January 15, 2017

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Rue de Creperie

December 11, 2016

Rue de Creperie sits in that strip of Brunswick St that's full of veg*n eateries. It's not entirely vego but their street board promises vegan options. They really deliver, too - the savoury galette batter is vegan and gluten free, and the sweet crepe batter is always vegan, with a surcharged gluten-free option. Toppings are above and beyond the usual - they've got vegan cheese, icecream, chocolate sauce and caramel on hand, yielding more than a dozen options all up (majority sweet).

For all that, our touring friend went for the classic lemon and sugar crepe ($9) - like all the sweet vegan crepes, it comes with a scoop of coconut Zebra Dream icecream.

Michael stuck steadfastly to savoury for breakfast, ordering a galette filled with mushrooms, spinach and sufficiently-melty vegan cheese ($12).

In contrast to my milder-mannered companions, I went all out with a Thailand special ($13): a parcel stuffed with bananas, liberally spread with soy condensed milk, topped with a scoop of coconut icecream. It was incredibly sweet and utterly delightful.

The atmosphere at Rue de Creperie is low-key and welcoming, I reckon this is a place where you can relax and chat a while. There's so much more I want to go back for: the Stawberry Heaven, Banana Split, Salted Caramel, the Pear Belle.... Given how allergen-friendly the menu is, I should have no trouble rounding up friends to join me. 


Rue de Creperie has already won fans in blogs TRAVELLYANLatitude Liv and Fire & Tea.

Rue de Creperie
360 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
0452 228 265
crepes & galettes, drinks

Accessibility: There is a small lip on the doorway. Tables are densely arranged with a wide, clear corridor through the middle. We ordered at our table and paid at a medium-height counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

Posted January 15, 2017 05:59 PM by Cindy

January 14, 2017

January 13, 2017

The Good Hearted - Vegan Food in Melbourne

Spiral Beans


Spiral Beans
539 Plenty Rd
Preston VIC 3072

03 9478 1461

Opening Hours:

Tues-Fri: 8am-3pm
Sat-Sun: 9am-4pm


Spiral Beans is Yuka Mikayama's reincarnation of her homestyle Japanese cafe Disco Beans, and is a collaboration with Spiral Foods, who's greatest hits include the famed Bonsoy.

The focus at Spiral Beans is very much about traditional Japanese flavours within a predominantly organic vegan menu, with gluten free, raw, fermented and macrobiotic options to boot.

The 'Okara Nuggets' (gluten free $11.5) are shallow fried spiced chickpea nuggets, and have our approval. Funnily enough, okara defines as soy pulp or tofu dregs (!), but never fear as this dish proves fried tofu dregs to be very delicious! 

Yuka's version of 'Nasu Dengaku' (gluten free $11.50) or deep fried eggplant, is cut up into bite sized pieces making it easier to eat and share than the usual whole eggplant half we are used to.

As a hats off to Disco Beans, the much loved Okonomyaki (gluten free $19.5) remains on the menu, and is presented sizzling in a teppan. The sweet sauce and vegan mayo are both made by hand and from scratch and Spiral Beans are not afraid to declare that their version is better than any okonomyaki found in Osaka. I personally would have liked a bit more vegan mayo – slather it on I say!

The 'Soba Salad' ($18.5) is tossed in a wonderfully balanced homemade balsamic dressing, with greens and baked tempeh and was my favourite.

There are vegan desserts, including 'Coconut Milk Kuzu Pudding' along with an impressive range of high quality Japanese green tea. Japanese tea ceremonies are hosted and cooking classes are also available.

 Spiral Beans Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato



Posted January 13, 2017 04:30 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Orange baked tofu

Summer holidays!  We've been busy.  Painting a mural on the back wall.  Swimming at the beach.  Sharks on the next beach.  Driving past a grass fire.  Sunburn.  Tidying up.  Sleepovers.  Playgrounds.  Cafes.  Just a bit of work.  Heatwaves.  Not much cooking.  Just the occasionally favourite like dal, bread and bliss balls.  Last night E and I went out so my niece came to babysit Sylvia.  I made orange baked tofu for dinner that we all really enjoyed.  Almost!

I confess to a lack of cooking mojo lately.  As I have mentioned once or twice, my bookmarking site delicious.com is down and I can't access my thousands of bookmarked recipes.  It is not the I can't find recipes online.  But these are the ones I really want to make and are tagged with ingredients and other keywords.  I have some other bookmarks in odd locations but nothing quite so organised and extensive as this collection.
The hot weather is also making me have less of an appetite for cooking and turning on the stove.  The recipe is one that I had bookmarked from Cindy and Michael.   I bought a bag of oranges, forgetting I had some at home already.  This seemed a good way to buy them, though I got caught out with the expense of limes.  (I am willing those baby limes on my tree in the back yard to grow.)

This is a recipe for those who love citrus.  I pretty much followed the recipe but swapped mustard and ginger for oregano and cumin.  I didn't season the marinade at all other than the soy sauce because I was unsure about how it was meant to taste.  Another time I would do a little seasoning but not too much.  This is a dish where the orange and lime shines!

We ate the baked tofu with bread, a beetroot and lentil salad, and a deconstructed garden salad.  I didn't mean to be trendy with serving the garden salad on a chopping board but it just never made it to the bowl!  I was very pleased when my niece Quin said how much she loves tofu.  Sylvia turned up her nose at the tofu but the rest of us kept going back for more.  It was a very pleasing meal.

Then E and I headed out to see Amanda Palmer at the Gasometer Hotel.  It is the first time I have seen a gig in a pub under the stars (or clouds as the case may be).  The arched roof was rolled back and I could look up and see bats swooping overhead.  A mischievous fly crawled over the keyboard and held up a song!  We had an interlude where everyone was given paper and pencils to write something from the heart to contribute to song lyrics.  It was all quite weird and wonderful.

I am sending this to Healthy Vegan Fridays, Gluten Free Fridays and Meat Free Mondays.

More tofu marinade recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Apricot and orange glazed tofu (gf, v)
Aussie bbq tofu
Cocoa jerk tofu (gf, v)
Cranberry and orange glazed tofu (gf, v) 
Honey and mustard marinated smoked tofu (gf)
Tofu bacon (gf, v)
Tofu in a tomato, lemongrass and ginger sauce (gf, v)

Orange baked tofu
Adapted from Viva Vegan via Where's the Beef
Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon tamari
500g firm tofu

juice of 2 oranges
zest of 1 orange
juice of 2 limes
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp finely grated ginger
1/2 tsp tamari
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 200 C.

Mix oil and tamari and pour into the base of a baking dish (mine was slightly smaller that 9x13 inch and only just fitted 450g tofu so I didn't do the full 500g).  Slice tofu into about 1cm pieces and place in pan not overlapping but tucked close together is fine.  Turn each piece so it is covered in the oil and tamari.

Bake tofu for 20 minutes.  While the tofu is baking, prepare marinade by mixing everything together and seasoning.  I didn't add any seasoning and it was very citrussy but I don't think it needs a lot of seasoning.  Flip tofu over when 20 minutes is up.  Pour marinade over tofu.  Bake 30 minutes until most of marinade is absorbed and tofu is golden brown.

On the Stereo:
Begin to Hope: Regina Spector

Posted January 13, 2017 09:39 AM by Johanna GGG

January 10, 2017

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

The Snug Public House

December 10, 2016

We had a good time checking out the new vegan options at The Snug in Brunswick and heard rumours that the St Kilda branch was even more impressive. Cindy and another friend scheduled their big joint birthday dinner there so we could check it out - we filled up a couple of the outside tables on a busy Saturday evening.

The menu is ridiculous - more than 50 vegan or veganisable dishes with an emphasis on mock meat and fried food (although there are a handful of healthier options if you're that way inclined). Think The Cornish Arms with a bit more traditional Irish pub food.

We kicked things off with a round of fried treats for the table. The battered sausages ($10) are more batter than sausage - gloriously oily lumps of fried that are not for the faint hearted. I ate more than my fair share of these, which left me struggling by the time the meals came out later.

Things got even more intense from there with - clockwise from top left - popcorn chicken in BBQ sauce ($10), Texan loaded fries ($14) and the chicken wings ($14). The wings didn't quite measure up to the glory of The Cornish's version, but the ridiculously loaded fries (topped with bbq pork, pineapple salsa and sour cream) and the BBQ popcorn chicken were ace.

I was struggling to breathe by this point, so the arrival of the main meals was a bit overwhelming. The Irish parma ($21) arrived topped with parsley cream, kale and rice paper bacon all astride a ludicrously big serve of mashed potatoes.

This was a solid performer - the parma itself was probably just something from the supermarket freezer, but the toppings were great and the meal was impossibly large. 

We also ordered a southern fried chicken burger ($18), which was a straightforward combo of a spicy chicken patty and some chipotle slaw, alongside another massive serve of chips. I really liked the burger, but I was so full I couldn't really do it justice. 

One of our friends skipped out on all the salty action and decided to have dessert for dinner - her banoffee pie with chocolate shavings, ice cream and banana fritters ($12) was a hit, but dessert seems like an impossible dream for anyone brave enough to order one of the mains here.

We capped the night off with a wander down to the St Kilda breakwater, which was positively teeming with little penguins - it's crazy to find this thriving colony so close to the city. It was the perfect way to end the night.

There are a huge range of vegan options at The Snug and we definitely had more hits than misses among our big group. The prices aren't super cheap, but the portions are crazily large and the service is friendly. It's a welcome south-side addition to the city's vegan pub scene. 

We enjoyed dinner at the Brunswick branch of the SnugThe Rose and Bean and Veganopolous have reviewed the vegan food at St Kilda.

The Snug Public House 
12 Fitzroy St, St Kilda
9534 4678
facebook page

Accessibility: There's a flat entryway into a pretty crowded interior. The tables in the outdoor area are up a few steps. We ordered and paid at a high bar and didn't visit the toilets.

Posted January 10, 2017 08:01 PM by Michael

January 08, 2017

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Fruit salad for New Year's Eve

It is a hot summer.  Too hot.  When we have a few days in the 30s I just want to eat fruit and drink water.  Meals sort of fall off the radar.  New Year's Eve was hot.  And I had lots of fruit about.  So we had fruit salad for dessert. 

A few days before New Year's Eve, we went to a potluck picnic brunch.  I took along cashew cheese stuffed dates on a fruit platter.  I knew that Sylvia would eat some fruit if nothing else except Mr Nice Guy cinnamon buns and perhaps some tofu bacon.  And it seems a shame not to enjoy summer fruit at its peak.

I bought more fruit than I needed.  So it was fruit salad for dessert on New Year's Eve.  It has been too long since I last made one and many years since I blogged any.  I cut up some fruit in the afternoon and soaked it in orange juice and maple syrup.  So simple.  So delicious.  So refreshing.

We had dinner on New Year's Eve at home.  I made haggis nachos.  We drank Maiden's Press non-alcoholic sparkling grape juice with it.  Sylvia refuses to eat the haggis so she spread tomato paste on her corn chips and sprinkled them with cheese to make her special pizza nachos.

The nachos were so filling that I was glad to have fruit salad for dessert.  It was served with some vanilla ice cream and/or a Darrell Leigh chocolate covered coconut nougat in a pudding shape.   A fitting meal to see out the old year.  I loved the fruit salad.  E was less impressed and Sylvia wanted to just eat the apricots.

We went to my parents' for lunch on New Year's Day.  I took some leftover fruit salad because we had so much leftover.  We ate it with stollen, cheese and crackers, and some watermelon wedges.  Then we broke open the gingerbread house.  Which after a roast dinner was quite an impressive meal to see in the new year.

The festive period is receding into the past rapidly.  Our Christmas tree has been put out to be chopped up for green waste.  The decorations are in bags ready to be put into storage.  But before we forget the festivities altogether, I have a few random moments to share:
  • Being breathalysed right after school drop off a week before Christmas Day.
  • My brother coined the term "pav and run", which made me laugh.  It did not refer to his crazy midday run in sweltering temperatures on Christmas Day.  It meant grabbing a large slice of my mum's pavlova and running out the door to his partner's place.  
  • E was reeling from being accosted by my uncle about how we need coal power.  Ironically the next day I was in a conversation where everyone seemed to have solar power.
  • Attending a country funeral just after New Year's Day.  It was conducted in the cemetery on a warm day under a shady oak tree with a coffin strewn with flowers and friends singing acapella.  So sad but really beautiful too.

I am sending this fruit salad to Healthy Vegan Fridays and the No Waste Food Challenge.

More fruity desserts on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Choc-nut banana and fruit kebabs (gf, v)
Watermelon monster (gf, v)  
Pine-berry fruit salad (gf, v)
Rainbow fruit kebabs (gf, v)
Red fruit salad (gf, v)
Strawberry soup (gf, v)
Summer fruit salad (gf, v)

Fruit salad
Serves 6-8, maybe more

2 large peaches, chopped
3 kiwi fruit, diced
1 handful of grapes
4 apricots, chopped
125g punnet of blueberries
125g punnet of raspberries 
1 slice of watermelon, chopped (about a cup)
juice of 1 orange
1 tbsp maple syrup

Mix everything and serve.  Or make a day ahead and keep in the fridge.  I think it improves with sitting for an hour or so, which means it is good to make before dinner.  Make sure to stir through before serving so all the fruit has some orange juice and maple syrup over it.

On the Stereo:
Shine a Light: field recordings from the great American railroad: Billy Bragg and Joe Henry

Posted January 08, 2017 11:43 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Transformer III

December 9, 2016

In December an old friend returned to Melbourne for a week. She's vegan, and was equally excited to revisit her old faves (Yong, Casa Del Gelato) and catch up with the new veg eateries that have popped up in the past 3 years. We booked in a Friday night dinner at Transformer as part of the latter project. 

To ensure a good spread across the menu, we took our first shot at the chef-selected Feed Me option ($55 per person on a Friday, without dessert) and requested that everything be vegan.

While we picked drinks, we grazed on a small plate of mixed olives, roast peppers, pickled garlic for the brave, and a little chilli. We also scooped up the dip plate with gusto; it was a savoury-creamy arrangement of white bean dip, artichokes and caperberries with an impressively doughy gluten-free flatbread. The bread was pretty great dredged through the olive's marinade too!

These appetisers were rapidly followed with salads. The first was a study in astringency - fennel, grapefruit wedges, green olives, bitter leaves, a vinegar-based dressing and super-salty green wafers. The beetroot carpaccio was very mellow by comparison, crowned with a ball of cooling vegan labneh.

The steamed buns were perfectly balanced on their own, featuring battered tofu, pickled cucumbers and gochujang mayo.

We happily gorged on greens, too! Fat, juicy asparagus spears were flavoured with concentrated little sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms and topped with watercress; broccolini was simply steamed, then scattered with pumpkin seeds and barberries, teamed with more vegan cheese.

We were ready to conclude there, but the meal's main dish was yet to arrive. It centred on melt-in-the-mouth cumin-braised eggplant in a pool of chemoula, crested with quinoa crisps. A three-rice pilaf with sprouted lentils, chickpeas, pomegranate seeds and fried onion helped us sop up all the sauce.

While individual dishes at Transformer always look expensive, we were satisfied with the quantity of food on the Feed Me menu. We thought the summer selection was dud-free, and all nominated different favourites. In fact, at the end of a week's dedicated vegan feasting, our friend circled back on this as her favourite meal. 

I'd report just one misfire in the service. We'd booked an early table that needed to be vacated by 8pm. I was aware of this when booking, and on arrival the front of house told the three of us again, once each, and our waiter mentioned it two-to-three more times at the table. Even when they're politely delivered, hearing "please leave by 8pm!" six-to-seven times had me feeling less than welcome.

Nevertheless, we enjoyed our night at Transformer immensely and it impressed our out-of-town guest even more than we'd hoped. It'll be at the forefront of our minds for future fancy veg dining.

You can also read about one, two of our previous visits to Transformer. Since then it's received positive coverage on Couchfoodiesquinces and kalekT eats worldFire & TeaSkinny GluttonChampagne & Chips (a partial freebie) and lillytales. There are more negative accounts on Chasing a PlateA Chronicle of Gastronomy and Eats By DonutSam.

99 Rose St, Fitzroy
9419 2022

Accessibility: The entry is wide and with a shallow ramp. Tables are well spaced, a mix of mid-height tables with booths and backed chairs, plus higher tables with backless bar stools. There's full table service. The toilets are highly accessible - individual unisex cubicles with marked wheelchair and ambulent options.

Posted January 08, 2017 04:37 PM by Cindy

January 05, 2017

Green Gourmet Giraffe

In My Kitchen - January 2017

So a new year begins with lots of luscious summer fruit, less baking and some festive treats still lingering.  Above is a plate of cherries.  They have to be one of my favourite summer fruits.  I could devour them by the bucketload.  If only they were cheap enough!

 I haven't been baking much bread lately but I made one particularly moist loaf of overnight sourdough.  I should have heeded Celia's suggestion of baking paper for such loaves.  Instead I put in into the heated ungreased and unlined tin as usual.  I had to hack it away from the tin!

Sylvia had a friend over for a day.  They decorated the above gingerbread men.  I love their crazy eyes.  They were meant for later.  To me that meant for her friend to take home.  To them that meant to eat as soon as I went to have a chat to the neighbour.

While Sylvia's friend was over we tried these new crispy oat crackers with a hint of honey.  They were a good snack after the girls had been trampolining at Bounce and the slushie machine was not cold enough.

We don't buy a lot of alcohol in our house.  So it seemed quite extravagant to have two trips to the bottle shop.  The first was because we had run out of whisky.  I don't drink the stuff but I like to have it on hand for cooking.

And while I don't drink much alcoholic drinks, when I look at the name and the labels I wish I did.  The monkeys on this Monkey Shoulder blended malt scotch whisky from Speyside are so gorgeous.

E is quite partial to Crabbies ginger beer at Christmas.  We bought three bottles: original, strawberry and lime, and  raspberry.  They are quite sweet but one glass was enough for me.  I was glad I had resisted a sudden seasonal longing for Baileys Irish Cream while in the bottle shop.

We were amused by this Cadbury Festive Cake Selection with a little cake that had Santa's name on it.  Sylvia insisted it was really for Santa.  I resisted telling her that mince pies were more traditional and tasty.  But like Tim Minchin, while I have all of the usual objections to consumerism, I really like Christmas.  (My favourite song of Christmas was his White Wine in the Sun.  It made me teary thinking of absent family.)

We have also had a few other festive treats from the shops.  Walkers Christmas shortbread shapes, Bundaberg spiced ginger beer and gold covered mini Christmas puddings!

Once Christmas finishes, it feels like the school holidays really begin.  We were watching Mr Maker the other day and he made a ribbon picture.  So we did!

January is a great time for summer fruit.  My brother in law has an abundance of plums from their tree.  We have been loving munching on these.

In our own small garden is our strawberry plant.  We got some net cloth from my mum to keep the birds away.  While the plant is not quite abundant, it is producing a nice amount of strawberries.  At first they were pretty mushy.

Today I was in the garden hanging out the washing at 5pm (it was one of those days - new glasses, playing card games, a trip to the hardware store) and eating fresh strawberries and blueberries from the garden.  They were wonderful.  Next year we will have to put some net over the blueberry plant as well.  Meanwhile Sylvia and I have a little garden project for the summer that I will share with you when it is done!

Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things is taking a break from hosting In My Kitchen in January but will be back in February (thanks Mae for the update).

Posted January 05, 2017 11:01 PM by Johanna GGG

January 03, 2017

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Reflections from 2016 and Happy New Year

Happy New Year!  Have you got used to saying 2017 yet?  I feel like it must still be 2015.  Or at least if it was I would not be so horribly behind.  But here we are!  I have a rambling post reflecting on 2016.  It has taken me a while to compile it so I expect you will want to put on the kettle and pull up a comfy chair to read it.  Or if you are as time poor as I feel, just scan it quickly and move on!  I understand.

It was a rollercoaster of a year that started off with a visit by my sister and her family from Ireland, a relaxing beach holiday in Torquay and Minion fever.  Then my father-in-law died suddenly in February, we went to Edinburgh, Scotland at short notice, attending the funeral the day after walking off the plane.  I really love Scotland and seeing E's family but would have preferred to visit for happier reasons.

As we were over the other side of the world, I organised for us to have a week in Paris.  It is one of my favourite cities and was delightful and romantic as ever.  Back home, Sylvia overcame her Minon fever to fall into the romance of reading Harry Potter and the Unladylike Detective series of novels.  

Then our cat (Zinc) died.  While around me, family and friends faced a whole host of personal problems.  Cancer and death touched too many people we knew this year.  Even up until New Year's Eve when I was told of the death from cancer of a 14 year old girl I know.

And that is before I even consider the global events of Brexit, Trump and too many celebrity deaths: Pop stars who had sung the soundtrack to my life such as David Bowie, George Michael and Leonard Cohen; Actors who had loomed large on the big screen of my life such as Gene Wilder, Carrie Fisher, Alan Rickman; familiar faces from the small screen such as Florence Henderson, Terry Wogan, Ronnie Corbett and Andrew Sachs; and people who had been household names such as Fidel Castro, Muhammad Ali, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Max Walker and Reg Grundy.  I hardly dare look at lists of those who died in 2016 as I just find there are more and more gone that I treasured and admired.

It was a sad year.  Yet there were good things too.  (Including Edinburgh and Paris.)  Family outings.  A new camera.  Hosting We Should Cocoa blog event.  Taking part in Vegan MoFo.  My book club.  Body Balance.  Our local farmers market.  Singing group.  A pay rise at work.  And the support from family and friends.

Best of 2016
Here are my favourites from 2016.  Some of the choices were hard (especially films - Carol, Captain Fantastic and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them were hard to pass over) and others stood out!

Favourite Australian book: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriaty
Favourite foreign book: Dietland by Sarai Walker
Favourite children's book: Ophelia and The Marvellous Boy by Karen Foxlee
Favourite television show: Code of a Killer (starring John Simm)
Favourite children's television show: Little Lunch
Favourite film: La La Land
Favourite children's film: Zootopia
Favourite live show: Matilda the Musical
Favourite Melbourne meal: Big Vegan Breakfast at the Glass Den
Favourite meal abroad: Vegan Nachos at The Auld Hoose 

Gorgeously gloomy Edinburgh buildings with a touch of scaffolding!

Blogging energy is down and so are my statistics.  I posted a few more posts than last year thanks to Vegan MoFo.  I became a level 8 superfoodie on Zomato.  My Apple Slice post continues to be my most popular post of all time (Google Analytics says it has 45,435 hits and Bloggers says it has 86,271 hits). I think my most popular FaceBook post was when I shared my Vegan Chocolate Olive Oil Cake.  Here are some numbers for 2016:

179 blog posts
368 FaceBook likes
31 posts shared by FoodGawker
22 reviews on Zomato
Number 135 on aussiefoodbloggers.com.au/ and Number 21 of Victoria blogs on this site.

Most popular posts of 2016
(according to Google Analytics)
  1. Damper
  2. One pot pasta with chickpeas and zucchini
  3. Creamy red pepper dressing
  4. Overnight sourdough fruit bread
  5. Milo weetbix slice
  6. Shrove Tuesday aquafaba crepes with haggis
  7. Vegan chocolate olive oil cake
  8. Split pea soup with sweet potato and mushroom
  9. Vegemite fudge
  10. The Vegemite burger
  11. Chokito fudge
  12. Dal with haloumi and mint
I really loved this salad I made at the end of 2015 but I lost the recipe and never blogged it.
What I enjoyed eating in 2016
This is some of my favourite food I posted in 2016 plus a few old favourites.  And yes it was hard to narrow it down!  But I assure you that there was lots more on the blog than this!

Our favourite meals: Pizza, Lo mein, Mock tuna salad, Kale salad. Tofu besan omeletteVegan Avgolemono, Tofu bacon

Healthy eating: Creamy red pepper dressing for bowl food, Asparagus, strawberry and greens salad with poppy seeds, Thai curry split pea soup, Chocolate tahini maca bliss balls, Rainbow fruit kebabs 

Pastry comfort: Homity pie, Vegan sausage rolls, Apple pie, Macaroni cheese pies,

Great discoveries: Rice paper bacon, Cauliflower, hummus and tofu "ricotta" in lasagne, Welsh laverbread in nutroast,

Chocolate amazingness:  Black tahini in chocolate biscuits, Chocolate nutella caramel cups, Malted loaf with chocolate, figs and brazil nuts, Nutella stuffed pancakes
Beautiful food: Rainbow salad with orange and sesame dressing, Easter egg fridge cake, Vegan chocolate olive oil cake, Malteser and Milo Mudcake

Fun food: Minion cake, Medieval castle cakeReindeer cake pops, Vegan mummy tarts,

Aussie food: Chokito fudge, Vegemite fudge, Damper, The Vegemite burger , Aboriginal flag cake, Milo weetbix slice, Lamingtons, Vegemite and poppy seed scones

Compilations: Australia Day recipes, Aquafaba (chickpea brine) recipes, Nutella recipes and ideas

Where my blog was featured in 2016

My strawberry sushi was included in the Oola dessert sushi round up and the Gourmandize 20 best recipes to welcome strawberry season.

My Strawberry, Avocado and Walnut Salad was included in Allotment to Kitchen's Baker's Dozen of Savoury Strawberry Recipes.

My Aboriginal street art phone was used in the ABC's article: It's a great time to be teaching about Indigenous Australia languages.

My sourdough vanilla sponge cake was featured in the Reader's Digest: 10 spring cakes that will make you smile.

My What Vegetarian is That post was linked to by the Houston Press in You say you're a vegan but you're really a lacto-ovo vegetarian in sheep's clothing.

My damper was included in the Huffpost Living Camping Recipes.

My Vegan mozzarella Spiderweb Pizza was included in She Knows: 20 savoury Halloween treats we like even better than all that candy, She Knows: 20 freaky Halloween dinners your trick or treaters will love coming home to, Simple Sojourns: 25 delightfully fun Halloween recipes, Family Fresh Meals: Spooky Fun Halloween Appetizers, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades: 25 super fun Halloween inspired snacks and treats.

My aquafaba ghost cupcakes were included in She Knows: We will take one of each of these Halloween cupcakes please and thank you, Divine Lifestyle: 20 Halloween cupcakes,

My vegan party pies were included in The most Aussie foods ever - made vegan by PETA Australia.

My aquafaba royal icing for gingerbread houses was included in the 21 amazing aquafaba recipes by Oh My Veggies.

My Maple Scones were included in the Juggling Act Mama's Sweet and Savoury Maple Recipes.

My tea towels III post was linked to from Kathy Shaidle's article on DNA Despair in Taki's Magazine.

My chocolate layered fudge was included in the Essential Kids Edible Christmas Gifts.

And I love taking part in blog events.  Some of the events I have participated in most this year are Healthy Vegan Fridays, Eat Your Greens, Meat Free Mondays, Gluten Free Fridays, No Waste Food Challenge and We Should Cocoa.  Thanks to the hosts of these and the other great blog events.  Finally I should acknowledge the mention of my blog in Week 1 of Vegan MoFo round ups.

Je t'aime Paris!  Sadly I don't expect it to feature in 2017.
Happy New Year 
I hope you had a good 2016 and wish you all the best for 2017.  Thanks for visiting today.  Thanks to everyone who commented, emailed, liked, pinned and shared food with me.  In 2017 it will be 10 years since I started my blog.  While I am blogging less than when I started (and don't we all) I still enjoy the sharing, the support and the inspiration I find in blogging.

I am grateful to friends and family for all the support, the shared meals and the laughter this year.  To E for the dishes, the music and the appreciation of dinner.  To Sylvia for challenging my cooking and occasionally eating it.  To my mum for discussion, advice and inspiration in cooking.  To my dad for sweeping up afterward!  To Faye for loaning me fantastic cookbooks.  To Shaheen for her gift of laverbread and other Welsh treats.  To everyone who contributes in their own unique way.  Indeed, it takes a village to write a blog!

And for 2017?  I hope it will be a better year for me.  I don't expect to have more time or to blog more.  I know I say every year that there will be less posts.  Sometimes it is true!  Life just seems to get busier and I am getting too old to live without sleep.  Busy times call for simple meals.  I hope there will be healthy food, celebration meals and fun experiments. And I hope you will drop by again.  Soon.

Posted January 03, 2017 10:11 AM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Bank Street Wood Fired Pizza & Garden

December 3, 2016

Until last month all I knew of Avenel was its Hume Freeway roadhouse, a stop on the bus route between Melbourne and Albury. Now this town is home to one of my aunts, and she proudly showed us round one weekend in December. We missed the nearby Xmas Twilight Market by a day, and instead walked along the Goulburn River before dining at Bank Street Wood Fired Pizza & Garden.

This pizzeria is hardly a local secret. Not only does it appear in local tourist guides, but it's attracted reviews in the city newspapers and definitely requires a reservation on a Saturday night. They make a good first impression - the side-path entry leads to a view of a lovely back garden, before you can let yourself into the renovated bank building to be warmly welcomed by one of the staff. Although they were evidently busy, they didn't mind running through food and wine details with us and everything was served with a smile.

As you'd expect, the menu is dominated by pizza. Vegans and coeliacs will find little-to-nothing that's meant for them, but us dairy-eating vegos are well catered to. Michael was most impressed by Michelle's Magic Mushrooms pizza ($21), which had a heady whiff of truffle oil and some smoked scamorza cheese.

I declared the Smooshed Potato pizza ($21) to be the best potato pizza I've ever eaten. The spud-smashing provides both fluffy bites and crispy golden fragments, and they're interspersed with pungent King River Gold cheese, bubbled parmesan, and fragrant sprigs of rosemary.

We shared a rocket-parmesan salad ($14), since rosemary just barely counts as a green vegetable.

We were having such a good time that we agreed to stow away the last few pizza slices for later, and share a round of dessert. A dolce pizza (filled with Nutella or mixed berries) was out of the carby question but a serve of Cal's Tiramisu ($11) still seemed on theme. It was a hefty, homely serve and I took responsibility for enjoying every last mouthful, even after the other two were defeated. The lemon slice (~$10) couldn't beat Carol's and my shared memory of the one at Albert St Food & Wine, but it was a respectable rendition.

Bank Street is a real charmer, casual yet special. Their menu style would fit inner-city Melbourne with its artisan name-dropping, but it's underpinned by a love of local produce and you won't find garden-sourced ingredients or gorgeous outdoor seating like this in Carlton.

Bank St Pizza has also been positively reviewed on Melbourne Din(n)ing Blog.

Bank St Wood Fired Pizza & Garden
5 Bank St, Avenel
5796 2522
facebook page

Accessibility: Entry requires making your way along the driveway and up a small step out back (see pictures above). Indoor seating is densely packed with a clear corridor through the middle. We ordered at the table and paid at a low counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

Posted January 03, 2017 09:07 AM by Cindy

January 01, 2017

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Melbourne Wok

December 3, 2016

Our mate Gill recently tipped us off about Melbourne Wok, an uninspiringly named restaurant in the strip of Indian and Korean places on Bourke Street. In spite of its bold promise to provide 'Everything Asian', Melbourne Wok seems like a Malaysian-Indian place, offering banana leaf curries for lunch and a wider range of noodles etc at dinner time.

We stopped by for a quick lunch on a Saturday, joining a decent crowd of other people keen for the banana leaf experience. At lunchtime your basic choice is vego ($10.90) or non-vego ($12.90) - you get rice, four curries, a raita and a pappadum all served up on a banana leaf. The traditional approach is to eat it all with your fingers - we watched some experts work their way through the meal dexterously, but decided that we'd wind up smearing pumpkin all over ourselves so we opted for cutlery.

Cindy kicked things off with a fancy drink - a sirap (rose cordial, $3.40) - a strong and sweet accompaniment to the curry lunch.

The vego curries on our visit were a dry spicy cabbage dish, a dal, a smooth pumpkin curry and the star of the show - a delightful spicy/sticky eggplant dish. This was a fabulous lunch - a great mix of flavours that really highlighted the excellence of South Indian vego food. I'm not sure how much they rotate the lunchtime selections, but the eggplant really is fantastic - hopefully it's always on offer.

Melbourne Wok is a great addition to the CBD's lunch options - cheap, fast and delicious with friendly staff. The fit-out is pretty basic and there's not a whole lot of atmosphere, but it's the perfect place to drop by for a speedy lunch. We're looking forward to heading back to try out the veggie nasi lemak on the dinner menu.


Melbourne Wok
164 Bourke Street, Melbourne
0433 738 989
menu (via Zomato)
facebook page

Accessibility: Entry is flat and wide and the interior is reasonably spacious. We ordered at our table and paid at a low counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

Posted January 01, 2017 10:55 AM by Michael

December 30, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Watermelon, mint and feta salad

Melbourne is having a hot, humid and slightly damp spell.  The sort of weather where you get out your coolest dress, worry about the garden wilting and welcome thunderstorms to clear the air.  It is the sort of weather for salads.  I would recommend this watermelon, mint and feta salad.

When I was young I hated watermelon.  I still dislike a fruit salad that is filled with melon.  These days I have come around to watermelon.  It has its moments!  I can now appreciate the sticky juice dripping down your chin on a hot day.  Yet Sylvia wants me to buy it too often.  And too often it sits forgotten at the back of the fridge.  In an attempt to avoid such neglect,  I finally tried the ubiquitous watermelon salad.  As a little bonus, it used up lots of mint from the garden too.

The day I made this it was to serve with a leftover salad which had not lasted the distance.  So we ate it with spinach and spiced nuts.  It was a nice easy meal on the first day of the school holidays but would have been better with a wider range of salads.  We had a similar salad at my mum's over Christmas and it was much better as part of a selection of salads.

It looks like New Year's Eve tomorrow wont be so hot as the last few days.  However if you are like me and just discovered NYE is Saturday and not Sunday, you would probably welcome a simple salad to add to the festive table.  And now that I have discovered that the year ends tomorrow, I can safely say this will be my last post of 2016.  Wishing you and yours a happy and safe New Year's Eve and I will be back next year.

More watermelon recipes from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Watermelon, banana, strawberry, peach juice (gf, v) 
Watermelon curry (gf, v)
Watermelon monster (gf, v) 

Watermelon, mint and feta salad
Adapted from Serious Eats
Serves 4 or more

900g watermelon, trimmed and cut into chunks
1/4 cup of mint leaves (loosely packed)
1/2 lime, juiced
1 tbsp olive oil
50g feta cheese
salt and pepper to season

Trim rind off watermelon and cut flesh into chunks.  If your mint leaves are large (mine weren't) roughly chop.  Mix watermelon with mint, lime juice and olive oil.  Arrange on a large shallow bowl.  Scatter with crumbled feta.  Season.

On the Stereo:
Matilda the Musical: Soundtrack

Posted December 30, 2016 09:08 PM by Johanna GGG

December 28, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Christmas day food, reflections and quicklinks

We are back at home after Christmas at my parents' home.  The suitcases are unpacked and we are having a quiet day after a busy time of feasting, family, swimming, lights and presents.  Here is a rundown with a few Christmas recipe links at the end of the post.

Christmas Day food starts early.  On Christmas Eve I baked nut roast, cranberry nut rolls, chocolate mince pies, panforte, and pizza.  In the above photo I had not yet made the panforte.  It always seems to get made in front of Carols by Candlelight on the telly.

The pizza was for dinner on Christmas Eve.  Sylvia had one with tomato and cheese.  We had one with tomato sauce, cheese, feta cheese, roast pumpkin and lightly microwaved kale.  I was most pleased with it.  We had leftovers that went into the freezer and were a nice easy meal when we got home from my parents' last night.

Christmas morning started in a blur when Sylvia woke at 4am to check what she had been given by Santa.  It took a while to get her back to sleep.  At a more reasonable hour we had breakfast (freshly squeezed orange juice, cranberry nut rolls and Swiss cheese) before heading down to Geelong.

We took the (vegan) gingerbread house that Sylvia and I had made.  I had hoped to write more about it but had an mishap while measuring the flour and the gingerbread seemed a bit dry.  Sylvia helped with lots of the piping and it looks cute.  We are planning to eat it on New Year's Day.

We opened presents at home and then there was more present giving at my parents' house.  Sylvia laid her presents out on the campbed.  You can see she was well and truly spoiled in the nicest of ways.  She didn't ask for too much but wanted lots of diaries.  I was pleased to read an article about how diaries inspire children to write.

E and I also received some lovely presents between us - perfume, books, chocolates, cordless chargers, a CD and a mug.  Here he is holding the hamper of bikkies, jams and tea that my brother gave us.

It was 38 C on Christmas Day but we had a traditional roast dinner and plum pudding.  With the air conditioner on!  As usual I had nut roast instead of turkey and ham.  My niece amused me with a huge serving of cauliflower cheese and gravy that looked like ice cream with chocolate sauce.

But it is not all traditional at lunch.  My mum also made pavlova and a black forest cheesecake.  I can take or leave a pav but a cheesecake makes me go weak at the knees.  This one was scrumptious.

In the afternoon most of my siblings head off to the in-laws.  Sylvia played with bubbles, fancy sticky tapes and watercolour paints, I read my book while E and my parents sleep.  Dinner is a simple affair of leftovers in a sandwich.  I am very partial to a salad sandwich with thinly sliced nut roast.  It is most excellent on sourdough bread that my mum baked that morning.

After dinner we drove out to see the fun Christmas lights on the Geelong Town Hall.

The next two days we went to the pool in the morning, had lunches with family and friends we don't see often, and played with the nieces.  Above is a picture of my nieces making bath bombs.

This is a platter of nibbles courtesy of my aunt.

Here are the salads that my mum made for two lunches and my leftover slices of nut roasts are in the bottom left corner.  Not included in the picture is the pan of Nigella's roasted potato and pepper bake.

My dad's school friend came to visit and brought a bottle of Lindeman's Maiden Press.  It is a non-alcoholic sparkling juice made in a champagne style.  I was very taken by it.

And we had my panforte with tea and coffee and a platter of my mum's mince pies, yo-yos and some chocolates.  A perfect way to end a meal.

Finally, I had collected a few Christmas recipes I have seen this year that I would love to add to my Christmas repertoire.  As my bookmarking site (delicious.com) seems to be down, I am sharing them here.

Christmas recipe quicklinks:

Barley salad with kale, walnuts, and cranberries - Bite Sized Thoughts
Parsnip and chestnut nut roasts - The VegHog
Parsnip chestnut and sage wreath - Sneaky Veg
Porcini and chestnut mini wreath roasts - The Veg Space
Puff pastry Christmas tree with chestnut mushrooms - Allotment to Kitchen
Sprout salad with cranberries, pecan vuts and clementines - Easy Peasy Foodie

Candy cane fudge cookies - The Taste Space
Chocolate peppermint bark - Rock My Vegan Socks
Lasso the moon cookies (It's a Wonderful Life) - Cadry's Kitchen
Layered chocolate mint Christmas tree cake - The Gluten Free Alchemist
Rich gingerbread brownies with frosting - Not Quite Nigella
Tear and share Christmas tree cinnamon rolls - Lavender and Lovage

I hope you had a happy Christmas and a relaxing holiday.

Posted December 28, 2016 12:23 PM by Johanna GGG

December 24, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Christmas nights and lights

It is Christmas Eve and I am in a whirl of baking.  The gingerbread house and the nut roast is done.  I have baked mince pies and cranberry nut rolls.  The panforte has been stirred and baked while I watch Carols by Candlelight.  Christmas has been filled with late nights, present wrapping, Christmas cards, decorating gingerbread, sleepless nights, eating out, berries, shopping and lights.  Lights on the tree, on houses and on the Melbourne Town Hall.

We have had a tradition of going in to the city one evening before Christmas and spending one evening driving around to see houses lit up with Christmas lights.  Here are some photos:

Christmas in the city square.  Top photo is the tree.  Above is the manger scene

We had Lord of the Fries for dinner and a festive ring doughnut from Krispy Kreme to share for dessert.  Three tubs of sauce from Lord of the Fries despite specifying no sauce for any of us!

We walked along to Bourke St Mall via Royal Arcade (above).

The queues for the Myer Christmas windows were too long so we decided to see them after Christmas.  We headed up to the 6th floor where there was quite a short queue to see Santa.

Then we browsed the toys, gifts and decorations.  This superhero photo window was great fun.  Can you see Sylvia's teddy?

Then we were out late enough to go to the train via the Melbourne Town Hall to see the light show. 

We saw about half of it and were prepared to stay and see the first part.  However unlike the Geelong Town Hall, it wasn't on a continuous loop.  We had to wait 10 minutes for the next light show.  Which is far too long when you have a tired kid you need to get home to bed.

We were glad to see a bit of it.  Sylvia found it magical.

Sylvia also found the lights on houses around us magical when we drove around last week.

This house (above and below) amused us with the kangaroos, Mary and Joseph not talking and DJ Santa in the background.

Then we visited the below house that we had seen last year.

And now it is Christmas Eve.  Sylvia is not sleeping,  E is doing dishes.  I about about to clear the kitchen table for breakfast tomorrow.  I'll be back in a few days after Christmas celebrations.  Wishing you all a merry Christmas and a happy and healthy holiday.

Posted December 24, 2016 10:49 PM by Johanna GGG

December 23, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Spinach salad with spiced nuts and cranberries

It was less than a week until Christmas, the last day of school and I had not eaten dinner at home for 4 days.  I was in need of salad.  Something to please my appetite and feed my soul.  I had been planning it for a few days and was delighted with this spinach and spiced nuts salad. 

I have bookmarked far more spiced nuts recipes than I have made.  Which translates as, I love the idea of them but don't make them often.  (Speaking of bookmarks, is it just me that cannot access delicious.com recently, and does anyone know why?)  They are a great way to make a salad seem fancy and substantial. 

I am unapologetic about giving a recipe for three times as many nuts as is required for the salad.  They are great for festive nibbles and also make delicious gifts.

The salad is reasonably simple.  I left some in the fridge overnight and discovered that it does not keep overnight.  Rather than dwelling on slimy spinach leaves, let's just say that although you can't make it in advance for a Christmas dinner, you can make most of the components beforehand so you just need to toss everything together before the meal.

We ate this salad with some garlic bread for a simple supper.  It is robust enough for a meal but light enough to include as a side dish.  It caters to vegan and gluten free diets.  Best of all, it is perfect for those trying to eat more healthy food, which pretty much covers most of us.  And salads might be in demand in Melbourne on Christmas day where it is forecast to be 35 C!

I hope your festive season is going well.  It is pretty crazy here.  Sylvia's gingerbread house is almost done and I have almost finished buying presents.  I have lots of wrapping and baking to do.  We were out looking at Christmas lights on houses tonight.  It is yet another late night.  I hope to have one more post in me before Christmas to share some of the photos of Christmas lights.  Meanwhile I wish you all the best for a merry Christmas and happy holidays.

I am sending this salad to Healthy Vegan Fridays and Meat Free Mondays.

Spinach salad with spiced nuts and cranberries
Inspired by Salt and Lavender
Serves 4

150g spinach
1 cup smoky spiced nuts (see below)
2 tbsp dried cranberries
1 spring onion
150g sugar snaps
Lime tahini dressing (see below)
roasted and salted seeds (optional)

Toss everything but the seeds with  the dressing in a large salad bowl.  Scatter with seeds.  Best eaten within a few hours of making the salad.  Does not keep overnight.

Lime tahini dressing
adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe

1 and 1/2 tbsp lime juice (about 1/2 lime)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp tahini
2 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp seeded mustard
Generous pinch salt

Whisk together until smooth and creamy.

Smoky spiced nuts
Inspired by Green Gourmet Giraffe and taste.com.au
Makes 3 cups

1 cup raw cashews
1 cup raw almonds
1 cup raw pecans
2 tablespoons tamari
2 tablespoon maple syrup
1 and 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
pinch cayenne pepper (or to taste)

Preheat oven to 170 C or 325 F.  Mix everything well in a large roasting dish.  Roast for 10 minutes.  Stir well.  Roast another 5 minutes.  They will still seem a little wet but should be crisp once they cool.  Once cooled, store in an airtight container.

On the Stereo:
Merry Christmas to the World of Children: Patsy Biscoe

Posted December 23, 2016 12:57 AM by Johanna GGG

December 21, 2016

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Pierre Roelofs' Dessert Evening

December 8, 2016

For my birthday dinner out this year I picked a Pierre Roelofs Dessert Evening. We've been following Roelofs' sweet degustations around town a while, from their long tenure at Cafe Rosamond, across the river to Fancy Nance and then just down the street last summer at Green Park Dining. This year he's been serving four-course dessert degustations on Thursday nights at Milkwood in Brunswick East. This arrangement is coming to a close this month, and so we were treated to a 'best of' dessert retrospective on our visit.

These evenings always commence with a dessert tube, and ours was a strip of creme brûlée! We were instructed to steep the amber sugar cap in a beaker of hot water for 4 seconds - this was just enough to loosen it from the tube while preserving its dense caramelly contrast to the rich vanilla custard.

Our second dessert was a medley of flavours and textures - beetroot, mandarin and chocolate took the forms of crumbs, jellies, meringues, fresh fruit pieces and dotted creams. These are ingredients I'd typically associate with winter, but here the effect was light and summer-friendly.

Dessert number three was an excavation: puffed millet sprinkled on raspberry foam, giving way to hibiscus granita and oat crumble. It was all a little too granola-y for me until I made it to the creamy-sweet coconut foundation - then everything made perfect sweet-sour-crunchy-creamy sense.

The final plate was an architectural arrangement of treacle sponge, rich vanilla parfait, fresh blueberries and lemon gel under sheets of lemon wafer. This was another clever balance of rich, dense components (whoa, what a treacle cake!) lifted with lighter elements (fresh fruit and melt-in-the-mouth wafers).

At $55 per person it felt right to reserve this degustation for a special occasion. Plenty of people can't or won't come at that price for less than a full meal (we lined our stomachs with a cheese plate first), but I can't fault any of the dishes we enjoyed. This 'best of' Roelofs experience was definitely the best we've experienced of Roelofs. 


There's also a review of the Milkwood-hosted dessert evenings on Melbourne Patron.

Posted December 21, 2016 04:39 PM by Cindy

December 20, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Seed Crackers and Christmas eats and trees

After months of festive decorations in the shops, it is a surprise that Christmas is almost upon us.  We have had our fair share of Christmas and end of year events.  And so many involve sugar and lollies.  So yesterday when a friend asked if I wanted some leftovers from her birthday cake I declined.  Which is why when we made presents for Sylvia's teacher, we decided to make savoury seeded crackers.  I will give you the cracker recipe after some musing on Christmas eats and trees.

I made these sausage rolls for a Christmas carol service.  We also took bread and vegies but I forgot the hummus.  Sylvia wisely told me not to bother bringing any sweet food as she knew she would have enough there.  She and her friend had lollies from santa as well as fairy floss and gloopy slushies.

I had quite a bit of sausage roll filling leftover as I didn't have time to make them all up.  The remaining filling went into a tex mex puff pastry braid that was made with a layer of refiried beans (kidney beans, taco seasoning and tomato sauce), 1 mashed avocado and sausage roll filling.  It was delicious but I had hoped for a brighter green filling.

I grated cheese onto half of the remaining sheet of pastry.  Then I folded it in half and cut out shapes with some cookie cutters.  We baked the shapes and the rest of the sheet left over from the shape until golden brown.  Sylvia loved them.

I made gingerbread houses for an end of year raffle at Sylvia's gymnastics club.  We had fun photographing them and were late to gymnastics as a result!  The irony!  I have promised Sylvia I will make a gingerbread house with her.  I am planning to try a new gingerbread recipe.

Much as I try to avoid a new flavour of an old brand, every now and again I cannot resist temptation.  The idea of a ginger cola was irresistible.  Ginger beer is a favourite drink of mine.  The ginger cola was nice but I still prefer ginger beer.

We were at the Coburg Farmers Market the morning that we picked up Sylvia from her sleepover (at the ungodly hour of 8am).  There was Christmas cake being sold by the CWA, the above mince tarts from La Madre and also some cute mini chocolate Christmas puddings.  However we headed over to Cocoa Rhapsody for some chocolates to give as thank yous.

Last week Sylvia had her end of year Christmas lunch.  Her class was asked to bring crackers or chips.  Sylvia insisted I make cheese stars from Nigella's How to Eat.  Dutifully I made the dough the night before and rose early to bake on the day they were requested.  Afterwards Sylvia told me she just had BBQ shapes from a box.  I sighed!  Then I decided that I wasn't just baking for her but, to paraphrase Ghandi, to be the change I wish to see.

I am feeling quite behind in lots of Christmas organisation.  One small project I finished was this icy pole stick and button star.  It was inspired by one that a friend made. 

We went to see E play Christmas carols at some local libraries with his ukulele group on the weekend.  Afterwards E suggested stopping for a coffee at a cafe.  I was already behind so instead we bought doughnuts.

The carols were after Sylvia and I had picked up our Christmas tree.  I don't know if Sylvia was more excited about being in the front seat of the car for the first time or driving home with the tree in the back filing the car with wonderful pine aromas.  Unfortunately at home the tree was challenging to get into our stand.  I borrowed a hacksaw from a neighbour to trim the base and broke the blade.  The tree is now sitting at a rather laid back angle.  My button star on the top looks great.

Our tree is top left above.    Top right is a book Christmas tree at Preston Library.  I really loved this tree.  The top reminds me of making angles out of old books when we were young.  Bottom left is a sock tree I saw in a sock that took my fancy.  And bottom right is my parents' tree.

On Saturday after getting out tree into place, rushing off to E's carols and heading home to decorate the tree, Sylvia and I went to my parents so we could decorate the tree the next day.  It is a fake tree.  Previous to this year, they have always bought real trees.  So it seemed strange.  Even stranger was that it was a lot smaller than the past trees.  It looked great.

Before we decorated my parents' tree, I had taken down some fruit mince and chocolate pastry to make chocolate mince tarts.  Usually we put stars on top.  My mum didn't have star cookie cutters but she had gingerbread men cutters.  They looked quite cute on the mince pies.  I made them to take to book club after decorating the tree.  Our last bookclub of the year is a film night and we saw Girl on a Train and took along a plate.  The chocolate mince tarts were my contribution.

A few weeks ago I met my friend Yaz at The Glass Den where we ate curly fries and talked about healthy crackers.  He said he just mixes chia seeds and water to make a thick slurry and then adds as many other seeds as he could before baking them in thin sheets.  I looked up some similar recipes and found this one from New Zealand.

I had decided that we would try and avoid sweet food for gifts for Sylvia's class teacher.  So we made these seed crackers.  They have kept for 5 or 6 days in an airtight container but are slightly more fragile than I had hoped.  But they do hold together fine.  (Perhaps so more chia or linseeds would help.)  My main problem with them was that I misread the recipe and thought I had to scatter 1 teaspoon of salt over them before baking.  They were too salty.  A pinch of two of salt would do.

As well as being a different sort of gift, these crackers make great snacks if you like a birdseed sort of snack.  I do.  I am sure I will be making these again for myself and others.

I am sending these to Healthy Vegan Fridays, Gluten Free Fridays, and Treat Petite.

More Christmas gifts on Green Gourmet Giraffe: 
And for some more fun ideas, check out Tin and Thyme's Advent Calendar of Christmas recipe links.

Seed crackers
From bite.co,nz
Makes about 48 square crackers

1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup poppy seeds
1/4 cup linseed / flaxseed
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup water
flaky sea salt, to taste

Mix all seeds, 1/2 tsp of salt and all the water.  Leave to sit for 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.  Spread as thinly as possible on baking paper on two medium oven trays.  Sprinkle with a pinch or two of flaky sea salt.  Bake at 170 C for 30 minutes.  Cut into squares (I did 4 x 6 rows.)  At this point they are quite dry and crispy but can crisp up more.  Return to the oven and bake another 20 -30 minutes until slightly golden.  Cool on a wire rack.  Keep in an airtight container.

On the Stereo 
White Christmas: Bing Crosby

Posted December 20, 2016 11:12 PM by Johanna GGG

December 19, 2016

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Potatoes & chickpeas with sun-dried mango

December 4, 2016

We had a big hunk of pumpkin leftover from our veggie box and Cindy decided that a big batch of pumpkin flatbreads was the way to go. To accompany it we turned to Mridula Baljekar's Indian Vegetarian Cookbook for ideas, settling on this potato and chickpea curry with sun-dried mango.

There's not too much work involved - you pre-boil the spuds, but otherwise everything just goes in one big pot. We had some sun-dried mango powder (amchoor) on hand from ages ago. I'd really recommend tracking it down for this dish, it really adds something interesting. Otherwise this is a pretty straight-up curry - it probably needs another dish on the side to round out the full meal (we chose a side of spiced coconut spinach). It's good though - a great addition to our weeknight roster (although with the pumpkin bread as well, this was definitely a weekend job).

Potato & chickpea curry
(slightly adapted from Mridula Baljekar's The Low-Frat Indian Vegetarian Cookbook)

2 large potatoes
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 green chillis
6 cloves garlic
1 onion
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
400mL can crushed tomatoes
400g can chickpeas, drained
2/3 cup warm water
1 teaspoon mango powder/amchoor
1/2 teaspoon garam masala

Scrub the potatoes, and chop them into 2cm cubes. Place them in a saucepan, cover them with water, and boil until just tender, about 10 minutes.

Heat the oil in a big saucepan and throw in the ginger, chillies and garlic, stir-frying for 30 seconds or so.

Add in the onion and salt and keep stir-frying, until the onion just starts to brown.

Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric and chilli powder and stir-fry for a jiffy, before tipping in the can of tomatoes. Cook for a few more minutes and then add the chickpeas, potatoes and water.

Cover the saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes. 

Whisk the sun-dried mango powder with a couple of tablespoons of water and stir it through the curry mixture.

Kill the heat and stir through the garam masala.

Posted December 19, 2016 06:29 AM by Michael

December 18, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Coburg Night Market 2016

Each year we are treated to the fantastic Coburg Night Markets each Friday in the month before Christmas.  There is lots of interesting food, great crafts and good cheer.  I got along to two markets this year.  No more markets til next year but meanwhile I will share some photos.

The first market I went to was after work.  I saw these eccentric entertainers who rode around the market.  Nearby was Sylvia and a friend eating the Sugar Shack lollies that Sylvia had told me earlier that she would not be buying.  We headed for the ice cream stall where someone was queuing for cones.

Curly spud (spiral cut potatoes that are cooked as chips and given a generous seasoning) is always popular with the kids.  Sylvia had already had a curly spud for dinner and was ready for dessert.

I started to do a reccy of the food stalls but stumbled upon these vegan Indian nachos at a Rice and Dice stall.  They looked so amazing I looked no further and indeed I would say they are the best street food I have had all year.  They were made of roasted papri chips, topped with curried chickpeas and potato, beetroot and carrot slaw, coriander and mint chutney, and tamarind and date raita.  The sign on the stall also said coconut raita available and I am not sure if it was on mine or not as I didn't request it but it looks like it is on the nachos.

They were nowhere to be seen on my second visit but I am tempted to try making some myself because I loved them so much.

My second visit was this Friday.  After muggy rainy weather it was a splendid evening with blue skies and sunshine.  We wandered about looking at the stalls and ended up talking to some friends near the retro tram car and bouncy castle.  Then as we were looking from E who had just finished work, he appeared.

Sylvia and E decided to have the Twisted Mac plain mac and cheese.  We had to wait 5 minutes but I did enjoy watching them stirring the cheese into the pasta.  And I much preferred to have mac and cheese leftovers than curly spud from Sylvia.

No Indian nachos so I went Vietnames with a fried tofu, vegan spring rolls, noodles and salad.  I kept mine simple so Sylvia could have some.  The tofu and spring rolls were crisp and hot but the rest of the salad would have benefited from peanuts, lemon juice and more soy sauce.  Nevertheless, it was a nice healthy meal.  Sylvia really loved the tofu.

We took our meals and found room at a seat.  Which is no mean feat as the market is so busy.  Yet seats come and go quickly.

Then we wondered around some craft stalls.  There are lots of great gift ideas, though some are quite pricey.  I really liked one of the candle stalls.  It had the unusual fragrance of leather and tobacco, which apparently is quite popular.

I really love the stalls where crafters have sourced gorgeous fabrics and make creative products with them.  The bunting at the above stall caught my eye and the dresses below were gorgeous.

We ran into one of Sylvia's friends and her family and E queued for ice creams while I went off in search of Indian nachos (just curious) and was able to peep at lots more stalls.  I really loved the CWA Christmas Cakes.

Once we had our ice creams, E wanted to check out the performance of Bobby and the Pins.  This female barbershop quartet have great retro 1950s dresses.  Twice E tried to make his way along to see them but by the time had had made his way through the crowd the singers had moved on.

I was more fascinated by the Morris dancers.  I can't see them without a smile as I think of Blackadder.  They are so wonderfully British that is seems strange to see them here.  As you can see in the photo, the place was busy.

I found my ice cream quite sweet and as my water had run out, I purchased a home made lemonade at the Corndidos stall.  I really liked it.  The cup was a generous size, though not quite as huge as Sylvia's little hands make it look.

Sylvia was disappointed the kids stall wasn't there this Friday.  She had enjoyed the craft activities there on a previous week.

And then it was time to go home and rest our weary feet.

Read previous posts about my visit to the Coburg Night Market in  2013 and 2014.

Coburg Night Market
Bridges Rd Reserve
(03) 9640 0028
Last market for 2016 was Friday 16 December.

Posted December 18, 2016 10:38 PM by Johanna GGG

December 17, 2016

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Strawberry & rhubarb poptarts

November 26-27, 2016

I know it means a lot to many women my age, but I have never taken more than a passing interest in Gilmore Girls. Dean vs Jess vs Logan? Choose self-esteem, Rory. Nevertheless, the new season was a big deal for some of my friends, and it was fun to share their fandom for a night. We went all out on themed viewing snacks - coffee, popcorn, marshmallows, cookie dough and home-delivered pizza. Although the Gilmore girls aren't ones to bake, I preferred making my poptarts over the real thing. 

Street Vegan served me well in the poptart stakes once before, and if anything it did even better this second time around. I chose a strawberry-rhubarb filling instead of chocolate, and doubled down with pink icing. My version has more rhubarb and less strawberries than the cookbook version, which does no harm. I had some moments of concern when I poured in the cornflour thickener and the filling seized up into a dense jelly. Thankfully it relaxed into a more appetising jam after the tarts were baked.

I wasn't deeply impressed with the pastry recipe the first time I made it, but I really liked this second batch. I made sure to bake it more thoroughly and liked this crisper, flakier rendition. My pink glaze is loosely inspired by the mango-lemongrass one in Street Vegan, in that I blended lemongrass into it. But instead of mango, I tipped a little leftover tart filling into the blender to make a tangy pink topping. A few coloured sprinkles and we were ready to party like it was 2006.

Even after the success of my first poptart batch, I didn't imagine that I'd return to them again so quickly. But for this occasion, I'm glad that I did - they hit our theme and my taste buds with equal success.

Strawberry & rhubarb poptarts
(adapted from a recipe in Adam Sobel's Street Vegan)

1 punnet strawberries, chopped
2 stalks rhubarb, chopped into 3cm lengths
1/4 cup agave nectar
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons cornflour
2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons cornflour
1/2 cup water
3 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup margarine

tender white middle of 1 lemongrass stalk, chopped
1/2 cup lime juice
generous pinch cardamom
1/2 cup icing sugar
2 tablespoons coloured sprinkles

Place the strawberries and rhubarb into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Saute them, stirring regularly, for a few minutes, until they begin to soften. Add the agave nectar and lime juice and continue to cook, stirring, for a couple more minutes. 

Place the cornflour and water together in a mug and stir them together into a smooth paste. Pour the paste into the fruit filling and stir to combine. Turn off the heat and allow the filling to cool to room temperature (I refrigerated mine overnight).

Place the vinegar, cornflour and water in a medium-large bowl and beat them together with an electric mixer until foamy. On low speed, mix in the flour, salt and margarine until the mixture comes together as a dough. Allow it to rest for at least 15 minutes - I covered my bowl with a lid and refrigerated it for a few hours.

Line 1-2 baking trays with paper and lightly spray them with oil. Preheat an oven to 180°C.

Lightly flour a clean surface and roll out the pastry to 2-5mm thick (I did this in about 3 small batches). Slice the dough into rectangles of the same size - mine were about 6cm x 10cm. Spoon filling into the centre of half of the rectangles, place the other rectangles on top of each filled one, and use a fork to crimp the edges together (see photo above). Set aside 2 tablespoons of the filling for use in the icing.

Place the pastries on the trays and bake them for 20 minutes, until they're a little firm and just starting to go golden. Allow them to cool to room temperature.

Place the reserved fruit filling, lemongrass, lime juice, cardamom and icing sugar into a small food processor or spice grinder. Grind them together into a smooth icing. Spoon the icing over the cooled pastries and scatter over the coloured sprinkles. Allow the icing to set for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Posted December 17, 2016 08:08 AM by Cindy

December 15, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Chocolate and Blackberry Pizza

When I made my favourite pizza base recently I kept the savoury pizza simple and spent most of my energies on the dessert pizza.  We were watching a cartoon about a dog's Christmas Carol.  I was in the kitchen for much of it and the pizza wasn't ready until Sylvia was almost ready for bed.  But it was worth it when we all sat on the couch eating pizza covered in melting chocolate and tart blackberries.

Yes, we were all very happy with it but the blackberries weren't a huge hit.  E was pleased to have a piece with not too many berries and Sylvia just picked all hers off.  But I loved the contrast of the sweet and tart.  The blackberries were the perfect contrast to the rich gooey chocolate and cream cheese.

It is based on another recipe for chocolate and raspberry pizza that I blogged about years ago.  However it was madewhen my photography skills were even worse than today.  And besides, I can't resist tweaking a recipe, even mine.  But most of all, I really love it and good food is always worth sharing.  I just wish you have been in my lounge so I could have served you up a slice - we had plenty leftover - but a virtual slice will have to do!

I am sending this pizza to Choclette for We Should Cocoa.

More dessert pizza ideas on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Cream cheese, nectarine and maple syrup
Cream cheese, choc chips, raspberries
Chocolate, caramel chips, coconut milk and mixed berries 
Custard and nectarines 
Nutella, choc chips, raspberries 
Lime cheesecake spread (vegan), choc chips, plums and Viennese Christmas sugar

Chocolate and Blackberry Pizza
Inspired by this Green Gourmet Giraffe pizza
Makes 1 large pizza

1/2 batch of fast track pizza dough
2-3 heaped tbsp cream cheese
1 tsp maple syrup
125g frozen blackberries
1/2 cup dark choc chips

Pat fast track pizza dough into a lined large pizza tray.  Mix cream cheese and maple syrup.  Spread cream cheese mixture over pizza base, sprinkle with choc chips and then dot blackberries over the top.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 220 C until pizza is golden brown around the edges.  (I  baked mine for 20 minutes on middle shelf and then last 5 min on top shelve becasue it was still not browned around the edges.)  Leave for 5 to 10 minutes so you don't burn your tongue.  Eat warm.

NOTES: This could be made vegan.  The pizza dough is vegan and I used tofutti cream cheese.  I don't tend to buy vegan chocolate chips but if you have them then I am sure that would work.  Mine were about 50% cocoa and on the sweet side of dark chocolate.  If the choc chips were bitter, you might need more sweetener.  Other pizza bases could be used here.  Leftovers keep well in the fridge until the next day.

On the Stereo:
Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album: Glee Cast

Posted December 15, 2016 10:27 PM by Johanna GGG

December 13, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Parenting wins: A bowl of marbles, a box of coco pops and a diary

It has been a year of challenges with our 7 year old Sylvia.  Thank goodness for the little victories! 

Her sleep and behaviour were very unsettled after we spent a month in Scotland at short notice following the death of her grandfather.

When we talk about children's progress it often is spoken about as a linear development, whereas my experience is that it is two steps forward and one step backwards.  I can't tell you the number of times I feel I have got a routine going and then something upsets it.

Today though I am going to share some little victories we have had along with some strategies that have been working.

A bowl of marbles

One of my favourite recent strategies for managing behaviour has been a bowl of marbles. We have two jars.  One labeled 'good behaviour' and one labeled 'bad behaviour'.

We have tried to reward good behaviour with a marble.  This can be difficult as it is sometimes hard to work out what to reward and what behaviour we want to just accept as the norm.

Where the good behaviour jar has been really useful has been targeting behaviour we really want to encourage by giving a marble.  Getting ready on school mornings has been a struggle with lots of meltdowns.  We have identified activities that Sylvia can improve on doing quickly and independently.  She is offered a marble for each.  Mornings have been so much easier with a bowl of marbles.

The bad behaviour jar is used when Sylvia's behaviour is unacceptable.  This can be when she speaks rudely, disobeys or throws something across the room.  It has been great for us in helping to stay calm when she misbehaves.

While we have talked about consequences, it is not always easy to identify an appropriate one.  The marble is an immediate consequence that is both easy to see (in the level in the jar) and has a very satisfying clink when the marble lands in the jar.

Sylvia has been known to put in a pre-emptory marble on a few occasions before she is knowingly naughty.  I have had to stop myself laughing at the cheekiness and console myself that at least she knows her action is not acceptable.

At the end of each week, we look at the marbles and if the good jar has more marbles, Sylvia gets a lunch order (ie can buy her lunch instead of taking her lunch to school).

The system has been working because a) Sylvia chose to use marbles; b) we are able to talk about her inappropriate behaviour while also acknowledging and valuing good behaviour; and c) the marbles are a useful visual representation of behaviour.

Of course, it isn't the answer every time.  We still  have other carrots and sticks in managing her behaviour but the bowl of marbles has been a really helpful system. 

A box of coco pops

I feel a little more conflicted as the coco pops strategy because I think this chocolate flavoured cereal is terribly sweet and not what I consider a good breakfast.  But we have found coco pops helpful in discussing food choices with Sylvia.  While holidaying in Scotland, we all ate too much sweet food and have needed to get back into better habits.

Sylvia pestered and pestered ... and pestered.  We finally bought a box of coco pops for Sylvia on the understanding that she only had a little with rice bubbles.

Then it was agreed that if she had coco pops in the morning she would not have sweet food during the day.  The exceptions are fruit and yoghurt (as I need to watch she has enough calcium).  It meant that at the start of the day, she was making decisions about whether she would eat sweet food during the day, including her lunchbox and dessert.

I had feared that it might just get her into bad habits of expecting to have coco pops for breakfast.  However I had told her it was just one box and after that it would not be bought again.  Since we finished the coco pops she has not asked for more.

Even more pleasing is that she is still deciding (sometimes with prompts) when she has sweet foods in the day rather than expecting to eat sweet foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

A diary

This story is about managing money and purchases.

Earlier this year I told Sylvia that her job in the house was to put away the washing.  Each time she does, we give her 50c.  I know that experts advise giving jobs earlier and not paying for them.  However this was the right time for us.

I chose to give her some money for the job as she loves getting money.  I did not want to give her so much that it was the only reason she does it.  We have discussed that this is her job, just as her dad and I have jobs to do around the house.

Months ago, Sylvia asked for a furry diary at Smiggle.  I said no.  However, I said she could save up for it.  As well as her money for putting away the washing, she has found coins behind the sofa and done a few other jobs for money.  Amazingly enough, she remained focused on the diary and saved up $27.

Sylvia had to leave school early for a dentist appointment a few weeks back.  She is not so keen on the dentist.  (It took a few visits before she would open her mouth for any dentist.)  So I promised her that after the dentist, she could visit a Smiggle shop that was on the way home.

It made me feel proud to see her in the store, looking at the prices for the diaries and other stationery as she decided exactly what to buy with the money she had saved up.  Taking her to Smiggle was an easy reward to give and it really delighted her.  It also gave her great maths experience and independence.

As I have said, children take two step forward and one step backwards.  On the weekend Sylvia went to a party where the group went to the cinema on the train.  I gave her $5 in case she needed money for train fares or any other small things.  She came home having spent her money on a bag of Maltesers at the cinema.  Sigh!  Parenting is a long journey!  Yet it is good to have some little victories and remind us we are getting there!

I'd love to hear of any strategies that work for you or parenting wins you have had.  Or what strategies did your parents use with you that you now respect?

More child-related posts on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Child friendly almanac: recipes, eating out, play ideas
Craft interlude: the dolls house and cardboard houses
Fussy eating, trying new food and a child's dinner
Lunchboxes - a reflection on a year of vegetarian school lunches

Posted December 13, 2016 01:37 PM by Johanna GGG

December 11, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Fast track sourdough pizza

For many years I was under the impression that nothing happened quickly with both pizza and sourdough baking.  It involved waiting around for hours.  It had to be well planned.  It needed great patience.  And indeed this is true of a lot of pizza and sourdough bread recipes.  Thank goodness I have learnt how to break the rules with this fast track sourdough pizza.

It was five years ago that I discovered a fast track pizza recipe that indeed fast tracks the process.  I have played around with it and tweaked it.  The biggest change, however, was a couple of years ago when I tried adding my sourdough starter just because sourdough starters need regular activity.  So now the recipe has yeast for speed and sourdough for added flavour. 

I have made it more times than I can remember.  In fact, I am writing up this recipe as I am tired of finding my scrappy notes at the end of the original post for yeasted fast track pizza. 

The recipe is counter-intuitive, if like me, you are used to traditional yeasted baking.  The dough is better for sitting for an hour or so, but can rest for as little as 20 minutes.  It does not get kneaded and is so sticky that when it is patted into shape, you need to flour your hands.  And yet it works

Lately I haven't had as much time for cooking as I would like.  Pizza has been a simple affair of tomato sauce with grated cheese.  Served with a side salad, if we are lucky.  I have taken to buying a pizza flavoured tomato paste that does the trick. 

My preference is to cook up a pizza sauce by frying onions and garlic, adding seasoning (salt, maple syrup, worcestershire sauce, pepper) and tomato paste.  Sometimes I puree in a small tin of baked beans or other vegies.  I usually have too much for one pizza and freeze some tubs of extra sauce.

In an ideal world, I like to experiment with pizza toppings.  Above are some from my archives, as well as a few recent pizzas.  It works well with vegan mozzarella, is fun to try with vegetarian haggis or leftover tofu besan omelette or with chocolate and berries.  I have sprinkled leftover burger or nut roast on top, tried baked beans and love a carrot pizza sauce.  Anything goes if I have the time and inspiration.  Sadly, I haven't had much time or inspiration lately but being able to make pizza quickly really does save my sanity.

If you need more inspiration, you can find a list of my pizza ideas - both bases and toppings that I have blogged.

Fast track pizza dough
Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe
Makes two pizzas

1 cup sourdough starter*
1 cup warm water
1 1/2 tsp dried yeast
3 tbsp olive oil 
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp sweetener
2 1/2 cups flour

Place the sourdough starter, yeast, and warm water.  Leave a few minutes to check the yeast is blooming into small white bubbly bursts of activity.  Mix to make sure the starter is well combined.  Stir in the oil, salt and sweetener and then add the flour to make a sticky dough.

Cover with a tea towel and leave for about 20-60 minutes.  (Twenty minutes will do but an hour is better or even longer is fine.)

Preheat oven to 220 C with a couple of pizza stones in the oven.  Generously line two 28cm round pizza trays with baking paper (the non-stick type). 

Divide the dough between the trays.  Flour your hands and pat down the dough to cover the tray. 

Arrange desired toppings on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toppings are golden brown and edges are slightly puffed and look cooked.

NOTES: I often use sourdough starter cold from the fridge and sometimes not as bouncy and bubbly as I would like.  It still works.  I use whatever sweetener is about - honey, sugar, agave.  I have tried adding a bit more flour but it can be a bit drier - it is the wet dough that makes it so soft.  I have made this and patted the dough thinner so it covers 2 larger pizzas and a small one but I like to have a bit of puff to my dough.  As bread dough is a bit doughy when first out of the oven, I really like the leftovers either hot or cold the next day.

On the Stereo:
Call the Midwife: The Christmas Album

Posted December 11, 2016 11:32 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Green bean casserole

November 26, 2016

We had the pleasure of joining in on our American friend's Thanksgiving tradition again this year. Our contributions to the table were an unconscious echo of the green bean salad and pie we prepared previously. First, I chose Isa Chandra Moskowitz's new veganisation of the traditional green bean casserole.

To this uninitiated Aussie, it's far preferable to the traditional concoction of canned green beans and cream of mushroom soup. Moskowitz has us make our own tasty gravy of blended cashews, vege stock and nooch. It thickens to bind sauteed green beans, mushrooms and onions. For me, the only misfortune is that the mushrooms infuse the casserole with a dull grey-brown colour that's not exactly appetising. With my host's approval, I sprinkled the top with Malaysian fried shallots - their golden hue helped spruce things up.

For dessert, Michael and I teamed up to make our favourite apple pie. For the one vegan guest in the gang, I tried my hand at apple roses. I took my cues from Green Gourmet Giraffe. The construction was a little easier than I'd feared, but as Johanna had hinted they're tough to cook evenly. The apple petals darken and the pastry outer crisps long before the centre is cooked. My tartlets were pretty but too chewy, and in need of more jam.

And so we pulled off flavour without looks in one dish, and looks without flavour in another. Perhaps next Thanksgiving we can refine these recipes and see them reach their full potential.

Green bean casserole
(slightly adapted from a recipe at Isa Chandra)

1 cup raw cashews
3 cups stock
1/2 cup plain flour
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
500g green beans
2 small onions
4 cups mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon onion powder
1/4 cup fried shallots
salt & pepper

Place the cashews in a plastic container with a lid. Cover them with water and soak them for at least 2 hours, and ideally overnight.

Place the cashews in a blender with the stock, flour and yeast flakes. Blend them until they're completely smooth, adjusting the blend speed or switching it off periodically to scrape the sides, as needed.

Trim the beans and chop them into 4cm lengths. Slice the onions into loops. Slice the mushrooms into bite-sized flats. 

Heat the olive oil in a large frypan. Add the beans and onion, sauteing them until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue sauteing until they just start releasing water. Pour in the stock mixture from the blender, then sprinkle over salt and pepper. Cook until thickened, about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Preheat oven to 190°C. Spray a large high-walled rectangular baking dish with oil. Pour the bean mixture into the dish and bake for 20-25 minutes, until it's browned and bubbly. Sprinkle over the fried shallots.

Posted December 11, 2016 09:58 PM by Cindy

December 09, 2016

Thoughts Of A Moni

Axil Coffee and Roasters

Axil is a name that is almost synonymous with coffee in Melbourne and so when I was trying to plan a breakfast catch up with an old friend in the eastern suburbs, I figured Axil Coffee Roasters in Hawthorn would be a good choice. At the very least, the coffee should be good!

The coffee was indeed excellent, with rich aromas and full bodied flavour. It was the coffee that I had come to expect from Axil.

Taking a look at the menu though, I found it to be rather standard and not very creative, especially when considering the savoury options. Whilst there were some exciting sweet choices like Ferraro Rocher waffles or red velvet pancakes, I have always preferred a savoury breakfast. These days, breakfast menus are full of inventive options but Axil clearly prefers to focus on basics.

I ended up choosing the fritters (duh), which were made with zucchini, corn and haloumi, and then topped with avocado, spinach, a poached egg and relish. Rather than a few small fritters, they served up one large fritter. This meant that there was less crunch, and the fritter was more cake like which was a bit disappointing. Still, the flavours were very good, and anything with haloumi makes me happy. The eggs were poached well, and whilst there is no photo, you can trust me when I say that I had great yolk porn material.

My breakfast companion settled on smashed avocado on toast with sides of scrambled eggs and salmon pastrami. (Lucky he’s already got a house, otherwise there would be no chance he could save for one!) There was a little bit of confusion with his eggs order (only one scrambled egg came out, when he specifically asked for two) but it was quickly resolved.

The space inside Axil is huge, with tables a plenty, and despite the large crowd, the service was still very good. However, with Melbourne’s café game so strong, and so many places really pushing the boundaries with their offerings, personally I am more inclined to try them rather them returning to Axil. But if you are a traditionalist, and like your standard breakfast options, this is certainly a place you should visit.

Axil Coffee Roasters Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted December 09, 2016 02:41 PM by Moni

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Laverbread vegie soup

Have you ever wondered what miso soup might taste like if it was invented in Wales?  No?  Nor I.  But if you did, I think I might have an answer in this soup that I made for dinner last week using Welsh laverbread.   

After opening my tin of laverbread for a nut roast I wanted to make sure I used the rest.  After all, this laverbread is a rare delicacy that I was lucky to be sent  from Wales by Shaheen.  I didn't want it to go off.  Initially I had an idea I would make potato patties with the laverbread (which is like a seaweed paste).  Then it just seemed practical to make soup.

It is always practical to make soup because I often buy vegies with great hope.  Yet sometimes the crisper drawer of the fridge looks sad with neglect.  And the only thing to do is throw the vegies inot a soup or stew.  As many of my soups do, this one borders on a stew because it was quite packed.  But it was watery enough that I call it a soup. 

The laverbread gave a lovely depth of flavour.  I am still a bit wary of laverbread and again was very relieved that it made the soup so good.  I also loved it being packed with vegies and beans.  It was a very satisfying soup to eat.  We both went back for seconds and on the following night I ate the leftovers myself and found something else for E to eat for tea when he came home later.  (Ssshhh don't tell him!)  I justified this because I thought it was like a Welsh version of miso soup.  And E is not so keen on miso soup.

Thanks again to the lovely Shaheen of Allotment 2 Kitchen for sending this my way.  She has lots of laverbread recipes if you are lucky enough to have a tin.  (Check out my nut roast post if you want to see photos of laverbread in the tin.)  I had thought to put a list of other Welsh recipes at the end of this post but then I found that I have very few Welsh-inspired recipes.  Which is shameful, as my great grandfather come to Australia from Wales. Watch this space.

I am sending this soup to Allotment 2 Kitchen and The VegHog for Eat Your Greens, to Rock My Vegan Socks and VNutrition for Healthy Vegan Fridays, and to Vegetarian Mamma for Gluten Free Fridays.

More broth-based soups from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Chickpea and spinach soup (with noodles) (gf, v)
Chunky beetroot soup with kidney beans (gf)
Japanese-style pumpkin, sprouts and tofu soup (gf, v)
Miso soup with tofu, vegetables and noodles (v)
Tricken rice soup with celeriac (gf, v)
Wanton dumplings in ginger broth (v)

Laverbread vegie soup
An original Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe
Serves 3-4

1-2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, diced
2 cups purple cabbage, diced
3 cup boiling water
400g tin cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
1 potato, finely chopped
1/4 cup laverbread (Welsh seaweed puree)
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp stock powder
1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp flaked salt
1 bunch asparagus
handful of spinach

Fry onion in oil in large saucepan for 5 minutes over medium heat.  Add carrots and fry an additional 5 minutes.  Add cabbage and cook another 5 minutes.  Add boiling water, potato, laverbread, mustard powder, smoked paprika, stock powder, worcestershire sauce and salt.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 to 20 minutes until vegies have softened.  (I cooked it for 10 minutes and left it a few hours.)  Stir in asparagus and spinach and gently cook for another few minutes. 

On the Stereo:
Tinsel and Lights: Tracey Thorn

Posted December 09, 2016 12:34 PM by Johanna GGG

December 06, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

In My Kitchen: December 2016

December has arrived, breathless and bold.  Everyone is celebrating: the end of school year, the summer and Christmas.  Last weekend we were at Coburg Night Market (Indian style nachos were amazing), a carol service (where a pub rock duo don't seem to know many carols and end up singing Wonderwall and Uptown Funk) and Sylvia's gymnastics display day (where I won the raffle).  We are high on excitement and low on energy!  And I need to find time to vacuum the house.  So let's ignore the floors while we take a peek into my kitchen.

Firstly I must show off our first and finest strawberry that Sylvia ate before they were either eaten by birds or defeated by my lack of watering.  Now that there is more sunshine and less rain, I need to get into better gardening habits.

We went to the Melbourne Vegan Eats Brew and Food Fest in November.  E wanted some sausage rolls but they were taking too long.  Later when we returned to Half Pint Dairy for an ice cream they had lots of sausage rolls.  We bought some beetroot and cashew sausage rolls to take home for dinner.  They were magnificent.  We ate them with leftover bean stew and lettuce.

I haven't had as much time for dinner lately as I would like.  Some shortcuts have been called for.  Such as the wonderful falafel from Half Moon Cafe in Coburg.  They are made with broad beans and lots of herbs.  When fresh they are crispy outside and soft and green inside.  After a day in the fridge, they firm up but still taste exceedingly good.

And then there have been days I haven't got to the shops.  I set out to make overnight sourdough bread a couple of weeks back and found I was out of my regular white flour.  I looked for what flours were about the kitchen and used 1/4 white flour, 1/4 wholmeal flour and 1/2 spelt flour.  The bread was great with far more depth of flavour, albeit a little less lift.

We have made time for the Coburg Farmers Market.  The cruffin was for E though Sylvia and I had to taste the strange hybrid of a croissant and muffin.  The garlic scapes ended up in nachos.  The oranges were quartered and put into Sylvia's lunchbox.  The kale went into this salad.  And I enjoyed the new vegan creamy macadamia and pear chocolate from Cocoa Rhapsody.

I was so excited to see Savoury muesli bars.  But I felt cheated once I got them home and tasted them and checked the ingredients and the sugar content.  They were held together with glucose and tasted slightly sweet with some cumin flavour.  The biggest betrayal was looking at the sugars in the nutritional breakdown which was about 13 g per 100g, compared to Sylvia's regular sweet muesli bars which are about 15g per 100g.  Disappointed!  They wont be in my shopping trolley again.

We have bought some fun stuff too.  I love the colour of the carotino oil.  I thought it was made of carrots but it is actually canola and red palm heart.  The loose leaf Hibiscus tea with ginger, vanilla and mint is from Juanita's Kitchen and very nice (Actually I was given this after a meal at the cafe but not in my capacity as a blogger.)  I love the mini bagels.  They are great to store in the freezer for lunches for Sylvia when we are out of bread!  And I really love the purple carrot, beetroot and apple juice.  I find it quite strong and have it with half juice and half soda water.

I have so many recipes to try that I usually can resist the temptation of food magazines.  However I was tempted by this new Follow the Crumbs magazine I picked up in the supermarket.  It was so interesting I bought a copy (and it wasn't cheap at $9 or $10).  I enjoyed looking at it and then not had time to pick it up again.

Sylvia made this toilet paper roll people one day when she had idle time.  They are rather cute!

My neighbour gave to a charity that came knocking at her door and they gave her vouchers to buy some magazines.  She gave me the vouchers and so I received these cute house pegs with the magazine.

I spent November blogging lots of vegan recipes for Vegan Mofo.  Above are some gingerbread men from Isa's Vegan Holidays Cookbook. I didn't like them quite as much as my regular gingerbread but it was pretty good.  And we had fun decorating the gingerbread men.  Sylvia did the skeleton and I did the guy in the tie.

Finally here is a peek into the raffle that I won at the gymnastics display day.  I had made gingerbread houses to donate to the raffle and was embarrassed to win one back.  In fact, so mortified was I that I asked that it be taken out of the hamper and raffled again (much to Sylvia's dismay).  We had lots of other lovely food and gifts in the hamper, including a David Brewster calendar and some gorgeous fleece hats that one of the coaches made.  Sylvia has been wearing one of the hats to bed every night.  (And yes it is summer!)  We also have a voucher for I Carusi Pizza which I look forward to using. 

I am sending this post to the In My Kitchen event, that invites bloggers to share a peek into their kitchen.  Started by Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, it is currently hosted by Lizzy of Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things.  If you would like to join in, send your post to Lizzy by 10 November .  Or just head over to her blog to check out some fascinating kitchens.

Posted December 06, 2016 10:39 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Lankan Tucker

November 26, 2016

We've been keen to check out Lankan Tucker since it opened in Brunswick West earlier this year. The location - tucked way down the western end of Albion Street near Lolo & Wren - isn't super convenient, but the combination of breakfast and roti bread was enough to convince us to make the bike ride.

It's a cute little place, with a mix of indoor and outdoor seating and lots of light streaming in. The idea of a place serving up brunchy dishes with a Sri Lankan twist is perfectly targeted at me - I'm generally keen on curry for breakfast and double so if I can somehow combine it with eggs. It's a bit surprising that so few places are doing this - the only other place I can think of is the vegan about town-endorsed Pavlov's Duck.

The menu is long, with a mix of conventional brunch dishes (granola, omelettes, avo smash, etc) and more interesting Sri Lankan-inspired dishes (lots of roti plus interesting snacks like vadai and lunch food like dosa and hoppers). We were too early for the lunch menu so we'll have to come back to explore some more.

I went for the roti riser, a combination of roti bread, veggie curry, coconut sambal, a poached egg and apricot chutney ($17.50). Add on a few spoonfuls of the excellent chilli sauce they had on the table, and I was in heaven. The roti was soft and stretchy, a much better vessel for breakfast than boring old toast, and the combination of the mildly spicy veggie curry and the egg was perfect. Coconut sambal is probably the world's best condiment, so this ticked a lot of boxes for me.

The lack of any really interesting sweet dishes on the menu meant that Cindy went for a slightly less Sri Lankan vibe. She ordered the rolled omelette brekky burger ($17.90), a brioche bun overstuffed with eggs, battered fried mushrooms, a potato rosti, avocado, onion, wilted spinach, tomato and chilli jam. 

This wasn't quite as successful - piled high on a wooden board, it seemed to be presented more for instagram than for eating. The clued-in staff offered Cindy a side plate from the get-go, and she used it to pick off the copious raw onion, enjoy half the toppings piece-by-piece, and eventually dig into her omelette-burger.

I really enjoyed my breakfast at Lankan Tucker - the staff were lovely, the coffee (by Sensory Labs) was excellent and ability to order curry for breakfast highly appreciated. Here's hoping that brunch/curry crossover places are the next big Melbourne food craze.


I couldn't find any non-freebie blog reviews of Lankan Tucker - hopefully it will build a following over the months ahead.

Lankan Tucker
486 Albion St, Brunswick West
9386 8248
all day breakfastbrekky specialsbites & wrapslunch, salads & kids'drinks

Accessibility: Entry is flat and wide and the interior is reasonably spacious. There's a single non-gendered bathroom that's completely accessible and includes a baby change table. We ordered at our table and paid at a low counter.

Posted December 06, 2016 07:43 AM by Michael

December 04, 2016

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

The Lincoln

Cheap Eats 2006, a decade on

November 22, 2016

Hotel Lincoln (now called The Lincoln) has had several changes in management in the decade we've known it. This has meant a few makeovers in look and menu, although I think the atmosphere has been pretty consistent. The front bar has the typical Melbourne pub feel, while the dining room out back is much fancier. There have never been more than a couple of vegetarian options available, although we've enjoyed the ones we've had. When we visited as part of a large group recently, we were happy to order their set menu (The Half Lincoln, $45 per person) and let them show us how broad their vegetarian options really were.

The appetisers were light and fun - individual crackers piled with pink pickles, and kelp-salted edamame that kept our hands busy as we chatted.

One of the meal's high points was the shared entree of roasted cauliflower with a medley of buckwheat, pomegranate seeds, currants and mint. The puffed-up crunch of the buckwheat was unexpected and welcome, a switch-around on the Ottolenghi-style grain salads we seek and eat so often.

(Clockwise from top-left:) Asparagus with fried egg mayo and toasted crumbs was a winning side, the triple-cooked cooked could never have gone wrong, and a plate of cos hearts with fresh curd and shallots kept up the right ratio of green. I was skeptical of their teaming lentils with seaweed in the mushroom dish: the result was better than I expected, but not one of the night's favourites.

Dessert was another memorable point: Michael and I shared a feather-light beetroot and chocolate pudding. While it wasn't strongly flavoured, it was served in a pool of perrrrrfect anglaise.

The Lincoln's daily menu didn't much excite us vegos, but they're professionals who delivered a great experience. Staff were enormously accommodating of our group's various dietary requirements and various choices to eat communally via the Half Lincoln and individually a la carte.  The lentil-mushroom dish is the one official vegetarian main currently on menu, but through the Half Lincoln we learned that some of the sides are even better. With cheese and eggs liberally served throughout our meal, it remains to be seen how well they'd cater to vegans.

Staff didn't hinder us from chatting and chair-swapping into the night, even as the rest of the pub emptied out, and were easy-going as we split the last of the bill. I daresay they helped Melbourne make a great impression on our globe-trotting guests of honour, who are usually found fine-dining their way through DC.


You can also read about one, two of our previous visits to Hotel Lincoln. Fellow veg blogger Nouveau Potato was less impressed.


The Lincoln
91 Cardigan St, Carlton
9347 4666

Accessibility: Entry is flat. Indoors is quite crowded with high and low tables with stools and backed seats, respectively. We ordered at our table and paid while standing by the bar (but not across it). We didn't visit the toilets.

Posted December 04, 2016 03:53 PM by Cindy

December 03, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Refried lentils with garlic scapes (and zucchini or pumpkin) for nachos

I had a yen for nachos.  It was a eco-friendly way to follow up a taco night where we used a taco kit.  I had leftover seasoning, leftover salsa and I had forgotten to use the yoghurt.  I also had garlic scapes to use.  And the challenge of making my favourite refried beans without kidney beans or black beans.  I was most pleased with how I rose to the challenge.

The garlic scapes were from a farmers market where it was suggested that I just fry them up.  Instead I put them in dip that I found really garlicky.  So I decided to use them instead of onion and garlic in the refried beans.  The first time I used 3 and then next I was determined to use them all and put 10 in.  It was fine.  Actually it was really good!

I tried making the nacos differently to my usual.  I have often layered a bean mixture and cheese and salad between layers of tortilla chips.  This time I looked at photos of nachos in favourite restaurants and online.  I decided just to layer cheese and tortilla chips and then once cooked I piled on topping, making sure to have the refried beans heated.  Delicious and pretty!

The refried lentils were both quick and tasty.  I made them to use up what was in the kitchen rather than shopping while we had lots of food.  I had 20 minutes to make the refried lentils and got it done.  Which means that I could get home from Sylvia's swimming lesson, knock up some guacamole and put together nachos quickly.

This could change the way I do nachos and open me up to trying new vegies and pulses in making refried beans.  And while we don't usually do nachos often, I could do with more quick meals like this.  Life has been so busy that I have been having some very simple dinners.  I finished making 3 small gingerbread houses yesterday but with Christmas looming, I am not sure life will be throwing lots more time my way!

I am sending this to Tinned Tomatoes for Meat Free Mondays, to The Veg Hog. for My Legume Love Affair and to Elizabeth's Kitchen for No Waste Food Challenge.

More Mexican-inspired meals on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Borlotti bean mole with roast pumpkin and silverbeet (gf, v)
Haggis tacos (and nachos)
Kale, cheese and mole quesadillas (v)
Mexicale pie 
Oaxaca tacos (with potato and cheese) (gf)
Potato and kale enchiladas (gf, v)
Tex Mex Pizza with sourdough base (v)

Refried lentils with garlic scapes
Adapted from Alison Holst via Green Gourmet Giraffe
Serves 2-4

1 tbsp oil
3-10 garlic scapes, finely chopped
1 zucchini, finely chopped or 2-3 cups roasted diced pumpkin
2-3 tsp of taco seasoning
400g tin of brown lentils, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp tomato paste

Fry garlic scapes and zucchini in oil until zucchini is cooked.  (Or if using roast pumpkin, cook garlic scapes until starting soften and brown and then stir in pumpkin.)  Add taco seasoning and stir through.  Add lentils and tomato paste.  Warm though and remove from heat.

NOTES: Great for tacos and nachos.  You can mash with a fork or potato masher but it is optional.  If you don't have taco seasoning, add 1/2 tsp each of cumin, dried oregano, sugar, salt and chilli paste.  

For nachos I used 100g tortilla chips, 100-200g grated cheese and put together in 2 layers.  I heated it at 200 C for 15 minutes (but I think I could have done it either shorter or in a 180 C oven.)  I heaped it with refried lentils.  Then guacamole (1 avocado, squeeze of lime, pinch of salt, drizzle of srirach and 2 tbsp of garlicky green dip), about 1/4 cup plain yoghurt and 2-3 tbsp of salsa.

On the Stereo:
Dr Demento presents The Greatest Novelty Christmas CD of time - Various Artists

Posted December 03, 2016 07:44 PM by Johanna GGG

December 01, 2016

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne


Cheap Eats 2006, a decade on

November 16, 2016

Our Cheap Eats project has mostly been about revisiting places we blogged way back in the day, but we're also using it to visit some long-overlooked Melbourne stalwarts. When we needed a quick dinner up at the Parliament end of the city, it seemed like the perfect excuse to finally visit one of Melbourne's institutions: Pellegrini's. It's been trading on Bourke Street since 1954 and by all reports very little has changed in 62 years - there's a wooden board listing different pasta dishes, scrappily decorated walls and staff chatting away in Italian. 

It's charming enough, but the bar seating is a little awkward in a group of four. The staff were reasonably helpful taking, us through the vego dishes - the choices are pretty simple: pick from one of a handful of pasta options and then choose either pesto or napoli. I ordered the ricotta ravioli with the napoli sauce (~$18). It was fine - very basic and quite old-fashioned food, served without much care for its presentation - but satisfyingly huge and tasty for all of that. 

Cindy went for fettucine with a pesto sauce (~$18). As with the ravioli, this was nothing fancy, but the pasta was fresh, which is the key for such a simple dish. The servings were huge, and the half a white roll we were each served on the side seemed like an unnecessary carb boost. 

I'm not sure how I feel about our Pellegrini's visit. It's obviously a hugely nostalgic experience for many Melbournites, with an unpretentious vibe that seems almost entirely unchanged since Italian food was impossibly exotic. Without that connection though, I'm not sure it really measures up - the food is a little uninspiring and when you're paying nearly $20 for fettucine with some pesto stirred through it, it really needs to be amazing. On the plus side, everything happens super fast - our food turned up almost immediately after we ordered it - so it's good if you want something hearty but you're in a bit of a hurry. The watermelon granitas we all ordered to drink (~$3 each) were tops too. 

Looking over the brief review in our 2006 Cheap Eats Guide it's clear that Pellegrini's have just kept doing their thing over the past decade, right down to the old dude flirting with the women customers. Prices have gone up a bit - from $12-$14 in 2006 to roughly $18 these days, but otherwise they're just doing what they do. It's not somewhere we'll visit often, but I'm still glad it exists.

The rest of our night was spent at the quite wonderful Hush event at Melbourne Music Week - a series of wonderful bands playing short sets around Parliament House. It was pretty special.



66 Bourke St, Melbourne
9662 1885

Accessibility: There's a small step up on entry and a pretty crowded interior. You order and pay at the bar. We didn't visit the toilets.

Posted December 01, 2016 07:32 AM by Michael

November 30, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Vegan MoFo 2016 - reflections and quicklinks

So that's it!  Vegan MoFo is over for another year.  I have enjoyed cooking and sharing lots of good vegan food.  Having said that, my life doesn't make this pace of blogging easy.  This is my 27th Vegan MoFo post and I am glad to slowing down to my usual pace.  As in past Vegan Mofos, I am finishing with a reflection on Vegan MoFo and a few random photos.

The Temple of Doom sandwich from Smith and Deli. 
Vegan turkey, cheese, cabbage, corn and jalapeno in a sandwich. 
A bit spicy for me but good.  I shared it with E.
Firstly I didn't like the idea of daily prompts last year but I really liked the weekly themes this year.  They gave me plenty of space for ideas and lots of inspiration.  I had many more ideas than I could blog but I did keep up with frequent posting by preparing ahead of Vegan MoFo.  Sadly this did not help me catch up with reading other blogs and I found myself feeling rushed by the almost daily posting,  Life is just too busy.  Especially when I managed to delete three posts and have to rewrite them.

Mac and cheese at Melbourne Vegan Eats Brew and Food Fest
I did not manage one post on eating out during Vegan MoFo.  Even though I did have some excellent meals out.  We went to the Melbourne Vegan Eats Brew and Food Fest.  It was small but still overwhelming with too much choice.  E got the mac and cheese which was really good.  I had a lovely smoked tempeh burger but wished I had chicken salad in a cone from Rays or the carrot hotdog in the charcoal black bun.  And we loved the Half Pint sausage rolls.  I also enjoyed meals at Juanitas, True North and Smith and Deli, all of which have some great vegan food.

Kat's Breakfast from True North.  I asked for no eggs or bacon and had buttermilk biscuits, polenta grits, red pepper jelly,  pickled radishes and vegan chorizo.  I forgot to ask if it was vegan but I know I think the waitress said it could be made vegan.  It was delicious but I wished it came on a plate.
Actually the Ultimate Bean Stack that I had at Juanita's had dairy cheese in it.  I would have loved to have eat it with the vegan cheese but it was not available when I ordered.  Which brings me back to life as a vegetarian.  November marks 25 years living as a vegetarian.  Over that time vegetarians have become far more accepted and vegans seem to now be the odd ones out.

While I do not plan to become vegan any time soon, I am happy to incorporate more and more vegan food into my diet.  Aquafaba has made this even easier and is no doubt one of the reasons I haven't had eggs in the house for months.  We only have soy milk in the house but still have dairy cheese and yoghurt.  I have found lots of vegan cheese I love but am yet to find a vegan yoghurt to embrace.  Caeli has suggested Miyoko's yoghurt and I plan to try it.

I have been fortunate to be loaned a few vegan cookbooks by Faye.  Sadly I have been too busy with Vegan MoFo to spend much time reading them.  And Vegan MoFo always leaves me with lots of recipes to inspire me.   Here are a few quicklinks:

Aloo Tikka Bagel - Allotment to Kitchen
Speculoos Truffles and Cinnamon Stars - Seitan is My Motor
Mung bean and smoked aubergine side salad - Flicking the Vs
Roasted Brussels, Sprouts Chickpeas and Rice - Rock Your Vegan Socks
Jackfruit tacos with charred corn, cabbage and lime cream - Little Vegan Bear
Thanksgiving blossoms - Vegan Dollhouse
Crispy Vietnamese Crepes - Olives for Dinner
Roasted Garlic Bread - Walks, Talks and Eats
Cherry Bakewells - Walks Talks and Eats
Gingerbread Cookies - My Darling Vegan
Christmas Tree Cheese Platter - Veggies Save the Day
Easy Deviled Potatoes - Brand New Vegan
Vegan Tuna Noodle Casserole - Neat and Nutritious
Vegan Cheesemaking Guide - Vegan Nom Noms
Cooking Vegan MoFo recipes - Herbivore's Heaven

The one recipe I have made from Faye's cookbooks are the Gingerbread People from Isa's Vegan Holidays Cookbook.  They were nice but not as nice as my favourite gingerbread recipe.  Now that Christmas is near, Sylvia wants to make gingerbread for presents so I might have opportunities to try more vegan gingerbread.  Meanwhile I am embarked on making gingerbread houses for a raffle.  So, as always in my blog, I have much more to say than I have time for.  And you have probably read enough.  So I will now save my energies for some decorating tomorrow.

This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Week 5's theme is Holidays. 

Posted November 30, 2016 11:45 PM by Johanna GGG

November 29, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Gow Gee Hummus Cups and Lentil Celery Salad

Recently I linked to some gow gee cups that I had made when Sylvia was little.  We started to talk about doing them again with hummus and vegies.  We had them for dinner but it would be a fun and easy finger food for entertaining.  We ate the gow gee cups with a simple but satisfying lentil celery salad.  It was a good easy meal after a busy day of work, the dentist and Christmas shopping.

I really like the gow gee cups because they are just a matter of spraying round gow gee wrappers and putting them into a mini muffin dish.  They are then baked until browned around the edges.  This makes them crisp enough to put in whatever you like.  And they look like little flowers.

We put in some hummus and vegies,  I thought that the cherry tomatoes reminded me of Rudoph the Red Nose Reindeer.  Perhaps a couple of olive eyes and some pretzel antlers would make them really Christmassy.  Or you could add some holly leaves to the tomato by cutting them out of cucumber or green capsicum.  (Not that this would be practical if you were making a lot.)  The cucumber and carrot sticks were what we had.  Again, if you want a festive look you could do green and red capsicum.

The hummus didn't make the cups soggy immediately so I think they could be made perhaps an hour or so ahead of time but I don't know how much longer.  It is something I might experiment with when I have time.

I had hoped that Sylvia might like these but she preferred the cups separate from the vegies and hummus.  At least she ate more than she did of the salad.  Even though she was the one who inspired it.

Sylvia loves to tidy her corner of the loungeroom.  She has seconded a coffee table and recently made it look really neat.  Unfortunately around the edges was the mess of everything that she had thrown off it.  Among the papers I found an old Vegetarian Times magazine with this recipe.  I changed the vegies a bit and am sure other vegies such as tomato or other beans would work well too.  It was quite sharply flavoured the first night but less so the next.

More festive entertaining finger food from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Cashew cheese stuffed dates (gf, v)
Pesto pita Christmas trees
Polenta quinoa sticks with rhubarb sauce (gf, v)
Sausage rolls (v)
Sesame hummus bites (gf, v) 
Sushi with sticky walnuts and edamame (gf, v)
Tofu nut balls (v) 

Lentil Celery Salad
adapted from Vegetarian Times
serves 4

400g tin lentils, rinsed and drained
3 celery stalks, sliced
kernels of 1 cob corn
1 bunch asparagus, chopped small and lightly cooked
1 spring onion, thinly sliced

3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 small garlic clove crushed
2 tsp seeded mustard
seasoning - pinch salt and grind of black pepper

Place all salad ingredients into a medium bowl.  Either whisk the marinade ingredients or shake together in a jar (with the lid on).  Mix into salad and serve.  Can be kept overnight but the flavours mellow.

Gow Gee Hummus Cups
serves 2-3

12 round gow gee wrappers
oil spray
12 heaped tsp hummus
carrot, cucumber and cherry tomatoes

Lightly spray each gow gee wrapper with oil.  Place oil side up over a hole in a mini muffin tin and push in, making a few folds so it neatly sits in the hole and the folds make it look a little like a flower.  Repeat with remaining wrappers.  Bake for 10-15 minutes at 200 C.  Cool.  Put a heaped teaspoon of hummus in each cup.  Cut cherry tomatoes in half and press into some of the cups.  Cut the carrot and cucumber into matchsticks and plant in the remaining gow gee cups.

NOTES: I bought my gee gaw wrappers from the supermarket and they were vegan.  If you want them vegan and gluten free you could try this recipe. A couple of people have commented on never having heard of "gee gaw" wrappers - I checked again online and on the packet and it seems it is "gow gee" wrappers.  Oops!  Have edited the post.  But I sort of like the word gee gaw (which actually means trinket or bauble).

On the Stereo:
The Best Aussie Christmas

This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Week 5's theme is Holidays.  Today the prompt is Holiday Bake Day.  Nut roast has to be one of my favourite holiday bakes.

Posted November 29, 2016 09:16 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Peanut butter-coconut granola

November 14-15, 2016

Granola, fruit and yoghurt has been my default breakfast for quite a while. I usually bake this granola, but I was ready to try something new when I saw a peanut butter granola recipe on stonesoup earlier this month. Like most of the recipes on that blog it's grain-free, with peanuts, flaked coconut and flaked almonds taking the place of my usual rolled oats.

I'm unsure whether my granola had the intended texture. Nuts don't absorb liquids like rolled oats do, so my granola didn't dry out or become more crunchy as it baked (the peanuts and almond were pretty crunchy, nevertheless). A slick of peanut butter and coconut oil remained on the nuts and in the baking tray even as I worried about overbaking it all.

I liked teaming this granola with bananas and almond milk. I learned that peanuts aren't my favourite granola ingredient, but I'll definitely be bringing the peanut butter-binder and coconut flake elements into my granola-baking habits.

Peanut butter-coconut granola
(recipe from stonesoup)

25g coconut oil
100g peanut butter
125g coconut flakes
250g roasted unsalted peanuts
100g flaked almonds

Preheat an oven to 150°C. Line a large baking tray with paper.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the coconut oil. Turn off the heat and stir in the peanut butter until well mixed.

In a medium-large bowl, stir together the the coconut flakes, peanuts and almonds. Pour over the peanut butter mixture and stir everything to combine well. Turn the mixture out onto the lined baking tray and spread it out evenly. 

Bake for 15-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes for even cooking. Allow the granola to cool on the tray before storing.

Posted November 29, 2016 07:07 AM by Cindy

November 28, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Welsh nutroast with laverbread, leeks and cheese (vegan)

Back in April, I was sent a tin of laverbread, a Welsh seaweed, by the lovely Shaheen from Allotment 2 Kitchen.  It sat on my kitchen bench for many months staring at me accusingly as I neglected to try it.  I knew I would use it before the use-by date of 2018.  I waited until the right recipe and the right moment came by.  Finally I realised I must bake it into one of my very favourite foods: nut roast.

I had been curious about laverbread for ages after seeing Shaheen feature it on her blog over the years that we have been blogging pals.  When she sent me a tin, I was so excited.  And nervous.  It sounded odd.  And I avoided putting it in a few meals because I was worried how Sylvia or other people wold react.  When I finally opened it, I was relieved it did not have a strong fishy smell.  It looks pretty slimy but tastes far milder than I expected but it is quite savoury and replaced some of the salt in the recipe.  I quite liked the taste but in my head, it still seems strange.

Given that I have only found laverbread on Shaheen's blog, I assume it is not widely known.  Laverbread is seaweed that has been boiled down and minced into what Wikipedia describes as a "gelatinous paste".  E laughed at the blurb on the box saying that Laverbread is traditionally eaten with "fried cockles, bacon, mushrooms and eggs".  He knows this is just so unlike the meals we eat.  Thank goodness I have read Shaheen's glowing praise or I might never have gone near the stuff!

The flavours of the nut roast are inspired by Welsh Rarebit and Shaheen's scones.  Leek, mustard and cheese are added to a fairly plain nut roast that is seasoned by both laverbread and vegemite.  (I just know that Shaheen and many of her Welsh compatriots would use marmite but I am Australian and only have vegemite in my kitchen.)

When Shaheen sent me the laverbread, she also sent me an amazing complex dragon biscuit cutter.  I have been wondering how to use it.  Possibly there could be some gingerbread dragons in my life.  Then when I was planning the nut roast it hit me that a puff pastry dragon on top would be perfect.  I love nut roasts but they are not the bonniest of meals.  Now I am wondering about trying to put some Christmas cut outs of holly on my favourite Christmas nut roast.

I had visions of making a full roast dinner.  Nut roasts are so delicious with roast vegies and gravy.  Alas I didn't have time.  I was happy to find time to make the nut roast.  It was enough to have some leftover salad and make a coleslaw.  Nut roasts are also brilliant with salads.  Or leftover in sandwiches.  This was so good that for a moment, I thought how wonderful it would be if I could make one of these nut roasts every week!

Having the leftovers meant that I could find time the next day to make it to the first school assembly I have attended all year.  Sylvia's school has changed its weekly assembly from Monday to Friday and I have a very small window to attend.  I was delighted to be there to see her attending an award.  (And I swear I wasn't sitting up the back distracted by chatting to parents I hadn't seen for a while!)  Afterwards when I congratulated her, she asked if we could go straight home.  When I told her I had to go to work, she burst into tears.  Oh dear.  Thank goodness for a kind friend who took her home for a play date.

Another moment of note last week was attending an Annual General Meeting.  We ordered our meals at the pub and then the president stood up and announced that we should start so that we had business finished before our meals arrived.  Now that is my sort of AGM!

Yes it has been busy times!  And only four weeks til Christmas!  It is the third last day of Vegan Mofo.  I have posted almost daily for Vegan MoFo and am looking forward to it ending.  I just don't have the time and energy to keep up.  Yet I am very pleased it has inspired me to try this nut roast.  Too many of my vegan nut roasts have been quite soft.  I am really pleased with both the texture and taste of this one and to have finally tried the laverbread.  I highly recommend it.  But as I am unlikely to have laverbread regularly in my kitchen I am planning to revist this recipe as a plainer vegan nut roast.  Stay tuned!

I am sending this nut roast to Rock Your Vegan Socks and Vnutrition for Healthy Vegan Fridays. to Tinned Tomatoes for Meat Free Mondays, Honest Mum for Brilliant Blog Posts, and Lavender and Lovage, Travels for Taste and Jo's Kitchen for Tea Time Treats.

More vegan nut roasts on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Glazed nut roast cupcakes (gf, v)
Green (pea) nut roast (gf, v)
Lentil and mushroom nut roast (v)
Parsnip nut roast (v)
Sweet potato and poppy seed nut roast with strawberry glaze (v)
Or just check out my complete nut roast list

Welsh nutroast with laverbread, leeks and cheese
Adapted from The Vegan Society
Serves 4-6

1 large leek, chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp laverbread* 
1 tsp yeast extract/vegemite
1 tsp seeded mustard
250g coarsely ground mixed nuts
115g dried wholemeal breadcrumbs
100g grated vegan cheese (I used Biolife)
Pinch white pepper

Optional topping:
1/2 a sheet of puff pastry
milk to glaze

Preheat oven to 200 C.  Grease and line a loaf tin.

Fry leek in oil for about 5 minutes or until soft.  Mix together laverbread, vegemite and mustard.  Gradually add in 125ml (1/2 cup) of hot water and mix until vegemite is dissolved.  Stir together nuts, breadcrumbs, cheese and white pepper.  Stir in vegemite mixture and leeks. It should clump together when pinched.  If too crumbly add a tablespoon or two of water (I added two).  Check seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Tip mixture into prepared tin and smooth down flat with the back of a spoon.  If desired, cut Welsh dragon out of puff pastry, place on nut roast and brush with milk.  Bake for 30 -35 minutes.  It shoudl be golden brown on top and feel firm to touch in the middle.  Best cooled and reheated (20 minutes at 180 C was what I did) to get neater slices.

NOTES: If you don't have laverbread, you could add another tsp of vegemite.  And leave out the cheese too as it would be good without it.  Substitute onion for the leek if that is what you have.  And then you will have an excellent basic vegan nut roast. 

On the Stereo:
A Short Album About Love: Divine Comedy

This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Week 5's theme is Holidays.  Today the prompt is Holiday Bake Day.  Nut roast has to be one of my favourite holiday bakes.

Posted November 28, 2016 11:00 PM by Johanna GGG

November 27, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Aquafaba (chickpea brine) recipes - vegan and eggless

Aquafaba meringues were such an exciting discovery last year.  Using the aquafaba, also known as brine or the liquid drained off a tin of chickpeas, instead of egg white has been surprisingly successful.  Who would have thunk it!  It was like the last frontier in vegan baking had been reached.  As a vegetarian who has never liked egg, I have been delighted that I can go for months without buying eggs because if I want to bake, I can often use aquafaba instead.

Sometimes I add aquafaba and am not convinced it makes a huge difference.  It makes me wonder just how essential eggs are for baking.  Indeed I would go as far as saying that aquafaba is changing my traditions and opening up new opportunities.  (I still want to try making marshmallows, ice cream, a fruit meringue pie, nougat and mayonnaise.)  Below are some of the recipes I have enjoyed making with aquafaba.

For more recipes and advice on aquafaba, check out the Aquafaba (vegan meringues hits and misses Facebook Group.

This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Week 4's theme is Memories and Traditions

Posted November 27, 2016 04:55 PM by Johanna GGG

November 26, 2016

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Molasses & walnut icecream

November 12, 2016

Our tempeh & grits dinner was the core of a three-course Vegan Soul Kitchen meal. We started with Spicy Goobers, peanuts in a spice mix similar to that of the tempeh. For dessert I had this icecream at the ready.

Bryant Terry hit on the same vegan icecream base that I've used for years: coconut milk thickened with arrowroot. He sweetens his primarily with agave nectar, but adds a shot of molasses because it reminds him of his grandmother's desserts. The icecream's other feature is a scattering of candied walnuts. They're an irresistible snack on their own, as well as working well in this icecream - caramelly sweet, crunchy and lightly roasted with the faintest hint of bitterness. The overall effect is very similar to my vegan salted caramel icecream.

The icecream's texture was dreamy on the day of churning, but the leftovers ended up a bit grainier as the week went on. So share this one around and enjoy it all right away, at its peak.

Molasses & walnut icecream
(slightly adapted from a recipe in Bryant Terry's Vegan Soul Kitchen)

candied walnuts
1 cup walnuts
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons agave nectar
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar

molasses icecream
2 x 400mL cans coconut milk
2 tablespoons arrowroot
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla
pinch of salt

In a medium bowl, stir the olive oil through the walnuts to evenly coat them. Stir through the agave nectar, and then finally the sugar to evenly coat the nuts.

Line a large baking tray with paper. Set a frypan over medium heat and pour in the walnuts. Stir them regularly as they toast, until they're fragrant and most of the liquid has evaporated. Turn off the heat and spread the nuts out over the baking tray. Allow them to cool to room temperature.

In a mug, stir together 1/4 cup of the coconut milk and the arrowroot until it's all smooth. In a medium-large saucepan, combine the remaining coconut milk, agave nectar, molasses, vanilla and salt. Set it over medium-high heat and stir in the arrowroot-coconut mixture. Keep stirring the mixture to avoid it sticking to the bottom, cooking until it's thickened to coat the back of a spoon - up to 10 minutes. Refrigerate until completely cold, ideally overnight.

Strain the icecream mixture and churn it in an icecream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Add the walnuts in the last couple of minutes of churning. Transfer the icecream to an airtight container and freeze for about 4 hours before serving.

Posted November 26, 2016 12:38 PM by Cindy

November 25, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Banana and maca muesli (granola)

Muesli (or granola as it is called elsewhere) has been part of my life for a long time.  I didn't always make it.  When I was young we bought it in a packet.  I ate it with milk.  Ever since I have gone through phases of eating it.  Sometimes with juice.  Sometimes with yoghurt.  Occasionally at a breakfast spread at a hotel.  The above photos was inspired by a second hand glass bowl from an op shop that reminded me of a hotel breakfast buffet.

Recently I have enjoyed making my own museli.  While my favourite is my chocolate muesli, every now and again I fancy a change.  With manky bananas in the fruit bowl and a curiosity to try maca powder, I embarked on a new flavour.  It has pleased me very much over a month of breakfasts and I would highly recommend it.

Sylvia and I had fun when I first ate it.  We sang "I like banana, coconut and oats and that's why they call me king of the goats."  (This is a riff on a playground chant in one of her books that goes "I love banana, coconut and grapes and that's why they call me king of the apes.")  Kids are so easy to amuse.  Sadly, they are harder to coax to eat muesli! No breakthrough there!  It is all mine.

My main uncertainty about the muesli was how to use the maca.  I had a feeling that it would marry nicely with banana and I liked the idea that it gave energy for the day.  Then I read I should not cook it.  So I toasted the muesli and added a cup of maca.  My lovely toasted muesli went all powdery.  But I ate it anyway. 

(And did it give me energy.  I only noticed at one point I did not eat muesli for breakfast and was decidedly lacking in energy for a couple of days but I think that was more due to Trump being elected and me being laid low with a headache!)

I liked how it smelled like banana cake when I opened the canister of muesli every morning.  Until I had been eating it almost 5 weeks and then it didn't smell quite so good and I lost confidence in the freshness.  I think the maca would have been better in the toasted muesli rather than added afterwards but am still not sure if this would affect the maca's potency or muesli's shelf life.  More experiments and yummy breakfasts to come.

More oats for breakfast on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Banana oat pancakes - vegan (v)
Chocolate muesli (granola) (v)
Cranachan-style breakfast parfait 
Microwave muesli (v)
Sylvia's porridge (v)
Tahini, quinoa and apricot toasted muesli (v)

Banana and maca muesli (granola)
Adapted from the KitchenMaid

4 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cup seeds
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup dried buckwheat (or quinoa)
3 Tbsp neutral, flavourless oil
3 Tbsp maple syrup
2 large very ripe bananas
1 cup maca, optional

Place everything in large bowl and mix.  Tip into two large lined roasting dishes and baked for 30 minutes at 180 C, stirring once or twice during the baking.  It should be golden brown.  Cool in the tin and then store in an airtight container for about a month.

NOTES: For the seeds I used a mixture of sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, linseed and chia.  For the oil I used rice bran.  I added my maca after I cooked everything else but I would try it in with everything next time, though it may need a bit more liquid.  For those who are confused by terminology, in Australia we have always called it "muesli" rather than "granola" which is used elsewhere!

On the Stereo:
The Gorey End: Tiger Lilies with the Kronos Quartet

This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Week 4's theme is Memories and Traditions

Posted November 25, 2016 10:51 PM by Johanna GGG

vegan about town

[singapore] Gokul [little india]

Gokul is probably my favourite Indian vegetarian restaurant in Singapore. It's got a very handy two locations (one in the Fortune Centre and one in Little India), an excellent menu, and is fast service and I love it.

It's really hard for me to go to Gokul and not order the chicken rice, mostly because it's always been one of my favourite dishes and it's so hard for me to get a good one in Australia. Gokul's chicken rice comes with fried chicken AND pandan chicken (aaah), a lovely ginger soup, ginger rice, some veggies, and some chili. It's so good. Look at that picture. Imagine angels singing as you eat it. Ahhhh.

The menu has a variety of bread sets, curry dishes, and local foods like char kway teow and chicken rice. They also have an excellently spicy murtabak and a good dosa, and they don't mind when one of your group brings in a frozen vegan cheezecake to eat for dessert.

The menu at the Fortune Centre location isn't as extensive as the Little India location, but I go to it more often due to its convenient location, so you can tell that I don't mind.

Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant
19 Upper Dickson Road
Fortune Centre
190 Middle Road

Get there on the MRT, mostly. There's a step to enter the Little India location, and ordering happens at the table; at Fortune Centre, ordering happens at a high counter. Cards are accepted. There's an awkward toilet in the Little India Building; Fortune Centre has a toilet down a twisty hallway.

Posted November 25, 2016 02:57 PM by steph

November 24, 2016

vegan about town

[singapore] nomVnom [clarke quay]

I took my sister to nomVnom, and she declared it better than Lord of the Fries. I know. I KNOW.

Here's the deal. nomVnom is an all-vegan burger joint in the basement at The Central at Clarke Quay. They have a huge roster of 21 burgers and 20 plus sides, and 2 pastas. They make basically everything in house, including these beautiful soft steamed buns of just amazing deliciousness.

My favourite burger is WITHOUT A DOUBT the Temptation Satay, which is a marinated tempeh patty, housemade satay sauce, lettuce and cucumber. I eat this burger at least once a fortnight, and I honestly don't know what I'm going to do when I return to Melbourne next week. Attempt to replicate the burger, for sure. Beg Wai Lek (the owner) to take pity on me and tell me the sauce recipe, probably.

Others of my favourites are the Dhall Fusion (a crunchy soy-based patty, a thick dhall curry sauce, and sweet corn, to which I like to add cucumber pieces like a monster) and the Nom Nom (soy patty, tartar sauce, tomato, lettuce). The sides are mostly deep fried and delicious, including battered and deep fried mushies and battered and deep fried banana pieces.

They do a cold matcha and a hot matcha, as well as an amazing passionfruit and lemon tea (see: other things I'll be recreating at home) and an amazing cold cinnamon cocoa drink.

Look, I love Lord of the Fries, and I'm definitely going to be eating a parma burger within about 48 hours of touchdown in Melbourne, and I'm defo devo that I missed the HSP that ran for two months exactly when I was out of the country. But nomVnom is so good that one of my meat-eating Perth friends ate there twice during three days, and I can't fault that decision.

The Central
6 Eu Tong Sen Street

Get there on the MRT (Clarke Quay MRT Station exits directly into the basement) or a zillion buses (there are 3 buses that take me directly from my house to The Central).

nomVnom accepts a variety of credit cards, including my Visa. Ordering happens at a high counter. The tables are crowded together but well lit, and seating is a combination of stools, chairs and couches.

Posted November 24, 2016 10:06 PM by steph

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Zucchini Slice - Veganising a favourite Aussie dinner

Being vegetarian does not mean that I don't still want to eat some favourite childhood dishes.  In Australia, everyone seems to know the zucchini slice recipe made with lots of zucchinis, eggs and cheese.  It is like a big fritatta.  It makes sense that it would have been popular back in the days when people had vegetable gardens and chooks in the backyard.  As we did as kids.  It wasn't too hard to make zucchini slice vegetarian once I discovered a good tofu bacon recipe.  Lately I have been eating less eggs so I decided to make it vegan.  That was more of a challenge.

More recently I have become enamoured of a tofu besan omelette.  I make it often to serve with vegies for an easy dinner.  I decided to make a batch of this to add to the slice instead of eggs.  However I don't have this omelette noted as replacing a certain amount of eggs.  So I don't know how its volume compared to the 5 eggs in the traditional recipe.

Now while I ate quite a bit of bacon before going vegetarian, I never liked eggs.  Discovering vegan alternatives to egg dishes has been really liberating.  Yet I have a problem in understanding how egg dishes should taste.  Which usually doesn't matter.  There would be nothing worse for me than having it taste exactly like eggs.  But figuring out the right texture for the zucchini slice was challenging.

When the slice came out of the oven, it was really oozy to cut.  I could have eaten it with a spoon.  Which seems all wrong.  Yet I think this is the case with an egg version too.  The next day it could be easily sliced and was delicious.  It was like my favourite omelette with lots of vegies and tofu bacon.  We fried a few pieces for a superb weekend brunch.  The zucchini slice was a great alternative to an egg dish. 

More zucchini dishes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One pot pasta with chickpeas and zucchini (v)
Sweet potato, zucchini and olive quesadillas (v) 
Tofu-ricotta, zucchini and pumpkin lasagne (v)
Yeasted zucchini bread (v)
Zucchini brownie with smoked walnuts (v)
Zucchini koftas with tomato gravy (gf, v)

Vegan Zucchini Slice
Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe
Serves 4-6 or more for finger food

1/3 cup olive oil, divided
1 onion, chopped
1/3 of a batch of tofu bacon, chopped
1 kg zucchinis (courgettes), grated
150g grated bio cheddar cheese (or your fave vegan cheese)
1 batch tofu besan omelette
1 cup self raising flour
2 tbsp tofu bacon marinade
1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes

Preheat oven to 180 C. Grease a lamington or swiss roll tin (I used a swiss roll tin).

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a largish non-stick frypan and fry the tofu until golden brown but not charred.  Set aside.  In the same frypan add another tablespoon of oil and fry onions until golden brown.

Mix all the omelette ingredients together.  I usually do this with the hand held blender but just used a whisk which make it smooth enough.

Grate zucchinis.  Squeeze some of the liquid out of the grated zucchini.  This can be done in the food processor or by hand. Tip into a large mixing bowl.

Add tofu bacon, fried onion, omelette mixture, grated cheese,  flour, marinade and nutritional yeast flakes to the zucchinis.  Mix well and season to taste.

Tip into prepared tin and spread evenly. Bake for about 35-40 minutes (I did 50 minutes) until golden brown and crispy on top. It is quite soft when cooked but best kept overnight (I kept mine in the tin) and reheated the next day (at 180 C for 15 minutes.)

NOTES: I used about 6 zucchinis this time but it was about 4 last time I made it so I have just put the weight in the recipe.  Other vegan cheeses could be used, such as Daiya.  As it was very soft and oozy when cooked so I wonder if adding a bit more besan to the omelette mixture might help.

On the Stereo:
Paris Rive Droite - various artists

This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Week 4's theme is Memories and Traditions

Posted November 24, 2016 09:54 PM by Johanna GGG

November 23, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Rice paper bacon

Where do I start?  With my love of all things smoky?  With my fascination for all vegan bacon substitutes?  With my memories of pork crackling as a child?  Ok let me start with my recent excitment at the idea of making bacon from rice paper and the claims of how crispy and crackly it is.  And indeed it was easy and amazing and brought back childhood memories.

Yes all I had to do was dip two sheets of rice paper in water, cut into thick slices, dip in a bacon marinade and bake for 7-8 minutes.  I wish I had had some fresh soft bread to try a bacon butty.  I took a photo of it on a plate with some breakfast food but really it was just amazing to eat as it was in crispy crunchy slightly chewy (depending on how much it was baked) strips.

You might be surprised at this transformation of the humble rice paper that is better known for making rice paper rolls.  Yet if you have ever tried baking it to make spring rolls you will understand how pleasingly crispy it can be.

Tofu bacon remains my special facon sweetheart.  It is versatile enough to go in most places I would put bacon.  It also has lots of nutritional goodness.  Yet I think when just want easy and crispy I would turn to this rice paper bacon.  I can imagine it being loaded on a proper fry up for brunch with tofu besan omelette or besan scramble , vegies sausages, baked beans, fried tomato and spinach.  Or maybe crumbled over a salad.

Rice paper bacon is weird but it works.  Unlike thunderstorm asthma which is just weird and upsetting.  I had never heard of thunderstorm asthma until this week when Melbourne had a freak weather occurrence of a 35 C day which turned into a thunderstorm.  Our hospitals and ambulance systems were overwhelmed and sadly three people have died.  Thunderstorm asthma, super moons and earthquakes!  Nature does seem quite odd lately. 

More vegan bacon recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Bean and buckwheat bacon (gf, v) 
Coconut bacon (gf, v)
Eggplant bacon (gf, v)
Tempeh bacon (gf, v)
Tofu bacon (gf, v)

Rice Paper bacon
Adapted from yup it's vegan

8 rounds of rice paper

Bacon marinade:
3 tbsp tamari (soy sauce)
2 tbsp maple syrup'
1 tbsp tomato sauce or tomato paste
1/2 tsp nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 tbsp liquid smoke
1 tsp smoked paprika

Preheat oven to 200 C.  Line a few baking sheets with baking paper.

Make the bacon marinade by mixing all ingredients and pouring into a long dish.  Now take two rounds of rice paper stacked on top of each other.  Dip in a large shallow dish of water.  Take out a shake as much water off as possible.  Cut into about 5 thick strips with large scissors.  Dip each strip  into the marinade and shake a little off.  Place on lined baking sheets.  Bake for 7-8 minutes.

NOTES: I have only made this once but I would like to experiment more.  The top bacon is quite crackly but a tiny bit charred around the edges.  The bottom one is less crackly and more chewy but not so charred.  I would like some time to try this and get a good sense of how long it should be in my oven.

On the Stereo:
Bella Vista Terrace: The Best of the Go Betweens

This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Week 4's theme is Memories and Traditions

Posted November 23, 2016 10:28 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Spicy Cajun-Creole tempeh with creamy cashew grits

November 12, 2016

I was very curious about grits when I read about them in Vegan Soul Kitchen. What's their texture and flavour, and would I ever be able to find them in Australia? I was able to answer the first two questions in Washington DC earlier this year: grits are corn-based and a bit like soft polenta or even mashed potato in their fluffy starchiness, with the velvet grains of a creamy risotto. Last month my friend Erin helped resolve the last question, picking up a box of Quick Grits for me (at the cost of only a few dollars) when she stocked up on Halloween candy at USA Foods.

Although the box cheerfully promised that these cook in 5 minutes, I found that my Quick Grits were also well suited to the near-hour-long simmer included in this recipe of Bryant Terry's. Rather than using butter or cream, Terry enriches his grits with blended cashews. They really round out the texture, providing a creamy and mild foundation for the real flavour bomb: spiced tempeh.

Terry's dish is inspired by the more classic combination of shrimp and grits (which I recall the team selling at that market in DC). In this vegan recipe, Terry has us fry up bite-sized strips of tempeh and coating them in hot and sweet dry spices. They're stirred together with sauteed leeks and fresh cherry tomatoes, which provide a little sweetness and some much-needed juiciness. Two of my dinner companions aren't tomato-lovers, so I served those separately and prepped some of Bryant Terry's rosemary-salted asparagus as well. If I were cooking this purely to please myself, I reckon I'd toss the cherry tomatoes into the saute pan with the leeks for just a couple of minutes, so that they were warmed through and just starting to soften.

This recipe served four people without any leftovers, to our chagrin. It shouldn't be too hard to double (perhaps frying the tempeh in two batches). I reckon we might give that a shot, given how much we loved our first experience of home-made grits.

Spicy Cajun-Creole tempeh with creamy cashew grits
(slightly adapted from a recipe in Bryant Terry's Vegan Soul Kitchen)

Spicy Cajun-Creole Tempeh
225g tempeh
4 cups stock
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
pinch of cayenne
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon white pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil

Creamy cashew grits
1/2 cup cashews
3 1/2 cups water
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 leek
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup stock
3/4 cup grits
1 cup almond milk

Make a small, early start on the grits. In a small bowl or airtight container, soak the cashews in 1/2 cup of the water for at least an hour. Drain the water and reserve the cashews.

Next, focus on the tempeh. Slice the tempeh into pieces about 1cm thick and 3-4cm long. In a large saucepan, mix together the stock and half of the salt and drop in the tempeh pieces. Bring them to the boil, then turn down the heat to simmer the tempeh for 25 minutes. Turn off the heat and take out the tempeh with a slotted spoon; reserve the stock for the grits.

While the tempeh is boiling, find a heat-resistant and airtight container big enough to fit all the tempeh pieces. In the bottom of it, stir together the onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, chilli powder, chilli flakes, cayenne, thyme, oregano, white pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside for later.

While the tempeh is boiling, there's probably also time for preparing the grits further. Blend together the cashews and 1/2 cup fresh water in a food processor or blender, until as smooth and creamy as possible. Set aside.

Slice the cherry tomatoes into halves and place them in a bowl. Stir in the lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt and let the flavours mingle.

Finely slice the tender parts of the leek and discard the rest. Mince the garlic. Set a frypan over low-medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the leeks and saute for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and keep sauteing until everything is tender and fragrant, perhaps another 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Now it's time to get the grits going properly. Bring back that big saucepan of stock. Add the extra cup of stock and 1 cup of water to the stock already in there. Whisk in the grits until there are no lumps, and bring it all to the boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer the grits, stirring regularly,  until they've absorbed most of the liquid, 10-12 minutes. Stir in the almond milk and simmer for a further 10 minutes, still stirring regularly to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan. Stir in the cashew cream and last 1/2 cup water and cook, stirring regularly, for 35-40 minutes. The grits should be soft but not runny, like soft polenta.

While you're simmering the grits, get a frypan on the heat with the tempeh's olive oil. Fry the tempeh until golden brown, turning at least once as it cooks. Turn off the heat and transfer the tempeh to the container full of spices. Pop the lid on and give it a thorough shake, so that the tempeh is coated all over in the spices. Drain the juices off the tomatoes and mix them up with the sauteed leeks and spicy tempeh pieces.

When everything's ready, spoon a big thick puddle of grits onto each plate or bowl, then top with the tempeh mixture.

Posted November 23, 2016 10:20 AM by Cindy

November 22, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Burger buns (vegan)

When I make burger patties, in my mind the perfect way to serve them is sandwiched in a burger bun with lots of colourful salad.  Most times I put too much energy into the patties, don't have time to make any buns and am lucky if I even remember to buy some in the shops.  For some time I have wanted to find a good burger buns recipe.  This one might well be the keeper I have been seeking.

When I recently made smoky apple vegie burger patties, I took a burger bun recipe from The Kitchn and veganised it with aquafaba.  It was a lovely dough to work with and relaxing to knead it at the kitchen table while chatting to my mum, leave it to rise while I made chocolates, and then shape it under her watchful eye.  My mum made bread during my childhood and I learnt a lot from her and these days it is great to talk about bread making with her. 

I might have also been harking back to my childhood when I sprinkled sesame seeds on top of the buns.  It is a long time since I had a MacDonalds burger, but I can still recite at speed "two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickled onions on a sesame seed bun".  I have no desire for their burgers these days but sesame seeds still seem right on a burger bun.  Unfortunately Sylvia took a child's dislike to seeds and was most displeased with my sprinkling.  No Maccas burgers in her childhood, you see!

Luckily for Sylvia, burgers these days are more sophisticated than those of my youth.  She is not keen on burgers but at least I can show her how good they can be when she finally embraces them!  While burger buns are rather plain, they really do make a burger look special.

More yeasted buns/rolls from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Carrot and poppy seed dinner rolls (v)
Cranberry nut rolls
Hot Cross Buns - wholemeal (v)
Pretzel buns (v)
Pumpernickel Rolls with Currants (v)

Burger buns
Adapted from The Kitchn
Makes 8 buns

1 tablespoon active-dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup soy milk
1 tbsp ground flax (linseeds)
3 tbsp aquafaba
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups white plain flour
1 tablespoon margarine
sesame seeds for sprinkling

  • Mix yeast and warm water in a large mixing bowl.  Stand for about 5 minutes until the mixture is frothy so you know the yeast is doing its thing!
  • Mix in milk, flax, aquafaba, oil, sugar and salt.  Add in flour until you have a shaggy dough.
  • Knead for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and slightly sticky.  (I needed very little flour for kneading.
  • Return dough to the mixing bowl, cover with clingfilm and set aside in a warm place to rise for an hour or until doubled in size.
  • Divide dough into 8 pieces and shape into tight balls.   Place buns on a lined baking sheet with an inch or two between each.
  • Cover buns with a tea towel and let rise for about 30-40 minutes until puffy.  
  • While buns are rising preheat oven to 190 C or 375 F.
  • When buns are risen, melt margarine and brush over the tops of buns.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds.  
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown.

On the Stereo:
The best of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds

This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Week 4's theme is Memories and Traditions

Posted November 22, 2016 10:19 PM by Johanna GGG

November 21, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Tofu besan omelette (vegan)

E and I first went out for a meal together in an internet cafe in Edinburgh.  He ordered a fried egg sandwich with sauce.  I was fascinated.  Having never liked eggs, this sandwich seemed as foreign to me as Scotland did.  These days, though fried egg sandwiches are never seen in our house, we love a tofu besan omelette sandwich.

This tofu besan omelette recipe is not new to my blog.  I have included it as part of other recipes previously.  However it is such a common dish in our house that I wanted to feature it.  And I wanted to rewrite the recipe in a way that makes sense to me when I make it.  I always have the ingredients on hand because omelette and vegies is one of my favourite easy meals. 

I am never brave enough to fold it over with vegies inside it.  I am just happy to see the golden brown skin when I flip it out of the pan onto a large plate.  It is quite soft when first cooked.  By the next day any leftovers have firmed up.

As I have commented before, the combination of tofu and besan (chickpea flour) works together brilliantly.  By itself tofu is too damp, and if made with just besan it can be too dry.  Together they make the right squidgy mixture.

I often serve it with whatever vegies and leftovers are on hand.  I think there was some fried rice dish in the above plate.  And lots of colourful vegies.  It is such an easy meal.  Perhaps slightly more work than an egg omelette but I am so used to making it that it seems no effort.  I have always admired those who can do easy egg meals.  This tofu besan omelette (known as a tofu omelette in our house) has become my lazy equivalent. 

Leftover tofu omelette is also a wonderful thing.  Or should I say, it is terribly useful.  A few slices or a scattering of some chopped tofu can pep up lots of meals.  Sandwiches, stews, pizza and fried rice. 

The above photos will give you more ideas:
*Top: Sushi stack, Pasta with pumpkin, omelette and parmesan
*Middle: Asian rice bowl, Caesar salad,
*Bottom: Portuguese fried rice, Pad see ew

Other savoury vegan "egg" recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
French toast - savoury and seedy (v)
Spinach, sundried tomato and chive chickpea scramble (gf, v)
Tofu scramble (gf, v)
Vegan bubble and squeak frittata (gf, v) 
Vegan quiche with tofu and besan (v)

Tofu besan omelet
Adapted from Chez Cayenne via Green Gourmet Giraffe

300g silken tofu, drained
6 tbsp besan (chickpea flour),
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon mirin
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion granules
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
pinch black salt
1-2 tsp canola oil, for frying

Blend tofu, olive oil and mirin in blender.  Transfer to bowl and mix in remaining ingredients.

Heat heavy bottomed non-stick frypan over low heat and swirl around 1 to 2 tsp of oil to cover the pan.  Pour in the thick batter and use the back of a spoon to swirl it around the pan (I think my omelet was about 22 or 23cm in diameter).  Cook for 10 minutes on low heat and then cover with a large saucepan lid and cook another 10 minutes on low heat.

Use an eggflip or spatula to loosen so it slides around the pan.  Carefully flip (or slide) onto a dinner plate.  Use warm or cool in the fridge until required. 

NOTES: I have tried this without a blender - it is not quite as smooth but is pretty good.  I have also tried this with firm tofu and it was so thick I had to add some milk and then adjust the seasoning too. Leftovers are great in sandwiches.

On the Stereo:
Flogging a Dead Horse - Sex Pistols

This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Week 4's theme is Memories and Traditions

Posted November 21, 2016 10:10 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Date & orange crumble slice

November 12, 2016

After a premature start, some gorgeous, lounge-for-hours picnic weather has finally arrived. A couple of my work colleagues made use of it to celebrate the upcoming birth of their first child. Rather than a more conventional baby shower, a huge group of all genders and ages gathered in a park for a potluck.

We didn't have a lot of time to prepare and cook but it turned out that I had all the ingredients for this date & orange crumble slice posted last year on Lunch Lady. It's the kind of simple, hearty snack that's perfect for the weekday lunchbox. It translated well to the picnic blanket too, since it sliced up easily and could withstand sitting in the sun without melting or going bad.

I made pantry substitutions that also rendered the slice vegan, changing out the honey for golden syrup and the butter for margarine. The oaty base comes together in the food processor and was a little fiddly to press into my baking tray, but it handily doubles as a crumble topping. I was unsure about just dropping whole dates and orange juice onto the base, so I added an extra step of pureeing all of the orange juice with half of the dates. This ended up a tiny bit smoother than my preferred texture so I might hold back a few more whole dates next time. (I've adjusted the proportions below.)

Date & orange crumble slice
(slightly adapted from Lunch Lady)

2 cups dates
1 cup orange juice
zest of 1 orange
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup golden syrup
90g margarine

Place the dates and orange juice in a saucepan. Bring them to the boil, then turn off the heat. Allow the mixture to cool for a while.

Preheat an oven to 180°C. Line a small baking tray with paper and lightly spray it with oil.

In a food processor, blend together the remaining ingredients to form a crumbly mixture. Press half of the mixture into the baking tray (use a bit more if you need it to stretch across the base). Set the rest of the mixture aside.

Place about a third of the dates and all of their juice into the food processor and blend them until thick. Stir the puree back into the whole dates, then spread the whole fruity mixture over the base.

Crumble the remaining biscuity mixture over the top of the fruity layer. Bake the slice until browned on top, about 30 minutes.

Posted November 21, 2016 07:39 AM by Cindy

November 20, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Chunky asparagus and cashew dip with Kale sourdough tortillas

Green, green glorious green!  Yes.  You might have noticed I love green.  So while I have been having fun making rainbow recipes for Vegan Mofo, I was struck by the need to make a green dip platter.  Not only did I experiment with making a chunky dip but I also decided to try my hand at kale sourdough tortillas,

I wish I could tell you that it all went swimmingly.  The dip was not quite as I had intended.  I blame my inexperience with garlic scapes.  I thought two scapes would be ok.  Online lots of people say that they are much milder than regular garlic bulbs.  I even read one recipe with 10 garlic scapes in a dip.  Two was far too many for me.  Perhaps my tolerance for raw garlic is low.  But it burned.

The creamy green base of cream cheese and spinach was otherwise excellent.  I was pleased at how well the vegan Tofutti worked but any cream cheese should work here.  However because the garlic scapes were so strong I then I added more flavour and added two tablespoons of white miso which was far too much.  One tablespoon would do.  (Amended in the recipe below.)

I wanted to make a completely green platter.  I wanted a green carb and was tossing up between green crackers and green scones.  But then I was swayed by Mihl's gorgeous  Kale Tortillas.  However I have sourdough starter to be used so I adapted my recipes for sourdough flatbreads and tortillas.

I really loved these tortillas.  They were green and soft.  I was just sad that the photos didn't do justice to their green colour.  But believe me that the colour was far better than my photography skills.  It was a really nice addition to my green platter.

I'd love to tell you that Sylvia enjoyed the kale sourdough tortillas.  I was home late for dinner and left a message for E that he and Sylvia should help themselves to the tortillas.  Which were on the kitchen table.  Instead they helped themselves to the tortilla chips in the pantry that I had asked him the previous day to keep for nachos!  I think it was a case of reading what he had hoped was there.

If only the dip hadn't been lopsided in flavour, I would have been really happy.  I think a bit of tweaking would fix this.  As it was, we valiantly ate it for dinner with vegies and tortillas.  But the garlic flavour was too much to want to have much more.  I rescued it by mixing it with some home made guacamole instead of garlic.  It added a perfect amount of flavour.  (I also considered adding it to soup, stew or tossing with some rice or pasta.)

More glorious green recipes from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Avocado soy rotis (v)
Green bean and broccoli tabbouleh (v)
Greens, beans and potato soup (gf, v)
Green smoothie (gf, v)
Kale cheesecake surprise choc mint cupcakes (v) 
Monster cake
Pea pate (v) 
Spinach crackers with French lavender salt (v) 
Spinach, lettuce and pea soup (gf, v)
Spinach pancakes  (gf, v) 
The Enchanted Broccoli Forest (gf)

Chunky asparagus and cashew dip
An original Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe

150g cream cheese (I used tofutti)
100g baby spinach
juice of half a medium lemon
1 small garlic scape, chopped, or to taste
1 tbsp white miso
1/2 tsp salt flakes
250g thin asparagus
100g cashews

Blend cream cheese, spinach, lemon juice, the garlic scape miso and salt until smooth and creamy.  Finely chop the asparagus and microwave or steam until cooked but still green.  Cool.  (I put mine in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes.)  Pulse cashews in with the cream cheese mixture and then add the asparagus.  I didn't pulse the asparagus but you might want to, depending on how chunky you want the dip.

Kale sourdough tortillas
Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe's flatbreads and tortillas
Makes 8

50g kale
100g water 
250g sourdough starter
1/2 tsp salt flakes
1 tbsp olive oil
100g plain wholemeal flour
200g plain white flour

Remove stems from kale and blend leaves with water to make a smooth green liquid.  Measure out 125g and pour into a medium mixing bowl.  Stir in remaining ingredients to make a shaggy dough.  Lightly knead on a floured surface to make a smooth but firm dough.  Divide into 8 pieces.

Roll each piece out thinly as possible and dry fry in a heavy based frypan for about a minute either side.  The tortilla will puff up in small humps when frying the first side - these can just be pushed back down before you flip over.

Best on day of eating but can be reheated the next day, preferably with a filling such as cheese or beans and rice.

On the Stereo:
1989: Taylor Swift

This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Week 3's theme is Rainbow Food.  And today the daily prompt is to make something green.  How could I resist the call of green!

Posted November 20, 2016 11:38 AM by Johanna GGG

November 19, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Hal's stiry fry sauce - updated and vegan

Today I took Sylvia to gymnastics, met a friend for a drink, sauntered down to our local bookstore where I was tempted, and made gingerbread men.  Dinner was far down my list of priorities.  I fell back on a favourite stirfry sauce.  The vegies looked so colourful and I wanted to note my changes so here it is in Vegan Mofo for Rainbow Week.

I was pleased with my effort because I didn't manage to get to the supermarket.  E often tells me I have lots of food but nothing to eat.  So I try to be creative with what is about rather than just buying what is in my head.

I don't know who Hal is but I have been making Hal's stirfry sauce for many years.  It comes from The Enchanted Broccoli Forrest Cookbook by Mollie Katzen.  This was my go to cookbook for many years and has so much good how-to advice.  I still think of her advice about what order to add vegetables in stirfries according to how long they take to cook.

Tonight I substituted maple syrup for honey. It meant that the tamari was a bit too prominent so I have reduced the amount in the below recipe by a tablespoon.  I also used ground ginger and sriracha because that is what I had.  I haven't had fresh ginger in the house for months.  Now it is warmer weather, I probably should buy some, but it is good to know I can get by without if it is not about.

If you are short on time and have lots of vegies and some rice or noodles, I highly recommend Hal's stirfry sauce.  It is tasty and easy.  The vegies I used were brown onion, celery, purple cabbage, carrot, green capsicum, green beans, snow peas and kale.  I often use tofu with this sauce but as there was none, I added in some cashews.  Now if you will excuse me, I am off to read my bookclub novel, Girl on the Train.

More stirfries on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Lo mein (v)
Matthews delicious tofu (gf, v)
Pad see ew with tofu omelette (gf, v)
Tamarind tempeh with noodles (v)
'Teriyaki' tofu with brown rice and kale (gf, v) 

Hal's Stirfry Sauce
Slightly adapted from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest via Green Gourmet Giraffe
serves 4

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 1 orange)
3 tbsp tamari (or soy sauce)
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 clove fresh garlic, crushed
2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp dried ginger
1/2 tsp sriracha
1 Tbsp cornflour

Mix all ingredients together except the cornflour. Spoon cornflour into a separate small bowl (or measuring cup in my case) and dissolve with a few spoonfuls of the sauce. Stir cornflour into the sauce. Add sauce to stirfry a few minutes before the end. It should thicken slightly once brought to the boil so it coats the vegetables, noodles or whatever you choose to add.

On the Stereo:
Va Va Voom: Hummingbirds

This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Week 3's theme is Rainbow Food

Posted November 19, 2016 11:10 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Tamil Feasts

November 7, 2016

We've been meaning to check out the Tamil Feasts at CERES for months, having heard great things from a few friends and via Moni's rave review. It's a lovely concept - three nights a week a group of Tamil asylum seekers and volunteers take over the community kitchen at CERES and put on a feast. The Tamil guys have all spent years in detention centres and are still waiting for a final decision on their futures. In the meantime they bring their culinary expertise to CERES, raising money for their community and their friends still in detention. More than money raised, the night provides a place for Melbournites to meet asylum seekers, hear their stories and celebrate their culture - it's a lovely idea and the atmosphere on the night we visited was warm and friendly. You pay $30 up front for the food and there's a cash bar on the night with beer, wine and kombucha on offer.

Luckily the food really measures up to all the good vibes. They started us off with this plate of fried onion bhaji and fresh coconut sambal.

They were the perfect start to the meal - the bhaji were fried to perfection, all crispy and delicious, with the coconut sambal taking things to a whole new level. 

The main meals come out thali-style - a metal tray filled with curries, rice, veggies and condiments. Our selections were: eggplant, mushroom and peanut curry, potato and tomato curry, garlic dhal, pumpkin and spinach salad, capsicum and mushroom salad, onion chutney, rice and a papadum.

This was really something - the garlic dhal was probably the stand-out, with rich garlic and mild chilly bringing out the best in the lentil base. The eggplant curry was spicy - right on the edge of Cindy's tolerance, but perfect for me, while the rest of the bits and pieces all hit the spot. The chefs wandered around offering up second (and third) servings, while serving up $5 lunchboxes of leftovers for the next day (BYO tupperware!). 

I went pretty hard on the savouries, so was pretty relieved when the dessert was relatively modest. The payasam is a Tamil sago pudding - very sweet and runny, with plump raisins dotted throughout.

We had such a wonderful night at our Tamil Feast - the food was spectacular, the atmosphere lovely, and it felt great to push back against our country's dreadful treatment of asylum seekers in a very tiny way. The menu changes regularly - Tuesday is an all-vego night, but vegan options are also available on Monday and Friday nights. It's a brilliant night out and we can't recommend it enough - book in and get along!


Thoughts of a Moni and Consider the Sauce have both enjoyed visits to Tamil Feasts, while Decisive Cravings has a nice interview with some of the people who make them happen.

Tamil Feasts
CERES Community Environment Park
Stewart St,
Brunswick East
9389 0100
menu (this changes week to week)

Accessibility: The setup is flexible - they lay out three long tables with chairs and would surely provide specific spaces to fit any accessibility requirements. The toilets are fully accessible. We paid up front for the food and then at a low bar for drinks.

Posted November 19, 2016 08:07 AM by Michael

November 18, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Rainbow food - in pictures

This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Week 3's theme is Rainbow Food.  Today I am sharing lots of pictures of colourful food.

Posted November 18, 2016 11:54 PM by Johanna GGG

November 17, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Rainbow fruit kebabs

I've wanted to make a fruit rainbow forever!  I got close a few times but this year got the closest yet.  We almost made a fruit rainbow for a recent birthday lunch.  Then Sylvia saw rainbow fruit kebabs and that was it.  It is so simple it is almost embarrassing to post.  Yet it is so simple and pretty that it is worth sharing.

We had some discussion of which fruits to use.  Here is some brainstorming:
  • Red: strawberry, raspberry, grapes, watermelon
  • Orange: orange, mandarin. apricot
  • Yellow: yellow peach, banana, pineapple, mango
  • Green: kiwi fruit, green apple, green grapes
  • Blue: blueberries
  • Purple: grapes, blackberries, cherries
 Of course, it depends on what time of year as to what is in season.  We had strawberry, orange, yellow peach, kiwi fruit, blueberries and grapes. 

This dessert was so easy that Sylvia was able to take responsibility for this meal.  She decided which fruit, helped choose them at the shops, put the skewers together.  And she loved eating them.  The skewers took a bit more time than arranging them on a plate but we do not really have a plate big enough for a rainbow.  We only made 10 and could easily have eaten more if time had permitted.  I am sure we will be making these again.

More fun healthy food on Green Gourmet Giraffe: 
Carrot and cucumber tulips (gf, v)
Chocolate and black tahini cut out biscuits (v)
Franken sushi (gf, v)
Geegaw cups (v)
Polenta pizza people (gf) 
Watermelon monster (gf, v)  

I am sending these to Healthy Vegan Fridays and Gluten Free Fridays.

On the Stereo:
As Time Goes By: Bryan Ferry

This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Week 3's theme is Rainbow Food

Posted November 17, 2016 09:36 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Rum & raisin ricotta cake

November 2, 2016

Michael received some good career news recently! He was out of town at the time, so it was a few days before we could celebrate together. I used that time to plan and bake this congratulatory cake. This recipe's been tucked among my bookmarks for more than five years, and I picked it out because Michael's fond of rum and raisins in desserts.

It might be the least vegan thing I've ever made: there's three kinds of dairy, white chocolate, eggs and honey all whipped in. It's a cheesecake, but it's different to the cheesecakes I'm accustomed to. Instead of a crushed-biscuit base there's a thin layer of plain white breadcrumbs to give the cake some structure. The filling's flavour and texture come mostly from the ricotta; it has that velvetty density of a baked cheesecake but perhaps a little less sweetness. That comes more from boozy raisin bursts.

The cake batter filled my springform pan right up to its rim. As it baked it rose further, like a souffle! (It sank back to rim height again as it cooled.) Almost all of the white chocolate melted into the cake, undetectable. The finished cake isn't pretty - it's pudgy and uneven, with charred rings and bubbles on its surface. But I loved its geological-looking layers and heartiness. This is a feast of a cake.

Rum & raisin ricotta cake
(slightly adapted from green been,
where it's credited to Karen Martini)

55g raisins
50mL dark rum
spray oil
100g (~3 cups) fluffy white breadcrumbs
600g ricotta
55g caster sugar
5 eggs
100g honey, plus 3–4 tablespoons for glazing
200g yoghurt
350g mascarpone
zest of 1 lemon
160g white chocolate, roughly chopped

Place the raisins in a small bowl or airtight container and pour over the rum; allow them to soak for at least an hour, ideally overnight.

Preheat an oven to 170°C. Line a springform cake tin with paper and lightly spray it with oil. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the base and a little up the sides (don't worry if they don't stick much).

In a large food processor, beat together the ricotta and sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the honey, yoghurt, mascarpone and lemon zest. Pour one-third of the mixture into the cake tin, then sprinkle over the half of the raisins and white chocolate. Repeat with cake mixture, raisins and white chocolate. Pour in the remaining mixture and smooth over the top.

Bake until set, about 1 1/4 hours. Brush some honey and rum over the top of the cake while it is still warm. Serve at room temperature.

Posted November 17, 2016 07:49 AM by Cindy

November 16, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Smoky apple vegie burgers

When I was a child, the only burgers we bought were from the fish and chip shop.  There was no MacDonalds and none of the ubiquitous fancy burgers that abound in cafes.  We only had one type - beef patty, lettuce, tomato, cheese, beetroot, fried onion, tomato sauce and perhaps pineapple or egg.  These days anything goes in a burger - and I mean both in the patty and in between the burger buns.  It means lots of fun and lots of tyranny of choice.  It also means a way out for the stewed apple in the fridge that is being neglected.

I put the stewed apple into these burgers and while it did not taste strongly of apple, I was happy that the apple had been consumed.  I had grand plans for burgers in a bun with a salad on the side on that first night but it ended up being a bowl of burgers and vegies.  The burgers had a satisfying texture and held together well.

The second night the burgers were eaten in a bun with all the bells and whistles, and a simple salad on the side.  I hadn't been happy with the colour of the burgers on the first night and fried them up for my home made burger buns the second night.  Fried to the good side of charred.  Perfect for my fancy burger in a bun.  As well as the patties, I also stuffed it with lettuce, biocheese, beetroot, roast pumpkin, fried onion, vegannaise and lettuce from my garden.  It tasted so good.

More vegan burgers (patties) on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Cauliflower burgers (gf v)
Earth burgers (gf, v)
Roasted beetroot tofu burgers (gf, v)
Sweet potato, chickpea and hemp seed burgers (v)
Tamale burgers with mole sauce (gf, v)
Vegemite burger (v)
Watercourse Foods tempeh burger (gf,v)

Smoky Apple Vegie Burgers
Adapted from It Does Taste Like Chicken
    3 tbsp ground linseed (flax seed)
    1/3 cup of aqua faba (chickpea brine)
    400g tin of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
    1 cup stewed apples or apple sauce
    3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
    1/2 cup rolled oats
    1/2 cup ground almonds
    1/2 cup chopped red or white onion (about ½ a small onion)
    2 cloves of garlic minced
    2 tablespoons of tamari or soy sauce
    1 tbsp smoked paprika
    1 tsp seeded mustard
    Seasoning to taste

    Soak linseeds in aqua faba for 5 minutes or while preparing other ingredients.  Add kidney beans and stewed apples and mash into the linseed mixture.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Shape handfuls into patties.  Place on grill tray (broiler tray) and spray with oil.  Grill until well browned on one side.  Flip, spray with oil and grill until golden brown on the other side too.

    On the Stereo:
    Discography: Pet Shop Boys

    This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

    Week 3's theme is Rainbow Food

      Posted November 16, 2016 11:01 PM by Johanna GGG

      November 15, 2016

      Green Gourmet Giraffe

      Rainbow salad with orange and sesame dressing

      At the start of October the AFL Grand Final saw out the end of the School Holidays.  We went to the Coburg Farmers Market in the morning.  Fresh produce is great inspiration for vibrant health food.

      My favourite part of the Grand Final is the pre-match entertainment with the singing, the balloons and running through the banner.  While watching this on the telly, I was trying to put together the salad.  It was slow going but satisfying.

      It took some time to chop vegies, keep an eye on the footy match preparations, whisk dressing, sit with Sylvia to watch Vance Joy sing Riptide and explain who Sting is.  Lunch wasn't ready until the match was well underway.

      The salad was the very antithesis of the football world of greasy chips and cheap meat pies.  Which is perhaps fitting as I don't really follow the footy.  Every few weeks I remember to ask how my nominal team is doing.  At the end of the season I watch the Grand Final until it is clear who is winning and it gets boring.

      This year, it wasn't until two minutes before the final siren that the commentators dared to call it.  The match was so close.  As they like to say, footy was the winner.  But really the fairy tale of this Grand Final was that the Western Bulldogs were the winners, after 62 years without a premiership.  I watched til the end.  Though I did have my neighbour visit, make limeade and ring my mum for a chat.  Yet it was a memorable match just as this salad was memorable.

      I took the salad dressing from a rainbow salad in a newspaper magazine but, if I do say so myself, my selection of vegetables was far more colourful than the original.  The dressing was pretty similar and made for a winning salad.  E ate his salad in a sandwich made with fresh bread I had baked that morning and loved it.  There was a little salad leftover that we picked at during the afternoon.  It was gone by dinner.  I know it is not the first time I've said this, but I wish more of my lunches were so colourful and healthy.

      I am sending this to Healthy Vegan Fridays, Eat Your Greens, Meat Free Mondays and No Croutons Required.

      More colourful salads on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
      Asparagus, strawberry and greens salad with poppyseed dressing (gf, v)
      Balsamic garden salad with cashew cheese (gf, v)
      Couscous salad with chermoula (v)
      Lemony Mediterranean salad (gf, v)
      Purple potato, sweet potato and watercress salad (gf, v)
      Strawberry avocado and walnut salad with a chocolate vinaigrette (gf, v)
      Taco salad with creamy dressing (gf)
      Tambo salad with preserved lemon and capers (gf, v)

      Rainbow salad with orange and sesame dressing
      Adapted from Adam Liaw in The Age's Sunday Magazine on10 April 2016
      serves 2-3

      handful purple cabbage, finely shredded
      3 dutch baby carrots, sliced thinly into matchsticks
      2 baby beetroot, sliced thinly into matchsticks
      handful cherry tomatoes, halved
      handful spinach
      1/2 cup of cooked chickpeas
      pea sprouts
      1 tsp black sesame seeds (or poppy seeds), to serve

      For orange and sesame dressing:
      juice of 1/2 orange
      1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
      1/2 tbsp rice bran or other neutral oil
      1/2 tbsp soy sauce
      1/2 tsp castor sugar
      1/2 tsp sesame oil

      Arrange vegies and chickpeas on shallow bowl.  Toast sesame seeds in frypan.  Iif using poppy seeds they do not need to be fried.)  Lightly whisk together dressing.  Drizzle over vegies.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

      On the Stereo:
      All of this and nothing: Psychedelic Furs

      This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

      Week 3's theme is Rainbow Food

      Posted November 15, 2016 11:22 AM by Johanna GGG

      where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

      Peppermint patsies

      October 30, 2016

      My mate Natalie hosted a Sunday potluck lunch, for which I attempted to make peppermint patties. I knew there'd be heaps of food and I imagined these as small bites of sweetness we could still enjoy nibbling on after a big meal.

      They didn't work out quite as planned. Even though I'd tagged the recipe as vegan, it wasn't at all - still, it was easy enough to replace butter and cream with a small can of coconut milk. This rendered the peppermint fondant much runnier than it should have been. There was no way I could roll, refrigerate and slice it into neat little discs. Instead I pulled out my cupcake pan and layered these out as soft-centred chocolates.

      So far so good! They looked cute in green mint-coded papers, with a couple of sprinkles on top. And on first bite they were a heavenly contrast of crackling bittersweet chocolate and oozing sweet peppermint. But they were hefty, a bit too much to take on after burgers and mac'n'cheese (and just an eensy second helping of mac'n'cheese). We all blamed them for our mid-afternoon lethargy.

      And so I've named these would-be peppermint patties, peppermint patsies.

      Peppermint patsies
      (adapted from a recipe at Oh! Nuts,
      which I found via she cooks, she gardens)

      300-400g dark chocolate
      3 cups icing sugar
      4 tablespoons coconut milk
      2 teaspoons peppermint essence
      pinch of salt

      Place cupcake papers in a cupcake baking tin.

      Gently melt half of the chocolate. Drop a scant tablespoon of liquid chocolate into each cupcake paper. Use a spoon to push the chocolate up the sides of the paper. Make sure the base is covered well with chocolate. Refrigerate the tray for 15 minutes.

      In a medium bowl, whisk together the icing sugar and coconut milk until smooth. Stir in the peppermint essence and salt. When the chocolate is set firm, drop 2 teaspoons of the peppermint mixture into the centre of each chocolate. Refrigerate for a further 15-30 minutes.

      Gently melt the remainder of the chocolate. Spoon a scant tablespoon of chocolate onto each peppermint layer and smooth it out across the top. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

      Posted November 15, 2016 07:38 AM by Cindy

      November 14, 2016

      Green Gourmet Giraffe

      Thai pumpkin and lentil soup

      This Thai pumpkin and lentil soup is a variation on a soup I make quite often.  It is just the sort of soup that I needed the day after the school fete.  Sylvia had organised a playdate and was weeding the garden with her friend.  (I was suitably impressed by the garden!)  E was practicing uke for the forthcoming ukulele festival and I had been making aqua faba meringues for Sylvia's show and tell.  Simmering a fairly simple soup was a relaxing late afternoon addition.

      I played around with sifting smoked paprika shapes onto the soup.  I am not sure the circus look was the one I was aiming for!  We were quite tired after the previous big day.  Dinner was eating on the sofa in front of the telly.  I didn't have energy for anything else.  I was pleasantly surprised by the happy marriage of yellow curry paste and smoked paprika.

      Having made a similar soup (thai curry split pea soup) a few months back, I had some confidence that Sylvia might try it.  The catch was that she professes to hate pumpkin.  I remember her eating it as a child and am a little less sure that she truly dislikes it.  So I asked her to eat a couple of spoonfuls of soup with a bread roll before she had her vegetarian schnitzel.  I focused on the lentils and tomatoes in the soup, which I know she likes.  The next night she was convinced to eat a small bowl of it with a bread roll.  I resisted doing a victory dance.  But I know this is one step closer to Sylvia realising that pumpkin is indeed manna from heaven.

      The soup lasted us for about 5 days.  I really enjoyed it.  (To be clear we did not eat it 5 nights in a row but this is how long we had it in the fridge.)  The above photo is of the last night we ate it.  I had some aged sushi rice with kale powder that I mixed into the soup to make it more like a stew.  We served it with steamed broccoli, fried mushrooms, asparagus and grated carrot.  It was really good.

      More lentil soups on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
      Carrot, chestnut and lentil soup (gf, v)
      Creamy lentil and vegetable soup (gf)
      Curried red lentil and apricot soup (gf, v)
      Fennel, lentil and rice soup (gf, v)
      Red lentil soup with spinach and lime (gf, v)
      Smoky tomato and lentil soup (gf, v)
      Sweet potato and red lentil soup (gf, v)

      Thai pumpkin and lentil soup
      An original Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe
      serves 6-8

      1 -2 tsp olive oil
      1 onion, chopped
      1 carrot, chopped
      2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
      600-800g Kent pumpkin (a large wedge), chopped
      400g tin of diced tomatoes
      1.3 litres vegetable stock
      2 cups dried red lentils
      1 cup light coconut milk
      3 tbsp yellow curry paste
      1 tsp smoked paprika
      sriracha, to serve

      Fry onion and carrot in an olive oil until soft - about 5-10 minutes.  Stir in the garlic.  Add pumpkin, tomato and stock.  Bring to the boil.  Add lentils and simmer for about 20 minutes or until pumpkin and lentils are soft.  Add coconut milk, curry paste and smoked paprika.  Blend.  Check and adjust seasoning.  Serve with sriracha if you want a bit more heat.

      On the stereo:
      Songs in the Attic: Billy Joel

      This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

      Week 2's theme is International because I am a little behind on week 2.  And if you wish to believe it is a monochrome one-colour food for Rainbow Week or Day #14, then so it is!

      Posted November 14, 2016 09:50 PM by Johanna GGG

      November 13, 2016

      Green Gourmet Giraffe

      Vegan Avgolemono - Greek Easter lemon soup

      Having made this Avgolemono soup a few times, I had hoped to have a definitive photo.  Though the soup continues to charm me, I haven't had the time and energy to take the right photo.  But then again, I find this to be comfort food to be made quickly on a busy day.

      Gina of The Full Helping, devised this variation to recreate the soup from the Greek Easters of her childhood.  I've never had the traditional version that relies heavily on eggs.  For me, I just love the creaminess of the tahini, the substance of the vegies and rice, and the fresh flavours of the lemon and dill.

      The first time I made the soup, I decided it would be too thin with all the 5 to 6 cups of water.  Instead I added 2 1/2 cups of water.  The helpings were miserly and when left for a while it got far too thick.  Since then I have added more water.  The broth is so delicious even without the vegies and rice.

      It is a soup to make when busy, whether it is making a quick dinner after Sylvia's swimming lessons or fitting in lunch between my body balance class and my singing group.  It makes for great leftovers, though it thickens so much that sometimes I have had to add a little water to loosen it up.  Or I have served it, as photographed below, as a stew.

      I highly recommend this quick and nourishing soup.

      And when I found my notes from the first time I made the soup early last year, I had some quicklinks added so I am including a few random articles from last year and a few more recent ones to nourish (or entertain) your mind as well:

      I am sending this soup to Souper Sundays.

      More vegan rice soups on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
      Cheesy cauliflower and rice soup (gf, v)
      Fennel, lentil and rice soup (gf, v)
      Mexican rice soup (gf, v)
      Pea, rice and pesto soup (gf, v)
      Pumpkin, corn and wild rice chowder (gf, v)
      Tricken rice soup with celeriac (gf, v) 

      Vegan Avgolemono (Greek Lemon Rice Soup)
      Slightly adapted from The Full Helping via Kahakai Kitchen
      Serves 4

      1 tsp olive oil
      1 onion, diced
      2 carrots, diced
      1 stalk of celery, diced
      2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
      1 cup uncooked brown rice
      5 to 6 cups vegetable stock
      1/4 cup lemon juice
      1/4 cup nutritional yeast
      2 tbsp tahini
      1 1/2 tbsp miso
      1/4 tsp sea salt, or to taste
      1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

      Fry onion, carrots, celery and garlic in oil until well cooked.  Add rice and stock.  Simmer 35-40 minutes.  Mix lemon juice, nutritional yeast, tahini, nutritional yeast, miso and salt.  Add to rice mixture.  Remove from heat.  Mix in dill and serve.

      NOTES: I have added chickpeas for more protein, used cooked rice because I had it there.  Both work fine.  If soup is left to sit it will thicken as the rice absorbs the broth.  Add a little water when reheating if necessary.

      On the stereo:
      Ultra Lounge: Saxophonia: Various Artists

      This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

      Week 2's theme is International. 

      Posted November 13, 2016 11:20 PM by Johanna GGG

      where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

      Ottolenghi's eggplant cheesecake

      October 22-23, 2016

      I picked this recipe out of Plenty More with the express purpose of using up some ingredients (cream cheese, eggs, za'atar) but we'd make it again on its own merits. It's kind of a crustless quiche, although the main feature is really a dozen or so melt-in-the-mouth eggplant slices, and the cherry tomatoes nestled among them. 

      The egg-and-dairy filling is more of a light, fluffy binder with the odd dot of sharp feta. Fresh oregano leaves and a last-minute sprinkle of za'atar bring some complexity to the flavour - all this savoury 'cheesecake' needs is a simple green salad on the side to make up a pretty warm-weather meal. (You might spy some leftover carrot salad filled out with spinach and tomatoes in the background.)

      Eggplant cheesecake
      (slightly adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty More,
      also published on The Guardian)

      2 medium eggplants
      1/4 cup olive oil
      100g cream cheese
      1/4 cup double cream
      4 eggs
      150g feta
      150g cherry tomatoes
      10g oregano leaves
      2 teaspoons za'atar
      salt and black pepper

      Preheat an oven to 210°C. Line a large baking tray with paper

      Slice the eggplants into 2cm thick rounds and lay them out flat on the baking tray. Drizzle the eggplants with most of the oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Roast them for 40 minutes, until they're soft and golden but not falling apart. Allow them to cool.

      Turn the oven down to 170°C. Line a 20cm square baking tin with foil and lightly spray or brush it with a bit of oil.

      In a medium-large bowl, beat together the cream cheese and cream with an electric mixer. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Crumble over the feta and beat it in too, but allow the feta to stay a bit lumpy. Mix in a little salt and pepper. Slice the cherry tomatoes into halves.

      When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, layer the slices into the foil-lined baking tin. Sit them upright or diagonally, so that they're partially overlapping and not flat and on top of each other (check out my photo above). Arrange the tomato halves in between the eggplants, filling all the gaps. Tear up half of the oregano and sprinkle it over the eggplants and tomatoes. Pour the cheesecake mixture into the tin, gently guiding it to evenly cover the vegetables. Tear up the remaining oregano and sprinkle it over the top. Bake the cheesecake until it's set and golden, 35-40 minutes.

      Mix the za'atar up with a tablespoon of olive oil and drizzle it over the top. Serve warm or at room temperature.

      Posted November 13, 2016 09:39 AM by Cindy

      November 12, 2016

      Green Gourmet Giraffe

      Asian rice with cabbage, corn and celery

      This rice started as a mistake.  I was browsing a Donna Hay magazine in the supermarket and was inspired by an Asian coleslaw.  It was time to try out a new blade in my recently purchased food processor.  The vegies turned to mush and I was relucant to throw out the slaw.   I added some more vegies and this rice dish was born.

      I had initially thought of making a miso soup.  E didn't want a thin broth.  So I found this sweetcorn soup for inspiration.  Which reminded me of my favourite corn and tempeh soup.  Then I looked in my fridge to see what needed using.  There was that forgotten bunch of celery at the bottom of the fridge.  I was still keen on the idea of a soup.  When I decided to add rice the liquid was absorbed and it was no longer soup.  It was rather tasty.  Which is the most important thing!

      It has been one of those weeks where life has been a bit unexpected.  I was in bed with a terrible headache for a lot of the day on Wednesday and woke to the shock of Trump far ahead in the USA election.  I sang with my singing group at a small event today and got home to find my top was on back to front.  And my trackpad on my laptop is not as responsive ever since a wee imp recently put watermelon juice on it.  More pleasant surprises have been Sylvia eating some nutritional yeast flakes for a snack, the discovery of garlic scapes at the farmers market today, the first ripe strawberry in our backyard, and a friend thinking to send me photos of the colour fun run at school because I could not be there.

      I am always cheered up if I can reduce my waste of food as much as possible.  And leftovers to make life easier.  I am trying to serve dinner as a nourish bowl more often to get more vegies into my diet.  Tonight's dinner was the Asian rice, purple cabbage, celery, tofu besan omelette, cherry tomatoes, spinach and an avocado dressing made with a finely sliced garlic scape.  I fancy serving the rice another night with vegie sausages and a kale salad.  Another few tubs of the rice are in the freezer for those nights when I could just toast some cashews and make a meal of it. 

      I am sending this rice dish to Cook Once Eat Twice and No Waste Food Challenge.

      More Asian rice dishes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
      Fried rice (gf, v)
      Japanese-style pumpkin, sprouts and tofu soup (gf, v)
      Kitchen sink kitchari (gf, v) 
      Sushi rice salad (gf, v)
      Sushi stack with carrot, tofu omelet and avocado (gf, v)
      'Teriyaki' tofu with brown rice and kale (gf, v) 

      Asian rice with cabbage, corn and celery
      A Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe
      Serves 8 as a main course

      1 tbsp neutral oil, such as rice bran
      2 tsp sesame oil
      1 onion, chopped
      4 stalks of celery, diced
      2 red capsicums (pepper), diced
      2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
      400g tin of corn, rinsed and drained
      400g tin creamed corn
      1/2 small cabbage, finely chopped
      2 carrots, grated2 tins full of water
      1 1/2 cups rice
      3 tbsp soy sauce
      2 tbsp rice vinegar
      1 tbsp mirin
      1 tsp dried ginger (or 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger)
      1 tsp stock powder

      Fry onion, celery and capsicums in oils over medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until celery is soft.  Stir in garlic.  Add remaining ingredients.  Bring to the boil.  Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.  Let stand at least 10 minutes.

      NOTES: I measured the water using the tin that the creamed corn came in.  The rice was quite moist so next time I would probably use a wee bit less.  I only used dried ginger as I haven't been keeping fresh ginger in the house but fresh would be very nice.
       On the Stereo:
      Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band: The Beatles

      This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

      Week 2's theme is International. 

      Posted November 12, 2016 11:46 PM by Johanna GGG

      November 11, 2016

      Green Gourmet Giraffe

      Vegemite and poppy seed scones

      When we were young my family often had scones.  My brother one day asked for scones with vegemite and cream.  We all laughed at him.  Scones were sweet.  Vegemite is uncompromisingly savoury.  These days the line between savoury and sweet is more blurry.  I have made many savoury scones and the idea of putting vegemite on or in scones no longer seems so odd.

      I was inspired by a recipe for Marmite and Poppy Seed Cookies.  I wanted to make scones so I adapted the recipe.  The scone recipe was quite similar to the cookies but a lot less butter, far softer and best eaten fresh.  I added a similar amount of vegemite but if you love the stuff I reckon you could add more. 

      Originally I had visions of a dark black scone.  It was more of a warm caramel colour.  The flavour was also quite subtle.  There are hints of the intense yeasty salty black paste that pleases Aussies and bemuses foreigners.  It made them lovely to eat plain.

      I took one to Sylvia to eat before her after school swimming lessons and she enjoyed it.  (Hence the scones without poppy seeds.  I'd made a promise.)  They would also be lovely with margarine, hummus or cheeze spread.  My main regret was that I made a small batch.  They disappeared far too quickly.  Next time I will double the recipe.

      More vegemite recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
      Cheeseymite scones
      Dark vegetable and lentil stew (v) 
      Gravy (v)
      Mashed vegetables with vegemite (v)
      Vegemite burger (v)
      Vegemite fudge

      Vegemite and poppy seed scones
      Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe
      Make 6 scones

      1/4 cup milk
      1/4 cup water
      1 tbsp vegemite
      1 cup self raising flour
      1 tbsp margarine
      1 tbsp extra milk, for glazing
      1 tsp poppy seeds

      Preheat oven to 220 C. Lightly grease or flour a baking tray.

      Mix milk and water with vegemite.  (It is easier to start with a little liquid and vegemite and then gradually add more mixture.)

      Place flour and salt in a bowl. Rub in margarine with your fingertips (or as you normally would do – pastry cutters, food processor etc) til it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Pour in vegemite milk mixture. Mix in gently with a knife until it forms a soft and slightly sticky dough.

      Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface and knead briefly til smooth.  Pat dough out to a 2cm thickness. Dip biscuit cutter or glass in flour and cut as many scones as possible from dough. Place scones on a baking tray. Lightly knead off-cuts into a ball and press out again and cut more scones. Repeat until all dough is used.

      Brush the scones with a little milk and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake in over for about 12-15 minutes until lightly browned and sound hollow when tap on top. Remove from tray and wrap in a clean teatowel. Best eaten on the day of baking.

      On the Stereo:
      All that Jazz: the best of Ute Lemper

      This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

      Week 2's theme is International.  Today is an Australian variation on scones.

      Posted November 11, 2016 12:33 PM by Johanna GGG