamer. Pour 5 cm of boiling water into a large wok or on top of a medium saucepan. Put the basket of buns on top with the lid on and leave to steam until firm. 
Toss the tofu in a bowl with the roughly torn mushrooms, hoi sin sauce, juice of ½ lime and a pinch of salt. Mix with your hands.
Tip the tofu and mushroom mixture into the second steamer basket along with the trimmed broccoli and pop underneath the tray of buns for 5 minutes until cooked through. (I cooked the tofu and vegies in a wok as I don't have two steamers)
Peel the cucumber into ribbons (I used a vegetable peeler), toss into a bowl with the soy sauce, vinegar and a few torn coriander leaves, then with clean hands squeeze and scrunch everything together to make a pickle.
Toast the sesame seeds in the frying pan on a low heat until golden, then tip into a little bowl, cut the remaining 1 ½ limes into wedges, and serve with the pickled ginger and extra hoi sin sauce in little bowls.
Serve the buns and tofu scattered with the remaining coriander leaves and finely sliced chilli.
Serves 4

Posted February 03, 2015 09:09 PM by Kate

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne


January 4, 2015

After working all week on a grant application, I took a day off to enjoy a special meal with Michael. We sauntered into Chin Chin for a meal at the bar, walked a portion of it off and then circled back to Supernormal for dessert. They, too, found us a free spot at their bar.

Though the 9 spice chai latte sounded promising, I went for a more delicate pot of jasmine green tea ($5) - it was as lovely to inhale as it was to drink.

Choosing among the desserts was tough and we vacillated a while between different possible combinations. In an uncharacteristic move I looked past the famous peanut butter parfait to the lighter, fruitier offerings. The apricot kernel custard was a refreshing and worthy alternative, dotted with aloe vera gel and scattered with sour fresh and freeze-dried raspberries ($15).

The soft serve ($9) had a different charm altogether with dual swirls of tangy pink lady and subtly savoury miso icecream, garnished with sesame wafers. I'd recommend sharing the generous portion with a broad-minded companion.

I've long had a soft spot for the desserts at McConnell's various restaurants - Supernormal certainly upholds that high standard, and offers some new flourishes of its own.



180 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
9650 8688

Accessibility: Looking good - a wide entry and flat interior with a lift to at least one accessibility-marked toilet. (We also noticed a customer in a wheelchair seated at a low table during our visit.) There's full table service.

Posted February 03, 2015 10:27 AM by Cindy

February 02, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Berry ricotta cheesecake and birthday lunch

Holding my mum's birthday lunch at the Ocean Grove holiday house presented a challenge when it came to baking a cake.  Strange equipment, an unfamiliar oven and minimal pantry aren't ideal baking conditions.  Not to mention the memory of hot summer days last year, and family members who eat gluten free and nut free.  Cheesecake was the answer.

My mum had it all under control with a spectacular recipe, bringing along her electric beaters and making sure we had the ingredients.  I helped her make it the day before.  We were actually making two cheesecakes.  One was a no bake vanilla cheesecake (with cream cheese) that mum had loved recipe and the other was a showstopper berry ice cream cheesecake made with ricotta cheese.

It is the berry cheesecake that I am featuring here.  As you can see in the above pictures it was quite a bit of work because of all of the layers.  It had to be made the day before to freeze it overnight, but also so that we could relax on my mum's birthday.  We used gluten free biscuits in the base but due to a mix-up the gingersnaps ended up on the vanilla cheesecake rather than the berry one.

At the same time Chris was supervising Dash and Sylvia to make Nigella's rocky road crunch.  The kitchen was busy but full of fun.  I regret to say that I didn't get any photos of the rocky road crunch so below is a work in progress picture.  It might look at mess but it was so so so delicious and went rather quickly at the lunch.

There were many preparations for my mum's birthday.   The grandkids were busy with projects.  They created a little booklets of birthday wishes as well as making a video presentation.  My brother helped them to write and record a humourous birthday song.

On the day of my mum's birthday all six of my siblings and families came along.  It is always a bit of a challenge to get everyone there (a couple of in-laws were missing due to work commitments).   Andy and Paul carried the outside table inside so that all 19 of us could sit down to eat lunch.

Flowers were selected, cakes brought along, salads made and at 8.30 in the morning Susie's boyfriend started cooking the meat in his webber bbq.  Crazy carnivores!  Our vegetarian sausages didn't have to start cooking quite so early but were nicely charred!

With so much activity going on, it was easy to be distracted.  I made a carrot and sunflower seed salad.  However I managed to get caught up at the rehearsals of the kids' song and forget I was toasting sunflower seeds on the stovetop.  Luckily Chris was looking after them.  Then I discovered that the lemons had been used up in gin and tonics so I headed out to the supermarket for more and for some birthday candles.  Unfortunately I didn't take any kids because they would have loved the snake on show by the reptile handler.

Finally we all sat down to lunch.  Here is my dinner plate.  Amazing, huh!  Vegetarian sausages, roast potatoes, coleslaw, lentil and beetroot salad, carrot and sunflower seed salad, and Fran's wonderful spinach and strawberry salad with a honey and poppy seed dressing.

I had asked Susie to bring some fresh mint when she came in the morning and she bought a bagful.  The green leaves were the finishing touch needed with the berries on top of the cheesecake.  With the layers of berries it looked impressive.

However there was a problem.  We followed the recipe.  This involved freezing the cheesecake overnight and moving it to the fridge 30 minutes before serving.  It was frozen so hard that we could barely slice it.  We had reduced the sugar which made it not sweet enough when frozen.  The recipe for the cheesecake intended it to be frozen like ice cream but I would not serve it this way again. 

While it looks better when sliced as a frozen cheesecake, it tasted so much better when kept in the fridge rather than the freezer.  In fact while I loved the vanilla cheesecake I found the cream cheese really heavy and much preferred the lightness of ricotta.  I did notice that the top layer was quite creamy but the other layers with lots of berries were less so. 

We had so much for sweets - chocolate cake, two cheesecakes, rocky road crunch and fruit.  As well as enjoying sweets we had also saw the kids video presentation, my dad made a speech, Dave took a family photo and the kids made another couch house.

When most of the family had left and the kids were happy playing, it was too cold for everyone to go to the beach but I was game.  So I went for a solitary walk along the edge of the sea.  The rhythms of the waves is always relaxing and time to let my thoughts wonder is a rare pleasure.  With windswept hair I left the beach reluctantly only to be amused to encounter a woman in a toga and another in a native American Indian feathered head dress!

My mum's birthday lunch was a great team effort with lots of plans, emailing, baking, cleaning, whispers, chopping, roasting, singing, laughter, shopping, drawing, texting, carrying, gifts and stacking the dishwasher to make it happen.  It was a busy day with so much food that we didn't need much for dinner, but my mum wouldn't have had it any other way!

I am sending this cheesecake to Jibber Jabber for her monthly blog event, Love Cake.  This February the theme is For the Love of Cake as in romance and birthdays.  This cheesecake looks perfect for Valentines Day but it serves so many that it is not quite right for an intimate dinner for two.  It is better for birthdays or even an Australian Christmas dessert.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: GF chocolate cake and GF blueberry lime poppy seed cake
Two years ago: Lamingtons at the beach
Three years ago: Lorne - beach, bush and eating out
Four years ago: CC Soba noodle salad
Five years ago: Camera Birthday Cake
Six years ago: Birthday chocolate cake and crazy computers
Seven years ago: Polenta and Tomato Comforts

Berry ricotta cheesecake
Slightly adapted from the Australian Women's Weekly, January 2015
Serves 12

250g gingersnap biscuits
100g butter, melted
500g frozen mixed berries, thawed
4 cups ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
600ml cream
fresh berries and mint leaves to serve

Grease and line 22cm springform tin.

Crush biscuits into crumbs and mix with melted butter.  Press into prepared tin.  Chill to firm up.

Puree thawed berries.  Set aside.

Beat the ricotta with sugar with electric beaters.  (Our ricotta was from the deli (not from a tub) and was thick so it didn't get really creamy.)  Beat cream in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold cream into ricotta.

Divide ricotta mixture into three bowls.  Mix 1 cup of the berry puree into one bowl, 1/2 cup into second bowl and 1/4 cup into third bowl.  (We had to tweak slightly to make sure that there was a noticeably colour difference between each layer.  A little more in the darkest and a little less in the lightest.)  Any extra puree can be set aside for serving

Spread the darkest colour over the chilled biscuit base.  Meanwhile place the other two bowls of mixture in the fridge.  Set in freezer for at least 2 hours or until firm.  (Ours took longer.)   Once firm, spread the medium coloured layer on top.  Return to freezer until firm.  Spread remaining layer on top.  Freeze overnight.

Remove from freezer to fridge on the day of serving.  This cheesecake was best chilled rather than frozen but if you want it frozen, it still needs to thaw for longer than the 30 minutes that the AWW suggested.  Arrange berries and mint leaves on top just before serving.  Serve with any remaining berry puree.

On the Stereo:
Fidel's Ocean Grove Quintet

Posted February 02, 2015 01:22 PM by Johanna GGG

quinces and kale

in search of home made pizza perfection

about cooking beans without soaking

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.

Posted February 02, 2015 10:00 AM

February 01, 2015

Challenge Accepted!

Food pics!

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. 

Posted February 01, 2015 06:59 PM by Kate

Chermoula aubergine

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.

Posted February 01, 2015 06:32 PM by Kate

Green Gourmet Giraffe

In My Kitchen February 2015

It's February.  We are used it writing 2015.  In fact, 2014 seems a distance memory.  The kids are back at school and the summer has been surprisingly coy.  Let's delve into my kitchen with a guest appearance by our holiday kitchen in Ocean Grove.  First up is the lovely flowers that my mother received for her birthday while we were at the beach.

In my kitchen we have been eating lots of stone fruit.  I took a lot to the beach house at Ocean Grove.  It was a lovely breakfast with some yoghurt and muesli. 

In my kitchen we have been drinking Bundaberg sparkling passionfruit drink.  My mum had taken a four pack to Ocean Grove and we loved it so much that I bought a four pack for our own fridge once I got home. 

In my kitchen is freshly dried oregano.  The father of Sylvia's friend gave it to me after drying the herbs from his garden.  It really does have so much more flavour than the packaged stuff.

In my kitchen is a pair of Hello Kitty chopsticks.  Sylvia's cousin gave them to her before he headed home to Dublin.  We are missing him and my sister.

In my kitchen we had a decorate your own gingerbread man kit.  The gingerbread was dry and tasteless but decorating it was a fun school holiday activity.

In my kitchen we had haggis-stuffed courgettes on Burns Night.  I had some tomato sauce and stuffed courgettes leftover.  With a sprinkling of cheese they made an unusual but pleasing pizza topping.

In my kitchen is vanilla and peach hand lotion.  I bought it from Mozi in Melbourne Central.  Sylvia and I had a lovely time browsing the homewares and toiletries.  I couldn't resist this hand cream because it smell is so evocative of good times.

In my kitchen we make sushi regularly.  We have used the bear and rabbit moulds a lot for sylvia's lunches last year.  So I am sure the recently purchases car and fish moulds will also be used a lot.  I find it handy to stuff them with sushi and leave them in the fridge overnight.

In my kitchen are purchases from my first trip to Costco.  There are very few reasons for me to go to Costco because we don't have room for bulk purchases.  Yet the lure of cheap maple syrup was too great.  And I couldn't resist some Himalayan pink salt.  That was all I bought!  Great self-control!

In my kitchen are impulse purchases.  While I could resist temptation in Costco, I had no such backbone on a recent trip to the supermarket.  The red velvet Tim Tams are really really good and so is the Whittakers peanut butter chocolate.  The Tim Tams are very sweet and vibrantly coloured.  The peanut butter filling in the chocolate was surprisingly savoury and very good.  Sylvia chose the Frozen tub with biscuits in the shapes of Frozen characters.  The biscuits are yet to be eaten and I expect them to be ordinary.  And stay tuned for how I used the caramel Tim Tams.

I am sending this post to Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for her In My Kitchen event.  Head over to join in (by 10th of each month) and/or check out what is happening in other bloggers' kitchens.

Posted February 01, 2015 12:42 PM by Johanna GGG

January 30, 2015

Vegetarian Life Australia

Vegan pasta alfredo

Cashew nuts combined with avocado make a wonderfully creamy and completely vegan alfredo sauce. Add lots of fresh vegetables, your favourite pasta and a good sprinkling of rawmesan (check out my vegan parmesan recipe) and it’s a delicious super easy dinner – and on the table in around 30 minutes.

It’s worth noting that a high-powered blender or food processor will improve the creaminess and overall quality of this sauce ­- a great investment for any vegetarian or vegan cook anyway.

This recipe makes enough for 4 people.

To make the alfredo sauce …


Creamy part:

  • ½ cup of raw cashews (pre-soak for half in hot water if you have time)
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 ½ cups of soy or nut milk (I use Bonsoy)
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
  • juice from 1 small lemon
  • ½ tbsp Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

Vegie part:

  • 1 onion – in half then sliced thinly
  • 1 large zucchini – in half longways then sliced thinly
  • ½ large head broccoli – in small florets
  • 2 tsp chopped garlic


  1. Put all the creamy part ingredients in the blender and whizz to a nice smooth consistency.
  2. Sauté the onion gently with the garlic until translucent.  Add the vegetables and continue to cook until softened.
  3. Whilst the vegetables are cooking, cook enough of your chosen pasta for four people. I used penne this time but often use fettuccine for this recipe.
  4. When the vegetables are cooked stir through the creamy part of the sauce and heat together gently.
  5. When the pasta is ready mix the sauce through and serve with rawmesan to taste.
vegan alfredo sauce

Blending the creamy part of the alfredo sauce










Finishing the alfredo sauce

Finishing the alfredo sauce

Vegan penne alfredo

Vegan penne alfredo





Posted January 30, 2015 01:12 PM

January 29, 2015


Evolved Generation and Supercharger Menu Launch

  Tonight I attended the partnership launch of Supercharger and Evolved Generation’s new menu specials. This is great stuff for Melbourne, not just for vegans of course but for everyone! The four new meals have been specially formulated by a dietitian and let me tell you folks, they all look fabulous. For those of you...
Continue reading »

Posted January 29, 2015 11:40 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Vegan quiche with tofu and besan

Quiche has never been one of my favourite dishes.  After all I am not so keen on pastry or eggs.  But make it vegan with both tofu and besan (chickpea flour) and lots of vegies and I think I am in love.  It is a complex dish with multiple components.  The first time it had too much ooze but the second time it was perfect, if I may say so myself!

I have dabbled in vegan quiches before.  Tofu quiches are too watery and besan quiches are too dense.  I knew I wanted a combination of the two.  Inspired by Kate, I searched the web and turned up some vegan quiche recipes which gave me enough guidance and an excellent flaky vegan pie crust recipe.

Just before we went to see the Christmas lights, I mad my first attempt.  It tasted excellent but the texture was too wobbly.  I thought it would firm up when cooked by it never set properly.  Even the next day after more baking it still had an ooze.  I knew it needed more besan.  It took me so long to make that I needed another night with enough time and energy.

I have always loved lots of vegies in my quiche.  In the recipe below I have given the vegetable combinations I used on both quiches to show that you can choose whatever vegies your fridge yields.  Just make sure they are well cooked and not too soggy.

My second attempt at the quiche had me increasing the besan from 5 to 8 tablespoons and reducing the milk from 1 1/2 cups to 1 cup.

It was a drizzly day when I had been cleaning the house all day so who knows where the energy to make the quiche came from.  I suspect it was a matter of just keeping going because once I stopped I just dropped.  On the up side, we did find spiders, lego pieces, a forgotten easter egg and lots of hair clips in the pantry, behind the stereo and under the bed.

Cleaning the house gave me a great sense of achievement and producing a wonderful quiche at the end of the day was just the ended I needed to feel totally satisfied.  So Sylvia photo bombed this final photo with her scissors.  I think I was too tired to care.  I was just enjoying the quiche.

I am sending this to Lisa's Kitchen for My Legume Love Affair #79, the blog event that features legumes of all varieties and was founded by Susan of My Well Seasoned Kitchen.  I am sending also sending it to Kimmy of Rock My Vegan Socks for Healthy Vegan Fridays #32.

More vegan pastry recipes from Green Gourmet Giraffe: 
Apple and pumpkin pastries with spiced red wine 
Chocolate mince pies
Eccles cakes with leeks, spinach and blue cheese
Haggis neeps and tatties pasties
Liz O'Brien's sausage rolls (vegan)
Spaghetti pie
Stargazy pie

Vegan quiche with tofu and besan
Serves 4 to 6

Adapted from the Blasphemous Vegan
1 cup plain white flour
1/2 cup wholemeal plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water plus 1-3 tbsp

 Vegetables version 1:
1 tbsp oil
1/4 cup uncooked tofu bacon, diced
1 red onion, in thin crescents kernels of 1 corn cob
2 mall zucchini, sliced
1/2 red capsicum, diced
handful of spinach, chopped

Vegetable version 2:
1 tbsp oil
1/4 cup uncooked tofu bacon, diced
1 red onion, sliced in thin crescents kernels of 1 corn cob
1/2 carrot, diced
3/4 red capsicum, diced
1 bunch broccolini, diced

Tofu/Besan Filling:
8 tbsp besan (chickpea flour)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup soy milk
3 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp stock powder
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
300g tofu (I used medium but any would do)

Preheat oven to 180 C.

To make pastry:
Mix flours.  Stir in olive oil and then 1/4 cup of water.  Add a little extra water if necessary to make it come together into a ball.  You can do this in the food processor too.  Knead briefly until smooth.  And if you happen to add a little too much water just knead briefly with a bit of flour until smooth.

Roll out pastry on baking paper (no chilling required) and line 23cm tart tin with it.  (Grease tin if required.  Mine is non-stick.)  If the pastry doesn't quite reach the tops of the sides of the tin, use hands to gently press outwards so that it goes a little further up the sides.  Prick pastry with a fork and bake for 10 minutes.  It should have dried out a little but still be very pale.  Set aside.

Once pastry crust is lightly baked, turn up the oven to 200 C.

Vegetable mixture:
Heat oil in a large frypan over medium high heat and fry tofu bacon until brown and crispy.  Remove from pan with a slotted spoon.  Drain on kitchen towel and set aside.

Add onion to frypan and fry a few minutes until translucent.  Add remaining vegetables (from either version 1 or version 2) except spinach and or broccolini florets.  Fry for 5 to 10 minutes until vegetables are soft and slightly charred.  If using broccolini add the chopped florets a minute or two towards the end.  If using spinach stir it through the vegetables once removed from the heat.  Set aside.

Tofu/Besan Filling:
Mix besan and oil to make a thick paste in a medium saucepan.  Cook briefly over low heat until it dries and becomes a blob.  Gradually add milk a little at a time, stirring to incorporate milk with each addition of milk.  Once all milk is mixed in to make a smooth mixture, add remaining ingredients except the tofu.  Increase heat and bring to the boil slowly until bubbling and thickened.  Remove from heat.  Add tofu and blend (I used a hand held blender in the saucepan.

To assemble and bake quiche:
Stir the vegetable mixture into the tofu/besan mixture.  Tip into lightly baked pie crust.  Bake quiche for about 40 minutes or until top is golden brown and set.  A knife or skewer inserted in the middle should come out clean.  Sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. 

On the stereo:
Costello Music: The Fratellis

Posted January 29, 2015 10:36 PM by Johanna GGG

January 28, 2015

The Good Hearted - Vegan Food in Melbourne

Port Phillip Estate


Port Phillip Estate
263 Red Hill Road,
Red Hill South VIC 3937

(03) 5989 4444


Opening Hours:
Lunch: Wed-Sun
and public holidays
Dinner: Fri-Sat

Bookings recommended

If you find yourself on the Mornington Peninsula and fancy an experience of 'the good life', head to the monumental 'rammed-earth' fortress of Port Philip Estate for some vegan fine dining while gazing out at the coastal views of Westernport Bay and Bass Strait.

While the Port Philip Estate dining room is far from being an all vegan establishment, they do cater for vegans and manage well with last minute bookings (we booked online only 3 hours in advance and made sure to advise them of our vegan ways).

For our first course, we were presented with a salad of heritage vegetables, including roasted beetroot, local heirloom carrots, baby radish, ancient grains, micro herbs, dijon vinaigrette and olive oil powder (we'd never heard of it either). To follow up, the chef prepared semolina crusted soy bean fillets (the word 'tofu' just doesn't cut it), tomato relish stuffed zucchini flowers, roasted local tomatoes, olive tapenade and herbs from the in-house kitchen garden. 

To accompany the main meal, we shared some 'roasted Hawke's potatoes (from Boneo) with parsley and confit garlic', along with 'wilted organic baby kale with espelette' (which I discovered is a type chilli cultivated in the French village of Espelette).

Dessert was a shared vegan 'Knickerbocker' - sorbet from local cherries and raspberries a top of fresh strawberries, raspberries, mulberries on a base of strawberry jelly (from agar), topped with crunchy almond praline.

Prices are $85 per person for three courses and $68 per person for two courses. The two shared accompaniments were no extra cost.

 Port Phillip Estate on Urbanspoon

Posted January 28, 2015 07:58 PM