December 21, 2014

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Balsamic Garden Salad with Cashew Cheese

Summer calls for salads.  Something easy that requires lots of greens, something juicy, a sharp vinaigrette and creamy cheese is perfect.  Caeli's Strawberry Balsamic Salad with Cashew Cheese has been on my mind ever since she posted it.  Finally I made it, albeit with tomatoes and beetroot instead of strawberries.  It is the sort of salad that will welcome what is in the fridge and excite your taste buds. 

I'd highly recommend this dish for Christmas either as a side dish or even a light meal after all the feasting.  We had a little of the cheese leftover and loved it with crackers.  Sylvia wasn't keen on the cheese but she dipped her vegies in the vinaigrette and yelled out that I should make it every day.  That makes it child friendly in our house!

I am sending the avocado hummus to Healthy Vegan Fridays #27 hosted by Kimmy of Rock My Vegan Socks and Robin of Vegan Dollhouse.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Cabbage salad and digital disquiet
Two years ago: Cranberry, apple and butterscotch muffins
Three years ago: Buttermilk bread
Four years ago: Buns, soup and crunchie in yaz's kitchen
Five years ago: The Witchery - Scottish Fine Dining
Six years ago: Lentil Loaf with Chutney
Seven years ago: Nadine’s wild rice salad

Balsamic Garden Salad with Cashew Cheese
Adapted from Little Vegan Bear
Serves 2

2 large handfuls of baby spinach
1/2 green capsicum, chopped
1 small handful snow peas, sliced
2 small cooked beetroot, sliced
1 small tomato, sliced
snow pea sprouts, chopped

Cashew Cheese:
1 cup cashews, soaked
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
2 tbsp water
1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tsp red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper

Make the cashew cheese by blending all ingredients.

Lightly whisk dressing ingredients (or shake in a sealed jar).  Toss the spinach with about half the dressing.

Divide spinach between two bowls.  Arrange remaining salad ingredients in the two bowls.  Spoon dollops of cheese over the salad.  Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette.

NOTES: I only soaked the cashews for about an hour because I used a high speed blender.  I did take note of Caeli's advice not to make the cheese too smooth for the salad and left a little texture in it.  I found I had a little cheese and dressing leftover but they were gone before the end of the night.

On the stereo
There is no one what will take care of you: Palace Brothers

Posted December 21, 2014 08:15 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Cutler & Co V

December 11, 2014

On my birthday proper, Michael booked us a table for two at Cutler & Co. Though we've long been fans of owner-chef Andrew McConnell's vegetarian options, it's been three years since we were last at this restaurant. It's plenty of time for trends and seasons to have transformed the menu.

I started out with an old classic, anyway - gin and tonic ($9.50), to the drinker's own preferred dilution.

Like many high end restaurants the a la carte menu features a lot of meat. Nevertheless, Cutler & Co slip their vegetarian degustation to all diners and they've proven themselves capable of catering well to vegans and miscellaneous peskytarians. The wait staff remembered from Michael's reservation call that we were vegetarian and made sure to point out what altered and additional a la carte dishes were available. We didn't pay them much mind as we were pretty keen on the degustation ($110 each). The beverage options have expanded with a classic wine pairing (chosen by Michael; $85), a premium wine pairing ($125) and - yay for lightweight me - a non-alcoholic drink pairing ($49).

Beginning bread was served with beetroot chutney, as well as the usual butter and salt. Though the sourdough rolls looked light, they were very crusty. I held off on the white rye, bracing myself for the 6+ courses to come.

McConnell is clearly a pepper de Padron lover, repeatedly serving them in his restaurants for more than seven years. Fried almost to blistering skin and generously salted, this batch were sweeter than usual without a single firecracker among them.

Our first official course was a silky buttermilk mashed potato with a pine nut crumb and crisp-edged kale leaves. The potato tasted of sharp cheese, a trusty companion to green leaves. The apple and lemon juice in my drink effectively cut through the richness, and some muddled celery softened it out and lent an unusual savoury note.

These green spring vegetables were subject to nothing more than the lightest blanching before being served with goats curd and toasted sunflower seeds (sprinkled at the table after an oversight in the kitchen). My paired drink was based on an unfamiliar citrus fruit, more celery, and bay leaf.

Carrots and asparagus also received light treatment, augmented with a green lovage puree and dabs of fromage blanc. We also detected dill and the occasional little burst of sweet aniseed. I was very taken by the accompanying mocktail - grapefruit and verjuice shot through with almond syrup and garnished with sorrel.

In a nod to Japan, braised cos was served with shiitake mushrooms, ginger and sesame. My warm green tea added toasted rice flavours.

Unfortunately the staff were distracted before they could describe our final savoury course. Our plates held pressed eggplant, shanklish and pickles that I found out of place. The menu also mentions honey and elderflower, but these were overpowered by the burned flavour of the eggplant skin. The grain-based side salad, pomegranate seeds and fresh herbs were all rather Ottolenghi. (Ottolenghi is a legitimate adjective in this Plenty-loving house.)

Our sommelier was especially proud of the faux pinot he had for me here - the grape juice base is enhanced with star anise, coriander seeds, and a popular canned Chinese tea.

We declined a cheese course and moved on to the palate cleanser, a real cutie - rose cream, peach sorbet and fresh peach segments.

Dessert proper was fairly cleansing itself - a small tangy quinelle of buttermilk icecream with melon, cucumber and a little oat crumble.

My final paired beverage used more cucumber, muddled into apple juice with elderflower. Its acidity almost gave the sensation that it was carbonated.

The petit four of the night was a fruit-flavoured marshmallow, but our waiter swiftly recalled that the marshmallow would contain gelatine and served us ganache on wafers instead - we reckon it might be secretly superior to the marshmallows.

There's nothing like a parting taste of chocolate to sweeten my judgement. This degustation didn't hold any outstanding individual dishes for me, but I admired its consistent and careful use of fresh, seasonal vegetables (.... though as usual, it wouldn't hurt for a high-end chef to prioritise more plant-based proteins!). If anything the well-paired and varied non-alcoholic beverages are the  innovation that elevated my experience. Cutler & Co really does set a consistently high standard - after the incomparable Attica, it's probably my favourite fine dining in Melbourne.


You can read one, two, three, four past posts from us about Cutler & Co.

Since that last post, it has received a rave review on easy as vegan pie and a mixed review on Nouveau Potato. Omni bloggers are largely fans - see Sweet & Sour Fork, ChiGarden, BLK's Food Blog, The Glutton's Diet, JKP, A Food Story, Eat, Drink and DIY, I came, I saw, I ate, James Ridenour, let me feed you MELBOURNE, WHAT'S NEXT ON THE LIST, foodie about town, Gourmet Chick, Prick with a Fork and Spoonfuls of Wanderlust - although the experience didn't quite match the reputation for FoodMeUpScotty or The Survival Imperative.

Cutler & Co
55-57 Gertrude St, Fitzroy
9419 4888
degustation menu

Accessibility: Cutler & Co has a flat entry and generous space between tables. The front bar often contains high benches and chairs, but there are some standard-height booth seats to the side. There's full table service. The toilets we encountered were quite narrow.

Posted December 21, 2014 06:43 PM by Cindy

vegan about town

misc christmas party noms

The flattie (Bella) and I hosted a Christmas party last night! We did minimal catering because we were too busy and I only got home at 1700 and our first guest arrived at 1805 (as per our invites), but I did prepare a few things.

I made crunchy chewy clusters, which I've been obsessed with ever since Cindy first introduced me to them (at the same time as I introduced her to If You Are the One, so it was a fair trade). HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

I basically only sort of use Cindy and Michael's recipe, and what I made last night was so amazing that when I tried to pack the last handful away, Ral scooted up to me and shoved them all in his mouth.

I melt 100g of dark chocolate couverture. While it's melting I combine a cup worth of dried fruit, usually goji berries, white mulberries, and 3 or so dried bananas (note these are like liquorice rather than banana chips), diced small, with a third of a cup of cashews. When the chocolate is melted I add a pinch of salt and a third of a cup of desiccated coconut, then mix the fruit and nuts until they're all covered. Put them on a baking tray that has baking paper on it (important! for non-stick), and then fridge them for an hour. Done. Delicious. So much yum.

I also made pizza pinwheels, ginger and five spice biscuits cut into sharks and penguins, and gluten free Swedish jam thumbprint cookies, and that's a recipe I've been using forever and highly recommend.

There's no picture of the food, so here's a picture of us in our Christmas party clothes.

Posted December 21, 2014 04:55 PM by steph

December 20, 2014


Lunch At Another Mother, Burnie Tasmania

After my initial dismay at the vegan food options on board the Dawn Princess, I was glad I came prepared for our first port excursion to the town of Burnie, on Tasmania’s northwest coast. I’d looked up vegan options for Burnie beforehand and the only result seemed to be a vegan-friendly cafe called Another Mother....
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Posted December 20, 2014 06:38 PM

December 18, 2014

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Vegan chocolate mince pies and other Christmas foods

Can it really be only a week until Christmas day!  Inconceivable!  I feel I have done enough festive baking for the season already.  For a start, I've already made three batches of mince pies. But if there is another week, I reckon I might squeeze in another batch before the big day.  I have been enjoying experimenting with baking mince tarts and other Christmas foods.

I am not fond of making pastry.  It is fiddly and either too thick or too thin, too crusty or too soft.  And I really hate pastry recipes that call for an egg yolk.  I don't know what to do with an egg white.  It is not as though I make pavlova or meringues.

Last year I made chocolate pastry for mince tarts that had an egg yolk.  So this year, I decided to look for a vegan recipe to avoid the egg conundrum.  Having made this pastry three times I am quite happy with it.  The first time I baked it a bit long and it was too crisp.  Making three batches of mince pies has helped me hone the recipe so that I am really happy with it.

Above is the first batch of mince tarts I made in a patty pan tin.  Since then I have been making them in my mini muffin tins.  They are slightly smaller (a smaller star).  I have also experimented with some sparkly gold sugar dust.  I found that a liberal sprinkling over the star works really well and helps to make the star easier to see on the dark pastry.  (I tried sprinkling the sugar on after baking and it didn't stick but it seems to caramelise onto the pastry if sprinkled before baking.)

The reason that I have made three batches of mince tarts is that they are great for entertaining and picnics.  I made a batch for a carols service a couple of weeks ago.  Then I made a batch earlier this week to take to a Christmas party.  And yesterday I made some when Sylvia's school friend and family came for dinner.

I also took some cheese biscuits along to the Christmas party.  They are from Nigella's How to Eat (a bit like these.)  I made them to make sure Sylvia had something to eat other than crackers and sweet food.  She did rather enjoy them.  Though my favourite comment about the chocolate mince pies was when she took a bite of one and a friend laughed and said Sylvia had closed her eyes because they were so good.  Everyone enjoyed the mince pies at the party.

When Sylvia's schoolfriend came over, I decided to try a candy cane pizza.  I rolled the sourdough pizza dough into a long sausage, then flattened and shaped it on silicone sheets.  I spread them with tomato sauce and then place strips of cheese long them.  They looked really good when they went into the oven.  I baked them at 200 C for about 20 minutes.

When they came out of the oven, they were less impressive.  I must try them again.  (And there is still time before Christmas).  Next time I think I would either just spread cheese on the pizza and then arrange stripes of red capsicum or alternate stripes of tomato sauce and cheese.

As our guests were ready to go yesterday I remembered I had dessert.  Oops!  They stayed a little longer to sample the mince pies and some White Christmas.  I had made the White Christmas for a school end of year party yesterday and had brought home some leftovers.  Quite a few actually.  I wonder if today's children don't know about White Christmas.  I also think I might try it with half the coconut as I noticed some other online recipes do.

I made French Lavender Salt to give to Sylvia's teachers.  I didn't like the colour of the lids on the jars so Sylvia and I painted them.  I felt that I did a good job with the gift wrapping.  If you are like me and don't have great wrapping skills, you could check out 21 Festive Gift Wrapping Ideas by Jac (of Tinned Tomatoes) or these cute sparkly gift tags by Claire K Creations.

On the weekend, we had planned to go to another carols service but we were too tired.  However I still made pate and rice krispie slice.  I planned to make pale blue slice and cut it as snowflakes.  Something went wrong with some of the food dye and it turned out green. 

We used an Ikea set of cutters to make a 3D Christmas tree.  The first one I did was too warm and melted (like the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz) while we put little icing star decorations on it.   I put the slice in the freezer before my second attempt at the tree and just drizzled it with white chocolate and sprinkled some gold sugar sparkles.  It lasted long enough for a photo!

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Cranachan-style breakfast parfait, park, stars and carols
Two years ago: NCR Snow Snow Snow and Edinburgh Botanics
Three years ago: Gifts in a Jar, Christmas quicklinks and Melbourne Christmas
Four years ago: Edible Gift Ideas for Christmas
Five years ago: Christmas Nut Roast in Scotland
Six years ago: Tree, Tarts and Punch
Seven years ago: Christmas Snowflake Biscuits

Chocolate mince pies
Adapted from Cake Crumbs
Makes about 24 small mince tarts

1 1/4 cups plain (all purpose) white flour
1/3 cup icing (confectioners) sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
2 tbsp ground almonds
2 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
125g margarine or butter, chilled and chopped
1-3 tbsp cold water

1 cup fruit mince (approximately)
1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate or choc chips
glittery sugar (optional)

Mix dry ingredients in food processor.  Add in margarine and process until mixed in.  Add 1 tbsp of water and process again.  Pinch mixture between your fingers and if it sticks it is done.  If it is still a bit crumbly add another tablespoon of water.  (I found it did not go into a ball in the food processor and it needed only 1 tbsp water.)  Tip mixture out of food processor (you wont need a floured surface).  Press together into a smooth ball with your hands.  Wrap in clingwrap and refridgerate for at least 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 190 C.  Lightly grease 2 x 12 hole mini muffin tins.  Mix together fruit mince and chocolate.

Roll out pastry on baking paper until it is about 3mm thick.  (I would start with two thirds of the pastry and wrap the remainder and return to the fridge.)  Cut circles slightly bigger than your mini muffin holes.  (I use a scone cutter but even a glass would do.)  Carefully place circle on mini muffin hole and use your fingers to gently push it in and against the edges to form a little cup.  Drop spoonfuls of fruit mince mixture into each cup to fill it to the top.  Cut out little stars (or circles if you prefer) and place on top of the fruit mince.  Sprinkle with glittery sugar.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes.  (15 minutes for me.)  When they are baked, leave in the tin for about 5 minutes and then carefully pop out onto wire rack.  Cool and then store in an airtight container.

On the stereo:
Winter Songs: The Albion Christmas Band

Posted December 18, 2014 11:39 AM by Johanna GGG

quinces and kale

hellenic bite


I found myself in Richmond at lunchtime the other day,  so I headed over to Swan St to check out Hellenic Bite, a Greek souvlaki and burger place. They won an Age Good Food Guide award for their food and came recommended from a couple of people on social media.

A souvlaki joint is unlikely territory for a vegan, but they do a great vegan burger. The vegan patty is made in house from brown rice, small green french lentils and vegetables – I could make out at least corn and carrot. They were friendly and helpful and happy to answer the questions I had.

The ENORMOUS burger is served in good bread  (a not too thick pide roll) with a beautiful,  fresh lettuce, tomato and onion salad, with tabouleh, hummus and sweet chilli sauce.

Very good and so, so fresh. But despite it being great, I couldn’t finish mine because it was so big. OK, I confess I did get the chips as well, which were stellar. Crispy on the outside and soft in the middle, just the way I like them. I couldn’t finish those either!

The food is generous, fresh and really delicious. Highly recommended.

Hellenic Bite
172 Swan St,
Richmond, 3121

Posted December 18, 2014 10:56 AM

December 17, 2014


A Vegan Cruising On The Dawn Princess

We’ve just returned from a five night cruise around Tasmania aboard the Dawn Princess. We left Melbourne last Thursday and sailed to Burnie, Port Arthur, Hobart then back to Melbourne. Even though we’ve been back for a day, I still have that sensation of the floor moving. Urgh! I will confess right now that I...
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Posted December 17, 2014 08:20 PM

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Lucy Lockett II

December 5 & 11, 2014

Since belatedly catching on to the very veg-friendly Lucy Lockett, we've wasted no time in revisiting to explore more of the menu. For a late Friday lunch, Michael and I both ordered the breakfast burrito ($17) in a rare moment of simpatico. Accustomed to the densely packed parcels of Trippy Taco,  Zambrero and Smith & Daughters, the fanned-out saucy version offered here took me by surprise.  The scrambled egg and avocado didn't quite hold their own against a mass of Mexican beans, but I appreciated the side salad and smear of sour cream. An apple, strawberry and lime juice ($7) sealed this meal as a success.

Less than a week later we were back for a sneaky pre-work breakfast. Michael had the braised mushrooms, super-charged with vinegar, served with spinach and parsley on sourdough toast ($15).

I ordered the slow-to-prep French toast ($17), with strawberries, double cream and a walnut crumble on the side. The egg batter barely penetrated the surface of these towering bread chunks, which were crumbed with banana chips and oats. I only managed two of them before I ran out of strawberries and admitted defeat; I still didn't desire lunch until 3pm.

Our second and third Lucy Lockett meals didn't hit the same high notes as our first, but the friendly service has proven consistent. There are still eight more veg*n options on the menu that we've not yet tried, so there are plenty more opportunities for them to delight (or disappoint) us.


You can read about our first visit to Lucy Lockett here.

Lucy Lockett
140 Barkly St, Brunswick
8388 7138

Accessibility: The entry is flat and the interior is spacious. We ordered at our table and paid at a low-ish counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

Posted December 17, 2014 04:10 PM by Cindy

December 16, 2014

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Christmas in Melbourne, salt dough decorations and quicklinks

'Tis the season for twinkling Christmas tree lights, for shiny excited eyes of children, for pleasing others with great creative gifts and baking.  'Tis the season for looking for that extra ounce of energy to make it all happen. Let's take a walk through some of the Christmas goings-on around Melbourne.

I sometimes feel a little like these stars I found in that city that looked like they were trying to climb the stairs. (Most of the stars were hanging up high so I guess these were those lagging behind!)

I am fascinated by the Christmas merchandising in the supermarkets.  Gingerbread house kits seem all the rage.  I really liking the novelty of making an Outback Shack gingerbread house.

I was also surprised to see the Heston Blumethal's Christmas puddings range in Coles.  The hidden orange doesn't enthuse me.  I am more tempted by his puddings with caramel filling and chocolate filling.

And all these Christmas goodies have been on the shelves so long that now they are being sold at cut prices!  That is Christmas craziness!

Woolworths has lots of Christmas baking package mixes that are just gimmicks.  Take for instance the Betty Crocker's Fruit Mince Mini Tarts.  What more does it offer than a packet of shortcrust pastry and a jar of fruit mince?  Or the Green Christmas Cupcakes which seem just like regular cupcakes with some christmas sprinkles.

We planned to go to two carols services this year.  Christmas got the better of us and one carols service was all we could manage.  Sylvia decorated two stars for the outdoor Christmas tree and queued to see Santa.

Above are a few more images of the carols as well as some esoteric ones.  In the centre is one from the Melbourne City Square.  We went there last week to see the Christmas tree and decorations in the square.  Sylvia enjoyed the poles that kids could touch to make bells ring.  (We were too early to see the Town Hall light show.)

When planning to go into the city, we despaired of finding any Christmas meals.  It isn't like in Edinburgh where every pub has festive dishes on the menu at this time of year and I am always able to find a vegetarian meal.

We had dinner at Lord of the Fries.  Just chips and a mini burger.  Then we saw that Krispy Kreme had a few Christmas doughnuts.  It is the first time I have had a good reason to buy a doughnut from Krispy Kreme.  We shared this cute snowman doughnut, covered in white chocolate and filled with lots of sticky jam.

We wandered along to Myer through the Block Arcade and Royal Arcade which are always festively festooned!  Here is Crabtree and Evelyn's window display at the entrance to the Block Arcade.  Inside we were very tempted by all the marvellous Christmas chocolates at Haig's.

Myer Christmas windows is a Melbourne tradition.  I have been going to see them ever since I can remember.  Each year they have displays with moving parts that tells a story. (This year was Santa Claus and the Three Bears.) They have become more technically sophisticated but children still find them magical.  Then we went to visit Santa at Myer.  It was late and there were no queues.

At Sylvia's school it has been busy with end of school year activities - instrumental concert, diorama displays, end of year parties, catch up ukelele lessons, anticipation about whose class she will be in next year.  I really like the Christmas tree outside her classroom.

A few weeks back we made salt dough tree decorations.  Sylvia decided to give some to friends, teachers and cousins.  You can see the finished decorations at the top of the post.  And yes there are some snowflakes a la Frozen.

And here is our Christmas tree that we decorated on the weekend.  Sylvia is delighted with it.  You can't see individual decorations in this photo but I can assume you there is a Frozen salt dough snowflake there.

Finally here are a few foodie Christmas quicklinks:

Posted December 16, 2014 10:43 PM by Johanna GGG

December 14, 2014

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Coburg Night Market 2014

It seems we have become regulars at the Coburg Night Market this year.  It runs on the four Friday nights before Christmas each year.  So far we have been to three out of three markets.  The markets offer lots of interesting food trucks, heaps of great craft stalls, and friendly local faces.

I have taken Sylvia and E has joined us after work a couple of times and the last Friday my parents came along and E met us before we picked up Sylvia from a school sausage sizzle.  Each time we have arrived early and watched the markets fill up as the evening darkens. 

Upon entering the market, I am constantly amazed by the richness of colours, sights, sounds and fabrics.  This is the Thairiffic stall which sells really beautiful lanterns as well as clothing.

Sylvia loves the potato twists with the salt and vinegar seasoning.  She never gets through a whole one.  They are nice but very very salty.

My favourite meal has to be the pad thai from the unfortunately named Eat The Chicken.  I had a taco which I liked but would have been better if I had opted for some guacamole on it.  I also enjoyed some curries and dosa but it was a bit on the spicy side for me.

It feels like there are plenty of options for vegetarians.  I also could have had the corn on the cob or some gozleme.  I also fancied the broad bean and pea arancini with cabbage salad from Nonna Carmela's food truck that I visited at the Batman Market a few weeks back.

Dessert is covered too.  Sylvia's favourite ice cream truck is Bianco Latte.  Don't be fooled if you get there early and find it looking quite.  It doesn't take long for the queues to form for the artisan gelato served from the cutest truck.  I loved their peanut butter and nutella ice cream but Sylvia and E were quite taken by the salted caramel.  E and my dad loved Madam Proffertjes.

I challenge you to find a more Aussie trio of ice creams available than pavolva, mango and tim tam.  The first two are from the Bianco Latte.  The tim tam ice cream is from Mercato Gelato and was amazing.  If you fancy something healthier there are chocolate covered strawberries, tubs of cherries or cut mango to enjoy at Market Juice.  I can vouch for the strawberries which are huge but oh so good.

You wont be lacking for drink options either.  I loved the Bruce Cost ginger ale.  We took some away but there is the option of drinking it at the market.  I also sampled some of my mum's sangria.  It is just right for a balmy summer evening.  Others may prefer the offerings of Yarra Coffee or Brown's Corner Hotel.

Take your food and drink to sit on the lawn (or a seat if you happen to nab one) and enjoy the music.  When we have been there early, the kids have time to dance in front of the bands but the area fills up quickly as more and more families arrive with their picnic rugs, prams and friends.

Once the kids are fed and happy, there is time to look about at the other stalls.  I really loved the jewellery making at Love Da Bead.  (They do Pretty Little Things jewellery making parties.  Wouldn't they be fun!)  Sylvia made a blue necklace.  Inspired by Frozen, of course!

As well as jewellery making and dancing, the kids can be entertained with balloons, face painting, hennae tattoos (and let's not tell them about the free lollies!!!!)

If you are shopping for Christmas gifts, you have come to the right place.  You can find soap, chutney, fresh peanut butter, clothes, badges, jewellery, chilli jam, strands of flower lights, mini terrariums, or tea towels with Melbourne suburbs printed on them.

Many stores have really lovely displays.  I loved the fascinating pieces of jewellery in the cubbyholes at Silver Addict.

I really loved the sauces and seasonings at Saori Premium Japanese.  I really wanted the soya and seaweed sauce but moved on too quickly.

E was particularly happy to find a $1 tub of vinyl records at the first market we attended.  After that it seemed to disappear.

One of the lovely aspects of such markets is being able to talk to the people who make the items.  The woman at Mavara Edu who made these beautiful dresses was very friendly.  She also made gorgeous boxer shorts for men and women.  I loved the jewellery by her neighbour Courtesy Please who made some delicate woven earrings like colourful spider webs.  And E got to ask the guy with the muso prints on t-shirts if there was a possibility of one with Leadbelly.

One of my favourite stalls was the Wawa Chocolatier.  The chocolate wasn't cheap at $13 a block but it was amazing.  The flavours on offer were Lavender Honeycomb and Cocoa Nib; Mint Caramel Crisp; Toasted Sourdough; Fried Almond and Smoked Salt; and Blueberry and Blue Corn. I bought a block of the lavendar honeycomb and cocoa nib.  It was so smooth and moreish with chewy honeycomb infused with lavender flavour.

If you are really into the festivities, there are some Christmas goodies to be bought.  (Elf poop, anyone?)

Finally the market would be getting really busy and Sylvia would be very tired.  We all were.  It was time to head home, making someone very happy to snap up our car park!  (They are like hen's teeth around the market but there are more parking spots near the town hall apparently.)

There is only one more week to go.  I highly recommend you head down there next Friday if you live nearby.  A few stalls change each week but are mostly the same.  It really does feel like the place to bump into friends and enjoy the buzz of a suburb that is the place to be.

Read my Coburg Night Market 2013 post.

Coburg Night Market
Bridges Rd Reserve
(03) 9640 0028
Last market for 2014: Friday 19 December.

Posted December 14, 2014 10:47 PM by Johanna GGG

December 13, 2014

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Next-gen frozen chocolate crunch

December 2-6, 2014

Clamps and I have birthdays in early December, and this year we held a joint celebration - first at the Cornish Arms to honour his love of beer and deep-frying, then back to Casa sin carne for my kind of icecream. There was vodka-spiked cherry sorbet, my best batch of Vietnamese coffee icecream yet, and a little leftover rhubarb & strawberry sorbet. The centrepiece was a next-generation frozen chocolate crunch.

This icecream cake is an old family favourite that I've written about before, but it needs stripping of dairy and gluten to suit my circle of friends. I used Leda gingernut cookies in the crumble, Orgran egg replacer in the chocolate layer, and So Good vanilla icecream for the centre - all convenience foods in the spirit of the original recipe.

This cake was different to its forebear, with a noticeably darker, denser chocolate strip and a subtle ginger accent. It was wonderful in its own right. It might even earn the storied status among my mates that the original recipe holds with my family.

Next-gen frozen chocolate crunch
(adapted from a family recipe)

85g vegan, gluten-free biscuits
85g slivered almonds
1L soy vanilla icecream
170g dark chocolate
2 teaspoons powdered egg replacer
100g margarine
2/3 cup icing sugar
4 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons coffee liqueur

Place the biscuits between two pieces of baking paper and crush them coarsely with a rolling pin. Spread the almonds out over a small baking tray and toast them under a grill, keeping a careful eye on them and tossing them regularly to prevent burning. When the almonds are lightly golden, retrieve them and stir through the biscuit crumbs. Set the mixture aside.

Remove the icecream from the freezer and set it at room temperature to soften.

Gently melt the chocolate in a saucepan, set over a second saucepan of boiling water. Set it aside to cool a little. In a mug, stir together the powdered egg replacer and water until smooth.

In a medium bowl, beat the margarine until fluffy. Beat in the icing sugar.  Pour the egg replacer into the bowl of margarine and follow with the vanilla and coffee liqueur, beating everything together thoroughly. Finally, beat in the melted chocolate until smooth.

Line a springform cake tin with foil or baking paper. Sprinkle half of the biscuit-almond mixture across the base. Gently pour in half of the chocolate mixture and spread it evenly over the crumble. Spoon the softened icecream over the chocolate layer and even up the top. Spread over the remaining chocolate and finally the last of the crumble. Cover the cake tin with foil and freeze the cake for at least four hours, preferably overnight. Slice into small wedges to serve.

Posted December 13, 2014 08:21 AM by Cindy

December 12, 2014

The Good Hearted - Vegan Food in Melbourne

The Gorgelicious Store


The Gorgelicious Store
1008 Mornington Flinders Rd
Red Hill
VIC 3937

(Opposite Red Hill Consolidated School)
(03) 5989 2680


Opening Hours:
7 days
8am -4.30pm

Gone are the days of mixed lollies, newspapers and white bread; the old Red Hill milkbar is now home to The Gorgelicious Store, a vegan friendly cafe opposite Red Hill Consolidated School.

Whilst the vegan options at The Gorgelicious Store are not overwhelming, we still think they deserve props as a regional cafe for having some vegan options (and frankly, for knowing the definition of the word!). They also donate all of their tips to Save a horse Australia, a group rehabilitating unwanted, neglected, abused and slaughter-bound horses.

There are no straight up vegan breakfast options, although they were happy to modify the 'Thyme Mushrooms' ($13.50), with field mushrooms sauteed with thyme on toast, with avocado in lieu of feta. The serving was a little small but the flavours were good. Avocado, thyme field mushrooms, wilted baby spinach and slow roasted tomatoes are all available as sides ($4 each), so you could build your own vegan breakfast. 

Vegan lunch items include an 'Earth Burger on Rice Noodle Salad' ($17.50 GF) with a spiced tempeh, brown rice and chia burger served on a rice noodle salad with asian herbs. It was very fresh, but there is a lot of rice noodle salad and it could really do with some more flavour, maybe the inclusion of a spicy sauce would do the trick. A 'Red Lentil Dahl' ($14.50) served with raita and pappadams is another vegan lunch option.

The coffee is pretty good, but as with all soy milk coffee, it'd be vastly improved with the use of Bonsoy. There's a good chance you'll find a vegan sweet on offer too. When we visited last we enjoyed some delightful raw fruit and nut balls.

While you're in the area, head a few doors down to Red Hill Nourish for a decent selection of vegan groceries.

 Gorgelicious Store on Urbanspoon


Posted December 12, 2014 08:53 PM

December 11, 2014

Thoughts Of A Moni

Soba Noodles With Eggplant and Mango

Ashamed as I am to admit it, I am a relatively new convert to Ottolenghi and his recipes. I've already bought a copy of Plenty More, his second vegetarian cookbook, as an early Christmas present to myself, but I'm still getting through recipes from Plenty, which was my first Ottolenghi purchase. I had come home from from the market with various fruits and vegetables, including eggplants, mangoes, and herbs which needed to be used up, and this soba noodle dish seemed perfect. I have never cooked with soba noodles and too be honest, I think any thin non-egg noodles would work just as well, perhaps even vermicelli.


Sunflower oil for frying

2 eggplants, diced into 2cm cubes

300g soba noodles

1 large ripe mango, cut into cubes

1 cup basil leaves, chopped (if you can get some use Thai basil, but much less of it)
1 cups cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced

1/2 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime


1. First make the dressing. In a small pan, heat the rice vinegar, sugar and salt, until the sugar has dissolved completely.

2. Add the garlic, chilli and sesame oil, and remove the pan from the heat.

3. Allow the dressing to cool, and once cooled, add the lime zest and juice.

4. While the dressing is cooling, shallow fry the eggplant in batches and drain on paper towels. As i try to avoid using too much oil, I lightly fried the eggplant, and then covered the pan to allow the eggplants to cook in the steam.

5. Cook the soba noodles according to the instructions. I cooked mine in salted boiling water for about 5 minutes and then drained them and rinsed them well in cold water and allow the water to drain completely.

6. In a large boil, toss the noodles, eggplant, herbs, onion and dressing. Ideally you should let the salad sit for an hour or so, but I was in a rush and served it 10 minutes later. It still tasted great!

This is probably the first of quite a few Ottolenghi recipes I will be blogging, so stay tune!

Posted December 11, 2014 10:36 PM by Moni

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Avocado hummus, Veg sausage rolls, White chocolate and ginger cookies

'Tis the season for entertaining and picnics, for sharing food and having quick meals before going out.  Yes it is that time of year when normal meals go out the window.  Indeed we have had so many evenings where the fun takes precedence over eating sensible meals.

So today I have a few recipes that are perfect for the festive time of year: avocado hummus dip for that quick bite before gift shopping, sausage rolls for carols and white chocolate and ginger cookies to share with colleagues.

The avocado hummus was made in a rush because I was off to meet some friends.  I have fancied trying hummus in my new blender and I had some avocado and parsley to use up.  I had to use the tamper stick a bit to push it down but it was pretty smooth. 

The hummus has a been a great quick lunch a few times because I have been rushing about with not a lot of time to sit down and think about lunch.  It is great with crackers or on toast.  The santa dipper is optional!

We were at a carols service on the weekend and took along a picnic dinner.  I baked sausage rolls.  Clare recently posted a vegetarian sausage roll recipe that is quite similar to my favourite sausage rolls but without the nuts and with simpler seasoning.  I have had a quest to find some good nut free sausage rolls.  So I had to try.

My main concern with the recipe is that it seemed to use a lot of cottage cheese.  So I halved it and added carrot.  Even so I found it quite creamy for my tastes.  Though it wasn't quite as creamy the next day when the sausage rolls had sat overnight and the filling had thickened.  I am wondering if some cooked quinoa and extra seasoning (like in Leah's sausage rolls) would make it more to my liking. 

I have just seen that this is my ninth sausage roll recipe on my blog!  But you can never have too many.  And they were great at the picnic.  It was an overcast evening but we had a lovely time.  Sylvia was very happy to see santa and hung stars on the outdoor Christmas tree.  We all enjoyed sausage rolls, dips, vegies, crackers, chocolate mince tarts and fruit.

The final recipe is based on some Chewy Cinnamon White Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies that I found Eats Well with Others (I found it on Joanne's 20 must-have holiday cookies list that I recommend for baking inspiration.)  I had a surplus of white chocolate melts after making an owl cake.  I made it in the spirit of the cookies rather than following the recipe.  That means I just put in the leftover glace ginger and marshmallows and a few cranberries for festive cheer.  I also added some molasses and spices for a slightly gingerbread flavour.

As I was making these before going off to help out with some community activities, I took them along for my colleagues.  They loved them.  As do E and I.  Sylvia was hot and cold on them.  I think she loved them when she struck a marshmallow and wasn't so sure when she chomped on the glace ginger.  My mum also enjoyed one before Sylvia's school instrumental concert.  (She overcame her nerves to play ukelele solo in front of her school buddies.)

These cookies (or bikkies as we might call them) were fantastic and soft on the day of making, and fragile by evening.  Possibly as a result of me veganising the recipe (except for the white chocolate chips but they would also work with dark chocolate chips - after all what doesn't!) and possibly they needed another minute or two in the oven.  Whether fresh or fragile, they were delicious and very addictive.  Lovely festive food to share.

I am sending the avocado hummus to Healthy Vegan Fridays #26 hosted by Kimmy of Rock My Vegan Socks and Robin of Vegan Dollhouse. I am sending the sausage rolls to Vanesther at Bangers & Mash (and Lou at Eat Your Veg) for Family Foodies with this month's theme of Festive Food.  And lastely I am sending the cookies to Kat of the Baking Explorer (and Stu of Cakeyboi) for Treat Petite with the theme of Christmas.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Gingerbread village and other gingerbread
Two years ago: Peebles, Snow and the Prince of India
Three years ago: CC Chesapeake tempeh cakes for carols
Four years ago: Buns, soup and crunchie in yaz's kitchen
Five years ago: Christening Cake
Six years ago: Festive Shortbread
Seven years ago: SHF #38 Christmas Pudding

Avocado Hummus
Adapted from
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 avocado
400g tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp tahini
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
juice of 1/2 lemon
Handful parsley
1 tbsp hot sauce (I used Franks)
1/4 tsp salt

Blend in food processor or blender until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

Sausage rolls with cottage cheese, oat and carrot
Adapted from The Life of Clare
Makes about 30-36 small sausage rolls

1 cup rolled oats
1 egg
1 tbsp soy sauce (2)
1 onion finely diced
250g cottage cheese
1 small carrot, finely grated

To assemble:
3 sheets of puff pastry
milk for glazing
sesame seeds for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 220 C and line a couple of oven trays with baking paper.

Mix rice with carrots, cheese and tomato paste.  Add seasonings to taste.

Lay out a sheet of (defrosted) pastry and cut in half lengthwise.  Spoon filling along the middle of the length of each piece of pastry.  Brush long edge with a little milk and roll pastry around filling so there is a slight overlap.  Move onto a prepared tray.  Make deep slashes with a sharp knife to designate 6 pieces.  Glaze with milk.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Repeat with remaining pastry until you have used up all the filling.

Bake for 40 minutes at 200 C and 10 minutes at 200 C or until golden brown.  (I usually bake sausage rolls in at last 2 batches as I don't have enough trays to bake them all at once.)  Can refridgerate or freeze and reheat in oven.

White chocolate chip and ginger cookies
Adapted from Eats Well With Others
Makes 3 dozen

4 tsp ground linseeds (flaxseed)
3 tbsp water
165g margarine or butter
1/2 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp molasses
1 cups white self raising flour
1/3 cup wholemeal flour
1/4 tsp bicarbonate soda (baking soda)
1/2 tsp mixed spice (pumpkin spice)
1/2 tsp salt
200g white chocolate chips
2/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup dessicated coconut
1/3 cup glace ginger
1/4 cup marshmallows

Preheat oven to 190 C (375 F).  Line baking trays with baking paper.  Soak ground linseeds in water.

Cream margarine and sugars  Stir in molasses, then flours, bicarbonate soda, mixed spice and salt.  Gently mix in remaining ingredients.

Drop heaped tablespoons on the prepared trays with 1.5 inches between.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until edges start to brown..  Cool on tray or baking paper (I need to reuse the baking trays for more batches so I gave the cookies a few minutes to cool and then transfer the piece of baking paper with cookies on it onto a wire rack to cool.)  Best eaten on the day of baking.  Keeps in an airtight container for about 3 days.

On the stereo:
Christmas in the heart: Bob Dylan

Posted December 11, 2014 08:59 PM by Johanna GGG

quinces and kale

miyoko’s creamery cheeses

cheese plate

Break out the quince paste! Yes! That is a vegan cheese plate. :)

I crossed town to the Prahran Convenience Store last week, to pick up some of the new Miyoko’s Creamery cheeses. In breaking news,  these cheeses are now also available at Mad Cowgirls Vegan Grocery on my side of town.

There are three currently available at both stores – although there are a tantalisingly large number of them listed on the Miyoko’s Creamery website, including a truffled one!

I bought all three that were available, the Rustic Alpine, the Sundried Tomato, and the Fresh Chive.

miyoko cheese


The cheeses are all soft, not slicing or melting types, and have that proper cultured flavour that I miss most about cheese.

The Sundried Tomato is probably my least favourite, sundried tomatoes are a bit eighties for me. The Rustic Alpine is a slightly offputting strange brown colour, but it is nice, with a sweetish, slightly smoky flavour which went nicely with some tart apple.  But the Chive is absolutely the pick of the bunch.  It is TOTALLY delicious.

The cheeses are not cheap at $16.50 for 185 grams, so I won’t be buying a lot, but I think the chive one is worth it. People obviously agree, because I got the last chive one while there were still piles of the other two flavours available.

It is good time for vegan cheese lovers. The available cheeses just keep getting better.


Posted December 11, 2014 10:00 AM

December 10, 2014

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Vegerama II

November 29, 2014

I found myself in Brisbane for a quick work trip and stumbled across the freshly opened Vegerama restaurant in West End. Vegerama have been running a couple of food court hotbox-style places in the Brisbane CBD for more than five years (I visited one way back in 2009), but their new location in West End is a proper sit-down restaurant aiming for a more impressive experience. It's smack bang in the middle of the Boundary St/Melbourne St shopping strip and accessible via loads of great bus lines (and probably only a 20 minute walk from the CBD). Excuse the dodgy photos - I was caught short with just my phone to capture the experience.

The space is bright and airy, with a mix of exposed brick and wood panelling and some colourful tiles behind the big front counter. There're seats for about fifty people, including a few tables out on the street. The menu is a grab-bag of cuisines and touches on all the standard vego dishes - noodles, curries, burgers, pastas and stir-fries. It's mostly vegan, but there are a few dishes that lean on cheese for flavour.

Mum went with the South Italian salad of mixed heritage tomatoes, basil, cucumber, olives, capers, toasted almonds and olive oil ($14). It's supposed to come with buffalo mozzarella as well, but they forgot to add it - they were very apologetic about it when we let them know and knocked a few bucks off our bill to make up for it.

Even without the cheese this was a success - fresh, simple and tasty with the olives and capers adding some salty bite to the sweet tomatoes.

I went for something a bit heftier - the Vegerama green stiry-fry with broccoli, capsicum, zucchini, kale and cashews with tempeh and brown rice ($15).

This was a gigantic meal - probably a whole block of tempeh and certainly more than I could finish (at least if i was going to eat my share the rice paper rolls we'd ordered). It ticked a few boxes for me - I desperately needed something loaded with veggies and I liked the relatively simple flavours. It's the kind of dish you can throw together yourself in 15 minutes at home, so it feels a bit weird to pay $15 for it, but if you're in need of something healthy and filling you won't be disappointed.

Our final dish was an entree (which was meant to come out first but had been lost in some kitchen confusion) - Vietnamese rice paper rolls with fresh veggies, Vietnamese mint, rice noodles and tofu and a sesame peanut dipping sauce ($10).

This is another simple but effective dish - all freshness and natural flavours. The peanut/soy dipping sauce was a bit weird (the two elements weren't quite combined properly), but the flavour was fine.

Vegerama is a good addition to West End - it's Brisbane's hippiest suburb and a straightforward veggie place with a wide array of options is a good bet to succeed there. It's not an overly exciting place - the dishes really feel like the kind of dishes that competent but not particularly adventurous home cooks could churn out without too much trouble. I'm glad I got a chance to visit and will probably swing by again next time I'm in town, so hopefully Vegerama thrives.
I think we're the first bloggers to get to the West End Vegerama restaurant. You can read about our trip to their Post Office Square food court outlet here.  
220 Melbourne St, West End
(07) 3255 3388
menu (it's not a great photo, sorry) (although it's currently being updated - their facebook page might be a better option)

Accessibility: Excellent - there's a wide, flat entryway and plenty of space inside. Orders are taken at the table and you pay at a low counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

Posted December 10, 2014 08:35 PM by Michael


Evolved Generation: Chatting With Luke Tan

[Image above from] When you’re vegan, you will get the “where do you get your protein” question at least once. You may also have to deal with comments along the lines of “vegans are all weaklings who can’t gain muscle mass”. Unfortunately the latter (and untrue!) statement is quite common in fitness circles and I have certainly been exposed...
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Posted December 10, 2014 09:20 AM

December 09, 2014

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Lunchboxes - a reflection on a year of vegetarian school lunches

The Australian school year is almost over.  It seems like a good opportunity to reflect on Sylvia's lunchboxes over the year.  I have occasionally shared them but here is an overview.  Above is her trusty Pepper Pig lunchbox looking less shabby at the start of the year.   Below is her drink bottle.  They have accompanied Sylvia to school every day of her Prep year.  (That is the first year of primary school here.)

Sylvia's themos water bottle
My primary school lunches:
We develop our expectations of food from our own experiences so let me tell you about my own primary school lunches.  I usually had sandwiches - german sausage and tomato sauce, vegemite and cheese or vegemite and walnuts - and some fruit and cake.  All wrapped in waxed paper.  (I really hated the waxed paper.)  Occasionally we put in lunch orders to a nearby milk bar for pies or pasties, chips (crisps) and flavoured milk.  It was a treat.  We also had cordial in our water bottles in the first few weeks of each year, which I loved.

Crackers, cheese, cherry tomatoes, cooked potato, choc chip cookie, peach slices
What lunches are available for Sylvia at her school?
Like my school Sylvia does not have a canteen at school.  The only exception is that occasional canteen run by the Junior School Council, which sells popcorn, sultanas, zooper doopers and other healthyish) snacks.  However unlike my school, there is no lunch order service every day.  Lunch orders are only available on a few days.  They came from a nearby cafe offering sandwiches, sushi, dim sims, baked potatoes, spaghetti, fruit, flavoured milk and juice.

Cheeseymite scroll, carrots, porridgies, pear slices
The lunchbox
When I bought the Peppa Pig lunchbox I found that our little tubs fitted neatly inside it.  It has been a good system.  Though there are mornings when they are hard to find.  I would like a bento box but never found one I liked and the tubs give me good flexibility.

Sushi, soy crisps, walnuts, Herman the German apple cake, apple slices
The labels
I started writing Sylvia's name using permanent markers but they washed off quickly.  On my sister's recommendation (thanks Susie) I bought some name tags from Bright Star.  They have been fantastic.  They stay on for ages and we still have lots of them.

Cheeseymite scroll, carrots, gingerbread stars, apple slices
What did Sylvia eat?
From the start I would give Sylvia some protein, some vegetable, some sweet home baking, some fruit.  The lunchbox below was quite unusual because I didn't have fresh fruit and used dried fruit instead.  She always has water in her water bottle.

Sushi, carrots, roasted chickpeas, porridgies, dried apricots and dates
At first Sylvia refused to eat sandwiches.  Sandwiches seem such standard lunchbox fare so I pushed her to eat them.  After all we regularly have home made bread in the house.  I remember the first day I put a sandwich in her lunchbox.  She screamed in outrage.  However she has come around.

Cheese and vegemite sandwiches (on seeded sourdough), carrots, chocolate cupcakes, pear slices
Sylvia's regular savoury foods:
  • Crackers and hummus
  • Crackers and cheese
  • Vegemite and cheese sandwiches
  • Sushi (seasoned rice and nori but no filling)
  • Cheeseymite scrolls from Bakers Delight (every Tuesday)
  • Dried chickpeas and tofu bacon
  • Cheese stars (like these)
  • Carrots or cherry tomatoes

Rice crackers, hummus, carrots, banana oat pancakes, apple slices
Sweet Food

Vita wheat crackers, roasted chickpeas, coconut bacon, chocolate iced doughnut, apple slices
Keep it plain
I sometimes feel guilty that her lunches are so boring and often the same but Sylvia likes to eat the same old thing.  (NB the photos in this post were taken when I thought there was something interesting to record.)  However I also see lots of recommendations for school lunches that seem incredibly fussy.  I would always put together lunch in the morning and some days it has been a mad rush.  I just don't have time for such fancy food.  Not to mention that it is often messy and hard to pack.

Cheese stars, carrots, almond choc chip cookie, apple slices
Portion size
When I first started to think about school lunches, I packed a lot more than I do now.  Even so, Sylvia often does not eat all her lunch at school.  We have a rule on this.  If she doesn't eat her lunch, she eats the leftovers before any other snacks after school.  Usually she does eat any leftovers before dinner.

Tortilla, hummus, cherry tomatoes, glo bar, pear slices
Nut policy
Sylvia's school does not have a no nuts policy.  For months I mistakenly thought there was and I have more recently spoken to other parents who were under the impression there was.  Perhaps it is a hangover of the strict food policies at child care.  I have been told that it is impossible to enforce a no nuts policy because children bring their own lunches.  However there is a policy of no sharing food among kids.

Cheese and vegemite sandwiches, cherry tomatoes, iced cupcake, apricots
I am not a nutritionist and do not claim to have made perfect lunches but I think they are ok, though probably too many sweet treats.  However I feel it is not too bad compared to the child care lunches she was served.  I would get annoyed at the lack of protein or the processed meat patties she got there.  It would be good to get more vegies into Sylvia's lunchbox.  She is slowly starting to eat more of our meals so that might give me more options next year.

Cheese and vegemite sandwiches, cherry tomatoes, chocolate mince tart, peach slices

What did you have for school lunches when you were at school?  What do your kids enjoy now or what would you like to pack for kids lunchboxes?

Posted December 09, 2014 08:05 PM by Johanna GGG


What I Ate

This past week or so has seen me embark on a new health and fitness plan. I’m back at the gym, I’ve signed up with a vegan coach and I’m feeling very positive about it. Part of my plan is of course the nutrition, so here’s what I’ve been eating. I prep my lunches and...
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Posted December 09, 2014 04:53 PM

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

John Gorilla

November 22, 2014

We've been intending to visit John Gorilla for at least two of the two-and-a-bit years it's been open in West Brunswick. A weekend errand in the neighbourhood finally propelled us through the door last month. Though any number of Melbourne cafes feature kooky light fittings, vintage furniture and cutesy knick knacks, there was something notably sunnier about John Gorilla. It may simply have been the light streaming through the large windows, but the white walls (no exposed brick!) or the splashes of poster-paint yellow and orange might have something to do with it too.

You wouldn't have known it to read the menu. Boasting winter poached fruits, a "seasonal warm winter vegetable salad", cabbage and mushrooms aplenty, it seems the kitchen hadn't quite caught on to daylight savings time. There weren't any hints for special diets either - while there's plenty of promise for vegetarians, options look limited for vegans and the gluten-free.

Michael ordered the oven roasted thyme mushrooms on a cauliflower puree, topped with poached eggs and garlic breadcrumbs ($17). The cauliflower puree reminded him of polenta, a nice alternative to the standard toast, and the garlic breadcrumbs provided some crunch.

With some determination I ignored the Nutella French toast on the specials board and the banoffee French toast in the standard menu in favour of a bagel ($13). Too tall to tackle whole, I enjoyed the beetroot dip-slathered side with rocket and stole occasional bites from the salty slivers of haloumi. The three whole mushrooms held their own and demanded I use cutlery.

In lieu of the French toast, I lingered over the sweets display while Michael settled the bill.

We picked up a berry coconut slice ($6.50) with the odd juicy blueberry in the jam and a chewy toasted top - more than enough for two, and best enjoyed with tea.

Though the menu doesn't quite cater to all needs and seasons, I liked the atmosphere (and yes, the cake display) at John Gorilla. I'll certainly be tempted to pop in next time I've a need to go west.


There are positive accounts of John Gorilla on MELBOURNECHAITIMES, The Tea Diaries, Vetti Live in Northcote, dear melbourne,, grazing panda, A Place A Day and Miss Muesli. Only The Quince Poacher has been notably underwhelmed.

John Gorilla
49 Pearson St, West Brunswick
9005 8680
menu: regular, specials

Accessibility: My memory is poor for this one, sorry! I think the entry was flat but there was a step between the two indoor areas. Tables are moderately dense but there's a clear path through the middle of each room. We ordered at our table and paid at a medium-high counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

Posted December 09, 2014 07:40 AM by Cindy

December 08, 2014

quinces and kale

dosa plaza

pani puri

A new branch of Dosa Plaza opened recently in Preston, right on the junction, just near the Aldi supermarket. Dosa Plaza is a franchise with a handful of stores around Australia and New Zealand as well as over fifty in India.  I wouldn’t normally give a franchised restaurant a second look, but I had been watching the store being built over the last few weeks. What caught my eye was the fact that they were entirely vegetarian. A quick look at the website and I found that they had a large number of vegan menu items as well. So I decided I wouldn’t be a snob and give them a try.

The menu runs the gamut from Italian pasta to a variety of Indian and Asian food ranging from street style snacks to full meals.  It also has an astonishing array of what could be described as cross-cultural dosas, from Mexican to Chinese.

For my first try, I stuck to straight Indian flavours. I chose some pani puri with a potato filling and two sauces as well as a dosa with a vegetable and lentil soup and some coconut chutney. Both were delicious.

I love food that requires assembly at the table and the pani puri satisfied my love of playing with my food. Pani puri are small crispy hollow puffs. You crack a hole in the top, fill with some potato and spoon on some of the tart tamarind sauce and fill with the green chilli sauce. Then eat them whole before they go soft. The experience is great. The crispy outside explodes in your mouth to release the soft filling and the sauces.

The staff were a bit worried when I ordered them, they told me the green chilli sauce  was quite hot. I decided I’d be brave, but I was a bit worried it would be diabolical. When an Indian person tells you something is hot, it is possibly a good idea to take note. In fact I need not have worried, it was just the right amount of heat for me. There was quite a large bowl of the green chilli sauce, they told me that they drink the leftovers. I didn’t. As a sauce it was great, as a soup it would have been a bit too much.

I also enjoyed the dosa and soup and chutney, though next time I will probably go for a filled dosa.

dosa with soup


All in all a very nice surprise.

Dosa Plaza
4 Plenty Road,
Preston, 3072
9484 8444

Posted December 08, 2014 10:00 AM

December 07, 2014

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne


November 19, 2014

We were hitting a Wednesday night gig in North Melbourne and were on the lookout for somewhere new to eat in the neighbourhood. There doesn't seem to have been a boom in exciting veg-friendly places in the area, but Agraba turned up in a few google searches and it seemed like it was worth a visit. It's a cute little joint - they've got records playing, old photos of Turkey on the walls and a sunny area out the front. We tucked ourselves inside and perused the menu, finding loads of vego mezze dishes to choose from - they don't label things as vegan, but I think everything we wound up ordering would be dairy free. 

We somehow resisted the crumbed and fried haloumi ($9.9) and settled on a few healthier dishes. The arnabeet meklieh ($9.9) was a simple dish of fried broccoli and cauliflower with a side of tahini sauce and a squeeze of lemon. I was in the mood for some proper vegetables, so it hit the mark nicely for me.

Next to it is the baba ghanoush ($9.5), as smoky and eggplanty as you could hope for, with plenty of fresh pita bread for dipping.

Our other vegetable dish was the loubia ($9.9), sauteed green beans with olive oil, coriander and tomato. I don't remember the coriander having a strong impact, but the beans were oily and delicious anyway.

We couldn't resist trying a plate of their felafel ($10.9), with pickles and tahini sauce. These were a pretty respectable effort - crispy on the outside and loaded up with herbs and spices. They're not going to challenge Half Moon or Mankoushe, but they're not going to leave you disappointed either. A plate full of pickles always goes down well with me too.

Agraba worked out pretty well for us - it's reasonably priced and tasty food, with plenty of vegetarian (and vegan) options and a pleasant atmosphere. Throw in the delicious house made lemonade (with rosewater!) and friendly staff and you've got a solid local restaurant - it's well worth a visit if you're in the neighbourhood.


Nouveau Potato, Off The Spork and BirdseyStreet all enjoyed the food at Agraba - it's surprisingly under-blogged.

63 Errol Street, North Melbourne
9329 0058
menu: mezze, drinks, desserts

Accessibility: There's a flat entry into a pretty crowded interior. They do full table service. We didn't visit the toilets.

Posted December 07, 2014 03:35 PM by Michael

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Zucchini flowers with rice, roast pumpkin, and strawberry dumplings

Aren't zucchini flowers exactly what every blogger dreams of in a vegetable!  They are photogenic and unusual and seasonal.  Of course I was excited to see them at Coburg Farmers Market.  Yet they are not really my sort of thing.  So ridiculously delicate and they love creamy fillings.

I gave them rice and miso harissa roasted pumpkin.  Perhaps the most successful part of the meal was the strawberry dumplings for dessert.

It was my first time cooking with zucchini flowers.  I did eat some at a cafe many years ago.  So I searched the net for ideas.  Here is a selection of some of the recipes I found:

I liked the notion of stuffing the flowers with a rice mixture.  Especially one that used some mint from the garden.  I blended a recipe that baked the flowers with rice stuffing and one that cooked them on the stovetop like dolmades.  I always end up with more stuffing than whatever needs to be stuffed.  So I cooked the extra rice stuffing and the flowers together.

I thought it looked really pretty but to be honest I wasn't sure it was worth the effort of stuffing the flowers.  Perhaps it would be just as easy to lay them on top with no stuffing.  Or they would be good on the rice with a little bit of creamy ricotta or cashew cream filling.  I would definitely do it again and perhaps even use it for a centrepiece at a fancy dinner.  Given that I could find zucchini flowers at the right time!

Stuffing the flowers was quite a palaver.  As I started to think about doing it, I stumbled across Cakelaw talking about how putting the flowers in the fridge actually made them stick together more.  Sadly her advice was too late for me.  My zucchini flowers had been in the fridge a few days.  And yes they were stuck together and hard to stuff.  After all there is not much room for stuffing anyway.  At least the stamens came out without too much effort.

Sylvia would not eat the zucchini flowers.  She told us that they might have bees wee on them.  At least she ate a small bowl of the rice.  She didn't scream blue murder but she wasn't overly keen.  We have got to a point though where she is making more of an effort to eat what we are eating.  The little victories are sweet!

While I was pleased with the zucchini dumplings I was on more familiar ground with trying some miso harissa roasted pumpkin from Vegan Miam.  It gave far more return for little effort compared to the flours.  I roasted it in a pan that I knew would cope with some charring.  And it was lovely.  Soft melting pumpkin flesh with crispy skin.  The pumpkin and the rice would make a satisfying meal even without the zucchini flowers.

My other exciting purchase on the same weekend was 1 kilogram of strawberries for $5 at Batman Market.  It is the sort of purchase that is amazing at the time and then leaves me wondering what to do with them.  I didn't want to make jam.  I made icy poles and had heaps left.  So I searched Eat Your Books and found an amazing dessert of dumplings in a strawberry sauce at Smitten Kitchen.

I told Sylvia I was making dumplings.  Like a typical child she took great opposition to the unknown.  'Yuk' she exclaimed because asking what they were like.  'A bit like cake' I suggested to steer her onto familiar ground.  That was the least of my problems.

I didn't read the recipe and got my timing all wrong, the sauce burnt at the bottom of the pan, and my idea of trying white chocolate in the dumplings (inspired by a recipe a friend once made me) made no impact on the flavour.  But who cares when it tasted so good!

The dessert was far better than I expected.  The berries cooked down to a fruity sauce that was more intense than fresh berries but still tasted like fruit rather than syrup.  The dumplings were soft and soaked up the sauce.  Sylvia told me how much she loved it and that it tasted like cake.  E suggested treacle dumplings (at which I pointed out golden syrup dumplings on my blog).

What I really loved about this dish was that it was a great way of using up lots of strawberries without using the oven or preserving in jars.  I love cakes but strawberries seem to disappear into them and I am not great at layer cakes with cream and berries or trifles.  This dish is best fresh and needs to be eaten warm.  However with some ice cream or our favourite vanilla yoghurt it is perfect for summer. 

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: ANZAC biscuits with cranberries and chocolate
Two years ago: Edinburgh Castle views and the Deacon's Hoose
Three years ago: CC Chesterfield Farm and Smoky Red Pepper Hummus
Four years ago: Cheese & pesto muffins and breakfast routine
Five years ago: Edinburgh Winter Wonderland
Six years ago: Memories, BBQs, and Bangers & Mash
Seven years ago: How green was my mole?

Zucchini flowers with rice
Adapted from SBS and Almost Turkish
serves 2 to 3

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
3 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley (1 handful)
3 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint (1 handful)
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup tomato passata
1/4 cup water
1 cup uncooked basmati rice
6 (or more) zucchini flowers with baby zucchini attached

Fry onion in oil over medium heat in a large saucepan for a few minutes or until golden brown.  Stir in herbs, cumin, mustard, and salt.  Fry for about a minutes.  Mix in passata, water and rice.  Bring to the boil and simmer on medium heat for about 5 to 10 minutes.  The rice will still be quite hard.

Remove stamens from the flowers and trim the baby zucchinis.  Gently prise open flowers and stuff as many zucchini flowers  as possible with the rice mixture.

Spread remaining rice in a very large frypan.  Arrange flowers on top.  Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.  Pour in 2 1/2 cups of boiling water into frypan.  Bring to the boil and then simmer over medium heat for about 25 minutes or until water is absorbed and rice is cooked.  (If rice is not cooked, add a little extra water and boil for another 5 or 10 minutes.)

Miso harissa roasted pumpkin
Adapted from Vegan Miam
serves 2-4 as a side dish

400g butternut pumpkin
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp white miso
1/2 tbsp harissa
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste
1 tsp maple syrup

Preheat oven to 220 C.  Trim pumpkin but leave skin on.  Cut into wedges or slices.  Mix remaining ingredients to make a marinade.  Toss with pumpkin a roasting tray.  Roast for 50 to 70 minutes, turning occasionally until pumpkin is soft and slightly charred around the edges.  (I did 70 minutes but my oven is quite slow.)

Strawberry dumplings
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Serves 2-3

400g strawberries, hulled and sliced thickly
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice

1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp butter or margarine (or white chocolate)
1/2 cup self raising flour

Mix strawberries, brown sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan.  (Mine is about 18cm in diameter.)  Set aside for 15 minutes to let the berries release the juices.

Meanwhile make the dumplings by heating the milk and butter enough to melt the butter.  Mix in the flour to make quite a stiff batter.

Bring the berries to the boil slowly on medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Drop spoonfuls (about the size of golf balls) into the strawberry mixture.

Cover and turn heat down low.  Simmer for 15-18 minutes without lifting lid.  Dumplings with have expanded and be spongy to touch when done. 

On the Stereo:
God: Johnny Cash

I've crammed a lot into this post and so there is lots to share in the following blog events:

On the Stereo:
Christmas: Low

Posted December 07, 2014 11:25 AM by Johanna GGG

December 06, 2014


Cookbook Review: Greenilicious 101 Ways To Love Your Greens

I was over the moon when I heard that Leigh Drew, author of Veganissimo!, was releasing a new cookbook heavily focused on greens. I love my greens and I love Veganissimo! so with that combination you can see why I was hopping around impatiently until I was able to buy my copy from the Cruelty Free...
Continue reading »

Posted December 06, 2014 02:53 PM

December 04, 2014

Green Gourmet Giraffe

In My Kitchen - December 2014

December brings us summer and festivities.  We have been enjoying magnificent stone fruit, warm days and it is beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

In my kitchen we are just finishing off the produce from a visit to Coburg Farmers Market two weekends ago.  Sylvia and I are still raving about the cherries and I was so sad when we finished the apricots.  I will write more about the zucchini flowers soon.  We have one apple left in the bowl and a bagel in the freezer.

In my kitchen we often have banana oat pancakes on the weekend.  Sometimes they are plain janes with lemon and sugar and sometimes they are fancy.  When I bought some early cherries from the supermarket they were a disappointment.  Nothing like the glorious cherries from the farmers market.  I rescued the supermarket cherries by stewing them and serving with vanilla yoghurt on the pancakes.  Lovely!

In my kitchen I value a good vegetable peeler.  My favourite one disappeared weeks ago.  It was given up for dead.  I was putting up with cheap replacements.  Then I made a batch of frugal freezer stock that I make with vegetable peelings that I keep in the freezer.  Inside the frozen scraps was my peeler.  Thank goodness those scraps went into the freezer and not the bin!

In my kitchen we have too many seldom used sauces and condiments.  They are hard to resist.  Pesto is possibly one of the sauces that gets used quickly.  I bought this Dairy Free Pesto at O'Hea's Bakery.  I was won over by the ingredients list.  This pesto includes smoked almonds.  Sylvia has asked for pasta tomorrow.  I am planning to break open this pesto.

In my kitchen we have a fine appreciate for Scottish products.  We brought home a half eaten packet of Tunnocks caramel logs that we bought at the Scottish Day at the Immigration Museum.  I liked them but if there had been a choice I would have gone for the caramel wafers which are probably my favourites of their products.

In my kitchen is the occasional impulse purchase.  I bought these Junior Mints because I have heard of them (thanks Seinfeld) but never tasted them.  It was a good decision as they worked well in the eyes on my owl cake.  I thought they tasted quite like After Dinner Mints, but rounder.

In my kitchen the dip of choice is usually hummus but we use lots of different dippers.  These brown rice chips with wild rice were excellent.  Crisp and only lightly salted but big on flavour.  Sort of like rice crackers but better!

In my kitchen we have spreaders.  Little blunt knives made specially for spreading dips and butter.  This set are a recent addition to our spreaders.  I love the bright colours.  Sylvia occasionally takes one in her lunchbox with some hummus.

In my kitchen are signs of Christmas.  Years ago a friend gifted me some snowflake biscuit cutters that he didn't want.  I hung onto them as I love my cutters.  This year with Sylvia's Frozen fever, they have suddenly acquired great popularity.

In my kitchen we haven't had any soft drinks for a long time.  Then I saw this Bundaberg Spiced Ginger Beer and it has gone down very well.  As well as ginger, it is flavoured with cinnamon and cloves.  This is the sort of Southern Hemisphere festive drink I am very partial to.

In my kitchen we have brought out the Christmas linen and the advent calendar.  Here is a selection of Christmas tea towels.  Our tree decorations will have to wait until we pick up the Christmas tree we have ordered.

In my kitchen is my new water bottle.  Long time readers may remember I have been in a quest to find a good leak-free water bottle.  I have had a long line of unsatisfactory water bottles, including the cruel bottle that emptied itself over a camera in my bag some years back.  I bought a Thermos water bottle for Sylvia to take to school.  It has been so successful that I have bought one each for E and myself.  They keep the water cool and they don't leak.  Highly recommended!

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 December 04, 2014 08:45 PM by Johanna GGG

quinces and kale

potato salad

potato salad

I love potato salad, it is a great summer dish, substantial without being heavy, and it keeps well in the fridge, ready for when you can’t be bothered cooking. Even after being kept in the fridge it refreshes really well with an extra tablespoon of dressing added to the salad.

Most potato salads are usually dressed with mayonnaise, but I like this lighter version made with a mustardy, herby vinaigrette.

It really relies on good ingredients, the right kind of waxy potato and good fresh olive oil and herbs.

Some of the more readily available waxy potatoes are Dutch Creams, Nicola, Kipfler and Bintje. Probably the ultimate waxy potato salad potato is the Pink Fir Apple, I have grown them and they are amazing, but pesky to peel and I have never seen them in the shops.  I always have Dutch Creams in the house. I love their beautiful yellow flesh. So that is what I used.

I recently made this for my Mum’s birthday dinner, it was a hit, with everyone going for second helpings.


potato salad
prep time
20 mins
cook time
30 mins
total time
50 mins
author: quincesandkale
recipe type: salad
cuisine: vegan
serves: 6
  • 1 kg waxy potatoes washed and cut into 5 cm chunks
  • 2 tsp smooth dijon mustard
  • 3 tbs red wine vinegar
  • 6 tbs olive oil
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp tiny dry salted capers, rinsed and finely chopped (optional)
  • 2 tbs of finely chopped parsley
  • 2 tbs of finely chopped chives
  • 1 tbs finely chopped mint
  1. Steam the potatoes until they are tender when pierced with a sharp knife point.
    DO NOT overcook or undercook. If you are unsure, taste a piece.
  2. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle but still warm, peel the skin off and cut into slices into a large serving bowl.
  3. Combine the remaining ingredients in a jar, put on the lid and shake vigorously to emulsify.
  4. Add as much of the dressing as you need to coat the potatoes and fold in gently so as not to break the potatoes. You will probably need about ¾ of the dressing.
  5. Chill the salad and serve.
You can save the remainder of the dressing to use to refresh any leftover salad before serving.


Posted December 04, 2014 10:00 AM

December 02, 2014

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Chocolate cake decorated with strawberries and musical notes

You can never have too many chocolate cakes.  Especially when celebrating birthdays.  This cake was a fairly plain old vegan chocolate cake that I jazzed up with chocolate frosting, chocolate sticks, strawberries and more chocolate.  It was a significant birthday for my niece and I wanted to make a fancy cake for Quin.

The birthday was a few months ago so my memory is it is a bit hazy.  The photo I saw on Larder Love of a fancy birthday cake was the inspiration.  It seemed quite easy.  Chocolate fingers are even easy to buy these days.  I remember a time when they were rare in Australia.  Perhaps I noticed this after caring for an elderly woman in the UK who was rather fond of these biscuits.

However the cake was more challenging than I anticipated.  Firstly I made it while we were without a car after some idiots stole it.  So I baked the cakes and took them in a cake box down to Geelong on the train.  When I got down I decorated the cake at my parents' house.

I followed a similar recipe to the frosting at Larder Love and mine was a thick mass that I could barely spread between the cakes let alone spread over the cakes.  I gave up and just made some basic chocolate ganache (a bit like this) for the outside of the cakes.  At least the chocolate fingers covered up the lack of frosting.

Then I had a brilliant idea to make chocolate musical notes because Quin is very musical.  Later I was told that white chocolate is softer to handle.  Which may explain why it was so hard to pick up the notes that I piped onto baking paper.  The broken notes were scattered over the strawberries.  It took me so long that I had barely finished the cake when it was time to sit down for dinner.  Hence my lack of decent photos.   (However I took lots of process photos which will have to do in lieu of a recipe.)

Despite the frustrations, I was still happy that the cake was more fancy than a plain old iced cake.  After one of my younger nieces wanted an adult cake last year, I have decided to need to make more effort in presentation of celebration cakes.  This one is a good start.  And for those who notice that this is the third chocolate cake I have posted in a row, I finish the post the way I started.  You can never have too many chocolate cakes!

More fancy cakes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Posted December 02, 2014 10:31 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Cumin-cayenne mashed potatoes with caramelised onions

November 16, 2014

We had a relatively quiet Sunday with plenty of time for cooking, so we decided it was time to revisit Vegan Soul Kitchen several times over. Our initial attempt had been a mix of excellence (the veggies) and adequacy (the tofu), so we focussed our attention on more vegetables this time around.

Our planning was partly dictated by our veggie box leftovers, but we managed to pull together a complementary set of dishes: chilled citrus broccoli salad, rosemary salted asparagus and cumin-cayenne mashed potatoes with caramelised onions. The first two were super easy: a quick blanch of the broccoli and some dressing for the first and simple roasted asparagus with a ground up mix of salt and rosemary for the second. They were great too - I didn't chill the broccoli enough so it wound up cooking itself a bit in the dressing while it was marinating, but it was still zingy and crisp, while the rosemary-salt (pictured below) added some nice flavour to roasted asparagus (which is already pretty great).

The real star of the show though was the mash, so we're including the recipe below. It's not particularly complicated - the onion caramelises while you're boiling the spuds and then it's just a judicious mix of spices and soy milk to add flavour and creaminess. But the end result is greater than the sum of its parts - we cooked up a bit less than the 1kg in the recipe below, and we were both scraping the dregs out of our bowls wishing for more. 

We will definitely be making this recipe again and I'm excited to keep digging through this book for more great dishes.

Cumin-cayenne mashed potatoes with caramelised onions
(adapted slightly from Bryant Terry's Vegan Soul Kitchen)

1 kg potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm chunks
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 brown onion, diced
2 tablespoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup soy milk
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Place the potato chunks in a large pot covered with cold water and bring to the boil. Cook for 20-25 minutes until the spuds are soft.

In the meantime, combine the olive oil, onion, cumin, cayenne and a few pinches of salt in a frying pan and cook over low heat, until the onions are soft and caramelised - about half an hour. Add the soy milk and thyme to the onion mix and stir through.

Drain the potatoes and return them to the saucepan, mashing them until relatively smooth.

Combine the soy milk/onion mixture with the potatoes and whip the mix together, until the mash is light and fluffy - about a minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Posted December 02, 2014 08:40 PM by Michael

December 01, 2014

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Banana-pecan cornbread muffins

November 16, 2014

I'm launching right into a second banana-based baking recipe here. This one's appeal was threefold: it'd do away with another frozen banana (of course), produce a packable snack for workday afternoons, and expand my experience with Vegan Soul Kitchen.

Bryant Terry's description of these muffins hit my snacking marks: "not quite a dessert" with "light, sugary" banana-bound cornbread offset by "earthy-sweet" maple-coated pecans. The pecans have earned a stand-alone recipe page in the book for good reason - they're a lovely little candy that might not make it into the muffin batter if you taste them first. Luckily I made a few extra because I couldn't stop at five, let alone one.

And actually, I found that their maple coating got a little lost in the muffins - I wonder if plain pecans would do the job just as well. I did go ahead and adapt the batter for convenience, using sunflower instead of corn oil, topping up my wholemeal flour with a little spelt, and replacing rice milk with almond milk. 

A bigger unknown was using polenta as the 'yellow cornmeal'. Southern USian and Central American cooking traditions use a broader range of corn products than are easily accessed here in Oz, and I've no idea whether polenta behaves as intended in this recipe. It remained sandy and crunchy in the baked muffins - consistent with Bryant Terry's description but coarser than the cakey cornbreads I've eaten in other contexts. I wonder if a little resting time for the batter would help the cornmeal soften and soak up moisture before baking.

I'm keen to learn more about all things corn. This book's affection for corn grits might finally propel me to USA Foods where candies and hot sauces have thus far failed.

Banana-pecan cornbread muffins
(adapted slightly from Bryant Terry's Vegan Soul Kitchen)

maple-coated pecans
130g pecans
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons maple sugar, coconut sugar or brown sugar

muffin batter
1 1/4 cups polenta or other yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup plain flour
1/4 cup wholemeal flour
2 tablespoons raw sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 large ripe banana
2 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 cup almond milk

Preheat an oven to 180°C. Line a large baking tray with paper. Roughly chop the pecans and spread them over the baking tray. Toast them in the oven for around 4 mintues, stirring them at the 2 minute mark. 

When they're done, place them in a small-medium saucepan. Stir through the oil until they're evenly coated. Pour in the maple syrup and stir until evenly coated. Finally, sprinkle in the sugar and stir until evenly coated. Set the saucepan over medium heat on a stove, stirring them regularly for 2-5 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Transfer them back to the paper-lined tray, spreading them out as quickly as you can. Allow them to cool.

Turn the oven up to 220°C. Grease a muffin tray.

In a large bowl, stir together the polenta, plain and wholemeal flours, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt.

In a small bowl, thoroughly mash the banana. Whisk in the maple syrup, the oil and finally the almond milk. Pour this liquid mixture into the large bowl of dry ingredients and stir them together until just combined. Fold in the cooled pecans.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin tray and bake for around 15 minutes, until the tops are golden and the cakes are just cooked through.

Posted December 01, 2014 10:47 PM by Cindy

Thoughts Of A Moni

Melbourne Night Noodle Markets 2014

Now in their second year, the Melbourne Night Noodle Markets have become an important fixture of the Good Food Month calendar in Melbourne. This year the organisers were better equipped to deal with the crowds and moved the markets to Birrarung Marr across three separate areas. It was a beautiful atmosphere, with open grassy spaces, the backdrop of the Melbourne skyline with the MCG, the Arts Centre spire and the Eureka tower in the background, and most importantly some of the best Asian food traders we have, there to showcase their food.

We started our foodie adventures with some dumplings at New Shanghai. This is the new dumpling place that has opened at the Emporium. I got the vegetarian dumplings, of which there were three in a serve. The dumplings were quite flavoursome but rather small, but still a good start to the evening.

New Shanghai on Urbanspoon

Next up was Le Bangkok where we tried the tofu pad thai. Pad thai is one of our favourite noodle dishes, and this was a good one. There was a good amount of tofu which was contrasted by the freshness of the bean shoots and spring onion. I would definitely consider going back to the Le Bangkok restaurant to get some more.

Le Bangkok on Urbanspoon

I decided it was important to try a variety of cuisines, so after hitting up the Chinese and Thai stalls, I decided to move on to Sri Lankan. Lankan Tucker was there, and watching them use their skills to make kothu roti was enough to make me salivate. Unfortunately they only had chicken kothu roti, so I had to settle for a pan roll, but this was pretty damn good. Infact it was so good that it went down before I could get a photo.

We then moved on to our second area up on the hill of Birrarung Marr. This was definitely the premium area with both Kong and Chin Chin setting up shop here. Both had long lines, but I was adamant that we had to try at least one. Given that I still haven’t been to Kong, we decided to try their famous buns. Let me tell you, they were definitely worth the wait. I had the peanut butter salt and pepper tofu bun, with pickled mustard crushed peanuts, chilli mayonnaise and some fresh coriander to cut through it all. It was amazing and I could have eaten ten of them, but I forced myself to exercise some self control and stopped at just one.

Kong BBQ on Urbanspoon

And needless to say it would have been sacrilegious for me to walk past an Indian stall and not indulge in any Indian street food, so I made a stop at Overdosa. This was an all vego stall so I had a full menu to choose from, and I opted for the Bombay Burger. This was an aloo bonda (or spiced potato patty) in a vada pav roll (sweet milk bun), which was liberally slathered with tomato sauce and garnished with fresh green chilli. Definitely took me back to my Indian street food roots...

Overdosa on Urbanspoon 

And of course we had to finish with dessert. Whilst the majority of the crowds flocked to the Gelato Messina stall, we opted for crème brulee at the Brulee Cart. We had a Dulce de Loco crème brulee which was a cardamom spiced custard sitting on a bed of poached pears and topped with some salted caramel popcorn. Unfortunately our crème brulee standards are pretty high, and whilst the flavours worked well together, the custard seemed a little runnier than we would have liked it. Still we polished it off quite easily, so I definitely wouldn’t call it all bad.

The Brûlée Cart on Urbanspoon

All in all it was a great evening. Perhaps some tips for people going next year:

Go on a weekday, go early in the season, and get there by 6pm at the latest. The people who went at about 7pm on the last Friday almost gave up waiting in hour long queues.

Take cash. There are only a handful of Citibank ATMs and they have massive queues.

See if you can get yourself into a marquee to secure a seat. This year both the Citibank and The Age marquees were available. The Citibank marquee required you to show your card, and The Age marquee required pre registration for subscribers.

And most importantly, go with an empty stomach. There is so much food, and it would be a sin not to make the most of it!

Posted December 01, 2014 08:43 PM by Moni

quinces and kale

white lotus

spicy tamarind fish

I seem to have been on a bit of a mock meat fest recently with visits to Enlightened Cuisine and now to White Lotus.

White Lotus feels like an old school suburban Chinese restaurant of the type I visited as a kid. If you’re after nostalgia you’ll find it here, right down to the Lemon Chicken. But along with these classics there are some other fine dishes that you might not find in your old school local. All the dishes on the menu are vegan.

There were about 10 of us and 5 ordered the banquet, while the rest of us ordered individual dishes.

We started with some “chicken drumsticks”, mock chicken enclosed in a crispy bean curd skin. We then followed up with fried calamari, a roast duck dish and I managed a taste of  the tamarind fish.

The calamari was OK, though not earth shattering, though the scoring on the calamari was amusing. I’m always amazed by how much trouble the Buddhist mock meat makers go to recreate every facet of meat in texture, flavour and preparation.

But the duck and the fish were really good. If I have a complaint, there are almost no vegetables with any of the dishes. The duck at least came with some snowpeas and beanshoots to help balance the mock meat avalanche. This is one reason why I ordered it, and it was a great choice, crispy on the outside and tender in the middle. The tamarind fish was also good, with a crispy skin of seaweed, beancurd and a soft flaky interior, all given a wow factor by the spicy, sour tamarind sauce.

And yes we did order banana fritters for dessert! :)


roast duck fried calamari chicken drumsticks

White Lotus
185 Victoria St
West Melbourne VIC 3003
9326 6040 

Posted December 01, 2014 10:00 AM

November 30, 2014

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Sourdough chocolate cake and weekend eating

It has been an interesting weekend of politics, craft and eating out.  I made this chocolate sourdough cake last week.  It was lovely but the cake was huge.  Life has been so busy over the last few days that the cake has been relegated to the freezer while we have been enjoying markets and election sausage sizzles and balmy spring evenings by the beach.

The King Arthur Flour chocolate sourdough cake recipe has been in my bookmarks for a while.  It seemed a good way to use my sourdough starter when the freezer is full of home made sourdough bread and a few bagels from the farmers market.

The recipe is slightly different from the sourdough tea cake I tried a few months back.  That recipe had me stir the starter into the cake batter like a regular cake.  The chocolate cake required that I leave the starter, milk and flour to it for a few hours before putting together the rest of the cake.  I didn't see much change in that mixture and wasn't sure how much it contributed to the cake.  I also found this mixture to be really stiff to stir into the cake batter.  You can see above that the batter actually sat in the tin like a blob rather than spreading out of its own accord.

Other than needing to use my starter, this cake was a great way to use up the chocolate frosting and choc chips leftover from the owl cake.  I reduced the sugar in the cake by a third, after a batch of particularly sweet brownies recently.  It also made sense given that my frosting lacked the bitter edge of the espresso frosting in the original recipe.

You can see that the starter mixture wasn't completely mixed into the rest of the ingredients.  There was an occasional chewy patch but nothing unpleasant.  However I did see someone making a sourdough cake and mixing it in the food processor.  Maybe I will try this next time.  Or maybe I just need to focus on the cake rather than racing around trying to make it while cooking pasta for dinner.

Meanwhile here are some of the other foods we have been eating.  Above is the poutine burger from Lord of the Fries that I had in the city on Friday.  It is a special offer at the moment.  I could not resist when I saw it.  It just seemed a crazy burger - veg burger patty, vegan bacon (more like pink processed meat), cheese, gravy, garlic aioli and chips.

Now I have never had poutine and possibly never will so I was curious.  I think a mini burger with chips would have been enough for me.  I love Lord of the Fries and recently discovered I love their patty but the vegan bacon was not my sort of thing and my burger didn't have enough chips.  But I was glad I had it once.

We also went to Coburg Night Market which started on Friday.  It was a great night out and I am hoping to return there and write more about it here.  You can also read about last year's visit to the Coburg Night Market.  I shared some curries (pictured) and dosa at the Indian stall that had a sign saying vegetarian and vegan.  I also shared a potato twister with Sylvia and had my own peanut butter and nutella ice cream.

Then we rushed home and I made grubs for a school cake stall while watching John Carter (a sci fit movie that was interesting though I am not sure E appreciated my blow by blow feminist analysis).  I have raved about grubs before - full of my favourite things - condensed milk, cocoa and coconut.  I did sample one or two while I was rolling them into little balls.  Apparently it is not just me who love them.  I made two batches and they were gone by lunchtime. 

The cake stall was held as one of the stalls that Sylvia's school held as part of the State Election activities yesterday.  It seems there are heaps of sausage sizzles and cake stalls because lots of schools are used for voting.  (Quite a few friends with kids at different schools also had stalls of their own.)  I helped with badge making and craft activities.  It was warm enough that we were very grateful for the shade of this huge tree in the school yard.  I was also grateful for a really well cooked vegie burger too.

We were at the election stalls all morning and then in the afternoon we headed over to Albert Park to the Plum Garland Memorial Playground.  It has changed quite a bit since previous visits.   We met up with our friends Chris and Yav and their little girl.  Sylvia had a lovely time in the park but most unexpected was how much the girls loved this penny farthing bike hoop.

It was just heaven to be at the beach on a warm evening.  The obvious dinner option was fish and chips.  We went to Mussels.  I had chips, potato cake, corn jack and a huge pumpkin fritter.  It was nice, though I don't think the food was quite as good as our last visit.  However it was good enough to make for a very pleasant dinner sitting outside overlooking palm trees and enjoying catching up with friends.

Then we hopped in the car and drove home listening to the election broadcast on the radio while Sylvia sang Jingle Bells in the backseat.  Today we have a new state government in Victoria, while at home, the advent calendar is out and we had haggis and mole wraps for dinner to remember St Andrews Day. We ended the day with E climbing over the back fence to help a neighbour get into his house after locking himself out.  Interesting days indeed!

I am also sending this cake to Susan of Wild Yeast for YeastSpotting, the regular round up of all things yeasty online.I am sending yeast spotting.  I am also sending it to Manjirichitnis at Sliceoffme for No Waste Food Challenge that is overseen by Elizabeth's Kitchen.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Baked potato with haggis for St Andrews Day
Two years ago: Dublin sightseeing and other places
Three years ago: GF Donna Hay Brownies
Four years ago: Leonard Cohen, rice salad and the great outdoors
Five years ago: Mexican Lasagne and our Jetset Baby
Six years ago: NCR Pumpkin and Tofu Laksa
Seven years ago: Swinging Pancakes

Sourdough chocolate cake
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

1 cup "fed" 100% hydration sourdough starter
1 cup milk (I used soy)
1 cup plain white flour
1 cup plain wholemeal flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup rice bran oil, or other neutral oil
3/4 cup cocoa (not Dutch)
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda (baking soda)
1 tsp ground wattleseed, optional
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
3/4 cups of dark choc chips
Chocolate frosting

Mix sourdough starter, milk and flours.  Cover with teatowel and leave for 2 to 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F).  Grease and line a swiss roll tin (9 x 13 inch).

In a separate bowl mix sugar, oil, cocoa, bicarb, wattleseed, vanilla and salt.  Stir in the eggs.  Pour chocolate mixture into the sourdough mixture and stir in well.  (My mixture was quite stiff and hard to stir.) 

Tip mixture into prepared tin and spread  out evenly.  Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool in the tin and then turn out and cover with frosting.

On the Stereo:
Franz Ferdinand (self titled album)

Posted November 30, 2014 10:43 PM by Johanna GGG

The Good Hearted - Vegan Food in Melbourne

The Cornish Arms


The Cornish Arms
163A Sydney Rd
VIC 3056
(03) 9380 8383 


Kitchen Hours:
7 days: 12-3pm
7 days: 6-9.30pm Sundays only:
Full menu 12-9:30pm

It was a long time between visits to The Cornish Arms Hotel, so we'll forgive ourselves for accidentally turning up on a Wednesday night, which is ironically the weekly (and very busy) "Cheap Steak Night". Nevertheless, the extensive menu of vegan pub food was still on offer, so we went ahead and dined amongst the corpse munchers.

There are well over a dozen vegan options on offer at The Cornish Arms, including four vegan pizzas ($11 + $3 GF), one of which is the aptly named 'Bbq meat loathers', which boasts all the faux meats. There are three vegan burgers (w/ chips) including a 'Vegan chicken burger' ($18) with a southern fried mock chicken fillet with 'facon', 'cheez', avocado, lettuce and tomato with chipotle aioli. 

Other vegan pub classics include a 'Vegan parma' ($18) and 'Vegan beer-battered fish & chips' ($19) with bean curd 'fish' pieces cooked in Coopers Pale Ale batter with chips, salad & vegan tartare. The tartare is fantastic and compliments the crispy fish pieces nicely, but I'm not a huge fan of the chips unfortunately - perhaps a bit more seasoning would make them better. The 'Vegan Double Down' ($20), otherwise known as the vegan KFC option, consists of 'cheez', 'facon' and tomato sandwiched between two southern fried mock chicken fillets, served with mash 'n' gravy and slaw. Those on a health kick need not apply.

Along with the pizzas, gluten free vegans can enjoy a 'Thai salad' ($18) with tempeh or a Spicy lentil burger' ($19).

There are a couple of vegan cheesecakes ($9) available, including 'Cookies & cream' and 'Peanut butter' flavours. I would have tried one, but the Cornish doesn't allow takeaways and there was no way I could tackle such a dessert so soon after the heavy 'fish and chips'. 

There are also a dozen or so vegan beers and ciders and around six vegan wines to choose from.

 The Cornish Arms Hotel on Urbanspoon

Also visited by veganopoulous, where's the beef? and I Spy Plum Pie

Posted November 30, 2014 06:30 PM

November 29, 2014

Vegan Bullsh*t

Night Noodle Markets 2014

When I first heard about the night markets, I was pretty excited (largely because Overdosa was vending) but didn't expect to have many other options. I'm so glad I went: amongst all the meat on sticks and other bits it's quite the vegan heaven - there's a few really fun options. I've been twice and have been lucky enough to sample lots of amazing food.

Chilli-passionfruit sorbet from Serendipity, a Sydney company:

I wandered past Serendipity not expecting anything plant-based but I was very wrong. They had so many options - lemon, mango, chocolate sorbet, raspberry along the normal lines - and passionfruit/chili and coconut/kaffir lime, both of which I tried. This flavour was SO GOOD. Intense passionfruit flecked with red chili pieces, but not an unpleasant heat- it hit you gently in the back of the mouth/throat and lips. It worked beautifully and was really satisfying to eat.

I didn't love the coconut/kaffir lime, but if you love lime and coconut you may well. It was pretty standard coconut milk with lime, but with an almost herbal finish - interesting, but not really my thing. Also, I found these melted faster than I like - on the short walk from the Serendipity stall up to the hill to sit and eat, the top of my tub was already melty.

These beautiful vegetarian dumplings from New Shanghai:

These were mostly filling, steamed and soft with a typical mix of veggies, a little tofu and rice noodles. But they were lovely and fresh and exactly the kind of dumpling I like.

After some questioning I discovered this spiralized potato fritter at a nearby stall was indeed vegan:

Definitely fair-esque food. It was tasty but what elevated it from the realm of Regular Deep Fried Things was the spice mix sprinkled over post-frying. The sign called it "garlic spice" and it made it far more interesting and well worth $6.

Vegan (labeled as such on the sign!) black bean dumplings from Zagyoza:

I was incredibly excited for these: anything that says 'vegan' on the sign and sounds a little more interesting than the usual offerings has me sold. But they were a bit of a disappointment - the soy-black bean sauce over the top was lovely, but the innards were just mashed black beans, somewhat like red bean paste. A vegetable mix would have been a lot better with the sauce.

Spring rolls from Let's Do Yum Cha, exactly how I like them - fresh veg-only rolls with five-spice. Not overly unique, but tasty.

I couldn't go past a Bombay Burger! Pre-squish, they look quite terrifying - but it was incredibly delicious. Overdosa didn't offer their avocado at the markets, but it will be back in future and I can't wait!

And their elephant is amazing:

The Noodle Markets are crowded, but they made for a couple of great nights out. The food is diverse and offers plenty for vegos and omnis alike - I even saw dairy-free sago puddings, so dessert is covered. It ends tomorrow and I will be sad to see it go - but there's always next year!

Posted November 29, 2014 08:21 PM by L

November 28, 2014


What I Ate This Week: The Greedy Cat Attack Version

I’ve really been enjoying removing certain food items from my eating recently and I’m feeling and seeing benefits. So much so, that I had lunch out today, ordered a fried entree and promptly felt sick to the point of throwing up. That’ll teach me to go for deep fried after a fortnight of no oil! Breakfast...
Continue reading »

Posted November 28, 2014 05:11 PM

November 27, 2014

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Owl birthday cake

Everything seemed right with this owl cake when my niece Ella entered the kitchen, looked at the cake and smiled with pleasure.  After all she had chosen this cake for her birthday.  Seeing her reaction made light of my misgivings about the sunken cake, the colour of the beak being wrong and the not-quite-right shape.  After all, these cakes are about making kids happy!

I had looked through my novelty pinterest pins with Ella a week before and we decided on an owl cake.  I chose a favourite gluten free chocolate cake recipe.  After all it was her twin sister's birthday too and Grace is celiac.   The recipe has worked well before but on this occasion it came out of the oven all risen and beautiful.  (I even ate a little cupcake I made with some leftover batter and it was light and airy.)  The next morning the large cake looked flat.  It still tasted good.

The cake was also too square.  Well  it was square when it went in the oven.  When I came to cutting out an owl I wished I had used a lamington tin rather than a square one. It was cute enough but I would have liked a round face.

I was pleased Ella chose the owl cake.  It was easy enough to cut, frost and decorate with choc chips.  Easy enough that Sylvia was able to help.  The biggest challenge, other than cutting it from a square (which resulted in a concave rather than round head), was making the eyes and beak.  I decided to dye some white chocolate, smear it on baking paper and cut it out when just firming up.  The colours we made were quite muted but close enough for jazz.

We took the cake to my mum and dad's place in Geelong for the birthday lunch.  Sylvia decided she would join in on the owl theme and make some owl snacks that she had seen on Playschool.  She originally wanted to do it with sandwiches but we decided to use cheese slices so they would be gluten free for Grace.  Sylvia loved instructing her younger cousin Ashy on making the owls.  They looked great though everyone was too full from other food to eat them.

Here is my plate of food.  There was heaps.  I had a beetroot burger, roast potatoes and pumpkin, cauliflower cheese, coleslaw and heaps of salad.

And here is the little owl with candles.  It looks like owl acupuncture.  And what a stoic look this little bird has despite all the pins and flames.  Over and over.  We sung happy birthday to Ella and then to Grace and then all the kids had a go at blowing out the candles.

Finally here is a lone eye - like a halloween remnant - after many slices were passed around the table.  Everyone loved the cake.  I suspect the generous helping of choc chips on top were the secret of its success.  By the time we had all eaten sponge cake, grubs, hedgehog, and pav, everyone was as full as a state school.  Best of all, was having my nieces thanking me for the cake as they left.

I am sending this cake to
- Helen of Fuss Free Flavours for Bookmarked Recipes (coordinated by Jac of Tinned Tomatoes);
- Helen of Casa Costello for Bake of the Week; and
- Jane of the Hedgecombers for Tea Time Treats (co-hosted with Karen of Lavender and Lovage) for this month's Bonfire Night (because chocolate cake is warming and owls come out at night).

More animal shaped cakes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Butterfly cake
Club Penguin cake
Green giraffe cake
Monkey cake
Sparkles the rabbit cake
Viking cat cake

How to Make an Owl Cake
Adapted from Sew White and Laws of the Kitchen

You will need: 
Chocolate cake baked in a lamington tin (I used this cake)
Baking paper and pencil
*Chocolate frosting (I used this one)
White choc chips (I used melts)
Black choc chips
Blue and yellow food colouring
Dark brown round lollies (I used junior mints)

[*My frosting had to be made first and then left to cool and thicken.]

Make owl template:
Cut out piece of baking paper the size of the cake.  Fold in half and draw outline of half an owl (I would do the ear tufts on the side of the ears and then a smaller circle at the top for the head and a larger circle at the bottom for the body but the square didn't get much room for shaping - hence next time I would use a rectangle shape of the lamington tin).  Turn over and trace the half shape to create a whole owl shape.

Cut cake into owl shape:
Place paper over cake (on a chopping board) and use skewer or other sharp objects to make marks on cake of the shape of the owl.  Use a sharp knife to cut out the owl shape.  Use a pastry brush or silicone brush to remove any crumbs.  Transfer cake onto cake board or plate. 

Make white chocolate shapes for eyes and beak:
Melt about 1/4 tbsp white chocolate and smear half over baking paper.  Take a small spoonful out and mix with yellow food colouring.  Smear on baking paper.  Mix blue food dye into remaining white chocolate and smear onto baking paper.  Place piece of baking paper in the freezer.  Once chocolate is just setting, cut out two large circles of white for eyes, two slightly smaller circles of blue for inside eyes and a triangle for a beak out of yellow chocolate.  I used scone and biscuit cutters for circles.

Frost and decorate cake:
Spread chocolate frosting over the cake.  Clean any frosting from board or plate with a cloth.  Place white circle on frosting for eyes.  Use a small dab of frosting to attach the blue circles on the white circles.  Then use a small dab of frosting to place lollies in the middle of the blue circle.  Now place white choc chips overlapping so that they form a half circle breast of the bird that goes just a little below the eyes.  Place yellow triangle between eyes as beak.  Arrange dark choc chips overlapping around the rest of the body and head of the owl.

On the Stereo:
Costello Music: The Fratellis

Posted November 27, 2014 01:23 PM by Johanna GGG

quinces and kale

coconut sticky rice with mango

mango with sticky rice

Mangoes are so cheap at the moment.

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with mangoes. I love them green in a salad, I like them when they are a bit softer, not too ripe, sweet but still with a tang. But when they get really ripe I loathe them, they have a volatile smell that just makes me feel ill.

But this week I bought six perfectly ripe ones to make some mango with coconut sticky rice for dessert at my Mum’s birthday. This dish has become a family favourite after my sister spent a couple of years in Thailand. We all ate it when visiting and have all fallen in love with it.

It is easy to make and is so delicious, a combination of soft, sticky, sweet, tart and salty.

Every time I eat it, I can imagine I am Thailand. Tonight is even humid and hot with a thunderstorm to add to the illusion…


coconut sticky rice with mango
prep time
15 mins
cook time
20 mins
total time
35 mins
author: quincesandkale
recipe type: dessert
cuisine: vegan
serves: 4
  • 1 cup sticky rice (also called glutinous rice)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tbs brown sugar or palm sugar
  • a big pinch of salt
  • 1 or 2 mangoes
Steaming Method
  1. Soak the rice in warm water for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Line a steamer with a piece of baking paper that is cut to be smaller than the steamer and punch a few holes in it.
  3. Add the rice onto the paper.
  4. Steam the rice for 20 minutes or until done.
Microwave Method - I prefer this as it is easier, but be careful with the timing
  1. Soak the rice in warm water for at least 10 minutes with the water covering the rice by about ½ cm.
  2. Put a plate on top of the bowl to cover it and microwave on high for 3 minutes, stir and microwave for another 3 minutes. If it needs any further cooking, do this in bursts of 1 minute. It is easy to overcook and you want the grains still identifiable, not a bowl of mush.
Putting it together
  1. Once the rice is done by whichever method you choose, put the cooked rice into a bowl.
  2. Mix the coconut milk, sugar and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer.
  3. Remove from the heat and pour ⅔ of it over the rice and gently fold in. Don't worry too much about mixing it, the warm rice will absorb the coconut milk.
  4. Place a portion of the rice into a serving bowl, top with sliced ripe mango and pour over some of the reserved coconut milk mix.


Posted November 27, 2014 10:00 AM

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Banana butterscotch pudding

November 9, 2014

I've been accumulating bananas in the freezer and wondering what to bake them in. I wanted to make this sticky banana pudding while Michael was away travelling but I can't find the recipe online anymore - and boy howdy, have I looked. It was after my latest failed search that I let it go and started researching alternative versions. There are actually plenty of self-saucing banana puddings out there that my fond memories prevented me from noticing.

I went with a Bill Granger recipe posted on fuss free cooking. I knew it wasn't the same as my ol' fave - I remember there being butter and/or cream in the butterscotch sauce - but if anything that made it simpler to prepare. Given that mashed banana is a common egg replacer in vegan baking, I doubled on the fruit and cut down on ingredients in the process.

Pouring a watery syrup over the cake might look weird, yet I trusted it would work (I've done this once before). Granted, it's not as buttery as the original, but this butterscotch sauce thickens and pools in the bottom of the dish and leaves sticky caramel on the edges of the cake, just as it should. The pudding is very, very sweet and I'll try reducing the sugar in the cake down to 70g or so next time I bake it. Fresh from the oven the pudding is cakey and almost light; after a day in the fridge it tends toward dense and fudgy. It's a treat either way.

Banana butterscotch pudding
(slightly adapted from fuss free cooking,
where it's credited to Bill Granger)

85g butter or margarine
115g castor sugar
2 bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
125g plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
a pinch of salt
1 cup almond milk

butterscotch sauce
140g brown sugar
1/4 cup golden syrup
1 cup water

Preheat an oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a baking dish

In a large bowl, beat together the butter/margarine and the castor sugar until fluffy. Beat in the mashed bananas and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Sift over the flour, baking powder and salt and gently beat it in, gradually adding the milk as you go. Pour the cake batter into the baking dish.

Place all the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and bring them to the boil. Gently pour the sauce over the cake batter. Bake the pudding for 30-40 minutes, until the cake is cooked through.

Posted November 27, 2014 09:01 AM by Cindy

November 25, 2014

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Street Art in Melbourne #10 - Coburg Street Art and MoreArt 2014

A few years back a friend commented that there wasn't any street art in Coburg, in the inner north of Melbourne.  It all was happening in neighbouring Brunswick.  However Coburg is changing.  It is now a suburb boasting gentrified residents with money and time and a love of art.  And Moreland City Council also supports street art in Coburg as can be seen right now with MoreArt 2014.

Let's start with this colourfully painted house on the Upfield train line. 

I really love this Recognise mural that can be seen from the park on the wall of the Robinson Reserve Neighbourhood House.

These three cartoons are on the wall at Woollacott Street.

Here is the full wall on Woollacott Street.  (And yes that is me and my bike in the mirrored image!)

This shed is at Harmony Park on Gaffney Street.  (For the pedants, it is Coburg North.)

There is even stencil art in Coburg.  Not a lot.

This monkey mural is on a wall at Espresso Joe's drive through coffee shop on Sydney Rd south of Gaffney Street.

Coburg signal boxes are being painted as part of a VicRoads program.  I particularly love the giraffe in a car outside Coburg North Primary School.

This mesh lizard and a mate have been atop a house in Railway Place, again on the Upfield train line.

Victoria Street mall has some interesting pieces of street art.  These Pillars of the Community Celebration poles were created by Aaron James McGarry for the Coburg Carnivale this year.  He also made the koalas out of old shopping bags (see the koala in the forked tree in the photo).

I recently was riding through the streets and saw someone's bins on the road waiting to be emptied.  I really love the floral decoration on the bin and had to snap a photo.  It gives new meaning to trashy art!

More trashy art.  I really love these house photos that have been stuck on the sides of bins, public toilets and other public architecture.  Then I saw on Facebook that it is part of the MoreArt 2014, the Moreland City Council's public art show.

I thought that this Little Free Library that has recently appeared on the Upfield bike track south of Reynard Street might be part of MoreArt 2014 but I can't see it on the list of art works.  It would be a great place to read a book and watch some trains!  (Update 1/12/2014: see Moreland Leader article about it.)

Finally I happened to see this peacock through some brush fence.  It is painted on someone's garage.  (It is signed by Jara Art.)

I hope you will agree with me that there is some really interesting street art around Coburg.  If you are in the area, I recommend you check out the MoreArt 2014 page which has a little map of where you can see participating art pieces until 19 December 2014.  Or just look out the window if you are on the Upfield train.

Posted November 25, 2014 11:30 AM by Johanna GGG

November 24, 2014

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Loving Hut II

November 8, 2014

Leigh Drew has been in Melbourne recently promoting her new cookbook Greenilicious. She found time between celebrity appearances and repeat visits to Yong Green Food to share a meal with some veg bloggers including Veganopoulous, Green Gourmet Giraffe, The Good Hearted, Veganise This! and Kittens Gone Lentil.

Veganopoulous kindly reserved us a table at Loving Hut Northcote, which we've been long overdue to revisit. The menu has expanded to almost fifty savoury dishes with a variety of mock meat and non-mock dishes, stir-fried, deep-fried and completely un-fried foods. Everything is vegan, and the menu is coded for gluten-free, raw, chilli-heavy and onion/garlic foods.

I've had an eye on other bloggers' meals at Loving Hut throughout the year, and it was darn difficult to settle on just one for dinner. Ultimately I went for the sizzling katsu duck ($14) doused in a sweet and sour plum sauce, topped with a few steamed vegetables. The mock meat was excellent with a tender, slightly fatty texture and crisp crumbing.

The fried chicken that so impressed me on our first visit now has a spicier sibling called the volcano ($17). It's an even heftier serve of mock meat doused in a three chilli-rated sauce that marks it as Michael's meal - I don't have the heat-tolerance to steal more than a bite!

The dessert cabinet's expanded with the menu, and we couldn't help but test it out too. Lower shelves hold homely goods like brownies and jam tarts, and the top shelf is reserved for some of the fancier cakes. (After we picked a couple of these, our waiter proudly mentioned that they're made by his partner.) This chocolate and hazelnut slice (~$6.50) was silky smooth and topped with a toffeed pecan and sherbetty powdered raspberry.

The Loving Hut staff were efficient and personable, even stopping by to check that our meals were OK - unheard of at a Supreme Master venue. On our chattering, seat-swapping table of eight I was oblivious to the half-empty food court atmosphere I've previously reported. The only shortcoming was ours and not the restaurant's: we were too enthusiastic about the deep-fried dishes and should have made more space for their fresher, vegetable-focused foods. Perhaps we can make amends next time.


This shared meal has been mentioned in passing on Green Gourmet Giraffe and Veganopoulous.

You can read about our first visit to Loving Hut Northcote here.


Loving Hut
377-379 High St, Northcote
9077 1335
menu: one, two 

Accessibility: Lookin' good! A very wide automatic door, flat floors and moderately spaced tables. We ordered at our table and paid at a low-ish counter. We didn't visit the toilets, but I spotted a disability-labelled unisex toilet down a wide corridor at the back of the building.

Posted November 24, 2014 10:20 PM by Cindy


Cruelty Free West Expo 2014

This time of the year sees quite a few events for vegans, or friendly to vegans (and non-vegan of course!) around Melbourne! Yesterday we went down to Caroline Springs for the Cruelty Free West Expo, put on by the Caroline Springs Animal Welfare Network. CSAWN publish the most excellent Cruelty Free Guide To The West,...
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Posted November 24, 2014 05:14 PM

quinces and kale

enlightened cuisine

spicy pork and eggplant

Enlightened Cuisine is a great Chinese mock meat restaurant with a vast menu. I’ve been there twice and both times I’ve enjoyed it very much.

It is in an out of the way place, and sometimes I wonder how it survives in that windswept area between the casino and City Road, but it does.

Three of us went there for an early dinner recently before heading off to see the Stephen Sondheim opera/musical “Passion” at the Arts Centre.

We shared some Golden “Duck” Slices as an entree and followed that up with two main courses and rice. The “duck” slices were a convincing texture and flavour made from wheat or soy protein with a thin layer of batter and served with a sweet dipping sauce.

My favourite main was the spicy eggplant with ‘pork’, but the sizzling ‘beef’ was pretty tasty too.  The mock pork was particularly good though, with a firm texture. The spicy sauce packed a punch but wasn’t so hot that it gave me hiccups,  which is what happens when I get too much chilli. The sizzling beef and the sauce were poured onto the platter at the table, adding a bit of theatre. It also came with plenty of veggies.

Really good if you are craving a mock meat fix.

sizzling beef


Enlightened Cuisine
113 Queensbridge Street,
Southbank VIC 3006
(03) 9686 9188

Posted November 24, 2014 10:00 AM

November 23, 2014

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Cheesey Kale Quesadillas with Mole Sauce and home made Tortillas

It was a home made day.  I made (roasted) cashew butter to go in home-made mole sauce to go in quesadillas made with home-made tortillas.  I was rewarded with possibly the best quesadillas I have ever made.  They didn't spill or curl or flop the wrong way.  They were creamy and spicy and filled with lots of healthy kale.

I have made a few mole-related recipes but never a mole sauce.  This year I bought my first jar of mole sauce and loved it.  However I was a little uncomfortable that it had peanut butter in it (because my 5 year old has a peanut allergy).  I really needed to make my own.  The one I made was as easy as the recipe suggested.  It was very spicy but with great depth of flavour.  The cocoa added to the richness but did not taste like chocolate.

The sauce took about an hour to cook but it was not onerous.  The last 15 minutes just required occasional stirring.  It was a balmy spring evening.  Sylvia was outside jumping off the letterboxes at the end of the driveway and drawing chalk circles on the footpath.  The neighbours were out too.  I just needed to run in and stir for a few seconds every now and again.  The mole made the house smell wonderful and spicy.

I've always thought I would make my own wheat flour tortillas some day.  Even so, I am not sure what fit of whimsy led me to decide to make some.  I guess I have made enough similar fried flatbreads to know it was be fairly easy.  They were rather quickly and were lovely and soft.  (Sylvia even had one in her lunchbox the next day.)  Perhaps their freshness made it easy to fry them up into quesadillas.  I still have to find out more about making tortillas such as what is the best way to store them and is it better to knead a little or a lot.

The mole recipe suggested enchiladas.  This sounded good but I don't always have the energy to put together an oven bake and wait for it.  I wanted something quick.  So I made quesadillas with kale and cheese.  Once the tortillas were made it took no time at all to put together dinner. I fried up some kale, slapped together the quesadillas and fried them.

These quesadillas were excellent.  The tortillas were superior to store-bought.  So fresh and floppy.  The sauce kept it all together but I love cheese and thought this was a good opportunity to use the vegan biocheese.  E had regular cheddar cheese.  But it would work without any cheese too because the mole sauce has lots of flavour.  And of course stuffing it with kale made it feel healthy.

I had heaps of mole sauce leftover.  I still have some in the fridge a week later.  Below you can see some of the dishes I have served with the sauce.

As well as the quesadillas, I have made plain old cheese and mole quesadillas with lettuce and tomatoes on the side (bottom left), wrap your own tortillas with mole, spicy kale and avocado dip, lettuce, tomato, kale and cheese (top left) and mole burgers with spicy kale and avocado dip, plus a side serve of rice fried with leftover salad, hot sauce, salt and lime (top right).  When I did the wrap your own tortillas, I was in a rush and didn't warm the sauce properly.  It really needed to be warm.  I must remember that next time.

I am sending these quesadillas to Shaheen at Allotment to Kitchen with thanks.  She is hosting this month's We Should Cocoa and has chosen to pair chilli with chocolate.  I am not keen on chilli in sweet food but I do love a savoury chocolate dish.  I have had mole on my to do list for some time so this event was a great inspiration.  I am also sending these quesadillas to Shaheen for her Eat Your Greens event.

More savoury chocolate and chilli recipes from Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Cheesey Kale Quesadillas with Mole Sauce 

Kale, chopped
Tortillas (recipe below)
Mole sauce
Cheese (cheddar or biocheese)

Fry up kale in oil for a few minutes until bright green in colour.  Spread a tortilla with about 3-4 tbsp of mole sauce leaving about an inch around the edge of the tortilla.  Thinly slice some cheese and soread over half the mole sauce.  Scatter with kale.  Fold over and fry on medium high heat until golden brown on each side.  (It takes a bit of time - enough to be running in and out of sleepless child's room)

Easy Mole Sauce
Adapted from Vegetarian Times
Makes about 2 1/2 to 3 cups

2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped (2 cups)
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (2 tsp)
2 tbsp old bay seasoning*
1 tbsp chilli salt seasoning*
1/2 tbsp cumin powder*
2 tbsp brown sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
5 cloves, ground
400g tin of diced tomatoes
2 cups water
3 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp cashew butter*

Fry onions in oil over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.  Add garlic, spices and sugar. Stir for 1 minute.  Mix in the tomatoes, water, cocoa powder and cashew butter.  Check seasoning.  Bring to the boil and gently simmer for 15 minutes (covered), stirring frequently.  Store in the fridge.

*NOTE I used old bay seasoning, chilli salt and cumin instead of 1/4 cup chile powder.  If you don't have these or American style chile powder (not the same as what is referred to as chilli powder in Australia) you could use 2 tbsp mild paprika, 2 tsp oregano, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp cayenne powder (based on this recipe.)  Many moles tend to use peanut butter but I avoid it due to family allergies.  However you could substitute peanut butter or other nut butters for the cashew butter.

Wheat flour tortillas
From Taste of Home
Makes 8

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup water
3 tbsp olive oil

Mix flour and salt.  Add water and olive oil.  Mix until it comes together in a dough.  Lightly knead on a floured surface until you have a smooth dough.  Rest for at least 10 minutes, covered with a tea towel.  Cut into 8 pieces.  Roll out each piece into a 7 inch circle on a floured surface.  Heat heavy based non stick frypan over medium high heat and fry each tortilla about 1 minute each side or until just a few brown spots.  Use tongs to poke at any air bubbles and to flip the tortilla.  Stack cooked tortillas on a plate with a tea towel over them to keep them soft and warm.

On the Stereo:
Brood: My Friend the Chocolate Cake

Posted November 23, 2014 09:10 AM by Johanna GGG

November 22, 2014

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Lucy Lockett

November 4, 2014

This is a story of major oversight on our part - it appears that cafe Lucy Lockett has been serving up original and abundantly veg-friendly breakfasts and lunches just a couple blocks from our home since February. And we had no idea. 

We blame the awnings that obscure their signage. When a cafe opened in this spot almost two years ago, we looked over the menu and didn't see anything we wanted to order. Since then it's evolved from Red Scooter to Red Vespa to the current Lucy Lockett without making any further impression on us at all. Thankfully our friend Troy is a little more observant recommended their menu to us.

As I hinted above, there's a lot to recommend - smashed avocado comes with spring onions and coriander (and Vegemite if you like!), mushrooms are braised with spinach, there's a breakfast burrito stuffed with scrambled egg and beans. The sweet side is as extensive and thoughtfully composed - the bircher muesli is vegan with a pina colada theme, house roasted granola comes with popcorn, and the French toast is crumbed with banana chips and oats. I can almost forgive them for adding bacon to their sticky date and almond pancakes. And that's not even delving into the toasties and lunch options! With crystal clear dietary markings throughout, these guys are true friends of vegetarians, vegans and coeliacs.

Michael relished a sunny plate of vegan, gluten-free corn and zucchini fritters interspersed with quinelles of avocado, sour coconut cream and sweet chilli jam ($18). My serve of Dr Marty's crumpets ($8.50, pictured top) came in a fancy stack, dripping with rich house made peanut butter, mixed berry jam and fresh strawberries. I also sampled my second iced chai of the weekend ($6.50, also pictured top), though based on the confused murmurs behind the counter it's rarely ordered. It was a mild milk tea chilled with both ice cubes and ice cream.

Staff were friendly and relaxed on a quiet Melbourne Cup morning. Prices hover around $15 for breakfast, rise towards $20 for lunch plates and soar beyond for folks ordering the biggest meat-based meals. Those price points are becoming more common in Melbourne's cafes, and I don't mind paying them here, where the veg options are so numerous and varied.


Lucy Lockett
140 Barkly St, Brunswick
8388 7138

Accessibility: The entry is flat and the interior is spacious. We ordered at our table and paid at a low-ish counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

Posted November 22, 2014 11:18 AM by Cindy

November 20, 2014


What I Ate This Week

A little public service announcement: since redirecting my old blog over to this one, I can’t comment on blogspot blogs (I’m working on fixing this).  Waaah! So many comments I want to leave but can’t for now. My apologies! Okay, so I’m getting back in to training and stepping up my efforts where nutrition is...
Continue reading »

Posted November 20, 2014 10:01 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Vegan eating out in Melbourne

The growth of vegan food available in Melbourne over the past decade or so has been huge.  Lots of places are now providing vegan options that are exciting, creative and innovative.  As a vegetarian who does not like eggs or a lot of dairy, I enjoy lots finding cafes with plant based offerings.

This year I planned to write about vegan eating out in Melbourne during Vegan MoFo but ran out of time.  The draft has sat there ever since begging to see the light of day.  I also developed the post because I never have time to blog about all the meals I photograph.

So here is my tour of some of Melbourne's vegan-friendly cafes.  It is not a comprehensive list because it reflects how I eat out - I don't like mock meat, I live in the inner North and I mostly eat out at brunch or lunch rather than dinner!  I hope it will make us all feel good about all the wonderful vegan food available.  I'd love to hear of your favourite place to eat vegan food.

My top 5 vegan meals in Melbourne

Sourdough toast with smashed peas, wild rice and candied walnuts
@ Wide Open Road, Brunswick
Sadly this dish is no longer available.  It was so amazing that couple of years later it still stands out as one of my favourite meals I have had in a cafe.  I have also had an excellent tofu scramble there.  It is worth checking their current menu for vegan options.

Vegan nachos 
@ the Vegie Bar, Fitzroy
I was at the Vegie Bar for lunch a while back and really enjoyed the generosity of these nachos.  Heaps of corn chips, salsa, black beans, vegan cheese, vegan sour cream and jalapenos.  It could easily serve 2 (ie I could not finish it).  Nachos can be a bit dry but these were full of vegies and sauce and were really satisfying.  I also loved the green kale smoothie I had with it. 

Brunswick ploughman’s lunch 
@ Code Black, Brunswick
A Middle Eastern twist on the traditional ploughman's lunch.  I was very impressed that when I asked for a vegan version, eggs and meat weren't just subtracted but I was given substitutions.  My platter consisted of chickpea fritters, pickled cabbage, roasted mushrooms, olives, beetroot dip, grated carrot with cumin, fresh radish, avocado with dukkah, gherkins and home made flatbreads with dukkah.  It was so so good.

Raw Hawaiian Live Pizza 
@ Yong Green Food, Fitzroy
I haven't had much raw food in cafes but there is more of this around Melbourne.  One place that I have visited was Yong Green Food which has a lot of raw food including pizza.  This raw pizza had a macadamia-nut bread base, topped with tomato sauce, avocado, pineapple, olives, sprouts, cherry tomatoes and cashew cheese sauce.  Not comparable to regular pizza but wonderful and light.

CLT bagel 
@ New Day Rising, East Brunswick
There is a good reason this CLT has been raved about by many.  The generous serve of coconut bacon (with rocket, tomato and avocado) makes this bagel chockablock with flavour and goodness.

5 recent dishes at omnivore cafes
  1. Natural Tucker Bakery (North Carlton) - tofu and pesto tart with pumpkin, and wholemeal apricot and coconut cake.  Healthy and delicious.
  2. San Churro (CBD and various) - churros with dark chocolate sauce (thanks to Linda for pointing out these are accidentally vegan.).  Absolutely decadent.
  3. Minang Nasi Padang (Carlton) - Eggplant curry, tofu coconut curry and spicy peanuts.  Cheap and cheerful Indonesian street food.
  4. Dos Diablos taco truck - (on the move) black bean tacos with corn salsa (enjoyed in Yarraville Gardens!).  Nice but I should have availed myself of the sauces.
  5. A Minor Place (East Brunswick) - almond crusted chickpea burger, vegan mayo, caramelised onions, tomatoes, spinach and sourdough toast.  Fantastic and quite spicy!

5 recent dishes at vegetarian or vegan cafes
  1. Supercharger (CBD) - smashed green peas and avocado, eggplant curry, carrot salad, braised tempeh and brown rice.  Healthy but my options didn't quite work together and just felt virtuous.
  2. Loving Hut (Northcote and other locations) - wanton noodle soup.  Delicious and satisfying.  I want to try more.
  3. Melbourne University Food Cooperative (Parkville) - pumpkin and tofu pie.  Great healthy cheap student food.  (Sadly it is closed until Semester 1 starts next year in March.)
  4. Sister of Soul (St Kilda) - black sticky rice with caramelised coconut and blood orange sorbet.  An amazing dessert.  (I wish the photo did it more justice.)
  5. Lord of the Fries (CBD and other locations) - original burger with chips.  A mock meat burger I enjoy.  Yummy burger (that I was reluctant to try because it is quite 'meaty') with lots of sauce.  (Ask for vegan cheese and mayo.)
5 Vegan and vegetarian cafes I have reviewed
  1. Smith and Daughters (Fitzroy) - Stylish vegan restaurant with a Mexican influence.  Enjoyed brunch and would love to try the dinner menu.  
  2. Lord of the Fries (CBD and other locations) - Great chips but also burgers and hot dogs.
  3. Vegie Bar (Fitzroy) - A busy and lively vegetarian restaurant with an extensive menu, lots of raw food and heaps of vegan options.
  4. Trippy Taco (Fitzroy) - Cheap and cheerful vegetarian Mexican-style street food with lots of vegan options.  Great tamales. 
  5. Mr Nice Guy Cupcakes (Ascot Vale) - All vegan.  He makes lovely filled bagels but it is the fancy cupcakes that really make me ooh and aah!

5 Vegan-friendly cafes I have reviewed
  1. True North (Coburg) - Offers vegan meat and cheese substitutes in their impressive rolls and sandwiches, such as BLT, Breakfast Roll and Reuben Sandwich.  Plus lots of hot sauces.
  2. Wide Open Road (Brunswick) - Innovative modern menu that changes seasonally. 
  3. Code Black (Brunswick) - Modern cafe with interesting dishes that is prepared to actually substitute for meat and cheese rather than just remove it from your dish!
  4. ShanDong Mama (CBD) - Flourescent lit Asian cafe with amazing dumplings and scallion pancakes.
  5. East Elevation (East Brunswick) - Light-filled warehouse cafe and chocolatier that offers fried tempeh instead of eggs in their veggie breakfast.

5 cafes I want to try vegan food

5 shops to buy vegan products

5 vegan friendly places that are gone but not forgotten
  • Cafe Sarabella (Coburg) - A little Indian cafe in Victoria St mall that is much missed.
  • The Gasometer Hotel (Collingwood) - This pub had a great innovative vegan section on the menu.  It closed and has since reopened with a more traditional pub menu.
  • Lentil as Anything (Brunswick) - I enjoyed this vegetarian community-oriented cafe on the corner of Union St and Sydney Rd.  At least there are other branches of Lentil as Anything that are still open. 
  • Radical Grocery (Brunswick) - a fantastic vegan grocery store that I loved visiting.
  • Tart ‘n’ Round Café (Thornbury) - This was a great vegan and gluten free cafe.

5 Melbourne bloggers who write about vegan cafes

I am sending this post to Rika of Vegan Miam who is heading to Melbourne next month and is very interested in where to find vegan food!  I look forward to reading about her experiences!

Now it your turn.  What is your favourite vegan-friendly cafes, vegan meal and/or recommendations for vegan eating in Melbourne?  If you don't live in Melbourne, tell me what cafe/dish you would like to try.

Posted November 20, 2014 11:18 AM by Johanna GGG

quinces and kale

roasted vegetable frittata

roasted veg frittata

Another week and another triumph for the ever wonderful chick pea flour.

This time I’ve made a chickpea flour and roasted vegetable frittata. It is wonderful. Sometimes vegan replacement foods can be a disappointment. But this is not. Chickpea flour batter is so fabulous as an egg replacement that I think many people, vegans and non vegans alike, could not tell the difference. The idea comes from the chickpea batter in a quiche recipe at The Gourmet Vegan.

It is a little bit more work than just mixing everything up and throwing it all into the oven, as the chick pea flour needs cooking first, and the veggies need to be roasted before mixing it all together.  But, if you have roasted veggies already in the fridge, you can have this ready in less than 40 minutes. I used a combination of roasted cauliflower, pumpkin, red capsicum, and halved cherry tomatoes that I already had in the fridge. Apart from its delicious flavour, I think the cauliflower really helps with the texture and I would always include it. But any roasted vegetables would be good. I have some leeks in the garden that are just calling to be used. :)

I ate mine with a salad made with some lettuce from my garden with avocado, and a dill flavoured, mustardy vinaigrette.  Warning it is delicious, I’ve eaten a third of it already!

roasted veg frittata


roasted vegetable frittata
prep time
10 mins
cook time
30 mins
total time
40 mins
author: quincesandkale
recipe type: vegan
serves: 8
  • 2-3 cups of roasted vegetables - I used a combination of cauliflower, pumpkin, red capsicum, and halved cherry tomatoes.
  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon Massel liquid stock concentrate or a stock cube
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • ½ teaspoon black salt ( this gives an eggy flavour)
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 deg C.
  2. Mix the chick pea flour with 1 cup of the water into a smooth paste.
  3. Combine the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
  4. Pour the chick pea flour mix into the saucepan and mix thoroughly.
  5. Lower the heat and stir continuously until the batter thickens.
  6. Continue to cook, stirring for another 3 minutes.
  7. Gently fold in the roasted vegetables. It will be quite thick.
  8. Scoop the mix into a oiled cake tin or flan dish.
  9. Smooth the top with a wet spatula.
  10. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
  11. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before turning out of the tin.
  12. Serve cold or warm.


Posted November 20, 2014 10:00 AM

November 19, 2014

Thoughts Of A Moni

30 Mill Espresso

The address says Malvern, but I’d be more inclined to say it’s in Tooronga, given that it is directly opposite Tooronga Station. But technicalities aside, let’s focus on what 30 Mill Espresso is there for, and that’s good breakfast and great coffee.

30 Mill Espresso serve Five Senses coffee which is full bodied with a rich aroma. I never used to be a coffee snob, but these days, I can definitely tell a good coffee from an average one. This coffee was on the high side of good. I was already winning, which is unusual for early on a Saturday morning.

The menu had a mixture of sweet and savoury options but as expected my eyes gravitated towards the corn fritters. The corn fritters were served with dollops of creamy labneh, confit cherry tomatoes, a delicious red onion jam, and dusted with dukkah. Unfortunately the fritters were less like the crunchy fritters that I expected and more like corn cakes. The flavour was great, and I could taste hints of coriander and cumin, but the texture was not there. The onion jam was the highlight though, and I was almost tempted to ask if it was house made, or whether I could purchase it.

The other half went for the blackboard special which was sliced chorizo on sourdough, served with avocado and feta mash, rocket salad, corn relish and a poached egg. He declared this a winner, mainly due to the avocado and feta mash which he said tasted pretty amazing.

There was also a delicious selection of fresh croissants and pastries on the counter, but unfortunately we were too full to try these. Perhaps next time...

Overall 30 Mill Espresso was a pretty good option for breakfast. Whilst I probably wouldn’t have the fritters again, I would go back and try something else. After all, they do serve some awesome coffee that’s worth making a second visit for.

30 Mill Espresso on Urbanspoon

Posted November 19, 2014 03:03 PM by Moni

November 18, 2014

Green Gourmet Giraffe

East Brunswick cafe: Pope Joan

I heard about Pope Joan long before I managed to go there for a meal.  The hype was right!  I loved it. The cafe is light-filled and stylish.  The meals are unusual and delicious.  The food is prettily arranged, often served on vintage plates.  It is satisfying without being heavy.  The staff waft by with floral jugs for topping up water glasses.  It has been easy to return a few times.

Upon entering the cafe, it seems quite small.  However there are lots of tables down the side.  We had to wait for a seat on a Saturday morning but not for too long.  During the week, it has been easy to find a seat.  On our first visit late last year, Sylvia had a little play in the garden down the back.

It was at that visit that I was first wowed by their fancy tarts.  It was a zucchini tart with basil and grains (pictured at the top).  The pastry shell was filled with a light zucchini mousse that contrasted nicely with the raw zucchini ribbons and creamy soft cheese..  It rested on a salad of quinoa, cranberry and herbs, which lay on a slick of capsicum puree.  All very very good.

My mum had crumbed sardines on a mash of butter beans, feta, capers and currants that she spoke highly of.  Sylvia had the chips. They were sprinkled with a herb salt and came with a cute little jar of tomato relish.  The chips were crinkly and crunchy and most excellent.

I loved the presentation of our food so much that I hoped the people next to us would order something else so I could ogle it.  Disappointingly they chose the same tart as me.

It was so good I wanted to try another dish.  Yet when I returned with E and Sylvia, the option I fancied the most was another tart.  This time it was a spinach and haloumi tart.  It was amazing without quite reaching the dizzy heights of the zucchini pie.  Perhaps the spinach mousse was a little heavier than the light zucchini mousse and it didn't have quite the textural interest.

We were there early enough that E decided to try the rice pudding with blueberries.  He was a little perplexed to find it was served cold in a jar.  Yet once he started eating it, he was most pleased with the creamy fruity concoction.

Sylvia had the fruit toast with butter and jam.  She enjoyed but didn't finish it.  E and I had to help out so I can tell you it was lovely bread and good quality jam.  It is many months now since I was there and I wish my notes were a little more detailed.

My most recent visit, but hopefully not my last, was a few weeks back.  This time I tried one of the sandwiches.  They seem to change regularly but to be quite different to any I have had before.  This sandwich was cauliflower and celeriac slaw, aged cheddar and Branston pickle in a soft wholegrain bread.  A nice twist on a traditional British style of sandwich.  It was very satisfying.  My mum also had a sandwich and Sylvia had chips.

It was a warm day so I also had the lemon and toasted barley spritzer (without the optional gin).  I was attracted by the description of it served with slices of orange and mint.  We all enjoyed the refreshing drink.  Pope Joan also does a lovely apple and pear juice that is far more fruity than sweet.

I had been tempted by the desserts on previous visits but this time I yielded.  The three of us shared a chocolate salted caramel hazelnut tart.  It was heavenly.  The chocolate was gooey (not chilled) with a generous layer of caramel underneath and just enough nuts. It was exactly the sort of decadence I love to finish off a meal.  It is not the cheapest meal in town but I enjoy the interesting food and the stylish crockery.  We will be back.

Pope Joan
75-79 Nicholson Street,
Brunswick East
Tel: (03) 9388 8858
Mon - Fri: 7.30am - 11.30pm
Sat - Sun: 7.30am - 5pm

Pope Joan on Urbanspoon

Posted November 18, 2014 09:17 PM by Johanna GGG

Vegan Bullsh*t

Shandong MaMa 2

I've been back to Shandong Mama many times over the past year since I blogged it, but I finally remembered to document a visit! They've expanded the menu and now opened up a second location (with booze!), Shandong Mama Mini, and it's great to see they're having so much success. Still only the one vegan dumpling option but now you have the option of having them fried too - and the scallion pancakes are now marked with a V! We always order the same, one order of boiled zucchini dumplings, one fried, and some scallion pancakes:
The dumplings are still the best ones I've had. They're lovely and fresh with amazingly thin tender skins, bursting with zucchini, tofu and coriander. These dumplings are fat - popping one into your mouth whole would be a challenge. But they're perfectly proportioned, and with vinegar, chili and soy sauce on every table, you can mix up your perfect dipping sauce and hoe in. The scallion pancakes, though, are an awesome side - crunchy outsides and doughy insides, although with very little scallion flavour (and almost no visible green). I was curious about how they make these until I glanced at the receipt - they're baked, which explains the thick crunch and the non-greasy outsides. For a quick, easy and delicious CBD lunch, you really can't beat Shandong Mama. The service is fast and friendly, the food is incredible and more innovative than the other dumpling places around Bourke St. I can't wait for my next excuse to go there!
Shandong MaMa
Shop 7, 200 Bourke St, Melbourne
open 11:00-9:00 Monday-Saturday, closed Sundays
Shandong Mama on Urbanspoon

Posted November 18, 2014 04:47 PM by L

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Heartattack and Vine

November 3, 2014

We took advantage of cheap Monday nights at Nova to catch up with Cindy's aunt for a movie and a meal. I'd been itching to try Heartattack and Vine, the newest kid on the Carlton block, with an impressive pedigree (it's been opened by Wide Open Road and A Minor Place alumni and follows their tradition of a musical reference moniker).

They've transformed the old Brown's Bakery space into a tremendously stylish bar - beautiful wooden tables, exposed bricks and gorgeous light fittings create a lovely atmosphere. It's cosy inside - maybe 30 seats - and there are a couple of big outdoor tables on Lygon if you want to sit outside.

We had no idea what to expect food-wise, but we had high hopes. It turns out though that H & V is more bar than restaurant, modelled on the bars of Italy, where food is all about shared plates of small bites. They've got the drinks nailed down - a great range of bottled beer plus Coburg Lager on tap, cocktails, an impressive wine list and an array of Six Barrel Soda Co soft drinks. Cindy and Carol split the raspberry/lemon and the cola and were impressed by both.

There's no menu to speak of - the kitchen puts together an array of dishes each day and you talk them through with the staff and make your choices - $3.50 a dish or 3 for $10. We wound up with 9 dishes ($30) - this included all the vego options (they'd just run out of a salad) plus some anchovy-stuffed olives for Carol. The day we visited vegans would have been limited to the crisps, the spiced nuts and the green olives (all of which were good). We added some cheese and pickles on delicious bread and some gooey, cheesy arancini, plus they threw in some crisps as a bonus. The dishes were all excellent, although teetering on the brink of decent value - $30 got the three of us enough food to get through the movie, but really not much more than that.  

We had a good time at Heartattack and Vine - the staff are super friendly and the vibe was busy without being overly crowded, but I struggled to scale back my expectations to bar food from the full meals I'd been imagining. This isn't really H & V's fault - they do what they do very well - I'm sure we'll be having drinks there again before too long, but it's probably not a dinner destination if you're feeling hungry. They're open all day - coffee and pastry at breakfast, a few different sandwiches and rolls at lunchtime and booze all day. It's a welcome addition to the neighbourhood and will provide fierce competition to the bar upstairs at Nova


The lunch options at Heartattack & Vine have been reviewed at de-brief me already.


Heartattack and Vine
329 Lygon St, Carlton
9005 8624
facebook page

Accessibility: There's a small lip on the door as you come in off the street. The interior is pretty crowded and the seating mostly low stools. You order and pay at a high bar. The toilets are unisex, but not particularly accessibility-focused otherwise.

Posted November 18, 2014 07:19 AM by Michael

November 17, 2014

quinces and kale

blondie bar

grilled zucchini salad

Blondie Bar is a lovely small bar and restaurant, nestled into the Melbourne Recital Centre, serving Asian inspired food.

I found myself there at 5pm recently after a chamber music concert. Not quite dinner time, but I was ready for a drink and a small snack. Fortunately, in addition to serving lunch and dinner, they also have a decent bar snacks menu. What was an unexpected surprise and pleasure is that the menu contains three marked vegan options and a couple of more easily veganizable vegetarian ones.

We chose a grilled zucchini salad and some edamame.

The salad was a delicious combination of grilled zucchini, white and black shelled beans and grilled mushrooms in a soy dressing. The edamame don’t need any elaboration, just the usual soybeans steamed with salt.

It is always nice to know that there is another good place for a post concert snack and drink in the arts precinct.

Blondie Bar
Corner Sturt Street & Southbank Boulevard
Southbank, 3006 

Posted November 17, 2014 10:00 AM

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Blue Buddha Cafe

November 3, 2014

Following our lunch at Tadka Boom!, Michael and I ran a few errands in the city and then walked north to Raw Trader with dessert on our minds. It was closed for the Melbourne Cup long weekend and Short Stop next door had only just that minute sold out of donuts. Dang. We whipped out our smart phones, confirmed that Blue Buddha Cafe was open and continued walking north.

Tucked just beyond the Queen Victoria Markets, this cafe has transformed a flat corporate building with a benevolent blue Buddha mural. Inside there's second hand furniture, cotton cushions, board games and a small lending library. Michael picked a pew and I wandered over to the counter to survey our options. The brunch foods that others have posted about weren't really apparent, but it was easy to discern our cake-and-drink options.

I picked out two non-bananified raw cakes from the display case ($6 each) - a wedge of lemon and avocado cheesecake, and a cupcake-sized chocolate and avocado cheesecake. They were homely and well-balanced: not overladen with sweetener or coconut oil, and perfectly portioned.

Drinks are fair trade and soycharge free - Michael went for his usual flat white ($4), while I took on their soy iced chai ($5). The latter was remarkable! Made with real tea and real spice with only a subtle hint of sweetness, this could be my perfect iced chai. I'll guess I'll have to go back soon just to be sure. Next time I'll turn up in time to try their mushroom bacon too.


Blue Buddha Cafe has already received positive reviews on Veganopoulous, The Good Hearted and A Melbournite.

Blue Buddha Cafe
30/1 O'Connell St, North Melbourne
8395 0699
facebook page

Accessibility: There's one small step on entry and a moderately spacious interior. I ordered and paid at a low counter. The furniture is a mix of cushioned wooden pews, milk crates, and more standard table and chairs. We didn't visit the toilets.

Posted November 17, 2014 08:16 AM by Cindy

November 16, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Soul Foods, Newcastle NSW

A couple of weekends back, we took a quick weekend trip up to Newcastle to visit the Bear’s new baby nephew. Our efforts to arrive super early were apparently in vain – when we got to the airport, there were no shuttle buses for over an hour. We sat at the airport drinking big old mugs of coffee wondering why exactly we had taken the 6am flight.

The shuttle bus took us into Newcastle, where we desperately needed some breakfast after already being up without food for over five hours. Harnessing the power of the internet, we found our target – Natural Tucker Health Food and Cafe on Darby St. We started making our way there, when we stumbled upon this sign:


Vegan options? Count us in!

newie2Soul Foods was closer than our destination, and conveniently right across from the train station we needed to get to to scoot out to Cardiff afterwards.

The cafe had high ceilings and a quirky interior – lots of mismatched coloured chairs and pretty teacups. I liked it. I was a bit jealous of two ladies to my left who had what looked like the most royal thrones of the room, but I stopped giving them greasies to look at the menu.

The bubbly lady explained the vegan options – I went with the zucchini fritters/pancakes? Usually served with haloumi, but could be replaced with tofu to be made vegan. Sounded great.

newie1 When my meal came out, I was impressed by the vibrant colours – I like to eat with my eyes and I like rainbow plates. However unfortunately this dish just didn’t quite come together. The zucchini fritters were semi-sweet pancakes with blueberries in them, but then topped with savouries. It was great that they could substitute the haloumi instead of just take it away, however the tofu was raw and I could not taste any marinade. Tomato and avo are always good brekkie additions, and everybody knows I am a dip fanatic, however the hommus tasted distinctly of one I have bought at the supermarket, as did the pesto – which tasted very cheesy (like those little oily cashew ‘chunky’ dips you can buy). When I asked afterwards, the lady assured me that it was vegan and house-made, but I was still a little skeptical. It tasted EXACTLY how I remember that non-vegan store bought dip to taste. But hey, if they tell me so I gotta believe it.

The bear went with a bean dish, though he had it with feta so I didn’t snap it. He really enjoyed it and I tried some of the beans which were tasty. I think they came with some pumpkin toast.

Soul Foods had a bunch of tasty looking vegan sweets, but I wasn’t really feeling it on the day. I was a little disappointed with the breakfast, but wouldn’t discount them entirely without having another go. Maybe next time!

Afterwards, we bumbled with buying train tickets (confusing machines), missed our train (and also forced an innocent man to miss the train too with our inability to navigate the ticket machine) and ultimately had to wait another hour and a half for the next one. When we complained of our plight, we were told “but it’s Saturday” as if that explained the lack of transport options. Oh us Melbourners with our frequent departing Saturday trains, what were we thinking? We arrived at Billy’s sister’s place at about 2pm. Good thing we got that 6am flight! Ha!

Soul Foods
227 Hunter st, Newcastle NSW
Tues – Fri – 7.30am – 5pm
Sat – Sun – 8am – 3.30pm

Posted November 16, 2014 10:18 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Smoky cheesy peas pasta and recent days out

It is true that sometimes life seems too busy for blogging.  Too busy for fancy meals.  Too busy for lots of posts.  To busy to put down on screen all the things I would like to share and mull over.  Hence today's post is a little eclectic.  It is a catch up on weekend activities and I have a recipe for a successful but simple cheesey pasta dish.

So last weekend started with the Pepper Tree Place Fiesta.  Pepper Tree Place is one of those local hubs that make me glad to feel I am starting to connect with my community.  It is a vibrant, colourful, interesting place to spend time, shady enough to cope on a hot day and full of friendly faces, including a few familiar ones.  We enjoyed the music.  I bought a crocheted poppy for Remembrance Day.  Sylvia did some craft.  I had some very yummy okonomiyaki and sample some pakora-style patties made by a Bangladeshi woman.

Continuing with the theme of feeling connected, on Monday I heard Susan Greenfield on Q and A discussing issues of social media and how connected it really makes us.  I understand her point but I was able to feel quite smug as I had just had three days in a row of real world interactions with people through blog connections.  (A dinner with bloggers, a meet up with a blog friend and a book launch that I was invited to by Dina who reads my blog!)

Firstly the dinner was at Loving Hut.  I was really pleased to finally get there after a few attempts when it was closed.  It was also great to meet up with bloggers, some familiar faces and some new.  In fact, I was too busy chatting to realise the paper menu had two sides.  (It was one of those days: my wooden spoon fell apart and I managed to spill my plate of sweet potato spring rolls!)  Despite that I pleased with the wanton noodle soup.  It was just what I wanted.  Light with enough vegies, satisfying dumplings and slurpy noodles.

Having participated in Vegan MoFo for the last few years has raised my interest in World Vegan Day.  This year I was able to go and I really enjoyed sitting on the grass, enjoying good food and catching up with a blogger and her kiddie whom I bumped into.  Browsing the actual stalls was less satisfying.  The sheds were busy and not so much fun with a 5 year old who just wanted chips and ice cream.  Meanwhile I could only find a 2 hour park and the clock was ticking away.

I mainly saw the food displays and they were interesting but no revelation.  I had a sense that there wasn't a lot of food on offer that I couldn't make at home or find in the shops.  Which is not to say we didn't enjoy sampling the products.  I had a scallion pancake, some crab cakes with aioli and coconut ice cream.  Sylvia had sweet potato chips with sweet and sour plum sauce and strawberry ice cream.  We also took away a box of cupcakes, a spicy kale and avocado dip and a bottle of kombucha.  Sadly the kombucha got spilled all over the car.  Sigh!

Today we went to The Scottish Fling Festival at the Immigration Museum.  It was great fun.  We saw country dancing, highland dancing, an ode to the haggis, and bands such as Taliska.  Sylvia rode on a shetland pony and did some tartan weaving with gaffer tape.  Sadly we were too late for much in the way of food.  In fact by the time we queues, the vegetarian pasties and tattie scones were gone so we had to exist on Tunnocks Caramel Logs and Irn Bru and eat some chips on the way home.

And finally here is today's recipe.  It is for a smoky cheesey peas pasta that I made to woo Sylvia last week.  Every now and again I make a big effort to get her eating the same dinners as us.  Often I make a vegan cheese sauce for pasta which I find lighter.  For an observant 5 year old, I was taking no chances.

I used the smoked cheese that she loves and a few vegies she often eats for dinner.  One challenge is that she loves many vegies raw rather than cooked, such as carrot and capsicum.  She was particularly displeased with the tiny scrap of capsicum I threw in.  However my trump card was the tofu bacon.  She loves it with a passion.  While she had her little complaints, she did eat this two days running.  I think I can call it a success.

I am sending the pasta to Eat Your Veg and Bangers and Mash for the Family Foodies blog event that is focusing on Vegetarian food in November.

More creamy pasta sauces on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Cauliflower cheese macaroni 
Cheeseless mac and cheese sauce
Creamy vodka pasta sauce
Hurry up vegan pumpkin alfredo 
Vegan cheesy peas pasta  

Smoky cheesey peas pasta
serves 3-4

250g pasta shapes
2-3 tbsp olive oil (or butter)
1 carrot, finely chopped
1/4 capsicum, finely chopped
2 dessertspoons wholemeal flour
2 cups soy milk (or milk of choice)
1/2 to 1 cup smoked cheese grated
1 cup green peas
Handful of fried tofu bacon bits

Cook and drain pasta according to the packet instructions.

Heat oil over medium high in large frying pan and fry carrot and capsicum for a few minutes until they start to soften.  Add flour and fry for a few minutes until it slightly darkens in colour and/or smells cooked.  Gradually add milk until mixed in and bring to the boil so it thickens.  Stir in grated cheese and peas.

Pour cheese sauce over drained pasta and mix well.  At first it seemed far too much for my pasta but it actually ended up coating it really well.  Serve with tofu bacon bits scattered over the pasta.

On the Stereo:
Super Trouper: ABBA

Posted November 16, 2014 10:18 PM by Johanna GGG

Vegan Bullsh*t

Tofu Misozuke

This post has been two months in the making! I've been fascinated by the idea of tofu misozuke (miso cured tofu) for a while: miso is one of my favourite flavours in just about anything, so I sat down during the late winter and knocked it together. After smearing my tofu with the miso mix and curing for two months approx, this is what came out: 

I really enjoy this stuff. It has a definite miso hit and the tang of a cheesy, fermented product, but is quite smooth and mild. Google suggests it's best enjoyed in the style of a nice cheese, and that's the way I've been having it - gently smeared on a water cracker or toasts. I suspect it has other uses too  -maybe smeared on a banh mi as the pate, or seared like a block of foie gras? With a block of Vegusto or A Vegan Smiles cheese, some fruit and some crackers, you'd have a perfect vegan cheese plate. The flavours can be tweaked by using different miso pastes so the idea has plenty of room for experimentation - I know I'll be making more with darker misos, as well as playing with extending the curing time.
Tofu Misozuke (very slight adaptation from Rau Om's open source recipe)

300g block tofu. Anywhere from soft to hard can work - firmer tofus will take longer but have a more interesting flavour. I chose this Momen Tofu from Woolworths and found it worked well - I wouldn't go a very spongy, dry tofu, but other than that, whatever you have.
Cure it with:
1 cup miso (I used white)
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp mirin (I didn't have sake)

Mix marinade together in a bowl until well combined.

Press your block of tofu gently for a couple of hours to remove excess moisture. Wrap it in one layer of muslin, then smear your marinade on thickly until it is completely covering the fabric. I found that I needed to pat it on rather than smear. For ease of handling, if you like, wrap another light layer of muslin around the outside, Line a Tupperware container with paper towels and pop in your tofu block. Cover it with more paper towels, seal and let sit in the fridge for 2 months, changing the paper towels when they become wet. To read more of the science about it, head to Rau Om's blog.

Posted November 16, 2014 05:30 PM by L

November 15, 2014

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Tadka Boom!

November 3, 2014

We were pretty excited when Tadka Boom! opened in the CBD, bringing with it the promise of India-inspired breakfast dishes and more straightforward lunches. Idli-based breakfast dishes and scrambled eggs with lentil and rice pikelets sounded fascinating and fun. Sadly, we took a few months to get ourselves sorted for a visit, by which time they'd ditched the brekkies entirely. The new focus is healthy Indian lunches, which suited our mood for a lazy long-weekend trip into the city.

The restaurant is tucked into Goldsborough Lane, a little courtyard filled with office-worker lunch spaces and not a lot of atmosphere. The layout inside is bright and cheerful - block colours, cute circular fluoro lights and upbeat staff. The menu is a slightly odd mix of wraps and rice bowls, snack-sized dishes and Indian-inspired sliders and tacos. It's veg-friendly and well-labelled, with heaps of options for vegans. 

The Indian felafel tacos (2 for $10) sounded intriguing, but I decided to go with something more conventional - the Varansi Veg rice bowl (spicy vegetable mix with brown basmati rice and lentil dahl, $10.90) with a side of Bombay bites (lentil and herb nuggets with coriander aioli, $3.50 extra). The bites were okay - a little on the dry side, but a nice herby flavour and a decent amount of aioli for dunking.

The bowl was more successful - the spicy veggie mix was fresh, almost salady, with plenty of fresh chilli chunks dotted through the cabbage, greens, carrot and likely cooked cauliflower and the dahl was hearty. I was impressed that they keep the spice levels up reasonably high - this could have been pretty dull if they'd been a bit less adventurous.

Cindy tried one of the salads - lured in by the promise of samosas as a key ingredient. The Boom!osa combined broken spinach and potato samosas with fresh greens, blackened chickpeas and a spicy dressing ($10.90). 

Cindy was impressed by this (although it also had high spice levels, which were a bit of a challenge) and inspired by the idea of including samosa chunks in a salad - expect a homemade interpretation at some stage soon!

Tadka Boom! is the kind of place you'd love if you worked nearby - an affordable, varied menu with plenty of veggie options. I'm guessing it'd be pretty busy on a regular work day - even on the Monday before the Melbourne Cup public holiday things were getting pretty full by 12:30. Their lack of any weekend opening hours mean it might be a while before we get back. It's definitely worth checking out if you do work in the neighbourhood, though - I'd love to hear what the tacos are like!


The Lentil Institution has already covered the vegan options at Tadka Boom! and was quite impressed, while Gastrology and Grazing Panda both enjoyed the omni options. Brunch Addict's post makes me a bit sad to have missed the brief breakfast period, and there are a series of posts on special freebie events at My Fair Melbourne, Bread & Butter, I'm So Hungree and ForkSake.


Tadka Boom!
Shop 22, Goldsborough Lane, Melbourne
9600 1633

Accessibility: There's a flat entryway and a reasonably spacious interior. Seats are a mix of high stools and regular tables. You order and pay at a lowish counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

Posted November 15, 2014 08:09 AM by Michael

November 14, 2014


What I Ate (This Past Fortnight)

Whoops. Kinda forgot the weekly What I Ate again… so let’s make this (another) What I Ate This Past Fortnight, shall we? I made a tofu scramble with assorted veg that had to be used up. I flavour my tofu with a little garlic powder, nutritional yeast and black salt. I had it in a tortilla...
Continue reading »

Posted November 14, 2014 09:38 AM

November 13, 2014

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Angela Liddon's Glo Bars

This morning I gave Sylvia the choice of pink iced cupcakes and glo bars.  She chose glo bars.  I was most pleased at my success with the healthier treat.  Then she says, but don't make them again because I don't like them that much.  As if I wont be making them again!

For those who haven't had the luck to come across Angela Liddon's Oh She Glows vegan blog, you might not be aware of this signature recipe of hers that has been reproduced in her cookbook that came out this year.  I love her blog and have loving making a few of her recipes.  This one was no exception. 

E commented that it was one of the better healthy bars I have made.  And to prove it we just kept nibbling away at them.  They were so good.  As well as being full of good seeds and oats, no refined sugar, and easy to make gluten free and vegan.

Now a note about the photos of these bars.  Muesli bars are among the most boring looking food.  They are meant to be healthy rather than pretty.  I really liked Angela's styliing the bars with fabric (and had also seen Mihl do it too recently with baking paper under the fabric).  I also had a look at FoodGawker for ideas. 

Then I ripped up an old dress of Sylvia's that she had worn out, literally.  When she got home and saw what I had one she gave me one of her scary disapproving frowns.

Yet for all Sylvia's displeasure at me ripping up her old dress for the blog (even though it was already quite ripped), she and her friends seemed to enjoy the novelty wrapping.  So this morning I asked what she liked about the bars.  The wrapping?  The choc chips?  The rice bubbles (which we used for puffed rice)?  Nope!  It was the oats.  Kids are so unpredictable.

I am sending these bars to Ros at the More Than Occasional Baker for Alphabakes, a blog event she runs with Caroline of Caroline Makes, challenging us to bake focusing on a different letter each month.  This month the letter is H and so I have H for hemp seeds.

Previous recipes using Rice Bubbles on Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Classic Glo Bars
Slightly adapted from The Oh She Glows Cookbook via Chatelaine
makes 12 bars
1 1⁄4 cups puffed rice*
1⁄4 cup hemp seeds
1⁄4 cup sunflower seeds
1⁄4 cup dessicated coconut
2 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp chia seeds
1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon
1⁄4 tsp fine-grain sea salt
1⁄2 cup, plus 1 tbsp, rice malt syrup*
1⁄4 cup nut butter (I used half cashew butter and tahini)
1⁄2 cup chocolate chips*

Line a slice tin or a 23 inch/9 inch square tin with baking paper.  Mix oats, puffed rice, seeds, coconut, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.  Heat rice malt syrup and nut butter on stove top or in microwave until warm and gooey.  Mix into dry ingredients - you will need a lot of elbow grease to this as it is hard work.  Mix in choc chips (make sure mixture is cool enough that they don't melt).  Press firmly into prepared tin, using damp hands.  Chill in freezer for 10 minutes or in fridge for about an hour.  Cut into bars.  Keep in fridge for up to 2 weeks or you can freezer them.

*Recipe notes: To make the recipe gluten free, make sure the oats and puffed rice are gluten free.  To make the recipe vegan, make sure the choc chips are vegan.  If you are not in Australia, I am not sure how easy it is to find rice malt syrup.  I always use it instead of brown rice syrup which is hard to find here.

On the Stereo:
Hal David and Burt Bacharach: the Songbook Collection: Various Artists.

Posted November 13, 2014 10:30 AM by Johanna GGG

quinces and kale

curried pumpkin fritters

curried pumpkin fritters

Week 136 of my love affair with chick pea flour. Is there anything that can’t be done with this fabulous stuff? It binds like egg, you can make omelettes and quiches with it, it is delicious and it is high in protein so your mother and your non-vegan friends can stop worrying if you are getting enough protein. :)

Today I made some curried pumpkin fritters, a variation on the “what the hell do I do with all these zucchini” fritters (that moment will come in the summertime!).

They are delicious too, but pumpkin and curry spices have a great affinity so these are a winner. They are fast and simple to make, and delicious. They are crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. Sometimes I serve them with a spoonful of coconut yoghurt, but I’d run out, so today I just scattered them with some fresh coriander leaves from the garden. This recipe would work with carrot and parsnip too.


curried pumpkin fritters
prep time
10 mins
cook time
5 mins
total time
15 mins
author: quincesandkale
serves: 6
  • 400 grams pumpkin
  • ½ cup chick pea(besan) flour
  • 2 teaspoons of your favourite curry powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2-3 tbs water
  • 2 tbs oil for frying
  1. Grate the pumpkin coarsely into a bowl.
  2. Mix in the salt and curry powder.
  3. Stir in the chick pea flour. It will be a little dry, so add the water a tablespoon at a time until the mixture just sticks together. It shouldn't be wet.
  4. Heat the oil in a frying pan, turn the heat down to low.
  5. Add 2 tablespoons of mixture for each patty to the pan and neaten and shape into patties and loosen from the bottom so they don't stick.
  6. Allow to fry on that side for 2 minutes, and then carefully flip and cook on the other side for another 2-3 minutes.
  7. Drain on paper to remove any excess oil.


Posted November 13, 2014 10:00 AM