April 20, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Komaki Syokudo

April 6, 2015

After a morning spent soaking up the cherry blossoms in Shinjuku Gyoen, Cindy and I set off for an afternoon of video games, anime and nerd culture in Akihabara (see a few highlights in the slideshow at the end of this post). We kicked things off with lunch, at a venue whose quiet vibe was at odds with the rest of the neighbourhood: Komaki Syokudo. This is another place that's quite tricky to locate - the address that Google Maps gave us was clearly wrong, but the Happy Cow directions and map were bang on. The restaurant is attached to a fancy grocery store under the train lines in the Chabara building, and it's well worth wandering through the store after you've eaten to marvel at all the interesting ingredients on offer.

Komaki Syokudo is tucked over on the right hand side of the supermarket and is fairly unassuming. There are a handful of tables, a counter with clearly displayed food options and not much else. There's an English menu, which makes figuring out the system pretty easy. For a set lunch you order one dish from the middle shelf and two dishes from the bottom shelf; throw in miso soup and a bowl of rice and lunch will set you back 980円 (~$10.60). If you're hungrier, you can order the full set of 9 dishes for 1530円 (~$16.50). In either case, choosing brown rice over white will add an extra 150円 (~$1.60) to the price. The cuisine-style is shōjin ryōri, done a lot cheaper than the high-end versions we've had in the past.

We split our meals - on the left above is fried gluten (top shelf) with a mushroom and greens dish plus a curry-seasoned lentil-cabbage dish. On the right, a crumbed rice croquette with a mushroom, carrot and bean salad plus another side we couldn't really identify, based on some sort of mashed root vegetable. It was simple but delicious, with one of the best miso soups of the trip and some nice seasoning on hand to add some punch to the rice.

We wandered happily around the neighbouring grocery store afterwards, scoping out all the amazing ingredients on sale (but saving our money for the toy shopping to come). Komaki Syokudo is a relaxing way to prepare yourself for the hectic madness of the rest of Akihabara - it's the perfect starting or ending point for a few hours of wandering the streets.

Both Japan Vegan and Sweet Potato Soul were impressed by Komaki Syokudo.

Komaki Syokudo
8-2 Kanda Neribeicho Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan 101-0022 (in the Chabara building)
menu: one, two

Accessibility: There are a couple of steps up as you come into the building. The restaurant area is small and a little crowded. You order and pay at a high counter. The toilets are located in the nearby supermarket and are gendered.

Posted April 20, 2015 08:19 PM by Michael


Coming Soon: Veganised Sweets Recipes From My Family’s Archives

I’ve been going a bit silly with aquafaba recently. If you haven’t heard of this amazing amazingness, aquafaba is the liquid from cooked (including canned) chickpeas or beans. I’m ecstatic to report that I’ve had great success in making two of my family’s old recipes with aquafaba but the best bit is that they taste...
Continue reading »

Posted April 20, 2015 07:52 PM

quinces and kale

madame k


I’ve eaten at Madame K at least four times, so obviously I like it.  I didn’t write any blog posts about the first few visits because either we scoffed the food before taking any photos or the photos were poor.

I have to say I am pretty impressed with the food here. It is at the high end of the scale for mock meat.  In fact some of the mock meat is so realistic, it is a bit scary.

The menu is a roam around Asia, with Chinese, Thai, Malaysian, Indonesian and Japanese dishes all making an appearance so there is a lot of choice. All of it is vegan with a handful of desserts able to veganised with the swapping of dairy for soy icecream. Over the course of those 4 visits I’ve eaten the massaman “lamb” curry several times.  I’ve taken a non vegan friend here and he was impressed with the food.

This latest visit was an impromptu one after a comedy festival show (Denise Scott – fabulous). We jumped off the tram in the vegan section of Brunswick St, and decided on Madame K for dinner.

This time we resisted the temptation to eat the massaman curry again and opted instead for several small plates, some of which were on the specials menu.

betel leaf IMG_1874 IMG_1876 IMG_1878

We chose betel leaves with fresh coconut, quinoa, black beans and a sweetish dipping sauce,  followed by some crispy chive stuffed sticky rice dumplings with a soy based dipping sauce. These were so delicious we ordered a second serve.  Then came some lamb ‘sliders’ in roti, which were not really what I think of as sliders at all, but completely delicious with chewy ‘lamb’ wrapped in flaky roti and doused with a sweet sesame flavoured sauce. Lastly we ate a sweet and sour mushroom salad which I thought was OK but not up to the standard of the other dishes.

Madame K is always reliably good and it will remain a regular favourite on my list.

Madame K
367 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy VIC 3065
(03) 9415 6099


Posted April 20, 2015 10:00 AM

April 19, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne


April 5, 2015

We spent the afternoon in Yokohama dodging the drizzle where we could, walking by Kanamara Matsuri and the port, grabbing some bar snacks (including burdock chips! recommended) and focusing on Chinatown (there are a few photos in a slideshow below). We sought out Banwarou for dinner, a Taiwanese restaurant mentioned on Happy Cow.

Although Banwarou serves meat and does not have menu printed in English, it's not too hard to cobble together a veg-friendly feast. 'Vegetarian' is printed on the door and the restaurant owner is keen to assist in limited but enthusiastic English and a side of gesticulation, including a check on whether or not we eat eggs. Inside and out, the walls are lined with photos of their food, and one side is especially dedicated to their vegetarian options.

Our haphazard pointing brought rich rewards - crispy spring rolls (650円 ~ AU$7.00), mochi (which we are more accustomed to calling radish cakes, 650円 ~ AU$7.00), gyoza (650円 ~ AU$7.00) and stir-fried soy beef and mixed vegetables in a salty cornflour-thickened sauce (1890円 ~ AU$20.40).

One of the highlights was a plate of slippery, sweet chilli eggplant (1470円 ~ AU$15.90), which reminded us of the fish-flavoured eggplant in Melbourne's Dainty Sichuan.

The fabulous finale was pulled off with the help of a bilingual vegan Kiwi at another table. At his and the restaurant owner's joint recommendation, we ordered the vego mapo tofu (1100円 ~ AU$11.90) and the sesame noodles (850円 ~ AU$9.20); tossing but not stirring the sesame noodles with chopsticks, then scooping the two dishes into our individuals bowls as a saucy, hearty, rich and spicy melange.

Without Happy Cow's help, we would've walked right past Banwarou - many of the meal photos are meaty and the interior is cramped with few apparent frills. But the restaurant's warm and outgoing owner is undoubtedly its best feature, with the veg-friendly food a firm second.

Banwarou has also been blogged by Vegan Marathon Runner.

139 Yamashita-cho, Naka-ku, Yokohama, Japan
045 663 3113

Accessibility: The entry is flat and the interior is small and very densely packed. We ordered and paid at our table. The toilet is inside, narrow and unisex.

Posted April 19, 2015 05:36 PM by Cindy

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Ruckers Hill Cafe and Ukelele Festival

It was the old record player re-purposed as a cafe table that first caught my attention as I walked past Ruckers Hill Cafe.  We had just had a nightmare finding parking in Northcote.  If there was a parking spot we missed it and then it was gone when we returned, or someone took it from under our nose.  Finally we rushed down Northcote High Street to meet E who was volunteering at the Ukelele Festival.  I suggested we backtrack to Ruckers Hill Cafe and was very glad I did.

It is not a huge cafe.  There wasn't much room inside so we saw on a bench outside.  We ordered Zucchini and Carrot Fritters for E (above) and Olive Cream Cheese Slice for me (below) and Cheese Toastie for Sylvia (not pictured).  In keeping with the ambiance of the cafe, everything was presented beautifully with lots of colourful and healthy vegetables.

I am not usually a fan of these eggy slices but was delighted with this one that had interesting add-ins, lots of flavour and a generous pile of salad on the side.  While the salad had a lot of lettuce, it had a great dressing that made me happy to eat my way through it.  My slice had big blobs of mild cream cheese in it which were well balanced by the olives. 

It was a great place to sit.  We saw lots of fellow ukelele players as we watched the passers-by.  Some stopped to chat.  Others gave us a big smile and an entertaining remark as they rushed by.  The waitress was friendly as we talked to her about the Studio Ghibli films.  I even liked that we could go in and look at the old piano as we waited.  If we had had more time we might have stayed for dessert and one of the interesting juices.

We had a ukelele performance to go to and then found ourselves at Yuni's Kitchen for a drink.  Actually E and Sylvia had a drink and I had a wander around the shops.  Before I went I checked out the menu and we agreed we should return to eat there some day.

Yuni's Kitchen has a lovely courtyard with a painting of a dove one one side and the Chalice Church on the other.  I was fascinated by the quinces and pomegranates growing at the side of the church.  Are they for passers-by or does the church or the cafe use them?

Whatever their purpose it added a really nice touch to a leafy courtyard with shade cloth and lots of space for kids to run around.  We could also hear the faint sounds of ukelele performances in the church.

We then went to see E play at the Shellac Gallery.  It was great to see him playing solo and to hear him performs songs I have heard him practicing in the bedroom.  And I had a catch up with my friend Heather.

While at the Shellac Gallery we were also able to check out the ukelele artwork.  I really liked the above black and yellow ukelele which was decorated with pasta.  Then we had promised Sylvia some time browsing the beautiful toys in the Big Dreams shop.

By then I was ready to go home.  E stayed on for more gigs but I was so tired that I took Sylvia to buy some chips from the Fish and Chip shop (Abdul's Halal Takeaway) on Elizabeth Street, Preston to take home for dinner. 

Luckily the staff were kind and honest.  I absent-mindedly left both my purse and Sylvia's dolly behind as we left but someone came out to let us know.  Then we collapsed at home with excellent hot chips and corn jacks.

Ruckers Hill Cafe
212 High Street
Open Tue-Fri: 7:30am-3:30pm, Sat: 8:30am-3:30pm, Sun: :900am-3:30pm

Ruckers Hill Cafe on Urbanspoon

Posted April 19, 2015 09:42 AM by Johanna GGG

April 18, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Ain Soph Jouney II

April 5, 2015

On Sunday morning we explored Shinjuku, where we were staying. We sheltered from the rain in various department stores, marvelling at the toys and too timid to try on the clothes. Michael had four veg-friendly lunch destinations up his sleeve but the first one, Chaya, had a queue of more than a dozen hopefuls seated out front. We were time- and train-sensitive so opted for the next closest venue, Ain Soph Journey.

We'd visited Ain Soph last year for dinner and so knew roughly what to expect. The menu mostly contains English translations, has many instructive and attractive photos and appears to be entirely vegan, so it's not too difficult to pick out a meal. Our waiter, however, didn't speak any English and valiantly continued to speak Japanese to us throughout our visit even though we tried to make it clear right away that we couldn't understand.

At lunch time Ain Soph tend towards set menus - a multi-course banquet runs to 2800円 (~AU$30.20) but other savouries with salad are 1800円 (~AU$19.40). Salads are piled up into pint glasses and served with salty soy and vinaigrette dressings. Michael's green curry (one of the cheaper lunch specials) was like a palak paneer with three tofu cubes replacing the cheese, tasty and soupy with brown rice and more fresh greens on the side.

Ever the sweet tooth, I ordered from the dessert menu. Unfortunately, given our limited ability to communicate with our waiter, this meant that Michael had finished his salad entree and his entire curry before this was brought to the table. He couldn't help but pick at my fluffy vegan pancakes (1400円 ~ AU$15.10) - they were really good! Toppings were abundant - aerated soy cream, date icecream, berry compote, fresh fruit slices and a scattering of nuts and seeds. My wild strawberry tea (600円 ~ AU$6.50) was the ideal tangy, fruity accompaniment.

Our previous review of Ain Soph Journey was tepid, but this time round they proved themselves capable of much more than we'd given them credit for. We only regretted that we didn't have time to linger over their banquet.

Retro J-pop at Disc Union

You can read about our first visit to Ain Soph Journey here. Since then it's received many positive reviews on other blogs, many of them in Japanese - see Tokyo Chillin', Bon Voyage Vegan, NPO Japan Vegetarian Society, meg, Happy Lucky, Tokyo Today Tokyo, Active Vegan and My Secret Place.

Ain Soph Journey
3 Chome 8-9, Shinjuku Tokyo, Japan 160-0022
big lunch sets, small lunch sets, desserts, drinks

Accessibility: The entry includes a half-flight of stairs. Half the tables are downstairs and another half are up a full flight of narrow stairs; all tables are densely arranged. We ordered at our table and paid at a high counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

Posted April 18, 2015 03:10 PM by Cindy

April 16, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Vegan salmon pate - for dip or sushi

Isn't it great when the weather is warm and you spend the afternoon in the park under a large shady tree with a crowd of bloggers and heaps of good food!  In March, two of my favourite bloggers, Cindy and Michael of Where's the Beef, had invited us along to a potluck picnic to celebrate their 2000th post.  I took along some vegan salmon sushi and zucchini brownie topped with coconut bacon.

We make sushi quite often in our house.  Sylvia loves it but does not like any filling other than sushi rice.  I decided it would be a good savoury dish to take to the picnic.  I could make some plain for Sylvia and experiment with some vegan salmon filling for those what wanted something different.  And bloggers love trying a new dish.

Salmon is often offered as a filling in the little sushi shops in food halls.  I was never keen on fish and seafood.  In particular, I have disliked the idea of eating salmon ever since a friend had food poisoning from it when I was a university student.  Yet I do love its brilliant orange colour.  So please don't ask me if the pate compares to salmon.  I have no idea.  It wasn't quite as brilliantly orange as I had hoped but was rather pleasing nevertheless.  And it tasted very good in that nutty, carroty, dilly way.

I made the brownie the night before.  On the day of the picnic I made the ganache, the pate and the sushi.  By the time we arrived the party was in full swing.  I didn't take lots of photos because I was busy eating and chatting with other bloggers.  Fortunately E took the above photo of the picnic so you can see what a lovely location it was.

There was so much food.  I tried to sample bits of it but it seemed there was so much I didn't get to taste.  Cindy and Michael brought along their amazing sausage rolls.  I really loved tasting some myoki vegan cheese (pictured below) and Faye's vegan dill cheese.  There were heaps of salads, banh mi, dips and lots more.  (I didn't take enough note to report more.)

Dessert was every bit as splendid a spread.  I couldn't resist tasting a vegan chocolate ripple cake made with coconut cream (pictured above).  I also loved the chocolate caramel slice and some bounty bites.  Linda and daughter brought some lovely choc chip muffins and Rosalie brought some of her brownie that I regretted not trying.  It was great to taste Faye's Greek no-honey walnut cakes (‘Melomakarona’) - they are really delicious.  I didn't take great notes so I am sure I have left out other delicious dishes.  You can see more photos at Faye's Veganopoulous blog.

Yes it was all very intense and decadent.  Fortunately Ivan brought along some fresh figs from the backyard.  And it was hard to focus on the food when catching up with old friends and meeting some bloggers for the first time.  We talked about chickpea brine meringues, facebook vegan groups, vegans in the airforce, worm farms, and the supreme master at Loving Hut.

I am always a little wary of going along to these bloggers potlucks.  But despite some nerves about if I will know anyone, I always find it is great to meet up with online friends and that everyone is very friendly.  I went home with some figs as well as some leftovers of Faye's dill cheese and walnut biscuits.  We still had more vegan salmon pate in the fridge that taste very nice on fresh bread.

I am sending this vegan salmon pate to
Jac at Tinned Tomatoes for Bookmarked Recipes,
Kimmy of Rock My Vegan Socks for Healthy Vegan Fridays #43, and
Cindy at Gluten Free Mama for Gluten Free Fridays #138.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: NCR Pumpkin, bean and apple soup for a protest
Two year ago: WSC Chocolate Chip and Honey Scones
Three years ago: Chocolate Rasbperry Almond Cake amid the chaos
Four years ago: Autumn Apple Cake
Five years ago: NCR Very Garlicky Vegetable Soup
Six years ago: Easter Nut Roast and Feasting
Seven years ago: NCR Moody Mushroom Stew

Vegan Salmon Pate
Adapted from Food and Yoga for Life

1/2 cup sunflower seeds, soaked 30 minutes*
1 cup walnuts
1 cup peeled and chopped carrots*
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp tamari
1/2 tsp dulse flakes
1/2 tsp salt (I used wild garlic salt)
1 spring onion, finely sliced
scant 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

Roughly blend drained sunflower seeds, walnuts and 3/4 of the carrots in a blender or food processor*.  Add vinegar, lemon juice, tamari, dulse flakes and salt.  Blend until smooth.  Add spring onion, dill and remaining 1/4 cup of carrots.  Pulse until these are roughly chopped and combined.

*NOTES: The sunflower seeds can be soaked while you gather and chop ingredients for the recipe.  The recipe I used said 1 scant cup of carrots but I used a heaped cup.  I used my high speed blender which was ok but needed a bit of prodding.  A good food processor would probably work better.  

Vegan Salmon Sushi

To make vegan salmon sushi, I simmer 1 cup of sushi rice and 1 1/2 cups water for 20 minutes with lid on and no stirring.  I stir sushi seasoning into the hot cooked rice, cool it and then spread it on sheets of nori.  Spread salmon pate in the middle with some cucumber sticks.  Roll up and slice with a sharp knife.

On the Stereo:
Key: Victoria Vox

Posted April 16, 2015 11:42 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Mominoki House

April 4, 2015

After our lunch, Matt and and I went for a wander through Yoyogi Park, enjoying both the cherry blossoms and the hordes of people out celebrating their arrival. Before we knew it it was time for dinner, and the Happy Cow App on my phone pointed us in the direction of the nearby Momonoki House in Harajuku. I was too distracted to take photos of the interior, but it's quite lovely - a handful of wooden tables, including a couple of elevated booths and a big blackboard with a detailed menu (including English translations). There is something a bit dated about the vibe, but that's probably understandable given it's been around for 39 years.

Mominoki House isn't entirely vego - there are a handful of meaty options, but the majority is meat-free. There are gluten dumplings, potato croquettes, deep-fried natto and a whole bunch of other small plate dishes, but Matt and I both went for set bigger meals from the specials board. For Matt, a tofu steak with ginger sauce and shallots, with sides of eggplant, beans, lotus root and carrot (picture above, 2200 ~ $24.25).

I grabbed the tempeh steak, which came with a soyish sauce, mushrooms, tomato, a slice of radish, bean curd, some sort of bean paste and decorative greens and flowers (2000円 ~ $22). The food was delicate and beautifully prepared, with an impressive array of ingredients. It's pricy, but you're paying for something a little bit fancier than you get at most of the vego places in Tokyo. It was pretty quiet the night we visited, and the atmosphere was a bit flat, but it's a fun place to check out if you're in the neighbourhood and have a bit of spending money.

(more unrelated cherry blossoms from Shinjuku-Gyoen)

A vegan in Japan and vegan like a boss both enjoyed their visits to Mominoki House.

Mominoki House
2 Chome-18-5 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan
81 3 3405 9144
Menus: one, two, three, four, five

Accessibility: Mominoki House is down a flight of stairs and is quite crowded inside. There's full table service. We didn't visit the toilets.

Posted April 16, 2015 04:48 PM by Michael


Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale Events: Coming Very Soon

Happy days are here again with the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale! From April 25th to May 3rd, vegan bake sales will be happening worldwide. Anyone is welcome to attend and enter the baking categories (it goes without saying that entries must be vegan!). Named Veg Event of the Year by VegNews Magazine, the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale...
Continue reading »

Posted April 16, 2015 11:58 AM

Thoughts Of A Moni

South Society

There aren’t many local breakfast haunts near my place. Hyde and Seek is probably the closest, and it’s still a good 45 minute walk away, so when I heard that a new cafe had opened up a ten minute walk away, I was pretty excited. South Society is located in Pinewood, just around the corner from Proud Peacock (if you haven’t been to Proud Peacock yet, you need to do so ASAP!) and looks pretty fancy to be nestled in amongst the local shops.

We went on a public holiday, soon after it opened, and it was clear that we were slow on the uptake. The cafe was bustling and the clientele were varied. There were elderly couples enjoying their morning coffee, families making the most of the public holiday and enjoying time spent together and girlfriends catching up over brunch.

I was armed with my camera, so I walked in and tried to pick a table that would give me the best vantage point to take photos. The space was large, the windows light, and the fittings were modern and funky. It was comforting to know that this cafe looked like it was suited to the inner city, yet was just minutes from my doorstep.

A perusal through the menu revealed that they had cauliflower, carrot and quinoa patties, which sounded like they would resemble fritters, but I decided to deviate from my standard choice and went for smashed avocado, broad beans and peas on rye bread with pan fried haloumi, poached egg and truffle oil. The remainder of the menu had a decent selection of other sweet and savoury breakfasts, including the cleverly named Van Damme waffles which were in such a large serve that they looked like they would be impossible to demolish.

Our coffee arrived promptly and our space filled with a rich aroma. I am not sure what coffee beans were used, but a brief look at their Facebook page reveals that they may be using St Ali coffee. I’ve always held St Ali coffee in high regard, so this would explain why the coffee at South Society was pretty impressive for a little suburban shop.

The meals arrived soon after, and it was clear that this was a cafe that took its food seriously. A top a thick, toasted slice of rye bread was a beautiful mash of avocado, broad beans and peas. What made this mash perfect was the texture, there was the smoothness of the mash contrasted by interspersed bites of whole peas and broad beans that added bursts of sweetness to the meal. The haloumi was well fried, but then again, how can anything go wrong with fried cheese?

And then the ultimate test, the yolk porn test.

A clear pass.

The other half also went for a savoury breakfast, with bacon, because apparently bacon makes everything better. I tend to disagree, but each to their own! He had mushrooms on cornbread, served with char grilled peppers, bacon, poached egg and pesto. According to him, the char grilled peppers were the star of this dish, yes, they even beat the bacon! The were well charred, with plenty of olive oil and thyme, and full of flavour. This combination  has become such a favourite, that I now regularly char capsicums with olive oil and thyme, and they are always appreciated.

South Society also have great customer service. I saw quite a few people come in with dietary requirements, or they were just fussy eaters, and the wait staff had no issues adapting the menu to meet everyone’s needs. What won me over was the fact that when I pulled my camera out to take photos, they turned all the lights on, to make sure I got a good shot! A place that caters to a camera wielding vegetarian is always going to get my vote!

South Society on Urbanspoon

Posted April 16, 2015 11:37 AM by Moni

April 15, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Nagi Shokudo II

April 4, 2015

A fortunate turn of events meant that Cindy and I found ourselves in Tokyo for a week over Easter. While she worked on the Saturday, I caught up with my brother for lunch at Nagi Shokudo in Shibuya. We'd dropped in for dinner on our last trip, but this time I got to sample the lunch menu. It's 1000 yen (~$11) for a lunch set. You choose 3 dishes from a list of 10-15 options and get them served up with a salad, some rice and a bowl of miso soup.

I ordered the fried soy meat (bottom right), the dahl fritters (bottom left) and the tomato and ginger tofu (top right). This was an excellent way to get back into the swing of eating in Japan. Set meals at lunch are almost always a cheap and filling option, and this set had the added bonus of a bit of flexibility and excellent execution. The tofu and soy meat in particular were brilliant - really top notch.

This is nowhere near Nagi Shokudo, but is Shinjuku Gyoen, where I spent my pre-lunch hours enjoying the cherry blossoms.

The place is lovely too - hard to find, but worth the effort. The staff speak a decent amount of English and the menu is translated, which makes life a bit easier for hopeless monolinguists like us. They have an array of zines and CDs for sale as well and seem to be a bit of a meeting point for Tokyo hipsters (the Portland band Sad Horse were lunching there on our visit).

Read about our previous visit here. Lots of other bloggers have enjoyed Nagi Shokudo - see Big Tent Vegan, Vegetus, Vegetablian, Cascadian Abroad, Kitty and Buck and JoJo + Japan for positive reviews, while VegOut Tokyo and Bon Voyage Vegan had more mixed feelings.

Nagi Shokudo
15-10 Uguisudanicho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
050 1043 7751

It's on the quiet south-western side of Shibuya station and you'll need to make sure you have good directions/map screen shots. Even when you find the right intersection the place can still be hard to spot - it's hidden low in a little cluster of restaurants - look for this sign.

Accessibility: Nagi Shokudo is down a handful of stairs and is pretty crowded inside. There's full table service. We didn't visit the toilets.

Posted April 15, 2015 03:43 PM by Michael

April 14, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Dulce de leche choc chip cookies for the end of the holidays

After Easter lunch my mum sorted out the leftovers and told me she was throwing out the remains of the filling she made for the caramel tart.  I couldn't bear to see the luscious creamy dreamy caramel go to waste so I volunteered to take it.  Then, like my mum, I wondered what on earth I would do with it.  We have had enough chocolate and hot cross buns over Easter.  Decadent caramel chocolate concoction seemed just too much.  But perhaps a few choc chip cookies to use up Easter eggs would be alright.

The biscuits were not as indulgent as last year's leftover chocolate easter egg slice.  However I confess that yet again, I stashed away some eggs especially (eggspecially) for baking.  There is something so much more fun about baking with colourful chocolate.  Even better, when I started to chop up the little M and M easter eggs, I found they had crispy insides. 

I looked around at choc chip cookie recipes and ideas for adding dulce de leche.  Most recipes are for biscuits stuffed with dulce de leche in the middle but I really liked the recipe at Mind Over Batter that mixed it into the batter for extra flavour.  I had so many white chocolate melts leftover from the Easter egg chicks that I was generous with the salt in an effort to avoid them being overwhelmingly sweet.

I used a favourite condensed milk choc chip cookies recipe that I have often made with leftover condensed milk.  It was easy, eggless and smelled amazing while the biscuits were baking.

As mentioned at the top of the post, we have feasted on enough Easter chocolate and hot cross buns to last us a lifetime.  Most of these cookies went straight into the freezer to be eaten occasionally when we need a sweet snack.  They last so much longer that way.

The other reason I wanted to bake these biscuits is that I thought they would be good for the school lunchbox.  Sylvia has delighted in hoarding a little stash of Easter eggs that she received.  Yet when I put a cookie in her lunch box on the first day of school term yesterday she told me told me she would much prefer ANZAC biscuits.  Kids!

And with the end of the school holidays I will leave you with some photos and words to sum up the fun we had: the zoo, autumn leaves, Easter, weaving, craft, play dates, cinema, sleepovers, monkey bars, cousins, Phoenix park, bike rides, friends, queues, playgrounds, dolls, swimming, chocolate, baking.

I am sending this recipe that rescued the caramel to Elizabeth's Kitchen for the No Waste Food Challenge.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Red peppers: in pasta bake, stuffed and in soup
Two year ago: NCR Smoky spicy tomato soup
Three years ago: Zucchini Layer Cake plus random thoughts
Four years ago: NCR Tricken Rice Soup with Celeriac
Five years ago: Honest soup inspired by a Farmers Market
Six years ago: Tupperware, Arran and Tomato Soup
Seven years ago: Family Favourite: Chocolate Pudding

Chocolate chip cookies with dulce de leche
Adapted from this recipe on Green Gourmet Giraffe
Makes about 48 cookies

180g butter or margarine, softened
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup dulce de leche
1/2 tsp salt
1 and 1/2 cups self raising flour
300-350g assorted chopped chocolate/Easter eggs/choc chips

Cream butter and maple syrup.  Beat in dulce de leche and salt.  Gently mix in flour then chocolate.  Drop heaped teaspoons on baking paper lined oven trays.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until just starting to turn golden brown on the edges.  Rest 5 to 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool (I keep them on the baking paper while cooling). 

On the Stereo:
Excuses for Travellers: Mojave 3

Posted April 14, 2015 10:47 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Radhey Kitchen & Chai Bar II

March 28, 2015

It took seven months, but I finally made my way back to try out Radhey's tea and dessert selection. As you can see from the photo above, the desserts are varied and attractive with well-labelled vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free and raw options.

Even having just snuck out of Yong Green Food with their raw dessert menu, it was the uncooked items that Carol, Michael and I were most drawn to. The raw cacao brownie ($7) was almost cakey with a lovely ganache-like topping. Nevertheless, it was outshone by the raw raspberry swirl cheesecake ($7), a super smooth square of creamy sweetness lifted by the tanginess of real raspberries. My plant milk-based chai ($4) was warm and comforting, but too light on the spice for my taste.

On a Saturday night, when the rest of Brunswick St was poised to get rowdy, Radhey Kitchen and Chai Bar was a welcome quiet nook for dessert with a friend. We'll continue to seek it out for comfort food and calm.


You can read about our first visit to Radhey here. Since then it's been blogged on Fire & Tea, Zinc Moon and Veganopoulous.

Radhey Kitchen & Chai Bar
336 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
9077 8858

Accessibility: I think there's a half-step up on entry and a flat interior. Tables are quite densely packed with a clear wide corridor through the middle. We ordered and paid and a low-ish counter, where much of the food is on display and chalkboard menus are easy to read. We didn't visit the toilets.

Posted April 14, 2015 02:18 PM by Cindy

Vegetarian Life Australia

Gong De Lin – a taste of Hong Kong in Melbourne

A recent night out at the Melbourne Comedy Festival started with drinks at the delightfully quirky Cookie beer hall in Swanston Street followed by a delicious and authentic vegetarian Chinese meal at Gong De Lin.

Tucked away on the third floor of 264 Swanston Street it’s easy to miss Gong De Lin. In fact we nearly did. We were walking past actually looking for dumplings when we spotted the sign saying vegetarian restaurant. Memories of wonderful vegetarian restaurants tucked away on obscure levels of skyscrapers in Hong Kong instantly came to mind. We decided we needed to investigate further and took the lift up.

Time was of the essence as we only had about 45 minutes to spare but the service was prompt. The restaurant interior has an airy feel despite the fact that it is quite small and we had a great booth with a view overlooking Swanston Street.

We started with steamed dumplings which were good but not amazing. The filling was tasty but the open double pocket style meant there was quite a lot of dough. We also tried the vegetarian pancake which was crispy and delicious especially with a sprinkling of Chinese vinegar – which I have to admit to being just slightly addicted to!

The highlight of the meal was definitely the sweet and sour mock pork. It was absolutely wonderful. Crispy, sweet balls of deliciousness with chunks of pineapple and veggies mixed through the sauce. It worked well with the veg fried rice – a huge portion that we struggled to finish.

There are lots of really interesting dishes on the menu, most of which are completely vegan, and I plan to return before too long to try out more. Gong De Lin was a great find and the fact that it evokes memories of high level dining in the hubbub of Hong Kong made it all the better in my eyes.

Gong De Lin
level 3, 264 Swanston Street, Melbourne 3000

Overall rating: 7/10


Steamed dumplings 

Vegetarian pancake

Vegetarian pancake

Sweet and sour mock pork

Sweet and sour mock pork


Vegetable fried rice

Vegetable fried rice

Chinese tea

Chinese tea

View over Swanston Street

View over Swanston Street

Posted April 14, 2015 11:34 AM

April 13, 2015


Week In Review And Our Easter Sunday

Yes, that’s Punky up there wanting to fit inside the cat carrier with his brother. They LOVE the cat carrier and if we don’t put it back up on the high shelf, both cats insist on using it as a bed. Except they both can’t fit in it, so this is as good as it...
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Posted April 13, 2015 07:30 PM

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Veggie Patch Diner

March 25, 2015

I had another quick work trip to Sydney in late March, and used my couple of spare meals to check out the newish Veggie Patch Diner, a permanent home from Yulli's-related Veggie Patch Van. It's a cute little space - lots of clean wooden fittings, natural light, and a lovely but small courtyard out the back. They're open Wednesday-Sunday for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu is about 60% vegan - there's a mix of eggy and non-eggy stuff for breakfast, a burger menu for lunch and dinner and a cabinet of salads if you're feeling like something healthy.

I turned up on the way in to work ready for brekkie. The haloumi and fried egg roll ($10) tempted me, as did the baked chickpeas served on crispy polenta with smoked mushrooms ($15), but I always find myself unable to resist the lure of scrambled tofu (with mushrooms, kale and homemade tomato sauce, $14). It's a mountain of food - deliciously oily and seasoned with some sort of spice mix including turmeric and cumin. There's a good mix of veggies stirred through and a couple of pieces of decent toast buried under it all. An excellent start to the day.

A mere eight hours later and I was back for more, grabbing dinner on my way back to my hotel. After breakfast, it's really all about burgers here. There are six to choose from: zucchini and feta, haloumi, olive and almond, cajun spiced tofu and, my choice for the evening: smoked mushroom and and tempeh burger ($12 or $17 with a choice of sides - you'll see below that I chose a side of onion rings that towered over the burger).

The mushroom burger came with a couple of smoky tempeh slices, pickled banana peppers, lime and pepper mayo an apple and kale slaw and a watermelon/chipotle bbq sauce. And it was excellent - a mash up of tangy, smoky and spicy flavours and a big juicy mushroom. The onion rings were ludicrous - gigantic rings of batter with slivers of onion inside them. It's really too much batter for one person to eat in a single sitting - they're great, but you'll want to share them with a friend.

Veggie Patch Diner is a welcome addition to Sydney's vego dining scene - excellent food, friendly staff, great music on the stereo and a lovely space to hang out in. I'll definitely be back next time I'm in town.

I first read about Veggie Patch Diner on The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry. Nobody else seems to have blogged the diner, although there are quite a few positive write-ups of the related food van.

Veggie Patch Diner
239 Glenmore Road, Paddington
02 9331 5992
breakfast, burgers, sides and salads

Accessibility: There's a small step up on entry, to a reasonably spacious interior. You order and pay at a low counter. The toilets are out the back, and are up a few steps.

Posted April 13, 2015 03:44 PM by Michael

quinces and kale

truffled fava puree

grilled asparagus with truffled fava and almonds

If you have ever had the good luck to eat at Maha, you have probably tasted the truffled fava puree. I have eaten it each time I have been there, and though it may not look like much, it packs a delicious punch of flavour that makes me go weak at the knees.

I’ve wanted to try making this ever since the first time I ate it, and I finally went searching for a recipe after my latest visit to Maha. I found the recipe on the SBS food site with a video demonstration by Shane Delia himself. It is one of the recipes featured on his program Spice Journey.  Strangely, the recipe on the website differs in technique to the video so I am sticking with Shane and following his directions. It is part of a larger non vegan recipe, but the puree itself is vegan in the original.

I had assumed that the name of it meant that it contained fava (broad) beans, but in fact it is made from yellow split peas.

It is smooth, sweet and unctuous with the heady flavour and aroma of truffle.

It works well as a dip, as a sauce with some grilled vegetables and flaked almonds or frankly, just eaten off a spoon, which is what I am doing as I write this post. :)


truffled fava puree
prep time
3 mins
cook time
45 mins
total time
48 mins
author: SBS website (Shane Delia)
recipe type: dip
cuisine: vegan
serves: 1 cup
  • 150 grams yellow split peas
  • 1 red shallot peeled
  • ½ carrot peeled
  • ½ stick of celery (strings removed)
  • 1½ tsp truffle oil
  • salt
  1. Rinse the split peas until the water runs clear.
  2. Chop the vegetables roughly.
  3. Add the vegetables and split peas to a saucepan, just cover with water.
  4. Cook over a low to medium heat stirring occasionally until everything is soft and breaks down.
  5. Puree with a stick blender until utterly smooth.
  6. Add the truffle oil and salt to taste.
  7. Drizzle with some extra truffle oil.
I made half the original recipe.



Posted April 13, 2015 10:00 AM

April 12, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Carrot and feta nut roast for Easter lunch

I went to bed on Good Friday night dreaming of the nut roast I would make the next day to take to Easter Sunday lunch at my parents' place in Geelong.  I lay awake with visions of nut roast stuffed with mushrooms and leeks.  Only problem was that this would need a quick trip to the supermarket before a children's party and the drive to Geelong.  I woke to face the reality that I just had to make do with what I had.  A quick Google search found me rearranging my nut roast vision to carrot and feta.

E loves to say that our fridge is full of things he can't eat.  H might well be right but I often find that, when I make do with what is there, our fridge is full of good things to cook.  I was quite impressed with what it could produce.

We always have carrots.  I find them quite boring most of the time.  Necessary but in a background sort of way.  Occasionally I made a dish where their vibrant orange delights me and I really love their flavour.  This was just such a dish.  Which was fitting as I made it on International Carrot Day.  And the Easter Bunny loves carrots.

It was bright flavoured.  If there is such a thing.  Nut roasts are so often heavy in flavour that they need a chutney or sauce to lift them.  This one was brilliant on its own.  The carrot flavour was strong and sweet which worked well with the intense saltiness of the feta.

I reheated it in the oven on a pretty green dish - worried it might bread because I had already broken one of my mum's bowls the previous night.  Then I sliced it up, served myself and left it to the family.  No photos because dinner was the usual mayhem with all the family there.

When I came back there was about a quarter of the nut roast left.  While it was less than I had expected, I was happy that others enjoyed it too.  I even had Sylvia taste a little bit (under sufferance).  E was most complementary about the it.  The leftovers were taken home to be eaten in sandwiches with chutney.  Most pleasing.  This is definitely a nut roast I will make again.

I am sending this nut roast to Extra Veg, an event hosted by Jo's Kitchen this month, and coordinated by Fuss Free Flavours and Utterly Scrummy Food for Families.

More cheesy nut roasts from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Cheesy carrot nut roast
Chocolate nut roast
Cottage cheese and walnut nutloaf 
Smoky cheese and barley nut roast 
Stilton nut roast

More cheesy nut roasts from elsewhere:
Cheese cashew and walnut roast with sherry gravy - The Guardian newspaper
Mary Berry's aubergine five-nut roast recipe - Good To Know
Nut loaf - Umami Girl
Stuffed cashew nut roast - Gluten Free Alchemist
Tofu nut roast with swiss chard and goats’ cheese - Your Natural Health Expert

Carrot and Feta Nut Roast
Adapted from Woolworths website
Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil
4 medium carrots (approx 350g), peeled and grated
1 tomato, chopped
1/4 cup spring onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves (or other herbs)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 cup ground cashews (other nuts could be used)
1 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
2 eggs
100g feta, crumbled
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
freshly ground black pepper

Grease and line a loaf tin.  Preheat oven to 200 C.  Fry carrots in olive oil for about 5 minutes over medium heat or until carrots are changing colour to indicate they are cooked.  Add and cook the tomato for a minute or so until it softens.  Add spring onions, thyme and garlic and fry for a minute until fragrant.  Mix with remaining ingredients.  Check and adjust seasoning to taste.  Spoon into prepared tin and smooth top with the back of the spoon.  Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown and centre feels firm to touch.  Serve warm or cool in tin.  Can be reheated for 30 minutes in the oven the next day (and will slice better if it sits overnight).

On the stereo
Recurring Dream: The Very Best of Crowded House

Posted April 12, 2015 08:53 PM by Johanna GGG

April 11, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

PB potatohead icecream

March 15-16, 2015

You might remember that I experienced my Gelato Messina epiphany over a scoop of Mr Potatohead icecream, a daring and expertly rendered combination of peanut butter gelato, white chocolate and potato chips. Given my imminent departure from Sydney and the icecream's imminent departure from the specials board, I set my mind to making some more.... and making it more vegan, so as to share it around.

My last batch of peanut butter icecream set like a rock, so I needed a new formula. Serious Eats, on their annual month-long vegan kick, came through within days, discussing vegan ice-cream making in general and a salted peanut butter flavour in particular. Like me, they choose coconut milk and cream as a dairy substitute. Unlike me of the past, they use light corn syrup as one of their sweeteners - I wondered if this would have a similar effect to the liquid glucose that Eliza Metcalfe recommended to me last year.

And what of the chips - how to prevent them getting soggy? I suspected that Gelato Messina was coating them in the white chocolate in order to insulate them from the gelato mixture. I bought the thickest kettle chips I could find and used an equal weight of rice milk-base white chocolate for the experiment ahead.

The final result was a respectable tribute to Gelato Messina's original triumph. It had a clear creamy peanut butter base - much improved on my past effort, but still requiring 20 minutes to soften and scoop. It was dense where Messina's is fluffy. The potato chips kept just enough of their crunch and melded as they should. I shared most of the batch with friends, and quietly converted them to the magic of potato chips in icecream. One of them was junk-drunk enough to claim it was the best icecream they've ever eaten. Presumably they haven't been to Gelato Messina yet.

PB Potatohead icecream
(inspired by the Mr Potatohead icecream at Gelato Messina,
adapting a vegan-friendly recipe from Serious Eats)

1 cup canned coconut milk1 cup canned coconut cream
1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup smooth, cheap'n'nasty peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
up to 1 teaspoon salt
50g vegan white chocolate
50g plain salted potato chips

In a medium saucepan, stir together the coconut milk, coconut cream, corn syrup and brown sugar. Set them over medium heat, stirring regularly as the sugar dissolves, until they're up to a simmer. Turn off the heat, add the peanut butter, and use a stick blender to combine until completely smooth. Stir in the vanilla and salt, cover, and refrigerate until very cold, preferably overnight.

Gently melt the chocolate in a small saucepan and take it off the heat. Roughly crush the potato chips - but just roughly, you don't want potato powder! - and add them to the chocolate. Stir the chips and chocolate together until the potato chips are thinly but thoroughly coated in chocolate. Transfer the chips to an airtight container and allow them to cool and set - you might even like to refrigerate them.

When the peanut butter mixture is very cold, pour it into an icecream maker and churn it according to the manufacturer's instructions. While it is churning, break the choc-coated chips into large chunks. Pour the peanut butter icecream into an airtight container a couple of large spoonfuls at a time, scattering them with the chips as you go. Freeze the icecream until you're ready to scoop and serve - it will probably be at its peak in 4 hours.

Posted April 11, 2015 08:16 AM by Cindy

April 10, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Easter egg chicks, Beetroot, raspberry and feta salad, and Chocolate carrots

I was speaking to a friend who told me her mother makes the same old dishes and it is never very exciting.  My mum loves to experiment, I told her.  Why for Easter lunch we had beetroot, raspberry and feta salad.  She also had started on some chocolate carrots when I arrived on Easter Saturday.  I finished them off for her.  And I brought along some Easter egg chicks for my nieces and nephew.  It was a fun meal.  Not at all boring!

I have written about the carrot and feta nut roast I made for the family Easter lunch separately.  Instead I will share the beetroot, raspberry and feta salad.  I think my mum had eaten it in a restaurant.  It is one of those salads that should be tossed about to eat so all the flavours bounce off each other.  However I couldn't resist arranging slices of beetroot and making it a triumph of style over substance.  It looked a mess on the plate but tasted wonderful.  Sweet and salty and a little tart.

The nut roast and salad were served with a rather good cauliflower, pomegranate and rice salad, cauliflower cheese, roast potato and pumpkin and peas (and lots of meat for the carnivores).  I ate very well.

After the mains we had dessert.  My mum was quite restrained.  There were a lot of chocolate eggs and hot cross buns around after all.  So dessert was caramel tart, vanilla cheesecake with strawberries and chocolate carrots.  Lots of fuel for the kids who spent most of the day playing footy and cricket in the backyard.

The chocolate carrots were seen by my mum on the telly.  She had started them when I arrived but I was happy to help out with them while she got on with other dishes.  Mum had only managed to find smaller chocolate wafer sticks than she intended.  (The knife in the photo is like a steak knife to help you get a sense of size.)  The wafers got dipped a few times, and I was making little foil stands for them, even though the recipe said to just dip them once, lie them on baking paper to set and scrap little carrot marks on them.

The recipe suggested bagging up the 'carrots' with some crushed up biscuits to make 'dirt' and giving them as presents.  We wanted them in a dish for people to eat.  They didn't look bad without the chocolate dirt but it sounded like fun.  We made it by placing the rest of the wafers in a ziplock bag and rolling with a rolling pin.  Actually Sylvia and her cousin Ashy did it.  I wanted them to have the fun of bashing the wafers but remembered the dents in our table from crushing candy canes.

We tried to plant the carrots in the dirt in a small bowl but they would not stand up.  Then I just ended up putting them around the edge of a bowl of dirt with a few in the middle.  The kids loved them.  When they asked why carrots I told them because it was International Carrot Day on Easter Saturday.  Much talk ensued with the kids about what other international days might be celebrated.  I will spare you the scatological details but I can assure you they made me laugh.  And they loved telling me they were eating their vegies while they ate chocolate!

Even more fun was the Easter egg hunt.  You may remember last year that my dad orchestrated a colour coded egg hunt where each child had a different coloured egg.  This year he surpassed himself and had a different flavoured egg for each child and drew their names out of a hat.

The children had great fun hunting the eggs between main course and dessert.  Not only did they help each other find eggs but they also had a great time swapping eggs at the end of the hunt so each kid had a variety of eggs.  The hiding was rather tricky and two eggs were still unaccounted for at the end of the hunt.  I must remember to check if they have been found yet.  Perhaps they will be discovered by an archeologist many years from now!

But let us return to the home made chocolate goodies.  Did I mention that my mum played me a video clip of the chocolate carrots being made on the telly.  It looked far easier than it was.  The same might be said for the Easter egg chicks that Sylvia and I made for her cousins.  Both used coloured chocolate buttons, which neither my mum nor I had.

My mum did ok with colouring the white chocolate but I think I was a bit heavy handed with the food dye and the chocolate seized.  It was no longer for dipping or pouring but worked well if you wanted to play with it like playdough.  Which is what I did.  I made flat tongues of orange chocolate that I could chop into beaks and feet.  I had planned to pour the coloured chocolate onto baking paper and chopping it when just set so in a way this was easier and quicker.

Making the chicks was much easier once we had worked on the white chocolate.  The recipe called for Creme Eggs.  There were none to be found in the supermarket when I looked so we bought Cadbury's Marvellous Creations eggs because I thought they were roughly the same size and might be sturdier than other eggs (having popping candy and smarties in the chocolate).

It was only towards the end that I realised I had misunderstood the instructions and hence put the eggs on an upturned bowl.  Having the baking paper meant I didn't really need the bowl.

Sylvia helped me make the chicks so I gave up having them perfect.  However I can't blame her for all the imperfections because I didn't do a great job either.  Using melted milk chocolate and white chocolate buttons was a recipe for smudgy milk chocolate fingerprints on the eyes.  At one point I just removed some smudgy eggs before they set but I didn't manage it for others.

My other great failing was drawing on eyes with an icing pen.  I could blame the pen but I suspect my technique could do with some improvement.  I found it hard to draw a black dot on the eyes without the pen dragging black icing everywhere.  Honestly it would be easier to stick down a tiny lolly like a Junior Mint or some chopped liquorice.

I had meant to wrap each egg in cellophane to give out but they looked so cute.  So I just put them out on a plate.  Then I put them in ziplock bags when the kids were going home.  They received a lot of excited exclamations and Sylvia was very proud of her handywork.

I am sending the Easter egg chicks to Choclette at Tin and Thyme for We Should Cocoa.  The theme is No Bake.  I am sending the chocolate carrots to Kat at Baking Explorer (and Stuart at CakeyBoi) for Treat Petite.  This month the theme is Hello Spring.  And finally I am sending the salad to Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sundays and Karen at Lavender and Lovage for Cooking with Herbs.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Gwyneth's Apple Muffins and the rainy school holidays
Two year ago: Couscous salad and reflections on the week
Three years ago: PPN Holiday cooking - Nut Roast and Pasta Napoletana
Four years ago: PPN Carrot Pesto Pasta Bake
Five years ago: Butterscotch Bounty from Ricki
Six years ago: Wholemeal Chocolate Cake
Seven years ago: Posh chocolate orange biscuits

Beetroot, raspberry and feta salad
From my mum

250g cooked and peeled baby beetroot (vacuum sealed)
125g raspberries
50g creamy feta
1-3 tsp mint leaves
caramelised balsamic vinegar

Thinly slice wedges of beetroot and arrange on serving plate.  Arrange raspberries and crumble feta over beetroot.  Scatter with mint leaves.  Drizzle with vinegar and serve.

White chocolate carrots
From Better Homes and Gardens

Chocolate wafer sticks
White chocolate buttons
Orange and green food colouring

Melt some white chocolate and colour orange with some drops of food colouring.  Place above a small saucepan of hot water to keep the chocolate warm and melted.  Spoon melted chocolate over three quarters of wafers.  Place on baking paper to set.

NOTES: If desired dip again once set.  I found that the chocolate was rather thick and swirling the sticks against the side of the bowl ensured not too much chocolate on it and left rather carroty horizontal lines.  I also found it better to cool the chocolate with the uncoated part of the wafers stuck upside in a little pocket made in a piece of foil.  They didn't take long to be set enough to be able to place on baking paper so that that they were still round.

Melt some white chocolate and colour green with drops of food colouring.  Place above hot water as with orange chocolate.  Dip remaining ends of wafers in green chocolate (or spoon chocolate over it) and set in either foil pockets or on baking paper.

NOTES: the chocolate was quite thick and I found it good to use a spoon to drizzle chocolate over ends and then scrape it off so there were vertical lines like carrot tops.

Easter egg chicks
From A Mummy Too

Medium Easter eggs
Milk chocolate melts
White chocolate melts
Orange chocolate melts or yellow and red food colouring
Icing pen

If you don't have orange melts, mix some white chocolate with red and yellow food colouring to make orange chocolate.  Cut triangles out of the white chocolate.  (Mine seized which made it easy to mould but if yours behaves then you may need to spread it on baking paper and let it mostly set before chopping.)

Melt a handful of the milk chocolate melts.  Place the bowl over hot water to keep it melted.  
Place a piece of baking paper on a tray. Dab a blob of chocolate on the paper.  Place an egg in the blob.  Arrange two orange melts or triangles in the melted chocolate at the base and hold the egg until the chocolate firms up.

Dab some melted chocolate on two white melts and arrange on the eggs towards the top like eyes.  Hold until the chocolate holds it there.  Repeat with two milk chocolate melts and arrange as wings on the side, a triangle between the white chocolate eyes to be the beak and a triangle at the top to be the comb.

Draw black dots on the eyes with an icing pen.

Leave chicks so the chocolate sets firmly before sharing with your friends and family.

On the Stereo:
Chants, Hymns and Dances: Gurdjieff and Tsabropoulos

Posted April 10, 2015 10:05 PM by Johanna GGG

April 09, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Gelato Messina

March 14, 2015

True to our 12-hour tour update, we stopped by Melbourne's Gelato Messina while collecting new street art photos in Fitzroy and Collingwood. This outlet is notably larger than its Sydney siblings and at least as popular. The standard menu crosses state boundaries too, running to 35 flavours, 11 of them vegan and 32 of them nominally gluten-free (GM won't guarantee that any of their products are completely allergen-free). 

I trialled one of the specials (pictured front), a peanut butter gelato smashed with pretzel brownies ($4) - it was a little light on the salty crunch but well endowed with dense cakey chunks. Meanwhile Michael sampled the coconut & lychee and poached figs in Marsala standards (pictured back, $6) - all the fruit flavours were bold, fresh and startlingly true to their sources. You'd be hard pressed to find a smoother, more satisfying scoop around Melbourne.

We're several years late to the church of Messina, but now have the fervor of the freshly converted.



Gelato Messina
237 Smith St, Fitzroy
1800 435 286
prices, standard flavours, special flavours
facebook page

Accessibility: Gelato Messina has a wide entrance involving one step up. Inside is quite spacious (although it's often crowded with people) - we've seen a couple of prams in there. We ordered and paid at a high counter, and didn't visit the toilets.

Posted April 09, 2015 09:12 PM by Cindy

April 08, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

City Trip: Raw Trader, Shopping and Yo-Art

Yesterday we had a school holidays trip to the city.  It was a cold rainy Melbourne day that was perfect for spending in shopping centres.  I ate raw Snickers slice at Raw Trader, had a Snag Stand hotdog, bought new shoes, shopped in Uniqlo and shared some frozen yoghurt with E and Sylvia.  We were also accompanied to Sylvia's doll called Rosie.

E and Sylvia were off to see the Sponge Bob Square Pants movie but I couldn't bear to waste my precious movie hours on the little twerp (Spongebob not Sylvia).  As there was nothing else on at the movies to interest me I set off to enjoy myself in the city.  

First sight of interest was this old Argus building.  I took a photo of it when it was derelict a couple of years ago (see insert) and so I was interested to see it is now looking like it has a lease of new life.  It has been renovated by a private education institution.  I am pleased to see it is being looked after because the now defunct Argus newspaper which was housed there, has an important place in the history of Australia.

Then on the corner of La Trobe Street and Sutherland Street, I looked in fascination at a steam shovel that reminded me of a childhood story and Bill on Mr Squiggle.  Where one building is saved, another is demolished to make way to for new developments.

My first destination however was Raw Trader.  I have been curious about this raw cafe for some time.  It is not that I am a big raw food enthusiast but I love vegan desserts and am always interested to see raw food on other blogs.

I really loved the ambiance of the place.  The old packing crates lining one wall gave it a sense of heritage chic and the cake display was just gorgeous.  The drinks menu had great smoothies but the teas weren't my kind of cuppa.  I was there for cakes and slices anyway.  Looking at all those beautiful slices, cheezecakes and bliss balls made me want to eat raw food forever.

So I am sad to tell you that while the almond Snickers slice I tasted was interesting, it didn't blow my mind.  It just confirmed my wariness of raw desserts.  Though I have loved a few raw desserts that I have made at home, I have never warmed to coconut oil in large amounts.  I found the caramel layer tasted too much of dates and the fudge layer tasted too much of coconut oil.  

Yet I am still fascinated by raw food.  I found the slice interesting.  (In fact I would return to Raw Trader to try other non-bakes.)  I ate in an inquiring frame of mind as I read an article about Heston Blumenthal and all his weird and wonderful culinary experiments.  I ate slowly and curiously.  I mulled over what was in each layer.  I compared it to a Snickers bar.  I had to ask about what was in the fudge layer but was given a list of ingredients for the whole bar rather than the layers.  So I gave it back to the woman behind the counter who farewelled me with "thanks Angel".  I love a place that is not only warm and welcoming but can send you on your way feeling happy.  Even if I am not a raw food type!

Despite the temptation to just sit in Raw Trader and enjoy the ambiance, I had much to enjoy in my rare childfree time in the city.  And I also really wanted a bar of chocolate or a packet of crisps after such healthy food.  (I feel terrible for admitting it but the coconut oil left a weird taste in my mouth that demanded to be overwhelmed by junk food.)  Fortunately I had some slices of apple in my bag to snack on.

Sutherland Street where Raw Trader resides, is a narrow little back street with heritage bluestone walls and a critical mass of interesting cafes.  I made a mental note to return there as I wandered away past the street art and back into the bustle of Elizabeth Street.

I had a quirky shopping list of shoes (check), handkerchiefs (check), barbie doll clothes (fail), girls knee high socks (fail).  I thought that knee high socks for little girls wouldn't be that hard to find but they seem as rare as potato starch (another hard to find item on my shopping list).  Once I had purchased some shoes for winter, I wandered the shops.  This life size lego Cinderella amused me in Myer.  Such a shame Sylvia wasn't with me to see it.

She was with her baby doll, Rosie, at the cinema.  I met her and her dad for lunch at the end of the movie.  We had hot dogs from Snag Stand.  They had seven options for the vegetarian hot dog which was impressive and seems more than when I wrote about Snag Stand three years ago.  I had Australia Fare and E had the American Classic.  Sylvia had The Kid (vegetarianised).  And we shared chips.  It was very nice (albeit lacking in vegetables).

Sylvia didn't want to hold Rosie so I let her put her in the kids highchair.  Because you need two hands to eat a hot dog.  I just hope no children had to sit on their parent's lap because Rosie hogged the highchair.

Next we wandered off to browse some shops in Melbourne Central.  While E and Sylvia were in the cinema the rain came on.  It was a delight to sit in the walkway between the Emporium and watched the rain fall on the city.  You can see Sylvia at the window in the top picture.  (Doesn't my little girl look so grown up!)  I particularly love the views from walkways between department stores and shopping centres in the part of the city.

E's great desire was to have a look at the relatively new Uniqlo department store in the Emporium.  I was sure I was going to find girls knee high socks in a Japanese department store.  Not even there!  At least Rosie had fun snuggling in among the men's t-shirts.  And would you believe that Sylvia and I ended up spending more than E!

Before heading home we stopped for a frozen yoghurt at Yo Art (in the Emporium).  Well E and Sylvia had a frozen yoghurt and I just had a little taste.  They both chose salted caramel flavour and it was rather good with the sweet, salty, and slightly sour flavours.  E just had a few pieces of biscuit in his but Sylvia had lollies and sprinkles and a wafer.

Then it was time for the train home.  We just missed our train and had to wait 20 minutes for the next one.  Curse the Upfield line with its single track in the last part of the line that prevents frequent trains.

We had fun waiting.  Sylvia is very interesting in reading anything that stands still and Rosie looks so real that another passenger struck up a conversation with us about believing that Rosie was my tiny baby.

By then the trains were in their busy peak and we had to stand for half the trip (someone did offer Sylvia a seat but she was happy on the floor so I declined).  After digging out a pair of Doc Martens I hadn't worn for some time, I was very glad to rest my weary feet at home.

Raw Trader
10 Sutherland Street, Melbourne CBD
0478 692 008
Open: Mon-Thu: 7am-6pm, Fri: 7am-10pm, Sat: 10am-10pm and Sun: 10am-6pm

Posted April 08, 2015 09:10 PM by Johanna GGG

Challenge Accepted!

Yummy tom yum and savoury samosas

This weekend I was out with a friend and we had some vegetarian tom yum soup from an Asian noodle place and it was delicious, so I decided to try making it myself. What could be more warming and happy than spicy soup in cold weather?

I didn't manage to get the taste exactly like I remembered it, but it was still pretty tasty! I used this recipe and substituted what veggies I had, which were carrots, red pepper and bok choi, and some chick'n pieces. I also added some vegetarian fish sauce in place of half the soy sauce, and a couple of tablespoons more lime juice because I like it sour. :-)

Earlier this weekend I also made some sweet potato curry samosas to freeze for my bento lunches. I found this great simple recipe and substituted sweet potatoes because that's what I had on hand. I also added some peas, corn and carrots. The pastry was relatively easy and they turned out delicious! Definitely making again, and may adapt for potato pierogies. I had some in my bento lunch today (pictured below).

The best foods for warming the soul in Melbourne pre-winter!

Posted April 08, 2015 08:28 PM by Kate

April 07, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Vegan Sourdough Hot Cross Buns with Marzipan

Growing up Catholic, I learnt that Good Friday was a day of sorrow and sacrifice.  We went to church, followed the Stations of the Cross, and kissed the feet of the large statue of Jesus on the cross.  The light of the world went out.  At home we ate fish not meat.  The one bright aspect of the day was warm sticky buttered Hot Cross Buns.  Much has changed since my childhood.  However I like to spend Good Friday at home baking Hot Cross Buns.

If you look at my archives, you will see that I have been posting about Hot Cross Buns every year (with the exception of the year my daughter was born) since I started this blog in 2007.  I have a yeast version that I love.  Yet now that I am making sourdough regularly, I wanted to experiment more with the Sourdough Hot Cross Bun recipe I followed last year.

On my first go at baking hot cross buns this year, I made it vegan and added some wholemeal flour.  Other than that I followed the recipe from last year.  However I found I had been quite flexible with the times when I wrote out the recipe.  It seemed reasonable to test this by using the minimum timing.  I was pleased, and a little relieved, that it worked.  One batch was not enough and I needed another go at piping crosses.  You can see that the above ones cover almost all of the buns.

When I started on the next batch, I had a block of marzipan in anticipation of baking Marzipan Easter egg cupcakes.  The idea of adding the marzipan to the dough appealed greatly.  After all this is a recipe with minimal kneading so I thought the chunks might remain in the final buns.

I reduced the dried fruit (from 275g) and the sugar (from 50g).  Unlike the first batch, I let this one sit for a couple of hours though the minimum was an hour.  I allowed myself to just forget the dough when I was busy.  (And I was baking soup. cupcakes and easter egg chicks during the day!)

It was quite a moist dough that needed a sprinkling of flour every time I kneaded it.  Now that I have been making Celia's overnight sourdough bread regularly and kneading it briefly in the bowl, I was lazy and kneaded the hot cross bun dough in the bowl rather than taking it out.

The second batch of hot cross buns were so much better than the first.  They were fluffy and soft and even seemed taller.  Disconcertingly the marzipan was not discernible in the buns.  There were no little nuggets of the stuff.  Nor was there that lovely intense almond aroma about them.  Yet I like to think that the marzipan is a lot of the reason they were so good.

And I also made an effort to pipe thinner crosses.  As I have noted before, I love a bit of thick chewy cross, so I never make them pencil-thin.  It gives me great satisfaction to pipe lovely white ribbons of water and flour over the uncooked buns.  I was a little disappointed at first that they were golden rather than white when they came out of the oven.  Then I was easy on them and began to love the golden crosses.

It just doesn't seem like Easter without Hot Cross Buns about.  While I am mighty fond of chocolate, I sometimes think I would prefer a good fresh bread if given the option.  At Easter, Hot Cross Buns easily trump Easter eggs with their cheap chocolate.  The main problem about the former is that I love them so much I have to try and exercise restraint for fear of looking just like a little round HCB (as we call them in my family).  My other problem was that it took all day to bake these sourdough buns.  If I had time to experiment more I would like to try a recipe where the dough sits overnight like my regular sourdough bread. 

My last problem with Hot Cross Buns is that it is hard to justify making too many of these sticky dense buns.  After two batches, with many in the freezer, I am hanging up my HCB apron for this year, despite wishing to experiment a little more.  My mum has made an impressive eight batches of HCBs this year.  I will need to wait for next year to experiment further.  I am looking forward to it.

I am sending these Hot Cross Buns to  Susan's YeastSpotting, a long running event, and to Jen and Michelle's Bready Steady Go a new yeasty event that has risen out of the retired Fresh From the Oven event.

Previous hot cross buns on Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Some interesting hot cross bun recipes from elsewhere online:

Sourdough Hot Cross Buns with Marzipan
Original recipe by Green Gourmet Giraffe (tweaked from here)
Makes 16 to 20 buns

400g starter (100% hydration)
200g mixed fruit
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
30g brown sugar
250ml soy milk, room temperature
100g vegan margarine, room temperature
1 tbsp chia seeds
3 tbsp water
350g white bread flour
150g wholemeal flour
25g tapioca flour
25g cornflour (cornstarch)
160g marzipan 
2 tsp salt

1 cup  plain flour
3/4 cup water

1/2 cup water
1/4 cup castor sugar
1 tsp mixed spice

Put all ingredients into bowl except salt
Rest covered for 30 minutes.
Stir in salt. 

Rest covered for 10 minutes (or up to 2 hours)
Knead 15 seconds.
Rest covered for 10 minutes
Knead 15 seconds.
Rest covered for 10 minutes
Knead 15 seconds.
Rest covered for 1 hour (or up to 4 hours)
Stretch and fold (or knead 15 minutes)
Cover and rest 1 hour (or up to 2 hours)

Divide and roll dough into 20 balls.  Place in baking tray.
Cover and rest 1 hour (up to 3 hours)
Preheat oven to 220 C half an hour before baking.
Mix flour and water for crosses to make a paste.
Spoon paste into ziplock bag and snip tiny piece of corner.
Pipe paste over buns to make crosses (I like thick).

Bake 20 to 35 minutes until golden brown and hollow when tapped.
Five minutes before buns cooked, simmer glaze without stirring for 5 minutes.
Place buns on a teatowel on a wire rack, crosses up.
Brush ALL glaze on hot buns.  It will take a lot of brushing.
Cool at least 1 hour before eating.
Can reheat at 180 C for 10 to 15 minutes.

On the Stereo:
Countdown 40th Anniversary: Various Artists

Posted April 07, 2015 10:45 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Seitan chops with apple sauce

March 9, 2015

I was so taken by the chops from Bryant Terry's recipe that I immediately started scheming about a crisper, less gravy-drenched way to enjoy them. I hit on apple sauce, which triggered vague associations with suburban USAmerican home cooking. While pork and apple have long gone together, a bit of googling suggests that pork chops and apple sauce are a Brady Brunch-era trend; actually I'm more familiar with them from The Simpsons.

I took inspiration from a couple of online recipes, most notably this one on Epicurious, and made use of some apple puree in the pantry. The process is almost embarrassingly simple, and with this particularly good batch of seitan, the results were impressive. The chops were lightly seasoned and golden crusted, but held their moisture and tasted tender.

On the side, Michael prepared blanched broccoli and Bryant Terry's slightly more effortful and always delectable mashed potatoes. Neither of us feel major nostalgia for meat-and-three-veg meals, but this one might enter our regular repertoire regardless.

Seitan chops with apple sauce
(inspired by an Epicurious recipe
... and a third-hand experience of USAmerican cuisine)

2 tablespoons arrowroot/tapioca flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 seitan 'chops', 1cm thick
1 tablespoon oil

140g tub apple puree
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon ground allspice
salt and pepper

In a small bowl, stir together the arrowroot, salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary and garlic powder. Dredge each seitan chop through the seasoned flour to lightly coat it all over. Heat the oil in a frypan and fry the dredged chops on both sides until golden.

To make the sauce, heat all the ingredients together in a small saucepan. When it's time to serve, place one chop on each plate. Remove the bay leaf from the sauce and spoon the sauce over the seitan chops.

Posted April 07, 2015 09:56 PM by Cindy

April 06, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Al Nada Sweets

March 9, 2015

If there's one thing more enticing than tray upon tray of golden pastry, then surely it is this sign proudly pronouncing that those pastries are vegan-friendly. Veganopoulous alerted us to Al Nada Sweets almost two years ago, and we've seen them sold at Radical Grocery and Prahran Convenience. But it was our recent 12-hour tour update that finally compelled us to catch the tram north past Moreland Rd and visit the source.

While we intended to pick out just a couple of pastries at $1.50 each, we found it impossible to refuse the kindly owner's suggestion that we get their mixed box of 10 for $12. Each was a different permutation on pastry (flat'n'flaky or wiry), ground nuts and sweet, sweet syrup. The high sugar content preserved them well for the few days it took us to consume our collection.

There's an extensive list of Al Nada stockists on The Good Hearted but I reckon it's worth getting the pick of the crop for yourself in Coburg.


Veganopoulous and The Good Hearted have already given Al Nada a thorough blogging.

Al Nada Sweets
160 Sydney Rd, Coburg
9386 0002
facebook page

Accessibility: There is a small lip on entry (see photo above) and a clear space inside. Sweets are displayed at low-medium height. We ordered and paid at a high counter.

Posted April 06, 2015 07:40 PM by Cindy

quinces and kale

banh mi at trang bakery and cafe

banh mi

I’ve been to Trang six times this year and have so far failed to blog about it.  Five of those times have been at the Smith St shop and the one other time was at the new shop in the city in Hardware Street. A review is well overdue.

I love banh mi, I make them at home and I eat them out whenever I have the chance,  so I’ve eaten a lot of them. I’m prepared to call these the best banh mi I’ve eaten.

At Trang there are six vegan options on the menu, ranging from lemongrass tofu and a crispy crumbed eggplant to several types of vegan mock meat – duck, chicken, ham and prawns.

There’s almost always a queue at the door, the turnover is huge and the ingredients always fresh.

So far I have tried the lemongrass tofu, the crispy eggplant, the vegan chicken and the vegan duck. I have a hard time choosing between the tofu for its flavour and the eggplant for its texture,  so today I ordered one with a combination of both.

The baguettes are nicely crunchy and come packed with some eggplant and capsicum relish, salad, herbs, whatever filling you choose, some chilli, crunchy fried shallots, crushed peanuts and delicious sauces.

There are a couple of tables outside where you can sit to eat at both shops, but a banh mi is also perfect for eating on the run.

I’ll be back to try all the vegan options, but I think I’ll have a hard time getting past that eggplant and tofu combo.


Trang Bakery and Cafe
382 Smith St,
Collingwood, 3066
03 9416 3988

Also at

119 Hardware St
Melbourne, 3000
03 9670 4761

Posted April 06, 2015 10:00 AM

April 05, 2015


Past Two Weeks In Review

I’ve been aiming to publish my Week In Review posts on a Sunday evening, but last Sunday I had to work on my Mantra Lounge vegan cruise post instead. And since then I’ve been busy. So ah, here’s my Fortnight Week In Review of the last two weeks. Arthur and I went to a presentation on getting...
Continue reading »

Posted April 05, 2015 01:30 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Marzipan Easter egg cupcakes

I had been promising Sylvia that we would make cupcakes all day.  Stuff kept getting in the way.  Boring stuff like showers and lunch and ukelele practice.  Finally we were ready.  But the hot cross bun dough was demanding to be rolled into balls.  Then we made the cupcakes.  They were worth the wait.
You may be familiar with Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog.  If you are, you might also be aware that she has made some big changes to her blog lately.  It is renamed Tin and Thyme.  She always impressed me by having a broad range of recipes while still keeping chocolate in the posts.  Now she will also be posting vegetarian recipes.  I can't wait to see what creative dishes she will share.

These cupcakes come from Choclette.  They have an Easter egg hidden inside them.  Which is brilliant.  However I think my favourite part of the recipe is the addition of grated marzipan in the batter.  It tasted amazing.  Though it did clump together when we grated it.  I made some slight changes to Choclette's recipe by using mixed spice instead of lemon.  I also halved the recipe because I used most of the marzipan in my hot cross buns.

Sylvia loved helping to hide the Easter eggs.  I was really pleased to finally finish some buttercream that I made for Sylvia's birthday cake some weeks ago.  I wished that I had made the cupcakes earlier in the day though.  We didn't have them cool enough to ice until after dinner when I was rushing about to find the light and time to photograph them.

In fact we were watching Wallace and Gromit in A Close Shave as we ate tea.  After a busy Good Friday we were ready to relax.  We didn't tell E about the hidden eggs.  Sylvia and I nudged each other and giggled as he bit in.  He was pleasantly surprised.

These cupcakes are too delicious to keep them to Easter.  They really need to be eaten all year round.  I could imagine these would be great with choc chips throughout them rather than the chocolate egg in the middle.  And thanks again to Choclette for the reminder that I really should bake with marzipan more often.

I am sending these cupcakes to Karen (co-host with Janie) for Tea Time Treats.  This month the theme is chocolate.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: True North: Coburg cafe
Two year ago: Topsy Turvy Dinner: savoury chocolate muffins and cauliflower rice
Three years ago: WHB Purple carrot soda bread, wildlife and sandcastles
Four years ago: Cheesey bikkies: what not to do
Five years ago: PPN Mee Goreng
Six years ago: Carrot Miso Soup
Seven years ago: Orkney Ginger Broonie

Marzipan Easter egg cupcakes
Adapted from Tin and Thyme
Makes 6 cupcakes

60g unsalted butter
40g brown sugar
1 egg
65g plain flour (half wholemeal, half white)
1/2 scant tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp mixed spice
1 tbsp yoghurt
60g marzipan, grated
6 mini Easter eggs

To decorate:
chocolate buttercream icing
6 mini Easter eggs

Put out 6 cupcake papers and preheat oven to 180 C.

Cream butter and sugar.  Beat in egg.  Gentle stir in flour, baking powder and milk.  Fold in marzipan.

Drop about 1 heaped teaspoon of mixture into each cupcake paper.  Place an Easter egg (no paper of course) in the middle of each.  Cover the Easter eggs with the rest of the batter.

Bake cupcakes for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  (I didn't do the skewer test.)

When cupcakes are cooled ice with buttercream and top with mini Easter eggs.

On the Stereo:
The Best of REM: 1988-2003

Posted April 05, 2015 11:30 AM by Johanna GGG

April 03, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Cheesy cauliflower and rice soup (vegan)

Good Friday is my day to bake hot cross buns.  I took a batch out of the oven a couple of hours ago and they are lovely.  I will post about them when I have had a chance to take some photos in daylight.  Today was a busy day in the kitchen.  So I have decided to post three short posts on the other recipes we have made.

Today I share a cheesy cauliflower and rice soup that I made for lunch.  It was so good we had it for dinner too.   I had made some vegetable stock a few days ago.  I knew it would add flavour, even when my last onion was alarmingly soft and disgustingly smelly.  We had a cauliflower and leftover rice and even a loaf of sourdough bread to serve it with.  The soup was pretty easy to make, using my blender to whizz up a vegan cheese sauce.  After lots of chocolate and hot cross buns, the healthy soup was just what we needed. 

It has been a busy day of cooking but nice to spend the day at home.  The school holidays have kept us busy with playdates, films and baking.  Right now I am off to look up a nut roast recipe for Easter Sunday lunch.  I hope you are having a great Easter break.

I am sending this soup to Jacqueline for the No Croutons Required event that she runs with Lisa.  And I am sending it to Kimmy of Rock My Vegan Socks for Healthy Vegan Fridays #41.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Pumpkin and tofu ricotta cannelloni and weekend craft
Two year ago: Eating out catch up 2012-2013
Three years ago: Plum almond tart
Four years ago: Strawberry muffins, new oven and an allergy
Five years ago: SOS KC: Beets, Greens and Chickpea Curry
Six years ago: Pooh Bear Honey Slice
Seven years ago: Pumpkin Apple and Sage Risotto

Cheesy cauliflower and rice soup
Adapted from Fo' Real Life
Serves 6

1 head cauliflower, chopped
4 cups vegetable stock
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cooked rice (I used basmati)
salt and pepper to taste
2 spring onions, finely sliced


1/2 roasted red bell pepper
350g tofu
1 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 cup soy milk
1 tbsp yellow prepared mustard
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp light miso 
1 teaspoon salt (I used onion salt)

Simmer cauliflower, garlic and stock in a stockpot for about 15 minutes or until cauliflower is tender.  Meanwhile blend the sauce ingredients until you have a thick smooth mixture.  When the cauliflower mixture is ready, scrape the sauce in.  Blend a cup of water in the blender to get the remains of the sauce and add to the soup.   Add rice and warm through.  Season to taste and serve with spring onions.

On the Stereo:
The Singles: New Order

Posted April 03, 2015 09:52 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

A few blog statistics

Our 2000th post has been the prompt for a bit of navel-gazing here at where's the beef?. We've updated our design and our where's the best? list, given our 12 hour tour a make-over and added a linked suburb index to our restaurant list. We've also done some poking around in our stats and come up with a few observations.

Cindy continues to shoulder the heaviest load, writing about 60% of our posts (not to mention diligently editing the rubbish I produce and doing all the tidying up of our photos).

We've now posted reviews of 745 different restaurants, including at least 110 places that have subsequently closed down, giving us a closure rate of 15%. Which seems high to me, but I guess we've been doing this for more than eight years, so there's bound to have been some turnover. 

Our most popular post is still (and will always be) the vegan sausage roll recipe (it's had more than five times the number of visits of its nearest rival). Despite being published in 2008, it's the most visited page on our blog almost every week. Other popular posts are mostly restaurant reviews - the Smith & Daughters launch, Supermaxi, Gujju's and Vegie Mum round out the top five (at least according to Blogger's stats).

Our posting rate has slowed steadily since our initial burst of enthusiasm (where we were occasionally posting more than once a day!). June and July are our least productive months, while January is our peak. If the trend over the first eight and a bit years continue, we'll have ground to a complete halt halfway through 2024.

Which won't matter at all, because by early 2017 our visitors will have completely dried out. At least if you assume a quadratic formula is the best fit to the data - I'm optimistic about the sixth order polynomial I've fitted below. We'll be hitting new heights of popularity in no time!

Thanks for sticking with us through our first 2000 posts - the decline in our posting rate suggests that we may not make it to a 3000th post (predicted last post: 2513), but we'll see the handful of you who'll still be visiting in August 2016 when we mark a full decade of blogging.

Posted April 03, 2015 10:25 AM by Michael

April 02, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

In My Kitchen April 2015

And so April rolls around bringing Easter, ANZAC Day, school holidays and birthdays.  Daylight savings ends and Autumn has well and truly set in.  My kitchen has been filled with lots of fresh produce, generosity and a few favourite recipes.

Above is a picture of the salts in my kitchen: spicy salt, onion salt, French lavender salt, Himalayan salt, smoked salt, BBQ salt, wild garlic salt and regular salt in the salt hog.  Then I remembered I hadn't included black salt and table salt.  It sometimes seems like my salt habit is taking over the kitchen!

We have been off to Farmers Markets quite a few times, including one weekend when I went to three, having discovered the two were actually not on that week.  I am particularly keen on buying in-season apples from markets because they are so much better than those at the supermarket.  The above haul is from the Flemington Farmers Market.  Apples, plums, bagels, tomatoes, strawberry vinegar, dried apricots, almonds and beetroot. 

The tomatoes from the farmers market went into a batch of Tomato Kitchen Sink Chutney.  It is something I really love but E isn't eating it as much because he is ploughing through a chilli jam he was given for Christmas.

Another tomato product in my kitchen has been these Karg's Tomato and Mozzarella Crispbreads.  They were rather tasty with some hummus.  And very crunchy.  I bought them out of curiosity.  They are not likely to be a regular fixture in my kitchen but I would definitely buy them again.

On International Women's Day I was invited to an afternoon tea.  My friend Penny asked us all the bring bunches of purple and/or white flowers.  During the afternoon tea she made bouquets for everyone to take home made of a selection of the flowers we brought along.  It was a lovely gesture of community and I loved having the flowers in my kitchen.

Another kind gesture was the offer of quinces by one of the mothers at school.  We took away a heavy bagful.  Mardi warned me they were wormy and we did indeed spy one worm trying to escape the fruit bowl.

I cooked up the quinces and baked an apple and quince crumble (a bit like this).  It was lovely with some yoghurt.  That left me with lots of quince syrup.  Sylvia and I have gradually been drinking it with a little vinegar and lots of soda water.

I gave a lot of the quinces to my mum.  She has been making quince jelly ever since I can remember.  When we were young one of dad's colleagues had a quince tree.  These days my mum takes quinces where she can get them.  And still makes quince jelly.  The colour is just beautiful.  She sent me home from our last visit with a jar for us and a jar for Mardi.

My mum also gifted us some eggplant and feta filo pastries that a friend of hers had baked.  They sat in the freezer until I needed some quick dinner.  We already had coleslaw in the freezer.  I just had to cook the corn and broccoli and chop up some tomatoes.  Easy.  And delicious.

When I originally made this teriyaki tofu with brown rice and kale, E said it would be better with more vegies in the rice.  This version with corn and carrot was lovely.  However I think I could have cooked the tofu longer until it was a little charred.

A friend gave me this pomegranate off her tree.  I tried to blend up some of the arils in a smoothie in a high speed blender but it was still a bit gritty.  We really loved the rest of the arils plain or with yoghurt and muesli.  I just wish I had got organised to scatter them over a salad.

We had pancakes the other morning.  Unusually we didn't have a manky banana to use in our regular pancakes.  So we made these vegan pancakes.  I doubled the recipe, but didn't double the maple syrup, turmeric, salt and vanilla essence.  The mixture was really thin and a bit of a nightmare when we tried to make shapes with a squeezy bottle.  I added a bit more flour and it worked much better.  I tried a face, a flower, a gingerbread man and a giraffe.  I am hoping to make a green giraffe pancake one day.  That would make me very happy!

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

Posted April 02, 2015 10:15 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Grilled figs in pomegranate syrup

March 8, 2015

The March meeting of Cookbook Club was a Sunday brunch, with the express purpose of eating the Super French Toast in Ottolenghi's Plenty More. I thought it was the right occasion to push a secondary fig agenda. Of course Ottolenghi could assist, with a recipe for 'roasted figs with pomegranate molasses and orange zest' tucked into the Sweetened section of Plenty More.

Michael helpfully picked up the ingredients on Saturday, and that had me in good shape to cobble it all together on Sunday morning in less than an hour. A little whisking and chopping, 30 minutes' maceration passed with simmering and more whisking, 10 minutes under the grill and we had a handsome side dish all packed up and ready to be cycled over to our hosts. I was a little skeptical that a brief grilling would produce the soft, glistening figs pictured in the cookbook, but mine were a very respectable mimic.

The Super French Toast demonstrates that Ottolenghi is as devoted to fats as he is to fresh produce - he manages to saturate thick brioche slices with custard, set it by baking, then fry it all in butter. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and one that was complemented by these grilled figs. The sour, slightly bitter flavour of this particular bottle of pomegranate molasses was a welcome respite from layer-upon-layer of dairy fat.

Super French Toast might need sour fruits, but sour fruits don't need Super French Toast - I reckon I'll find other occasions to grill figs like this again.

Grilled figs in pomegranate syrup
(very slightly adapted from a recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty More)

1/3 cup pomegranate molasses
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 1/2 tablespoons water
12 ripe figs, cut in half lengthways
~8 stems fresh thyme
rind of 1-2 oranges, finely shredded

150g mascarpone
150g Greek yoghurt
1 1/2 tablespoons icing sugar

In a medium-large bowl, whisk together the pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, one third of the brown sugar, the salt and the water. Once the sugar is dissolved, toss through the figs, thyme and orange rind. Allow the mixture to rest and macerate for 30 minutes.

Place the mascarpone and yoghurt in a small bowl and sift over the icing sugar. Whisk it all together until smooth, and then refrigerate the mixture until serving time.

Pick the figs out of the bowl one-by-one and place them cut-side-up in a medium-large baking dish (reserve the marinade that remains in the bottom of the bowl). Sprinkle the remaining brown sugar over the figs and then place them under a hot grill. Grill them until the sugar has melted and the figs have softened. This may take around 10 minutes, but keep a close eye on them to ensure they don't burn!

Pour the marinade from the bowl of figs into a small saucepan. Bring it to the boil and simmer it until the sauce has reduced by half and 'has the consistency of runny honey'. Pick out the whole thyme sprigs.

To serve place the figs on individual plates, pour over the pomegranate reduction and spoon on the yoghurt cream. Ottolenghi also garnishes the figs with fresh thyme leaves and finely grated orange rind.

Posted April 02, 2015 08:36 AM by Cindy

April 01, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Green Smoothie and random thoughts

It seems every blogger has a green smoothie.  I have often put spinach into my usual smoothies and tried others.  I keep telling myself I will get into smoothies with kale.  Yet lately it is hard enough to even put spinach in, given that Sylvia is so fussy about colour.  I saw this delicious green smoothie on Coconut and Berries recently and it niggled at me until I had the ingredients.

I made the smoothie after school.  Sylvia pleaded for me to make one without spinach and add the spinach after I poured hers.  I remained firm.  And she drank it.  Perhaps she was just hungry.  Maybe she will never drink another green smoothie.  But I was very happy.

I was even happier because it tasted so good.  Healthy, velvety and not too heavy.  I made a few changes to the recipe.  I didn't have coconut water but I did have limes.

The recipe comes from a cookbook called Greens 24/7 by Jessica Nadel.  I highly recommend you check out the review on Coconut and Berries with Emma's stunning photos to see some of the other tempting recipes in the book.

And now here are a few random moments.
  • Sylvia recently had a rock star dress up day at school.  She was planning to go as Elsa from Frozen until the night before when I suddenly heard she was going as Katie Perry.  As did most of her class.  Fortunately she had her costume sorted.
  • It seems she is not quite over Frozen as she was very happy to see the short movie before Cinderella yesterday.  I loved how Elsa's dress became green.  Elsa's blue dress has launched blue aisles in toy stores and department stores where usually they would just be pink.  I sort of hope this dress might launch green aisles.  Perhaps I am just being fanciful.
  • E and I had dinner at a communal table in Lygon Street on Monday.  We got talking to a guy who rode his bike to the cafe for dinner every Monday and then rode home again.  He had another regular dinner spot and a regular coffee spot.  Meanwhile we were in Lygon St to see Big Eyes, an interesting movie about feminism, art and family.

I am sending the green smoothie to Shaheen at Allotment to Kitchen for Eat You Greens event.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Sweet potato, zucchini and olive quesadillas
Two year ago: Sushi with sticky walnuts and edamame
Three years ago: Spinach crackers and hummus for a potluck
Four years ago: WHB: Plum and Cinnamon Oat Slice
Five years ago: WHB Easter nut roast and reflections
Six years ago: Marvellous Mars Bar Slice
Seven years ago: Seduced by Strawberries and a Pudding

Green Smoothie
Adapted from Greens 24/7 via Coconut and Berries
serves 2

1 sweet apple (e.g. Royal Gala, Fuji)
1 kiwi fruit
½ Lebanese cucumber
½ banana
juice of 1/2 lime
1 handful baby spinach
1 cup (250 ml) water
1 small handful of ice cubes

Blend in a high speed blender until smooth.

On the Stereo:
Prism: Katie Perry

Posted April 01, 2015 09:00 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

A new tour of the inner north

Today we have another in-the-background blog update for you. We've refined our 12-hour bucket list of things to do in the inner northern suburbs of Melbourne, with lots of new photos and a few new venues.

Posted April 01, 2015 07:29 AM by Cindy

March 30, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Easter Recipes - sweet, savoury and salt dough

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you find filling chocolates too much work, a quick and fun alternative is to make these Easter egg chicks.  They make great gifts.

Are you over chicks and eggs at Easter?   Try these easy chocolate carrots.  (OK they were a little challenging but not too hard!)

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

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

Or you can put your leftover Easter eggs into these dulce de leche choc chip cookies.

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

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

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

    quinces and kale

    fried brussels sprouts and potatoes

    fried brussels sprouts and potatoes with caramelised onions

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

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

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

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

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


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


    Posted March 30, 2015 09:00 AM

    March 29, 2015


    Mantra Lounge Vegan Cruise

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

    March 28, 2015

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Kale pizza, weekend food and digging into the birthday cake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Challenge Accepted!

    Chocolate Frangelico Macarons

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

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

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

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

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

    Posted March 28, 2015 09:49 PM by Kate

    March 26, 2015

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Maha II

    March 6, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


    21 Bond St, Melbourne
    9629 5900

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

    Posted March 26, 2015 07:22 PM by Michael


    I Dream Of Sushi, Moonee Ponds

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

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Celia's overnight sourdough bread - step by step photos

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    In the morning or evening the dough should be risen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    After half an hour the loaves will have risen slightly.

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

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

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

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

    Bake for 20 minutes with lid on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    March 25, 2015


    What I Ate And A Trip Back To Loving Hut Northcote

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

    March 24, 2015

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    where's the best beyond 2000?

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Posted March 24, 2015 06:19 PM by Cindy

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Thai Nee Cafe and East Brunswick Street Art

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Then we noticed the some of the artwork seemed incomplete.

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

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

    Isn't this little girl cute?

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

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

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

    Thai Nee Cafe on Urbanspoon

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

    March 23, 2015

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Smothered seitan chops

    March 1, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Posted March 23, 2015 08:20 PM by Cindy

    quinces and kale

    another visit to maha

    asparagus, truffled fava bean puree, almonds and walnut crumb

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

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

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

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

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

    chick pea chips carrots with lemon

    Next came the individual plates.

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

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

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

    grilled baby corn, enoki mushrooms, hazelnuts with cauliflower puree

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

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

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

    ras el hanout roasted pumpkin, radishes and mint fattoush


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

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

    pistachio sponge, pineapple foam and watermelon granita

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

    donuts with turkish delight stuffing and walnuts

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

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


    21 Bond St, Melbourne


    Posted March 23, 2015 10:00 AM

    March 22, 2015

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Lime and white chocolate ice cream

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    On the Stereo:
    Father Abraham in Smurfland

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


    Week In Review And A Potluck Picnic!

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

    Posted March 22, 2015 08:04 PM

    March 21, 2015

    Challenge Accepted!

    Bento fillers

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

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


    Posted March 21, 2015 11:16 PM by Kate

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    2000 posts

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

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

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

    Posted March 21, 2015 03:30 PM by Cindy

    March 20, 2015

    vegan about town

    lemon myrtle and macadamia nut biscuits

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

    Lemon myrtle and macadamia nut biscuits

    You will need:

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

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


    Preheat your oven to 200°C

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

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

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

    Posted March 20, 2015 11:16 AM by steph

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

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

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

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

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

    Posted March 20, 2015 07:34 AM by Cindy

    March 19, 2015

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    DIY cupcake decorating - a fun birthday party activity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Patty cakes
    From Kidspot
    Makes 8 to 12

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

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

    On the Stereo:
    The definitive Simon and Garfunkle

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

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Reuben Hills

    February 24 & 25, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



    Reuben Hills
    61 Albion St, Surry Hills
    02 9211 5556

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

    Posted March 19, 2015 07:24 AM by Michael

    March 18, 2015

    Vegetarian Life Australia

    Capitan Fracassa Cafe review

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

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

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

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

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

    Capitan Fracassa Café
    115 Carlisle St, Balaclava, VIC 3183

    Overall rating: 6/10

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

    Posted March 18, 2015 02:27 PM

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Gelato Messina

    February 24, 2015

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

    Posted March 18, 2015 07:48 AM by Cindy

    March 17, 2015

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    St Patrick's Day potato pie and green moments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Preheat oven to 180 C.*

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

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

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

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

    On the Stereo:
    Black is the Colour: Cara Dillon

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

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne


    February 24, 2015

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

    Posted March 17, 2015 07:38 AM by Michael