February 25, 2017

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Spring onion pancakes

February 11, 2017

Steph has developed a semi-annual potluck tradition to celebrate Chinese New Year - we've had a lot of fun trying out thematically appropriate recipes like peanut cookies, turnip cake, (failed) dumplings, orange szechuan ice cream and more. Cindy was organised this year and had pineapple tarts on the go early in the week (recipe to follow soon), but I left myself only a small window on Saturday afternoon to pull something together. 

Luckily, I had just the thing - this recipe by Andrew McConnell caught my eye in The Saturday Paper way back in October and it seemed like the perfect contribution to our potluck feast. I'm not super experienced at making my own dough-based products, so I was a bit apprehensive that I'd make a mess of it, but McConnell's instructions are clear and easy to follow and these worked out an absolute treat. Cindy insisted they were as good as versions she's had in restaurants and they were met with universal acclaim at the picnic (going particularly well in combination with Steph's excellent mock fish curry). A couple of tips: 1) be heavy-handed with the salt, it really pays off in the final result and 2) you can fry these with just a spray of oil, but they're more golden and delicious if you put a decent splash in the pan. 

Spring onion pancakes
(based on Andrew McConnell's recipe in The Saturday Paper)

300g plain flour
2/3 cup water
Chinese five-spice
5 spring onions, thinly sliced
vegetable oil for frying

Mix the flour and water together in a bowl until it comes together into a firm, dry dough. 

Dust a bench lightly with flour and tip your dough onto it. Knead it for five minutes or so until it's nice and smooth. Pop it back into the bowl and cover it with cling wrap, leaving it to rest for 20 minutes or so.

Pop the dough back onto your bench and roll it out into a long sausage. Divide the dough up into 8 equal pieces - these will become your pancakes!

Roll each piece into a disc with a diameter of about 20 centimetres and lay them out somewhere convenient (we just popped them on a couple of cutting boards).

Take one disc at a time and get them ready for frying - start by lightly brushing one side with oil and then scatter shallots evenly across it, plus a generous pinch of five-spice and a good sprinkle of salt. Roll the circle of dough into a tight tube and then coil them into a circle, tucking the end of the coil underneath. Roll the coils back out so that they're flat again, taking care to avoid any gaps.

I did the above for all eight pancakes first so that I could concentrate properly on the frying once they were all ready. Put a decent splash of oil into a hot pan and then fry each pancake for about 2 minutes on each side, until they're nice and golden (top the oil up if and when you need to). 

They're best served immediately, but they're so good that they're crowd-pleasers even once they've cooled.

Posted February 25, 2017 08:07 AM by Michael

February 24, 2017

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Bath bombs

Back at Christmas time, my nieces made bath bombs while we were at my parents' house.  Sylvia is quite keen on bath bombs for her bath at the moment so I decided to make some at home.  We have now made them about 3 times and I am writing up the recipe in a way that I find easier to follow than that on the CSIRO website.

My mum originally looked for bath bomb recipes because she had heaps of epsom salts leftover from coating candle holder jars over Christmas.  Then she found an even easier recipe.  It came from the CSIRO.  For those not in Australia, CSIRO stands for the well regarded Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

We liked the recipe because it had easy to purchase ingredients.  One of my nieces happily donated some of her body glitter and I tried one batch with dried rose petals but Sylvia prefers none of this.  The recipe is quick to make - probably about 10-15 minutes.  It is also great for anyone who wants to use up bicarbonate of soda - I have gone through a lot in making this recipe.  I actually ran out of bicarb  in the last batch (top and bottom photo) and had a little less than needed, so I added a little more citric acid instead.

The problems I have had with these bath bombs are that they leave an oily ring around the bath and when we put them together after they dried, they stuck together.  Small problems.  I think they are really soothing and softening in the bath and so easy to make.  We have bought some individual silicone cupcake moulds which are great to store them in.  I am sure they would make great presents in the cupcake moulds with some cellophane wrapping. 

To see more gift ideas on Green Gourme Giraffe, check out 10 Foodie Christmas Gifts.

Bath Bombs
From the CSIRO
Makes 4 mini muffin sized ones

10 tbsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
3 tbsp citric acid
body glitter or dried petals (optional)

3 tbsp olive oil
15-20 drops food colouring
10-12 drops essential oil

Mix bicarb soda and citric acid in a medium mixing bowl.  Add in a few shakes of glitter or dried petals if using.  Mix food colouring, essential oil and olive oil in a small bowl. Slowly pour liquids into dry ingredients and gently mix until you have a sandy consistency.  Pat into mini muffin cups or other moulds.  I use silicone moulds and don't need to grease them.  As the mixture dries it clings together and expands slightly.  However even once dried, if out of the mould they can stick to each other or a container if not kept in some sort of packaging or individual container.

NOTES: The CSIRO recipe calls for sweet almond oil but as I don't have it in the house and I know some people say olive oil is very good for the skin we use the olive oil instead, which we always have about.

On the Stereo:
1989: Taylor Swift

Posted February 24, 2017 10:55 PM by Johanna GGG

February 22, 2017

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Grilled corn on the cob with spicy garlic-miso dressing

February 6, 2017

We've recently invested in a cast iron pan for the first time; we're rather pleased with it so far. It's got a grill insert that had me thinking of marinated tofu with blackened stripes and charred corn on the cob. Bryant Terry's Vegan Soul Kitchen had a couple of promising options for trying the latter.

The recipe's main feature is a very tangy dressing with the heat of fresh jalapeno, which the grilled corn cobs are liberally doused in just before serving. But its real charm is sweet, juicy, well-grilled corn. Terry has us soak still-in-the-husk cobs in brine for a couple of hours, before grilling them husk-on for around 25 minutes. I played things a little differently, possibly to my detriment.

For whatever reason, I wasn't all that psyched about grilling my cobs in their husks. (Perhaps I thought the husks would be difficult to remove while hot, or that the kernels wouldn't char.) So I cut away the husks and silk threads after the brining and let my corn kernels hit the grill directly. Without the husk, the brine moisture couldn't steam my corn. It probably only took 10 minutes to get a handsome char going. The corn kernels remained pretty crunchy - I really liked 'em this way, but they might not have been what Terry originally intended.

The sprinkle of paprika atop the corn cobs ended up being the boldest colour on our dinner plates - we chose Quorn schnitzels, a wedge of lemon, and Bryant Terry's fabulous mashed potato as supports.

Grilled corn on the cob with spicy garlic-miso dressing
(slightly adapted from a recipe in Bryant Terry's Vegan Soul Kitchen)

2 tablespoons + a pinch of salt
2 whole corn cobs, still in their husk
juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons white miso
1 tablespoon olive oil
dash of agave nectar
1/2 fresh jalapeno
2 teaspoons garlic powder
shake of cayenne
shake of white pepper
two shakes smoked paprika

Submerge the corn cobs in a large container full of water. Stir in the salt and allow the cobs to soak for at least two hours. Remove the husks and silk threads; cut the cobs down into manageable lengths.

Heat up a cast-iron grill pan. Place the corn cobs onto it and cook them for about 25 minutes, turning them occasionally and allowing a bit of a char to build up.

While the corn is cooking, blend together the lemon juice, vinegar, miso, olive oil, agave nectar, jalapeno, garlic, cayenne and a pinch of salt in a food processor until smooth. Pour the dressing into a bowl.

When the corn is ready, roll each piece through the dressing. Serve, sprinkled with salt, white pepper and paprika.

Posted February 22, 2017 09:04 PM by Cindy

Thoughts Of A Moni

Bang Bang

Bang Bang at the Rifle Club in Elsternwick is the latest venture from head chef Matthew Dunbar. Formerly of Longrain, Chef Dunbar’s reputation precedes him, and given the popularity of the short pop up Bang Bang venture at South Wharf towards the end of last year, people have been long awaiting this new permanent home.

I, together with the other half, was lucky enough to attend a blogger dinner that was hosted as part of their opening launch. The weather gods were definitely smiling upon Bang Bang, as they turned on a glorious day. Designed to take advantage of the location, the concertina doors were opened up to create a spacious combined indoor and outdoor area that was basking in the afternoon sun. It was easy to see that this would be a perfect space for a summer evening, or a few cheeky Sunday bevvies.

We were treated to a selection from their menu. Focusing on Indochine cuisine, the flavours of Vietnam and Thailand were predominant, with a clear influence from the French evident, as a homage from their colonised days.

The dishes are all designed to be shared, encouraging a warm and friendly atmosphere. We started with an array of smaller dishes including little parcels of confit duck wrapped in a betel leaf. There was a vegetarian version too, which replaced the duck with pomelo.

We also had chargrilled prawns served with a roasted shallot and lime sauce, kingfish sashimi with caramelised cashews and trout roe, and crispy chicken ribs with Bang Bang sriracha. Vegetarians need not fear though. I had some special dishes made for me with the standout being a take on an egg salad served with a son in law egg, green mango and a basil and lime dressing. It was amazing and I could have easily eaten about eleven serves of this alone.

After the starters we moved onto the larger dishes including a tofu, avocado and sesame seed salad, with a mint, black vinegar and ginger dressing. This had all the carnivores at the table rethinking their opinions on tofu, and everyone was in agreement that you could definitely make a lot of friends with this salad.

We were served a roasted pumpkin curry with kipfler potatos and spiced with cinnamon and anise. It was creamy and warming, and we were all piling rice onto our plates to mop up all the sauce. The last dish of main course was a chargrilled Cape Grim short rib, served in a wild ginger and holy basil broth. The other half said it was was soft, melted in your mouth, and took the phrase ‘falling off the bone’ to a whole new level. 

The serving sizes were very generous, and by this stage we were all fairly full, but there was no hesitation in activating our dessert stomach were we were served gorgeous plates of black sticky rice with mango, pandan cream, and coconut sorbet. Asian desserts are not usually my favourite, but this dish was lovely, with the fresh fruit and sorbet adding a refreshing contrast to the sweet, heavy black rice.

To finish off the meal, we had watermelon with chilli salt. It was an interesting combination, although I think the chilli salt would have been better paired with a sour fruit like green mango, or even a tart pineapple.

Bang Bang is a beautiful space with equally beautiful food. It is a great place to catch up with friends and I will definitely be back to try more of the menu and perhaps have another serve of the tofu salad.

Bang Bang Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Note: I was invited to dine at Bang Bang as part of a media dinner, however all opinions are entirely my own. 

Image Credit: Zilla and Brook

*A version of this article was first published on The Plus Ones website.

Posted February 22, 2017 08:30 AM by Moni

February 20, 2017

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Chocolate blackberry cupcakes with hearts!

Some time before St Valentines Day I discovered some hearts on toothpicks that had been in my kitchen for over a year.  I was determined to use them this year.  So it had to be cupcakes.  And I wanted to make red velvet cupcakes but there was a tub of blackberries from the farmers market to be used.  So it was that on Valentines Day I found myself presenting E with a batch of chocolate blackberry cupcakes.  He was most pleased.

I confess it was a rush job.  Not much time to make the cupcakes, bake them (forgetting I had left them a few minutes more as I wrote emails), cool them by the door so I had time to frost them.  I was so pushed for time that I only iced half of them with a cream cheese frosting that I really liked.  A quick photo and then I rushed out the door.

When I got home from work, I found that Sylvia had invited a friend over to play.  They had found that some cupcakes needed icing and got to work.  In the fridge were a few tubs of leftover icing and Sylvia is very familiar with where I keep my sprinkles.  I was quite impressed with her handy work when I got home.

Apparently the cream cheese frosting was not a hit.  We had a conversation tonight about Sylvia wanting buttercream on cakes but she didn't want it too sweet.  I had to tell her the sad fact that buttercream is full of sugar.  There is no getting around it.  Sugar gives it structure.  I love trying alternatives.  The cream cheese frosting has very little sweetening.  It is like a cheesecake that doesn't have much sugar.

Now that we come to the question of sugar, I have to let you know that I think these cupcakes are not very sweet at all.  I was in such a hurry when I made them that I accidentally added chocolate that was meant for a chocolate ganache frosting.  When they came out of the oven they were not very sweet at all.  So little that I began to wonder if I had forgotten to add the 1/2 cup of sugar.  It is the sort of thing that is easy to do when dividing up sugar and racing the clock.  But I think I put it in. 

The cupcakes were on the verge of bitterness.  They were also quite dense without being stodgy.  I thought that they paired really well with the yoghurt frosting which added a little softness and sweetness, especially when quite fresh before it firmed up.  I also reduced the coffee and vanilla in the original recipe but decided next time I would leave them out altogether and have altered the recipe below accordingly.

These cupcakes were a fun experiment with blackberries, hearts and frosting.  And while we are not big on Valentines Day in our house, it is always nice to have some good food to help us enjoy the day.  I head heaps of blackberry syrup over and will let you know what I did with it soon.

I am sending these cupcakes to Treat Petite and We Should Cocoa.

More Valentine food on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Candy cane brownies
Cheese hearts
Mini Victoria sponges
Orange and rose petal biscuits
Raspberry and white chocolate scones

More Valentine posts elsewhere
Beetroot creme brulee with pomegranate seeds - Allotment to Kitchen
Beetroot soup - Thinly Spread
Loveheart styled shortbread biscuits - Only Crumbs Remain
Mocha chocolate strawberry tarts with dessert platter - Not Quite Nigella
Strawberry milkshake oreo cheesecake - The Baking Explorer
Valentine onigari hearts - The Veg Hog

Chocolate Blackberry Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Pastry Affair
Makes 12 cupcakes

310g fresh blackberries
1 1/2 cups plain flour
3/4 cup castor sugar, divided
1/3 cup cocoa
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup soy milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
100g dark chocolate, finely chopped
Fresh blackberries, for garnish

Heat blackberries with 1/4 cup of sugar over medium heat for about 10 minutes.  Strain to make about 1/2 cup blackberries syrup.  Set aside extra syrup for frosting and keep the pulp of the fruit to mix into batter.

Preheat oven to 180 C and line 12 hole cupcake pan.

Mix flour, 1/2 cup sugar, cocoa, biscarb soda, and salt into a medium mixing bowl.  Stir in soy milk and oil.  Fold in blackberry puree and chocolate pieces.

Spoon into muffin cups (about 3/4 full) and bake for 20-25 minutes until cooked. Cool on a wire rack and frost with below frosting or a buttercream frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
Adapted from Laws of the Kitchen

200g cream cheese
1/4 cup Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp blackberry syrup
1 tbsp honey

Stir cream cheese until creamy and gradually stir in yoghurt, blackberry syrup and honey.  This frosting is very soft when spread initially but sets firm by 10-12 hours and within less than 24 hours is starting to crack.

On the Stereo:
The Beekeeper: Tori Amos

Posted February 20, 2017 11:24 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

The Reverence Hotel III

February 4, 2017

We're thrilled to see the AFLW burst onto the sporting calendar, and made our way west for the Bulldogs-Dockers game with some friends. It was a great excuse to stop by the Rev for dinner. We really haven't made it here as often as this veg-friendly pub deserves - and with a big for-sale sign visible out front, our days to make the most of it might be numbered.

The menu is four pages of deep-fried snacks, Mexican-style mains, burgers and pizzas, with a couple of desserts snuck at the end. While it's an omni spread, almost every item has a vegan option on it using mock meat and dairy; there are a respectable range of gluten-free versions too.

We were in the mood for burgers! Michael took on the Big Rev Burger ($18) and was impressed by mock-beef patty. It was further layered up with vegan cheese and bacon, beetroot relish, jalapeno mustard, chipotle lime mayo, lettuce, tomatoes, onion and a pickle garnish. It comes with a hefty serve of spicy fries, too.

I tested out the Reverence Chicken Burger ($18), after dredging half of my chips through the chipotle aioli. It's an enormous, fatty mock fillet with a crunchy coating, stacked with mock bacon, the requisite salad, and a smear of guacamole. It was my kinda flavour combination, but I just couldn't get more than half-way through this thick, junky burger.

Our intended popcorn chicken appetiser ($9) arrived long after our mains. The Rev mean the descriptor literally, tossing popcorn kernels through the fried mock-nuggets. The lime-flecked sauce was the highest point of our meal, and revived our appetites for a bit of snacking mid-main.

The vegan burgers, pizzas and grungy atmosphere of the Rev remind me of the closer-to-home Cornish Arms, right down to the jumbo serving sizes. But the Cornish doesn't have such an extensive Mexican menu, or the chocolate nachos that stretch 'Mexican' to its culinary limits (confession: I'd eat 'em). It's unfortunate that we probably have limited days to explore these parts of the menu!


You can also read about one, two of our previous visits to the Rev. Since that last post it's had positive reviews on veg blogs Chef John SmithFire & Tea and The Rose & Bean. There are also complimentary reviews on Consider the SauceFoodcrazyNot My Bread and Butter (twice), and Eat Like Ushi.

The Reverence Hotel
28 Napier St, Footscray
9687 2111
snacks, Mexican mains, burgers, pizza, dessert

Accessibility: There's a small step at the (narrowish) front door, but the side door is flat and wide. Inside things are fairly spread out, with at most small steps between the bar, side-room and courtyard. We ordered and paid at the bar, and didn't visit the toilets.

Posted February 20, 2017 09:02 AM by Cindy

February 18, 2017

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

The Carlton Club

January 31, 2017

We scheduled our February book club meeting at The Carlton Club, hoping to take advantage of its somewhat surprising switch to an all vegan menu. Sadly, between us picking the venue in late January and the date of our dinner they'd changed things up again and shifted back to an omni menu. Still, a good number of vegan options survived the menu change, so we persisted. We didn't venture up to the well known rooftop bar, instead settling into the dining room, which had an odd vibe - part opulent ballroom, part suburban RSL. If nothing else it provided a relatively quiet and spacious setting for our book-club to discuss Swing Time.

The new menu is pretty classic pub food - burgers and parmas make up the mains, with a selection of starters and salads to complement them. They've kept it about half vegetarian and there's a decent array of vegan stuff to choose from. We split a pile of vegan dishes three ways to give us the best chance to sample everything.

First up were a couple of starters - macaroni and cashew cheese croquettes with a porcini mayo (top, $8) and field mushroom and kale meatballs baked in a napoli sauce with almond parmesan (bottom, $7).

This was a spectacular start - the croquettes in particular were fantastic, combining fried carbs and creamy sauce to good effect. I really liked the mushroom meatballs as well - they were dense, hearty and well seasoned.

Next up was a flurry of mains and sides - a beetroot, black bean and quinoa burger with lettuce, vegan cheese, sriracha mayo, jalapenos and fried onion (left, $12) and fries with cajun salt (right, $8). 

They were accompanied by a sub based on the mushroom and kale meatballs with vegan cheese and pesto (left, $12) and a chopped kale salad, with avocado, shaved fennel, crispy chickpeas and a creamy vegan Caesar dressing (right, $14).

Again, these were all pretty great. The beetroot burger patty was maybe a little dry, but it went down a treat slathered in spicy mayo and mock cheese. The mushroom meatballs worked well as a sub filling, although they went a little over the top with the gooey toppings, which made it tricky to split three ways. The kale salad was excellent - it'd be a boring meal on its own, but it was the perfect way to accompany our other heavily fried selections. Most importantly, The Carlton Club does a damn good chip - it's such an important thing for a pub to do well.

We were a bit disappointed when we arrived to find that we'd missed The Carlton Club's short time as a wholly veggie place, but they turned our frowns upside-down with an excellent selection of vegan dishes, efficient service and some cheesy backing tunes for our intellectual book discussions. It's not a venue I can imagine visiting on a busy night, but if you're after vegan-friendly pub food in the CBD you could do an awful lot worse.


There are surprisingly few blog reviews of the Carlton Club - I could only find Parma Daze and Words and Flavours, both of which are from the days before things turned vegan-friendly.


The Carlton Club
193 Bourke St, Melbourne
9663 3246

Accessibility: Entry is up a long flight of stairs - I didn't see an elevator anywhere. There's full table service in the dining room except that payment takes place at a high bar. We didn't visit the toilets.

Posted February 18, 2017 09:05 AM by Michael

February 17, 2017

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Vegetarian stuffed picnic loaf

Some things are worth waiting for.  I have wanted to make a stuffed picnic loaf for a long time.  I am glad I waited until I could make my own sourdough loaf to make it with.  I also took great inspiration from Jac's colourfully layered loaf at Tinned Tomatoes.  As usual, I also had some of my own ideas to add.

The idea of stuffing a loaf of bread with cheese and vegies seems convenient for a picnic. I wondered about a vegan version with a layer of cashew cheese but went for the easy dairy option.  I also wasn't sure if this is what is known elsewhere as a muffuletta loaf but Wikipedia says it is made with a focaccia style bread.

I made a favourite sourdough loaf the day before I stuffed it, but I am sure it would have been fine on the same day.  Slicing the top off and pulling out the bread was a nervous moment.  If I got it wrong there was no second loaf to work on.  But it was fine.  Though when I look at photos, I think I could have pulled out a bit more of the innards of the loaf.  I was scared of making a hole but I think I probably could have plugged it if there was a tear.

Planning and layering the fillings was great fun.  I don't have a proper recipe with quantities but have written what I did at the end of the post.  I just used  any of the extra fillings in sandwiches.  There was a bit of preparation work with making the pesto and roasting the pumpkin and eggplant the day before.  The eggplant was roasted until quite well browned and seemed a little crisp when out of the oven but it softened overnight.

It was meant to be pressed in the fridge overnight but there is not much room to pile anything on top in our small fridge.  So I took it out a couple of hours before heading to the picnic and pressed it with a mixing bowl, some tins of beans and some heavy cookbooks.  (In retrospect the mixing bowl was a bit too small on the base to cover all of the loaf.)

Cutting the loaf open made me quite nervous.  I half expected it to fall apart.  But no!  It held together beautifully with gorgeous layers of colour.  I was a proud picnic loaf mama!
I sliced the loaf into wedges but pushed them back together into the loaf shape which I wrapped in roil to take to the picnic dinner before a Grease singalong at Moonlight Cinema.  It felt like very fancy picnic food.  I really loved this though I thought the sundried tomatoes were a bit tough to bit through.  Everything else was lovely and soft.  Maybe semi dried tomatoes might work better. 

E was less impressed.  He told me it was as good as he could expect of soggy bread with eggplant.  When I heated it for dinner the next night he much preferred it.  Though he still tells me it would be better without eggplant.  I was happy with it hot or cold.  Sylvia did not touch it.

The Moonlight Cinema trip was a birthday treat so we bought Golden Grass tickets which meant we had seats near the front on bean bags and could order food from roving waiters.  I had meant to bring cake with us but forgot so we ordered churros.  They were lovely.

We took Sylvia along with us as it wasn't a school night.  She was excited at being up late but fell asleep before the movie ended.  I grew up with a sister who was obsessed with Grease so was very excited at the singalong.  I did cringe a bit at all the sexual innuendo with Sylvia there but had to remember how that sort of stuff went straight over my head when I watched it as a kid.

Seeing the lyrics made me realise that I was singing the wrong words in some songs during all those years of singing along in my youth.  Those were the days before you could look up lyrics online.  I remember the kids dancing on the school oval to "Greased Lightning" at lunchtime and singing it at the school talent quest but never realised that song had so many technical car terms.  The singalong was lots of fun.  It had been too long since I had been at Moonlight cinema and I was glad to be back with my fancy picnic loaf.

I am sending this loaf to Meat Free Mondays.

Some favourite picnic fare on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Cashew cheese stuffed dates (gv, v)
Cheese, onion and potato pasties
Dried fruit and coconut balls (gf, v)
Pumpkin damper (v)
Sephardic spinach filo cigars
Tofu nut balls (gf, v)
Vegan salmon sushi (gf, v)

Vegetarian Stuffed Picnic Loaf
Serves 6-8
  • One round loaf of bread - I used sourdough
  • Home made pesto with lots of parmesan cheese in it
  • Fresh baby spinach
  • Roasted eggplant (aubergine) slices
  • Sun dried tomatoes, drained of oil
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Swiss cheese slices
  • Pumpkin roasted in thin slices until soft but not crisp
  • More baby spinach
  • Pickled beetroot from a jar
    Slice top off bread and keep lid for later.  Make a bread bowl by pulling out the insides to leave the crust around the edge.  (The innards of the loaf can be turned to breadcrumbs.)

    Layer the remaining ingredients inside the bread bowl.  The loaf should be full at the end.  You can do more than one layer of ingredients if not enough.  Once it is full, return lid to the top of the loaf.

    Leave in the fridge at least a few hours or overnight with something heavy on it.  (Or if like me you don't have much room in the fridge, leave with a few things on it overnight in the fridge and then take out and press with something heavy for an hour or two before cutting.)  This time out of the fridge also brought it back to room temperature.

    To serve at the picnic, I cut it into 6-8 wedges at home , then wrapped in foil and in a bag and took it with us to unwrap at the picnic.  We ate the leftover wedges the next day heated in the oven wrapped in foil for 15 minutes at about 180 C.

    *NOTES: The sun dried tomatoes were a bit chewy - maybe semi dried tomatoes next time.

    On the Stereo:
    Once: original soundtrack by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová

    Posted February 17, 2017 11:07 PM by Johanna GGG

    February 15, 2017

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Green ombre chocolate cake revisited (vegan option)

    For my birthday this year I revisited a favourite cake.  I loved both the rich chocolate cake and decorating with green icing.  It is like a meeting of my favourite things.  So why revist?  I had a few tweaks I wanted to try.  Firstly I made the chocolate cake vegan.  Secondly I thought it would look really cool to photograph it in front of the mural in my backyard.  And why not make a cake I love!

    Another reason to make the cake was because since making that cake, I have a better selection of green food dyes.  They don't get used often.

    I started to take step by step photos.  Midway through the decorating, my neighbour visited and I sort of forgot to take the photos.  But you might notice a few things here.

    Firstly the cake sunk more than the non vegan cake.  So I turned it upside down.  It looked better when I decorated the cake but when I cut it into wedges, they were so crumbly down the bottom I didn't bother to photograph them.

    Then I piped the first row of green dots around the cake.  But when I went to use the back of a spoon to smoodge down each icing dot, I found that I could not get the angle right unless the cake was right at the edge of the cake stand.  It would not work on the larger cake stand and I had to revert to my smaller cake stand so I could have the bowl of the spoon pressing downwards on each dot of icing and the handle straight down.

    And finally, I was lazy and didn't clean out the piping bag between each row of colour to make sure they were clean.  So you can really see the marbled effect in the last layer.

    Despite all the problems, I was still pleased with the cake.  It looked and tasted lovely.  Though I was happy to wipe off some of the icing which was a bit sweet.  Once the cake was made, E took Sylvia to the library and I stayed home and took photos of my cake.

    Sadly, I had to give up my idea of photographing my cake in the backyard.  It was such a sunny day that the light was too bright for any decent photos.  Instead I pruned some of my plants (that needed it) and arranged them in a better lit space.  You might also notice a little green giraffe.  Sylvia and I both made one for a bit of fun in a quiet moment!  As you do!

    For dinner, we had booked to go to I Carusi Pizza in East Brunswick.  As we were leaving my dad and three older nieces arrived with a mars bar doughnut from Bistro Morgan.  It looked really impressive with a syringe of caramel stuck into it.

    The pizza was lovely.  E had a zucchini, chilli and mint one and I had a potato and rosemary one.  Sylvia had her usual margherita.  The dessert pizza looked so tempting but we had cake and doughnut at home.  I must return to try it.

    So instead of dessert pizza, we came home to the cake.  By then Sylvia had decided her bearded green giraffe would be a cake topper.  We also had roses from the garden.  And candles.  She was tired and didn't have much cake before heading to bed.

    As my birthday drew to a close, I was very pleased to relax with a slice of cake on the plate.  It was a little crumbly and very sticky.  The sort of cake to eat with a fork.  Great to make a day special.

    I am sending this cake to Jibber Jabber's Love Cake event.

    More fancy cakes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
    Avocado pound cake with cream cheese frosting
    Chocolate cake decorated with strawberries and music
    Chocolate olive oil cake with flower topping (gf, v)
    Malteser and Milo mudcake
    Nigella's Nutella Cake (gf)
    Vegan chocolate (layer) cake (v)
    Zucchini layer cake with cream cheese frosting (gf, v)

    Ultimate vegan chocolate cake
    Adapted from Drizzle and Drip via Green Gourmet Giraffe

    100g dark chocolate (I used 70%)
    100g butter or margarine

    1/3 cup self raising flour
    1/3 cup plain flour (I used wholemeal)
    1/3 brown sugar
    1/4 caster sugar
    2 heaped tbsp cocoa
    1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

    1/4 cup aqua faba
    2 tbsp vanilla or plain yoghurt
    1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

    Preheat oven to 170 C.  Grease and line a 15cm round cake tin.  (For a 20cm round cake tin, you should double the recipe - as at Drizzle and Drip.)

    Melt chocolate and butter in a small mixing bowl (in the microwave or if on stovetop use a small saucepan).  Set aside.

    Mix the dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.  Set aside.

    Beat aqua faba for a minute or two until frothy.  Briefly beat in yoghurt and vinegar.

    Pour melted chocolate mixture and aqua faba mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed.  Scrape into the prepared cake tin.

    Bake for about 50 minutes or until it smells cooked, the side of the cake is pulling away from the side of the tin and the skewer inserted into the centre comes out cleanly.  Sit 5 minutes.  Turn out and cool on a cake rack.

    NOTES: To make this vegan, make sure that margarine and yoghurt are vegan.  I used the same buttercream frosting as I previous used, however it got a bit soft once I reached the lower row - probably from too much colouring and stirring, so next time I need to rethink this.

    On the Stereo:
    La La Land Soundtrack

    Posted February 15, 2017 11:07 PM by Johanna GGG

    February 14, 2017

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Barbecued peaches with ginger-coconut sauce

    January 22, 2017

    We've been having a fabulous summer of picnics... of dips and chips, and rolls and salads, noodles and cakes and fruit. (And we can always trust Steph to bring one-to-three flavours of iced tea). For this one in late January I did something new and got a public barbecue involved. It opened us up to veggie sausages, marinated tofu, 'pulled' jackfruit and seitan ribs. The fellows flipping meat on the adjacent grill hadn't seen anything like it in their lives.

    This simple dessert is handy with a hotplate, too. It's just peaches, barbecued until they're juicy and lightly charred, served with a spoonful of sauce. It's too bad the sauce looks like Clag glue, because it's an actually-rather-fetching mix of coconut milk, minced ginger and caramelised sugar. Once I'd persuaded two people to dig in, their enthusiastic murmurs lured in a few more, and so on. By the time I got back from the playground with the kids there was just one warm peach half left and two or three people eyeing it off.

    This recipe comes with a handy tip from its creator, Isa Chandra Moskowitz - peaches are most easily halved 'around the waist', not top to bottom! The pits often pop out with little more than a twist, too.

    The original recipe features elegant home-kitchen grill lines on the fruit, some discreetly-hidden served-warm sauce, and a generous scoop of non-dairy icecream. I'd like that version very much, too, but Tupperware-stored sauce is enough when you're several kilometres from your freezer and already stuffed with potato salad.

    Barbecued peaches with ginger-coconut sauce
    (a recipe published online by Isa Chandra Moskowitz)

    3/4 cup sugar
    4 tablespoons water
    1 tablespoon maple syrup
    1 tablespoon cornflour
    165mL can coconut milk
    2 tablespoons coconut oil
    1 tablespoon minced ginger
    a few shakes of salt
    6-8 peaches
    juice of 1 lemon
    2 tablespoons canola oil

    In a medium-large saucepan, stir together the sugar, 3 tablespoons of the water and maple syrup. Set them over medium heat and stir regularly until the sugar is dissolved. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. A bit of bubbling around the edges is fine, but turn down the heat if it's any more than that. The mixture should turn a few shades browner.

    In a mug, whisk together the cornflour and last tablespoon of water. When it's smooth, gradually whisk in the coconut milk. Slowly whisk the cornflour-coconut milk into the saucepan. Stir in the coconut oil, ginger and salt. Continue cooking and regularly stirring the sauce for up to 7 minutes, until slightly thickened. Serve warm, or cool to room temperature and store until you're ready.

    Halve the peaches by slicing them 'around the waist', not top to bottom. Twist and/or cut out their pits. Place the peach halves in a large bowl; toss through the lemon juice and oil.

    Heat up a barbecue or grill pan and cook the peaches - about 7 minutes on their flat sides, followed by 2 on their round side. They should be more tender but still holding their shape, with a light surface char. Serve with the sauce poured over or on the side.

    Posted February 14, 2017 08:00 AM by Cindy

    February 12, 2017

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    ArtVo - visual illusions in the Docklands

    We recently visited a most unusual art gallery.  It describes itself as an immersive art gallery.  However until we found it (in Docklands on Level 1 by the food court opposite the Melbourne Star), I had no idea of what it would be like.  It was lots of fun but also a little frustrating.

    The blurb tells us that there are over 100 artworks over the walls and floors by older mostly Korean artists.  Everyone is encouraged to photograph and touch the artwork.  I didn't read much about it beforehand and didn't realise it was really all about taking photos or I would have brought a better camera than my phone.  However at $25 per adult, I am not likely to be back in a hurry.

    There were heaps and heaps of photo opportunities.  In fact that is what the gallery is about.  It is not about looking at pictures but at stepping into them and photographing them.  When you looked at pictures through your camera they made sense as they became 3D.  Without the camera they sometimes did not work as a cohesive picture.  Having a camera-shy kids, this brought some challenges.  But even without that aspect, it was so busy on a weekend that often it was a matter of waiting for a moment to jump in, find a pose, take the photo on the spot on the floor where the best angle was recommended and then moving on quickly.

    It was fascinating to see how we all came out in the images and we had a great laugh with our friends and their kids at some of the poses.  For a blog that avoids photos with faces, it has been hard to pick out some suitable photos.  Many are best with people in them to show perspective.  However I hope a few photos will give you an idea.  Watch out for a few hands patting animals and the like.  I'd recommend a trip here for a quirky day out, especially if you have ever wanted to be photographed in a snow dome, climbing the walls, in a swimming pool, taming a lion or walking over a chasm.

    ArtVo Immersive Gallery
    26 Star Crescent
    Level 1, Harbour Town (adjacent to the Groove Train)
    Docklands, Melbourne
    Open 7 days a week, 10am-6pm
    ArtVo website

    Posted February 12, 2017 10:55 PM by Johanna GGG

    February 11, 2017

    vegan about town

    fishie curry

    This fish curry is so good I both started and ended my CNY with it: I made it for reunion dinner in the hometown with the fam; and I made it today for the last day of CNY with some friends.

    This is actually a recipe from a friend's stepparent, and the only modification I've made is to make the fish vegan and add chilli and some lime kaffir leaves because I'm Malaysian, it's a sickness and I have my own tree now.

    Anyway, when I invite you to dinner, definitely feel free to demand I make this curry.

    200-300 grams vegan fish
    1 inch knob ginger (minced finely)
    1 - 2 cloves garlic (minced finely)
    1/2 onion, leek, etc, sliced finely
    fish curry powder (a Malaysian curry powder is fine)
    cumin powder
    turmeric powder
    whole lot of chilli flakes or oil or something
    1 large ripe tomato (grind, slice, dice as you choose. sometimes I use cherry tomatoes cut in half if I don't have bigger tomatoes)
    3 - 4 curry leaves
    2 lime kaffir leaves
    200ml (ish) coconut milk or fresh milk or whichever vegan substitute your soul desires

    If you have some snake or french beans you can feel free to chop them into 8cm pieces and add them at a time I will indicate. 

    Fry onion thing in oil over medium heat until onions are soft and translucent. Add minced garlic and ginger and fry lightly, stirring all the time. Add water, curry powder, turmeric and cumin, curry leaves. Bring to the boil, simmer until gravy thickens and spices have mixed well. Add tomato mix and fish and cook for 5-10 minutes (until fish looks cooked through).

    Add milky product, lime kaffir leaves, and any beans you might be using, bring to the boil and simmer for about five minutes.

    Turn off the heat and go eat it all up.

    Posted February 11, 2017 10:23 PM by steph

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Chocolate, rose & walnut icecream

    January 21, 2017

    It's becoming a fairly predictable cross-over for me: Ottolenghi club x ice cream. I've done chocolate halva sundaes, strawberry-rose sundaes and even green herb sundaes; for the latest club gathering I dialed back to a more accessible Turkish delight-&-chocolate theme. This recipe has a rocky road feel too it - chocolate icecream with a touch of rosewater, studded with toasted walnuts and biscuit pieces, scattered prettily with Turkish delight cubes and rose petals. (I'm always happy for an excuse to use up some of my rose petals.)

    It seemed impossible to mess up, though I tried my darnedest. Usually I'd pop my icecream maker in the freezer 24-48 hours before serving time.... this time I forgot until 6 short hours before the event. My freezer raced against the clock, and managed to turn up something near-solid and scoopable. No-one need have known.

    The original recipe includes a chocolate sauce (actually the same one from the chocolate halva sundae), but I reckon this is just fine without it. The icecream base is already darkly rich, its stir-ins are crunchy, the Turkish delight is sugary and chewy, the petals are delicate and fragrant. We didn't want for anything... not even a second scoop.

    Chocolate, rose & walnut icecream
    (a recipe from Ottolenghi's Guardian column)

    350mL milk
    300mL cream
    1 tablespoon cocoa
    3 egg yolks
    100g caster sugar
    100g dark chocolate, broken up
    1 tablespoon espresso
    2 teaspoons rose water
    65g walnuts, broken up and toasted
    3 plain biscuits, broken up
    120g rose-flavoured Turkish delight, chopped into 1cm cubes
    2 teaspoons dried rose petals

    Stir the milk and cream together in a medium-large saucepan and set it over medium heat. Once it's almost simmering, take it off the heat.

    Pour a little of the hot milk into a mug and whisk the cocoa into it. Once it's a smooth, even mix, pour it back into the saucepan and stir it through.

    In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Gradually whisk in a little of a warm milk, then pour the egg mixture into the saucepan and stir it through. Set it all back on low-medium heat. Stir in the chocolate and coffee, until the chocolate is melted. Keep stirring until the custard thickens, then turn off the heat. Refrigerate the custard for at least a couple of hours, ideally overnight.

    Whisk the rosewater into the custard, then strain the custard. Churn it in an icecream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Stir in the walnuts and biscuit pieces at the last moment, and freeze the icecream in a container for at least 4 hours.

    To serve, scoop the icecream into bowls and scatter with the Turkish delight pieces and rose petals.

    Posted February 11, 2017 07:40 AM by Cindy

    February 10, 2017

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Chickpea, peach and pumpkin curry

    Even when I try to meal-plan my plans go astray.  I chanced upon Jack Monroe's Peach and Chickpea Curry.  It used tinned stewed peaches.  But it is stone fruit season here so I thought I would use fresh peaches.  The I realised the flesh on my ripe peaches would dissolve in no time and the skins would float in the curry.  Luckily I remembered some stewed peaches rejected by Sylvia that I could use instead.  Then I tinkered with the recipe to use up vegies in the fridge and my curry was complete.  And delicious!

    The curry is slightly sweet but in a savoury and spicy way.  I served it with brown rice.  (For those who read a previous curry post about my brown rice tin being emptied to save a shaver that had gone into the water, yes the shaver survived!  Phew!)  I also used up the last of some rocket just so we could have a bit of greenery.  You can probably see that this is not a traditional Indian curry but more the sort that the Anglo world used to make in the 1970s.  As I am quite fond of some retro food, I really loved this.

    I still had the fresh peaches so I stewed these for breakfasts.  I have been doing well this summer in rescuing any stone fruit that is getting a bit soft and neglected by stewing it.  Home stewed fruit is far superior to the bought sort.  Except when it comes to this curry.  As stone fruit season never lasts long enough, I am sure we will soon have more tinned peaches in the house if only just to make this curry again. 

    I am sending this curry to Healthy Vegan Fridays, Meat Free Mondays, My Legume Love Affair and No Waste Food Challenge.

    More fruit in curried dishes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
    Banana curry (gf, v)
    Chickpea and potato curry with mango chutney (gf, v)
    Curried apple soup (gf)
    Pumpkin samosas with nectarine marmalade and raita (v)
    Sausage curry casserole with pineapple (v)
    Watermelon curry (gf, v)

    Chickpea peach and pumpkin curry
    Adapted from Jack Monroe
    Serves 4-6

    splash of oil
    1 onion, chopped
    1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
    1 carrot, finely chopped
    1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped
    1 heaped tsp dried cumin
    1 tsp finely grated ginger
    1 tsp seeded mustard
    1 tsp chilli paste
    400g tin diced tomatoes
    400g tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
    250g tinned stewed peaches
    1 1/2 tsp vegetable stock powder
    1/4 cup water

    Fry onion, carrot and celery in oil over medium heat until softening.  Add garlic, cumin, ginger, seeded mustard, chilli paste and continue frying for about a minute.  Stir in tomatoes, chickpeas, peaches, stock powder and water.  Bring to boil and simmer for 30 minutes.

    On the stereo:
    Music of the Kabarett: Various Artists

    Posted February 10, 2017 12:43 PM by Johanna GGG

    February 09, 2017

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Eggplant kataifi nests

    January 21, 2017

    January saw the long-awaited return of Ottolenghi club, our semi-regular potluck-style assault on Yotam's greatest hits. We had an empty day before the dinner, so I decided to take on something a bit more challenging than my usual fancy salad and dove head-first into these eggplant nests. These were an outstanding success - the choice dish in a meal loaded up with excellence and one that we made again before we even managed to get this blog post written. The crispy nests are wrapped around a smooth, smoky eggplant filling and served with a tangy and spicy dipping sauce - they're great straight out of the oven and nearly as good at room temperature. 

    The key ingredient is kataifi pastry - we found some at A1 Grocery on Sydney Road, and I imagine any decent Mediterranean or Middle Eastern food-store will come through for you. I've read that you can substitute shredded filo pastry, but I reckon you're better off making the effort to track this down - it's really worth it. Once you've got the pastry it's just a matter of working your way through the recipe - the roasting of the eggplants, capsicum, chilli and garlic stretches out over a few hours and the assembly of the little nests takes a bit of time, but the pay-off is really, really worth it. These will definitely be on our where's the best? list the next time we update it.

    Eggplant kataifi nests
    (adapted very slightly from a recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty More)

    4 eggplants (about 1.2kg)
    200g ricotta
    65g pecorino, roughly grated
    1 small bunch parsley, chopped
    1 egg, beaten
    100g ghee
    80ml sunflower oil
    340g packet kataifi pastry (thawed)
    salt and pepper

    capsicum & tomato salsa
    1 medium capsicum
    1 red chilli
    3 unpeeled garlic cloves
    200g crushed tomatoes
    2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
    50ml olive oil

    Preheat the oven to 250°C.

    Pierce the eggplants a few times with a knife and lay them out on a baking tray. Roast them in the oven for 90 minutes, turning every 20 minutes or so to make sure they all get nice and blackened. Remove from the oven and leave to cool, before scooping out the flesh and leaving it to drain in a colander for half an hour.

    While the eggplants are roasting you can get to work on the salsa. Put the capsicum, chilli and garlic on another oven tray and roast them in the oven for 10 minutes. Take the chilli and garlic out and turn the capsicum, roasting for another 20 minutes or so until its skin is all blistered. Remove the capsicum and pop it in a bowl covered with plastic wrap to cool (this makes the skin easier to peel off). Peel and deseed the capsicum and chilli and peel the garlic.

    Pop the roasted capsicum, chilli and garlic into a small food processor and whizz to a paste. Add the vinegar, oil and about 1 teaspoon of salt and and the crushed tomatoes and whizz some more until you've got a smooth sauce.

    Melt the ghee in a small saucepan and combine it with the sunflower oil.

    Once all the veggies have been roasted drop the oven temperature down to 200°C and get ready to make the nests. First up, make the filling - mix the eggplant flesh together with the ricotta, pecorino, parsley, egg and generous amounts of salt and pepper.

    Now it's time to build the nests! Lightly grease a baking tray - we started with a 30cm x 20cm tray but overflowed and had to use a small square tray as well. Pull out about 25g of the kataifi pastry (I weighed the first couple before I got into a rhythm). Stir a tablespoon of the butter mix into the pastry parcel and then spread it out on a cutting board until you have a rectangle about 15cm x 5cm. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of the mix onto one end of the rectangle and then roll the pastry loosely around the filling. 

    Lay the rolled up pastry in the baking tray and then repeat - you can squish them up right against each other. Once you've made all the rolls, drizzle whatever oil/butter mix you have leftover on top and bake for 25-30 minutes until the tops go nice and golden.

    Serve, with the sauce on the side.

    Posted February 09, 2017 09:39 AM by Michael

    February 08, 2017

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Queen Victoria Summer Night Market 2017

    We often celebrate Burns Night at our place because E is Scottish.  But when I found that Sylvia would be at a sleepover and E at ukulele practice I decided to go the Queen Victoria Night Market for tea.  I find crowds so much easier to negotiate alone.  The vegetarian options were a tyranny of choice.  I looked for some unusual dishes to try but did return to some favourites.

    We love the Coburg Night Market 2016 that is held weekly in December.  It is the little sister of the night market at the sprawling Queen Victoria Market which is held from November to March on Wednesday evenings.  Actually only a few sheds are open during the night market.  Yet, there are still so many stalls that it is still overwhelming.  I focused mainly on the food stalls, with barely any energy left for the craft stalls.

    It must be about 10 years since I last went to the Queen Vic Night Market with my parents and siblings.  We found a table where we ate our tea all those years ago.  On this visit I did not like my chances of finding a seat.  There are many seats and even more bottoms searching for a place of rest.  I went with the street food vibe and ate on the go.

    Firstly I wandered around to see every stall, which is far easier to do when alone.  While some of the stalls were the sort of dishes I am familiar with - such as paella, falafel, noodles, dumplings, cheese toasties and vegan curry - I was curious about some others. 

    It was fun just checking out each menu.  (Usually Sylvia or E are keen to move along.)  I really loved the look of the stalls with the Victorian brickwork behind them.  I would have loved to try the following:
    • Raclette fondue's La Traditionelle (sauted potato with herbs, cornichons, salad, melted cheese for $11).
    • Souvas' Vegetarian meal (zucchini rissoles with chips, lettuce, tomato, onion and spicy capsicum sauce for $10).
    • Nunu's mushroom and leek dumplings (I think these were 3 for $12).
    • Three Ethiopian curries with injera bread at the Injera Hut for $10.
    • Boss Man Food's jerk roasted corn on the cob for $6.
    • Most of the dishes at Rice and Dice.

    I was too full to try some of the above dishes, forgot about some and couldn't be bothered queuing for others.  I also decided to give Sylvia a call at her sleepover to see how she was going.  It took ages to make my way out of the shed.  It was incredibly busy.  I think I arrived about 6ish and it was already really busy and just got busier. 

    The first place I stopped to eat was the wonderfully named Devils and Hoppers.  I had never heard of hoppers before but Faye had been excited about them and she is always on the ball with interesting food.  According to Wikipedia they also go by the name Appam and are Sri Lankan rice pancakes cooked in a bowl shape.  I had a plain hopper with dal ($4).  I spooned it into my hopper and rolled it up.  This was delicious.  I wasn't at all interested in the egg filled hoppers but would have liked to try the string hoppers (which are made with egg but I was told they could be vegan) if the queue was not so long.

    The next dish I tried was The Cypriot Kitchen's Haloumi Chips, served with sesame black seeds, fresh herbs and your coice of sweet yoghurt sauce or beetroot tzatziki ($10).  I queued for ages and enjoyed watching the nimble dance of the many busy staff around each other.  They made a great theatre of calling out numbers when dishes were ready. 

    Yet I was disappointed with my dish.  I think my expectations were a bit awry.  I had expected beetroot tzatziki that was chunky with lots of grated beetroot piled on the chips.  Instead it was a drizzle of light pink sauce.  The haloumi chips were really good but so salty that I could not eat many.  This was more of a side dish than I expected.  Good but I just couldn't even get through half of it.

    My mouth was so salty that I went gasping to the Lemonade stall for a cool refreshing glass.  It was so welcome that I almost went back for a second glass.  I asked where the lemons came from and they said local but when I asked where the staff didn't know.  I was curious as there seem to have been less local lemons and limes about lately.

    I loved looking at all the tempting desserts.  The pavolva stall with mini pavlovas and choose your own toppings seemed a great idea, if only I loved pavlova.  The New York waffles looked amazing as did the churros and the above Tim Tam Shake (Creamy chocolate ice cream stuffed with Tim Tam biscuits, topped with fresh cream, more Tim Tams and a Nutella Doughnut.  But why must they always douse these fancy shakes in cream! I was less enthused by the Dutch pancakes, Holy Cannoly and Mercato Gelati.

    Instead of trying something new I went with my favourite Queen Vic comfort food; the jam doughnut from the American Doughnut Kitchen van.  I still think they are the bestest doughnuts ever and have such happy childhood memories of these doughnuts.  (Thanks to my dad for passing on that love!) 

    I remember in high school being taken by a friend's parents to the Queen Vic Market and having churros.  It was my first experience of churros.  I think until then I had not even realised they existed.  I liked them but they seemed so foreign and odd compared to the jam doughnuts that are one of my first culinary loves1

    And then I was still peckish so I went to Rice and Dice.  It was hard to choose what to eat.  They have the amazing Indian nachos that I had at the Coburg Night Market late last year but I remember how filling they were.  Everything looked really good - the masala, the dumplings, the noodles.

    I went for the stuffed roti with curry vegetables.  It came with a yoghurt sauce and was delicious.  I had been worried that the curry vegetables would be drippy but they weren't at all.  They were a wee bit spicy but nothing to bother me too much.

    I also bought some Bretzel large soft pretzels to take home for the next day.  I think Sylvia and E might have liked a sweet one but I really love the plain salted ones. 

    There is lots more to see, especially lots of craft and clothes shops that I didn't get a chance to visit because it was too late by the time I finished checking out all the food,  I did notice that, like the food, there were a few familiar stalls from the Coburg Night Market.

    There were lots of rainbow flags for Gay pride, some colourful dragons for Chinese New Year but nothing about Burns Night at the market.  And for that little bit of quirkiness, I passed a guitar paying Dark Vader busker on the way to take the tram home.  I'd love to get back to the Night Market but there are not many weeks left before it closes as the cooler weather comes to Melbourne. 

    Summer Night Market
    Queen Victoria Market 
    Corner Queen Street and Therry Street
    Wednesday nights 5-10pm
    16 November 2016 to 8 March 2017

    Posted February 08, 2017 11:08 PM by Johanna GGG

    February 07, 2017

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne


    January 16, 2017

    I had a bunch of family in town for the tennis in January and we were tasked with coming up with a 'Melbourne' dining experience. We've had good luck with Hellenic Republic in the past, so we decided to give one of George Calombaris' other places a shot - his casual Greek place in the city, Gazi. The fit-out is lovely - upside-down terracotta pots hang from the ceiling, big windows let light flood in and the open kitchen is buzzing with activity.

    We had an early booking, but so did everyone with tennis tickets, so Gazi was heaving with people. It's not the best place for a group catch-up: it's super loud, with music pumping and conversation echoing off the walls. We were struggling to even make ourselves heard by the staff. Luckily, we came up with the ordering option that required the least conversation - for $49 they'll put on a seven dish sharing menu, catering to whatever dietary requirements you have. So much easier than working your way through all the options on the menu.

    Cindy kicked things off with a white-peach soda from the house-made sodas selection ($7), while the rest of us got boozy. Food-wise we started out with dips: a beetroot dip with feta and walnut praline and a tzatziki (the non-vegos got taramasalata). The beetroot dip was wonderful - especially with the sweet/crunchy walnut praline on top.

    The dips were closely followed by a few serves of the saganaki with preserved cherry glyko on top. This was very reminiscent of the peppered fig version served at Hellenic Republic and is just as good - fried cheese with something sweet on top is a pretty sure-fire dish.

    Next up were big serves of tiganites patates (fries with feta and oregano) and lahanosalata (cabbage, kefalograviera, honey and yoghurt dressing). These were both excellent, relying on their respective cheeses to elevate them beyond their humble bases, but there was way too much of both.  

    The vego dishes came thick and fast after the chips. We got kolokitha (roast pumpkin with creme fraiche, seeds, nuts and spring onions), grilled corn with with crushed popcorn, and horta (wild greens, tomato paste and a fried egg). I was super impressed by all of these - even the simple greens were superb, with the rich tomato paste and egg turning a side dish into something much more. 

    We'd lost count of our dishes up to this point and nobody could figure out whether or not our seven dishes was going to include dessert or not. We were all stuffed, but there were still some happy faces around the table when this plate of loukoumades - honey-Nutella slathered doughnuts sprinkled with nuts. They were excellent, and the perfect way to finish an excellent meal.

    Our Gazi meal was pretty great - every dish hit the mark and at $50 a head it seemed like pretty good value to me. The menu is well stocked with vego dishes, but most of them relied on cheesiness to really fly, so I'm not sure how the vegan version would turn out. For all its casualness, Gazi's not really a relaxing place to eat - it's super loud and things are a bit rushed. The staff are efficient though and they whipped us through the meal effortlessly. I'm not sure the two of us will rush back for another round, but it could be a good option to take visitors when you're showing off the city.


    Gazi has met with almost universal blog praise, including a couple of vego reviews on Ebezilla and I Spy Plum Pie, plus tons of omni reviews - see A Table for Two, Gourmanda, A Food Fable, For Food's Sake, Hungry and Fussy, Capital Food Journal, Chasing a Plate, Lisa Eats World, The Foodie World, The Epicurean of Southbank, A Chronicle of Gastronomy, Olive Sundays, The City Gourmand, Foodie & Fabulous, Confessions of a Little Piggy, The Brick Kitchen, Perth Food Reviews, DonutSam, Adventures in Winterland, The Epicurist, Little Caps, Lips Temptations, The Food Joy, The Blue Macaron, Far Fetched and Fanciful, Kit and Kafoodle, Melbourne Vita, Sweet and Sour Fork, It's an Expensive but Delicious Habit, Meghanism, I Only Eat Desserts, Roaming Potato, Curious Charlie, Gracious Expedition, Gastronomic Gems, Dumpling Love, The Food Society, Jordan's Food Baby, Eat Like Ushi, Gastronomical Ramblings, Jar Fed, Imelda Eats, Dammit Janet I Love Food, Sarah Cooks, Missy Ness' Food Train of Thought, Yellow Yellow Eggs, Pigging Out Around the World, MEL: HOT OR NOT, Suburban Culinary Adventures and Barley Blog,

    There are just a couple of people less impressed with it - both 15,000kms of food and One Fat Cow were a bit underwhelmed.


    2 Exhibition St, Melbourne
    9207 7444
    food, dessert, drinks

    Accessibility: Entry is flat. The interior and most of the tables are on the same level, but the booths are raised. There's a mix of bar stools and regular tables - it's all pretty crowded. We ordered and paid at the table. We didn't visit the toilets.

    Posted February 07, 2017 10:14 PM by Michael

    February 05, 2017

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    In my kitchen - February 2017

    While January is a start up month, February always signifies that the year really and truly has begun.  Everyone has forgotten new year's resolutions, the kids are back to school and we are all waiting for summer to be over!  While I didn't post a lot of recipes in January, I have made lots of meals and tried to take quick snaps of a lot of these.  As well as a few other bits and bobs.

    The top photo is Broccoli and spinach soup from Tinned Tomatoes.  I tweaked it slightly to adjust to what was in the fridge.  It was gloriously green and tasty but a lot thinner than I expected.  So I put in some sushi seasoned rice on the first night.  After that it thickened slightly and I enjoyed drinking it out of a mug.

    I bought this Praise 99% fat free coleslaw dressing because it is egg free.  It made me think I really should go to some health food shops and buy a decent vegan mayonnaise.  Meanwhile, it has been great for salads in summer, such as this pasta, bean and tofu bacon salad I made a few weeks back.

    We gave Sylvia this pack of Harry Potter playing cards for Christmas.  She just loves it.  I looked up a game that I played as a kid called Follow the Ace.  It is like Uno but with playing cards.  I thanked my uncle for teaching it to me.  He could not remember it.  Now I am not sure who taught me.  It has been a good game for the holidays.

    While most of my camembert went onto tarts, I had a little leftover.  It went into this most excellent salad roll with purple coleslaw, spinach, grated carrot.

    I served the last of my orange baked tofu with beetroot and lentil salad, coleslaw, cherry tomatoes, and olives.  A most pleasing meal.

    It has been a while since I have photographed Sylvia's meals.  I need to make more meals that she can share with us but some days she still has her dinner plain.  She continues to love tofu and is quite taken with the Japanese seasoned tofu we buy at the supermarket.  On this day she also had cherry tomatoes, carrots, cucumber (her favourite vegetables of the moment) and the original barbecue shapes.  I can't think why Arnotts changed the barbecue shapes seasoning but it was so unpopular that now they have the silly situation of selling the new version and the original version.

    And I want to point out the flowery headband in the photo.  It was bought at Pumpkin Patch.  I am quite sad about their stores closing.  We had one day in the holidays where we managed to go to their closing down sales in both DFO and Highpoint and made quite a few bargain purchases, including the headband.

    On the same day we bought the headband, we had quite a shopping spree buying clothes and sandals for Sylvia as well as this pair of Anolon frypans.  I really love my Scanpan frypan but it has got old and tatty on the surface.  Reading about the dangers of non-stick cookware recently has made me less comfortable with the wear and tear on the surface.  This one claims to be PFOA free but it seems there are other chemicals to be aware of too.

    Here is another colourful bowl of food.  I have been making a few meals from But I Could Never Go Vegan.  This bowl includes the sunflower sausage from the cookbook.  This sausage is really tasty and the texture is surprisingly meaty and a goo substitute for mince meat.  I have used some in pasta with a tomato sauce and it worked really well.   My bowl dinner  also includes leftover potato salad, leftover pasta, grated carrot, cherry tomatoes and baby spinach. 

    I recently posted about my curry made with this chickpea tofu.  It was quite fortuitous finding this packet of tofu in the supermarket.  Having read some of the comments, I am now keen to try making the tofu myself.  But I have been saying that about soy tofu for years.  One day ....

    I think it must have been Australia Day bringing out the patriot in me that prompted an orgy of Aussie classic products.  I don't know that I have ever bought a packet of Arnotts Assorted Creams before.  I can sing the song and have eaten plenty of them.  I can confirm that the orange creams are always the last to go.  Though I don't know where the melting moments went!  Also in the purchases are Cheezels, Barbecue Shapes (the Originals), Vegemite Cheeseybite snacks, and a pumpkin, caramelised onion and cashew dip that was nice.

    The roses in the front garden are blooming.  Here is one that came indoors.

    Finally I tried a vegan chicken nugget recipe last week.  The artichoke and chickpea filling intrigued me.  It was a lot of work for the crumbly nuggets that did not please Sylvia and did not taste much like chicken.  Too much polenta in them I think which made them sandy textured.  The only thing that pleased me was that I decided to use some sourdough starter in the recipe. 

    However the leftover nuggets were great when chopped up on a pizza with mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, cheese and rocket.  One of the best pizzas I have made in quite some time.

    I am sending this post to Lizzy of Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things for the In My Kitchen event, that was started by Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial,  If you would like to join in, send your post to Lizzy by 10 February .  Or just head over to her blog to peek into more kitchens.

    Posted February 05, 2017 10:46 PM by Johanna GGG

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Girls & Boys

    January 8, 2017

    The Vegie Bar family has added another new member since Transformer. It's called Girls & Boys, and it's located right next door to the Vegie Bar on Brunswick St. Instead of smashing the gender binary, they've focused their efforts on sweet vegan snacks - the fanciest of raw cakes, a case of gelato, coconut-based soft-serve icecream, smoothies & thickshakes. They've got also a coffee machine and a selection of the latest lattes (turmeric, beetroot, etc), and the natural conclusion: a vegan affogato.

    We stopped by after a hot night at the Tote and ordered this choc-raspberry soft-serve explosion ($12) to share. The texture is bona fide and I liked the light, sweet coconut flavour of the icecream. The vegan meringue shards and freeze-dried raspberries were ideal crunchy-tangy counterpoints, but unfortunately the chocolate components were a let-down - the brownie squares were tasteless and the sauce dulled in the cold.

    It's awfully exciting to see a cheery, all-vegan sweet spot set up. I reckon I'll be sneaking in for a few more treats before summer's done.

    Girls & Boys has also had positive coverage on The Rose & Bean.

    Girls & Boys
    382A Brunswick St, Fitzroy
    9417 6766
    facebook page

    Accessibility: Entry is flat and there's a lot of open flat space inside. Tables and chairs are low and sparsely distributed. We ordered and paid at a low counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

    Posted February 05, 2017 06:03 PM by Cindy

    February 03, 2017

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Chickpea tofu and pea curry

    During the holidays, I found chickpea tofu in the supermarket and was curious.  Once I purchased it, I was unsure how to feature it.  A few weeks later I opened it to make this tofu and pea curry.  It stank.  At first I thought it might be off.  But I forged ahead and loved the curry.

    We are very used to soy-based tofu in our house.  Sylvia often tries to swipe some of it while I cut it up to eat straight from the packet.  When she smelled the chickpea tofu, she turned up her nose and didn't want anything to do with it.  Given that the finished product was delicious, I wonder if the smell was just different to what we know.  The texture was also different.  Chickpea tofu was less rubbery and a bit more crumbly.  As it is the only packet I have tried, I really should buy it again to check it is the chickpea tofu characteristic and not just that batch.  Stay tuned!

    I really loved this curry.  It reminded me of this spicy pea curry but I enjoyed the addition of tofu.  I am sure it would work with regular soy tofu as well as chickpea tofu.  The curry was very creamy and tasty.  I used less ginger, no pepper (I don't like too much spice), no bay leaf (I felt lazy), fried onion instead of raw (it was there), powdered garlic rather than fresh (as I had none).  The recipe below reflects what I would be most likely to do.

    I served the curry with a lentil and sweet potato curry that was like a dal and some basmati rice.  I might have served brown rice but I had been cleaning the shower and knocked E's electric shaver into a bucket of water.  So the shaver went into a tub of brown rice rather than the brown rice going into dinner.

    I ate my curry in front of the tennis.  The Australian Open is one of the few times in the year that I have any urge to watch sport on tv.   And by the time I had the curries and rice ready, Sylvia had gone to bed and E was at ukulele practice.  So I just sat back and enjoyed my curry to the sounds of summer: the thwack of the ball on raquet, the drone of the umpire's voice and sneakers squeaking on the court.  The tennis is now over and I am looking forward to some decent tv starting up again.

    I am sending this curry to Meat Free Mondays, Healthy Vegan Fridays, Gluten Free Fridays and Eat Your Greens.

    More easy curries on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
    Banana curry (gf, v)
    Chickpea and potato curry with mango chutney (gf, v)
    Easy dahl (gf, v)
    Spicy pea curry (gf, v)
    Spinach and chickpea curry (gf, v)
    Watermelon curry (gf, v)

    Tofu and pea curry
    Adapted from Everyday Healthy Recipes
    Serves 4

    2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
    250-300g tofu
    1 large onion, finely chopped
    3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    1 tbsp finely grated ginger
    1 tsp garam masala
    1/2 tsp each cumin powder and turmeric
    400g can of diced tomatoes
    1 teaspoon flaked sea salt
    1 cup frozen peas
    1/2 cup coconut milk

    Cut tofu into cubes.  Season and fry in 1 tbsp oil until golden brown.

    Fry onion, garlic, ginger, garam masala, cumin and turmeric for a few minutes.  Add tomato and salt.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Stir in peas and coconut milk.  Once peas defrost remove from heat.

    NOTES: I found the mixture quite salty when I added the tsp of flaked salt.  Once it had cooked and had peas and coconut added it tasted wonderful.  I didn't include onions when frying up spices because I had fried onions leftover from another meal and used them.  I don't like a really spicy curry but if your tastes differ, you may want to add chillis, pepper and/or coriander.  I used chickpea tofu and sprinkled it with curry powder, salt and pepper, and tossed it about before frying.

    On the Stereo:
    The Days of Our Nights: Lunar 

    Posted February 03, 2017 12:54 PM by Johanna GGG

    January 31, 2017

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Ginger beer and school holidays

    Today marked the end of the summer school holidays.  We spent the day traipsing around the shops for new school dresses and a new ipad.  (Can you believe that Grade 3s require ipads at Sylvia's school).  But before Term 1 starts and we get back into routine, I wanted to write a little about the holidays, complete with lashings of ginger beer!

    At the start of the holidays, with no plans to go away, it seemed that there was oodles of time.  It is hard to believe that the holidays have passed in the blink of an eye.  Sylvia had a few play dates, a dentist visit and sleepovers at my parents, I did quite a bit of paid work and caught up with a few friends.

    I enjoyed a few visits to family in Geelong.  This was my opportunity to get to the beach.  One evening at Western Beach it was fish and chips from King George Fish and Grill which did excellent chips and potato cakes.  We left the first place because at 6pm they had run out of potato cakes.

    On another occasion we went to Torquay Front Beach with my nephew, niece and sister-in-law.  We watched the helicopters circling overhead and the water emptying of swimmers with caution.  The lifesavers weren't emptying the beach at nearby Cosy Corner.  But we were not surprised when my brother phoned to let us know there was a shark at the Back Beach.  That day I also got sunburnt and slow traffic past a grass fire.  Sharks, sunburn and fires seemed to tick all the hazards of an Aussie summer!

    I missed the quiet of a holiday house to relax with a good book.  Yet we managed some reading at home.  I read Hannah Kent's The Good People which was a grim but fascinating story of poverty and pagan traditions in pre-famine Ireland.  It was cheering to follow it with Judith Will's wonderfully titled Keith Moon Stole My Lipstick.  It was a fun memoir about her working and meeting celebrities at a pop magazine in the 1960s and 1970s.  I also enjoyed reading Sylvia A Most Magical Girl by Karen Foxlee.

    In the news we had the local horror of a man driving down with nurderous intent through the Bourke Street pedestrian mall in Melbourne; the national scandal of politicians travel rorts; the sorry state of USA politics as Trump took up his post as president and continued to show a stunning lack of empathy; and the ups and downs in the Australian Open tennis championships.

    Spending more time at home than over the last few summers, meant we got to do more about the house.  We painted the backyard mural and spent some time on small improvements to Sylvia's room.  It also meant more time for card games, board games, and for Sylvia to potter about.  I really loved this little picnic scene she created for a green giraffe.

    We didn't get out and about as much as I had intended.  We were just too busy most of the time.  I will share more about Moonlight Cinema and The Queen Vic Night Market soon.  I was very excited to be able to visit the Golden Gaytime Crumb Shed in the city.  I still haven't got over my childhood love of Golden Gaytimes.  At the crumb shed they were doing fancy versions and I had a Crumb Choc Millionaire coated with chocolate crumb, smashed potato crisps, desiccated coconut, blue sprinkles, and edible glitter.  It was really good.

    Last night I went to see Edge of Seventeen at the cinema with a friend.  It was a good angsty teen drama (complete with boy next to me in cinema with body odour to really give that teen experience).  We had actually intended to see Lion but it was sold out.  So I ate laksa at Shakahari while we waited to see a later movie.  Other films we saw over the holidays at the cinema were La La Land, Sing and Ballerina.  All lots of fun.

    We did get along to quite a few cafes.  Today Sylvia and I saw out the holidays with a visit to the Glass Den.  I just loved the pretty Peach and Avo Bruschetta (lime and lemongrass avocado, with peach, mint heirloom capsicum, cherry tomatoes, baby mizuna, beetroot hummus and almond feta served on crisp charcoal loaf).  It is the most memorable meal of the holidays.

    I also enjoyed a vegan meatball sub at Mr Nice Guy, the Golden Gaytime Deth Shake at Curators Collective, tacos at The Snug, and waffles at the Boot Factory.  And a few stops for inari at sushi shops with Sylvia.

    January was not a good month for posting recipes.  I didn't cook anything for Burns Night or Australia Day this year.  I made some really nice food (and will share some when I write up my next In My Kitchen post), tried some recipes from But I Will Never Go Vegan, but it was not a month that was memorable for making amazing recipes to share.

    Given we were very busy, it is no surprise that one recipe I really loved was a simple one.  This ginger beer recipe was in a supermarket magazine. It appealed because it didn't need to sit around for ages or to be strained.  It was just a matter of mixing everything together and pouring it into a bottle the next day, minus the sludge at the bottom.

    The result was really good.  I was surprised how these simple ingredients list resulted in a taste like Bundaberg ginger beer.  (Not like ginger ale which I prefer and is a little less sweet.)  We had it with lunch and felt quite fancy.

    The main change I would like would be to add less water so I could make up half ginger beer and half soda water for fizziness.  My mum tells me you just need to ferment it for fizziness.  I don't have the room for storing bottles that may explode.  Not even under the bed, which my mum tells me is traditional.  I also wondered about some extra spices, given how much I love the Christmas spiced Bundaberg ginger beer.

    For now I have ticked another recipe off my to do list.  I still feel terribly behind but there is so much to do and so little time.  Just in case you have some time, I leave you with some of the holiday reading I had found enjoyable and/or interesting:
    • Alternative Scottish Fusion Burns Supper - Allotment to Kitchen: Shaheen has links to lots of fun variations on vegetarian haggis dishes as well as some interesting background information on Rabbie Burns.
    • Tim Wu interview - The Internet is a classic party that went sour - The Guardian: "The great mistake of the web’s idealists was a near-total failure to create institutions designed to preserve that which was good about the web (its openness, its room for a diversity of voices and its earnest amateurism), and to ward off that which was bad (the trolling, the clickbait, the demands of excessive and intrusive advertising, the security breaches)."
    • Kittens on Pinterest: we have a kitten at our neighbour's so when I saw a kittens board on Pinterest, E and Sylvia enjoyed going all gooey over the cute pictures!
    • Kids and Television - How to Influence What They Learn - Hey Sigmund: Research has been done on how to get the most out of kids watching television and the results are simple and common sense: "When parents watch television with their children, the capacity of those children to learn from what they see increases."
    • English bubble physicist Helen Czerski says Donald Trump is a Magic Pill - The Age: An article which says Trump seems like a magic pill but there is no such thing: "Life – stuff like climate change and pandemics and antibiotic resistance – is complicated, and even the most agile science communicators can't make it simple."
    • Wesley Enoch wont censor Sydney Festival's Australia Day activities - The Australian: high profile Indigenous director, Wesley Enoch reflects on if we should change the date of Australia Day: “What’s more important? That we have a meaningful discussion and debate about what it means to be Australian, and remember the First Peoples on that day, and acknow­ledge past wrongs.”

    More summer drinks on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
    Apricot and passionfruit smoothie (gf)
    Chilled apple green tea (gf, v)
    Lemonade (gf, v)
    Limeade (gf, v)
    Lime Spiders (gf)
    Tropical orange and carrot smoothie (gf, v) 

    Ginger Beer
    From Woolworth Fresh magazine December 2016

    3/4 cup castor sugar
    1/4 cup lemon juice (bit less than one medium lemon)
    1 tbsp ground ginger
    1 tsp dried yeast
    1.25l boiling water*
    fresh mint leaves and ice blocks, to serve

    Place all ingredients in large saucepan, cover loosely and leave over night at room temperature.  The next morning, skim off any, skim off any scum and pour into a bottle in fridge with at least 4cm space at the top (we used a 2 litre bottle and had plenty of room).  Discard the sediment at the bottom of the saucepan.  Store in the fridge.  Serve with ice blocks and mint leaves if desired.

    *NOTES: next time I make this I might experiment with adding a bit more than half the water and then serving it with half ginger beer and half soda water to make it fizzy.

    On the Stereo:
    Remember Us to Life: Regina Spector

    Posted January 31, 2017 11:27 PM by Johanna GGG

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    where's the best in 2015 & 2016?

    Moroccan Deli-Cacy

    We're a little late for 2016 retrospectives, but it's taken us all of January to cover our last (and often best!) eats of last year. And it's been almost two years since we properly updated our where's the best? page, so we've taken the week to do it right.

    Let's begin with a moment's silence for past faves now departed: veg Chinese institutions Enlightened Cuisine and White Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant, plus those amazing mock chicken wings out at Springvale; the Aussie-as why-in-South-Yarra Sweetwater Inn; the feelin'-just-a-bit-fancy Bayte and Otsumami; for sweet little Helados Jauja.

    RIP Enlightened Cuisine prawn toast, 
    and that one time Michael ate a second serving for dessert.

    Thankfully we've been blessed with numerous new haunts. Our local 'hood has welcomed Good Days and Very Good Falafel, and we love the Tamil Feasts project. Brunswick St is still booming, with omni spots Mukka and Rue de Creperie giving the local all-veg businesses serious competition.  We've found amazing vegan foods in places we daren't dream of, like Italian restaurants (Small Axe KitchenMaccaroni Osteria Italiana) and Irish pubs (The Snug, in both Brunswick and St Kilda).

    Some great eateries have had babies! Smith & Daughters begat Smith & Deli; Moroccan Soup Bar begat Moroccan Deli-Cacy; Fina's begat Fina's Jr 2; Vegie Bar begat Transformer. And we've finally visited two grandparents of the veg scene thanks to our Cheap Eats 2006 project - it should never have taken us this long to tick off the lovely Friends of the Earth and Water Drop Tea House @ Fo Guang Yuan Art Gallery.


    In our home kitchen, Ottolenghi and Isa still reign supreme. Our O-club favourites included sweet potatoes with orange bitterspumpkin with chilli yoghurt & coriander sauceroasted cauliflower, grape & cheddar salad and eggplant cheesecake. Isa gave us chipotle sausage hash and that was enough. We're getting good use from other cookbooks, too, with wins from Community (char-grilled broccoli with chickpeas, almonds, lemon & chilli, ginger-peanut kale with tofu and quinoa), Vegan Soul Kitchen (spicy Cajun-Creole tempeh with creamy cashew grits), the Moroccan Soup Bar cookbook (basbousa) and the Smith & Daughters cookbook (hot cheddar & pickled jalapeno dip).

    Pumpkin with chilli yoghurt & coriander sauce

    Our repertoire of easy-peasy weeknight cooking has expanded to pan-fried gnocchi & kaleorange baked tofu and Trailwalker macaroni; if they were a little more nutritious I'd wrangle roasted jackfruit rolls and sweet'n'sour mock pork in there too. On the other end of the scale, gochujang fried cauliflower and PB potatohead icecream were outstanding weekend projects (I'm still on the fence about that waffled tofu & rice...).

    In my world almost every dessert is a good dessert, but the ones we've already made multiple times are these macadamia & lemon myrtle biscuits, this peanut butter & blueberry pie, and Michael's perfected Nigella's winter plum cake. Not only are these recipes delicious, but they conjure happy memories of the the occasions they were made for and the people we shared them with.

    Peanut butter & blueberry pie

    Posted January 31, 2017 08:32 AM by Cindy

    January 28, 2017

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Cranberry and camembert tarts - using leftover cranberry sauce

    "Summer's lease hath all too short a date", as the Bard once wrote.  And so the School Holidays are almost over and Term 1 of another year is almost upon us.  Alas I still have fruit mince and cranberry sauce in my fridge.  So in the interest of sharing some leftover ideas, here are the very simple cranberry and camembert tarts I made soon after Christmas.

    I have been meaning to make them again with another cheese but am yet to do it.  They are delicious but not quite the healthy eating we all promise ourselves after Christmas.  But a lovely wintery snack.  And who knows, my cranberry sauce might last that long.  So before summer and this recipe fades into the mists of time, here is it.

    Actually it is too simple to really need a recipe.  I just cut a square of ready-rolled puff pastry into six rectangles, spread with cranberry sauce and topped with slices of camembert.  I think I baked them for about 20 minutes at 200 C or until the pastry was golden and the cheese was melting and bubbly.

    Thanks to The Baking Explorer for inspiration from her Brie Cranberry Tartlets.  Here is some more inspiration:

    More recipes to use up cranberry sauce on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
    Baked brie with cranberry sauce and walnuts (gf)
    Cheese, cranberry and thyme muffins
    Cranberry and orange glazed tofu (gf, v)
    Parsnip, cranberry and chestnut roast

    More recipes to use up leftover cranberry sauce elsewhere online:
    Brie, pear and cranberry pizza bread - Cook the story
    Cranberry black pepper sweet rolls - Daily waffle
    Cranberry sauce apple crisp - Just Taste
    Sweet potato pancakes with maple cranberry sauce - $5 dinners

    On the Stereo:
    Set List: The Frames

    Posted January 28, 2017 10:54 PM by Johanna GGG

    January 26, 2017

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Curators Collective, Queens Park, Moonee Ponds

    "The pigeons stole our gaytime deth shake!" I texted E as we were having lunch at Curators Collective in Moonee Ponds.  Honestly, you couldn't make it up!  And when you saw how cute the cottage is, you would not expect such things of lunch.  I am happy to report that, pigeons aside, it was a really nice place to stop for lunch.

    We had first gone there the previous week with a friend and her kids.  As we had arrived we had been shocked to see two little girls sitting at a table watching a pigeon pecking at the lunch their mother had walked away from.  But we had not had any birds too close to use.

    Soon we were seated at a shady table.  The service was friendly with our waitress making sure there were enough chairs.  Sylvia was excited to see waffles on the menu, I wanted something savoury and Kathleen's son was off finding turtles in the nearby lake.  There was something for everyone and we all enjoyed their meals.

    I ordered the Fat HashBrown, which was a potato and caramelised onion hashbrown served with chipotle mayo, pickled beetroot, poached eggs and pea tendril salad.  However I asked for the vegan version and instead of the egg I had a vegetarian sausage and half an avocado.  It was very satisfying.  I really loved the hashbrown with the beetroot pickle.  It had great flavour, even though the hashbrown softened under the pickle.  And there was plenty of healthy greenery.

    Kathleen chose Dr Marty's Crumpets which came with strawberries, icecream and strawberry sauce.  They were pretty to look at and she was very happy with her choice.  She also ordered a tea.  When it came she was told to sit the infuser teapot over her cup and count to three - no more as the tea came out quickly.  She counted a little slowly and her cup was brimming over.  It was a slightly tricky sort of teapot - fun but not intuitive.  We decided the cups needed to be glass so you could see them filling up.

    Sylvia zoomed in on the waffles topped with Nutella chocolate sauce, blueberries, vanilla ice cream and chocolate soil.  She was swooning over them and not inclined to share much.  We loved them so much that when passing by a week later we stopped there and she ordered the waffles again.  This time I got more of a look in and agreed that the chocolate sauce was very good.

    On our second visit I indulged in a Golden Gaytime Deth Shake.  My favourite ice cream when I was little was a Golden Gaytime with butterscotch ice cream coated by chocolate and biscuit crumbs.  So I ordered this again my inclinations.  It is a salted caramel milkshake, whole golden gaytime, Persian fairy floss, cookie crumble, chocolate and caramel sauce.

    My hesitations were that I know I am no fan of caramel milkshakes.  Even chocolate milkshakes are usually a bit milky but caramel are way too milky for me.  And really either an ice cream or a milkshake is more than enough.  But it was a Golden Gaytime.  So I ordered it.  And went to get a spoon for Sylvia.

    As I was waiting for service, the waitress said she had to rescue a little girl from the pigeons.  I turned to see those blooming pigeons pecking away at the end of my golden gaytime that I had placed on the top of the jar.  The waitress sprayed water on the pigeons to shoo them away and left the water with us in case they came back.  (Surely this is not what they meant in the commercials that claimed "it's so hard to have a gaytime on your own".) 

    Luckily I had eaten a little of my gaytime already.  When I decided just to cut off a big wedge of end that the pigeons had eaten, Sylvia told me they had pecked all around it!  Argh!  She had already eaten my fairy floss.  So we ate the biscuit crumbed chocolate around the top of the jar, which was nutella and very nice.  But I sort of lost interest in the shake.

    The above photo of the pigeons in our plates was taken after we left the table when they were there before you could say Gaytime deth shake!

    The pigeons are the downside of eating in the middle of the park.  The upside is that it is a really pretty location with lots of lovely plants and mosaics and the lake to walk around.  On the other side of the lake is a good wooden park.  It was really busy in the school holidays.  We have been on other occasions when it wasn't quite so busy.  (We visited the cafe back in 2011 when it was called Oliver's Garden Cafe.)

    As well as the park over the other side of the lake, there is a toddler's playground by the side of the cafe.  No wonder there are so many families.  There is also a window for takeaway food.  I know they sell ice creams but can't remember what else.  And there is seating inside for the cooler months.  If you want a lunch, there is a vegan burger that looks good.  The place is not cheap but it does some interesting food and is in a great location for families.

    Curators Collective
    778 Mt Alexander Road, Moonee Ponds
    (03) 9042 4560

    Curators Collective Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

    Posted January 26, 2017 10:51 PM by Johanna GGG

    January 24, 2017

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    A backyard mural: forest, fairies and fireworks

    This summer's holiday project was painting a mural on our backyard wall.  It is something I have wanted to do for years and am most pleased to have finally done it.  And now that I have done it once, I might even do it again.  So for those of you who are interested, and for my records, here are my notes of what I did.

    This was the largest canvas I ever worked with so it was quite a challenge.  I felt a real novice doing it and would probably do some of it differently if I did it again.  For example, I would not paint on a 37 C day because it required lots of sun cream and drinks and it was harder to work with the paint that dried quickly. 

    The first challenge was buying the paint.  We went to our local Bunnings hardware store four days in a row.  I was pleasantly surprised at how helpful the staff were.  I was less happy about my hands being quite paint splattered for a few days but most of it came off with soap and water.

    Spray Paint
    I knew I wanted to spray paint the background and paint more details with brushes.  Choosing spray paints was easy (once the staff unlocked the cage it is kept in).  In the end I think we used about 7 tins of Rustoleum.  This was a good quality oil based gloss spray paint that did about 4 x 4 metres per tin.  As our fence was quite old and soaked up a lot of paint, I think we needed more.  We were told it would be hard to paint over the gloss paint (matt paint was hard to find) and might need some sandpapering.  But it was never a problem, which might be due to the old wood.

    Water based paint
    For the more detailed painting we wanted lots of colours.  We chose exterior water based paint (ie washes out in water).  Firstly we choose three tints from the colour samples.  Then we purchased a litre of white paint, divided it into four jars, added tints to three and kept one white.  I was limited by sharing my choice with Sylvia (who had her own fireworks section of the wall).  The colours were lighter than I wanted but in the ended looked better than deeper colours.  For more colour options, we bought some pots of primary colours in White Knight Splashes water based enamel paint.  We them did lots of mixing these to increase the palate of colours greatly.  The two colours I really missed were a dark brown and a dark blue or green.  We got by.  At one point, a friend came and helped me mix a dark green using a few of our kids craft paints.

    When I did a quick tally, I worked out that we spent close to $200 on paints.  Ouch!  We still have a few half pots of paints. 

    Above is a step by step pictorial of painting the fence.

    As you can see, the first job was to clear the plants and sweep the concrete clean.  This was great because it is a big job that does not get done often enough.  As you will see in one of the pictures, Sylvia helped with spray painting and doing some of the details, especially the fairy toadstool houses.

    In the first picture of the painting, you might notice a very pale blue spray.  It was so pale that we went back and purchased another brighter blue colour that was far more obvious and pleasing.  Generally I think using spray paint for the background saved us a lot of time.  Though I did get a sore finger from pushing the nozzle.  We used face masks when spray painting but no gloves so I got a little on my finger.  (Maybe gloves next time!)  Old clothes were a must too!

    I spray painted some vague dark green tree shapes and then gave them more shape with the lime green paint.  Sylvia was unhappy with the lime green looking so yellow in the bottom section but in the end I think it was ok.  When my friend came to help she would have liked to give more shape to the tree tops.  Like me she didn't have the time or the right coloured paints to do it.

    And while I would have liked more texture in the tree tops, I was happy to get some texture around the bottom of the trees where the grass and flowers were.  In an ideal world I would have done all the grass and then added flowers.  However, like the bunting, I added flowers as I mixed different colours.  Above you can see that there was a lot of layering.  I really enjoying being able to layer to add texture - a technique I have not used before.

    I looked at pictures online and even did a prelim sketch to get an idea of what I was doing.  Sylvia brought me out her Shirley Barber fairy book.  I wish I could paint like that!.  Sylvia enjoyed helping out with the toadstool houses. 

    I firstly did the light-coloured longer strings of bunting and felt they were too light.  Then I did some darker smaller strings and realised that the lighter ones were far more visible.  I did the string by painting a line of dots where the top of each triangle should be and adding triangles when I had mixed different colours.  

    I had trouble mixing the right greens and it was only when my friend mixed a darker green with craft paints that I was happy with it.  I probably should have gone back and got a darker blue but I was trying to make do with what we had.

    A small brush was used for the toadstool houses, fairies, bunting, and  flowers.  I wonder if I should have painted bigger details but it felt right to keep the fairy village small.  Even on this photo you can hardly see the details of the grass and little dots of flowers around the toadstool houses.  But when you actually are in the yard, you see the details. Ditto for the little fairies flying through the air.

    While my dream was a little fairy village, Sylvia's was fireworks.  As with the bunting, I think that lighter colours worked better.  I helped with this section of wall but it was done under Sylvia's direction as she had her vision.

    One of the issues when painting the fence was that I knew once the plants returned, some of the painting would be covered up - though I also knew that it would be fine to have pictures peeking around the plants.  I took this into account and had the fairy village in an area I knew would have the mint in front of it in small pots.

    Once everything returned to its place, it still looks good.  I was pleased to have a place to feature the rusty sculpture of the mother bird feeding it's chick (above).  It was a present from my sister and had been hard to see against the grey wood.

    We have had a few rainy days since the mural was finished and it did not wash off.  Phew!  Now I just have to hope the fence doesn't fall over.  It is getting pretty old; we could feel some planks were a little loose when we were painting.

    It was really hard to decide when it was finished.  I could have kept going with layers and details and retouches.  But after a week (with a few breaks) I could not justify any more time on it.  So the plants were moved back.  I still dream of some little tweaks.  Maybe one day.  I still would love a giraffe somewhere!  But now my dreams have moved on to Stage Two of back yard beautification: astro turf.  When I regather my energy.  Meanwhile I am enjoying spending time in the backyard, even if it is just hanging out the washing.

    Disclaimer: I have noted some of the brands of paints as a reminder but I paid for my own paints and do not have any affiliations with the companies.

    Posted January 24, 2017 10:02 PM by Johanna GGG

    January 23, 2017

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Bites 'round Brisbane

    December 19-23, 2016

    We took a long overdue trip to Brisbane this summer, to visit family. Mostly we took it easy - jigsaws, beach walks, reading novels, chatting over cool drinks and cheese plates. I ate avocados and mangoes at every opportunity. Amid all that we visited just a couple of veg*n cafes that have sprouted up recently.

    Vegan 'superfood bar' Charlie's Raw Squeeze has nine outlets around town, with more in the works. One is on the Redcliffe peninsula, where I grew up - this area has certainly evolved from those days of Sizzler and KFC. Charlie's Clontarf is staffed by numerous fresh-faced young women, who whip up juices, smoothies, acai bowls and banana-based 'loaded nice creams'.

    Mum & I stopped in for a browse right from the airport. We took away a taco bowl (~$12, not pictured) to share for lunch - we were impressed by the walnut mince and the bean salad, and glad for the fresh veges on a hot day. We browsed the Vegan Pantry, where I spotted all sorts of non-perishable goodies I've come to love in Melbourne - mock meats and dairy, icecreams and chocolates, lip balm, nooch, and on and on.

    A couple of days later I took home a couple of raw cakes that Mum was curious about, a Tim Tam raw 'doughnut', and a black forest slice ($6-8). While there was nothing doughnutty going on here at all, these were pretty and tasty. They had a smooth richness that must've come from cocoa butter or coconut oil. (And I think the half-Tim Tam was a non-raw Leda Choculence.)

    An old high school friend and I laughed at the incongruity of meeting up there for breakfast. Instead of the popcorn and Burger Rings we once shared, we picked out acai bowls. I was delighted by my small bubblegum bowl ($12) with its frosty base of blended acai, dragonfruit and coconut water and cheery fan of apple and banana slices, chopped mango, coconut chips and cocoa nibs.

    I don't whole-heartedly endorse Charlie's superfood ethos, but their fresh foods were great summer holiday treats. I hope they'll see great success in my hometown.

    Next door to Charlie's Everton Park is Veganyumm, a bakehouse with all the white sugar, flour and non-raw foods that Charlie's avoids. I persuaded my Mum that we should lunch there after picking Michael up from the airport.

    Though most of Veganyumm's customers seem to pick up their choice of desserts and leave, there are a few tables available for sitting in. We made good use of them, enjoying the shade, the people-watching, and the time to gaze across the sweets and consider the best combination for dessert.

    For those of us taking a seat, there are a wide range of beverages to sip. The usual coffee menu extends to red velvet and turmeric ginger lattes; tea comes in a variety of colours, hot and iced; and then there are milkshakes, frappes, and fruit whips. I loved their gently sweet and very icy chai frappe, while Michael and Mum had berry iced teas.

    Savoury options are limited but hearty. Their pumpkin pies were huge, flat rectangles formed from puff pastry sheets, stuffed not just with pumpkin but with tofu and mixed vegetables. A vegemite scroll was served warm and fluffy - I've never been a big cheesymite fan but this rendition won me over.

    Sated for the time being, we negotiated sweets to take home and agreed to a wedge of chewy pecan pie, silky peanut butter chocolate tart, and a melting moment. The latter was our unexpected favourite, with its gorgeously tangy passionfruit icing. All these desserts are great ambassadors for the joys of vegan eating, and happily they seemed to have a bit of a following in suburban Brisbane.

    For one day Michael and I roamed the city centre, meeting up with friends, bumping into others, and checking in on GOMA's anniversary exhibition. Tucked into a shopping centre food court, vegetarian-Indian stall Vegeto was a neat spot to grab a quick meal. Their dosa ($8.80) weren't extravagant but they really hit the spot; I paired mine with a ready-made mango lassi.

    Sharp eyes would've seen a tell-tale bag in that dosa pic - yep, we stopped by the Noosa Chocolate Factory outlet for their signature vegan rocky road. We did our best to pack it coolly and safely to share with friends back in Melbourne but as the chip packets say, some settling of contents may have occurred during transit. This chocolatier was absolute chaos in the lead-up to Christmas, so we took a raincheck on the vegan-friendly hot and iced coffees and chocolates we noticed on their menu.

    Fancy dining was never a goal for our Brisbane visit, but we had fun at these few newer spots we checked in on. 

    Posted January 23, 2017 07:26 AM by Cindy

    January 22, 2017

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Cheesy lentil bake (vegan)

    A week or so back I was so intent on painting the back fence that I was hardly stopping for food.  At the end of one of these days, I was so utterly tired I decided to have pasta and a jar of sauce for dinner.  It felt like a cop-out.  So suddenly I found the energy to make the cheesy lentil bake I had originally planned.  Life is always better with a good meal!
    Well almost.  Sylvia was not so happy that she didn't get the pasta she had expected.  Recently we had a chat about if there was anything we would have to give up to be vegan and she was quite confident that she would not mind giving up anything.  It seems though that she still has no desire to be veagn and is yet to embrace some vegan staples.  She has not yet learnt to love that earthy smell of lentils cooking.  I find it homey and comforting.

    Yes this was great comfort food.  Easy and cheesy.  However I was curious to see how it worked as a vegan bake.  I had sliced vegan Biocheese in the fridge.  It seemed a good idea to use slices of cheese on top but the unbaked version (above) and baked version (below) looked sadly similar.  Not the bubbly golden cheesy topping that dairy would offer.  However it tasted really good.  But next time I would try this vegan mozzarella on top, if I had time.

    While Sylvia refused to eat this, E and I loved it.  I really wanted to eat it all that night but I knew that we had a busy day the next day and wanted to make sure we had leftovers.  On the second night, I had it warmed up in a sandwich with baby spinach.  It was just what I needed.  I can see why Becca praised it as a favourite meal of hers.

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

    More comforting vegan oven bakes from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
    Bubble and squeak frittata (gf, v)
    Haggis (v)
    Lentil and mushroom nut roast (v)
    Shepherd’s pie with sweet potato mash (gf, v)
    Smoky apple baked beans (gf, v)
    Spaghetti pie (v) 

    Cheesy Lentil Bake
    Adapted from Amuse Your Bouche
    Serves 2-4

    1/2 cup red lentils
    1/4 cup white rice (I used basmati)
    1 1/2 tsp stock powder
    1 tbsp oil
    1 small leek or onion, diced
    1 red capsicum, diced*
    1 courgette (zucchini), diced*
    100g firm tofu, chopped small*
    1 tsp smoked paprika
    1 tsp seeded mustard
    100g sliced or grated cheddar cheese*
    sesame seeds, for sprinkling

    Place lentils, rice and stock powder into largish saucepan with 2 and 1/2 cups of water and cover.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until cooked.  After 10 minutes remove lid and stir every now and again to stop it sticking.  Once cooked, remove from heat and keep stirring regularly to let it thicken into a porridge texture.  Set aside.

    While lentils and rice are cooking, fry the onion, capsicum, tofu and courgette (or vegetables of choice) in the oil for about 10 minutes on medium heat until softened.  Stir in smoked paprika and seeded mustard.  Remove from heat.  Check and adjust seasoning.

    Mix lentil mixture with the vegetables.  Place half in medium casserole dish (no greasing necessary), layer with half the cheese and repeat the layers of lentil mixture and cheese on top.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake at 200 C for 25-30 minutes.

    *NOTES: You can use other vegetables instead of the vegies and tofu I used.  Grated carrot, chopped mushrooms, green peas, corn, roasted pumpkin or roasted sweet potato.  I used biocheese (which I think is like violife cheese) so it was vegan.  In future I think I might like to try this vegan mozzarella on top but the biocheese in the middle as biocheese does not melt well on top because it dried out too much.  Regular grated cheese would work here too.

    On the Stereo
    The Velvet Underground and Nico

    Posted January 22, 2017 10:33 PM by Johanna GGG

    The Good Hearted - Vegan Food in Melbourne

    Augustus Gloop Gelatery


    Augustus Gloop Gelatery
    15a Pascoe St,
    Pascoe Vale VIC 3044


    Opening Hours:
    Daily: 11am–11pm

    Augustus Gloop Gelatery joins Miinot Gelato in serving up cold treats to the Pascoe Vale crowd, and business is absolutely booming.

    All of the store-made sorbets on offer are vegan, and there are around 6-8 different flavours each day. Great flavours we've tried include piña colada, mango and watermelon sherbet; while some other flavours we've seen include lemon, strawberry, raspberry, coconut and turkish delight.

    Pricing refers to 'gloops' instead of scoops, with 1 gloop for $4.50, 2 gloops for $6.50 or 3 gloops for $8.50 – enjoyed in a cup or waffle cone. Take away tubs are also available in a half litre ($12.50) or full litre ($20). 

     Augustus Gloop Gelatery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

    Posted January 22, 2017 06:21 PM

    January 20, 2017

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Catch up on eating out 2015-2016 (Melbourne)

    So often when I eat out, I point and shoot with good intentions of blogging about a place but life moves on quickly.  So every now and again - never as much as I would like - I collect these photos into one post to catch up on places I have enjoyed but not had the time to blog.  So much good food and so little time. 

    Many are lunches.  Often enjoyed in company.  Or with a good book.  I don't have perfect recollection of all the meals but I would eat each again if given the chance.  Some cafes I have already given a full blog post.  Others are still on my list to return to and write up a dedicated blog post one of these days!  And I am sure I have left some out.  This will do for now.

    138 Nicholson Street, Coburg

    I had lunch at Ruby's in 2015 with my mum.  This was the vegan breakfast special.  I was particularly impressed by the pumpkin toast.  It went well with the roasted tomatoes, grilled mushrooms, avocado and relish.  I really loved it but it wasn't cheap.  I also had a nutella peanut butter milkshake which I really loved.

    Islamic Museum of Australia Cafe
    15A Anderson Road, Thornbury

    It's a long time since I had a lovely lunch with a couple of friends at the cafe at the Islamic Museum of Australia.  It is tucked away behind the Merri Creek bike path.  It is a really beautiful cafe.  We sat outside on mosaic tables by a colourful mural.  One of my friend's was late because she got lost but she was even more flustered as she was off on a date.  The other was worried about one of her kids.  It was quite an intense discussion over lunch.  I enjoyed the Tesiyeh, a dish of chickpeas with tahini yoghurt and nut topping.  It was nice to have some salad on the side.

    Earl Canteen @ Emporium
    Level 3, Emporium Melbourne, 287 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne CBD

    I was pleased when Earl Canteen opened in Emporium Shopping Centre as I had long wanted to try their much praised sandwiches.  Sadly I am yet to try one of their freshly made sandwiches.  They don't have many vegetarians options.  But I quite like some of the options in their fridge section.  The above asparagus, grain and seed dish - served with a generous dollop of hummus - was a pleasantly healthy lunch.  Washed down with some kombucha.

    Flora Indian Restaurant
    238 Flinders Street, Melbourne CBD

    E and I have visited Flora in the city a few times.  It is a cheap and cheerful Indian restaurant with bright lights and a bain marie.  Just the place to duck into before heading out to a film or show.  The last time we visited was September last year on our way to seeing Joan Baez.  I can't remember what I ate but am pretty sure it was (Small Combo 1) two curries, daal, rice and pappadams.  It was quite filling but I couldn't resist also ordering a Kashmiri naan, which is is a particular favourite of mine with nutty sweet filling.

    120 Nicholson Street, Brunswick East

    Milkwood is one of those cafes I sometimes pass in the car, wishing I could stop to sit at the outside tables and enjoy the good life.  When I finally ate there, the white brick walls and blond wooden furniture were indeed relaxing.  I ordered from the specials board: grilled tempeh and rice noodle salad with carrots, coriander and carrots slaw, toasted seeds, and a roasted chilli and lime dressing.  I enjoyed it, especially the grilled tempeh.  But I was grateful that the dressing came in a little jug on the side as I found it quite spicy.

    The Old Cop Shop
    160 Bell Street, Coburg

    I had also driven past The Old Cop Shop in Coburg with interest.  However my interest had been in what they were doing with the old building.  When it opened in 2015, I had lunch there with my mum soon after.  I ordered the Super Food Salad: quinoa, kale, beans, avocado, pomegranates, goji berries, seeds, nuts, vegan cheese, dressed with pomegranate molasses and extra virgin olive oil.  It was fairly similar to what is on the menu now, though the price has risen from $21.50 to $23.  The salad was nice and healthy, the interior was an elegant blend of the old police station and fine modern design.  I keep meaning to return but it has been a while.

    Ascot Vale Food Store
    320 Ascot Vale Road, Moonee Ponds

    My mum took me to the Ascot Vale Food Store last year after discovering it's charms.  It is a modern cafe with white walls and a dark wood counter.  I had the corn fritters, avocado puree, tomato jam and snow pea tendrils.  I had some feta on the side with mine instead of the poached egg.  The corn fritters were amazingly crispy on the outside and tasty on the inside.  I really loved this dish.

    We also shared the syringe spiked chocolate and raspberry doughnut.  It was really yummy and fun to syringe raspberry sauce inside the doughnut.  And when I talked to the waitress about vegetarian and vegan food she was sympathetic which also endeared me to the place, even though the menu didn't have heaps on it for me.

    Little River
    208 Albion Street, Brunswick

    I have been to Little River a few times now and still would love to write it up in it's own post.  It is a vegetarian cafe that looks the part with lots of recycled timber in the decor.  The most impressive meal I've had was this award winning KA pies vegan Thai curry vegetable pie with salads.  The pie was indeed excellent and most deserving of the award.  However I was also impressed by the fresh and healthy salads on the side.  A slaw and I think a cauliflower salad.  I hope to go back to try more meals there.

    Green Refectory Pop Up
    99 Sydney Road, Brunswick

    In my first few months of blogging, I wrote about Green Refectory at 115 Sydney Road.  Last year I found that its little sister pop up cafe had opened just down the road with its great vegan sausage rolls.  It took me a while to try something different to the sausage rolls.  This scrambled tofu with "mixed vegies", olives and mountain bread was too tempting.  It was nice but I was disappointed in the vegies being something like pickle cabbage and not quite the colourful vegetable accompaniment I had expected.  I remember I had to check something with the staff but can't remember what.  It may have been chillis in the tofu but my memory is hazy.  Still, it is a good hearty brunch for $10.

    Small Axe Kitchen
    281 Victoria Street, Brunswick

    I had lunch here with my mum because we had both heard good reviews.  I chose the soft polenta, broad beans, peas, nettle, mint and lemon for $17.50.  It is not a cheap dish but tastes good and loosk pretty.  My photos don't do it justice but it was such a gorgeous explosion of greens on top of the polenta.  This is comfort food for hipsters.  Yes, it is a new cafe that opened this year to great acclaim.  The design is beautiful but my mum and I had to ask about a few obscure terms on the menu.  I did love the opportunity to have nettle in my dinner. 

    Good Days
    165 Sydney Road, Brunswick

    I still have very fond memories of the spring rolls with noodles and vegies at the sadly departed Vina Bar.  So I was delighted to find that Good Days offered a similar vegan noodle salad when I visited with Faye of Veganopoulous.  We both loved the huge bowl of vermicelli rice noodles with crispy home made tofu and mushroom spring rolls, Asian herbs, slaw of pickled carrot, daikon and green mango, cucumber, roasted peanuts, fried shallots, and dressed with nuoc cham.  This was a really satisfying meal with lots of vegies.  I really need to get back there!

    The Glass Den
    15 Urqhuart Street, Coburg

    After many visits I wrote about The Glass Den last year.  I continue to eat there.  I have had the gorgeous green Avocado Riot, the pretty Rocky Road French Toast and the Curly Fries.  The menu has been updated recently and seems to have left behind the amazing hotcakes.  However, their Facebook page says they will return soon.

    I wanted to show you this photo of the beautiful purple cauliflower and cream cheese soup with kale chips and broccolini.  (I didn't take notes so am relying on memory so I hope this is right.)  It was one of the specials that I had last May.  I really loved it even though it was slightly challenging to eat stalks of broccolin in a soup and I think I had to ask for a knife, if I remember rightly.

    Little Deer Tracks
    44 O'Hea Street, Coburg

    It was back in 2011 that I wrote about Little Deer Tracks on my blog.  I have been to the vegetarian cafe a few times since.  Most recently was in August last year when I visited with Faye from Veganopoulous.  I had an amazing meal of spiced cauliflower, roasted shallots and grilled haloumi; raw shredded cabbage and green beans; rice with cashews and sultanas; all sprinkled with pomegranate seeds!

    I love pho express
    Level 3 food court shop 355, Emporium, 287 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne CBD

    As mentioned above, I am very fond of a Vietnamese noodle salad with tofu spring rolls.  I was really pleased to find that I love pho does one in the Emporium food court.  Not quite as fancy as the salad at Good Days.  However it is very handy when in the city and needing a quick lunch.  At $10 I would be tempted to call this cheap and cheerful but I don't want this to denigrate it.  The wait is short, the spring rolls are crispy and the vegies are fresh. 

    Lentil as Anything
    1-3 St Helier’s Street, Abbotsford

    Late last year, I had my second visit to the Lentil as Anything restaurant at the Abbotsford Convent.  I wrote about the former Brunswick Lentil as Anything many moons ago.)  A friend came to visit from the country and Abbotsford was a good midpoint to meet.  I really enjoyed the buffet of stews, curries and rice.  Though I still find it odd to choose how much to pay.  It was very pleasant to sit at any outside seat and catch up with an old friend.

    Disco Beans
    539 Plenty Road, Preston

    I took Sylvia along to Disco Beans last year.  She was not so impressed by her cheese toastie because it came with a salad.  I enjoyed my Mexican platter of refried beans, tortilla chips, guacamole, black beans, salsa and salad.  I ordered some vegan cheese on the side just because I love it.  It was a very enjoyable meal.  I decided to go another time and found it was closed for renovations and has recently re-opened as Spiral Beans.  Let's hope I get along there before it reinvents itself again!

    Lygon Street Food Store
    263 Lygon Street, Carlton

    Late last year while Christmas shopping I stopped for lunch at the Lygon Street Food Store.  I have had their sandwiches occasionally.  They are always good quality ingredients.  On this occasion I had the calzone.  It was filled with tomato and oozy cheese but was made even more satisfying for the antipasto on top - olives, sun dried tomato, roasted capsicum, marinated mushrooms and rocket. A great quick lunch.

    Juanita's Kitchen
    219 High Street, Preston

    I had a great catch up with Faye of Veganopoulous and Rosalie of Quinces and Kale at Juanita's Kitchen.  It was hard to choose but I ordered the Ultimate Bean Stack.  It was really really filling.  Just listen to what was in it: soft corn tortilla topped with creamy pinto beans, vegan chorizo, balsamic mushrooms, roasted capsicum, jalapeno, melted cheese, avocado, salsa with Greek yoghurt and salad on the side.  I really enjoyed it and was pleased the side salad was a bit more substantial than a few leaves of lettuce.  At the end I managed to taste some of the raw desserts we shared.  Another place to return to and sample more from the menu.

    So there you have some of my delicious eating out from the past year or two.  We truly are spoilt for choice in the inner north of Melbourne..  There just isn't enough time to visit all the amazing cafes and blog about all the good food.  Maybe I will return to visit some of the places and write more about them.

    Meanwhile I suggest you visit Where's the Beef and Veganopoulous who continue to share inspiring places to eat for veg*ns, including quite a few reviews of the above cafes.

    Posted January 20, 2017 10:20 PM by Johanna GGG

    January 17, 2017

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Hot cheddar & pickled jalapeno dip

    December 11, 2016

    Almost inevitably, the much-hyped cookbook from local favourites Smith & Daughters was part of Cindy's birthday present this year. It was no surprise - I'd had to tell Cindy to hold off buying it herself so that we didn't double up. To add to the birthday excitement, I threw in an offer to cook up Cindy's choice of dishes for the night.

    It wound up being quite a feast - hot cheddar and pickled jalapeno dip to start, artichoke and chickpea salad for main, horchata to drink and melon salad with pickled pineapple and jalapeno for dessert. The horchata wasn't a complete success (I think our food processor doesn't quite have the power to get the rice liquidised properly), but everything else was a hit. Cindy loved the pickled pineapple when we tried the fruit salad for brunch last February, and we've already made it again - the blend of sweet, spicy and sour flavours is incredible. The artichoke salad was similarly great, another dish we loved in the restaurant that lived up to our memories.

    The star of the night though was the hot cheddar and jalapeno dip, which again we'd been impressed by at the restaurant. It's surprisingly easy to throw together - one pot and about 10 minutes and you've got a gooey, cheesy, slightly spicy dip that's perfect for dunking chips in or pouring over just about anything else. We'll just reproduce the cheddar dip here - I'm sure we'll add a few more recipes in dribs and drabs over the coming months, but you'd do well to duck out and grab this book for yourself.

    Hot cheddar & pickled jalapeno dip
    (from Shannon Martinez & Mo Wyse's Smith & Daughters Cookbook)

    125g margarine
    1 large clove of garlic, crushed
    1/2 teaspoon cumin
    1/3 cup plain flour
    2 cups soy milk
    2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
    300g shredded vegan cheese (we used the Biocheese cheddar shred)
    100g pickled jalapenos, diced
    1/3 cup jalapeno pickle juice
    1 teaspoon salt

    Melt the margarine in a saucepan over medium heat. Add in the garlic and cumin and stir everything together, cooking for a minute or so.

    Add in the flour stirring constantly. Cook for 2 minutes or so, making sure it stays reasonably smooth and doesn't brown.

    Slowly add the soy milk, whisking constantly to keep things smooth. Add in the mustard, nutritional yeast, cheese, jalapenos, pickle juice and salt and stir everything together. Once the cheese melts you should have a thick, gooey dip - add more water if it's too thick or cook for a bit longer if it's too runny.

    Posted January 17, 2017 03:55 PM by Michael

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    The Snug, Amanda Palmer and Missy Higgins in St Kilda

    After seeing Amanda Palmer at the Gasometer on Thursday, it seemed a great idea to go and see her discuss motherhood with Missy Higgins on Sunday morning.  And I was so sure that Sylvia would love seeing Missy Higgins.  That was a parenting fail.  We had one bored 7 year old on our hands.  But she was delighted by the kiddie menu at The Snug Public House.

    The Motherhood talk was at the Astor Theatre.  I didn't get as much out of it as I had hoped because I was dealing with my own motherhood issues.  Thank goodness for the break when E took Sylvia out to buy popcorn so that I could focus and photograph.

    After the show, we went to The Snug.  It looks unassuming outside.  That means it is not an olde worlde pub that beckons you in but just a fairly plain building.  This is an Irish pub with a fireplace, lots of Guinness is Good posters and barrel tables.  As it was a pleasant summer day, we sat under the verandah at the front and enjoyed the sea breeze.

    The reason we were at the Snug, is that is caters well to vegans.  (And we love pub grub.)  Above is the vegan menu.  Indeed it was a tyranny of choice.  I though I would never get through reading it and making decisions.  It had everything: loaded fries, pub grub (like mushroom and stout pie), burgers, raw food and the kiddie menu.

    Sylvia went straight for the kiddie menu.  She was pretty excited to find it had food she likes other than chips.  So was I.  She chose the vegan nuggets and chips.  When it came it didn't look a lot for $14 but was so good and came with red cordial and ice cream so we were happy.  The nuggets seemed to be tofu in a crunchy batter.

    Choosing my drink was easy.  I chose a berry and mixed spice kombucha.  Ordering food was harder.  I spent some time trying to be strategic.  What would give lots of vegies and something new and some comfort.

     I finally decided on the taco appetiser.  It was the jackfruit pulled pork that I really wanted to try as I have read about it but have never had it.  The pulled pork was paired with slaw, avocado salsa and barbecue corn, as well as some pineapple salsa on the side.  I really loved all the flavours and colourful vegies.  The pineapple salsa was really tasty.  The jackfruit was surprisingly soft and the tacos were so saucy that after eating one with my fingers, I had to eat the rest with a knife and fork for fear of wearing the sauce.

    I knew from Faye and Cindy and Michael that the servings at The Snug are very generous.  Yet I still could not resist ordering some fries to share with E.  (He had a soda bread breakfast roll which was very unvegan with eggs, bacon and sausage!)  The chips were excellent.  Freshly fried, crispy and tasty.  It was a huge serving and between the two of us, we didn't finish it.

    Lastly I ordered a side of rice paper bacon.  Though I have made it at home, this is the first time I have seen it in a cafe.  I was curious to see how they did it.  They kindly did this even though it was not on the menu.  It was crispy with very little seasoning but it is intended to be served with meals.  I crumbled mine up and put it in my tacos, which I enjoyed.

    We looked out over some rundown buildings in Fitzroy Street.  It is amazing to drive through St Kilda and admire the beautiful tree lined streets with elegant heritage buildings and then turn in to Fitzroy Street and see how disappointing the modern architecture is along that strip.  Hard to believe I worked in that street many years ago. 

    After our meal, we walked the short stroll to the beach.  It was such a lovely mild Summer's day.  Unfortunately, we were hostage to our parking meter and could not wade in the sea (urban pollution permitting).  So instead we wandered back under this leaning tree.

    The Snug Public House
    12 Fitzroy St, St Kilda
    03 9534 4678

    The Snug Public House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

    Posted January 17, 2017 12:37 PM by Johanna GGG

    January 15, 2017

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Rue de Creperie

    December 11, 2016

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

    Posted January 15, 2017 05:59 PM by Cindy

    January 13, 2017

    The Good Hearted - Vegan Food in Melbourne

    Spiral Beans


    Spiral Beans
    539 Plenty Rd
    Preston VIC 3072

    03 9478 1461

    Opening Hours:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



    Posted January 13, 2017 04:30 PM

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Orange baked tofu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 tablespoon tamari
    500g firm tofu

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

    Preheat oven to 200 C.

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

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

    On the Stereo:
    Begin to Hope: Regina Spector

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

    January 10, 2017

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    The Snug Public House

    December 10, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Posted January 10, 2017 08:01 PM by Michael

    January 08, 2017

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Fruit salad for New Year's Eve

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Fruit salad
    Serves 6-8, maybe more

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

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

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

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

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Transformer III

    December 9, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    99 Rose St, Fitzroy
    9419 2022

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

    Posted January 08, 2017 04:37 PM by Cindy

    January 05, 2017

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    In My Kitchen - January 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    January 03, 2017

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Reflections from 2016 and Happy New Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Gorgeously gloomy Edinburgh buildings with a touch of scaffolding!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Where my blog was featured in 2016

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

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

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

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

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

    My damper was included in the Huffpost Living Camping Recipes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Bank Street Wood Fired Pizza & Garden

    December 3, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Posted January 03, 2017 09:07 AM by Cindy

    January 01, 2017

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Melbourne Wok

    December 3, 2016

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

    Posted January 01, 2017 10:55 AM by Michael

    December 30, 2016

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Watermelon, mint and feta salad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    On the Stereo:
    Matilda the Musical: Soundtrack

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

    December 28, 2016

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Christmas day food, reflections and quicklinks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    This is a platter of nibbles courtesy of my aunt.

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

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

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

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

    Christmas recipe quicklinks:

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

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

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

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

    December 24, 2016

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Christmas nights and lights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    December 23, 2016

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Spinach salad with spiced nuts and cranberries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Lime tahini dressing
    adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe

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

    Whisk together until smooth and creamy.

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

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

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

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

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

    December 21, 2016

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Pierre Roelofs' Dessert Evening

    December 8, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

    Posted December 21, 2016 04:39 PM by Cindy

    December 20, 2016

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Seed Crackers and Christmas eats and trees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    On the Stereo 
    White Christmas: Bing Crosby

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

    December 19, 2016

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Potatoes & chickpeas with sun-dried mango

    December 4, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Cover the saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes. 

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

    Kill the heat and stir through the garam masala.

    Posted December 19, 2016 06:29 AM by Michael

    December 18, 2016

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Coburg Night Market 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    December 17, 2016

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Strawberry & rhubarb poptarts

    November 26-27, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Posted December 17, 2016 08:08 AM by Cindy

    December 15, 2016

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Chocolate and Blackberry Pizza

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    December 13, 2016

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

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

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

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

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

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

    A bowl of marbles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    A box of coco pops

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

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

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

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

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

    A diary

    This story is about managing money and purchases.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    December 11, 2016

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Fast track sourdough pizza

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    On the Stereo:
    Call the Midwife: The Christmas Album

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

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Green bean casserole

    November 26, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Posted December 11, 2016 09:58 PM by Cindy

    December 09, 2016

    Thoughts Of A Moni

    Axil Coffee and Roasters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Posted December 09, 2016 02:41 PM by Moni

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Laverbread vegie soup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    On the Stereo:
    Tinsel and Lights: Tracey Thorn

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

    December 06, 2016

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    In My Kitchen: December 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Lankan Tucker

    November 26, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

    Posted December 06, 2016 07:43 AM by Michael

    December 04, 2016

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    The Lincoln

    Cheap Eats 2006, a decade on

    November 22, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


    The Lincoln
    91 Cardigan St, Carlton
    9347 4666

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

    Posted December 04, 2016 03:53 PM by Cindy

    December 03, 2016

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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