March 30, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Easter Recipes - sweet, savoury and salt dough

Easter is almost upon us yet again.  In the Christian calender it is the time of year for sorrow, love and celebration.  However this is a food blog so I bring you hot cross buns, chocolate and cuteness. 

Probably one of my favourite Easter foods is Hot Cross Buns.  They smell so good when out of the oven with the spicy sticky glaze and chewy crosses.  I make them every year:

A lot of Easter food is sweet.  So much sugar!  For a savoury alternative, these crackers and cheese chicks are a cute snack.

 And then there is an Easter egg pizza for a savoury dinner.

But you can't avoid the sweet foods.  These Easter egg nests are an easy sweet treat to make with kids.

A couple of years ago I found some Easter egg chocolate moulds.  After all Easter is a time for gift giving and chocolate so why not make your own chocolate gifts.  I have dabbled in making fillings for chocolates.  Here are the chocolates I have made (all gluten free and vegan).

Easter Sunday lunch is the time for showstopper desserts.  With chocolate of course.  This Creme Egg Chocolate Drizzle Cake ticks all the boxes.

Then there are the leftover Easter eggs after all the celebrations are over.  If you want to make them even more decadent then I could recommend this delicious Leftover Easter Egg Slice.

And if you want some cute decorations or gifts that are non-edible, these Salt dough easter eggs are fun to make.

More Easter recipe ideas:
Also see my Pinterest Easter Food and Craft Board

    Posted March 30, 2015 02:48 PM by Johanna GGG

    quinces and kale

    fried brussels sprouts and potatoes

    fried brussels sprouts and potatoes with caramelised onions

    Let me state up front, I love brussels sprouts. I know there are people that don’t, but I’m convinced that people that don’t like them just haven’t had them cooked properly. :)

    So if your experience with sprouts is a miserable childhood memory of being forced to eat them boiled until they are grey, please just give them another go. The absolutely best way to eat them is when they are blackened, either by frying or roasting.

    Brussels sprouts haters, I’m hoping this dish may convert you.

    This is one of my favourite dishes when I want a quick satisfying meal. It is easy to prep and only contains two (or three) ingredients not counting the oil and salt, but I think it is much more than the sum of its parts. There are delicious caramelised flavours and contrasting textures between the soft potato, the still slightly dense bite of the sprouts and the completely crispy bits of sprout leaves that have separated.

    I love it with just the potatoes and sprouts, but it is extra special with some caramelised onions added just before serving.


    fried brussels sprouts and potatoes
    prep time
    10 mins
    cook time
    10 mins
    total time
    20 mins
    author: quincesandkale
    cuisine: vegan
    serves: 1
    • 2 medium potatoes
    • 10 small firm brussels sprouts
    • 2 tsp olive oil
    • salt
    • 1 or 2 tbs carmelised onions (optional)
    1. Peel and cut the potatoes into ½ cm thick slices.
    2. Steam or boil the potatoes for 5 minutes or until they are just tender but not completely cooked. Drain the potatoes.
    3. Trim the bottom of the sprouts and cut into quarters.
    4. Add half the oil to a hot pan and add the sprouts and toss so they get browned or even blackened on most sides.
    5. Add ¼ cup of water to steam the sprouts a bit. Cook until the water evaporates away.
    6. Add the remaining oil and the potato slices.
    7. Cook over a medium heat until the potatoes are browned and the sprouts are cooked.
    8. Season with salt.
    9. They are great as is, but a spoon of caramelised onions will lift it even further.


    Posted March 30, 2015 09:00 AM

    March 29, 2015


    Mantra Lounge Vegan Cruise

    What a fab evening on board the Victoria Star, thanks to Mantra Lounge hosting their first vegan cruise! As someone who hates being on boats, gets motion sickness easily, can’t swim and once went to a fancy dress party dressed as Gilligan, I might have had enough reasons not to go. But… VEGAN CRUISE. So of...
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    Posted March 29, 2015 09:56 PM

    March 28, 2015

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Kale pizza, weekend food and digging into the birthday cake

    A quick post because I wanted to share a great kale pizza I made last night.  No recipe.  Just some ideas and a bit of fun with the family.

    We had pizza last night when Sylvia had a friend visit.  They ate plain old cheese and tomato pizza.  E and I had a magnificent substantial kale pizza.  It used my sourdough pizza base, and was piled with some tomato sauce, leftover lentil and quinoa stew,  fried onions, fried kale, vegveeta vegan cheese sauce, and a pizza cheese (which is optional).  Making great pizza and tidying the house made me feel like a domestic goddess.

    Today we had a mexican birthday lunch for my brother in Geelong.  He was at a gig in Melbourne and missed it.  The family enjoyed some hearty tacos, nachos and enchiladas in his honour.

    Fortunately he got to my parents' place in time for dessert.  We gave him a shovel for his birthday and he dug into the chocolate cake.  Mum also made a pavolva.  I wasn't organised enough to bake for the lunch. 

    Sylvia and I managed to get along to the Coburg Farmers Market before her morning gymnastics lesson.  So my contribution was a packet of crispy tortilla chips and these wonderful strawberries.  A nice snack while my nieces organised a talent quest.  We also bought 3kg of apples at the market.

    We also bought bagels at the farmers market.  That meant dinner was sorted when E and Sylvia and I got home. I had a deliciously messy bagel filled with leftover chilli non carne, vegan cheese sauce and spinach.  Eaten while we watched The Goodies DVD.

    A fun start to the school holidays.  It promises to be filled with Easter, playdates, Katie Perry, apples, Sponge Bob Square Pants, cleaning, movies and perhaps some silly walks.

    More vegan pizzas on Green Gourmet Giraffes:
    Asparagus sauce, goats cheeze, roast pumpkin and red capsicum 
    Buffalo cauliflower sourdough pizza with tofu blue cheese spread
    Carrot and leek pizzaShamburger pizza
    Tofu ricotta, kale, and carrot chips on pizza

    More vegan pizzas from elsewhere online:
    All dressed pizza with (beet) pepperoni slices - Ricki Heller
    Avocado-lime whip fruit medley pizza in a sugar cinnamon crust - Oh She Glows
    Broccoli cheddar pizza - But yes ... I do eat potatoes
    Taco pizza with corn chips, cheese and avocado - Vegan Miam
    Turkish pizza with mushroom and walnut minced meat - Coconut and Berries 

    Posted March 28, 2015 11:15 PM by Johanna GGG

    Challenge Accepted!

    Chocolate Frangelico Macarons

    So after reading a lot about chickpea juice and its amazing similarity to egg whites for vegan meringue baking, I decided to jump on the bandwagon. I used this recipe for Chocolate Amaretto Macarons, and substituted Frangelico for the liquor in the icing.

    And so my first attempt* at macarons was a moderate success!

    It worked! Mostly... I think I added too much vanilla and piped some too big so they spread too much. Also they are a little gooey and undercooked inside, but otherwise very yummy!

    I think next time I need more chickpea juice (everyone is calling it aqua faba now), less vanilla essence, and to pipe them smaller and bake a little longer.

    (*There was one other attempt with a packet mix, but that was such a dismal failure that melted all over my oven that we don't speak of it)

    Posted March 28, 2015 09:49 PM by Kate

    March 26, 2015

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Maha II

    March 6, 2015

    We first visited Maha a few years ago and had a good, but not amazing meal. Since then, seemingly every vegan we know has raved non-stop about how well they're catered for at Maha. So when friends organised a big group vegan feast there we joined in to see if it measured up. Everything was pre-arranged - we booked in for a five-course vegan degustation ($95 a head) and turned up with nothing to decide except what to drink. I sampled various wines ordered by more focussed dining companions, while Cindy dived into the cocktails with a very satisfactory Amman Sash (Ketel One Citron, cointreau, vanilla syrup, Kinnie and a red liquorice garnish). Also pictured below are our first couple of shared plates - some lightly spiced chickpea chips and a plate of young carrots simply dressed with oil and lemon.

    After the table demolished the shared dishes, we moved onto a few individual plates - firstly the excellently crunchy zucchini felafel with pumpkin puree, tomatoes and a crisp of za'atar and sesame bread.

    Everything kicked up a notch with the next dish: Char-grilled baby corn with enoki mushrooms, hazelnuts and a cauliflower and saffron purée. This dish got overlooked when we reflected on our favourite dishes at the end of the night, but it was exceptional - a brilliant combination of flavours and textures.

    Then came probably the most well-received dish of the evening: a truffled fava puree topped with asparagus, walnut crumbs and chilli oil. Everything about this was perfect - the rich truffley puree, lightly roasted asparagus and lots of crunchy goodness from the walnuts. The chilli oil was mild but cut through the richness. This was sublime.

    While everyone recovered from those two wonderful dishes, another round of share plates came out: a sumac fattoush that fell just the right side of being too salty, a brown rice pilaf with pumpkin seeds, a combination of ras-el-hanout spiced pumpkin, almonds, mint and radish that I loved and my favourite dish of the night: red lentil manti with aleppo pepper dressing and carrot puree.

    We were all a bit blown away by the savoury dishes, so were happy to have a brief pause before the dessert came out. We also got to have a quick chat with Shane Delia, Maha's head chef, who seemed super enthused about putting together vegan menus (I guess he wasn't going to be too negative with a table of 16 wildly enthused veg*ns in staring adoringly up at him).

    The dessert course was a vanilla vegan sponge with rose water and watermelon ice, pineapple gel, micro basil and coconut sorbet. This was sharp and refreshing, but not quite the indulgent finish we felt our incredible meal deserved.

    So we ordered a bonus round of Turkish delight doughnuts (5 for $15), which were deliciously puffy little balls of fried sweetness.

    Maha really exceeded our expectations on this visit - the five course meal gets you something like 10 different dishes, all of which were great and a handful of which were truly incredible. The service was superb, the booze flowed liberally and the atmosphere was buzzing without being deafening.

    We staggered out happy after a night of wonderful company and superb food. Maha really deliver for vegans - it's a fine dining place where the vegan dishes feel like they've been given as much thought as the non-vegan options. Add it to your list!


    Read about our first visit to Maha here. Quinces and Kale has already blogged this dinner plus an earlier visit to Maha. Carla at easy as vegan pie wasn't quite as enthusiastic with her vegan experience a few years back.


    21 Bond St, Melbourne
    9629 5900

    Accessibility: Maha has reasonably spaced tables, is a little dim and loud, and has full table service. The toilets are highly accessible and there's a lift next to the staircase entry to the building.

    Posted March 26, 2015 07:22 PM by Michael


    I Dream Of Sushi, Moonee Ponds

    I was in Moonee Ponds today right near Puckle Street, which meant I finally got to visit I Dream Of Sushi. Whenever I’ve been in the area, it’s been after they close so today I wasn’t going to miss this lunch opportunity! I’ve heard a few vegans saying how much they like I Dream Of...
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    Posted March 26, 2015 04:22 PM

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Celia's overnight sourdough bread - step by step photos

    I was at a market recently and tempted by the expensive sourdough loaves.  I had to remind myself that I had a fresh loaf of sourdough bread at home that had come out of the oven only a hour or so beforehand.  Thanks to the lovely Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, it was ridiculously easy to make but even easier to eat.

    It seems crazy that a bread which has very little kneading is so so so good.  Yet you can see in the photos that it has a chewy golden crust and an open tender crumb.  I send Sylvia to school with sandwiches made of the bread.  We eat it on lazy weekends at home.

    I have even given some of my sourdough starter and Celia's recipe to two of the mothers at school who hadn't baked sourdough bread before.  These friends have had great success with it.  It is lovely to have other sourdough bakers to chat to in the playground.  And it demonstrates that it works for others too.  It is such a brilliant recipe.

    The bread I have been making is an overnight sourdough bread.  I have been baking it regularly since December and still am in love with it.  It requires very little kneading and very little attention.  I usually prepare the dough before I go to bed and bake it in the morning but sometimes start it in the morning and bake it in the evening.  Today I am going to share some step by step photos and my notes on the process.


    A few hours before I make the loaf, I take my sourdough starter out of the fridge and feed it so it gets nice and bubbly.

    NOTES: However I have had days where I have taken it from the fridge and put it straight in the mixture and it still works.  My starter is 100% hydration (ie I add equal grams of flour and water) but Celia's is a slightly different hydration because she uses cup measures to feed her starter.

    About half an hour before I go to bed (or first thing in the morning) mix

    300g of bubbly starter
    570g water
    18g salt
    1 kg of flour

    NOTES: I usually mix the starter, water and salt first and then add the flour but sometimes I do it all together.  Celia suggested using your hands.  Some days I just use a spoon and some days I dig my hands in as well.  Cover with clingwrap and rest for 30 minutes.

    Knead in the bowl for about 1 minute.  Cover with clingwrap and leave at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours.

    NOTES: I sometimes put a little flour on my hands if the dough is sticky.  On a couple of occasions I halved the dough to let it rise as two balls but this is too fussy.  However I did discover that the dough kneads smoother and easier if the bowl is cleaned and oiled.  But again it is not something I really want to do late at night or first thing in the morning.

    I usually grease the clingwrap in case it rises enough to stick to it.  Or sometimes I have dusted it with maize flour.

    In the morning or evening the dough should be risen.

    Scrape dough out onto a lightly floured board.  Very gently without punching the air out, fold the dough in three.

    NOTES: I have a silicon spatula that I use to scrape the dough out of the bowl.  The dough should not be punched down at this stage.  I use maize flour - a very fine polenta or cornmeal that has been in my flour collection for ages and finally I am using it.  Celia uses a fine semolina but warns that wheat flour makes it stick too much. Hmmm... I wonder if I forgot to fold the dough in three last time.

    Cut the dough in half and shape into two loaves.  Place on a floured surface and cover with the lightly greased clingwrap.  Set aside to rise for 30 minutes.

    NOTES: I used to use a knife to cut the dough but it tore at the dough.  Celia has dough scrapers to cut her dough but I don't have any.  So I  started to use a firm plastic eggflip/spatula that is a bit like a dough scraper.  It cuts more cleanly.

    I am still learning to shape the dough but find online advice useful such as Celia's advice.  I have sometimes sprinkled flour over the top of the dough instead of greasing the clingwrap.

    While the loaves rise, preheat oven to 240 C, with casserole dishes heating if you are using them.

    NOTES: Celia bakes her loaves in enamel roasters.  I have a cheap oval ceramic casserole dish and an old round ceramic casserole dish.  Neither are ideal but they do the job.  I prefer oval to round loaves.  Oval loaves produce more manageable slices, though it is easier to shape the round loaves.  However my main problem with the round casserole dish is that it doesn't have handles and is hard to get out of the oven when it is quite snug against the oval one.  I keep meaning to find another dish but it is not that high on my list of priorities.

    It is not necessary to use the casserole dishes - bread can also be baked on an oven tray or in a tin, neither of which needs to be preheated when you preheat the oven.

    After half an hour the loaves will have risen slightly.

    Slash the loaves and put in the heated casserole dishes with lids on (or on a tray or in a tin). 

    NOTES: I haven't been great at slashing loaves.  Lately I have been doing better.  I am not sure if it is the recipe of my purchase of a stanley knife to slash.  The stanley knife is constantly getting rusty and I need to scrub it so it is not ideal.  A firm confident hand also helps with slashing.

    Then I find that transferring the loaves into the heated casserole dishes and keep the slash open because even my gentle handling seems to make the dough a little misshapen.  However this usually seems to sort itself out in the oven even if the dough lands in the dish a bit skewhiff.

    And yes, the casserole dishes don't need greasing.  If you use a tray or tin you might need grease or baking paper.

    Bake for 20 minutes with lid on.

    Remove lid and bake another 20 minutes.  Then reduce oven heat to 180 C and return to oven for another 10 minutes to make sure the crust is crispy and golden brown.

    Cool your loaves on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.

    NOTES: The bread keeps baking when out of the oven.  If you slice in too early the texture will be claggy but if you are really impatient or hungry it is very edible.

    Slice up your bread and enjoy.  It is best on day of baking, delicious the next day and then after that I find either freezing it or toasting it is best.

    • I have made this recipe with half the ingredients and it works well but I figure we will always go through the bread even if some needs to go into the freezer so now I always make two loaves.  I have even been known to give the second loaf to a friend.
    • If you don't have scales you can convert to cups - one friend doesn't have scales and is delighted with her bread.  
    • I recently tried adding a tablespoon or two of chia seeds and about 1/4 of the flour being wholemeal.  This worked well.

    And for those who like such things, I have made an image of all the step by step photos.

    I can't recommend this bread highly enough.  In fact I suspect I might not have been keeping my sourdough starter alive if I didn't have this easy recipe to make it a doddle to bake sourdough bread regularly.

    I am sending this sourdough bread to Susan of Wild Yeast for YeastSpotting.  And I am sending it to Jacqueline at Tinned Tomatoes for Bookmarked Recipes.

    More sourdough recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
    Basic sourdough loaf
    Sourdough chocolate cake 
    Sourdough hot cross buns
    Sourdough pizza bases
    Sourdough flatbreads

    More sourdough recipes elsewhere online:
    24 hour GF sourdough bread - Gluten Free Gourmand
    Hazelnut and fruit sourdough loaf - Milk and Honey
    Sourdough bread bowls - My Borrowed Kitchen
    Sourdough currant buns - CityHippyFarmGirl
    Sourdough english muffins - In Vegetabes We Trust

    On the Stereo:
    Teddy Boys Don't Knit: Vivian Stanshall

    Posted March 26, 2015 10:58 AM by Johanna GGG

    March 25, 2015


    What I Ate And A Trip Back To Loving Hut Northcote

    I ran out of bananas this week. As a dedicated banana-in-daily-smoothies fan, life felt wrong somehow. I won’t have smoothies unless I have banana! Same with my overnight oats. No banana? No oats. Running out of bananas is as bad as running out of nutritional yeast! Wednesday is known as Waffles Wednesday here. The family...
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    Posted March 25, 2015 10:51 PM

    March 24, 2015

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    where's the best beyond 2000?

    A special milestone is a good time for blog updates, and we've just performed our annual audit of our where's the best? page. It's been a good year for breakfasts, with Admiral Cheng-Ho, El Chino, True North and Twenty & Six Espresso earning adds to our list. Pub-wise, meat mockers The Cornish Arms were long overdue for inclusion, while The Sporting Club Hotel has been rebranded as the Charles Weston Hotel.

    There's been more cheap mock at Loving Hut Northcote, Springvale's Nha Hang 5 Sao and Trang Bakery, where Michael has embarked on a banh mi bonanza. In the city, Supercharger has been offering a much fresher, wholefoods alternative.

    The spectacular new veg*n opening of the past year, though, has undoubtedly been Smith & Daughters. It's about bloody time Melbourne got a cool vegan bar, and this one offers a lot more besides - irresistible fried snacks, 'eggy' brunches and luscious desserts. They might even have a new entry for our next best-of in 2016.

    There've been surprisingly few closures to report, with the dessert category hardest hit - Berrissimo is no more, and Coco Loco has become Papasito, although I hear they're still serving the same wonderful chocolate mousse.

    On the home front, we've accrued a number of new favourite recipes. We've been getting good value from Isa Does It (with repeat use of the sweet potato & red curry soup, the curried peanut sauce bowl with tofu & kale and the lemon & blueberry loaf), Veganissimo! (especially the potato waffles and the ginger cheesecake slice) and Vegan Soul Kitchen (including the cumin-cayenne mashed potatoes with caramelised onions). We've been predictably admiring of Ottolenghi's Plenty More and have been goaded on by a cookbook club with friends - I've been most charmed by the apricot, walnut & lavender cake (and, admittedly, the circumstances under which it was made) and proud of my turn at the chocolate halva sundae.

    We've had new successes from older cookbooks, including kale and coconut salad, kung pao seitan with asparagus and alfajores. The internet has tossed up gems like cocoa granola and banh mi. And finally, I celebrated my end-of-2014 birthday by veganising and deglutenifying an icecream cake from my childhood. New restaurant openings and shiny books are fun, but I'm still finding that there's just as much inspiration to be taken from older sources.

    Posted March 24, 2015 06:19 PM by Cindy

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Thai Nee Cafe and East Brunswick Street Art

    There was a time when I would go to Thai restaurants every now and again.  It is long passed.  However when I had a particularly wet Pad Thai at a market recently it was so wrong that I longed for a good Pad Thai.  So when Sylvia went to a sleepover birthday party E and I had the rare treat of a dinner date at Thai Nee.  We ate well, we were treated well, and we admired the street art outside.

    I chose Thai Nee in East Brunswick because we had been there with friends years ago.  It was so long ago I barely remember the meal but I know I enjoyed it.  I was pretty sure that it was vegetarian-friendly because the friends who chose it were also vegetarian.

    We were pleased when we arrived to find a rose and a candle at the table.  The restaurant wasn't that big, though not quite tiny.  It was fairly busy with not many empty seats.  (The photo below was taken later in the evening after some tables emptied.)  When I asked the waiters about dietary issues they were very helpful in telling me what was and wasn't vegetarian on the menu.  While I didn't ask directly I got the impression that they were vegan-friendly as well.

    And while I am reminiscing, do you remember a time when vegetarian meals were cheaper than meat meals.  I always thought this was because meat was more expensive but these days I have no idea of the price of meat so I don't know if it has changed.

    Anyway, I loved the Thai Nee menu because it is a list of types of dishes with the option for each dish of Vegetables, Meat or Seafood.  In each case the Vegetables dish was the cheapest.  However the menu prices were very reasonable.  We ordered spring rolls, 2 mains, rice, roti and tea.  It came to $42 for both of us.  (NB It is cash only and BYO.)

    We started with vegetarian spring rolls.  They were crisp and hot and made us happy while we waited for our main course.  E then had a chicken curry with rice which he loved.  Sadly we didn't order enough rice to have it in one of the fancy silver bowls.  We also had roti with our mains.  (I was told that the dipping sauce had fish sauce in it so I avoided it.)  It was fantastic.  Really light and fluffy with crisp edges.

    My main course was Pad Thai.  It seems a given, but there were so many other tempting meals on the menu that I swithered before ordering.  Probably one of the disappointments was that the tofu was not very hot and a bit bland but I did appreciate having some tofu.

    I was surprised that there were no peanuts on top.  Perhaps our nut sensitive world makes it too risky.  When I asked, I was brought a little dish of chopped nuts.  I also was impressed that they checked if I wanted egg in my Pad Thai.  I said yes.  (Despite my dislike of eggs, I can usually cope with little bits of egg in a dish.)

    So overall I really enjoyed my Pad Thai.  The flat rice noodles were full of flavour in that pleasingly sticky way and there was a satisfying amount of vegetables as well the the tofu and peanuts and eggs.

    By the time we left it was dark and harder to see the artwork on the side of the Thai Nee building.  I had taken this photo a while back.  It seems a good segue into the street art in the area.

    When we arrived at Thai Nee I couldn't go in without crossing the street to look at the street art on the other side of the road.  It is full of interesting characters.

    I particularly liked the bird woman.  (Or perhaps bird man?)

    And I was quite taken by the little house on fire.  I wonder why the person is standing outside.  Are they watching their own house burn, having escaped, or are they just a passerby?

    Then we noticed the some of the artwork seemed incomplete.

    I really need to go back and see if more has been added to the mural since our visit.

    Meanwhile I have some other photos of street art from the same area of East Brunswick that it seems timely to share.  (I have more street art photos than I ever have time to share on my blog!)

    Isn't this little girl cute?

    More street art, some of it in the lanes just off Lygon Street.

    And I end with one of my favourite pictures that I see when we drive up and down Lygon Street.  It makes me think of Swan Lake and the poignant moment when the swan is dying. 

    Thai Nee Cafe
    150 Lygon Street
    East Brunswick
    Tel: (03) 9388 0411
    Open for dinner, Wed to Mon

    Thai Nee Cafe on Urbanspoon

    Posted March 24, 2015 01:12 PM by Johanna GGG

    March 23, 2015

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Smothered seitan chops

    March 1, 2015

    Once back home from Sydney I was eager to have some fun in the kitchen. I pulled out Vegan Soul Kitchen and committed to some serious cooking, preparing my own seitan in the slow cooker throughout the afternoon, then trying two new Soul Kitchen  recipes for dinner.

    I was a little surprised that Bryant Terry didn't include a seitan recipe in his book, but there are plenty of others around. I had a go at the moo-free seitan in Vegan Sandwiches Save The Day and it proved very successful. Once the seitan slices were dredged in arrowroot and shallow-fried by Terry's method I got pretty excited. "I think I've made chops!" I told Michael. We tested a small piece; it was very juicy inside and crisp on the outer.

    The other handy thing about making my own seitan was all the gluteny stock I ended up with. Much of it was used for the mushroom gravy that these 'chops' were simmered in. Terry has an elaborate recipe for making mushroom gravy from scratch, but I reckon any vegetable stock would be A-OK.

    Smothered in mushroom gravy and some wilted cabbage, I'd wager that this seitan was as hearty as any slab of meat. On the side we ate steamed rice and sweet coconut-ginger creamed corn, another neat vegan variation on a homely dish dreamed up by Bryant Terry.

    Smothered seitan chops
    (adapted very slightly from Bryant Terry's Vegan Soul Kitchen)

    mushroom gravy
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    250g mushrooms, sliced
    2 tablespoons wholemeal flour
    1 cup soy milk
    1 cup stock
    salt and white pepper

    ~1/2 cup olive oil
    5 tablespoons arrowroot/tapioca flour
    500g seitan, sliced into 1cm thick medallions
    1 large onion, chopped coarsely
    5 cloves garlic, minced
    2 cups stock
    1 cup cabbage, finely chopped
    2 jalapenos, minced (I used pickled ones)
    2 tablespoons parsley, minced

    Prepare the mushroom gravy in a medium-sized saucepan. Set that saucepan over medium heat and warm up 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Drop in the mushrooms and saute them for 5 minutes. Add the other tablespoon of olive oil and the flour and stir them through the mushrooms; cook them, stirring regularly for about 10 minutes. Gradually stir in the milk and the stock, then salt and pepper to your preference. Simmer the gravy for around 15 minutes, continuing to stir it often. Take the gravy off the heat and set it aside.

    Pour a substantial layer of oil in a large frypan and set it over medium-high heat. Place the arrowroot in a shallow bowl. Dredge each piece of seitan in the arrowroot to lightly coat both sides and drop it into the frypan, frying it until golden on both sides. Repeat with the rest of the seitan. When they're finished frying, drain the seitan chops on absorbent paper; when all the chops are done, turn off the heat and clean out the pan.

    Set the frypan back on medium-high heat and pour in 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil to lightly coat the base. Add the onion and fry it for 3-4 minutes, then reduce the heat and continue sauteing until the onion is thoroughly softened and starting to brown, another 10 minutes. Stir through the garlic and saute for a further 2-3 minutes. Pour over the mushroom gravy and the stock and bring it all to the boil. Add the seitan chops back in and reduce the heat, cover the frypan and simmer it all for 30 minutes (plenty of time to cook some corn and rice!).

    When the simmering is done, add the cabbage and the jalapenos to the pan, gently fold them into the sauce, and continue simmering everything for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle over the parsley and serve.

    Posted March 23, 2015 08:20 PM by Cindy

    quinces and kale

    another visit to maha

    asparagus, truffled fava bean puree, almonds and walnut crumb

    Early in March, sixteen members of our vegan dining group got together to eat at Maha.

    Maha is one of my favourite fine dining restaurants and they look after vegans incredibly well.

    We had a visit to the table from Shane Delia. He said that they no longer have a vegetarian menu but a vegan menu with vegetarian additions. This is such a wonderful approach. I have eaten far too many vegan dishes that started life as vegetarian with all the flavour removed. He said that the chefs in the kitchen all like the challenge of cooking for vegans. It was great to see vegan food taken seriously.

    We ordered the five course banquet at $95.  Here is what we ate. Unfortunately the batteries on my camera were flat so all I have are photos from my phone.

    We started with two shared plates, some spiced chickpea chips and carrots dressed with lemon.

    chick pea chips carrots with lemon

    Next came the individual plates.

    Zucchini falafel with spiced pumpkin puree, tomato and zataar sesame wafer.

    zucchini falafel with tomato, pumpkin puree and zataar and sesame bread

    Next a beautiful dish of grilled baby corn,  enoki mushrooms and hazelnuts on a cauliflower puree.

    grilled baby corn, enoki mushrooms, hazelnuts with cauliflower puree

    The next dish was probably the dish of the night for most of us. Grilled asparagus on a truffled fava puree with a hint of chilli in the dressing, crispy almonds and a toasted walnut crumb. If this was my last meal on earth I’d be happy. A perfect combination of flavours and textures,

    asparagus, truffled fava bean puree, almonds and walnut crumbMore shared plates followed.

    These included roasted ras el hanout pumpkin, radishes and mint. A fattoush salad which was incredibly delicious with its tart flavours. A rice pilaf with toasted pumpkin seeds. And lastly some red lentil stuffed manti (Turkish dumplings) with a carrot puree and aleppo pepper dressing.

    ras el hanout roasted pumpkin, radishes and mint fattoush


    rice pilaf with roasted pumpkin seeds manti stuffed with red lentils with pumpkin puree and aleppo pepper

    Dessert was a pistachio sponge with pineapple foam and a watermelon and rosewater granita.

    pistachio sponge, pineapple foam and watermelon granita

    Those of us who’ve been lucky enough to eat at Maha before, know how delicious the turkish delight stuffed donuts are,  so we ordered a donut each.

    donuts with turkish delight stuffing and walnuts

    Maha is so good for vegans. Delicious flavours and a combination of rustic and refined food at what I think is a very reasonable price for the quality. Lunch is a particular bargain at around half the price of dinner with similar food.

    I’ve been three times and I’d always be happy to go again. Now I just need to work out how to make that truffled fava puree…


    21 Bond St, Melbourne

    Posted March 23, 2015 10:00 AM

    March 22, 2015

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Lime and white chocolate ice cream

    Last week was a funny kind of week.  Sylvia's school had a pupil-free day and she then had a couple of sick days.  I had to cancel her swimming lesson and an appointment.  Not everything was pushed to the side.  We made ice cream.  Really good lime and white chocolate ice cream.

    Regular readers might remember that my siblings and I are a bit 'meh' about ice cream because it was served on nights when my mum didn't bake desserts when we were kids.  So when I had condensed milk, white chocolate chips and ice cream cones leftover from Sylvia's birthday party, I was very tempted to make the Kitchen Maid's lime and white chocolate slice.  I even bought the limes.

    We had lots of ice cream cones after I initially bought the wrong sort for the castle cake.  I bought a tub of caramel and honeycomb ice cream but there were still many cones left.  E said we needed to buy another tub of ice cream to use up the ice cream cones.  It seemed a good idea just to make ice cream and get those cones out of our life!

    I used the no churn condensed milk and cream method of making ice cream.  Sylvia loves ice cream so much that we bought her a little single serve ice cream maker at Christmas.  You freeze the base and then squeeze cold liquid to make instant ice cream. 

    I am not sure I am thrilled with it.  It takes up a lot of room in the freezer for not much return.  Perhaps we don't use it well or perhaps my lack of enthusiasm for ice cream has prevented me embracing it.

    I am more enthusiastic about my lemon and lime trees that are heavy with fruit right now.  It seems like they will be ripe any day now.  Until then we are still buying lemons and limes.  As I did for this ice cream.  Then I used a lime that had fallen off the tree.  I found it rather sour but I find most lemons and limes rather sour.  Perhaps the limes are closer to being ripe than I thought.

    The ice cream was creamy but I really liked how the lime took the edge off the sweetness.  It was more prominent than the white chocolate.  We all loved it.  However I found that it was hard to get the right moment to scoop it out.  It seemed either too hard to scoop in a nice round ball or too soft and mushy to hold its shape.  I think I preferred the latter.  One thing is for sure.  It has made me look forward to our limes coming off the tree and into kitchen.

    More ice cream recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
    Rhubarb and white chocolate ice cream
    Strawberry ice cream with agar agar 
    Vegan chocolate ice cream 
    Violet crumble ice cream 

    More ice cream recipes from elsewhere:
    Cookies'n'malted cream ice cream - Where's the Beef?
    Mint choc chip cookie dough ice cream - Elizabeth's Kitchen
    Strawberry ice cream - Free People
    Toasted coconut ice cream - Ice Cream by Coco Cake

    Lime and white chocolate ice cream
    An original Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe

    1 cup white chocolate chips
    juice of 2 1/2 limes
    zest of 2 limes
    3/4 cup condensed milk
    300ml cream (I used 51%)

    Melt 3/4 cup of white choc chips.  Gradually add the condensed milk into the melted chocolate, stirring all the while so it remains smooth.  Stir in the lime juice and zest.  Add the cream and blend with electric beaters until creamy (but not buttery - I do this on a low speed so I don't overbeat suddenly).  Gently stir in remaining 1/4 cup of white choc chips.  Spoon into a tub with lid.  Freeze until firm.

    On the Stereo:
    Father Abraham in Smurfland

    Posted March 22, 2015 11:28 PM by Johanna GGG


    Week In Review And A Potluck Picnic!

    Aaaaand another week has flown by (and where I realise my last blog post was a week ago and think how did that happen?)! Up top here we have our cat Maltesers (Malteezies, Maltshitskis, etc etc) who lists sleeping and eating as two of his favourite habits. Like me, really. So I’ve just waddled back...
    Continue reading »

    Posted March 22, 2015 08:04 PM

    March 21, 2015

    Challenge Accepted!

    Bento fillers

    So I know I've been AWOL for a while, I've been recovering from ankle surgery and busy getting back into work. But I'm still bento-ing!

    Here are some photos from my recent efforts, including epic cooking day today in which I made spicy lentil balls, carrot and parsnip kinpara, mini green pea burgers, and teeny muffin pan tofu omelets with red bell pepper and mushrooms (from Isa Does It, this is the easiest and best way to make omelets ever). [Not pictured: mini black bean burgers and daikon radish pickle.]


    Posted March 21, 2015 11:16 PM by Kate

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    2000 posts

    We're celebrating another blog millennium with some alterations to our site design - hope you like the new look!

    Actually, there's not much time to write as we're cooking all sorts of goodies for tomorrow's celebratory picnic. It'll be great to see some of you there.

    I can't imagine what our years in Melbourne, eating habits and circle of friends would be like if we hadn't set up where's the beef?. Thanks for your readership, your recommendations and your encouragement.

    Posted March 21, 2015 03:30 PM by Cindy

    March 20, 2015

    vegan about town

    lemon myrtle and macadamia nut biscuits

    Housemate Bella has some AMAZING biscuit recipes up her sleeve, and this is one of them. It's one of my favourites because a) LEMON MYRTLE, b) we have a lemon myrtle tree. If you don't have a lemon myrtle tree, you can just buy them ground. No pictures because they didn't really turn out but you must eat these ASAP. I'm eating one right now. 

    Lemon myrtle and macadamia nut biscuits

    You will need:

    200g vegan margarine
    100g white sugar
    225g macadamias (chopped)
    225g flour
    some lemon myrtle leaves (fresh or dried)

    If you're not using a blender, chop the macadamias and lemon myrtle leaves first. 


    Preheat your oven to 200°C

    Cream margarine and sugar (in a blender or with a whisk). Add your macadamias and mix until all the pieces are blended in. Mix in your lemon myrtle leaves. Add your flour. Mixture should be a bit crumbly but stick together well. 

    Roll into balls roughly the size of a golf ball. Put them on a tray greased or lined with baking paper.

    Bake for 10-15 mins, until they're a little bit brown on top. Wait until the tray is cool, then put them on a cooling rack.

    Posted March 20, 2015 11:16 AM by steph

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Don't forget! where's the beef? picnic

    In our 1999th post, we'd like to remind you that we're holding a 2000-post celebratory picnic this Sunday March 22 from noon. We'll set up at the northern end of Princes Park, near the pond. Come by and say hi, and if you want to stick around a while, please bring your own picnic gear too - blankets or chairs, plates, cups and cutlery and a plate of food to share. (The most sharing plates of food are ones that are vegan, gluten-free and otherwise diet-inclusive.) We couldn't have asked for a better weather forecast- it's likely to be 27°C and sunny!

    If you're a facebooker, join the event page for last-minute updates. 

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

    Posted March 20, 2015 07:34 AM by Cindy

    March 19, 2015

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    DIY cupcake decorating - a fun birthday party activity

    When planning Sylvia's birthday party one of the first activities that we decided upon was cupcake decorating.  Sylvia was very excited about it.  I was pretty happy at the idea of using some of the sprinkles and tubes of icing that lingered in the pantry.  I love the look of the stuff but am less keen to eat it which creates a dilemma when decorating cakes.

    I bought some sturdy paper muffin cups so that the cakes would not collapse in the little hands.  I also decided to bake the cakes the day before because cakes can be quite fragile on the day of baking.  I found a recipe for patty cakes (as we often called small cakes or fairy cakes before the advent of "cupcakes"). 

    Unfortunately the muffin cups were rather large and I only made 8 rather than 12 that the recipe promised.  They were rather large for little girls to eat and I would have preferred one or two spare cupcakes in case of accidents.  At least they were easy to handle and gave plenty of scope for decoration.

    This was an activity for the backyard.  I didn't want sticky sprinkles and icing all over the house.  The weather kept threatening to be too hot or too wet but in the end it was overcast and mild enough.  I prepared a tray of sprinkles, lollies, icing tubes and spreaders that could be taken outside as we started.

    It was quite windy but Kerin showed me how to secure the tablecloth with a twist of the cloth and a peg at each corner.  My parents also helped by bringing over one of their trestle tables. 
    I had lots of icing leftover from the castle cake, though I made the mistake of adding a little milk because it was so thick and it curdled.  I coloured one lot pink and another yellow.  I may have well not have bothered with the yellow. 

    I used cupcake papers to give each child a paper with a few spoonfuls of icing and a paper for them to choose some sprinkles and lollies.  This was to stop them loading up all the lollies or sprinkles.  Each child also had a spreader - they are quite short blunt knifes for butter and dips.  They were easier for kids to handle and don't flip over like longer bread and butter knifes.

    The kids just loved decorating their own cupcake.  (Again it might have been helpful to write their names on each cupcake but they seemed to know their own.)   They were so proud of their creations.  A couple of kids came late but one of the parents helped to decorate the extra cakes so they had one each.  I had expected that the kids would eat their cupcakes with afternoon tea but there was so much food that they ended up taking them home.

    I am sending the patty cakes to Caroline Makes (and The More Then Occasional Baker) for the Alphabakes blog event.  This month the theme is the letter S (for sprinkles).  I am also sending them to Eat Your Veg (and Bangers and Mash) for the March Family Foodies event: Let's Get Baking.

    More fun cupcake decorations on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
    Animal cupcakes: chicks, pigs, frogs and mice
    Jelly bean flower cupcakes
    Owl and spider cupcakes
    Panda cupcakes
    Small cakes
    St Patrick's day cupcakes (with chocolate coins)
    Strawberry cupcakes 

    Patty cakes
    From Kidspot
    Makes 8 to 12

    125g butter
    3/4 cup sugar
    2 eggs
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1 cup milk
    2 cups self-raising flour

    Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Beat until smooth.  Fold in half the milk and half the flour and then repeat with remaining milk and flour.  Spoon into pattypan cups or a greased pattypan (or muffin or cupcake) tray.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

    On the Stereo:
    The definitive Simon and Garfunkle

    Posted March 19, 2015 03:38 PM by Johanna GGG

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Reuben Hills

    February 24 & 25, 2015

    We both had to work during our couple of days in Surry Hills, but there was enough time to squeeze in breakfast each morning. Having knocked off one Sydney icon in bills, we headed for another - Reuben Hills, one of Surry Hills' key hipster haunts.

    It's a beautiful space, repurposed industrial and split into two levels: roastery upstairs, cafe downstairs. The cafe has low key neon artwork on the walls, gorgeous native plant centrepieces on the tables and lots of light streaming in the big back door. The coffee is excellent, the best I've had in Sydney (added bonus: they do an almond and macadamia milk option if you're over dairy and soy). The menu is interesting too, inspired by South and Central American food. Vegans have pretty limited options: avocado, coriander and lime on toast ($13.50) and a sago pudding (see below), but there are plenty of egg and dairy-based options for vegetarians.

    On the first morning I ordered the baleada, a Honduran tortilla with scrambled eggs, salsa blanca and charro beans ($12). It looks a bit lonely on that giant plate, but it's a decent-sized meal and the bean and egg mix is pretty filling. The beans and the salsa are spicy and warming - it's a lovely way to start the day. 

    Cindy ordered the vegan dish - blueberry sago with tapioca pearls, banana, agave syrup, almond milk and cacao nibs ($12.50).

    The sago was a big scoop of jellyish gloop with the blueberries incorporated into it. It was sweet and covered in crunchy little cocoa nibs. Cindy enjoyed it quite a lot, and it's nice that Reuben Hills are doing something vegan-friendly on the sweet side.

    We were impressed enough on our first visit that we decided to swing by again on our way to the airport. I stuck with savoury - the green chillaquiles with smoked pinto beans, seeds and currants, goats feta, sumac and a poached egg ($17.50). I wasn't quite sure what chillaquiles were - turns out they're crispy-fried tortilla bits (these were suspiciously like corn chips). The toppings were just incredible - smoky, spicy and full of textures and flavours. I was scraping the sauce out with my fingers by the end.

    The main reason we'd returned was Cindy's desire to try this next dish: a pancake with date caramel, pecan praline and quandong icecream ($14).

    Look at that! It's a beautiful dish - big crunchy/chewy praline chunks, a hefty smear of jam and the subtly flavoured ice-cream dotted with edible flowers. Cindy reported that it was too sweet (yep, even for her) - freeing the pecans from their toffee casing might've kept this in check, allowing the jam and icecream to feature properly.

    Reuben Hills is an excellent cafe - the coffee is top notch, the menu interesting and varied and the prices not obscene. Service was friendly and efficient and it's a lovely place to linger in while you gear up to face the day. Of course, maybe all my positive vibes about Reuben Hills reflect the fact that we got to share the space with this little guy on the first day!



    Reuben Hills
    61 Albion St, Surry Hills
    02 9211 5556

    Accessibility: The back door (on Albion Way) is wide and flat, while the Albion St entry is a standard door with a step up. The interior is reasonably spacious with a clear corridor through the centre. The toilets are fully accessible. Your order is taken at the table and payment is at a lower counter.

    Posted March 19, 2015 07:24 AM by Michael

    March 18, 2015

    Vegetarian Life Australia

    Capitan Fracassa Cafe review

    I always like to support vegetarian and vegan focused restaurants. I love having a wide selection of dishes to choose from on the menu rather than feeling the frustration of running my eye down the menu and finding only one or two things I can order. I know many places will make changes to meals if you ask, but really, should you have to ask?!

    This weekend I checked out Capitan Fracassa Café in Carlisle St, Balaclava for Saturday brunch. The café is proud to offer plenty of options for both vegans and meat eaters with the menu clearly marked as the ‘vegan side’ and the ‘meat side’. I liked the fact that I knew where to look from the outset. The café staff was really friendly and the décor quirky and fun. Top marks for ambiance.

    I ordered the Big V brekky and hubby ordered the Corn Fritters. The Big V was super big and looked impressive. Unfortunately it didn’t taste quite as good as it looked. The good parts – the pesto tofu scramble was amazing, I loved the home made beans (despite the fact that they were only tepid in temperature) and the roast tomato was deliciously flavoursome. I wish the meal had stopped there. The mushrooms weren’t cooked through properly and the hash browns had come from a packet.  Worst of all though was the vegie bacon. It was bad – basically just slices of tofu in a smoky marinade, just warmed through and not crispy at all.

    Hubby’s corn fritters were okay but not crunchy enough on the outside and almost too corny to be enjoyable. I know it sounds strange to call a corn fritter too corny, but there wasn’t enough other stuff going on to keep them interesting after the first few mouthfuls. The salad on top was nice though.

    I had high hopes for Capitan Fracassa but came away feeling more than a little disappointed. The café has lots of potential with its interesting half vegan menu concept and the good vibe, but unfortunately the chef missed on too many elements in both meals to make me want to return anytime soon.

    Capitan Fracassa Café
    115 Carlisle St, Balaclava, VIC 3183

    Overall rating: 6/10

    wpid-20150314_112901.jpg wpid-20150314_112910.jpg wpid-20150314_114656.jpg wpid-20150314_114240.jpg wpid-20150314_114303.jpg

    Posted March 18, 2015 02:27 PM

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Gelato Messina

    February 24, 2015

    I first read about Gelato Messina on The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry a few years ago. Though it sounded good, N2 Extreme Gelato seemed more exciting still and the former recommendation lapsed in the back of my mind. Both businesses have since opened stores in Melbourne and again N2 grabbed earlier exposure on our blog. Gelato Messina nevertheless seemed to have something good going on, with the Melbourne and Surry Hills stores clogged with queues every time I walked past them. After dinner at Sugarcane, I finally decided to attach myself to the end of it and find out what all the fuss was about.

    The standard menu runs to two dozen gelato flavours and almost a dozen more vegan-friendly sorbets, and that's not even counting the half-dozen specials they offer at any one time. Scoops with gluten, nuts, eggs and alcohol are clearly marked, though the gelateria prints a disclaimer that they cannot guarantee any product in the shop is truly allergen-free.

    Michael didn't really need to look further than their first standard flavour, such is his fondness for apple pie ($4 for one scoop, pictured above at back). It was a very convincing act, with roasted apple and cinnamon flavours embedded in the icecream and small pastry pieces studded throughout.

    Meanwhile I took a punt on the most novel of their specials. Mr Potatohead promised peanut butter gelato, white chocolate and potato chips ($4 for one scoop, pictured above at front). I like the constituent parts, I like salty-sweet stuff and yet I harboured some skepticism as to how they'd work together. Friends: Gelato Messina masterfully melded those flavours and pulled off one of the most memorable icecreams I've ever eaten. The potato chips were folded through in large salty chunks and the peanut butter gelato was fluffy and true to flavour. I'd taste the chips, swirling the creamy gelato with my spoon, glimpsing icecream one moment and mashed potato the next. I've retold my icecream epiphany to several friends since and none of them are entirely convinced; I guess I probably won't convince you either! But damn, that Mr Potatohead gelato was special.

    My first Gelato Messina experience could not have been more rewarding. I won't hesitate to join the queue again.


    Gelato Messina is enormously popular with bloggers. In the past year this Surry Hills branch has been praised on The Law Student Diary, Simon Food Favourites, Take Me To Foodie Heaven, Millie's Food Symposium, A Moving Picture, Weekend Food Escapes by Lisa, paigebuck, Feeders Digest, Got My Vote! and Khana.

    Gelato Messina
    389 Crown St, Surry Hills
    (02) 8354 1223
    menu, specials

    Accessibility: The shop has a flat entry but is often extremely crowded. Options are clearly visible in a low-ish display case, we ordered and paid over a high counter. We didn't visit toilets.

    Posted March 18, 2015 07:48 AM by Cindy

    March 17, 2015

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    St Patrick's Day potato pie and green moments

    Happy St Patrick's Day.  It has been quite low-key here this year.  No banner making, profusion of green food and stories like last year!  (Where has that energy gone?)  Rather than focus on green this year, I was determined to use some of the sack of potatoes in the cupboard.  I made pie.  And I do have a few green moments to share once dinner is done!

    It was only today that I finally had a little time to think about what to make for St Patrick's Day.  I recently started a St Patrick's Day Pinterest Board.  Most friends did not seem to even notice it is St Patrick's Day, though I did run into one who was wearing a "Kiss Me I'm Irish" badge and my brother is playing a St Patrick's Day gig tonight so there are still a few of us around who love that day!  But it is always heartwarming to see lots of celebrations in the blogosphere!

    Hence dinner is a good time to remember St Patrick's Day.  I found a potato pie recipe that used bacon and cream.  I veganised it with tofu bacon (or facon) and vegan alfredo sauce that were already in the fridge as well as a solo sheet of puff pastry lingering in the freezer.  Using these leftovers helped hurry it along but slicing and frying potatoes still took a while.  And then I forgot to fry up onions and scatter parsley over the cooked pie.

    Sylvia loved my forgetfulness.  She even had a second helping of the pie.  What child doesn't love pastry, potato and tofu bacon!  Oh that's right, I am just talking about my own child tonight!  I don't claim that other children will love it because I can't even claim that Sylvia would love it on another night.  E and I also loved the pie.  E added a little chilli jam but I was happy to eat it with some vegies on the side.  It wasn't as pretty as the pie in the original recipe but it was very tasty.

    I don't claim that my Irish ancestors would understand this pie.  The potatoes would be familiar enough but my vegan changes to the recipe would no doubt be a mystery to them.  However I like to think that they would appreciate me acknowledging my heritage today.  And perhaps even be pleased that I wore green in honour of them.

    I had a few other nice green moments today that I will share:

    Green Moment 1: Today I was talking about green with a friend and how despite there never been enough green clothes for me, I have a few green cardigans.  If I do see them I snap them up.  Perhaps this explains my purchase of a new green leafy plate from an op shop.  It is in most of the photos on this post so I have had good use out of it already.

    Green Moment 2: I made myself cheesey peas on toast for lunch.  I heated and mashed some green peas.  I mixed them with a spoonful of cream cheese and a little grated cheese.  It was very nice with a grinding of black pepper and some time under the grill.  However the peas were quite sweet so perhaps some spring onions in the mix would give the bite it needed.  A nice easy lunch that I would be happy to eat often.

    Green Moment 3: Finally tonight we finished reading Sylvia's book: Lob by Linda Newbery.  It is about a little girl and her grandfather seeing a little green man in the garden called Lob.  Unusually I found myself more absorbed by this children's book than by the book I have been reading (Sucked In by Shane Maloney).  Lob is such a beautifully written book about loss and our connection with the natural world.  It made me want to go outside and nurture a garden.  Anyway I have finished my book and am now about to start Neil Gaiman's Trigger Warning.

    I am sending the potato and facon pie to A Mummy Too for Recipe of the Week for 14-20 March, and to Jen’s Food (and United Cakedom) for a new event called The Pastry Challenge.  I am also sending the cheesey peas on toast to Deb Souper Sundays, a weekly soup, salad and sandwich blog event, because I hope she will accept this as an open sandwich.

    Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
    One year ago: St Patrick's Day dinner: cupcakes, spinach dip, soda bread and lots of green
    Two year ago: Potato, cabbage and facon soup for St Patrick's Day
    Three years ago: NCR Chang's crispy salad with green burgers
    Four years ago: WHB St Pat's Day Cabbage and Quicklinks
    Five years ago: Paddy’s day cabbage and smoked tofu
    Six years ago: Broccoli Burgers are Winners
    Seven years ago: St Patrick, Soup and a Shamrock

    Potato and facon pie
    Adapted from A Spicy Perspective
    Serves 3 to 4

    1 sheet frozen puff pastry
    2 tbsp oil
    2 tbsp butter
    1/4 batch of tofu bacon (facon), diced
    1 onion, thinly sliced*
    5 medium potatoes, thinly sliced*
    1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped*
    1/2 cup vegan cheese sauce (like this)*
    Salt and pepper
    Chives for garnish*

    Preheat oven to 180 C.*

    Let pastry thaw while frying the (uncooked) tofu bacon in the oil until golden brown.  While the facon is frying slice the onion and potatoes thinly as possible.  Press thawed puff pastry into a 20 to 22cm pie tin and chill in fridge until ready to fill.  Remove facon from pan with a slotted spoon to leave as much oil as possible in the frypan.  Set aside in a bowl.  Fry the onion until golden brown and transfer to bowl with facon.  Now fry the potatoes until just starting to soften.*  Return facon and onions to frypan to warm through and mix with potatoes and parsley.

    Arrange potato mixture in lined pie tin.  Pour the sauce over it.  Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown and feel soft when a knife is poked through them.  Set aside for 10 minutes and serve in wedges with vegies or salad on the side.

    I forgot the onion but would like to add it next time (if not trying to please a particular child).  Dill is too exotic to taste bog Irish!  I used red skinned potatoes and did not peel them.  The recipe I followed used dill so I used up some dill but it didn't taste quite right to me so next time I would use parsley. The hurry up alfredo cheese sauce that I used gave a lot of flavour so I used less seasoning that the recipe suggest.  I thinned it slightly with some tofu bacon marinade and some soy milk because I didn't quite have 1/2 a cup leftover.

    I fried my potatoes in 2 batches for about 10 to 15 minutes each and baked them at 200 C because my oven has a bad track record with cooking through vegies but the recipe I followed said 3 to 5 minutes and don't worry if they potatoes aren't cooked.  I think that I could probably get away with 180 C next time but am not sure I would cook the potatoes less on the frypan.

    On the Stereo:
    Black is the Colour: Cara Dillon

    Posted March 17, 2015 10:46 PM by Johanna GGG

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne


    February 24, 2015

    For our last night in Sydney we decided we should grab some Thai - the city's specialty. We tracked down Sugarcane, a slightly fancy option in the neighbourhood with good reviews and a decent range of veggie options. We nabbed one of the last few unbooked tables and scoped out the menu. It's the kind of place where you compile a meal out of bits and pieces - there are little dishes like grilled corn with coconut cream ($5), seasoned cashews with shallots, chilli and garlic ($6) and more sizable options like veggie pad thai ($15) and tofu with Malaysian curry sauce, snake beans and baby corn ($13).

    We started with a plate of roti with curry sauce, cucumber and chilli ($10). It's pretty hard to go too badly wrong with fried bread and curried sauce, and Sugarcane didn't mess this up - probably not quite up to the standards set by the likes of Mamak, but excellent nonetheless.

    Next up: vegetarian dumplings with soy, coriander and ginger dressing ($12). These were good as well - the pretty standard dumplings kicked up by the excellent gingery dressing.

    We finished the meal off with the salt and pepper silken tofu with mushrooms and yellow beans ($13). This was probably the dish of the night - golden fried tofu with a light soy-based sauce on the veggies. Top notch.

    Our dinner was short and snappy - just three dishes and less than $40 (we were saving room for ice-cream, see forthcoming post for details!). The vibe at Sugarcane is fun too - it's busy and upbeat without being stupidly noisy. The service was friendly, the drinks list looked great and the food hit the mark nicely. Check it out if you're dining in Surry Hills.



    Sugar Cane
    40-42 Reservoir St, Surry Hills
    9281 1788

    Accessibility: There's a flat entry. The interior's pretty crowded and there are a range of table options, from high stools to regular chairs. The toilets are fully accessible. There's full table service.

    Posted March 17, 2015 07:38 AM by Michael

    March 16, 2015

    Vegan Bullsh*t

    Grill'd: Chips Ahoy

    Last week, a work lunch took me to Grill'd for the first time in a long, long time. Their menu is getting ever better for veg*ns - there are still the three veggie burgers (the garden patty is excellent), but now there are three chip choices and all vegan friendly! As well as the herb-salted chunky fries, you now have the option of salted sweet potato chips or crumbed hunks of zucchini. They're all great choices. So good, in fact, I hit up my local for a round of chips a few days later.

    snack size potato chips, $3.80; 'for one' sweet potato and zucchini chip servings, $4.80 each

    All three of these are tasty. Grill'd do some of my favourite potato chips in Melb, the rosemary salt makes them a little more interesting than the standard chip. The zucchini fries are very well executed - not overly greasy, and the crumb coating is paper thin and super crunchy, with the zucchini still fresh and green inside. The only negative is they're pretty bland. Zucchini's pretty plain on its own, so some cajun seasoning or some fresh herbs would make these incredible. Get them with a dipping sauce, they need it.

    The sweet potato, though, are by far the best commercial sweet potato fries I've tried. They look charred but they're definitely not - there's a slight crunch and the insides are tender without being mushy or dry, which is hard to do with sweet potato. Eaten out of a paper bag on a park bench watching the sunset, it was perfect. Well done to Grill'd for upping their vegan game - I'm hooked!

    Posted March 16, 2015 07:22 PM by L

    quinces and kale

    brownies for a birthday

    brownies with raspberries and coconut yoghurt

    Sometimes people respond with disbelief when you mention delicious vegan food. This seems even more so when it comes to cakes. I know people who think that “delicious vegan cake” is an oxymoron. More fool them.

    I was at my sister’s birthday party recently. At family gatherings we all bring part of the meal and there are always plenty of vegan options, except for the cake. So this time I offered to bring the birthday cake, as usually I don’t get to eat any.

    I made brownies that were slightly adapted from the recipe at Oh She Glows. I used more walnuts and chocolate chips and slightly more raising agent. One reason I think they were so delicious because I didn’t stint on the quality of the chocolate. I used 70% couverture chocolate and some top-notch cocoa, both from Monsieur Truffe in East Brunswick. They were not overly sweet, with a fantastic, slightly bitter, dark chocolate flavour.


    They were a huge hit with everyone. Crispy on the outside, chewy in the middle, studded with plenty of walnuts and served with raspberries and coconut yoghurt. And some birthday candles. :)


    prep time
    15 mins
    cook time
    2 hours
    total time
    2 hours 15 mins
    author: quincesandkale adapted from oh she glows
    recipe type: Dessert
    cuisine: vegan
    serves: 16
    • 1½ tbsp ground flax + 3 tbsp water mixed together in a small bowl
    • ¾ cup plain flour
    • 1½ cups almond meal
    • ½ cup cocoa powder
    • ½ tsp salt
    • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
    • 5 tbs non-dairy butter (I used Half Pint Vegan Dairy Butter Me Up)
    • 1 cup dark chocolate pieces
    • 1¼ cup caster sugar
    • 5 tbsp non dairy milk (I used almond)
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • ¾ cup roughly chopped walnuts
    1. Preheat oven to 170C.
    2. Line a 20 cm square tin with baking paper and lightly grease.
    3. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, almond meal, cocoa, salt, bicarb).
    4. Melt ½ cup of the chocolate and the butter in a microwave or over a saucepan of hot water.
    5. Add in flax mixture, sugar, vanilla, and almond milk and mix well.
    6. Pour the wet mixture over dry mixture and stir to combine.
    7. Now fold in the walnuts and remaining ½ cup chocolate chips and stir. It is a fairly stiff mix.
    8. Scoop the mix into the cake tin and smooth down flat.
    9. Bake for 35 minutes.
    10. Allow brownies to cool in pan for about 1.5 hours. Be patient!
    11. Remove carefully from pan onto a cooling rack.
    12. Allow to cool completely before slicing.


    Posted March 16, 2015 10:00 AM

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Mad Spuds Cafe

    February 24, 2015

    For a couple of years my mates K and Worbit have screeched about the potato-based vegan nachos at some cafe in Sydney. While walking home from Maya Vegetarian we spotted Mad Spuds Cafe and I confirmed with K that they were the venue of said nachos. A walk back to the cafe made a nice break in my hotel-bound working Tuesday.

    Mad Spuds Cafe is the kind of cute and slightly daggy cafe that reminds me of the places I ate out as a student - charmingly cluttered with furniture, potato-themed knick-knacks and postcard-sized pictures. The spud-centred menu didn't do much to dispel this feeling, filled as it was with big eggy breakfasts, burgers, 'chicken n avo' sandwiches, stacks and nachos. Nevertheless, this cafe has found its niche and been widely, regularly blogged for years. Their many vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options are labelled clearly.

    The famed potato nachos ($15) are available in beefy, vegetarian and vegan versions. Unfortunately working towards the latter type seems to be a process of subtraction rather than substitution - other blogs show plates stacked with cheese, sour cream and chopped tomatoes, while my vegan-ordered potato skins and beans were topped with a just little guacamole and some garnishing sprouts. As nachos they looked underwhelming but as lunch they were delicious - the beans were sweet and filling, and the signature spud skins were crispy outside and waxy-tender inside with a very snackable seasoning. I methodically worked my way through the whole plate.

    Staff were in high demand and inconsistently attentive, but got the job done. As I looked around at the other tables, meals looked brighter and less stodgy than I expected - I'd enjoy a chance to sample more.

    Fellow veg*n blogger Vegangela loves Mad Spuds Cafe. The cafe has received widespread coverage and compliments from omni bloggers, see The Food Book, 2 Hungry Guys, Jenny Chews, Memoirs of a Foodie, A Hedonist's Love, Foodversation, Gondo's Kitchen, The Hungry FoodTech, AdjacentAngles' Food Adventures, polyphagia, Project Sweet Stuff, The Classic Styler, Eat Your Teacup, Fight the Craving, i'm sorry scale, Little Miss Tanya, The Hungry Engineers, Eat Show & Tell, My SeeFood Diet, My Little Yummy Food Blog, hello it's ming, cameras & cuisines, Indulging Gluttonous Urges, Crystal Noir, Constant Diner, jeroxie, Buggles and Squeak, ChococolateSuze, Juju Chews, The Brunch Club, The Food Pornographer, Potato Princess, confident liar, Oh Hey Sydney!, Gastronomous Anonymous and Love My Foods & Sugar.  

    Wordtography and Edesian Feast liked the food but thought it was pricey; eat sleep live repeat, The Chronicles of Hilda, Richard Elliott and food baby were also ambivalent.

    Mad Spuds Cafe
    479 Crown St, Surry Hills
    (02) 9698 8108
    menu front, breakfast, brunch & lunch, spuds, skins & salads, drinks, specials

    Accessibility: There are a couple of steps up on entry (see photo above). Tables are crowded inside but have a clear pathway through the centre. I ordered at the table and paid at a low-ish counter. I didn't visit the toilets.

    Posted March 16, 2015 07:54 AM by Cindy

    March 15, 2015


    Week In Review

    I don’t know if I am happy about doing these Week In Review posts, because they make me realise how fast the week has gone! Am I the only one who thinks time has moved too fast since about 2000? I’ll start the posts in this Week In Review series with a cat photo. I...
    Continue reading »

    Posted March 15, 2015 11:15 PM

    Thoughts Of A Moni

    Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015 - Food and Beer Matching Dinner at Beer Deluxe

    With Melbourne commonly accepted as the food capital of Australia, it is no surprise that the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival plays host to a range of fun and fabulous events that showcase Victoria’s restaurants and produce.  We took the opportunity to attend a beer and food matching dinner held at Beer Deluxe in Federation Square. Whilst matching food and wine is a concept that most are familiar with, the concept of matching beer with food is still largely being introduced to the general public by the beer connoisseurs.

    We were seated at long communal benches, which created the initial atmosphere for the event. Sitting next to people you didn’t know, forced you to socialise, and pretty soon, the barriers were broken and laughs were heard all around. Our host, who’s name I can’t remember, but we referred to him as Alan due to the striking resemblance he beared to his Hangover namesake, started off the night with an introduction about beer, the brewing movement, and some fun facts like that beer is the oldest recipe in the world!

    In front of us were placed menus, and soon it was time to eat.

    Course 1:
    Non veg option: Cured kingfish, fennel, dill, hops
    Veg option: Marinated artichoke, fennel dill, hops
    Matched beer: Moo Brew Hefeweizen

    As with all the courses, the element of the meal that matched the beer was the sauce and accompaniments, so it made little difference that the protein was replaced in my meal. The use of hops in a meal was a new idea for me, but surprisingly, it didn’t dominate the flavours and instead complimented the other elements well. The beer, also added an additional dimensions, and it was easy to see how it enhanced the taste of the meal.

    Course 2:
    Non veg option: Confit pork belly, smoked cauliflower, lychee
    Veg option: Pumpkin gnocchi, smoked cauliflower, lychee
    Matched beer: Feral Hop Hog IPA

    An explanation about the history of Indian pale ales from Alan, educated us about the origins of this style of beer. The IPA is a strongly hopped pale ale which was designed to survive the long sea journey from England to India, to satisfy the drinking requirements of the soldiers. Whilst many find the flavour of an IPA not palatable, the beer paired very well with the meal.
    The sweetness of the lychee brought out a sweetness in the beer, and they accentuated each other. They were not however sickly sweet, as the smokiness of the cauliflower added an additional layer of flavour. Unfortunately, the gnocchi was slightly below my high expectations of pasta. They were a little stodgy, rather than the little soft pillows of goodness that I always hope for in gnocchi. Luckily, the other elements compensated for this significantly, especially the cauliflower puree. The smoked flavour is one of my favourites, so I really enjoyed it in this dish.

    Course 3:
    Non veg option: Grilled duck breast, pickled cherries, shallot puree, mixed radish
    Veg option: Mixed mushrooms, pickled cherries, shallot puree, mixed radish
    Matched beer: Moon Dog Mr Mistoffelees

    Alan told us that they were keen on a course to divide the opinions of the guests, and this was the course. Mr. Mistoffelees was a sour beer, with supposed tones of mango and passionfruit, but for me, it was really not pleasant at all. I tried it with the meal, in the hope that the beer with the food would enhance the flavours, but unfortunately this was not the case. The dish by itself was delicious. I am a huge mushroom fan, so any dish with mushrooms is a sure fire winner with me, and one again, the puree was the real winner. But having the beer with the meal did not work at all, and infact I found that the sourness of the beer was accentuated, creating an unpleasant taste in my mouth.

    Course 4:
    Meal: Stout cake, caramel Italian meringue
    Matched beer: Cavalier Brown Ale

    Unfortunately I must have forgotten to take a picture of this course :( You just have to trust me when I say it was delicious. Dark ales and chocolate desserts are always a great pairing, and this was no exception. The Cavalier Brown Ale is not extra dark or heavy, so satisfied the palates of even the drinkers who usually don’t like dark ales, and the stout cake accentuated the chocolate and coffee overtones of the beer.

    The cake on its own was soft, moist and full of flavour. Unfortunately the Italian meringue that it was served with was all but a little dribble on the plate. I would have preferred a much bigger portion of meringue, or perhaps some rich chocolate sauce instead, after all what can beat chocolate with chocolate? Oh that’s right, chocolate with dark ale.

    If there was one criticism to make, it was that the portion sizes were extremely small. Most of us finished the four courses still hungry, and we ended up ordering a bowl of chips to share. Whilst I understand that fine dining typically has small serving sizes, a little more food wouldn’t have gone astray given how much beer was consumed! Overall, it was a fabulous night. Kudos to Beer Deluxe for hosting such a fun evening. It could have gone horribly wrong by seating us on communal tables, but everyone was friendly and we all had a great time!

    Beer DeLuxe on Urbanspoon

    Posted March 15, 2015 02:37 PM by Moni


    Vegan Saint Patrick’s Day Food Ideas

    St. Patrick’s Day is almost here– how the heck is it already near the end of March?! I like any excuse to get more greens in to my diet and especially the family’s diet, though it’s quite a challenge as they’re all super picky eaters! Here are some vegan St. Patrick’s Day food ideas (I...
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    Posted March 15, 2015 11:57 AM

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Frozen Castle Birthday Cake - step by step

    This year I made a castle birthday cake for Princess Sylvia.  As I mentioned in my post on Sylvia's birthday party, there was a tentative Frozen theme.  Apparently this was just in my head because when I told Sylvia I was doing her castle cake blue and white she was outraged because she wanted it pink and white.  Pink lollies are a lot easier to find than blue ones but by then I was too far gone in my planning.

    In my defence, while looking at Pinterest birthday cake ideas with Sylvia, I had a lot of requests for fancy Frozen castle cakes.  There are some frighteningly intricate Elsa's ice castle cakes out there.  While I love making novelty birthday cakes, I prefer simple ones with buttercream than the more professional looking ones made with fondant.  The castle cake I made was from Annie Rigg's Birthday Cakes for Kids with a few changes to the decorations. 

    Below is a step by step guide to making the castle cake.  Here is a list of what you will need:
    • 3 x 20cm square cakes (like this
    • raspberry jam
    • buttercream frosting (350g butter and 700g icing sugar)
    • 5 ice cream cones
    • 150g white chocolate
    • sprinkles
    • sour straps
    • small lollies (we used white choc chips)

    It was not a difficult cake to make but I would have benefited from more time to decorate it on Saturday morning.  The preparations started the day before when I baked three cakes.  I made three batches of this vegan vanilla sponge cake in a 20cm square cake tin.  I know it is a sturdy cake and making it the day before makes it easier to shape.

    I started by sandwiching two cake layers together with raspberry jam.  Then I decided to coat the ice cream cones to give them time to dry.  That was when I found out that the fancy wafer cones had really uneven jagged edges and they could not be trimmed neatly.  I rang E who was at the supermarket to ask him to buy the other sort of ice cream cone.  He came home without them and had to head out again to buy them.

    I returned to the cake.  The shaping of the cake in Annie Rigg's Birthday Cakes for Kids is a really easy style that doesn't leave too much offcuts.  I used a ruler and a coffee mug to outline the 5cm squares and 8cm circles before cutting as below.

    This is not the first castle cake I have made.  I made one for my niece (Maddy's) birthday in my pre-blog days.  However I have posted a photo of my first castle cake.  So much has changed since then.  I am sure Maddy helped me decorate the castle cake with lollies unlike this one.  My main lesson from that cake was to have the square towers as level as possible so the ice cream cones are straight and not wonky.  Yet this was quite a different cake!

    I also trimmed the top of the cake to make sure it was quite level.  Then once I had cut out the pieces I trimmed the squares to be level and placed them on each corner and stacked the two circles in the middles, using more raspberry jam to stick them down.  Once the circles were positioned, I trimmed them to look neater.  Then it was the time to brush away the crumbs from around the base and towers to make it easier to have the icing clean.

    If I had had more time I would have given the cake a crumb coating like one on these cakes.  It was ok without it but took a bit of time to make sure the icing stuck around the towers and that I didn't get crumbs on the outside.  I used a buttercream frosting made by beating together 350g butter and  700g icing sugar.  There was lots of the frosting over but it was used for cupcake decorating and the tick tock teacups so at the end of the day there wasn't too much leftover.

    Before I started to ice the cake, E had arrived home with regular ice cream cones (above).  I melted 150g white chocolate and holding the cone above the bowl I spooned white chocolate all over the outside.  Then I sprinkled these with blue sprinkles.  It was not as easy to sprinkle them evenly as I expected.  I left them to dry on a baking tray where quite a lot of the chocolate and sprinkles pooled as they slid down the cones.

    By the time I was ready to put the cone on the cake they were still wet.  It wasn't too hard to transfer them.  In fact I think if the chocolate had dried hard, it might have been harder to get them off without them sticking to the pooled chocolate at the bottom.

    To decorate the cake I had struggled to find many blue lollies.  My piece of luck was finding a packet of blue sour straps.  They were really really sour, as some of the kids noticed but they were great to cut up for doors and windows.

    While E was at the supermarket I asked him to find mini marshmallows for the lining the base because I discovered the big marshmallows were too big.  He couldn't find any but bought some white choc chips.  I only had time to line the base of top cone with blue cachous.  If I had time I would have lined the base of each cone this way and perhaps the doors and windows.

    Considering that I ran out of time, I was really pleased with the cake.  It was more elegant and less gaudy then many of my cakes.  Sadly I also ran out of time to do anything more than snap a few quick pics.  We put sparklers on the cake rather than candles but, as I have commented earlier, we should have lit them and then put them on the cake!  We live and learn.  I also put some little Frozen figures at the front that were in a game we gave Sylvia for her birthday.

    The little girls really loved the cake.  Apart from the smoking sparklers sending off one little girl into a coughing fit, the other problem I didn't foresee was the 8 little girls all wanting one of the 5 cones on the turrets.  I probably could have made a few extra for them but it worked out alright.  Before we knew it the cake was a shadow of its former self and stuffed into the freezer where it is still to be found when we fancy a little something sweet.

    I am sending this cake to Jibber Jabber who runs the Love Cake blog challenge.  This month the theme is In the Book, and as this cake was modelled on a cake from the Annie Rigg book.

    Previous birthday cakes for Sylvia:
    Toadstool birthday cake 
    Pirate Treasure Chest Cake
    Dinosaur (from Peppa Pig) cake 
    Dinosaur farm cake 
    Pram cake

    Posted March 15, 2015 11:26 AM by Johanna GGG

    March 14, 2015

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Maya Vegetarian

    February 23, 2015

    Once back in Sydney, I googled around for a vegetarian dinner option in Surry Hills. I thought I'd hit on something new with Maya Vegetarian, but the other blog posts listed below revealed that it was just new to us. There are several Maya Indian restaurants clustered together on Cleveland St, and at number 470 you'll find an all-vegetarian menu and a display case stacked with sweets. 

    The setting is casual and comfortable - you need to order at a counter and fetch your own water, but food is delivered to the freshly-wiped tables and there are Bollywood posters and televised film clips to enjoy as you eat.

    There's a lot to choose from - crispy-fried starters, a range of mains, Punjabi and South Indian thali, dosa, uttapam, breads, chaat, desserts and daily specials. I noticed helpful (v)s on vegan dishes throughout their online menu but not in store, so a bit of preparation may be in order.

    Michael loves the variety and vastness of a thali ($15.90) - this Punjabi one included (clockwise from top) two breads and a papadum, salad and pickle (under the bread), herbed yoghurt, a charred eggplant curry, a dahl, sambhar, mattar paneer, basmati rice and a runny rice pudding. The bread was excellent and the eggplant and paneer curries were the first to disappear, but eventually Michael demolished almost the entire plate (...with a little help from a friend).

    I tried out their Tandoori Paneer Kulcha ($8.90) - two fluffy, tandoori-charred breads stuffed with crumbly paneer, fresh herbs and green chilli, with a tub of raita and a smear of pickle.

    The only shame of Maya's meals was that they were so generous we couldn't contemplate ordering anything sweet. I envy the residents of Surry Hills their opportunities to stop in for a cheap snack or an easy, filling and spicy meal.


    Maya Vegetarian
    470 Cleveland St, Surry Hills
    (02) 9699 8663
    starters & mains, dosa, uttapam, breads & specials, desserts, drinks & chaat

    Accessibility: There is a step up on entry and well-spaced tables inside. We ordered and paid at a low-ish counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

    Posted March 14, 2015 08:30 AM by Cindy

    March 12, 2015

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Cherry ripe pops, teacups and birthday party ideas

    This birthday was the first year that Sylvia asked for a separate party for her friends and her family.  I think she just wanted two parties!  It was a lot more work but the eight kids at the party (including Sylvia) had fun.  I was too busy running around to take many photos during the party but took a few  before and after.

    The week prior to the party was busy with planning.  Sylvia and I have conversations on what she wanted.  At one stage there were plans for a blue and white Frozen theme until she realised that cheezels were neither blue nor white.  We did incorporate some Frozen into the party anyway.

    I spent time surfing the internet for ideas, purchasing at party shops and craft shops and writing lists.  The day before the party I baked 3 square cakes, a batch of cupcakes, a batch of gingerbread cookies wands and a batch of cherry ripe cake pops.

    Here is the list of party activities:
    • Kids arrive 2pm
    • Colouring in Frozen pictures
    • Cupcake decorating
    • Juice carton boats
    • Scarecrow tiggy
    • Pass the parcel
    • Birthday cake
    • Free play
    • Scarecrow tiggy
    • Party bags handed out
    • Kids go home 4pm

    We had a few games up our sleeves in case we needed but never used such as Simon Says, Sly Fox, Hokey Pokey and Musical Statues.  I really liked some other activities I have seen such as the kids putting their names and picture on a paper cup to use for drinks, decorating your own party bag or decorating a crown.

    Sylvia has spent the last year planning the party bags.  They loom huge for her when planning parties.  Party bags are more difficult for parents.  I have had a few playground chats about whether we can get away without any at a party.  It is the idea that kids are entitled to a bag of lollies at the end of the party that bothers us.

    I have had quite a few discussions with Sylvia about party bags being a way of saying thank you at the end of the party.  To reinforce this and get away from just lollies, she helped me make little gifts for her friends.  We bought plain white bags and decorated them with some Frozen stickers.  We also bought pink beads and made necklaces.  Sylvia also helped to decorate the gingerbread wands.  (I made them gingerbread as I am very familiar with the recipe and know it keeps well.)

    The contents of each party bag was:
    • Eraser
    • Pencil
    • Frozen badge
    • Plastic ring
    • Balloon
    • Lollypop
    • Lollies
    • Gingerbread wands

    On the morning of the party I was very grateful to Sylvia's friend's parents for taking her to gymnastics while I decorated the cake and E shopped and cleaned.  When Sylvia returned I was still doing the cake so with minimal guidance she made most of the tick tock teacups.  My sister Susie used to make these for parties until she was diagnosed as celiac.  They are just a matter of using a little icing to glue together tick tock biscuits, marshmallows, freckles and half a lifesaver for the handle.  Aren't they cute?

    They are not actually vegetarian because the marshmallows have gelatin in them.  And I was recently told at her school that if lollies have gelatin it means they are not necessarily halal!  I would prefer to find vegetarian marshmallows for them but am not sure if you can purchase them in this shape (let me know if you know of any!)

    Syliva's gym friend then arrived early and her mum and grandmother were a godsend in helping with chopping up food and making the nutella fairy bread.  (Specially arranged in Frozen fractals.)  I found this idea online and probably made a whoop of joy when I saw it.  Sylvia is not keen on butter so I thought nutella would substitute perfectly.  It tasted really good.  There was so much food (despite my big sister's warning) that a lot of it was leftover.  Later I thought how good the leftovers would have been in a bread pudding but at the time I just wanted to tidy up.

    When the kids arrived we had savoury food to nibble.  I assumed they had eaten lunch but I wanted some nibbles.  Mostly we kept this healthy with carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, pretzels, cheese and cheezels.  The kids took a little snack pack of these on a serviette when they arrived.  We had heaps left but it was good to have some more healthy leftovers at dinner time when we were too tired to think about making a meal.

    As well as food to nibble, we had some colouring in set up in a corner.  This was useful especially for shy kids who needed some time to feel comfortable.  It also meant that kids had something to do when they came in before we started on the activities.  We then did the cake decorating that was a great hit.  More about that in another post.

    Trying to anticipate the weather was hard as the forecast went up and down.  When I was worried it would be hot I looked for water activities to cool the kids.  I decided to make boats and found directions for juice carton boats.  These were really simple.  We took juice cartons, taped up the how where the straw goes, stickytaped a cardboard sail in the crook of the straw and poke the straw into the side so they could float on their backs.

    A few weeks before the party, Sylvia had a few friends around and they all jumped on the lid of the sandpit.  It was so old it collapsed.  Which meant we cleared the sand out of the bottom to use as a pool.  When my dad arrived and asked if he could help I asked him to clear out the rest of the sand (I had made a start) and fill the wading pool with water.

    The juice carton boats were a great success.  They were so quick to make that kids didn't get bored, though they did need a little help.  It was a bit tough for some kids to drink the juice in time to do their boat, especially a couple of latecomers.  (Perhaps we could have poured them into paper cups.)  In retrospect I would have got them to make a picture or initial on each sail so they knew whose was whose.  But kids make their own fun.  They found drinking straws inside to make waves to blow the boats about.  Inevitably the shoes came off and the kids had to climb into the pool.

    After this we sent them out the front to play scarecrow tiggy because they needed to run around.  Next was pass the parcel.  Another party issue these days is whether there is a present every time the parcel stops or just at the end.

    Sylvia really wanted everyone to have a present.  I refused to use lollies so I told her she could if she chose presents from her tiny and little things that kick around the house.  This mostly worked (other than one present that Sylvia grumpily remarked wasn't meant to be in there) and made me feel better when kids just left them around the house as they left.  As kids are wont to do!

    By then I was keen to bring out the sweet food.  It was time to do the birthday cake and give the kids time to eat cake and play before they went home.  I will write up a separate post on the Castle Birthday Cake.  You can see a sneak preview of it in the top photo.  Sylvia is not keen on blowing out candles in front of a big group so we had sparklers instead.  Which would have worked if we had lit them on a candle and placed them on a cake.  Trying to light them with matches resulted in a lot of smoke and a little girl having a coughting fit!

    For sweet food we had birthday cake, cherry ripe pops, nutella fairy bread, tick tock teacups, decorated cupcakes, watermelon and grapes.  Sylvia requested the cherry ripe pops.  I have made them a few times before and she loves them.  They are easy to make as long as there is room in the freezer.  I am sure that the glace cherries weren't as red as the ones I have used previously so I added a little food colouring.  I am repeating the recipe below as I have used different quantities than last time I blogged about them.

    I found some party boxes we have had kicking around the kitchen and filled them with old playdough.  A few cherry ripe pops were "planted" in each box.  It was a good way to present them as this is always a challenge.  The kids loved them.

    Then it was time to hand out party bags and say goodbye.  The kids took their decorated cupcakes home.  I had thought they would eat them at the party but if I had anticipated this I might have given the gingerbread wands in the party bag a miss.  As it was we had heaps of food over.  There is still cake in the freezer and I have finally baked the other half of the gingerbread dough that sat in the fridge a while.

    Overall the party was a success but very tiring.  Next year I am thinking perhaps an outing to the zoo or the park might be good!

    I am sending the tick tock teacups to Janie at Hedgecombers who is hosting Tea Time Treats in March.  The theme is biscuits and cookies.  I hope she will accept my somewhat lateral take on the theme. 

    Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
    One year ago: Haloumi, peach and pepper salad for a long weekend
    Two years ago: Cottage cheese and chive bread and the uke fest
    Three years ago: Pea pancakes with sun-dried tomato pesto
    Four years ago: Fast track pizza with sweet potato sauce
    Five years ago: PPN: Of birthdays, farewells, and noodles
    Six years ago: Citrus Grape Cake
    Seven years ago: Sydney Road – one street, two festivals

    Cherry ripe pops
    Updated from this Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe
    Makes about 25

    200g glace cherries, or more 
    100g condensed milk
    160g coconut, or more
    food colouring (optional)
    350g x 70% dark chocolate

    Blend coconut, condensed milk and glace cherries in the food processor and blend.  Add a few drops of red or pink food colouring if desired.

    Find a board or small plates that will fit in your freezer with space for the lollypop or icy pole sticks.  Line with baking paper. (see my pictures above).  Cover board or plate with baking paper.  Roll mixture into balls about the size of a walnut and place on covered board or plate.  Stop your hands getting sticky with some water to keep them damp.

    Stick a lollypop or icy pole stick in each ball.  Place board or plate of balls in the freezer to chill for about 1 1/2 to 3 hours should do it.

    When ready to dip the balls, arrange some styrofoam or playdough or somewhere else for the pops to stand.  Heat about half the chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave until mostly melted and stir well to melt.  Then take out about a dozen balls at a time and dip in the chocolate until completely covered (use a spoon if necessary to pour chocolate over them).  Let any chocolate drips fall off them and then stand upright in styrofoam or playdough or whatever you are using.  They will set quickly.  Melt more chocolate when you run out and keep taking them out in batches to dip.  Wash your hands if you get chocolate on them or the sticks get smudged.

    Keep cake pops in the fridge in a covered plastic tub.  They are best served straight from the fridge.

    On the Stereo:
    Sing a Song of Sixpence: 45 stories, songs and nursery rhymes

    Posted March 12, 2015 10:41 PM by Johanna GGG

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne


    February 21-23, 2015

    Leura has a vegan cafe that I'd heard of long before our plans to visit the Blue Mountains, thanks to The Lentil Institution and Little Vegan Bear. Pretty much every time Michael wanted to plan some detail of our mini-holiday, I'd try to insert a visit to Rubyfruit into the schedule. This was probably starting to grate on him but I (or Rubyfruit) clearly did alright because we ate there three times in three days.

    Our first visit was for breakfast on a drizzly Saturday morning. Michael settled in with his usual soy flat white ($4), while I sampled their chai latte ($4.50). It was tough to choose our meals with chia pudding, polenta pancakes and scrambled tofu all on offer.

    Michael actually skipped straight to the specials board and ordered the Oriental Bowl ($18) - greens, tomatoes, pickled ginger, avocado, shredded nori, kimchi, tamari ginger tempeh skewers and a miso dressing on a bed of black bean noodles. He made short work of it, declaring between mouthfuls that we should start cooking with these noodles ourselves.

    I was famished and, in an uncharacteristic move, took on the Big Cook-up ($18). I worked my way through two dense but tasty little Linda McCartney sausages, some exceptional garlic fried mushrooms, sauteed baby spinach and roast tomatoes, two hash browns, a cup of sweet baked beans and two slices of sourdough. (Actually, I couldn't make it through the second piece of toast but I still considered myself victorious.) It was wonderful, and obliterated any need for lunch.

    On Sunday morning we set off on the Prince Henry cliff walk in spite of the rain and mist, returning to Leura mid-afternoon, damp and hungry (a few highlights are included in a slideshow at the end of the post). A mango, passionfruit and coconut smoothie ($9) instantly brought a smile to my face with its Weiss bar flavours.

    Michael dug into a satay tofu wrap ($15) with a rainbow salad side. The battered and fried tofu strips were padded out with fresh salad veges, and he was really impressed by the complex, rich peanut sauce.

    I was in the mood for the special Schnitzel Burger ($16.50). The lazy-but-good Fry's patty was supported by more great greens (I picked the same rainbow salad side), generous aioli and 'slaw and a crusty bun.

    Honestly, I'd spent all weekend mooning over the cake cabinet and was pretty insistent that we stop by for morning tea before setting off for Sydney on Monday. I started out with a sweet and frothy hazelnut milk shot through with Heilala vanilla syrup ($5).

    I was sad that Saturday's peanut butter cheesecake was sold out and not replenished, but the cherry coconut ripple cheesecake ($8) was ample compensation - a silky smooth slice with all the right elements that didn't go over the top.

    The triple chocolate hazelnut brownie ($5.50) was square, dark and handsome. Heated up and intensely flavoured with a dollop of cool coconut whipped cream ($1.50), it might've been the high point of our three thoroughly enjoyable meals.

    We'd enthusiastically recommend Rubyfruit to any veg*ns visiting the Blue Mountains - they've got a great array of savoury dishes (including well-marked gluten-free options) and the sweets cabinet is superlative. Service was sometimes slow, but always warm and capable. Their talents are no secret, so get in early or be prepared to wait for a table.

    Rubyfruit attracts visits and praise from numerous veg*n bloggers visiting the Blue Mountains, see Vegan Westie, miscdebris, Vegans Have Superpowers, Little Vegan Bear, Thinking Creature (in Russian!), VegeTARAian, ALL THINGS BEAUTY AND LIFESTYLE!, The Lentil Institution and Kittens Gone Lentil.


    Shop 10, 166-168 Leura Mall, Leura
    0432 963 663
    breakfast, lunch, drinks, specials
    facebook page

    Accessibility: There's both a staircase and a lift available to access this first-floor cafe. Furniture is moderately spaced. We ordered at the table and paid at a high counter. Toilets are located on the ground floor of the arcade, gendered and include disability access.

    Posted March 12, 2015 09:51 PM by Cindy

    March 10, 2015

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Simple birthday cakes: rainbow cupcakes, jelly belly flower cake, choc mint cupcakes

    Sylvia's recent birthday presented four birthday cake opportunities.  Yes it was a lot of baking, especially making three cakes for her castle cake the day before her birthday but that also meant opportunities to experiment with some simple decoration ideas.  I will save the castle cake and some other birthday party food for future posts but here I will share a few easy cake decoration ideas.

    Firstly on the weekend before her birthday, I made rainbow cupcakes to take to a family birthday lunch followed by a swim at the pool.  The cupcake recipe I used was the same gluten free vanilla cupcakes that I had made for our jelly bean cupcakes recently.  As they are best on the day of baking, I made them early on the morning of the lunch so they cooled in time to decorate.

    We had found the rainbow sour straps in the supermarket a week or two before.  Not as bright as some but they worked well with the baby blue icing to represent the sky.  I made the white icing for the clouds really thick so it kept its shape.  Sylvia helped to put the sour straps in the clouds (when not putting scraps of straps in her mouth)!

    I also made sausage rolls to take down.  Sylvia has gone hot and cold on these but seems to be enjoying these lately.  They are easy traditional party food.  (Upon heading home at the end of the day we were happy to have left a few at home.)  We also had dips and chips and cheezels.  The desserts, however are the star of the show for my little sweet tooth Sylvia!

    As you can see in the above photo the rainbow cupcakes were a little flatter at the end of the journey to my parents' house than when we left.  No doubt a hot day of 36 C didn't help.  You might also notice that my mum had a field day baking.  She made pavlova, as requested by Sylvia, as well as chocolate cake, fairy bread, chocolate crackles, little cake with pink icing (also a birthday girl request) and jelly cakes!  We didn't eat them all but no one left without a little package of goodies.

    The night before Sylvia's birthday I baked chocolate mint cupcakes for her to take to school.  They were a variation on the vegan chocolate cakes that I made last year for her class.  This time I put a little peppermint essence in the cake mixture. 

    The main attraction was the crushed peppermint crisp.  My mum always puts it on pavolva.  I thought it would work on cupcakes but after Sylvia had helped me sprinkle it everywhere (table, hair, floor) I worried that it would melt overnight.  I was a little bit right.  It was still edible but so so so sticky.  Sylvia and her friends seemed to love it.  One kid was seen licking icing off the tub after school!

    Sylvia had many special treats on her birthday.  I took her to the hairdresser who braided her hair after the haircut.  I also took her along to the lolly shop to introduce her to the joys of jelly belly jelly beans.  I still remember discovering them as an impressionable 14 year old and I still am amazed by the range of flavours.  Some of Sylvia's favourite flavours were candy floss, buttered popcorn, caramel corn, toasted marshmallow, banana and watermelon.

    For her birthday, her request for dinner was pasta with parmesan.  (I added some tomato and chickpeas on the table as well).  After school we decorated the banana yoghurt cake (which is becoming a favourite birthday cake) with leftover blue icing and jelly belly flowers.  When dessert came, Sylvia amused me when she cut herself a circle shaped piece of cake around her favourite flower!  It was the one with lots of different colours.

    Here is a picture of more of her presents.  She is very into stationery lately.  Pens, pencils, erasers, sharpeners, notebook, clips.  (She has just discovered Smiggle!)  She was also very spoilt with lots of other lovely presents - books, craft kits, clothes and a little trampoline for the backyard.  And there was a party.  I will soon share some of the party food!

    I am sending the rainbow cupcakes to Caroline Makes (and The More Then Occasional Baker) for the Alphabakes blog event.  This month the theme is the letter S (for Sour Straps).  I am sending the jelly belly flower cake to Eat Your Veg (and Bangers and Mash) for the March Family Foodies event: Let's Get Baking.

    Posted March 10, 2015 10:43 PM by Johanna GGG

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Leura Garage

    February 20 & 22, 2015

    We had done very little in the way of pre-trip food research for this weekend, so one of our first tasks was to have a wander up and down the main street and see what grabbed our attention. Leura Garage had the sort of vibe that attracts us - more relaxed than the slightly stuffy white tablecloth style of Silk's - and a menu that was pretty well stocked with vego options. We headed there for dinner on our first night.

    It took us a while to hit upon a plan for the meal - Cindy was keen on the pizzas, while I wanted to sample more broadly from the menu. In the end we decided to sneak a side in along with a pizza and come back for a second visit if things measured up.

    The pumpkin pizza with house made onion jam, feta and spinach ($26) was impressive. A great base, with some crispness to the crust and a wonderful salty and sweet combination of toppings.

    Our side dish was a summer bean mix ($17) - snake, borlotti and flat beans with toasted garlic flakes, pine nuts and an citrus and olive oil dressing. They'd seasoned this heavily too, and the lemon juice and salt really made the beans sparkle.

    It's safe to say that we were won over, so when Sunday rolled around we booked ourselves in for another visit. This time we ordered the vegetarian board I had my eye on the first trip - a selection of fresh and house pickled bulbs and vegetables with rustic bread and dips ($26). We matched it up with the yellow polenta chips, served with tomato and red pepper relish and parmesan ($16).

    The veggie board was a good mix of bits and bobs - heirloom carrots, pickled olives and onions, a smoky eggplant dip, bread, crackers, mushrooms and on and on. I'd have happily traded a couple of the pickled things for another dip, but all in all it was a pretty good package. The polenta chips were fat, crispy and well seasoned - dunked in the relish and sprinkled with parmesan they were terrific.

    We were very happy to find Leura Garage - it's got a lovely fit-out, embracing the building's history as a garage without descending too far into quirkiness. There's great beer, friendly staff and decent coffee. It's not cheap - $26 for a pizza is pushing things a bit - but when I'm on holidays I find it easy to just go along with higher prices. And the food is great - that's the main thing really.


    Reviews for Leura Garage are pretty positive - check out food is our religion, maggietea, Nadene's Suburban Farmyard, Confessions of a Gluttonthe cooks room, foodies agenda, Got My Vote!, Miss K Licious,, Food Porn Nation, A Table for Two, Not Quite Nigella and Gourmanda. The Adventures of Miss Piggy thought the food was good but overpriced, while beyond jelly and  Prick with a Fork thought the service was mediocre.

    Leura Garage
    84 Railway Parade, Leura
    02 4784 3391

    Accessibility: Excellent - a flat entryway, a slightly crowded interior (especially when it's full of people as it seems to be all weekend). It's full table service. The toilets are fully accessible.


    Posted March 10, 2015 05:11 PM by Michael


    Melbourne Events Sidebar

    Hi everyone, I’ve just added a new sidebar to my blog called Melbourne Events. Here I’ll list upcoming events which may be of interest to vegans and plant based folk: things like meetups, rallies, cooking classes and so on. I’ll link them to an information source, like a Facebook event page, so you can get more...
    Continue reading »

    Posted March 10, 2015 03:14 PM

    March 09, 2015

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne


    February 21, 2015

    We used Michael's work commitments in Sydney as an excuse to stretch out a longer trip, including a few nights in the Blue Mountains. Our base, Leura, proved to be an accessible and cute town (I've added a few extra pics to the end of the post) with a number of nice eateries. One of them was Zest, a restaurant that managed to look bright and airy even on some drizzly days. They serve two to three meals a day of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean inspired food, and we were lucky to snag one of their last unreserved tables early on a Saturday night.

    The Zest dinner menu offers small sharing plates, self-contained main meals, set-menu feasts and a kids' section. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are marked (including g-f bread available with a surcharge) and though little looks straight-up vegan, there's a lot that could likely be adjusted with a word to the staff.

    We mulled it over with drinks - a local beer for Michael and a glass of home made lemonade ($5.50) for me. The lemonade was a US/Oz clash of lemon cordial and carbonation, with some Middle Eastern mint thrown in; unfortunately it didn't all meld quite as successfully as it should've.

    The falafel and eggplant mains were attractive, but we figured that we'd get maximum diversity by requesting the vegetarian shared feast ($27). Indeed, we were treated to a dozen little dishes to share, including (pictured above, clockwise from top left) Moroccan carrot salad, eggplant jam, marinated olives, crusty falafels, tahini, za'atar-sprinkled hummus and almond-topped beetroot dip.

    The highlights were (pictured above, back to front) paprika-spiced patatas bravas with aioli, a fattoush salad served with haloumi rather than the traditional fried pita, a couscous salad and fluffy housemade flat bread.

    Zest's dessert menu promised such delights as Persian love cake and halva tiramisu semifreddo but we had no hope of fitting them in. Instead we just felt thankful for a fresh, varied and colourful meal in a quiet and comfortable venue.


    Zest has previously earned positive write-ups on Take Me To Foodie Heaven, EAT Blue Mountains, beyond jelly and Next Stop: Food.

    corner Megalong St & Leura Mall
    (02) 4784 1159
    dinner, dessert & drinks

    Accessibility: There are four steps into the building on entry. Tables are well-spaced and the restaurant is well lit and not too noisy. We ordered at the table and paid at a low counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

    Posted March 09, 2015 04:17 PM by Cindy

    Vegetarian Life Australia

    Vegan mee goreng noodles

    I really love mee goreng. Spicy wok fried noodles hawker style with lots of fresh veg and tofu. It’s been a go-to dish for me when eating out for many years, but this week was the first time I’ve tried to make it myself.

    My first attempt at making the sauce was awful. I like spicy food, but this was burn the roof of your mouth off hot! Attempt two was far more successful and got the thumbs up from the family with a quick taste test.

    The end result was really delicious and as good as many variations of mee goreng I’ve had at restaurants. I served the noodles with a side of sautéed garlic bok choy.


    450g Hokkein noodles
    1 large onion – diced
    1 small head broccoli – in florets
    5 small potatoes – in large cubes
    250g beansprouts
    200g tofu sliced (I used Soyco Malaysian satay tofu)
    2 large tomatoes – in segments
    Olive or coconut oil

    For the sauce
    4 tsp curry powder
    2 tbsp soy sauce
    2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
    3 tbsp tomato sauce
    4 tbsp water


    1. Mix the sauce ingredients together well in a small bowl and set aside.
    2. Cook the noodles according to the packet and set aside.
    3. Microwave or steam the cubed potatoes until just cooked and set aside.
    4. Stir fry the chopped onion in a little oil in a large fry pan or wok. Add the broccoli and continue to cook for a few more minutes.
    5. Add the cooked potato and sauce and stir fry for another couple of minutes.
    6. Finally add the beansprouts, sliced tofu, tomato segments and noodles and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Note: if your tofu is not pre-cooked and marinated you will need to add it with the broccoli and stir fry for longer to crisp it up.
    7. To make the garlic bok choy simply add a little garlic to about a tablespoon of oil then add the washed bok choy and cook for a few minutes on a low to medium heat with the lid on. Check and shake the pan occasionally to make sure it cooks evenly. It’s ready when it’s nicely wilted.

    wpid-20150224_181042.jpg wpid-20150224_183840.jpg wpid-20150224_184357.jpg wpid-20150224_184706.jpg wpid-20150224_184941.jpg

    Posted March 09, 2015 01:39 PM

    quinces and kale

    miso roasted eggplant (and zucchini)

    roasted eggplant with miso

    I have a great crop of eggplant this year so I’ve been looking for ways to use them.


    A month or so ago I saw Adam Liaw on SBS, cooking Nasu Dengaku, that wonderful Japanese dish of grilled eggplant with miso, and I mentally filed it away to use when the eggplant ripened.

    When I went searching this week for the recipe, I came across this simpler one,  which is less work. I’ve dropped the amount of oil in it as well. While it is not as fancy and good looking as the genuine one, it does taste great.

    Fresh from the success, I decided to have a go at the same dish using zucchini, because I have SO MANY. This is a good way to use up the larger ones that have gotten away.

    roasted zucchini with miso


    The zucchini were not as delicious as the silky eggplant, but still pretty good.

    I think this would work well with many vegetables.


    5.0 from 1 reviews
    miso roasted eggplant (and zucchini)
    prep time
    5 mins
    cook time
    30 mins
    total time
    35 mins
    author: quincesandkale adapted from SBS website
    recipe type: savoury
    cuisine: japanese
    serves: 2
    • 1 large eggplant cut into 2 cm pieces OR equivalent small eggplants halved
    • ½ tbs of olive oil
    • salt
    • 1½ tbs miso (I used a mild white miso)
    • 1 tbs mirin
    • ½ tbs sugar
    • ½ tbs cooking sake
    • 1 tbs water
    1. Preheat the oven to 200 C fan forced or 210 if you don't have a fan forced oven.
    2. Toss the eggplant or zucchini in the oil and put in a single layer in a baking dish.
    3. Sprinkle with salt.
    4. Roast for 20 minutes or until soft and lightly golden.
    5. Mix all the remaining ingredients until smooth.
    6. Pour over the vegetables and return to the oven for another 10 minutes for the sauce to caramelise.
    7. Garnish with some finely chopped spring onion and toasted sesame seeds.
    I also made this with some zucchini cut into 1 cm thick sticks



    Posted March 09, 2015 10:00 AM

    March 08, 2015

    The Good Hearted - Vegan Food in Melbourne

    Trippy Taco


    Trippy Taco
    234 Gertrude St
    Fitzroy VIC 3065

    (03) 9415 7711



    Opening Hours:
    Mon-Tue: 11am-9pm
    Wed-Fri: 11am-10pm
    Sat: 10am-10pm
    Sun: 10am-9pm

    Trippy Taco is a popular all vegetarian restaurant that has been churning out Mexican style fare to hungry Melburnians since 2006. By replacing dairy cheese with vegan cheese, and egg with tofu, almost all of the menu is on offer to vegans. 

    The vegan 'Tofu Asada' burrito ($12.50) is a favourite choice, with spicy chargrilled tofu, salad, salsa, vegan cheese, fresh lime and if you're lucky you might even find a couple of sultanas hidden in there (trust me, it works!). Ask for your burrito to be 'Californian style' and they'll sneak some paprika-ry 'Trippy Fries' into the mix too. I should mention that some of the Trippy Taco burritos (while being delicious), do tend to be rather 'juicy' and can be messy to eat (don't say I didn't warn you).

    Other menu items include a 'Breakfast Burrito' ($10.50) with scrambled tofu in lieu of egg, 'Vegan Nachos' ($11 regular, $17 large GF), Tacos (from $7.50 each GF), 'Quesadillas' with vegan cheese (from $9) and Taquitos ($12 GF). The 'Trippy Fries'  ($4.50 small, $6.50 regular) are an essential extra and have a delicious seasoning.

    The vegan cheese of choice for Trippy used to be Cheezly, however they've now (controversially for some) changed over to using Daiya cheese. I'll confess to being a member of 'Team Cheezly', however the changeover is far from being a deal breaker.

    Desserts can also be found, and include the 'Tamale Dessert' ($12), a sweet corn tamale with soy ice-cream, banana and maple syrup (ask for vegan version) or a veganised 'Nutella and Banana Melt' ($8) with vegan chocolate spread and banana melted in a flour tortilla.

    Trippy Taco can get pretty busy and while there's a few tables, they do tend to fill up rather quickly. If you're after takeaway, it's good to phone your order in to avoid a wait. Also note that they generally stop taking food orders an hour before closing time.

     Trippy Taco on Urbanspoon

    Also visited by: Veganopoulous, easy as vegan pie, where's the beef?

    Posted March 08, 2015 09:18 PM


    A Week In Review

    Here’s a look back at this past week. I often take photos or go places that I’d like to incorporate in to the family or Melbourne parts of my blog, but they never seem to make it in. Although my blog is mostly about vegan stuff, it’s also about what we get up to as...
    Continue reading »

    Posted March 08, 2015 02:19 PM

    March 07, 2015

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Pea, Quinoa and Feta Fritters and random bicycle moments

    Usually I make a recipe and once it is right, I feel free to mess about with quantities and ingredients.  On my first attempt at these fritters I substituted brown rice, didn't measure ingredients and they were brilliant.  Yet I still felt compelled to make them again following the recipe that inspired me.  Which was every bit as good.

    Which just reinforces how recipes are so helpful and yet so restrictive too. They are a great starting point.  However every kitchen is different, seasons change and we need to be able to adapt accordingly.

    I originally bookmarked the fritters because I am always on the lookout for mint inspiration because it grows like a weed in our garden.  When I made the recipe I had some home made pesto in the fridge and used this instead of the mint and parsley.  Because peas and pesto go so well together.

    I wish I had taken a photo of the fritters on the first night when I used brown rice.  It was too crazy.  Sylvia had a friend over and I got confused about times and my focus was elsewhere.  So the next night I did it properly.  The best thing about following the recipe was that it made just enough for two.

    On the first night I fried enough fritters for two and put the rest of the mixture aside.  I was too lazy to fry any more the next night and made a rather good celery and white bean soup.  Adding the rest of the mixture to the soup gave it heaps of flavour.

    And while we are striding into the world of random moments I have a few to share about bicycles:
    • When we went swimming last week we locked our bike next to a mother and daughter who could not remember the combination of their bike locks.  Luckily we have two locks so we locked our bikes together and loaned them our second lock.
    • I was really sad to hear of the death of a cyclist on Sydney Road in Brunswick.  He was hit by a driver opening their car door without looking and fell into the path of an oncoming truck.  It is something I fear when I ride my bike on busy roads.  Hence my preference for the Upfield bike path.  There is talk of making changes on Sydney Road to make it safer for bicycles but I see so many drivers breaking the laws that it seems there is a problem with the culture of driving there as much as the road rules.
    • Speaking of rules, there is a law in Victoria that children under 12 may ride on the footpath accompanied by an adult on a bike.  Sylvia and I were pulled up by some PSOs (pseudo policemen) going under a train tunnel on our bikes.  They thought I was making the law up.  I range Bicycle Victoria (now Bicycle Network) to check and told that the underpass is Metro (ie public transport) land so road laws don't apply.  So the next time we went that route past a PSO, I was telling Sylvia to dismount but the PSO just smiled and waved her on.  It is hard to obey rules when you get inconsistency!
    • On a happier note, it is really nice that one of Sylvia's friends also rides her bike to school regularly.  It is always fun to see them racing down to the bike shed to take their bikes out to ride home.

    Back to the fritters!  We ate them for dinner with mock tuna salad, lettuce and corn on the cob.  They would be delicious for a picnic and a lovely green snack for St Patrick's Day which will be here before we know it!

    I am sending these fritters to Shaheen for her Vegetable Palette event that is focused on spring vegetables this month.  (It is not Spring in Melbourne but peas are a great spring vegetable if you can get them fresh!)  I am also sending them to Karen for the March edition of her Cooking with Herbs event.  And finally they go to Gluten Free Fridays #132 which is run by Vegetarian Mama.

    More GF finger food on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
    Baked rice paper spring rolls
    Polenta quinoa sticks with rhubarb sauce
    Quinoa pizza balls
    Red lentil koftas
    Sesame hummus bites
    Sushi with sticky walnuts and edamame

    Pea, quinoa and feta fritters
    Adapted from Couscous and Consciousness
    serves 2

    1/3 cup dried quinoa
    2/3 cup water
    1 cup peas, defrosted
    1/4 cup besan
    1 heaped dessertspoon pesto
    100g feta, crumbled
    salt and pepper
    oil for frying

    Tahini dressing:
    2 tablespoons tahini
    juice of 1 lemon
    1 tablespoon water
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Place quinoa and water in a small saucepan.  Cover, bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and rest with lid on for 5 minutes.  Mix cooked quinoa with peas, besan and pesto.  Blend about half the mixture - I do this by roughly blending with my stick blender.  Mix in feta and season.

    Shape small handfuls of mixture into patties.  Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large heavy bottomed frypan and fry until golden brown on both sides.  Drain on kitchen towel.  Serve hot with tahini dressing.

    To make tahini dressing: mix everything in a small bowl until you have a creamy sauce that you can pour over the fritters.  Keep any leftover sauce to add to a salad dressing or use as a sauce for other dishes.

    On the Stereo:
    Tales of a Librarian: A Tori Amos Collection

    Posted March 07, 2015 10:01 PM by Johanna GGG


    Miinot Gelato, Pascoe Vale South

    Inner-north Melbourne has another reason to rejoice when it comes to superb vegan options at a non-vegan establishment, with the very first authentic gelateria in the inner north. May I present Miinot Gelato in Pascoe Vale South! Located on Melville Road along the 55 tram line, Miinot sits right on the border with West Brunswick, about...
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    Posted March 07, 2015 08:30 PM

    What I Ate This Week, Last Week, Late January…

    And so it goes… another heavily belated What I Ate This Week post! Let’s just call it really fashionably late. For the past few months, I’ve been eating overnight oats nearly every morning. Before bed, I mix some oats, a little boiling water, plant milk and cinnamon. Most nights I’ll mix in a mashed banana...
    Continue reading »

    Posted March 07, 2015 01:38 PM

    March 06, 2015


    In My Kitchen March 2015

    Quite a few things In My Kitchen this month! Truthfully, over the past few months as the last In My Kitchen post I did was back in November 2014. Some things never change though, like THIS: Always trying to ‘help’! I had to work quickly because every time my back was turned I heard the...
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    Posted March 06, 2015 06:57 PM

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Great Aunty Three

    February 20, 2015

    Recent readers will have noticed my penchant for veggie banh mi. Every time we've mentioned banh mi on facebook Matt has raved about a place called Great Aunty Three in Sydney. The shop he visited was in Enmore, which wasn't really convenient for our trip, so I didn't think we'd get a chance to visit. But I handily stumbled onto a new Surry Hills branch on a quick wander around the neighbourhood and our Friday lunch plans were sorted.

    It's a popular place - we turned up at 1ish and the queue was out the door. It moves pretty steadily though, so you've got to make your mind up pretty quickly. There are three kinds of veggie rice paper rolls (lemongrass tofu, vegan chicken, salad), a vegetarian noodle salad bowl and a vegan bao, plus the banh mi options.

    We took one of each of the roll options - vegan chicken and vegan duck ($8 each). The rolls come with loads of coriander, big chunks of cucumber, lettuce, sprouts, carrot, a bit of chilli and, strangely, pumpkin seeds.

    I ordered these mild, because I was splitting them with Cindy, so they didn't have the spicy pop of my regular Trang orders. The mock meat was good though, especially the duck (the chicken slices were a tiny bit dry). They're going for a more traditional crusty roll too, which will please the purists, but it meant that we scattered crumbs all over the hotel lobby where we scoffed these down.

    At $8 a pop, these are raising the stakes a bit on Trang or Nhu Lan, but I guess you have to factor Sydney rents into the equation. They're also going for something a bit more like Roll'd in terms of aesthetics too, so it's not a ridiculous price. It's a pretty amazing world we're living in these days - mock meat banh mi are going mainstream and I couldn't be happier about it.


    Great Aunty Three
    94 Wentworth Ave, Surry Hills
    02 9281 8882

    Accessibility: There's a small step up on entry. Things are super crowded inside, at least at lunchtime. There are a couple of tables with high stools. You order and pay at a high counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

    Posted March 06, 2015 12:27 PM by Michael

    March 05, 2015


    Vegan Products At Costco Docklands Today

    By now I think most people in town would know about Costco. I haven’t been in such a long time and have been itching to go back to check out what vegan products they stock. Before I was vegan, I had a yearly membership which we made good use of. Now we just shop with...
    Continue reading »

    Posted March 05, 2015 09:27 PM

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne


    February 20, 2015

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

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

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

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

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



    433 Liverpool St, Darlinghurst
    (02) 9360 9631

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

    Posted March 05, 2015 04:59 PM by Cindy

    March 04, 2015

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne


    February 19, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

    Posted March 04, 2015 12:46 PM by Michael

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I am sharing this soup with all these events:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    On the Stereo:
    Theatre is Evil: Amanda Palmer

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

    March 03, 2015

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Coconut samosa potato salad

    February 16, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Posted March 03, 2015 12:40 PM by Michael

    March 02, 2015

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Trang Bakery

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

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

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

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

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


    Trang Bakery and Cafe
    382 Smith Street, Collingwood
    9722 4352

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

    Posted March 02, 2015 12:04 PM by Michael

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    In My Kitchen March 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    quinces and kale

    green fritters – zucchini and broccoli

    green patties

    I am a firm believer in the truth that most things can be turned into patties or fritters and they will taste good.

    At the moment I am putting grated zucchini into everything. My hand has been forced by the neglect of a few zucchini that have grown into monsters in just a few short days. You can see a couple of them lurking in the background of the photo. They are about 40cm long.

    For dinner I decided to make some green fritters, so called because everything in them is green. They are not spiced apart from some parsley, garlic, salt and a small amount of grated dried up vegan cheese that I found lurking in the fridge. The zucchini and broccoli are not hidden in these fritters. They are the stars. The two work well together with the zucchini forming a soft background and the broccoli providing a little bit of bite.

    They are easy to make and delicious and they take just five minutes to prepare, and a little more than 10 minutes to cook.


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





    Posted March 02, 2015 10:00 AM

    March 01, 2015

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Smith & Daughters VI

    February 15, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

    Posted March 01, 2015 11:11 AM by Cindy

    February 28, 2015


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

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

    Posted February 28, 2015 10:14 PM

    February 27, 2015

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Apricot, nectarine and vanilla jam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    More jam recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:

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

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

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

    On the Stereo:
    Ivor Cutler Radio Clash Special 2006

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

    February 26, 2015

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Mankoushe Bakery IV

    February 13, 2015

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

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

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

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


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

    Mankoushe Bakery
    323 Lygon St, Brunswick East
    9078 9223

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

    Posted February 26, 2015 05:10 PM by Cindy