May 23, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Purple potato, sweet potato and watercress salad

After making my ombre potato and cheese torte I still had purple potatoes left in the kitchen.  The difficult decision of how to feature them was made easier when I bought watercress today.  While I have used it in soups previously, watercress is really great in salads.

The watercress was freshly picked from the CERES gardens when I bought it.  How could I resist!  I sat with friends tasting the fresh leaves while we had a coffee.  At home I wondered what to do with it.  Watercress is even more bamboozling than purple potatoes when it comes to recipe ideas. 

So let us return to these lovely purple midnight potatoes.  I had to take a photo of the label today because I keep forgetting what sort of potatoes they are.  I had thought of gnocchi or shepherd's pie.  Neither of which were great for watercress.  And the VegHog's watercress rolls would not solve the potato dilemma (though purple bread is exciting!)

The watercress went into a salad sandwich while I searched for ideas.  Finally it was a potato salad that took my fancy.  I found a recipe for arugula, brie and purple potato salad.  My vegan salad used a creamy cashew dressing and was quite different to the one that inspired it.  I had freshly shelled walnuts from a farmers market and a lime from our tree.

It was a slightly more complex dinner than I had envisioned before I saw the watercress.  Yet it was still fairly easy to put together and all the flavours and textures worked well.  Soft, crunchy, fresh, mustardy, creamy, and little nuggets of sweet.  We enjoyed it for dinner with some fresh sourdough bread while relaxing after Sylvia had been to a school friend's party.
I am sending the salad to Jac for Meat Free Mondays, Kate for Helen's and Michelle's Extra Veg, and Kimmy for Healthy Vegan Fridays 48.  I had planned to send it to Deb of Kahakai Kitchen for her regular Souper Sundays but I see she is on a blog break due to a bereavement so I send her warm wishes instead.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Street Art in Melbourne #4 She dreamt of running away
Two year ago: WW Vegan chocolate tart
Three years ago: The University of Melbourne - historic buildings and lunches
Four years ago: My ten rules for food blogging
Five years ago: The case of the disappearing tart
Six years ago: Heidi’s Chocolate Cake
Seven years ago: Creamy Green Lasagne for Beautiful Bones
Eight years ago: TGRWT #2 - It’s nuts, it’s bananas, it’s stew!

Purple potato, sweet potato and watercress salad
An original Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe inspired by Sweetest Somethings
Serves 2 -3 as a meal

4 (about 350g) purple potatoes
1 medium sweet potato
1 bunch of watercress, chopped
1 handful of walnuts
1 handful of dried cranberries
2 tbsp chives, chopped

Creamy dressing:
1/4 cup raw cashews (*pre-soaked if using regular blender)
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp mild English mustard
1 small garlic clove
1/4 tsp salt flakes, or to taste
lots of ground black pepper

Peel and chop potatoes into 1cm discs and cover with salted water.  Cook until tender.  Bring to the boil from cold water and then reduce to simmer.  It took me between15 and 20 minutes from when I started the burner on the stovetop.  Drain.  Repeat with sweet potato in a separate saucepan. 

Meanwhile dry fry walnuts until they smell fragrant and roughly chop.  Blend all ingredients for the creamy dressing until smooth.  (*I did this in a high speed blender but to do it in a regular blender, the cashews should be soaked.)

Arrange watercress and cooked potatoes in a salad bowl.  Drizzle with dressing.  Scatter with walnuts, cranberries and chives.  Toss and serve.

On the Stereo:
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road: Elton John

Posted May 23, 2015 11:03 PM by Johanna GGG


Trang Bakery, Melbourne CBD

I have so many places on my to-do (well, to-eat) list and haven’t really had much time at all to go and check them out. But with a stroke of good luck, some city errands took me right near Trang Bakery in Hardware Street. Bingo! Having seen and heard lots of raving oohs and aaahs...
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Posted May 23, 2015 06:37 PM

May 22, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne


May 17, 2015

We've had an eye on Zaatar since it opened a couple of years ago, and we've noticed it earning seals of approval from Cate's Cates, Green Gourmet Giraffe and Veganopoulous in that time. We squeezed our first visit in before their 8pm closing last Sunday night, following an afternoon gig at the Post Office Hotel. We'd spent the duration steadfastly resisting the myriad bowls of fries floating around us, focusing on the falafel to come.

The set-up is accessible and family-friendly at Zaatar, with clear display cabinets and counter ordering, dozens of quick-wipe tables that can be rearranged by customers, and a grin on the face of every staff member. Dietary indicators weren't marked on the menu, but there's plenty for vegos to choose from. Given that they make their own bread products on site, coeliacs might be more wary.

We shared a combination meal of 3 mezza with dip and salad ($8.50), which was excellent value. The last falafel in the display was still pretty good, and the mini cheese pie sat safely between the tasteless ones at Tiba's and the A1 gold standard. The pumpkin kibbeh held a surprise filling of chickpeas and spices, and was even better dipped into the super-smooth, tahini-heavy humus. The fattoush was fresh and on the acidic side.

It was all upstaged just one bite into the vegetarian pizza ($6). I've never had a sweeter, fresher crust! The grated haloumi was springy and salty, and in between were crunchy arcs of caspicum, discs of tomato and rings of red onion. Even the olives failed to bother me, such was the perfection of this Middle Eastern-style pizza.

We hear good things about the breakfasts here too, but it'll be tough to tear me away from another bread-based order. Either way, you can expect us to report on a daylit Zaatar meal next time we're in Coburg.


Fellow veg bloggers Green Gourmet Giraffe and Veganopoulous have already given Zaatar positive reviews. It's also won fans on Cate's Cates, Melbourne Cafes Photo Blog, Eat And Be Merry, For Tomorrow We Die(t)!, Howie's Melbourne Food Blog and grazing panda. Consider the Sauce and Food, Eat, Repeat thought it was just OK.

365 Sydney Rd, Coburg
9939 9494
menu board

Accessibility: Zaatar seems to have put some thought into it! The entry is flat, wide and opens automatically. Tables are moderately spaced, and the staff don't seem to mind shifting them around to accommodate groups. Displayed food is at low-medium height. We ordered and paid at a low-medium height counter, and food was brought to our table. Toilets are gendered and include a third unisex fully accessible option.

Posted May 22, 2015 01:01 PM by Cindy

May 21, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Ombre Potato and Cheese Torte

We were talking about a child character in Wonder Woman who dreamt of man walking on the moon and how man had not yet landed there.  Sylvia asked, "But had woman been on the moon?"  Out of the mouths of babes!  I had put on Wonder Woman for Sylvia and her friend on the morning after their sleepover.  It seemed a good balance after they had watched some Barbie movie.  After all every little girl will grow up to find they are expected to be Wonder Woman who can do it all, not just a pretty Barbie doll.

Which is not to say that pretty things don't have their place.  I had bought some purple potatoes at CERES and beetroot powder at my health food store.  It inspired a vision of a multi coloured layered potato torte.  And great excitement at the possibility.  I am not sure it is technically 'ombre' because I don't know if purple and pink are similar enough but hopefully it is close enough for jazz.

Despite searching online, the only suitable recipe I could find was a Potato and Cheese Torte from my pre-online handwritten notebook.  It is a simple matter of mashing potato with cheese and egg and baking it in a cake tin.  I regret that when I took down the recipe years ago I didn't note the source. 

There are many variations on the idea.  I changed my torte quite a bit from the recipe.  I didn't use chives because they didn't suit the colour.  I used some leftover cheese sauce and yoghurt instead of cream.  I looked for gruyere in the supermarket but it was not to be found.  I bought a goat cheese with truffle oil only to find it had anchovies in it.  Finally I used swiss cheese between the layers.  And in the future I have dreams of veganising it and making this with green layers of kale puree and perhaps a spinach puree.  The recipe also suggested crisping up the top layer of potatoes but I didn't do this.

I made the torte on Sunday night.  It was really soft when it came out of the oven and I had visions of it collapsing into mush as I tried to cut it.  So I left it overnight to firm up.  The next day I was nauseous and couldn't face eating the rich torte.  I was determined to get a decent photo in daylight hours so I took a few photos and then collapsed into bed.  After all, it was unlikely I would make this torte again in a hurry.

It has been on of those weeks.  As well as nausea, I have had a sore back and a terrible headache.  The car has been in service, we have had Numeracy Night at school, I have run around after a costume for Sylvia for her book week parade, we have had to buy new school shoes and birthday presents.  And there is still swimming, walk to school day and a teddy bears picnic before the school week finishes.
So I was very glad to have this torte to keep us going in the evenings.  On Tuesday evening I made the side dish I had planned for Sunday: Brussels sprouts with walnuts and cranberries.  I hope to make it again and take more notice of the recipe before I share it.  I also roasted some pumpkin.  It made a really lovely meal. 

I would highly recommend this torte for a festive or fancy meal.  It serves heaps of people and would be great on a buffet as it slices up well if you make it far enough ahead to let it set.  However the torte is too rich to recommend eating by itself.  It needs some colourful vegies or salads on the side and would be great with a gravy or sauce.  We just had a chutney with it.

I am very pleased with how this torte turned out.  It looked pretty and tasted delicious.  Even without coloured layers, this is a great torte to impress your family and friends.  And it will make you feel like Wonder Woman.  Though I am not sure that I ever saw her cook!

I am sending this potato and cheese torte to:

More mashed potato recipes from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Potato boston bun
Mashed potato chocolate cake  
Mashed vegetables with promite
Oaxaca tacos (with potato and cheese)
Potato bread
Potato, cauliflower and kale pesto mash 
Potato parsley stars
Potato Scones
Shepherd’s Pie with Pesto
Walnut and rice nutroast with mashed potato crust 

Ombre Potato and Cheese Torte
Serves 8-12

1kg white potatoes, peeled and diced
500g purple potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled
100g butter
1/3 cup cheese sauce (or cream)
3-4 tbsp plain yoghurt, divided
2-4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese, divided
2 eggs, divided
1 tsp beetroot powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
chopped chives, optional
100g jarlsberg or gruyere cheese, grated
1-2 extra potatoes
breadcrumbs and butter for lining tin*

Crumb topping:
50g butter, diced
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp breadcrumbs*

Place white potatoes in a medium saucepan and purple potatoes in a small saucepan.  Fill each saucepan with cold water just up to the potatoes and add a clove of garlic and pinch of salt.  Bring to the boil and simmer until tender.  It should take about 15 minutes from when you start heating the potatoes and water.

While potatoes are cooking, preheat oven to 180 C (I baked mine at 200 C to amend for my slow oven).  Grease a round 22cm springform cake tin with a generous amount of butter.  Line base with baking paper and grease paper well.  Put a spoonful or two of fine dried breadcrumbs into the tin and tap them around until the base and sides of the tin is covered.  Discard any loose breadcrumbs that don't cling to the butter.

Drain each saucepan and return to a low heat and cook until all water has evaporated from the saucepan.  Add two thirds of the butter, cheese sauce, yoghurt, parmesan, and eggs to the medium saucepan of white potatoes.  Start with less of the yoghurt and parmesan.  Mash potatoes and season (I used some chilli salt and wild garlic salt).  Use a metal spoon to stir well and get some air into the mashed potato.  Check and adjust seasonings and add more yoghurt if it is too stiff - if should be creamy enough to stir.  Repeat with purple potatoes and the remaining ingredients (again starting with less yoghurt and parmesan and adding more if required).  Trasnfer half the white mash into a bowl and mix in beetroot powder and smoked paprika.  After mashing, stir in chopped chives, if using.

Peel and finely slice one of the extra potatoes.  Cover with water in a microwave proof bowl and microwave for about 2 minutes or until bendy but not cooked through.  Arrange the potato slices on the base of the prepared tin.

Carefully spoon blobs of white mash onto the potato slices.  Smooth the mash with the back of a spoon.  Sprinkle with half the grated jarlsberg cheese.  Repeat carefully spooning and smoothing the pink layer.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Repeat the spooning and smoothing with the purple layer.  Mix the breadcrumbs and parmesan for the crumb topping and sprinkle over the purple layer.  Dot with butter.

Bake torte for 50 to 60 minutes or until the crumb topping is golden brown.  Cool in the tin.  Turn out onto a serving plate, ideally one that can go in the oven.  Reheat to serve or you could serve at room temperature.  Lasts 4 to 5 days in the fridge.

NOTE: to make it gluten free, use gluten free breadcrumbs.

On the Stereo:
A Letter Home: Neil Young

Posted May 21, 2015 10:34 PM by Johanna GGG

May 19, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Vegan baked potato soup with mushroom bacon

May 16, 2015

We had a spare Saturday afternoon and thus decided we finally had the time to commit to one of the overly complicated recipes that Serious Eats put up during their recent vegan month. I'm pretty keen to have a crack at the mapo tofu or the creamy ramen, but they both required fancier ingredients than we could lay our hands on at short notice. Instead, we went for this wintery roasted potato and cauliflower soup, with the added bonus of some mushroom bacon.

This is still a time-consuming and complicated recipe - I'd guess that we spent more than two hours putting everything together and we dramatically simplified the original (no stove-top smoking, lots of stick-blending and no soup straining). The mushroom bacon could be made well ahead of time, although you've got a good hour to do the laborious mushroom slicing while the veggies are roasting, and the oven's already on so you can pop them straight in. 

I'd say the pay-off was just about worth it - the potato and cauliflower soup was rich and had a cheesy texture thanks to the blended up cashews and cauliflower. It was quite mildly flavoured - you could boost the chipotle/adobo levels if you wanted more of a kick, but otherwise just season it heavily to make sure it doesn't turn out bland.

The mushroom bacon really kicks things up a notch too. I'd probably up the liquid smoke in the marinade next time and try to find bigger mushrooms to avoid the fiddliness of chopping and flipping hundreds of little mushroom slices, but the recipe in general is a winner. Keep in mind that the mushrooms shrink an awful lot, so you might as well do a big batch - we started with three full oven trays and wound up able to squeeze everything onto a single tray for the final roast.

I was very impressed by this recipe - we'll definitely be going through the Serious Eats vegan archives again when we've got an afternoon spare.

Crispy mushroom bacon 
(based on this recipe from Serious Eats)

500g Swiss brown mushrooms
spray oil
salt and pepper
4 teaspoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
Slice the mushrooms really finely, just a couple of millimetres thick.

Line a couple of baking trays with baking paper and grease it up with spray oil. Lay out the mushrooms (we had to do things in a couple of batches - there was too much for even two full trays). 

Generously season with salt and pepper and pop them in the oven. After 20-25 minutes, take them out and flip each mushroom piece over. Give them another light spray with oil and some more salt and pepper and put them back in for another 25 minutes. You want them to dry out and crisp up - don't be afraid to go for longer than 25 minutes if you need to.

While the mushrooms are cooking, mix together the syrup, garlic powder, paprika and liquid smoke in a big bowl. Once the mushrooms are ready, stir them all through to coat them with the marinade and lay them back out on a baking tray (they'll have shrunk such that 3 tray loads will now fit on one!). 

Give them another 5-10 minutes in the oven to caramelise the sugars in the marinade and pull them out when they're a bit crunchy and a bit chewy.

Fully loaded vegan baked potato soup
(based on this recipe from Serious Eats)

1 head of cauliflower, halved
2 large floury potatoes, scrubbed and with a few holes poked in them with a skewer
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 large leek, sliced finely
2 ribs celery, sliced finely
6 green onions, sliced finely with white and green parts kept separately
5 cloves garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, plus a bonus teaspoon of the adobo sauce
1 cup roasted cashews
1 litre almond milk
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 small bunch chives, sliced finely
1 head broccoli, cut into florets and steamed (for serving)
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C and roast the potatoes and cauliflower for about an hour, until they're very soft but not burnt (the cauliflower will brown up a lot, but that's okay). Set aside to cool.

In the meantime, heat the coconut oil in a large saucepan and add in the leek, celery, garlic and the white parts of the green onions. Cook over low-medium heat for 10-15 minutes, until everything is nice and soft but nothing is browning up. Stir through the paprika.

Combine the cashews with about 1 cup of the almond milk, and the chipotle and adobo sauce, in the spice grinder attachment of your food processor (or a blender if that's your preference). Give it a good whizz, you want it as smooth as possible.

Pour the rest of the almond milk and the liquid smoke into the saucepan and scoop in the cashew paste, stirring everything together thoroughly. Whizz the soup mix up with a stick blender - you want the leek and onion bits to blend into the soup as much as possible.

Peel and dice the potatoes and cut the cauliflower into bite-sized chunks, discarding the stem. Throw the veggies into the soup mix in batches, stick-blending as you go. Add some water along the way to keep things at the texture you want - we added about a cup. 

Once you've blended everything together as smoothly as possible, stir through the chives, season with salt and pepper and add in about a third of your mushroom bacon. 

Serve, garnishing with some more mushroom bacon, the broccoli and a sprinkling of the green parts of the green onions.

Posted May 19, 2015 09:02 PM by Michael

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Froothie Optiumum 9400 Blender: review and recipes

In September last year, I bought myself a new high speed blender.  A Froothie Optimum 9400 blender.  It was a major kitchen purchase and I wanted to write about it once I had used it for some time.  I paid for it myself and love having it, but it has both good and bad points.  I will write about these here for those who might be considering buying a new blender or just interested to know how I am using it.

I was keen to buy a high speed blender after burning out the little blender attachment of my hand held blender.  I wanted a blender that would make creamy sauces out of nuts, blend up kale into a smoothie and make smooth nut butters.  After all, I have made some pretty lumpy sauces, grassy smoothies and poor attempts at nut butter in the past.

I have found the blender great for velvety smoothies and sauces.  I have had a little more trouble with nut butters and dips which require more scraping down.  One of my first nut butter attempts resulted in me overheating the motor. and having a greasy little knob of cashew butter (which tasted really good but was more cashew candy than cashew butter).  I thought I had ruined my nice new blender.  Once it cooled it was ok.  I checked the instruction booklet and found I should be blending nut butter at a higher speed.  A quick internet search also told me it is easier to blend roasted nuts into nut butter than raw nuts.

Since then I have made quite a few lovely nut butters (with the tamper).  I have learnt with the blender generally that I need enough ingredients that the blades don't whizz around with nothing to hit.  The thicker the mixture the more likely it is that I need to scrape down the mixture a few times.  If there is enough in the blender, using the tamper to push down ingredients is a great help.  I love that I can make cashew sauces without having to soak the cashews though sometimes I need to add a little water to compensate.

Above is a selection of some recipes I have made with the blender:  From Left to Right here are the links to the recipes (I am particularly excited at how easy it is to make a vegan cheese spread and the Finnish pate):

Top: Cashew cheese stuffed dates,   Super smoothie with berries,   Chocolate lime avocado mousse
Middle: Buffalo hummus,   Kale cheesecake surprise choc mint cupcakes,   Finnish green bean paté
Bottom: Balsamic garden salad with cashew cheese,   Avocado hummus,   Tropical orange and carrot smoothie

Other recipes using my blender:
Basil pesto
Cheesy cauliflower and rice soup
Chickpea and carrot patties with Cashew cream
Chocolate cashew butter 
Green smoothie
Hurry up pumpkin alfredo pasta sauce 
Kale scones
Vegan haggis (NB it was tricky to get all the ingredients chopped evenly but worked)
Vegan mayonnaise
Vegan peach cheesecake
Vegan salmon pate  

I have made lots of recipes I would not have been so confident attempting without a more powerful blender, though I also still make lots of smoothies that I could easily make with my hand held blender.  Above is a creamy Vegveeta cheeze sauce that I made to bake on a pizza with kale and tomato sauce.  Below is a chickpea and kale sandwich spread that, while a little chunky, was far more blended that my previous blenders would have done.

There are some aspects of the blender that I am not so keen on.  There are three controls: an on/off button, a 1-10 dial, a pulse button.  It seems counter-intuitive to have to push the on button up rather than down to start it and quite frankly that button seems redundant.  I don't understand why the instructions say to always start the blender with the dial on low but you also need to hit the on button.  I also don't find the lid easy to take on and off and end up popping it rather than screwing it.

One of my other problems is a double edged sword.  The bottom of the blender, unlike other blenders I have used, does not screw off for washing.  I guess this is for sealing and because the blade is very sharp.  The instructions say to put in water and a drop of detergent and blend.  It is fine for a smoothie but when I make a nut butter I find it is best to soak or needs a lot of blending to clean it.  Even with all the blending there are times I find to properly wipe out the blender.  Especially when it is wet and I want it straight away for dry ingredients but have to wait for it to dry.  On the up side, cleaning the blender this way means it is easy to clean quickly after I use it. 

My biggest problem is that I am not confident enough in the blender being completely clean.  This is a big issue for allergies.  I would love to make home made peanut butter but am worried there will be traces left that will get into Sylvia's food and set off her allergy.

Overall I am delighted with my purchase.  It has given me an ability to make foods I couldn't previous and more confidence with recipes.  If I need a nut butter for recipes I can make my own.  I can also put a greater mix of fruit and vegetables in my smoothies (though not pomegranate arils).  I have ground nuts, oats and dried chickpea into flour in the blender.  And I love being able to make such smooth sauces and nut butters.  I use my blender a lot, if not daily.  Thanks to Jac of Tinned Tomatoes for her recommendation.  I would definitely recommend the Froothie Optimum 9400 blender if you are looking to purchase a new blender.

To see what others are doing with their Froothie blenders, check out these recipes:

Basil and cucumber gazpacho – Amuse your Bouche
Beet and chia raspberry jam – Veggie Desserts
Carrot ketchup – Allotment 2 Kitchen
Cauliflower coconut and lime soup – Coconut and Berries
Green passion smoothie – Food to Glow
Roasted beetroot and raw cacao nib cupcakes – Elizabeth's Kitchen
Spicy red falafel – Tinned Tomatoes 
More vegetarian recipes at Froothie website

Posted May 19, 2015 02:17 PM by Johanna GGG

May 18, 2015


Week In Review: Buddha’s Day in Melbourne

This past week was a welcome quiet one. Arthur and Husband had super busy schedules but DeeW and I were able to take it easy at home. On Saturday we went down to Federation Square in the city to check out the Buddha’s Day festivities. Melbourne switched on perfect weather!    I’d hoped to get something...
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Posted May 18, 2015 09:03 PM

quinces and kale

best macaroni cheese ever – really!

P1010395 (1)

How many times have you read another recipe promising the “Best Mac Cheese Ever!”, rushed to make it and ended up with another disappointment?

I have, countless times. I’ve tried them all, nutritional yeast, carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, cauliflower. All of them either wrong or awful. Most of them I tried giving as leftovers to my dog Jess, but she sensibly rejected them.

I used to make dairy macaroni cheese using a variation of a recipe by Heston Blumenthal, that used no milk just a mixture of cheese in a wine reduction and stock.  It was great then, not at all gluggy, sharp and adult in flavour. I think of it as macaroni and cheese for grown ups.

So I gave it another go recently using a mixture of vegusto piquant, daiya cheddar and tofutti cream cheese. I’ve tinkered with it, veganising it obviously, but also simplifying it a bit and using less wine as the original is pretty sharp.

I think it is a winner. Jess isn’t getting any leftovers from this one, even though she’d probably love it.

It also works wonderfully as a cheese sauce for cauliflower and broccoli.


best macaroni cheese ever - really! :)
prep time
10 mins
cook time
30 mins
total time
40 mins
author: quincesandkale based on Heston Blumenthal
serves: 4
  • 200 g macaroni
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 200 ml dry white wine
  • 300 ml hot vegetable stock (I used Massel)
  • 60 g vegan melting style grated cheese (I've used both Daiya Cheddar and Mozzarella successfully)
  • 20 g vegan hard parmesan style cheese ( I use Vegusto Piquant)
  • 10 g cornflour
  • 80 g Tofutti cream cheese
  • black pepper
  • 1 tsp truffle oil (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 C.
  2. Cook the pasta in salted water until done. Drain.
  3. Mix in the truffle oil.
  4. In a saucepan, reduce the white wine over a high heat to 30 ml.
  5. Add the hot stock to the reduced wine.
  6. Mix the grated cheeses with the cornflour and add to the saucepan.
  7. Stir until the cheese has been melted and incorporated into the sauce, then stir through the pasta.
  8. Cook over a medium heat until the pasta is warmed through.
  9. Stir in the cream cheese.
  10. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
  11. Place into an ovenproof dish and bake in the oven until nice brown spots start to appear.


Posted May 18, 2015 10:00 AM

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Sichuan House

May 16, 2015

On Friday night we were in the city for a gig at the Forum, and keen to try something new for dinner. I pulled up a year-and-a-bit-old bookmarked post from vegawesome! and suggested we give Sichuan House a shot. I had no problem snagging a table for two at 6pm, but they steadily filled up as we ate. I've since discovered that this restaurant is a favourite of many chilli-loving Melbourne bloggers (see link list below).

The menu's generally very meaty but we were able to spot several veg options that correspond closely with the Dainty Sichuan menu: cold noodles, potato shreds, garlicky cucumber and the two dishes we ultimately ordered, stir-fried spicy dry tofu and chives ($19.80) and fish fragrant eggplant ($17.80).

The dry tofu is firm and smoky, stacked high with lots of wilted greens and a few dried chillis. It was the right counterpart to the slippery battered eggplant, as sweet as it is spicy. A bit of steamed rice on the side ($2 per person) and we were well sorted. In fact, it was far too much food for the two of us, and they would have boxed up the leftovers if we'd been able to take them.

Sichuan House is BYO, and we contented ourselves with some of their cooling non-alcholic drinks - coconut juice for Michael and aloe vera drink for me ($3.50 each).

Sichuan House didn't distinguish itself strongly from our past Dainty experiences, but it didn't suffer badly from the comparison either. Service was friendly and fast, and we enjoyed our meal. Our only regret was that we didn't arrange to eat with friends and order more from the menu. 


A review from fellow veg blogger Vegawesome! inspired our visit to Sichuan House. It's also won many omnivorous fans, see Couture Foodie, Eat And Be Merry, For Tomorrow We Die(t)!, From The Cockroach Trap, A Spotted Blog, Spoonfuls of Wanderlust (twice), DolceBunnie, Let's Get Fat Together, Foodie About Town, Sweet & Sour Fork and The City Lane. There's just one ambivalent review, on Diary of a Pampered Housewife.

Sichuan House
22-26 Corrs Lane, Melbourne 
9650 8589
menu samples 1, 2, 3

Accessibility: Entry includes about six steps, and we didn't see a more accessible alternative. Tables are densely packed. We ordered at the table and paid at a high counter. Toilets were gendered, flat-floored and narrow.

Posted May 18, 2015 09:28 AM by Cindy

May 17, 2015

The Good Hearted - Vegan Food in Melbourne

Chew Burgers


Chew Burger
147 Plenty Road
Preston VIC 3072
(03) 9484 9720


Opening Hours:
Tue-Thur: 12-9pm
Fri: 12-9.30pm
Sat-Sun: 12-9pm

Chew Burger popped up next to the The Racoon Club in early 2014 to bring burgers and fries to an otherwise quiet little strip in Preston. With the tip-off that they catered for vegans, we checked them out on a Friday night when they were bursting with takeaway orders and busy servicing the drinkers next door.

We discovered that there's actually only one vegan burger on the menu, aptly named 'Vegan' (GF $15). It has portobello mushroom, thyme, vegan mayo, guacamole, salsa and cos lettuce on a gluten free bun.

The burger's winning ingredient is the vegan mayo which they've really nailed, however it was let down a bit by the gluten free bun, which in the end dominated the flavours. Serving the vegan burger on a gluten free bun (substitute not allowed) led me to believe that perhaps this burger is intended as a 'cure all' for those pesky types who won't eat 'normal' food. Also, at $15 the price is really quite steep for a rather small burger.

We also tried a serve of 'Shoestring fries w/ roasted ghost chilli salt' and vegan mayo ($4.50). We're not sure if a mistake was made on the night, but the fries were sweet rather than salty. They looked as good as Trippy Taco's 'Trippy fries', but without any of the moreish salty goodness.

There's also an 'Apple, slaw, mint, pea salad' ($5) and a good array of Italian and Mexican soft drinks ($4.50-$4.50).

 Chew Burgers on Urbanspoon

Posted May 17, 2015 06:23 PM

May 16, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Kale cheesecake surprise choc mint cupcakes for a vegan bakesale

I didn't sleep well on the eve of ANZAC Day.  I went to bed early in preparation to rise at 4am for the Dawn Service but the two little girls in the bed did not want to sleep.  My mind wandered to kale.  Kale and cake competitions.  I had decided that kale cake would be creative enough for the bake off at CERES held by Animal Liberation Victoria as part of the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale.  But as I lay there mythoughts wandered to hidden fillings in chocolate cupcakes and what if it was green and cheesecake.  Now that would be a challenge.

The 4am rise on the Saturday meant I was too tired to make the cupcakes in the afternoon.  They had to wait until the next day, the morning of the competition.  No matter.  At least they would be fresh.  Unfortunately it left no room for mistakes or missing ingredients.

Unfortunately it wasn't until morning that I discovered I had very little cocoa or vegan chocolate in the house.  Fortunately I bake a lot of chocolate cakes.  I was able to improvise with cacao nibs.  I wanted to finely grind them in my good blender but as it was still wet from making the cheesecake mixture, they were roughly ground.  The slight texture of the nibs actually worked well in the cupcakes.  

You might think me a bit crazy to attempt vegan cupcakes with a kale cheesecake filling on the morning of a cake baking competition when I had never made them before. Yet it wasn't quite a crazy as it seems.

I was drawing on experiences of adding kale to scones to make them green, of making vegan cheesecake, of baking vegan chocolate cupcakes and of hiding something in cupcakes.  These previous baking adventures all contributed to my planning.  While I make a lot of new recipes, they often build on previous experiences.

The icing had me stumped.  I had mulled over whether to add green food colouring the previous evening.  Then I realised the solution was staring at me in the face.  I had plenty of leftover cheesecake mixture which gave both brilliant colour and a great creamy texture to the frosting.

I was happy that the frosting held its shape.  As you can see above, I am a novice at frosting and had to try and try again.  I didn't have quiet enough frosting so I had to keep reusing the frosting I had piped onto the dodgy cakes to try again with the unfrosted cakes.  And though the swirls look so pretty, I prefer only a small amount of frosting on my cupcakes so if I wasn't making these for a competition, I would just spread the frosting on with a knife.

By the time we had dropped Sylvia off for a play date and was heading into CERES with my cakes on a plate in the cake carrier, I was feeling like I had done a pretty good job.  I had tasted the cakes and congratulated myself.  I had only put four cupcakes on the plate because I had been told by the CWA lady at the last cake competition I entered that I shouldn't crowd the plate.  And besides, I didn't have many frosted cupcakes that looked presentable.

I lined up to register my entry and looked around at the competition with a sinking heart.  This amazing farmyard cake was actually a winner.  However there were heaps of entries of varying quality, some very beautiful, some very colourful, some very quirky and some just looked delicious.

I wanted to take more photos but the organisers were keeping punters out of the area until the cake sale began.  It was a rainy overcast day and not at all suited to taking photos, especially when under a marquee.  So if you want some really good photos of the cakes and the day I suggest you head over to the post by Veganopoulous.

I would have liked to have lingered and admire the cakes.  As well as those for the competition, there were heaps donated to help raise money.  I really wanted some of the slices above but I just am not keen on queuing for ages for food.

By the time the cake sale opened at  12 there was already a huge queue.  We wandered off to watch a sausage making demonstration.  After that we found that there was even a queue at the sausage sizzle.  We didn't have to wait too long to buy ourselves sausages.  It was a treat to have really well cooked vegetarian sausages and a choice of three different flavours.  I had the tomato one which was great.

Rather than join the huge queue for the cakes we wondered over to the CERES marketplace where there were a few stalls selling vegan foods.   I really loved the pretty display of cakes by Vohn's Kitchen.  We had a coconut layer cake which was nice but I was disappointed that it didn't have dessicated coconut through it.  When I was growing up 'coconut' always meant dessicated coconut.  These days coconut can mean so many things.

We sat and ate it in the courtyard by the market.  It was really quiet after the busy cake sale area.  We sat with a couple who had come to the bake sale but decided to have lunch in the marketplace.  Apparently the lentil pie was really good.  We also tasted the Damona cheeses (it seemed to taste a lot of coconut oil, which is not so much my thing though I know others love the cheeses) and some yummy Smooth as Fruit sorbets.

I was curious to see the competition at the bake sale.  A slice of cake or one cupcake from each offering was set out for each entrant and the rest of the cakes were then sold to raise money for Animal Liberation.  I was pleased that I got an entry in even though the competition was tough.

I had watched Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death the previous night in which the judge in a food competition was poisoned.  Fortunately, I found that people really friendly at this event. 

It was great to see a few familiar faces.  I spent some time chatting with Faye from Veganopoulous while she queued for cakes and while we chatting the line hardly moved. It made me even more sure that while I would have been eager to buy some cakes, I was not prepared to queue for them.

By the time we had arranged to pick up Sylvia from her friend's place, I was ready to leave, even though we missed the judging.  Kerin had been interested in the cupcakes and I remembered I had a couple of spare cupcakes in the car in case of an accident.  So we took them into her house and cut them up to share.

Sylvia had taken a dislike to the cupcakes because of the kale.  E had decided he didn't like them because he is not keen on mint.  So I was pleased to share them with Kerin and family because they were most appreciative.  Kerin even declared that she would have chosen me as the winner.  Awww...

I am sending these cupcakes to Shaheen at A2K for the Eat Your Greens event, to Casa Costella for Bake of the Week, to A Mummy Too for Recipe of the Week and Jibber Jabber for Love Cake (Colour me Pretty).

I am also sending these cupcakes to Kimmy for Healthy Vegan Fridays 48 at Rock My Vegan Socks.

More kale recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Kale cake (v)
Kale, cheese and mole quesadillas (v)
Kale scones (v)
Potato and kale enchiladas (gf, v)
Tahini lime rice with kale and cashews (gf, v)
'Teriyaki' tofu with brown rice and kale (gf, v) 
Tomato and kale soup with pistachios (gf, v)

Kale cheesecake surprise choc mint cupcakes
An original Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe
With inspiration from Green Gourmet Giraffe, The Savvy Vegan and Vegan Baking
Makes 12 cupcakes

Mint-kale cheesecake:
50g kale
1 cup cashews
1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp peppermint essence
1/8 tsp salt

1 cup soy milk
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup plain white flour
2 tbsp plain wholemeal flour
2 tbsp cocoa*
40g grated dark chocolate*
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup rice bran oil (or neutral oil)
1/4 cup roughly ground cacao nibs*

Cheesecake frosting*:
butter or margarine (1/4 o 1/2 cup)
icing sugar (1-3 cups)
leftover mint-kale cheesecake mixture
peppermint essence (1 tsp)

Preheat oven to 180 C.  Line a 12 cup muffin tin with cupcake papers.

Make the cheesecake filling:  Place kale in cold water in a saucepan.  Bring to the boil and then rinse under cold water and press water out in a colander or sieve.  Place with remaining ingredients in blender.  Blend until smooth.

Make cupcakes: Mix milk and vinegar and set aside.  Mix flours, cocoa, grated chocolate, bicarb soda, baking powder and salt .  Mix sugar and oil with the milk mixture.  Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently mix.  Mix in cacao nibs. 

Spoon about a heaped tablespoon of mixture into the bottom of each muffin cup.  Now spoon a heaped teaspoon of cheesecake mixture on top of the chocolate mixture and then cover with another spoonful or two of the chocolate mixture until you have distributed all the chocolate mixture evenly among the muffin cups.  Set aside any remaining cheesecake mixture.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until cupcakes feel spongy to touch (rather than gooey).  The cheesecake filling does not need to be baked through so it is a bit easier to make sure the outside cake mixture is baked.  Cool on a wire rack.

Make cheesecake frosting:  Mix together enough butter and icing sugar to make a creamy icing.  Then mix in remaining cheesecake mixture and some extra peppermint essence.  This made enough icing to pipe swirly frosting on most cupcakes but might be too much if you just want to spread it on with a knife.

NOTES: *I didn't have enough cocoa powder so instead of 1/3 cup cocoa, I used 2 tbsp cocoa, 40g dark chocolate and 1/4 cup ground cacao nibs.  The cacao nibs weren't quite as well ground as I have hoped but it worked.  I didn't measure out ingredients for the frosting so I have given approximate amounts.

On the Stereo:
Shadows in the Night: Bob Dylan

Posted May 16, 2015 07:59 PM by Johanna GGG

May 15, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Bo De Trai III

May 3, 2015

We spent a lovely weekend down at Ocean Grove with a gang of friends and the drive back through Melbourne seemed like a good excuse to stop by Bo De Trai for some lunch. It's a cosy little Buddhist vego place in Footscray, and one that we visit far too infrequently. On this visit we stumbled across their special monthly full moon menu, which offers a narrower range, presumably for religious reasons.

Cindy ordered the Com Ga Sa Ot, imitation chicken in lemongrass and chilli on rice ($10). It was just what Cindy was after, tender and nutty with a mild curry powder flavour. A watery sauce tipped over the rice brought it all together well.

I ordered off the specials board - a mock duck noodle soup with greens, mushrooms, some little berries (maybe goji berries?) and a few other bits and pieces ($10). It was rich and warm, with a powerful kick from the birds-eye chilli pieces I sprinkled through.

Bo De Trai is a decent vego option in Footscray - the staff are friendly (although not always particularly efficient - the place is run by volunteers!), the food is cheap and everything we've had has been good. It's not a place for a fancy meal or somewhere that exudes ambience, but it's worth stopping in if you're after a quick, tasty meal.


Read about our previous visits to Be De Trai here and here. Since our last visit, MEL: HOT OR NOT has given it the thumbs up, but Chef John Smith was very unimpressed.


Bo De Trai
94 Hopkins Street, Footscray
9689 9909

Accessibility: There's a small step at the door, and fairly close-packed tables but a clear wide passage through the middle. Ordering is at the table with payment at a low counter. The toilets are out the back past the kitchen via a slightly narrow passageway. They're unisex, but not particularly designed with accessibility in mind.

Posted May 15, 2015 11:57 AM by Michael

May 14, 2015


Giveaway, Review, Author Interview: Veganissimo! and Greenilicious

I often read my vegan cookbooks like a novel from cover to cover, rather than looking for specific recipes. I grab some pieces of paper for bookmarks, put my feet up, lower the cone of silence then read through the recipes. One of my favourite read-it-like-a-novel cookbooks is Veganissimo! Beautiful Vegan Food by Leigh Drew. Another...
Continue reading »

Posted May 14, 2015 03:25 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Steam Junkies and Sinch street art

I have ridden my bike past Steam Junkies often.  It is at the bottom of a new block of flats beside the Upfield bike path and train line.  A few weeks back I stopped in for lunch.  It was, as a friend had suggested, well worth a visit.  It is relatively new, having opened about a year ago.

The menu had lots of eggy breakfast dishes and some tempting burgers such as chickpea and feta burger or or sesame encrusted haloumi cheese burger.  I had plenty of choice but I was intrigued by the salad.

I chose the wild rice salad with pickled beetroot, Dutch carrots, raw shredded kale, goat cheese and truffle oil.  It was magnificently dark and brooding.  I loved the interesting mixture of soft sweet juicy vegetables, chewy wild rice and creamy goat cheese.  So satisfying.  If I wanted to quibble I would have preferred the baby carrots to be cooked a little more.  However it was so good that it made me wish I ate such salads more regularly.  (Though I don't have any desire to eat kale salads at McDonalds.)

It was very pleasant to sit with my meal and watch the trains and bikes fly by.  If you like looking at street art, there is plenty to look at outside after you finish you meal and leave (with or without a vegan cake which are on offer at the counter).  Here are my photos of some of the art around the apartment block.  I have been told that it is a tribute to a street artist called Sinch who died while train surfing.

And finally a picture of Ganesha by the corner of Florence Street and Breese Street:

Steam Junkies
1/7-9 Florence Street
Brunswick VIC 3056
03 9973 4309

Steam Junkies on Urbanspoon

Posted May 14, 2015 10:06 AM by Johanna GGG

May 13, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Dense vegan brownies

May 1, 2015

Well, of course I couldn't set off on a weekend away without taking something chocolatey. I went for another recent locally published recipe, this one for brownies on quinces and kale. I prepared it late in the evening, after the lentils had simmered and the biscuits were cooling on the bench. I ground up the flax seeds, perhaps not quite as finely as I should have, and set them to gooifying with some water. I piled up the almonds in the grinder but they weren't so keen to powderise. After a couple more attempts I powered down the grinder and discovered this....

I'd snapped the seal, and it was performing some kind of python move on the blade. I sent Michael this frustrated photo, set the grinder aside and retrieved our hand blender. It struggled to smash the almonds, and they were pretty chunky.

I proceeded with the rest of the recipe, causing a little mess but no more mishaps. I wondered if my lax grinding might make for coarse, badly textured brownies. When their prescribed 35 minutes of baking had passed, they completely failed the skewer test and I baked them longer - I really needed something that I could slice cleanly and travel with. At the 50 minute mark I gave up, cooled 'em off, and popped the tray in the fridge for the night. Had I just wasted a lot of time and chocolate?

I had not. These brownies were definitely coarser and firmer than Rosalie's, but they were nobbly and chewy and very, very chocolatey. They travelled exceedingly well. When I want another batch at home this winter, I'll try dialling down the bake time to the original 35 minutes and get to know the gooier version.

But before that can happen, I need a new seal for my spice grinder...

Dense vegan brownies
(slightly adapted from quinces and kale)

spray oil
1 1/2 tablespoons flax seeds
3 tablespoons water
1 1/2 cups almonds
3/4 cup plain flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
5 tablespoons margarine
1 cup dark chocolate pieces
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 tablespoons soy milk
3/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

Preheat an oven to 170°C. Line a 20cm square cake tin with baking paper and spray it with oil.

Grind the flax seeds to a powder in a spice grinder. Transfer them to a small bowl in stir in the water. Set the flax mixture aside.

Grind the almonds to a coarse powder in a food processor, then transfer them to a large bowl. Add the flour, cocoa, salt and bicarbonate of soda to the bowl and stir everything together. Set this bowl aside too.

Over medium heat, melt the margarine in a large saucepan. Add half of the chocolate, stirring it regularly to ensure that it doesn't burn as it melts. Take the chocolate off the heat when it is completely melted and thoroughly mixed. Whisk in the flax mixture, then the sugar and vanilla. Finally, stir in the soy milk until it's fully incorporated.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients, and stir them together until they're well incorporated. Fold in the walnuts, and then the remaining half of the chocolate pieces. Pour and spoon the brownie mixture into the cake tin, smooth over the top as best you can, and bake them for 35-45 minutes, until they have a firm crust. Don't worry if they don't pass the skewer test.

Allow the brownies to rest for an hour or two (you might even consider refrigerating them) before slicing and serving.

Posted May 13, 2015 09:05 AM by Cindy

May 12, 2015

Thoughts Of A Moni

The Kettle Black

In a past life, I would have definitely not been excited at being on the corner of Kings Way and Albert Rd because it meant that I was going to school (yes, I’m a Mac.Rob girl!). Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t really hate school, but there were much better places to be. This time, I’d made the trek into the city, on a Saturday morning and lined up for 40 minutes to get myself some brunch. How times change.

I had no idea how popular The Kettle Black was when I picked it as a brunch destination, but when we got there, we found that tables were in high demand and we had to put ourselves on a waiting list, with an estimated wait time for about half an hour! We decided to persist, after all, if so many people were willing to wait, then surely the food had to be worth it!

Located on Albert Rd, between St. Kilda Rd and Kings Way, The Kettle Black makes the most of the waiting line by setting up a little stall that serves coffees and cakes. The stall was doing a roaring trade, after all, the only way to make waiting in a queue on a cold Melbourne morning tolerable, is with a quality Melbourne coffee.

Our patience and hunger thresholds were well and truly tested before we heard our names finally called and we rushed up for fear that we may be booted off the list by someone else pretending to be us. Don’t laugh, we seriously contemplated doing this, so it’s not an unreasonable thought. We were seated inside at a big shared marble table which formed the centre piece of what would have been the lounge room in a previous era.

Inside, it is very apparent that the cafe is converted from an old house, with the layout of the hallway, lounge room, and possibly another bedroom still intact. The decorative plasterwork, and original fireplace is still there and serves as an artistic touch. The interior is light and cool, with white playing a large part.

We quickly ordered some coffees, and went about trying to choose our dishes from the menu. There were two vegetarian options that stood out for me. The first was mixed beans with basil pesto, red peppers, house made tomato sauce and served with toast. I’m still wondering what the difference is between something that is house made, and something that is home made. Perhaps it’s just hipster terminology. The second option was cooked and raw mushrooms on toast served with goat’s cheese. Normally I would choose the mushrooms, but on this occasion I opted for the beans.

Our meals arrived fairly quickly and our first comment was about the generous portion size. None of us wasted any time and proceeded to dig in.  My beans were delicious. Whatever house made tomato sauce is, and regardless of which house it was made in, it tasted amazing. It was rich and hearty, well seasoned, and the strips of grilled capsicum added a lovely flavour. The basil pesto also added an extra dimension, creating bursts of freshness against the tomato. The bowl of beans was so large though, that I would have appreciated another slice of toast, but maybe that’s just me, I like my carbs.

We had another vegetarian at the table (woo hoo, I wasn’t the only vegetarian!), and she ordered the mushrooms. Looking at her dish, I admit I did have a little bit of brunch envy. The mushrooms were varied and piled high, and I am a sucker for cheese of any sort. But my beans were very good, and I was happy with my choice.

If there was one criticism of The Kettle Black, it would be the noise. Because it was so busy and bursting with patrons, the noise levels were a little above my preferred range, to the point where it was hard to have a conversation across the table. But the food was excellent, worth the wait, and I really shouldn’t complain about other people being loud, because that would make me the pot calling the kettle black. Boom tish.

The Kettle Black on Urbanspoon

Posted May 12, 2015 02:10 PM by Moni

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Apple rose tarts, a woven paper box and random moments

"Was it a something you found online?" asked E as we drove to my parents house, ridiculously late.  "It was on Pinterest,"  I admitted.  I had got caught up in weaving a paper box or basket to carry the bits and pieces of food presents I had bought my mum.  The irony was not lost on me that I was late for the Mothers Day lunch because I was spending too much time on her present.  And we forgot to take the card I had made.  It was all a bit of a shambles.

I am very susceptible to a Pinterest idea.  It makes me wonder about life before Pinterest, before online life.  We had a book or two of craft ideas at home, a library of books for borrowing, tv shows, friends' ideas and our own imagination.  Yes, there was plenty of inspiration then.  Yet Pinterest makes it seem so much easier.  In the case of the woven paper box, it was far more challenging than it looked.

Another Pinterest idea that took my fancy long ago was the idea of making apple rose tarts.  Sadly, many Pinterest ideas fall by the wayside.  So I was pleased to see it again on Not Quite Nigella and have an added motive to make them because she chose them for her monthly Cook With Me where she asks readers to make a recipe she has chosen.

I promised Sylvia that we would make them on Saturday afternoon.  That was the time had also earmarked to make a cake and the woven paper box.  Only life wasn't so straightforward.  I was tired and under the weather after a busy week.  Meetings, a bullying workshop, making greeting cards, gift shopping, a poorly child, coffee with friends, the first wobbly tooth falling out.  Sylvia was asking challenging questions like how are babies made, did Jesus really die on the cross and where does the tooth fairy get her money. So instead of creating food and gifts on Saturday afternoon, I did the only thing I could do.  Slept.

When I woke, feeling a little groggy, I managed to make these apple rose tarts.  Unlike the box that was a challenge to my sanity, these tarts were surprisingly easy, considering how impressive they look.  We had one each after dinner (leftover stew, thank goodness)!  They were delicious.  I suspect they particularly appealed to E because there was not a lot of fruit in all the pastry yumminess. 

The next day when I packaged up the hamper of goodie for my mum, I included the last of the apple rose tarts.  My mum loves roses so it seemed appropriate.  The hamper also comprised damson plum jam, Gewurzhaus spice mixes, salted almond chocolate, a salted caramel, fancy savoury nuts, and some limes off our tree.  The woven paper box I had made was too flimsy to hold it properly so I wrapped it in cellophane.

We finally arrived at my parents' house in Geelong for a late lunch.  Mum had made a magnificent moussaka and a cauliflower salad.  She has a new oven and had made her best pavlova for a long time in it.  I took down some hedgehog and mum also made jelly slice.

I also was showered with gifts for Mothers Day.  Sylvia had been making gifts at school and also had a chance to buy me some gifts at the Mothers Day stall at the school.  Parents make craft for the stall and sell it to the kids at very reasonable prices.  E also bought me a book (All the Bright Places) that I am looking forward to reading.  And on Saturday morning Sylvia and E made me pancakes with minimal help from me.

Finally I wanted to share a few recent random moments the made me smile:
  • My mobile phone is now paid off and I am out of the contract.  Yay!  I have discovered that I am using far less downloads than my plan covered.  Which means I have been able to reduce the amount I pay monthly by less than a half!
  • A rolled up newspaper appeared on our doorstep last week.  It was from January 2015.  Goodness knows where it was found or who found it.  I have put the choice bits on the pile for me to read.  Yesterday I stopped for lunch and pulled out an old newspaper magazine to read and found it was from 2013!
  • We went to see E play with his ukelele group at a pub and took along a friend of Sylvia's.  When there was a break I was talking with the little girls about the watering can on the stage.  Sylvia's friend amused me when she said it was there to water the microphones to make them grow.
I am sending these cute tarts:

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Street Art in Melbourne #1 Croft Alley
Two year ago: About my oven (or why the nose is mightier than the timer
Three years ago: FFF Zucchini slice - a childhood favourite
Four years ago: CC Crunchy Salad, Tofu Nuggets and Sylvia
Five years ago: Mothering Oat and Cranberry Biscuits
Six years ago: Mothering, Stew and Bread
Seven years ago: Meandering Musings on Split Pea Soup
Eight years ago: Cardamom and Chocolate Comforts

Apple Rose Tarts
From Not Quite Nigella and Cooking with Manuela
Makes 6

1-2 red apples*
1-3 tbsp lemon juice*
1 sheet puff pastry*
2-3 tbsp quince jelly (or other jam)*
Icing sugar, to serve

Grease 6 regular muffin holes in a tin.  Preheat oven to 190 C.

Halve and core apples.  I did this with a paring knife but had to be careful not to cut too deeply.  NQN used a melon baller.  Slice by hand as thinly as possible (or use a mandolin) and place in a bowl of water with lemon juice in it.  

Microwave the apples (or cook on the stovetop) until just cooked enough to bend but not soft.  About 3 to 5 minutes in the microwave should be enough.

Roll out the thawed sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface to measure about 30cm long.  It doesn't need to be any wider.  Cut the pastry into 6 short strips.  Brush with quince jelly or jam.  Arrange apples along the pastry strip with round edge of apple above the edge of the pastry.  Fold the pastry over and make sure apple slices are tucked into side pastry.  Roll up the pastry to form a rose formation of apples and place pastry side down in a muffin hole.  Repeat with 5 other strips.

Bake tarts for 30 to 40 minutes until pastry is cooked (check pastry in the middle is cooked as well as outside).  Serve dusted with icing sugar.  They were great warm but also fine the next day.

NOTES:  I had a lot of apple slices over but am not sure I would have quite had enough if I had only used 1 apple.  I used a Pink Lady and a Red Gala and much preferred the slices of Pink Lady.  I didn't measure the lemon juice - just gave a good squeeze of half a lemon, and I didn't measure the jam either.  To make these vegan, you need to buy vegan puff pastry.

On the Stereo:
Inside Llewelyn Davis soundtrack: Various Artists

Posted May 12, 2015 11:26 AM by Johanna GGG

May 11, 2015

quinces and kale

a quick trip to brisbane

shiitake dumplings

In mid April, a friend and I headed off to Brisbane for a few days to see a couple of concerts at the Brisbane Baroque festival. In the day in between the two concerts we squeezed in a night and two half days in the Lamington National Park.

We managed to eat at a few places while we were in Queensland. Thanks to some suggestions from friends, as well as from some helpful fellow vegans who answered a callout on Facebook, we ate pretty well.

First night we grabbed a late lunch at Vege Rama in the happening vibe of the Myer food court. While the ambience may be lacking, the food is great, cheap and filling and almost all vegan.  We had a mixed salad platter, a curry plate with coconut potato curry, dhal and rice, with a side order of a spinach and onion pakora. All delicious.

salads and curry at vegerama

For breakfast the next day we walked to Fortitude Valley to visit The Lost Boys. This is an all vegetarian place with a couple of vegan options. Unfortunately they had run out of the vegan corn fritters that I’d heard good things about, so we settled for the good old reliable avocado on toast, this time topped with some caramelised onions. The coffee was excellent.

Our overnight stay in the National Park at Binna Burra Lodge had filled me with vegan food trepidation. You know what I mean, we’ve all had it. Stuck in the middle of nowhere with no vegan food for miles. I had low expectations even though we had given notice that we were vegans.

It didn’t start well when the only option at the cafe was chips, and the side salad that we ordered with them came out covered in cheese. When we sent it back though, they outdid themselves, presenting us with a large salad about 3 times the size.

Dinner at the restaurant seemed like it might be a challenge too, as getting decent vegan food at a place focussed on a buffet style meat/fish and three veg approach doesn’t seem all that likely. The waiter told me there were four other vegans at the restaurant (we did a small high five and wondered who they might be!). The restaurant had made a vegan braise of artichokes, olives, sundried tomatoes and other goodies served with rice and lots of side veggies. It wasn’t the greatest vegan food I’ve eaten, but way better than I had counted on and I was really happy they had given it a go. That’s all I ask really. Breakfast was toast, home made baked beans, steamed asparagus, hash browns and mushrooms. They had soy milk.

In between the eating we went on some wonderful walks in the rainforest. It was a riot of growth, quiet except for the sounds and sights of small birds, wallabies and brush turkeys. I sometimes forget how wonderful it is to be somewhere so peaceful. It is very nourishing.

lamington national park lamington national park lamington national park lamington national park rainforest tree rainforest tree

Back in Brisbane for our final concert we checked out the branch of Vege Rama in the West End. I figured they would have similar menu to the food court and I would have been happy to eat that. But this was a much more upmarket and varied place. Nice surrounds, cocktails, and inventive food. We started with a very drinkable cocktail of coconut, mango, pineapple and Midori. We shared some shiitake dumplings (so delicious we ordered a second plate) and then tempura battered zucchini flowers with cashew cheese, and a celeriac rémoulade and oranges. This second dish was a little bit disappointing with the batter a little pale, undercooked and chewy and everything just a bit white and soft. I’d definitely go back though, the dish just didn’t work even though it sounded good.

shiitake dumplings cocktails stuffed zucchini flowers with celeriac remoulade, cashew cheese and orange

Before leaving we stocked up on vegan rocky road from the Noosa Chocolate Factory. We felt like drug runners packing it into the carry on luggage, as all of it was for friends. I’m not a huge rocky road fan, but I am assured it is the bees knees. They also serve excellent coffee with no extra charge for soy milk, and we drank ours there while inhaling all the chocolate scents.

On our way to the airport we stopped for lunch at The Green Edge, a vegan grocery and cafe. We ate delicious junk food, a lentil burger and a meatball sub. Both great. All washed down with a ginger beer spider.

lentil burger vegan meatball sub ginger beer spider

A woman at the table next to us ordered the “Epic” burger which came with every patty they offer, about five I think. It was gigantic. There was a bit of mirthful banter amongst the people at the tables about helping her eat it. :)

Vege Rama Myer Centre
91 Queen St, Brisbane CBD
07 3012 8586

Vege Rama West End
Shop 2A, 220 Melbourne St
West End, Brisbane
07 3255 3388

The Noosa Chocolate Factory
144 Adelaide St (also at 156 Adelaide St – The Dark Chocolatier)

The Lost Boys
694 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley QLD 4006
07 3162 4195

The Green Edge
Shop 2b, 229 Lutwyche Road, Windsor QLD 4030
07 3861 1132

Posted May 11, 2015 10:00 AM

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Macadamia & lemon myrtle biscuits

May 1, 2015

I made these cookies from Vegan About Town for late-night card games (and, it turns out, some brutal Pictionary) on a weekend away. It's a handy, pared-back recipe requiring only a small number of ingredients and minimal utensils - I bet you could even pull it off with a fork and a strong arm instead of an electric beater.

It's a while since I've used lemon myrtle and in the interim it's become much more accessible - I found my supply in the ground spice section of our local supermarket. I like its balance of bright citrus and earthy flavours, and I used a generous hand when adding it to this dough. The biscuit base is buttery like shortbread, but if you retrieve the biscuits from the oven early they stay soft and doughy instead of setting hard. On the other hand macadamias are all the tastier with toasting, so it's worth letting 'em get a little gold around the edges before cooling them off.

These biscuits are plain in presentation but a bite confirms that they've got something special to them, and that you'll want many more bites of them still.

Macadamia & lemon myrtle biscuits
(very slightly adapted from Vegan About Town)

200g margarine
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 3/4 cups plain flour
1 cup macadamias, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon ground lemon myrtle

Preheat an oven to 200°C. Line 1-2 baking trays with paper and lightly grease them.

In a large bowl, beat together the margarine and sugar until fluffy. Add the flour and beat until well combined. Stir in the macadamias and lemon myrtle, taste, and add more lemon myrtle if desired.

Gently roll tablespoons of the dough into balls and place them on the baking trays. Flatten them slightly with a fork. Bake the biscuits for 10-15 minutes, until they are just starting to go golden.

Posted May 11, 2015 07:26 AM by Cindy

May 10, 2015


Giveaway: Delicious Skin Lip Salves

[Image from] * This giveaway is now closed. Thank you for entering! * Skincare is one of those areas where I previously never really had a standout favourite. I always bought one brand at a time, or received gift packs as a present. Nothing ever really jumped out and grabbed me as being awesome...
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Posted May 10, 2015 04:45 PM

May 09, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Treacle tart

I promised E that I would make him a Treacle Tart for his birthday.  He loves all things treacle and I am fascinated by ye olde British recipes.  I was surprised that he had not tasted it before.  Nor had I.  It took some reading of recipes to find the one I wanted to follow.  I mostly followed Nigella's recipe and tended to agree with her that it was excellent served hot with ice cream.  But it also was great at room temperature the next day.

Nigella and I don't quite see eye to eye on treacle tarts.  She doesn't top hers with any pastry.  I felt that in order to look like the genuine article it had to have a lattice pastry topping.  I was so happy to find a really clear guide at The Kitchn on how to make a lattice topping.  Last time I tried it, I felt like I was playing Twister with strips of pastry.  This time making a lattice felt effortless.

I have taken photos of the lattice process, which involves laying strips width ways (preferable with spaces in between), drawing back every second strip and laying the first one length ways.  Pull the strips that were drawn back and place down over the long strip.  Now draw the other lot of wide strips back and place another long strip down.  (I think it makes more sense with the photos.)  Do this and you will feel like you are a domestic goddess.

As I noted on E's birthday post, I had planned to make this treacle tart on his birthday.  I bought the loaf of fresh white bread and the tub of ice cream.  It took me a little while after the birthday to finally make it.  By which time I needed to buy a new loaf of bread because it needs to be fresh.  But I was determined to make it while there was still ice cream left.  (E and Sylvia think there should be ice cream in the freezer.  I have other plans for that precious freezer real estate!)

I was very pleased to finally make a treacle tart.  We all enjoyed it and had seconds.  The shortcrust pastry was lovely and light.  The lattice looked impressive.  The treacle filling was a surprise.  It tasted more lemony than I expected.  Apparently the lemon cuts through the sweetness of all that golden syrup.  E said perhaps a bit less lemon might be better.  My mum came over the next day and had a taste.  She thought it needed all that lemon.  I wish I could taste some traditional treacle tarts and get a sense of what the taste should be.

When we talked about the recipe I said it was a mixture of Nigella and Mary Berry.  Sylvia asked if Mary Berry was in the tart.  She thought it was an ingredient.  Mary Berry is not a household name for us.  But I can see why treacle tart has been a favourite in Britain.  It is made with affordable pantry ingredients that bakers usually have on hand.  Yet it felt a treat to sit down and eat a slice of tart for dessert.

More traditional British sweet food on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Bread and butter pudding
Rice pudding
Victoria sponge cake

More British recipes can be found here

Treacle tart
Adapted from Nigella Lawson's How to Eat and Mary Berry
Serves 6 

225g plain flour
110g butter (or margarine)
3 tbsp lemon juice
few tbsp water (I used 1 tbsp)

325 golden syrup
120g fresh white breadcrumbs
zest of 1 lemon
juice of half a lemon

ice cream to serve

Make pastry by mixing butter into flour in food processor (or rubbing it in by hand). Gradually add lemon juice and then water as required to make a ball of smooth dough.  Roll out about 2/3 of dough on a lightly floured surface and line a tart dish (I think mine is about 22cm in diameter.)   Wrap remaining dough in clingfilm.  Chilli lined tart and remainder ball of dough in fridge about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200 C.  Heat golden syrup in a small saucepan until warm.  Stir in breadcrumbs, lemon zest and lemon juice.  Pour into chilled pastry shell and smooth out.  Roll out remaining pastry and cut into strips and place on tart to make a lattice (see above photos and text).  I also tucked in the extra pastry around the edge that was higher than the tart because it looked neater. 

Bake for 15 min at 200 C and then reduce heat to 180 C and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.  Serve hot, warm or room temperature.  (The slices we had the next day were still good.)  It is good to serve it with ice cream but I loved it without too.

On the Stereo: 
Little Bird: Kasey Chambers

Posted May 09, 2015 10:29 PM by Johanna GGG


Week In Review

It’s been one of those mostly-at-home weeks but still busy. Why can’t at-home weeks not feel so busy?! Arthur and I attended a Voiceless Animal Law Lecture Series presentation/panel. Keynote speaker Professor Steven Wise spoke about the work that the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) have been doing in order to change the legal status of some chimpanzees to...
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Posted May 09, 2015 08:28 PM

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Taco seasoning

April 30, 2015

We've been using this easy-prep spice mix for years, and I've decided it's finally time to stop googling Best Tofu Tacos!!!! and record it here on our own blog. 

Instead of making tofu tacos, we tend to make lentil tacos with it. They're savoury and warm and a little bit smoky, comforting rather than complex. We simmer the lentils on weeknights and wrap the leftovers into lunchtime tortillas. I've packed jars of the seasoning on field trips and weekend getaways, sneaking the extra lentils into cheese toasties and onto salsa-slathered pizzas. It's a great stand-by seasoning, and I've pleased many a crowd with it.

Taco seasoning
(a recipe found on In The Mood For Noodles)

1 part garlic powder
1 part onion powder
1 part Mexican oregano
1 part smoked paprika
1 part salt
1 part pepper
1 part chilli powder
2 parts cumin

Stir together all the ingredients in a jar. Use to season tofu or lentils; we use 1-2 tablespoons of seasoning in our lentil taco recipe.

Posted May 09, 2015 06:51 AM by Cindy

May 07, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Pomegranate poached quinces

April 26, 2015

At the end of April, we hosted the fourth gathering of Ottolenghi admirers in our home. Without a bike ride constraining our cooking choice, Michael and I committed to preparing the extravagant mushroom and cheese lasagne from Plenty as the autumnal centrepiece. But of course I couldn't leave dessert alone, flicking through Plenty More and jotting down simple rhubarb and quince options on the end of the shopping list.

The quinces won out in the end. You probably already know how to poach them, and I've done it before too. The vanilla, orange and star anise in the poaching liquid here aren't anything surprising, but using pomegranate juice instead of water is a very Ottolenghi tweak. It lends a deep crimson to the dish where the quinces can't - they're poached for just 20 minutes and retain the translucent colour of a pear on the inside.

On their own, the quinces are rich, velvety, vegan and gluten-free. Ottolenghi serves them with clotted cream and pomegranate seeds, and ours were embellished further with cocoa-streaked meringues made by our guest Matt. He and I had unwittingly teamed to create some rather fancy deconstructed pavlovas.

Pomegranate poached quinces
(very slightly adapted from a recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty More)

2 large quinces
800mL pomegranate juice
70g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod
1 orange
2 star anise
120g double cream
seeds from 1/2 pomegranate

Peel the quinces and slice them into quarters. Cut away the cores and keep half of them. Slice the quince flesh into wedges and place them in a very large saucepan. Wrap the reserved cores in a muslin cloth or similar (I used a clean Chux wipe) and bundle them up firmly, adding them to the pot. Pour over the pomegranate juice and sprinkle over the sugar. Slice the vanilla pod lengthways, scrape the seeds into the pot and drop the pods in too. Grate the rind of the orange into the pot, then juice the orange and pour the liquid in. Drop in the star anise. Bring it all to the boil, cover the pot and reduce it to a gentle simmer for around 20 minutes, until the quince is soft. When the quince is ready, use a slotted spoon to retrieve the wedges. With the pot uncovered, simmer the syrup for a further 20 minutes to reduce and thicken it. 

When it's time to serve the quinces, remove the core bundle, vanilla pods and star anise from the pot. Place the quince wedges back in the syrup and gently warm them. Spoon the quinces into individual serving dishes, dollop on some cream and sprinkle over the pomegranate seeds.

Posted May 07, 2015 06:46 PM by Cindy

May 06, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Smoky bulgar chilli non carne

We love Mexican meals in our house because it often means lots of little dishes.  Sylvia calls it take-what-you-want and she loves it because usually she can find something to eat.  E loves anything spicy.  So on E's birthday, I made a big pot of chilli non carne and lots of little dishes around it.

I have posted lots of chilli non carne recipes on my blog already.  Yet I don't have a favourite recipe so I went hunting another.  I found one at the Vegan Recipe Club

It wasn't so different to many other recipes I have shared.  I liked that it had lots of vegies, smoky flavours and the richness of nut butter and cocoa.  I made a few changes based on what I had available but one major change I made was to use bulgar wheat and brown lentil rather than vegie mince because that is not my sort of thing.

It was a lovely thick substantial stew.  I served it with lettuce, tomatoes, grated cheese, guacamole, yoghurt, tortillas and corn chips.  E was most pleased.  We all enjoyed our dinner.  The chilli non carne lasted quite a few nights. It was also really good with rice and vegies.  Just the thing for a busy week.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Rhubarb cake, random notes, and long service leave
Two year ago: In search of (4)
Three years ago: Rhubarb and strawberry crumble
Four years ago: Tea Towels of Scotland
Five years ago: Treacle Scones for Remembrance
Six years ago: GYO Bill’s Broccoli Salad
Seven years ago: MM Roasted Vegetable Vindaloo
Eight years ago: Waiter waiter there’s a shark in my chilli non carne

Smoky bulgar chilli non carne
Adapted from Vegan Recipe Club
Serves 6 - 8

1/2 cup bulgar wheat
3/4 cup boiling water

1-2 tbsp neutral oil (I used rice bran oil)
3 thin leeks (or 1 onion), chopped
1 green capsicum, chopped
1/2 red capsicum, chopped
1 medium zucchini, diced
handful of button mushrooms, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp cashew butter

2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
1 tsp vegan stock powder
2 tbsp tomato purée
2 tbsp hot sauce (chipotle)
1 tsp chilli paste
250g/4oz sweetcorn, rinsed and drained
400g tin of kidney beans
400g tin of brown lentils
Seasoning to taste

Soak bulgar wheat in 3/4 cup of boiling water and set aside.

Fry leeks for 4 to 5 minutes over medium heat in a stockpot.  Add capsicums, zucchini, mushrooms and garlic.  Fry another 4 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are softened.  Stir in cocoa, smoked paprika and cumin for about a minute or until fragrant.  Stir in cashew butter until combined.

Add tomatoes, stock powder, puree, not sauce, chilli paste and soaked bulgar wheat (with any remaining water).  Bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add corn, kidney beans and lentils.  Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes to warm through.  Check seasoning and adjust to taste.

On the stereo:
Built on Glass: Chet Faker

Posted May 06, 2015 10:21 PM by Johanna GGG

May 05, 2015

Thoughts Of A Moni

Köy Restaurant

I had never heard of Köy Restaurant until it appeared in The Age list of top ten Turkish eats. At $35 per head for a 7 course Turkish banquet this seemed like a real steal, and so I set about trying to secure a booking. The banquet night is held on the last Wednesday of every month, where a special menu is arranged and features some new dishes that the chef is experimenting with. Being extremely keen and rather impatient I rang immediately hoping to get a table for the banquet on the following week, but alas it seemed that The Age had given Köy too much publicity and there wasn’t a booking available for the next three months! All I could do was put my name on a waiting list and hope!

Luckily for me, I received a call on Tuesday afternoon telling me that they had a few vacancies for the next day! I was given the choice between a table outside at 7pm, or a table inside at 8:45pm. Given that Melbourne weather is highly unpredictable, I didn’t want to be eating outside in the pouring rain, or a gale blowing, so I opted for the later sitting inside. Whilst 8:45pm for dinner is very late for me (I’m usually eating at 6pm if I get my way!) I figured that building up my hunger was potentially a good strategy to tackle a 7 course banquet.

When we got there at 8:45pm on the dot, we were told that there was no tables inside and that we would be seated outside. I was not a happy camper, especially since I had chosen this later timeslot to have an inside table, but unless we were prepared to wait 20 minutes, there was little choice but to sit outdoors. By this stage I was starving, and 20 minutes seemed like an eternity, so I refrained from throwing a tantrum and reluctantly took the outdoor option. Much to the credit of Köy, the outdoor area really was quite comfortable. It was lined with fake grass, covered, and had outdoor heaters. Melbourne was also cooperating, and it was a still night with no rain, and not too cold either. And so I was proven wrong, eating outdoors in winter didn’t seem to be all that bad.

A lovely waiter handed us a sheet with the menu for the night. He ran through each of the courses and then explained the alternative vegetarian options for me. I was a little too excited at the prospect of launching into a Turkish feast so I really didn’t pay attention to the details, and decided that it was best to just let the dishes arrive and enjoy them as they came!

Our first 'course' arrived almost instantly. It would be a bit generous to call this a proper course, it was more like a canape, but nevertheless it was delicious, and a good sign for things to come. The standard option was cured trout served with avocado puree in a canape spoon. My vegetarian option was sigara boregi. This was a Turkish spring roll filled with feta and herbs like parsley and mint. It was served with a rose flavoured jam and was delicious. I am a sucker for anything deep fried so I was very satisfied with my option.

Second course was a typical Middle Eastern staple, bread and tip. But make no mistake this was no ordinary dip. We were served Turkish bread with smoked hummus with pine nuts and dates. The hummus, whilst not tasting smoky, had an amazing depth of flavour, and the dates provided a lovely sweetness. Pine nuts are always a luxury and they added a lovely crunch to the dip. The other half remarked that this was the best hummus he had ever tasted, and I have to say that he was probably right. A generous serve of bread was provided and we used this to mop the bowl of dip completely clean. It was pretty clear that we liked this dish!

Third course was a lentil and spinach soup, flavoured with tomatoes and spices. As with most lentil soups, my Indian heritage always causes me to see them as variations of dhal. Dhal is, however, one of my favourite foods, and so I really enjoyed this dish. It was served piping hot and full of flavour, although I felt it could have benefited from a little more seasoning. I would have also appreciated a piece of Turkish bread to dunk in the soup too, but this was just a small criticism on an otherwise great dish.

The standard option for the fourth course was a saffron scallop served with cauliflower puree. This was another course that really could have been called a canape, and according to the other half, was a bit lack lustre.

My vegetarian option was a stuffed mushroom, filled with haloumi and herbs. I couldn’t identify all the herbs but I’m sure I could taste spring onion and parsley. Mushrooms are one of my favourite vegetables, and haloumi is one of my favourite cheeses, so I’m pretty sure that I was the winner in this course!

We continued our separate ways for course number 5. The standard option was a dish called Pastirmali Kadayif. Neither of us had any idea what this dish would entail  but it turned out to be a little pastry. The pastry looked just like kataifi pastry which I often see in the Greek sweet shops, so I’m guessing that kadayif is the Turkish equivalent. The filling was the Turkish equivalent of pastrami, and the whole serve was brushed with the same rose jam that I was served with my feta spring roll, and a little dollop of herbed yogurt. There was also a sprinkling of smoked paprika on the plate, but this didn’t really seem to fit in with the rest of the dish. Overall this course was deemed to be good, but not spectacular.

In place of the kadayif pastry, I received a dish of a Turkish tomato based stew. This dish was full of flavour, with softened onions, garlic, lots of vegetables, and even more tomato. It was served with herbed yogurt which added a creaminess to the dish. In what became a theme for the night, like the lentil soup, I felt the dish could have benefited with a bit more seasoning and a piece of bread to mop it up. I was however pretty full by this stage, and I’m sure my body was glad that no additional bread was involved.

My final vegetarian savoury course was another stew, which I believe is a regular menu item, titled Pirasa. This dish consisted of braised leeks and other vegetables, bulghur and a lemony broth, and it was also served with the herbed yogurt. This stew had a very unique flavour, and was a refreshing way to end the main meal before dessert. Once again however, I felt the dish was lacking a little seasoning.

The other half received what he decided was his favourite dish of the night. Unfortunately he dug into it so fast, that I didn’t have time to photograph it. It was a braised lamb and lima bean stew with sucuk, which is a Turkish type of sausage, almost like chorizo. His exact words when we were debating who got the better course was, "I don’t know how many vegetables are in your stew, but it can’t be better than what I’m eating!" 

By this time neither of us could move. I felt like I had gained about 10 kilos, and I would have to be rolled down the street to the car. But there was a dessert course to be eaten, and my separate dessert stomach kicked into gear. The menu stated that we were to receive a deconstructed rhubarb cheesecake, but I’m almost certain that what was placed in front of us was a deconstructed strawberry cheesecake. Regardless of what it was, it was delicious. The cream cheese had the right balance of sweetness, and the crumb had a lovely butterscotch flavour to it. The berry coulis had little chunks of what we believed were strawberries, and together it made for a beautiful dessert.

Over all this was an amazing meal and definitely one of the best cheap eats in Melbourne. I’m so glad I got that last minute call telling me that I’d been bumped up the waiting list, and I would definitely go again, just to see what experiments the chef was up to!

Köy Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Posted May 05, 2015 07:47 PM by Moni

May 04, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne


April 17, 2015

Fitzroy's veg restaurant hotspot, at the northern end of Brunswick St, is approaching boiling point with the opening of Transformer. Situated off to the side on Rose St, this converted warehouse won't have any problems luring customers from the main drag with its bright lights and huddle of hopefuls out the front.

Transformer accept both reservations and walk-ins, and appear to be running two fairly strict sessions per night. At 6:40pm on their first trading Saturday there was a 2 hour wait for a table, so we planned ahead and reserved our 6:30pm spot a few weeks later. Inside it's cavernous and moody (in the evening, at least) with spotlights centred on each table. The light pine tables and decorative plants hint at lighter, brighter brunches by day.

The menu is entirely vegetarian, with vegan, gluten-free and adaptable items well signed. Your waiter will recite the inner-city restaurant mantra: The Plates Are Designed To Share.

Before we picked plates, we picked beverages. Michael's G & T ($12) was unusually garnished with pink grapefruit and fresh fennel. From their list of non-alcoholic tonics, I chose a blend of watermelon, mint, strawberries, chia seeds, lime and lavender salt ($9). It was thick, fruity and fun, though the lime and lavender didn't feature strongly.

From the small plates, we tried the still-in-season grilled figs ($14), charred and smoky, with orange-balsamic glaze, hazelnut croutons that reminded us of polenta chips, and cubes of house-made almond feta, the vegan alternative to the standard goat cheese. The 'cheese' lacked the tang and grassiness of goat curd, but was delightfully creamy.

Next up we trialled a tower of roasted sweet potato wedges ($9) topped with coconut yoghurt, togarashi, coriander leaves and a slice of lime. These reminded us of a certain Ottolenghi recipe, and the comparison didn't do them any harm.

From the Garden Plates, we ordered the compressed watermelon ($11) dressed in chilli and pistachio oil, studded with cherry tomatoes, almond feta and mint. It was light and lovely, a celebration of the summer just gone.

Our one Mid-plate was Michael's favourite of the night, a brick of polenta and wild rice ($18) with an assortment of steamed and sauteed vegetables, an almost-astringent Thai pesto and coconut reduction.

We made sure to leave room for dessert. Nostalgic for Japan, Michael set it off with a glass of delicious plum wine ($10).

We spoiled an otherwise vegan evening with an order of the chevre cheesecake ($12), served with pear sorbet, honey caramel and poached fig. While the textures and presentation were outstanding, the chevre didn't offer quite the sharpness I sought to offset its sweet counterparts.

I was more deeply impressed by the vegan and gluten-free chocolate buckwheat mousse cake ($14), which a cakey base and creamy two-tone top, sherbetty freeze-dried raspberries and sorbert, with a strip of date syrup.

At just over $50 per person including drinks and dessert, we were mightily pleased with what Transformer has to offer. Where the similarly-pitched Smith & Daughters down the street is deep-fried and meat-mocking, Transformer seems more produce-focused. We're optimistic that Fitzroy has room enough for both fancy veg*n approaches.


There's a positive review of Transformer on the blog pineapple.

99 Rose St, Fitzroy
9419 2022
shared plates, desserts and drinks 1, drinks 2, drinks 3, drinks 4

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

Posted May 04, 2015 09:18 PM by Cindy

quinces and kale

vegetable, lentil, bean and barley soup

I’ve been so sick for a couple of weeks, that I haven’t felt like cooking much at all. After getting sick of eating nothing much but breakfast cereal and toast, I really needed to make something that was easy, that I could make a large batch of, and reheat as needed. And with a cold and a sore throat, soup ticked all the boxes and has been just the thing I’ve needed.

This soup is pretty easy to make, which is good since I’ve felt so awful. It is a substantial and yummy blend of grains, lentils and beans cooked in a tomato and stock base, with extra vegetables added near the end. The secret ingredient is roasted pumpkin  (I just happened to have some in the fridge) which I added to the soup near the end, along with the extra vegetables. While they are cooking the pumpkin melts away to a smooth background,  thickening and enhancing the soup’s flavour and texture.

It is a meal in a bowl.


vegetable, lentil, bean and barley soup
prep time
15 mins
cook time
60 mins
total time
1 hour 15 mins
author: quincesandkale
recipe type: soup
cuisine: vegan
serves: 8
  • 180 grams of mixed lentils, beans and barley (I used a pre-packed soup mix)
  • 6-8 cups of vegetable stock
  • 1 400g can of diced tomatoes
  • 2-3 cups of vegetables (I used a combination of potatoes, carrots and celery and some leftover roasted capsicums)
  • 2 cups roasted pumpkin
  • salt to taste.
  1. Put the lentils beans and barley into a large pot with the stock and tomatoes and bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer and cook until soft.
  2. Add the vegetables and roasted pumpkin and cook until the vegetables are tender and the pumpkin falls apart.
  3. Season with salt to taste.


Posted May 04, 2015 10:00 AM

May 03, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

In My Kitchen - May 2015

We are well and truly into the autumn with its mellow fruits.  The camellia bush is full of flowers, our lemon and lime trees are heavy with fruit, and the fruit bowl is filled with crunchy red apples.  Oh joy!  The nights are drawing in and making it difficult to photograph food in natural light.  We are excited by farmers markets, a wobbly tooth and the annual hard rubbish collection.  Above is the lemon tree.  There is lemonade in my kitchen.

We have been visiting farmers markets in Coburg, Geelong and CERES.  Here is a selection of some of the produce.  Strawberries to nibble on, a fun stripey zucchini, freshly picked walnuts and a selection of in-season apples.

Some time ago the little food processor attachment that came with my hand held blender ceased to work.  Despite recently buying a high speed blender, I miss the little attachment for quick small jobs.  I gratefully accepted a hand held blender from my brother who has packed up his house in favour of travelling in a caravan.  It seems to do the trick, though occasionally spurts soup everywhere thanks to gaps in the stick blender attachment.

I am such a sucker for a quirky crisp flavour.  So I couldn't pass up the opportunity to try Windsors Camembert and Quince crisps.  They was surprisingly good.  Cheesy with a slight sour fruity flavour.  Though I would be unlikely to eat them regularly, this packet made me wish manufacturers were more adventurous more often.  Meanwhile I still dream of baking a quince and cheese tart one day.

I am much better at resisting a new twist on a favourite chocolate bar.  There are just too many to buy every new 'edition' and often the original is still the best.  Yet I fell for the Cherry Ripe bar with Dark Chocolate Ganache.  After all it was the 90 year anniversary and a local icon to be supported.  This bar was nice but no improvement on the original.

I made a visit to Terra Madre in Northcote a few weeks back.  It was hard to exercise restraint with such interesting groceries on offer.  My purchases were hit and miss.  It's good to have black beans.  The kale chips were like corn chips with a tiny bit of kale.  E loves the Devilish Tomato and Chilli Relish.  I am not sure I will ever use the VegeSet (substitute for gelatine).  I made a vegan omelet with the silken tofu.  Most exciting was finding Daiya shredded vegan cheese.

I couldn't wait to try the Daiya.  I made a melted cheese sandwich with kale pesto.  It was really really good and gooey and I think it might have had stretch too.  Then I got worried about how long the cheese would last and put the rest into a Vegetable Nut Crumble.  It was really good.

On E's birthday he was given some chocolates that have lasted surprisingly for a couple of weeks.  He also received a jar or WispaGold caramel hot chocolate that we all love.  It is from Treats From Home that imports British groceries for ex-pats.  So I am not sure it will be a regular in our house.  Maybe just as well.  In the photo is also a Hawaiian girl door stop and some 3D glasses for a fancy birthday card.

Sriracha, like Daiya, appears in lots of blog posts I read but is not so common in my part of the world.  I found a bottle on sale at Asian supermarket KFL.  We have barely touched it but I am sure once E has finished some other hot sauce he will enjoy it.  I also bought some blueberry tea and frozen edamame beans.  I must write more about this supermarket one day.

A week or so ago I made a Red Lentil and Celery Soup.  It is a crazy world where a full bunch of celery was cheaper than a half bunch in clingwrap.  I love having some celery about but a bunch always seems a lot to use.  This soup seemed a good way to use a lot of celery but I am not sure the flavours were quite right.  It may have been my substitution of parsnips for some of the carrots as I could taste them a bit too much.  I might try it again some time.

The other morning Sylvia called me into the kitchen to show me how nicely she had plated her breakfast and ask to use my phone to photograph it.  Yes, it seems that she thinks photographing food and posting it online is quite normal.  How different from my young self.  At her age, I had never heard of computers, the phone had to be plugged into the landline, and we didn't take many photos because it was expensive to develop film.

Lastly I have finally sprouted my first batch of mung beans.  I was surprised at how much they grew from the dried beans (above).  Almost three times the volume.  See a photo of them sprouted here.  So cheap and so easy.  I have always loved mung bean sprouts.  They are so good in a salad sandwich or scattered over a salad.  

And now that I have finally sprouted mung beans, it seems I might one day do other things I always hoped I would.  Onwards and upwards.

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

Posted May 03, 2015 10:35 PM by Johanna GGG

May 02, 2015


What I Ate: The Late Again Edition

Here are my weekly eats. For the past few weeks… I don’t know what it is about keeping to a weekly schedule for posting What I Ate content. I never seem to remember, or take photos, or think the more boring stuff is worth posting! Here are some eats over the past few weeks. Up...
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Posted May 02, 2015 12:13 PM

May 01, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Greens, rice and yoghurt soup for neglected greens

This is the soup I need in my life.  The list of ingredients reads like a list of green vegetables I buy with good intentions but too often find in a wilted soggy mess at the bottom of the fridge.  The soup tastes good and is healthy and will keep well in the fridge. 

The soup was far thinner than many that I make but was redeemed by adding brown rice and yoghurt.  The parsley taste was quite prominent but in a good way.  Which made me feel good about using it because it was given to me by the lovely Carmen after we had lunch at Pope Joan last week.

This soup will readily accommodate whatever leafy vegetables or herbs you have on hand.  It will work well with other seasonings, especially if you don't have tofu bacon marinade to use.

I didn't plan to blog it.  But it looked so pretty and was a fine accompaniment to a good book.  I had it for a quick lunch and loved eating it for dinner after swimming with a slice of freshly baked sourdough bread.

I am sending this soup to:

More green soups on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Asparagus, potato and quinoa soup (gf, v)
Broad bean, courgette and pea soup (gf, v) 
Cream of broccoli soup
Curried apple soup (gf)
Nettle and silverbeet soup (gf, v)
Pea and garlic soup (gf)
Potage St Germain (split pea and green pea soup) (gf, v)
Silverbeet, lentil, potato soup (gf, v)
Spring onion soup (gf)

Greens rice and yoghurt soup
Original recipe by Green Gourmet Giraffe
Serves 4-6

1 tsp rice bran oil
1 onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
3 garlic cloves, sliced
4 cups vegetable stock
400g tin of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3-4 large silverbeet (chard) leaves. chopped
2-3 large curly green kale leaves, chopped
1 tbsp tofu bacon marinade
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
handful of cos lettuce leaves
handful of parsley
2-3 cups cooked brown rice
plain yoghurt (or cashew cream), to serve

Fry onion and celery in oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until vegetables brown and start to soften.  (Perhaps 5 - 10 minutes.  Celery seems to take longer to cook than onion.)  Add zucchini and garlic and fry another 5 minutes or until zucchini is starting to soften around the edges.  Add stock, beans, silverbeet, kale, tofu marinade and mustard.  Bring to boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Stir in lettuce and parsley until wilted.  Remove from heat and blend until smooth (I used a hand held blender.  Check seasoning and adjust to taste.  To serve, stir in about 1/2 cup brown rice and a good spoonful of yoghurt to each bowl.

On the Stereo:
Bleecker and McDougal: Fred Neil

Posted May 01, 2015 12:25 PM by Johanna GGG

April 30, 2015


A Vegan Galaktoboureko: My Family’s Recipe

Here’s another veganised Greek family recipe I’m very happy to share! Thanks yet again to aquafaba (I use canned chickpea liquid for my aquafaba) I was able to recreate this traditional Greek family favourite. I had to experiment a few times because the first time I used the wrong sized baking dish and it turned...
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Posted April 30, 2015 09:34 PM

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Other short notes on Japan

April 3-11, 2014

This final post from our week-long holiday in Japan is a semi-random round-up that will probably be interesting to our readers, but don't fit our usual recipe/restaurant blog format. Here's some advice for vegos in Japan in bullet points.

1) Arrange pocket wi-fi before you turn up. There are a whole bunch of companies who will rent you a mobile wi-fi device (smaller than a phone), delivering it either to the airport or your hotel with a reply-paid envelope to return it in. This will mean your phones can access the internet at almost all times, so that navigating Tokyo's impenetrable address system and astonishing subway map is much more straightforward. This is the first time we've done this while travelling, and it was the best decision we made (for the record we used these guys, but it was a panicky last-minute decision - do your research!).

2) Having arranged pocket wi-fi, go right ahead and download the Happy Cow app - it will point you to nearby veggie (and veg-friendly) places, will give you directions and will make eating out in Tokyo a relative breeze. It costs a few bucks, but it's money well spent (and can then be used on future trips to other cities/countries!).

3) Convenience stores are your friend. We relied on FamilyMart and 7-11 for quite a few meals - they've always got inari and onigiri (this site is helpful for figuring out your vego options at convenience stores). They've also got all manner of snacks and sweets for when you just need to eat something made of sugar or salt.

4) The basement of department stores are gigantic food courts, with shops of all kinds serving up whatever treats you can imagine. From fresh fruit and veg to mochi, from pastry shaped like a lion to fancy chocolate, there's everything you can imagine available (the basement at Isetan was our favourite on this trip).

5) Make a side trip to Kappabashi Street if you visit the temples in Asakusa. It's the kitchen goods district of Tokyo, and there are a handful of shops that specialise in plastic food models that are great fun to browse through. They're a wonderful source of kitschy gifts too, but be prepared to spend a decent wodge of money - crafting lifelike noodles out of plastic doesn't come cheap.

6) Freshness Burger are a handy source of a vegetarian meal (although probably not a vegan one). There are nearly 200 locations in Japan, including a handy one in the new Jetstar terminal at Narita airport. The bean-based veggie burger and fries tided us over before our flight down to Takamatsu.

7) Toys! We went a bit crazy for toys in Tokyo. It's probably wise not to chase your losses in the toy vending machines because you want a very particular type of cat-sushi toy, but these are hard lessons to live by in the moment. We also fell madly in love with Gudetama, the lazy egg-yolk member of the Hello Kitty family - he's hard to miss if you hang out in the shops like Kiddyland (in Harajuku), a five-storey toy shop that should be on everybody's itinerary.

8) Vending machines are a reliable source of heavily sweetened caffiene-based beverages. Tokyo has a few hip coffee places around, but the pickings are much slimmer than Melbourne and I got lazy and quickly resorted to a mix of iced and hot coffee drinks from colourful machines. You can get them milky or black, but they're all loaded with sugar.

And that's it! We had a great time in Japan again - it's not the easiest country to be vegetarian in, but the pay-off is worth the bit of effort that goes into planning (and the semi-regular convenience store snacking). Hopefully there are some useful tidbits in this post, and throughout our restaurant-related posts for others making the journey. Enjoy!

Posted April 30, 2015 08:49 AM by Michael

April 29, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Sourdough vanilla sponge cake with bunting for 8th GGG blogiversary

So this blog turns 8 today.  It is my tradition that E's birthday cake is always featured on my blogiversary.  His birthday was anticipated with great plans for eating sausage rolls at Luna Park with my family and a treacle tart on the day of his birthday.  Instead it was met with rotten weather and ill health.  Despite these challenges, we still managed to celebrate with good food and fun.

We had planned our trip to Luna Park a few weeks prior and crossed our fingers for good weather.  Melbourne's weather can be fickle.  On the day before we planned to go out, Sylvia was sick.  While we waited for the locum doctor to visit us at home (our first time - it was really useful), I baked sausage rolls and chocolate caramel slice to take with us. I was too hopeful.  Then next day it was pouring rain and we had a fluffy of facebook messages about contingency plans.

My brother booked us a table at the Beachcomber.  It was surprisingly busy.  Yet I can appreciate that everyone else wanted to be cosy inside rather than outside in the wind and rain (see above photo).  I had a great green smoothie, an average minestrone and shared some of the really lovely haloumi and pita breads.  Rather than eating dessert I saved myself for the chocolate caramel slice.

I had made the caramel slice with a blend of gluten free flours.  (Check out the post for my notes on the GF version.)  I worried I had overcooked it but the next day it was chewy and delicious.  I gave some to my family and we made our way through these and the sausage rolls at home.  Sausage rolls make great snacks and meals.  Even Sylvia loved them.  Mostly!

A few days later on E's birthday he came down with a cold.  Fortunately he was not off his food.  I was busy on that day but managed to bake the cake and make a chilli non carne (recipe to come) before I went out. I was making a sponge cake I had made a few times before.  E loves it.  This time I decided it was a good opportunity to use up some sourdough starter.  So I tweaked the recipe and it worked brilliantly.

My evening was even more time poor than I had expected as I took a friend of Sylvia's after school.  She was meant to come home for a playdate but we got waylaid in the supermarket and before I knew it, it was time for her to go home so - thanks to a communication breakdown - I took her home while her mum was knocking on the front door of our home.  While I chatted to her mum I said I wanted to make bunting to rig up over the cake with skewers.

Kerin is great with craft projects.  Before I knew it she had coloured string and washi tape and we were taping small strips of washi tape around the string and cutting it into triangles.  It is always more fun to do this sort of thing with a friend and I suspect I might have just run out of puff if I had been doing it myself at home, so I was most grateful for her help. 

Back at home I wanted to put smarties around the base of the cake but Sylvia was adamant that they would go around the top and as a flower in the middle.  Sometimes it is better to let kids develop ideas than to go with the original plan.

We had a delicious dinner.  The chilli non carne was delicious with tortillas and lots of extras.  The cake had lots of really soft buttercream because I just put some margarine in a bowl and mixed icing sugar in until I couldn't bear to add more sugar.  We sang happy birthday, E blew out the candles and Sylvia sliced up some wedges of cake.  Fresh sponge cake with soft buttercream is exactly what E loves and he was delighted.  The sourdough didn't make a huge effect on the flavour.  It was more for using up starter than affecting the taste. 

It is a small cake so it was gone within a day or two.  I wish it had been bigger and I could share a blogiversary  celebration slice with you and all the lovely readers who have supported my blog since it started in 2007.  I write a longer reflective post on the changes on my blog and my life annually at New Year's Eve so I wont dwell on these here.  But I will say that I am always amazed that another year of blogging has passed and I am still here.  Many thanks for continuing to visit, read and comment.  Meanwhile, life seems to get busier and busier.  Fortunately there is still lots of good food I am enjoying and want to share here. 

For instance, I had also planned to make a treacle tart as well but I ran out of time and had to postpone this for another day.  We weren't fussed.  Everyone was very full.  Though Sylvia and E ate their cake with the ice cream that I had bought for the tart.  However I have since made the treacle tart (before they ate all the ice cream) and will share it soon.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Creme Egg Chocolate Drizzle Cake for a blogiversary
Two year ago: Vegan Victoria Sponge Birthday Cake
Three years ago: Ghost cake, birthdays and wildlife
Four years ago: Guitar Birthday Cake
Five years ago: Viking cat cake with a butterscotch secret
Six years ago: Happy Birthday to E and GGGiraffe
Seven years ago: Green Gourmet Giraffe Birthday Cake
Eight years ago: A very vampire birthday

Sourdough vanilla sponge cake
Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe

125 plain flour
125g caster sugar
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
pinch turmeric (for colour)
125ml sourdough starter from fridge
5 tbsp soy milk
3 tbsp rice bran oil
3 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
buttercream or icing sugar for serving

Preheat oven to 180 C. Grease a 15cm round cake tin. (Or double ingredients for a 20cm round cake tin.) Mix dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and mix wet ingredients in a small mixing bowl. It should be thick creamy batter. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Serve dusted with icing sugar or spread with buttercream icing.

On the Stereo:
Dream Your Life Away: Vance Joy

Posted April 29, 2015 02:51 PM by Johanna GGG

April 27, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Hang Out

April 10, 2015

On Friday afternoon we snagged the matinee session at the Robot Restaurant, one of Tokyo's cheesiest tourist attractions (see the slideshow below for a hint of the neon pantomime we experienced). We held off on the popcorn and sought out snacks afterwards from Hang Out, a laid-back surfer-inspired vegan bar in Shibuya.

An English printed menu full of photos was available, so we had no problem browsing independently. Before Matt even arrived we demolished a plate of seasoned fries'n'sauce (480円 ~ $5.15). Stomachs thus lined, we were more polite in sharing many more bar snacks over an hour or two, including the hemp potato croquettes (580円 ~ $6.20) and a saucer of kimchi (580円 ~ $6.20).

The rainbow vegetable salad (880円 ~ $9.40) was a gesture towards fresh vegetables that really paid off, the abundant fresh greens decorated with pretty and refreshing radishes, and pots of avocado and sesame-based dressings besides. The gyoza (580円 ~ $6.20) were pretty good too, but we didn't figure out the dipping sauce protocol in time.

Our mock meat of choice (Jamaican jerk vegan chicken) was sadly sold out but there were plenty of others to choose from. The Japanese fried wheat gluten (680円 ~ $7.30) reminded me of Fry's, and was garnished with pickles, soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce. The fried tofu with tartar sauce (880円 ~ $9.40) was a surprise stand-out, with some lively seasoning and crunchy snow pea sprouts.

The staff spoke English well and were very relaxed. We happily loitered at Hang Out through a couple cycles of customers, watching the wall projection shift from 2001: A Space Odyssey to Dead Man and loop around to Dead Man once more. It was the ideal haven from the bright lights and city sounds on yet another rainy night.


Hang Out
Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Udagawa-cho, 3-12 RIKA Building 3rd Floor, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
standard menu, daily specials

Accessibility: Hang Out is located up a couple of flights of narrow stairs; we didn't see an alternative entry. Inside tables are well spaced and it's quite dimly lit. We ordered at our table and paid at a high counter. The toilet is elevated by one or two steps, unisex, and narrow.

Posted April 27, 2015 10:03 PM by Cindy

quinces and kale

the terrace restaurant at MLC

braised cabbage, eggplant and king oyster mushroom

A school hospitality training restaurant may seem an unlikely place for vegan food, but you would be wrong. With some advance notice on booking, The Terrace Restaurant at MLC have always come up trumps, though I suspect they could dish up something pretty good without any notice.

They have always treated me well on my transition from omni to vegetarian to vegan.  The school runs a VET hospitality program, training in both kitchen and front of house.  The food is reliably good and it is also ridiculously cheap. The service is sometimes a little nervous, but these young women are learning and this is part of the joy. This is the next generation of chefs and waiters and I’m happy to be part of their learning. I like that they are learning to deal well with people who have specific dietary requirements without any of the raised eyebrows or sighing that you sometimes get in other restaurants. Those places could learn a thing or two from these respectful and helpful teenagers.

Anyway on to the restaurant and the food. You have to order a minimum of two courses. As a vegan you won’t get a choice.  Mains are $14 and the entrees and desserts are $8. There is no alcohol but they do a good range of mocktails at around $5. There is nice linen and cutlery and the tables are well spaced.

roasted pumpkin and caramelised onion mini pizza minestrone nicoise salad braised cabbage, eggplant and king oyster mushroom hummus and tabbouleh

My family and I eat here regularly for a birthday or other occasion and have never been disappointed. In the interests of full disclosure, I should say that my sister teaches at the school. This is how I learnt of the restaurant in the first place. It is a pity it is not more well known.

In the past, I’ve had food ranging from a felafel platter to substantial warm salads. The food is often made up of the side dishes from the other courses, and sometimes prepared especially. But even when getting side dishes, the food is excellent. This time I had a specially made amuse bouche of a small pizza with roasted pumpkin and caramelised onion followed by minestrone for entree. I finished off with a mixed vegetable platter of hummus, tabbouleh, a beautiful nicoise salad, some braised red cabbage and eggplant with a grilled king oyster mushroom. All of the food was delicious, well presented, well seasoned and with an edge of refinement, not just veggies plonked on a plate.

This is a good place to take your omni friends and also to be able to eat well yourself.

It is always a pleasure to dine here.

The Terrace Restaurant
Krome Dining Room
Methodist Ladies College
207 Barkers Rd, Kew, 3101
Lunch only. Alternate Thursdays and Fridays during term
Bookings through

Posted April 27, 2015 10:00 AM

April 26, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Kale scones and ANZAC Day

Perhaps kale scones for dinner were fitting on ANZAC Day, given that after the Dawn Service, I went to my family's ANZAC Day breakfast and ate vegie fritters and tofu bacon while they had egg and bacon.  I am no traditionalist in the strict sense of the word.  Yet traditions still beckon me with their comforts and windows into our culture.

I went to stay with my parents on Friday so I could go to the Torquay ANZAC Day Dawn Service with my family the next morning.  My niece Quin was also there.  She made dumplings with my mum.  I was so impressed with her pleating of the wrappers.  We ate the dumplings hot out of the pan before our dinner.  I had vegie fritters and butterscotch self-saucing pudding.

The next morning the hardy ones in the family rose at 4am so we could drive down to Torquay before dawn.  This was the 100th anniversary of the day the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs) embarked on their first major military campaign in World War II at Gallipoli, Turkey.  (See more at this post on ANZAC Day.)  The service was much busier than other years.  I could barely see the podium where the speeches were and had to content myself with the above photo of the No Standing sign.  It amused me because we all did a lot of standing around while we waited for dawn, listening to stories, singing anthems, watching bi-planes fly overhead and finally the Last Post.

There were also many earnest and emotional speeches.  A senior soldier reminded us that the military commemorates, not celebrates, war.  I did wonder if we were really managing that when the message from our Prime Minister spoke of Gallipoli as a "magnificent defeat".   Indeed this reflects my mixed emotions about the way our nation remembers war.  Yet when we had a minute's silence I thought of my mother's uncle who died in World War II and how many family gatherings have taken place without him since that moment.

We then joined the many cars driving back to Geelong where my mum had stayed behind and cooked up a huge breakfast.  We had pancakes, sourdough bread, raisin bread, hash browns, juice and coffee.  I took along tofu bacon and my mum specially made vegetable fritters for me.  Everyone else enjoyed bacon and eggs as well.
After breakfast Sylvia played with her little cousins and my mum and I headed out to the Newtown Farmers Market.  I bought a bunch of kale.  We had a light lunch (and a home made ANZAC biscuit) back at my mum's and then I drove back to Melbourne.  I was so tired from my early morning that I got confused taking my 3 year old niece home and almost arrived at my 18 year old niece's home before realising my mistake.  Then I had to contend with horrid rainy roads on the drive home.

I had little energy for dinner when I arrived home. I had fancied making ANZAC scones but wanted something savoury.  I wanted scones.  I had kale.  It made sense to marry them.  (It was like marrying traditional Australia with modern international cuisine.)  I blended up the kale to make a green milk mixture.  I fiddled with the seasonings in a savoury scone recipe.  My scones were lovely but not perfect.  More milk and a little less seasoning were needed.

Yet there was something cheering about having green scones with my leftover sweet potato and lentil soup.  I also had them for breakfast the next morning.  These are the sort of hippy food that is very good with hummus and mung bean sprouts (top photo).  Or you can just enjoy naturally green scones because you love the colour!

I am sending these scones to Elizabeth's Kitchen's Shop Local challenge because I used the kale from the farmers market.

More savoury scones on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Beetroot, apple and walnut scones (v)
Cheeseymite scones 
Sour Skon
Spinach and feta scones
Sweet potato and cheeze scones (v)
Walnut, brie and apple scones 

More savoury scones from elsewhere online:
Asparagus and stilton scones (gf) - Gluten Free Alchemist
Bloody Mary scones - The KitchenMaid
Carrot scones - Allotment to Kitchen
Potato scones - The Daily Spud
Tomato rosemary scones - Danielle Omar

Savoury kale scones
Adapted from Where's the Beef?
Makes about 16 - 20 scones

1 cup soy milk*
50g kale leaves (no stems)
2 1/2 cups plain flour*
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes*
5 teaspoons baking powder
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp smoked paprika*
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
pinch of salt
50g cold margarine
1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped*

Preheat oven to 230 C.  Grease two medium oven trays.

Blend kale and soy milk until smooth.  (A high speed blender is best but if you are happy for specks in your scones, a regular blender would do.)

Place flour, nutritional yeast flakes, baking powder, mustard powder, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder and salt.  Rub margarine into dry ingredients.  Mix in chives (if you have them).  Add kale and milk mixture to mix into a dough.

Knead briefly on a lightly floured surface until smooth.  Pat out to about 1.5 cm and cut into round or whatever shape you fancy.  Place on greased tray about 1 cm apart.  If there is a little extra green milk that has pooled at the bottom of the blender, use it to brush on the scones (or use a little extra milk).

Bake for 15 minutes or until slightly browned on top.  Remove from over and wrap in a clean tea towel until ready to eat.  Best eaten on day of baking but still edible the next day.

NOTES: I would use perhaps another 1/4 cup of soy milk to make the dough softer.  If it was sticky I would knead with a little flour if required.  I used a mixture of white and wholemeal flour.  I used 1/2 tsp of onion salt instead of 1/2 tsp onion powder and pinch of salt.  I also substituted smoked paprika for some of the mustard powder.  The scones were a bit too savoury.  I have adjusted the onion powder in the recipe but would possibly reduce the amounts of nutritional yeast and smoked paprika.  I didn't use the chives but would use them if I had them as well.  A little lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to sour the milk might also lift the flavour.

On the Stereo:
Golden Apples of the Sun: Judy Collins

Posted April 26, 2015 10:44 PM by Johanna GGG


Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale, Melbourne 2015

Melbourne’s events for the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale were held today and I headed off to CERES in Brunswick with my cutlery and big container. The CERES bake sale was hosted by Animal Liberation Victoria . There were vegan stalls at True Earth Market as well as talks and cooking demos, entertainment and some food and bevvies....
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Posted April 26, 2015 08:58 PM

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Saishoku Kenbi

April 10, 2015

Our trip to Tokyo coincided with another vego friend's holiday, so we arranged to meet up for lunch on Friday at Saishoku Kenbi, in the Korean neighbourhood near Shinjuku. We visited this place for lunch on our first trip, but they've switched things around since then from buffet meals to a la carte. The restaurant is attached to a small Buddhist temple and is tucked away down some back streets - keep your eyes peeled for the green sign and the happy white Buddha to guide you there.

The interior is plain - the buffet table has been replaced by more tables for diners, but otherwise not much has changed. The staff speak minimal English and the menu is all in Japanese but it's clearly illustrated, and thus relatively easy to figure out what to order. The food on offer is a mix of Western-inspired stuff (sandwiches, spaghetti bol, pizza, etc.) and more Japanese-style food (dumplings, noodle soups, rice-based dishes).

Cindy ordered the set lunch (1300円 ~ $14), which was a combination of the two traditions - miso soup and rice, served with a British-style Sunday roast and a little coleslaw-ish salad with a wonderful nutty dressing. The miso soup was loaded up with veggies and herbs and a lighter broth than what we'd had with our previous lunch sets. The roast had a meatloafy texture and was slathered in a rich soy-based gravy. The set came with a cup of tea, a couple of bikkies and some fruit as well, and was probably the best value meal of our trip.

The rest of us all ordered soupy lunches (780円 ~ $8.40). There's a mushroom soup, a hammy soup and the one I ordered - a curry laksa-style soup. This was just what I was after - spicy and warming, with plenty of veggies and and minced mock meat sharing the soup with the noodles. I also grabbed a small taste of Cass' mushroom soup and it was excellent as well.

Sishoku Kenbi is a must-visit - it's cheap, the food is excellent, the staff are lovely and you can even stock up on frozen mock meat and other veggie groceries if you're looking for home-cooking ingredients. I'm a bit sad that the buffet-style lunches are over, but there's still an excellent value meal to be had here.


Read about our first visit to Saishoku Kenbi here. Only Mindful Wanderlust and Japan Vegan seem to have blogged about this place since our first visit.

Saishoku Kenbi 
2-21-26 Hyakunin-cho, Shinjyuku-ku
03 5332 3627
set lunch, menu pages: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Accessibility: There's one small step up on entry. The restaurant is reasonably spacious, with orders taken at the table and payment at a high counter. We didn't visit the toilets.


Posted April 26, 2015 08:01 AM by Michael

April 24, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Vegan peach cheesecake

We were short on time for dinner.  I took out a tub of rice from the freezer.  Only, when I opened the lid after defrosting, I found it was the stewed peaches I had earmarked for Kari's Raw Apple Cheesecake Pudding.  Which means it was time to make the cheesecake.  The peaches just wouldn't wait any longer.

The peaches were stewed towards the end of summer and I had tired of them.  When I saw Kari post her cheesecake pudding, I decided to make it with the peaches.  But the kitchen was busy with holiday and birthday baking.  So I put the peaches away for a day when we weren't inundated by treats.

It was easy to make and delicious to eat.  As I am a bit wary of coconut oil, I just added dessicated coconut for instead of oil.  My high speed blender made a very smooth mixture of the ingredients.  Kari preferred a bit of texture which might be why her mixture seems firmer than mine.  Or it might be that she added raw apple rather than stewed peaches.  I added some nutritional yeast flakes and salt for that slightly savoury taste of cheesecake.  It was mostly fruity and creamy but very pleasing.

As Kari noted, it wasn't a set cheesecake so she called it a pudding.  I am happy to call it a cheesecake but enjoyed serving it in jars.  Sadly I didn't have cute little jars like Kari.  Hers was a raw cheesecake but as my peaches were stewed it wasn't raw.  Perhaps I will try it with raw fruit another time.

Serendipitously as I made these I was listening to a woman on the radio talking about World Allergy Day (17 April).  They talked a lot about hayfever.  However I thought it relevant as these are dairy free, egg free, and soy free.  There are so many allergies out there.  They are not nut free but for those like my daughter who can't eat peanuts but can eat other nuts, they are fine.

I ate them mostly for breakfast.  They are quite nutrient-dense with all the nuts and dates but they were very satisfying.  Of course, they would also make a great dessert.

Lastly if you read Kari's post, you will see that she posted this cheesecake recipe as part of her London Marathon fundraising effort.  She has posted lots of great recipes as part of her fundraising for Beat, a UK eating disorder charity.  On Sundahy she runs her marathon.  I wish her best of luck and encourage you to make a donation if you are able to.  And I hope she has some good food like this cheesecake afterwards!

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Southwestern stuffed spaghetti squash
Two year ago: Apple cider cake
Three years ago: Zucchini Layer Cake plus random thoughts
Four years ago: Why Does Food History Matter?
Five years ago: Curried Paneer and Birthday Cheer
Six years ago: Tempting prune cake
Seven years ago: ANZAC Day and the Biscuit Police

Vegan Peach Cheesecake
Adapted from Bite Sized Thoughts
serves 4 to 6

1/3 cup raw almonds
1/3 cup dessicated coconut
1/3 cup (about 3) medjool dates, stoned

1 cup raw cashews, soaked
scant cup of stewed peaches*
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp dessicated coconut
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste

Make the base by blending all ingredients in blender or food processor until it can clump together.  Press into 4 to 6 small jars or glasses.  (I used the tamper from my blender.)  To make the filling, blend all ingredients until smooth.  (A little bit of texture is fine.)  Divide among glasses or jars (and screw lid on if there is one).  Chill in the fridge.  Keeps refridgerated for 5 days or can be frozen to keep longer.

NOTES: My stewed peaches were not terribly sweet.  I made them months ago and could not remember what they had in them by the time I got them out of the freezer - I think they had brown sugar and lemon juice.

On the Stereo:
Studio: Cowboy Junkies

Posted April 24, 2015 03:21 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Patisserie Potager

April 8, 2015

Our morning in Kamimeguro was wet and bookended with food failures. First, Michael navigated us towards vegetarian cafe Rainbow Bird Rendezvous for an early lunch. The only word we could read from the hand-written sign on the door was 'Wednesday', but it was pretty clear that they were closed especially for that day, a Wednesday. Later we circled the suburb twice trying to locate Potager Marche before confirming that it had been replaced by a barbecue restaurant. In between, there was a warm dry refuge and cake at Patisserie Potager.

We visited Patisserie Potager last year, and I was keen to try more of their pretty vegetable-charged desserts. The burdock gateau chocolat (470 円 ~ $4.90) was a little dry in the crumb but balanced out with a cream dollop. Tiny cubes of roasted burdock added texture and only the subtlest flavour to the cake.

The Japanese leek baked cheese cake (470 円 ~ $4.90) was bolder, the dense dairy giving way to a squishy centre of caramelised leek. Melding sweet and savoury this well takes skill.

For all the frustration around it, I'm so glad we were able to return to Patisserie Potager. These vegetable-based desserts might be a silly novelty, but they're also damn delicious.


You can read about our first visit to Patisserie Potager here. Since then it has received mostly positive write-ups on A traveling foodie's gastronomic diary from around the world... and 도쿄 동경 베쯔니 블로그 (in Korean).

Patisserie Potager
2 Chome-44-9 Kamimeguro, Meguro, Tokyo 153-0051, Japan
03 6279 7753

Accessibility: Entry is flat from the street and tables are moderately spaced. All the cakes are displayed at a low-to-medium height. I ordered and paid at a high counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

Posted April 24, 2015 08:32 AM by Cindy

April 23, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Brown Rice Cafe

April 7, 2015

We wound up spending Tuesday afternoon and evening wandering around Harajuku buying plastic toys and other ridiculousness (Kiddy Land toy store is a must-visit if you want to load up on Gudetama-related goodies). The rain kept coming down, meaning we just wanted somewhere nearby for dinner - luckily Brown Rice Cafe was right around the corner.

Brown Rice is attached to British organic cosmetics shop Neal's Yard, and is tucked down a little laneway just to the North of Omotesando station. Like seemingly everywhere in Tokyo, it's much easier to find if you have a detailed map/functioning mobile phone. The layout is sleek and spare - wooden floorboards and tables elegantly arranged, with some nice botanical prints on the walls. There are English menus - vego restaurants in Tokyo seem to be well aware that a big chunk of their market is foreigners. The food is macrobiotic, and heavy on the veggies - you can enjoy a terrine made of 10 kinds of vegetables (1200円 ~ $13) or a mix of veggies cooked using the five principles of Japanese cooking (1300円 ~ $14.10). There are intriguing sounding tofu tasting plates (800円 ~ $8.70), salads and a range of other small plates.

I'm not sure if it's standard or not, but this cute little square of sesame tofu and crackers came out with our drinks (beer for me and a 700円 ~ $7.50 tangerine juice for Cindy) - the tofu was smooth and the sesame flavour worked well with the light sauce it was served with.

We took the easy option and ordered the brown rice dinner set - brown rice, miso soup, some sides and a choice of main for 1700円 (~$18.40) The options on our visit were steamed vegetables, Okinawa-style tofu cutlets or miso dengaku - we chose the cutlets and the dengaku and shared them.

The miso dengaku was a serve of lightly grilled tofu with a strong miso sauce splotched on top, served with an impressive array of pickled vegetables and greens. It was all pretty simple, but I really enjoyed it - the seasoning on the brown rice was a surprising highlight. The Okinawa-style tofu reminded me of crumbed fish as much as anything, right down to the sweet mayo and lemon juice.

We managed to leave just enough room to squeeze in a shared dessert - the tofu lemon cake with berry coulis (750円 ~ $8).

This was a solid rendition of the vegan cheesecake format - they clearly know their way around tofu.

We had a lovely dinner at Brown Rice. The atmosphere is a peaceful escape from the madness of Harajuku and Omotesando and the food is artfully prepared. You're probably best off ignoring the slightly mystical claims in the menu, but the mix of tofu, pickled and fresh veggies, miso soup and brown rice did feel like a healthy way to finish the day.



Brown Rice Cafe
Green Bldg 1F, 5-1-17 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku
03 5778 5416

Accessibility: There are a few steps up on entrance. The interior is spacious and there's full table service. We didn't visit the toilets.


Posted April 23, 2015 08:04 AM by Michael

April 22, 2015


Faye’s Mousse Your Own Adventure Cake

The only fitting way I can begin this blog post is by telling you all that I am super thrilled to share this recipe. I’m trying hard to keep this short but seriously failing! This is a cake my Mum started making over forty years ago. It never had a name but we called it...
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Posted April 22, 2015 09:28 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Vegetarian Japanese Curry

When I was a student, we had a Japanese student stay with us briefly.  She cooked us lots of amazing meals.  It was my first experience of how interesting Japanese food could be.  Often Japanese restaurants have not seemed as good as her dishes.  Junko never made me Japanese curry but it is one of the more pleasing Japanese dishes I have had in restaurants.  So I was keen to try it at home.

Sometimes it is only in making it myself that I understand a dish.  Indeed understanding how Japanese curries differ from others I have had came from making it.  It is more like an Indian curry than a Thai curry but is made like a soup with a lot of the flavour and texture coming from stirring in a roux.

I followed the recipe by Rika of Vegan Miam.  She has such lovely photos that draw me in. Then, the geek in me wanted to check if her recipe was typical.  So I did a quick search for other Japanese curry recipes.  I was surprised to read that many people just buy the roux rather than making it.  I was happy to do as Rika did and make it myself.

I was interested that recipes for Japanese curries suggested different flavourings to add including Worcestershire sauce, red wine, apricot jam, miso, maple syrup, ketchup, honey and chocolate.  I would like to try it with chocolate one day.  This curry had some apricot jam that was on hand.

More mysterious was the Oriental curry powder that Rika used.  I have never heard of it and just used the Keen's curry powder that I had in the cupboard.  Our curry was quite hot, though not unpleasantly so.  A few people noted that Japanese curries are quite mild.  So I checked for Oriental curry powder in the supermarket and only found a roux for a Japanese curry.  But as it had palm oil and MSG I don't know that I will be rushing out to buy it. 

We ate this on the school holidays.  It was a chaotic night after a trip to the park with Sylvia's school friends.  I searched high and low for black sesame seeds but they were nowhere to be found.  I discovered them in the back of the cupboard last night.  Maybe it is a sign that I need to make Japanese curry again.

I am sending this curry to:

More Japanese-style recipes:

Avocado, pickled ginger and tofu soba noodle salad (gf, v)
Japanese snow pea salad (gf, v)
Japanese-style pumpkin, sprouts and tofu soup (gf, v)
Sushi stack with carrot, tofu omelet and avocado (gf, v)
Sushi with sticky walnuts and edamame (gf, v)
'Teriyaki' tofu with brown rice and kale (gf, v)

Japanese Curry
Adapted from Vegan Miam
serves 4-6

1-2 tbsp any neutral oil (I used rice bran)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 large carrots, cut into chunks
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 cups water
2 large potatoes, cut into chunks
1 small apple, peeled, and grated
2 tsp curry powder*
1/4 cup tamari
1 tsp salt, or to taste
125g tin of corn kernels, rinsed and drained
300g pumpkin, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 cup frozen broadbeans (or edamame)

3 tablespoons neutral oil (I used rice bran oil)
1/4 cup plain flour
1-3 tsp curry powder*
1 tbsp tomato sauce (ketchup)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp apricot jam

2 spring onions, sliced
black sesame seeds

Heat oil in a stockpot or large saucepan.  Cook onion and carrots for 5 to 10 minutes until vegetables soften.  Stir the garlic in for a minute and then add remaining ingredients except broad beans.  Bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile make the roux. Stir together the curry powder, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and apricot jam and set aside.  Fry together the oil and flour until it slightly browns and smells cooked.  Add the curry powder mixture and stir until smooth.  Add a ladleful or two of liquid from the curry and stir roux until smooth.

Tip roux into curry and also add broad beans.  Gently simmer a few minutes, stirring frequently, until roux incorporated and broad beans warmed through.  Garnish with spring onions and black sesame seeds if desired

NOTES:  For traditional curry, use a Japanese Oriental curry powder (such as S and B).  I used Keens curry powder which is more Indian.  It worked well but was quite spicy with 1 tbsp of curry powder in the roux.  Perhaps less curry powder is needed with Keens, hence my suggestion of between 1 to 3 tsp depending on the curry powder used.

On the Stereo:
Born to Die: Lana Del Ray

Posted April 22, 2015 02:05 PM by Johanna GGG

April 21, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Olu 'Olu Cafe

April 6, 2015

Given that I was working on our first day in Tokyo, I spent the third one wallowing in cherry blossoms for hours (see slideshow below). I was still glowing (and, let's be honest, a little sunburnt) when we met up with Matt for dinner in Sangenjaya. Michael had picked out Olu 'Olu Cafe, a small vegan restaurant with a Hawai'ian theme, decorated with palm fronds, surfboards and fairy lights.

The staff were able to supply us with an entirely English menu and it proved extensive and varied - macrobiotic soups and greens, natto, Hawai'ian and Indonesian fried mock meats and bruschetta appeared on the specials board alone!

I was impressed by the list of non-alcoholic beverages too, which included flavoured vegan milks, teas and sodas. Their iced ginger lemonade (650円 ~ AU$6.10) struck a perfect balance of fruity sourness and a little throaty heat, and was served unsweetened with syrup on the side.

We started out with a plate of pungent garlic edamame (830円 ~ AU$9.00) and sucked as much flavour from the pods as we could. The boiled macrobiotic greens of the day (360円 ~ AU$3.90) were less shareable than we'd hoped, but nonetheless vibrant, tender and expertly seasoned with soy.

We each went our separate ways for mains. Michael had an excellent Mochiko chicken bowl (1030円 ~ AU$11.20) - battered mock chicken pieces in a sweet and spicy sauce served with brown rice and fresh salad, hailed as 'one of the major Hawaiian local foods'. Matt's fish'n'chips (880円 ~ AU$9.60) were less Hawai'ian but just as delicious, with flaky fillets of bean curd skin. My pork and ginger bowl (930円 ~ AU$10.10) didn't conjure up the promised spice but was comforting regardless.

The staff were unfailingly friendly (and explicitly welcome pets too!) and I was sad that we were unlikely to make it back to try more of the menu.

We capped off the night with some bar-hopping, most memorably at corridor-sized Queensland. The bar owner was a lovely and youthful septuagenarian with fond memories of the Gold Coast, a generous supply of burdock pickles and sweets, and penchant for karaoke.


Olu 'Olu Cafe has been blogged previously and positively on, Bon Voyage Vegan and TOFUsenshi.


Olu 'Olu Cafe
1-11-1 Ikejiri, Setagaya-ku, Sangenjaya, Tokyo, Japan
03 3795 6060
specials, appetisers, mains 1, mains 2, drinks, info

Accessibility: Olu 'Olu has a flat entry and a crowded interior. We ordered at the table and paid at a high counter. The toilet is inside, narrow and unisex.

Posted April 21, 2015 05:47 PM by Cindy

Thoughts Of A Moni

Spilt Milk

Determined to find more breakfast options closer to home, I spent Saturday morning scouring the internet trying to find new places. The search provided me with a few options, and I decided to start my adventures the next day at Spilt Milk in Carnegie.

Located on Neerim Rd, just around the corner from the Carnegie shopping precinct, Spilt Milk is a tiny little cafe, with a cute cow print on the front. The cafe was tiny, with only five little tables and a window seat, but this ended up being a positive because it meant every diner received individual attention. When we walked in, all the tables were taken, but luckily someone was just finishing off their coffee, and they happily left their table so that we could sit down. Thankyou very much to this kind mystery gentleman, you certainly helped start our morning off on the right foot.

The interior of the cafe had a very rustic feel. All the original brick walls were intact and visible, exposed rafters, and the furniture and fittings had a very warm and homely feel to them. We quickly ordered coffees and proceeded to make choices from the menu. All the items on offer were named after animals, and after some internal debate I settled on the Flamingo. The description promised Asian flavours of lime, chilli and coriander, so I was excited to see what would arrive.

The coffee arrived first and it hit the mark. It was Padre coffee and it went down a treat. Clearly I wasn't the only one with this opinion because the takeaway counter for coffee had a constant stream of customers the whole time we were there. Through a little hole in the wall, the staff served coffee after coffee to customers who were simply checking in for their morning caffeine. Watching their interaction it was apparent that this was a regular occurrence and most of these customers came regularly and the barristers had memorised their order. There was lot of laughs and chatter and everyone was happy.

Our food arrived shortly, and it was exactly has described on the menu. There were two pieces of lightly toasted rye bread that were topped generously with scrambled eggs. This was garnished with pieces of cucumber, coriander, some homemade chilli jam, and a wedge of lime. As I chewed on the first bite of my meal, the chef arrived at our table, and asked me if I liked it, whether it was hot enough for me, or whether I would like it hotter. In typical Indian style, I told him that I could have it hotter and he immediately whisked my plate back to the kitchen and brought it back seconds later with more cayenne pepper sprinkled on top, and a little bowl filled with more chilli jam.

It was the chilli jam that made this meal. It was sweet and hot and combined with the tang of the lime, created a party in my mouth. I was so excited by the discovery of chilli jam that I actually went home and started Googling recipes. I’m hoping that I’ll find a recipe that replicates what Spilt Milk serve (or perhaps the boys at Spilt Milk can give me their recipe *wink*)

The other half went for the Donkey, which was toasted sourdough, with poached eggs, spinach, bacon, cherry tomatoes, parmesan and a little blob of aioli. According to him, the dish could have done with some more aioli, after all aioli always needs to be slathered on liberally, but he had some of my chilli jam, and apparently this worked just as well with his dish. Didn't I tell you that the chilli jam was magic?!

Whilst my breakfast was a winner, what struck me as the most special was the service at Spilt Milk. Every customer was looked after and given personal attention. Those that were regular patrons were easily identifiable through their chit chat with the staff about their children, their weekend, and various other personal stories. It was this touch that really struck me about what made Spilt Milk so good. Obviously food is a very important focus, and there are many cafes that do good food, but not everybody remembers that a little bit of special service is why many people go out for a meal. Luckily Split Milk have this part down pat, and I think this is what will keep them going for a long time. And the chilli jam, of course...

Spilt Milk on Urbanspoon

Posted April 21, 2015 11:21 AM by Moni

April 20, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Komaki Syokudo

April 6, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted April 20, 2015 08:19 PM by Michael


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

I’ve been going a bit silly with aquafaba recently. If you haven’t heard of this amazing amazingness, aquafaba is the liquid from cooked (including canned) chickpeas or beans. I’m ecstatic to report that I’ve had great success in making two of my family’s old recipes with aquafaba but the best bit is that they taste...
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Posted April 20, 2015 07:52 PM

quinces and kale

madame k


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

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

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

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

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

betel leaf IMG_1874 IMG_1876 IMG_1878

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

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

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

Posted April 20, 2015 10:00 AM

April 19, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne


April 5, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

Banwarou has also been blogged by Vegan Marathon Runner.

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

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

Posted April 19, 2015 05:36 PM by Cindy

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Ruckers Hill Cafe and Ukelele Festival

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ruckers Hill Cafe on Urbanspoon

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

April 18, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Ain Soph Jouney II

April 5, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Retro J-pop at Disc Union

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

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

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

Posted April 18, 2015 03:10 PM by Cindy

April 16, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Vegan salmon pate - for dip or sushi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vegan Salmon Pate
Adapted from Food and Yoga for Life

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

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

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

Vegan Salmon Sushi

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

On the Stereo:
Key: Victoria Vox

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

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Mominoki House

April 4, 2015

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

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

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

(more unrelated cherry blossoms from Shinjuku-Gyoen)

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

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

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

Posted April 16, 2015 04:48 PM by Michael


Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale Events: Coming Very Soon

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

Posted April 16, 2015 11:58 AM

Thoughts Of A Moni

South Society

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then the ultimate test, the yolk porn test.

A clear pass.

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

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

South Society on Urbanspoon

Posted April 16, 2015 11:37 AM by Moni

April 15, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Nagi Shokudo II

April 4, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted April 15, 2015 03:43 PM by Michael

April 14, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the Stereo:
Excuses for Travellers: Mojave 3

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

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Radhey Kitchen & Chai Bar II

March 28, 2015

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

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

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


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

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

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

Posted April 14, 2015 02:18 PM by Cindy

Vegetarian Life Australia

Gong De Lin – a taste of Hong Kong in Melbourne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall rating: 7/10


Steamed dumplings 

Vegetarian pancake

Vegetarian pancake

Sweet and sour mock pork

Sweet and sour mock pork


Vegetable fried rice

Vegetable fried rice

Chinese tea

Chinese tea

View over Swanston Street

View over Swanston Street

Posted April 14, 2015 11:34 AM