April 23, 2017

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Cheese and parsley muffins (vegan option)

Lately I have enjoyed baking vegan muffins.  Sylvia on the other hand has been begging me to let her bake a favourite cheese and tomato muffin recipe that she made at her school kitchen garden program.  As I had not had eggs on hand, I told her we could make an eggless version.  Later when I had some vegan bio cheese on hand, I tried a completely vegan version and we all loved these just as much.

These muffins are so easy that even a child can make them.  Sylvia was keen to show me she could make them.  I mostly stood by.  She mostly needed help with putting them in the oven.  Once they were baking, I rushed off to meet a friend for brunch and left E to help her take them out of the oven.

As you can see, Sylvia preferred her muffins without the little cherry tomatoes on top.  I was pleased she was happy to still have parsley in them.  This cheesy version was a little crispy on top.  If I had been about I think I might have taken them out earlier than after 35 minutes.  But they were still delicious.  When I got home there weren't too many of them left.

Sylvia had insisted she use dairy cheese in her muffins.  Ironic as so often she does not want to eat cheese when I offer it.  She also wanted eggs in her muffins and when she stayed with my mum, she took along the school's recipe to make.  I didn't get a photo but they did look cute with cherry tomatoes on top.

A week later, I had biocheese in the fridge and decided to try them again as a totally vegan recipe.  Neither Sylvia or E noticed.  And they didn't mind when I told them they were vegan.  No one has a problem with good food.  I had thought they might be good to take to school and work for lunches but they just don't last that long. 

I am sending these muffins to Healthy Vegan Fridays #148.  This will be the last week of one of my favourite blog events..  It was started in 2012 by Carrie on Vegan (now Carrie on Living), Everyday Vegan Girl and Veggie Nook.  Since then it has hosted by a variety of bloggers including Green Thickies, Hello Veggy, Herbivore Triathlete, and Vegan Dollhouse

Most recently it has been hosted by Kimmy of Rock My Vegan Socks, who has hosted for over 3 years, and Mary Ellen of VNutrition.  It has been a pleasure to get to know Kimmy and Mary Ellen.  However bloggers change and these lovely hosts have decided to hang up their boots and call it a day.  Many thanks to Kimmy and Mary Ellen for all the wonderful food they have shared; for their welcoming and generous spirits; and for all the time and work they have put into the event.  I will miss the event but hope to still keep in touch.

More cheesy vegan baking on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Buffalo cauliflower sourdough pizza with tofu blue cheese (v)
Cheeze crackers (v)
Sourdough polenta cheese bread (v)  
Sweet potato and cheeze scones (v)
Sweet potato, feta and sauerkraut muffins (v) 
Tofu feta, olive and sun-dried tomato muffins (v) 

Cheese and parsley muffins
Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe
Makes 12 muffins

1 cup white self raising flour
2/3 cup wholemeal plain flour
2/3 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 tsp baking powder
1-2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup soy milk
1/3 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 200 C and grease a 12 hole muffin tin.  Mix the flours, cheese, baking powder, parsley and salt in a medium large bowl.  Lightly whisk together milk and oil.  Pour into the flour mixture and gently mix until combined.  Spoon into muffin holes and smooth the tops a little (or you will get the rustic look).  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.   Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.

On the Stereo: 
No Need to Argue: The Cranberries

Posted April 23, 2017 01:26 PM by Johanna GGG

April 20, 2017

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Kitchen sink vegie curry and random moments.

Term 2 started this week.  It is hard to believe that the school holidays have whizzed by.  I had even less time at home during the holidays thanks to my new job.  I am lucky that my parents are always happy to help out and took Sylvia for a few days in the first week.  I made a huge pot of curry that meant I could relax over leftovers for a few nights.

I originally planned to make a Cauliflower and Butter Bean Curry that I found in Cook Vegetarian February 2009 when cleaning up my magazines.  As so often happens, I looked at the recipe, then I looked in the crisper in the fridge.  I just went with my instinct rather than what was in the recipe.  It was so good that I decided to blog it.  After all, this is one of my basic sort of stews.  I haven't made it for ages but I am still quite surprised not to have this sort of recipe on my blog.

The curry was the sort of stew I enjoyed as a child.  I made this for dinners when I was first out of home and learning to cook.  It is easy and comforting.  I put it on and left it for E to simmer and make rice while I went out.  We had this around for a few nights.  It saw us through book club, a quiet night, Dave O'Neil at the Comedy Festival and a night out at the pub after work.  Unfortunately I was too busy to organise to take photos in natural light.  Shorter nights are not keen to food photography.

Before I leave you, I have a few random moments from the holidays.
  • Sylvia was cross with Shadow one night.  Suddenly she came to me and said, we are friends again.  Then she took some recipes in to discuss with our cat.  I guess that is a food blogger's child's idea of being friends.
  • I had a puncture in my bike on the way to work last week.  Luckily there are a few bike shops along the bike path.  I had it repaired in about 20 minutes.  While the woman in the shop fixed my bike, I held her baby who had been crying.  It was a strange way to start the day.
  • We went to see Beauty and the Beast at the cinema in a shopping centre.  I was so proud that we got out of the house early.  I got a great car park.  We were in the queue to buy tickets when I dug in my bag for my wallet.  I had left it at home!  So we had to drive home and back past an accident, listening to a sad story on the radio and it took so long Sylvia fell asleep.  An hour later we were in the queue again and were thankful the film was showing once an hour.

More early stews from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Chickpea, peach and pumpkin curry (gf, v)
Chickpea, potato and tomato stew (gf, v) 
Chilli non carne with lager (gf, v)
Coconut black-eyed bean stew (gf, v)
Minestrone (v)
Sausage curry casserole (v)

Kitchen sink vegie curry
By Green Gourmet Giraffe
serves 4-6

1-2 tsp oil
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, finely sliced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp  mustard powder
400g tin diced tomatoes
400g tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
400g tin butter beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 to 1 tsp salt
1/2 cauliflower, chopped
1 generous cup frozen peas
2 small potatoes, diced
Rice, to serve

Heat oil in a stockpot and fry onion, carrot, celery and garlic until soft (I add these in this order as I chop them so it can be 5-15 minutes).

Stir in curry powder, cumin, turmeric and mustard powder.  Fry for a minute.

Add remaining ingredients.  Bring to the boil and cook for 20-30 minutes.  Serve with rice.

On the stereo:
Native Place: The Railway Children

Posted April 20, 2017 09:12 PM by Johanna GGG

Thoughts Of A Moni


Barry is a bit of a Northcote institution. It feels like it’s been there for ages, and is always busy, with people spilling out onto the tables on the sidewalk if the weather is nice. Funnily enough we’d never been there, but on one morning when we were told there would be a ninety minute wait to get a table at Tinker (yes, you read correctly NINETY minutes), we decided it would be safer for all concerned if I was fed sooner rather than later. And so we strolled down High Street to Barry, found ourselves a spot at the communal table and realised how much better I felt already, just knowing that food would be present in my very near future.

As usual, I started with a coffee, Five Senses, and I was suitably satisfied. It provided me confidence that my breakfast would be good.

I decided to go for a relatively healthy breakfast choice and settled on a breakfast salad.  My bowl was lined with slices of pan fried caciocavalo (which is the Italian version of haloumi), and balanced with crisp spring vegetables, pomegranate jewels, two poached eggs and dressed with lemon juice and dukkah. As someone that loves cheese, eggs and vegetables, this really was the perfect dish for me. The dukkah was lovely and nutty and the acid of the lemon brought the dish together.

Of course, all opinions were subject to the yolk porn test, which Barry passed with flying colours. On a side note, the gooey yolk was delicious to mix through the salad as an additional dressing!

The other half decided to completely indulge and chose one of the sweet specials. His breakfast was house made donuts, served with plum curd, pistachios and fresh blueberries. Naturally, he thought it was delicious, (how could you not when every element sounds delicious!), but it was a very small serve. He could have easily eaten about three serves before he was full!

A special mention must be made about the service we received. Despite being busy, the staff were very attentive and constantly making sure our needs were met. The fabulous staff, the bustling atmosphere and the creative and delicious food made for a lovely brunch adventure.

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

Posted April 20, 2017 12:50 PM by Moni

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Corn & jalapeño pancakes

April 17, 2017

A long weekend is a good time to make brunch at home. This one comes from the Smith & Daughters cookbook and it's been on my to-do list for months! We've enjoyed the Panqueques Piquantes at the restaurant several times, and they looked pretty achievable for the home kitchen. (By comparison, my all-time S & D fave is the mock tuna & pea croquetta, and I've no intention of ever deep-frying my own batch.)

Indeed, these pancakes are a breeze once you've gathered the right ingredients. Although there's corn involved, these are batter-heavy pancakes rather than fritters. (Incidentally, there is a ripper recipe for jalapeño & corn fritters in the book too!) The pancake batter is filled out with a little polenta and studded with corn kernels and jalapeños. They might sound savoury but once garnished with maple syrup and coconut bacon, they're firmly on the sweet side. 

I've had some fraught times frying pancakes in the past, but we've recently invested in a proper cast iron pan and it worked a treat with just a little spray oil. The first pancake was the mandatory mistake one, but after that I was flipping neat lightly-browned rounds with ease! More importantly, they tasted terrific with a slurp of maple syrup and sprinkling of coconut bacon. The coconut's sweet-salty chewiness makes the perfect contrasting garnish and I'm upgrading its status from optional (in the book) to definitely worth the effort of marinating and grilling your own.

Corn & jalapeño pancakes
(slightly adapted from Shannon Martinez
& Mo Wyse's Smith & Daughters Cookbook)

1 1/2 cups soy milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup polenta
2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 teaspoons egg replacer powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/2-1 jalapeño, finely chopped plus extra round slices to garnish
olive oil spray
a couple knobs of vegan butter or margarine to garnish
maple syrup, to serve
coconut bacon, to serve

In a small-medium bowl, mix together the soy milk, lemon juice and vegetable oil. Set them aside for a minute or two to curdle and thicken.

In a medium-large bowl, stir together the flour, polenta, sugar, egg replacer, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Whisk in the curdled milk mixture to form a smooth batter. Fold in the corn and chopped jalapeño. If you have the time, let the batter rest for 30 minutes.

Set a frypan over medium-high heat and spray it with oil. When it's hot, pour in ~1/3 cup pancake batter; allow it to cook until bubbles form around the edge and it's starting to set on the surface. Flip the pancake and cook for a further minute on the other side. Repeat with the remaining batter. I placed cooked pancakes on a baking tray in a low-heat oven while I continued to cook the rest of the pancakes.

Serve the pancakes garnished with a knob of vegan butter, a few jalapeño rounds, a sprinkling of coconut bacon and a generous drizzle of maple syrup.

Posted April 20, 2017 09:07 AM by Cindy

April 17, 2017

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Sourdough hot cross buns - and easter celebrations

This is my third year making and blogging a batch of sourdough hot cross buns.  Each time it seems like I have it and then the next year I want to change it up.  This year I decided to simplify the steps and then got paranoid the dough wasn't rising so I left it for hours.  The resulting hot cross buns were superb.  They have seen us through the Easter weekend and we still have some in the freezer.

We have had a few different hot cross buns in the house.  Last week on Wednesday I realised how soon Good Friday would be upon us.  I happened to be in the city and so I indulged in some David Jones hot cross buns.  On the same day E bought some choc chip hot cross buns from Bakers Delight.  But I still felt it wasn't right not to have home made.  And I had promised Sylvia we would bake some.

On Wednesday evening after work I set to baking a batch of yeasted hot cross buns with dried apple instead of sultanas.  This is the hot cross bun recipe I have made for years and it works wonderfully.  I kneaded the dough while my brother was visiting and watched it rise high above the mixing bowl.  The rising was not quite as rapid as I have would have liked.  The buns came out of the oven at 10 so it was a late night for Sylvia.  I had promised she could help.  Ah well, it was the school holidays.

I enjoyed these hot cross buns but I found the dried apple a bit bland compared to the usual dried fruit I put in my buns.  (For the record, I like dried peel and occasional glace cherry in my buns.)  Sylvia enjoyed the plainness of the buns, though I think would have been happier with no fruit at all.  That just seems wrong.  I had tried to convince her to do dried apple and white chocolate but she refused.  Her favourite part of the buns was the thick chewy crosses.

I had decided to bake another batch of hot cross buns on Good Friday (a public holiday here).  I don't use a lot of dried fruit in baking.  So I bought the smaller packet of Gourmet mixed fruit.  It is a mix of dates, sultanas, currants, figs and cranberries.  In fact Christmas and Easter are the times when I do most of my baking with dried fruit.  I still had some fruit mince leftover from Christmas.  It went into the hot cross bun mixture and was very pleased that it worked.

I took the sourdough hot cross buns recipe that I made last and modelled this year's recipe on it.  Last year I did a vegan recipe but this year, my mum brought me eggs just for the buns and so they needed to be used.  I added a mixture of fruit mince and dried fruit and tried to simply the steps in the recipe.  After making yeasted hot cross buns, I was concerned that the dough wasn't rising.  It didn't go over the edge of the bowl like the yeasted dough. 

We went out for a walk along the train line while the dough rose.  I took my time but it still looked like there wasn't much lift.  I think it was 6-7 hours before I divided it into buns.  The result was really good.  Lovely soft crumb.

So perhaps next year I will just leave it overnight.  All I need is the energy to knead it.  And given that my usual overnight sourdough bread is no knead, perhaps I could get away with less kneading.  It is frustratingly slow progress on experimenting with this recipe because I don't make many hot cross buns each year.

Once the hot cross buns were sorted, I could focus on other Easter activities.  On Saturday morning, I met a friend at the Boot Factory who had a 10% public holiday surcharge!  Then I bought some Easter eggs for nieces and nephews.  Sylvia packaged them up very nicely.  She told me that she put one bag together for herself as the dummy run.

We went down to my parents house where we ate beetroot and goats cheese tart.  Sylvia had requested that we make Easter egg nests.  I agreed but when we tried to do it at home, the chocolate seized.  So we tried again at my parents' place.  Sylvia asked for milk chocolate rather than dark and it was so so sweet.  Surprisingly they were gone by the end of Sunday.  At least we finished up the end of the packet of cornflakes.

My dad loves organising the Easter egg hunt for his grandkids.  This year he bought 11 different types of mini eggs and directed the kids that they were to find one of each type each.  If they found more than one, they could share with others.  My mum says she found quite a few eggs in the garden after last year's hunt.  I think there were one or two oreo eggs left this year.

Sylvia and her cousin, Ashy, had such a great time on the Easter egg hunt that they organised a few more hunts for each other later in the afternoon when other kids had left.  Before then we had an Easter Sunday roast dinner.  I made a nut roast, which was nice but not my best one.  My mum made a lovely pumpkin, goats cheese and sage salad as well as the usual roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese and peas.

For dessert, there was pavlova, Easter egg nests, and a Creme Egg cheesecake.  I had to have a slice of the cheesecake and it was lovely.  Then I whiled away the afternoon with those who were left after my dad and brother headed out to the footy.  I enjoyed some cups of tea, mini eggs and a hot cross bun and a trip to the garden store before driving home to watch Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes.  A fantastic way to finish a festive weekend.

For more Easter ideas, check out my round up of Easter recipes.

Sourdough overnight hot cross buns
A Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe

400g starter (100% hydration)
150g dried fruit
125g fruit mince (or more dried fruit)
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp brown sugar
250ml soy milk, room temperature
100g vegan margarine, room temperature
350g white bread flour
150g wholemeal flour
1 egg*
2 tsp salt

1 cup plain flour
3/4 cup water

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

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

Knead 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.  I needed to keep flouring the board as it was quite sticky.
Cover and rest 6-7 hours or overnight.  It will rise but not double in size.

Divide and roll dough into 20 balls.  Place in baking tray.
Cover and rest 1 - 3 hours (I did 3 hours)

Preheat oven to 220 C about 30 minutes before baking.
Mix flour and water into the paste to make crosses.
Spoon paste into ziplock bag and snip tiny piece of corner.
Pipe lines of paste across centres of buns to make crosses (I like them thick).

Bake 30 to 35 minutes until buns are golden brown and hollow when tapped.
Five minutes before buns are cooked, simmer glaze without stirring for 5-10 minutes.
Place buns on an old teatowel on a wire rack, crosses facing up.
Brush ALL glaze on hot buns.  It can take a lot of brushing, depending on how long the glaze simmers.

Keep in an airtight container for 2-3 days or store in the freezer.
Can reheat at 180 C for 10 minutes (from room temperature) or 15 minutes (from frozen).

*NOTES: to make these buns vegan like my previous batch, take out the egg and add in 1 tbsp chia seeds and 3 tbsp water., then substitute 25g each of tapioca flour and cornflour for some of the flour.  I usually simmer my glaze for 2 or 3 minutes but forgot and did it for 10 minutes.  It was darker and thicker but meant there was less to brush onto the hot cross buns so it was quicker.  As I noted in the post, the dough does not rise nearly as much as the yeast ones I make.  Also the buns take a lot longer to cook than the yeast ones.

On the Stereo:
Word Gets Around: Stereophonics

Posted April 17, 2017 11:27 PM by Johanna GGG

April 15, 2017

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Chocolate scotch eggs for Easter

Never having liked eggs, I have often admired how pretty they are in certain recipes.  Such as a Scotch Egg.  I can't imagine I will ever eat a traditional one made with minced meat around hard boiled eggs.  So when I saw Lorraine making a chocolate version with a Creme Egg, I could not get the idea out of my head.  Finally a chance to eat Scotch eggs, albeit with chocolate.

Lorraine used Tim Tams and cream cheese for the "meat" around her creme eggs.  I just could not get the idea of using the mixture of my favourite grubs.  However I knew it would be sweeter because they have condensed milk.  I decided to use a salted caramel and vanilla Tim Tam instead of the usual Marie Biscuits.  In future I might use regular chocolate Tim Tams.  I think the vanilla was not my cuppa tea.  Instead I tried to reduce the sweetness of the "meat" by adding more cocoa and some salt.

Getting the "meat" around the egg was quite challenging.  We struggled to get the right egg shape and one or two eggs cracked as we tried to coat them.  (I guess this is also hard with the traditional meat Scotch Eggs!)  We also used condensed milk that was past the best before date.  It was edible but quite thick.  Not ideal.

I used Marie Biscuits for the "breadcrumb coating".  But I think they were ground too finely in the blender and were more of a powder than a crunchy coating like Lorraine's.  And that powder got all over the kitchen.  I try to contain my mess when cooking but when I have help from my 8 year old, it does tend to spread. It didn't help that I put the crumbs in a small bowl.  I think 10 biscuits was too much.

Sylvia had a lovely time making these with me yesterday.  (And being my hand model!)  Which was just as well.  I had promised her a baking day but it went awry.  The hot cross buns took ages to rise, we ran out of butter and when I tried to do chocolate for another treat, it seized in the microwave.  And on Good Friday, the shops aren't open to nip out and buy more.  E enjoyed helping us eat them.  He is quite a fan of Cadbury Creme Eggs.

It was a fun Easter project but one I am unlikely to repeat.  I find Creme Eggs rather sweet and with the coating it was just sweet on sweet.  When I was amused to make them, I would prefer more chocolate and less fondant.  Eating a whole of these Scotch Eggs is rather overwhelming.  I found myself cutting them into small slices.  And that just does not seem cricket when it comes to Scotch Eggs.  But then again, neither is chocolate!

I am sending these to Choclette for We Should Cocoa.

For more Easter ideas, go to my Easter Recipes round up

Easter scotch eggs
By Green Gourmet Giraffe

6 Creme Eggs
5 to 6 Marie biscuits, coarsely ground
200g packet Tim Tams
1/2 x 400g tin of condensed milk
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
4 heaped dessertspoons of cocoa
1/8 tsp fine salt

Unwrap Creme Eggs and blend Marie biscuits to coarse crumbs.  Put the biscuit crumbs in a shallow bowl.  Whiz up Tim Tams in blender til crumbs.  A bit of texture is good.  Mix with condensed milk, coconut, cocoa and salt.  Divide the mixture into six parts and press one sixth around one Creme Egg with your hands and shape into egg shapes.  Roll in Marie biscuit crumbs.  Eat in small amounts.

On the stereo:
Acoustic 80s: Alternative hits from the Eighties: Various Artists

Posted April 15, 2017 08:57 AM by Johanna GGG

April 13, 2017

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Fig & goat's cheese tart

April 8, 2017

Well, I think we squeezed every last possible picnic out of this summer! I'm sure of it because little more than an hour after we finished up our outdoor Ottolenghi Club last Saturday, the wind changed and it poured with rain. But while the breeze was still blowing from the north and the sun was shining, we shared kuku, salads, and florets of fried cauliflower. We saw out the summer with this fig tart.

It's one of the most eye-catching pictures in Plenty More, I reckon - several dozen glistening crimson fig geodes stacked across a golden square of pastry, drizzled with lemon glaze, with teeny herb leaves tucked in. Read the ingredient list and it goes one better - there's some kind of goat's cheese frangipane in between the figs and the pastry! It seems like one of those clever dishes that straddles sweet and savoury, a tantalising hybrid of cheese platter and Danish pastry.

The original recipe includes instructions for a yeasted pastry dough, but Ottolenghi graciously grants us permission to purchase puff pastry instead. I found a small frozen block that I could roll myself to fit the base of my baking dish, and I gave it a little blind-bake to help ensure it cooked through. I thought it still ended up a bit tough, and I'd try something different on a second attempt.

The other layers didn't quite meet my high expectations either. The goat's cheese, once diluted with eggs and almond meal, lacked pungency; the tanginess of the lemon glaze didn't quite carry either. But the fresh figs, lightly dusted with caster sugar and baked until sparkling, were spectacular. I reckon they carried the whole dish. So I could change up the cheese or double the lemon juice glaze, but maybe I'm just better off grilling my figs next autumn.

Fig & goat's cheese tart
(slightly adapted from a recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty More)

375g puff pastry, thawed
150g soft goat's cheese
85g icing sugar
grated zest of 1/2 orange
1-2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
2 eggs, beaten
100g almonds
600g figs
1 tablespoon castor sugar
juice of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line a large high-walled baking tray with paper.

Roll out the puff pastry to fit the base of the baking tray and gently ease it in. Poke the pastry with a fork and bake it for about 10 minutes. Set the tray aside to cool a little.

In the meantime, put the cheese in a small bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of the icing sugar, the orange zest, a tablespoon of thyme leaves and three-quarters of the beaten eggs. Beat everything together until smooth. Grind the almonds to a meal and stir them into the goat's cheese mixture.

Spoon the goat's cheese mixture over the cooling pastry, leaving an inch-wide border around the edge. Brush the remaining egg on the exposed pastry. Slice the figs in half and arrange them, cut side up, over the goat's cheese mixture. Place the figs close together, even overlapping. Bake the tart for about 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and the figs are bubbling with juice.

Let the tart cool down a bit. Whisk together the remaining icing sugar and lemon juice into a smooth glaze and drizzle it over the tart.

Posted April 13, 2017 07:47 AM by Cindy

April 12, 2017

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Crimson Coleslaw

I am going through a purple patch, if that is how I may describe months of purple cabbage always in my fridge and often in my meals.  While I often buy cabbage, it is usually the green type and is often in the background of a stew or fried for a side dish.  The purple or red cabbage has been featured far more both in salads and sandwiches.  It is beautiful to look at and good for you too.

Often I just made some coleslaw as a side dish.  A bottle of coleslaw dressing in the fridge makes this quick and easy. Together with some baby spinach this has often been an easy way of increasing the vegies in our dinner. 

On the weekend the weather was so rotten that a planned group trip to the Pentridge Festival morphed into a games afternoon at a friend's place.  I baked bread and made coleslaw.  As I was low on my bottle of dressing, I decided to have a go at making a dressing.  As I had vegannaise, I made it vegan.  I played around with the flavours until it seemed right.

It was a most enjoyable salad.  Not terribly sweet but tasty.  I love the fresh crunch of the vegies too.  Eating a pile of this salad is easy.  It went well with the bread, little cheese pastries and dips before we started on the serious business of Scrabble and Uno.

I am sending this salad to No Croutons Required and Healthy Vegan Fridays.

More cabbage in salads on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Asian napa cabbage salad (gf, v)
Cabbage salad with lime and mustard dressing (gf, v)
Cranberry and mustard coleslaw (gf, v)
Rainbow salad with orange and sesame dressing (gf, v)
Roasted broccoli and apple salad (gf, v)
Spicy peanut and lime coleslaw (gf, v)

Crimson Coleslaw
Adapted from taste.com.au
serves 6-8 as a side dish

1/4 large purple/red cabbage
1 large carrot
1/2 red capsicum
1 spring onion*
6 tbsp mayonnaise*
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp mustard
1 tsp maple syrup

Finely slice the cabbage, capsicum and spring onion.  Grate the carrot.  Mix the remaining ingredients together and toss well through the cabbage.  Best eaten fresh or at least by the end of the day.  If you want it for the following day, you can prepare the vegies and dressing ahead of time

NOTES: My cabbage weighed about 300g.  You can do this with green cabbage but purple cabbage is much prettier.  You could slice the vegies with a food processor or mandolin but I find it easier to just use a large chef's knife.  You can use a regular mayonnaise - I used Vegannaise which made the salad vegan.  I didn't have a spring onion (which I have been using in other coleslaws) so I added 1/2 tsp of dried onion flakes instead.  Using the whites of the spring onion keeps the red colour.

On the stereo:
Saint Low - self titled

Posted April 12, 2017 11:24 PM by Johanna GGG

April 11, 2017

Thoughts Of A Moni

Kerala x Host

The team behind We Are Kerala and Host Brunswick have joined forces to present a series of collaboration dinners, showcasing Indian food from the state of Kerala with a fusion twist.  Mischa Tropp together with Laura Neville create a beautiful 4 course meal, focusing on South Indian flavours and these are matched with curated drinks by the team at Host. The food is dominated by flavours of curry leaves, mustard seeds and coconut, but are complimented with a modern twist to bring them into the fine dining world.

Mischa is of Keralan descent, and both he and Laura have spent time in India learning about ingredients and flavour combinations, which was evident in our meal. Our dining experience commenced with a trio of starters. We were served a passionfruit half with chilli salt, a steamed South Indian rice cake known as idli paired with chickpea and  a parcel of goat’s curd, pickled pumpkin and curry leaf. There were also non vegetarian variants of these dishes, which included chicken liver instead of the chickpea gravy and boarfish to replace the pickled pumpkin. These dishes gave us a taste of what was to come and left us eager for the meal to continue.

The next course was a little more substantial and consisted of two small plates. The first was smoked tomatoes served with coconut, Kashmiri chilli and ruby grapefruit, with the non vegetarians served raw kingfish instead of the smoked tomato. This was a fresh dish, with punchy flavours. The second plate was grilled eggplant served with a spicy sauce made with a spice blend called recheado. There was a slight amount of heat in the recheado, but it warmed the palate up for the next course.

Main course was an array of dishes served on the table, almost like a mini banquet. We received a traditional cabbage curry, known as thoran, an okra pachadi, which is okra in a creamy yogurt based sauce, chickpea curry (or beef fry for the non vegetarians), and ghee rice. We were also served some epic sized pappadums which were amazing. The highlight of this course for me was the okra pachadi. Okra has long been one of my favourite vegetables, and when served in the creamy gravy with the strong flavours of spices, it really was a perfect match. I later found out that the recipe was from Mischa’s mother, so it was no wonder that it tasted so good, everyone knows that mums are the best cooks!

By this time we were getting close to ridiculously full, but we activated our dessert stomachs to enjoy the last course. Served on a ginger sable, was a ball of carrot sorbet (or halwa for the Indians!) coated in goat’s yogurt, and topped with cumin praline. The yogurt cut through the sweetness of the sorbet, and it provided a refreshing end to the meal.

Host provided the perfect surrounds to enjoy this meal and the curated drinks were also carefully thought out. We tried the iced soy chai mocktail, but there were alcoholic options on offer too. We Are Kerala are doing beautiful, creative food and I look forward to seeing what the menu holds at their next collaboration dinner in April! This dinner is already sold out, but keep an eye on the We Are Kerala website and Instagram to see what other delicious adventures they will be involved in.

Note: I was invited to dine at Kerala x Host , however all opinions are entirely my own. 

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

Posted April 11, 2017 01:38 PM by Moni

April 10, 2017

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Fig & walnut friands

March 25, 2017

I made these little fancies because it's fig season, and because I had a few egg whites in the freezer. It's a friand recipe that makes just six serves, and it was a nice spontaneous weekend project. Enough to eat warm, just the two of us on the couch that day, and to pack into our lunchboxes a day or two after, and then be happily done before the cakes turned mushy or stale.

I expect friands to be based on almond meal, but these ones use ground walnuts instead. It makes for a darker, toastier cake that I think complements the figs very well; a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg pushes the effect even further. The original recipe uses fewer, thinly sliced figs but I set a bulbous half into each of my friands. Baking concentrates the figs' sweetness, but they stay quite fresh and juicy. That's probably why the friands deteriorate after just a few days - they're a fleeting pleasure, like fig season itself.

Fig & walnut friands
(slightly adapted from a recipe on A Splash Of Vanilla)

75g butter
60g walnuts
3 egg whites
1/3 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup icing sugar
3 figs

Preheat an oven to 190°C. Lightly grease 6 spots in a muffin tray.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan, then turn off the heat and allow it to cool a little.

Grind the walnuts to a coarse meal in a spice grinder or food processor.

Drop the egg whites into a medium-large bowl and beat them with an electric mixer for up to a minute, until they're very foamy. Sift the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and icing sugar over the whites; add the walnut meal and fold everything together until just combined. Spoon the batter evenly into the 6 muffin cups.

Slice the figs in half and place one half, cut side up, gently onto the top of each friand. Bake until the batter is just cooked through, about 25 minutes. Allow the friands to cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes, then slide a knife around their edges and transfer them to a rack to cool further.

Posted April 10, 2017 07:36 AM by Cindy

April 09, 2017

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Apple date and chia seed muffins (vegan)

Lately I have been baking more than I have for a long time.  It may be that I have finally recovered from the festive season or just the demands of more hours and more riding to and from work with my new job.  Last week I baked 3 batches of muffins.  Three!  One of these was a batch of apple date and chia seed muffins which were excellent.

One reason I made the muffins is that it is apple season but all apples are not created equal.  Some are crisp and crunchy.  Others are mealy and meh.  I had a few of the latter to use up and decided on muffins.  I baked them between coffee with my friend Kathleen and my book club.  I found an apple and pecan muffin recipe in the Joy of Vegan Baking.  I had to work out the recipe to suit my kitchen.  No pecans but lots of dates and a vague memory of seeing chia seeds in muffins recently.

It was rather peaceful baking them.  E was pottering about with his ukulele and secateurs; not both at one, mind you.  Sylvia was on the lounge rug sorting out her textas (or markers). She occasionally came over for a piece of apple as I chopped them.  There is a great article in the Huffington Post titled "Psychologists explain the benefits of baking for other people".  I like that they describe baking as a form of mindfulness.  Sometimes it feels like a mad rush and other times it is indeed a relaxing way to slow down.  It felt good to bake these muffins.

It also felt good to eat these muffins.  The batter seems incredibly thick but the resulting muffins are lovely and soft.  The apples were soft and juicy.  The chia seeds gave some interesting texture.  They were quite sweet so I might reduce the sugar next time.  But they were something I was proud to contribute to book club and a nice work snack.

I am sending these muffins to Simple and In Season run by Feeding Boys, and Treat Petite run by the Baking Explorer and Cakeyboi.

Apple date and chia muffins
By Green Gourmet Giraffe with inspiration from The Joy of Vegan Baking
Makes 12 muffins

1/3 cup finely chopped dates
1/2 cup boiling water
3 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp ground linseed (flax seed)
1 cup white self raising flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup rice bran oil (or other neutral tasting oil)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups peeled and chopped apples
1/4 cup chia seeds

Preheat oven to 200 C and grease a 12 hole muffin tin.

Mix dates, boiling water, maple syrup and ground linseed in a small bowl and set aside.

Toss together flours, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.

Stir oil, sugar and vanilla into date mixture to make a thick syrupy mixture.  Pour into flour mixure and mix until combined.

Stir apples and chia seeds into batter.  It will be quite stiff but you can add 1-2 tbsp of water if you need to loosen it a little.

Spoon batter into muffin cups.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack and keep in an airtight container for about 3 days.

On the Stereo:
The Captain: Kasey Chambers

Posted April 09, 2017 10:59 PM by Johanna GGG

April 07, 2017

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Cauliflower lentil loaf

I am here today to confirm that if a loaf collapses into a heap of gravelly cauliflower and lentils, is it still every bit as tasty.  I can also confirm a truth among loaf makers.  Loaves always slice better on the second day.  You will probably be nodding sagely at these truths.  More controversial is my lack of regard for a recipe.  Perhaps if I had followed it more closely I might have found my loaf stuck together better.

But who am I to be miserly with cauliflower when I have just bought a large one on sale.  There was a lot of it to use.  You see, I was tired of it falling on the floor like a decapitated head every time I opened the fridge door.  (Yes I have been watching too much Horrible Histories.)

Once all the ingredients were added, the snowy white cauliflower was transformed into a minced meat like mixture.  I am reminded a little of this vegan minced meat and would have added finely chopped walnuts if I had any.  Instead I put in some ground cashews to try and make it stick together better.

I was able to take my time with this loaf because Sylvia was having a sleepover at a friend's place.  When it was cooked, I cut slices which collapsed on the plate.  It was so late that it was dark.  This was just before daylight savings ended so I need to get used to serving dinner without natural light.  Not good for blogging!  Even last night when I rode home, the sun was an ruby ball  of sunset by the time I got home.

Collapsing dinner in the dark does not make for attractive photos.  Not to mention, making a mockery of baking it in a loaf shape when I could have just fried it up to look like a pile of fancy cauliflower rice.  So I have spared you the sight.  The second night, Sylvia was home and refusing to eat the loaf.  However when I tried to find a quiet moment before dinner (and sunset) to photograph our meal, she was very interested.  She helped me find some food props for the photo.

Finally on the second night the slices of loaf held together.  Mind you they were still fragile.  If I hadn't got distracted, I would have tried to squeeze the liquid out of the riced cauliflower.  However, more important than whether the loaf held together or not is the taste.  It was meaty but didn't leave you with a heavy filling.  I serve it with tomato sauce, coleslaw and baby spinach.  It was so delicious that I didn't want to wait for dinner and took a few sneaky mouthfuls.  I would love this in a wrap or with roast vegies.  Tasty, healthy and packed with vegies and protein, what's not to love about this loaf.

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

More cauliflower recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Buffalo cauliflower sourdough pizza with tofu blue cheese (v)
Cauliflower cheese sauce (gf, v)
Cauliflower, pea and parmesan polenta fingers (gf)
Cheesy cauliflower and rice soup (gf, v)
Potato, cauliflower and kale pesto mash (gf, v)
Roasted cauliflower with tahini sauce (gf)
Vegan lasagne with cauliflower, hummus and tofu "ricotta" (v)
Vegan sausage rolls - with cauliflower, tofu and aquafaba (v) 

Cauliflower Lentil Loaf
Adapted from Strength and Sunshine
Serves 4 people

1-2 tsp olive oil
1 brown onion, chopped
5 button mushrooms, finely chopped
1 red capsicum, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
400g tin brown lentils, rinsed and drained
1/2 cauliflower, riced*
1 cup cashews, ground
2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp seeded mustard
1/4 tsp black pepper

Smoky Tomato Glaze:
1/3 cup tomato sauce
1 tsp liquid smoke

Preheat oven to 200 C.  Grease and line a loaf tin.  Fry onion, mushrooms, capsicum and garlic over medium heat for 5-10 minutes until softened.*  Meanwhile place the riced cauliflower into a clean tea towel, gather the ends together and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.*  Add remaining ingredients and stir until well combined.  Tip into prepared loaf tin.  Press down with back of a spoon.  Stir together the sauce and liquid smoke to make glaze.  Brush glaze onto the loaf.  Bake for 45 minutes.  It is easiest to slice the day after baking.

*NOTES: I always add my vegies to the frypan as I chop them so I have listed them in the order that I chopped them.  Riced cauliflower is finely chopped to the size of rice grains.  I riced my cauliflower in my high power blender.   I forgot to squeeze liquid out of the riced cauliflower but I would do when making again as I think it would help it stick together better.  I fried my vegies in a large frypan and just added the remaining ingredients to the pan to mix.

On the Stereo:
Berlin Caberet Songs: Ute Lemper

Posted April 07, 2017 09:57 AM by Johanna GGG

April 05, 2017

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne


March 18, 2017

Franklin (not to be confused with Frank!) has ranked highly on Hobart fine dining lists for years. However, reviewers have always tended to recommend the seafood and other meats so we figured it wasn't really for us. Then in the past year a couple of vegetarian friends added their voices to the pro-Franklin crowd - that had us more interested, and we secured an early reservation at the bar on our Saturday night in town.

Franklin inhabits an ex-Ford car showroom and they've maintained an industrial look with lots of polished concrete and a scattering of leather and animal hide mats. Somehow they've managed the acoustics well so that guests can enjoy a positive buzz across the room without echoing music or competing conversations. The kitchen is completely open and visible; those of us at the bar had front-row seats to its workings. The centrepiece is an enormous Scotch oven (pictured above).

We'd mentioned that we were vegetarian in our online booking, and our waiter was well prepared with separately printed vegetarian menus to take to our table. We couldn't quite deduce from the descriptions how much we should order, but decided to request four of the six available dishes and hope for some dessert room. As is often the case at fancy restaurants, Michael ordering a G&T just in time to enjoy some fancy bread and butter.

The grilled eggplant ($16) was little more than a taster, a savoury finger-length each garnished with salted turnip and lovage seeds.

The just-barely-warmed tomatoes ($16) were more abundant, tossed with what I think was a buttermilk dressing (not listed in the name), cloaked in red basil leaves and seasoned with native pepper. I was glad I'd saved some of my bread for sopping up the juices from the bowl.

The toasted Chinese cabbage agrodolce ($19) also looked a little meagre on the plate. Nevertheless, the sweet and sour sauce dressed the leaves well.

Our most anticipated dish was the wood-roasted pink eye potato galette ($21; see the making-of in the top photo!). Thinly sliced potato rounds are layered to form the galette, and once they emerge from that formidable oven they're scattered with fresh green herbs, walnuts and finely grated cheese. It was a worthy finale to our main meal.

We had plenty of room for dessert! For me the night's highlight was the monochromatic malted barley parfait with toasted rye and plums ($14). As the kitchen manager described to us, the malted barley gave a chocolatey, coffee-ish flavour to the icecream wedge. The crunchy rye sprinklings were a complementary flavour and great contrast in texture.

The baked tarragon cream ($14) was no slouch either, with a herbal flavour that's rarely tasted at dessert and some gorgeous berries keeping it all summery-sweet.

We had a really nice evening at Franklin. As at many high-end restaurants, we got the sense that the menu's not really meant for us vegetarians, while still enjoying the options on offer. I thought the servings were small for the prices charged, but ultimately we left feeling satisfied and not stuffed. The capable service likely smoothed over my misgivings and I especially appreciated that, since we were sitting right beside the pass, the kitchen manager directly served and described many of the dishes for us directly.

All the other online reviews we've seen of Franklin are very meat-focused and almost unanimously positive! See Living Loving Hobart (twice), Fork + FootJacqui's Food FetishGet Forked and Fly and FINEEATING. There's a more mixed account on foodie mookie.

28-30 Argyle St, Hobart
(03) 6234 3375
vegetarian menu, full menu

Accessibility: Entry includes a shallow, wide ramp. Interior furniture is generously spaced, a mixture of low tables with mini-stools, standard tables with backed chairs and a high bar with stools. We received full table service. We didn't visit the toilets.

Posted April 05, 2017 07:49 AM by Cindy

April 04, 2017

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Raspberry Lemonade and outings in Melbourne

Summer weather is on the way out.  I am not too bothered but I will miss the summer fruit.  We have had some gloriously juicy nectarines and some joyfully cheap berries.  We bought so many punnets of cheap raspberries that Sylvia and I decided to make some raspberry lemonade.  Lovely pink lemonade to drink between summery outings.

Our neighbour had given us some lemons she was not using.  The resulting raspberry lemonade was wonderful.  It smelled of raspberries and had that slightly floral flavour which took the edge off the lemonade.  It was far more successful than my attempt at raspberry lemonade many years ago.  (A shame because the photos in the old post still make me happy.)  I guess it helps that we make lemonade quite often.  Once you have lemonade down pat, it is not hard to tweak it with raspberries.

The raspberry lemonade saw us through quite some fun time.  Let us share a few outings.

We saw Amanda Palmer perform at the National Gallery of Victoria.  I took the above photo before the gig began.  I really loved seeing her perform in front of the artwork in the Great Hall but was a little sad that they turned off the lights on the magnificent stained glass ceiling.  Most of the time everyone was too mesmerised by Amanda Palmer but it wasn't always easy to see and my eyes would have enjoyed wondering to the artwork on the ceiling.

Our tickets to Amanda Palmer included entry to David Hockney's "Current" exhibition.  The exhibition costs $25 to enter so it was good value to buy a $30 ticket to the gig and have the exhibition included.  I would not have got along to this exhibition otherwise and, having no expectations, was pleasantly surprised.  There were the small pictures above that were created on an ipad.

And there were the large pictures that covered a wall such as the above trees and the below photo of chairs.  While I enjoyed the variety of the small pictures and the long gallery of portraits, I really like the large pictures that make me feel like Belle in Reaching Tin River when she runs into a blown up photo to try and become part of it.  Don't worry, I didn't run into any of these pictures.  But I just loved that scene in the book and have never forgotten it.

An Indian dinner, an exhibition and a gig is a rare treat of a night.  Now that we don't do it so much, I get amazed to see how many people are out late when we come out of an evening show.  As it was the Friday evening of a long weekend, there was a party atmosphere, with the Moomba fun fair lit up in the distance.

We also got along to the Sydney Road Street Party this year.  The Brunswick section of the street is closed to traffic to make space for market stalls and performers.  We were there to see E play with his ukulele group outside the Town Hall.  They were great fun.  Then we wandered around the stalls.  We admired the above meringues and toffee apples but resisted temptation.

Instead Sylvia decided she really wanted an ice cream from the Billy van.  It was warm enough for her to buy a new rainbow sunhat.  We had been snacking on some nibbles from The Source Bulk Foods Store.  E got a sausage in bread from a BBQ.  I looked at vegan burgers, gozleme, falafels, curries etc.

Finally I decided on a Vegan KFC Taco from Basco's street stall.  It was a Korean fried cauliflower, Asian slaw, vegan mayo, gochujang sauce, pickled ginger and fresh herb.  Basco was popular.  The wait was lengthy.  As I waited I noticed that the taco was marked as spicy.  It was indeed, but not too hot for my delicate tastebuds. I loved my taco and just wished I had ordered two of them.

I'd love to visit Basco for a meal.  They seem to have lots of interesting vegetarian food.  Sadly they seem to only be open in the evening which is less convenient for me.  Maybe one day.

The last event to share is the Undiagnosed Children's Awareness Day in Northcote held by Syndromes Without A Name (SWAN).  We stumbled into the event thanks to a recommendation to go along.  It was a fete/fundraiser with the usual bouncy castle, cake stall and raffles.  Mostly Sylvia and I had the Grill'd sliders, the sweet slices and zooper dooper flavoured ices.  It made me me think of how hard some families have it and how lucky we are.

More raspberry recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Beetroot, raspberry and feta salad (gf)
Macaroon cake with raspberries (gf)
Nectarine and raspberry strudel
Plums and raspberry jam (gf, v)
Raspberry apricot and chia smoothie (gf, v)
Rhubarb and raspberry crumble (v)
Rhubarb and raspberry no knead focaccia (v)

Raspberry lemonade
Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe

1 cup water
1 1/4 cup castor sugar
250g raspberries
1 cup lemon juice (about 4 large lemons)

1-2 litres soda water to serve

Gently heat the water and sugar in a small saucepan until sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat.  While this is heating, push the raspberries through a sieve and discard pulp (or save for muffins or smoothies).  Add the lemon juice and strain into funnel above a jug or bottle that you can store in the fridge for a few weeks.  When ready to drink, put about 1 part raspberry lemonade mixture with 2-3 parts soda water.

On the stereo
(Michael Winterbottom's) Wonderland soundtrack: Michael Nyman

Posted April 04, 2017 03:51 PM by Johanna GGG

April 03, 2017

Thoughts Of A Moni

An Apology and Taking Stock Quarter 1, 2017

I should start with an apology. The first quarter of the year is over, and I think I've only managed one blog post. But I have a good reason. Seriously. I got married! So in between planning two weddings (that's what happens when an Indian marries an Italian), buying a house, selling a house, and just trying to get through life, the blog has fallen by the wayside :( But now that it's almost over (we just have to move house and we'll be done!) I'm hoping that things will pick up, and I'll be back into it. But in the meantime, I think it's only fair that I do a bit of a review of what's been happening, using the questions from the lovely Meet Me At Mike's blog....

Making: Lists. Lists of things to pack. Lists to things to get rid of. And also lists of people to whom we need to send thankyou cards for the wedding!

Cooking: Not much. We've hardly been at home. Instead I've been spending lots of time at Tamil Feasts, who always send me with leftovers galore, plus we have two sets of parents who love having us over for dinner.

Drinking: Water. Detox imperative.

Reading: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. I'm only of the very few people who have never read or watched the Harry Potter series, so I thought it was about time that I rectified that.

Wanting: Sleep. I am ridiculously sleep deprived. Daylight savings couldn't have come at a better time for me.

Looking: Forward to moving into the new house!

Deciding: What songs to use for our wedding video. I want some western music and some Indian music.

Enjoying: Looking at our wedding photos. I can look at them multiple times a day and it always makes me feel so happy! As cheesy as it sounds, it really was the perfect weekend.

Waiting: For the rest of our wedding photos. Unfortunately we will be waiting for at least another five months :(

Liking: Married life. It's nice :)

Wondering: What the Tamil Feast menu will be this week. I'm lucky enough to have a volunteer shift, which means I get to spend time with some awesome people, and eat some delicious food.

Loving: The fact that we got our first wedding invite addressed to us as Mr and Mrs Russo. It's a bit special :)

Considering: When is a good time to change my surname. I've already decided that I will change my name, however given that we have a lot of bank paper work to sign regarding the house transfer etc, I figure I should wait until all of this is over to avoid any confusion.

Buying: A new drink bottle and a new wallet. Both my old wallet and drink bottle have died, and it's a perfect opportunity to replace these items with sustainable, environmentally options. I'm open to suggestions...

Watching: Not enough. I am so behind on all my TV shows, plus I've added to the list of shows I need to watch. At some point I need a week of downtime so I can sit there and watch Grey's Anatomy, The Leftovers, Black Mirror, Big Little Lies, Riverdale and Suits.

Hoping: For another holiday soon.

Marvelling: At how we and our families managed to get through our crazy wedding weekend in one piece and smiling on the other side!

Needing: Time. We have been so busy, that we really just need some time to relax and do nothing.

Smelling: The gorgeous eucalyptus type scent of my Burt's Bees lip balm. I love it.

Wearing: My DeJour jeans. I love them. If you haven't got a pair, get yourself down to Brunswick and get a pair of custom fitted jeans for a ridiculously reasonable price.

Following: Lots of different podcasts about my favourite TV shows.

Thinking: About writing our wedding thankyou cards. We really need to get onto it.

Admiring: My wedding bouquet, and all the wedding flowers in general. One of my husband's cousins took the lead on arranging all the flowers and she was seriously amazing. We gave her no brief, no clues on what we wanted, and let her have free reign, and she delivered beyond our expectations. We are so lucky to be related to such talented and generous people.

Sorting: My wardrobe. I need to do a purge before we move house.

Getting: Excited for Easter. I'll be glad to have a few public holidays and hopefully some time to rest.

Opening: Emails. My work inbox is a mess. I really need to clean it out.

Giggling: Thinking about various comedians I've already watched at the Comedy Festival. I'm lucky enough to be seeing a lot of shows this year as part of a media team. I've made a point to go and see smaller shows, by unknown comedians, and some of them are bloody hilarious. We saw Jeeves Verma last night, and I haven't laughed that much in a  long time.

Feeling: Exceptionally lucky. Life is good.

Snacking: On cheese. Our wedding cake was a cheese cake. Like literally, wheels of cheese, and we still have a lot of the hard cheese leftover. This is great news for me, it means I can spend the rest of my foreseeable future eating cheese and crackers with quince paste. It is not so great for my waistline though.

Hearing: The office hum. I miss being on holidays.

What’s been going on in your life?

Posted April 03, 2017 10:37 AM by Moni

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Hamlet & Veg Bar, Hobart

March 18, 2017

We skipped MOFO this year, but Hobart still called us down for a visit - a quick long weekend to see the excellent On the Origin of Art exhibition at MONA and to spend some time in one of our favourite cities. We did a day tour out to Bruny Island on the Friday, but had more time on Saturday to get into the local food. We started out with a visit to Hamlet, a cafe that's popped up in the year since our last visit to Hobart. It's a community enterprise, that provides employment and training opportunities for people who face barriers to employment. It's tucked away off the beaten track a bit, behind Molle Street near the start of the Hobart Rivulet track - on a Saturday morning it's a serene escape from the hectic bustle of Salamanca and surrounds.

The menu is super veg-friendly, with just a couple of meaty dishes. The options range from simple toasts and smashed avos through to more interesting options like the Buddha bowl (brown rice, shiitake, kimchi, pickled white beans, sweet corn, toasted nori, $17). Cindy wanted to save some room for our trip to the Salamanca Markets, so she just ordered one of their fancy scones (corn, spring onion and sage, $6) and an apricot and honey smoothie ($8). The scone arrived huge, flat, cheesy and warm, with a dab of butter on the side. The smoothie had a light, milky consistency and its fresh feature ingredients shone through.

I was a bit more adventurous, ordering the autumn veg curry with fried eggs from the specials board ($17). This came topped with crispy fried onions and fresh herbs and was an excellent start to the day - fried eggs and curry is a brilliant combination. The curry itself was mild but richly flavoured with a few different kinds of potatoes making up the autumn veggies. I'm a big fan of curry for breakfast - more places should offer it.

Service was friendly and efficient on our visit and the coffee was great. Hamlet is a welcome addition to Hobart's brekkie scene - good food and a good cause.


There are a couple of positive reviews of Hamlet at Living Loving Hobart and Yippee Pie Yay.

40 Molle St, Hobart
0407 169 352
food, specials, drinks

Accessibility: Hamlet is super accessible, with table service, accessible bathrooms and an accessible entry.

After a stroll around the markets and a few op shops, we headed up to North Hobart to meet a friend and check out the brand new Veg Bar on Elizabeth Street. It's very on trend, with neon highlights, indoor plants and bench seating. The menu has the same well-researched vibe, a mix of 'clean eating' alongside burgers, nachos and the like. There are fancy cocktails sit alongside kale and acai smoothies, cold pressed juices and tricked-up lattes. It's all vegan.

Cindy and S both braved fancy drinks - a turmeric latte ($5.50) and a 'Sugar High' smoothie ($10). This was the first time any of us had tried a turmeric latte, and nobody was entirely won over - I was expecting at least some coffee in there somewhere. Cindy's smoothie was more successful, overflowing with garnishes and combining coconut water, mango, raspberries and passionfruit to good effect.

I was weirdly compelled by the promise of a vegan egg, so I ordered the kim chi fried rice ($24), which came with tofu, spring onion, burnt pickled onion, nori slivers, sesame and a big ol' vegan egg dropped right in the middle. The egg doesn't really taste anything like actual egg - the white is made out of coconut somehow, while the yolk is a sweet potato paste that's been jellied up somehow. It looks great though, and there was something spicy in the 'yolk' that added to the solid kim chi kick in the rest of the fried rice. I was really happy with the whole dish - a extra few bits of tofu would have made me feel better about the price, but that's just being grumpy.

Cindy decided to try one of the burgers, intrigued by the promise of a southern-fried cauliflower pattie ($15.50). The pattie came on a weird-looking matcha bun, along with house made slaw and agave mustard. 

The bun was basically a novelty, with the matcha adding nothing exciting to the mix beyond colour. The filling got a thumbs up though. While the cauliflower-based burger wasn't fooling anyone for chicken, but it a neat spiced crumbing that held together the soft interior (although I really think they should throw a few mock meat products on the menu even if it doesn't quite fit their health-oriented vibe). 

S ordered off the specials board, trying the tofu pad Thai. It looked great, and her only complaint was that they hadn't used the proper thick noodles - otherwise it did the job nicely.

Veg Bar is a fantastic new option in Hobart. It's run by people who have a handful of other (non-veg) restaurants around the place, and it's clear that they know what they're doing. It's a lovely setup, with a menu that's sure to please vegans, vegetarians and omnis. Fingers crossed it's a success so we can revisit next year.


Living Loving Hobart have already written up their visit to Veg Bar.


Veg Bar
346 Elizabeth St, North Hobart
0498 708 561
food, drinks
facebook page

Accessibility: Veg Bar has a flat entryway and a pretty spacious interior. Seating is a mix of regular tables, high bar stools and more restrictive benches. The toilets are a mix of gendered and unisex with some fully accessible options. We ordered and pay at a high bar.

Posted April 03, 2017 07:45 AM by Michael

April 02, 2017

Green Gourmet Giraffe

In My Kitchen: April 2017

April has arrived, ushering in some autumnal weather (after a very hot start to autumn), the end of daylight savings and a suggestion that our salad days might soon be over.  I am still settling into my new job.  However I have found my online bookmarks and am cooking more.

Above is a salad from a supermarket magazine.  It was like a coleslaw with a gingery Asian vinaigrette.  I planned it for days.  When I made it, the dressing was too acidic for me.  A shame.  I loved all the vegies.  Fortunately I have been finding that plain old coleslaw has been working for a quick vegie side dish.

It has been a summer of Golden Gaytime ice creams.  So I could not resist trying the Golden Gaytime Cornetto (which I thought I saw somewhere as the Gaynetto but perhaps I just dreamt that up).  I really liked the butterscotch and vanilla swirl of ice cream, even though it not something to eat regularly.

St Pat's Day found me with limited energy.  I went for one of the easiest green option.  Pizza with pesto and cheese.  Well, I guess it would have been easier if the pizza base and pesto weren't home made.  It was nice but a bit stodgy without vegies on the side.

I have become more strict on gelatin over the years of being vegetarian, though some gelatin occasionally finds its way into the house.  But I do draw the line at jelly using gelatin.  So when we found this Aeroplane Glitter jelly did not have gelatin, I bought it for Sylvia.  She loves jelly.  Luckily my mum has made jelly a lot.  A lot!

So when we bought this packet, I showed her how to pour in the boiling water on the jelly crystals and then add ice blocks.  I added a few too many iceblocks and it was too sloppy.  We bought another packet and added less ice about 1/2 a cup rather than 3/4 cup and no extra cold water) and it works quite well.  I think Sylvia now thinks we will live on jelly.  Sadly, as it is sugar and chemicals, I am not sure it will be in our house that often.  But at least I can offer Sylvia the fun of jelly making without gelatin.

At the Sydney Road Street Festival.  I fell for this tiered cake stand made of vintage plates.  I love these sort of cake stands but don't really use them much.  They gather dust and are awkward to wash and store.  Yet I am often drawn to them.  I purchased this one because the woman who makes them said she is not making any more because it has become so hard to pick up vintage plates cheaply.  I am glad I have it but I am finding it hard to keep my promise to myself to put out the other tiered stand that I own.

Last month I was delighted to win this beautiful book, The Barber from Budapest and other stories: a memoir with recipes by Liz Posmyk.  In case you don't recognise the name, Liz Posmyk is no other than Bizzy Lizzy who hosts In My Kitchen.  I love reading her blog.  She writes in a thoughtful and entertaining style that makes me look forward to reading her book.  (And now that I finally finished The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August and Burial Rites, I think the Barber from Budapest is next.)  I also received a packet of Hungarian paprika to assist with making some of the recipes from the book.

We have a new small chum in our kitchen.  Sylvia loves catalogues.  She was given one for Beanie Boos with some cute little giraffes she was given for her birthday.  She set her heart on Piggly.  But apparently they were rare.  Then amazingly she found one in the local supermarket and had to buy it.  Yes.  Had to!  Well, he is pretty cute.

It has been tomato season.  The above tomatoes are from the school.  Sylvia's close has been doing a Kitchen Garden program and there were selling the tomatoes.  They were really good.  For tomatoes.  I sort of enjoyed them.  In the way that someone who hated tomatoes as a kid and has sort of come around to them as an adult.  At least I can appreciate how pretty they look.

My mum has been making tomato sauce and passata.  It has been great to have her home made sauce.  I have also been eating sauerkraut.  Tomato sauce is like mother's milk (though not on chips) but I still find sauerkraut a challenge. 

Here is one of my sauerkraut meals.  Pretzel bagel from the Farmers Market, with cheese, sauerkraut, grated carrot, tomato, spinach and mayo.  A good lunch.

Another lunch I've had a few times is sandwiches with these fritters.  They are great between two slices of bread with cheese, spinach and Branston pickle.  Which is a win with a mistake.  I decided to use sourdough starter in Sylvia's favourite tofu nuggets instead of the milk and flour.  Then I remembered that I had only used about 1/4 cup of starter topped up with milk instead of 1 cup starter. 

I mixed the leftover seasoned starter and breadcrumbs, with some brown rice, grated carrot, finely chopped nuts and probably a bit of other stuff I don't remember.  They were weird but work well in sandwiches.  I still have a few in the freezer.

Sylvia went to a party a few weekends back.  I painted a door frame that was getting shabby, got some treatment for the citrus leaf miner on our lemon and lime trees, and I added broccoli, leek and parsley to my planter.  I am no green thumb so I will be relieved if they don't die.  Just look at how messy my leeks look.  There were so neat in the punnet but once I repotted, they look like some crazy punk haircut.  The strawberries in the two two pots have produced well and apparently are likely to produce again next year.

Seeing in a mouse in the kitchen has been pretty awful.  Even worse was waking up one morning and seeing it had taken this chunk out out of this loaf of bread.  It was time to lock up all of our food and get a new cat.

Seriously, we didn't get a new cat because of a mouse.  But we did get a new cat.  He is called Shadow.  A quiet and gentle cat.  Until night when he wants company and to claw the bed to remind us of this.  We are working on it.  Locked him in the bathroom.  He opened the door.  Now he curls up with Sylvia on the bed at night to look so cute we can't lock him up.  It is a work in progress.  As are my attempts to take photos of a black cat.  At least we haven't seen the mouse since Shadow arrived.

I am sending this post to Lizzy of Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things for the In My Kitchen event, that was started by Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial,  If you would like to join in, send your post to Lizzy by 10 March.  Or just head over to her blog to peek into more kitchens.  And stay tuned for next month when Sherry takes over from Lizzy as host.

Posted April 02, 2017 10:11 PM by Johanna GGG

March 29, 2017

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Vegan sweet potato, feta and sauerkraut muffins

I mentioned in my last post (about more savoury muffins) that I was struggling to find time to make these muffins.  Finally it seemed a crime to let my roasted sweet potato and tofu feta go rancid rather than star in these muffins.  So I made them between dinner and Sylvia's bed time.   And ate them for breakfast, lunch and dinner the next day.  If only there has been some leftover for supper!

It wasn't easy fitting them in.  I was busy with Sylvia, outside playing with her hula hoops, chatting to neighbours, and inspecting her scars from a fall at school.  Luckily they weren't too difficult to mix up and pop in the oven.  I just needed to take a couple of breaks from reading The Midnight Gang by David Walliams with Sylvia.  And then they were out in the oven wafting their tempting aromas through the kitchen.

The muffins were everything I had hoped.  Well almost.  They are not the bonniest muffins.  I discovered the hard way that the shape when they are spooned into muffins tins is the shape they keep.  (Would a little more liquid help smooth them out or make them soggy?)  But they were slightly crisp outside and soft inside.  I loved the pairing of sweet potato and sauerkraut.  The tofu feta added nice flavour and texture (more chewy than creamy).  I am really delighted to discover how good the sauerkraut is in the muffins.  It adds a certain umami.

They were easy to eat.  A great portable snack and lovely with stew and rice for dinner.  The only challenge left was photographing them.  I arrived home, after riding into a headwind, and took some hasty photos before E arrived home with Sylvia from after school care.  I had to be content to put the camera away as we rushed about to serve dinner.  And decide how to divvy up the last few muffins. 

I am sending these muffins to the No Waste Food Challenge at Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary.

More sweet potato recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Smoky lime peanut baked sweet potatoes (gf)
Sweet potato and cheeze scones (v)
Sweet potato and red lentil soup (gf, v)
Sweet potato soda bread
Sweet potato, zucchini and olive quesadillas (v) 
Vegan pate with sweet potato (gf, v)

Vegan sweet potato, feta and sauerkraut muffins
Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe
Makes 12 muffins

Dry ingredients:
1 cup wholemeal plain flour
2/3 cup white plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Wet ingredients:
1 cup roasted cubed sweet potato*
3/4 cup tofu feta*
1/4 cup sauerkraut
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
3/4 cup cold water
1/3 cup olive oil 

Mix dry ingredients in a medium large mixing bowl. Toss through the sweet potato, feta, sauerkraut and parsley.  Gently stir in the water and oil.  Spoon into a greased 12 hole muffin pan and bake at 200 C for 25-30 minutes or until when you insert a skewer it comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.

I chopped 1 largish sweet potato into small cubes and roasted with a pinch of salt and a drizzle of oil until soft.  My tofu feta was a crumbly mixture in a marinade so I squeezed out as much liquid as possible. It was quite like this tofu feta recipe.

On the Stereo
Scott Walker sings Jacques Brel

Posted March 29, 2017 10:28 PM by Johanna GGG

March 28, 2017

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Buffalo cauliflower-stuffed potatoes

March 12, 2017

We don't eat them a lot, but I have a soft spot for baked potatoes. This is an unusually glamorous and slightly labour-intensive version from The First Mess. Laura Wright's photos capture waxy white potatoes piled high with bright-orange cauliflower and chickpeas, spattered with spicy hot sauce. Mine don't have quite the same show-stopping qualities, but they're quite the comfort food nonetheless.

We correctly deduced that this recipe is a weekend project, so we set about it on a Sunday and doubled the filling recipe to ensure some leftovers (I've just left it at a single quantity in the recipe below). My pot-full of cauliflower and chickpeas never quite took on the saucy consistency of Wright's, most likely due to the combination of constrained hot sauce and chopped roasted tomatoes I used, and I added some extra tomato paste to try to thicken it all up. It helped a bit.

We loved these hearty carb-boats of spiced stew, but I'm not sure in what context we might make them again. It's all far too effortful for a snack, and yet doesn't quite feel like a balanced main meal. Maybe a big handful of green leaves on the side is enough to call it so.

Buffalo cauliflower-stuffed potatoes
(slightly adapted from a recipe on The First Mess)

6 large potatoes
vegetable oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 large cauliflower, broken into florets
400g can chickpeas, drained
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
   (I used finely-chopped roasted tomatoes, plus 3 tablespoons tomato past and a splash of extra water)
2 tablespoons hot sauce
small handful parsley, roughly chopped

Preheat an oven to 180°C.

Wash and dry the potatoes, trim off any weird bits and poke a few holes in them with a fork. Rub a little oil over them and place them in a large baking dish; sprinkle them with salt. Bake the potatoes for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until they're tender in the middle.

While the potatoes are baking, set your largest pot over medium heat. Pour in just enough oil to thinly cover its base, then saute the shallots until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the celery and saute for a further couple of minutes; stir in the paprika and garlic.

Add the cauliflower and chickpeas to the pot; pour over the stock and stir to combine. Add whatever tomato ingredients you're using, plus the hot sauce, and stir some more. Add pepper to taste. Cover with a lid, first bringing it all to the boil, then turning it down to a simmer and cooking until the cauliflower is tender, up to 10 minutes.

When the potatoes are ready and cooled just a bit, slice them in half longways. Arrange them cut-side-up on one or two baking trays. Use a spoon to scoop out a shallow bowl shape in each one (just a tablespoon volume!), and eat the scooped bits. Scratch up the remaining potato a little with a fork. Pile up cauliflower filling into each potato, then bake them until they're just starting to brown on top, about 15 minutes. Scatter with parsley and serve.

Posted March 28, 2017 07:23 PM by Cindy

March 26, 2017

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Vegan muffins with tofu feta, olive and sun-dried tomato

I was delighted with a batch of savoury muffins I made last week.  I had hoped to make some more tonight but time got the better of me.  Yet I mustn't grumble.  It has been a productive weekend.  I have rediscovered my delicious bookmarking account, I have painted the back door frame and planted some seedlings in my pots.  I have even made a stew for tomorrow's dinner.  I just didn't have time to make another batch of muffins with tofu feta.

As I have mentioned before, I have been trying out recipes from Kristy Turner's But I Could Never Go Vegan, cookbook.  I made some tofu feta.  It was ok but I wasn't keen on the texture of the uncooked tofu.  (I preferred the almond feta I posted about yesterday.)

I had a yen for savoury muffins.  So I decided to search for muffin recipes using tofu feta.  If you ask Google, it seems they are pretty thin on the ground.  Finally I decided to adapt a vegan muffin recipe using sun-dried tomatoes and olives.

My mum was visiting while I was making these muffins.  She was gone by the time they came out of the oven.  It had been raining so hard when she left that she had needed to roll up her trousers and take off her shoes to wade to the car.  As soon as she reached the car the rain stopped.  I think one of these muffins might have been just the thing for such a moment.  Instead, E and I enjoyed some for lunch and more for dinner with soup.  I was lucky to snaffle a muffin for the following day to take to work.

I really loved these muffins, as did E.  It was all we could do not to just inhale the whole batch the moment it came out of the oven.  They were very soft and almost quiche-like.  I assume this is due to the tofu in the feta.  You could try this with almond feta but I suspect the texture would change.  Though it would probably work.  They had plenty of flavour and a nice texture.  I also really liked how the stuffed olives on the top made the muffins look like one eyed aliens.

I was so pleased with these muffins and happy to share them.  I wish there were more savoury muffins in the world.  Sweet muffins are great but they are treats.  Savoury muffins can be part of a meal.  They are great for lunch snacks, picnics and even breakfast.  I also love to serve them with soup or as dinner on the run.  I just wish I had the energy to make them more.

I am sending these muffins to Kimmy and Mary Ellen for Healthy Vegan Fridays.

More savoury vegan baking on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Beetroot, apple and walnut scones (v)
Chickpea crackers (gf, v)
Kale scones (v)
Pumpkin miso muffins (v)
Pumpkin, pecan and poppyseed scones (v) 
Sweet potato, feta and sauerkraut muffins (v) 
Tofu and pesto crackers (v)

Vegan feta, olive and sun dried tomato muffins
Adapted from Sandra Vungi Vegan
Makes 12 muffins

Dry mix:
1 cup white plain flour
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp wholemeal flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Wet mix:
1 cup cold water
1/2 cup tofu feta
1/3 cup olive oil

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely sliced
3 heaped tbsp chopped green olives
2 heaped tbsp chopped sun-dried tomatoes
2 tbsp pesto

For topping:
12 green pitted olives

Grease a 12 hole muffin pan and preheat oven to 200 C.

Make the add-ins.  Cook onion in oil until starting to crisp up around the edges.  This can be done while chopping tomatoes and olives.  Once the onion is cooked, turn off the heat and stir in the tomatoes, olives tofu and pesto.  Set aside to cool while making the muffin batter.

To make the muffin batter, mix together the dry ingredients in one bowl and wet ingredients in another.  Pour wet into dry and mix gently until combined.  Stir in add-ins.

Spoon evenly into the 12 muffin holes.  Push an olive into the middle of each muffin so it is still visible at the top.  Bake for 20-30 minutes.  Rest 5 minutes and then turn onto a wire rack to cool.  Eat warm or room temperature.  Keeps for a day or two in an airtight container.

*NOTES: My tofu feta was a crumbly mixture in a marinade so I squeezed out as much liquid as possible. It was quite like this tofu feta recipe.  I used oil-free semi dried tomatoes.  I used green olives marinated in lemon and garlic oil for in the muffins.  However they had stones in them so I used pitted olives stuffed with pimentos on the top.  If you want vegan muffins, make sure you use a vegan pesto.  I used this pesto recipe.

On the Stereo:
Donkeys 92-97: a collection of singles, rarities and unreleased recordings: Tindersticks

Posted March 26, 2017 10:00 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

New School Canteen

March 12, 2017

We've noticed that the inner north's cafes are less busy on Golden Plains weekend, and we try to take advantage of it. This year we ventured out to Fitzroy's New School Canteen, which Steph & Hayley had been urging us to visit. They were impressed by the array of vegan and eggy breakfasts, respectively, and knew I'd be all over the 'dessert breakfast' section of the menu.

Sadly, by the time we gave New School Canteen a shot the menu had changed and 'dessert breakfasts' were no longer a feature. For us sweet lovers, the solitary option was a chia pudding - no thanks! Rather, there's an abundance of rich savoury eggs, breakfast burgers and toasties (including vegan cheese!) with a superfood-styled rice bowl and grain salad as exceptions.

Michael was, of course, spoiled for choice. He was impressed by the panko-crumbed poached eggs ($17.50) served with green papaya slaw, chilli jam, and tofu so deeply braised that it was nearly black. He missed his toast, though, just a little.

I sipped on an orange, mango and passionfruit juice ($5.50) and sought out something that wouldn't be too greasy, settling on the vegan smashed avo & feta ($8.50). Welp, I was served this. Can you spot the avocado? Nope, that green there is herbs.... and those other dabs are vegan feta. The avocado turned up as just a few smooth green splodges in amongst layers of fresh tomato slices and a big scoop of fresh tomato-based salsa - it didn't have much flavour and no texture, and if it hadn't been marked vegan, I'd've wondered if it was that commercial dip that's padded out with cream cheese.

The almond-based feta was beautiful (possibly the Vegan Dairy one?) and the price was very reasonable, but this was not as advertised.

So I'm not so keen to return to New School Canteen for breakfast, although over our meal I told Michael I'd be curious to come back in the evening for one of the 5 vege burgers. Having looked at their facebook page, I'm less sure - they seem to be revelling in the over-the-top double-dripping-cheese triple-patty trend that repels me.

The venue is spacious, lets in lots of natural light and they're training some plants across frames. Yet it still comes across a little sterile, and the acoustics are terrible - on a quarter-full morning, it took a single well-behaved table of six nearby to render a one-on-one conversation between Michael and I difficult.

New School Canteen's attention to veg options is commendable, but for me they're falling short on too many other criteria right now. I'll read others' ongoing accounts with interest while keeping to Fitzroy's countless other more winning eateries.

New School Canteen has received positive accounts on Tess PressoFerris Wheel FlightsBarley Restaurant Reviews and Gourmet Chick; the diners on Whatever Floats Your Bloat had a more mixed experience. 

New School Canteen
379-381 George St, Fitzroy
9417 1199

Accessibility: Entry is flat and tables are reasonably spaced. We found the acoustics to be quite echo-y even when quarter-full. We ordered at our table and paid at a low counter. From memory, male and female ambulant and unisex fully accessible cubicle toilets were available.

Posted March 26, 2017 04:44 PM by Cindy

March 24, 2017

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

The Snug Public House II

March 10, 2017

When we're feeling lazy on a Friday evening, we're lucky to have the Snug close by. (South-siders can no longer say the same, with their St Kilda sister closing this month.) We've been pleasantly surprised to find that even as folks clock off for the week, the back garden is not necessarily packed with drinkers and smokers.

Their vegan menu has stabilised somewhat since our first visit. Michael went back to the bangers'n'mash (now $26) - it's a filling but not over-the-top serve with a lovely red onion gravy. Little else on the menu looks familiar but plenty looks appetising, from cauliflower poppers to shepherd's pie, spaghetti alfredo and three mock burgers.

I took on the fillet-no-fish burger ($20) - it's a really nice rendition based around the excellent Gardein fillets, with a soft-but-not-too-sweet bun, tartare sauce and salad. Chips were abundant, cut thick with the skin left on. (I should've hunted down some sauce for them.)

Super Salad aside, this vegan pub menu is very heavy on the mock meat and won't suit all tastes. But for those of us already enamoured with the Cornish Arms down the street, the Snug is a neat and perhaps cosier alternative.


You can read about our first visit to the Snug here. Since then Veganopoulous has posted a thorough review of their vegan menu.

The Snug Public House
68 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
9388 8756

Accessibility: The interior is crowded, with a mix of tables and high seats at the bar. The courtyard has bench seats and stools. We ordered and paid at the high bar.

Posted March 24, 2017 07:10 AM by Cindy

March 23, 2017

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Vegan almond feta with some feta recipes

Feta is not a favourite cheese of mine but it does give some recipes a boost.  I have experimented with a few vegan feta recipes and it is hard to replace.  Some I have tried making have been too dry or the wrong texture.  Last year I made vegan feta with raw almonds.  I almost didn't post it because it didn't work in the salad I made it for.  But it was very good as a spread and in sausage rolls. 

I was reminded of this almond feta when I tried a tofu feta recently and wished it was as good as this one.  It is quite a soft spread.  I think I preferred it to the baked almond feta, which was good, especially for crumbling, but could be a bit dry.  This one was lovely on crackers and sandwiches but was a bit soft for mixing into a salad.

One of the advantages of this recipe was that it is really simple.  Just blend the ingredients.  No faffing about with baking or resting or straining.  It is the sort of recipe to make when you need feta now!

I had grand visions of using the feta in this Quinoa, cashew and honeyed carrot salad.  I had lots of lovely photos of the vegies from the farmers market.  It didn't quite work so I have listed a few more recipes below that I would like to try the feta in, which I think might be more successful.

The almond feta looks pretty on top of the salad.  But when mixed through, the salad was just too clumpy.  I have had a few almond feta dishes in cafes where the feta is served in a lot of oil.  Maybe this would make a difference?  More of the feta was enjoyed on crackers.  But there was a lot of it.

I then used the last two thirds of it in some sausage rolls for my dad's birthday lunch.  I could have used a cup of it in the recipe but as I just used what I had.  It replaced the cottage cheese which is quite creamy.  I then used 9 tbsp aquafaba and reduced the soy sauce to 2 tbsp because the feta was salty.  They worked really well, if I remember rightly (though in my recipe notes I write more about the difficulty of listening to Missy Higgins talking about depression while chopping onions than about how the sausage rolls tasted.)

Meanwhile, I have had a bit more time for cooking this week but need more time to write up some of the dishes I made.  And it is Harmony Week and I had just remembered we are meant to make something for afternoon tea tomorrow at school.  I have made mashed potato at an unholy hour to use in making potato scones tomorrow morning!

I am sending this to Kimmy and Mary Ellen for Healthy Vegan Fridays

Recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe to try vegan feta:
Baked carrot and feta risotto (gf)
Carrot, feta and cashew dip (gf)
Feta cheese and pepper crackers
Pea, quinoa and feta fritters (gf)
Red onion, feta and olive tart
Sausage rolls 

Vegan feta
From Eating Vibrantly

1 1/3 cup raw almonds (about 200g)
1/3 cup lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium garlic cloves
1 1/4 tsp salt flakes
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp water

Blend and scrape down a couple of time until smooth.

On the Stereo:
Music from "The Singing Detective": Various Artists

Posted March 23, 2017 11:38 PM by Johanna GGG

March 22, 2017

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Peanut butter & jelly squares

March 5, 2017

I made this slice specifically for slouching on the couch and sharing with a friend on a Sunday afternoon, and I can't imagine a better setting for it. It's got a biscuity almond & oat base, jammy berry filling, and messy swirls of peanut butter and peanut polka dots on top. Even for those of us who didn't grow up with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, it's a charmingly childish and comforting snack.

I suspect a lot of ingredients here could get swapped for convenience: rolled oats and almonds could sub out for flours and other nuts, any frozen or fresh berries would do, and what about other nut butters? There is one component that's a bit sensitive, though! I thought keeping my base almonds chunky would be fun, but it just rendered the base greasy with oil and too crumbly to support the slice in our hands. I'll blend all those base ingredients much more thoroughly in future.

No matter - little spoons and plates just enhanced the cocoon we created, a snack-lined safe-haven of pickle-flavoured chips (!), iced tea, craft projects and a few sly episodes of The Good Place.

Peanut butter & jelly squares
(slightly adapted from a recipe on Minimalist Baker)

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup raw almonds
generous pinch salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted

3/4 cup berry jam
1/2 cup berries (I used raspberries), roughly chopped
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons roasted salted peanuts

Preheat an oven to 180°C. Line a 22cm-square baking tray with paper.

For the base, place the rolled oats, almonds, salt and sugar into a food processor and blend thoroughly to a meal (I left mine chunky and it was far too crumbly in the finished dish!). Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and stir through the coconut oil. Press the mixture into the base of the baking tray, using the back of a spoon to even it out. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn up the oven to 190°C and bake for a further 5 minutes, until the edges have begun to brown.

While the base is baking, place the jam and berries into a saucepan and set them over medium heat. Stir them regularly while they cook for 5-7 minutes, until they're well combined and pourable. Take the saucepan off the heat.

Turn the oven back down to 180°C. Once the base is cooked, pour over the berry mixture and spread it out evenly. Dab the peanut butter in little teaspoons spotted across the surface. Send the slice into the oven for 5 minutes, then pull it out and drag a skewer or toothpick through the melted peanut butter to create a marbled effect. Sprinkle over the peanuts. Return the slice to the oven for another 10 minutes, until the jam is starting to bubble. Let the slice cool to room temperature over the course of 1-2 hours before cutting it into squares and serving. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

Posted March 22, 2017 07:24 PM by Cindy

March 20, 2017

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Roasted broccoli and apple salad

I have had some busy weeks.  This week will be my first for a few weeks not to be juggling a new job and an old job.  Time in the kitchen has been limited and I have felt the need for some better meals.  More vegies.  Less carbs.  I have been working my way through Kristy Turner's But I Could Never Go Vegan cookbook.  The recipes are great and I will write more about the book one day.  Today I wanted to share my version of a salad from the book.

Salad so often get a bad rap.  I wish there were more salads like this one in the world.  We had it on the weekend and it was such a delight.  So much crunch and colour.  So sharp and sweet and savoury.  All wrapped up in a creamy dressing.  The tang of the dressing worked well with the noochy cheesiness of the broccoli.  I also loved that this salad used up some bits and pieces that were in my kitchen.  Best of all, it was so satisfying that I didn't need anything with it or after it.  If only it was enough to give me all the energy I need right now!

I am sending this salad to Lisa and Jac's No Croutons Required, to Meat Free Mondays and to Kimmy and Mary-Ellen for Healthy Vegan Fridays.

More substantial salads at Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Caesar salad (v)  
Leon superfood salad (gf)
Mock tuna (chickpea) salad (gf, v)
Quinoa, cashew and honeyed carrot salad (gf)
Smoky potato, bean and corn salad (gf, v)
Taco salad with creamy dressing (gf)

Roasted Broccoli and Apple Salad
Adapted from But I Could Never Go Vegan by Kristy Turner, reproduced on The Full Helping
Serves 2

Roasted Broccoli:

1 large stalk of broccoli
1 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 tablespoon maple syrup


3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard
A couple dashes of garlic powder


1 handful chopped cos lettuce (or baby spinach)
1 handful finely chopped purple cabbage
1/2 red apple, cored and thinly sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup roughly chopped roasted almonds
1-2 handfuls of sunflower sausage crumbles or tempeh bacon or tofu bacon

To roast broccoli: Cut broccoli into small florets and thinly slice the stems.  Toss with tamari, maple syrup and nutritional yeast flakes.  Roast until softened and starting to crisp around the edges.  I microwaved my florets for 1 minute and then roasted at 220 C for 30 minutes.  The original recipe suggested 20 minutes at 200 C.  Set aside to cool.

Make dressing by placing all ingredients in a small bowl and whisking or mixing with a fork until smooth and creamy.

Make the salad by layering in the lettuce, cabbage, apple, celery, broccoli, cramberries and almonds.  Drizzle with about half the dressing and toss.  Serve topped with sausage crumbles and extra dressing on the side.

On the Stereo:
The Bestiality of Bonzo Dog Band

Posted March 20, 2017 10:52 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Red Sparrow Pizza

March 3, 2017

Late in 2016, the Melbourne veg*n grapevine was buzzing with rumours about a new vegan pizza place in Collingwood. The opening got postponed a few times and the excitement steadily grew. So when they finally threw their doors open, it didn't take long for us to join a gang of Melbourne veg*ns to go and check them out. Part of the delay in their opening was related to the transportation of their fancy pizza oven - they're going for a similar thin-crust wood-fired vibe to the much loved Gigi in Sydney and they've got the setup to match.

The menu has something for everyone - classics like margherita, mock-meat extravaganzas like pepperoni and healthier options like the supergreen (spinach and kale pesto with broccoli and zucchini). We ordered eight pizzas between the eight of us, and the staff were kind enough to cut things into (uneven) eighths to make the whole sharing experience easier. 

The first four, clockwise from top-left were: the classic sausage (bbq base topped with beer brat, jalapenos, red onions, mozzarella and aioli, $18), the eggplant (tomato base, smoked eggplant, pear, rocket and balsamic reduction, $18), the Italian sausage (a special, $18) and the pepperoni (tomato base, roasted capsicum, pepperoni, mozzarella, oregano, $17).

First to the bases: I thought they were excellent, a little bit crispy, but still with a lovely softness to them. The toppings were a bit more of a mixed bag - the classic sausage was universally praised, with a great mix of spiciness, sauciness and chunky mock-meat goodness. The others drew divergent reviews: some people loved the pepperoni, but there were complaints that it lacked spice, while the cheeselessness of the eggplant made it a touch on the dry side for some. The Italian sausage hit the mark pretty well, but didn't quite measure up to the classic. 

The next four were the puttanesca (tomato base with cherry tomatoes, garlic, capers, olives, parsley, chilli flakes and mozzarella, $18), the mushroom (white base with porcini and Swiss brown mushrooms, caramelised onions, thyme, parmesan, rocket, oregano and truffle oil, $19), the controversial Jóhannesson (tomato base with ham, pineapple and mozzarella, $17) and the bianca (white base with potato, leek, rosemary, garlic confit, mozzarella and paremsan, $16).

The mushroom and putanesca were both excellent - even if some at our table complained about the amount of rocket on the mushroom - while the bianca was sadly let down by some undercooked potatoes and leeks (it didn't seem like they were pre-cooked, and the pizza cooking time didn't get them as soft as we wanted them). The Jóhannesson, a topical special) was as divisive as pineapple on a pizza usually is - people who like Hawaiian pizzas had no complaints, while the rest of us steered clear. It's other surprise was a scattering of shredded coconut, which was less offensive than it sounds, sprinkled amongst the vegan cheese.

We'd gone too hard on the pizza to try and of their salads or desserts, so there's still more for us to explore on the menu. I was mostly impressed - they're making upmarket vegan pizzas, meaning they're working a very different vibe to the junky Eat Pizza or the over-the-top Cornish. A few people at our table were a bit underwhelmed, but struggled to name a better option for vegan pizza in Melbourne. I reckon they'll work the few kinks out as they go along - there's clearly a huge demand for a vegan pizzeria based on the full house and steady stream of takeaway pick-ups we saw on our visit. We'll definitely return.

Future King and Queen plus Rose & Bean have already reviewed Red Sparrow, and both were very positive.

Red Sparrow Pizza
406 Smith Street, Collingwood
9417 1454
drinks, food, specials

Accessibility: There's a flat entryway into a fairly crowded interior, plus some tables on the street. Seating is a mix of high stools and regular tables and payment happens at a high counter. The toilets are unisex, but in a pretty inaccessible courtyard out the back.

Posted March 20, 2017 04:28 PM by Michael

March 18, 2017

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Sourdough Basics 102.1: Maintaining a starter - an update

I created my starter back in mid 2014.   It was my first foray into sourdough and I was very nervous.  I wrote a post about maintaining the starter back then.  A few years on I am happy to report that it is still alive and producing lovely bread.  Now I am more relaxed and am writing an update on starter maintenance from this perspective.

For those who are not familiar with maintaining a sourdough starter, one of the biggest challenges is using it regularly as it needs regular feeding to stay healthy and hence continues to grow.  If you don't use it regularly you either have an unhealthy starter or need to throw some of it out.  

Feeding the starter
It was a scary prospect once I had made my starter and had to keep it alive.  (Others also get a starter from a friend or buy it online.)  However I have kept up the feeding it usually every week with some longer periods when I am busy.  It usually lives in the fridge but will sit out at least 30 minutes after feeding.

Unlike in my earlier post on starter maintenance, I now feed it based on need rather than a set amount but the weight of water always equals the weight of the flour.  If I use 300g of starter for bread, I feed 150g each of flour and water.  If there is not much starter left, I feed it generously.  And if I didn't use much starter, I don't feed it much.  I still used water that has been boiled and cooled.

I still follow the basic rules from my first post.  If the starter is warm, it needs more feeding, if the starter is cold it needs less feeding and if the starter smells unpleasantly sour it needs more feeding.  I have got to know how it should smell and how it shouldn't, how it looks when healthy and when not so good. 

Here are my three stages of feeding the sourdough starter (pictured above):
  • Just fed - when I feed the starter it is quite thick.  I don't worry if it is a little lumpy.  This can give the little wild yeasts more work to munch through the flour.
  • Ready to use - the starter is best to use when it is thick and stretchy with lots of large bubbles.  After a week in the fridge it is usually like this.  You can also leave it on the bench overnight, depending on the weather, to get this texture.
  • Hungry - when the starter gets thin and has clusters of tiny bubbles or is just a bir grey and watery on top.  This is usually after it has been in the fridge for over a week and a half.  The starter is hungry and desperate for a feed.
When starters need help
When the starter has been neglected too long, I usually just stir in any water on top and feed it.  The smell of the starter is a great way to check the health of the starter.  If it is ripe and yeasty then it is doing well.  If starts to smell over-ripe and/or reminds you of nail polish remover, it needs some TLC.

When I first made my starter I was so worried about killing it off.  Yet it has been quite resilient.  I have read that if your starter is poorly, it helps to reduce the starter to just a few tablespoons and feed it up.  This seems to work fine.  If it is not so great, my bread doesn't rise as well (see below photos of overnight sourdough bread dough) and the bread can taste a bit more sour but it still does us fine.  So now I worry less when it gets out of shape.  I know it doesn't take too much to help it back to good health.

Overnight sourdough bread dough using a neglected starter
Where to keep the starter
I keep my starter in the same plastic tub that I have had ever since I made it.  The tub fits in my fridge door nicely and has a lid that is not too tight (important as the gases will build up in the tub).  As you can see in the above photo, it gets pretty crusty around the top.  Sometimes the crustiness builds up in the lid, making it hard to close it, so I need to dig out or break off crustiness.  I sometimes wonder what this build up is like in the sourdoughs I hear of which are hundreds of years old.

Easy recipes help me use my starter more regularly
Having kept my starter alive for so long, especially during some busy periods, has only been possible by finding recipes that are quick to make and that we love to eat.  So many sourdough recipes online are complex with lots of steps. I have found recipes for bread, flatbreads and pizza dough that are straightforward and delicious.  I talk about them below.

Overnight sourdough bread dough using a healthy starter
Firstly I yet again am grateful to Celia for all her sourdough inspiration but particularly for her overnight sourdough bread recipe.  This is my regular bread recipe now.  It only requires a little planning and a little time the night before and then a bit of shaping and baking in the morning, given you have time to hang about while it rises and bakes for about 90-120 minutes.  It is a great recipe that has kept me baking sourdough bread regular, even when busy.

I have shared the two pictures of this bread dough to illustrate that the condition of the starter really does make a difference to the bread.  Both pictures are of the dough after sitting overnight.  I am lazy sometimes and just take the starter cold from the fridge.  It works much better when brought out of the fridge to sit at room temperature and get nicely bubbly.

Overnight sourdough bread
I have passed some starter to a few friends and my mum.  Of these, only my mum still uses hers.  She bakes bread every day or two.  I wish I could say I bake so regularly but I don't have energy to do it.  We still buy bread elsewhere as well.  However I don't spend lots of money on fancy sourdoughs.  I wish I could say I bake bread every week but that doesn't happen.  I usually use sourdough every week or so.  I use it enough that I don't need to just put some of the starter in the bin so I can feed it up.

Two of my favourite quick recipes that make an easy dinner and mean almost instant sourdough products are flatbreads and pizza.  I wrote about the flatbreads in my earlier starter maintenance post.  They are pretty quick and taste delicious warm off the frypan.  I have dabbled in sourdough tortillas but usually make these thicker flatbreads.  I have had a couple of goes at baking a pizza on one of these flabreads.  It worked well one one occasion but not on the other.

My very favourite pizza base is my fast track sourdough pizza.  While playing around with sourdough recipes, I found some that combine sourdough and commercial yeast.  This is great for getting the flavour of sourdough and the speed of packaged yeast.  I have adapted a pizza recipe to use my sourdough and it is on regular rotation in my house.  I don't need to plans ahead for hours to make pizza for dinner.

Pesto and cheese pizza for St Patrick's Day yesterday
As well having hit upon some great easy sourdough recipes, I continue to experiment when I have the time and energy.  Most of my breads are variations on the overnight sourdough bread.  Occasionally I throw the sourdough starter into another recipe such as scones, batter for dipping tofu nuggets, and cakes.  The more I do this, the more confident I become.

So in summary, I buy a lot more flour these days because I bake bread far more with sourdough than I would without the prompt of the starter.  The key to maintaining the starter is to feed it regularly and if you don't feed it as regularly as you would like, not to worry so much, but find some good easy recipes you can make with your starter.

Sourdough recipes
I leave you with some a list of recipes in which I have found sourdough works well.  I would love to hear if you have a favourite way of using up sourdough starter.

Posted March 18, 2017 10:40 PM by Johanna GGG

March 15, 2017

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Dosa Plaza

February 28, 2017

Dosa Plaza is an unassuming eatery holding up the corner of an apartment complex in Preston, where High St and Plenty Rd fork off. We'd paid only passing attention to it, until a couple of friends invited us to try it out with them after work. Opening and discussing the menu was an excursion in itself - it's all vegetarian and stretches to over two hundred items. Vegan, gluten-free and onion-garlic-free dishes are clearly marked, and there's even a 3-page summary sheet of vegan foods available on request.

This was a journey that started briefly with pasta before focusing on Mumbai chaat, the Punjabi foods found at most Indian restaurants across Australia, and then south Indian delicacies - idlies, vadas, dosas and uttappas. Chinese fusion dosas, Mexican fusion dosas, Indo-Chinese dishes, desserts and drinks. Phew! We tried our best to sample across the board.

A dozen mini-idlies ($8, pictured above left) were an auspicious start, freshly steamed and a little sweet, with plenty of sambar and coconut chutney for seasoning. I delighted in introducing my companions to pani puri ($9, pictured above right): tapping the crispy shells open and carefully stuffing them with spiced potatoes, tamarind chutney and chilli-mint water, then stuffing it all in your mouth at once.

It was after these appetisers that most of our drinks arrived. We heard the tell-tale sounds of Soda Stream carbonation between deliveries of ginger mint lemonade ($5), lemon berry punch ($5) and the Cool Sky mocktail soda ($4.50). They were all as silly and sweet as they were colourful.

We also enjoyed the hyper-coloured paneer tikka kebab ($10.50), a mild and tender treat with a light, minty dipping sauce.

Next we got deep into dosa territory. The spring roll dosa ($13, pictured above left) was not, as Michael had hoped, literally stuffed with deep-fried spring rolls. Rather, the dosa played the role of the pastry, wrapping itself around a very tasty medley of spring onion, cabbage and carrot in sweet soy sauce. It's a ridiculous novelty that actually really works!

Now completely sold on their fusion fancies, we embraced the tomato mushroom uttappa ($11.50) as some kind of pizza, carefully slicing off segments of the pancake and triple-checking that there wasn't any cheese to spoil it for our vegan companion (there wasn't, and she loved it).

If the meal had a pièce de résistance, it was the Schezwan Sizzler ($16.50). It fittingly arrived last, sizzling and steaming and bursting with foods we never dreamed of combining. Vegetables and mini-idlies were stir-fried in a hot and sweet sauce, paired with a mountain of orange noodles fried with green vegetables, and all topped with French fries. It was monstrous, it was magnificent, it is surely a worthy successor to the halal snack pack.

Giddy with the spectacle of it all, we couldn't walk out without dessert. The sweet coconut dosa ($7.50) was stuffed with shredded coconut and jaggary, reminding me of a chewy, caramelised ANZAC biscuit in the best possible way.

I think the showpony of the sweets is surely the brownie sizzler ($9.50). The cake is a mild one that wouldn't impress on its own. Yet its mild flavour was perfect for dressing up on a hotplate with icecream, fudge sauce, sultanas and nuts. (I only ever knew about cakey-fudgy brownie profiles, who knew that sizzling was even an option?!)

We left Dosa Plaza near-delirious. Its flouro-lit fit-out is nothing special, but it's the home of some preposterous fusion foods, many of which we really enjoyed and would order again. With everything from $6 snacks to $16 sizzlers it caters to a variety of appetites, if only you can figure out which part of the enormous menu to order from.


Dosa Plaza Preston has previously received a positive review on quinces and kale.

Dosa Plaza
4 Plenty Rd, Preston
9484 8444
menu cover, pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12; vegan menu A, B, Ccold drinks, ice cream

Accessibility: Dosa Plaza has a flat entry and well-spaced tables. We ordered at our table and paid at a high counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

Posted March 15, 2017 10:32 PM by Cindy

March 13, 2017

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Detective spy party, magnifying glass biscuits and birthday celebrations

This year Sylvia had a hard time settling on a theme for her 8th birthday party.  It seems parties have to have themes or be an outing these days.  She finally chose Hedgehog Detective.  Perfect for a girl who loves hedgehogs and enjoys spying on the neighbours with her friends.  We had lots of fun planning "detective" (and spy) activities.

We made invitations to let Sylvia's school friends know that their mission was to undertake top secret training  should they choose to accept it.  I am aware of how grown up they are getting that they all read the invitations themselves.  With a big smile.

Magnifying glass biscuits:
While trawling the web for party ideas, we found these magnifying glass cookies.  Sylvia insisted we make them.  I baked the biscuits using this recipe.  However baking late at night can lead to mistakes.  Like putting in 5 times as much milk.  (It said 1/4 cup milk, not 1 and 1/4 cup milk.)  I just took a part of the mixture and added flour until it was a smooth dough.  They weren't as thin as I had hoped but were sturdy enough.

We iced them with buttercream icing.  It wasn't too difficult.  I used a ziplock bag snipped at the end.  At the last moment, I realised I did not have any black food colouring.  Sylvia found some black chocolate colouring.  In the bowl it looked dark grey but on the bikkies it looked black enough.  The main problem was that we only did them on the morning of the party.  Sylvia packaged them up for her friends in a cellophane bag with a ribbon.  But the icing was still a bit soft and some got smudgy.  Making them the day before would have helped.  Though I am not sure if the buttercream icing is the best for setting hard.

Party bags:
Our next challenge was the party bags (see top photo).  Sylvia loves a party bag full of lollies but this year we kept the party bag sweet food to a minimum.  Instead we agonised over when to hand it out.  Finally we decided it was best to give one to each guest as they arrived.  Partly because they could then wear their ID card for the whole party.

I spent one afternoon scouring the $2 shops for fun stuff to put in the bags.  I was pleased to find small magnifying glasses.  We also gave each kid an ID card, a fake mustache, a torch, a pen and notepad, a detective codebook, Fads and French Fries to eat, a balloon and a hedgehog thank you note from Sylvia.  I felt a little politically incorrect giving out Fads (called Fags in my day because they look like a little box of cigarettes) but it seemed to fit the theme perfectly.  As did the French Fries crisps.

ID cards and spy names:
Making the ID cards was fun but not easy.  We used blank cards from this spy party printables.  The hardest part was finding photos of each kid looking directly at the camera and not making a silly face.  It should not be that hard but it was.  I even ended up asking one parent to help me find a photo.  Next we had to work out how to allocate spy names.  I didn't want them choosing ones that would cause friction or too much hard work for the kid.  (You picked my name, I don't like this name, I can't think of one etc etc)  Finally we decided to name them after their month of their birthday and a colour.  Such as Blue February and Red March.

Arriving at the party:
When the kids arrived, Sylvia had some hedgehog colouring-in pictures but it was really the party bags that took their attention.  They had fun going through them together.  I was amused at how much they loved the mustaches.  Most of the kids wore them for a lot of the party. Having the codebook in the party bag gave them something to read and muse over.  We included some rules for fun:

Detective Rules:
  • Always carry your ID card.
  • Note down anything suspicious.
  • Be prepared for danger at all times.
  • Do not use your Agent name. Only use your Code name.
  • Do not share your codes with anyone.
  • Do not get caught.
  • Be kind to hedgehogs.
  • Have fun.

Detective/Spy Training:
Once they had all arrived and had fun with the party bags, we took them outside for hedgehog training.  I had planned to hold all activities out on the grassy lawn.  However it was quite hot on the day (28 C) so we had some activities under the carport.  We still set up the red wall which was wrapped around a tree and tied to the side of a fence for the laser challenge.  The kids had to climb through the lasers.  I had originally intended on buying red elastic but it was not easy to source and I had the ball of red wool which worked fine.

I also loved the idea of the kids crawling under balloons hanging off a table. Perhaps it appealed because Sylvia loves balloons.  And it was a silly kids version of spy training.  You can just imagine Maxwell Smart doing this.  I was quite inspired by this Spy Training post.

Then we had planned some activities.  Sylvia and I had a lot of discussion about them.  The main thing we agreed on were hoops.  I had thought kids would jump or hop through.  On the evening before I wrote up some training notes such as "5 high tuck jumps in case you need to look over a fence".  However as there were 5 kids and 5 hoops they mostly played with their hoops but did a bit of the planned jumps.  Then I had planned to present the kids with certificates.  My mum ended up doing this while I supervised the hiding of the clues for crack the code.

Crack the Code Treasure Hunt:
The crack the code clue game was a group effort.  I had put them into a code book.  Then E had written up the codes while I was baking.  We had decided to give each kid their own three clues to crack.  This meant everyone got a turn but it also meant 15 clues in 3 different ciphers.  Here are the places were hid the clues

Caesar cipher

1. Teddy Bear’s Tail page twenty three
2. Under pillow on Sylvia’s bed
3. Behind cushion on purple couch
4. Beneath a cushion at kitchen table
5. Behind the nurse doll on blue sofa

Wingdings cipher

6. Behind thistle sign on verandah
7. Front garden letterbox
8. In Sylvia’s bike basket
9. Back garden beneath fairy village
10. Back garden behind lemon tree

Pigpen cipher

11. Sylvia’s room giraffe bag
12. Kitchen in dolls house
13. Inside microwave
14. Inside oven
15. Kitchen bench tartan tin

My nieces Quin and Maddy were assisting us with setting up the party (and very helpful) so they were given the task of hiding the clues with E.  I had waited til the kids were outside so they didn't accidentally find a clue when inside.  However hiding clues in code was extra challenging and had to be done 3 times before they got it right.  Meanwhile we plied the party girls with water, grapes and the French fries crisps from their party bags.

The kids had fun looking for the clues and we only had a couple of clues mixed up.  It was quite interesting seeing how each child approached it.  I helped explain the ciphers, which was challenging but they seemed to enjoy it.  In fact, once the kids left Sylvia suggested I do her more codes.  Sadly, I was too busy collapsing to oblige.  Everyone also loved their magnifying glass bikkie that we wrapped in cellophane and hid in the final spot of the clues game as the treasure.

The Cake:
Then suddenly we were racing to get the kids to do the hedgehog birthday cake (which I wrote about separately) - singing, cutting, eating - before their parents arrived.  I had meant to put out the surplus magnifying glass bikkies but forgot.  I don't think they were that hungry by then.  We also had some of my mum's delicious hedgehog slice (given that the official theme was Detective Hedgehog).  Sylvia told me it was the best party.  I was pleased that we weren't focusing on food this time (after parties with cupcake decorating and a pinata) and we managed to avoid pass the parcel.

More birthday activities:
There was plenty of sugar in other birthday celebrations.  On Sylvia's birthday she had pizza and chocolate pudding while we watched a video.  The oven went out while baking the chocolate pudding so it took ages.  On the weekend after her birthday for a treat Sylvia had some nutella stuffed pancakes with ice cream and sprinkles.

Meanwhile she took cupcakes to school for her birthday. I baked the chocolate cupcakes and she decorated them, making sure there were enough for each kid in her class and her friends who aren't in her class.  It seems they went down well.

Finally we also had a celebration down in Geelong with her cousins.  The main activity was playing at the local pool with its children's water activity area.  Then we went back to my parents' house where my mum had been baking.  We had pavlova, cupcakes, a chocolate cake.  I took along some more of the biscuits I had made - this time sandwiched together with nutella - and vegan sausage rolls.  In true birthday fashion, my mum forgot she had also made yo yo biscuits so some came home with us.  Sylvia helped decorate the cupcakes with her younger cousins.

After all that, I am glad Sylvia's birthday season is over.  It is lots of fun but quite tiring.  I am a little sad and a little relieved that these children's parties wont last forever.  It is interesting to see Sylvia having her own thoughts on decorating cupcakes and party activities.  I expect she will be organising her own parties soon. 

Posted March 13, 2017 08:45 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Mango-lime posset

February 25, 2017

I was travelling for my job during the week leading up February Ottolenghi club, which meant I wouldn't have time to make icecream. Instead I made posset! I've tried my hand at posset once before 5 years ago, funnily enough for the same reason; I guess a dish of refrigerated cream and sugar is the next obvious choice after a dish of freeze-churned cream and sugar.

I've since learned that curdling the cream is another essential part of posset. This allows the dessert to set to a velvety self-supporting consistency in the fridge. Ottolenghi's version uses lime zest and leaves to infuse the cream, then lime juice for the curdling. He'd have us pile it up with papaya for serving, but I preferred to use mango. The overall effect is both rich and refreshing, sweet and sour - a beauty in its own right, and not simply an icecream understudy.

Mango-lime posset
(slightly adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi's Guardian column)

900mL double cream
18 fresh or frozen makrut lime leaves
6 strips lime zest + finely grated zest of 1 lime
juice of 3 limes
200g caster sugar
generous pinch of salt
2 small mangoes

Place the cream in a large saucepan. Bash the lime leaves with a mortar and pestle to release their fragrance; add them and the lime zest strips to the cream. Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring the mixture just to a simmer. Turn off the heat and allow the cream to infuse with the lime for 30 minutes.

Add the sugar and salt to the cream and set it back on medium-high heat. Bring it all to the boil, stirring regularly. Boil until the cream almost bubbles up to the rim of the saucepan and turn off the heat. Strain out the lime pieces.

Stir in the juice of one lime, which might curdle the cream a little. Strain the mixture again, this time pouring it equally into 8 ramekins or cups. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

When it's time to serve dessert, dice up the mangoes and dress them in the remaining lime juice. Spoon the mangoes onto the posset cups and sprinkle over the fine lime zest.

Posted March 13, 2017 08:16 AM by Cindy

March 10, 2017

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Butterbean hummus with red pepper & walnut paste

February 25, 2017

We had such a great time at January's Ottolenghi-club, that we reconvened just a month later for Febru-lenghi, another celebration of Yotam's ridiculously good recipes. You'd think it would be getting hard to keep standards high, but this felt like one of the best club-meetings ever - you can get a full run-down over on our facebook page

I was home alone for the week and got a bit carried away, committing to three different dips - butternut and tahini spread, avocado and broad bean dip and this butterbean hummus with red pepper and walnut paste. This was all a fairly significant time commitment, although a lot of it was spent just waiting for things to roast or cool. The end result was amazing though - each one of these dips was somebody's favourite around the table. The beautifully fresh avocado and broad bean dip was the most summery, while the sweet and nutty pumpkin dip was a bit heartier. 

The fanciest of all was the butterbean hummus, which basically combined two dips - a red pepper paste reminiscent of the sauce we made for the eggplant kataifi last time and a pretty simple hummus. It's a winning combination and the stylish thyme and walnut garnish made it the most visually appealing of the three. The roasting and peeling of the peppers, chilli and garlic takes up a bit of time, but once that's done everything comes together very quickly. I can recommend serving with Turkish bread from A1 Bakery - they bake it to order and it is goddamn perfect.

Stay tuned for Cindy's dessert contribution next! There really is no better club than Ottolenghi club.

Butterbean hummus with red pepper and walnut paste
(a recipe from Ottolenghi's Guardian column)

red pepper & walnut paste
6 red peppers
8 whole garlic cloves
2 mild red chillies
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
60g walnut pieces, lightly roasted
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 cans butterbeans, rinsed and drained
100ml olive oil
1 garlic clove, skin on and lightly crushed
3 sprigs of thyme

Start by roasting the peppers. Heat the oven to 220°C and lay the peppers, chillies and garlic cloves out on a baking tray.

Cook for 20 minutes and then take out the garlic and chillies, putting them aside in a bowl covered with cling-wrap. Keep the peppers going for another 20 minutes or so, until the skin is nice and blackened, then add them to the bowl and leave to cool.

Once everything is cool enough to handle you can peel and de-seed the chillies and the peppers and get rid of the garlic skins. Pop the peeled garlic, chillies and peppers in a food processor along with a generous sprinkle of salt and blitz to a paste. Add the tomato paste, vinegar and paprika and blitz again. Stir through half of the walnut pieces (the rest will be used as a garnish).

The first step for making the hummus is to make your oil nice and fragrant - put the crushed garlic clove and thyme sprigs and the olive oil into a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the garlic just starts to caramelise. Remove the clove and set aside a couple of tablespoons of the oil and the thyme sprigs for later.

Pour the rest of the infused oil into a food processor with the butterbeans and half a teaspoon or so of salt and blitz to a paste. Add water until you've got the hummus at the texture you want it to be.

To serve, spread the hummus out on a plate with a high ridge around the edge. Spoon the pepper and walnut paste into the middle before sprinkling over the walnuts, drizzling with the oil you've set aside and garnishing with the thyme sprigs. 

Posted March 10, 2017 04:34 PM by Michael

March 09, 2017

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Hedgehog cake (with chocolate fingers spikes)

Sylvia decided her party this year would be a Detective Hedgehog party.  It is a minimally easier theme than her earlier suggestion of a Gothic Diary party.  I spent an afternoon with a friend looking at every shop in a shopping centre for hedgehog products and there were none.  So I just held a party with detective activities and hedgehog cake.

The cake was not too hard to make.  I worried it would not come out of the pyrex bowl I used but it was fine.  Sylvia was adamant that she wanted a vanilla sponge cake and chocolate fingers spikes.  So I did as requested.  I should have bought proper Cadbury's chocolate fingers.  The supermarket only had the supermarket's own brand and they weren't as nice.  But I didn't have time to scour the supermarkets nearby.

I found a recipe using chocolate fingers and when it come to looking at this site while making the cake, the domain name registration had expired.  Anyway how hard could sticking a few sticks in a cake be!  Well as I stuck the last one in the backside, the two halves of the cake split.  Oops.  I did a quick patch up job with icing and the fork.

It actually was harder  to stick in chocolate fingers than I expected.  Firstly they melted if held too long and the hide of the cake was tougher than I expected.  Probably because I had to bake it for almost twice as long in the mixing bowl as the original recipe in the cake tin.  I found it easiest to stick two sticks in from each side to have enough balance to avoid one pushing the cake off the board.  I still think pretzels would be better spikes (and easier to be vegan).

The kids loved the cake.  Though as my mum commented, they would have been just as happy with a cardboard box covered in icing and chocolate fingers.  I was most surprised at how much they loved the green icing grass around it.  I only did this because I had some green icing that I had had for a few weeks and was sick of it being in the fridge.

I am sending this cake to Tin and Thyme for We Should Cocoa.  You can read more about the detective hedgehog games and food.

More animal cakes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Blues Clues dog cake
Butterfly cake
Monkey cake
Octopus cake
Owl cake
Sparkles the rabbit cake
Viking cat cake

How to make a Hedgehog Cake

Double batch of 20cm sponge cake batter (such as this one)
Chocolate buttercream icing (such as this one)
One and a half 200g packets of chocolate fingers
Raspberry jam, optional

To bake the sponge cake batter, grease and flour a largish round pyrex bowl.  Set aside a little mixture to bake two or three muffins.  Bake until cake is cooked.  The muffins took about 30 minutes and the large cake took a lot longer than flatter cakes but I didn't note the time (perhaps 1.5 hours).  I covered it with foil once it was golden brown so it didn't get too dark.  Once a skewer inserted comes out clean, remove from oven and sit for about 5-10 minutes.  Use a knife to loosen from the sides and turn out to cool.

When ready to shape the hedgehog, trim the flat bottom of the cake if it is not really flat.  Cut cake in half from top to bottom.  Place each piece cut side down.  Push the two flat bottom sides of the cake together to make a higher dome than you originally had.  (See photo collage above for guidance.)  This is the time to put it on a cake board.  You can use jam or some icing to sandwich together the halves.  Put a muffin at one end and shape the muffin into a snout.  Trim to make sure muffin sits flush against the dome.  You might also need to shape (trim) the front of the dome so it slopes towards the muffin snout.

Now spread the buttercream all over the cake, using the buttercream to help shape the snout.  Take a fork and, leaving a little semi circle at the front where the face will be, rake through the buttercream to make it bristly.  To make the face we trimmed a piece of discarded muffin into a round nose and cut two of the chocolate sticks really short and arranged these as eyes and a nose.

Poke the chocolate fingers into the cake in a circle across the front where the fork marks bristles mark the end of the face.  Keep make rows of chocolate finger spikes until you reach the back.  This was slightly tricky as I had to work fast so the chocolate did not melt at my touch.  The cake baked so long that the outer cake was quite tough to poke a chocolate finger through.  I made a few holes with a little knife - wonder if a chopstick would help.  The other problem was that I had to push so hard that it threatened to push the cake off the board so I found that if I did two at a time, one chocolate stick from each side, it had the resistance I needed.  I also had to avoid the join between the two halves of the cake which would split the cake in half.

NB I am sure other spicks such as pretzels or chocolate sticks would work instead of chocolate fingers.

If you wish, you can spread some green icing and little flowers around the hedgehog for the woodland look.  If so, it is best to do this before the chocolate fingers go in.

On the Stereo:
Molly Do Yourself a Favour: The soundtrack to the TV mini series and Molly’s life: Various Artists

Posted March 09, 2017 09:07 PM by Johanna GGG

March 05, 2017

Green Gourmet Giraffe

In My Kitchen - March 2017

March brings us into autumn with all its mellow fruits and harvest bounty.  Our kitchen hasn't seen lots of new recipe lately.  We have had too much else on with settling into Term 1 of school, celebrating birthdays, and a change of job.  However we are still eating well and enjoying a few favourites.

The above meal is typical of my kitchen lately.  Vegetarian sausages, lots of vegies and some salad cream.  Easy and quick.  I really love the bowl food concept (also sometimes call buddah bowls or nourish bowls).  Whether I am putting together some easy protein or some leftover stew, I find it easier to chop lots of colourful vegies rather than fiddle about with a side dish or salad.

We had a trip to the pool recently and I promised Sylvia an ice cream afterwards.  She chose this box of Jammy Custard Donut Drumsticks.

This is how it looked.  I want to know what happened to that glistening blob of jam on top.  Sylvia didn't even like it.  She was not keen on the chunks of doughnut dough in it.  I liked it but had really wanted her to choose the Golden Gaytime one with butterscotch swirls.

This meal was based on a Sesame Kale Glow Bowl.  I didn't have tempeh so I used firm tofu instead.  It was a nice meal with lots of greens, tofu and Asian dressing on quinoa, but I would be interested to try it with tempeh.

I bought a punnet of colourful tomatoes to gently fry and bake on a puff pastry tart.  The tart was ok but I am not sure it did justice to these pretty tomatoes.

Last week we had chilli non carne for dinner four days in a row.  This is the sort of leftovers that I love.  On the first night we ate it fairly plain.  The next two nights we ate it with tacos and trimmings.  The last night I made pumpkin soup and stirred in the chilli non carne.  The soup was nice but lacked some oomph.  Perhaps if I had remembered to add some salsa it would have been better.

Buying these pizza Twisties was a mistake.  I don't eat Twisties very often (they are like a bumpy twig of a corn chip for those who aren't familiar with this Aussie favourite) but they are a great nostalgic treat.  So I decided I HAD to try the new pizza flavour.  Until I tasted it and decided it wasn't quite so necessary.  I prefer the cheese flavour.  After all, why put cumin in pizza flavouring.  Needless to say, when I then saw taco flavoured twisties soon after, I was quite able to resist.

I stopped by IGA in Nicholson Street, Coburg recently.  It is great to get away from the lack of choice at the two monopoly supermarkets that are closer to me.  I found this Desert Pepper roasted tomato chipotle corn salsa, and some vegenaise and a jar of stuffed olives.

I also found this vegan beans and rice  burrito at the IGA.  It was lovely after being baked in the oven.  The only problem was that I could not get the lid off the salsa I had bought on the same day.  (It took some time another day to get the lid off.)  However I really enjoyed the burrito.  It could easily become a habit.  I thought that Richie's must be an American company.  Then today I saw they had a stall at the Sydney Road Street Festival.  Seems that they are a Melbourne company founded by a Californian.

Between the patchy weather and my lack of time, I am pleased to still find time to make overnight sourdough bread, albeit less than I have in the past.  While I have had a few slow rising doughs, the one in the photo went a little overboard with rapid rising.

Lastly. we have got along to our local farmers market for kale, apples, blackberries, pretzels, croissants and Cocoa Rhapsody's new Coconut and Cherry Chocolate.  Patty from Cocoa Rhapsody was telling us that they use some of the seasonal produce from the farmers markets in their chocolates.  The blackberries went into these recipes, the kale went into this salad and the apples made me excited about them coming into season.

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

Posted March 05, 2017 11:51 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Feast of Merit

February 15, 2017

Cindy's started doing a bit of work out at Monash which, if nothing else, gives us an excuse to meet up in Richmond after work for dinner. We'd heard good things from friends about the food at Feast of Merit, a social enterprise that raises money for YGAP and serves up Middle-Eastern inspired goodies all day long. It's a lovely space - lots of light streaming in through the big windows and a nice buzzy atmosphere without being deafeningly loud. 

The menu is pretty standard mid-range Melbourne: small, medium and large share plates with lots of veggie options and then nothing but meat under 'protein'. The staff gave us a good idea of sizing and we ordered a good mix from the small and medium sections, starting with chickpea chips with tomato jam ($9), braised radishes with pomegranate molasses and leaves ($9), caramelised onion hummus ($8) and za'atar grilled flatbread ($5). 

They were a beautifully presented selection of dishes that took up almost our whole table. The chickpea chips were probably my favourite - smooth on the inside with a nice crust, while the bread/hummus combo was inevitably a success. I wasn't really into the radishes - I think the texture of braised radish just isn't really for me though, because Cindy happily plowed through them.

We ordered two bigger dishes to follow up - fried cauliflower with crispy onions, hung yoghurt, sour cherries and chervil ($18) and a cucumber, lentil, baharat salad, with buttermilk and almonds ($18). Cauliflower really is an unsung hero of the vegetable world, especially when it's roasted or fried to within an inch of its life (see also Tahina), and this dish was my favourite of the night - the yoghurt and cherries adding sweet and sour notes to the beautifully earthy cauliflower. The cucumber dish was a nice, light accompaniment, with lots of fresh cucumbers given a bit of heft by the lentils. 

Cindy was eyeing off the impressive-sound desserts (peanut butter and raspberry sponge with basil!), but we'd gone too hard on the savouries and had to call it quits. Another time.

Feast of Merit is well worth a visit - the food is thoughtful and well executed and there's a good range of vego dishes to choose from (vegans might struggle however - all the non-meaty larger dishes seem to include dairy or eggs by default). We had friendly and efficient service and really enjoyed the space, all with the added bonus that your money is going towards a progressive cause (although I'm a bit sceptical of these kind of ventures after the Shebeen debacle and YGAP's entrepreneur-focussed approach to development isn't really my favourite - still: it's got to be better than an entirely for-profit business). 

Having said all that, we probably won't hurry back - Feast of Merit is doing the kind of food we can get get closer to home at Rumi, Teta Mona, Morrocan Delicacy and Mankoushe. It's a genre of eating that Melbourne is doing very, very well. If anyone has any other tips for places around Swan Street that we should check out, we'd love to hear them.


Feast of Merit
117 Swan St, Richmond
9428 8480
background, food

Accessibility: There's a a flat entryway into a spacious interior. There's full table service and accessible toilets. 

Posted March 05, 2017 01:26 PM by Michael

March 02, 2017

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Blackberry limeade and ramdom moments

When I made chocolate blackberry cupcakes recently, I didn't read the recipe very well beforehand.  I had though I would make some blackberry syrup and use it in the cupcakes.  As it was, I made over 125ml and used 1 tablespoon of the syrup.  There was plenty over to play with.  We love making our homemade lemonade and limonade at home so I added some to a batch of limonade for a very pleasing change.

Every now and again, we make this homemade lemonade or limeade to keep in the fridge for a refreshing drink.  I really liked trying this different version.  Some recipes I looked at had more berries in this sort of drink but I was working with what I had.  Sylvia loved it and called it "berrinade"

I was really glad to use up the blackberries.  We bought a large punnet of the berries from the farmers market but I haven't had much time for cooking lately.  When we had a school picnic, I made cheese, onion and potato pasties because they are Sylvia's favourite but also because they are easy.  You can see them in the below photo.

Likewise this drink can be made really quickly.  I like the idea of taking along the berrinade but it is not terribly practical nor as popular as the pasties.  Sylvia's friends devoured the pasties but I have found some of them find our lemonade not quite sweet enough.  It is perfect for us.

On Tuesday this week I had a day so crazy that I was making dinner in stages between catching up with friends, a meeting at school and work.  It is so nice today not to have life turned up to 11.  I am really appreciating any down time.  So while I stop for a breather, I will share a few random moments from school that have made me smile.

  • I went to the first assembly of the year where the new kids in older classes were asked to introduce themselves.  Everyone got a great laugh from the boy who said his name was Donald Trump.
  • When I picked up Sylvia from school a week or so ago, the kids were all excited by a ghost called Bloody Mary.  Apparently if you scratch a mirror, turn off the lights and say her name three times, the ghost would appear.  All I could say was that it would be terrible if you did that by accident and summoned the ghost.
  • This term Sylvia is doing a kitchen garden program which involves both gardening and cooking each week.  She is loving it.  Sylvia knows her way around the kitchen as we spend a lot of time there.  She came home after the first one laughing about kids who scraped their fingers on the grater and had to be sent to the sick bay.

It is constantly entertaining to have a child about.  Last night when we ate tacos, she told me she had forgotten the glory of tacos.  Here are a few of her recent terms that I find endearing.
  • Wailer Wift - Taylor Swift
  • Chubby Butter - ciabatta
  • She's got a chicken to ride - She's got a ticket to Ride (by the Beatles)

More refreshing drinks on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Chilled apple green tea (gf, v)
Ginger beer (gf, v)
Iced apple chamomile tea (gf, v) 
Lemonade (gf, v)
Limeade (gf, v)

Blackberry limeade
Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe and Food and Wine

 280g blackberries
1 and 1/4 cup sugar, divided
1 cup tap water
1 cup lime juice
Soda water (about 6-8 cups)
Blackberries, lime slices and ice blocks, to serve (optional)

Heat blackberries with 1/4 cup sugar over medium heat for about 10 minutes.  Strain to make about 1/2 cup blackberries syrup.  (Keep the pulp for baking such as these cupcakes.)  Meanwhile gently heat tap water and sugar until sugar dissolves.  Mix blackberry syrup, sugar mixture and lime juice.

To make up a glass we poured about 2 tablespoons of this mixture into a 250ml glass and filled it to near the top (ie added about 2/3 to 3/4 cup) of soda water.  Of course this can be altered to taste. If you wanted to be fancy you can add blackberries, ice blocks and put a slice of lime on the side or a wedge in your drink. We kept ours in the fridge for about 2 weeks. 

On the Stereo:
1: The Beatles

Posted March 02, 2017 11:16 AM by Johanna GGG

February 28, 2017

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

CNY pineapple tarts

February 7-11, 2017

This Chinese New Year, I graduated from peanut cookies to pineapple tarts. Thankfully I had our host Steph's guidance in the process; she'd already veganised this delicacy and blogged it in three parts. I spliced these with another non-vegan recipe for open tarts to try something that worked for me.

I perceived all my challenges as being about textures: was the jam too runny to hold itself up? what thickness and how crispy or tender should the pastry be? I haven't eaten quite enough pineapple tarts in my life to know exactly what I should be aiming for. (For the to-do list: eat diverse and numerous pineapple tarts!)

The materials to hand made some of those decisions for me. My pastry dough was quite soft and sticky, even from the fridge, so spreading it thinly wasn't really an option. I rolled some of it into 'thumbprint cookie' balls to support the maybe-too-runny jam, and then pressed others with a fork for more decorative, flatter tarts. The jam supported itself through the baking better than I expected, and I double-baked many tarts with an extra dollop on top.

I suspect the pastry was my shortcoming - Steph describes fondness for dry crumbling, while mine were more like soft cookies. I might try for more flour in any future doughs, so that I can roll the pastry more thinly, perhaps use cookie cutters, and then bake it more crisply. My glaze was unwieldy too, and I might just prefer plain soymilk.

Conversely, I loved the pineapple jam. It was sweet, pulpy sunshine with hints of the cloves and star anise I'd infused. It's the reason I came back repeatedly to the snack plate on Saturday night, and why I'll come back to this recipe to try, try again.

Pineapple tarts
(adapted slightly from Vegan About Town,
taking jammy inspiration from Loving Baking)

1 fresh pineapple
70g castor sugar
6 cloves
1 star anise

120g cup apple puree
220g margarine, cold
2 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon icing sugar
3 teaspoons soy flour
1 tablespoon cornflour
2 shakes salt
1 tablespoon soy milk

Cut the skin off the pineapple, trim out the tough spiny bits, and cut away the core. Chop up the pineapple flesh and puree it in a blender with the sugar. Transfer the puree to a large saucepan and add the cloves and star anise. Simmer the jam over low heat for 30-60 minutes, until it becomes a thick paste. Refrigerate the jam for at least a few days (I stored mine for a few days).

Pour most of the apple puree in a medium bowl, leaving 1 tablespoon aside for a glaze. Add the margarine to the bowl and beat it into the apple puree with a fork. Sift in the plain flour, icing sugar, soy flour, cornflour and salt; stir until just combined. Refrigerate the biscuit dough for at least an hour (I left mine overnight).

Preheat an oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with paper. Whisk together the remaining apple puree and soy milk.

Roll generous teaspoons of the biscuit dough into balls and place them on the tray. Use a wooden spoon handle or similar to imprint a little round groove into each biscuit. Use a teeny teaspoon to drop pineapple jam into the groove. Use a fork to imprint lines in the dough, radiating out from the jam in the centre. Brush each biscuit with the apple-milk mixture.

Bake the tarts until golden, about 15 minutes. Cool in the tray for 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to bring them to room temperature.

Posted February 28, 2017 08:13 AM by Cindy

February 27, 2017

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Boot Factory, Coburg cafe

Recently, I have had a few visits to the Boot Factory in the old Pentridge prison site in Coburg.  It does some nice vegetarian dishes and excellent chips.  However its charm lies in the way the old prison boot factory has been transformed into a quirky and welcoming space with an eclectic mix of modern art and retro touches. 

Our first visit was on a Saturday morning which we decided to have brunch at the Boot Factory after picking up Sylvia from a sleepover.  She had been up late and was quite grumpy.  But she enjoyed her kids pancake with ice cream and maple syrup.  She also had a milkshake in a cute blue bottle.

I was tempted by the specials board.  I could not pass up the chance to have waffles with roasted peaches and candied walnuts.  I had overlooked the cream on the menu and wished I had asked for the cream to be on the side.  Yet I still enjoyed this even though I could have had more peaches and walnuts and less of the cream.  I think E had scrambled eggs on toast and liked them.

I have managed to take a couple of photos of the interior with no people in it.  This was no easy feat as the Boot Factory is a large space but has been quite busy both on weekends and week days when I have visited.  I like the mismatched retro chairs, the distressed brick walls and the comfy lounge chairs.  The space is large but is broken up so it feels cosy rather than like a barn.

The second visit was with Sylvia's kinder friend Amelia.  Her mum was chilled to think of this having once being part of a prison.  The building dates back to the 1850s.  Well behaved prisoners at Pentridge made shoes and boots here for the prison guards.  A few little touches such as the keys and some painted boot remind us of this history.  I sometimes wonder what Coburg would be like if the prison was still open.  It is now a huge area of new housing with more planned.

I was more fascinated with this mobile of blown glass and twigs that hung from the ceiling.  It is quite striking.  I wish had been able to take a better photo but instead have a quick snap between catching up with friends.  At least I have captured the large windows below that fill the space with light.  There is also a large table for big groups at one end that I did not manage to photograph.

Sylvia and Amelia both ordered the pancakes with ice cream and maple syrup.  They also had milkshakes.  Sylvia was most displeased that her milkshake came in a plastic cup because she had been rather taken with the cute blue bottle.  I checked and was told that they had just run out.  Amelia's mum had the fruit toast with gingerbread butter.  She also had the berry and banana smoothie which looked really good.

I had the Salad of Pearl Couscous on this occasion and really enjoyed it.  The menu describes it as also having "honey roasted pumpkin, heirloom tomatoes, grapes, feta, pomegranate, spinach and cranberries".  There was a note that they had a dairy free option but when I asked I was told this meant it could be served without the feta.  It was a delicious and light dish full of vegies and flavour.

The kids were a bit stir crazy once they had eaten so they ran outside while we paid at the counter.  As I mentioned above, it is a large space and I had not noticed this stack of biscuit tines, milk tins and other tea caddies that look like they are holding up the building!  I love these sorts of old tins but often wonder what you can do with them.

Most recently I visited with my mum for lunch during the week.  I had been tossing up between the burger and the salad on my previous visit.  So it was good to have a chance to taste the sweet potato burger with avocado, grilled haloumi, bitter greens, tahini yoghurt served with beer battered chips and lemon aioli.  This was really filling but I really loved it.  In particular, I must sing the praises of the crispy fries.  They were so good but I was so full I could not finish them.

I was talking to a friend who said that she was not so interested in the food at the Boot Factory.  It does not have the wow factor of the Glass Den, though the ambiance is definitely impressive.  I am sure I will be back there but less so because all the savoury breakfast dishes have egg in them (except the salmon one).  There is not much for vegans.  On the plus side, I like that there are kids meals and milkshakes.  There is also a new menu promised for new month.

And I find the historic buildings of Pentridge Prison quite beautiful in an erie way.  So I leave you with a photo of the chimney just outside the Boot Factory.

The Boot Factory
19 Pentridge Boulevard, Coburg
03 9354 4369
Open: Mon-Fri 7am-4pm, Sat-Sun 8am-4pm

The Boot Factory Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted February 27, 2017 10:45 PM by Johanna GGG

February 25, 2017

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Spring onion pancakes

February 11, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted February 25, 2017 08:07 AM by Michael

February 24, 2017

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Bath bombs

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

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

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

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

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

Bath Bombs
From the CSIRO
Makes 4 mini muffin sized ones

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

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

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

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

On the Stereo:
1989: Taylor Swift

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

February 22, 2017

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Grilled corn on the cob with spicy garlic-miso dressing

February 6, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted February 22, 2017 09:04 PM by Cindy

Thoughts Of A Moni

Bang Bang

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image Credit: Zilla and Brook

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

Posted February 22, 2017 08:30 AM by Moni

February 20, 2017

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Chocolate blackberry cupcakes with hearts!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cream Cheese Frosting:
Adapted from Laws of the Kitchen

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

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

On the Stereo:
The Beekeeper: Tori Amos

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

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

The Reverence Hotel III

February 4, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Posted February 20, 2017 09:02 AM by Cindy

February 18, 2017

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

The Carlton Club

January 31, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


The Carlton Club
193 Bourke St, Melbourne
9663 3246

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

Posted February 18, 2017 09:05 AM by Michael

February 17, 2017

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Vegetarian stuffed picnic loaf

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am sending this loaf to Meat Free Mondays.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    February 15, 2017

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Green ombre chocolate cake revisited (vegan option)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    On the Stereo:
    La La Land Soundtrack

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

    February 14, 2017

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Barbecued peaches with ginger-coconut sauce

    January 22, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Posted February 14, 2017 08:00 AM by Cindy

    February 12, 2017

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    ArtVo - visual illusions in the Docklands

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

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

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

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

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

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

    February 11, 2017

    vegan about town

    fishie curry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Turn off the heat and go eat it all up.

    Posted February 11, 2017 10:23 PM by steph

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Chocolate, rose & walnut icecream

    January 21, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Posted February 11, 2017 07:40 AM by Cindy

    February 10, 2017

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Chickpea, peach and pumpkin curry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    On the stereo:
    Music of the Kabarett: Various Artists

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

    February 09, 2017

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Eggplant kataifi nests

    January 21, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

    Preheat the oven to 250°C.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Serve, with the sauce on the side.

    Posted February 09, 2017 09:39 AM by Michael

    February 08, 2017

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Queen Victoria Summer Night Market 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    February 07, 2017

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne


    January 16, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

    Posted February 07, 2017 10:14 PM by Michael

    February 05, 2017

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    In my kitchen - February 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Girls & Boys

    January 8, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Posted February 05, 2017 06:03 PM by Cindy

    February 03, 2017

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Chickpea tofu and pea curry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Tofu and pea curry
    Adapted from Everyday Healthy Recipes
    Serves 4

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

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

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

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

    On the Stereo:
    The Days of Our Nights: Lunar 

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

    January 31, 2017

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Ginger beer and school holidays

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Ginger Beer
    From Woolworth Fresh magazine December 2016

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

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

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

    On the Stereo:
    Remember Us to Life: Regina Spector

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

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    where's the best in 2015 & 2016?

    Moroccan Deli-Cacy

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

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

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

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

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


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

    Pumpkin with chilli yoghurt & coriander sauce

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

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

    Peanut butter & blueberry pie

    Posted January 31, 2017 08:32 AM by Cindy

    January 28, 2017

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Cranberry and camembert tarts - using leftover cranberry sauce

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

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

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

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

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

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

    On the Stereo:
    Set List: The Frames

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