October 01, 2014

Ballroom Blintz

Blintz on Tour: Sadie’s Diner, Toronto

Sadie’s Diner was another Toronto vegan landmark that came highly recommended by Michael, and his recs weren’t steering me wrong, so I took myself out early one morning before my films started for the day to find the place. It wasn’t hard: it’s a bright blue house on a corner down Adelaide Street West.

Sadie’s does veg*n diner food, as you may have guessed from the name, and you can expect a lot of scrambles, fry-ups, waffles and pancakes on their menu. I was indeed tempted by sweets (the chocolate chip pancakes ALONE), but thought it was probably more sensible to have a hearty savoury dish under my belt to get me through a lot of films. So alongside a tall glass of cranberry juice I went with the tofu scramble with home fries, vegan sausage and rye toast.

The scramble was indeed hearty, threaded through with liberal amounts of spinach and red onion. I did find it a tad dry, but this is a problem I tend to have with tofu scrambles across the board, so do not blame Sadie’s. The home fries were smoky, slightly herbed cubes of delight – you know that I have never looked askance at a good potato, and I am now all aboard the home fries train.

The vegan sausage was the most intriguing and surprisingly most delicious component, chewy on the outside with a tough skin yet packed full of flavour within. It might perplex others texturally but with a thump of the ketchup bottle I was in heaven.

Sadie’s is definitely a place you should take a look see at if you happen to be in Toronto’s woods. I’m STILL nursing a bruised sadness that I didn’t make my way back to have a crack at all the sweet breakfast options. Ah well, next time.

Sadie’s Diner

504 Adelaide Street West, Toronto

Ph: (+1) 416 777-2343


Posted October 01, 2014 08:39 AM

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Nhu Lan

September 21, 2014

It's hard to go past a good vegetarian banh mi - we've had some luck with a seitan-based version at Tan Truc Giang in Footscray and the mock-pork variety at Fina's, and have incorporated a Vegan Dad-inspired version into our home cooking roster. Still, we're always on the lookout for more, so we were pretty excited when Olaf left us a comment recommending Nhu Lan in Richmond. We took advantage of a sunny Sunday afternoon to go and check it out (as an aside: we love it when people recommend place or recipes to us - please do leave a comment here or chase us up on Facebook or Twitter).

Nhu Lan is a classic Vietnamese bakery - no fuss, no chit chat, just speedy service, made to order sandwiches and a decent range of sweet stuff and pastries. It's all pretty pork heavy, but the $4.50 tofu roll is clearly marked on the menu. Vegans will need to be clear that they don't want butter or mayonnaise, but the rest of the fillings are pretty straightforward: grated carrot, slivers of cucumber, coriander, chilli and tofu.

Unlike our Fina's and Tan Truc Giang experiences, this isn't really trying to mimic the pork roll - the tofu is lightly battered rectangles with a slightly sweet marinade. The chilli provides the necessary bite and the fresh, crunchy roll is top notch. I think I still favour the seitan-based version, but this is a cheap, easy and delicious lunch in Richmond if you don't have time for a sit down meal at Fina's or Thanh Nga 9.


It seems as though the Footscray branch of Nhu Lan is popular with bloggers, but not many have reviewed the Richmond one - Ministry of Gluttony and teenagefoodie weren't wowed, while chasing a plate, krapow  and Swimming in Coffee were much more enthused.
Nhu Lan Bakery
152 Victoria Street, Richmond
9429 5545

Accessibility: There's a small step up as you enter and the interior is pretty crowded (at least when they're busy). There's not really anywhere to sit. You order and pay at a high counter.

Posted October 01, 2014 05:21 AM by Michael

September 30, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: Custard

DAY 30!!!

Can you even believe it? What a month it’s been! Although I planned to attempt a recipe per day for the month, I never expected I would stay on top of it. But here I am – day 30 of 30. I am actually quite proud of my efforts.

I’ve had a lot of fun playing around with food and music this month, although it has also taken a bit out of me. I had thought with a tiny bit of pre-planning, the whole event would be a cinch. Not the case. There were definitely ups and downs, mini kitchen meltdowns and whole recipes thrown away. Not to mention the extra expenses involved – I didn’t see that one coming! Perhaps next year my theme will have to be cheap eats…But anyway, we made it. Hoorah! I think we all deserve a big pat on the back.

Not only have I had my own cooking fun, but I’ve also loved connecting up with the worldwide vegan community. I’ve kept up with many of the blogs I usually read, but also pretty much doubled my reader with brand new (to me) blogs from all over the place. I still haven’t quite made my way through the MoFo Around the World page, but will hopefully get a chance to over the next week or so. It’s been so nice meeting you all and I want to thank you all for the lovely comments you’ve been leaving.

In the next few days I’ll do a round up of sorts and reflect on the month just gone, but for now I have one last musical treat for you. CUSTARD! I’m bring it back to home base with these guys, who are an Australian band that formed in the ’90s. To be honest, I don’t really know how big the band was worldwide, but I remember a whole stack of songs from them from the ’90s – they are so catchy. The most popular, Girls Like That (Don’t Go For Guys Like Us) has such a catchy riff and was played a lot on Rage and I think even Triple J – if you haven’t heard it, give it a listen below.

custard2 This was one of the recipes that took me a few gos. I had never tried to bake soy custard before, and so firstly decided to attempt a custard mix using silken tofu. I used beautiful rhubarb from my mum and dad’s garden, however the custard didn’t quite cut it – was too spongy – and the crust was too thick.

custard3This time I just used the basic custard recipe from the custard powder box (check that you get a vegan brand as some have milk or egg in them), popped some berries in it (after running out of rhubarb) and chucked it in the oven. It turned out better than I expected. Probably could do with some more tweaking, but uh, it’s DAY 30 MoFo’s!!!


Custard and Berry Tarts
(makes 6)

1 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup nuttelex, cold
2 Tbsp icing sugar
Pinch of salt
2 Tbsp ice water

1/4 cup custard powder
3 Tbsp coconut sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups non-dairy milk

Handful of mixed berries – about 1/3 cup plus extra for topping

Mix flour, salt and sugar together in a bowl. Add nuttelex in small chunks, then rub together with your fingers until mix becomes like crumbs. Add water one tablespoon at a time until mixture can form a ball. Cover and chill in the fridge for half an hour.

Preheat oven to 180C and grease six small tart tins. Separate dough into six balls. There may even be enough dough for a seventh, however I only had six tins so ya know. On a floured surface, roll each piece of dough out into a circle, about one centimetre thick. Press dough into tins, cutting off any extra. Make a couple of fork pricks in the bottom of each tart, then put some pastry weights on top of each and bake for 15 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly and remove pastry weights.

In a saucepan, stir together custard powder and sugar. Add a couple of tablespoons of milk and whisk into a thick paste. Add remaining milk slowly and put over medium heat. Stir continuously with a whisk as the mixture begins to thicken – it is amazing how quickly lumps form if you get a bit lax. Once mixture has thickened – about ten minutes – stir in vanilla. Remove from heat.

Place a couple of berries in the bottom of each tart shell. Distribute custard amongst tart shells, then return to oven for fifteen minutes, until custard sets.

Remove from oven and allow to cool.

For the topping, I grabbed a few extra berries, one teaspoon of agave and a dash of vanilla and cooked down into a sort of coulis.

custard7Gotta love an inside shot. It reminds me of Peter Everett on Ready Stead Cook. My, how he loved to see food ooze.


What the hey, it’s the last day, here’s another one!

Congratulations everyone, it’s been a blast! Peace ouuuwwwwttttt!


Posted September 30, 2014 10:59 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Sayonara Vegan MoFo 2014

So after a long month of Vegan MoFo, we find ourselves saying Sayonara, So Long, Stay in Touch!  It has been a blast but exhausting.  For the final day of Vegan MoFo, I bring you some reflections on the month, some collages of my Vegan MoFo photos, and some random photos of recent food.

The final day of Vegan MoFo means all sorts of dishes I never got to share
 such as this delicious bowl of stew, roasted pumpkin and cauliflower,
raw spinach and sprouts, and leftover Mexican tofu crema.

I have had fun with my nominal theme: The Letter S. It has given me a challenge and a focus. I have made soup, salad, sushi, scramble, sauce, smoothie and sweets*. Dishes have been sweet, sticky, smoky, stuffed, spicy, speedy, savoury, surprising and scrumptious. Ingredients have included spinach, strawberry, sourdough starter, sauerkraut, smoked paprika, salsa, sprouts, squash, sweet potato and sesame seeds.

I had lots of ideas for posts that I never had time for.   However I do find that Vegan MoFo inspires me to try innovative recipes and experiment with vegan cooking.  I love seeing all the other crazy ideas and hope to be trying some of the great recipes I have encountered.

The breakfast roll at True North in Coburg.
Very impressive that a roll of eggs, bacon and bubble and squeak
 can be veganised.  And tasty too!

This year I was possibly the most organised of my 4 years of doing Vegan MoFo.  It was probably my busiest Vegan MoFo too.  I spent too much of it whinging about my stolen car.  As I write we are getting close to buying a new car, god willing!  I am much fitter for riding my bike more but still disorganised and most displeased.

This month also kept me busy because unusually for me, I was away at least one night every weekend.  School holidays and out of town trips have really limited my time and energy for MoFo.  Even this post is scheduled in advance because we headed off on holiday for the last few days of the month.  There is no way I would have posted so much if I hadn't written most of about half the posts before the start of September.

Perhaps the craziness of life gives me a good excuse for feeling that my Vegan MoFo posts list was not quite right this year.  Usually I list posts in order of the day of posting.  This year I had a silly idea to give each day of the week a theme and list posts in that way.  I don't think it quite worked as there was too much overlap and not enough discipline on sticking to the daily themes.  I may reorder the page if I find time.

One of my favourite vegan biscuits (or cookies):
Chocolate Tahini Cookies made with
oodles of tahini, maple syrup and choc chips.
I was delighted to be featured during Vegan MoFo, as well as all the lovely bloggers who gave me a shout out in their posts:
  • Featured in Day 2 and Day 18 round up on the veganmofo blog.
  • Mentioned on the PPK Forum (Thanks Rosie's vegan kitchen for telling PPK that there are "so many pretty photos" on my blog.  How sweet of her - just don't look at the old posts!)

As always with Vegan MoFo, many thanks are due.  Firstly to E who puts up with it keeping me so busy and washes so many dishes.  (When I told him I was doing Vegan MoFo again, he joked it must be in spite of his many letters requesting they cancel it this year!)  Secondly thanks to all the lovely folk who organise Vegan MoFo.  It is such a huge and fantastic effort.

And last but not least, thank you to everyone who shared, read my posts and made comments.  I really love the flurry of community spirit during Vegan MoFo and the welcome extended to me as a vegetarian.  I wish I could have spent more time on random mofo, visiting mofo bloggers and commenting but that is the nature of Vegan MoFo.  Too much good food and too little time.  Yet I have loved being part of the craziness. 

I will be back next month with more about my holidays, my new blender and many more recipes.  I am looking forward to blogging at a more leisurely pace.

*Sweets is what we called dessert when I was a kid.  I am not sure how many others used that term but we often would ask my mum "what's for sweets?" 

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Sayonara.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Posted September 30, 2014 06:32 PM by Johanna GGG

The Good Hearted - Vegan Food in Melbourne

Blue Buddha Cafe

 Blue Buddah: Raw chocolate and caramel tart (GF $6

Blue Buddah: Raw chocolate and caramel tart (GF $6

 Blue Buddah: Smashed avocado on organic sourdough w/ mushroom bacon strips ($12)

Blue Buddah: Smashed avocado on organic sourdough w/ mushroom bacon strips ($12)

 Blue Buddah

Blue Buddah

 Blue Buddah

Blue Buddah

Blue Buddha
30/1-7 O'Connell St North Melbourne, VIC 3051
(03) 8395 0699

facebook page

menu (sep 2014) 
(pdf 264kb)

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 7am-5pm
Sat-Sun: 7am-3pm

I think it’s safe to say that Blue Buddha knew what they were doing when they opened a predominantly vegan establishment, just a few doors down from Animals Australia. No doubt many a staff member are loving this new haunt and methodically testing the comprehensive array of raw vegan sweets. 

The small menu at Blue Buddha changes with the seasons and current vegan offerings include '5 stack mini traditional Thai pancakes' ($10) w/ agave, fresh strawberries, house-made coconut ice cream and mushroom bacon, as well as Mexi-style ‘House-made beans’ ($12) on sourdough with guacamole. There is also a 'Blue Buddha burger' ($12 GF optional) w/ a house made beetroot burger patty, green mango coleslaw, mushroom bacon and sriracha (hot sauce!) aioli.

I sampled a takeaway ’Smashing Raph!’ ($12 GF option), with smashed avocado on organic sourdough w/ mushroom bacon strips. This dish was veganised (without feta cheese) and the price remained the same. To meet the expectations of discerning Melbourne vegans, Blue Buddha are now looking into making their own soy cheese, so hopefully we’ll see a vegan cheese alternative from them soon. By the way, the mushroom bacon strips in this dish are really something special - they’re smokey, salty and wonderful!

There are many raw and gluten free sweets on offer which are all vegan, including ‘Raw avocado and lime cheesecake’ ($6)’ and 'Rawsome choc lava tarts w/ goji berries’ ($6). I tried a ‘Raw chocolate & caramel tart’ ($6) which hit the spot nicely, although I couldn't really identify a great deal of caramel. I'm looking forward to trying the ‘Banana bread w/ spiced vegan butter’ ($6) next time.

Blue Buddha is cozy and welcoming, with plenty of reading material on offer, but limited seating. Coffee ($4 or $4.50 large takeaway) is Fairtrade and organic with no soycharge for Bonsoy. More plant-based milks should be on offer in the not too distant future.

 Blue Buddha Café on Urbanspoon

Also visited by Veganopoulous

Posted September 30, 2014 04:51 PM

quinces and kale

Travel, food and Vegan MoFo wrap up

Beyond sushi

What a month! I am not sure what possessed me to think that doing Vegan Mofo while travelling in the USA for the whole month was a good idea. On the plus side, I had plenty of restaurants to write up, because I was eating out two or three times a day.  But I hadn’t counted on the pressure of writing up almost every day, as well as the problems of flaky wifi that made loading photos a complete pest. Funnily, until I got to Chicago, my best wifi was on an Amtrak train. In other places I had to stand in a particular corner of the room to get a signal.

I managed 19 posts for the month, which I think technically makes me a Vegan Mofo fail, but I cannot imagine doing any more! :)

Wrapping it all up, there was some great food, a few surprises and very few disappointments.

So here are my favourite food “Oscars” for the trip.

Most unexpected pleasure

Beyond Sushi – NY

Who would have thought sushi could be so sensational?

Best fine dining experience

Millennium, San Francisco

Great food, great service and a bargain at the price.

Best Comfort Food

Karyn’s Cooked, Chicago

Meatloaf, potatoes and gravy…yum.

Best Chain Restaurant 

Native Foods Cafe, Chicago

Burgers and sandwiches that hit the spot.

Best Diner/Sandwich Bar

Champ’s Diner, Brooklyn

Love at first bite. Breakfast done perfectly.

Best Pizza

Dimo’s Pizza, Chicago and Two Boots, NYC

A draw, but completely different. Dimo’s has a thicker crust and more variety, but Two Boots does an impeccable thin crust vegan slice.

And also…

Gracias Madre – San Francisco,  Mana Food Bar – Chicago, Karyn’s on Green – Chicago, Merge – Buffalo and last, but not least, Caffe Streets wonderful coffee – Chicago.

And finally, a big thanks to  the non vegan places that gave it a go in non-vegan territory in Western Pennsylvania

Hometown Diner and The Italian Oven in Connellsville, PA, Cafe Connections in Ligonier, PA, and the Connellsville Bed and Breakfast. They fed us well, against the odds.

So that’s me signing off from Vegan Mofo 2014. I’m taking a few days off from blogging, phew!

I’m looking forward to cooking again after a month of eating out.




Posted September 30, 2014 10:00 AM

Ballroom Blintz

Blintz on Tour: Fresh, Toronto

I took to Fresh like a newly minted cult member. This is only slightly hyperbolic a metaphor. I was in Toronto for the Toronto International Film Festival, and when one is seeing upwards of five films a day, food becomes a very pressing concern, and it can’t just be any food, as salty processed stuff just ends up making me sluggish and more prone to tune out during a flick. For preference it needs to be healthy and hearty stuff, while also being served quick enough that I have plenty of time to duck out between films to refuel.

I’d already been recommended Fresh by a couple of folks who had been to T-town relatively recently, and on discovering there was an outpost on Spadina Avenue a few blocks from the cinema I’d be spending most of my time in, I visited on my first day. And then went back, no lie, nearly every day. I was fanatical, swift and deep.

The reason Fresh struck such a chord with me, apart from my very exacting film festival food requirements, was that everything was simultaneously healthy and delicious, with a wide breadth of options. Indeed, within ten days of visits I didn’t end up ordering any dish twice, I kept being beguiled by something new every day.

My favourite dish all over was probably my second Fresh meal, the panko crumbed squash tacos. These were definitely not eat with your hands tacos as the fillings were so multitudinous that there’s no way you’d be able to trap them all in a tortilla. The two of them spilled forth with tomato, red onion, kale, coriander leaves, fat little nuggets of crispy crumbed squash, and drizzled with creamy jalapeno lime sauce. Squeeze over a wedge of lime and attack with a knife and fork, and it was a zingy delight.

For a quick injection of health, their huge selection of salads and bowls were a great choice. The ‘ace of kales’ salad was an explosion of vegetables, with a kale base supporting heirloom grape tomatoes, spring onions, avocado, jicama, toasted mixed nuts, and thick slabs of tempeh bacon. I did find the tempeh bacon just a bit too sweet for my liking, but otherwise who could sniff at such a bowl of goodness? The green goddess bowl, which had already come with Steph’s seal of approval, was served on soba (you can choose rice instead if you would prefer) and came with broccoli, pickled ginger, grilled tempeh, toasted sunflower seeds, tahini sauce and steamed greens. It was lucky I ordered a baby-sized bowl of this, as despite the deliciousness it was an absolute stuffer for my tiny Australian belly!

Michael had been VERY INSISTENT on Fresh’s quinoa onion rings being a must-try item. I first had them as a component of the BBQ burger, which along with the rings comes with an almond and grain patty, banana chilies, napa cabbage, tomato, lettuce and garlic mayo. As a burger it was huge and quite overwhelming, and quickly had to be reduced to its parts in order to be easily eaten, but it revealed that the quinoa onion rings were indeed devilish magic and needed to be sampled further. So on a later visit I dutifully ordered them alongside a cup of Cuban chickpea and sweet potato soup. Served with vegan dipping mayo, the solo onion rings properly proved themselves to be appropriately off tap. Let’s all be deep frying quinoa, it is clearly a boss idea.

The only thing I had which strayed off the healthy agenda (okay apart from the onion rings, but they don’t really count, they are our crunchy friends in a bowl) was the green poutine. Now you might think from the word ‘green’ that surely it would be somewhat healthy, but that shows your unfamiliarity with poutine. Chips, cheese and gravy are still chips, cheese and gravy, even if the gravy is made of real mushrooms, even if the cheese sauce is a creamy vegan alternative, EVEN IF it is topped with sauteed rainbow chard. THE GREENERY IS A TRAP! This is still poutine, and it will sit in your tum like delicious potato concrete, and even if you roll out the door groaning there will be no regrets. THIS IS POUTINE.

Fresh also have a selection of takeaway sandwiches, baguettes and salads, which were very helpful for those gaps between films that weren’t long enough for a sit down meal. I very quickly found my favourite in the mock turkey with aged cheddar sandwich, with salad bits all held together with a light mayo. Mock meaty sandwiches are something that I really wish I could get around Melbourne easily.

Given Fresh places equal emphasis upon it’s juice bar status as it does their food, I can’t wind up without saying a bit about the drinks menu. Basically you can get any fruit and vegetable known to man whizzed up into a juice or smoothie. My particular favourite was the Grapefruit Glow, comprising of grapefruit, cucumber, lemon, fresh mint, agave and mineral water, and was a bubbly, zingy pick me up. There’s also plenty of green smoothies and juices – thankfully Fresh follow the rule of ‘make sure your proportion of sweet fruits outweigh your greens so that it doesn’t taste like iron-rich sludge’. I also recommend, in the case of a slightly ticklish throat and sluggishness brought on by too many doughnuts, the Ginger Fireball, which juices up a bunch of fresh ginger and lemon with hot water and your choice of either raw honey or agave, it’ll strip any trace of ill feeling from your body and throw it at the nearest wall.

This is probably the most comprehensive review I’ve ever given on this blog, hence the fact it is running to such a huge number of effusive words. I ate more of Fresh’s menu in a week than I’ve managed at most of my regular Melbourne haunts in a year. And I already miss having such an easy, healthy veg alternative that ticks all those veg*n eating options yet isn’t hippy-dippy or aggressively hipster, and just puts its head down to pump out good, quick, yet still interesting food. Could we perhaps open a Melbourne outpost, Fresh HQ? I think you would do very well here.


147 Spadina Avenue, Toronto
(other locations on Queen Street West, Bloor Street West and Eglinton Street West)

Ph: +1 416 599 4442


Posted September 30, 2014 09:09 AM

September 29, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: The Flying Burrito Brothers

Hands up if you can believe MoFo’s last day is tomorrow?! I know, last week I felt like I had been MoFo-ing forever, now it seems as though it’s disappeared so fast. What a month it’s been.

So uh, the Flying Burrito Brothers are a country rock band. Yeah, I’ve been waiting to drop this bomb on you! I’m going to share two videos with you at the bottom. The first one because you just have to watch Gram Parsons’ eyebrows. They are seriously hypnotising. Secondly, I’m playing their cover of Wild Horses because I love the song. Enjoy.

burrito2The burritos I’ve made to go with the band are inspired a little by the tofu asada burritos at Trippy Taco. Any Melbournite will know what I’m talking about – smoky tofu goodness. Thank you liquid smoke, you little beauty. I had never heard of this magic stuff prior to my vegan days, now it is my secret weapon. Love the stuff!

These were my favourite burritos I’ve ever made, and I even had the compliment that they were better than the Trippy Taco ones, however that may or may not have been to make me feel good. Sorry about the foil wrapping, I rarely use foil – and buy the recycled stuff when I do – but I just could not get this burrito to stay together for a photo. Once again, I overstuffed my burrito to the point of eruption. When will I learn?

Smoky Tofu Burritos
(Makes 2)

2 tortillas
250g firm tofu

1 Tbsp coconut oil

2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp liquid smoke
Juice of 1 orange
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp lime juice
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
Dash of cinnamon

1 tsp coconut oil
1/4 red onion, diced
1 green chili, finely chopped
1 tomato, diced
1/4 of a red capsicum, diced
1/4 of a green capsicum, diced
2 tsp lime juice
2 Tbsp fresh coriander
Salt to taste

Basically whatever you want! I used:
Vegan Cheese

First up, press your tofu good and well so it can absorb as much marinade as possible. I did the old fashioned way – with tea towels and a couple of phone books for a few hours. Once pressed, cut your tofu into cubes. Mix together all marinade ingredients and chuck the tofu in. Marinate for AT LEAST one hour, if not overnight.

To make the salsa, heat teaspoon of coconut oil over medium high heat and add onion and chili and saute until onion becomes translucent. Add capsicum and tomato and cook until tomato breaks down, about 5-10 mins.

Add lime juice, salt and coriander and stir through. Remove from heat and set aside.

To cook the tofu, heat tablespoon of coconut oil in a fry pan over medium high heat. Add tofu cubes and cook for about ten to fifteen minutes, turning occasionally, until just about all the edges are slightly crispy. Turn down heat to low and pour leftover marinade over the tofu, stirring so that it coats all the pieces. Remove from heat.

Assemble your burrito! I’m not going to tell you how to do this! Well okay, what I did was smoosh some avocado on, put some lettuce down, heap on some tofu, sprinkle on some cheese, and drip on some salsa. Wrap and stuff in mouth.


Oh and just for fun, I’m sending this over to my friend Liz at I Spy Plum Pie for her new Meatless Monday linkup. Head over and check out the recipes starting to pool up over there!


Posted September 29, 2014 11:17 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Spinach, sundried tomato and chive chickpea scramble

A week or so before these school holidays arrived, Sylvia had a curriculum day.  We didn't need to get up early and get her to school but there were other appointments.  I had seen Emma's recent chickpea scramble and was inspired.  After all there was all the chickpea flour I had recently bought.
Suddenly I looked at the clock and the hands were wooshing around a bit too fast for my liking.  We had to be at the doctor very soon.  I chopped up the vegies, mixed up the chickpea omelette and had it all in a scramble in minutes.  Sandwiched it in a bun and chomped through it quickly.  It was very satisfying.  For more so than racing to the doctor only to have to wait for 30 minutes.

It was far better than tofu scramble which can be watery and floppy.  The soft chunks are such great comfort food.  I never liked eggs and am not even sure how to scramble one but somehow I still like it with that smelly black salt that is there to give an eggy taste.

In fact I liked it so much that I made it for a quick lunch for E shortly afterwards.  He loved it, perhaps not as much as me.  E had his over an English muffin with chilli sauce, but I ate mine with some crackers and beetroot dip.  Such a great healthy quick meal.

More savoury brunch ideas from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
My breakfast burritos
Pea and sun-dried tomato porridge
Potato, sausage and tomato brunch 
Potato scones
Sausage patties  
Tofu scramble

Spinach, sundried tomato and chive chickpea scramble
Coconut and Berries and Ricki Heller
serves 1-2

1/4 cup chickpea flour (besan)
1-1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1/3 cup soy milk or water
1/8 tsp dried mustard
1 tbsp tahini
Large pinch of black salt (or regular salt)
1 tsp olive oil
1 handful spinach, chopped
2 sun dried tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp snipped chives, chopped with scissors
Black pepper

Mix chickpea flour, nutritional yeast flakes, milk, mustard, tahini and salt.  It should be a thick mixture that you could just about pour.  (The second time mine was really thick and I added an extra splash of milk to loosen it.)

Heat oil in the frypan over medium heat.  Pour chickpea mixture in and cook a minute or two like an omelette until it starts to dry out.  Break up into chunks with a spoon (don't worry if there is a little golden brown colour on the chunks.)  Add the vegies and cook briefly until spinach is wilted.  Serve hot.

On the Stereo:
Metals: Feist

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Speedy Mondays.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts.

Posted September 29, 2014 10:26 AM by Johanna GGG

quinces and kale

San Francisco again

strawberry almond cake

Well here we are, back where the trip started, in San Francisco. We had a day and a bit to rest up before flying back to Melbourne, just enough time to fit in 3 more meals! :)

First stop was a return visit to Gracias Madre for dinner. We had ordered way too much food last time we were there and had left no room for dessert. This time we were determined to eat dessert. Sadly, we over ordered again! But all was not lost. I got a flan to go which we carried home carefully on the bus and ate later.

We ordered a repeat of the baked eggplant. Sadly this time it was a little underdone for me, with my terror of undercooked eggplant, though it was still delicious. We also ate some guacamole with fresh tortillas, some corn chips with a spicy, creamy chipotle salsa roja and cashew cream and some tacos with three fillings, mushroom, pumpkin and greens. The food at Gracias Madre tastes so good that it is really difficult not to order the entire menu.

chips with salsa roja tacos baked eggplant guacamole

Breakfast next morning was a return visit to Herbivore. I ordered the Southwestern Tofu Scramble with blueberry corn bread and S ordered pancakes with maple syrup and grilled bananas.

I headed off that day to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, and ate lunch alone at Greens Restaurant. I ordered a Mediterranean platter which was a delicious combination of a smoky eggplant dip, pita, tabbouleh, a green bean, butter bean and shelled bean salad with a tarragon dressing. Not particularly innovative in any way, but perfectly done. Dessert was a strawberry almond cake with strawberry sorbet, also delicious.

mediterranean platter golden gate bridge strawberry almond cake

We had a leisurely coffee at Vinyl Coffee and Wine Bar again and then headed off to the airport to fly home.


Posted September 29, 2014 10:00 AM

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Peanut butter & jelly icecream

September 20-21, 2014

I have temporary custody of  K's The Vegan Scoop cookbook, a nice motivator to clear some freezer space and churn some icecream. This book has all the American standards and extends itself towards the fruits and flavours of Asia and the Caribbean as well. Most of the creamy recipes start with a base of soy milk and soy creamer, which doesn't exactly appeal to me, but I'm happy to play around with other non-dairy milks.

I started out with the peanut butter and flaxseed recipe and a whole lot of curiosity, but it all went into the bin before even reaching the icecream churner. I was willing to go with the way the full cup of ground flaxseeds gelled up the texture but I couldn't countenance their bitterness.

Next I stuck with the peanut butter theme but tried a trustier pairing with American jelly (or berry and rhubarb jam, in my case). This 'custard' whipped to unprecedented heights in my churner, and my anticipation with it. This was a hint it'd freeze pillowy-soft. Strangely it ended up dense and rock-hard, and even given 40 minutes resting time on the bench it's firm and scoops flakily. (That flakiness seems to be the hallmark of coconut cream, which was not in the original recipe.)

This icecream is damn lucky that it tastes good. I'll contemplate a new, improved formulation as I hack my way through it.

Peanut butter & jelly icecream
(adapted from a recipe in Wheeler Del Torro's The Vegan Scoop)

400mL can coconut cream
3/4 cup almond milk
1/2 cup soy milk
3/4 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup berry jam
generous pinch of salt

In a medium-large saucepan, mix together the coconut cream, almond milk, soy milk, peanut butter and brown sugar over low-medium heat. Bring the mixture to the boil, stirring occasionally. When it's all smooth and well mixed and started boiling, take it off the heat to cool down a little. Stir in the vanilla and salt then refrigerate the mixture until very cold, at least 4 hours.

Churn the peanut butter mixture in an icecream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Drop generous spatulas-full of the churned icecream into a plastic storage container and drop teaspoons-full of jam in among the icecream. Freeze the icecream for at least two hours before scooping and serving.

Posted September 29, 2014 08:18 AM by Cindy

September 28, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: Peaches/The Moldy Peaches

Nothing moldy about these peaches! They did, due to the fact that it is not quite stone fruit season here, come from a can and we could assume that they were put there by a man…in a factory down townnnnnn. Yep. Uhuh.

I’m just doubling up bands now as an excuse to play multiple songs to ya. I can’t remember if I said this already, but when I started planning for MoFo I compiled a list of foodie bands, and I well exceeded the thirty I needed for the month. So wherever I can, I’m trying to squidge more in.

First up, Peaches – duh. But today I’m featuring a song by Peaches and Iggy Pop, because I love the dude, and also you get to watch a video of them fighting off zombies. Wins all round!

Secondly, the Moldy Peaches. I guess peaches are not so edible once they are mouldy, but they are still fun to listen to because Kimya Dawson is cute.

peaches2I had some leftover cherries from the cherry ripe balls I made the other night, so decided to team them up with some peaches for a classic crumble. It worked out EXTREMELY well, as I also had some leftover ginger ice cream from the other other night. My testers for this recipe – Mum, Dad and the Bear all loved it. I always love desserts in ramekins where you feel special for getting your own little pot of something.

peaches3Usually when I make a crumble, I just put the fruit, some lemon (sometimes) and spices together for the base – I personally don’t think it needs any more than that. I like my crumbles to be a bit tart and tangy rather than overly sweet – I leave the sweetness for the crumble topping. Because I used tinned and frozen fruit for this one though the fruit was quite juicy – hence adding the flour to thicken it up and create a saucier texture rather than a pool of liquid at the bottom. If you prefer a sweeter crumble, feel free to omit the lemon and add a sweetener.


Peach and Cherry Crumbles
(makes 4)

2 cups peaches
2 cups cherries
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup flour

1 cup oats
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
3 Tbsp coconut oil, firm
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 180C.

In a large bowl, place peaches, cherries, lemon juice, zest, cinnamon and flour. Stir until well combined. Distribute mix amongst four ramekins.

In a small bowl, all ingredients except the coconut oil and vanilla, and stir well. Add coconut oil in small chunks, and vanilla, and stir through – I did this with my hands. Ensure all the oat mixture has gotten some moisture, if you need more oil, add it by the teaspoon.

Distribute crumble amongst ramekins. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until top is golden and crispy.

Serve with ginger or vanilla ice cream, custard or non-dairy cream.

peaches4 peaches5Millions of peaches, peaches for me!


Posted September 28, 2014 10:07 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Splendid Vegan MoFo Quicklinks 2014

Vegan MoFo is about community, visiting blogs, meeting new people and discovering new recipes.  Here are some posts that made me think, wow I so want to make that!  And a few themes that I loved.  As my theme this year is The Letter S, you might notice that every category starts with S.

Savoury fruit recipes 

Starters and snacks

Substitutions such as vegan cheeses

Soups and stews

Substantial dinners

Sweet and indulgent

Sweet and surprising

Fun Vegan MoFo themes in 2014:

Bizarre and Outdated Cookbooks (great quirky recipes) - Hasta La Vegan

Music for Your Mouth (brilliant marriage of band names and recipes) - Little Vegan Bear

Will My Kids Eat It (hilarious kids' commentary) - Veganopoulous

Magical Meals of Harry Potter - The Miss Kitchen Witch Recipe Blog

Soup with bread - Stairway to Vegan

Cooking from the Swabian Region of Germany - Life by Six Mile Creek

Completely Board (finally cooking from Pinterest Pins) - Veg-Am

Apologies to those whose gems I have missed.  There are so many great posts and themes for Vegan MoFo, it is an effort to keep up!

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Sayonara Sunday.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts.

Posted September 28, 2014 11:56 AM by Johanna GGG

quinces and kale

Chicago part 4

oklahoma bacon cheeseburger

On Sunday we spent several hours at the Art Institute of Chicago, absorbing just a tiny portion of their vast collection. Afterwards, we ate again at another branch of Native Foods. I wish they’d open a Melbourne branch, they beat the pants off Lord of the Fries for high quality junk and comfort food. This time I ate the Oklahoma Cheeseburger and S ordered the Portabella Mushroom and Sausage burger. We had sides of lemongrass and chilli broccoli and some roasted veggies. Yum.

oklahoma bacon cheeseburger portabella burger

That night we ate dinner again at Mana. We just needed to sample more of the menu, and it was handily only 2 minutes walk away. We ate the collard greens again, a cold peanut sesame noodle dish, ma po tofu and spicy eggplant, and a sweet and tart caponata with grilled sourdough. And more beer…delicious.

IMG_1487 peanut noodles caponata

The following day we took a Chicago Board of Trade tour run by the fantastic Chicago Architecture Foundation. While were were downtown we also looked at the Rookery building. And yes, we ate lunch AGAIN at Native foods. I ate the Chicken and Avocado Club Sandwich again, and S ordered a soup. For dessert we had key lime pie. Delicious.

chicago board of trade rookery building vault at board of trade key lime pie IMG_1491 chicken and avocado club

In the late afternoon we headed to the Signature Bar at the John Hancock Building for a drink while admiring the fabulous 360 degree view of Chicago from the 95th floor. The view from the women’s toilets is also fantastic.

chicago cocktails

That evening we went again to Dimo’s Pizza for a mac n cheese pizza. This had been recommended to us as a ‘must eat’ by the vegan night manager at our accommodation.
Yes that’s right, mac n cheese pizza. Serious. Carb. Overload. It was OK, but a bit weird. We also ordered a couple of other slices of more conventional flavours. Dimo’s always has a few vegan pizza slices on offer.

mac n cheese pizza

The next morning we had our last coffee at our home away from home at Caffe Streets before heading to the airport to fly to San Francisco.

Farewell Chicago.


Posted September 28, 2014 10:00 AM

vegan about town

VegMel Picnic!

VEGMEL IS FIVE. It happened about two weeks ago, so five and a bit, but birthdays can last for ages.

To celebrate, as we do every year, we are having a picnic!

Come for vegan noms, friendly vego faces, and to talk crap. We'll be in Princes Park, up near the bowls club and the pond. Bring a vegan plate and a picnic blanket, or just yourself.

This event is open to all, not just bloggers. It's always fun! (I promise)

Sunday, October 5
1pm - 4pm
Princes Park
near the bowls club

Facebook event

Posted September 28, 2014 08:48 AM by steph

September 27, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: Salt N Pepa

Yeah you all knew this day was coming. I actually developed my list of bands at the very start of MoFo, so I have been holding out on you all with this one. HOW COULD I NOT FEATURE SALT N PEPA?!?

saltnpepa1 I wasn’t particularly creative in what I would make for this one – I always intended to do salt and pepper tofu. I probably should have created more of a challenge, but hey, this is delicious (and it is too late in the month for big challenges). Plus, I have never had super great luck with it – I’ve only attempted it twice before and neither time I got it quite right (or I made a big mess of the ‘cubes’).

saltnpepa2So I’m pretty happy with this, and happy with my return to the grass backdrop. It reminds me of the pictures I took while we were living in the van, where the ground was our table. Haha. Anyway, doesn’t it just highlight the green spring onions so beautifully?!


Salt and Pepper Tofu

250g firm silken tofu
4 Tbsp cornflour
1 Tbsp sea salt, powdered
1 Tbsp white pepper
Dash of chilli (optional – white pepper already gives it a little tingle)
1 spring onion
1 small chili
Coconut oil

Drain your tofu, and handling it carefully, cut it into cubes.

Mix cornflour, salt, pepper and chili on a plate.

Dredge each piece of tofu through the cornflour mix, ensuring each side gets covered.

Heat coconut oil until very hot. Depending on your tools and stuff, you might want to use a wok and one of those wire net thingos. I don’t have one, so I just used a small saucepan. I put enough coconut oil in the pot that would cover half a piece of tofu – maybe about a centimetre and a half? (Sorry, didn’t measure the quantity of oil I used – just put it in).

When the oil is very hot (you can test this by flicking a drop of water into it – it should sizzle and bubble rapidly), carefully place tofu into the oil, a couple of pieces at a time. Let it cook for a minute or so before carefully flipping it with a fork to cook the other half. Remove from oil once a slightly golden crust has formed – drain on paper towel.

Chop up spring onion and chili to serve.

These did not last long with the (cleanly shaven) Bear around. I literally got like three of them.

saltnpepa4Look how fast his hand is moving to his face! It’s just a blur!

saltnpepa5At least I know they got the seal of approval.

saltnpepa6How does one choose just one Salt N Pepa song to play? Yeah, gonna go with this one…so ’80s cool.


Posted September 27, 2014 12:54 PM

September 26, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: Agent Orange/Orange Juice

Another double shot of tunes today with Agent Orange – a punky, surfy band from the late ’70s, and Orange Juice – a post-punk, Scottish band. It’s kind of strange to present to you a salad in association with a band whose namesake is a herbicide used during the Vietnam War, but I assure you there are no crop destroying chemicals in this dish.

It’s another throw together simple salad which is great to take along to a barbecue or put on the Christmas table. I have no idea about pomegranates. I had my first taste of them only a couple of years ago – my mum served one with breakfast on a special occasion – maybe Christmas? I have had one since then, not including this one. So I had no idea what I was doing when I was trying to select a ripe one, nor get the seeds out. What a strange strange fruit. I’ve been seeing them in so many recipes lately and I guess I just thought they would look pretty in a salad.


Orange, Avocado and Pomegranate Salad

3 cups salad leaves – I used a mix of baby spinach and rocket
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 avocado, sliced
2 small navel oranges
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds

Juice of half an orange
1 tsp orange zest
Juice of half a lime
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp agave nectar
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp coriander
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut your oranges into slices. It’s probably easier to slice them then cut the skin off – the first one I did I peeled first and then tried to slice it up – it was a juicy juicy mess.

Throw all salad ingredients in a bowl.

Put all dressing ingredients in a blender and blend to combine. Pour over salad.




Posted September 26, 2014 10:32 PM

quinces and kale

Chicago part 3


At the end of the long drive back from Wisconsin, through miles and miles of roadworks on the freeway, where I was the only one doing the speed limit, we ended up in more Friday night Chicago traffic. After so much concentration navigating and driving, we were both pretty zombied out. Happily, the car drop off point was not far from one of the Native Foods branches and so we ate a quick dinner there before catching the bus home and crashing straight into bed.

Native Foods is amazing. I’d challenge many meat eaters to pick that it wasn’t meat. Speaking of mock meat, I have to say that America does mock meat so well. Some of it is disturbingly realistic.

Anyway, we stuffed ourselves with a chicken burger with avocado and salad and a blackbean soup. They have a fairly extensive menu of soups, salads, wraps and burgers that all sound great. There was so much choice, I changed my mind about what I was ordering three times.
Sorry, no pictures as we were so tired we forgot to take photos.

The next day we did very little except laze about reading our books and eating a late brunch at the Chicago Diner. I had the breakfast bowl which consists of scrambled tofu, home fries, biscuit(scones) and sausage gravy. S ordered the country benedict which, oddly, was tofu, biscuit, sausage gravy and peppers, mushrooms and spinach so finely chopped as to almost disappear. Not at all what we were expecting from the menu description. I really enjoyed the sausage gravy, but I am a gravy fan. I’d always thought that sausage gravy was a misprint and that it meant sausage and gravy, but no, this is gravy with chunks of crumbled sausage in it. The rest of the dish was just too much starch and I was defeated by it, leaving most of my biscuit. We finished up with a shared chocolate, almond, coffee cake.

scrambled tofu, biscuit and gravy country tofu benedict chocolate coffee almond cake

People have raved about the Chicago Diner. I have to say I thought it was good, but not stellar. I much preferred Champs Diner in Brooklyn, NY. Sorry Chicago.

That evening we went to Mana Food Bar for dinner. Oh wow! This place won a Michelin Bib, not a star, but the bib is an award where the judges think you get great food at bargain prices. I’d have to agree. It is an all veg menu with most dishes being vegan. You can choose large or small plates of most items on the menu, so we chose 3 small plates, and a side washed down with some local beer. Gyoza, seared collard greens, green curry rice noodles and bulgogi, followed with a coffee, chocolate sorbet. The light was very dim, so not all the photos turned out.

gyoza bulgogi chocolate coffee sorbet

Perfect beer food,  all packed and zinging with flavour.

Native Foods Cafe
1484 North Milwaukee Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60622

Chicago Diner
3411 N Halsted St,
Chicago, IL 60657

Mana Food Bar
1742 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60622


Posted September 26, 2014 10:00 AM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Smoky Tex Mex Pizza with sourdough base

When I was younger and learning to cook I wished to be the type of cook who regularly made pizzas as one of my stress-free meals.  I am happy to say I have arrived.  Pizza is regularly on the menu in our house, often on a weekend when we have tea on the knee in front of the telly.

Now that I have a starter, it felt only right that I find a reliable sourdough pizza base recipe.  Previously I have made a pizza base that uses sourdough and commercial yeast.  I still make my fast track pizza base occasionally.  Yet I bake with my sourdough starter so regularly that I wanted a base using just my starter for days when I have time.  I have made this one a few time.  My notes are fairly scrappy from the first few tries but this one worked a treat so I am recording it here.

Ideally I would have taken the starter out of the fridge a few hours before mixing up the dough to give it time to come to room temperature.  I could feel how cold it was while kneading.  I made this dough on a day in winter when the house just refused to warm up.  In summer I suspect it would rise a lot faster.

However, pizza is so good on a cold day.  The day before I made this pizza, it was one of those typical Melbourne days that we call "four seasons in one day".  It was a lovely balmy winter day of 19.5 C until we had a drop of 10 degrees in an hour.  I suspect I was feeling the cold on the day I made it because of the sudden change.

I have dreamed of making a good tex mex pizza for some time.  In this one, much past experience came together.  My experience of making rapid refried beans, pizza sauce and Mexican crema helped, as did my recent discovery of poblano chillis.  It was the poblano chillis that really gave me the inspiration I needed.  I am in love with their mild flavour.  While normally I don't use much in the way of chilli I wanted to have rings of these chillis featured.  So pretty.

I decided that a thick bean base might help to keep together the toppings.  One of my major issues with vegan pizza has been that everything falls off in my lap without the cheesy glue to hold everything together.  This one worked so brilliantly that it was only after dinner that I realised nothing had fallen off.  I credit this to the brilliant meltiness of bio cheese.  The paste at the bottom and the sauce on top no doubt helped too.  The only other change I would make to the topping would be to add some crumbled corn chips like one of my old time favourite pizzas.

And the sourdough pizza base?  Oh yes it was brilliant.  I have been making my fast track pizzas a bit thin of late so a thick bready base was such delicious comfort food.  In every respect it was a great pizza - great base, hearty satisfying fillings, and pretty to look at.  You can't ask much more than that.

More vegan pizzas from Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Tex Mex Pizza with sourdough base
An original recipe by Green Gourmet Giraffe
Serves 3-4

Pizza crust: (enough for 2 large pizzas)
300g sourdough starter (100% hydration)
350g white plain flour
200g water
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sweetener
1 heaped tsp sea salt flakes
extra flour and oil for kneading
polenta, for trays

Tex mex topping (enough for 1 large pizza):
2 dessertspoonfuls of pizza sauce* or tomato paste
2 tbsp chipotle sauce or hot sauce
400g tin kidney beans, mashed with fork
2 tbsp tomato paste
75g grated bio cheese
Poblano chillis and red capsicum, sliced
Mexican crema
mashed avocado or guacamole

Mix all ingredients and knead for 20 minutes.  Ideally you will reach the stage where you can stretch the dough thin enough to have it transparent (window pane stage).  Knead on a floured surface if sticky and once it comes together and not too sticky (about 7 minutes for me) rub a little oil on surface from time to time to keep dough from sticking to surface.

Wash and oil the mixing bowl and turn the dough around so it is evenly covered in oil.  Cover with teatowel or clingwrap.  Leave to rise for about 5 hours or until doubled in size.  (Mine rose a lot - I am never good at measuring doubled in size.  It was a cold day - on a warm day it would rise more quickly.)

Preheat oven to 220 C.  Cut the dough in half.  Stretch out each half into a circle on a lightly floured surface.  Scatter large pizza tray with polenta.  Carefully life up circle of dough and pat onto tray.  Repeat with remaining half of dough.  Top one pizza base with tex mex topping (below) and other as desired.

Tex mex topping: Mix pizza sauce, chipotle sauce, kidney beans and tomato paste into a thick paste.  Spread over pizza base.  Scatter with grated bio cheese.  Top with slices of poblano chillis and red capsicum. 

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.  (After 25 minutes mine was quite brown around the edges.)  Remove from oven and use a spatula/eggflip to loosen pizza around the edges.  Transfer to wire rack until ready to slice up.  Top with avocado and Mexican crema just before serving.  It is best fresh but can be reheated the following day.

* I make my own pizza sauce like this one.  It is a mixture of tomato paste, baked beans and seasoning.

On the Stereo:
Way to Blue - Nick Drake

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Smoky Fridays.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Posted September 26, 2014 08:20 AM by Johanna GGG

September 25, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: Eagle Eye Cherry/Wild Cherry

Another double shot for you – Eagle Eye Cherry and Wild Cherry…very VERY different, but both edible audibles. I’m going to cut straight to the chase otherwise I might not get this post in before midnight – I have literally just finished making these. Apologies for the shitty photos, it is 11pm and the lighting is TERRIBLE! I had a camera in one hand while trying to hold a lamp behind my head all the while thinking about being asleep in bed.

cherry4Cherries are not in season here at the moment, so I’ve used dried and fresh in this recipe. I was originally planning to make a raw cherry ripe slice, but lost the motivation to complete it and thought that balls would be less work. It never works out that way though, and I was stuck tediously dunking individual balls into chocolate rather than just pouring it in a tray and letting it set. Oh well, you live and learn, don’t you?


Cherry Ripe Balls
(makes a bunch)

1 cup cashews
1 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup dates
1/3 cup frozen cherries
2 Tbsp rice bran syrup
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut

150g dark chocolate
100g dark chocolate + 1 Tbsp coconut oil

Put cashews in food processor or blender and process until they resemble coarse crumbs. Add cherries, dates, frozen cherries, rice bran syrup, vanilla and salt and blend until combined.

Transfer to a bowl and stir through coconut. If mix is too moist, add a little more coconut.

Roll into balls and place in the freezer to set.

In a double boiler, melt chocolate. I didn’t have enough chocolate to use it alone, hence adding coconut oil to make it spread further. I would have liked to do just chocolate and get a nice thick shell, but these were really good too. Coat each ball in chocolate and return to freezer until set. Voila!



Posted September 25, 2014 11:49 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Sticky cranberry and orange glazed tofu

I had to throw out a jar of cranberry sauce a couple of months ago.  It had sat there since Christmas.  When I bought another jar for our Christmas in July, I was determined not to let this one linger quite so long.  Hence my interest in a recipe for a Leftover Cranberry Soy Sauce Tofu.

I misread the recipe and put in apple cider vinegar instead of apple cider.  Oops!  No wonder it was quite sour tasting.  I added some orange juice from some manky old oranges.  That seemed to fix it.

The first night I served it with rice and steamed broccoli.  It was good but I had fried the tofu too much and there wasn't enough sauce.  The second night, with a bit more time for sides, I made a carrot salad (like this) and fried the tofu so that there was plenty of sauce.  It didn't look as good under the blanket of sauce but tasted so much better.

I am sending this tofu to Healthy Vegan Fridays #14, hosted by Kimmy of Rock my Vegan Socks and Robin of Vegan Dollhouse.  Meanwhile I am off on holiday but have scheduled my last few Vegan MoFo posts to round off the month.

More tofu recipes from Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Sticky cranberry and orange glazed tofu
Adapted from Healthy Happy Life
Serves 4

500g firm tofu
1/2 cup cranberry sauce
juice of 2 oranges
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1 garlic clove, crushed
dash of freshly grated nutmeg
3 Tbsp olive oil, for frying

Press tofu (I did this for an hour but more would be better.)  Cut into 0.5cm slices.  Mix remaining ingredients in a shallow dish.  Marinate tofu in this mixture for about 1 day (I did this for about 6 hours.).  When ready to fry, heat oil over medium heat in a large frypan.  Lay tofu slabs side by side (I had to do it in two batches to fit into my frypan that is about 22-23cm in diameter.)  Spoon a little marinade over it.  Fry tofu until well browned on each side.  Pour in remaining marinade and cook until the marinade has reduced to a thick sauce.  Serve tofu with marinade sauce.

On the stereo:
Blonde on Blonde: Bob Dylan

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Sticky Thursdays.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts.

Posted September 25, 2014 09:01 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Mighty Boy

August 29, September 16 & 19, 2014

I was quite excited when Mighty Boy opened across the road from work - it was replacing a fairly standard sandwich-and-salad place (whose salads all seemed to have chicken in them) and promised something a bit more interesting for lunch. I headed over with a gang of colleagues on the day they opened only to experience the definitive first day teething problems: most of us got the wrong dish, the salads came out minus key ingredients, everything took an age - it wasn't a great success. On the upside, the food seemed solid and the prices were reasonable, so I figured I'd give them a few weeks and then go back for a blogging trip. I'm glad I did. They've got everything working now - the food arrives corectly  and quickly, and the staff all seem to know what's going on. Most of these photos are phone pics - apologies for the quality.

It's a breakfast and lunch place - the brekkies are pretty standard Fitzroy dishes (baked eggs $14, smashed avo $11, etc), while the lunch menu is Thai inspired and a bit more interesting. On my first visit I sampled the pad thai noodles with tofu, spring onions, bean sprouts, lime, chilli, coriander and egg ($12).

This was just okay - they're generous with the tofu, and the noodles are cooked nicely, but the whole dish is a little on the bland side. Luckily they offer up a quintet of chilli-based condiments to kick things up a notch (sambal, chilli flakes, plus two kinds of pickled chillies and sriracha).

On my second visit I grabbed takeaway - a $6 serve of two rice paper wraps with crispy tofu and vermicelli noodles, cucumber, house-pickled carrot and cabbage.

These are incredibly good and incredibly good value - two fresh little tubes of goodness with flavour bursting out of them. It's a small lunch but it's just about the cheapest option on Gertrude Street.

On my final visit I settled in for a proper lunch, starting off with a freshly blended lychee, lime, mint and pineapple juice ($8). It's delicious, but it costs more than the rice paper wraps, so maybe save it up for a special occasion.

To accompany the drink, I went with the tofu roti wrap (tofu with cucumber, mint, tomatoes, onion, sweet chilli dressing and lime on a roti base, $10). When I first tried one of these it was an actual wrap (see Fitzroyalty's post for an example) but they seem to have shifted to a more open, deconstructed version. The fillings are great though - beautifully marinated and fried tofu strips, lots of fresh veggies and herbs and the same selection of condiments I enthused about earlier. And of course you get the added bonus of your wrap being made of roti.

I'm really enjoying what Mighty Boy brings to the western end of Gertrude Street - it probably won't take the place of Sonido in my heart, but almost nothing would. Still, it's an excellent addition to the neighbourhood and it's already snuck into my regular lunch rotation.


Mighty Boy has already been favourably reviewed by Fitzroyalty and A Melbournite.
Mighty Boy
59-61 Gertrude St, Fitzroy
9419 3686
menu: food, drinks
facebook page

Accessibility: Mighty Boy has a flat entryway and a reasonably spacious interior. You order at the table and pay at a high counter. I haven't visited the toilets.

Posted September 25, 2014 07:31 AM by Michael

September 24, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: Cream (with Ginger Baker)

See what I did there? Yeahhhh!

Cream are awesome. I like listening to them in the car, where I can groove along by myself and remain calm in traffic. They are good for that. Also check out young Eric Clapton, isn’t he funky?

Ice cream is also good! It is delicious and I love it. Not to toot my own horn but this ice cream is PARTICULARLY tasty. I don’t know that I’ve had ginger ice cream before but it definitely won’t be the last time I have it.

cream3The addition of crystallised ginger is really great here, and I suspect some crumbled up gingernut cookies would also be delicious. THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS!


Ginger Ice Cream with Caramel Sauce

Ice cream:
400ml coconut cream
400ml coconut milk
1/2 cup rice malt syrup
1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup crystallised ginger, chopped into small pieces
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 Tbsp arrowroot
1 Tbsp vodka

Caramel sauce
400ml coconut cream
1/3 cup brown sugar
Pinch of salt

For the ice cream – Put 1/4 cup of coconut milk in a small bowl and set aside. Place remaining coconut cream, coconut milk and ginger in a pot and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Turn of heat and steep for 15 minutes.

Pour milk through a strainer and return to pot.  Add rice malt syrup and vanilla and return to heat.

Add arrowroot, nutmeg and cinnamon to the 1/4 cup of coconut milk and whisk with a fork. Pour into pot and whisk well. Cook over medium heat while whisking continuously until mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in vodka.

Pour mix into a bowl and allow to cool completely. When cooled, transfer to ice cream maker and let it do its magic. If you don’t have a maker, pour into a tray and place in the freezer. Every half an hour return to the freezer to whisk the mix until it has set completely.

Once ice cream maker has done it’s thing, stir through crystallised ginger. Now you can eat it as soft serve or place into the freezer until set!

For the caramel sauce, bring coconut cream, sugar and salt to a boil in a small pot, then turn down to a simmer. Allow to simmer, stirring every now and then, until the sauce reduces and thickens.


Now I am off to watch the Bear play his first gig in a new band. I hope they are as rocking as this:


Posted September 24, 2014 06:42 PM

Thoughts Of A Moni

Forrest Brewing Company

Located in the Otway Ranges, past Skenes Creek, the Forrest Brewing Company is a brewery with good beer and even better food. 

We arrived there at about 5pm, to be greeted by a completely empty restaurant, so I was a little skeptical of whether this place was any good. After all, which pub is empty on a Sunday afternoon?!

Luckily, we pushed on and started with a beer tasting paddle (or the equivalent of a paddle anyway). It contained their four standard beers - a pale, a red, a silvertop and a stout, and then three seasonal beers. They were great beers, and we realised why they were so much more expensive than regular beers.

It was then time for dinner which was the highlight for me. The menu revealed only one vegetarian option so this was what I chose, but it sounded pretty good and I was happy with my choice (or lack thereof!).

My dish was described as a series of components: Lebanese eggplant, goat's feta, quinoa, Israeli couscous, hazelnuts, avocado yogurt and lemon thyme.  What this list failed to describe was the deliciousness that the ingredients combined to become!

The eggplant was smoked so that it was tender with a subtly smoky aroma, the goat's feta was wonderfully creamy, the bed of quinoa, Israeli couscous and hazelnuts provided the right balance of softness and brunch and the star of the show was the avocado yogurt, which simply tasted amazing. It was one of the best meals I've had in a long time and worthy of a spot in any fancy restaurant!

The other half went for a traditional pub option, the fish and chips, which he also said were very tasty.

As we were leaving we looked around and the pub was full. The locals obviously know where to come for dinner.... Clearly this microbrewery takes its beer seriously, which you would expect, but more importantly for me, it's takes its food even more seriously!

Forrest Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

Posted September 24, 2014 03:41 PM by Moni

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Vegan macaroni cheese with sauerkraut, cauliflower and blue cheese

A while back I was at my parents' place, chatting to my brother who is a lover of carnivorous carbs.  I told him I had made a macaroni cheese.  He looked at me as though the food I eat was finally something he understood.  Then I ruined the bonding moment by adding that my macaroni cheese had sauerkraut, cauliflower and vegan blue cheese.  He told me he would never ever eat at my place.

So yes, this pasta dish is not one to impress your friends who are dubious about your vegan lifestyle.  Save it for the adventurers in your life. Or just make it on a night like I did when I had scraps of vegan cheese to use and was determined to finish the bottle of verjuice that had taken up valuable kitchen real estate for too long.  Actually I didn't have enough sauerkraut so verjuice seemed close enough for jazz.  The cheeses are not essential but this is a good way to use up those heels of cheese that kick around aimlessly.

I made this pasta bake on a day when E's train was cancelled and Sylvia got her Frozen DVD and CD.  The gas flame went out while cooking, Elsa was singing 'Let It Go' on the tv and I got so flustered while cooking that I didn't take notes on timing as I often do.

The mac and cheese tided us across a weekend when I went to the farmers market, only to find I had the wrong date, and then headed off to Ikea and had a dilemma about how to wrap a wardrobe that was from the As Is section, because Ikea does not insure home delivery of off the floor furniture.  I was given three different pieces of advice about how to wrap it.  I stressed over what to do.  The wardrobe arrived in one piece anyway!

The pasta bake had been on my to do list for a while.  It had been one of the inspirations for this vegan cheese.  The sauce had a sharp flavour rather than that mild creamy taste I expect of a cheese sauce.  I asked E what he thought and was told he had added so much Tabasco he couldn't say.  Though I had intended to bake it, on the first night it was quicker to eat it as a stovetop mac and cheese.  I then baked a lasagna dish full of the leftovers.  It made a lot.  Which was fine because it improved over the next day or two.

More vegan pasta bakes from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Fennel and lentil lasagne
Nut roast lasagna
Pea lasagne (with tofu sour cream)
Pumpkin sage pasta bake
Pumpkin and tofu ricotta cannelloni
Tempeh and pumpkin lasagne 
Vegetarian enchilada pasta bake

Vegan macaroni cheese with sauerkraut, cauliflower and blue cheese
Adapted from the Post Punk Kitchen
Serves 6-8

450g small pasta like shells, macaroni or chiocciole
1 small cauliflower, chopped
1 1/2 cups cashews, soaked for at least 1 hour
4 cups water, divided
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tsp vegetable stock powder, divided
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup sauerkraut, drained if necessary
1 cup verjuice (or more sauerkraut)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Several dashes fresh black pepper
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tsp mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup all purpose flour, or more
100g Vegusto blue cheese
50g Notzarella vegan cheese
seeds to sprinkle

Cook pasta and cauliflower in salted water for about 7 minutes or according to packet instructions.  Drain and set aside.

Blend (drained) cashews with 1 cup of water and 1 tsp stock powder until as creamy as your blender or food processor will do.  (Isa of Post Punk Kitchen soaks her cashews because her machinery is fairly basic.  Mine too.  My cashews were a grainy sort of creamy.)  Add another cup of water.

Fry onion in 1 tbsp of oil until soft.  Stir in garlic and sauerkraut for a minute or two.  Tip mixture into the cashew cream in the food processor or blender.  Blend.  Add in verjuice, turmeric, pepper, nutritional yeast flakes, mustard, salt and lemon juice.

In an extra large frypan, fry remaining 2 tbsp oil and the flour until golden brown.  (I added a bit more flour so it was quite thick and was glad I did,)  Gradually add in remaining 2 cups of water plus 1 tsp stock powder, stirring constantly to avoid any lumps forming.  Bring to the boil, stirring frequently until it thickens.  Now stir in cashew mixture and blue cheese.  Heat until it has thickened and is bubbling at the corners.  Turn off the heat and stir in pasta and cauliflower.

At this point you can just eat the pasta with sauce or spoon it into a greased lasagne tin and bake for 25 minutes at 200 C or until the top is golden brown.

On the stereo:
Frozen soundtrack

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Surprising Wednesdays.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts.

Posted September 24, 2014 09:45 AM by Johanna GGG

September 23, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: The Jam

The Jam! Another one of those bands that I’m sure you know, even if you don’t think you do. Have a listen and I swear you will.

I am running out of wind a little with MoFo now, though am on the final stretch. Just one week to go! It has been really fun, but also really time consuming, as you can all understand. I have posted every day this year, which I hope I can carry through the last week. Ahhhhhhhh. I’m sure there will be a collective sigh of relief at the end of the month, combined with the disappointment of no longer having a never-ending supply of wacky themed recipes and delicious posts. Until next year!

Anyway, I’m jumping the gun a little. Let’s get back to the food.

Pretty straight to the point recipe here – jam. Lately I have noticed a lot of talk about chia jam. I watched with amazement as Veganopoulous and Johanna at Green Gourmet Giraffe whipped up batches of the stuff. As soon as I realised just how simple it was, I was in. And I’m so glad I was! This is so easy and delicious, and isn’t overpoweringly sweet. The chia seeds remind me of raspberry seeds, just like in my Granny’s homemade jam.


Apple Berry Chia Jam
(makes 2 jars)

3 cups strawberries, chopped
1 cup raspberries
2 green apples, peeled, cored and chopped or grated

1 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp agave nectar
1 vanilla bean
3 Tbsp chia seeds

Place strawberries, raspberries, apple, lemon juice and agave nectar in a pot and heat over medium-low heat. The apple can be chopped or grated, depending on whether you like chunks in your jam or prefer it smoother. As we are not using kilos of sugar like you do in normal jam, you may not wish to add the lemon juice. I like the tartness, however if your fruit is not very sweet it might be too much. If you need to add more agave to sweeten your fruit to your liking, do so.

Allow fruit to cook down slowly – it can be helpful to put a lid on for the first while to steam it a little. As it cooks, use a fork to mash it up a bit. Once it has broken down a bit, scrape the vanilla bean out of the pod and add it to the pot, throwing the empty bean in there too. Continue to cook until the fruit has pretty much all broken down.

Turn off the heat and stir in chia seeds. Allow to sit for ten minutes until the chias expand. If you would like the jam thicker, add more chias.



Posted September 23, 2014 11:54 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Simple salad with sprouts

On a bad day, lunch is a peanut butter sandwich.  Sometimes I am quite proud of my lunch.  This salad started with a craving for bean sprouts.  It was just what I wanted.  Leafy, colourful, crunchy, juicy, sharp and sweet.  It is a bit like the crunchy salads that I posted about years ago.  I still make those sort of salads occasionally and this is one of them.

I am sending this salad to Deb for Souper Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen.

More simple vegan salads from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Carrot with lime and mint 
Carrot, walnut and cranberry salad 
Cranberry and mustard coleslaw
Japanese snow pea salad
Smoky potato, bean and corn salad
Warm pea and lentil salad

Simple Salad with Sprouts
Serves 1 for a light lunch

handful rocket (arugula)
handful sprouted legumes (mine was a mix of legumes)
1/8 each red and yellow capsicum, sliced
1 mushroom, sliced
3 cherry tomatoes, sliced
1 small spring onion, sliced
3 tsp cider vinegar
1 good tsp coconut nectar
1 tsp olive oil
1 scant tsp seeded mustard
generous pinch salt

Lightly whisk together dressing and toss through with salad ingredients.

On the Stereo:
Don't Try This at Home: Billy Bragg

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Same Same Tuesdays.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Posted September 23, 2014 11:03 PM by Johanna GGG

quinces and kale


Heirloom tomato pizza

We split up our time in Chicago with an overnight trip to Wisconsin to see two Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, the Johnson Wax building in Racine, and Taliesin in Spring Green. Both were fantastic. The Johnson building is wonderful, a vast open plan office space with a glass ceiling made of tubes, supported by columns topped by concrete ‘lily pads’. There is another home in Racine called Wingspread that I really wanted to see too, but it was not open on the day we were there.

image Johnson wax factory Johnson wax factory

We managed to find a small vegetarian cafe in Racine where we had some soup for lunch before heading off to Spring Green to stay. Next morning we took a full 4 hour tour of the Taliesin estate.

Unfortunately, again there were no internal photos allowed.
I do love Wright’s interiors. They are designed as a whole – glass, furniture and fabrics all fit. The buildings are wonderful too and fit so well into the environment.

Wright was an early exponent of bringing the outside in and blurring the division between inside and outside, and Taliesin is full of astonishing vistas of the surrounding landscape. He also plays wonderful tricks like placing a panelled glass triptych view of an external pine tree next to an internal Japanese painted triptych featuring a pine, further blurring the distinctions.

Taliesin Taliesin Taliesin Taliesin school Taliesin Taliesin

Spring Green itself is an anomaly in lots of ways. It is a small town of about 1500 people, but its proximity to both Taliesin and the American Players Theatre means that it supports a fabulous bookshop/cafe and a slow food general store cafe that it probably otherwise could not. The bookshop itself is worthy of a visit and would put many larger cities in its shadow. We ate at both the bookshop and the store during our stay and managed vegan food at both without drawing any strange looks that you might normally get in a small town. At the bookshop we really enjoyed our basil and sweet, last of the summer, heirloom tomato pizza which we ordered without cheese. We had a glass of wine and a chat with the bookstore owner.

Heirloom tomato pizza

When I ordered the dairy free chilli plate at the general store I commented to the waiter that I supposed that it was a bit odd in Wisconsin, which is the dairy state of the USA, and she smiled and said she wouldn’t tell anyone.

On our way back to Chicago we went via Madison to see Monona Terrace, a large performance and conference venue by Wright on the shore of the lake. We also spotted the very grand Capitol building.

Madison Capitol Monona terrace Monona terrace Monona terrace

Arcadia Bookshop (The Kitchen at Arcadia)
102 E Jefferson St, Spring Green, WI

Spring Green General Store
137 South Albany Street, Spring Green, WI


Posted September 23, 2014 10:00 AM

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Me and Art

September 15, 2014

On my Monday morning in Sydney I checked out of my hotel and set off towards the nearest Iku Wholefood for breakfast. Within little more than a block I encountered a terrace house with a painting of the Vegan Mary. Huh! The little coffee shop seemed worth a look. 

Inside I encountered a friendly barista who offered me a menu, said something about waffles, and suggested I might like to go and enjoy their back garden.

He was absolutely right - the back courtyard had a cute assemblage of tables, plants and knick knacks and was flooded with sunlight. And on a Monday morning I had it all to myself. I settled in with the menu and could barely believe what I saw - almost everything was vegan, with prices centred around a reasonable $10. There was porridge, chia seed porridge, scrambled tofu, smashed avocado four ways, waffles and pancakes (with a gluten-free option!), soup, pies, stews, quiche and salad.

And their house special was apparently a coconut chai latte ($5) - exactly my kind of beverage. In truth this was very light on the tea and spice, but the frothy warm coconut milk went down a treat anyway.

The waffle ($10) was a big 'un, and I ordered it doused in mixed red berries ($2.50). Based on buckwheat and coconut flours, it was nutty and filling yet so soft and cakey that I didn't need a knife to cut it. The berries were thawed from a frozen box, and this rendered them soft and juicy.

There are assorted benches and stools, more ornaments and a rotating selection of art throughout this cafe, which on leaving I figured out is called Me and Art. I found the staff, the menu and the setting utterly charming, not least because I'd discovered them entirely by accident.


Me & Art has had positive write-ups on Not Quite a Domestic Goddess, Fight the Craving, The 9am Mug and Khana. There's a more mixed reaction on fox and lee.

Me and Art
62 Mary St, Surry Hills Sydney NSW
0411 811 404
menu: one, two
facebook page

Accessibility: There are a couple of steps up on entry. The interior is flat with a clear corridor through the centre and a hodge-podge of tables and stools; a unisex toilet is located down a flat hall. Beyond the toilet, down a stair or two, lies the garden - it's crowded with knick knacks and the furniture is even more varied. I could have ordered at the table, and I paid at a high counter on my way out.

Posted September 23, 2014 07:43 AM by Cindy

September 22, 2014

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Speedy BBQ sauce and a Maple walnut asparagus bowl

Do you ever make a large jar of sauce and every time you open the fridge and pass over it, you feel its accusing look?  As soon as I saw Elizabeth's BBQ sauce, I wanted it that night.  It used pantry ingredients and only made a small amount.  And it looked really tasty.  Then the night went a bit Pete Tong and I had to wait until I had time on the weekend.  I was determined to use up a packet of tempeh that had crept past the use-by date a few days ago.  The BBQ sauce was surprisingly good with the tempeh and some leftover fried rice.

Converting a sauce for meat to a sauce for vegetarians can be a little fiddly.  I found the sauce too sweet and lacking in salt.  (Perhaps because I skimped on the chilli powder, my Worcestershire sauce was running out and I didn't have muscavado sugar.)  A little blackstrap molasses and some extra seasoning fixed it.  It is not BBQ weather and, even if it was, we don't have a BBQ.  I got out my much-neglected ridged grill pan.

The tempeh looked pretty with the grill marks.  I did need some patience to wait for them to appear.  You might notice on the above photo that there is one piece of tempeh without decent grill marks that I turned over too early.  I also needed the fan on because it got quite smoky in the kitchen.  I wondered if it would have worked better if I had got the tempeh sliced a little thinner.  Easier said than done.  Or maybe tried to press out more moisture.  Or marinaded it longer with the sauce.  Coulda woulda shoulda!

I was concerned the E wouldn't like the tempeh but he did.   We even ate the rest of the leftover tempeh between us on the same night.  Once all the (leftover) fried rice was gone, E hit upon the idea of slathering a bit more sauce over the tempeh.  This worked brilliantly.  It used up a lot of the sauce still in the jar.

Just a little sauce was left in the jar.  I made some rapid refried beans for nacho the next night.  Instead of adding tomato paste to the beans, I added the sauce.  It gave great flavour.  So much so that when I make this BBQ sauce again I might use leftovers wherever I need some tomato paste.  I am not sure it will last that long though.

The odd thing about blogging is that even with all the great food I write about I can still draw blank at dinner time.  Today found me leafing through cookbooks for a simple salad dressing.  Instead I found an idea for maple walnuts in Alice Hart's Vegetarian.  I fried mine on the stovetop with maple syrup, a little liquid smoke and some of the Old Bay Seasoning I found on the weekend.  They were brilliant with lemon fried asparagus and some vegies tossed in red wine vinegar and nutritional yeast flakes.  In fact I had to fight Sylvia to keep my share of the walnuts.

Not a recipe as such, but a great quick dinner idea.  Something simple so I can eat with Sylvia.  Then I made a Coconut Chana Saag from Isa Does It to last out the week before we head off on holiday for the last few days of Vegan MoFo.  I will share some food from my trips to Adelaide and Port Fairy after Vegan MoFo. 

Detail from Mural by Trevor Nickolls at the Adelaide Festival Centre Amphitheatre
More tempeh and tofu marinades and sauces on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Apricot and orange glazed tofu
Aussie bbq tofu with rice noodles and carrot salad

Matthews delicious tofu 
Orange glazed tempeh 
Tamarind Tempeh with Noodles
'Teriyaki' tofu with brown rice and kale
Tofu in a tomato, lemongrass and ginger sauce  

Barbecue sauce
Adapted from Elizabeth's Kitchen

2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp rice bran oil (or oil of choice)
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp blackstrap molasses
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp smoked mild paprika
1/2 tsp chilli paste, or to taste
1/2 tsp onion granules
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried mustard

Mix ingredients together to make a thick sauce. 

On the stereo:
Ugly Beautiful: Baby Bird

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Some recipes I couldn't fit in during the week.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Posted September 22, 2014 10:49 PM by Johanna GGG

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: Blondie

Is Blondie really a food? I’m not sure. It didn’t actually even click to me until recently that ‘blondies’ were just like brownies, but not chocolate. One of those ahhhhh moments. Regardless, I pegged her as a food so that I could groove to her tunes. In the process, I found a delicious treat!

Looking at the pictures now, I guess these are really more like dirty blondes, as I added some coffee to give them a bit of a kick. Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. Let us eat with our eyes.

blondie3I’ve never actually made a blondie before now, and I rarely make brownies either (I don’t know why – they’re delicious!) However now I’ve made them twice, as the first run didn’t quite go to plan. I had used spelt flour and mashed banana, however I also added too much baking powder it came out quite light and cakey rather than dense and fudgey. It was still delicious – just not a blondie.

The second time I went for a chickpea base, as I know black beans make great fudgey chocolate brownies. These didn’t quite have the same crisp crust that you might expect, however the inside was gooey and tasty. Plus you can eat the whole damn lot of them because they are made of chickpeas and therefore they are healthy. Yay!

Hazelnut Choc Chip Espresso Blondies

1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup nut butter
1/4 cup flax meal
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup freshly brewed espresso

3/4 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup dark choc chips
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 180C and line a square brownie tin with baking paper.

Toast hazelnuts in a pan over low heat until slightly browned and aromatic. Remove from heat, roughly chop, then set aside.

Place all ingredients except hazelnuts and choc chips into a food processor and mix until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and fold through hazelnuts and choc chips.

Spread batter into prepared tin and bake for 25-30 mins. It may seem a little soft when it comes out, however it will firm up as it cools. Look for a slightly golden top and the batter coming away from the edge of the tin. Remove from oven and allow to cool in tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool (best to pick it up with the baking paper so it doesn’t fall apart) Cut into squares and enjoy!

Easiest recipe ever?


I’m going to post a second video, because I just love her shoulder dancing about a minute in in this once. So good.


Posted September 22, 2014 10:11 PM

quinces and kale

Chicago part 2

Lemon meringue

On day three of our Chicago visit we headed to Oak Park to take another look at the Unity Temple by Frank Lloyd Wright, which we’d both visited 10 years ago. It is as peaceful and beautiful as ever and is one of my favourite of his interiors. We ate a sandwich lunch at a local veg cafe, dined on vegan pizza and beer at Dimo’s and finished the day with a glass of wine at the bar across the road before bed.

Lights unity temple Ceiling unity temple

The next day was also action packed with a visit to the FLW
Bach house in Rogers Park and lunch at the Heartland Cafe where Barack Obama launched his Senate campaign. The food was OK but not memorable.

Bach house Bach house Window Bach house Light Bach house

That afternoon we did some vegan outreach, leafleting at a busy train station, where we handed out 1500 booklets in a couple of hours with some local activists.

We had dinner again at Karyn Cooked, this time we ate carrot and tofu stuffed crispy flautas with cashew sour cream, pico de gallo, guacamole and black beans and mushrooms on crispy polenta, followed by a lemon meringue pie and THAT GLAZED DONUT again.

Flautas Mushrooms on polenta Lemon meringue Donut


Posted September 22, 2014 10:00 AM

September 21, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: Soup Dragons

Soup Dragons are a band who I really only discovered through MoFo. I know a couple of their songs by ear, but never knew of the artist. I was originally going to feature Bowling for Soup – a band I listened to as a teen – but when I found out that the Soup Dragons did a cover of this Rolling Stones song I had to include it – it’s such a feel good classic. I love it!

soup1This recipe needs a bit more tweaking – I’m not quite happy with the flavour, however I’m on a roll with posting recipes every day for this MoFo and I don’t want to break it – this is the only one I have ready for tonight. And I’m free! To do what I want! Any old tiiiime. I will probably come back to it later and edit it once I get the balance right. Perhaps roasting the pumpkin first might help?

The inspiration came from a soup that was made for my work’s weekly Thursday winter soup day that was absolutely delicious – I will have to see if I can track down the recipe to see what mine is missing.


Miso and Ginger Pumpkin Soup
(serves 4-6)

1 brown onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp ginger, minced
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Butternut pumpkin, peeled and diced (approx 1kg)
4 potatoes, diced (approx 500g)
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 litre vegetable stock
1/2 – 1 tsp cayenne pepper
3 Tbsp brown rice miso
Salt and white pepper to taste
2 spring onions, chopped (for garnish)
2 Tbsp black sesame seeds, toasted (for garnish)
Wasabi (optional)

In a large pot over medium-high, heat coconut oil and throw in the onions. Cook until translucent – approximately five minutes, before adding the garlic and ginger. Saute for a minute or two, being careful not to let the garlic and ginger burn.

Add pumpkin, potatoes and carrots and cover with veggie stock. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cover. Cook until the veggies become tender.

Transfer to blender (or use a stick blender) and blend until smooth.

Return to pot and add miso, cayenne and salt and pepper. Stir through.

Serve with spring onions, toasted sesame seeds and a blob of wasabi if you’re into that. I know I am.


I’m free, any old time to get what I want, yes I am!


Posted September 21, 2014 11:49 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Sludge soup, Smoky buffalo hummus and Smooth cashew chocolate butter

Welcome to the Sunday edition of Vegan MoFo brought to you by the Letter S with some speedy recipes with dubious claims to be included the my stable of recipes starting with S.  Sadly I don't have time to tell you about my new blender - that will have to wait for another day.  I can say I am very happy it is making dips, nut butter and smoothies.  However I still love my hand held blender for soups.

Firstly let me thank Janet for inspiring me to make a buffalo hummus recipe that has been in my bookmarks for ages.  My blender made far smoother dip than my cranky old food processor does.  E and I found the dip very pleasing.  A little bit smoky, a little bit spicy, a really good hummus.  Sylvia still prefers the hummus I buy from the shops.

I couldn't wait to try a nut butter in the blender.  It took minutes.  Hurrah.  I even dug out a recipe for chocolate cashew butter with a touch of coconut.  I am just trying to use up my coconut butter.  No doubt coconut oil would also work.  I liked it but with the melted chocolate it firm up too much when cool and I didn't have as much control over the sweetness as I would like.  I have my eye on a chocolate coconut butter with cocoa and maple syrup.  Something like this.

However I am sure that we would all love me to repeat this chocolate coconut cashew butter.  It was so soft and spreadable when just made.  Great on toast.  Once colder I loved it spread on apple slices.  And strangely enough, it disappeared within the day.  I blame E and Sylvia.  I think some of it was eaten straight from the tub.

Lastly I am sharing a sludge soup.  It was made primarily from purple carrots, cauliflower and chickpeas.  It looked like the sort of thing that Daleks would eat.  On the first night I would have been more than happy to give them the whole saucepanful.  It was ok but not great.

The second night it was graced by that mysterious alchemy that happens when soups and stews sit overnight.  I loved it.  The balance of flavours was just right.  I could have eaten the whole saucepanful myself.  I didn't.  It lasted a few nights.  I am sending this soup to Shaheen of Allotment to Kitchen for her Vegetable Palette event which this month focuses on purples and blues vegies and fruit.

More recipes for blenders from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Cauliflower alfredo pasta sauce
Hurry up pumpkin alfredo
Pepper-crusted cashew goat cheese
Pumpkin and chocolate bread pudding 

Buffalo Hummus
Adapted from Oh She Glows and Taste Space

400g tin of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp salt flakes
1 large clove of garlic, chopped
2 tsp tahini
1 tbsp hot sauce (I used Frank’s Hot Sauce)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 red capsicum, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil (or water)
Cayenne pepper, to taste, for serving (I didn't use any)

Blend all ingredients together until smooth.  I did this for a few minutes at a low speed (between 2 and 3) with some scraping down in between.

Chocolate coconut cashew butter
Adapted from Cooking with Cakes

115g raw cashews
1/4 cup dark choc chips
 2 tbsp coconut butter
1 pinch salt

Blend cashews until finely ground.  Add coconut butter and blend until smooth butter.  Melt choc chips and mix in with a pinch of salt.  It will be very soft when first made and firm up as the choc chips cool.

Sludge Soup (aka Purple Carrot, Cauliflower and Chickpea soup)
An original recipe from Green Gourmet Giraffe
Serves 4-6
slurp of olive oil
1 onion
1 small beetroot chopped finely
2 large purple carrots
2 garlic cloves
1 1/2 cups stock
4-6 cups water
1 cauliflower
1 tin chickpeas
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp onion salt 
1 tsp salt, or to taste
black pepper

Fry onion in oil for about 5 minutes.  Add beetroot and purple carrots and fry another 5 to 10 minutes or until softening.  Stir through garlic.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer for about 30 to 45 minutes until vegetables soft.  Puree. (I used my hand held blender.)

On the Stereo:
Down in the valley: Handsome Family

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Some recipes I couldn't fit in during the week.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Posted September 21, 2014 10:05 AM by Johanna GGG

quinces and kale

Chicago part 1

Peach pie

After only a few short days we headed off to Chicago on a night sleeper train from Buffalo. Having read Don Watson’s American Journeys, I’d worried about spending hours in soulless Amtrak stations waiting for late trains, but based on our two trips we were pretty lucky. Yes, the waiting rooms were soulless, but the waits were short. The food on the trains, not so good. I’d tried to phone ahead to order some vegan food, but they only do special meals for lunch and dinner, so we took snacks and ate what we could from what was on offer. Strangely they had vegan margarine, although not much to put it on!

We have seven days in Chicago, broken into two parts by a side trip to Wisconsin to see some more Frank Lloyd Wright architecture.

Our first night we couldn’t get into our preferred accommodation, so we settled for one night elsewhere before moving. Fortunately, Karyn’s on Green was just around the corner, it was Sunday and they were doing brunch. All I can say is wow. Great food, beautiful space. We shared a magnificently delicious club sandwich and beet ‘meatball’ sliders and good coffee.

Club sandwich Meatball slidehrs

The next morning we moved to our preferred accommodation in Wicker Park which is a hip, vegan friendly area.

It was a big day. We took a boat trip along the Chicago river with the Chicago Architecture Foundation, looking at huge numbers of magnificent buildings ranging from Beaux Arts and Art Deco to Modern and Postmodern. Before the trip we stopped at the Lyfe Kitchen for lunch, which does a good range of vegan foods. We both opted for the ‘chicken’ burger. My only complaint is, why oh why do vegan burgers have to come on whole grain or whole wheat? This is not health food, I’m eating a burger, I want white.

Chicken burger

Chicago building Chicago building Chicago building

After the boat tour, we went on another two hour Art Deco walking tour of several loop buildings.

Lift door Light Letterbox Deco lobby image Deco mailbox Deco elevators

For dinner we headed to Karyn’s Cooked, another Karyn’s offshoot. I had a wonderful ‘meatloaf’ with mashed potato, mushroom gravy and broccoli, while S had a chilli, cornbread and southern greens combo. We opted for peach pie and a glazed donut for dessert, both delicious.

Peach pie Donut Chilli cornbread greens Meatloaf

After something of a coffee drought, our daily coffee needs have been more than adequately provided by the fabulous Caffe Streets, just a couple of minutes walk away. It is just like Melbourne coffee. That’s high praise.


Karyn’s on Green
130 S Green St, Chicago, IL

Karyn’s Cooked
738 N Wells St, Chicago, IL

Lyfe Kitchen
419 N Clark St, Chicago, IL

Caffe Streets
1750 W Division St, Chicago, IL


Posted September 21, 2014 10:00 AM

September 20, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: Hot Chocolate

We all know Hot Chocolate. We all love hot chocolate.

hotchoc4 I am not going to go on about stuff today, because I am really tired. Instead I will show you pictures of my hot chocolate.

I have been going mad on the cashew milk lately, it is just so creamy that it makes everything velvety and amazing.

hotchocI had planned to do a giveaway today, but I haven’t organised it and as mentioned above, I am tired, and have also been sick this week. Hopefully I will get around to it in the next couple of days. Sit tight!

Also please note my mum’s beautiful mugs that I borrowed for a photo shoot. She has had these since I was little and they are my favourite.


Spiced Hot Chocolate

(serves 2)

2 1/2 cups cashew milk
1/4 cup dark chocolate, chopped
2 Tbsp cacao powder
2 Tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Dash of cayenne pepper
Marshmallows to serve (optional)

Place cashew milk in a small saucepan, then remove a couple of tablespoons of it and place it in a small bowl. Add cacao powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and cayenne. Whisk with a fork until the mix becomes a thick slurry, then add it back to the rest of the cashew milk. Stir in agave nectar and vanilla.

Heat saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until it comes to a gentle simmer. Remove from heat and add chocolate. Stir until combined. Pour into mugs and top with marshmallows.



Posted September 20, 2014 11:33 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

ShanDong MaMa for a speedy lunch!

Given that E and I eat the same dinner most nights, you wouldn't think it would be so hard to find a place to eat together on his lunch break.  Yet we had a lunch date a few weeks back when he was focusing on time and I was focusing on taste.  I suggested ShanDong MaMa based on Veganopoulous' review.  I told E there might be queues.  He does not do queues at lunchtime.  So I went alone.  As I arrived there were no queues.  I texted him and he hurried down.

Meanwhile I had ordered panfried vegan dumplings.  I asked the staff to put them on hold til E arrived.  Another stomach meant we could share another dish.  I ordered the scallion pancakes.  The dumplings were already cooking but they kindly put them aside until E arrived.  Meanwhile I drank the complementary tea and did some sudoku.

Once E arrived the dumplings did not take long.  They are filled with zucchini, tofu, black fungus, coriander, rice noodles, ginger and garlic.  We picked them off the plate with our chopsticks and dipped them in soy sauce.  They were very light and flavoursome.  Despite being panfried they are pillowy soft.

Next came the scallion pancakes.  I can't remember having any scallion pancakes before but I think I am right in claiming these are quite unlike the usual ones you might be served.  They are crispy birds nests of coiled fried dough.  E kept waiting to discover a soft centre but they were crunchy most of the way through.  Like the oddest chips you have ever had.  And so good you can't wait to have them again.

By the time we left the restaurant was busy.  No queues.  But not many free seats.   The menu had a few other dishes marked vegan including an intriguing edamame with olives.  Nothing else to challenge the delicious dumplings and scallion pancakes.

It seems there was quite a buzz about the place last year, especially after it won the Time Out Food Award Best Bang for Buck category (2013).  With 12 dumplings for $12 dollars, it was good value.  The food was delicious and interesting.  The staff very friendly and the ambiance was relaxed.  We will be back, especially next time we need to sort out a place for a quick lunch date.

Update 24 September 2014 - I went there again with E and Sylvia.  She chose to drink grass milk jelly (which doesn't seem vegan but the waitress was a bit vague).  They were kind in making us the edamame without the olives, though it still had some seasoned sauce on it.  The dumplings were even crispier fresh.  I still love it.

ShanDong MaMa
Mid City Centre Arcade
Shop 7, 200 Bourke St
Melbourne, CBD
Tel: 03 9650 3818
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 11am - 9pm
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shandongmama

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for ShanDong MaMa.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Shandong Mama on Urbanspoon

Posted September 20, 2014 11:11 AM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

A slice of Sydney

September 14-15, 2014

I found myself in Dubbo for work last weekend. This meant flying through Sydney, and gave me an excuse to spend sixteen sneaky hours there on my way home before getting back to my job. I arrived in time for a 9pm dinner on Sunday and had shrewdly stationed myself within walking distance of Yulli's. Though their website says they're open 'til late a waiter immediately informed me that they'd be closing at 10pm.  No biggie.

The menu at this vegetarian bar always looks good, and had me wishing for a veg*n crew to share with. As it was, I kept the beer battered haloumi skewers ($14.50) all to myself. Although typically salty, the cheese was unusually fluffy and a little sweet, like something from a fair. I liked the sourness of the accompanying pomegranate and apple salsa, but the pomegranate's dull colour hinted that it was well out of season.

I had my eye on the chocolate cheesecake for dessert, but no-one bothered to clear my plate away in the 20 minutes that I lingered. Having a vegetarian bar gave Sydney an edge for a while, but now with Smith & Daughters in Melbourne there's no more FOMO for me.

(You can read about our first visit to Yulli's here.)

On Monday I fit my art gallery visit around a sunny yum cha lunch at Bodhi in the Park. Yum cha is probably another meal better shared, but I did enjoy being beholden to no-one's tastes but my own. I made a mess of some tofu pockets stuffed with shredded vegetables, and later noticed someone sensibly tipping the curry satay sauce into the pockets, instead of clumsily dipping the pockets into the saucer.

My biggest achievement was polishing off three rolls stuffed with mock prawns and mashed potato, fried with a crackly toasted sesame top. There was no way I could take on the BBQ buns or Peking mock duck dumplings that circulated soon after. I finished up with some less than fresh pancakes filled with mango and Tofutti cream cheese, not an experience I need to repeat. With a pot of green tea, the bill came to $28 - a bit exorbitant, I thought, but a bloody gorgeous way to spend slack-off Monday.

(You can also read about one, two, three of our previous trips to Bodhi in the Park.)

Posted September 20, 2014 10:39 AM by Cindy

September 19, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: The Banana Splits/Bananarama

Today I’m hitting you with a double band, mostly because I wasn’t sure if you would let me get away with using the Banana Splits as a band. I think it’s valid, but I’ve got Bananarama on backup – just in case!

For those who don’t know, The Banana Splits come from an old TV show – the Banana Splits Adventure Hour – featuring Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper and Snorky. The show was totally before my time, however, my love of bananas alerted me to this awesomeness some years ago. Mascots of madness! Banana heroes! And cool fact for ya: the song at the bottom was written by none another than Barry White. Enjoy!

As for Bananarama…you really need to set aside a good couple of hours just to watch their videos. THEY ARE AMAZING. Think you don’t know Bananarama? You are wrong. I guarantee you will know at least three of their songs. Think “I’m your venus, I’m your fire, your desire” or “more more more, how do you like it how do you like it”. Yeah you know it! And can you believe they are still going? 30 something years on? BECAUSE BANANAS ARE POWERHOUSES!

Also, I just realised that I posted two banana recipes in a row. It certainly is bananarama!

bananasplitAnyway, I digress. BANANANANANAANANANA!!!!!!

Banana split!

bananasplit4Ruby is certainly a fan.

bananasplit2 Banana Split

1 banana, sliced lengthways
3 scoops vanilla ice cream
Vegan whipped cream
Chopped nuts
Chocolate sprinkles
Honeycomb crumbs

Chocolate fudge sauce:
50g dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup coconut cream
1 Tbsp agave nectar

First prepare your fudge sauce. Heat coconut cream and agave in a small saucepan over medium low heat until it begins to simmer. Turn off heat and add chocolate, whisk until combined.

Assemble your split! Place banana on either side of ice cream scoops. Top with some fudge sauce, then whipped cream, sprinkles, nuts, honeycomb and more sauce. Go crazy!



Posted September 19, 2014 11:02 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Smoky coconut bacon and chocolate topped doughnuts

A few weeks back Sylvia was at home sick for the good part of a week.  She was too sick to go to school but well enough to need constant entertainment.  It seemed a good time to make doughnuts.  I have had my eye on the quirky recipe for Chocolate and Coconut Bacon Doughnuts at Oh My Veggies.  Smoky chocolate is one of my new favourite combinations.  And this has to be one of my favourite recipes I am sharing during Vegan MoFo.

The doughnut recipe at Oh My Veggies was not quite right for me.  Too flaxy, no yeast and it didn't give me an opportunity to use my cute doughnut cutter.  So I searched for baked yeasted doughnuts and found Cate's simple recipe for vegan doughnuts.  I even knew it was good because I had sampled some at the Vegan Roast Masterclass.  I tweaked it slightly by omitting the baking powder (I wasn't sure I needed it) and using coconut milk.  They were lovely and soft.  I probably could have let them cook a bit longer so they had a bit more colour.  (Curse you, slow oven!)

I really love my doughnut cutter but it was a wee bit small in the middle for these doughnuts.  I need to roll them a bit thinner.  When they came out of the oven the holes were virtually closed over.  Determined to have holes, I poked at the holes as you can see in above photo.  Speaking of holes, there were doughnut holes.  I rolled them in butter and sugar for Sylvia.  We probably ate too many.

The doughnuts were lovely.  Best on day of baking when the coconut bacon was crispiest -  but we kept some for the next day.  They were a great distraction.  Kids' sick days can go so slowly.  My mum had bought this below mosaic activity home from a trip to Ireland.  Sylvia had fun putting all the little stickers on the pictures and all over our house.  She has put up the pictures when she creates her own little houses.

We also read a lot while she was sick and whizzed through The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe.  Which is just the way to read any decent book.  Less ideal was falling asleep while reading it but it helped Sylvia get to sleep when she was unsettled.  Then we had to work out where we were.  As an aside, I find it quite hard finding good chapter books suitable for a 5 year old.  Any recommendations would be welcome.

A final note, I am flying to Adelaide this evening - without my laptop or family!  I can't wait to get on the plane.  A couple of posts are scheduled for the weekend but I will have to catch up with MoFo posts next week.

More vegan sweet yeasted baking from Green Gourmet Giraffe: 
Fruit mince scrolls
Doughnuts - baked and vegan (cinnamon sugar or glazed)
Plum kuchen
Pumpkin Spice Scrolls 
Rhubarb and raspberry no knead focaccia

Baked doughnuts with chocolate glaze and coconut bacon
Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe, A Travelling Cook and Oh My Veggies.
Makes about 9-10 doughnuts plus holes

1 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp nuttalex margarine (or other margarine)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/12 tsp dried yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 1/2 cups white flour, plus more for kneading

Coconut bacon
Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe

3 handfuls of  coconut flakes
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp liquid smoke
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
pinch salt
oil to fry

Chocolate glaze
Adapted from the Green Gourmet Giraffe

1/2 cup choc chips
2 tbsp coconut milk (or other milk)
1 tbsp coconut butter (or nut butter)

Heat milk to lukewarm.  Stir in the margarine and pour into a large mixing bowl.  Mix in sugar and yeast (leave for 5 minutes if you want to check your yeast is blooming but this is not necessary) and then mix in flour.  The last bit might need to be done by hand to mix in all the flour.  It will be a lovely soft dough.

Tip dough onto a lightly floured board and knead for 10 minutes.  I found I didn't need any flour after the first few minutes.

Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl (just use the one you mixed the dough in) - turn it around so the whole ball of dough is covered in oil.  Cover with a teatowel and prove for one and a half hours or until the dough has doubled in size.

Punch down and knead briefly until the dough is smooth.  Press the dough out to about 1cm thick.  Cut out either doughnut rings or round circles and place about 5cm apart on a lined tray.

Cover doughnuts with a teatowel and prove for about 30 minutes or until doubled in size.  Meanwhile preheat oven to 200 C.

While the doughnuts rise, make the coconut bacon by mixing all ingredients in a bowl, heating some oil in a frypan and cook until golden brown (ie lighter than mine!)

Bake for 10 minutes and cool on a wire rack.

When doughnuts are cool, make the chocolate glaze.  Mix all ingredients and melt in the microwave.  (I did 30 seconds and then mixed until smooth and glossy.)  Spread glaze over doughnuts and sprinkle with crushed coconut bacon.

On the Stereo:
Act of Free Choice: David Bridie

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Smoky Fridays.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Posted September 19, 2014 11:05 AM by Johanna GGG

September 18, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: Cake

Who doesn’t love CAKE? Am I talking about the band or the food? I don’t know! Both! Another band that reminds me of the ’90s, with their funky base lines and deadpan vocals. I am into it.

Naturally, today’s recipe is for cake. This particular cake (or a version of it) is one that I used to make aaaaall the time as a child (in the ’90s!) – it was my favourite recipe from a kids cooking book that I had. I just loved the fruity combination of banana and pineapple, and cream cheese icing has always been my favourite.

If you like light and fluffy cakes, this may not be the cake for you – this bad boy is dense, moist and sweet.


Banana Pineapple Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

2 cups spelt flour
3 medium bananas, mashed
3/4 cup crushed pineapple
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup almond milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt

1/2 tub tofutti
2 Tbsp nuttelex
1 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and/or line a 23cm round baking tin.

In a small bowl, whisk together almond milk and apple cider vinegar and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, bicarb soda,salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

In a medium bowl or jug, combine banana, pineapple, coconut sugar, coconut oil and vanilla. Stir through apple cider vinegar milk.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour the wet mix in, stirring until just combined. Pour into prepared tin and bake for 40-45 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from oven and turn out onto a rack to cool.

For the icing, combine tofutti and nuttelex in a bowl and beat with electric beaters for about 2 minutes. Add vanilla juice, lemon and beat to combine. Add icing sugar bit by bit, and beat until combined. Place icing in the fridge to firm up a little until your cake is cool enough to ice.

cake3I kind of just slopped this icing on, cake still slightly warm as I was seriously running out of time to photograph this before nightfall – hence the crappy lighting and the taking the cake outside to catch some natural light as well, haha.

cake2I love watching the people listening and grooving to the song – and love the fact that it’s been played on a discman. Yeeehah!


Posted September 18, 2014 09:48 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Sunshine Pancakes

Do you know how hard it is to flip a sunshine shaped pancake!  I used to follow Jim's Pancakes and admire all his miraculous pancake creations - a ferris wheel, a carousel and even a toilet.  It all looked so easy.  So Sylvia and I made pancakes on a weekend, loaded up our squeezy bottles and created chaos in the kitchen.

We wanted squeezy bottle art.  Our usual pancake recipe is too chunky.  Instead we turned to a recipe as used by Veganopoulous.  She says she always makes pancakes using the Vegan Brunch recipe.  When I checked out the recipe, Isa is apologetic about having already published the recipe in Vegan with a Vengeance.  It must be good to republish it.  Like any pancake professional - ha ha - we had two colours.  One coloured with a little turmeric.  Another coloured by blood orange juice.

Squeezy bottle amateurish chaos followed.  We made a sun - most of the rays fell off but were stuck back on for the photo; a flower and of course Dolly - who looks like she belongs in a horror film.

Sylvia loved driving the squeezy bottles.  She loved the whole pancake making.  It was possibly the first time she has flipped pancakes herself.  She burnt herself on a frypan while trying to flip a while back so her childlike confidence has a touch of caution.  She was very proud of herself.  I just wonder how long until she can make me breakfast.

And finally because I have this silly theme of The Letter S for Vegan MoFo, we made an S - which fell apart in the frypan!  The S might not be sensational but the pancakes were.  I have tried a few vegan pancakes and found them too soft in the middle.  These pancakes were brilliant and could become my go-to vegan pancakes.  Especially when we want a bit of squeezy bottle fun.

We loved these so much we have already made them again and this time the pancakes were not quite so coloured but we made the layers a bit fancy. 

One of my favourite blog events is We Should Cocoa run by Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog.  Each month bloggers share recipes featuring chocolate.  This month the event is 4 years old and the theme is Jam.  So we made a celebratory pancakes stack sandwiched together with layers of choc chips, jam and banana slices, all drizzled with maple syrup.  So simple and so yummy. 

We always have pancakes for breakfast but when I was young we always had them for dessert so I am also sending the pancakes to Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary for Dead Easy Desserts (overseen by Maison Cupcake and Feeding Boys.).

More  sweet vegan brunch ideas on Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Isa's Vegan Pancakes*
Adapted from Vegan Brunch

6 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp turmeric (for yellow colour: optional)
1/4 tsp salt (forgot this)
6 tbsp soy milk
2 tbsp and 2 tsp water
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp canola oil
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
Margarine for frying

Mix together all the ingredients in a medium bowl.  Heat heavy bottomed non-stick frypan over medium high heat.  Rub some butter over the frypan (it should be hot enough that it melts right away).  Spoon pancake mixture into the pan to make small pancakes, use 1/4 cup measures for medium pancakes, or use a squeezy bottle to draw shapes.  Fry until a few bubbles appear and flip over.  Cook about another minute or until golden brown.  Eat hot.

*NOTES: I halved Isa's recipe because we wanted two colours.  I doubled the maple syrup as I was concerned there was a slight spicy taste from the turmeric.  To make the purple pink colour we added juice of blood oranges (about 2) instead of water and milk and didn't use the turmeric.

On the Stereo:
The Trip: Various Artists: curated by Jarvis Cocker and Steve Mackey. 

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Sticky Thursdays.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Posted September 18, 2014 10:34 AM by Johanna GGG

September 17, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: Spice Girls

When I was in primary school, you were either team Hanson or team Spice Girls. Admittedly I was team Hanson, however that doesn’t really fit into the theme I’m going for, so I’m going to throw the Spice Girls a bone and include them in MoFo.

I probably should have made something hot and spicy, but ah well, this’ll have to do.


spicegirls3My mum recently bought me a jar of really nice organic spice rub which I have been using to make baked tofu for an easy weeknight meal. When my stocks started running low, I took a squiz at the ingredient list and tried to create my own version which I think came up pretty well. You could easily multiply this recipe and keep a jar of it on hand to cut down prep time.


Spice Rubbed Baked Tofu
(serves 3-4)

350g firm tofu, pressed and sliced
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp olive oil

1 Tbsp dried rosemary
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp coconut sugar

Preheat your oven to 200C and lightly grease a baking tray.

Prepare your spice rub.Depending on what form your herbs are in, you may need to grind them up a bit. I had home dried sprigs of rosemary, and I ran out of dried oregano so used fresh, so I had bits of all different sizes and consistencies. Regardless of the others, you will need to grind your mustard seeds – use a mortar and pestle to do this. After grinding the seeds, I added the remaining ingredients and just ground them all up together. Tip spice mix onto a small plate.

Combine lemon juice and oil in a small bowl or dish. Brush each tofu piece with the lemon mix, then dredge through the spice mix. Get your hands dirty and give each piece a good rub as you go. Lay out on baking tray.

spicegirls4Bake for 15 minutes, then flip and bake for a further 10. At this point, I like to turn on the grill and chuck them under just to crisp them up a bit.

spicegirls2Serve with a lemon wedge and a side salad, such as this strawberry balsamic salad.



Posted September 17, 2014 08:43 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Spaghetti Pie and Random Notes

Readers and friends often comment at how much work I put into cooking.  Here is my secret.  Leftovers!  Yes I love to cook up a big bake or lasagne and let it feed us the rest of the week - if we run out I make a simple soup.  So when I share this pasta bake which took quite a lot of time, bear in mind that the extra effort on one night meant very little effort for a few nights afterwards.

The crazy idea of spaghetti pie comes from Kate of No Meat and Three Veg. I saw her post at the end of August when I was thinking about dishes starting with the Letter S for Vegan MoFo.  The vision of this dish would not go away.  Finally I had some leftover vegan cheese sauce and a cauliflower I had bought on special for $1 that needed to be used quickly.  Suddenly the dish presented itself. 

I had already decided that I would use puff pastry rather than shortcrust like Kate's.  I had a huge packet of vegan puff pastry in the freezer.  So I was surprised to find myself running short on the pastry.  It seems that  the three batches of sausage rolls made a bigger impact on the stash than I had expected.  Hence the lattice topping.  I never planned for it to look that pretty.

And the verdict!  This was great.  I was a bit nervous about using the puff pastry on the bottom of the pie.  I even rang my mum for advice.  She suggested I use a metal tray and bake it on a pizza stone.  The double carbs of pasta and pastry made fantastic comfort food.  I wished that I had more and less intense cheese sauce.  I made Ricki's walnut and cauliflower mince meat which gave the back a really rich flavour.  A light milky cheese sauce would work well with it.  I also considered grating my vegan bio cheese on top but didn't have quite enough left.

Indeed it was a very substantial pasta bake.  (Note that the above slice was actually a bit too generous!)  It is a recipe with lots of components that requires lots of time.  Yet it is worth the effort and it can be made ahead of time if you are entertaining or going to a potluck.  I would recommend eating it with lots of salad or green vegies.  However, if like me, you don't have lots of energy leftover to prepare sides to eat with it, you can console yourself that it has lots of vegies in it.  Even if it does get drowned in tomato sauce.

I am sending this pie to Shaheen's combined Eat Your Greens and Pasta Please blog events with this month's theme being pasta with green vegies.  Jac is the coordinator of Pasta Please.  I am also sending it to Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary for the Extra Veg blog event that is overseen by Fuss Free Flavours and Utterly Scrummy.  Though the pie looks like a lot of carbs, it hides a head of cauliflower, carrot, zucchini, tomato, onion and spinach.

And now for a few random notes:
  • Last night we watched a really interesting tv show called Brilliant Creatures about intellectual Aussie icons and I was surprised to find I had seen three of them live.  I saw Germaine Greer speak at Queens Hall in Edinburgh, Barry Humphries perform as Sandy Stone at The Athenaeum in Melbourne and a live taping of the Clive James Show at the BBC Television Centre in London.  I have never seen Robert Hughes live.  And the show made me think about how we hear so much less about The Female Eunuch than when I was younger.
  • I am enjoying reading Tony Blair's autobiography.  It is surprisingly readable and gives great insight into government.  I have been surprised that Sylvia seems to like me reading it out loud to her when she wakes late at night and I am reading it.
  • On the weekend my dad and I test-drove a car.  The guy at the car sales lot had to charge the battery before we started.  We forgot this when I turned off the engine midway through the drive so we could swap drivers.  Then my dad and I had to search for the car sales lot on our phones so we could ring them to come and recharge the battery.  We are not buying the car but not because of the battery.  The search for a new car goes on.

More vegan spaghetti and fettuccine recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Spaghetti Pie
Serves 8

1 batch of cauliflower and walnut mince meat
1 batch of tomato pasta sauce (below)
500g spaghetti (I used wholemeal)
2 cups of vegan cheese sauce*
4 to 5 sheets of puff pastry (I used vegan)**
milk to glaze pastry

Preheat oven to 220 C.  Place a baking/pizza stone in the oven.

Cook and drain spaghetti according to package instructions.  Mix "mince meat" and tomato pasta sauce with spaghetti.  (I used my stockpot and pasta insert to cook the pasta and then mixed the sauce into the pasta in that pot.)

Grease a roasting tin (about 13 x 9 inch) and line with puff pastry.  Tip the spaghetti mixture into the lined tin and spread out evenly.  Spread cheese sauce over the spaghetti mixture. (I didn't have much cheese sauce and it resulted in a pleasing marbled effect but I quite fancy more cheese sauce.)  Cover with either full sheets of pastry or a lattice of pastry strips.  Brush pastry with milk.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and flaky.

* I used 1/2 batch of hurry up pumpkin alfredo but would probably do a simple white sauce with seasoning, nutritional yeast flakes and seeded mustard for a simpler flavour.  I think more cheese sauce would be good so I have specified 2 cups.  You could always just do a simple margarine/flour/milk white sauce and cover with a vegan cheese like biocheese.

** This bake would work well without the pastry but then it would be a pasta bake not a pie and that wouldn't be so much fun!

Tomato pasta sauce

2-3 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 medium zucchini, grated
750g passata (pureed tomatoes)
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp red wine
1 tbsp tahini
2 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp seeded mustard
1/2 tsp salt flakes
handful of chopped spinach

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and fry onion and carrots for 5 to 10 minutes or until vegies soften.  Add zucchini, passata, tomato paste, red wine, tahini, maple syrup, mustard and salt.  Use about 1/2 a cup of water to rinse out the passata bottle and add to saucepan.  Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes or until mixture has thickened.  Season to taste.  Remove from heat.  Stir in spinach.

On the Stereo: 
Jack White Presents The best of Third Man Records (MoJo freebie) - Various Artists

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Surprising Wednesdays.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Posted September 17, 2014 11:46 AM by Johanna GGG

quinces and kale

Buffalo, NY

Carrot cake

Buffalo is a great city. Buffalo people seem to be incredibly proud of it and I think with good cause. It has beautiful buildings, it is small enough to be navigable, the people are incredibly friendly and helpful and it is also vegan friendly. We were only there for 2 and a half days but managed to pack in five Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, a tour of the magnificent Art Deco City Hall and a wander around some of the beautiful downtown buildings.

We also ate twice at Merge, a very vegan friendly restaurant, bar and music venue. The first night we stuffed ourselves full with smothered sweet potato fries, buffalo seitan wings, a vegan Caesar salad and a side order of mac cheese. Sadly the light was bad and the photos haven’t turned out. The second night we left room for dessert and had basil gnocchi with roasted vegetables and an eggplant parmigiana followed by carrot cake and peanut butter cheesecake.

Here are the pictures of the second night.

Gnocchi Eggplant Cheesecake Carrot cake

The rest of the time we spent absorbing the fantastic buildings and sneaking in a trip to Niagara Falls. I’ll let the pictures tell the story.

Niagara Falls City hall skylight Niagara falls Bank in buffalo City hall arch Buffalo city hall Boathouse light City hall lift Fontana boathouse Martin house buffalo Pierce arrow ornament Martin house Filling station Graycliff Guaranty building


Posted September 17, 2014 10:00 AM

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Mantra Lounge

September 10-11, 2014

Recently reader Natalie alerted us to a new vegetarian cafe just a few doors down from Animal Orchestra. Lucky for me I had a couple of quiet lunch breaks to check it out right away. Mantra Lounge is doing its level best to attract students from the neighbourhood, advertising its $7.95 main/salad/dessert special with pamphlet distribution and travelling trailer signs. It's going for a funky, chill-out atmosphere and doesn't hide its Eastern spiritual leanings - there's a soundtrack of chants, inspirational quotes on the wall, plus yoga and meditation events on the notice board.

The menu is on chalkboard and changes daily, with all foods clearly on display at the counter. In addition to the three course special there are a few wraps and snacks, salads, sweets and drinks. Gluten-free options are marked and almost everything is vegan - I think just a couple of the drinks contained dairy, but even their chai latte is based on rice milk.

On my first visit I tried their vegelicious chickpea wrap ($4). Though it looked small, the chickpea masala was filling. The tomato sauce I was offered on the side didn't do the subtle spices of the filling any favours. I was surprised that my lemon mint lagudi drink ($3) turned out to be pink, with fragments of dried mint - it was refreshing and sweet, but not necessarily something I'd order again.

I felt ambivalent about the 'amazing apricot slice' ($4) too - the apricot filling had a jellied texture (but also pieces of real fruit) and the coconut cream top was fatty and bland.

The $7.95 meal deal proved much more successful the following day - it was a huge plate of pasta dotted with salty soy meat, covered in a sweet saucy lentil and pumpkin tagine with a little lightly dressed salad. An unassuming square of coco-lemon cake was the surprise star, with an open coconutty crumb shot through with sweet-and-sour lemon syrup.

It seems that we should heed Mantra Lounge's advertising and make the most of their cheap meal deals - these plates are simple, filling and fresh. The staff were friendly, aren't inclined to rush you through, and the setting is cheerfully coloured. This cafe will surely become a student staple in Carlton.


Mantra Lounge
167 Grattan St, Carlton
0433 531 345
menu: visit one, visit two

Accessibility: Mantra Lounge has clearly given accessibility some thought - there's a ramp up from the footpath (see photo above) and plenty of space around the counter, where ordering, payment and food pick-up occurs. There's a unisex toilet with wheelchair accessibility signage on this level. There are a few moderately spaced tables downstairs; the stairs themselves are wide and sturdy with a new hand rail.

Posted September 17, 2014 09:18 AM by Cindy

September 16, 2014

Thoughts Of A Moni

Chez Dre

Chez Dre had been on the breakfast bucket list for a while, and it was only one Saturday morning that we randomly decided to visit. We were wary of long wait time, given that we were planning to arrive there at about 9, but luckily we had no reason to worry. We walked straight in and were seated next to the window, overlooking the alley. 

A waitress promptly attended to us, to take our coffee orders, and I stuck to my usual latte. Unfortunately I hadn't perused the menu at this stage, but if I had, I would have knows that they also serve Prana Chai, and I would have definitely chosen that!

The coffee arrived promptly, but unfortunately, it was nothing spectacular, infact I think the Nespresso machine does a better job which was a little disappointing. I must however, commend Chez Dre on their fabulous service. We had spilt an almost full coffee, and the staff were immediately there to wipe everything down, and a new coffee was brought to us, free of charge. These little touches make a big difference.

I looked through the menu, and totally against the norm, decided to order a sweet breakfast. I opted for a spiced porridge, with rhubarb, cardamom, candied orange, vanilla mascarpone and pistachio. It was a tasty combination, but as is often the case with porridge, it was extremely filling and I struggled to finish it. 

All in all, Chez Dre was a pleasant experience, but nothing special. Given all the hype that surrounds this place, I must say that I was somewhat disappointed. There are many places that do much better coffee and food, and are much cheaper too.

Chez Dré on Urbanspoon

Posted September 16, 2014 11:51 PM by Moni

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: Fiona Apple

For some reason, every time I think of Fiona Apple I picture Fiona Horne – remember her, the white witch? I know they aren’t the same person so I don’t know what’s causing the mix-up, but I just can’t help it. Sorry Fiona Apple. I’m not sure if you guys have heard any of Fiona Horne’s songs, but well, I’ll let you have a listen for yourselves. Scroll down if you dare…

This is the first thing that springs to mind when I think of apple desserts. It has fond memories for me, it was a regular in mum’s winter repertoire alongside other favourites such as golden syrup dumplings, sago, and custard with dessicated coconut on top. It’s a relatively easy one to whip up, and is super comforting, particularly when you’re all snuggled up on a cold night.


Baked Stuffed Apples
(makes 4)

4 Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup dates, chopped
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
2 Tbsp coconut sugar
2 Tbsp nuttelex or coconut oil
1 tsp lemon or orange zest (different but both delicious!)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 180C.

In a small bowl, mix together dates, walnuts, coconut sugar, zest, spices and salt. Add nuttelex and vanilla and stir to combine into a kind of paste.

Now, core your apples. This can be a bit tricky without a corer, but I use a small sharp knife to make the first cut, then use one of those old school melon ballers to remove the rest. I have done it with just a sharp knife, however it does take a bit longer. Make sure you don’t cut all the way through to the bottom or your filling will leak out – try to leave a centimetre or so.

fionaappleUsing a sharp knife, cut a line around the width of the apple. This will prevent the skin from bursting in a funny way.

fionaapple2Now stuff your apples full of mix and pop them in a baking tray or dish.

fionaapple3Put a little bit of water in the bottom of the tray, then cover with a lid or some foil. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove cover, and bake a further 5-10 minutes until apples are tender.

Serve with vanilla ice cream, cream or custard.


This is the first Fiona Apple song I ever heard.

And as promised, this is Fiona Horne on good old Hey Hey It’s Saturday…


Posted September 16, 2014 10:11 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Simple vegan chocolate cupcakes

Sylvia had just arrived home from school.  She was hungry.  Usually she is happy with bikkies and hummus as a snack.  Instead she suggested I make chocolate chip and cola muffins.  Those muffins were great but quite rich.  I wanted something lighter.  I remembered the vegan chocolate cupcakes that I baked for her birthday.

Back then I had accidentally added only half the flour.  They were good but very soft.  I decided to make them as the recipe said.  Then I tweaked them.  They were excellent.  More substantial and satisfying this time.  We all loved them.

Somehow Sylvia has gone off icing (frosting) on cakes.  Perhaps she has picked up on my dislike of it.  Too sweet, she says.  I just sieved a bit of icing sugar (powdered sugar) on top.  Somewhere - Pinterest no doubt - I saw someone had placed lace over their cupcakes to make pretty patterns with icing sugar.  It didn't quite work the same with me.  Possibly my cupcakes were too small or the paper doily not lacy enough.  It just looked like a light sprinkling of snow.  Which is not a bad thing.

I am sending these little cakes to Stuart of cakeyboi for September's Treat Petite blog event.  The theme is Anything Goes.  He runs the event with The Baking Explorer.

More vegan sweet treats from Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Vegan chocolate cupcakes
Adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World via Chow
Makes 24-30 mini cupcakes

1 cup soy milk
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 plain white flour
1/2 cup plain wholemeal flour
1/3 cup cocoa
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup rice bran oil
1/2 cup of choc chips
icing sugar, for sprinkling

Mix soy milk and vinegar in a large jug and leave aside to curdle.

Preheat oven to 180 C and line two to three mini muffin 12 cup tins with mini muffin papers.

Mix dry ingredients in a medium large mixing bowl. Whisk the sugar and oil into the milk mixture. Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and gently mix until just combined. Spoon the mixture into cupcake papers, filling about 3/4 to the top.

Bake for 15 minutes or until cooked (when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out cleanly). Cool on a wire rack.  Sprinkle with icing sugar or frost if desired.

On the Stereo: 
Nightclub Jacks and Undertakers: Chicken Tractor Deluxe

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Same Same Tuesdays.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Posted September 16, 2014 10:26 AM by Johanna GGG

quinces and kale

Driving to Buffalo

Chipotle bowl

Today we left Western Pennsylvania. It is remarkably beautiful, but fairly thin on vegan options, apart from the occasional surprise. Our hopes were higher for Buffalo.

We drove the 4 hours from Connellsville to Buffalo via Erie, where we planned to stop for lunch. We didn’t know our way round, and the Happy Cow app had drawn a blank, so we pulled off the highway into a vast plaza full of food chains of various kinds. We had never heard of most of them. I chose Bob Evans. Wrong.

I’m fairly optimistic about being able to pull together a vegan meal in the most unpromising circumstances, but here I met my match. I think we may have stumbled across the most vegan unfriendly chain restaurant ever. EVERY dish with meat, dairy or eggs. Every one of them.

In addition, it was possibly the most creepily cheerful, super clean, plastic place I have ever been in. So. Not. Me.
We settled for coffee and then left, desperate to get some food.

We had remembered that Chipotle had been talked about in some Facebook groups and found one just a mile or two down the road. I have never been so happy to eat in a chain restaurant! The staff were helpful, the food was actually fresh, delicious and vegan. You get to choose what you want in your bowl or wrap. There a lots of choices: beans, salads, sauces, guacamole and sautéed veg.

We hit the road onwards to Buffalo, happy and FULL. :)

Chipotle Mexican Grill
6611 Peach Street
Erie, PA 16509


Posted September 16, 2014 10:00 AM

September 15, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: Jello Biafra

We don’t really call it Jello here – it’s Jelly – but I am not going to let that get in the way of some good edible audio.

Today’s beats to eat come to you from the great Jello Biafra – you might know him from acts such as the Dead Kennedys and his collaboration with the Melvins, or for having a sense of onomatopoeia about him, with a voice that sounds somewhat like wobbly jelly. Today, however, he comes to you in the form of a delicious dessert.

jello5It’s like trifle, but not as daggy. Truth be told, I never really liked that weird sponge cake layer in trifle anyway, so this suits my tastes juuuuuust fine.

Jelly is another one of those foods that reminds me of being a kid – in fact, I’m pretty sure I haven’t had it in years. I used to love when my mum would make it for me when I was home from school with a sore throat – it was such a treat!

jello4I’m still impressed with just how cool this looks. I love the way the berries are suspended at different heights, reminds me of being in space or something (obviously I know all about being in space).

Fancy Layered Jelly Cups
(makes 2)

1 pack vegan jelly crystals
400ml boiling water
Handful of blueberries and strawberries

1 cup cashew milk (or other nondairy milk)
1.5 Tbsp vegan custard powder
1 Tbsp coconut sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped

1-2 squares chocolate, shaved

Empty jelly crystals into a heat proof jug, then pour in boiling water and stir until dissolved.

Prepare two fancy glasses by popping a few blueberries and some chopped strawberries in the bottom. Distribute jelly mix evenly amongst the glasses, then place in the fridge to set.

Next, prepare the custard. In a small bowl, whisk together a couple of tablespoons of cashew milk with the custard powder and set aside.

Heat remaining cashew milk in a saucepan over medium heat until it starts to bubble. Pour in custard powder mix, whisking constantly. Add vanilla, then turn the heat down and simmer for a couple of minutes, until mixture is noticeably thicker. Continue whisking to avoid lumps forming.

Remove from heat and set aside to cool – you don’t want to put hot custard onto your jelly as it will melt. Allow to cool, but check in every so often to whisk up and ensure it doesn’t set. When cool enough, divide custard among the glasses and return to the fridge to set.

When cool, garnish with some extra berries and shaved chocolate.



Posted September 15, 2014 09:45 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Sesame Hummus Bites

The truth is that I find Sylvia's lunches quite boring.  It makes me a little guilty for not giving her more interesting food.  Yet she seems quite happy with them and has little desire for new ideas.  Every now and again I try a little harder.  Like when I made Emma's Sesame Hummus Bites.  She resists my new ideas.  Then I think why bother and happily eat the leftovers of yet another failed lunch attempt.

Honestly I thought I might be onto a good thing with the Sesame Hummus Bites.  Sylvia loves hummus and she loves carrot.   Perhaps I should have factored in that she wont eat my homemade hummus.  It has to be from the shops.  Yet I still didn't expect a huge list of other women she would prefer to be her mother when I insisted that she try these little balls.

On the up side she ate two of them.  (She seemed to like the sesame seed coating!)  So there was some justification for reducing the spring onion and spicy flavours!  On the downside, it just seemed too much to expect her to eat any at school without my gentle persuasion.

At least I enjoyed them.  And forgot them.  And rediscovered some left in the fridge a week later and enjoyed them all over again.  So I can confidently tell you that they last up to a week very well.  They are great little snacks.  They would work brilliantly in a platter, or a picnic, as well as in a lunchbox of someone less fussy than Sylvia.  They are just the thing for a hot summer's evening when you don't want to turn on the stove.  And I can confirm that they are great with salad and work well in a salad sandwich.

I am sending these cookies to Healthy Vegan Fridays #12, hosted by Kimmy of Rock my Vegan Socks and Robin of Vegan Dollhouse.

More vegan finger food from Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Sesame Hummus Bites
Adapted from Coconut and Berries
Makes 20 balls

400g tin of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 spring onion, white part only, finely sliced
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp tahini
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1 medium carrot, finely grated
1-3 Tbsp water, or as required
3 tbsp chickpea flour, or as required
1/2 cup sesame seeds (white, black or a mixture)

Mix chickpeas, spring onion, lemon juice, tahini, paprika and salt in food processor.  Stir in carrot by hand.  If required add water or chickpea flour to make a firm paste/mixture that you can roll into balls (make a little ball to test if it holds together).  I found my mixture very wet even with only adding 1 tbsp of water and added 3 tbsp of chickpea flour to bind it.  Lightly dry fry sesame seeds.  Roll chickpea mixture into walnut sized balls and roll in sesame seeds.

On the Stereo: 
A Story to Tell: Starbucks presents powerful songs from the coffee house - Various Artists

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Speedy Mondays.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Posted September 15, 2014 11:34 AM by Johanna GGG

quinces and kale

Polymath Park, Kentuck Knob and not very much vegan food at all


Today was probably the worst day ever for vegan food finding. The kind of day where you feel like the weirdo, the only vegan in the village, and that’s because you are.

It started out well with a good breakfast from our lovely B&B hosts.

After that we headed off Polymath Park, a site which contains three houses, two by Wright apprentices and one by Frank himself. All three houses were ok, with the Wright Duncan house being by far the best. But even this wasn’t his greatest. These houses were built to a budget and Wright did his best work when spending truckloads of other people’s money.

Balter house Balter house Lamp Blum house Polymath park Duncan house image
Then on to lunch, oh dear! We had a plan to get to a bar in Ohiopyle where we’d had a coffee the previous day. Sadly,it was inexplicably closed. We knew that we’d have been able to get something there. Even though nothing was vegan on the menu, there were lots of vegan bits and pieces there to assemble into a meal. The woman who ran it was friendly and seemed like she’d have been up for the challenge.

We went instead to slightly dodgy place, with many veg options (to give them credit) but fairly ordinary food dripping with oil. Fuel rather than pleasure and not enough of it to keep us going. The day was hot and by now I was indulging in vegan fantasy #413 where we happen upon a vegan ice cream truck as we round the corner. It didn’t happen. Not in rural Pennsylvania, in a town with a population of 56.

After our very, very disappointing lunch we went to Kentuck Knob, another Wright designed house, this one with way more budget. Though modest, it was beautiful. Unfortunately no interior photography allowed.


For dinner, unable to stand any more meal disappointments we opted again for the Italian Oven, some pasta and a cheeseless veggie pizza.


Posted September 15, 2014 10:00 AM

September 14, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: Vanilla Ice

Oh Vanilla Ice. How your song always used to get me excited, thinking I was about to hear Queen and David Bowie sing Under Pressure. The disappointment every time…

Still, there’s no denying that the song has entertainment value, especially with the 80’s film clip. Ha ha ha. Oh lordy.

vanillaicee1I originally made this ice cream with coconut milk but found that the coconut was a little too overpowering, outshining the vanilla beans. I decided to give it a go with cashew milk, as I thought the flavour might be a bit more neutral and the consistency creamier. I think it worked out really well, and I enjoy the subtle hint of cashew.


Vanilla Bean Cashew Ice Cream

400ml cashew milk
400ml coconut cream
1/3 cup agave nectar
2 vanilla beans
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp arrowroot
1 Tbsp vodka

Heat cashew milk, coconut cream, agave and salt in a pot over medium-low heat. Scrape vanilla bean out and add to pot, chucking the pods in as well to cook out all the flavour.

Remove a small amount of liquid from the pot and whisk arrowroot into it, before returning it to the pot.

Turn off heat and stir through vodka. The vodka helps by acting as an ‘anti-freeze’, which means your ice cream will stay creamy rather than going as hard as a rock. Cool trick huh?

Transfer to a bowl and place in the fridge until mixture is completely cool. Remove vanilla bean pods and pour mix into ice cream maker to do its magic! Once complete, eat straight away for a soft serve style ice cream, or transfer to the freezer to firm up.

If you don’t have an ice cream maker, do not fear, you can still make ice cream! You will just need to pour the mix into a dish of some sort and place it in the freezer, and check in on it every half an hour or so to whisk it up until it freezes. This is important to ensure you get the creamiest ice cream possible!

I served this with some pureed strawberries on top and a shaving of chocolate and/or a sprig of mint. Deeelicious.



Posted September 14, 2014 10:34 PM

Vegan Bullsh*t


Overdosa, back from six months in India (did anyone else keep up with their FB? I sure did.), are very much back in the swing of things and spinning dosas at The Emerald Peacock for the month of September. I finally made it there. They didn't disappoint!
They're tucked upstairs and there's a handy sign alerting you out on the Lonsdale St. sidewalk:
Fair warning, these pics are horrible. There was almost no light upstairs. Either way, we split two dosa, the spicy tamarind pumpkin and a potato masala, $10 each:
As well as these bites of heaven: DOSACADO. Deep fried avocado chunks in a salty spicy crispy batter with lemon to squeeze over:
Both of these were amazing. The food was delivered at the speed of light - seriously, I think the dosa arrived in about two minutes flat. The dosa themselves were lovely - super thin and crispy. A potato masala filling is always delicious, but the pumpkin was crazy good: chunky smash with a sour tamarind hit and a nice burn. Yum. As for the avocado - they called this vegan fish and chips, and that's a pretty good comparison. The squeeze of lemon cut through the fat and made these completely addictive. As far as Melbourne deep fried snacks go, this was pretty much the best drunk food I've ever encountered. I hope it becomes a permanent option wherever these guys end up.

AND. Because delicious food wasn't enough, the bartender screwed up and the lovely guys gave us the avocado for free! So naturally, I wandered up to the bar and grabbed some lentil poppers as well, $6:
These are some kooky snacks.There's something distinctly fishfingery about them and I have no idea what, but it's tasty - if they were rectangular and served with lemon I'd have a hard time telling the difference. Inside they're even fluffy and white like a fish finger:
Overdosa are well worth the hype: nice people, service under 5 minutes (at 8 pm on a Friday! if that isn't magic I don't know what is) and the food is incredible - I love dosa and these were probably the best I've had. Please go and support these guys, they're brilliant and I can't wait to see where they end up next!

currently spinning at 233 Lonsdale St, CBD
4 pm - late
Overdosa on Urbanspoon

Posted September 14, 2014 04:49 PM by L

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Smith and Daughters: Sunday Brunch

It seems that all of vegan Melbourne has been raving about Smith and Daughters.  It boasts a sophisticated and exciting Mexican-style menu.  This is a new breed of vegan restaurants that attracts a broad range of punters with excellent food rather than just a vegan clientele.  We went there for brunch a few weeks back.  I wish it was easier to visit more often because it is an amazing place.

The decor is a mixture of eclectic kitsch and simple rustic charm.  I loved the little salt and pepper shakers on each table and the back wall hung with all manner of artwork.  E and I noticed the old wooden tennis racquet in the wooden frame (below).  My first tennis racquet was wooden.  I was told not to let it get wet because it might warp.  We had one of these frames to keep the racquet head in shape yet I don't remember if we used it.  But I digress.

We arrived at midday for brunch.  The place was packed.  I feared that we had finally got to Smith and Daughters only to find there was no room.  The staff were just lovely and suggested we sit at the bar until a table became available.  It wasn't long.  During our brunch the service was really welcoming and friendly. 

First up we ordered a drink.  E had a latte with almond and coconut milk.  He enjoyed it very much and was very pleased to try a new milk combination in his latte.  After watching the juicing at the bar, I had to try one.

The first juice on the menu is called a Brutal Green.  It consists of kale, celery, cucumber, spinach, mint and lime.  Other combinations are available that mix sweeter juices with the Brutal Green.  My Easy Green was apple, lemon, ginger and brutal green.  Only I am not so keen on ginger in juices so I swapped it for passionfruit.  It was lovely: tangy, leafy, a little spicy and just sweet enough for me.

Until 3pm on a weekend, Smith and Daughters offers a brunch menu.  I chose the breakfast burrito.  It was full of so much good stuff: scrambled tofu, crispy chorizo, black bean, garlic kale, cashew cheese and served with a dollop of guacamole.

I was so excited by the good stuff that I forgot I am not so keen on burritos.  I find that everything is too mushed up.  It was nice, though quite smoky andintense, but I would have preferred everything to be more separate.  However I have seen enough others who have loved it to claim this is just a personal preference rather than a reflection on Smith and Daughters.

I love how Smith and Daughters challenged us with unsual dishes.  While I was not bowled over by the burrito, I was unexpectedly smitten with the Horchata rice pudding with grilled pineapple.  It was so soft and gently spice and not too sweet.  With the pineapple it was just right.  Actually E ordered the rice pudding but did not eat it all.  I quite fancied just a small dessert and polished off his leftovers.

By the time we left at 1pm, it was a lot quieter than when we arrived.  Which was more relaxing because it was quite noisy when we arrived.  I can't wait to return.  I really loved the friendly staff, the beautiful space and the chance to eat fancy hipster vegan food.  Hopefully one day I can try out the dinner menu as well.  It looks amazing.

Smith and Daughters
175 Brunswick Street Fitzroy, VIC 3065
Tel: 03 9939 3293
Open: Tues-Fri 6pm-1am, Sat 10am-3pm, 6pm-1am, Sun 10am-3pm, 6-11pm.
Web: https://www.facebook.com/SmithandDaughters

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Smith and Daughters.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Smith and Daughters on Urbanspoon

Posted September 14, 2014 11:46 AM by Johanna GGG

September 13, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: The Cranberries


My ex-housemate loves the Cranberries, and Enya makes her cry when she drinks gin. FACT.

This is a simple and delicious festive side dish. Save it to impress next Christmas!


Green Bean Cranberry Salad

400g green beans
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
1/3 cup dried cranberries
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp lemon zest
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

Top and tail your beans. Prepare a large bowl of iced water.

Soak cranberries in hot water.

Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Add green beans and cook for 2-3 mins until they turn bright green and slightly tender.

Drain and transfer to iced water for 30 seconds – 1 minute. Drain.

Whisk together lemon zest, garlic, oil and salt and pepper in small bowl.

Combine beans, nuts, cranberries and dressing. Serve.



Posted September 13, 2014 08:11 PM

quinces and kale

Fallingwater, small town Pennsylvania and vegan food


The big news for today is that we finally visited Fallingwater, the Frank Lloyd Wright designed house in Mill Run, PA. The trip was centred around this visit and it was wonderful to be here after all the planning. Unfortunately, although I took over one hundred photos, I am not allowed to post any of them on a web site. You can however view pictures of the house and its amazing setting on the official website.

Although I loved it, Fallingwater is not my favourite Wright building from a details point of view. There are some really lovely small design details in the building such as the lamps and shelves, but this building is so much more minimalist than the prairie style houses which I love. However, there is no argument that the setting is stunning and the house is embedded (literally) amazingly into its environment.

So since I can’t show any photos, let me show you instead how lucky we were today with vegan food.

It started at breakfast. Our lovely hosts at the Connellsville Bed and Breakfast had made a real effort for us after I’d let them know in advance we were vegan. We had a choice of juices, freshly cut fruit, muesli, fried potatoes with onion, apple and thyme, and some fresh heirloom tomatoes, along with coffee and almond milk. I particularly appreciated the almond milk, as non dairy milk options around here are non existent and they had clearly gone to some trouble to get it for us.

Home fries Fresh fruit Muesli with almond milk

It continued at Fallingwater itself where they had a vegan black bean, chipotle spiced wrap with a corn and tomato salad at the cafe. We shared one for a snack at 11, since breakfast had been very early so we could have time for the drive. No photo, but you know what a wrap looks like. :)

We took a drive towards the historic town of Ligonier, on the way we stopped at a roadside stand to buy some apples and I photographed the pumpkins and corn.

Pumpkins Gourds Corn Corncobs

In Ligonier itself we found the lovely Connections Cafe. They serve salad plates of two or three choices on salad greens. Four were vegan and we chose all four between us. A red quinoa and pear, a black bean with peppers, a corn and tomato and a red quinoa and kale.

Salad Salad

Afterwards we wandered around the pretty town, and stopped by a local gallery to admire some beautiful handcrafted furniture before driving back home through lovely hilly scenery.

For dinner, we managed to scratch together a meal at the Hometown Diner in Connellsville with the help of the waiters and the cook who were really accommodating. We had a Philly Cheese Steak without the cheese and the steak, some home fries and some corn. They charged us less because we had no meat or cheese. In the cook’s words, “I’m not charging you full price, I’ll work something out”.

Diner Dinner Diner

People are just so great sometimes. :)

Connellsville Bed and Breakfast
316 W Crawford Ave,
Connellsville, PA 15425

Hometown Diner
103 Memorial Blvd
Connellsville, PA 15425

Connections Cafe
109 S Market St
Ligonier, PA, 15658


Posted September 13, 2014 09:20 AM

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Gnocchi pesto soup

September 8, 2014

This week I pulled out Isa Does It for weeknight dinner inspiration. I was quite taken by the pesto pasta dish that Linda made recently but we'd just had pasta ourselves; instead I transferred my pesto enthusiasm to Moskowitz's recipe for pesto soup with gnocchi, beans and greens.

The thickness of this soup comes from blended cauliflower and basil with a touch of arrowroot, so it's not excessively rich. Then it's dotted with white beans, gnocchi and chard (or in my case, spinach), providing lots to get your teeth into. Like the book's sweet potato and red curry soup, it comes off as much a stew as a soup.

I used homemade stock so I increased the amount of salt in the recipe. While I loved the textures of this soup, I thought that the flavour was lacking a bit of depth - again that might be down to my vege-scrap stock, but I reckon I'll try stirring a bit of white miso into the simmering broth in future. Otherwise, the only thing preventing me from making this all winter long will be the unseasonal basil - I guess it will be better savoured as an autumn recipe.

Gnocchi pesto soup
(slightly adapted from a recipe in Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Isa Does It,
which also appears on PPK)

2 teaspoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
1L vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt (add some white miso next time?)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon arrowroot
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
250g fresh gnocchi
400g can cannellini  beans, drained and rinsed
1 small bunch spinach leaves, roughly chopped
toasted pine nuts, to garnish

Pour just enough olive oil into a large pot to cover the base; set it over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook it, stirring, for about a minute, ensuring it doesn't burn. Add the cauliflower and 3 cups of the stock. Stir in the thyme, salt and pepper (plus future miso). Place a lid on the pot and bring it to the boil, cooking for around 10 minutes until the cauliflower is tender.

Place the arrowroot in a cup and gradually pour in the remaining stock to form a smooth paste. Remove the lid from the pot and pour in the arrowroot-stock, stirring it around and cooking for 5 minutes until thickened (mine never did). Turn off the heat and stir in the basil leaves. Blend the soup until smooth, preferably with a stick blender.

Return the soup in the pot to medium heat. Add the gnocchi, replace the lid and cook for 3 minutes. Pour in the beans and spinach leaves, stirring everything together gently, until the leaves are wilted. Serve in bowls, sprinkled with pine nuts.

Posted September 13, 2014 08:39 AM by Cindy

September 12, 2014

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Stuffed squash with tex mex rice and beans

We are almost halfway through Vegan MoFo.  How are you finding it?  I confess that I have less energy for it than previous years.  Less energy to visit other Vegan MoFo blogs, to comment and engage.  Less time for my new Green Gourmet Giraffe Facebook page.  Less time for visiting the blogs I visit regularly.  And between you and me, I don't think I would even be getting up so many posts if I hadn't prepared ahead so much.

I had known it would be a busy month with three weekends out of town.  I just hadn't counted on the stolen car really turning it into a horror month.  We now find ourselves in the position of trying to find a new car so that we can go away on holiday at the end of the month.  (And I hope there are no thieves reading this and deciding to find out house and break in while we are away .  I couldn't bear it!)

But when you see these cute little squashes you will know that I shouldn't really complain.  After all I am lucky to be able to go to our local farmers market and buy such cuties.  I couldn't resist.  And while I probably should have been talking to the farmer about where they were grown and what variety of squash they are, instead I was asking how to make them sit up straight and  been told that maybe I would like square squashes like those square watermelons in Japan.

It was a shock to me when I started food blogging to discover just how narrow the definition of pumpkin is outside Australia.  What we call pumpkin is often called squash elsewhere.  Those funny orange halloween pumpkins from America are rarely seen here though the imports are now seen in the shops each October.  I have always thought that "pumpkins" (eg Butternut Pumpkin, Queensland Blue and Jap Pumpkins which are similar to kabocha) have lovely orange flavoursome flesh whereas squash has pale bland flavourless flesh.  These little squash definitely were quite bland and stringy.

Truth be told the squashes were all about style and elegance rather than taste.  I wasn't so keen on eating the stringy flesh but I loved the filling.  Fortunately I had so much filling that I baked the leftovers in a casserole dish.  It served as handy leftovers for E when I was out to dinner with a friend.  You might notice in the above photo that I used biocheese in it.  I love that stuff.  So yummy and melty.

In case you are wondering about how I made them sit nicely, I took out the stem and was able to sit them on their heads so the peaked bottoms were at the top like little pixie hats.  So cute. Perhaps this might explain why Sylvia felt the need to surround it with her little and tiny things while I took some photos the next morning.

I am sending this to Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary for her Shop Local blog event, that celebrates bloggers cooking with locally sourced food.  The squash and leek came from the farmers market and the lemon from our backyard.

More stuffed recipes from Green Gourmet Giraffe: 

Squash Stuffed with Tex Mex rice and beans
An original Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe
Serves 4-6

2-3 small squash
Slurp of olive oil
1 large leek, washed and chopped
2 cups brown basmati rice, cooked
2 tbsp chipotle sauce
100g vegan cheese, grated
400g tin corn kernels, rinsed and drained
400g tin black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp lemon juice

Bake squash for about 1-2 hours at 180 C until they feel soft.  Chop off the top and scrape out seeds.

Fry the leek for about 10-15 minutes until soft.  Mix with the remaining ingredients and taste to check seasoning.

Stuff as much stuffing as possible into the squash and bake for about 1 hour at 180 C.  If you have remaining filling, bake in a greased oven dish until top is crispy - possibly a bit less time then stuffed squash.

On the Stereo:
Together Through Life: Bob Dylan

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2014.  This year for Vegan MoFo my theme is The Letter S.  Today is S for Smoky Fridays.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2014 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Posted September 12, 2014 11:57 AM by Johanna GGG