October 22, 2014

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne


October 11, 2014

We were completely unaware of Vegilicious, and owe it to Berk and Clamps for leading us there in between the bands we were seeing on our day by the green. I've since learned that Vegilicious has been run as a vegetarian food stall and catering business for years and before recently opening an expansive restaurant and bar on Carlisle St.

Surrounded by timber furnishings, tropical plants, and warm lighting, I felt like I was stepping into north Queensland's coolest vegetarian hang-out; I hear the courtyard's lovely too, though it might not have the humidity to preserve my delusion.

The menu tends toward the homespun and hearty, free of mock meat but offering plenty of tofu for protein. Vegan and gluten-free items are well marked and capture most of the menu, from fritters and rice paper wraps to pastas, burgers and curries. I appreciated their extended list of non-alcoholic drinks, selecting a mineral water flavoured with home-made orange passionfruit syrup ($3).

The potato wedges ($8) are tender and bountiful, sprinkled with rosemary salt and served with a side of tofu mayo and sweet chilli sauce.

Otherwise we shared the Vegelicious Extravaganza Share Platter ($36), ordering the two-person vegan version for the four of us (...Clamps and Michael had little appetite). It's a fair sample of what the menu offers - cauliflower fritters in a cumin seed batter, thick okonomiyaki topped with pickled ginger and shredded nori, mild mixed vegetable skewers, rice paper rolls, lentil patties, dips and a sprawling salad. We liked some elements more than others but never had a chance to tire of anything.

Purely for completeness, we shared a dessert too. The vegan option of the night was a raw chocolate and cashew cake served with a scoop of So Good brand icecream ($10). While the icecream was utterly ordinary, the marbled mock cheesecake marks a pinnacle for raw desserts - beautifully constructed and devastatingly smooth, with a satisfying chocolate flavour and a little something else that could've fooled me for a shot of Baileys. I assume they're ordering these in, perhaps from Pana.

The menu at Vegilicious doesn't break any new ground but it's generous in its style; inclusive of special diets, with home-made touches and lavish portions. I reckon this restaurant's warm, relaxed atmosphere is even more appealing than its cashew cake.

118 Carlisle St, St Kilda
9537 3820
specials, starters, mains, drinks, alcohol

Accessibility: Most tables are quite densely packed but there's a clear corridor through the middle and a bit more space by the kitchen. Toilets are individual unisex cubicles and at least one of them is fully accessible. We ordered at our table and paid at a high counter.

Posted October 22, 2014 06:29 AM by Cindy

October 21, 2014

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Farmer's Wife Harvest Cafe, Port Fairy

When eating out in the country, my expectations of the food are lower.  I am always delighted to be surprised by good food.  As was our experience at The Farmer's Wife Harvest Cafe at Port Fairy.  We got there after a day of travelling when I was ready for a decent meal.  The salads beckoned.

We had originally intended to go to a pizza cafe.  Only once we got there, the place was empty and the music was loud.  E took umbrage at the prices but it was really the lack of atmosphere that got us.  Instead we followed the sign on the main street and wandered down the little alley to the Farmers Wife Harvest Cafe.

As I look at the writing on the blackboard it occurs why it appeals to me.  It reminds me a bit of Mollie Katzen's writing in the Enchanted Broccoli Forest, one of my first loves in vegetarian cookbooks.  It is quirky, attractive and welcoming.  Even more welcoming is the message "Vegetarian, dairy free, vegan or gluten free.  Just ask.  We can help."

I also love a cafe with some quirky items of interest.  These shelves looked really interesting.  Then we decided to eat our lunch outside in the sun and forgot to inspect more closely.   E ordered a ham and cheese croissant.  Sylvia had a cheese and vegemite and sandwich.  Seems that I was the only one missing vegies and needing salad!

I had one of each salad: kale, farro and broccoli.  I was so happy with my meal.  It was a big delicious bowl of goodness.  Lots of crunch and sweet and savoury.  I remember cranberries and nuts and feta cheese but I cannot tell you which salad they came from.  In my limited experiments with kale salad at home, I haven't been impressed.  But I loved this kale salad with the sweet and sharp dressing.

I'd promised Sylvia a smoothie after she ate her sandwich.  She chose a banana smoothie with soy milk.  It was really nice with a hint of cinnamon.  The only problem was that it was so huge it took her ages.  I could not resist one of the rich gooey brownies.  And a pot of detox liquorice and hibiscus tea.  (Was it irony or habit that they served the detox tea with a smartie!)  Both were delicious.  Though the brownie was so rich that it was probably just as well we all had some.

Sylvia and I took quite a while over our dessert so E decided it was time to do a bit of op shopping.  While he was gone we played a game inspired by the Ramona books we have been reading.  We had to take it in turns to draw three pictures and then the other person would circle which picture was the odd one out (usually based on the first letter).  E got back and found us still playing our game.

When he returned he took Sylvia off to explore the laneway in which we were sitting.  They discovered that the old stone wall had little toys in the crevices.  It was great fun spotting the toys.

I really loved this cafe and was sad we never got to return.  The menu wasn't extensive but the food they made was fresh and inspired.  The prices were reasonable and we were able to find something to suit each of us.  It had a friendly and welcoming ambiance.   If you are in Port Fairy, look out for the blackboard on the main street (Sackville St) beckoning you down the alley (midway between the library and Dariwell Farm Shop).

The Farmers Wife Harvest Cafe
47a Sackville Street, Port Fairy
Tel: 0438 227 240
Opening hours: 9am to 3pm, 7 days a week

The Farmers Wife harvest cafe on Urbanspoon

Posted October 21, 2014 08:07 PM by Johanna GGG

quinces and kale

parsley overload! salsa verde with everything

roasted mushrooms with salsa verde

I love parsley, but I have so much at the moment, that a scatter thrown on dishes as a garnish just isn’t going to make a dent in it. So I’ve started making salsa verde to use more of it.

This isn’t a burden, because salsa verde adds a wonderful fresh, sharp, salty zing to everything it touches. It goes well with so many things, I’ve been eating it with asparagus, with avocado on toast and with roasted cauliflower,  but I love it most with roasted mushrooms.

The quantities below are very rough, this is how I like to make it, but you can vary the proportions to suit your own taste.


salsa verde
prep time
10 mins
total time
10 mins
author: quincesandkale
recipe type: sauce
cuisine: vegan
serves: 1 cup
  • ½ cup finely chopped parsley
  • ¼ cup finely chopped mint
  • ¼ cup finely chopped basil
  • 2 tsp finely chopped capers (I like the tiny dry salted ones, rinsed)
  • a splash of red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp smooth dijon mustard
  • olive oil to cover
  1. Place all the ingredients except the oil into a jar.
  2. Add enough oil to just cover. Mix.
The salsa will keep for a few days in the fridge, though it may lose some of its bright green colour.


Posted October 21, 2014 09:00 AM

October 20, 2014

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Massive Wieners

October 11, 2014

We've been meaning to check out the veggie dogs at Massive Wieners for some time - we even wandered past their old Greville Street store one Sunday evening hoping for a fix only to find them closed, so this post has been a while coming. Our motivation for visiting on this Saturday afternoon was the chance to watch a handful of our friends tackle the Massive Wiener Challenge - a race to eat a 25 inch hot dog in under five minutes. You pay $15 for the privilege but can earn a refund by breaking the 5 minute barrier, along with a glorious place on the wall of fame.

My spectator status was soon challenged by the last minute cancellation of one of the competitors, meaning we had two eaters booked in for three giant dogs. I folded and joined the ridiculousness after about 30 seconds of token resistance and some taunting from the guy behind the counter. If you sign up for the challenge you get a fair bit of hyping up from the staff - apparently 'tall dudes' have an advantage and the key strategy is 'less chewing, more swallowing'. It was all very entertaining even as it made me more and more apprehensive about what I'd signed up for.

And then the wieners appeared. As the shop name promises, they're pretty massive - three sausages long with one giant bun and a lubricating smear of ketchup and mustard, it's an intimidating sight. The rules are strict: no tearing, no dunking, no folding - you've got to eat this ridiculous monstrosity like a regular hot dog. In the final few seconds before we started I squished the bun a bit and sized the whole thing up and, just for a second, wondered if maybe I could do this - I mean it's big, but it's not *that* big. And five minutes is really quite long isn't it?

And then I took my first bite. Nope. Nope, there was no way I was going to get through this in five minutes. The roll is chewy - I think my first mouthful took up most of my first minute, and by the time three minutes had passed and I hadn't even got close to halfway through. The whole experience was made even more intense by having Ivan right in my line of sight, calmly smashing his way through all 25 inches in just 4:28 without even raising a sweat. (Side note: the record for one of these is an incomprehensible 2:16, presumably achieved by some sort of remorseless eating machine.)

Meanwhile, I struggled on, finding the gigantic hot dog less and less palatable as I went - the last third was basically disgusting and only eaten through force of will. I was happy to squeeze in under 10 minutes, but can't really say that I 'enjoyed' the experience - it left me feeling bloated and queasy and swearing off hot dogs for at least the next few weeks.

Cindy was much more sensible, opting to order from the regular menu. You can choose one of three sizes (little pecker - 3 inch ($4), average joe - 6-inch ($6) or massive wiener - 12-inch ($8)) and then go with either the classic (cheese, ketchup, mustard and onions), the kraut (classic + sauerkraut, $1 extra), the pickle (classic + zesty pickle relish, $1 extra) or the chilli cheese (classic + a beef or bean chilli, $2 extra). They've got vegan cheese at no extra charge and you can also add extras like diced tomato or jalapenos for $1 more.

Cindy went straight down the line - an average joe-sized classic minus the onion ($6) and a little vanilla shake with added malt ($4  + $1 - there are no vegan shakes on offer just now, but they assured us that they're working on it). The dog was pretty basic - the general consensus was that the wieners were the Sanitarium brand that are widely available in supermarkets and the buns were light and a bit chewy. If you're just going classic, you can probably do something equivalent at home without trying very hard - I'll be interested to taste the pickle relish or the chilli cheese options when I eventually feel ready to face another hot dog. The shake was super sweet and not thick at all, a passable beverage from Cindy's perspective.

Massive Wieners is a super fun shop - the staff are enthusiastic about their hot dogs, the decor and vibe is fun Americana (including bow-tied staff and checkerboard floors) and their menu is simple with clear vegan and vegetarian options. I can't in good conscience recommend the challenge though - it probably took six months off my life and I still wound up on the wall of shame.


Surprisingly few food bloggers have taken on the Massive Wiener challenge, with just one recounting of the experience on The Dodgy End (who beat my time, but still couldn't break the 5 minute barrier). 

There are a few bloggers who have sampled the vego options before us - Louise by Degrees wasn't overly impressed, while A Rhubarb Rhapsody and The Juliet Report were more enthusiastic. Meaty bloggers have generally enjoyed Massive Wieners - see Not Quite Nigella, About Susanna, New International Students, Nutritious Substance, Let Me Feed You Melbourne, For Food's Sake, Vanhell's Corner, Find Her Eating, Foodie About Town, My Town, Melbourne, One Fat Spork, The Bake-a-Nista, Ichigo Shortcake, The World Loves Melbourne and Sharking for Chips and Drinks for positive reviews and Jar Fed for a less glowing report.

Massive Wieners
226 Chapel Street, Prahran
0400 124 303
menu: food, drinks
facebook page

Accessibility: There's a small step up as you enter. The interior is flat and spacious, with the only seating options tall stools at a high counter. You order and pay at a lowish counter. We didn't visit the toilets (which was a relief, to be honest).

Posted October 20, 2014 06:33 AM by Michael

October 19, 2014

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Vegan savoury seedy french toast, Coconut french toast, and Our weekend

French toast always has been a mystery to me.  I never liked eggs enough to want it in my life.  Hurrah for vegan french toast!  I tried it once.  It was ok.  But thanks to Isa Does It, I discovered last weekend that if you coat it in coconut, it is amazing!  Then I wanted something more savoury and thought how much I love a seedy crust on bread.  So I coated the French toast in seeds.  So very good.

When we made the French toast last weekend, Sylvia wanted pancakes.  I convinced her that French toast was actually bread in a pancake.  She was happy to call it "French pancakes toast".  Yesterday when I said we could make French toast she was delighted.  Seems I have won her over.  She loves it with some berry sauce.

One reason I wanted to make the French toast is that I had a heel of a loaf of sourdough bread to use up.  But I also wanted to experiment with savoury French toast.  E says he used to eat it with tomato sauce.  That seemed wrong.  I fried up some tomato and some chickpea scramble.
Last weekend Sylvia loved helping.  Yesterday she had suddenly fallen in love with her dolls house furniture all over again and had to set up some rooms.  E was still asleep.  It was very relaxing to potter about the the kitchen, even though it was a bit of work to make a sweet and savoury version.

Sylvia loved her sweet version with raspberry sauce.  Last weekend I found I preferred mine with maple syrup.  Did I mention I experimented with some chia seeds in the sweet mix too.  Inspired by Kari's French toast.  Perhaps this is what sent me down the seedy path!

Meanwhile I tried frying my savoury French toast in seeds.  It wasn't quite as light and fluffy as last weekend.  Possibly the seeds weighed it down, or the sourdough bread was that much heavier than bakery bread, or I didn't use as much milk.

I think in future I would leave the vanilla out of the sweet French toast and use the same dipping mixture for the sweet and savoury.  Or I might just mix the seeds in with the dipping mixture rather than dipping in a mixture of seeds and scattering seeds over the gaps on the toast.  I also have this crazy idea of spreading the bread with vegemite before dipping and then just serving with a few slices of tomato on top.  The possibilities are endless.

The chickpea scramble (which I made as before but without the vegetable add-ins) was great but I made it first.  In retrospect I think I should have made the French Toast first which takes longer to make and stays hotter longer.  Despite this, it was a delicious breakfast   And so filling that I didn't feel the need for a big lunch.

Lunch was at the Fitzroy Market.  We met some friends to enjoy ukeleles, sausages, plants in gumboots, paisley cookware, pad thai and icy poles (those pineapple, coconut and lime ones were amazing)!  The kids always love the playground and E can't resist a bargain secondhand CDs.

After the market, a few of us went to Little Creatures on Brunswick Street for salted caramel doughnuts, a cheese platter and chatter.  Or giggling, as was the case with the kids.  Once they had finished drawing on the chalkboards the staff gave them to play with.  When Sylvia's friend was told it was time to go, she asked if she could do one more silly thing with Sylvia before they went! 

Sylvia would have had French toast again today but I was saving my energies for helping out with a Mellow Music in the park this afternoon.  It was a great relaxed day enjoying local musicians, Iranian food, kids toys, catching up with friends, and a pedal powered Singer sewing machine.  Lots of fun but lots of work too.  I am exhausted.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Healthy spaghetti hoops, caramel popcorn and a cardboard computer
Two years ago: WSC Chocolate Pumpkin Digestives
Three years ago: Chia bread: revising olive oil bread
Four years ago: SOS Tahini Muesli Bars or Mama Mia!
Five years ago: Chocolate cookies, bbq and mum’s sponge
Six years ago: Lysy’s smoky burgers

Savoury Seedy French Toast
An original recipe by Green Gourmet Giraffe
Serves 1-2

1 tbsp chickpea flour
1 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
1 tsp chia seeds
2-3 tbsp soy milk
pinch smoked salt
2 slices of sourdough bread
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp poppy seeds
1-2 tbsp margarine

Mix chickpea flour, cornflour, chia seeds, milk and salt in a shallow dish.  Soak for 30 seconds.  Scatter sesame seeds and poppy seeds on a plate or lid and dip bread in it.  Heat frypan over medium heat and melt 1 tbsp of margarine.  Fry bread for 2 to 4 minutes or until golden brown.  Flip over and fry another 2 to 4 minutes until golden brown - add more butter if needed.  Serve hot.

Serving suggestion: serve with tomatoes fried with a bit of seasoning, chickpea scramble and chopped greens of spring onions.

Sweet French Toast with Berries
Adapted from Isa Does It (See the original recipe)
Serves 1-2

1-2 handfuls of berries
Slurp of maple syrup
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tsp chia seeds
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch salt
2 tbsp dessicated coconut
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp margarine

Heat berries and maple syrup in a small saucepan until berries soften.  Set aside.  Mix flour, cornflour, chia seeds, milk and salt in a shallow dish.  Soak for 30 seconds.  Scatter coconut on a plate or lid and dip bread in it.  Heat frypan over medium heat.  Add olive oil and margarine.  Fry bread for 2 to 4 minutes or until golden brown.  Flip over and fry another 2 to 4 minutes until golden brown.  Serve hot with berry sauce.

On the Stereo:
Alas I cannot swim: Laura Marling

Posted October 19, 2014 08:56 PM by Johanna GGG

October 17, 2014

quinces and kale

white bean and kale soup with gremolata

white bean and kale soup

After a warm weekend, the weather in Melbourne has taken a wintry turn with the temperature dropping 15 degrees. This cool weather, and a desire to eat some healthier, simpler food after a month of eating out non-stop while on holiday, means that soup is back on the menu for me.

This is the most simple of soups. It takes about 10 minutes to make when using canned beans and it has the advantage of making a small dent in the madness that is my kale and parsley crop. It is a combination of stock, beans and kale with a garnish of parsley, garlic, lemon zest and olive oil to give it some spark.

I love it.


white bean and kale soup with gremolata
prep time
5 mins
cook time
5 mins
total time
10 mins
author: quincesandkale
recipe type: soup
cuisine: vegan
serves: 2
  • 1 400 gram can of cannellini beans
  • 3 large handfuls of chopped kale
  • 2 cups of vegetable stock
  • 1 large handful of parsley
  • zest from one lemon
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 splash of olive oil
  1. Drain and rinse the beans and combine them in a saucepan with the stock and the kale.
  2. Bring to a boil and cook until the kale wilts.
  3. Mash some of the beans against the side of the pot but leave most of them whole.
  4. Make the gremolata by combining the finely chopped parsley, lemon zest, garlic and olive oil.
  5. Serve the soup garnished with gremolata.



Posted October 17, 2014 09:00 AM

October 16, 2014

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Vegan choc chip cookies with smoked almonds and cacao nibs

There is great satisfaction in being organised in the kitchen.  I can  go for days and days without the right vegetables or snacks and then I suddenly switch into domestic goddess mode.  It happened yesterday.  I baked choc chip cookies and sourdough bread and put a lot of it in the freezer.  I've done all the grocery shopping I need.  I feel unusually virtuous.  (Just don't look at my carpets.  I'll do them later!)*

These chocolate chip cookies with smoked almonds and cacao nibs were actually a repeat of those I made on my visit to Adelaide.   I feel good about that.  It can often take me ages to repeat a recipe despite good intentions.  Yet fate took a hand when I found a neglected packet of smoked almonds.

Then I bought choc chips on the way home and was all set.  Except for eggs.  I haven't had eggs in the kitchen for a few weeks.  Perhaps they just haven't felt so necessary in my life after seeing Kari could even make lemon meringue pie without eggs.  Though Sylvia recently has expressed a fondness for boiled eggs so they might reappear soon.  Meanwhile a couple of flax 'eggs' worked well.

When I made these biscuits at Yaz's place, they were quite darkly coloured.  After the suggested 10 minutes, they still looked quite pale after cooking in my oven.  (If only I could compare ovens for every recipes I blog!)  So I left them a few more minutes.

They came out and looked slightly domed.  I have written before that a good choc chip cookie looks slightly wrinkled like the skin of a pug dog.  After 5 or 10 minutes the cookies sunk pleasingly.  They were wrinkly delicious.  I was really pleased with their texture: slightly chewy about the edges, firm enough to keep their shape but soft and nubbly with the nuts, nibs and chips. 

The cookies are quite sweet but I think I should have followed Joanne's lead and sprinkled the dough with smoked salt.  I have tried sprinkling smoked salt on a cold cookie and it works well.  I have added the smoked salt to the recipe even though I didn't use it.  And even with the extra salt I think less sugar would be fine in these cookies.

These cookies aren't technically vegan because the choc chips I used were not vegan.  I used dark choc chips and also some caramel chips that Sylvia requested.  I don't think I would use the caramel chips again.  They probably contributed to the sweetness of the cookies.  If you want vegan cookies you could easily do this by using vegan chocolate.

So I can highly recommend these sweet, smoky, salty, nubbly cookies to you.  We have a pleasingly large stash in the freezer as they make heaps.  They are up there with the almond butter choc chip cookies as the most successful vegan choc chip cookie I have made.  We all loved them.  In fact I have a feeling this will not be the last time I make these cookies.  After all if they are good enough to make twice in a few weeks then that is proof this recipe is a keeper!

I am sending these cookie to the Biscuit Barrel Challenge at I'd Much Rather Bake Than....  This month the theme is Comfort.  And aren't choc chip cookies always comforting!  I am also sending it to Vohn's Vittles for Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary's No Food Waste Challenge.  Not only did the smoked almonds need using but the cacao nibs were bought in 2008!

*Update: the domestic goddess feeling never lasts long - today I forgot about some soup I had simmering and when I came home 3 hours later it was very burnt.  Dinner was like a mash that we scraped off the top.  I hope (and think) my saucepan will survive!

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: The Getting of Wisdom Birthday Cake
Two years ago: Vegan Sweet potato and cheeze scones
Three years ago: CC Tamarind Tempeh with Noodles
Four years ago: Spinach Rice Gratin
Five years ago: All About Apples: history, culture and soup
Six years ago: Milestones and Rissoles

Chocolate chip cookies with smoked almonds and cacao nibs
Adapted from Eats Well With Others
Makes about 36 medium cookies

2 tbsp ground linseed (flax)
6 tbsp water
250g vegan margarine (I used Nuttalex)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar (or less)
1/2 cup raw sugar
2 cups plus 3 tbsp plain flour
1 1/2 tsp bicarb soda (baking soda)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 cups choc chips (I used 1 cup dark and 1 cup caramel)
1 cup smoked roasted almonds, finely chopped*
1/2 cup cacao nibs
smoked sea salt, for sprinkling

Put together the 2 flax eggs by mixing linseed (or flax) and water in a small bowl.  Set aside so it becomes gloopy.

Preheat oven to 180 C or 350 F.  Line a few oven trays with baking paper.

Cream margarine and sugars (I used electric beaters).  Add flax eggs and cider vinegar.  Beat until combined.  Stir in flour, bicarb and salt.  Gently mix in choc chips, smoked almonds and cacao nibs.

Drop slightly heaped tablespoonfuls of dough onto lined trays leaving about 2 inches between each cookie.  I only put about 8 onto my smaller oven trays which usually bake about 12 biscuits.  They will spread.  Sprinkle dough with smoked salt

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly golden brown.  Cool for 5 to 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

* I find smoked almonds easy to find in the shops but from the comments it seems this is not the case with everyone.  If you don't have smoked almonds you could make some using this smoked nuts recipe or just substitute roasted almonds and maybe a drop of liquid smoke as well as the smoked salt.  The smokiness of the smoked almonds isn't that detectable but I think it does add to the depth of flavour.

On the Stereo:
Son of Evil Reindeer: The Reindeer Selection

Posted October 16, 2014 10:37 AM by Johanna GGG


*~*~PONY CLUB~*~*

Hi everyone!

I know I haven’t blogged in so long and I feel kind of bad but I have been very busy writing a cookbook for all of the Sweetie Pie and Cuddle Cakes recipes with an emphasis on raw and sugar free sweets. It is going really well but is quite time consuming!

Anyway something that I have been spending a lot of time on is organising an event for the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses. It is a club night called PONY CLUB which is happening on 2nd November at Boney in Melbourne CBD. All money raised on the night will be going towards CPR which is a great non-profit group dedicated to fighting for the better treatment of racehorses. Have a look at the amazing work they do here .

The Spring Racing Carnival is hard because you don’t want to support a horrible and cruel industry yet you don’t want to miss out on all of the fun.  With this night you won’t have to! You can do something for the greater good and also have lots of fun!

Here is the facebook event for the night and I hope lots of people can come and support the cause! There will be lots of djs, free vegan cupcakes and also prizes for best dressed (vegan of course)!

Anyway I hope to see everyone there having an amazing time!



Posted October 16, 2014 09:15 AM

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Alice Springs

October 2-7, 2014

Alice Springs ain't a big town but it has its share of eateries. Some Alice-savvy friends helpfully passed on their favourites before we set off; their recs were vastly preferable to the obtusely named and catered Juicy Rump, a casino-pub conveniently adjacent to our conference venue. Take Monte's, for example - though it was a bit of a walk, this circus-themed pub offered just as much outdoor seating and terrific food as a major bonus. Gluten-free options on their pizza and three kinds of vege burger brought smiles to faces of this conference crowd. Some folks even stuck around for the Thursday night trivia.

Our crumbed haloumi burgers (~$13) were right on trend with a brioche bun, lots of condiments and a price uninflated by distance. We had a choice between beer-battered chips and shoestring fries (+~$3) on the side, and no regrets either way.


We'd been advised that Hanuman was probably the best restaurant in town, so we booked ourselves dinner there after we'd washed off the red dirt from our tour. The menu is Pan-Asian with an entire vegetarian section plus a few extra (V)s elsewhere.

Hanuman's koftas ($17.50) were as dry as the Todd River out front and I'd've gladly traded one of them for some more of the spiced cream sauce. The chickpea masala ($18) was a bit better balanced, and we mopped most of it up with roti ($5.50) and rice ($3).

What I liked most about Hanuman was that they had a mocktail list. The Sundown ($9.50) was sweet icy paradise after our camping holiday; mint, lime, almond syrup, and orange juice.

Finally, we enjoyed a pre-flight brunch at Page 27. Though the furniture, artwork and counter-ordering reminded me of the Brisbane cafes I frequented in the late 1990s, the menu was modern-day Melbourne with gluten-free toast options, an avocado smash and mentions of chorizo. The coffee passed muster with Michael and even my beverage whims were catered to with a soy dandelion latte.

Michael's veggie breakfast ($16.90) centred around a pot of beetroot chutney, with poached eggs, mushrooms, spinach, feta, avocado and toast providing the substance.

I polished off a plate of fluffy French toast ($14.90) smeared with creamy mascarpone, forgivably canned peaches and crushed pistachios.

Though you can't always rely on quality cooking or fresh produce in a town like Alice, these eateries left a pleasant taste in our mouths. To finish up, here's another taste of the landscape; this time the West MacDonnell Ranges.

Posted October 16, 2014 07:49 AM by Cindy

October 15, 2014

Ballroom Blintz

Blintz on Tour: Grasslands, Toronto

The funny thing about Toronto is that the subway doesn’t operate on a Sunday until 9am. This obviously made it a little difficult for me to get to the 9am film screening I’d planned to attend on this particular Sunday, but no matter – instead I decided to go on a nice long walk through the University and Chinatown, ending up on Queen Street West in the hope that Grasslands might be open at the end of my hike.

Steph was so effusive about her visit to Grasslands back in June that before I left for Toronto she essentially grabbed me by the lapels to shout “GO TO GRASSLANDS OR YOU WILL BE FORFEIT TO ME AS A PERSON.” Well, I did not want to be FORFEIT, so I was pleased that Grasslands was indeed open by the time I loped into the Queen Street neighbourhood.

I remembered Steph heartily recommending the hangover plate, but I liked very much the sound of a morning burrito, so went with the breakfast burrito: house scrambled tofu, corn, black beans, mushrooms, daiya cheddar cheese, onions, peppers and guacamole wrapped in a flour tortilla, served alongside a house salad of dressed greens, cabbage, red onion and slivered almond bits, another mound composed of house fries, and, delightfully, two pieces of watermelon.

The meals at Grasslands are served on these long platters with each component laid out end to end, which is perfect for weirdos like me who like their food SEPARATE, for ease of individual component tasting. Moving down the platter, firstly the breakfast burrito was nicely sized, big enough to feel like a solid handful, but not, you know, the size of your head, which is initially exciting but ends up after a while feeling like the kitchen is just trying to intimidate your stomach. The tofu mixture inside was properly spicy and will definitely wake you up should you be having a sleepy morning. Also, everyone was right about daiya being the only vegan cheese worth bothering with – no nasty chemical overtones, actual proper cheesy taste achieved. I’m not sure what is stopping daiya from being widely available in Australia but we have to get on that, stat.

The salad was lightly dressed in a mayo-ish sauce and provided an excellent creamy crunch. Also crunchy were the fries, and I would like to put forward that my Official Stance is that fries for breakfast are entirely acceptable and I would like to see more of it, MORE I SAY. And of course the sweet juicy burst of watermelon to finish and cleanse the palate was a very thoughtful touch.

Grasslands also has a nicely varied drinks menu. While I could of started the morning in an alcoholic fashion with a breakfast cocktail I decided to be slightly sensible for once and instead chose one of the mocktails, a cucumber lemonade complete with a sugared glass rim, all tart and refreshing and just what was required to hit that spot.

Steph was right (she always is) that Grasslands was a Toronto must. You must, you must, you must.


478 Queen Street West, Toronto

Ph: +1 (416) 504-5127


Posted October 15, 2014 11:54 PM

Little Vegan Bear

Red Robyn, Camberwell

The weekend before last, the Bear and I took a bike ride out to my folks place. Upon arrival, we decided to head over to Camberwell with them to get a bite to eat for a late lunch. I had been wanting to check out the Red Robyn for some time after hearing them described as an ‘allergy friendly cafe’ – catering for a number of different dietary requirements, including vegan, fructose allergies, nut allergies and FODMAP diets. Everything on the menu is also gluten-free and soy-free. Wowzers.

The cafe itself is on a quiet part of Camberwell rd, and you could quite easily fly right past it without noticing if it were not from the cute little red robin sign out the front. Inside, the place is warm and bright, with splashes of red throughout to fit with the theme.

redrobin2 I wasn’t sure if we were going to be let in as we were cutting it quite close to kitchen closing time, however we were welcomed with a smile, and provided with lovely service throughout. I started with a coffee while I perused the menu a little further.

redrobinThere were many dishes that caught my eye, but ultimately I went with this one. Ask me what it is. I can’t remember! I think it was some sort of smoky eggplant and potato croquette, with a fresh salsa. Wow my memory is failing me terribly. I really need to take care if I plan to write about a meal!

Regardless, I remember it was tasty. My mum, dad and the bear all went with non-vegan options, and all commented on how much they enjoyed their meals too. On the way out, I was told that there are usually plenty of vegan sweets on offer, including vanilla slice (be still my heart!) so I DEFINITELY have good reason to return.

Red Robyn
393 Camberwell Rd, Camberwell
Mon – Fri – 7.30am – 3pm
Sat – Sun – 8.30am – 3.30pm
(kitchen shuts 30 mins prior to close)

Posted October 15, 2014 09:36 PM

October 14, 2014

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Port Fairy holiday, walks and eating out

Our holiday in Port Fairy last month made me understand why people return to the same holiday location year after year.  We have never done it before.  I love exploring new places. This year however was our third time staying in the holiday cottages.  And it worked.  Planning was really easy.  We didn't need research or maps.  We knew great places to eat, tried some new ones and had a relaxing time with no pressure to see it all.

We arrived on a Friday afternoon - thanks to my mum loaning us her car.  (Our car had been stolen! More of that saga already written about elsewhere on blog.)  We have stayed at Orchard Cottages twice before.  Sylvia remembered the place fondly because she loved the stairs to the mezzanine bedroom.  She brought along her lego and coloured pens for entertainment.

E and I really love the cosy ambiance of the cottage.   The books, the pictures, the crochet rugs, the wood stove.  Our last trips have been earlier in the spring and we have found it necessary to light the fire.  This trip was a lot warmer so we only lit it a couple of times and on the first night it was far too hot.  Which didn't help Sylvia sleeping in the mezzanine!  I also must mention Terence the cat.  E and Sylvia spent a lot of time outside playing with him.

One reason we love Orchard Cottages is that we have our own space to relax and to eat.  I organise the food to take with us.  What we took was fairly similar to last year: baked beans, packaged curries, pringles chips, nutella, English muffins, nuttalex, oats (for porridge), milk,vegemite, roast chickpeas, tinned chickpeas, tomato soup, crackers, herbal tea bags, chocolate, prunes, apples and a few vegies.  As with last year, we took some of it home but it was all non-perishable food that lasted well.  I also bought my favourite little plastic chopping board, knife, a few tubs and some plastic plate, bowl and cup for Sylvia.

The night before we left, I baked a batch of gingerbread biscuits.  It was a great little snack to have on hand and take with us on walks.  The recipe makes heaps so we had quite a few to take home.

One reason we arrived on a Friday was to visit the Community Market on Saturday morning.  I was disappointed to find it no longer has a baker.  However I did have a pakora and a ricotta, sultana and white chocolate doughnut.  We also bought some jelly slice.  Sylvia's choice!

Most of our time at the market was spent waiting for Sylvia to have her face painted.  We watched the face painter hammer down the tent because it was so windy.  The stall with the wind chimes made of silver tea pots and spoons was rather loud, in a nice sort of way.

After the market we had lunch at the excellent Farmer's Wife Harvest Cafe.  (It was so good it deserves its own post - coming soon.)   Then E and Sylvia spent time in the opportunity shop in search of second hand bargains while I went to Darriwill Farm for fancy food.  Dinner was a simple matter of spinach and macadamia dip, La Madre casalinga, swiss cheese and vegies.  So good.  So easy.

We returned to the Clonmara Tearoom.  We had enjoyed their food and hospitality so much last time that it was high on our list of places to eat.  There were no baked beans on the menu but when I asked, I was given some lovely home made baked beans with hash browns, tomato and toast.  This time there were no potato scones or haggis on the menu but we did receive the same warm welcome from the owners.

We also returned to Tower Hill.  It is a short drive from Port Fairy.  Yet again, I found the scenery stunning and loved being in the bush.  The views in the dormant volcano are beautiful.  We did a walk up to a lookout that looked across the nearby farmlands to the sea.

There were no kangaroos spotted this year but we did have to stop the car to let an emu cross the road.  We stopped to watch a lizard on the walking path and Sylvia was delighted to see Scottish thistles in flower.  Some wildlife was less welcome.  The mosquitoes were everywhere in Port Fairy and at Tower Hill.  And they loved sucking on my blood!  There were also lots of dragonflies about.  They are more harmless.

I took some snacks for our walks.  The cafe seemed pretty rudimentary on our last visit.  Some packets of roasted chickpeas, gingerbread and chopped apples did us nicely.

However by the time we got back to Port Fairy, we were ready for an ice cream.  I had promised Sylvia she would have an ice cream in Port Fairy.  We went to Rebecca's.  I had chocolate, Sylvia had butterscotch and E had salted caramel.  We all really loved the salted caramel.  Someone recommended the ice creams or gelatos at Poco Artisan Ice Cream on Cox Street.  Maybe we will try them next holiday.

We had some time at the cottage to relax (and build cubby huts in the garden) and then Sylvia and I had a swim at the local pool.  It was not a great decision to head out with wet hair to look for the mutton birds flying in at dark on Griffith Island.  We were all so cold and uncertain of what we were looking for.  It is so easy to forget how warm spring days can turn to chilly nights quickly.  Finally we left and as we did we saw some birds flying in.

After a chilly night out we needed fish and chips to warm us up.  Wisharts on the Wharf - just up the road from the cottage - was the fish and chip shop we had been to on our previous visits.  We were surprised to find it had closed.  Luckily I asked a local who pointed me in the direction of Charlie's on East.  It was worth a drive.  Crisp golden chips, great potato cakes and lovely corn jacks.

The next day we did something we hadn't done on previous visits.  We crossed the river on the pedestrian bridge to explore the other side.

I had packed some bikkies and hummus, gingerbread and apple.  We stopped at a little picnic spot by a cart to eat a picnic lunch by the river.  E had actually planned we might go to Botanic Gardens but we never got that far.  Instead we wandered along the river until we came to a deserted beach.

I walked along the water's edge.  Sylvia and E built a sandcastle of sorts.  Sylvia lay in the sand to make a sand angel (like a snow angel).  We all wrote in the sand and watched the tide wash away our words.  Then we walked back and found ourselves going off the beaten trail into the bush.  At one stage I found myself in a staring contest with a wallaby.  She left first with her joey in her pouch.  We checked out the old canons and headed back to the cottage.

Another walk meant another visit to a cafe for a sugar fix.  This time it was The Hub.  I chose the Tim Tam Cheesecake.  It was every bit as decadent as it sounded.  The huge slice was too much for me to finish but I made a great effort.  As well as layers of chocolate cake, white chocolate cheese cake and milk chocolate cheesecake there was a layer of caramel and a piece of Tim Tam biscuit on top.

Dinner was a simple affair that night.  Boxed curries and naan bread.  We were on holiday and wanted something easy.  It was that sort of holiday.  No wifi, no tv, early nights, lots of good food, lots of the great outdoors, lots of walks, and lots of reading.  By the time we were ready to drive home, I felt refreshed. 

Posted October 14, 2014 10:31 PM by Johanna GGG

quinces and kale

vietnamese rice vermicelli salad

vietnamese rice vermicelli salad with grilled tofu

A Vietnamese rice vermicelli salad would have to be a candidate for one of my favourite dishes of all time. My desert island dish. Well, I lie. I probably have 10 desert island dishes. :)

It has so much going for it. It is easy to make, it is fresh and vibrant, it is healthy AND it tastes spectacularly good.

It is just a bowl of vermicelli noodles topped with a variety of raw or lightly blanched veggies, some protein and a sweet, salty and spicy dressing.

The dish varies every time I make it. It really depends what is in the fridge. The only constants are the vermicelli, lettuce and carrot. And the dressing of course.

Today’s bowl contained rice vermicelli, lettuce, carrot, coriander, snow peas, satay flavoured tofu, sliced fresh chillies, spring onions and the chilli, garlic and “fish sauce” dressing.

Today I came home from a walk, hungry and ready to eat so I used some already flavoured tofu. In the past I’ve used crispy fried tempeh or some seitan mock chicken.

Here is the recipe for the dressing. You will need about 1/3 cup per bowl.


dressing for vietnamese rice vermicelli salad
prep time
7 mins
cook time
3 mins
total time
10 mins
author: quincesandkale
cuisine: vietnamese, vegan
serves: 1 cup
  • ¼ cup vegan fish sauce
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 small hot red chilli, finely chopped with the seeds removed (or less if you're scared)
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  1. Heat the vegan fish sauce, vinegar, water and sugar in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves completely. Don't let it come to the boil.
  2. Allow to cool, then mix in the garlic, chilli and lime juice;


Posted October 14, 2014 09:00 AM

October 13, 2014

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

The Red Centre

October 4-6, 2014

My job led me to Alice Springs earlier this month. Michael and I have never before visited Australia's red centre and we took this as an incentive to book some leave and join a three-day mini-bus tour of hiking, camping and swatting at flies. The tour included all the food we needed, though we did relish the odd roadhouse snack.

Meals were big and often barbecue based - stir-fried noodles and veges, burritos wrapped in tortillas steamed in their plastic by the scorching sun, bushmeat burgers and steaks. Our guide thoughtfully supplied several different mock alternatives for us two vegos, while our international travelling companions were introduced to lamingtons, damper cooked in the coals and - much to one daring Californian's ultimate disgust - Vegemite. We established toasted marshmallows as a common cuisine.

Conditions were profoundly dry and the temperature soared beyond 40 degrees one afternoon. Water was much more important than food. It tasted weirder and weirder as we travelled away from Alice Springs, reminding me of olive brine around Kings Creek Station. Weird or warm, we still drank litres of it each day. A refrigerated bottle of iced tea from a service station was the greatest luxury I could imagine.

For all that, we weren't in it for the food. It simply sustained us long enough to take in Atilla, Uluru, and Kata Tjuta. These red rocks are truly spectacular. Here's a slideshow summarising what we saw.

Posted October 13, 2014 09:32 PM by Cindy

Thoughts Of A Moni

Fake Sausage Rolls

This recipe can be found on quite a few vegetarian blogs, like here and here and here, however whenever I make it, I always get asked for the recipe, so I've decided to blog it myself! It's a definite crowd favourite, and you can make then in various sizes (small for finger food, or large for dinner).

I've fed these sausage rolls to non vegetarians many times, and most of the time they can't even pick that there's no meat!


'Sausage' mix:

3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup walnuts, chopped finely in a food processor (I've used whatever nuts I have on hand, pecans, peanuts etc)
1 medium to large onion, finely chopped
1 vegetable stock cube (I have often substituted this for random 2 minute noodle flavouring sachets that have been floating around)
1 clove of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
250g cottage cheese
1 cup rolled oats
½ cup breadcrumbs

Other Ingredients:

Puff pastry sheets
Milk for glazing
Sesame seeds or poppy seeds to sprinkle on top


1. Mix all the ingredients for the 'sausage' filling and put aside.

2. Thaw out some puff pastry and cut it in half, into two rectangles. Spoon a line of the non-sausage mix down the centre third of each rectangle and gently roll up. Slice the rolls into halves, thirds or quarters and cut some diagonal slits along the top. You can repeat and assemble the lot now, or just do as many as you want to eat and freeze the remaining mix for later.

3. Glaze the sausage rolls with milk, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake at 200 deg for 20-30 minutes, until golden brown.

4. Serve with tomato sauce!

Posted October 13, 2014 12:14 PM by Moni

October 12, 2014

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Batman Market - an exciting new market in Coburg

Yesterday Sylvia and I ate french toast and rode our bikes to check out the new Batman Market.  It was busy and buzzing and great to be there on a sunny Saturday.

It being the first day they had held the market, we started with a reccy to get the lay of the land.  It is not a farmers market nor a craft market nor a fete but it felt like combination of all three.  But more festive than farmers. 

The first food that really enticed me were these spicy chickpeas.  Gorgeous presentation.  I bought a cone.  They had chunks of fresh coconut in them too.  Delicious.   I overstretched myself with mozzerella filled arepas and ended up taking some of the chickpeas home. 

I had never seen arepas for sale before.  Which might be why I neglected to see that I should have topped them with a bit of salsa.  Loved them but they would have been even better with salsa.   I would have loved some of the sangria too.  It was non-alcoholic but we were juggling too much by then.

It was hard to go past the seasoned corn, wood oven pizza, dosa and okonamiyaki.  Sylvia had a potato twist.  The above photo is of the people at the food stalls.  They were really busy.  Some places had queues too long for my patience.  But not all.  In the background you can see one of the industrial buildings surrounding the market.

We enjoyed all the entertainers: dancers, bands and the Chinese dragons.  The act that got most of our attention was the circus act where the guy rode an eight foot unicycle.  He had a great patter and amused us further by taking off his suit and then juggling knives while on the unicycle.  He was crazy!

Some of the craft was great.  I really loved these cute owls.  The dresses made out of day of the dead fabric were pretty special too.  However I don't look too closely at the craft so I can't remember more of it.  I need to eat but I have nowhere for any more craft in my house.

This dosa stall seemed the hippest place to sit with festive bunting and cute cane chairs.  However if you didn't get a seat here there were quite a few other places to sit and enjoy some food and entertainers.

We needed a seat to eat our ice cream.  Sylvia wanted a plain old ice cream in a cone but I was too tempted by the syringes at N2.  Vanilla honeycomb icecream with caramel sauce in a syringe.  Mmmmmm.  I felt a bit sorry for Sylvia but not that sorry when she was having fun squirting sauce over her ice cream.  It was really good.

A few stalls were selling food for the home.  Grumpy Gary's hot sauces sounded good but I have enough hot sauce to get through at home.  And the smoky sauce was a bit spicy for me.  We bought banana chips at the fruit and nut store and a currant bun and a pretzel at the bakery.  The loaves of bread looked really good.  We also got spring onions at a vegie stall but sadly the strawberries were sold out when we returned there.

We had a great time at the market.  It will be held every weekend on both Saturday and Sunday.  This sounds ambitious to me but the market is certainly bold and big.  I wonder if it would be so busy  after the curiosity factor has worn off.  Yet they have put a lot of work into promoting it and have a large space to develop it.

It is a great place to take the kids or your friends - face painting, bouncy castle, balloons, entertainers and spaces to sit and enjoy some good food.  The stalls are quite eclectic and interesting.  Hopefully it will prosper and attract more stalls.  I look forward to a return visit.

Batman Market
14-22 Gaffney St, Coburg
(By Batman train station on the Upfield line)
Tel: 1300 284 787
Opening hours: Sat and Sun: 9:00am - 3:00pm

Posted October 12, 2014 09:58 PM by Johanna GGG

October 11, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth MoFo Wrap Up

Hello! Hi! Hola!

I had a bit of an impromptu week and a half off after MoFo, just to catch my breath. But now I’m back, and with awesome news. Drum roll pleaaasseee…..I won a MoFie!

mofieHell yeah! Thanks MoFo judges, I certainly had fun and am glad you’ve enjoyed the sweet sweet tunes too. Head over to the official Vegan MoFo site to check out the full list of MoFie winners. Thank you to all my readers old and new and everybody who participated in MoFo and made it rockin’. See you next year!  \m/

And without further adieu, here is a pictorial summary of my thirty days of MoFo, following the theme of Music for your Mouth:

                              bread lemonheads honeycombs3

                              blindmelon2 chillipeppers pb3

                              chuckberry2 neutralmilk2 smashingpump1

                              vanillafudge marthamuffins infectedmush6

                               zombievanillaicee3 jello3

                              fionaapple4 spicegirls3 cake1

                              bananasplit hotchoc soup1

                              blondie3 thejam1 cream4

                              cherry1 orange1 saltnpepa1

                              peaches2 burrito2 custard2

30 days, hoooooly mackerel! This was only my second year MoFoing, but certainly my best effort to date. I can’t believe I managed a post every single day (take a good look folks, it may not ever happen again). I had tried to be organised this year to stay one step ahead of the game, but I did feel a little in the deep end, particularly towards the end of the month. There’s always something to aspire to and next year it will be to be even MORE organised. Ha!

Thanks for dropping by, stay tuned as we return to regular programming.

One more song to take us to the close. It isn’t an edible audio, but I think totally appropriate. Plus I was bummed I didn’t get to squeeze Freddy Mercury in anywhere else, so y’know…


Posted October 11, 2014 10:35 PM

Vegan Bullsh*t

OVERDOSA 2: The Burger-ning

Recently I've had the privilege of showing the awesome Lish around Melbourne. She's not veg but an equal opportunity eater: if it's delicious, it's all good, which is the best kind of person to hang out with! So we hit all of my favourite places: Sweetwater Inn, Shandong Mama (twice), we even made time for vegan cupcakes. It was awesome and such fun to wander around my city like I was seeing it for the first time.
The last place on our must-go list was Overdosa for the incredible avocado. We walked in, said hi, ordered our avocado and then the lovely guy goes OH HEY I'LL MAKE YOU ONE OF OUR NEW MENU ITEM. Oh yes please. A few minutes later, we were delivered this glorious thing:
It's a dosa burger! Soft, soft white roll smeared with date chutney. Blistered green chilis, carrot salad and a patty of potato masala deep fried until crunchy. You smash it down and get a very serviceable patty:
I don't think I really need to qualify it but yep, it's amazing. If you've tried the Guru Burger at Lord of the Fries - this kicks its butt a thousand times over. So much flavour, and not too spicy! I'm a spice wuss and this was very manageable. It's also very easy to eat - no dripping on your clothes, and you could totally do it one-handed. Genius fast food. Lish loved both the burger and the avocado - her views will appear in part 5 of her travel blog on her livejournal. We left very, very happy.

And of course there was avocado (blurry pics - I think I fingerprinted my lens, too busy stuffing face:)
The best part about the burger, though? It officially launches today at Batman Market. Hope you didn't have plans, because you probably do now. Get this in your face.


spinning at the Emerald Peacock Weds thru. Friday (4 pm onwards), Batman Market on the weekends (from 9 am)!

Overdosa on Urbanspoon

Posted October 11, 2014 09:18 AM by L

October 10, 2014

quinces and kale

wilted kale salad with japanese style dressing

Japanese wilted kale salad with BBQ tofu

I’ve returned home from a month of travelling to a 2.5 metre by 1 metre bed full of kale. So it is time to practice what I preach and get back to seasonal eating. That means eating kale. Lots of it.

The reason I have so much kale is because earlier this year I converted a couple of my raised beds into wicking beds, basically giant self watering pots. I can vouch that they work wonderfully. I came home to two lush beds, one of kale and one of silver beet. They had not been watered for a month, except for rain and the water that was in the bed reservoir when I left.

A couple of the kale plants have started to form flower buds, so I decided to use these like broccolini. I combined these with some of the kale leaves in a salad with a Japanese inspired dressing.  I think this would work well with any kind of greens.

kale and asparagus blanched kale

I steamed the kale, chilled it so it remained green, and then dressed it. I ate it with some quinoa, a few precious steamed asparagus stems from my garden and barbecued tofu.


wilted kale salad with japanese dressing
prep time
10 mins
total time
10 mins
author: quincesandkale
recipe type: salad
cuisine: vegan
serves: 2
  • 2 large handfuls of chopped kale
  • 2 tsp japanese soy sauce
  • 1 large squeeze of orange juice
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp miso
  • a sprinkle of gomasio (Japanese sesame salt)
  1. Blanch the kale in some boiling water and then rinse with cold water so that it stops cooking and retains its colour.
  2. Make the dressing with the remaining ingredients except the gomasio and toss with the kale.
  3. Sprinkle the gomasio over the top.




Posted October 10, 2014 09:00 AM

October 09, 2014

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Adelaide, kale cake, smoky cookies and plane food

When I headed over to Adelaide recently for a catch up with my friend Yaz, I reflected upon how I had visited the city a number of times, even since I started blogging, and yet have very little to show for it in the way of photos and foodie memories.  This trip didn't produce much more in the way of photos of Adelaide but I am happy to say that I enjoyed some great food. I had a fun time in the kitchen with Yaz cooking a taco lunch, kale cake and smoky choc chip cookies.

Firstly, it is opportunity to reflect on the airline food.  I have previously written about my frustrations with plane food.  On this trip, due to a palaver with frequent flyer points, I travelled business class.  Which should make plane food so much better!  Right?  It was lovely flying business class.  Lots of space, proper glasses and the choice of water or juice before we took off.

The meal on the flight to Adelaide was quite forgettable.  A very nicely done pasta with tomato sauce.  It had chunks of zucchini but no protein.  I did have a nice oat biscuit and a square of chocolate as well as three token cubes of melon.  At least I didn't feel I had wasted time eating a tiny falafel slider and piece of cheesecake at the bookshop cafe at Tullamarine Airport (above photo).  One of the downsides of business class for sticky beaks like me is that I was too far from my neighbour to compare my meal with theirs.

I met Yaz in Adelaide at a bar called Udaberri Pintxos Y Vino.   It was a very stylish place to catch up over a drink.  The next morning I felt crook.  I think it was the crazy month catching up with me rather than the after-effects of one glass of sherry.  Unfortunately this meant that I missed the opportunity to go to Adelaide's Central Market that I have heard great things about.

Yaz went to the market alone instead.  So we ate fresh bread and cheese when I felt a bit better in the afternoon.  We also had a walk to a shop called Chile Mojo.  (If this name sounds familiar, you might have read about the shop in this month's SBS Feast magazine.)   I brought shame upon Yaz by asking for a salsa that was not too spicy and didn't taste of coriander (cilantro).  Luckily the guy behind the counter was really friendly and helpful.  And the Key West Key Lime Salsa was perfect for me.

Chile Mojo claims to have the largest range of hot sauces in Australia and I am ready to believe this.  If you ever want entertainment in Adelaide, just go there and read some of the names of the sauces: See Dick Burn, Howling Monkey, Toxic Waste, Dr Assburn!!!!  Seriously, if you want to order hot sauce in Australia, you should check them out. 

Yaz had also organised for us to go out that evening.  I was glad I felt well enough to go along.  We saw Helen Feng's Nova Heart play at the OzAsia Festival at the Adelaide Festival Centre.  She is described as Beijing's Blondie but if you want an amazing description of her music, check out this interview.

It was an fascinating gig because at the start Helen Feng told the audience not to clap or cheer or stand.  If anyone clapped, Helen Feng shushed them and told them they did not know how to obey.  It was odd to feel so passive as the audience.  Yaz found it liberating.  And the music was eclectic: dreamy, wild, sexy, melodic, and the musicians at times created a wall of sound with amazing drumming.

The next day I felt well enough to do the baking we had put on hold the previous day.  Yaz shares my love of zany recipes and is willing to try anything.  So he jumped at the idea of making kale cake and Eats Well With Others' smoked salt choc chip cookies.  We looked for smoked almonds in the supermarket to add to the cookies but had to settle for smoked sea salt.

We used walnuts instead of roasted almonds, 250g butter, 2 cups of brown sugar (and did away with regular sugar), and 2 cups of dark choc chips (instead of milk choc chips).  I really liked the extra crunch of the cocoa nibs and the extra punch of the smoked salt sprinkled on top.  I will try and make these again and write more about the recipe at a later date.  They were really delicious and substantial cookies.  Perhaps I will try them with smoked almonds!

Much as I would like to deny it, I am less likely to make the kale cake again.  I don't have many friends like Yaz who would be so excited about it and I can't see any of my family embracing it with much enthusiasm.  But just look at that vibrant green colour and tell me you aren't curious to taste a slice!

Our biggest challenge was blending the kale.  A comment on the recipe had made me worry we would have a vanilla cake with green specks.  We used the hand held blender.  I convinced Yaz to get out the little food processor which made very little extra impact.  The kale was finely chopped rather than a smooth puree I thought we might need.  We also had a discussion about how much water took in while cooking and if we should reduce the water to allow for it. 

Yaz's kitchen is slightly minimalist given that he hasn't lived in Adelaide that long.  Yet it is a foodie sort of minimalism.  Which is why he doesn't have a rolling pin but he has buttermilk powder, umpteen spices and quandong syrup.  Hence when it came to frosting the kale cake, we decided to flavour it with the qnandong.  Could the cake get any stranger!  For those who don't have quandong syrup, milk would do but I did like the sweet fruity flavour of the quandong, an Australian native fruit.

Yaz and I have been baking together ever since we shared a house many years ago.  It was nice to listen to a few bands we used to enjoy in our share house - Billy Bragg, Blyth Power and Big Hard Excellent Fish (have checked with Yaz and updated name).  After making cake and cookies, we put together a taco lunch.

Yaz rolled out tacos with a bottle and showed me how he flips them over with his fingers.  He was horrified that I wanted guacamole with no coriander but was accommodating.  I helped making refried beans and fajita vegies (seasoned with chipotle and old bay seasoning).  Soon we had our taco lunch spread under the large flowering gum in the back yard.  The weather was perfect for an al fresco meal.

For dessert we ate a slice of the kale cake.  It was delicious.  Think of a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting but this was green rather than slightly orange.  The kale flavour did not dominate.  There was too much sugar and spice and creaminess and crunch.  I thought it was best on the day of baking.  I took a piece home and found it slightly grassy that next day but still very very good.  If I was to be picky I might suggest the cake could be a bit softer but I love dense cake and was very happy with it.

All too soon it was time to fly home to Melbourne.  Business class.  This time I was told there weren't many people on the flight so I could have a choice of meal.  There was the vegie option which was a mushy looking burger and some boiled vegetables.  (Honestly, what sort of food do they think vegetarians eat each day!)  Or I could have sweet potato and corn soup, chicken salad or a cheese platter.

I was so full from the lunch and all our baking that the soup was tempting.  But I know I will never be offered a cheese platter in economy class.  So I chose it.  And it was very good.  The little cheese box came with a blue cheese, a vintage cheddar and another cheese, plus a prune and walnut disk.  I ate them with some crackers but was too full to bother about the slab of dry gluten free bread or the odd gluten free chocolate cake.

While I have nothing against gluten free food, my experience is that it is often best fresh and I question the wisdom of including gluten free baking on plane flights!  There are really good gluten free alternatives to baking (date and nut raw bars, chocolate, rice crackers) that travel far better.  Generally despite enjoying my accidental cheese platter, I was pretty unimpressed with the vegetarian options in business class.

Finally I leave you with a photo I took on the plane.  I love seeing this view.  Perhaps it because the beach always looks so inviting.  Or perhaps it is because when I flew to Darwin for work frequently, this view meant that after a few hours of flying and sitting around airports, I was finally on the last leg of the journey back to Melbourne and my own home.

I am sending the kale cake to Katie at Feeding Boys and a Firefighter who is hosting Bookmarked Recipes this month.  (This blog event is usually hosted by Jac at Tinned Tomatoes.  See her previous Bookmarked Recipes round up.)  I am also sending the cake to Shaheen at Allotment to Kitchen for her Eat Your Greens event.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Spinach, lettuce and pea soup, and a catch up
Two years ago: Strawberry avocado and walnut salad with a chocolate dressing
Three years ago: How to make gravy
Four years ago: Pate, Goslings and Bubbies
Five years ago: High tea walnut, quince and maple syrup biccies
Six years ago: Lentil Salad and the Dream Festival

Kale Cake
Adapted from Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA Recipe Group

2 1/3 cups plain flour
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
2 packed cups of kale 
3/4 cup warm water (we added buttermilk powder)
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
6 tbsp flax seed meal (or whole flax seeds)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup walnuts, chopped

250g cream cheese
2 tbsp butter
3/4 cup icing sugar
few generous slurps of quandong syrup (or milk)

Grease and line two round 8 inch / 20cm cake tins or a 9 inch / 23cm square cake tin.  Preheat oven to 350 F or 180 C.

Mix flour, bicarb, baking powder , spices and salt in a large mixing bowl.

Blanch and shock kale (ie bring to boil in a sauce pan of water and cook briefly until bright green then plunge into icy water to retain colour).  Roughly chop kale.  Blend cooked kale, sugar, water, oil, flax and vanilla.  We used a hand held blender and the kale was finely chopped rather than a smooth puree but this worked ok.

Pour kale mixture into the flour mixture.  Add walnuts and mix until you have a beautiful green batter.  Our batter was quite thick.

Scrape mixture into prepared cake tin and smooth on the top with the back of a spoon.  Bake for 20 minutes or until the top springs back when you lightly touch it and a skewer comes out cleanly.  (As we used a larger square tin rather than smaller round tins, ours took quite a lot longer.)  Let sit in tin for at least 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.

To make the frosting: Mix cream cheese, butter and icing sugar.  Add enough quandong syrup or milk to make he mixture spreadable.  Ideally this should be done with hand held blender but it worked fine when I did it by hand.

If using a larger square tin, cut cake into two rectangles.  Spread half frosting on one half of the square or a round cake, top with remaining cake and spread on the top.

*The original cake was vegan.  If you want to keep this cake vegan, either use vegan cream cheese or make regular buttercream frosting with vegan margarine such as Nuttalex and vegan milk such as soy milk.

On the stereo:
The Guns of Castle Cary - Blyth Power

Posted October 09, 2014 08:47 PM by Johanna GGG

October 08, 2014

Thoughts Of A Moni

Franco Choo's

Special occasions call for special dinners, and I was waiting for such an occasion to visit Franco Choo’s. This was again a recommendation, spotted via social media, and I was keen to try it out. Luckily a birthday was happening, which was the perfect excuse to indulge in a fancy restaurant experience.

Franco Choo’s is located on High St, in Prahran, just near the Chapel St intersection, and is a tiny ‘hole in the wall’ place that barely seats about 20 diners at a time. They have a great Prezzo Fisso deal if you book online, where you can have 2 courses for $42 or 3 courses for $52, both with a glass of wine. The only catch is that you need to be there by 6pm and vacate by 7:45pm, but this worked fine for us, because we had nothing else planned for the day.

We arrived at 5:55pm, wanting to make the most of our booking, and found that we were the first ones to arrive. We were greeted by a lovely waiter with an Italian accent, and I immediately felt that we were in for a treat. He explained the deal to us – Franco Choo’s doesn’t have a menu, instead they have seasonally changing dishes that are written up on a blackboard, meaning that they always cook with seasonal produce. It was already sounding delicious to me, especially when the menu was explained to me in an Italian accent!

We nominated our 3 dishes each, I obviously chose the vegetarian options which were a vegetable stew and a pea risotto, and the other half chose an Italian sausage and lentil entrée and a roast beef dish. For dessert we chose one of each option so we could share; a pana cotta and a ricotta crostata.
We started with some bread to prepare our palates for the meal ahead. We were served some fresh ciabatta bread, with a dipping oil of EVOO and sweet balsamic vinegar. Both of these were of the highest quality, and we could immediately tell that this was a restaurant that took pride in its ingredients.

Soon after the entrées arrived. I was expecting a traditional tomato based stew, but instead I was pleasantly surprised. I was greeted with a Roman spring vegetable stew filled with peas and broad beans in a creamy white sauce. With both peas and broad beans being in season, they were both sweet and full of flavour.

The other half received a poached cotechino sausage served with braised puy lentils, mustard fruit and amaretti. When the non vegetarian comments on how good the lentils are, rather than focus on the sausage, you know the dish must be good! He also said the amaretti tasted like something his Nonna used to make, which is probably one of the highest compliments he's given to a chef!

Mains arrived promptly after we finished the entrées and we were again served some traditional, hearty Italian fare. I received a creamy pea risotto which was filled with rich flavours of butter and parmesan. I dared not think of the cholesterol content of this dish and instead focused on how delicious it tasted.  The skill required to perfect the texture of a risotto is one that I strive for, and the chef at Franco Choo’s had mastered it to a tee.

Our carnivorous main was roasted beef short ribs, served with cauliflower purée and Borettane onions. The verdict was that the beef was cooked so well that it was falling off the bone, and the vegetables were full of flavour, making it another hearty dish.

We had also ordered a side of green beans with truffled pecorino, and these were delicious. It is a hallmark of the produce when something so simple, and made with so few ingredients, tastes so good.

With entrées and mains out of the way, it was time for dessert. We had half a dessert each, so I got to try both options. First there was the ricotta, pine nut and chocolate crostata. I had no idea what a crostata was, but it turned out to be a tart. It was served with a berry sauce and pistachios, and all the flavours combined to be a great dessert. It was not overly sweet and the variety of textures gave it the right level of complexity.

The second dessert however, was the real winner. The vanilla panna cotta, served with poached rhubarb and lemon cake crumble was amazing! I am a big fan of panna cotta, and this one was no exception. The lemon cake was also the right level of tart, and contrasted the sweetness of the panna cotta.

The entire experience at Franco Choos was very special. We received amazing service, amazing food, and went home very happy patrons.

Franco Choo's Italian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Posted October 08, 2014 08:50 PM by Moni

October 07, 2014

Vegan Bullsh*t

Takeout Chow Mein

When I was an omni (shit, that was a good nine years ago now - where does time go?!), I used to love going for Chinese food. Simple picky-eater fare like chicken with cashews, BBQ pork and - my favourite - chow mein. Meat, crisp veg and a warm thick brothy sauce over crispy fried noodles. I've tried to recreate it a thousand times and finally tonight's dinner was a success. If you miss simple Chinese takeout dinners, try this. It'll bring back memories.

Simple Junky Chow Mein
1 x large carrot, sliced roughly
1 x pack fresh baby corn, rinsed, cut in half
1 x small head of broccoli, cut into generous florets
a cup of bean sprouts, rinsed
2 tbsp. frying oil of choice, divided

Optional: mushrooms, mock chicken, peanuts, cashews.. whatever you have on hand! I used mock chicken, but smoked tofu would also be lovely.

250g chow mein noodles. Found in the refrigerated section of most Asian grocers. Read the ingredients - some have egg but some don't - the ones I buy look a bit like these but are vegan suitable and Aussie made (link).
1.5c veggie beef stock (I used Massel)
1.5 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp cornflour


Preheat a large frying pan to high and add a tbsp of oil. Remove noodles from packet. Do not soak, parboil, etc. Just chuck them in. Separate gently with a fork or chopsticks, and gently fry until you get a few crispy bits - watch it carefully, they will burn if you let them. This will only take 3-5 minutes. Once done, remove from pan and set aside.
Next, mix sauce ingredients and pour into a pot. Bring to the boil, then immediately reduce to a very low simmer. Simmer for ten minutes, or until sauce coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and set aside.

Re-heat your original frypan to high with the other tbsp. of oil in it. Stirfry (or steam-fry if that's your jam) until your veg are tender-crisp. Pour in your sauce and stir to coat. You should have more sauce than you think you need.

Serve by layering your crunchy noodles on a plate, then ladling your veggies and sauce over to soften the noodles up. Let everything soak in for a couple of minutes while you grab utensils and a drink and dig in!

Posted October 07, 2014 07:28 PM by L

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Carrot, Cheese and Rice Sausage Rolls

These carrot, cheese and rice sausage rolls were made on a whim.  I never thought I would share them.  They was so delicious and so successful that I had to blog the recipe.  For me, a successful recipe is one where Sylvia loves them.  This one is not fancy or innovative.  It is just good simple food.

This is the sort of recipe that makes me think of old-school vegetarians making in the 1970s before we had amazing sausage roll recipes like Liz O'Brien's Sausage Rolls. I really love Liz O'Brien's recipe.  Sylvia doesn't.  This was my attempt to convince a 5 year old to eat sausage rolls.  I filled the pastry with ingredients she loved.

We discussed the ingredients beforehand so she would be on my side.  She was happy with carrot, cheese and rice.  Then I decided it needed tomato paste and wasn't sure whether I should tell her.  I regret to say I didn't.  Sylvia wasn't fooled but she didn't hold it against me.  "I really like the tomato," she told me.

I filled the sausage rolls very generously and had a half sheet of puff pastry leftover.  A slick of vegemite and some thin slices of cheese made cheeseymite rolls.  They were a great success with Sylvia just like the first time I made them.  She seemed to love these cold unlike the sausage rolls.

I would like to claim that every child would love these.  I am sure many would.  However I have a child who loves plain food and rejects so many recipe that are claimed to be child-friendly.  I was quite wary of making these for her.  No doubt the pastry helped, but it is not enough.  The filling has to work too.  Recently I had tried cheese and cauliflower in pastry which resulted in wailing and gnashing of teeth.  I was relieved when she loved the sausage rolls with carrot, cheese and rice. 

While pastry is not the healthiest of snack foods, these are filled with good stuff.  (I would even be interested to try these with a vegan cheese like bio cheese.)  It is easy to make, and would be great for entertainment.  Sylvia didn't want them in her lunchbox because she preferred them warm.  I loved them at room temperature and am sure they would make great lunchbox and picnic food.  They do give me hope that Sylvia will become more adventurous in eating filled pastry.  [Though as I have said before, no one can complain about a child who demands I buy her brussels sprouts!]

I am sending these to Karen for Tea Time Treats at Lavender and Lovage (who alternates hosting with The Hedgecombers).  This month's theme is Cooking and Baking with Vegetables.

More vegetable-based tea time treats from Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Cauliflower, pea and parmesan polenta fingers
Potato parsley stars
Tomatoes stuffed with guacamole
Vegan Party Pies

Chocolate avocado cupcakes
Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudgies (with eggplant)
Pumpkin scones
Zucchini brownie with smoked walnuts

Carrot, Cheese and Rice Sausage Rolls
Makes 12-18

1 cup dry brown rice 
1 and 1/2 carrots, finely grated
150 to 200g cheese, grated*
2 tbsp tomato paste
Seasonings: pinch each of salt and smoked paprika, or to taste
2-3 sheets of puff pastry**
milk for glazing

Simmer brown rice for 30 minutes or until cooked.  Drain.  (I then removed a cup of rice for another recipe but am not sure if this was necessary.)  Mix rice with carrots, cheese and tomato paste.  Add seasonings to taste.

Preheat oven to 220 C and line a couple of oven trays.

Lay out a sheet of (defrosted) pastry and cut in half lengthwise.  Spoon filling along the middle of the length of each piece of pastry.  Brush long edge with a little milk and roll pastry around filling so there is a slight overlap.  Cut into 6 pieces.  Place on a lined oven tray.  Glaze with milk.  Repeat with remaining pastry until you have used up all the filling.

Bake for 10 minutes at 220 C and 10 minutes at 200 C or until golden brown.  (I also baked some at 200 C for 25 minutes.  If you want to reheat later you can baked until a light brown and then reheat for 10 to 15 minutes when ready to eat.)

* I think you could substitute a vegan cheese such as bio cheese here and use vegan puff pastry to make these vegan.  The puff pastry I used was vegan but I haven't tried a vegan cheese here.

** I used 2 and 1/2 sheets of puff pastry but the sausage rolls were a bit overflowing so I would recommend 3 sheets of pastry.

On the Stereo:
Nursery Days: Woody Guthrie

Posted October 07, 2014 09:02 AM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

El Chino II

September 27, 2014

I've been reluctantly working through my recent few weekends, but on Saturday evening I took a break for a leisurely cycle through the inner north with Michael, with dinner at El Chino as our goal. I'm surprised that this cute cafe has been the subject of so few blog posts but regardless, it runs a busy service on a Saturday night.

El Chino are BYO and in addition to the usual beer and wine corkage fees, they offer a mojito deal - you BYO the rum and they'll do the rest. We were happy to skip the alcohol and shared a slushy lime granita with a single garnishing mint leaf ($4.50).

While the mains and specials were mostly meat focused, we still had some options to peruse: empanadas, tall yet compact bowls of nachos, a vego burrito and three varieties of taco. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are well marked and though there are supposedly 'VG's listed for vegans, I suspect they're missing from some genuinely vegan menu items (take our savoury order here, for example). We grazed across the menu by ordering the Fiesta ($28), a meal for two centred around a cast iron pot.

Lined with a cabbage leaf, the pot offered pickled nopales cactus, roasted mushrooms and purple cabbage. We mixed and matched them with a fresh and finely minced salsa Mexicana and a fruity roasted salsa tatemada.

We mopped up our potted foods with five white and blue corn tortillas (then paid $4 for four more), and nibbled at some warmly spiced Mexican rice and black beans.

We thought we'd best give their grilled tofu side ($4.50) a shot too - it didn't have any noticeable flavour or marinade, but it made for nice DIY tacos with the salsa and other fixings. (I noticed later that we were also charged for a side of guacamole that was neither ordered nor served.)

As the room filled up and our finished dishes remained on the table, we had time to build up an appetite for dessert. In spite of the demands on his attention, our server generously took a moment to step us through our options. My mayordomo Mexican hot chocolate was underwhelming - the chocolate syrup lodged unmixed in the bottom of the cup, and the cinnamon quill provided only the barest hint of extra spice.

El Chino were all out of the tres leches sponge cake I'd been looking forward to but the caramel flan ($7.80) was a lovely alternative; the smooth custard and smoky hint of almost-but-not-quite burnt caramel broken up with candied hibiscus flowers and fresh strawberry.

Our experience at El Chino had its flaws, but they didn't sour our night. The cafe is a lovely setting for a quiet meal for two (or a party in the courtyard, from what we witnessed), and offers an unusually thoughtful selection of non-alcoholic drinks and desserts in addition to reliable main meals.

You can read about our breakfast at El Chino here. El Chino is not getting the blog attention that it deserves; since that post I've only seen it recommended on Poppet's Window and WOO FOOD.

El Chino
214 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North
9078 7974
menu: dinner, banquets & sides, beverages & desserts

Accessibility: There's a small step as you enter and a clear corridor to the counter (which we've witnessed another customer maneuver a two-seater pram through), but the tables are quite crowded inside. We ordered at the table and paid at a low counter. We didn't explore the courtyard or visit the toilets.

Posted October 07, 2014 08:38 AM by Cindy

October 06, 2014

Ballroom Blintz

Blintz on Tour: Bunners, Toronto

Two doors down from Hibiscus is Bunners, a vegan and gluten-free bakery. Toronto doesn’t seem to lack for vegan bakeries – I was devastated to discover too late to visit the existence of Apiecalyspe Now in Mirvish Village because IT WAS A VEGAN BAKESHOP CALLED APIECALYPSE NOW, THAT IS A-GRADE PUN WORK – and if Bunners is any indication of the general standard of vegan baked goods in Toronto then veg*n Canadians are disgracefully lucky.

Faced with an array of cupcakes, danishes, cookies and pie slices, I was a little overwhelmed for choice. Upon noticing though that they were down to a single butter tart, I knew that it had my name on it.

Butter tarts are a particularly Canadian dessert and usually involves, you guessed it, an obscene amount of butter, so I was very curious to see how a vegan version would pan out. It panned out like so: flaky, deceptively light yet decadently buttery pastry encased a golden, custard-like filling that was creamy, slightly greasy in a good way, and wholly melt-in-you-mouth delicious. I was immediately sad that there was only one to eat, yet simultaneously EVER SO SMUG IT WAS MINE.

I also took away a ginger molasses cookie with me, which I ended up eating for breakfast the next morning (cookies are a PERFECTLY CROMULENT holiday breakfast food, okay?). Nearly the size of my hand, top covered in fat cubes of granulated brown sugar and a piece of crystallised ginger marking the centre, it gave away easily when bitten and burst forth with a spicy, ever so satisfying mouthful. Your wouldn’t have realised it was vegan AND gluten-free if you hadn’t of been told.

I highly recommend Bunners as a must-visit on the Toronto veg*n trail. Pair it with a visit to Hibiscus and reward your vegie bowl health with a perfectly crafted sweet treat.


244 Augusta Avenue, Toronto (there’s also a second location at 3054 Dundas Street West)

Ph: +1 (647) 350-2975


Posted October 06, 2014 12:42 PM

quinces and kale

turkish pide


I was watching Shane Delia’s Spice Journey through Turkey the other night and he made a turkish pide in a regular oven. No matter how much effort I make with dough and heating, pizzas or pide made in a normal oven never turn out as well as ones made in a proper pizza oven. I think I have found the reason. In the program, he heated his pizza stone in the oven for one HOUR. I’ve never heated mine for this long. But I was making bread and so I decided to save a piece of dough and cook it as a pide after the cooking of the bread, thus using the heat that had already been generated. The oven and the pizza stone were scorchingly hot, just what was needed. Not surprisingly it turned out crispier than any pizza I’ve made before.

The vegetarian pide at my local Turkish restaurant has cheese, eggs and parsley in it, so I haven’t eaten it since becoming a vegan and I really miss it. But there’s no real reason why you can’t put anything into a pide. I put what I happened to have in the fridge, which was a tiny bit of left over Daiya cheese and some roasted leeks and pumpkin. I mixed these with parsley, garlic oil and lemon zest and stuffed them into the dough.

Delicious! I know I’ll be making this again, and I’ll be making my italian pizza with a scorchingly hot stone too.


Posted October 06, 2014 09:00 AM

October 05, 2014

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Mr Nice Guy, The Boxtrolls and school hols

So on Monday, school goes back.  Two weeks of holidays have disappeared in the blink of an eye.  Busy days, indeed!  It was nice to have some play time on Friday with E and Sylvia.  We finally went to Mr Nice Guy's BakeShop and were most pleased with our lunch.  So I will tell you about our day and a bit more of what we did in the holidays.

On Friday morning we had a manky banana calling out to be turned into pancakes.  However I didn't have any eggs.  It seems I was still in Vegan MoFo mode.  I turned to a home made powdered egg replacer recipe I bookmarked some time ago.  Instead of the egg in the banana oat pancakes, I used 1 tbsp potato starch, 1/2 tbsp tapioca starch, 1/2 tsp baking powder and 2-3 tsp chia seeds.  It worked so much better than my last attempt to veganise these pancakes. 

We had a play at the park with some school friends and then headed off to the movies.  As those who have been following this blog will know, our car was stolen almost 6 weeks ago.  Happily we bought a new car on Thursday and had our first family outing in the car on Friday.  En route we stopped at Mr Nice Guy's Bake Shop for lunch.  I have wanted to go there for years and was sad I never made it to the Brunswick shop before it closed.

The bakeshop is all vegan with mostly sweet food.  If you are after gluten free, soy free, nut free or have other dietary requirements, you will find everything clearly labelled.  It sells lots of cakes and cupcakes with cute names such as Beetlejuice, Zombie brains and (my favourite) Unicorn milkshake.  There are also a few savoury options.

It was easy to decide what to get Sylvia for lunch.  Vegan cheesemite scrolls!  Oh yes!  She loves cheeseymite scrolls from Bakers Delight and eats them regularly.  So she was quite happy to have one here.  Despite all the cheese on top it had far more vegemite - a tad too much - than cheesey inside.  That was ok because the bread was so deliciously light and tasty.  (I know because we took the last bit of it home and I ate it later than night!  Which made me feel slightly better after some dinner in the shopping centre food hall.) 

I was a little disappointed that there were no BLT bagels left.  Instead I passed over the 'egg' salad, roast vegies and turkey and went for a chickpea tuna bagel.  It was nice and rather filling.  However I found the slightly fishy flavour a little disturbing.  E chose the same bagel and loved it.  I think he is more used to the fishy flavour (which I have never been keen on) and the spice level was more to his liking than mine.  Not that it was too hot for me but it did leave me looking for my glass of water.

It was really the cakes that I was there for.  And it was a tyranny of choice.  I was very tempted by the brownie, GF chocolate cookies and cheesecake.  I was lucky enough to have a taster nibble of the cherry ripe slice which was so so yummy.  Yet I felt compelled to taste one of the beautiful frosted cupcakes.

Sylvia chose a cute little space cake.  Pink frosting on a blue vanilla cake.  I chose the Betty White.  Chocolate cake topped by coconut frosting and toasted coconut flakes.  It was a lovely fresh cake with a wee bit too frosting for me.  (According to the Facebook page, it was a gluten free cupcake.  If so, I would never have known!)  E hit the jackpot with the cinnamon scroll.  It was so good I had to restrain myself from fighting him for it.  He also enjoyed trying a latte with fresh cashew milk.

It was after suggesting that we go to Mr Nice Guy's that I casually mentioned to E that it was vegan.  He was not that bothered but I still wondered if he would enjoy it.  He came out raving about how good it was.  Which just shows that if you have excellent fresh food with interesting flavours, even a wary omnivore will love it.

As well as friendly staff, I really liked the ambiance of the place.  There were a stack of interesting vegan books to read.  And Sylvia was entertained by the cute mini toy ovens.  The bakeshop seemed quite busy on a Friday afternoon with a mixture of students, toddlers and workers.  I am sure we will be finding excuses to return to Ascot Vale just so we can visit Mr Nice Guy again.

The reason we were passing through Ascot Vale was to go to see The Boxtrolls the cinema at Highpoint.  It is a film that inspires headlines such as "Sick, Twisted and Insanely Creepy", "Subversive Steampunk for kids" and "Morbid Marvel".  It was beautiful to watch in a dark sort of way, with lots of compassion, humour and great steam punk imagination.  The Snatcher character is fascinating for he is as pathetic as he is terrifying with his social aspirations and cheese allergy.  And I would love to see a vegan analysis of all the cheese in the film.

While out at Highpoint we also bought new child seats and a CD player for our 'new' car.  It may be new to us but it was made long enough ago that it has a cassette player! 

I will write more about my Adelaide and Port Fairy trips soon but meanwhile here is an overview of the rest of the School holidays:

Craft.  National Gallery of Victoria.  The park.  Grass milk jelly at ShanDong MaMa.  Puppet show in the bedroom.  Trains.  Lunch dates.  Bungee trampoline.  Cycling.  Excellent sandwich at Pope Joan.  Hula Hoop.  Smiley bikkies at Zen Bakery.  Play dates.  Baking.  Family visits.  Finger nail painting. Ramona the Pest.  Lego.

Yesterday we went to Coburg Carnivale so I will finish up with a few photos of the odd characters around the Victorian Street Mall.  E commented that the ants looked like characters from Dr Who.  I loved the recycled plastic bottle totem pole made by kids.  The space creatures were amusing and we were wonderfully entertained by the Dislocate acrobatics.  Sylvia caught up with friends, played with some circus stuff, made a badge, and had a go at the cycling to make enough energy to make popcorn.  Lots of fun.

Mr Nice Guy's BakeShop
151 Union Road, Ascot Vale
Tel: 0416 848 610

Posted October 05, 2014 09:05 PM by Johanna GGG

Thoughts Of A Moni

Red Pawpaw Update

It’s been almost 5 months now since I subscribed to Red Pawpaw and there have been a few recent hiccups. I felt it might be a good time to provide a bit of an update.

The May and June boxes were excellent. At $5 each, they were full of value. Packaged in a special Red Pawpaw box (which has since become my shoe box!), they contained lots of items which were useful and a few that weren't!

Special K Honey & BBQ Crisp Crackers - $4.40
Saxa Natural Sea Salt Flakes - $4.94
Mentos Fruit - $1.49
Mentos Pure Fresh Spearmint Gum Tin - $2.19
Henry and Jones Fruit and Chia spread - $4.49
Greens Buttermilk Pancake Shake - $2.49
Pine O Clean Disinfecting Wipes - $4
Taylors Minestrone and Aussie Vegetables Soup Pouch – $4.40
Finish Quantum Odour Neutralising Tablets (x4) - $3.48
Saxa Smoked Cyprus Salt Grinder - $6.05
TOTAL - $37.93

Uncle Toby’s Quick Oats Sachets (x3) - $2.20
Uncle Toby’s Crunchy Triangles Chocolate (x2) - $0.86
Nescafe Azera – 10.99
Gravox Cracked Pepper and Barossa Valley Shiraz Liquid Gravy - $2.50
Ovaltine Cold Crunch - $5.27
Goulburn Valley Peaches in Coconut Water – $2.20
Zumbo Passionfruit Macaron Baking Mix - $8.79
White Wings Cafe Creations Blueberry Buttermilk Pancake Mix - $5.50
SPC Spaghetti With Sneaky Veg - $1.21
TOTAL - $39.52

As you can see, they were definitely value for money at $5 each, and most of the items were things we used, or wanted to try. There were a few things that weren’t useful for us like the dishwasher tablets (which we gave away) or the Gravox (which is still sitting there), but on the whole, they were wins.

Then in July we got an email saying that Red Pawpaw were having a few issues, and as a result we wouldn't be receiving a July box, and no money would be deducted either. Fair enough. Bit disappointed, but hey, if they aren't taking any money, you can’t really complain.

And then a few weeks later, came the big hit. Red Pawpaw told us they were back in August, but this time, the boxes were no longer $5 delivered, instead we would be charged a delivery fee based on our location. The justification for this was that may of the previous deliveries had issues, and so they had decided to switch carriers to Australia Post, which incurred additional charges. Being based in metro Melbourne, my delivery charge was $7.50 a box, bring my total cost to $12.50 a month.

There were a few issues around this. Firstly, I had never had an issue with the previous delivery company so I couldn't see where the problem was. Secondly, whereas previously the boxes were guaranteed to have a minimum of $30 worth of groceries in them, this guarantee was removed, which leaves the door open to the boxes having any content value in them, perhaps a content value less than $12.50 even?

Admittedly Red Pawpaw did the right thing, and gave their annual subscribers the opportunity to opt out of the program and receive a full refund. Needless to say many people took them up on this offer, and based on the backlash on social media, there were some pretty unhappy customers.
I on the other hand, decided to stick around. I decided that the mystery aspect of the box was what I enjoyed most, and it was worth $12.50 to me. Plus, I took a bit of a gamble and hoped that the value of the box (or more importantly the goods I would use in the box) would exceed this amount.

The August box arrived, and there were a few differences already. The box was no longer the sturdy box with a lid, instead, it switched to a much weaker cardboard box. The justification for this was to save on packaging costs and help the environment which I fully support, and luckily my box arrived intact. Unfortunately, not everyone was so lucky, and it seemed as though a lot of boxes were delivered damaged, with negative consequences for the contents inside. This is something that is not acceptable given the increased delivery costs.

And now for the contents:

The Little Brownie Company Brownie Mix - $6.50
Chux Magic Eraser - $4.39
Mug Shot Noodles – $1
Mount Franklin Sparkling Water - $2.75
Lipton Original Ice Tea Can - $2.75
Fountain Smart Tomato Sauce – $2.52
Pine O Clean Disinfecting Wipes - $4
Vita Wheat Lunch Slices - $4.50
Nature’s Own Crunchy Bar - $0.99
Weight Watchers Peaches In Jelly - $3.84
TOTAL - $33.24

Obviously there was a decrease in content value and it was disappointing that this kicked in so quickly. I also received a repeat item, which were the Pine O Clean wipes. Luckily, I love this product so I didn't mind, but a lot of people received repeats on the salt from the first box, and if this was me, I would be very annoyed. I still have my first packets of salt sitting there! The drinks were also a little redundant in our house but I guess they will get used when guests come over so they won't be wasted. The brownie mix is definitely the best item in the box, much like the macaron mix when we received that.  All in all, not a bad box, but definitely not as good as the first two.

And then there was the September box which arrived a few weeks ago. There was lots of promotion and preadvertising from Red Pawpaw about how this box had lots of paired items so I was looking forward to it.

Mr Muscle Touch Up Cleaner - $6
Finish Dishwashing Liquid 400 ml - $4.87
Cottees Fruit Crush Drinks (x2) - $1.36
Carte Noir Coffee 100g - $10.74
Air Wick Snowy Mountain Berries Scented Candle - $12.14
Dolmio Spaghetti Bolognaise Sauce Sachet - $2.46
Glad Bake 5mts - $1.71
Vetta High Fibre Spaghetti - $1.50
Maillie Dijon Mustard Sample Jar 25g - $0.56
Bio Attack Sample Sachets 19ml (x3) - $1.25
Sour Patch Kids 65g- $2.15
TOTAL - $44.74

So doing that maths, shows that the September box was definitely value for money, however the coffee was a pretty useless items for me and I definitely wouldn't value the candle at over $12. I have way too much instant coffee from the previous boxes, and whilst I will burn the candle, it really doesn't excite me. Other people got a Wholeberry Folk cake mix worth $5.69 but I missed out on this. This was a shame as I really enjoy the baking mixes.

All in all, both August and September were decent boxes. Will I stick around for more? Yeah I will... I appreciate that small start up businesses go through hiccups and I want to support them. Just don't let me down Red Pawpaw. It's almost time for the October box, so let see what arrives...

Posted October 05, 2014 12:14 PM by Moni

October 03, 2014

Green Gourmet Giraffe

In My Kitchen - October 2014

September was such a crazy month with Vegan MoFo, the saga of the stolen car, and all manner of celebrations and goings-on.  Let me start this peek into my kitchen with Nigella's cheese stars.  (A bit like these or these.)  I made them for a cake stall at Sylvia's school concert.  I was glad they cooked well as I regret the same could not be said of a slice that went to the stall.  It was edible but should have been cooked better if only my timing had been more vigilant.  (Sometimes the timer is mightier than the skewer.)

It has been a long time between takeaway dinners.  We like to eat out regularly but it is often hard to justify (or organise) takeaway dinners when I usually have so many vegetables about.  I rode my bike down to Malabar Hut after spending the day searching for a car to buy.  It was a magnificent meal that cheered me up when I really needed to remember the good things in life.

With out car stolen I found myself mostly doing small amounts of shopping on my bike.  Here is a sample of groceries.  I liked the spiced pear and quince yoghurt but not quite as much as our favourite 5:am vanilla yoghurt.  I tried the camomile and spice apple tea because the honey and camomile tea I have been loving was out of stock.  Cinnamon in tea just is not my thing.  Despite me finding a chai tea that I enjoyed.  We often have some Le Snak in the cupboard for convenient snacks to take out (I know the packaging is horrendous).  The Aussie BBQ cheese and bikkies were really good.

We regularly go to Zaatar for zaatar pizza and zoccacia.  In third term Sylvia had a student led conference (after two terms of parent teacher nights).  Afterwards we had dinner at Zaatar.  It was late so we took home some baklava.  Can you think of a dessert more likely to produce sticky fingers in a 5 year old!  It was delicious.

As I mentioned I have a new blender.  It is a Froothie Optimum 9400 that I bought with my own money.  I am enjoying using it for smoothies, nut butters and dips but I am looking forward to finding time to use it for cashew cream, vegan cheese sauces and maybe even trying some vegan milks.  Then perhaps I will write about it n more detail.

I visited Aunt Maggies in Brunswick for a quick snack.  She has an amazing array of chocolate.  The Oskri fig and dark chocolate bar was delicious and intense.  I wish I could say such nice things about the coconut juice with green tea and white peach flavour.  The nicest way I could put it is: no wonder it was on sale.  The chocolate bars were presents and received very high praise.  I had a taste of the Alter Eco dark salted brown butter chocolate and it was wonderful.

I am yet to write about my trip to Adelaide.  Here is a little sneak preview.  I was interested to see a tin of Old Bay Seasoning.  It is a great seasoning mix with some heat in it.  It worked well with chipotle chillis in fajita vegies.  I have used it in a couple of dishes but there hasn't been much cooking in my kitchen lately.

This is some of the food I bought in our recent trip to Port Fairy.  We bought jelly slice at the market, swiss cheese at the supermarket and the casalinga sourdough bread, spinach and macadamia dip and chilli bayou seasoning mix at the Darriwill Farm Shop.  A posh food shop and good bread really doth maketh the holiday!  More about Port Fairy soon. 

Meanwhile here is a close up of the Salt of the Sea chilli bayou seasoning mixture.  It hasn't been opened yet because, as I mentioned above, I haven't done much cooking lately.  Not only did we not cook on holidays but my mum has kindly gifted us some lasagna, curry and cake to tide us over since we got home.  I am looking forward to using this spice mixture.  It appealed because it seems more black pepper and mustard seeds than chilli.  I am sure E will enjoy its heat!

We were in Port Fairy during the AFL Grand Final and I saw nothing of the football all weekend except some suggestions for face painting in team colours.  My little nod to the footy was this packet of Arnott's Footy Fever shapes.  Sylvia liked them because they were little.  I loved them but goodness they were covered in moreish seasoning.  They were very good dipped in the spinach and macadamia dip.

And finally, a bit of craft.  We have had a lot of birthdays recently.  I didn't make as many birthday cards as I intended.  However here are a few of the ones that Sylvia and I made.  Note to self: glitter glue and stickers seem a perfect match but are best kept separate on the card. 

Since Sylvia has started school this year we have done a lot less craft.  Perhaps that is why I embarked on this foolhardy school holiday activity inspired by Mr Maker.  When he dipped oranges and other citrus fruit in plates of paint it looked brilliant.  There was no suggestion that a lot of paint got wasted this way or that the fruit became all slippery in little paint covered hands or that a little girl might decide it was easier to use her fingers to make the circles.  And we really should have put on our art smock aprons!  Never mind, it was lots of fun.  And I found out that Sylvia likes grapefruit!

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

Posted October 03, 2014 08:47 PM by Johanna GGG

Ballroom Blintz

Blintz on Tour: Hibiscus, Toronto

I was honestly very lucky to have so many friends who had traveled to Toronto in the past few years who were more than eager to give me food tips, eliminating my having to do a lot of strenuous research and soothing my lazy soul. Hibiscus came highly recommended by Carla, who rated it among her best Toronto food experiences.

The first thing I appreciated about Hibiscus was the CALM. It’s situated in the middle of Kensington Market, which seems to be Toronto’s hippy-dippy alternative heart (a bar was advertising “Spliff Reggae Night” if you want to get the general vibe) and is quite bustling, but as soon as you enter Hibiscus this heavenly, relaxed sense of calm descends.

Hibiscus keeps things simple. You essentially have three savoury options: soup, salad, or a selection of savoury and sweet vegan crepes. Since all I could see around me were folks tucking enthusiastically into bowls of salad I figured this was the best way to go.

The bowl is nicely hefty, but not completely belly stuffing, really the perfect amount. And it’s a generous bowl in terms of fillings, featuring on this particular day quinoa, broccoli, kidney beans, tofu cubes, brown lentils, shredded kale, grated beets and carrot, a kind of rough sweet potato mash, served with a thin square of raw cracker and topped with a little mound of cellophane noodles. A terribly attractive bowl of colour it was.

I really like this tendency in Canadian vegie eateries of “here, this is a big bowl of ALL THE THINGS, mix and eat to your heart’s content.” They’re great in terms of offering a meal with a variety of textures, and if all the flavours work then its just a delight of a thing. In this bowl particularly I loved the beets, the excellent sweet potato, the noodles that provided an exciting contrasting bite, and the bright pieces of broccoli that had been blanched just enough and allowed to infuse with some kind of light dressing. It all presented a front of being very simple, yet underneath it all very, very clever.

Did I also mention that the entire menu is gluten free? Yeah, yeah it is. And there’s a cold cabinet filled with ICE CREAM. Hibiscus is the BUSINESS.


238 Augusta Avenue, Toronto

Ph: +1 (416) 364-6183


Posted October 03, 2014 09:32 AM


Vegan/vegetarian resources in Spain (in Spanish)

It's no secret that Spain is not a vegetarian paradise. Nonetheless moving here two weeks ago has brought home just how much I will need to embrace home cooking. (Well that and my bank balance dwindling without a salary!) Asturias in particular has lots of great produce, like beans, so I am excited about trying to make some vegetarian versions of local dishes.

I just bought Cocina vegana mediterránea by Laura Kohan. It is the first veg*n recipe book in Spanish I have seen that specifically has Spanish style food. [Although I think Mediterranean is rather distinct from the northern Spanish style, but whatever, it's a start.] Also the author studied in Spain and is presumably Spanish, so it isn't just a translation of an English cookbook, which is common from what I've seen in my quick visit to a library and a few bookstores.

It's not necessarily a great cookbook, it persists in devoting 45 pages to general information like "benefits of veganism", "table of animal product substitutes" and "what season do these herbs grow in". But I thought reading that probably-familiar information is probably OK Spanish language practice, so eh. It also doesn't have tonnes of recipes, it has 60 to be precise, but to be honest, the most different recipes I have ever followed out of a single cookbook would be like 5 or 6 at the max, so having hundreds is not really an advantage.

What I think is likely to be most immediately useful to me, and maybe other veg*n auxiliares outside major cities, is a page of resources from the back. I'm listing them here without the commentary from the book. They are:

Online vegan supermarkets in Spain
· http://www.vegamercat.com
· http://www.laboutiquevegetariana.es
· http://www.biomanantial.com
· http://www.foody.es (love the url)
· http://www.recapte.com
· http://naranjasecologicas.com

I also found this site listed on a fb group:
· http://www.planetavegano.com/

Posted October 03, 2014 12:28 AM

October 01, 2014

Ballroom Blintz

Blintz on Tour: Sadie’s Diner, Toronto

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

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

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

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

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

Sadie’s Diner

504 Adelaide Street West, Toronto

Ph: (+1) 416 777-2343


Posted October 01, 2014 08:39 AM

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Nhu Lan

September 21, 2014

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

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

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


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

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

Posted October 01, 2014 05:21 AM by Michael

September 30, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Music for your Mouth: Custard

DAY 30!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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


Custard and Berry Tarts
(makes 6)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remove from oven and allow to cool.

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

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


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

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


Posted September 30, 2014 10:59 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Sayonara Vegan MoFo 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      The Good Hearted - Vegan Food in Melbourne

      Blue Buddha Cafe

       Blue Buddha:  Raw chocolate & caramel tart ($6)

      Blue Buddha: Raw chocolate & caramel tart ($6)

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

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

       Blue Buddha

      Blue Buddha

       Blue Buddha

      Blue Buddha

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

      facebook page

      menu (sep 2014) 
      (pdf 264kb)

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

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

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

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

      There are many raw and gluten free sweets on offer which are all vegan, including ‘Raw avocado and lime cheesecake’ ($6)’ and 'Rawsome choc lava tarts w/ goji berries’ ($6). I tried a ‘Raw chocolate & caramel tart’ ($6) which was more about the chocolate than the caramel, and hit the spot nicely. I'm looking forward to trying the ‘Banana bread w/ spiced vegan butter’ ($6) next time.

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

       Blue Buddha Café on Urbanspoon

      Also visited by Veganopoulous

      Posted September 30, 2014 04:51 PM

      quinces and kale

      Travel, food and Vegan MoFo wrap up

      Beyond sushi

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

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

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

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

      Most unexpected pleasure

      Beyond Sushi – NY

      Who would have thought sushi could be so sensational?

      Best fine dining experience

      Millennium, San Francisco

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

      Best Comfort Food

      Karyn’s Cooked, Chicago

      Meatloaf, potatoes and gravy…yum.

      Best Chain Restaurant 

      Native Foods Cafe, Chicago

      Burgers and sandwiches that hit the spot.

      Best Diner/Sandwich Bar

      Champ’s Diner, Brooklyn

      Love at first bite. Breakfast done perfectly.

      Best Pizza

      Dimo’s Pizza, Chicago and Two Boots, NYC

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

      And also…

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

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

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

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

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




      Posted September 30, 2014 10:00 AM

      Ballroom Blintz

      Blintz on Tour: Fresh, Toronto

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

      Ph: +1 416 599 4442


      Posted September 30, 2014 09:09 AM

      September 29, 2014

      Little Vegan Bear

      Music for your Mouth: The Flying Burrito Brothers

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

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

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

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

      Smoky Tofu Burritos
      (Makes 2)

      2 tortillas
      250g firm tofu

      1 Tbsp coconut oil

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

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

      Basically whatever you want! I used:
      Vegan Cheese

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

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

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

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

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


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


      Posted September 29, 2014 11:17 PM

      Green Gourmet Giraffe

      Spinach, sundried tomato and chive chickpea scramble

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      On the Stereo:
      Metals: Feist

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

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

      quinces and kale

      San Francisco again

      strawberry almond cake

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

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

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

      chips with salsa roja tacos baked eggplant guacamole

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

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

      mediterranean platter golden gate bridge strawberry almond cake

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


      Posted September 29, 2014 10:00 AM

      where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

      Peanut butter & jelly icecream

      September 20-21, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Posted September 29, 2014 08:18 AM by Cindy

      September 28, 2014

      Little Vegan Bear

      Music for your Mouth: Peaches/The Moldy Peaches

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

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

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

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

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

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


      Peach and Cherry Crumbles
      (makes 4)

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

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

      Preheat oven to 180C.

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

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

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

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

      peaches4 peaches5Millions of peaches, peaches for me!


      Posted September 28, 2014 10:07 PM

      Green Gourmet Giraffe

      Splendid Vegan MoFo Quicklinks 2014

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

      Savoury fruit recipes 

      Starters and snacks

      Substitutions such as vegan cheeses

      Soups and stews

      Substantial dinners

      Sweet and indulgent

      Sweet and surprising

      Fun Vegan MoFo themes in 2014:

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

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

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

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

      Soup with bread - Stairway to Vegan

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

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

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

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

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

      quinces and kale

      Chicago part 4

      oklahoma bacon cheeseburger

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

      oklahoma bacon cheeseburger portabella burger

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

      IMG_1487 peanut noodles caponata

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

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

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

      chicago cocktails

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

      mac n cheese pizza

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

      Farewell Chicago.


      Posted September 28, 2014 10:00 AM

      vegan about town

      CANCELLED: VegMel Picnic!

      OH NO WE ARE CANCELLING THIS EVENT. Please stand by for rescheduling. Sorry for the short notice! 


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

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

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

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

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

      Facebook event

      Posted September 28, 2014 08:48 AM by steph

      September 27, 2014

      Little Vegan Bear

      Music for your Mouth: Salt N Pepa

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

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

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


      Salt and Pepper Tofu

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Chop up spring onion and chili to serve.

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

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

      saltnpepa5At least I know they got the seal of approval.

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


      Posted September 27, 2014 12:54 PM

      September 26, 2014

      Little Vegan Bear

      Music for your Mouth: Agent Orange/Orange Juice

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

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


      Orange, Avocado and Pomegranate Salad

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

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

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

      Throw all salad ingredients in a bowl.

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




      Posted September 26, 2014 10:32 PM

      quinces and kale

      Chicago part 3


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      gyoza bulgogi chocolate coffee sorbet

      Perfect beer food,  all packed and zinging with flavour.

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

      Chicago Diner
      3411 N Halsted St,
      Chicago, IL 60657

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


      Posted September 26, 2014 10:00 AM

      Green Gourmet Giraffe

      Smoky Tex Mex Pizza with sourdough base

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      More vegan pizzas from Green Gourmet Giraffe:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      On the Stereo:
      Way to Blue - Nick Drake

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

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

      September 25, 2014

      Little Vegan Bear

      Music for your Mouth: Eagle Eye Cherry/Wild Cherry

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

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


      Cherry Ripe Balls
      (makes a bunch)

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

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

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

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

      Roll into balls and place in the freezer to set.

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



      Posted September 25, 2014 11:49 PM

      Green Gourmet Giraffe

      Sticky cranberry and orange glazed tofu

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

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

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

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

      More tofu recipes from Green Gourmet Giraffe:

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

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

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

      On the stereo:
      Blonde on Blonde: Bob Dylan

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

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

      where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

      Mighty Boy

      August 29, September 16 & 19, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

      Posted September 25, 2014 07:31 AM by Michael

      September 24, 2014

      Little Vegan Bear

      Music for your Mouth: Cream (with Ginger Baker)

      See what I did there? Yeahhhh!

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

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

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


      Ginger Ice Cream with Caramel Sauce

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


      Posted September 24, 2014 06:42 PM

      Thoughts Of A Moni

      Forrest Brewing Company

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Forrest Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

      Posted September 24, 2014 03:41 PM by Moni

      Green Gourmet Giraffe

      Vegan macaroni cheese with sauerkraut, cauliflower and blue cheese

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      On the stereo:
      Frozen soundtrack

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

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

      September 23, 2014

      Little Vegan Bear

      Music for your Mouth: The Jam

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

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

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

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


      Apple Berry Chia Jam
      (makes 2 jars)

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

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

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

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

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



      Posted September 23, 2014 11:54 PM

      Green Gourmet Giraffe

      Simple salad with sprouts

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

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

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

      Simple Salad with Sprouts
      Serves 1 for a light lunch

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

      Lightly whisk together dressing and toss through with salad ingredients.

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

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

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

      quinces and kale


      Heirloom tomato pizza

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

      image Johnson wax factory Johnson wax factory

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

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

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

      Taliesin Taliesin Taliesin Taliesin school Taliesin Taliesin

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

      Heirloom tomato pizza

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

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

      Madison Capitol Monona terrace Monona terrace Monona terrace

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

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


      Posted September 23, 2014 10:00 AM

      where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

      Me and Art

      September 15, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

      Posted September 23, 2014 07:43 AM by Cindy