August 03, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Steam Junkies

August 1, 2015

Last weekend we headed up to Florence St for a late breakfast before running some errands around Brunswick. We've had half an eye on The Commons for a couple of years - it's a unit block by the railway tracks that has sold itself on its sustainability measures. On an Upfield walk last year we noticed that the ground floor cafe, Steam Junkies, has a few veg options and they've been given a thumbs-up on Green Gourmet Giraffe.

The odds for vegetarians are good, with thirteen of the twenty-two regular menu dishes boasting a V (and almost half the menu including a gluten-free friendly *). Looking beyond the plain toast, though, there's not a lot designed for vegans. Poached eggs and cheeses abound, and there's also a curious preponderance of quinoa.

Michael's plate captured their poached eggs-on-superfoods style, starting with quinoa toast and a mound of garlic sauteed kale and spinach, dotted with dried cranberries, almond flakes and goats curd with a couple of asparagus spears too ($16). His coffee and eggs met with the high standards expected of inner-north cafes, and he liked the way the cranberries broke up the green theme.

Budgeting on a two-meal day, I made my first one a haloumi burger ($13.50). The cheese was rolled in sesame seeds and one of the lightest I've encountered, with barely a squeak to be had, not to mention voluminous! Really, look at it. There was double the cheese this burger needed. But instead of playing haloumi Jenga, I elected to eat this a half at a time, first with the relish-smeared brioche top and second with the tomato, mayo and rocket. The tangy dressings and side salad of rocket, cherry tomatoes, apple and radish were my ideal complements to the cheese, and I capped it all off with a frothy freshly squeezed orange juice ($6).

With its communal table, bike racks and polished concrete floor, Steam Junkies does everything you'd expect of a Brunswick cafe. Their egg-and-quinoa menu is a mite less predictable, and the haloumi burger is unforgettable - they could well have their niche.


Bloggers have been unanimously positive about Steam Junkies - see fellow vegetarian Green Gourmet Giraffe and omnivorous bloggers A Place A Day, makelovetotheworld and CHOMP AND SLURP.

Steam Junkies
1/7-9 Florence St, Brunswick
9973 4309
regular menu, specials
facebook page

Accessibility: The entry is flat and wide with a sliding door. Tables are generously spaced, with a mixture of low backless stools, benches and slightly rickety chairs (a couple of infants' high chairs are also available). We didn't visit the toilets, but observed another customer borrowing a key from staff to access them outside the cafe. We ordered at the table and paid at a low-ish counter.

Posted August 03, 2015 09:34 PM by Cindy


A Vegan Christmas In July Dinner at Shu, Collingwood

Shu Restaurant in Collingwood has been at the top of my must-eat list for a while. Every Wednesday evening is dedicated to vegan dining but arghghgh, we’re usually always busy on Wednesday. So I was pretty excited to receive an email from Shu inviting me to a vegan Christmas in July degustation evening on a night...
Continue reading »

Posted August 03, 2015 12:56 PM

quinces and kale

dad and dave’s

berry pancakes

I headed west on Sunday for brunch to meet some friends that had recently moved to Melbourne.  We settled on Dad and Dave’s, a cute café amongst cute cafés in Yarraville. I’m always amused by the trendiness of Yarraville. Having grown up in the west, nobody would have been caught dead there when I was a kid. But it is lovely, with beautiful houses and a nice village feel. It always was, but it suffered from being in the not very desirable western suburbs. Things have changed.

While not a vegan café, Dad and Dave’s has had some good reports on vegan social media.

The café itself is cosy with a cute homey feel. The display cases are full of good looking cakes and other treats, some of them vegan.

There are four vegan or veganisable options on menu for breakfast. We ate two of them, the corn fritters with avocado and a beetroot chutney and the berry pancakes with maple syrup. Both were very good.

The service was friendly, the serves generous and the coffee great.


corn fritters with avocado and beetroot relish


Dad and Dave’s
27-29 Birmingham Street,
Yarraville, 3013
03 9314 3038

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Posted August 03, 2015 10:00 AM

Thoughts Of A Moni

Bowery To Williamsburg

I am rarely in the CBD for breakfast or brunch, always preferring a more local option. Last week however, we were in the city on a Saturday morning picking up our race packs for Run Melbourne (which I ran a PB for by the way!), so I decided we should take the opportunity to check out a cafe that we wouldn’t otherwise frequent.

I didn’t have anywhere particular in mind, so I actually used the Zomato app (!) and found that Bowery to Williamsburg was a short walk away. It had a pretty good rating, and I vaguely recalled reading some good reviews about it, so I thought we should give it ago.

Located in a typical Melbourne laneway, we arrived at the cafe only to find a line outside. I was starving, and really didn’t want to wait, but luckily the line was moving fairly quickly so we decided to persevere. It wasn’t long before we were seated, although unfortunately we were seated outside which wasn’t ideal for a winter day in Melbourne. Luckily the rain and wind held off so it wasn’t too unpleasant.

We had already checked out the specials board while we were waiting in the line, so when it came time to place our drinks orders the other half wasted no time in ordering a jam donut milkshake. This milkshake flavour sounded amazing, and whilst the strawberry jam flavour was definitely prevalent, it missed the mark a little bit with any donut flavour. To me it felt like they had just added some strawberry jam into the milkshake mixture. It was a welcome addition, but nothing too special. I decided to just stick to water this time, making sure I was well hydrated for the run on Sunday.

We were actually pretty late for breakfast, so instead we were handed the brunch menu to order from. The main difference between the two was that there were no bagels on the brunch menu, however there were a few crossovers with the lunch menu instead, so I guess it evened out. There was a clear New York feel to the menu, with potato latkes, grits and even a Reuben sandwich!

I decided to go for an eggy option and chose the Turkish shakshouka baked eggs which were served with pita bread. The sauce had chickpeas and was topped with onion jam and paprika yogurt. The serving was very generous with two large pieces of pita bread and three eggs! Yes, three! I don’t think I’ve ever had a breakfast with three eggs!

This dish was very delicious and there was little to fault with it. If I had to pick something, it would be the fact that I would probably prefer Turkish bread instead of pita bread, but this was a minor issue. The eggs were cooked well, and the oozy yolk mixed in with the rich tomato sauce and yogurt provided a great dipping sauce for the bread.

The other half went for a meatier option and chose the Cuban braised pork. This involved a rather large mound of pork set atop sweet potato bread, served with refried black beans, corn, guacamole and a couple of fried eggs.

Once again this was a very generous serving with no skimping on the proteins. The verdict was that the sweet potato bread was something special, and probably the highlight of the dish.

Overall Bowery to Williamsburg provided us with a great breakfast in the CBD. Whilst I don't like waiting in queues, in this case it proved that good food is worth the wait.

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Posted August 03, 2015 09:00 AM by Moni

August 02, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Don Don, ACMI and Blur

Last year I met with some former colleagues for lunch at Don Don.  I think I might have been there many years ago with some friends from our travels who absolutely raved about the place.  Since then E and I have been there for a few quick and cheap dinners before going out, the last one being last week before seeing Blur.

Before Sylvia was born, we were fans of Gopals for its quick and cheap food.  If you don't want any choice about your meal then Don Don is every bit as quick and cheap, maybe more.  I have been enjoying it but it is not all vegetarian like Gopals.  The menu is small.  Vegetarians have a choice of tofu curry don, soba salad and miso soup.  I have stuck with the tofu curry don which is a bargain at $5.90. 

It is indeed cheap and cheerful with plastic bowls and spoons.  The tofu curry don consists of lots of rice and Japanese curry sauce with tofu, a token vegetable (I have had zucchini and cauliflower) and some pickled vegies.  The meal is pretty basic and not as generous with vegies as I would prefer.  But for the price it is a decent feed.

After dinner we had enough time to go to ACMI Cafe for coffee and cake.  It is some time since we have been there.  When Sylvia was a baby and went where we went, we visited quite a bit.  (Unlike these days when we go where she goes!)  So I couldn't help looking out at the highchairs and space for strollers to see that it is still very child friendly.  I suspect that Sylvia would love the booths that are new since our last visit.

E had a coffee with a very nice biscuit.  The range of herbal teas was too limited for my tastes so I had a ginger beer with a slice of warm chocolate mud cake with lots of lovely gooey ganache on top.

The main event was the Blur concert at the Rod Laver Arena.  I didn't take a lot of notice of Blur when they were at the height of their fame but I have great memories of dancing to their music in nightclubs and of spending time with friends in London who were the sort of fans who lived for backstage passes to Blur gigs.  The band is also a sentimental favourite because one of the CDs that E bought when we were first going out was a Blur EP.

When E and I left the concert we turned to one another and said, wow that was so much better that I expected.  It was a fantastic concert.  Even sitting up the back, we were immersed in the energy of this amazing band, though shielding our eyes from the intense light show at times.  Their songs are beautiful and moody and cheeky and fun.  The band members are such fascinating people.  (Did you know that the drummer is a practicing criminal lawyer, a computer animator and a political activist?)  It was their first gig in Melbourne for 18 years and I am so glad we were there because who knows when their next gig will be.

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Posted August 02, 2015 11:12 PM by Johanna GGG

July 31, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Paneer tikka masala and Spinach and chickpea curry

It was the end of a busy week during the school holidays.  I was late making dinner, E was late home and Sylvia was late to watch her film.  She bore it well, ate beans on toast while I chopped and fried and stirred.  She complained about the noise of the paneer frying and then snuggled up with us on the couch to watch How to train your dragon.

I had been meaning to make the Paneer Tikka Masala for some time.  At the start of the week I had made dahl to eat with the masala.  It took me a week to find time to make the masala so fortunately we had the big pot of dahl to tide us.  By the end of the week I still had some left. It made a fine accompaniment to the masala.

The masala seemed to last a long time.  I made a cauliflower in spicy peanut gravy (with cashews instead of peanuts and peas instead of the leafy greens) that I had made years ago and it was really nice but very grey.  I made the sauce in my high speed blender which made it smoother than my previous attempt. 

A night or two later I made another curry with spinach and chickpeas.  The recipe methodology needed some slight tweaking to work for me so.  However it was a great simple fast recipe that I hope to make again.  I particularly like that it uses lots of chickpeas for those on the aquafaba bandwagon.

I was very pleased to have three curries to serve together.  I love lots of curries but only manage to make them on different nights.  However by the time I had eaten the spinach and chickpea curry over a few nights I had had my fill of curries.  I blended the leftovers with some vegies to make a very good soup.

I am sending the Paneer tikka masala to Gluten Free Fridays and the Spinach and chickpea curry to Healthy Vegan Fridays.

More curries from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Banana Curry (gf, v)
Beetroot, Greens and Chickpea Curry (gf. v)
Chana Masala (gf, v)
Chickpea and potato curry with mango chutney (gf, v)
Chickpeas and paneer in a spicy creamy cashew gravy (gf)
Spicy pea curry (gf, v)
Watermelon Curry (gf, v)

Paneer Tikka Masala
Slightly adapted from Ivy, Phyllis and Me
Serves 6

4-5 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger
2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons of sweet paprika
1 tablespoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1 teaspoon of chilli paste
3-4 tablespoons of Greek yoghurt
400g tin of tomatoes or 3 fresh large tomatoes
500ml vegetable stock (or less)
600g paneer cheese, cut into cubes
1 tsp of salt

Brown onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan.  Stir the ginger and garlic in for 1 minute.  Stir in the spices to make a paste.  Gradually stir in the yoghurt and then then tin of tomatoes.  Simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the stock and simmer uncovered for 25 minutes.  It should reduce thought mine didn't that much.  (However once it had sat for an hour or two it thickened a lot.)

While tomato mixture is simmering, fry paneer in remaining oil over medium high heat until golden brown.  I did this in two batches.

Mix tomato mixture, fried paneer and salt.  Cook another 2 to 3 minutes and serve with rice or naan bread.

Spinach and chickpea curry
Adapted from BBC Good Food
Serves 4-6

1 tsp oil
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp mild curry paste (I used Rogan Josh)
400g tin of tomatoes
2 x 400g cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
250g baby spinach
squeeze lemon juice
basmati rice, to serve

Fry the onion in oil until soft.  Stir in curry paste for a minute or two.  Add tomatoes and chickpeas.  Cook on medium to medium high for about 5 minutes until thicken slightly. Add spinach and cover for about a minute or two until it is wilting.  Stir in seasoning and lemon juice.  Serve with rice.

On the stereo:
Melt: Straightjacket Fits

Posted July 31, 2015 12:54 PM by Johanna GGG

July 29, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne


July 20-21, 2015

I had a speedy few days in Perth last week and hassled Steph for dining tips. She gave Formosa/Utopia the thumbs up, so I swung by a couple of times to suss it out. It’s tucked away in Northbridge, in a little courtyard back from the street a bit, so keep your eyes peeled to avoid walking straight past. Once you’re in, you’ve got to figure out the ordering process – the best thing to do is grab a menu, a pen and a little form for ordering and settle in at a table. The menu is humungous, with something like 200 dishes to choose from (plus seemingly millions of bubble tea and related drinks). Everything is pretty clearly labelled – I’d guess about half the dishes are vegan and spice levels are marked. It’s not cheap, but it’s not outrageous either – most mains are between $16 and $20. It’s heavy on the mock meat, although there are enough veggie and tofu based dishes if that’s not your thing.

To order, you fill out the form with the code from the menu and take it up to the counter – they double check what you’ve ordered, so there shouldn’t be any confusion even if your handwriting is as bad as mine. On my first visit I ordered the vegan version of the tom yum chicken ($16.50) with a side of the fried crispy mushrooms ($6) and rice for one ($2.50). This was way too much food, which is always the risk when you’re dining alone and trying to sample as much of the menu as possible.

On my first few mouthfuls I was mad for the mushrooms – crispy, salty and with a nice spicy dipping sauce – but I gradually tired of them as I went on. You should probably hold off on these unless you’re sharing, the mushroomy texture got a bit overwhelming as the batter cooled down and lost its crisp. Still – five stars for the first 10 or so. The tom yum chicken was a complete success, a nice mix of hot and sour flavours in the soup and a decent amount of veggies to go along with the mock chicken.

On my return trip I took Steph’s advice and ordered the fried kuay teow ($11.50) and was once again unable to resist some accompaniment, going with the salted fried chicken ($9). For some reason the chicken isn’t marked vegan, which confused me a bit – maybe there’s egg in the batter?

Either way, it’s delicious – crispy and salty and impressively chicken-y. The texture works better than the mushrooms over a whole plate too. The noodles were solid as well – a rich, smoky wok hei, dotted with sprouts, greens, tofu and a few chunks of mysterious mock meat.

You wouldn’t really go to Utopia for the ambience – it’s brightly lit, simply furnished and there’s nothing fancy about the service. Still – there’s a lot going for it: the staff are friendly, the menu ridiculously long and the food that I sampled a pretty decent version of mock-meat heavy vego Chinese food. They’re open late, they do a good line in bubble tea and they’ve got a karaoke room out the back somewhere – you can see why Utopia is a Perth vego favourite.


There are positive reviews of Utopia on vegan about town, foodieatwork and watermelon3.


109 James St, Northbridge, Western Australia
08 9227 0238
menus: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve
facebook page

Accessibility: The restaurant access is up a flight of stairs (although there may be a lift somewhere - I forgot to check). You order and pay at a low counter. The toilets are gendered and accessible.

Posted July 29, 2015 08:49 PM by Michael

July 28, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

N.Tran Bakery and a day out in Prahran

I had a fun trip to Prahran with a friend last week.  Carmen had invited me to along to a library session on Twitter.  The day was looking promising when we found a parking spot easily.  That is quite an achievement around Chapel Street.

The information session was interesting and makes me think maybe I will open a Twitter account when I have some time.  Though perhaps the most fascinating moments were when an old guy on roller blades turned up at the doorway of the session just to watch and looking at the swastikas in the library tiles on the way out.  (The building was no doubt built before Hitler sullied the swastika.)

We enjoyed looking up at all the wonderful old buildings.  And browsing in some of the shops beneath.

I enjoyed checking out some street art nearby.  It is great to get out in a different part of Melbourne from my usual inner North. 

Then we had lunch at N.Tran Bakery.  I had the vegetarian salad roll with tofu (banh mi).  It was freshly made and filled with lovely vegies and tasty slices of tofu.  My only regret was that I ordered the standard salad and didn't think to ask for some beetroot in it.  Carmen had the rice paper rolls which were huge.

We had been lucky to order before the rush arrived but as we ate in store we were amazed that it got quite busy.  We paid Prahran prices ($7) but it was a really good lunch.  Satisfied we got in the car to go home and got terribly lost when we missed a turn and found ourselves exploring many no through roads by Southbank.  Luckily we were happy to chat as we drove - or perhaps this was why we got lost in the first place.  Next time we will listen to the GPS.

N.Tran Bakery
263 Chapel Street, Prahran
03 9525 0889

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Posted July 28, 2015 11:34 AM by Johanna GGG

Thoughts Of A Moni

Queen Victoria Winter Night Markets

During winter, whilst most Melbournians are hidden away indoors in the warmth, in their ugg boots on the couch with a mug of hot chocolate, those of us willing to brave the elements are in for a treat. For the fourth year running, every Wednesday night until August 26, the Queen Victoria Market comes alive for the Winter Night Markets. While night markets in Australia are usually synonymous with summer, sangria and live music, The Queen Vic winter night markets borrow a bit of inspiration from the European Christmas night markets and then put a quintessentially Melbourne slant on them.

The weather may be cold and inclement outdoors, but once you are under the canopy of the market, a beautiful warmth embraces you. There are open pit fires lit up across the market, and everywhere people are huddled around them eating their delicious treats. The fires are cordoned off so there is no fear of falling in!

There are lots of little stalls set up with everything from tarot cards and fortune telling, ecologically friendly soaps, knitted scarves and beanies, all the way to some typically Melbourne artwork. There was also a very cool roaming silent disco which involved a big pack of people dancing around the market with headphones on! I was very tempted to join them!

My eyes were firmly on the prize though, and I quickly made my way to all the food stalls to decide what I should eat.

Food is an integral part of the markets and there is plenty of variety on offer. There is everything from soup, to skewers, to a pop up 400 Gradi stand making pizzas! I made sure to remember that my stomach had a limited capacity and carefully made my choices for the night.

The first thing we tried was a hot apple cider. This had been recommended to me earlier in the week, so I knew that I had to tick this off my list. Think of apple pie in liquid form, and you will have the flavour of this hot apple cider. It was delicious with strong overtones of those typically winter spices in cinnamon and cloves. The drink was served with a little cinnamon donut as a garnish and together they proved to be the perfect start to the night.

We then moved on to the entrees. Our initial plan was to have skewers, a vegetable skewer for me and a chicken skewer for the other half, but unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?!) the Poppy's Thai stall had run out of vegetable skewers. The other half had a chicken skewer, which he said was delicious, and instead I lined up and got myself some cassava chips from the Mr. Cassava van. The last time I had cassava chips was in the Amazon jungle in an eco lodge, so I held them in pretty high regard, but luckily Mr. Cassava came through with the goods. These chips were just as good as I remembered them to be, a marginally denser texture than normal potato chips and with a slight earthy taste. Unfortunately, I was too eager to eat them, and forgot to take a photo of them, so you’re just going to have to trust me when I say that the serve was very generous for a snack portion.

Next we moved to mains. Again, via another recommendation, I had heard rave reviews about The Little Mushroom Co so I decided a burger from here was necessary. With a choice of quite a few burgers, I settled on the Ultra Mexican Mushroom Burger. I’m not sure how much of the burger was Mexican, let alone ultra Mexican, but it was definitely ultra tasty. There was a big portabello mushroom, a generous slice of haloumi, some spicy chipotle mayo, balsamic, and parmesan all served in a ciabatta bun. It was a great burger and made me realise that I could easily replicate this at home! My only criticism was that it was a touch on the small side but other than that there were no complaints.

I probably could have eaten more, and there were a fair few other stalls that caught my eye, but I forced myself to exercise restraint and didn’t eat any more. At least it gives me an excuse to go back another night!

Posted July 28, 2015 09:15 AM by Moni

July 27, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Pear & caramel icecream

July 18-19, 2015

Last week I enthusiastically renewed our vege box order with CERES.... except that I actually ordered an all-fruit box instead of a mixed fruit & veg box. We were beset by multitudes of bananas, apples, kiwi fruits, oranges and grapefruit, more than a dozen mandarins, a couple of limes and four pears. We've been working through them - stirring the limes into creme fraiche for sweet potato wedges, packing apples into our bags for work and punctuating our days at home with mandarin peeling. I made a big batch of rice pudding to enjoy with the kiwi fruits and some apple & walnut pancakes once, too. The bananas are only just ripe now.

Three of the four pears went into this David Lebovitz icecream recipe, prepared for dessert when we had some friends over. They're cooked in caramel, blended smooth, then strained and churned into a rich, velvety scoop. The caramel procedure, which I've used for salted caramel icecreams, always gets me nervous - it teeters on burning in some spots while others wait their turn to melt. The flavour in the mixture stayed just on the right side of bitter and mellowed out a lot during churning and freezing. The pear ended up playing subtle too - sweet and fruity pre-churn, later forming flecks of texture and leaving just a whisper of flavour. It was rather upstaged by the excellent chocolate self-saucing pudding that one of our guests brought, and we've made a point of eating the leftovers without that kind of delicious distraction.

The most striking feature of this dessert was the 48% milk fat cream that I used. It made for a rich, languorous icecream that was easy to scoop and didn't melt, even after half a hour of sitting at the table, waiting for us to serve seconds.

Pear & caramel icecream
(a recipe from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop)

3 medium-sized ripe pears
3/4 cup castor sugar
500mL heavy cream
pinch of salt
a squeeze of lemon juice

Peel the pears and remove their cores. Dice them up finely.

Place the sugar in a medium saucepan and set it over consistent medium heat. Given enough time, the sugar will liquefy and turn brown. You can use a wooden spoon to gently shift the unmelted sugar towards the heat.

When the sugar has entirely melted to amber caramel, add the pears. A bunch of the caramel will seize up around the pears, but don't worry about it - just keep stirring the pears into the caramel and allowing the sugar to melt back down. Let it all to cook, stirring regularly, for about 10-15 minutes, until the pear is tender.

Turn off the heat and add the cream - just a couple of tablespoons to start, and then bigger and bigger portions until it's all well mixed. Stir in the salt and lemon juice. Refrigerate the mixture until it's very cold, preferably overnight.

When the mixture is very cold, use a stick blender to puree the pears until they're as smooth as possible. Strain the mixture to make sure the worst fibrous bits are out. Churn the smooth icecream mixture an icecream maker and freeze it for at least 4 hours before serving.

Posted July 27, 2015 04:09 PM by Cindy

quinces and kale

lievita – pizza al taglio


Pizza by the slice is a common occurrence in the USA and Italy, but I haven’t seen it in more than a couple of places in Melbourne.

Lievita in Northcote offers pizza by the slice but takes it a step further than the USA by allowing you to choose how big or small you’d like the piece to be.  They use scissors to cut off the size you want and you pay by weight. It costs $35 per kilo, which translates to a very reasonable $10 for a piece roughly the size of a small pizza.

The joy is that you get to try small pieces, rather than just one whole pizza. For a single food committment phobe like me it is the equivalent of pizza degustation. There is no problem choosing which pizza to buy, you can have it all.  It also has the advantage you can buy as much as you need, rather than a set size.

I chose the Marinara – Roman style with tomato, garlic, chilli and parsley and also a slice with cooked onions, olives and oregano on a tomato base. Both were excellent.

On a subsequent visit I sampled the zucchini pizza which is just topped with grated zucchini and garlic. It was also delicious. Unfortunately I didn’t photograph it.

My son alerted me to the existence of Lievita and he tells me that he asked them what was the smallest slice they have cut, and they told him it was 2cm wide. So there is plenty of scope for trying several. :)

You can have it heated up there, you can sit down at a few tables, but I think it is perfect for on the run, or to take home.

There are five vegan pizzas on the menu. They don’t have all the pizzas made at any given time, but when I went they had five made, two of which were vegan. It is probably a good idea to check if the pizzas they have made at any given time are the vegan ones.

I took mine cold and heated it up in the oven myself.  It is crispy and delicious, and while it is not quite as good as a freshly cooked pizza, it is still very, very good.

This is probably going to become a regular stop on my way home on a Friday night.

298 High St,
Northcote, 3070
9489 9498

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Posted July 27, 2015 10:00 AM

July 26, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Chocolate coconut nirvana slice

So according to The Age newspaper, Melbourne is the world capital of food allergies.  I can confirm that this makes contributing food to social gatherings challenging.  My nieces and nephews present a challenging picture.  We now have a dairy allergy as well as vegetarian, peanut allergy, and celiac (as well as general nut allergies on the other side of the world).  So when we gathered for my brother's birthday on the weekend I decided I would make something sweet to please everyone but it seemed my energy levels weren't quite up to it.

I am still dealing with too many photos cluttering up my hard drive, spending evenings doing silly things like looking for a car key only to find it had fallen in a shoe, and testing recipes that have been labelled by Sylvia as 'too vegany'.  So I decided I would make something on Saturday morning before her gymnastics class.  However upon checking my recipe for home made soy condensed milk I found that it would take a good hour plus need cooling time.  By the time I read this, I had started making condensed milk with coconut for a nirvana slice.

It all got too much and I opened a tin of dairy condensed milk so that I could get the slice cooked in time.  It was still warm when I loaded it into the car.  We arrived at my parents' place after everyone else had eaten lunch and were ready for the birthday cake.  We were too ravenous to be polite and wait til the cake was over to eat our dinner.  It was so chaotic that I never took out my camera until slice had been served and some leftovers had been given to other members of the family.

I really liked this slice though I agree with Sylvia that the almonds were not so successful in it.  It was similar to this one and this one.  I would like to try it again with home made condensed milk.  Then it would be both gluten free and vegan.

The recipe on Gluten Free Goddess called for biscuit crumbs.  I happened to have a 65g packet of Freelicious tea biscuits and used ground up corn cakes for the rest of the bulk.  I quite like the sound of the Nirvana bars at The Vegan Project that use ground almonds and oats instead of biscuits, and coconut milk and maple syrup instead of condensed milk.  Many more experiments are required.

And the coconut condensed milk I was making actually turned out really well.  I gave it to my sister whose little girl is having reaction to dairy.  Hopefully she will get some use out of it.  I am going to experiment more with it as I have a particular fondness for condensed milk in all forms.

I am sending this post to Carole's Food on Friday which is celebrating all things coconut this week.

More condensed milk recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Choc chip cookies
Chocolate caramel slice 
Creamy strawberry icy poles
Mock turtle slice
Vegan 'nutella' fudge

Chocolate coconut nirvana slice
Adapted from Gluten Free Goddess

1/2 cup butter or vegan margarine
1 1/2 cups gluten-free biscuit crumbs*
1 generous cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup coconut (I used dessicated)*
1 cup almonds, chopped and roasted
1 x 400g tin (about 1 cup) condensed milk*

Preheat oven to 180 C and line a swiss roll tin with baking paper.  Melt butter and pour into prepared tin.  Spoon over biscuit crumbs, mix with butter and pat with the back of a spoon to evenly cover the pan.  Scatter with nuts, coconut and chocolate.  Pour condensed milk over the rest of the ingredients.  I stirred them a little to make sure they were mixed.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until puffed and golden brown on top.  Cool in tray and then cut into squares or bars.

*NOTES: I used a mixture of ground tea biscuits and corn cakes for the biscuit crumbs (nb in America these are called cookie crumbs).  I used dairy condensed milk but the Gluten Free Goddess made it with coconut condensed milk so I am sure a vegan one would work here too.  I hope to try it some day.  The Gluten Free Goddess called for coconut flakes but I only had dessicated coconut - will try it with flakes when I have some.

On the Stereo:
Reading, Writing and Arithmetic: The Sundays

Posted July 26, 2015 10:55 PM by Johanna GGG


Many Weeks In Review

Here’s another heavily belated ‘week in review’… the last one I did was many weeks ago. Up there we have another thwarted attempt to break out a game. My sister has moved house and now lives about an hour drive out of Melbourne. So much green and awesome views: Noticing lots of these at the...
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Posted July 26, 2015 07:38 PM

July 25, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

David Chang's Brussels sprouts

July 19, 2015

When I got all excited over Brussels sprouts last week, there was another recipe I took a good look at. This one was developed by David Chang of Momofuku fame, and enthusiastically endorsed by The Amateur Gourmet. It's certainly not your standard sprout treatment, involving a fish sauce-based dressing and crunchy sprinkle of puffed rice and shichimi togarashi. We got ourselves organised to make this for dinner with friends on Sunday night.

While these were happily gobbled up by all at the table (including a Brussels sprout first-timer!), they were not everything I'd hoped for. Half an hour in a very hot oven rendered the sprouts near-burnt on the outside and pretty mushy within. I prefer a bit more bite, and will remember to limit their baking to a quarter hour in future. The butter tossed through the sprouts right after baking softened all the crispiness out of their outer leaves and isn't needed at all. Finally, as a shichimi togarashi lover, a quarter teaspoon is nowhere near enough!

I reckon there's something really, really good here worth pursuing, but it'll take me a couple more iterations to find my favoured version.

David Chang's Brussels sprouts
(adapted slightly from a recipe on epicurious,
found on The Amateur Gourmet)

roasted sprouts
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
900g Brussels sprouts, sliced in half lengthways
2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup vegan fish sauce
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons mint, finely chopped
2 tablespoons coriander stems, finely chopped
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 small red chilli, sliced into circles

crunchy sprinkle
1/2 cup puffed rice
1/4 teaspoon shichimi togarashi
mint and coriander leaves, to garnish

Preheat at oven to 230°C. 

Divide the oil between two baking trays, using the flat side of a sprout to spread it out evenly. Arrange all of the sprouts cut-side-down across the two tray. Bake them for 30 minutes, until they're well browned and crispy on the outside.

While the sprouts are roasting, whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a small-medium bowl.

Spray a small frypan with oil and set it over medium-high heat. Add in the puffed rice and shichimi togarashi and stir-fry them until they start smelling good. Turn off the heat and set them aside.

When the Brussels sprouts have finished roasting, transfer them to a heat-proof serving bowl. Add the butter and 1/4 cup of the dressing and stirring them through as the butter melts, to evenly coat the sprouts. Sprinkle over the puffed rice and garnishes, and serve with the remaining dressing on the side.

Posted July 25, 2015 09:25 AM by Cindy

July 23, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Vegan fish sauce

July 18, 2015

Fish sauce probably doesn't rank up there with bacon and salami as an animal product that veg*ns desperately miss the flavour of. Nevertheless, it does pop up in recipes that otherwise look delicious and veg-friendly. I came across one such recipe this week and rapidly turned up a vegan fish sauce substitute to try it out with.

The sauce recipe uses wakame (I substituted dulse flakes) and mushroom 'oyster' sauce for a taste of the sea, plus garlic and miso for extra umami. Everything's boiled down to a barely-palatable concentrate. I'm not confident that it resembles fish sauce, precisely, but it certainly has pungency in common with its namesake!

Vegan fish sauce
(adapted slightly from a recipe on The Kitchn)

1 tablespoon dulse flakes
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons peppercorns
3 cups water
1/2 cup mushroom 'oyster' sauce
2 teaspoons miso

Place the dulse flakes, garlic, peppercorns and water in a saucepan and bring them to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer them for 20 minutes. Strain the liquid, discarding the solids and returning the liquid to the saucepan. Add the 'oyster' sauce and boil it down until it's reduced by half, about 40 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the miso. Store the sauce in the fridge.

Posted July 23, 2015 02:05 PM by Cindy

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Catch up eating out 2014-2015

It is an embarrassingly long time since I last shared a catch up of random photos of cafes for which I haven't had time to write a full post.  It seems my computer is full up with photos so it seems a good opportunity to dig deep into the shadows (and my memory) and bring some of these old photos into the light. 

These cafes are either places I wanted more visits before I write about it, places I have already written about or places for which I didn't have much information or time for a full post. 

It is so long since I did a catch up that this meal from the Cornershop (9 Ballarat St, Yarraville) was from summer in 2013-2014.  I quite liked the zucchini and mint fritters with cumin yoghurt, sumac and pinenuts.  Sylvia had hand cut potato chips which were really good.  It was a really lovely space to eat in but my memories are a bit blurry.

I love visiting bakeries and have so many photos that here is a collage of some of the great baking I have been eating. 
  • Far left and far right middle: The chocolate muffin from Green Refectory Cafe (Sydney Rd Brunswick) was amazingly good and I also really liked the pie but can't find any notes of what was in it.  
  • Middle top: Yummy tofu and pumpkin pie from Melbourne University food cooperative.
  • Middle bottom: Vanilla slice from O'Hea's Bakery (203-205 O'Hea St, Coburg).  I have friends who swear this is the best vanilla slice.  It was a bit rich for me but pretty good.
  • Far right top: Pumpkin and polenta muffin from Sugardough (Lygon Street, Brunswick).  I just love their savoury muffins either on the go or in the cafe with a good book.
  • Far right bottom: Cheese, spinach and sundried tomato muffin with pepper from Dench Bakery (109 Scotchmer St, Fitzroy North).  Another delicious savoury muffin. 

This mint and chocolate ice cream from Brunettis (Lygon St, Carlton) was enjoyed in summer,  That seems a long long time ago.  If memory serves me right, it was actually for Sylvia but I can't remember the occasion.

A recent meal was this cauliflower. tomato and mushroom soup at the Brunswick Flour Mill (341 Sydney Rd., Brunswick).  I really liked the wooden table and chairs with old advertisements on the walls.  This cafe has lots of bakery pies and cakes as well as a cafe menu.  I really loved this soup and would return to try other food.

I went to a birthday dinner at the Clarendon Hotel (378 Latrobe Terrace, Newtown) in Geelong back in 2014.  I enjoyed the vegetarian lasagna and the golden chips but it was your average pub grub rather than anything fancy.  It was a dark cold night and we were glad the kids could play in the indoor area and there was lots of room for us to sit.  However we had a long wait for dinner and I was surprised to find some of the kids has to wait ages, which meant tears and meltdowns. 

I went to New Day Rising (221D Blyth St, Brunswick East) recently for another of their amazing CLTs.  For the uninitiated, that is the coconut bacon, lettuce and tomato bagels.  It is such a cute tiny cafe and I enjoyed reading a magazine and gazing out the window while I ate but first I had to find a place to get cash because there is no EFTPOS or credit cards accepted there.

One of our regular places to see movies is the Cinema Nova.  Quite some time ago, E and I had a meal at the Cinema Nova Bar (380 Lygon Street, Carlton) before a movie.  I had the pizza with tomato and basil sauces.  I liked it but found that this criss cross of sauces looked good but was a bit much sauce for me.  The menu seemed quite snacky but upon checking the recent menu I would like to try it again because there are quite a few vegetarian options and it is so convenient.

Another long ago meal that has almost receded in the mists of time is this pumpkin soup at a cute little cafe in the city called Le Petite Bourke. It was ok but pretty light for lunch, even with a bread roll.  Sylvia had a croissant with cheese.  As I remember the vegetarian options were not extensive but I think the menu was fairly small anyway. 

On another trip to Cinema Nova, we had dinner at Sea Salt (364 Lygon St, Carlton) before the movie. While this is fancier than the traditional fish and chip shop, I like that there is the option of burgers and sushi for vegetarians.  I had a vegetarian burger with chips and it was great.  This was back in summer when we could sit outside on a balmy evening and chat to other people at the communal table.

When the Emporium shopping centre opened in the CBD last year, E, Sylvia and I went to the food hall for lunch after a movie.  Because the centre was so new, a stall was giving away free green tea ice cream.  I can't remember where it was but the ice cream was really good and the colour was amazing.

I had the superfood salad at Miss Marmalade (126 Union St, Brunswick) when I had lunch there with my mum last August.  This is the time of year when I feel the lack of seasonal fresh fruit and vegies.  So I really loved this fresh hearty healthy salad of quinoa, lentils, barley, greens, almonds on yoghurt flatbread with harissa, truffle pecorino, white bean hummus and pomegranate.  It is a really beautiful cafe and I was surprised to see that the back room was very child friendly with books and toys.

We haven't been to Batman Market (Gafney St, Coburg) for ages but last year we went there and I really enjoyed the broad bean pea arancini with cabbage salad.  Meanwhile Sylvia and E were more excited to eat a cronut.  We must go back and check how the market is going.

I am always on the look out for a good vegetarian pho.  This one at CERES Merri Table Cafe (East Brunswick) was nice but quite light on vegies. I had been tossing up between the pho and the zucchini fritter sandwich.  I recently tried the sandwich and it was not that impressive.  However other foods that people around me have had there recently such as roast potatoes and Dr Marty's crumpets have been really good.  I also really like their little sweet snacks for kids such as the chocolate covered dried banana that Sylvia enjoyed.  However I prefer a pie at the market cafe and I long for them to open the cafe by the old train that closed over a year ago for refurbishment.

Lastly I was really impressed by this pancake about a year ago at what I thought was from St Ali North (815 Nicholson St, Carlton North).  I had gone to meet a friend and found I got my times confused so instead I went to read the paper and enjoy these pancakes with rhubarb, meringues, and pistachio.  (I didn't take notes of the actual name).  However when I thought about returning there another time it was named Green Park.  

So maybe others don't have the chance to eat this lovely pancake again.  However it was so pretty and delicious that I still want to share.  And note in the photo that at the time, The Age newspaper was featuring the shame of our refugee situation.  It seems that things have only got worse since then.  But politics aside, I am truly spoiled to live in a town that offers so much good food that I can't keep up with the places I visit.

NOTE: there aren't many vegan meals here as they were featured in my Vegan eating out in Melbourne post late last year.  I also have other places that I am still hoping to find time to write about!

Posted July 23, 2015 01:06 PM by Johanna GGG

Thoughts Of A Moni

Denis The Menace

Richmond is home to many of the big names in the breakfast playground with the big boys  like Top Paddock and Pillar of Salt dominating the scene, but there is a new kid on the block, who has set up shop off the beaten track and seems to have made quite a few friends already. Denis the Menace is a new cafe, which has opened up in the back streets of Cremorne (I still think of it as Richmond, but apparently the official address is Cremorne).

From the outside, the shop front looks a bit raggedy with a few glass tables set up in the front courtyard, but once you step inside you realise you've definitely made the right decision and sat with the cool kids. The venue has a refurbished warehouse feel with a high roof and exposed rafters. There are a mixture of tables – the standard tables with chairs around them, booths, and a large communal table. There are planters everywhere (including in the middle of the communal table!) with fresh herbs growing in them, and lots of fruiting cumquat trees!

With four of us having breakfast, we chose to sit in a booth and placed our drinks orders. Whilst everyone else at the table ordered coffees, I decided to deviate from the norm and went for a chai. The menu described the chai as being full of fresh aromatics, sweetened with honey and served with milk and I just couldn't resist.

The chai arrived in a cute little teapot, which we all admired, before I poured it into my cup. There was a distinct spicy aroma and I was instantly reminded of the chai wallahs, or tea sellers, that roam the Indian train stations. Whilst this chai wasn’t as good as the traditional Indian chai, it was definitely one of the better chais I’ve had in Melbourne. The general consensus around the table was that the coffees were also very good, so it was apparent that Denis takes his beverages seriously.

We then set about trying to choose our dishes for breakfast. We had a couple of muesli enthusiasts so they chose 'The One With The Muesli' and 'A Super Start.' Us remaining were not so keen on muesli, and instead wanted a hot breakfast. My usual option of fritters wasn't on the menu, so I decided to venture out of my comfort zone and have a dish entitled 'A Big Green Food Fight' whilst the other half had 'Something Fishy Is Going On Here.' As evident by the names of the dishes, the menu definitely tries to use humour and add a bit of character to their offerings! Another bonus was how clearly the menu was labelled for dietary requirements. There were options for vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, egg free, dairy free, nut free, meat free (I couldn't work out how this was different to vegetarian), no added sugar and even soya free. Looks like Denis was intent on keeping everyone happy!

The open kitchen combined with our clear view of the pass meant that we could see our meals being prepared as we sipped on our drinks and waited patiently.We didn’t have to wait long and our dishes were soon placed in front of us. The first thing we all noticed was how pretty everything looked! The mueslis were served in quirky enamel bowls and the egg dishes all look fresh and wholesome with bright colours dominating the white plates.

'The One With The Muesli' was a gluten free muesli dish (duh) served with coconut yogurt, vanilla and fruit. It came with a cute little bottle of milk of your choice.

'A Super Start' was more focused on the super foods and contained quinoa, chia seeds, goji berries and mulberries, all of which had been marinating in pear juice and coconut yogurt.

The general consensus from Team Muesli was that the coconut yogurt was the definite winner and there was immediate discussion about where before mentioned coconut yogurt could be purchased.

The first thing that struck me about 'Something Fishy is Going On Here' was how pretty the dish looked. The pink of the smoked trout contrasted beautifully with the greens of the vegetables to create a wonderfully elegant look. Upon a bed of pea puree was asparagus, avocado, spinach and red kale and paired with this was hot smoke trout. The dish was topped with a poached egg. In terms of taste it was declared fabulous with a particular mention being given to the pea puree which was full of flavour.

My breakfast, 'The Big Green Food Fight' was very different to anything I would normally order. To start with the dish was predominantly raw, but I was keen to try something different. My first impression was that my breakfast was indeed very green, but once I tasted it, there was a delicious flavour explosion in my mouth. The green came from a variety of elements including raw shredded kale, raw broccoli, chunks of avocado and crushed pistachios. These raw elements were brought together with buckwheat kernels, a liberal amount of chopped fresh chilli, lemon dressing and then topped with a couple of poached eggs. Whilst the dish sounds way too healthy, trust me when I say I was so surprised at how good it tasted.

And then we have the yolk porn test, this time with two eggs on two dishes. Both eggs oozed perfectly and the yolk sauce provided just the right accompaniment, especially on my green dish.

Denis the Menace proved to be a great choice for our weekend brunch. It's possible that Dennis is still new to the neighbourhood and hasn't made that many friends, which is why we could still get a seat without lining up, but trust me when I say that it’s only a matter of time before Dennis is the coolest kid in town. Get in early and ensure your spot at the cool table.

Click to add a blog post for Denis The Menace on Zomato

Posted July 23, 2015 09:30 AM by Moni

July 21, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Vegan bubble and squeak frittata - for leftovers!

After our Christmas in July dinner we had lots of leftover vegies.  I wanted to make bubble and squeak but I think my potatoes needed to be softer to hold it together.  Instead I decided on frittata.  I had eggs and cream in the fridge but decided I preferred to make it vegan.  It was a light and easy meal after a day of feasting. 

I had lots of roast potatoes, roast pumpkin, brussel sprouts and some roast garlic.  Unfortunately there was no nut roast leftover or I would have cut it into chunks and thrown it into the mix.  With hindsight I might have cut the roast vegies into smaller chunks but I think larger or small chunks work.  I also made some tofu bacon because a lot of bubble and squeak recipes seem to use ham.

I looked up recipes and found that The Simple Veganista had a Vegan Vegetable Frittata that was baked in the oven.  The mixture looked so similar to an omelette that I just looked up a tried and true omelette recipe and adapted that.  So the frittata was essentially an omelette baked over leftovers.  Which is a great solution for a whole range of leftovers.

I really enjoyed this frittata.  It was good honest food.  As it is dark and gloomy in the evenings I decided to save a piece to photograph in daylight the next morning.  However it was just too good and we ended up eating the leftovers before I got a chance.

I am sending this frittata to Healthy Vegan Fridays #56, Gluten Free Fridays #151Meat Free Mondays and No Waste Food Challenge.

More new life for leftovers on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
African curried coconut soup
Haggis neeps and tatties crepe stack
Peppers stuffed with white beans and kale
Pumpkin tomato and spinach pasta
Ricki's Toronto sandwich
Salad sandwich
Vegetarian bolognaise sauce

Vegan bubble and squeak frittata
An original Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe
serves 3-4

300g medium tofu, drained
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp mirin
6 tbsp besan (chickpea flour),
4 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
3 cloves of roasted garlic, peeled
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder (optional)
1/2 tsp sea salt 
pinch black salt
leftover roast vegies - about 3-4 cups
1/2 cup diced fried tofu bacon
sage leaves for garnish

Blend tofu, olive oil, mirin, besan, yeast flakes, roasted garlic, turmeric, papper, garlic powder, sea salt  and black salt in a blender until smooth.  Place the roast vegies in a 22cm pie dish and scatter tofu bacon over the vegies.  Pour tofu mixture over the vegies.  Arrange sage leaves over the top.  Bake about 25 to 30 minutes at 190 C.  Frittata should be golden brown on the edges and set in the middle.  Serve hot or cold.

On the Stereo:
Classic Folk Music from Smithonian Folkways: Various Artists

Posted July 21, 2015 11:27 AM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Kale & Brussels sprout salad

July 12, 2015

On our first fridge-stocking shop back home, I noticed that the Brussels sprouts were looking particularly good, each one balled up firmly with a clean green sheen. I didn't buy them on the spot but I did go home and flip through some recipes, mulling over how to use them. Of the options I came up with, Michael picked a kale and Brussels sprout Caesar slaw with pine nut "parm" from The First Mess.

Once he got past the pretty photos and actually started with the prep, Michael voiced some doubts. The kale and sprouts stay raw? I was hesitant too - these cruciferous veges (the original recipe includes cabbage too!) can be bitter and even tough. There's not a lot of sweetness to counteract them here, either. Instead, there's a thick sunflower seed-based dressing with a pungency that really did remind me of anchovies - I put it down to some combination of those seeds, the tahini and the garlic. The dressing goes some way to softening the texture of the finely shredded kale and sprouts.

The other toppings are more accessible - chickpeas stained rust-red with smoked paprika and a bright, crumbly parmesan cheese imitation. Though it's mostly made of pine nuts, it's the sesame seeds and lemon zest that brought out the best in the salty sprinkle.

This winter salad served as a light dinner one night, and we deconstructed the leftovers over a few meals more, eating the kale and sprouts with some Kentucky fried tofu and using leftover dressing to marinate some grilled tofu. It's definitely one for folks who already eat and love their greens - novices should stick to springtime snow peas and asparagus!

Kale & Brussels sprout salad
(slightly adapted from a recipe on The First Mess)

1/2 cup sunflower seeds
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
1/4 teaspoon tamari
2 teaspoons tahini
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon maple syrup
salt & pepper
1/4 cup water

smoky chickpeas
1 x 400g can chickpeas, drained
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon tamari
1/2 teaspoon maple syrup
salt & pepper

parmesan sprinkle
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
salt & pepper

1 large bunch kale
500g Brussels sprouts 

Cover the sunflower seeds with water and soak them for at least 2 hours.

When you're about half an hour away from wanting to eat, get to work with the rest of the salad. Preheat an oven to 200°C. In a small-medium bowl, stir together all the smoky chickpea ingredients. Line a baking tray with paper and spread the chickpeas out evenly across it. Bake the chickpeas for 20-30 minutes depending on whether you want them tender or chewy.

While the chickpeas are baking, throw the parmesan sprinkle ingredients into a spice grinder and blend them until they're well-mixed and crumbly.

Drain the sunflower seeds and place them in a spince grinder or blender. Add the remaining dressing ingredients and blend until smooth.

Shred the kale leaves and the Brussels sprouts very finely. Place them all in  a large salad bowl. Toss through half of the dressing. Sprinkle over the chickpeas and parmesan sprinkle, either in the bowl or over individual portions, and serve the remaining dressing on the side.

Posted July 21, 2015 08:09 AM by Cindy

July 20, 2015


Dinner At Transformer, Fitzroy

I visited Transformer for dinner about two weeks ago to catch up with a friend who was visiting from out of town. Located in Fitzroy near other popular vegan and vegetarian eateries, Transformer offers an elegant, mock-meat free vegetarian and vegan dining experience from the owners of Vegie Bar and Rice Queen. I was the first to arrive and...
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Posted July 20, 2015 04:55 PM

Vegetarian Life Australia

Vegan spinach and almond ricotta rolls

Sometimes an amazing recipe is created by taking an unintended path.

My desire to replicate a vegan version of feta cheese (I really, really miss Greek salads!) ended in me making what my family declared to be the best ricotta and spinach rolls they had ever eaten. It’s a bold statement I know, but they were pretty darn good!

My journey started with this recipe for vegan almond feta from One Green Planet. A great, simple recipe, but the cheese turned out much more like baked ricotta than feta. I don’t think I used enough salt and the texture was much softer than I wanted it to be.

I ate a bit of the cheese on some crackers which was nice, but there was no way that I could get through the whole round that way. After a couple of days of it sitting in the fridge I was determined to come up with a way to use it all up. The recipe I came up with was easy and really delicious.

I broke the almond ricotta into a bowl and mixed through 500g of chopped spinach (defrosted and drained) and approximately 3 generous tablespoons of Fifya’s amazing vegan basil, spinach and cashew pesto with salt and pepper and little lemon juice to taste. Note: This is a really wonderful vegan pesto that’s great in sandwiches, on pasta, with baked potatoes, etc – I highly recommend it.

I used ready made vegan puff pastry and generous dollops of the mixture to create rolls and triangles of varying sizes. A little soy milk brushed on the top of each roll helped them bake to a nice golden glow in about 20 minutes in a medium oven.

A single round of cheese and a box of frozen spinach made 8 small rolls, 2 triangles and a large family size roll. Plenty to last the week for school lunches and snacks. I never intended to make vegan ricotta cheese but it turned out to be a happy mistake after all.

Vegan baked almond ricotta ingredients

Vegan baked almond ricotta ingredients

Draining the cheese

Draining the cheese

Ready to bake

Ready to bake

Baked vegan almond ricotta cheese

Baked vegan almond ricotta cheese

Preparing the spinach and ricotta mixture

Preparing the spinach and ricotta mixture

Vegan spinach and almond ricotta rolls

Vegan spinach and almond ricotta rolls

Posted July 20, 2015 04:18 PM

Thoughts Of A Moni

Jimmy Grants

Souvlakis are usually associated with crazy nights out and satisfying 2am hunger cravings, but George Colombaris has managed to put a very different spin on things. With branches in Fitzroy and at the Emporium, Jimmy Grants now also has a branch in the usually quiet suburb of Ormond.

Set up like an American diner complete with 80's music playing in the background, Jimmy is quite the anomaly on an otherwise standard strip of shops along North Rd just before the Ormond station railway crossing. From the outside, you can see the neon lit Jimmy Grants sign and as you enter the large automatic sliding doors, you know you are in for a pretty cool experience. There are a series of booths down the left hand wall and because we had organised to have an early dinner, we were lucky enough to get one of these. There were quite a few diners who arrived later who were disappointed that they had to sit on the regular tables and chairs!

Normally you would assume that a souvlaki bar would have quite limited options for vegetarians, but Colombaris does a good job of making sure we are satisfied. There is a falafel souvlaki, a section on the menu dedicated to salads, lots of dips and pita bread, and what I must say are some of the greatest chips I have tasted.

What I have now learnt is a pretty common way for Greeks to serve chips, Jimmy Grants' chips come with garlic oil, oregano and the magic ingredient of crumbled feta. Full of flavour and the right amount of saltiness, these chips were definitely the highlight of our meal!

Obviously my souvlaki was the falafel one, called Homer. It involved a thick homestyle pita wrap which was filled with falafels, a fancy coleslaw and yogurt sauce. Whilst the souvlaki was definitely on the small side compared to many other souvlakis I've had, it was delicious, and most importantly had good structural integrity meaning that I didn't make a mess all over myself!

We decide to treat ourselves and have dessert. I had received a recommendation from a colleague to try the Greek doughnuts so we agreed to give them a go. Unfortunately these were the downfall of the night. The doughnuts were very dense and chewy and they definitely didn't have enough sweetness. They were drizzled in honey, but there was hardly enough. They were also topped with walnuts which had an odd smokey flavour that didn't work with the rest of the dish. Perhaps it would have benefited from some ice cream, because after all, ice cream makes everything taste better. The serving of the doughnuts was however generous, six big balls in the bowl, it was just a shame that it didn't taste better.

Overall it was a great night. It's nice to see that there are some cool eateries opening up in suburbs that aren't traditionally known for being foodie spots. It means that us suburbians can get good food without having to travel to far! Thanks Jimmy!

Click to add a blog post for Jimmy Grants Ormond on Zomato

Posted July 20, 2015 02:30 PM by Moni

quinces and kale

buffalo cauliflower bites with ranch dressing

buffalo cauliflower bites with ranch dressing

I went to a birthday party recently and the vegan finger food was just wonderful.  Most of it was made by a friend of the hosts and a couple of dishes in particular were standouts.  These cauliflower bites were probably my favourite and I came home on a mission to recreate them.

There are a large number of recipes for buffalo cauliflower around on the internet. I settled on this one with some variations, substituting fresh garlic instead of powdered and using some smoked paprika. I also used lime juice instead of the vinegar in the ranch dressing.

I spiced them up by using Sriracha instead of Frank’s Hot Sauce in the marinade. Sriracha is five times as hot as Frank’s, 2200 vs 450 Scoville units (the measure of chilli heat). I like chilli so it was fine for me.

They are delicious and completely moreish.


buffalo cauliflower bites with ranch dressing
prep time
15 mins
cook time
50 mins
total time
1 hour 5 mins
author: quincesandkale based on a food network recipe
recipe type: snack, finger food
cuisine: vegan
  • 800 grams of cauliflower cut into bite sized pieces
For the batter
  • ⅓ cup soy milk
  • ⅓ cup water
  • ½ cup plain flour
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • a large pinch of salt
For the Marinade
  • 2 tbsp vegan margarine or butter
  • 3 tbs sriracha hot sauce
For the Ranch dressing
  • ½ cup vegan mayo
  • ½ clove garlic crushed to a paste
  • 1 tbs soy milk
  • juice of half a lime or lemon
  • 1 tbs finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tbs finely chopped dill
  • salt to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 220 deg C
  2. Mix the batter ingredients together in a large bowl
  3. Fold in the cauliflower pieces so they are completely coated in the batter
  4. Lift the cauliflower pieces out of the bowl with a fork to drain any excess batter and place on a single layer on a tray lined with baking paper.
  5. Cook for 25 minutes
  6. Meanwhile mix the marinade ingredients together and melt the butter in a microwave or saucepan
  7. Add the cauliflower pieces to the marinade mix and fold to coat completely
  8. Return to the oven in a single layer on baking paper and cook for a further 25 minutes
  9. Make the ranch dressing by mixing all the ingredients together.
  10. Serve the bites with ranch dressing as a dipping sauce.



Posted July 20, 2015 10:00 AM

July 18, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Chocolate apple pikelets with blueberry sauce

It was the morning after our Christmas in July dinner.  I was finely grating apple for pikelets for breakfast and it was taking forever.  Sylvia was so hungry she was eating the apple peel.  She was playing houses and waiting for the bus (that would be me).  I was taking so long that she made an announcement that the bus was delayed.  I think this is a sign that even the kids have noticed that the public transport system is in disarray.  And that I need to buy a better grater because I want to make lots more of these pikelets.

I had been after something really simple because I was still tired after our big meal the day before.  These apple pikelets seemed to fit the bill.  Then I made them complicated.  It struck me that I could add some chocolate spread and a blueberry sauce to make them perfect to send to Choclette for her We Should Cocoa event which has blueberries as the theme this month.

I really like Choclette's monthly event and had been thinking of what I could make to combine chocolate and blueberries.  Decadent cheesecakes and layer cakes aren't my thing.  And I have already combined these flavours in cake, scones and cake pops.  Thank goodness for pancakes and pikelets.

These pikelets were a fairly healthy sort of snack low in refined sugar.  Though I say this warily as I have been reading lately about the low sugar myth.  And despite my love of chocolate, I will probably try these pikelets without the chocolate and apple sauce some time.

After breakfast we had a quiet day at home.  Sylvia curled up in her little 'house' in the corner of the loungeroom and found a children's baking cookbook that a friend had given her for her birthday years ago.  She now can read well enough to flick through the book and tell me all the things she wants to bake.  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, does it!

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Cuban Beer-Infused Black Beans
Two year ago: French lavender salt recipe
Three years ago: Irish No Knead Bread
Four years ago: Mulled wine and chocolate cake
Five years ago: Rhubarb and apple sponge pudding
Six years ago: Sour Skon
Seven years ago: Pumpkin, PC Stories and a Roast
Eight years ago: Full Moon Cupcakes

Chocolate apple pikelets with blueberry sauce
Adapted from Kid Magazine
Makes about 15 pikelets

1 cup self-raising flour
2 red apples, peeled and finely grated
2 tbsp chocolate spread
scant 1/2 cup milk
1 egg
butter or margarine to grease the frypan

Blueberry sauce:
125g blueberries
drizzle of maple syrup

Vanilla yoghurt to serve

To make the blueberry sauce, place blueberries and maple syrup in a small saucepan.  Simmer until blueberries are soft and syrupy.  Set aside to cool while you make the pikelets.

Mix flour, and apple in a medium mixing bowl.  Place the chocolate spread in the bottom of a small measuring jug and fill up to 1/2 cup with milk.  Stir the chocolate spread into the milk until combined.  Stir in the egg.  Pour the chocolate mixture into the apple and flour mixture.

Heat a frypan over medium heat and lightly grease with butter.  Drop dessertspoons of mixture onto the frypan.  Cook for a minute or so until a few bubbles appear and the mixture dries slightly.  Flip and cook until golden brown on both sides.  (I had to flip mine more than once on the first lot of pikelets).  Continue to cook pikelets until all the mixture is used.

Serve pikelets with blueberry sauce and vanilla yoghurt.

On the Stereo:
High Violet: The National

Posted July 18, 2015 02:57 PM by Johanna GGG

July 17, 2015


Krishna On Barkly, Footscray

Tonight I finally got to visit Krishna on Barkly, an Indian restaurant in West Footscray that have recently removed all meat from their menu. The menu now states “all food is egg and peanut free. Most curries can be made dairy free, please specify when ordering if you are vegan or are allergic to dairy...
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Posted July 17, 2015 11:03 PM

July 16, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Wang Wang Dumpling, Supercharger, craft and school holiday excursions

I look forward to the school holidays because it seems like that will be a break and then they are so crazy busy that I look forward to school going back because I think that life will be easier with Sylvia at school but it still doesn't slow down.

So here I am struggling to find time to blog because my photos need sorting because there are too many on my computer, my external hard drive is too full, I am doing some recipe testing for Leigh Drew and I have already had Sylvia home sick one day this term (which started on Monday).  And I just want time to listen to Jon Faine on the radio (after his 6 weeks leave) and read All the Bright Places which I am loving.  But let me squeeze in some time to write about some outings and craft sessions during the holidays.

Sylvia E and I saw the Minions movie at Melbourne Central.  It was lots of fun especially if you love 1960s Britain, as well as silliness.  Afterwards we went across the walkway for lunch at the Emporium.  I tried Supercharger for the second time.

Though others love Supercharger (Where's the Beef, Veganopoulous, The Good Hearted) I am still not won over.  I like that it is vegan and healthy.  However I find the menu overwhelming, the mixture of cold and hot dishes doesn't work for me and although I sort of enjoyed my meal in the holidays it was just too spicy.  I want to like it but I think I need to try other places in the food hall.  At least I was so full from the huge meal that I didn't need dessert because E and Sylvia chose frozen yoghurt, which is crazy in the current chilly Melbourne winter.

I have mentioned an outing to the city with Sylvia and her friends to the Immigration Museum.  They do such great craft sessions during the school holidays.  The session they went to was make your own pot plant.  It was probably just as well that we left them behind so we weren't carrying 5 paper pot plants through the city but they did look cute.

The kids then had a fun time at the museum with the replica ship, playing shipwrecks which seemed to involve carrying a drowned kid to a seat and then praying over them.  We also added some wishes to the wishing tree (top photo).

It was nice to see a few school friends at a NAIDOC craft session at our local neighbourhood house with a bonus playtime at the next door playground afterwards.  Sylvia asked if we could go back there next year.

After the NAIDOC session, we went into the library for a quick look at the books and a kindly librarian invited us to join in the craft session that was just starting.  She noticed the reluctant look on my face but by then Sylvia was racing towards the room.  There was no stopping her.  I usually love some craft but this was our third craft activity in two days.  Despite my craft fatigue, we had fun doing the CD animals.  I tried to make a green giraffe which actually looked more like a slug.  Sylvia made a cat and a whale.

Between the craft sessions we went to Wang Wang Dumpling for lunch.  It is the second time I have been there.  It seems odd to me that how this restaurant sits in the middle of a supermarket carpark.  It is convenient if nothing else.

Wang Wang Dumpling has no pretensions to be anything other than a suburban restaurant but it is friendly and clean with an extensive menu and delicious fried dumplings.  When we arrived there was a family group, a business meeting and a couple of friends.  I took the above photo after we had lingered and most of the lunchtime crowd had left.

The menu had a few vegetarian options such as fried rice, fried noodles, and Cindy mentioned they make their own noodles.  (See her review at Where's the Beef for the menu at the bottom of the post) I was there for a plate of dumplings.  However I was intrigued at the fried pumpkin cakes.  This sounded to me like the slices of pumpkin fried in batter that I get occasionally at a fish and chip shop.  Obviously this was my Anglo Celtic brain at work!

I was quite surprised that it was actually a fried pumpkin skin around a slightly sweet red bean filling.  I ate it with soy sauce but wasn't sure I should.  I was assured it was vegetarian but now wonder after a friend read me the ingredients of her red bean cakes which had lard in them.  If anyone knows about these pumpkin cakes, I would be interested to hear more.

Meanwhile Sylvia now can read enough to peruse the menu herself.  I was amused that she went straight to the drinks menu and ordered a strawberry milkshake.  It was huge and sweet but she seemed to enjoy it, even if she didn't get through it.

Then our vegetable dumplings arrived.  They were full of chopped vegies (carrot and cabbage?) and delicious.  Not quite up to ShanDong MaMa standard but I would return for more.  Sylvia had fun trying to work chopsticks and ate some dumpling skin.  It was a lovely meal though quite heavy with all the deep fried food.

Sylvia and I had a few other craft sessions.  She did some paper snowflakes at a holiday program so we made paper chains and snowflakes for our Christmas in July.  We also had a painting session early in the holidays when we were fresh.

I'd like to tell you more but I am off to try and sort out my photos.  Though the school holidays were busy, I really can't complain because we had lots of fun and we are lucky to live in a city that offers so much good food and great programs.

Wang Wang Dumpling
3/51 Waterfield St, Coburg
03 9354 0294

Click to add a blog post for Wang Wang Dumpling on Zomato

Posted July 16, 2015 10:46 AM by Johanna GGG

July 15, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Kuala Lumpur

June 28-30 & July 8-9, 2015

Our travels in Vietnam were bookended with a bit of time in Kuala Lumpur, a city we previously visited in 2010. This time round we had friends in residence, and they guided us to drinks by a 33rd floor pool on our arrival, followed by banana leaf curries for dinner. If memory serves, the dinner venue was Devi's Corner. Their full menu included a range of mock meats and vege curries, but sadly these were unavailable when we turned up late on a Sunday night. It's a good thing their basic vege plate is so impressive! We were treated to mountains of rice, as much dahl as we could handle, chilli pickles, milky cucumber chunks and an irresistible pink fry-up that we think was bitter melon (though it wasn't actually bitter at all, more sweet and silky like eggplant). While many other diners ate their meals adeptly with their hands, we were grateful for the cutlery available at the table. I was also pleased by the lime barley drink recommended by my friend, almost like a tangy bubble tea with its chewy grains.

In a third episode of lucky accommodation location, we were within walking distance of Blue Boy, a food court that caught our fancy those five years ago. I couldn't stomach fried food so early in the day but Michael and Clamps gave it a good go. Between them they put away a nasi lemak, fried noodle, kopi o ais, and a bowl of assorted battered veges - it all lived up to Michael's fond memories. Only one staff member was proficient in English during Blue Boy's quiet morning rotation; his assistance, accompanied by a bit of pointing, served us just fine given the all-vegetarian options. (Note that there is egg and dairy here though!)

After exploring the Islamic Arts Museum (see a few light, airy photos in the slideshow at the end of this post), we wandered Chinatown seeking lunch. Plan A failed but the Happy Cow website on my local friend's data-enabled phone turned up a fine Plan B in Wan Fo Yuan. It was a little smoky and claustrophobic but provided a revolving tabletop of fine mock meats, which we'd picked from pastel-coloured albums of over-exposed photos. We disagreed whether the pepper fish, claypot or spicy beans, eggplant and okra were best... that is, until the satay sticks came out. Friends, they were THE BEST.

We hit Brickfields for our second dinner, seeking a veg*n Indian meal. I didn't realise we'd been to Gopala before, and was overwhelmed all over again by the 150 items on their menu. Michael and Clamps ordered up big, sampling roti canai, mushroom "65" (more pink batter!) and two kinds of fried rice. My paneer butter masala was specially recommended by the staff but only so-so, in spite of some nice spices. I was way more into their orange lassi.

We circled back on veg Indian food for the final night of our holiday, recognising Sangeetha from the street. With another long menu, we couldn't help ordering large - Milo ice, lime mint cooler and a fiery ginger lemon cool, palak paneer, breads, and a spectacular triumvirate of mushroom masala dosa, chilli gobi fry and veg manchurian. It left no room for even looking at their neon-hued sweets cabinet.

Already nostalgic for cơm chay, Clamps sussed out a serve-yourself food court buffet for breakfast before check-out (though we don't know its name, it was located at street level next to the Ocean 77 Hotel on Petaling St). It was an omnivorous spread so Michael and Clamps picked through the options cautiously, nevertheless creating sizable plates of food.

Instead, I settled on a couple of fried sweets from a nearby market stall.

Our final KL shout-out must go to Be Lohas, an organic health-centred vegetarian cafe located in the airport (level 2, KLIA 2 - outside security). Twice we fueled up there while waiting to board a plane. Their mini hot dogs and soy cheese toast fingers were as delightful as their larger meals were satisfying - Clamps was very nearly defeated by his claypot with noodles! While their dishes had a distinctly macrobiotic edge, they weren't short on flavour - my avocado smoothie was the first one to taste more of the fruit than of sugar and Michael gushed about his spicy soy milk laksa. I stretched out my Ramadan-special nasi lemak for some time, browsing between the brown rice, crunchy coleslaw, and curried yuba, before finishing with fruit tea and a couple of dates.

Though we didn't spend as long exploring Kuala Lumpur as we did in Vietnam we enjoyed the city's distinctly different approach to veg*n eating. The thick sauces and curry noodles even suit the Melbourne winter we've returned to.

Posted July 15, 2015 08:04 PM by Cindy

Thoughts Of A Moni

Mexican Style Bean Stew/Sauce

We have introduced a food initiative at work, entitled Foodies Day. Foodies Day was pioneered by two engineers who aren't known for their creativity, hence the super creative name, but these two engineers are known for their love of food. The concept was this: once a month, everyone in the office pitches in $5 or $10 (depending on the requirements). We collate all the money and go and get food to share for lunch. Sounds simple I know, but it ended up turning into an elaborate affair.

There were lots of requests for cuisines, namely Indian, Thai, dumplings, kebabs, and so on, so we had to create a voting system. Then we decided to take it one step further, and see if we could host a build your own burrito lunch! We brought in all the fillings, including a slow cooker with chicken mince sauce and a big pot of vegetarian chilli, heated up tortillas in the microwave and set up a production line! It was a huge hit!

The Mexican foodies day made it apparent that home cooked food was even more appreciated than takeaway, so we decided to do another home cooked foodies day last week. This time the theme was baked potatoes. Once again we had the slow cooker to cook the potatoes (my colleague came in at 7am so that the potatoes could cook for 5 hours!), then we had all the usual toppings of butter, cheese, coleslaw, sour cream, caramelised onion, bacon and guacamole. I did decide however to mix it up a bit and bring in a Mexican style bean sauce. I didn’t make much of it, thinking that most people wouldn’t be interested, but it turned out to be a huge hit, so much so that the bowl was scraped clean!

I ended up making another pot of it on Saturday night for dinner, and served it up in burritos which worked just as well. Everyone was asking for the recipe, so to prevent me repeating the recipe too many times, I’ve decided to blog it!

Kidney Bean Stew/Sauce

Serves 2 (generously)


1 can of kidney beans (or you can use 4 bean mix for some variety)
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed or chopped finely
½ large capsicum, diced
1 small tomato, diced
½ jar salsa/enchilada sauce (about 100ml)
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
Chilli powder to taste
Salt to taste


1.  Heat some oil in a pan and fry the onion and garlic for a few minutes.

2.  Add the capsicum, and fry off a little more. (At this time you can also add in fresh chilli if you like it hot!)

3.  Add in diced tomato, kidney beans, enchilada sauce Mix through thoroughly. The mixture should be a thin saucy consistency. If it is too thick, add in more tomato, salsa or water.

4.  Add in the cumin powder, coriander powder, chilli powder and salt. Stir through and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and leave it to simmer for as long as you can. I simmered for an hour when I made it for foodies day, but I have simmered for up to 3 hours. Just depends on how much time you have.

5.  Check on the pot occasionally and stir. If it starts to dry up and stick to the bottom, add some water.

6.  Once done, you can garnish with chives, fresh coriander or spring onion. I had none of these so I didn’t bother, but all or some of these herbs add to the flavour (fresh coriander is my favourite).

7.  Serve with burritos, tacos, rice, or baked potatoes!

If you have any other ideas for our office Foodies Day please let me know! We're always looking for ways to make it more exciting!

Posted July 15, 2015 02:30 PM by Moni

July 13, 2015


Product Review: Everything Gardein

Gardein products finally made it to Australia in June. Hurrah! I’ve seen so many Gardein recipes and pictures from favourite bloggers based in North America and it’s awesome that Gardein are now available for Australians to join in the fun. I was lucky to receive three samples for review. Many thanks to Plant Based Foods for sending...
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Posted July 13, 2015 05:40 PM

Vegetarian Life Australia

Red lentil coconut dahl

Cold wintry nights call for deliciously spicy comfort food. Bring on the red lentil dahl!

I make a few types of dahl with different lentil varieties and added vegetables. Each one has it’s own unique flavour combination. I also find that the depth and heat of the spice can vary significantly depending on the blends I have to hand. Garam masala is one of my favourite Indian ingredients but the spices included in the blend vary and brands can taste very different from one another. It’s always a good idea to check the heat and flavour as the lentils are cooking, giving you the chance to add a bit more spice, lemon or coconut if it’s not quite to your liking.


  • 250 gm red lentils (washed and picked through for small stones)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 400g can light coconut milk
  • 200ml water
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp chopped ginger
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Fresh coriander


  1. Saute the chopped garlic and onion in a little olive oil until translucent.
  2. Add the dry dry spices and cook for another minute then add the chopped ginger.
  3. Add the tomatoes and mix through to create a paste.
  4. Add the lentils, coconut milk and water and mix everything together. Bring to a simmer and cook with the lid on until the lentils are cooked. This will take approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure the dahl isn’t sticking and add extra water if needed.
  5. Towards the end of the cooking time stir through the lemon juice.
  6. Don’t forget to taste the dahl and adjust the spice or acidity as required.
  7. Serve with rice and fresh coriander.
Dahl ingredients

Dahl ingredients

Dahl cooking

Dahl cooking

Red lentil coconut dahl with rice, samosas and salad

Red lentil coconut dahl with rice, samosas and salad

Posted July 13, 2015 11:45 AM

quinces and kale

gardein arrives in australia


Social media has gone nuts with the arrival of nine varieties of Gardein mock meats in Australia.

I bought seven of those varieties to taste. Fishless fillets, chicken scallopini, 7 grain crispy chicken tenders, Szechuan beef strips, mandarin orange crispy chicken, chicken sliders and teriyaki chicken strips. All the Gardein products are vegan. A couple are gluten free as well.

I know that lots of vegans and vegetarians don’t like even the idea of faux meats, particularly people who have never eaten meat. But for those of us who grew up with it, are vegans for ethical reasons and miss the texture and flavour, products like Gardein are a treat. They are also great for people making a transition to being vegan or meat eaters who think they can’t give up meat.

So far, I’ve tried the crispy tenders that make a great chicken parma sandwich, and also the fishless fillets that bear an uncanny resemblance to fish in both taste and texture. Last night I tried the sliders. The burgers in those are great but the buns are too soft and sweet for my liking so I took the burgers out and ate them on sourdough bread. Call me a yuppie, but I like my junk food stylish.

I’ve yet to try the others but I have to say, on the evidence so far, this is very convincing mock meat, both in texture and taste.

I’ve already bought some more of the fishless fillets. They are great for an easy fish and chip night with some tartare sauce. Hand me a pickled onion.

Gardein is available quite widely, I’ve bought them from Prahran Convenience and Smith & Deli. They are also available at Manna Fresh in Essendon and a number of IGA supermarkets. It is nice to see vegan food going mainstream.

Posted July 13, 2015 10:00 AM

July 12, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Stuffed nut roast for Christmas in July dinner party

As a lover of nut roasts, I sit up and listen when someone else tells me they have a favourite nut roast they have been making for over 25 years.  So when Kate of The Gluten Free Alchemist posted a favourite Stuffed Cashew Nut Roast I couldn't wait to try it.  While they are perfect for Kate at Christmas, I waited until our winter to make a nut roast for the winter solstice and another for Christmas in July dinner party.

I have posted 31 nut roast recipes in the eight years that I have had this blog.  Yet in all this time I have two types of nut roasts that have lingered on my to do list.  The long list has not had one stuffed nut roast nor one nut roast in pastry.  This nut roast is rolled up like a roulade.  Roulades intimidate me.  Yet Kate was reassuring that it wasn't so hard.

Finally I summoned up the courage to try this nut roast for a winter solstice roast dinner.  It wasn't so hard and it tasted amazing.  We had it with roast (white and purple) potatoes, roast pumpkin, boiled brussel sprouts and gravy.  It was delicious.  Sylvia even had a little nut roast.

My main concern was that there wasn't so much of a swirl as was so clear in Kate's slices of nut roast.  However I agreed with her that it sliced up beautiful and tasted amazing when cold.  In fact for a bit of fun I made my own roast dinner sandwich with some leftovers.  The Home Alone sandwich at the new Smith and Deli vegan sandwich bar has wowed everyone with a vegan American roast dinner in a sandwich.  This is my Australian version: nut roast, roast potato, roast pumpkin, peas and gravy.

When I made the nut roast for the winter solstice, I was already thinking about a Christmas in July dinner party I had organised with a couple of families from Sylvia's school this weekend.  It seemed the perfect nut roast to serve.  I prefer tried and tested recipes when cooking a meal for others, especially one that looks and tastes impressive.

A couple of days before the lunch, Sylvia and I made paper chains and paper snowflakes.  Do you like her idea of sticking a snowflake on the lamp?  On the morning before everyone arrived we dug out a little plastic Christmas tree, cds and some other festive touches.  I set our kitchen table for the adults and had the children sitting around the little table.  Sylvia helped me lay out the cutlery and E did a last load of dishes.

I wasn't sure exactly how many people we would have, given some illness and the possibility of a couple of last minute guests.  By the time everyone arrived it was pouring rain in a most wintery fashion and we had 6 adults and 5 children.  All the food was prepared and just needed a bit of reheating, other than chopping up brussel sprouts. Benchtops were cleared and serving dishes were laid out.

The previous day I had made nut roast (up to the chilling stage), gravy, gingerbread biscuits and chopped up the potato and pumpkin for roasting.  My mum would sometimes put the vegies for roasting into water in advance when preparing large dinners so I did this overnight.  In the morning I roasted the vegies for about an hour, cooked the nut roast, made pizzas and put the gingerbread stars together into a Christmas tree. 

I had decided that the children would need feeding first so I had the candy cane pizzas ready when they arrived.  I had tried candy cane pizza last Christmas and it was not quite right.  This pizza looked better because I baked the pizza with the tomato sauce on it and only put the cheese on it in the last 5 minutes.  However when I tasted some leftover pizza later I thought it tasted a little on the doughy side, possibly due to me messing with a favourite pizza base recipe.  The kids seemed to enjoy it.  In fact they loved all the festive touches.

Meanwhile I was reheating the nut roast , gravy, roast potato and roast pumpkin while boiling the sprouts.  Naomi brought along a bottle of red wine and a lovely beetroot, feta and greens salad.  By the time the adults were settled down to the meal and the kids were just about finished and creating mayhem in Sylvia's bedroom.

Everyone loved the nut roast.  Quite a few guests had never had one before.  They were impressed and few of us had seconds.  There was only a small crusty piece remaining when we finished our meal.  The kids were too busy running about to taste any but I think they sampled some roast potatoes.

I didn't get any photos of the inside of the nut roast at the Christmas in July.  I had thought I might photograph the leftovers but there was nothing worth photographing.  So instead here is another picture of the inside of my first nut roast which looks far neater because it was sliced cold.  You can see a bit of a swirl.  I hoped for more swirl in the second but I don't think it was any more obvious.

Swirl or no swirl, it was an excellent nut roast and you don't just need to take my word for it.  E thought it more cheesy than many of my nut roasts.  Being baked like a roulade meant it had more crispy edges and it is not too stodgy with the carrot filling.

For dessert Kerin brought over a tray of apple rose tarts.  They looked so gorgeous and were delicious with custard that I cooked up while they baked.  Sylvia was smitten with the custard but her friend said it tasted of nothing.  Kerin also brought along a bottle of Baileys Irish Cream which went very well with the tarts and warmed us in the dark wintery afternoon.

I had also made a gingerbread Christmas tree with my graded star cutters.  Sylvia had a lovely time helping to put this together and scattering cachou baubles over the tree.  I thought it would be a festive table decoration.  However Sylvia wanted it on the kids table and then it was removed from it while they ate pizza.  I was surprised that they kids demolished the tree, even with the gingerbread people that Kerin brought along.

We were pleased the skies cleared enough for the kids to run about outside while we had a cuppa.  Then it was time for everyone to find their coats and head home.  We did dishes and tidied up and then collapsed in front of the telly with some leftover pizza for dinner.

I am sending this post to Jac for Meatfree Mondays, Karen for Cooking with Herbs, and Michelle and Helen for Extra Veg.

More festive meals on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Christmas dinner for two with broccoli roulade
Festive vegetarian haggis wreath for New Year's Eve
Hubert the (vegetarian) hog’s head Christmas in July feast
Christmas day dinner with the family
Parsnip, cranberry and chestnut roast at Christmas dinner in Scotland 
A vegetarian Christmas dinner in Scotland
Winter solstice galettes and fruitcake

Stuffed cashew nut roast
Adapted from Kate at The Gluten Free Alchemist
Serves 6 - 10

1 to 2 tbsp neutral oil (I used rice bran oil)
1 leek, diced
170g (about 2-3 medium) carrots, - peeled and grated
85g ground walnuts* 
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
½ teaspoon dried sage
1 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper to taste

Outer layer:
225g raw cashew nuts,  finely ground
125g stale breadcrumbs*
125g grated vintage cheese*
1 handful fresh parsley, finely chopped*
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg yolk
140 ml (¼ pint) milk

Extra whole raw cashews to decorate

First make the stuffing.  Fry leek in the oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Add grated carrots and fry about 10 minutes until cooked through.  Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients.  Set aside to cool while you mix up the outer layer.

To make the outer layer mix all ingredients together to make a slightly sticky mixture.

Line a swiss roll tin with baking paper hanging over either long end.  Spread the outer layer over the base of the tin.  Then spread the cooled filling over the outer layer leaving about 2 cm on either long end.

Starting at the long end, use baking paper to assist you roll the nut roast up tightly.  It will be very fragile.  If there are any cracks, now is the best time to patch them up with your fingers.  Kate suggests smoothing over the seam where the rolling finishes but I find it easier to put the seam on the base.  Place cashews on top to decorate and wrap in baking paper.  Chill in fridge for at least an hour.  It can be made the day before and chilled overnight.

Unwrap from baking paper and bake on a tray for 45 minutes on 180 C or until golden brown.  (I turned my slow oven up to 200 C for half the time.)  Eat hot or cold.

  • Any breadcrumbs will do. I used sourdough breadcrumbs and Kate used gluten free breadcrumbs.  The first time I made this I used a mixture of gruyere and cheddar cheese. 
  •  The second time I made it I made my own breadcrumbs in the blender and put some fresh parsley in with it so it was chopped really fine, but this is not necessary.  
  • The first time I used some celery and all the leek but the second time I used the white part of the leek.
  • The first time I made it I had roasted garlic and added it to the outer layer which was great.  
  • I would always use cashews for the outer layer but am still experimenting with the middle layer.  Kate uses skinned hazelnuts but I have used walnuts and pecans and have thought about using blanched almonds.  
  • Kate spreads her filling on baking paper that is not in a tin but I find it easier to spread it on paper in a tin to determine the size.
Here are photos of making the nut roast - on the left are photos from the first time I made it and one the left are photos from the second time I made it:

On the Stereo:
White Christmas: Bing Crosby

Posted July 12, 2015 11:02 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City

June 30-July 1 & July 5-8, 2015

We spent the biggest chunk of our trip in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), split by the few cooler days we had in Đà Lạt. We stayed right in the heart of the backpacker district Pham Ngũ Lão at the wonderful (and affordable) Duc Vuong Hotel. This had a few upsides beyond the decent, air-conditioned rooms and ridiculously friendly staff - in particular the spectacular rooftop bar atop the hotel and the location, right in the thick of the city's densest cluster of vego restaurants.

The rooftop bar offered lovely views across the rooftops of the city, cold beer, an array of excellent smoothies, ludicrous multi-coloured cocktails and some very mediocre chips. We also sampled the deep-fried tofu (a bit bland) and eyed off the  mushroom dumplings all week, but never got around to ordering them. Next time.

We sat on the rooftop on our first evening in town scanning the Happy Cow app, puzzling over the vegan restaurant located 0.05 miles from where we were sitting. Somehow, on our initial explorations we'd walked straight past Saigon Vegan, which is literally directly across the road from the hotel.

It has a pretty straightforward selection of Vietnamese dishes - noodle soups like phở, rice dishes, hot pots, tofu dishes, salads and so on (mains 45,000-60,000VND ~ AU$2.80-$3.70). Somewhat unusually, it doesn't offer much in the way of mock meat. We grabbed some excellent lunchtime bánh mis one day (pictured above, centre right), stuffed with pate, tofu and sweet, onion-based veggie floss (25,000VND ~ AU$1.50 each). At other meals the lemongrass fried tofu (pictured top right) and the vermicelli with spring rolls (bottom left) were among the highlights. The main reason we kept going back though was for the Vietnamese iced coffees (top centre), a vegan version of the classic mix of drip coffee, condensed milk and ice (35,000VND ~ AU$2.15). It's a lovely spot to sit with a snack and a coffee and watch the hordes of pedestrians, cyclists and motorbikes on the teeming Bùi Vien.

Before we discovered Saigon Vegan, we stumbled onto Bee Saigon, a hotel and restaurant on a side street off Bùi Viện that has an eight-page vego section in the menu (20,000-40,000VND ~ AU$1.25-$2.50 per dish). Our lunch here was simple and successful - avocado salad, coconut fried rice, a bánh xèo and some vego spring rolls, plus a couple of (non-vegan) iced drinks. The food was decent and cheap, but probably didn't hit the heights of some of our later meals in the city.

Sen Quan Chay was another local option that we visited a handful of times, often starting the day with a quick stop at their bánh mi stand out the front to grab a quick second breakfast. These were probably my favourite rolls of the trip - a good hit of chilli, a mix of pâté, mock meat, noodles and salad on a fresh crunchy roll. The roast duck version at Trang is probably still superior, but at 16,000VND (~ AU$1), this is a damn good value snack. The sit-down restaurant is more impressive, with three levels and a mix of tables and traditional Vietnamese floor seating. We made a couple of lunch-time visits, exploring as much of the mock-meat heavy menu as we could (meals are between 40,000 & 65,000VND ~ AU$2.50-$4).

Cindy ordered the mango salad here and it was so good that we wound up ordering salads almost everywhere else we visited. The chicken wings were memorable, as were the ludicrously real-seeming grilled pork. The tofu-based mock egg in the braised pork hot-pot was intriguing as well. We broke the mock meat up with some rice and tofu dishes, but the mock and the salads were the stars.

As in Đà Lạt, we fell back on the food court at the market for the occasional cơm chay - a trusty and cheap way to eat a wonderful and varied lunch. We only found one veggie place at the Ben Thanh Market, but that was enough. The drink selection at this place was great - I had a dragon fruit juice, while Cindy spurned the jellyish noodle drinks in the cabinet for her first sugar can juice of the trip. Food-wise, you pay 40,000VND (AU$2.50) and they serve up a plate of rice with a selection of mock meat, veggies, pickles and condiments - these ones didn't quite measure up to the amazing lunches we had in Đà Lạt, but they were still probably the best value meal we had in HCMC.

We spent a later morning wandering around the Bin Thay Market in Cholon (Saigon/HCMC's Chinatown) and found a couple of intriguing little vego stalls in its food section, but we'd over-eaten at breakfast and couldn't justify another meal. It seems like a pretty safe bet though - if you're after a quick and cheap vego meal in Vietnam, just aim for the market food courts and explore. We also stumbled across a little restaurant and banh mi stall near the nearby Ha Chuong Hoi Quan Pagoda - there are very few vego restaurants listed on Happy Cow in Cholon, but we found a handful without even really trying, so there'd be no harm in setting off without a particular food destination in mind.

Some of our other sightseeing took us to the excellent War Remnants Museum and fascinating Reunification Palace, both of which are located conveniently close to ...hum, Trip Advisor's #3 rated restaurant in the whole city and the fanciest vego place around (which means dishes cost between 75,000 & 100,000VND ~ AU$4.60-$6.20).

The pomelo salad was a surprising highlight - bursting with spiciness, sweetness and tangy citrus flavours, while the fermented tofu was a bit blander than we were expecting. The deep-fried veggies were tempura-esque, while the tofu in spicy sauce was probably my favourite. Cindy even splashed out on dessert, sampling a toddy palm and coconut milk concoction that was jellyish and sweet. The food in general was fresh and a bit lighter than most of the other meals we had in Vietnam - it's clear that ...hum are trying for something a bit higher end than cơm chay. They generally succeed, helped a lot by the lovely setting and atmosphere - there's a peaceful courtyard and the inside areas aim a bit higher than plastic seats and tables. It's definitely worth a visit - especially when a big splurge for a meal and drinks still means you're paying less than $15 a head.

We did most of our other eating within close walking distance of the hotel, making a couple of visits to Ngoc Tho, a place that is no longer totally vego but still has a massive and separate vegetarian menu. The array of average looking pizzas and Mexican food on the menu had me worried that the standards were going to be pretty low, but the Vietnamese dishes we ordered were pretty ace. Dishes cost between 35,000VND and 60,000VND (AU$2.15-3.70). There are eggs in a number of dishes, so vegans need to tread carefully.

We had the veggie pork ribs both times we visited and were completely blown away - the mock pork in Vietnam is really next level. We were so enamoured that we tried an order of the special veg BBQ pork with rice noodles and veggies as well - the pork was typically great, but we were a bit confused about the construction process. The garlic fried rice was probably the best rice dish of the trip, and the mock chicken with lemongrass and chilli was a standout as well. Cindy snuck into the Western menu to sample a mango pancake for brekkie, which was pretty good, but didn't come near my fried rice with eggs (even if I thought I'd ordered Indian fried rice).

We stumbled across Pham Chay just around the corner, a supermarket reminiscent of Footscray's Vincent's. It's basically a temple to mock meat, and really not much use unless you've got access to a kitchen, but it did have us daydreaming about living in Vietnam and perfecting our BBQ pork ribs. We brought back some pate and mock deer jerky, but there was so much we were sad to leave behind.

Happy Cow also pointed us towards Hoa Khai, a vegan place with more than 100 menu items to choose from and nothing more expensive than 55,000VND (AU$3.40). We were into a pretty good ordering groove by the time we came here - some fried mock meat (chicken wings this time), spring rolls, a tofu dish (Sichuan tofu), a salad (coconut sprout salad) and some more fried mock meat (chilli and lemongrass 'vegetarian meat'). 

This was a massive success - the coconut salad was probably my favourite salad of the week (I'm still not sure what the chewy jerky-like things were on top) and both the mock meat dishes were superb. The Sichuan tofu was lacking a bit of bite, but that's a minor quibble among a magnificent meal. Added bonus: the restaurant had some air-con and a few fans cranking the cool air around, making it a welcome respite from the oppressive heat outside.

Our final local vego visit was to Com Chay Mani, a short walk across the park from our hotel. It's another air-conditioned place, working a similar style of food - salads, rice dishes, soups and mock meats, all for between 30,000VND and 55,000VND (AU$1.80-$3.40). The 35,000VND (AU$2.15) set breakfast/lunch menu (main course, stir-fried veggie dish and a soup with steamed rice) looks like incredibly good value, but we didn't make it back to try it out. Instead Cindy and I split the green tea fried rice and a Thai salad (no mock meat!), which were both excellent - the fried rice in particular knocked my socks off. It was a shame we discovered Mani so late in the trip, it definitely deserved another visit.

Our final morning didn't leave much time for eating - just a quick breakfast at the hotel buffet (which has a good range of fruit, but is not otherwise super veg friendly) and then a sneaky walk around the corner for a final banh mi at Anpham. There was a steady stream of motorbikes pulling up and grabbing rolls, which was reassuring - the stall sells a mix of meaty and veg dishes, but it's pretty simple to point at the 'banh mi chay' sign. The rolls here came in at 16,000VND (AU$1), among the cheapest of the trip, and had a nice mix of mock meat, mushrooms and salad. There was a condiment that was suspiciously mayo-like, so these might not be vegan-friendly - I'm not sure how to check. Still, it was a great way to finish our time in Vietnam - cheap and delicious street food ordered with pointing and sign language. 

We had a brilliant time in Saigon/HCMC - along with all this food, there's loads to see and do. We were particularly knocked out by the War Remnants Museum, the Reunification Palace and the Fine Arts Museum, as well as all the beautiful buildings downtown (the post office in particular stands out). Our walk through the pagodas in Cholon was great too, although the heat got a little overwhelming. It's a wonderful city - buzzing with ludicrous traffic, stuffed with glorious food and filled with so many amazingly friendly people. We'll be back for sure.

Posted July 12, 2015 05:05 PM by Michael

Thoughts Of A Moni

Mountain Of Bears

If you go down to Ormond today, you're sure of a big surprise. Yes, I'm singing that to the tune of the Teddy Bears' Picnic song, and although there are no teddy bears having a picnic in Ormond, there are bears of some variety climbing a mountain, at least that's what Mountain of Bears indicates to me.

Located in an arcade off North Rd, just next to the Ormond train line, this new cafe has clearly caught the attention of many. We went for brunch on Saturday and it was packed! Fitted out with timber tables, hanging plants and light pendants and arcade style prints on the wall, Mountain of Bears is clearly going for a friendly theme.

We were quickly seated by a lovely waitress, presented with our menus and had our drinks orders taken. As usual I ordered a latte, and it arrived promptly. I must make mention of the cup it was served in. The handle was large enough so that we should get our finger through and get a stable grip. A small thing I know, but small things can make a big difference, in this case making sure one doesn't spill coffee on themselves. Mountain of Bears is run by the team that used to run Manchester Press, so it was no surprise that the coffee was good.

The menu takes a New York spin, and is full of bagels of various sorts. There are sweet bagels, savoury bagels, hot bagels and cold bagels, bagels with soup, and then a few non bagel options including salad, muesli and porridge. We followed the theme of the menu and went with bagels, after all, they are clearly sending us a message when three quarters of the menu focuses on them.

I ordered a mushroom and hummus bagel which arrived on a large plate and looked very pretty. There was a bagel, cut in half and thickly smeared with hummus. On top of it was a generous serve of grilled mixed mushrooms, sauteed silverbeet and a poached egg. There was a sliced avocado on the side and the dish was garnished with some lovely sprouts.

I wasn't quite sure how to tackle the dish. I decided to cut it up and try and get a bit of everything on my fork so I could get the full flavour experience. It ended up being a fully loaded fork but boy was it tasty. The combination of silverbeet and mushrooms worked perfectly, and the creaminess of the hummus and avocado brought it all together.

Unfortunately the egg just failed the yolk porn test. When I cut into the yolk it threatened to ooze but stopped just short which was a real shame, because I'm sure some yolk sauce would have made everything taste even better. Still, I'm willing to forgive this lapse in judgement because everything else tasted so good.

The other half had a chorizo and egg bagel. This bagel was also cut in half and served in a mushroom sauce. Atop the bagel was chorizo (duh), wilted spinach, sauteed leeks, mixed mushrooms and a poached egg. Apparently the chorizo wasn't spicy enough, and the egg was again 30 seconds over done, but the flavours worked beautifully together, and it was declared a winning breakfast.

Whilst the thought of a bagel may not seem so filling, the breakfast definitely left us more than full. We were so full infact, that we had to pass up the freshly baked treats which were lined up on the counter.

All in all it was a great morning at this new Ormond cafe. If you're one of the few people left who haven't heard about it, get on board. And if you're one of the people who have heard about it but haven't made your way there, hurry up, because just like the teddy bears, you're in for a big surprise.

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Posted July 12, 2015 12:19 PM by Moni

July 11, 2015


Saraili: Nuts And Sesame In Filo With Syrup

Here’s another one of my mum’s family recipes I’m excited to share with you. Yay for awesome traditional family recipes that are so easily veganised! Saraili (“sah-RAY-ili”) is quite similar to baklava, in that it contains nuts in filo pastry soaked in a sweet syrup. The differences are the breadcrumbs and sesame added to the filling and...
Continue reading »

Posted July 11, 2015 11:05 PM

July 10, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Chocolate cake, cookies, birthdays and school holidays

I had just finished mopping the floor and Sylvia told me she needed to cover her doll's birthday cake with sprinkles.  What else is there to do in a nice clean kitchen other than make mess.  In a fun way of course!  Which just about covers everything in this post.  Let's talk about cakes, birthdays and fun times in the holidays but first indulge me in a little whinge about kids and their mess.

Some days there just seems no let up with kids.  No sooner is one load of washing away than the washing basket is full of her stained clothes.  As soon as I tidy our loungeroom, Sylvia pulls everything out to create another house.  Last night she was at a sleepover and returned with her glasses in her bag minus a lens.  It has since been found.  Phew! And I shouldn't complain because I have had lots of wonderful cuddles.

But I did love eating breakfast in 6 minutes this morning rather than watching Sylvia spilling rice bubbles all over the table and yoghurt flying everywhere.  In fact it sometimes seems more food finds its way across the kitchen than into her mouth.  After sweeping up the rice bubbles I grab the cloth to wipe yoghurt from the table and the floor and her clothes.  Next week we will be back to school mornings with the clock watching so that we get to school in time.  But enough whinging! 

Let's return to cheerier topics like birthdays.  Not only are kids messy.  They are also lots of fun.  (Hmmm ... I am sure these points are not unrelated.)  There have been lots of birthdays in the school holidays.  We went to the other side of the city for a birthday party at a kids play centre over the holidays.  Sylvia loved it so much that she decided that is where she will have her next birthday party.  (There are always many plans for her next birthday party.)

We also went to Geelong for the birthday of my niece.  The sparklers on Maddy's birthday cake were very impressive.  And the cake was lovely.  I took along some grubs which disappeared quickly.  Sylvia had a great time playing with her cousins.  It was hard to convince her to leave because she was having such a great time bouncing on the trampoline and throwing the netball about.  Yes, the girls were doing both at the same time.

The last birthday party was a school friend's and the theme was How To Train Your Dragon.  I was most impressed at her dad's first go at a novelty birthday cake in the shape of Toothless the Dragon.  It looked amazing.  I also loved the loaves cut into sandwiches with flags on top and skewers stuck out on the side like oars on viking long boats.  Sadly I didn't take any decent photos.  So instead I give you a photo of the foam sword and shield that each kid got to take home. How cool is that!

We had a trip to the supermarket where I bought white choc chips and dried apple for Sylvia and promised her that I would make choc chip cookies with them.  Then I worked out a recipe I could make, only to find it was quite similar to a white chocolate chip and ginger cookie recipe I made last December.  Obviously I like the ginger and white chocolate chip combination.

The big difference was that I used aquafaba in these.  While I find eggless cakes are fine, I often find that vegan choc chip cookies can be quite soft.  I wondered if the aquafaba might make them crisper.  I had great hopes with these ones.  They were round and airy when straight out of the oven.  Soon they had collapsed into chewy cookies with crisp edges.  By the evening they were disappointingly soft.  Despite the texture not being quite what I had hoped, they were delicious and very moreish.

The next day I took Sylvia on the train to the city with a few of her friends and their mums.  We did some craft and then had lunch.  I took along the cookies but by the time we arrived they were in pieces.  Which made for easy sharing. After lunch we went to the Birrung Marr park where they rolled down hills and got quite grubby.

Yesterday I finally made a cake that has been on my mind.  I made this chocolate coconut and date cake many years ago.  It is an intriguing recipe made with dates, tofu, coconut cream and honey.  Almost vegan.  Full of healthy ingredients.  I suspect these days the recipe would use coconut sugar instead of brown sugar.  However instead of the sugar and milk, I used some carrot jam.

Sylvia had requested a cake for Rosie's birthday.  (Rosie is her dolly getting most attention at the moment).  There has been much planning for this birthday.  Always planning for a birthday here.  The cake was so good that we were snacking on it while warm.  (Hence the odd shape.)  However strawberry icing was requested.  It went a little orange with the yellow margarine.

I thought some simple decoration might suffice but Sylvia decided to cover the cake with sprinkles.  And sprinkles never just go on the cake.  They go everywhere.  They are messy but they are fun too.  Just like kids.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Pot Pie with Lattice
Two year ago: Turtles and Pikelets - with gf buckwheat option
Three years ago: Patatas Bravas and Spanish memories
Four years ago: Cookie wands
Five years ago: Nutella Blondies
Six years ago: They Who Dare: Masterchef and Ricki’s Tagine
Seven years ago: Miss Marple’s Tea Room – cosy charm
Eight years ago: Peanut Butter Brownies

Chocolate coconut and date cake
Adapted from A Vegetarian Feast by Vikki Leng (via Green Gourmet Giraffe)

300g tofu, drained
270ml coconut milk
1 cup (155g) pitted medjool dates
1/2 cup carrot jam
3 tbsp honey
1 cup white self raising flour
1 cup wholemeal self raising flour
4 dessertspoons cocoa powder
*Icing, if desired

Blend up tofu, coconut milk, dates, carrot jam and honey.  (I used a high speed blender but if you don't have one you can use a blender or food processor and make sure the dates are chopped beforehand or even just add chopped dates later.)  Stir in flours and cocoa.  Bake in lined and greased 20cm square tin or 20cm round tin at 180 for 30 to 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.  Icing is optional.

*NOTE: I pressed out strawberry juice of two strawberries through a sieve.  Then I mixed in about 1/2 to 1 cup of icing sugar and a large spoonful of margarine.

Gingerbread, white choc chip and dried apple cookies
And original Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe adapted from Joy the Baker and Vedged Out
Makes about 40 cookies

125g margarine (or butter)
1/2 cups castor sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 tbsp chickpea brine (aquafaba)
3 tbsp treacle
1 1/4 cups white plain flour
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried apple pieces

Cream margarine and sugars.  Beat in chickpea brine and treacle (I did the creaming and beating by hand).  Gently stir in flour, salt, bicarb of soda, ginger and cinnamon.  Fold in chocolate chips and apple pieces.  Drop heaped teaspoons onto a lined baking tray.  Bake at 180 C for about 8-10 minutes or until golden brown (a little underdone is better than a little overdone).  Cool on the baking paper on tray for about 10 to 15 minutes until they firm up a little and then remove on baking paper to a wire rack to cool completely.  Best on the date of baking or the next day.

On the Stereo:
This is Hardcore: Pulp

Posted July 10, 2015 11:00 PM by Johanna GGG

July 08, 2015

Vegan Bullsh*t

Have Batter, Will Travel

I've recently come back from Adelaide, land of a surprising variety of vegan goods. One of the places I discovered is Sushi Train - what it sounds like; a sushi train. But they have vegan options! And plenty of them! (Except the usual vegan mainstays - the vegetarian roll and the inari both contain dashi. But are marked veg on the menu. SIGH.)
But I fell in love with this little bastard, the kakiage nigiri:
It's just a fried mixed veg tempura served over a ball of sushi rice with a little nori. But it's AWESOME. To get them without teriyaki and mayo (not vegan) I had to order them fresh, and the crispy nori against the fritter is delicious. Also, it was so nice to go to a sushi train and be able to eat something other than a) cucumber rolls and b) inari (WHICH I COULDN'T EVEN EAT HERE).
I'm gonna miss that place. So I pulled out the deep fryer and recreated the abomination at home.

DIY kakiage nigiri:
Surprisingly, they came out pretty close! The mixture of veg is grated butternut pumpkin, potato and zucchini with minced onion mixed through. Stirred in some tempura batter until veg was coated, formed into rough quenelle shapes on a spoon and dropped into the deep fryer. Perfecto.

And seeing as we're frying stuff, let's do tempura!
Carrot, butternut pumpkin, new potatoes with the skin left on and zucchini (AMAZING). Blanch in boiling water for a few minutes, dredge in flour, dip into your batter, fry. Super easy, super delicious. And so crispy! These stayed crispy for AGES. Look at this crunch! I am stoked.
Oh and corn was cheap too so what the hell, let's make Japanese corn fritters.
Same jam: batter, fresh corn kernels, nothing else. I like to eat these with squares of nori for the sushi-esque flavour. Yum.
I really, really need a salad now.

Tempura batter:
1 cup plain flour
1 cup ice-cold water
1/2 tsp. salt
(if you want to flavour this, go ahead! it's sturdy stuff. Serious Eats suggests curry paste.)

Sift plain flour into a bowl. Add salt and any other flavourings. Just before using, pour in ice cold water and gently mix together with a whisk until just combined. Lumps are fine! Let them be.

For the kakiage (mixed veg fritters):
makes about 10 kakiage
1/3 medium zucchini, grated
1/2 cup butternut pumpkin, grated
2 small new potatoes, grated
One small onion, minced
tempura batter

Combine in bowl. Mix in spoonfuls of tempura batter until all veggies are covered, but there is no excess batter pooling in the bowl. Heat a deep fryer to 180 degrees (or fry in a pot - whatever works). Form quenelles or long croquettes with two spoons and carefully lower into fryer. Fry for around 3-5 minutes until golden and crisp. Drain on paper towels. If you want to make nigiri, make sushi rice (this recipe is great), form a rice ball and pop your kakiage on top. Cut a strip of nori, wrap it around and dampen the ends to make it stick. Done.

For the corn fritters:
makes around ten medium-large fritters
one fresh ear of corn, shucked
tempura batter

Remove kernels from corn cob. Collect in bowl. Add spoonfuls of batter until kernels are covered, but not to excess, Heat deep fryer to 180 degrees. Drop spoonfuls of batter into fryer and fry for 3-5 minutes until batter is lightly brown and crispy to touch. Drain and serve.

Actual tempura:
fresh veggies of choice
tempura batter
plain flour - maybe 1/3 cup?

Pour plain flour onto a plate or shallow bowl. Slice vegetables of choice into 4mm or less slices. Blanch vegetable slices in boiling water until cooking process has just started, about two minutes. Drain and pat dry. Heat deep fryer to 180. Dredge slices in flour, then in batter. Drop into deep fryer and agitate basket so they don't stick. Fry for around three minutes until batter feels solid to the touch and vegetables are cooked. Remove, drain, repeat as necessary. Easy!

Posted July 08, 2015 07:29 PM by L

July 07, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Uforic Food Cafe on the road to Torquay

Last week I had my little niece up in Melbourne for a sleepover.  I drove her home and picked up my mum on the way to drop her off so we could have lunch on the way.  We stopped at Uforic Cafe on the highway to Torquay.  My mum had told me that the cafe had difficulty when there were roadworks on the highway last year so we wanted to support them.

Sylvia and her cousin had already had a swim in Melbourne and some food afterwards as I was worried that they would be grumpy if we waited too long for lunch.  They were a bit restless so I took them outside for a walk.

We didn't stay out too long as it was a chilly winter day with a cold wind whipping around us.  It didn't seem the best time of year to view the garden because the rose bushes had been pruned back into twiggy stumps.  I would love to see the garden in bloom during the warmer months.

The girls ordered milkshakes and scones.  I was pleased to be offered a choice of children's size milkshakes.  Sylvia found her caramel one too sweet but the two girls managed to finish the chocolate milkshake between them.

The scones were soft and fresh.  The girls ate them quickly.  My mum tried some of the raspberry jam on a piece of her bread and pronounced it to be excellent.  (She is rather fussy about jam.)  The only thing I found a little strange was that the cream was pouring consistency rather than whipped but Sylvia seemed to like it.

As the scone were part of a devonshire tea that came with a cup of tea.  So my mum had the tea with her cassoulet.  She was very satisfied.  I noticed that they had a selection of loose leaf teas, as well as jams and chutneys to purchase in the provodore section.

I ordered the Avo Smash.  It was far more impressive than most avo smashes I have had.  The avocado, tomato, spinach and goats cheese were served on a house made pumpkin polenta and poppy seed loaf and drizzled with caramelised balsamic vinegar.  I really liked the bread, which was gluten free and was lighter than regular toast.

We really enjoyed our lunch.  The food was delicious and the cafe had a welcoming ambiance with friendly staff, a pile of interesting reading and bright modern decor.  The cafe is next door to a garden centre.  My mum and I decided we need to make more time on the next visit so we can have some time to browse.  Finally, I was interested to read about Uforic and how it grew out of a food blog.

Uforic Food Cafe
Shop 3, 1135 Surf Coast Highway, Mt Duneed
[The highway between Geelong and Torquay]
(03) 5264 1717

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Posted July 07, 2015 10:57 PM by Johanna GGG

July 06, 2015

quinces and kale


mushroom filled pandan pancake

June was a busy month for mainstream restaurants offering vegan nights.

These are restaurants that always offer good vegan options on other nights, but the special nights were all vegan offerings.

The first was at B’stilla, which I went to, the second was at Woodland House, which I didn’t get to, and the third was another all vegan night at Dandelion in Elwood to celebrate Buddha’s birthday. Dandelion has won hats in the Age Good Food Guide for the last four years.

We ate 5 delicious courses of Vietnamese and Thai influenced food and also received a water blessing by a monk. The meal was great value at $65.

First up was a sweet potato, carrot and coconut soup with crispy toasted yam and taro garnished with purple basil. This was lightly spiced and utterly smooth and delicious.

Next was a beautiful pandan pancake filled with pine and enoki mushrooms with a peanut sauce and crispy fried betel leaves. Also delicious.

The next dish was probably the only disappointing dish of the night for me. It was a small salad of barley, pink quinoa, avocado mousse and fried chilli dressed with a mulberry vinaigrette, but it lacked flavour and it was shown up by the first two dishes completely.

sweet potato carrot and coconut soup mushroom filled pandan pancake pomegranate, pink quinoa, barley salad, mulberry vinegar dressing, avocado mousse, crispy chilli

The next course was a deeply complex vegetable green curry with choko, kohlrabi, cauliflower, pumpkin and some other vegetables which I don’t recall.  It was beautifully garnished with crispy lotus roots. It was accompanied by brown rice, some stir-fried tofu and snow peas in a mild yellow bean sauce, and a relish of pink grapefruit and herbs. The green snappy snow peas made a great textural contrast to the softer vegetables in the curry.

green curry snow peas, tofu and yellow bean sauce rice and pink grapefruit salad

Two dessert dishes followed, a dark bittersweet chocolate mousse with a mangosteen sorbet, chunks of crunchy honeycomb and a pomegranate tuille. The mousse had a brulee top that gave a satisfying crunch. The mousse defeated me, it was so delicious, but so rich I had to give up up about half way.

Lastly a coconut, cashew butter and cumquat crispy slice/biscuit made a great finish with the coffee.

chocolate avocado mousse, honeycomb, mangosteen sorbet, pomegranate tuille coconut, cashew butter and cumquat crisps

I loved my meal at Dandelion, the flavours ranged from delicate to bold, the food looked beautiful and I would be happy to return any time.

133 Ormond rd, Elwood
03 9531 4900

Posted July 06, 2015 09:45 AM

July 05, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Đà Lạt

July 2-5, 2015

We've made an escape from wintertime Melbourne to Vietnam and Malaysia for a couple of weeks with our mate Clamps. He's eaten vegan through this part of the world several times before, so he's the ideal IRL complement to our usual Happy Cow research.

The major revelation has been seeking out cơm chay in market food courts. This translates as vegetarian rice, but you can expect much more than that. Stalls routinely offer a dozen different vegan-friendly pickings on their set plates, from pickled vegetables and braised mock meats to deep-fried fritters and tofu triangles. The ones pictured from the Đà Lạt market set us back 30-40,000VND (AU$1.80-2.50) per plate and were spectacular. With only a limited ability to interact with staff we were left to guess at how many of these dishes came together - were those crispy bits some kind of fried root vegetable, or processed soy? could those mock anchovies be battered banana blossom? what are the chances of us making our own fake shrimp meat to wrap around lemongrass stalks? We can only hope that cơm chay will be the next food trend in Melbourne.

Đà Lạt has a handful of other veg*n restaurants, all variations on the local Buddhist cuisine. Hoa Sen is one of the more expansive ones, with lacquered tables and decorative fountains. The menu included English translations, usually clear, although we wondered what the 'pies' were that featured throughout the menu. There was only one way to find out! The 'fried pies with lemongrass and hot pepper' (pictured above, centre) turned out to be some very tasty shredded mock meat, rivalled only by the chilli tofu rice (above, centre-right). Fresh spring rolls, a soft bready dumpling and a plate of braised gluten were also very good. (Main dishes were 35,000VND ~ AU$2.15 each.)  Michael and I took advantage of their cold drink repertoire too, with a condensed-milk Vietnamese iced coffee for him and a soft serve-like avocado shake for me.

For two nights we stayed at the lovely Thien An Hotel (which includes a complimentary breakfast of baguettes and tropical fruits, with a jar of Vegemite on offer!). We couldn't believe our luck when we spotted a bánh mi chay stall two doors down, and an entire vegetarian family restaurant Quán Chay Đại Lộc behind it. (Main dishes were 20-40,000VND ~ AU$1.20-2.50, banh mi 10,000VND ~ AU$0.60.) A few of the dishes we sought were unavailable, but the ones we hit on were terrific - I had mock fish with lemongrass sauce one night and a peppery tomato braise the next. Michael loved the beef noodle soup so much that Clamps was moved to order it on a subsequent night. Fried spring rolls are common place, but these ones were particularly toasty and enjoyable.  Michael and Clamps even stopped in for breakfast banh mi in between, but were mildly put off by the gelatinous fat on their mock meat filling. I thought the corn milk was a better punt, sweet and refreshing.

Of course we found plenty else to do between eats (see slideshow below for some highlights). We browsed the central markets several times, Michael went on a bird-watching tour while Clamps and I walked around the lake and visited the flower park. We took a taxi out to the Crazy House and Bao Dai's Palace before being drawn back to the central market for more cơm chay. Mostly we revelled in the cooler days up in the mountains before returning to the steamy cities below.

Posted July 05, 2015 08:28 PM by Cindy

Vegetarian Life Australia

The greatest veg tofu scramble!

I’ve tried a few versions of tofu scramble at cafes and have never really liked any of them – too bland, too watery, etc. Today I made this recipe and it was absolutely delicious! Now I’ve got the flavouring right I reckon the vegies could be substituted for whatever is to hand or a favourite combination. This is a great alternative to scrambled eggs and would work well for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

This dish has made me very happy today :)

Recipe serves approx. two.


  • 250g packet firm tofu

For the sauce:

  • 3 tbsp tamari
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin


  • ½ red onion finely diced
  • 2 cups of small broccoli florets
  • 5 large semi-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves


  1. Mix all of the sauce ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Drain the water from the tofu and break it up into smallish pieces.
  3. Mix the sauce through the tofu and leave to marinate while you cook the vegetables.
  4. Saute the onion and broccoli in a little olive oil until nearly cooked then add the tomatoes and spinach and cook for a couple more minutes. You can add a little extra tamari and some yeast flakes if you like. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  5. Use the same fry pan and cook the marinated tofu pieces for about 10 minutes tossing occasionally. I didn’t bother adding any additional oil to the pan. You want to dry the tofu out and brown the edges slightly.
  6. When the tofu is cooked add the vegetables and cook together for a couple of minutes.
  7. Serve on some toast. For a full breakfast tofu scramble is great with vegie sausages and grilled mushrooms and tomatoes.


Tofu scramble sauce

Tofu scramble sauce

Marinating tofu pieces

Marinating tofu pieces

Cooking the veg

Cooking the veg

Cooking the tofu

Cooking the tofu

Putting the tofu scramble together

Putting the tofu scramble together

Veg tofu scramble on Turkish toast

Veg tofu scramble on Turkish toast

Posted July 05, 2015 03:44 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Jeanette's coconut date slice

Just as the Brits have their traybakes and Americans have their bars, Australians have our slices.  These are traditional baking or no bake sweet treats that have been made by generations for fetes, cake sales and lunchboxes.  The are usually easy to make and kids love them.

I stumbled upon this great article in the Age Epicure called Slices to Savour.  As well as lots of great recipes it has a wonderful introduction to slices that I highly recommend you read.  The author writes of the reassuring nature of the humble slice that has been comfort food for Smiths, Jones and O'Briens.

I have already shared many slices that I grew up with.  Chocolate caramel slice, Coconut ice, Hedgehog, Lemon slice, Marshmallow weetbix slice and White Christmas were all regular fixtures in my childhood and continue to be my comfort food.

Upon reflecting on them, I notice that they feature some common ingredients.  Condensed milk, Marie biscuits and various cereals are often included because these would be shelf stable pantry items.  The other ingredients are butter, sugar, dessicated coconut, dried fruit and other items that would be easily found in most traditional Australian kitchens.

In recent years I have discovered the rice krispie slice that seems so popular in America.  I love it because it reminds me of Aussie slices but it has problems a bit like our Aussie chocolate crackles (which use an old fashioned copha that I now avoid). It is traditionally made with marshmallows which have gelatine are aren't really vegetarian.  There is a great vegan alternative that I have made with nut butter but this makes it unsuitable for sharing in schools and cake stalls that are often nut free.

I was delighted to discover this date, coconut and rice bubble slice recipe that the editor had begged from the author of the Slices to Savour article.  This slice has the pleasing crunch of rice bubbles held together by fudgy dates.  The dates make it healthier than rice krispie slice but it had enough sugar and butter that I would not claim it is health food.  It was like wonderful comfort food.  I would beg for the recipe too.

I love this recipe so much that I want to share it widely.  I am sending it to Jac for Bookmarked Recipes; Camilla and Helen for Credit Crunch Munch: Kimmy for Healthy Vegan Fridays #54; Lisa, Lauren, and Danielle for Fabulous Foodie Fridays #58; and Emily for Recipe of the Week.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Mashed potato chocolate cake
Two year ago: Homemade lemonade and winter picnics
Three years ago: Sam Stern's Lancashire burgers
Four years ago: CC Orange, lavender and almond syrup cake
Five years ago: Lemon slice and some nostalgia
Six years ago: Slideshows, nostalgia and hedgehog
Seven years ago: Sparkles the rabbit cake
Eight years ago: Mexicale pie - an old favourite

Jeanette's coconut date slice
Adapted from Slices to Savour in The Age Epicure

1 cup dates*
1/2 cup sugar
90g butter*
4 cups rice bubbles*
1 cup dessicated coconut
extra coconut for sprinkling

Gently heat dates, sugar and butter in a medium saucepan over low heat (do not boil) for about 15 minutes until dates are mushy.  Stir in rice bubbles and coconut.  Spread into a lined slice tin*.  Sprinkle generously with coconut.  Chill in the fridge to set about 2 hours.  Return to room temperature and cut into squares.

*NOTES:  The original recipe calls for dried dates but I used medjool dates because I had them to use up.  Rice bubbles is what Australians call rice krispies.  I used a vegan margarine.  A slice tin is 18 x 28cm.  I found that if the slice was kept in the fridge, that it would shatter when cut or eaten.  It is best kept at room temperature to be chewy and fudgy.  I think ours lasted about a week.

I slightly changed the recipe because I was so sure the coconut would be mixed in with the dates and once I discovered it called to toss the slice in the coconut instead I was too set on mixing it in.  Tossing it in coconut seemed too much work so I just sprinkled it on top.  I would quite fancy trying it with melted chocolate on top. 

On the stereo:
Great Big World: Justine Clarke

Posted July 05, 2015 12:09 PM by Johanna GGG

July 03, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

In My Kitchen: July 2015

It is the end of the first week of the school holidays.  Sylvia has had swimming lessons at 9am each day.  I am glad the swimming intensive has ended.  Our chlorinated hair feels like straw after hours of swimming and I am looking forward to a sleep in.  On the upside we have had great fun, met great new people, caught up with a few old friends, and done some local shopping afterwards. 

One local purchase is this new saucepan that is between my largest saucepan and my stockpot.  I am often looking for a saucepan of this size.  It is the same style as my other Baccarat saucepans that I have had for 13 years and are in pretty good nick, albeit less shiny than my new saucepan.  I can't wait to use it.

A more impulsive purchase was this Iron Broo Tablet that we bought E when we were at the National Celtic Festival.  It was the usual tooth aching sweetness of tablet but I liked the slight flavour of Scotland's national soft drink, Iron Bru.  E said he couldn't taste it but I could.

A curious item in my kitchen this month is carrot jam.  My mum was gifted it by a friend and passed it on to me along with some quince jelly and apricot jam.  I am wondering if the carrot jam would make some interesting baking as I am not sure I will convince E and Sylvia to eat jam with grated carrot swimming in it. 

I have been shopping at CERES farmers market recently and find myself buying the cute vegies.  Purple potatoes (not pictured here), coloured carrots and Romanescu cauliflower.  I resist the bread because I often have my own loaves as in the picture above.  On a recently visit I was offered loose garlic cloves for a song so I took a handful.  And Sylvia picked me the flowers.

Here is the close up of the Romanescu cauliflower.  So pretty and strange.  I regret to say it went into a stew.  It surprised me at how well it kept its shape.  I do wonder how it would be to roast it whole like this roasted cauliflower.

Sylvia had a friend over for a sleepover recently and we made pizza for dinner and apple rose tarts for dessert.  I thinly sliced some roasted purple potatoes and baked them on one of the pizzas with some tomato sauce, and cheese.  The potatoes were really crispy like chips and were amazing on the pizza.

I have visited the new Smith and Deli twice because I happened to be in Fitzroy.  So expect a fuller write up in the not too distant future. On my first visit I purchased this chickpea, apricot and cumin.  Actually I am not sure I got the name quite right as there is no name or ingredients on it.  I guess this is what you expect when you purchase on the second day of business.  It was nice with lots of Moroccan flavours but I had hoped for chunks of dried apricot and there were none.  I also bought a block of Loving Earth's raw caramel chocolate and really loved it's creamy buttery flavours but it went before I could get my camera out.

Another new chocolate I sampled recently was this Toasted Coconut Chocolate from Madecasse.  It was nice but not quite what I was after.  I really love the Whittakers coconut block chocolate and hoped this would be a dark chocolate version with the coconut mixed into the chocolate.  The Madecasse block, however, was chocolate with a generous sprinkling of toasted coconut on the underside.

Possibly one of my favourite purchases in the last month was the Pure Harvest Coco2 Hazelnut Spread.  It is made of rice malt syrup, hazelnuts, coconut oil, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt.  I love a product with an ingredient list so simple that I don't mind typing it.  It is vegan, free of refined sugar, gluten free and tastes amazing.  If you want to compare it to Nutella, then Nutella is like a cream cheese spread and this is like a ganache.  Dark and rich and gooey.

I was inspired by a post on BuzzFeed about making pancakes with nutella inside.  Sylvia remembered it as kids will.  We tried it a couple of weeks back with our favourite banana oat pancakes and Coco2 Hazelnut Spread (above).  I thought the mixture might be too thick but it seemed fine.  I tried it again this week with vegan pancakes when Sylvia had her cousin over for a sleepover.  The batter was much thinner and harder to flip.  I think they were the messiest pancakes I have ever made but so yummy.

I have never heard of Annas [sic] Ginger Thins until I found them at an IGA supermarket recently.  According to the packet they are very famous in Sweden.  I can see why they would be.  They are crisp and melt in the mouth.  They were very popular in our house.

I love trying vegan cheeses and was excited to find Sheese in the IGA supermarket.  It was from Scotland and I wanted to like it.  But it ended up being thrown out because it didn't melt or taste nice and it had a weird after taste.  Sheesh!  Disappointing after trying Daiya and Biocheese and knowing how good vegan cheese can be.

Finally here is a sandwich I made for Sylvia for our one leisurely lunch this week.  Sylvia had a picnic in the front garden and ordered a vegemite sandwich with some fancy vegies.  When I gave it to her she told me that it looked amazing.  What a sweetie!

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

Posted July 03, 2015 11:57 PM by Johanna GGG


Review: Living Candida-Free By Ricki Heller

Ricki Heller is one of my favourite cookbook authors and food bloggers. Her previous book, Naturally Sweet and Gluten-Free, is one I use often (the Marbled Halva is magic!). Thanks to Ricki, sweet potatoes took on a whole new purpose in my house and I frequently use her recipes for baked goods using sweet potatoes....
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Posted July 03, 2015 07:45 PM

July 02, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Chickpea sauté with Greek yoghurt

June 27, 2015

The fifth gathering of our semi-regular Ottolenghi potluck posse was booked in for Saturday night, part of a ridiculously busy weekend for Cindy and I. We scaled back our usual ambitions and found an uncharacteristically simple Ottolenghi recipe in Plenty as our contribution. By the time we'd done our grocery shopping, dinner had been called off due to illness, leaving us to enjoy this dish without having to share.

It really is surprisingly straightforward given the usual rigmarole involved in an Ottolenghi meal - you can do it all in one pot over about 25 minutes and the ingredient list is  modest dozen with only sumac falling outside our standard kitchen stocks (thankfully we'd been given a little take home stash of sumac at Maha on our previous visit, so we were good to go).

For all its simplicity, this is a lovely meal - we were generous with the garlic (just one clove, but a really ginormous one), which I'd recommend, while the lemon, herbs and caraway seeds mean every mouthful is bright and interesting. The dollop of yoghurt on top is nice, but not essential - we took leftovers with us the day after with just the sumac sprinkled on and it was still excellent. File this one away for an occasion when you want to bust out one of your Ottolenghi books but don't have the time or energy for anything complicated - its a simple, satisfying winner.

Chickpea Sauté with Greek Yoghut
(a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty)

1 small bunch silverbeet
1/3 cup olive oil
4 carrots, peeled and diced into 1cm cubes
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 large garlic clove, crushed
2 tablespoons chopped mint
2 tablespoons chopped coriander
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper
Greek yoghurt
sumac for sprinkling

Cut the silverbeet into stalks and leaves

Blanch the stalks in a large pot of boiling water for 3 minutes. Throw in the leaves and blanch for another couple of minutes. Drain and refresh with cold water. Squeeze the water out and roughly chop it all up.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Throw in the carrots and caraway seeds and cook for 5 minutes. Add the silverbeet (stems and leaves) and chickpeas and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring all the time. Add the garlic, herbs, lemon juice, salt and pepper and stir through, before killing the heat.

Serve immediately, topped with a dollop of Greek yoghurt and a sprinkling of sumac.

Posted July 02, 2015 08:03 PM by Michael

Vegetarian Life Australia

To fake or not to fake


As veganism grows in popularity and Melbourne experiences a burgeoning cruelty-free culinary scene, I’ve recently been reading some lively debate on social media around the issue of mock meat.

Some vegetarians love it and find it happily replaces a gap left in their diet after giving up real meat, and others are appalled by the very idea of trying to replicate the taste and texture of animal flesh.

As a lifelong vegetarian I don’t have any tangible concept of what actual meat tastes like or feels like to chew in my mouth. For me, mock meat is not a replacement for real meat, but instead it’s an extension of my plant based diet that adds a variety of interesting tastes and textures.

I don’t eat mock meat every day, but I really enjoy it when I do. I particularly like the chewiness of gluten based mock meats and the deeply savoury flavours that are imbued in them. I assume that these oral experiences are a large part of the appeal of real meat.

I actually can’t really see the difference in eating mock meat and drinking soy milk or enjoying nut cheese. They are all vegan foods based on the concept of an animal product. Each ends up with its own unique variation.

Mainstream supermarkets in Australia offer very little in the way of mock meat products but Asian grocery stores are often an Aladdin’s Cave of fake meats and seafood. They are also usually the best supplier of a wide variety of different tofu. I can easily spend a happy half hour perusing the fridges and freezers for new additions to my culinary repertoire. I tend to come away so laden that I have to clear out the back of the freezer when I get home to make space for my haul.

I believe that there’s no right nor wrong in the decision to enjoy mock meats as a vegetarian or vegan. After all, to live and let live is a motto that most of us try to live by. But my personal choice is definitely to fake it, and I make absolutely no apology for that.

Posted July 02, 2015 04:51 PM


What I Ate

I haven’t done my weekly What I Ate for weeks. Again… Okay, so up the top there are some buckwheat waffles I made with aquafaba (I used the liquid from canned chickpeas). We bought a new cheapie waffle maker and I want to make healthier waffles for the kids using different kinds of flour. These...
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Posted July 02, 2015 12:15 PM

June 30, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Smoky cheese and roasted corn muffins

Recently we were teasing E that he is not a hipster because he does not have a huge beard.  So on the weekend Sylvia told him he just needed a cap and a muffin to be a hipster.  Apparently hipsters carry muffins.  I took care of the muffin with a round of baking.  However before it even came out of the oven Sylvia found E a cap.  The way she put it on him made him look more like Frank Spencer than a hipster.

The muffins were actually an attempt to use up some roasted corn.  I bought it ages ago and it had been staring at me from the pantry balefully each time I opened the door.  It had been a disappointing purchase.  I try to support some of our smaller stores but this roasted corn was past its best and overseasoned.  I hoped if I paired it with cheese in a muffin and didn't season the batter so much that it might just work.

I was pleasantly surprised at how good the muffins were.  I added smoked paprika and could really taste it but otherwise held back on the other seasonings which was just as well.  With all the cheese and the bbq seasoning on the corn, they were full of flavour.

We ate them for lunch warm from the oven spread with chutney.  I took a few of the smaller ones along to my bookclub and they seemed well received.  Sylvia told me she enjoyed the chunks of chewy corn.  I did too.  Though I think I enjoyed the muffins more on the day of baking, especially when warm.  They were so soft and cheesey when warm from the oven.

We had them yesterday on the first day of the school holidays.  Every day this week starts with a swimming lesson for Sylvia at 9am.  A muffin was a great snack after a long swim after the lesson.  And I needed the energy for a long day of swimming, shopping, recipe testing, making grubs, tidying, sorting photos, making birthday cards and wrapping a present.  In fact at the end of the day when I sorted clothes for washing, I discovered that I had put Sylvia to bed without changing her into her pajamas.

And I regret to say that even with a muffin E does not look like a hipster.  Not to worry.  I finally had time to flick through the Sunday Age while tidying the newspapers tonight and I saw that hipsters are no long cool.  Apparently the new thing is Yuccies (Young Urban Creatives).  But they did not mention if you need a muffin to be a Yuccie!

More savoury muffins from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Artichoke, sun-dried tomato and cheese muffins
Cheese and pesto muffins
Cheesy almond muffins (gf)
Pumpkin and goats cheese muffins
Pumpkin miso muffins (v) 
Savoury beetroot, carrot, chocolate and goats cheese muffins
Smoky parsnip muffins

Smoky cheese and roasted corn muffins
Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe

Makes 12 muffins and 9 mini muffins
  • 200g cheese, grated (I used 150 cheddar and 50 parmesan)
  • 1 1/2 cups self raising flour (I used 1 wholemeal and 1/2 white)
  • 1 cup seasoned roasted corn
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • good pinch seasoning
  • 1 cup plain natural yoghurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
Grease 12 hole muffin tin and 9 mini muffin holes.  Preheat oven to 200 C.  Mix cheese, flour, corn, smoked paprika and seasoning.  Mix in yoghurt, egg and olive oil until you have a stiff batter.  Spoon into prepared muffin cups.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through when one is torn open (that is how I checked as the skewer test wasn't helpful).

On the Stereo:
Va Va Voom: Hummingbirds

Posted June 30, 2015 10:11 PM by Johanna GGG

Vegan Bullsh*t

Smith and Deli

Smith and Deli is possibly the most exciting thing to happen to the Melb vegan scene in, well, ever. This visit actually happened over a week ago, but I've been in Adelaide (plenty of eats, will blog) since so haven't had time. Smith and Deli is just off Brunswick St in a nondescript looking building. The main feature when we went was the piles of people waiting out the door - passersby kept wandering past, stopping and staring at the commotion. Hilarious. The Eat Vegan cross is standing proud over the door:

Inside is adorable, with an old-school deli feel. There's plenty of pics around - and it was far too busy for me to snap any - so here's one quick counter shot. I love the pastel balloons and hand-written menus - it's obvious the whole place is well-thought out and the overall effect is cheery and welcoming. The deli cabinets are full of homemade cheeses and meats, as well as some premade (biocheese and Daiya), as well as an array of baked goods. Away from the counter, there's a wall of Mexican dry goods, one of fresh bread, organic veg and a fridge with more house products - vegan cream cheese and caramel sauce, just to name a few. There's also a wall of coolers with some commercial vegan products (some things I hadn't seen before - well played!), S&D house pizzas (margherita and pepperoni) and premade meals like lasagna, as well as drinks.

Our wait took - oh god, probably 45 minutes at least at 12 pm Saturday (we kind of deserved that). When we got our food, it was sealed with adorable Smith and Deli custom stickers:

Finally. Onto the food! My better half went for the Parmageddon ($14), chicken parma, napoli sauce, pesto and housemade mozzarella on a roll: 


This was an incredible sandwich. The napoli, pesto and cheese worked perfectly together. The house mozzarella is pretty tasty, up there with the better vegan cheeses - I'd love to see them selling this outright so I could experiment with it myself. This is one of the simpler sarnies on the menu, but it's utterly genius.

After scoffing a LOTF big brekky burger, I wasn't as hungry as I should have been and just got a pie - the pepper steak pie, $7:

It was a good pie. The pastry was flaky and the pie held together well. The filling was quite mild and I wasn't the hugest fan of the mock meat - it tasted like the mutton from Vincent's which I don't love. But that said, better half loved this pie. I did like the mild flavour of it, and had it been filled with something like lentils, I would have been proclaiming my everlasting love.

We couldn't leave without sweets! There were so, so many options. Brownies, popcorn-topped donuts, challah sticky buns.. enough to almost be thankful for the wait time so we could deliberate. Better half chose a vanilla slice ($5), where I went for the apricot danish (didn't catch the price): 

Both were perfect bakery renditions of the non-vegan originals. I'm not really a fan of vanilla slices - probably because I never ate them in childhood. But this one was legit, with the proper custard wobble and sweet icing. But the danish! Holy crap, this was good danish. Sweet and flaky with a lovely thick custard and tart apricot half. Divine. It was enough to make me wonder where vegan danishes have been all this time and why haven't they been in my stomach? It's going to be really hard to try something new next time, but I think I can make that sacrifice.
To nobody's great surprise, Smith and Deli are doing amazing things. Their attention to detail is impressive and every single item on the shelves is intriguing. Its popularity is entirely justified, and it's fantastic to be able to pick up a few groceries and an amazing meal at the same time. I know I'm heading back very soon for a shop and another crack at the menu. And another. And another.

Posted June 30, 2015 04:57 PM by L

June 29, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Smith & Deli II

June 23, 25 & 26, 2015

After the excitement of Smith & Deli's launch, Cindy and I decamped to the Sunshine Coast for a week, missing the madness of the Deli's first week of proper trading. On our return, I got busy making up for lost time.

My first visit on Tuesday morning was intended as a quick stop to grab a sandwich for lunch. On discovering that the sandwiches aren't an option first thing in the morning I decided I'd have to come back later in the day. Still, no point walking out empty-handed. I grabbed a soy flat white and an Egg McMartinez ($7) to tide me over.

The coffee (by Wide Open Road) was excellent, but the Egg McMartinez was the real star - a deliciously eggy muffin sandwich with a slice of melty cheese and some crispyish bacon. It's a snack rather than a meal, but an incredibly delicious one.

I was back at lunchtime, in the rather long sandwich queue. I'd been hanging for a Godfather (hot chilli salami, pepperonci, mozzarella, roasted peppers and fresh basil, $13).

Is this the best vegan sandwich in Melbourne? The Reuben at True North is a contender, and there are another dozen or so to sample at Smith & Deli, but it's hard to see anything topping this - it doesn't hold back on the spice levels, has a pretty convincingly melty cheese undertone and has bursts of basil to accompany the thick salami chunks. Incredible.

I couldn't walk out without some lunch-dessert, adding a maple-bacon doughnut for afters (I've forgotten the price - maybe $5).

The crispy, salty coconut flakes took a good doughnut and made it great. Vegans now have a challenger in the fancy doughnut trend sweeping Melbourne.

Amazingly, I somehow found myself without a packed lunch just a couple of days later and in need of another visit to the deli. This time I started with the Temple of Doom (turkey, jalapenos, roasted corn, pickled cabbage, cheese and chipotle aioli, $13).

This was a bit of a messier eat than the Godfather, but was similarly great - the combinations on the S & D sangas have clearly had plenty of thought put into them - in this case the pickled cabbage, jalapenos and aioli worked some pretty great flavour magic around the turkey and cheese slices.

I almost ordered another doughnut for dessert, but branched out to sample a challah sticky bun ($7), a rich bun, gooey with some sort of caramel glaze.

After such a successful run of daytime dining, we finished the week sampling some of the pre-prepared meals for sale in the fridges at Smith & Deli, splitting a pepperoni pizza ($17) and a small serve of mapo tofu ($10).

The pepperoni pizza was a simple affair - an excellent thin base, topped with tomato sauce, a few big chunks of salami (possibly the same product that featured on the Godfather sandwich), some mozzarella rectangles and fresh basil leaves. It's a classy step up from the vegan pizzas we recently had delivered from Eat Pizza. In general, pizzas suffer from a vegan premium price-wise, and $17 is a bit of a stretch for this, but mock meats and cheeses don't come cheap.

The mapo tofu was gratifyingly similar to the version that I love making, right down to the over-enthusiasm with the chilli, which left Cindy gasping. I can well imagine grabbing a serve of this next time's Cindy's out of town and I'm too lazy to cook - it's really excellent.

The Melbourne veg*n community is losing their collective mind about Smith & Deli and with good reason. It's serving up a stunning array of vegan food, from pastries, sweets and sandwiches, to spices, staples and mock meat, plus a range of pre-made meals for home. Having an office within 500m is going to be an expensive, delicious privilege.


quinces and kale, Little Vegan Bear and Veganopolous all munched their way through Smith & Deli's menu during the first week it was open, while style melbourne, Eat And Be Merry, For Tomorrow We Die(t), table to paper, Veggie Mama and MEL: HOT OR NOT were all at the same freebie launch that we were.

Smith & Deli
111 Moor St, Fitzroy
9042 4117
sandwich menu 1, 2
facebook page

Accessibility: There's a lip on the door and the interior is flat. All foods are easily visible, but some of the groceries are easier to reach than others. Ordering and payment is at a low counter.

Posted June 29, 2015 06:45 PM by Michael


Review: Prana ON Protein Plus A Protein Bites Recipe

Protein powders: one of those things I’ve personally had a love-hate relationship with over the years! Love, because I find them so useful when I need to meet my protein requirements when, for instance, I have a personal health or fitness goal. The hate part… well, so many protein powders I’ve bought in the past...
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Posted June 29, 2015 04:02 PM

Thoughts Of A Moni

Mrs. Parmas

Mrs. Parmas has been open for almost a decade, but it still surprises me as to how many people haven't heard of it. That's probably a good thing given that it is still so busy and it can be tough to get a booking, forget about just wandering in and assuming there is a table free.

With a month's notice, catching up with a friend from interstate, we decide to book a table for a Wednesday night for dinner. I was excited all day for my parma, and even skimped on lunch to make sure I had enough stomach space. The parmas at Mrs. Parmas are not only delicious, they are extremely generous. The parma takes up the full plate and the sides are actually served separately in communal bowls for the table.

Vegetarians need not fear here because the parmas come in three variants - eggplant, chicken and veal. Infact there is a sign above the bar that talks about the first parmigiana being made from eggplant! Us vegetarians are the ones eating the real parma! There are also about fifteen different toppings plus a special, which means there are forty eight different parmas to be tasted! Almost one for every week of the year!

I usually go for the tandoori eggplant parma, but on this occasion I decided to branch out and have the mushroom parma. Like all my choices at Mrs. Parmas, I wasn't disappointed. There was big slices of field mushrooms, lots of sauce and cheese and that soft creamy eggplant as the vehicle.

The chips were also delicious, well cooked and seasoned with oodles of chicken salt. And before you jump on my case, yes a vegetarian can eat chicken salt, its full of apparent chicken chemical goodness. The salad, however, is not great. It is dressed with what tastes like average supermarket dressing and there is way too much of it. If you were keen on salad, it might be worth asking if you could have it without the dressing.

The other bonus of Mrs. Parmas is the beer list. It is extensive to say the least. The taps rotate regularly and they always have local Victorian microbrewery beer, most of the time with stuff you haven’t tasted before. They also sell by the bottle, but when the taps are so good, there really is no need to look at the bottle list. There is wine and cider too, for those that way inclined.

You don’t go to Mrs. Parmas for the ambience, infact the venue is a cross between an RSL and a pub. And you also don’t go there for a long, drawn out meal, because for most bookings they will ask you to vacate your table after 1.5 hours (that’s how busy they are)! But you do go there for an amazing parma and some great beer. If you do want to keep going into the night then move on to another venue, it is Melbourne after all and there are no shortage of spots!

Click to add a blog post for Mrs Parma's on Zomato

Posted June 29, 2015 03:19 PM by Moni

quinces and kale

corn pancakes

corn pancakes

I have always been terrible at making pancakes.

I have never really understood why, but it has always been so, both pre and post vegan.  I produce sad, gluggy things that barely resemble the pancakes I remember. I like them light and fluffy.

I’ve finally worked out that it might be the flour I was using. I bake bread fairly often and I always have specialist high protein bread flour in the cupboard.  I’d been using this for the pancakes and it isn’t really right.  They need a softer, lower protein flour, so I recently made pancakes with some regular supermarket flour.

Not surprisingly they didn’t turn out sad at all, but light and fluffy, so I decided they deserved to be published. I mean look at them.They are gorgeous. If I sound a bit chuffed about them…that’s because I am.

I decided to take these in a Mexican direction so I topped them with some vegan butter and a salsa made from tomatoes, onion, coriander and avocado.

They also work as sweet pancakes, I ate the second lot with vegan butter and maple syrup.

I have finally conquered the pancake! :)


5.0 from 1 reviews
corn pancakes with salsa
prep time
10 mins
cook time
5 mins
total time
15 mins
author: quincesandkale
recipe type: Breakfast
cuisine: Vegan
serves: 6 pancakes
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 2½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 egg replacement (I used Orgran, but you could use flax seed emulsion or any other)
  • ½ cup almond or soy milk. You need enough to make a thick spoonable batter.You may need a bit more but don't make them too runny.
  • ¾ cup corn kernels (I used frozen, but fresh would be good)
For the salsa
  • 6 cherry tomatoes diced
  • ¼ avocado diced
  • 1 tsp finely diced onion
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tbs chopped coriander
  1. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.
  2. Mix the egg replacement and non dairy milk together and add to the flour mix.
  3. Stir until well combined.
  4. Fold in the corn kernels.
  5. Heat a heavy pan over medium heat and melt a mix of oil and vegan butter until it sizzles.
  6. Add scoops of batter to the pan, the pancakes should be about 3-4 inches across.
  7. Cook for 2-3 minutes until small bubbles appear in the top and start to burst, and the edges start to dry out a bit.
  8. Flip and cook for another 2 minutes on the other side.
  9. Mix the salsa ingredients together.
  10. Serve the pancakes with some vegan butter and the salsa.


Posted June 29, 2015 10:10 AM

June 28, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Two Liebster Awards

Last year when I did Vegan MoFo I was given two Liebster awards by Danielle Joy and Jasmine at Self Sufficiency Cafe.  These are awards that bloggers share to encourage us to learn about and connect with new bloggers.  I am all for fostering community in the blogosphere but it has taken me many months to get around to answering the questions that come with this award.

As the award was doing the round in Vegan MoFo when there is a flurry of vegan blogging, the awards had quite a few questions about being vegan.  Umm ... I am vegetarian rather than vegan.  So I have slightly changed a few questions to reflect this and I have also combined a few questions from both Danielle and Jasmine into the first one before going onto their separate questions.

Why did you become vegan or vegetarian and how has it changed your life?
I have written about becoming vegetarian at length in my post on being vegetarian.

Questions from Danielle Joy

Smith and Deli - Home Alone sandwich
What vegan place would you recommend in your area?
Smith and Deli in Fitzroy is the vegan place I have to recommend on my side of Melbourne.  It only opened a couple of weeks ago and on the occasions I have visited the queues have been crazy but the sandwich selection is amazing.  Above is the Home Alone sandwich with mashed potato, vegan turkey, vegan stuffing, brussells sprouts, gravy and cranberry sauce.

What food could I wake you up with in the middle of the night for?
Grubs.  No not witchety grubs.  'Grubs' is the term for one of my favourite childhood snacks made with cocoa, condensed milk, biscuits and coconut, and I still love them with a passion.  When I think food in the middle of the night I think of midnight feasts with grubs that we had as a child.  Now I have my own child I appreciate the midnight feasts don't always happen at midnight but they are still exciting.

Why did you start blogging?
Briefly, I wanted to have a space to share my recipes and notes.  I have written more about why I started blogging.
What’s the best vegan meal you’ve ever made? (link, please!)
Oh that is a hard question.  So many great meals to choose from.  One of my favourite meals is a roast dinner with nut roast.  So while I am not sure what is the 'best' meal I have ever made, I can nominate my favourite meal I have made to be the one where a friend and I made a roast with a vegetarian hog's head.  It was fun and amazing and delicious.  (NB the nut roast was vegetarian but could be made vegan easily.)

Vegetarian hog's head
What’s your favorite vegan dessert?
Chocolate pudding.  It is a childhood favourite and I still love it.  For those who need clarification, my chocolate pudding is a warm self saucing chocolate pudding. 

What do you eat when having a savory snack attack?
Roast chickpeas!  I mean to make lots of savoury snacks but often just end up with little packets of crunchy salted roast chickpeas that I often carry in my bag for emergencies.

What do you eat when having a sweet tooth craving?
This really depends what is in the house but sweet tooth cravings often involve chocolate.  We usually have chocolate in the house so sometimes it is just a square of the stuff and other times if I have been baking it might be cake, slices or porridgies

Liz O'Brien's sausage rolls
What do you serve non-vegans when they come over for dinner?
I am not the sort of cook with standard recipes I always make.  If I really wanted to impress a veg-shy meat eater I might make some sausage rolls but mostly I try something new.

Questions from Jasmine at Self Sufficiency Cafe

What food item could you not do without?
My first instinct was to say chocolate.  Then I thought perhaps it should be something healthier like chickpeas or good bread.  Honestly my list of kitchen staples is quite long so I am not sure I would do well to narrow it down to one item.

Celia's overnight sourdough bread
What would be your last supper (you can have 3 courses)?
Nut roast with lots of crispy roast vegies, cauliflower cheese, green vegies and gravy.  Then a rich dense chocolate cake with lots ganache (perhaps this zucchini brownie with ganache and smoked walnuts)  And to finish, a fruit platter with lots of stone fruit, pineapple, berries, apple and dates stuffed with cashew cheese

What is your favourite TV show?
Call the Midwife.  The photography is so beautiful, the plots give such poignant insight into post war Britain and the characters are so complex, compassionate and awkward.

Who is your favourite comedian?
I don't have a stand-out favourite.  Though perhaps Dave O'Neil who is a local legend.  Or it could be Danny Kaye because first loves hold a special place in the heart and The Court Jester is one of the first films I loved.  I don't feel the same way about another childhood love, Jerry Lewis, but I still find The Goodies and Fawlty Towers hilarious.

What is your favourite junk food?
Chocolate - any sort will do - but my favourite guilty pleasure is possibly the chokito

What ingredient had you never heard of until you went vegan or vegetarian?
I was already doing quite a lot of vegetarian cooking when I went vegetarian many years ago.  However my favourite discovery in vegan cooking is probably nutritional yeast flakes.  I love cheese and these flakes have made it possible for me to eat lots of yummy vegan cheese sauces and less dairy cheese.

Street art - Fitzroy pool
What is your favourite smell?
Oh smells are so evocative.  I love fresh-baked bread, chlorine at the pool, and jasmine in spring.

What is a typical Sunday like for you?
I met someone who went to the same cafe every Sunday and was quite amazed.  I don't have a typical Sunday.  Sylvia loves to have pancakes on Sunday morning which we do if there is time.  We often might watch some telly in the evening.  However Sundays might be just lazy days to sit in front of a movie, or a meal at my mum's or a day out in the city. 

Posted June 28, 2015 12:42 PM by Johanna GGG

June 25, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

20 facon recipes for vegetarians and vegans in Bacon Week

Yesterday I heard a discussion on the radio about Australian Bacon Week.  Interesting stuff .... until I heard discussion about vegetarians missing out and how many people could never go vegetarian because they love bacon too much.  My hackles rose!  I am here to tell you it aint so.  Here is my response with a good dose of facon!

Actually I didn't love bacon so much that it really bothered me when I went vegetarian over 20 years ago but I did miss it occasionally.  Then I discovered that it is not the pig flesh (or the bone or bristles) that I missed but the smoky flavour.  Enter smoked paprika, liquid smoke, smoked salt and lots of vegetarian bacon.

I avoided the neon pink vegetarian bacon in the supermarket but have had lots of fun experimenting with making different vegetarian bacon (aka fake bacon or facon).  I tried make it out of beans and buckwheat, coconut, tofu, tempeh and eggplant.  Of these my favourite is tofu facon.  I make it often.  Here are 20 facon recipes for vegetarians and vegans in Bacon Week.

10 Innovative facon recipes
I love trying unusual recipes with facon (and might I suggest they would work fine with regular bacon)And yes, you can experiment with vegetarian bacon with chocolate!

Smoky Mexican nacholada casserole (gf, v)

10 common recipes with vegetarian bacon
These recipes are ones commonly pop up online and in cookbooks.  Some of these are my childhood comfort foods.  I have found that they work brilliantly with vegetarian bacon so there is never any need to miss meat.

Bacon, avocado and tomato sandwich (v)
Breakfast burritos (v)
Caesar salad (v)
Cheese, bacon and spinach muffins
Chickpea pilaf (gf, v)
Creamy potato salad (gf, v)
Fried rice (gf, v)
Macaroni cheese with peas and bacon
Vegetable quiche (v)
Zucchini slice

gf = gluten free, v = vegan

Posted June 25, 2015 11:50 AM by Johanna GGG

June 24, 2015

The Good Hearted - Vegan Food in Melbourne

Smith & Deli


Smith & Deli
111 Moor Street,
Fitzroy VIC 3065
(03) 9042 4117

sandwich menu

Opening Hours:
Tue to Sat 8am–7pm

Smith & Deli is an all vegan, New York style deli bought to life by our friends from Smith & Daughters. This is the place to stop by for bread, pastries, coffee, cheeses, meats (all vegan remember!), salads, soups, pies, meals to go and an incredible array of over 25 sandwiches.

Sandwiches are king at Smith & Deli and the menu may stun you with the sheer amount of options of available, so check it out before you go. The 'Rubenstein' ($15) is a good pick with pastrami, sauerkraut, pickles and Russian dressing on rye; or go for a 'Buffalo the Vampire Slayer' ($12) with buffalo tofu, ranch, shredded iceberg, carrot, onion and celery in a roll. Next time I think I'll channel Kevin and try the 'Home Alone' ($15) made up of turkey, roasted brussel sprouts, cranberry sauce, mashed potato & gravy, all on a roll. Gluten free bread is available for all sandwiches for an extra $2.

Some lighter options that are more in the breakfast camp are also on offer, including a variety of grilled cheese sandwiches ($8-$12), croissants, and chef Shannon Martinez's take on a popular fast food breakfast item with the 'Egg McMartinez' ($7) including egg, bacon and cheddar on an English muffin with your choice of sauce.

Meals to go, such as pizza ('pepperoni' $16), lasagne, pies (four different flavours everyday, in both single and family sizes), sausages, schnitzels, tofu and tempeh are all available.

The cabinets are full of sweet treats too, where (with options rotating daily) you might find 'Maple Bacon Donuts' ($5), 'Vanilla Slice ($6), 'Apple Pie Bars' ($5), 'Lemon Tarts' ($7) and much more.

Black coffee is $3.50 or $4 with non-dairy milk – or add an extra $2 for Smith & Deli's own fresh nut milk. The chai soy latte sweetened with agave nectar ($4) is great.

As their slogan goes: Thank you for being a friend, Smith & Deli!

 Click to add a blog post for Smith and Deli on Zomato

Also visited by: veganopoulouswhere's the beef?, quinces and kale

Posted June 24, 2015 06:11 PM

June 23, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Pomegranate and orange smoothie

Recently I read a couple of articles about the rise of the know-it-all thanks to Professor Google's assistance, and school students being over-confident.  Gulp!  Perhaps that would be me last year when I decided my new high speed blender could cope with pomegranate seeds.  It seems that just made a horrid grainy smoothie that was so awful there was nothing for it but the bin.  Luckily when I tried again, I got it right.  Hurrah for experience over know-it-all.  

Hence when I made a recent pomegranate and orange smoothie I made sure I sieved the pomegranate arils.  Which perhaps supports a couple of other articles I liked about teaching your kids to be fearless and to take risks.  After all there is nothing quite so humbling as falling flat on your face.  And nothing a food blogger hates more than having recipes go so wrong there is no saving them.  It all a good lesson.

Using pomegranate in a smoothie again worked a treat.  It was a lovely smoothie, slightly tart but very refreshing.  And I redeemed myself by managing to fill it with fruit that had to be used.  We had too many bananas, strawberries that would go off within a day or two, an old orange and lots of limes off our tree.

The pomegranate had also sat there for some time.  Once I had cut it open and stained my new chopping board, I put the leftover arils in a bowl and we enjoyed eating them plain, on salad or on muesli and yoghurt.  I don't buy pomegranate often but I hope next time I will be wiser about what to do with them.  Oh no.  Maybe now I do know it all.  Well I know more about pomegranates.  Now I just need to work on my photography!

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: E for Eccles cakes - vegan and savoury with leek, spinach and blue cheese
Two year ago: Leek, walnut and blue cheese scones
Three years ago: WHB Apple and mince crumble
Four years ago: Smoky tomato soup and recent cooking
Five years ago: Nigella’s potato bread
Six years ago: What does home mean to you?
Seven years ago: The solstice fruitcake offensive
Eight years ago: Kraut rock cupcakes

Pomegranate and orange smoothie
Serves 1-2

juice of 1 orange
juice of 1/2 pomegranate
juice of 1/2 lime
1 punnet of strawberries, hulled
1 banana, peeled
1 cup milk (I used soy milk)

Blend until smooth.

On the Stereo:
Worlds of Sound CD sampler: Various Artists

Posted June 23, 2015 10:03 PM by Johanna GGG

June 22, 2015

quinces and kale

smith & deli


Smith & Deli is finally here.  It has been worth the wait. I didn’t think it was possible to love something more than Smith & Daughters, but I do.

I turned up at 8.15 am on the opening day thinking I might be able to dash in and grab something for breakfast. An Egg McMartinez perhaps? The place was buzzing, with a queue snaking its way to the door. I had to leave to do some volunteering so I headed out again, postponing my visit until 1.30pm.

When I arrived back there was a queue snaking its way out the door…

I joined it and spent my waiting time productively, collecting various goodies as I passed them on the way to the till. Like lollies at the checkout, I grabbed some shallot sourdough from Noisette bakery, some tortillas, a frozen chicken curry pie and spent a long time cruising the cakes and deli items for future reference. To my disappointment, the last vanilla slice disappeared before my eyes. Oh well, something to look forward to.

I also had lots of time to admire the cute retro decor, perfect right down to the gingham shirts worn by the staff and Patsy Cline on the stereo.

At the ordering station, staffed by the ever lovely Mo, I settled on a Home Alone sandwich. This might have been made for me, stuffed as it was with all the kinds of foods I love. Turkey, stuffing, roasted brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, mashed potato and gravy. Utter, utter heaven. There were a couple of substitutions for my sandwich because they had run out of rolls and turkey. They subbed in turkish bread (fine by me, I love it) and chicken salad for the turkey. I don’t know what the original is like but this was fantastic. I cannot imagine a better sandwich. I got a bit teary as I ate it.

I love sandwiches, but frankly our options are often limited at non vegan places to hummus and salad. The sandwich list here is 32 varieties long and runs over two blackboards and every damn one sounds fabulous.  I plan to blog the entire sandwich list as part of Vegan MoFo 2015.

As an unreformed pastry addict I also ordered a beef bourguignon pie. I confess I ate that as well as the sandwich. I am now very full.

pie sandwich

I had intended to take the pie home to eat, but I scoffed half on the drive home. It was great, a rich buttery shortcrust pastry bottom with a flaky top,  packed full of intense red wine, mushroom and beefy flavours. Even allowing for the fact that I think anything wrapped in pastry is special, this was a great pie.

The sandwich, I did manage to wait until I got home. I can’t begin to describe how happy it made me. Just let me say that any sandwich that leaves you tearing up is special.

But the joy doesn’t stop with sandwiches, cakes and pies. You can pick up take away meals, soups, pies, pizza, deli meats, cheeses and salads as well as dips, bread and all kinds of staples.

Any other shop where you had to wait for food might make people a bit grumpy, but the vibe was so nice, people in the queue laughing and talking to each other. The cheerful staff keep the queue snaking around in an orderly fashion to get people in from out in the cold and they give helpful advice as to what items are available quickly if you are in a hurry. By day three (yes I went the first three days in a row) they had improved the wait time by taking sandwich orders in the queue so they are made (or almost made) by the time you reach the cash register.

While I was waiting I had one man tell me he was so happy because he hadn’t had food like this for almost 20 years since becoming a vegan. We were almost a bit weepy.

Thanks S&D for making my day so happy (and gluttonous).

Note: I went again the next day and had a custard and quince danish. Crunchy, flaky, delicious. And the day after, another sandwich, the Temple of Doom. I’m stopping for a day or two now.

Smith & Deli
111 Moor St
Fitzroy, 3065
9042 4117

Posted June 22, 2015 09:00 AM

June 21, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Vegan tahini stew with feta and dill dumplings

You might have noticed that I haven't been posting so many savoury recipes this month.  It is the winter solstice here this weekend and I struggle to get meals made before the sun goes down.  So there is no natural light, not much time and energy and I am trying to eat well which means we have been having more stews that I throw together with whatever is in the fridge.  I also have been returning to favourite recipes.

Lately I have made excellent pizza, corn and tempeh soup, tahini lime rice, red lentil koftas, tofu bacon and almond feta.  It was the almond feta that got me thinking.  I had a day when my mind bounced from one dinner idea to another like a pinball. 

At first it was a vegetable galette.  Then I fancied trying Gena's avglomeno again but it was so light and I wanted to the comfort of Mexicale pie with its cheesy dumplings and rich stew.  In a moment of serendipity, these dishes inspired a great new casserole.  I was pleased that it was an opportunity to use some ingredients that had been in the fridge a while.  I flavoured the dumplings with almond feta and dill.  The dumplings were baked on top of a lemony tahini stew made with lots of vegies and beans.

And even though the light had well and truly faded by the time I was cooking dinner, I took a photo of the casserole dish that I used.  It was a wedding present many years ago and I still love it.  The handle clips on and off, meaning that it can be used on the stovetop and in the oven.

I appreciate any time saving ideas I can come by these days.  This stew was not a quick affair.  E was out with his ukelele so I made an easy dinner for Sylvia and waited until she was settled into bed before I relaxed over dinner.  It was a most excellent stew of tahini flavoured vegies and beans with large dumplings to mop it up with.  This was hearty stuff.

The dill was lovely and a touch of Eastern European flavour.  The almond feta was perhaps not as prominent as I had hoped.  Perhaps some lemon juice in the dumplings next time would  give them a lift.

I have been making Mexicale pie for more years than I care to remember and it is exciting to have started experimenting with different flavours.  More exciting was trying using aquafaba instead of the eggs.  This seemed to work well.  My first use of aquafaba involved tipping out the brine from a tin of beans to make a batch of meringues.  In this dish, I used the brine from the beans I put in the casserole.  No waste at all there!

While it might be only the beginning of winter, with a chilly 2.6 degrees celcius and condensation on the window this morning, the solstice hails the start of longer days.  I am looking forward to more daylight in the evenings for photos and more warming winter meals.

I am sending this to Jac for Meatless Mondays, Kimmy for Healthy Vegan Fridays #52, Elizabeth for No Waste Food Challenge, and Lisa, Lauren, and Danielle for Fabulous Foodie Fridays #56.

More warming winter meals from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Bean and beer stew with dumplings (v)
Chickpea, potato and tomato stew (gf, v)
Lentil ragu with chocolate chilli fettuccine (v) 
Nicki’s Nana’s chulent (v)
Sauerkraut, bratwurst and potato casserole (v)
Smoky apple baked beans (gf, v)
Vegetable nut crumble
Vegetarian moussaka

Warming winter meals from elsewhere online:
Beetroot, red onion and puy lentil bouruignon - A2K
Cheese and leek bread pudding - Tin and Thyme
Mushroom stout pie with potato dumplings - Where's the Beef?
Pumpkin maple baked bean cornbread casserole - Oh She Glows
Savoury lentil bean stew - Tinned Tomatoes
Vegetarian shipwreck casserole - Oh My Veggies 

Tahini stew with feta and dill dumplings
An original Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe.  Inspired by Choosing Raw and Mexicale Pie
Serves 4

Tahini stew:
1 tbsp oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 carrots, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 cup vegetable stock
1 and 1/2 cup cooked cannelini beans
1 cup cooked chickpeas
400g tin corn, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp tahini
1 1/2 tbsp white miso
1/4 tsp mustard powder
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt flakes

Feta and dill dumplings:
1 cup wholemeal flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal (polenta)
2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
2 tsp baking powder
¾ cup low fat milk (I used whole fat milk)
6 tbsp chickpea brine, lightly whisked
1 cup chopped almond feta
1/4 cup dill

First make the filling.  [Note: I use a 22-23cm round deep casserole dish that can be used on the stovetop or in the oven but if you don't have one that can be used this way, use a large saucepan and a deep casserole dish.]  Heat oil in large saucepan (ovenproof if possible).  Fry onion, garlic, carrot and celery on medium heat for about 5 to 7 minutes or until vegetables are softening.  Add stock, beans, chickpeas and corn.  Bring to the boil and simmer about 10 minutes.

While stew simmers, make dumplings by mixing together all the ingredients.

When the stew has simmered, whisk lemon juice, tahini, miso and mustard powder with 3/4 cup water in a small mixing bowl.  Add to the vegetable mixture and heat until  tahini mixture is well mixed into the stew.  Turn off the heat and stir in nutritional yeast flakes, dill and salt.  Taste and adjust seasoning.

If not using an ovenproof saucepan, pour mixture into an ovenproof dish.  There should be quite a lot of liquid in the mixture as the dumplings will absorb some while baking.  Arrange spoonfuls of dumpling mixture on top of tahini stew.

Bake uncovered for 10 minutes at 200ºC. Then reduce heat to 180ºC and bake a further 30-40 minutes until dumplings are cooked (golden brown and a skewer in the middle will come out clean). Serve hot.  To reheat add a drizzle of water to mixture if possible (ie if you have served some of the dumplings) and heat with lid on to keep dumplings from drying out (about 20-30 minutes).

On the Stereo:
Ghost Sonata: Tuxedo Moon

Posted June 21, 2015 12:13 PM by Johanna GGG

June 20, 2015

Vegetarian Life Australia

Dinner at Ren Dao

We had a fantastic celebratory dinner at Ren Dao in Melbourne’s Elsternwick last night.  The evening heralded the end of mid term exams for my son and we all felt like we deserved an evening out.

The all vegan meal was really great. We’ve eaten at Ren Dao a few times before but I felt it has improved recently. Everything we ordered was excellent and also beautifully presented. The service was great; attentive and friendly but not overbearing in any way. My only complaint was that the starter didn’t come out first and the dishes trickled out from the kitchen at different times. We were sharing all the dishes so the timing wasn’t a great problem, but I usually prefer to have the starter upfront.

We ordered vege prawns to start (supposedly, although they arrived half way through the meal). They looked amazing and were deliciously crispy with a sweet dipping sauce. I would have prefered a chili sauce but it was still great. For mains, to share, we had an amazing coconut butter chicken, mee goreng noodles and the fresh daily greens. The greens turned out to be a great mix of greens and mock meats in a lovely light sauce and were a nice compliment to the other dishes. The butter chicken was the standout dish of the night with its crispy balls of mock chicken ready to dip in a wonderful coconut sauce. I also really loved the mee goreng noodles. Mee goreng is my favourite go to dish in Asian restaurants and this version was excellent. We requested it spicy and the heat was spot on.

All in all, an excellent meal.

Ren Dao
275 Glenhuntly Rd, Elsternwick 3185

Overall rating 8/10

Mee goreng

Mee goreng

Vege prawns

Vege prawns 

Coconut butter chicken

Coconut butter chicken 

Daily greens

Daily greens

Ren Dao

Ren Dao

The excellent menu

The excellent menu

Posted June 20, 2015 07:16 AM