December 09, 2016

Thoughts Of A Moni

Axil Coffee and Roasters

Axil is a name that is almost synonymous with coffee in Melbourne and so when I was trying to plan a breakfast catch up with an old friend in the eastern suburbs, I figured Axil Coffee Roasters in Hawthorn would be a good choice. At the very least, the coffee should be good!

The coffee was indeed excellent, with rich aromas and full bodied flavour. It was the coffee that I had come to expect from Axil.

Taking a look at the menu though, I found it to be rather standard and not very creative, especially when considering the savoury options. Whilst there were some exciting sweet choices like Ferraro Rocher waffles or red velvet pancakes, I have always preferred a savoury breakfast. These days, breakfast menus are full of inventive options but Axil clearly prefers to focus on basics.

I ended up choosing the fritters (duh), which were made with zucchini, corn and haloumi, and then topped with avocado, spinach, a poached egg and relish. Rather than a few small fritters, they served up one large fritter. This meant that there was less crunch, and the fritter was more cake like which was a bit disappointing. Still, the flavours were very good, and anything with haloumi makes me happy. The eggs were poached well, and whilst there is no photo, you can trust me when I say that I had great yolk porn material.

My breakfast companion settled on smashed avocado on toast with sides of scrambled eggs and salmon pastrami. (Lucky he’s already got a house, otherwise there would be no chance he could save for one!) There was a little bit of confusion with his eggs order (only one scrambled egg came out, when he specifically asked for two) but it was quickly resolved.

The space inside Axil is huge, with tables a plenty, and despite the large crowd, the service was still very good. However, with Melbourne’s café game so strong, and so many places really pushing the boundaries with their offerings, personally I am more inclined to try them rather them returning to Axil. But if you are a traditionalist, and like your standard breakfast options, this is certainly a place you should visit.

Axil Coffee Roasters Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted December 09, 2016 02:41 PM by Moni

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Laverbread vegie soup

Have you ever wondered what miso soup might taste like if it was invented in Wales?  No?  Nor I.  But if you did, I think I might have an answer in this soup that I made for dinner last week using Welsh laverbread.   

After opening my tin of laverbread for a nut roast I wanted to make sure I used the rest.  After all, this laverbread is a rare delicacy that I was lucky to be sent  from Wales by Shaheen.  I didn't want it to go off.  Initially I had an idea I would make potato patties with the laverbread (which is like a seaweed paste).  Then it just seemed practical to make soup.

It is always practical to make soup because I often buy vegies with great hope.  Yet sometimes the crisper drawer of the fridge looks sad with neglect.  And the only thing to do is throw the vegies inot a soup or stew.  As many of my soups do, this one borders on a stew because it was quite packed.  But it was watery enough that I call it a soup. 

The laverbread gave a lovely depth of flavour.  I am still a bit wary of laverbread and again was very relieved that it made the soup so good.  I also loved it being packed with vegies and beans.  It was a very satisfying soup to eat.  We both went back for seconds and on the following night I ate the leftovers myself and found something else for E to eat for tea when he came home later.  (Ssshhh don't tell him!)  I justified this because I thought it was like a Welsh version of miso soup.  And E is not so keen on miso soup.

Thanks again to the lovely Shaheen of Allotment 2 Kitchen for sending this my way.  She has lots of laverbread recipes if you are lucky enough to have a tin.  (Check out my nut roast post if you want to see photos of laverbread in the tin.)  I had thought to put a list of other Welsh recipes at the end of this post but then I found that I have very few Welsh-inspired recipes.  Which is shameful, as my great grandfather come to Australia from Wales. Watch this space.

I am sending this soup to Allotment 2 Kitchen and The VegHog for Eat Your Greens, to Rock My Vegan Socks and VNutrition for Healthy Vegan Fridays, and to Vegetarian Mamma for Gluten Free Fridays.

More broth-based soups from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Chickpea and spinach soup (with noodles) (gf, v)
Chunky beetroot soup with kidney beans (gf)
Japanese-style pumpkin, sprouts and tofu soup (gf, v)
Miso soup with tofu, vegetables and noodles (v)
Tricken rice soup with celeriac (gf, v)
Wanton dumplings in ginger broth (v)

Laverbread vegie soup
An original Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe
Serves 3-4

1-2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, diced
2 cups purple cabbage, diced
3 cup boiling water
400g tin cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
1 potato, finely chopped
1/4 cup laverbread (Welsh seaweed puree)
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp stock powder
1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp flaked salt
1 bunch asparagus
handful of spinach

Fry onion in oil in large saucepan for 5 minutes over medium heat.  Add carrots and fry an additional 5 minutes.  Add cabbage and cook another 5 minutes.  Add boiling water, potato, laverbread, mustard powder, smoked paprika, stock powder, worcestershire sauce and salt.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 to 20 minutes until vegies have softened.  (I cooked it for 10 minutes and left it a few hours.)  Stir in asparagus and spinach and gently cook for another few minutes. 

On the Stereo:
Tinsel and Lights: Tracey Thorn

Posted December 09, 2016 12:34 PM by Johanna GGG

December 06, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

In My Kitchen: December 2016

December has arrived, breathless and bold.  Everyone is celebrating: the end of school year, the summer and Christmas.  Last weekend we were at Coburg Night Market (Indian style nachos were amazing), a carol service (where a pub rock duo don't seem to know many carols and end up singing Wonderwall and Uptown Funk) and Sylvia's gymnastics display day (where I won the raffle).  We are high on excitement and low on energy!  And I need to find time to vacuum the house.  So let's ignore the floors while we take a peek into my kitchen.

Firstly I must show off our first and finest strawberry that Sylvia ate before they were either eaten by birds or defeated by my lack of watering.  Now that there is more sunshine and less rain, I need to get into better gardening habits.

We went to the Melbourne Vegan Eats Brew and Food Fest in November.  E wanted some sausage rolls but they were taking too long.  Later when we returned to Half Pint Dairy for an ice cream they had lots of sausage rolls.  We bought some beetroot and cashew sausage rolls to take home for dinner.  They were magnificent.  We ate them with leftover bean stew and lettuce.

I haven't had as much time for dinner lately as I would like.  Some shortcuts have been called for.  Such as the wonderful falafel from Half Moon Cafe in Coburg.  They are made with broad beans and lots of herbs.  When fresh they are crispy outside and soft and green inside.  After a day in the fridge, they firm up but still taste exceedingly good.

And then there have been days I haven't got to the shops.  I set out to make overnight sourdough bread a couple of weeks back and found I was out of my regular white flour.  I looked for what flours were about the kitchen and used 1/4 white flour, 1/4 wholmeal flour and 1/2 spelt flour.  The bread was great with far more depth of flavour, albeit a little less lift.

We have made time for the Coburg Farmers Market.  The cruffin was for E though Sylvia and I had to taste the strange hybrid of a croissant and muffin.  The garlic scapes ended up in nachos.  The oranges were quartered and put into Sylvia's lunchbox.  The kale went into this salad.  And I enjoyed the new vegan creamy macadamia and pear chocolate from Cocoa Rhapsody.

I was so excited to see Savoury muesli bars.  But I felt cheated once I got them home and tasted them and checked the ingredients and the sugar content.  They were held together with glucose and tasted slightly sweet with some cumin flavour.  The biggest betrayal was looking at the sugars in the nutritional breakdown which was about 13 g per 100g, compared to Sylvia's regular sweet muesli bars which are about 15g per 100g.  Disappointed!  They wont be in my shopping trolley again.

We have bought some fun stuff too.  I love the colour of the carotino oil.  I thought it was made of carrots but it is actually canola and red palm heart.  The loose leaf Hibiscus tea with ginger, vanilla and mint is from Juanita's Kitchen and very nice (Actually I was given this after a meal at the cafe but not in my capacity as a blogger.)  I love the mini bagels.  They are great to store in the freezer for lunches for Sylvia when we are out of bread!  And I really love the purple carrot, beetroot and apple juice.  I find it quite strong and have it with half juice and half soda water.

I have so many recipes to try that I usually can resist the temptation of food magazines.  However I was tempted by this new Follow the Crumbs magazine I picked up in the supermarket.  It was so interesting I bought a copy (and it wasn't cheap at $9 or $10).  I enjoyed looking at it and then not had time to pick it up again.

Sylvia made this toilet paper roll people one day when she had idle time.  They are rather cute!

My neighbour gave to a charity that came knocking at her door and they gave her vouchers to buy some magazines.  She gave me the vouchers and so I received these cute house pegs with the magazine.

I spent November blogging lots of vegan recipes for Vegan Mofo.  Above are some gingerbread men from Isa's Vegan Holidays Cookbook. I didn't like them quite as much as my regular gingerbread but it was pretty good.  And we had fun decorating the gingerbread men.  Sylvia did the skeleton and I did the guy in the tie.

Finally here is a peek into the raffle that I won at the gymnastics display day.  I had made gingerbread houses to donate to the raffle and was embarrassed to win one back.  In fact, so mortified was I that I asked that it be taken out of the hamper and raffled again (much to Sylvia's dismay).  We had lots of other lovely food and gifts in the hamper, including a David Brewster calendar and some gorgeous fleece hats that one of the coaches made.  Sylvia has been wearing one of the hats to bed every night.  (And yes it is summer!)  We also have a voucher for I Carusi Pizza which I look forward to using. 

I am sending this post to the In My Kitchen event, that invites bloggers to share a peek into their kitchen.  Started by Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, it is currently hosted by Lizzy of Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things.  If you would like to join in, send your post to Lizzy by 10 November .  Or just head over to her blog to check out some fascinating kitchens.

Posted December 06, 2016 10:39 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Lankan Tucker

November 26, 2016

We've been keen to check out Lankan Tucker since it opened in Brunswick West earlier this year. The location - tucked way down the western end of Albion Street near Lolo & Wren - isn't super convenient, but the combination of breakfast and roti bread was enough to convince us to make the bike ride.

It's a cute little place, with a mix of indoor and outdoor seating and lots of light streaming in. The idea of a place serving up brunchy dishes with a Sri Lankan twist is perfectly targeted at me - I'm generally keen on curry for breakfast and double so if I can somehow combine it with eggs. It's a bit surprising that so few places are doing this - the only other place I can think of is the vegan about town-endorsed Pavlov's Duck.

The menu is long, with a mix of conventional brunch dishes (granola, omelettes, avo smash, etc) and more interesting Sri Lankan-inspired dishes (lots of roti plus interesting snacks like vadai and lunch food like dosa and hoppers). We were too early for the lunch menu so we'll have to come back to explore some more.

I went for the roti riser, a combination of roti bread, veggie curry, coconut sambal, a poached egg and apricot chutney ($17.50). Add on a few spoonfuls of the excellent chilli sauce they had on the table, and I was in heaven. The roti was soft and stretchy, a much better vessel for breakfast than boring old toast, and the combination of the mildly spicy veggie curry and the egg was perfect. Coconut sambal is probably the world's best condiment, so this ticked a lot of boxes for me.

The lack of any really interesting sweet dishes on the menu meant that Cindy went for a slightly less Sri Lankan vibe. She ordered the rolled omelette brekky burger ($17.90), a brioche bun overstuffed with eggs, battered fried mushrooms, a potato rosti, avocado, onion, wilted spinach, tomato and chilli jam. 

This wasn't quite as successful - piled high on a wooden board, it seemed to be presented more for instagram than for eating. The clued-in staff offered Cindy a side plate from the get-go, and she used it to pick off the copious raw onion, enjoy half the toppings piece-by-piece, and eventually dig into her omelette-burger.

I really enjoyed my breakfast at Lankan Tucker - the staff were lovely, the coffee (by Sensory Labs) was excellent and ability to order curry for breakfast highly appreciated. Here's hoping that brunch/curry crossover places are the next big Melbourne food craze.


I couldn't find any non-freebie blog reviews of Lankan Tucker - hopefully it will build a following over the months ahead.

Lankan Tucker
486 Albion St, Brunswick West
9386 8248
all day breakfastbrekky specialsbites & wrapslunch, salads & kids'drinks

Accessibility: Entry is flat and wide and the interior is reasonably spacious. There's a single non-gendered bathroom that's completely accessible and includes a baby change table. We ordered at our table and paid at a low counter.

Posted December 06, 2016 07:43 AM by Michael

December 04, 2016

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

The Lincoln

Cheap Eats 2006, a decade on

November 22, 2016

Hotel Lincoln (now called The Lincoln) has had several changes in management in the decade we've known it. This has meant a few makeovers in look and menu, although I think the atmosphere has been pretty consistent. The front bar has the typical Melbourne pub feel, while the dining room out back is much fancier. There have never been more than a couple of vegetarian options available, although we've enjoyed the ones we've had. When we visited as part of a large group recently, we were happy to order their set menu (The Half Lincoln, $45 per person) and let them show us how broad their vegetarian options really were.

The appetisers were light and fun - individual crackers piled with pink pickles, and kelp-salted edamame that kept our hands busy as we chatted.

One of the meal's high points was the shared entree of roasted cauliflower with a medley of buckwheat, pomegranate seeds, currants and mint. The puffed-up crunch of the buckwheat was unexpected and welcome, a switch-around on the Ottolenghi-style grain salads we seek and eat so often.

(Clockwise from top-left:) Asparagus with fried egg mayo and toasted crumbs was a winning side, the triple-cooked cooked could never have gone wrong, and a plate of cos hearts with fresh curd and shallots kept up the right ratio of green. I was skeptical of their teaming lentils with seaweed in the mushroom dish: the result was better than I expected, but not one of the night's favourites.

Dessert was another memorable point: Michael and I shared a feather-light beetroot and chocolate pudding. While it wasn't strongly flavoured, it was served in a pool of perrrrrfect anglaise.

The Lincoln's daily menu didn't much excite us vegos, but they're professionals who delivered a great experience. Staff were enormously accommodating of our group's various dietary requirements and various choices to eat communally via the Half Lincoln and individually a la carte.  The lentil-mushroom dish is the one official vegetarian main currently on menu, but through the Half Lincoln we learned that some of the sides are even better. With cheese and eggs liberally served throughout our meal, it remains to be seen how well they'd cater to vegans.

Staff didn't hinder us from chatting and chair-swapping into the night, even as the rest of the pub emptied out, and were easy-going as we split the last of the bill. I daresay they helped Melbourne make a great impression on our globe-trotting guests of honour, who are usually found fine-dining their way through DC.


You can also read about one, two of our previous visits to Hotel Lincoln. Fellow veg blogger Nouveau Potato was less impressed.


The Lincoln
91 Cardigan St, Carlton
9347 4666

Accessibility: Entry is flat. Indoors is quite crowded with high and low tables with stools and backed seats, respectively. We ordered at our table and paid while standing by the bar (but not across it). We didn't visit the toilets.

Posted December 04, 2016 03:53 PM by Cindy

December 03, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Refried lentils with garlic scapes (and zucchini or pumpkin) for nachos

I had a yen for nachos.  It was a eco-friendly way to follow up a taco night where we used a taco kit.  I had leftover seasoning, leftover salsa and I had forgotten to use the yoghurt.  I also had garlic scapes to use.  And the challenge of making my favourite refried beans without kidney beans or black beans.  I was most pleased with how I rose to the challenge.

The garlic scapes were from a farmers market where it was suggested that I just fry them up.  Instead I put them in dip that I found really garlicky.  So I decided to use them instead of onion and garlic in the refried beans.  The first time I used 3 and then next I was determined to use them all and put 10 in.  It was fine.  Actually it was really good!

I tried making the nacos differently to my usual.  I have often layered a bean mixture and cheese and salad between layers of tortilla chips.  This time I looked at photos of nachos in favourite restaurants and online.  I decided just to layer cheese and tortilla chips and then once cooked I piled on topping, making sure to have the refried beans heated.  Delicious and pretty!

The refried lentils were both quick and tasty.  I made them to use up what was in the kitchen rather than shopping while we had lots of food.  I had 20 minutes to make the refried lentils and got it done.  Which means that I could get home from Sylvia's swimming lesson, knock up some guacamole and put together nachos quickly.

This could change the way I do nachos and open me up to trying new vegies and pulses in making refried beans.  And while we don't usually do nachos often, I could do with more quick meals like this.  Life has been so busy that I have been having some very simple dinners.  I finished making 3 small gingerbread houses yesterday but with Christmas looming, I am not sure life will be throwing lots more time my way!

I am sending this to Tinned Tomatoes for Meat Free Mondays, to The Veg Hog. for My Legume Love Affair and to Elizabeth's Kitchen for No Waste Food Challenge.

More Mexican-inspired meals on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Borlotti bean mole with roast pumpkin and silverbeet (gf, v)
Haggis tacos (and nachos)
Kale, cheese and mole quesadillas (v)
Mexicale pie 
Oaxaca tacos (with potato and cheese) (gf)
Potato and kale enchiladas (gf, v)
Tex Mex Pizza with sourdough base (v)

Refried lentils with garlic scapes
Adapted from Alison Holst via Green Gourmet Giraffe
Serves 2-4

1 tbsp oil
3-10 garlic scapes, finely chopped
1 zucchini, finely chopped or 2-3 cups roasted diced pumpkin
2-3 tsp of taco seasoning
400g tin of brown lentils, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp tomato paste

Fry garlic scapes and zucchini in oil until zucchini is cooked.  (Or if using roast pumpkin, cook garlic scapes until starting soften and brown and then stir in pumpkin.)  Add taco seasoning and stir through.  Add lentils and tomato paste.  Warm though and remove from heat.

NOTES: Great for tacos and nachos.  You can mash with a fork or potato masher but it is optional.  If you don't have taco seasoning, add 1/2 tsp each of cumin, dried oregano, sugar, salt and chilli paste.  

For nachos I used 100g tortilla chips, 100-200g grated cheese and put together in 2 layers.  I heated it at 200 C for 15 minutes (but I think I could have done it either shorter or in a 180 C oven.)  I heaped it with refried lentils.  Then guacamole (1 avocado, squeeze of lime, pinch of salt, drizzle of srirach and 2 tbsp of garlicky green dip), about 1/4 cup plain yoghurt and 2-3 tbsp of salsa.

On the Stereo:
Dr Demento presents The Greatest Novelty Christmas CD of time - Various Artists

Posted December 03, 2016 07:44 PM by Johanna GGG

December 01, 2016

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne


Cheap Eats 2006, a decade on

November 16, 2016

Our Cheap Eats project has mostly been about revisiting places we blogged way back in the day, but we're also using it to visit some long-overlooked Melbourne stalwarts. When we needed a quick dinner up at the Parliament end of the city, it seemed like the perfect excuse to finally visit one of Melbourne's institutions: Pellegrini's. It's been trading on Bourke Street since 1954 and by all reports very little has changed in 62 years - there's a wooden board listing different pasta dishes, scrappily decorated walls and staff chatting away in Italian. 

It's charming enough, but the bar seating is a little awkward in a group of four. The staff were reasonably helpful taking, us through the vego dishes - the choices are pretty simple: pick from one of a handful of pasta options and then choose either pesto or napoli. I ordered the ricotta ravioli with the napoli sauce (~$18). It was fine - very basic and quite old-fashioned food, served without much care for its presentation - but satisfyingly huge and tasty for all of that. 

Cindy went for fettucine with a pesto sauce (~$18). As with the ravioli, this was nothing fancy, but the pasta was fresh, which is the key for such a simple dish. The servings were huge, and the half a white roll we were each served on the side seemed like an unnecessary carb boost. 

I'm not sure how I feel about our Pellegrini's visit. It's obviously a hugely nostalgic experience for many Melbournites, with an unpretentious vibe that seems almost entirely unchanged since Italian food was impossibly exotic. Without that connection though, I'm not sure it really measures up - the food is a little uninspiring and when you're paying nearly $20 for fettucine with some pesto stirred through it, it really needs to be amazing. On the plus side, everything happens super fast - our food turned up almost immediately after we ordered it - so it's good if you want something hearty but you're in a bit of a hurry. The watermelon granitas we all ordered to drink (~$3 each) were tops too. 

Looking over the brief review in our 2006 Cheap Eats Guide it's clear that Pellegrini's have just kept doing their thing over the past decade, right down to the old dude flirting with the women customers. Prices have gone up a bit - from $12-$14 in 2006 to roughly $18 these days, but otherwise they're just doing what they do. It's not somewhere we'll visit often, but I'm still glad it exists.

The rest of our night was spent at the quite wonderful Hush event at Melbourne Music Week - a series of wonderful bands playing short sets around Parliament House. It was pretty special.



66 Bourke St, Melbourne
9662 1885

Accessibility: There's a small step up on entry and a pretty crowded interior. You order and pay at the bar. We didn't visit the toilets.

Posted December 01, 2016 07:32 AM by Michael

November 30, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Vegan MoFo 2016 - reflections and quicklinks

So that's it!  Vegan MoFo is over for another year.  I have enjoyed cooking and sharing lots of good vegan food.  Having said that, my life doesn't make this pace of blogging easy.  This is my 27th Vegan MoFo post and I am glad to slowing down to my usual pace.  As in past Vegan Mofos, I am finishing with a reflection on Vegan MoFo and a few random photos.

The Temple of Doom sandwich from Smith and Deli. 
Vegan turkey, cheese, cabbage, corn and jalapeno in a sandwich. 
A bit spicy for me but good.  I shared it with E.
Firstly I didn't like the idea of daily prompts last year but I really liked the weekly themes this year.  They gave me plenty of space for ideas and lots of inspiration.  I had many more ideas than I could blog but I did keep up with frequent posting by preparing ahead of Vegan MoFo.  Sadly this did not help me catch up with reading other blogs and I found myself feeling rushed by the almost daily posting,  Life is just too busy.  Especially when I managed to delete three posts and have to rewrite them.

Mac and cheese at Melbourne Vegan Eats Brew and Food Fest
I did not manage one post on eating out during Vegan MoFo.  Even though I did have some excellent meals out.  We went to the Melbourne Vegan Eats Brew and Food Fest.  It was small but still overwhelming with too much choice.  E got the mac and cheese which was really good.  I had a lovely smoked tempeh burger but wished I had chicken salad in a cone from Rays or the carrot hotdog in the charcoal black bun.  And we loved the Half Pint sausage rolls.  I also enjoyed meals at Juanitas, True North and Smith and Deli, all of which have some great vegan food.

Kat's Breakfast from True North.  I asked for no eggs or bacon and had buttermilk biscuits, polenta grits, red pepper jelly,  pickled radishes and vegan chorizo.  I forgot to ask if it was vegan but I know I think the waitress said it could be made vegan.  It was delicious but I wished it came on a plate.
Actually the Ultimate Bean Stack that I had at Juanita's had dairy cheese in it.  I would have loved to have eat it with the vegan cheese but it was not available when I ordered.  Which brings me back to life as a vegetarian.  November marks 25 years living as a vegetarian.  Over that time vegetarians have become far more accepted and vegans seem to now be the odd ones out.

While I do not plan to become vegan any time soon, I am happy to incorporate more and more vegan food into my diet.  Aquafaba has made this even easier and is no doubt one of the reasons I haven't had eggs in the house for months.  We only have soy milk in the house but still have dairy cheese and yoghurt.  I have found lots of vegan cheese I love but am yet to find a vegan yoghurt to embrace.  Caeli has suggested Miyoko's yoghurt and I plan to try it.

I have been fortunate to be loaned a few vegan cookbooks by Faye.  Sadly I have been too busy with Vegan MoFo to spend much time reading them.  And Vegan MoFo always leaves me with lots of recipes to inspire me.   Here are a few quicklinks:

Aloo Tikka Bagel - Allotment to Kitchen
Speculoos Truffles and Cinnamon Stars - Seitan is My Motor
Mung bean and smoked aubergine side salad - Flicking the Vs
Roasted Brussels, Sprouts Chickpeas and Rice - Rock Your Vegan Socks
Jackfruit tacos with charred corn, cabbage and lime cream - Little Vegan Bear
Thanksgiving blossoms - Vegan Dollhouse
Crispy Vietnamese Crepes - Olives for Dinner
Roasted Garlic Bread - Walks, Talks and Eats
Cherry Bakewells - Walks Talks and Eats
Gingerbread Cookies - My Darling Vegan
Christmas Tree Cheese Platter - Veggies Save the Day
Easy Deviled Potatoes - Brand New Vegan
Vegan Tuna Noodle Casserole - Neat and Nutritious
Vegan Cheesemaking Guide - Vegan Nom Noms
Cooking Vegan MoFo recipes - Herbivore's Heaven

The one recipe I have made from Faye's cookbooks are the Gingerbread People from Isa's Vegan Holidays Cookbook.  They were nice but not as nice as my favourite gingerbread recipe.  Now that Christmas is near, Sylvia wants to make gingerbread for presents so I might have opportunities to try more vegan gingerbread.  Meanwhile I am embarked on making gingerbread houses for a raffle.  So, as always in my blog, I have much more to say than I have time for.  And you have probably read enough.  So I will now save my energies for some decorating tomorrow.

This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Week 5's theme is Holidays. 

Posted November 30, 2016 11:45 PM by Johanna GGG

November 29, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Gow Gee Hummus Cups and Lentil Celery Salad

Recently I linked to some gow gee cups that I had made when Sylvia was little.  We started to talk about doing them again with hummus and vegies.  We had them for dinner but it would be a fun and easy finger food for entertaining.  We ate the gow gee cups with a simple but satisfying lentil celery salad.  It was a good easy meal after a busy day of work, the dentist and Christmas shopping.

I really like the gow gee cups because they are just a matter of spraying round gow gee wrappers and putting them into a mini muffin dish.  They are then baked until browned around the edges.  This makes them crisp enough to put in whatever you like.  And they look like little flowers.

We put in some hummus and vegies,  I thought that the cherry tomatoes reminded me of Rudoph the Red Nose Reindeer.  Perhaps a couple of olive eyes and some pretzel antlers would make them really Christmassy.  Or you could add some holly leaves to the tomato by cutting them out of cucumber or green capsicum.  (Not that this would be practical if you were making a lot.)  The cucumber and carrot sticks were what we had.  Again, if you want a festive look you could do green and red capsicum.

The hummus didn't make the cups soggy immediately so I think they could be made perhaps an hour or so ahead of time but I don't know how much longer.  It is something I might experiment with when I have time.

I had hoped that Sylvia might like these but she preferred the cups separate from the vegies and hummus.  At least she ate more than she did of the salad.  Even though she was the one who inspired it.

Sylvia loves to tidy her corner of the loungeroom.  She has seconded a coffee table and recently made it look really neat.  Unfortunately around the edges was the mess of everything that she had thrown off it.  Among the papers I found an old Vegetarian Times magazine with this recipe.  I changed the vegies a bit and am sure other vegies such as tomato or other beans would work well too.  It was quite sharply flavoured the first night but less so the next.

More festive entertaining finger food from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Cashew cheese stuffed dates (gf, v)
Pesto pita Christmas trees
Polenta quinoa sticks with rhubarb sauce (gf, v)
Sausage rolls (v)
Sesame hummus bites (gf, v) 
Sushi with sticky walnuts and edamame (gf, v)
Tofu nut balls (v) 

Lentil Celery Salad
adapted from Vegetarian Times
serves 4

400g tin lentils, rinsed and drained
3 celery stalks, sliced
kernels of 1 cob corn
1 bunch asparagus, chopped small and lightly cooked
1 spring onion, thinly sliced

3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 small garlic clove crushed
2 tsp seeded mustard
seasoning - pinch salt and grind of black pepper

Place all salad ingredients into a medium bowl.  Either whisk the marinade ingredients or shake together in a jar (with the lid on).  Mix into salad and serve.  Can be kept overnight but the flavours mellow.

Gow Gee Hummus Cups
serves 2-3

12 round gow gee wrappers
oil spray
12 heaped tsp hummus
carrot, cucumber and cherry tomatoes

Lightly spray each gow gee wrapper with oil.  Place oil side up over a hole in a mini muffin tin and push in, making a few folds so it neatly sits in the hole and the folds make it look a little like a flower.  Repeat with remaining wrappers.  Bake for 10-15 minutes at 200 C.  Cool.  Put a heaped teaspoon of hummus in each cup.  Cut cherry tomatoes in half and press into some of the cups.  Cut the carrot and cucumber into matchsticks and plant in the remaining gow gee cups.

NOTES: I bought my gee gaw wrappers from the supermarket and they were vegan.  If you want them vegan and gluten free you could try this recipe. A couple of people have commented on never having heard of "gee gaw" wrappers - I checked again online and on the packet and it seems it is "gow gee" wrappers.  Oops!  Have edited the post.  But I sort of like the word gee gaw (which actually means trinket or bauble).

On the Stereo:
The Best Aussie Christmas

This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Week 5's theme is Holidays.  Today the prompt is Holiday Bake Day.  Nut roast has to be one of my favourite holiday bakes.

Posted November 29, 2016 09:16 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Peanut butter-coconut granola

November 14-15, 2016

Granola, fruit and yoghurt has been my default breakfast for quite a while. I usually bake this granola, but I was ready to try something new when I saw a peanut butter granola recipe on stonesoup earlier this month. Like most of the recipes on that blog it's grain-free, with peanuts, flaked coconut and flaked almonds taking the place of my usual rolled oats.

I'm unsure whether my granola had the intended texture. Nuts don't absorb liquids like rolled oats do, so my granola didn't dry out or become more crunchy as it baked (the peanuts and almond were pretty crunchy, nevertheless). A slick of peanut butter and coconut oil remained on the nuts and in the baking tray even as I worried about overbaking it all.

I liked teaming this granola with bananas and almond milk. I learned that peanuts aren't my favourite granola ingredient, but I'll definitely be bringing the peanut butter-binder and coconut flake elements into my granola-baking habits.

Peanut butter-coconut granola
(recipe from stonesoup)

25g coconut oil
100g peanut butter
125g coconut flakes
250g roasted unsalted peanuts
100g flaked almonds

Preheat an oven to 150°C. Line a large baking tray with paper.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the coconut oil. Turn off the heat and stir in the peanut butter until well mixed.

In a medium-large bowl, stir together the the coconut flakes, peanuts and almonds. Pour over the peanut butter mixture and stir everything to combine well. Turn the mixture out onto the lined baking tray and spread it out evenly. 

Bake for 15-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes for even cooking. Allow the granola to cool on the tray before storing.

Posted November 29, 2016 07:07 AM by Cindy

November 28, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Welsh nutroast with laverbread, leeks and cheese (vegan)

Back in April, I was sent a tin of laverbread, a Welsh seaweed, by the lovely Shaheen from Allotment 2 Kitchen.  It sat on my kitchen bench for many months staring at me accusingly as I neglected to try it.  I knew I would use it before the use-by date of 2018.  I waited until the right recipe and the right moment came by.  Finally I realised I must bake it into one of my very favourite foods: nut roast.

I had been curious about laverbread for ages after seeing Shaheen feature it on her blog over the years that we have been blogging pals.  When she sent me a tin, I was so excited.  And nervous.  It sounded odd.  And I avoided putting it in a few meals because I was worried how Sylvia or other people wold react.  When I finally opened it, I was relieved it did not have a strong fishy smell.  It looks pretty slimy but tastes far milder than I expected but it is quite savoury and replaced some of the salt in the recipe.  I quite liked the taste but in my head, it still seems strange.

Given that I have only found laverbread on Shaheen's blog, I assume it is not widely known.  Laverbread is seaweed that has been boiled down and minced into what Wikipedia describes as a "gelatinous paste".  E laughed at the blurb on the box saying that Laverbread is traditionally eaten with "fried cockles, bacon, mushrooms and eggs".  He knows this is just so unlike the meals we eat.  Thank goodness I have read Shaheen's glowing praise or I might never have gone near the stuff!

The flavours of the nut roast are inspired by Welsh Rarebit and Shaheen's scones.  Leek, mustard and cheese are added to a fairly plain nut roast that is seasoned by both laverbread and vegemite.  (I just know that Shaheen and many of her Welsh compatriots would use marmite but I am Australian and only have vegemite in my kitchen.)

When Shaheen sent me the laverbread, she also sent me an amazing complex dragon biscuit cutter.  I have been wondering how to use it.  Possibly there could be some gingerbread dragons in my life.  Then when I was planning the nut roast it hit me that a puff pastry dragon on top would be perfect.  I love nut roasts but they are not the bonniest of meals.  Now I am wondering about trying to put some Christmas cut outs of holly on my favourite Christmas nut roast.

I had visions of making a full roast dinner.  Nut roasts are so delicious with roast vegies and gravy.  Alas I didn't have time.  I was happy to find time to make the nut roast.  It was enough to have some leftover salad and make a coleslaw.  Nut roasts are also brilliant with salads.  Or leftover in sandwiches.  This was so good that for a moment, I thought how wonderful it would be if I could make one of these nut roasts every week!

Having the leftovers meant that I could find time the next day to make it to the first school assembly I have attended all year.  Sylvia's school has changed its weekly assembly from Monday to Friday and I have a very small window to attend.  I was delighted to be there to see her attending an award.  (And I swear I wasn't sitting up the back distracted by chatting to parents I hadn't seen for a while!)  Afterwards when I congratulated her, she asked if we could go straight home.  When I told her I had to go to work, she burst into tears.  Oh dear.  Thank goodness for a kind friend who took her home for a play date.

Another moment of note last week was attending an Annual General Meeting.  We ordered our meals at the pub and then the president stood up and announced that we should start so that we had business finished before our meals arrived.  Now that is my sort of AGM!

Yes it has been busy times!  And only four weeks til Christmas!  It is the third last day of Vegan Mofo.  I have posted almost daily for Vegan MoFo and am looking forward to it ending.  I just don't have the time and energy to keep up.  Yet I am very pleased it has inspired me to try this nut roast.  Too many of my vegan nut roasts have been quite soft.  I am really pleased with both the texture and taste of this one and to have finally tried the laverbread.  I highly recommend it.  But as I am unlikely to have laverbread regularly in my kitchen I am planning to revist this recipe as a plainer vegan nut roast.  Stay tuned!

I am sending this nut roast to Rock Your Vegan Socks and Vnutrition for Healthy Vegan Fridays. to Tinned Tomatoes for Meat Free Mondays, Honest Mum for Brilliant Blog Posts, and Lavender and Lovage, Travels for Taste and Jo's Kitchen for Tea Time Treats.

More vegan nut roasts on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Glazed nut roast cupcakes (gf, v)
Green (pea) nut roast (gf, v)
Lentil and mushroom nut roast (v)
Parsnip nut roast (v)
Sweet potato and poppy seed nut roast with strawberry glaze (v)
Or just check out my complete nut roast list

Welsh nutroast with laverbread, leeks and cheese
Adapted from The Vegan Society
Serves 4-6

1 large leek, chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp laverbread* 
1 tsp yeast extract/vegemite
1 tsp seeded mustard
250g coarsely ground mixed nuts
115g dried wholemeal breadcrumbs
100g grated vegan cheese (I used Biolife)
Pinch white pepper

Optional topping:
1/2 a sheet of puff pastry
milk to glaze

Preheat oven to 200 C.  Grease and line a loaf tin.

Fry leek in oil for about 5 minutes or until soft.  Mix together laverbread, vegemite and mustard.  Gradually add in 125ml (1/2 cup) of hot water and mix until vegemite is dissolved.  Stir together nuts, breadcrumbs, cheese and white pepper.  Stir in vegemite mixture and leeks. It should clump together when pinched.  If too crumbly add a tablespoon or two of water (I added two).  Check seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Tip mixture into prepared tin and smooth down flat with the back of a spoon.  If desired, cut Welsh dragon out of puff pastry, place on nut roast and brush with milk.  Bake for 30 -35 minutes.  It shoudl be golden brown on top and feel firm to touch in the middle.  Best cooled and reheated (20 minutes at 180 C was what I did) to get neater slices.

NOTES: If you don't have laverbread, you could add another tsp of vegemite.  And leave out the cheese too as it would be good without it.  Substitute onion for the leek if that is what you have.  And then you will have an excellent basic vegan nut roast. 

On the Stereo:
A Short Album About Love: Divine Comedy

This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Week 5's theme is Holidays.  Today the prompt is Holiday Bake Day.  Nut roast has to be one of my favourite holiday bakes.

Posted November 28, 2016 11:00 PM by Johanna GGG

November 27, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Aquafaba (chickpea brine) recipes - vegan and eggless

Aquafaba meringues were such an exciting discovery last year.  Using the aquafaba, also known as brine or the liquid drained off a tin of chickpeas, instead of egg white has been surprisingly successful.  Who would have thunk it!  It was like the last frontier in vegan baking had been reached.  As a vegetarian who has never liked egg, I have been delighted that I can go for months without buying eggs because if I want to bake, I can often use aquafaba instead.

Sometimes I add aquafaba and am not convinced it makes a huge difference.  It makes me wonder just how essential eggs are for baking.  Indeed I would go as far as saying that aquafaba is changing my traditions and opening up new opportunities.  (I still want to try making marshmallows, ice cream, a fruit meringue pie, nougat and mayonnaise.)  Below are some of the recipes I have enjoyed making with aquafaba.

For more recipes and advice on aquafaba, check out the Aquafaba (vegan meringues hits and misses Facebook Group.

This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Week 4's theme is Memories and Traditions

Posted November 27, 2016 04:55 PM by Johanna GGG

November 26, 2016

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Molasses & walnut icecream

November 12, 2016

Our tempeh & grits dinner was the core of a three-course Vegan Soul Kitchen meal. We started with Spicy Goobers, peanuts in a spice mix similar to that of the tempeh. For dessert I had this icecream at the ready.

Bryant Terry hit on the same vegan icecream base that I've used for years: coconut milk thickened with arrowroot. He sweetens his primarily with agave nectar, but adds a shot of molasses because it reminds him of his grandmother's desserts. The icecream's other feature is a scattering of candied walnuts. They're an irresistible snack on their own, as well as working well in this icecream - caramelly sweet, crunchy and lightly roasted with the faintest hint of bitterness. The overall effect is very similar to my vegan salted caramel icecream.

The icecream's texture was dreamy on the day of churning, but the leftovers ended up a bit grainier as the week went on. So share this one around and enjoy it all right away, at its peak.

Molasses & walnut icecream
(slightly adapted from a recipe in Bryant Terry's Vegan Soul Kitchen)

candied walnuts
1 cup walnuts
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons agave nectar
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar

molasses icecream
2 x 400mL cans coconut milk
2 tablespoons arrowroot
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla
pinch of salt

In a medium bowl, stir the olive oil through the walnuts to evenly coat them. Stir through the agave nectar, and then finally the sugar to evenly coat the nuts.

Line a large baking tray with paper. Set a frypan over medium heat and pour in the walnuts. Stir them regularly as they toast, until they're fragrant and most of the liquid has evaporated. Turn off the heat and spread the nuts out over the baking tray. Allow them to cool to room temperature.

In a mug, stir together 1/4 cup of the coconut milk and the arrowroot until it's all smooth. In a medium-large saucepan, combine the remaining coconut milk, agave nectar, molasses, vanilla and salt. Set it over medium-high heat and stir in the arrowroot-coconut mixture. Keep stirring the mixture to avoid it sticking to the bottom, cooking until it's thickened to coat the back of a spoon - up to 10 minutes. Refrigerate until completely cold, ideally overnight.

Strain the icecream mixture and churn it in an icecream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Add the walnuts in the last couple of minutes of churning. Transfer the icecream to an airtight container and freeze for about 4 hours before serving.

Posted November 26, 2016 12:38 PM by Cindy

November 25, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Banana and maca muesli (granola)

Muesli (or granola as it is called elsewhere) has been part of my life for a long time.  I didn't always make it.  When I was young we bought it in a packet.  I ate it with milk.  Ever since I have gone through phases of eating it.  Sometimes with juice.  Sometimes with yoghurt.  Occasionally at a breakfast spread at a hotel.  The above photos was inspired by a second hand glass bowl from an op shop that reminded me of a hotel breakfast buffet.

Recently I have enjoyed making my own museli.  While my favourite is my chocolate muesli, every now and again I fancy a change.  With manky bananas in the fruit bowl and a curiosity to try maca powder, I embarked on a new flavour.  It has pleased me very much over a month of breakfasts and I would highly recommend it.

Sylvia and I had fun when I first ate it.  We sang "I like banana, coconut and oats and that's why they call me king of the goats."  (This is a riff on a playground chant in one of her books that goes "I love banana, coconut and grapes and that's why they call me king of the apes.")  Kids are so easy to amuse.  Sadly, they are harder to coax to eat muesli! No breakthrough there!  It is all mine.

My main uncertainty about the muesli was how to use the maca.  I had a feeling that it would marry nicely with banana and I liked the idea that it gave energy for the day.  Then I read I should not cook it.  So I toasted the muesli and added a cup of maca.  My lovely toasted muesli went all powdery.  But I ate it anyway. 

(And did it give me energy.  I only noticed at one point I did not eat muesli for breakfast and was decidedly lacking in energy for a couple of days but I think that was more due to Trump being elected and me being laid low with a headache!)

I liked how it smelled like banana cake when I opened the canister of muesli every morning.  Until I had been eating it almost 5 weeks and then it didn't smell quite so good and I lost confidence in the freshness.  I think the maca would have been better in the toasted muesli rather than added afterwards but am still not sure if this would affect the maca's potency or muesli's shelf life.  More experiments and yummy breakfasts to come.

More oats for breakfast on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Banana oat pancakes - vegan (v)
Chocolate muesli (granola) (v)
Cranachan-style breakfast parfait 
Microwave muesli (v)
Sylvia's porridge (v)
Tahini, quinoa and apricot toasted muesli (v)

Banana and maca muesli (granola)
Adapted from the KitchenMaid

4 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cup seeds
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup dried buckwheat (or quinoa)
3 Tbsp neutral, flavourless oil
3 Tbsp maple syrup
2 large very ripe bananas
1 cup maca, optional

Place everything in large bowl and mix.  Tip into two large lined roasting dishes and baked for 30 minutes at 180 C, stirring once or twice during the baking.  It should be golden brown.  Cool in the tin and then store in an airtight container for about a month.

NOTES: For the seeds I used a mixture of sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, linseed and chia.  For the oil I used rice bran.  I added my maca after I cooked everything else but I would try it in with everything next time, though it may need a bit more liquid.  For those who are confused by terminology, in Australia we have always called it "muesli" rather than "granola" which is used elsewhere!

On the Stereo:
The Gorey End: Tiger Lilies with the Kronos Quartet

This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Week 4's theme is Memories and Traditions

Posted November 25, 2016 10:51 PM by Johanna GGG

vegan about town

[singapore] Gokul [little india]

Gokul is probably my favourite Indian vegetarian restaurant in Singapore. It's got a very handy two locations (one in the Fortune Centre and one in Little India), an excellent menu, and is fast service and I love it.

It's really hard for me to go to Gokul and not order the chicken rice, mostly because it's always been one of my favourite dishes and it's so hard for me to get a good one in Australia. Gokul's chicken rice comes with fried chicken AND pandan chicken (aaah), a lovely ginger soup, ginger rice, some veggies, and some chili. It's so good. Look at that picture. Imagine angels singing as you eat it. Ahhhh.

The menu has a variety of bread sets, curry dishes, and local foods like char kway teow and chicken rice. They also have an excellently spicy murtabak and a good dosa, and they don't mind when one of your group brings in a frozen vegan cheezecake to eat for dessert.

The menu at the Fortune Centre location isn't as extensive as the Little India location, but I go to it more often due to its convenient location, so you can tell that I don't mind.

Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant
19 Upper Dickson Road
Fortune Centre
190 Middle Road

Get there on the MRT, mostly. There's a step to enter the Little India location, and ordering happens at the table; at Fortune Centre, ordering happens at a high counter. Cards are accepted. There's an awkward toilet in the Little India Building; Fortune Centre has a toilet down a twisty hallway.

Posted November 25, 2016 02:57 PM by steph

November 24, 2016

vegan about town

[singapore] nomVnom [clarke quay]

I took my sister to nomVnom, and she declared it better than Lord of the Fries. I know. I KNOW.

Here's the deal. nomVnom is an all-vegan burger joint in the basement at The Central at Clarke Quay. They have a huge roster of 21 burgers and 20 plus sides, and 2 pastas. They make basically everything in house, including these beautiful soft steamed buns of just amazing deliciousness.

My favourite burger is WITHOUT A DOUBT the Temptation Satay, which is a marinated tempeh patty, housemade satay sauce, lettuce and cucumber. I eat this burger at least once a fortnight, and I honestly don't know what I'm going to do when I return to Melbourne next week. Attempt to replicate the burger, for sure. Beg Wai Lek (the owner) to take pity on me and tell me the sauce recipe, probably.

Others of my favourites are the Dhall Fusion (a crunchy soy-based patty, a thick dhall curry sauce, and sweet corn, to which I like to add cucumber pieces like a monster) and the Nom Nom (soy patty, tartar sauce, tomato, lettuce). The sides are mostly deep fried and delicious, including battered and deep fried mushies and battered and deep fried banana pieces.

They do a cold matcha and a hot matcha, as well as an amazing passionfruit and lemon tea (see: other things I'll be recreating at home) and an amazing cold cinnamon cocoa drink.

Look, I love Lord of the Fries, and I'm definitely going to be eating a parma burger within about 48 hours of touchdown in Melbourne, and I'm defo devo that I missed the HSP that ran for two months exactly when I was out of the country. But nomVnom is so good that one of my meat-eating Perth friends ate there twice during three days, and I can't fault that decision.

The Central
6 Eu Tong Sen Street

Get there on the MRT (Clarke Quay MRT Station exits directly into the basement) or a zillion buses (there are 3 buses that take me directly from my house to The Central).

nomVnom accepts a variety of credit cards, including my Visa. Ordering happens at a high counter. The tables are crowded together but well lit, and seating is a combination of stools, chairs and couches.

Posted November 24, 2016 10:06 PM by steph

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Zucchini Slice - Veganising a favourite Aussie dinner

Being vegetarian does not mean that I don't still want to eat some favourite childhood dishes.  In Australia, everyone seems to know the zucchini slice recipe made with lots of zucchinis, eggs and cheese.  It is like a big fritatta.  It makes sense that it would have been popular back in the days when people had vegetable gardens and chooks in the backyard.  As we did as kids.  It wasn't too hard to make zucchini slice vegetarian once I discovered a good tofu bacon recipe.  Lately I have been eating less eggs so I decided to make it vegan.  That was more of a challenge.

More recently I have become enamoured of a tofu besan omelette.  I make it often to serve with vegies for an easy dinner.  I decided to make a batch of this to add to the slice instead of eggs.  However I don't have this omelette noted as replacing a certain amount of eggs.  So I don't know how its volume compared to the 5 eggs in the traditional recipe.

Now while I ate quite a bit of bacon before going vegetarian, I never liked eggs.  Discovering vegan alternatives to egg dishes has been really liberating.  Yet I have a problem in understanding how egg dishes should taste.  Which usually doesn't matter.  There would be nothing worse for me than having it taste exactly like eggs.  But figuring out the right texture for the zucchini slice was challenging.

When the slice came out of the oven, it was really oozy to cut.  I could have eaten it with a spoon.  Which seems all wrong.  Yet I think this is the case with an egg version too.  The next day it could be easily sliced and was delicious.  It was like my favourite omelette with lots of vegies and tofu bacon.  We fried a few pieces for a superb weekend brunch.  The zucchini slice was a great alternative to an egg dish. 

More zucchini dishes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One pot pasta with chickpeas and zucchini (v)
Sweet potato, zucchini and olive quesadillas (v) 
Tofu-ricotta, zucchini and pumpkin lasagne (v)
Yeasted zucchini bread (v)
Zucchini brownie with smoked walnuts (v)
Zucchini koftas with tomato gravy (gf, v)

Vegan Zucchini Slice
Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe
Serves 4-6 or more for finger food

1/3 cup olive oil, divided
1 onion, chopped
1/3 of a batch of tofu bacon, chopped
1 kg zucchinis (courgettes), grated
150g grated bio cheddar cheese (or your fave vegan cheese)
1 batch tofu besan omelette
1 cup self raising flour
2 tbsp tofu bacon marinade
1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes

Preheat oven to 180 C. Grease a lamington or swiss roll tin (I used a swiss roll tin).

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a largish non-stick frypan and fry the tofu until golden brown but not charred.  Set aside.  In the same frypan add another tablespoon of oil and fry onions until golden brown.

Mix all the omelette ingredients together.  I usually do this with the hand held blender but just used a whisk which make it smooth enough.

Grate zucchinis.  Squeeze some of the liquid out of the grated zucchini.  This can be done in the food processor or by hand. Tip into a large mixing bowl.

Add tofu bacon, fried onion, omelette mixture, grated cheese,  flour, marinade and nutritional yeast flakes to the zucchinis.  Mix well and season to taste.

Tip into prepared tin and spread evenly. Bake for about 35-40 minutes (I did 50 minutes) until golden brown and crispy on top. It is quite soft when cooked but best kept overnight (I kept mine in the tin) and reheated the next day (at 180 C for 15 minutes.)

NOTES: I used about 6 zucchinis this time but it was about 4 last time I made it so I have just put the weight in the recipe.  Other vegan cheeses could be used, such as Daiya.  As it was very soft and oozy when cooked so I wonder if adding a bit more besan to the omelette mixture might help.

On the Stereo:
Paris Rive Droite - various artists

This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Week 4's theme is Memories and Traditions

Posted November 24, 2016 09:54 PM by Johanna GGG

November 23, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Rice paper bacon

Where do I start?  With my love of all things smoky?  With my fascination for all vegan bacon substitutes?  With my memories of pork crackling as a child?  Ok let me start with my recent excitment at the idea of making bacon from rice paper and the claims of how crispy and crackly it is.  And indeed it was easy and amazing and brought back childhood memories.

Yes all I had to do was dip two sheets of rice paper in water, cut into thick slices, dip in a bacon marinade and bake for 7-8 minutes.  I wish I had had some fresh soft bread to try a bacon butty.  I took a photo of it on a plate with some breakfast food but really it was just amazing to eat as it was in crispy crunchy slightly chewy (depending on how much it was baked) strips.

You might be surprised at this transformation of the humble rice paper that is better known for making rice paper rolls.  Yet if you have ever tried baking it to make spring rolls you will understand how pleasingly crispy it can be.

Tofu bacon remains my special facon sweetheart.  It is versatile enough to go in most places I would put bacon.  It also has lots of nutritional goodness.  Yet I think when just want easy and crispy I would turn to this rice paper bacon.  I can imagine it being loaded on a proper fry up for brunch with tofu besan omelette or besan scramble , vegies sausages, baked beans, fried tomato and spinach.  Or maybe crumbled over a salad.

Rice paper bacon is weird but it works.  Unlike thunderstorm asthma which is just weird and upsetting.  I had never heard of thunderstorm asthma until this week when Melbourne had a freak weather occurrence of a 35 C day which turned into a thunderstorm.  Our hospitals and ambulance systems were overwhelmed and sadly three people have died.  Thunderstorm asthma, super moons and earthquakes!  Nature does seem quite odd lately. 

More vegan bacon recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Bean and buckwheat bacon (gf, v) 
Coconut bacon (gf, v)
Eggplant bacon (gf, v)
Tempeh bacon (gf, v)
Tofu bacon (gf, v)

Rice Paper bacon
Adapted from yup it's vegan

8 rounds of rice paper

Bacon marinade:
3 tbsp tamari (soy sauce)
2 tbsp maple syrup'
1 tbsp tomato sauce or tomato paste
1/2 tsp nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 tbsp liquid smoke
1 tsp smoked paprika

Preheat oven to 200 C.  Line a few baking sheets with baking paper.

Make the bacon marinade by mixing all ingredients and pouring into a long dish.  Now take two rounds of rice paper stacked on top of each other.  Dip in a large shallow dish of water.  Take out a shake as much water off as possible.  Cut into about 5 thick strips with large scissors.  Dip each strip  into the marinade and shake a little off.  Place on lined baking sheets.  Bake for 7-8 minutes.

NOTES: I have only made this once but I would like to experiment more.  The top bacon is quite crackly but a tiny bit charred around the edges.  The bottom one is less crackly and more chewy but not so charred.  I would like some time to try this and get a good sense of how long it should be in my oven.

On the Stereo:
Bella Vista Terrace: The Best of the Go Betweens

This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Week 4's theme is Memories and Traditions

Posted November 23, 2016 10:28 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Spicy Cajun-Creole tempeh with creamy cashew grits

November 12, 2016

I was very curious about grits when I read about them in Vegan Soul Kitchen. What's their texture and flavour, and would I ever be able to find them in Australia? I was able to answer the first two questions in Washington DC earlier this year: grits are corn-based and a bit like soft polenta or even mashed potato in their fluffy starchiness, with the velvet grains of a creamy risotto. Last month my friend Erin helped resolve the last question, picking up a box of Quick Grits for me (at the cost of only a few dollars) when she stocked up on Halloween candy at USA Foods.

Although the box cheerfully promised that these cook in 5 minutes, I found that my Quick Grits were also well suited to the near-hour-long simmer included in this recipe of Bryant Terry's. Rather than using butter or cream, Terry enriches his grits with blended cashews. They really round out the texture, providing a creamy and mild foundation for the real flavour bomb: spiced tempeh.

Terry's dish is inspired by the more classic combination of shrimp and grits (which I recall the team selling at that market in DC). In this vegan recipe, Terry has us fry up bite-sized strips of tempeh and coating them in hot and sweet dry spices. They're stirred together with sauteed leeks and fresh cherry tomatoes, which provide a little sweetness and some much-needed juiciness. Two of my dinner companions aren't tomato-lovers, so I served those separately and prepped some of Bryant Terry's rosemary-salted asparagus as well. If I were cooking this purely to please myself, I reckon I'd toss the cherry tomatoes into the saute pan with the leeks for just a couple of minutes, so that they were warmed through and just starting to soften.

This recipe served four people without any leftovers, to our chagrin. It shouldn't be too hard to double (perhaps frying the tempeh in two batches). I reckon we might give that a shot, given how much we loved our first experience of home-made grits.

Spicy Cajun-Creole tempeh with creamy cashew grits
(slightly adapted from a recipe in Bryant Terry's Vegan Soul Kitchen)

Spicy Cajun-Creole Tempeh
225g tempeh
4 cups stock
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
pinch of cayenne
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon white pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil

Creamy cashew grits
1/2 cup cashews
3 1/2 cups water
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 leek
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup stock
3/4 cup grits
1 cup almond milk

Make a small, early start on the grits. In a small bowl or airtight container, soak the cashews in 1/2 cup of the water for at least an hour. Drain the water and reserve the cashews.

Next, focus on the tempeh. Slice the tempeh into pieces about 1cm thick and 3-4cm long. In a large saucepan, mix together the stock and half of the salt and drop in the tempeh pieces. Bring them to the boil, then turn down the heat to simmer the tempeh for 25 minutes. Turn off the heat and take out the tempeh with a slotted spoon; reserve the stock for the grits.

While the tempeh is boiling, find a heat-resistant and airtight container big enough to fit all the tempeh pieces. In the bottom of it, stir together the onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, chilli powder, chilli flakes, cayenne, thyme, oregano, white pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside for later.

While the tempeh is boiling, there's probably also time for preparing the grits further. Blend together the cashews and 1/2 cup fresh water in a food processor or blender, until as smooth and creamy as possible. Set aside.

Slice the cherry tomatoes into halves and place them in a bowl. Stir in the lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt and let the flavours mingle.

Finely slice the tender parts of the leek and discard the rest. Mince the garlic. Set a frypan over low-medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the leeks and saute for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and keep sauteing until everything is tender and fragrant, perhaps another 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Now it's time to get the grits going properly. Bring back that big saucepan of stock. Add the extra cup of stock and 1 cup of water to the stock already in there. Whisk in the grits until there are no lumps, and bring it all to the boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer the grits, stirring regularly,  until they've absorbed most of the liquid, 10-12 minutes. Stir in the almond milk and simmer for a further 10 minutes, still stirring regularly to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan. Stir in the cashew cream and last 1/2 cup water and cook, stirring regularly, for 35-40 minutes. The grits should be soft but not runny, like soft polenta.

While you're simmering the grits, get a frypan on the heat with the tempeh's olive oil. Fry the tempeh until golden brown, turning at least once as it cooks. Turn off the heat and transfer the tempeh to the container full of spices. Pop the lid on and give it a thorough shake, so that the tempeh is coated all over in the spices. Drain the juices off the tomatoes and mix them up with the sauteed leeks and spicy tempeh pieces.

When everything's ready, spoon a big thick puddle of grits onto each plate or bowl, then top with the tempeh mixture.

Posted November 23, 2016 10:20 AM by Cindy

November 22, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Burger buns (vegan)

When I make burger patties, in my mind the perfect way to serve them is sandwiched in a burger bun with lots of colourful salad.  Most times I put too much energy into the patties, don't have time to make any buns and am lucky if I even remember to buy some in the shops.  For some time I have wanted to find a good burger buns recipe.  This one might well be the keeper I have been seeking.

When I recently made smoky apple vegie burger patties, I took a burger bun recipe from The Kitchn and veganised it with aquafaba.  It was a lovely dough to work with and relaxing to knead it at the kitchen table while chatting to my mum, leave it to rise while I made chocolates, and then shape it under her watchful eye.  My mum made bread during my childhood and I learnt a lot from her and these days it is great to talk about bread making with her. 

I might have also been harking back to my childhood when I sprinkled sesame seeds on top of the buns.  It is a long time since I had a MacDonalds burger, but I can still recite at speed "two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickled onions on a sesame seed bun".  I have no desire for their burgers these days but sesame seeds still seem right on a burger bun.  Unfortunately Sylvia took a child's dislike to seeds and was most displeased with my sprinkling.  No Maccas burgers in her childhood, you see!

Luckily for Sylvia, burgers these days are more sophisticated than those of my youth.  She is not keen on burgers but at least I can show her how good they can be when she finally embraces them!  While burger buns are rather plain, they really do make a burger look special.

More yeasted buns/rolls from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Carrot and poppy seed dinner rolls (v)
Cranberry nut rolls
Hot Cross Buns - wholemeal (v)
Pretzel buns (v)
Pumpernickel Rolls with Currants (v)

Burger buns
Adapted from The Kitchn
Makes 8 buns

1 tablespoon active-dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup soy milk
1 tbsp ground flax (linseeds)
3 tbsp aquafaba
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups white plain flour
1 tablespoon margarine
sesame seeds for sprinkling

  • Mix yeast and warm water in a large mixing bowl.  Stand for about 5 minutes until the mixture is frothy so you know the yeast is doing its thing!
  • Mix in milk, flax, aquafaba, oil, sugar and salt.  Add in flour until you have a shaggy dough.
  • Knead for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and slightly sticky.  (I needed very little flour for kneading.
  • Return dough to the mixing bowl, cover with clingfilm and set aside in a warm place to rise for an hour or until doubled in size.
  • Divide dough into 8 pieces and shape into tight balls.   Place buns on a lined baking sheet with an inch or two between each.
  • Cover buns with a tea towel and let rise for about 30-40 minutes until puffy.  
  • While buns are rising preheat oven to 190 C or 375 F.
  • When buns are risen, melt margarine and brush over the tops of buns.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds.  
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown.

On the Stereo:
The best of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds

This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Week 4's theme is Memories and Traditions

Posted November 22, 2016 10:19 PM by Johanna GGG

November 21, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Tofu besan omelette (vegan)

E and I first went out for a meal together in an internet cafe in Edinburgh.  He ordered a fried egg sandwich with sauce.  I was fascinated.  Having never liked eggs, this sandwich seemed as foreign to me as Scotland did.  These days, though fried egg sandwiches are never seen in our house, we love a tofu besan omelette sandwich.

This tofu besan omelette recipe is not new to my blog.  I have included it as part of other recipes previously.  However it is such a common dish in our house that I wanted to feature it.  And I wanted to rewrite the recipe in a way that makes sense to me when I make it.  I always have the ingredients on hand because omelette and vegies is one of my favourite easy meals. 

I am never brave enough to fold it over with vegies inside it.  I am just happy to see the golden brown skin when I flip it out of the pan onto a large plate.  It is quite soft when first cooked.  By the next day any leftovers have firmed up.

As I have commented before, the combination of tofu and besan (chickpea flour) works together brilliantly.  By itself tofu is too damp, and if made with just besan it can be too dry.  Together they make the right squidgy mixture.

I often serve it with whatever vegies and leftovers are on hand.  I think there was some fried rice dish in the above plate.  And lots of colourful vegies.  It is such an easy meal.  Perhaps slightly more work than an egg omelette but I am so used to making it that it seems no effort.  I have always admired those who can do easy egg meals.  This tofu besan omelette (known as a tofu omelette in our house) has become my lazy equivalent. 

Leftover tofu omelette is also a wonderful thing.  Or should I say, it is terribly useful.  A few slices or a scattering of some chopped tofu can pep up lots of meals.  Sandwiches, stews, pizza and fried rice. 

The above photos will give you more ideas:
*Top: Sushi stack, Pasta with pumpkin, omelette and parmesan
*Middle: Asian rice bowl, Caesar salad,
*Bottom: Portuguese fried rice, Pad see ew

Other savoury vegan "egg" recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
French toast - savoury and seedy (v)
Spinach, sundried tomato and chive chickpea scramble (gf, v)
Tofu scramble (gf, v)
Vegan bubble and squeak frittata (gf, v) 
Vegan quiche with tofu and besan (v)

Tofu besan omelet
Adapted from Chez Cayenne via Green Gourmet Giraffe

300g silken tofu, drained
6 tbsp besan (chickpea flour),
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon mirin
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion granules
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
pinch black salt
1-2 tsp canola oil, for frying

Blend tofu, olive oil and mirin in blender.  Transfer to bowl and mix in remaining ingredients.

Heat heavy bottomed non-stick frypan over low heat and swirl around 1 to 2 tsp of oil to cover the pan.  Pour in the thick batter and use the back of a spoon to swirl it around the pan (I think my omelet was about 22 or 23cm in diameter).  Cook for 10 minutes on low heat and then cover with a large saucepan lid and cook another 10 minutes on low heat.

Use an eggflip or spatula to loosen so it slides around the pan.  Carefully flip (or slide) onto a dinner plate.  Use warm or cool in the fridge until required. 

NOTES: I have tried this without a blender - it is not quite as smooth but is pretty good.  I have also tried this with firm tofu and it was so thick I had to add some milk and then adjust the seasoning too. Leftovers are great in sandwiches.

On the Stereo:
Flogging a Dead Horse - Sex Pistols

This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Week 4's theme is Memories and Traditions

Posted November 21, 2016 10:10 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Date & orange crumble slice

November 12, 2016

After a premature start, some gorgeous, lounge-for-hours picnic weather has finally arrived. A couple of my work colleagues made use of it to celebrate the upcoming birth of their first child. Rather than a more conventional baby shower, a huge group of all genders and ages gathered in a park for a potluck.

We didn't have a lot of time to prepare and cook but it turned out that I had all the ingredients for this date & orange crumble slice posted last year on Lunch Lady. It's the kind of simple, hearty snack that's perfect for the weekday lunchbox. It translated well to the picnic blanket too, since it sliced up easily and could withstand sitting in the sun without melting or going bad.

I made pantry substitutions that also rendered the slice vegan, changing out the honey for golden syrup and the butter for margarine. The oaty base comes together in the food processor and was a little fiddly to press into my baking tray, but it handily doubles as a crumble topping. I was unsure about just dropping whole dates and orange juice onto the base, so I added an extra step of pureeing all of the orange juice with half of the dates. This ended up a tiny bit smoother than my preferred texture so I might hold back a few more whole dates next time. (I've adjusted the proportions below.)

Date & orange crumble slice
(slightly adapted from Lunch Lady)

2 cups dates
1 cup orange juice
zest of 1 orange
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup golden syrup
90g margarine

Place the dates and orange juice in a saucepan. Bring them to the boil, then turn off the heat. Allow the mixture to cool for a while.

Preheat an oven to 180°C. Line a small baking tray with paper and lightly spray it with oil.

In a food processor, blend together the remaining ingredients to form a crumbly mixture. Press half of the mixture into the baking tray (use a bit more if you need it to stretch across the base). Set the rest of the mixture aside.

Place about a third of the dates and all of their juice into the food processor and blend them until thick. Stir the puree back into the whole dates, then spread the whole fruity mixture over the base.

Crumble the remaining biscuity mixture over the top of the fruity layer. Bake the slice until browned on top, about 30 minutes.

Posted November 21, 2016 07:39 AM by Cindy

November 20, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Chunky asparagus and cashew dip with Kale sourdough tortillas

Green, green glorious green!  Yes.  You might have noticed I love green.  So while I have been having fun making rainbow recipes for Vegan Mofo, I was struck by the need to make a green dip platter.  Not only did I experiment with making a chunky dip but I also decided to try my hand at kale sourdough tortillas,

I wish I could tell you that it all went swimmingly.  The dip was not quite as I had intended.  I blame my inexperience with garlic scapes.  I thought two scapes would be ok.  Online lots of people say that they are much milder than regular garlic bulbs.  I even read one recipe with 10 garlic scapes in a dip.  Two was far too many for me.  Perhaps my tolerance for raw garlic is low.  But it burned.

The creamy green base of cream cheese and spinach was otherwise excellent.  I was pleased at how well the vegan Tofutti worked but any cream cheese should work here.  However because the garlic scapes were so strong I then I added more flavour and added two tablespoons of white miso which was far too much.  One tablespoon would do.  (Amended in the recipe below.)

I wanted to make a completely green platter.  I wanted a green carb and was tossing up between green crackers and green scones.  But then I was swayed by Mihl's gorgeous  Kale Tortillas.  However I have sourdough starter to be used so I adapted my recipes for sourdough flatbreads and tortillas.

I really loved these tortillas.  They were green and soft.  I was just sad that the photos didn't do justice to their green colour.  But believe me that the colour was far better than my photography skills.  It was a really nice addition to my green platter.

I'd love to tell you that Sylvia enjoyed the kale sourdough tortillas.  I was home late for dinner and left a message for E that he and Sylvia should help themselves to the tortillas.  Which were on the kitchen table.  Instead they helped themselves to the tortilla chips in the pantry that I had asked him the previous day to keep for nachos!  I think it was a case of reading what he had hoped was there.

If only the dip hadn't been lopsided in flavour, I would have been really happy.  I think a bit of tweaking would fix this.  As it was, we valiantly ate it for dinner with vegies and tortillas.  But the garlic flavour was too much to want to have much more.  I rescued it by mixing it with some home made guacamole instead of garlic.  It added a perfect amount of flavour.  (I also considered adding it to soup, stew or tossing with some rice or pasta.)

More glorious green recipes from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Avocado soy rotis (v)
Green bean and broccoli tabbouleh (v)
Greens, beans and potato soup (gf, v)
Green smoothie (gf, v)
Kale cheesecake surprise choc mint cupcakes (v) 
Monster cake
Pea pate (v) 
Spinach crackers with French lavender salt (v) 
Spinach, lettuce and pea soup (gf, v)
Spinach pancakes  (gf, v) 
The Enchanted Broccoli Forest (gf)

Chunky asparagus and cashew dip
An original Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe

150g cream cheese (I used tofutti)
100g baby spinach
juice of half a medium lemon
1 small garlic scape, chopped, or to taste
1 tbsp white miso
1/2 tsp salt flakes
250g thin asparagus
100g cashews

Blend cream cheese, spinach, lemon juice, the garlic scape miso and salt until smooth and creamy.  Finely chop the asparagus and microwave or steam until cooked but still green.  Cool.  (I put mine in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes.)  Pulse cashews in with the cream cheese mixture and then add the asparagus.  I didn't pulse the asparagus but you might want to, depending on how chunky you want the dip.

Kale sourdough tortillas
Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe's flatbreads and tortillas
Makes 8

50g kale
100g water 
250g sourdough starter
1/2 tsp salt flakes
1 tbsp olive oil
100g plain wholemeal flour
200g plain white flour

Remove stems from kale and blend leaves with water to make a smooth green liquid.  Measure out 125g and pour into a medium mixing bowl.  Stir in remaining ingredients to make a shaggy dough.  Lightly knead on a floured surface to make a smooth but firm dough.  Divide into 8 pieces.

Roll each piece out thinly as possible and dry fry in a heavy based frypan for about a minute either side.  The tortilla will puff up in small humps when frying the first side - these can just be pushed back down before you flip over.

Best on day of eating but can be reheated the next day, preferably with a filling such as cheese or beans and rice.

On the Stereo:
1989: Taylor Swift

This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Week 3's theme is Rainbow Food.  And today the daily prompt is to make something green.  How could I resist the call of green!

Posted November 20, 2016 11:38 AM by Johanna GGG

November 19, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Hal's stiry fry sauce - updated and vegan

Today I took Sylvia to gymnastics, met a friend for a drink, sauntered down to our local bookstore where I was tempted, and made gingerbread men.  Dinner was far down my list of priorities.  I fell back on a favourite stirfry sauce.  The vegies looked so colourful and I wanted to note my changes so here it is in Vegan Mofo for Rainbow Week.

I was pleased with my effort because I didn't manage to get to the supermarket.  E often tells me I have lots of food but nothing to eat.  So I try to be creative with what is about rather than just buying what is in my head.

I don't know who Hal is but I have been making Hal's stirfry sauce for many years.  It comes from The Enchanted Broccoli Forrest Cookbook by Mollie Katzen.  This was my go to cookbook for many years and has so much good how-to advice.  I still think of her advice about what order to add vegetables in stirfries according to how long they take to cook.

Tonight I substituted maple syrup for honey. It meant that the tamari was a bit too prominent so I have reduced the amount in the below recipe by a tablespoon.  I also used ground ginger and sriracha because that is what I had.  I haven't had fresh ginger in the house for months.  Now it is warmer weather, I probably should buy some, but it is good to know I can get by without if it is not about.

If you are short on time and have lots of vegies and some rice or noodles, I highly recommend Hal's stirfry sauce.  It is tasty and easy.  The vegies I used were brown onion, celery, purple cabbage, carrot, green capsicum, green beans, snow peas and kale.  I often use tofu with this sauce but as there was none, I added in some cashews.  Now if you will excuse me, I am off to read my bookclub novel, Girl on the Train.

More stirfries on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Lo mein (v)
Matthews delicious tofu (gf, v)
Pad see ew with tofu omelette (gf, v)
Tamarind tempeh with noodles (v)
'Teriyaki' tofu with brown rice and kale (gf, v) 

Hal's Stirfry Sauce
Slightly adapted from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest via Green Gourmet Giraffe
serves 4

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 1 orange)
3 tbsp tamari (or soy sauce)
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 clove fresh garlic, crushed
2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp dried ginger
1/2 tsp sriracha
1 Tbsp cornflour

Mix all ingredients together except the cornflour. Spoon cornflour into a separate small bowl (or measuring cup in my case) and dissolve with a few spoonfuls of the sauce. Stir cornflour into the sauce. Add sauce to stirfry a few minutes before the end. It should thicken slightly once brought to the boil so it coats the vegetables, noodles or whatever you choose to add.

On the Stereo:
Va Va Voom: Hummingbirds

This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Week 3's theme is Rainbow Food

Posted November 19, 2016 11:10 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Tamil Feasts

November 7, 2016

We've been meaning to check out the Tamil Feasts at CERES for months, having heard great things from a few friends and via Moni's rave review. It's a lovely concept - three nights a week a group of Tamil asylum seekers and volunteers take over the community kitchen at CERES and put on a feast. The Tamil guys have all spent years in detention centres and are still waiting for a final decision on their futures. In the meantime they bring their culinary expertise to CERES, raising money for their community and their friends still in detention. More than money raised, the night provides a place for Melbournites to meet asylum seekers, hear their stories and celebrate their culture - it's a lovely idea and the atmosphere on the night we visited was warm and friendly. You pay $30 up front for the food and there's a cash bar on the night with beer, wine and kombucha on offer.

Luckily the food really measures up to all the good vibes. They started us off with this plate of fried onion bhaji and fresh coconut sambal.

They were the perfect start to the meal - the bhaji were fried to perfection, all crispy and delicious, with the coconut sambal taking things to a whole new level. 

The main meals come out thali-style - a metal tray filled with curries, rice, veggies and condiments. Our selections were: eggplant, mushroom and peanut curry, potato and tomato curry, garlic dhal, pumpkin and spinach salad, capsicum and mushroom salad, onion chutney, rice and a papadum.

This was really something - the garlic dhal was probably the stand-out, with rich garlic and mild chilly bringing out the best in the lentil base. The eggplant curry was spicy - right on the edge of Cindy's tolerance, but perfect for me, while the rest of the bits and pieces all hit the spot. The chefs wandered around offering up second (and third) servings, while serving up $5 lunchboxes of leftovers for the next day (BYO tupperware!). 

I went pretty hard on the savouries, so was pretty relieved when the dessert was relatively modest. The payasam is a Tamil sago pudding - very sweet and runny, with plump raisins dotted throughout.

We had such a wonderful night at our Tamil Feast - the food was spectacular, the atmosphere lovely, and it felt great to push back against our country's dreadful treatment of asylum seekers in a very tiny way. The menu changes regularly - Tuesday is an all-vego night, but vegan options are also available on Monday and Friday nights. It's a brilliant night out and we can't recommend it enough - book in and get along!


Thoughts of a Moni and Consider the Sauce have both enjoyed visits to Tamil Feasts, while Decisive Cravings has a nice interview with some of the people who make them happen.

Tamil Feasts
CERES Community Environment Park
Stewart St,
Brunswick East
9389 0100
menu (this changes week to week)

Accessibility: The setup is flexible - they lay out three long tables with chairs and would surely provide specific spaces to fit any accessibility requirements. The toilets are fully accessible. We paid up front for the food and then at a low bar for drinks.

Posted November 19, 2016 08:07 AM by Michael

November 18, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Rainbow food - in pictures

This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Week 3's theme is Rainbow Food.  Today I am sharing lots of pictures of colourful food.

Posted November 18, 2016 11:54 PM by Johanna GGG

November 17, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Rainbow fruit kebabs

I've wanted to make a fruit rainbow forever!  I got close a few times but this year got the closest yet.  We almost made a fruit rainbow for a recent birthday lunch.  Then Sylvia saw rainbow fruit kebabs and that was it.  It is so simple it is almost embarrassing to post.  Yet it is so simple and pretty that it is worth sharing.

We had some discussion of which fruits to use.  Here is some brainstorming:
  • Red: strawberry, raspberry, grapes, watermelon
  • Orange: orange, mandarin. apricot
  • Yellow: yellow peach, banana, pineapple, mango
  • Green: kiwi fruit, green apple, green grapes
  • Blue: blueberries
  • Purple: grapes, blackberries, cherries
 Of course, it depends on what time of year as to what is in season.  We had strawberry, orange, yellow peach, kiwi fruit, blueberries and grapes. 

This dessert was so easy that Sylvia was able to take responsibility for this meal.  She decided which fruit, helped choose them at the shops, put the skewers together.  And she loved eating them.  The skewers took a bit more time than arranging them on a plate but we do not really have a plate big enough for a rainbow.  We only made 10 and could easily have eaten more if time had permitted.  I am sure we will be making these again.

More fun healthy food on Green Gourmet Giraffe: 
Carrot and cucumber tulips (gf, v)
Chocolate and black tahini cut out biscuits (v)
Franken sushi (gf, v)
Geegaw cups (v)
Polenta pizza people (gf) 
Watermelon monster (gf, v)  

I am sending these to Healthy Vegan Fridays and Gluten Free Fridays.

On the Stereo:
As Time Goes By: Bryan Ferry

This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Week 3's theme is Rainbow Food

Posted November 17, 2016 09:36 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Rum & raisin ricotta cake

November 2, 2016

Michael received some good career news recently! He was out of town at the time, so it was a few days before we could celebrate together. I used that time to plan and bake this congratulatory cake. This recipe's been tucked among my bookmarks for more than five years, and I picked it out because Michael's fond of rum and raisins in desserts.

It might be the least vegan thing I've ever made: there's three kinds of dairy, white chocolate, eggs and honey all whipped in. It's a cheesecake, but it's different to the cheesecakes I'm accustomed to. Instead of a crushed-biscuit base there's a thin layer of plain white breadcrumbs to give the cake some structure. The filling's flavour and texture come mostly from the ricotta; it has that velvetty density of a baked cheesecake but perhaps a little less sweetness. That comes more from boozy raisin bursts.

The cake batter filled my springform pan right up to its rim. As it baked it rose further, like a souffle! (It sank back to rim height again as it cooled.) Almost all of the white chocolate melted into the cake, undetectable. The finished cake isn't pretty - it's pudgy and uneven, with charred rings and bubbles on its surface. But I loved its geological-looking layers and heartiness. This is a feast of a cake.

Rum & raisin ricotta cake
(slightly adapted from green been,
where it's credited to Karen Martini)

55g raisins
50mL dark rum
spray oil
100g (~3 cups) fluffy white breadcrumbs
600g ricotta
55g caster sugar
5 eggs
100g honey, plus 3–4 tablespoons for glazing
200g yoghurt
350g mascarpone
zest of 1 lemon
160g white chocolate, roughly chopped

Place the raisins in a small bowl or airtight container and pour over the rum; allow them to soak for at least an hour, ideally overnight.

Preheat an oven to 170°C. Line a springform cake tin with paper and lightly spray it with oil. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the base and a little up the sides (don't worry if they don't stick much).

In a large food processor, beat together the ricotta and sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the honey, yoghurt, mascarpone and lemon zest. Pour one-third of the mixture into the cake tin, then sprinkle over the half of the raisins and white chocolate. Repeat with cake mixture, raisins and white chocolate. Pour in the remaining mixture and smooth over the top.

Bake until set, about 1 1/4 hours. Brush some honey and rum over the top of the cake while it is still warm. Serve at room temperature.

Posted November 17, 2016 07:49 AM by Cindy

November 16, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Smoky apple vegie burgers

When I was a child, the only burgers we bought were from the fish and chip shop.  There was no MacDonalds and none of the ubiquitous fancy burgers that abound in cafes.  We only had one type - beef patty, lettuce, tomato, cheese, beetroot, fried onion, tomato sauce and perhaps pineapple or egg.  These days anything goes in a burger - and I mean both in the patty and in between the burger buns.  It means lots of fun and lots of tyranny of choice.  It also means a way out for the stewed apple in the fridge that is being neglected.

I put the stewed apple into these burgers and while it did not taste strongly of apple, I was happy that the apple had been consumed.  I had grand plans for burgers in a bun with a salad on the side on that first night but it ended up being a bowl of burgers and vegies.  The burgers had a satisfying texture and held together well.

The second night the burgers were eaten in a bun with all the bells and whistles, and a simple salad on the side.  I hadn't been happy with the colour of the burgers on the first night and fried them up for my home made burger buns the second night.  Fried to the good side of charred.  Perfect for my fancy burger in a bun.  As well as the patties, I also stuffed it with lettuce, biocheese, beetroot, roast pumpkin, fried onion, vegannaise and lettuce from my garden.  It tasted so good.

More vegan burgers (patties) on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Cauliflower burgers (gf v)
Earth burgers (gf, v)
Roasted beetroot tofu burgers (gf, v)
Sweet potato, chickpea and hemp seed burgers (v)
Tamale burgers with mole sauce (gf, v)
Vegemite burger (v)
Watercourse Foods tempeh burger (gf,v)

Smoky Apple Vegie Burgers
Adapted from It Does Taste Like Chicken
    3 tbsp ground linseed (flax seed)
    1/3 cup of aqua faba (chickpea brine)
    400g tin of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
    1 cup stewed apples or apple sauce
    3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
    1/2 cup rolled oats
    1/2 cup ground almonds
    1/2 cup chopped red or white onion (about ½ a small onion)
    2 cloves of garlic minced
    2 tablespoons of tamari or soy sauce
    1 tbsp smoked paprika
    1 tsp seeded mustard
    Seasoning to taste

    Soak linseeds in aqua faba for 5 minutes or while preparing other ingredients.  Add kidney beans and stewed apples and mash into the linseed mixture.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Shape handfuls into patties.  Place on grill tray (broiler tray) and spray with oil.  Grill until well browned on one side.  Flip, spray with oil and grill until golden brown on the other side too.

    On the Stereo:
    Discography: Pet Shop Boys

    This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

    Week 3's theme is Rainbow Food

      Posted November 16, 2016 11:01 PM by Johanna GGG

      November 15, 2016

      Green Gourmet Giraffe

      Rainbow salad with orange and sesame dressing

      At the start of October the AFL Grand Final saw out the end of the School Holidays.  We went to the Coburg Farmers Market in the morning.  Fresh produce is great inspiration for vibrant health food.

      My favourite part of the Grand Final is the pre-match entertainment with the singing, the balloons and running through the banner.  While watching this on the telly, I was trying to put together the salad.  It was slow going but satisfying.

      It took some time to chop vegies, keep an eye on the footy match preparations, whisk dressing, sit with Sylvia to watch Vance Joy sing Riptide and explain who Sting is.  Lunch wasn't ready until the match was well underway.

      The salad was the very antithesis of the football world of greasy chips and cheap meat pies.  Which is perhaps fitting as I don't really follow the footy.  Every few weeks I remember to ask how my nominal team is doing.  At the end of the season I watch the Grand Final until it is clear who is winning and it gets boring.

      This year, it wasn't until two minutes before the final siren that the commentators dared to call it.  The match was so close.  As they like to say, footy was the winner.  But really the fairy tale of this Grand Final was that the Western Bulldogs were the winners, after 62 years without a premiership.  I watched til the end.  Though I did have my neighbour visit, make limeade and ring my mum for a chat.  Yet it was a memorable match just as this salad was memorable.

      I took the salad dressing from a rainbow salad in a newspaper magazine but, if I do say so myself, my selection of vegetables was far more colourful than the original.  The dressing was pretty similar and made for a winning salad.  E ate his salad in a sandwich made with fresh bread I had baked that morning and loved it.  There was a little salad leftover that we picked at during the afternoon.  It was gone by dinner.  I know it is not the first time I've said this, but I wish more of my lunches were so colourful and healthy.

      I am sending this to Healthy Vegan Fridays, Eat Your Greens, Meat Free Mondays and No Croutons Required.

      More colourful salads on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
      Asparagus, strawberry and greens salad with poppyseed dressing (gf, v)
      Balsamic garden salad with cashew cheese (gf, v)
      Couscous salad with chermoula (v)
      Lemony Mediterranean salad (gf, v)
      Purple potato, sweet potato and watercress salad (gf, v)
      Strawberry avocado and walnut salad with a chocolate vinaigrette (gf, v)
      Taco salad with creamy dressing (gf)
      Tambo salad with preserved lemon and capers (gf, v)

      Rainbow salad with orange and sesame dressing
      Adapted from Adam Liaw in The Age's Sunday Magazine on10 April 2016
      serves 2-3

      handful purple cabbage, finely shredded
      3 dutch baby carrots, sliced thinly into matchsticks
      2 baby beetroot, sliced thinly into matchsticks
      handful cherry tomatoes, halved
      handful spinach
      1/2 cup of cooked chickpeas
      pea sprouts
      1 tsp black sesame seeds (or poppy seeds), to serve

      For orange and sesame dressing:
      juice of 1/2 orange
      1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
      1/2 tbsp rice bran or other neutral oil
      1/2 tbsp soy sauce
      1/2 tsp castor sugar
      1/2 tsp sesame oil

      Arrange vegies and chickpeas on shallow bowl.  Toast sesame seeds in frypan.  Iif using poppy seeds they do not need to be fried.)  Lightly whisk together dressing.  Drizzle over vegies.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

      On the Stereo:
      All of this and nothing: Psychedelic Furs

      This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

      Week 3's theme is Rainbow Food

      Posted November 15, 2016 11:22 AM by Johanna GGG

      where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

      Peppermint patsies

      October 30, 2016

      My mate Natalie hosted a Sunday potluck lunch, for which I attempted to make peppermint patties. I knew there'd be heaps of food and I imagined these as small bites of sweetness we could still enjoy nibbling on after a big meal.

      They didn't work out quite as planned. Even though I'd tagged the recipe as vegan, it wasn't at all - still, it was easy enough to replace butter and cream with a small can of coconut milk. This rendered the peppermint fondant much runnier than it should have been. There was no way I could roll, refrigerate and slice it into neat little discs. Instead I pulled out my cupcake pan and layered these out as soft-centred chocolates.

      So far so good! They looked cute in green mint-coded papers, with a couple of sprinkles on top. And on first bite they were a heavenly contrast of crackling bittersweet chocolate and oozing sweet peppermint. But they were hefty, a bit too much to take on after burgers and mac'n'cheese (and just an eensy second helping of mac'n'cheese). We all blamed them for our mid-afternoon lethargy.

      And so I've named these would-be peppermint patties, peppermint patsies.

      Peppermint patsies
      (adapted from a recipe at Oh! Nuts,
      which I found via she cooks, she gardens)

      300-400g dark chocolate
      3 cups icing sugar
      4 tablespoons coconut milk
      2 teaspoons peppermint essence
      pinch of salt

      Place cupcake papers in a cupcake baking tin.

      Gently melt half of the chocolate. Drop a scant tablespoon of liquid chocolate into each cupcake paper. Use a spoon to push the chocolate up the sides of the paper. Make sure the base is covered well with chocolate. Refrigerate the tray for 15 minutes.

      In a medium bowl, whisk together the icing sugar and coconut milk until smooth. Stir in the peppermint essence and salt. When the chocolate is set firm, drop 2 teaspoons of the peppermint mixture into the centre of each chocolate. Refrigerate for a further 15-30 minutes.

      Gently melt the remainder of the chocolate. Spoon a scant tablespoon of chocolate onto each peppermint layer and smooth it out across the top. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

      Posted November 15, 2016 07:38 AM by Cindy

      November 14, 2016

      Green Gourmet Giraffe

      Thai pumpkin and lentil soup

      This Thai pumpkin and lentil soup is a variation on a soup I make quite often.  It is just the sort of soup that I needed the day after the school fete.  Sylvia had organised a playdate and was weeding the garden with her friend.  (I was suitably impressed by the garden!)  E was practicing uke for the forthcoming ukulele festival and I had been making aqua faba meringues for Sylvia's show and tell.  Simmering a fairly simple soup was a relaxing late afternoon addition.

      I played around with sifting smoked paprika shapes onto the soup.  I am not sure the circus look was the one I was aiming for!  We were quite tired after the previous big day.  Dinner was eating on the sofa in front of the telly.  I didn't have energy for anything else.  I was pleasantly surprised by the happy marriage of yellow curry paste and smoked paprika.

      Having made a similar soup (thai curry split pea soup) a few months back, I had some confidence that Sylvia might try it.  The catch was that she professes to hate pumpkin.  I remember her eating it as a child and am a little less sure that she truly dislikes it.  So I asked her to eat a couple of spoonfuls of soup with a bread roll before she had her vegetarian schnitzel.  I focused on the lentils and tomatoes in the soup, which I know she likes.  The next night she was convinced to eat a small bowl of it with a bread roll.  I resisted doing a victory dance.  But I know this is one step closer to Sylvia realising that pumpkin is indeed manna from heaven.

      The soup lasted us for about 5 days.  I really enjoyed it.  (To be clear we did not eat it 5 nights in a row but this is how long we had it in the fridge.)  The above photo is of the last night we ate it.  I had some aged sushi rice with kale powder that I mixed into the soup to make it more like a stew.  We served it with steamed broccoli, fried mushrooms, asparagus and grated carrot.  It was really good.

      More lentil soups on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
      Carrot, chestnut and lentil soup (gf, v)
      Creamy lentil and vegetable soup (gf)
      Curried red lentil and apricot soup (gf, v)
      Fennel, lentil and rice soup (gf, v)
      Red lentil soup with spinach and lime (gf, v)
      Smoky tomato and lentil soup (gf, v)
      Sweet potato and red lentil soup (gf, v)

      Thai pumpkin and lentil soup
      An original Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe
      serves 6-8

      1 -2 tsp olive oil
      1 onion, chopped
      1 carrot, chopped
      2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
      600-800g Kent pumpkin (a large wedge), chopped
      400g tin of diced tomatoes
      1.3 litres vegetable stock
      2 cups dried red lentils
      1 cup light coconut milk
      3 tbsp yellow curry paste
      1 tsp smoked paprika
      sriracha, to serve

      Fry onion and carrot in an olive oil until soft - about 5-10 minutes.  Stir in the garlic.  Add pumpkin, tomato and stock.  Bring to the boil.  Add lentils and simmer for about 20 minutes or until pumpkin and lentils are soft.  Add coconut milk, curry paste and smoked paprika.  Blend.  Check and adjust seasoning.  Serve with sriracha if you want a bit more heat.

      On the stereo:
      Songs in the Attic: Billy Joel

      This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

      Week 2's theme is International because I am a little behind on week 2.  And if you wish to believe it is a monochrome one-colour food for Rainbow Week or Day #14, then so it is!

      Posted November 14, 2016 09:50 PM by Johanna GGG

      November 13, 2016

      Green Gourmet Giraffe

      Vegan Avgolemono - Greek Easter lemon soup

      Having made this Avgolemono soup a few times, I had hoped to have a definitive photo.  Though the soup continues to charm me, I haven't had the time and energy to take the right photo.  But then again, I find this to be comfort food to be made quickly on a busy day.

      Gina of The Full Helping, devised this variation to recreate the soup from the Greek Easters of her childhood.  I've never had the traditional version that relies heavily on eggs.  For me, I just love the creaminess of the tahini, the substance of the vegies and rice, and the fresh flavours of the lemon and dill.

      The first time I made the soup, I decided it would be too thin with all the 5 to 6 cups of water.  Instead I added 2 1/2 cups of water.  The helpings were miserly and when left for a while it got far too thick.  Since then I have added more water.  The broth is so delicious even without the vegies and rice.

      It is a soup to make when busy, whether it is making a quick dinner after Sylvia's swimming lessons or fitting in lunch between my body balance class and my singing group.  It makes for great leftovers, though it thickens so much that sometimes I have had to add a little water to loosen it up.  Or I have served it, as photographed below, as a stew.

      I highly recommend this quick and nourishing soup.

      And when I found my notes from the first time I made the soup early last year, I had some quicklinks added so I am including a few random articles from last year and a few more recent ones to nourish (or entertain) your mind as well:

      I am sending this soup to Souper Sundays.

      More vegan rice soups on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
      Cheesy cauliflower and rice soup (gf, v)
      Fennel, lentil and rice soup (gf, v)
      Mexican rice soup (gf, v)
      Pea, rice and pesto soup (gf, v)
      Pumpkin, corn and wild rice chowder (gf, v)
      Tricken rice soup with celeriac (gf, v) 

      Vegan Avgolemono (Greek Lemon Rice Soup)
      Slightly adapted from The Full Helping via Kahakai Kitchen
      Serves 4

      1 tsp olive oil
      1 onion, diced
      2 carrots, diced
      1 stalk of celery, diced
      2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
      1 cup uncooked brown rice
      5 to 6 cups vegetable stock
      1/4 cup lemon juice
      1/4 cup nutritional yeast
      2 tbsp tahini
      1 1/2 tbsp miso
      1/4 tsp sea salt, or to taste
      1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

      Fry onion, carrots, celery and garlic in oil until well cooked.  Add rice and stock.  Simmer 35-40 minutes.  Mix lemon juice, nutritional yeast, tahini, nutritional yeast, miso and salt.  Add to rice mixture.  Remove from heat.  Mix in dill and serve.

      NOTES: I have added chickpeas for more protein, used cooked rice because I had it there.  Both work fine.  If soup is left to sit it will thicken as the rice absorbs the broth.  Add a little water when reheating if necessary.

      On the stereo:
      Ultra Lounge: Saxophonia: Various Artists

      This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

      Week 2's theme is International. 

      Posted November 13, 2016 11:20 PM by Johanna GGG

      where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

      Ottolenghi's eggplant cheesecake

      October 22-23, 2016

      I picked this recipe out of Plenty More with the express purpose of using up some ingredients (cream cheese, eggs, za'atar) but we'd make it again on its own merits. It's kind of a crustless quiche, although the main feature is really a dozen or so melt-in-the-mouth eggplant slices, and the cherry tomatoes nestled among them. 

      The egg-and-dairy filling is more of a light, fluffy binder with the odd dot of sharp feta. Fresh oregano leaves and a last-minute sprinkle of za'atar bring some complexity to the flavour - all this savoury 'cheesecake' needs is a simple green salad on the side to make up a pretty warm-weather meal. (You might spy some leftover carrot salad filled out with spinach and tomatoes in the background.)

      Eggplant cheesecake
      (slightly adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty More,
      also published on The Guardian)

      2 medium eggplants
      1/4 cup olive oil
      100g cream cheese
      1/4 cup double cream
      4 eggs
      150g feta
      150g cherry tomatoes
      10g oregano leaves
      2 teaspoons za'atar
      salt and black pepper

      Preheat an oven to 210°C. Line a large baking tray with paper

      Slice the eggplants into 2cm thick rounds and lay them out flat on the baking tray. Drizzle the eggplants with most of the oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Roast them for 40 minutes, until they're soft and golden but not falling apart. Allow them to cool.

      Turn the oven down to 170°C. Line a 20cm square baking tin with foil and lightly spray or brush it with a bit of oil.

      In a medium-large bowl, beat together the cream cheese and cream with an electric mixer. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Crumble over the feta and beat it in too, but allow the feta to stay a bit lumpy. Mix in a little salt and pepper. Slice the cherry tomatoes into halves.

      When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, layer the slices into the foil-lined baking tin. Sit them upright or diagonally, so that they're partially overlapping and not flat and on top of each other (check out my photo above). Arrange the tomato halves in between the eggplants, filling all the gaps. Tear up half of the oregano and sprinkle it over the eggplants and tomatoes. Pour the cheesecake mixture into the tin, gently guiding it to evenly cover the vegetables. Tear up the remaining oregano and sprinkle it over the top. Bake the cheesecake until it's set and golden, 35-40 minutes.

      Mix the za'atar up with a tablespoon of olive oil and drizzle it over the top. Serve warm or at room temperature.

      Posted November 13, 2016 09:39 AM by Cindy

      November 12, 2016

      Green Gourmet Giraffe

      Asian rice with cabbage, corn and celery

      This rice started as a mistake.  I was browsing a Donna Hay magazine in the supermarket and was inspired by an Asian coleslaw.  It was time to try out a new blade in my recently purchased food processor.  The vegies turned to mush and I was relucant to throw out the slaw.   I added some more vegies and this rice dish was born.

      I had initially thought of making a miso soup.  E didn't want a thin broth.  So I found this sweetcorn soup for inspiration.  Which reminded me of my favourite corn and tempeh soup.  Then I looked in my fridge to see what needed using.  There was that forgotten bunch of celery at the bottom of the fridge.  I was still keen on the idea of a soup.  When I decided to add rice the liquid was absorbed and it was no longer soup.  It was rather tasty.  Which is the most important thing!

      It has been one of those weeks where life has been a bit unexpected.  I was in bed with a terrible headache for a lot of the day on Wednesday and woke to the shock of Trump far ahead in the USA election.  I sang with my singing group at a small event today and got home to find my top was on back to front.  And my trackpad on my laptop is not as responsive ever since a wee imp recently put watermelon juice on it.  More pleasant surprises have been Sylvia eating some nutritional yeast flakes for a snack, the discovery of garlic scapes at the farmers market today, the first ripe strawberry in our backyard, and a friend thinking to send me photos of the colour fun run at school because I could not be there.

      I am always cheered up if I can reduce my waste of food as much as possible.  And leftovers to make life easier.  I am trying to serve dinner as a nourish bowl more often to get more vegies into my diet.  Tonight's dinner was the Asian rice, purple cabbage, celery, tofu besan omelette, cherry tomatoes, spinach and an avocado dressing made with a finely sliced garlic scape.  I fancy serving the rice another night with vegie sausages and a kale salad.  Another few tubs of the rice are in the freezer for those nights when I could just toast some cashews and make a meal of it. 

      I am sending this rice dish to Cook Once Eat Twice and No Waste Food Challenge.

      More Asian rice dishes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
      Fried rice (gf, v)
      Japanese-style pumpkin, sprouts and tofu soup (gf, v)
      Kitchen sink kitchari (gf, v) 
      Sushi rice salad (gf, v)
      Sushi stack with carrot, tofu omelet and avocado (gf, v)
      'Teriyaki' tofu with brown rice and kale (gf, v) 

      Asian rice with cabbage, corn and celery
      A Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe
      Serves 8 as a main course

      1 tbsp neutral oil, such as rice bran
      2 tsp sesame oil
      1 onion, chopped
      4 stalks of celery, diced
      2 red capsicums (pepper), diced
      2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
      400g tin of corn, rinsed and drained
      400g tin creamed corn
      1/2 small cabbage, finely chopped
      2 carrots, grated2 tins full of water
      1 1/2 cups rice
      3 tbsp soy sauce
      2 tbsp rice vinegar
      1 tbsp mirin
      1 tsp dried ginger (or 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger)
      1 tsp stock powder

      Fry onion, celery and capsicums in oils over medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until celery is soft.  Stir in garlic.  Add remaining ingredients.  Bring to the boil.  Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.  Let stand at least 10 minutes.

      NOTES: I measured the water using the tin that the creamed corn came in.  The rice was quite moist so next time I would probably use a wee bit less.  I only used dried ginger as I haven't been keeping fresh ginger in the house but fresh would be very nice.
       On the Stereo:
      Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band: The Beatles

      This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

      Week 2's theme is International. 

      Posted November 12, 2016 11:46 PM by Johanna GGG

      November 11, 2016

      Green Gourmet Giraffe

      Vegemite and poppy seed scones

      When we were young my family often had scones.  My brother one day asked for scones with vegemite and cream.  We all laughed at him.  Scones were sweet.  Vegemite is uncompromisingly savoury.  These days the line between savoury and sweet is more blurry.  I have made many savoury scones and the idea of putting vegemite on or in scones no longer seems so odd.

      I was inspired by a recipe for Marmite and Poppy Seed Cookies.  I wanted to make scones so I adapted the recipe.  The scone recipe was quite similar to the cookies but a lot less butter, far softer and best eaten fresh.  I added a similar amount of vegemite but if you love the stuff I reckon you could add more. 

      Originally I had visions of a dark black scone.  It was more of a warm caramel colour.  The flavour was also quite subtle.  There are hints of the intense yeasty salty black paste that pleases Aussies and bemuses foreigners.  It made them lovely to eat plain.

      I took one to Sylvia to eat before her after school swimming lessons and she enjoyed it.  (Hence the scones without poppy seeds.  I'd made a promise.)  They would also be lovely with margarine, hummus or cheeze spread.  My main regret was that I made a small batch.  They disappeared far too quickly.  Next time I will double the recipe.

      More vegemite recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
      Cheeseymite scones
      Dark vegetable and lentil stew (v) 
      Gravy (v)
      Mashed vegetables with vegemite (v)
      Vegemite burger (v)
      Vegemite fudge

      Vegemite and poppy seed scones
      Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe
      Make 6 scones

      1/4 cup milk
      1/4 cup water
      1 tbsp vegemite
      1 cup self raising flour
      1 tbsp margarine
      1 tbsp extra milk, for glazing
      1 tsp poppy seeds

      Preheat oven to 220 C. Lightly grease or flour a baking tray.

      Mix milk and water with vegemite.  (It is easier to start with a little liquid and vegemite and then gradually add more mixture.)

      Place flour and salt in a bowl. Rub in margarine with your fingertips (or as you normally would do – pastry cutters, food processor etc) til it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Pour in vegemite milk mixture. Mix in gently with a knife until it forms a soft and slightly sticky dough.

      Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface and knead briefly til smooth.  Pat dough out to a 2cm thickness. Dip biscuit cutter or glass in flour and cut as many scones as possible from dough. Place scones on a baking tray. Lightly knead off-cuts into a ball and press out again and cut more scones. Repeat until all dough is used.

      Brush the scones with a little milk and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake in over for about 12-15 minutes until lightly browned and sound hollow when tap on top. Remove from tray and wrap in a clean teatowel. Best eaten on the day of baking.

      On the Stereo:
      All that Jazz: the best of Ute Lemper

      This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

      Week 2's theme is International.  Today is an Australian variation on scones.

      Posted November 11, 2016 12:33 PM by Johanna GGG

      November 10, 2016

      where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

      Shakahari VI

      Cheap Eats 2006, a decade on

      October 22, 2016

      Shakahari is a true stayer of the Melbourne restaurant scene: our decade-spanning Cheap Eats project covers just a fraction of its 44-year tenure in Carlton. We made our first visit within a month of arriving in Melbourne and starting our food blog, and notched up five blog posts by 2008. After that we relegated our revisits to twitter, facebook and our own memories, but veg bloggers easy as vegan pie, vegan about town and In The Mood For Noodles carried the blogging baton for a few years after that (see end of post for a link round-up).

      For a long time Shakahari switched its east-meets-west vegetarian menu seasonally, but it seems to have steadied over time. If anything they've improved their vegan and gluten-free selection. Many of our favourites have stuck around, and we were able to revisit them on a Saturday date night in Carlton. The first is the Avocado Magic entree (now $16; then $12 in 2007) - a hefty strip each of avocado and capsicum, rolled up in the thinnest sheet of eggplant before being battered and fried. It's mild and crisp and creamy, and best dredged through its share of coriander sauce.

      Michael claimed the Legendary Satay Shakahari (now $21.50; then $17.50 in 2006-2008). The skewers line up smoky seitan cubes, tofu and veges, and the satay is thick, generous and minimally spicy. The sides are mercifully lighter: turmeric rice, blanched green vegetables and bright pickles.

      I returned to the Quinoa Croquettes (now $21.50; then $17.50 in 2006-2008). They're mushy-middled with mashed yam, speckled with black quinoa and macadamias, and fried to a brown crisp on the outside. Like the satay, they rely on their sauce (this one sweet and tangy) to fill out the flavour. More steamed greens on the side, and kim chi for the pickle. I like this way with simple vegetables and striking pickles to round out the main dishes.

      The Tofu Caramel (now $14.50; then unknown) didn't join the menu until a couple of years later but became an instant classic. It's wobbly and silken and milky - yet again, its salvation is an intensely flavoured sauce. I've come to expect supercharged sweetness from this dish and was delighted that the pistachio toffee is now tempered with ginger!

      Service at Shakahari has always been patchy. On this night our table was available for little more than an hour, but they easily whisked us through three courses in that time. The restaurant's greatest weakness has always been its loud, echoing acoustics. When we first encountered Shakahari, it was an all-vegetarian special-occasion restaurant like we'd never encountered in Australia before. The prices seemed steep but they've withstood inflation well. Shakahari now takes a back seat to the flashier Smith & Daughters and Transformer, but it definitely still has its charms.


      You can read about one, two, three, four, five of our many past visits to Shakahari. Many veg*n bloggers have some affection for it, see Melbourne Vegan, easy as vegan pie (one, two, three, four, five), vegan about town (one, two, three, four, five, ), In The Mood For Noodles (one, two, three, four, ), Damn right I want a cupcake!Nouveau Potatovegienomnomthe broke vegoFire & Tealittle vegan bear and Green Gourmet Giraffe.


      Shakahari Vegetarian Restaurant
      201-203 Faraday St, Carlton
      9347 3848
      entrees, entrees & mains, dessert

      Accessibility: There are a couple of steps up on entry, and a couple more between rooms on the inside. Tables are widely spaced. We ordered at our table and paid at a high counter. We haven't visited the toilets in a while.

      Posted November 10, 2016 07:35 PM by Cindy

      Green Gourmet Giraffe

      Book Review: Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

      One of the first vegan cookbooks I bought was Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.  Isa had great recipes and a fun sense of humour.  In 2014 I was given a copy of her book Isa Does It.  It has to be one of the cookbooks I have used the most since I started blogging.  I can't recommend it highly enough.

      If I was to be asked for a recommendation of a recipe book for a new vegan, this would be it.  The book has lots of gorgeous photos that draw you in.  The recipes are easy to make and always delicious and healthy.  Isa' writes in a friendly and funny style that makes you feel like you are just cooking along with a friend rather than following the strict instructions of your home economics teacher.  I own a few of her books and think this is definitely the best.

      The book is divided into sections.  I have cooked from most of them and have arranged photos of recipes I have made in order of sections.  As I have been cooking from Isa Does It since I received it in 2014, I apologise that it is quite some time since I made many of these recipes.  Would I make them again?  Oh yeah!


      This Morroccan noodle soup is really substantial and satisfying.  I used dried lentils instead of tinned and a added a bit less water.  The tomatoes, chickpeas, eggplant and lentils makes the noodles feel really healthy.  I love the sweet paprika and fresh mint flavours.

      Pesto Soup with Gnocchi, Beans and Greens
      This creamy green soup is full of comfort with packet gnocchi, cauliflower, basil, silverbeet (swiss chard), and white beans.  The pesto is in the flavours rather than in a spoonful of pesto and smells magnificent.


      Ranch Salad with Red Potatoes and Smoky Chickpeas
      Ranch salad is not a thing in Australia but if it is always this good I would embrace it.  The avocado ranch dressing and smoky chickpeas gave lots of flavour and interest to some potatoes and greens.


      Bistro Beet Burgers
      Finding a good vegan burger can be challenging.  This one is fun with the beetroot a little reminiscent of a bloody beef burger, but also substantial with rice, lentils and almond butter.  I went all out and served it with vegan cheese, fried onions, tomato, lettuce and tomato sauce in roasted buns.

      Pasta and Risotto:

       Tofu and mushroom stroganoff
      I really wanted to make a stroganoff but I am not really a mushroom person person so this wasn't such a hit with me as other dishes in the book.  However the creamy sauce was tasty and tempting.  I also wasn't so keen on the frozen and thawed tofu (blame my fridge for freezing the tofu when it was reset during an electrical blackout).  E on the other hand really liked it.

      This is a bit like spag bol - a good basic pasta with tomato sauce and lentils.  It is quick and easy but don't be fooled into thinking it is dull.  It has a cashew sauce stirred through which make it rich and creamy and great comfort food.

      Stews, Chilis and Curries:

      Down-Home Curry
      This is the sort of creamy student curry that is easy to make and nothing fancy, yet tastes great.  I really liked how it used some flavourings like maple syrup and tomato paste that I would not usually use in curries.  I really love tofu in a stew and this worked for me here.  I am not sure I used broccoli when I look at the photo.  I suspect it was zucchini instead.  It probably would have looked better with fresh coriander and sriracha but those aren't my sort of thing.  But I like that it is a curry where anything goes.

      Coconut Chana Saag
      I loved this coconut milk based stew with chickpeas, kale and tomatoes.  It has lost of spices that I have in my pantry (fennel, garam masala, cumin) and is finished with lime juice.  Great with rice.

      Stir-fries and Sautes:

      Omaha Yakisoba with Red Cabbage and Corn 
      I so admired Isa's picture of plump noodles with beautiful strands of purple cabbage.  Mine looks nothing like it.  Actually I think mine is more of a riot of colour.  I used cabbage, corn, red pepper, broccoli, dried mushrooms (rehydrated) and snow peas.  The noodles are not ready to use udon so they are not as fat and slippery.  I added some of the Classic Baked Tofu you will see below.  It made a very tasty dinner.

      Bowls (and a Few Plates):

      Pizza bowl with greens, sausages and olives
      I pretty much followed the recipe here and it was a winner.  Not too hard to put together if you used bought sausages like I did, and it has a brilliant cashew based sauce flavoured with tomato paste and roasted red peppers.  My sauce did not drizzle as thinly and prettily as Isa's but it is one I would make again.

      Lentil-Miso Gravy
      I just made the gravy from the Good Gravy Bowl.  It worked really well with nut roast, broccoli and rice.  I am not sure I loved it as much as a cashew-based sauce but it was a nice alternative sort of gravy.

      Sunday Night Suppers:

      Chandra Malai Kofta
      Fried zucchini koftas served in a creamy cashew based curry sauce.  This is fantastic comfort food. I used tongs to turn the koftas because they were quite fragile.  I made this after seeing a recipe online in which I thought I saw rice noodles so that is what I used instead of the rice that Isa recommends.  I didn't have fresh coriander (as I don't like it) but did have some smoked almonds which worked well here.

      A Few Basic Proteins:

      Classic baked tofu
      I made this tofu without reading the recipe very closely.  I only made half the tofu for 300g hard tofu and then I baked it in a dish with the marinade, though on re-reading Isa's recipe I am not sure the marinade was meant to be in it.  I baked it 30 minutes uncovered and then flipped it and baked another 10 minutes.  It is a nice tasty tofu that, as Isa says, can be put added to stirfries, stews and salads.  Next time I might cut it thinner (no thicker than 0.5cm).

      Breakfast, Brunch and Bakes for the Morning:

      Marbled banana bread
      The magic of marbled cake is always fun.  I really loved the soft texture of this vegan cake with marbled chocolate swirls.  The only problem is that the second time I made it I forgot to divide the batter before adding the cocoa and there were no swirls.  I can tell you it works well as chocolate banana bread.  And am I the only one who can see a giraffe in the above photo?

      Coconut French Toast
      I have made this French toast a few times.  It has a pretty basic dipping mixture of milk and flours but is brought to another level with coconut on the outside.  We really love it.


      Chocolate  and Gingerbread Cookies
       I have looked for a good chocolate and gingerbread bake and for a good vegan choc chip cookie recipe.  This recipe ticks both boxes.  The cookies are sturdier than a lot of vegan choc chip cookies I have tried and it tastes wonderful.  They are not as dark as Isa's photo but are plenty of chocolate flavour for me.

      More recipes from Isa Does It that I would love to make:
      • New England Glam Chowder
      • Cheddary Broccoli Soup
      • Greek Diner Salad
      • Tempeh Meatballs and Spaghetti
      • Eggplant and Breadcrumb Fettucine
      • Olive Angel Hair Pasta with Seared Brussels Sprouts
      • Goddess Noodles with Tempeh and Broccoli
      • Dilly Stew with Rosemary Dumplings
      • Tamale Shepherd's Pie
      • Scrambled Chickpeas
      • Carrot Cake Pancakes
      • Strawberry and Cream Bread Pudding

      I love to browse through this book from time to time and think about what else I might cook.  It is always a joy to peruse and full of inspiration.  You can find many of the recipes online, especially as Isa hosted the Post Punk Kitchen vegan cooking community which has an online presence.  However the book is so beautiful that I highly recommend buying a copy if you don't already own it.

      Have you cooked from Isa Does It?  What is your favourite recipe or the recipe you really want to make?

      This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

      Week 2's theme is International.  Isa Does It has so many great international recipes, though filtered through an American lens.

      Posted November 10, 2016 07:30 PM by Johanna GGG

      Thoughts Of A Moni

      Son Of A Pizzaiolo

      Breakfast in a weekday is an indulgence that I don’t often get to enjoy. But when it’s a Monday that you’ve taken off work, because you’ve run your first full marathon you definitely take the opportunity to take advantage of the fact that the cafes are empty and you can easily get a seat. Unfortunately the marathon had taken a major toll on my feet, leaving then battered and me unable to put any weight on them, so we had to go to a cafe where we could park straight outside the front door.

      We settled on Son of a Pizzaiolo. I knew they had recently revamped their dinner menu, but I was keen to try them out for breakfast. As expected, the café was almost empty, and so we had our pick of the seating. There were some standard tables, but we decided to sit in a booth, American diner style!

      The other half started with a flat white, but I declined and stuck with water. Given that the marathon had most likely dehydrated me, I didn’t think coffee would be a good idea. I did have a taste of the flat white though, and I was suitably impressed. Son of a Pizzaiolowas certainly doing the Italians proud. The pretty latte art was also a nice touch that put a smile on our faces.

      The menu was full of creative options, that looked delicious but neither of us could go past the cheesy scrambled eggs. Set atop two polenta hash browns were scrambled eggs with aged pecorino, grilled mushrooms and crispy kale, all dressed with chives and red sea salt. The other half went for the standard version also had chorizo, but the staff were more than happy to swap that out for avocado for me. Rarely do we order the same dish, but this time we made an exception.

      Our opinion of the dish was also almost identical. The cheesy scrambled eggs were a hit, lots of cheese, lovely and creamy with the right amount of seasoning. The mushrooms and the crispy kale were also important elements to the dish and when combined with the eggs created a beautiful blend of flavours. Unfortunately the polenta has was a bit of a let down. Perhaps it was the fact that in my head, I was hoping for something like a potato hash brown, but unfortunately the polenta was was rather heavy and stodgy, and lacked flavour. In retrospect, if I couldn’t have a potato hash, I think I would have preferred this dish with toast, but hindsight is a great thing indeed.

      Nevertheless our experience at Son of A Pizzaiolowas lovely and we will definitely consider going back. The service was impeccable and I was very impressed at how friendly the staff were. The flavours they combined worked well, and left me keen to try their dinner menu some time in the future.

      Son of a Pizzaiolo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

      Posted November 10, 2016 08:15 AM by Moni

      November 08, 2016

      Green Gourmet Giraffe

      Chocolate lovers medieval castle cake - step by step

      This vegan castle cake (for our recent lunch) was inspired by one on Pinterest.  I have wanted to make it forever.  My final cake was a bit wonky.  I like to think it is the romantic ruin of a medieval castle but who am I kidding!  Had I more time I would have tried to straighten it out.  However with the time available, it was a pretty huge achievement.  And Sylvia had a great time helping me.

      I couldn't find a step by step guide to this cake so I will share some of what I did and some of what I would do next time.  The only thing I really know was that the towers would be oreo stacks and that it would be totally vegan for Vegan MoFo.  The rest was trial and error.

      Firstly I had to work out the cake size and height.  This involved putting a packet of oreos next to my cake tins and then reverting to a favourite vegan chocolate cake recipe.  The one that I have been making for about 20 years.  It is usually quite liquid but when I scaled it back the mixture seemed thicker.  It still make a lovely moist cake.  This recipe never lets me down.  I halved the recipe and made two cakes, then I made a third cake as I thought I needed more height.  Thank goodness I made these the day before I decorated the cake.

      Before stacking the cakes I used a scone cutter to cut out the corners to create somewhere for the towers to snuggle in.  Unfortunately they weren't quite uniform which didn't help create uniform towers.  I also worried that the cakes were quite domed rather than flat.  But once I put a little frosting between each layer and frosted around the edges it seemed to work ok.

      I used the frosting from the classic Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake cookbook.  Then I decided it needed more cocoa.  It still wasn't that dark.

      The next challenge was the chocolate.  I found that Sweet William makes individual wrapped bricks and bought a few bags of these.  It seemed much easier not to have cut up blocks of chocolate, despite all the packaging!  Yet once I tasted one, it was too sweet and I took the other packets back to exchange for some Green and Black chocolate.

      As well as not enjoying the taste, I thought the smaller Green and Blacks were a better size.  Again I had a look at them against the cake tine to check.  However I had been right that chopping up chocolate was not ideal.  A lot shattered and others were just a bit uneven - not so much that the naked eye would notice but enough that they didn't sit neatly on the walls.  I had considered Lindt chocolate because it is so much thinner but as it comes in large squares I was worried about chopping it up.

      I also had to search for a door.  At first I bought a packet of wafer cream biscuits but then after looking in a few shops I found flat ice cream wafers.  This was much easier to cut into a door.  However I might have made a square door because putting bricks around a rounded door was hard.  I bought Kez'a chocolate mud bars (like Nak'd or Emma and Tom's energy bars) to make the path to the door.  I had thought of putting windows made of wafer shutters but did not have time to do this.

      Sylvia was very excited about this cake and her contribution was to make the towers.  As it took me well over 2 hours to decorate the cake, I was glad of her help.  I don't think the towers were quite straight but they were close enough for jazz.  And I was not quiet sure they were all the same height.  Next time I would count how many biscuits for the first tower and then count out the right amount for each subsequent tower.

      Once it was all done, Sylvia had great fun helping with the finishing touches.  We had decided it would be haunted.  We had bought some Lindt Halloween chocolates with plastic ghosts with sticks that had to be cut to size.  For the bushes either side of the door, Sylvia moulded some mud bars, dipped them in chocolate frosting and then roll in green chocolate covered popping candy leftover from Christmas.  Finally I rubbed chocolate frosting over the plate to cover up the pattern.

      It was a rather impressive cake for our lunch.  I probably needed more than 2 hours to decorate but we were still very happy with our creation.  Cutting it was another matter.  It was a challenge.  Some pieces were covered with blocks of chocolate and, the cake having three layers, they were rather large slices.  We managed.  And I think our boys would have loved the cake as much as Sylvia did.

      I am sending this cake to Choclette for We Should Cocoa.

      More boys birthday cakes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
      Airplane cake
      Car cakes
      Farmyard cake
      Minion cake
      Monkey cake
      Rocket cake

      Chocolate lovers medieval castle cake - step by step
      From Green Gourmet Giraffe

      Chocolate cake:
      From Green Gourmet Giraffe
      1/2 cup wholemeal plain flour
      2 tbsp and 2 tsp plain white flour
      1/2 cup sugar
      2 tbsp and 2 tsp cocoa
      1/2 tsp bicarb soda (baking soda)
      1/4 tsp salt

      1/2 cup water
      2 tbsp and 2 tsp oil (I used rice bran oil)
      1/2 tsp vinegar
      1/2 tsp vanilla

      Mix dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls and then mix.  Pour into a greased and lined 15cm square cake tin and use a spoon to make sure it is spread to the edges of the tin.  Bake for 20 - 30 minutes at 180 C.  (If your oven is on the warmer side I would recommend baking at 160 C as my oven is quite slow and the sides were almost charred.)  Cool on a wire rack.

      Make three of these cakes for the castle cake.

      Chocolate buttercream frosting:
      (adapted from Australian Women's Weekly)

      185g margarine
      2 1/4 cups icing sugar mixture
      1/2 cup cocoa
      2-3 tablespoons milk (I used soy)

      Beat margarine until soft and creamy.  Gradually beat in icing sugar and cocoa.  Then beat in the milk as required to loosen up the frosting to make it creamy and easy to spread.

      To decorate:
      4 packets of chocolate filled oreos
      4 x 100g blocks of dark chocolate
      1 flat ice cream wafer
      2 chocolate energy bars (Kez's, Nak'd, Emma and Tom's)
      green sprinkles

      Bake the 3 cakes the night before you are ready to decorate. 

      On the day of decoration, use a scone cutter to cut wedge out of each corner for the tower.  Place one cake on a square cake plate.  Spread with buttercream and place another cake over it.  Repeat with buttercream and third cake.  Check that the cakes are stacked with sides aligned.

      Spread buttercream over the whole cake.

      Stack one tower of oreos to check the size and count them.  Then stack an even number of oreos on each corner, sandwiching them together with a little butter cream.

      Cut a door out of an ice cream wafer and position on one wall.

      Cut up chocolates into "bricks".  I found that sawing gently with a chef's knife was the best way to have as many as possible cut whole without cracking.  Cracked bricks could be cut for edges.  Arrange bricks along walls in rows.  Keep your hands clean so you don't smudge the bricks

      The last row of each wall should be crenelations (ie the bricks are arranged lengthways rather than widthways with brick sized intervals between them).

      Spread buttercream over the top of each tower and arrange four half bricks standing up as crenelations.

      Slice a mud bar to make paving for a path.

      Half the second mud bar and mould into a bush.  Cover with buttercream and then sprinkle with green sprinkles.  Place outside door.

      On the stereo:
      Costello Music: The Fratellis

      This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

      Week 1 is Treat Yourself (I am extending Week 1 slightly as I started it late!)

      Posted November 08, 2016 11:00 PM by Johanna GGG

      where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne


      October 22, 2016

      That beautiful Persian love cake left me with half a tub of soy yoghurt... and I thought it tasted awful! Like silken tofu flavoured with vanilla and a pinch of sugar. No way was I eating that for breakfast. I thumbed through my cookbooks and found another yoghurt cake to bake it into.

      This basbousa recipe comes from the Moroccan Soup Bar cookbook. It's a cake I recall eating there and at other Middle Eastern restaurants, served in small dense diamonds and saturated with sugar syrup. I suspect the printed version hasn't been thoroughly tested - for starters, it would have you preheat your oven to 375°C! I assumed this was the temperature in Fahrenheit, and converted back to a more feasible 190°C.

      The intended ingredient quantities are a bit of a mystery, too. My cake batter was too runny to press, roll or cut as directed. Even so, I was glad I ran my knife through it to trace diamond shapes before it baked - they were a handy guide when it was actually time to eat! I had about double the almonds and syrup that I thought I needed, and I've adjusted the quantities accordingly in my write-up below. (I've been drinking my leftover syrup a tablespoon at a time in soda water.)

      Actually, I suspect the full quantity of syrup does make for an authentic basbousa - I'm just content to make mine a little drier and less sweet than standard. It was a cake we could steal small pieces of for a full week without perceiving that it was stale. I'm most enamoured of its dense semolina-and-coconut crumb, and the subtle citrus. And I love the sticky brown caramelised edges, even though they're drier still. 

      (slightly adapted from Hana Assifiri's Moroccan Soup Bar)

      1 teaspoon baking powder
      1 teaspoon baking soda
      1 cup yoghurt (mine was soy-based)
      280g butter
      2 cups fine semolina
      1/2 cup dessicated coconut
      1/2 cup caster sugar
      100g blanched almonds

      1 1/2 cups sugar
      3/4 cup water
      zest of 1 lemon
      zest of 1 orange
      1 teaspoon orange blossom water

      Preheat an oven to 190°C. Lightly grease a large baking dish or rectangular cake tin.

      Sift the baking powder and soda into the yoghurt and stir to combine. Allow the yoghurt to sit and expand until it's doubled in size, about 20 minutes.

      Melt the butter in a large saucepan, and then turn off the heat. Stir in the semolina, coconut and sugar. Add the yoghurt and stir everything together thoroughly. Pour the cake batter into the baking dish and smooth over the top. Use a sharp knife to 'cut' the batter into diamond shapes. Place an almond at the centre of each diamond. Bake the cake until golden, about 30 minutes.

      While the cake is baking, make the syrup. Place the sugar, water and zests into a small-medium saucepan and bring them to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer the syrup for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the orange blossom water. Let the syrup sit at room temperature.

      When the cake is baked, pour the syrup over it. Turn off the oven, but put the syrup-soaking cake back in to caramelise in the ambient heat for 5-10 minutes. After that time is up, let the cake cool to room temperature. (It's not traditional, but it's also pretty tasty when warm!)

      Posted November 08, 2016 08:43 AM by Cindy

      November 07, 2016

      Green Gourmet Giraffe

      Vegan chocolate olive oil cake

      This vegan chocolate olive oil cake has been made three times in my kitchen, once I didn't taste it and the first time I wrote it up I deleted the post.  But I really liked it so I want to share it.  After all it is not every day I have the opportunity to decorate a cake with flowers.

      The first time I made it, I caused Sylvia to get vegemite in her ear when I ground the almonds in the blender.  (Turns out it is not a good idea to stick your fingers in your ear when eating vegemite on toast).  More significant to the recipe, I found the mixture really runny when I poured it into the tin.  I found I had not put in enough ground almonds but as I didn't have any more, I added psyllium husks.  Argh.  I deleted the post with the recipe but I think I used 1 1/2 cups of almonds and a cup of psyllium husks.

      I really liked the texture and flavour the first time.  It was uniced and had a slightly nubble edge.  I enjoyed that it was only slightly sweet with maple syrup.  The second time I used honey as I was making it for my niece's birthday party.  I found the honey really really sweet in the mixture and the icing not quite right.  I didn't attend but was told it was eaten quickly.

      The next time I made the cake was when I had some flowers from the farmers market.  I wanted a canvas and wanted to try this cake again.  It was good but not as good as the first time.  Hence I have recommended in the recipe that you try the method I used the first time which was to whisk the aqua faba and to add the aqua faba just before you bake.  Maybe this was why it was lovely texture the first time and slightly rubbery on my second tasting.  Mind you I still enjoyed it the second time.

      If I had time I would make it again but three times is more that I usually make a recipe before posting.  I have also gotten paranoid and recommended only 1/2 cup of psyllium husks rather than 1 cup.  In fact you could substitute almond meal for it if you want.  I also wanted to try it with some potato starch substitute for the psyllium husks as I saw someone say it worked well in gluten free cakes.  And I apologise that my detail of how I made the cake went out the window when I accidentally deleted the post.  So I really need to make it again.  One day...

      I have presented the cake differently each time I have made it.  The first time I did not ice it at all.  The second time I tried a chocolate frosting made of chocolate and butter (a bit like this).  It was really thick and hard to spread once it started to spread or hard to spread when it was too warm.  The third time I melted a very dark chocolate and mixed in coconut cream and a little maple syrup.  I really liked it, though it was slightly grainy.  My mum found it not sweet enough.

      So there you have some experiments with a lovely dense vegan and gluten free chocolate cake that has great potential.  I hope to make it again but right now I feel I have asked as many questions as I have answered.  And of course if you have flowers to spare for decorating a cake, then this one will do you proud.

      I am sharing this post with Healthy Vegan Fridays and Gluten Free Fridays.

      More vegan chocolate cakes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
      Chocolate banana swiss roll (v)
      Coconut and chocolate chunk cake (v)
      Vegan chocolate (layer) cake (v) 
      Vegan chocolate spice cake (v)
      Zucchini brownie with smoked walnuts (v)

      Chocolate olive oil cake
      Adapted from Teresa Cutler at The Healthy Chef

      2 cups almond meal*
      1/2 cup psyllium husks*
      1/2 cup cocoa
      1/2 teaspoon bicarb (baking soda)
      1/2 teaspoon baking powder
      9 tbsp aqua faba (chickpea brine)
      1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
      1/2 cup coconut milk
      1/2 cup maple syrup

      Grease and line a round 20cm cake tin.  Preheat oven to 160 C.

      Mix the almond meal, cocoa, bicarb and baking powder in a large mixing bowl.  Give aqua faba a good hand whisk so it is bubbly in a large jug.  Stir in the oil, milk and maple syrup.  Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and then mix in psyllium husks just before baking.

      Bake for 45-60 minutes.  It is ok for the middle to be slightly fudgy but the edges and top should be dried and cooked.  Cool on a an airtight try.  Frost if desired.  (I liked a combination of melted chocolate and coconut cream.)

      *NOTES: I am sure this would work with all almond meal if you don't have psyllium husks.  I think that it would be interesting to put in some potato starch but haven't had time to test that.

      On the Stereo:
      Ruby: Killjoys

      This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

      Week 1 is Treat Yourself (I am extending Week 1 slightly as I started it late!)

      Posted November 07, 2016 11:47 PM by Johanna GGG

      Thoughts Of A Moni


      High St, Northcote boasts a plethora of eateries varying in cuisines, prices and styles. Regardless of what you are after, there is bound to be an option for you there. One Sunday night, when we couldn’t be bothered cooking, we decided to pop down there for a cheap and cheerful meal. To me, cheap and cheerful is that type of meal that is easy on the wallet, without any pretences of starched tablecloths or fancy folded napkins, but doesn’t compromise on taste and instead offers a hearty, home style feed. 

      I had seen Tahina mentioned in a few guides, and all of them wrote about the delicious food that was offered. It seemed like exactly the place for us and so we headed there.

      Tahina is an Israeli restaurant that serves vegetarian food. The vegetarian aspect is not however highlighted, and it was only when I took a close look at the menu that I realised that no meat dishes were available. The offering is simple. You either choose a pita pocket, or a shakshouka platter. Or if you are like us, you choose one of each and do a swap half way through. Both these options have a few varieties to choose from but the basis remains the same.

      For the pita pocket, I chose the sabich. The highlight of the pita pocket was definitely the bread which was fresh and soft. It was filled with eggplant, hard boiled egg, potatoes, Israeli salad, pickled cabbage and brought together with hummus and tahini. The combination of flavours were amazing, in particular the eggplant which was soft and melted in the mouth.

      The shakshouka came in a choice of red, green or white. The red is obviously the traditional version in a tomato based sauce, but we decided to be adventurous and have the green version, based on a slow cook of broccoli, zucchini and spinach with avocado and olives thrown in. There was a subtle hint of cumin through the dish giving it a wonderful aroma. The eggs were floating in the sauce, but there was also a vegan version available where they were substituted with eggplant. I imagine this would be equally delicious. The shakshouka was served with a green salad, pickled cabbage, hummus and pita bread. Don’t make the mistake we initially did and try the pickled cabbage by itself, it certainly has an odd flavour, but when combined with all the other elements, it added a wonderful freshness.

      Tahina doesn’t bother with fancy service, elegant décor or a spacious dining area. Instead it focus on the food, and for people like me, it is just perfect. Given how busy it was on the night we visited, I would say there are a lot of people who agree with me.
      Tahina Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

      Posted November 07, 2016 11:04 AM by Moni

      November 06, 2016

      Green Gourmet Giraffe

      Sourdough fruit bread with poppy seeds

      A while back, I experimented with variations to my regular overnight sourdough bread recipe.  One loaf was carrot, onion and poppy seed bread and the other was this sourdough fruit bread with poppy seeds.  It was very satisfying to have fancy home made bread in the house.

      It is a great luxury to have home made fruit bread.  I have tried sourdough fruit bread once before and it was quite rustic looking.  This time I added a bit more liquid which worked better.  And it was a good opportunity to use up some of the dried fruit in the pantry.

      I had some chocolate and macadamia spread which was brilliant on the toast.  Around the same time I was making strawberry and rhubarb jam for the school fete.  One of the jars did not seal so we had to eat it.  Things I do!  It was great on the bread but I also loved eating the fruit bread toasted with some margarine.

      More breads with dried fruit on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
      Malted loaf with chocolate, figs and brazil nuts (v)
      Overnight sourdough fruit bread (v)
      Potato boston bun (v)
      Pumpernickel rolls with currants (v)
      Rhubarb and raspberry no knead focaccia (v)  
      Vegan sourdough hot cross buns with marzipan (v) 
      Walnut and fig bread (v)

      Sourdough fruit bread with poppy seeds
      Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe

      200g sourdough starter
      275g water
      9g salt
      2 tbsp golden syrup
      1 tbsp olive oil
      1/2 tsp mixed spice
      50g each cranberries, apricots and prunes, chopped
      50g walnuts, chopped
      10g (1 tbsp) poppyseeds
      400g plain white flour
      100g wholemeal flour
      maize flour to dust surface

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

      About an hour before going to bed (or first thing in the morning) mix everything together.  It is easiest to mix everything except flour first and then add flour.  Use hands to mix if required.  Set aside covered with a tea towel for half an hour.  Knead in the bowl for about 1 minute.  Cover with greased clingwrap and leave at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours.

      Scrape dough out onto a lightly floured board.  Very gently without punching the air out, fold the dough in three.  Shape into a loaves.  Place on a floured surface and cover with the lightly greased clingwrap.  (Maize flour is great here.)  Set aside to rise for 30 minutes.  While the loaves rise, preheat oven to 240 C, with casserole dishes heating if you are using them.

      Slash the loaves and put in the heated casserole dishes with lids on (or on a tray or in a tin).  Bake for 20 minutes with lid on.  Remove lid and bake another 20 minutes.  Then reduce oven heat to 180 C and return to oven for another 10 minutes to make sure the crust is crispy and golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.

      * NOTES: For more extensive notes on this method, go to my post on overnight sourdough bread.  If you can't find golden syrup, you can use an alternative sweetner such as sugar or maple syrup.  You can use other dried fruit or nuts in the loaf.  I used what I had about.

      On the stereo:
      Thursday's Fortune: Club Hoy

      This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

      Week 1 is Treat Yourself.

      Posted November 06, 2016 09:26 PM by Johanna GGG

      where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

      Small Axe Kitchen

      October 15 & 22, 2016

      Having lived in Carlton for 7 years, we've seen the best and the worst of Italian restaurants. Some fabulous pizzas, some fluffy gnocchi, some heavy and regrettable gnocchi, a couple of yawn-worthy mushroom risottos, and one or two plates of simple, fresh pesto pasta. Comfort food when it's done well, and often shared with friends, but nothing vegan-friendly.

      So I didn't pay attention to the first couple of Small Axe Kitchen reviews I saw online - what could this Sicilian restaurant be doing that would lure me away from Ray across the street?  Their primary novelty is reported to be a dish of breakfast pasta that includes cured pork cheek. Welp, Veganopoulous set me straight. Small Axe Kitchen has all sorts of veg-friendly food for lunch and brunch. 

      Gluten-free folks have plenty to choose from, too! The menu's scattered with vs, vgns and gfs that make it easy to scan... although there's a risk of scanning right past the unmarked grilled brioche with pistachio granita, espresso mousse, torrone and blood orange jelly.

      We made our first visit for brunch with a couple of twitter mates. All the vegos' eyes were drawn to one dish and Hayley made it hers - it's a bowl of soft polenta with broad beans, peas, nettle, mint and lemon ($17.50), which is vegan unless you request slow cooked egg ($3; Hayley did). I don't think she'll mind me telling you that she squeaked and guffawed and reveled in this dish - it's a real winner.

      I requested the vegan option on the citrus salad ($13.50). It meant I missed out on a ricotta-based 'spelt pudding' but was still treated to beautiful discs of orange, blood orange and grapefruit, pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, a spiced sugar syrup, and rosemary leaves suspended in more sugar. I filled up on a very good soy chai latte and had room for a late lunch.

      Michael's plate looked like a mini-Ottolenghi feast of cute little smoked eggplant halves, almond hummus, tahini mayo, pita bread, pomegranate seeds and fresh greens ($18.50). It was sufficiently spectacular that he didn't look enviously at Hayley's plate until his was finished.

      It's one of the reasons we were back exactly a week later (you can see Michael's soft polenta and broad beans in the background of the above photo). This time round I ordered the warm chestnut rice pudding ($15.50), which was a lovely comfort on an atrocious 13-degrees-and-hail spring day. On its own the vegan-friendly rice pudding is a bit watery, but it's perfectly balanced once you've got a bit of almond, fig or prune on the spoon.

      Small Axe Kitchen is an unexpected vegan-friendly gem, expertly balancing comfort foods and fresh produce in dish after dish (... though I've got a hunch that grilled brioche might tip the ratio carbwards). I reckon their outdoor seating will be one of the most sought-after spots in Melbourne when the sun finally agrees to stick around.

      We first read about Small Axe Kitchen on Veganopoulous - she's tried just about all the dishes we have. It has also received praise on blogs I'm So Hungree and Whatever Floats Your Bloat.

      Small Axe Kitchen
      281 Victoria St, Brunswick
      9939 6061
      food, drinks

      Accessibility: There's a small step on entry (and perhaps a flatter entry through the garden side). Tables are densely packed with a clear corridor through the middle. Tables outside have small backless stools, high benches in the front room have tall backless stools, and tables in the back room have ordinary backed chairs (see photos above). We ordered at our table and paid at a low counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

      Posted November 06, 2016 09:14 AM by Cindy

      November 05, 2016

      Green Gourmet Giraffe

      Chocolate and black tahini cut out biscuits

      Black tahini is one of those mysterious ingredients I have seen online recently.  As soon as I saw a jar in the health food store I knew it would be the thing for some Halloween treats.  A recipe for tahini sandwich cookies morphed easily into a dark chocolate  and black tahini biscuits (as we call cookies in Australia).

      Opening a jar of it and peering into the inky black depths reminded me of that little patch of tar that melted in the road in my childhood summers.  I loved that piece of tar.  Sometimes I dipped my finger in.  Like I did with the jar of black tahini.  I smelled it and wondered how different it tasted to the usual beige tahini.  Then I watched with pleasure as it drizzled into a measuring cup.

      Sylvia had procured a set of Halloween cookie cutters.  I had been looking out for a cut out biscuit recipe and this tahini one seemed to fit that bill.  I really liked that idea of adding the black tahin.  Chocolate never gets that black! And chocolate and tahini are such a yummy combination.  We had great fun decorating these biscuits with icing, edible eyes and marshmallows.  I had initially intended to ice them with coloured icing but in the end we kept it simple.

      The bikkies were made on the afternoon on 31 October.  Sylvia had been keen to go trick or treating with a friend for Halloween.  I said no.  Instead we made biscuits and then went to the Halloween activities at the gorgeous Little Bookroom bookshop in North Carlton.  I loved how they made an enchanted dark Halloween cave with fairy lights, glowsticks, and some skulls. There was a few lollies and lots of fun costumes to check out.  Enough for Sylvia to feel she had some trick or treat experience and little enough for me to protest.

      We served the biscuits at lunch the next day.  I really really loved them.  They were not too sweet with a hint of salt.  The texture was surprisingly crisp and the flavour was lovely.  They went down very well with the adults.  Sylvia had great fun decorating them but told me they tasted too much of tahini.  That's ok.  I didn't want to share them with her anyway!  I can't wait to make them again.

      I am sending these bikkies to Treat Petite at Cakeyboi.

      More chocolate and tahini recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
      Cashew choc chip cookies (gf, v)
      Chocolate macaroons (gf) 
      Chocolate tahini cookies (v)
      Chocolate sesame cookies (v)
      Chocolate tahini maca bliss balls (gf, v)

      Chocolate and black tahini cut out biscuits
      Adapted from Tasting Table
      Makes about 2-3 dozen

      140g margarine
      3/4 cup black tahini
      2/3 cup sugar
      2 teaspoons flaked salt
      1/4 cup cocoa
      2/3 cup wholemeal flour
      1/2 cup white flour

      Beat together margarine, tahini, sugar and salt until creamy.  Beat in cocoa and then gently mix in flours to make a clumpy mixture.

      Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times to make a ball of dough.  Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to about 3/4 cm thick.

      Cut out biscuits with your favourite cookie cutters or a small glass.  Place on 2 or 3 lined trays.  Bake at 180 C for 18-20 minutes.  Cool on a wire tray.

      NOTES: I am sure these would work well with regular light tahini.  The Tasting Table recipe said to beat the tahini mixture with electric beaters but I just beat it by hand.  That recipe also said to wrap and refridgerate the dough for 30 minutes before rolling out.  I didn't have time so I did not do this and it rolled out fine.  To decorate, we use a purchased bag of icing that came with piping tips.  We kept our bikkies in an airtight container for 5 days and they were still good.

      On the Stereo: 
      Cafe de Paris: 40 essential recordings evoking the charm of Paris' cafes and boulevards: Various Artists

      This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

      Week 1 is Treat Yourself.

      Posted November 05, 2016 10:58 PM by Johanna GGG

      November 04, 2016

      Green Gourmet Giraffe

      Halloween birthday lunch with vegan mummy tarts

      On Tuesday we had a small gathering of family and friends to remember the birthday of my stillborn twins Alex and Ian.  As their birthday is so close to Halloween, we had some themed food, including mummy pizza tarts.  It delights their sister Sylvia who seems to think it is her party!

      I will stop here to reply to a few people who have commented on my conflicted attitude to Halloween.  Halloween is not my tradition.  When I was a young Catholic girl, I celebrated All Saints Day on 1 November.  It was a Holy Day of Obligation.  We prayed for all the saints.  It was followed by All Souls Day when we prayed for the souls of those who had died.

      Now the shops push Halloween on us so they can sell lots of lollies.  There is something wrong with that.  And some aspects of Halloween make fun of death in a way that makes me feel uncomfortable.  Fortunately there are other ways to enjoy Halloween with my excited seven year old daughter.

      I think that as well as my uneasy relationship with Halloween, I am quite tired this year and felt quite unprepared for a birthday lunch. We kept the food simple.  Sylvia really liked the jack o'lantern face on the pumpkin hummus last year and this year she cut the face out of nori.

      I had decided to make mummy pizzas because they seemed easy.  Initially I intended to make mini pizzas but then it was too much work to make the dough so I used some puff pastry that I had in the freezer.  Which was just as well.  The cake (which I will write about soon) took much longer to decorate than I expected.  By the time my parents and then friends arrived, the house was tidy and everything was ready except the mummy tarts.

      I spent some time putting the olives and cheese on the tarts while everyone helped themselves to pumpkin dip with vegies and blue corn chips.  At least it was the sort of activity I could do without having to concentrate very hard.  However I would have preferred it all laid out nicely when everyone arrived.

      I did love these mummy tarts.  The vegan cheese worked well on them because it keeps its shape when it melts.  No one mentioned the cheese and I never asked if anyone was aware it was vegan cheese.  Sylvia did tell me that she loved the tarts once she picked off the cheese and olives!

      As I didn't have a chance to take many photos I made the tarts again yesterday with some of the leftovers ingredients.  They really are quite easy and wonderful finger food.  I also baked the leftover scraps of puff pastry to have as little snacks.  Sylvia gobbled these up.  Sylvia also liked cutting out plain shapes with her Halloween cookie cutters from the puff pastry and baking these.

      Dessert was far more organised than the savoury food and by then I was able to relax and indulge.  Here is a sneak peek photo.  I will be back with more on these treats soon.  We had a very pleasant afternoon chatting, listening to E with his ukulele and Sylvia disappearing into the garden with a friend and some umbrellas.

      I am sending these to Healthy Vegan Fridays and Meat Free Mondays.

      More Halloween treats on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
      Cheese and pretzel broomsticks
      Chocolate and pretzel spiderwebs
      Franken sushi (gf, v)
      Ghost cupcakes with marshmallow frosting (v) 
      Owl and spider cupcakes

      Halloween mummy tarts
      Makes about 12

      2 sheets puff pastry
      150g Biocheese (or your favourite melty vegan cheese)
      8-10 green olives stuffed with piemento
      1/4 cup pizza flavoured tomato paste

      Lay out the sheets of puff pastry.  Cut out circles with a large scone cutter (about 15cm diameter).  Slice the biocheese into long thin slices and slice the olives to make eyes.  Spread each circle with about a teaspoon of pizza sauce to cover it.  Place olive 'eyes' on the circle and arrange the cheese strips about to represent bandages.  Make sure there are some spaces between 'bandages', but not too much.  Bake until cheese has melted and edge are slightly charred.  I have done this at 20 minutes at 180 C and 10 minutes at 220 C.  Best eaten on day of baking.

      On the Stereo:
      Doubt: Jesus Jones

      This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

      Week 1 is Treat Yourself.

      Posted November 04, 2016 09:55 AM by Johanna GGG

      November 03, 2016

      where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

      Za'atar-roasted carrots with kale, freekeh & blood-orange maple dressing

      October 20, 2016

      Cindy and I wanted a substantial salad to accompany a few bits and pieces that we had to finish off in the fridge. I turned to Community, deciding that this mix of carrots, kale and freekeh would do the trick. It's certainly substantial: a kilo of carrots plus the kale and freekeh meant that we were eating this over about 6 meals. So it was lucky that it was so good - the dressing (we subbed in orange and grapefruit for the blood orange) was sweet and tangy, but the salad was delicious enough even without it. It's tempting to skip the hazelnut roasting and crushing, but they crunch they add was definitely worth the effort.

      We haven't had anything disappointing from Community and this continued our run - a reasonably simple salad with a nice mix of flavours that tastes just as good as leftovers a day or two later.

      Za'atar-roasted carrots with kale, freekeh and blood-orange maple dressing
      (adapted from a recipe in Hetty McKinnon's Community)

      ~1kg of carrots, sliced into 5-8cm chunks
      1 red onion, finely sliced
      1 tablespoon za'atar
      Juice of 1 small lemon
      1 cup freekeh grains, rinsed
      1 garlic clove, crushed
      1 bunch kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
      1 small bunch parsley, chopped
      1/2 cup hazelnuts, roasted, skinned and roughly crushed
      4 tablespoons olive oil
      Salt and pepper

      Juice of 1 orange and 1 grapefruit (or 2 blood oranges if you can find them)
      2 tablespoons maple syrup
      1 garlic clove, crushed
      1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
      Small bunch of dill, finely chopped
      3 tablespoons olive oil
      Salt and pepper

      Pre-heat the oven to 220°C.

      Lay out the carrot pieces in a couple of baking trays, drizzle over three-quarters of the oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Pop them in the oven to roast.

      Add the onion to the oven trays after about 15 minutes and return to the oven for another 15 minutes. Take the carrots out and pour over the lemon juice and sprinkle on the za'atar.

      Cook the freekeh as per instructions. 

      Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and add the garlic and kale, season with heaps of salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes until the leaves have wilted nicely.

      Whisk together all the dressing ingredients, adjusting the seasoning to taste.

      Stir together the freekeh, carrots and kale, plus half the parsley. Serve with a splash of the dressing and a garnish of parsley and hazelnuts, plus some more za'atar if you want it.

      Posted November 03, 2016 08:34 PM by Michael

      Green Gourmet Giraffe

      In My Kitchen: November 2016

      November is a crazy month.  It starts with a birthday lunch and ends with Christmas well and truly on the way.  This year I am participating in Vegan MoFo (as introduced yesterday) and so my blog is only featuring vegan food all November.  In my kitchen is lots of interesting vegan purchases and home cooked food, a little Halloween and the welcome return of stone fruit!

      I start with a batch of vegan meringues (above).  Sylvia had to take something to Show and Tell at school under the theme of The Science of Cooking.  I baked this batch of meringues for her to take in and ask kids to guess what was in them.  No one got it.  (In fact no one even guessed egg white that is traditionally used in meringues!)  She then told them a bit about the exciting recent discovery of using aqua faba instead of egg whites.

      I think I was more excited about aqua faba and she was more excited about taking meringues to give out to her class.  But I still feel it a great thing for kids to know about.  Oh, and I learned that I need to make sure not to pipe the meringues too close together, even if I am very tired.  

      As it is Vegan MoFo (where bloggers around the globe post often about vegan food), I thought I would post some of our favourite vegan food.  We regularly have these items in our house: hummus, rice crackers, roasted fava beans, seaweed crackers, biocheese, bba sausages, tofu, and Fry's schnitzels.

      A new vegan item in my kitchen is this packet of smoked chipotle sausages.  I haven't tasted them.  They are from the freezer section so I keep forgetting about them.  I love anything smoky but am hoping they aren't too spicy.

      I have been making an effort to eat my vegies and loving how pretty they look.  Isn't purple cabbage just gorgeous?  I ate it with dal and rice.

      Another recent meal was these Coconut Black Eyed African Beans.  It is a favourite stew with coconut cream, tomato passata and black eyed beans.  When I make favourite dishes that I blogged years ago, if time permits I take a nice photo to improve the look of old posts.  My photography skills still need much work but I have improved since I started blogging in 2007.

      I am quite fond of Australia's native wattleseed but have run out of my stash and it is not something I have been encountering in shops recently.  It is good to see energy bars featuring wattleseed.  I like this Macadamia and Wattleseed version from The Bar Counter.  And the packaging is so pretty too.

      We made some purchases at the preserves stall of the recent school fete.  E chose the fancy Orange, Grapefruit and Cognac Marmalade.  I bought some corn relish and also a jar of crabapple jelly (not pictured) for my mum.  We haven't opened any yet. 

      The fruit bowl is looking better than it has for a few months.  The last of the apples are hanging in there.  I went to the newly opened South Geeelog Farmers Market with my mum and bought some very nice oranges.  Most excitingly, we have Aussie peaches back in the shops.  Not at their peak but it is so wonderful to eat peaches.  You might also see in the background that we have flowers on the lime tree.

      Sylvia was very excited to see the Halloween designs on some Kelloggs cereals boxes.  Here is the rice bubbles (also known as rice krispies in other countries).  I also caved into pester power because the Coco Pops have a spooky box too.  They are so sweet that they are not an everyday breakfast.

      Sylvia has been very excited about Halloween.  These plates, serviettes, bags and mini Halloween pumpkins would not be in my kitchen but for pester power.  Which is not to say that I didn't have fun doing a little carving.

      And finally, here are a few of my extravagant purchases that have be used in making Halloween treats.  Blue multigrain tortilla chips, vegan marshmallows, black tahini and a truckload of chocolate.  Stay tuned to see how I used them. (Check out the black tahini in biscuits)

      I am sending this post to the In My Kitchen event, that invites bloggers to share a peek into their kitchen.  Started by Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, it is currently hosted by Lizzy of Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things.  If you would like to join in, send your post to Lizzy by 10 November .  Or just head over to her blog to check out some fascinating kitchens.

      This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts.

      Posted November 03, 2016 09:32 AM by Johanna GGG

      November 02, 2016

      Green Gourmet Giraffe

      Vegan MoFo 2016

      It's back!  I missed last year but here I am about to embark on my fifth year of Vegan MoFo.  I am looking forward to joining a crowd of bloggers who are promoting vegan food in November.

      I am a little nervous too.  Not because I am vegetarian.  I eat enough vegan food to enjoy the challenge of having a vegan blog for a month.  No, I am nervous about finding the time.  This year has been pretty crazy and demanding of my time.  I have been preparing some posts ahead of time.  It is the only way to survive Vegan MoFo even at the best of times.  It is the only way I have convinced myself to sign up this year.

      So I can promise you that I have lots of fun and fascinating recipes.  In keeping with the weekly Vegan MoFo themes, there will be treats, diversity, colour, and comfort food (oh yes that is "memories and traditions" week but for me that translates as comfort!).  Here is a sneak peak at some of the food you will see this month:

      I will list my Vegan MoFo posts here as I post them:

      Week 5: Holidays

      28 November: Welsh nutroast with laverbread, leeks and cheese

      Week 4: Memories and Traditions

      27 November: Aquafaba (chickpea brine) recipes - vegan and eggless
      26 November: Banana and maca muesli (granola)
      24 November: Zucchini Slice - Veganising a favourite Aussie din
      23 November: Rice paper bacon
      22 November: Burger buns
      21 November: Tofu besan omelette

      Week 3: Rainbow

      20 November: Chunky asparagus and cashew dip with Kale sourdough tortillas
      19 November: Hal's stir fry sauce - updated and vegan
      18 November: Rainbow food - in pictures
      17 November: Rainbow fruit kebabs
      16 November: Smoky apple vegie burgers
      15 November: Rainbow salad with orange and sesame dressing

      Week 2: International

      14 November: Thai pumpkin and lentil soup
      13 November: Vegan Avgolemono - Greek Easter lemon soup
      12 November: Asian rice with cabbage, corn and celery
      11 November: Vegemite and poppy seed scones
      10 November: Book Review: Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

      Week 1: Treat Yourself

      8 November: Chocolate lovers medieval castle cake
      7 November: Vegan chocolate olive oil cake
      6 November: Sourdough fruit bread with poppy seeds
      5 November: Chocolate and black tahini cut out biscuits
      4 November: Halloween birthday lunch with vegan mummy tarts

      3 November: In My Kitchen 

      Previous Vegan MoFo posts can be found in these lists:

      Posted November 02, 2016 04:16 PM by Johanna GGG

      November 01, 2016

      Green Gourmet Giraffe

      Remembering Alex and Ian 9

      When our twin boys Alex and Ian were stillborn, it seemed a huge effort to get through a day.  Today it is 9 years without them, wondering about what might have been, and celebrating their birth and death each year.  Fondly remembered.  Dearly missed.  Always a special part of our family.

      As always for their birthday we have cake at home (coming soon).  On this page, I am sharing some links about stillbirth:

      Pregnancy, the hardest race of all: 'If miscarriage is so common, why does no one talk about it?
       - Julie Freeman in the Guardian, 18 November 2015
      One mother shares her story and talks to British Olympic athlete, Liz Yelling about her experience of miscarriage and how hard it is to talk about it.

      Tired - by Maureen, Still Mothers, 30 May 2016
      A lovely piece on how tiring it is to grieve and be the grieving mother.

      Grieving mother denied refunds on baby items - The Age newspaper, 7 June 2016
      A mother of a stillborn son talks of her experiences with the hospital, Centrelink and returning her baby purchases to the shops.

      Seven families open up about The Long-Term Heartbreak Of Stillbirth In Still Loved Documentary - Huffington Post, 15 October 2015
      Article about seven families who were filmed over three years to explore their experiences of stillbirth in a crowdfunded documentary.

      Longest Night Service - Wikipedia
      A Longest Night Service sometimes also known as a Blue Christmas Service or Service of Light, held on or around the eve of the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, is a modern Christian religious service for those living with loss.

      Stillbirth Foundation
      An organisation that researches stillbirth in Australia with a register of stillborn children

      My baby was stillborn but I refuse to hide him from the world - Narratively. 22 September 2016
      An article about how parents of stillborn children are using the virtual world to share pictures and stories of their babies.

      Posted November 01, 2016 04:55 PM by Johanna GGG

      October 30, 2016

      Green Gourmet Giraffe

      Yuni's Kitchen: Northcote Indonesian restaurant

      Yesterday we were in Northcote for the Melbourne Ukulele Festival and had arranged to meet some friends for lunch.  The warm spring day was perfect for alfresco dining.  Last year we had been to the courtyard outside Yuni's Kitchen.  It was a pleasant place to while away time with a cool drink.  I had wondered what the food was like.

      This is the sort of place I usually struggle to find anything for Sylvia to eat except rice.  Lately we have been working on extending the meals she will eat.  I convinced her to try spring rolls and mie goreng.  After all, crispy pastry and noodles doesn't sound so difficult.

      Too often at a cafe when we order spring rolls as an entree, they are skinny parcels with not a lot of filling.  Part of me was impressed at how much vegetable filling there was in the fat crispy spring rolls and part of me despaired of convincing Sylvia to eat all the vegetables.  And so it was.  She pushed most of the vegies out but was able to accept a few left in the casing.

      My friend Heather ordered the Bakwan Jagung (corn fritters) and Tahu Isi Sayur (tofu stuffed with vegies and deep fried).  I tasted some.  The corn fritters were really lovely and light.  The stuffed tofu came in three surprisingly large deep fried mounds.  Inside was the same carrot and cabbage mixture as in the spring rolls.  It was nice with crispy exteriors but needed the sweet chilli sauce to give it enough flavour to satisfy.

      Sylvia and I also shared the Mie Goreng.  The menu says that the stir fried egg noodles are served with vegetables and egg.  I asked for tofu instead of the egg.  The tofu was well cooked and almost meaty.  We both enjoyed it.  And we also loved the noodles that were long and well seasoned with a sauce that seemed heavy on the soy sauce.  Neither of us liked the rice crisps which seemed slightly overdone.  I wasn't overly enthused by the selection of vegies (carrot, capsicum and bean sprouts) but was pleased there was quite a few of them. 

      Best not to mention Sylvia's disdain of the vegies and just get on with the dessert.  When we asked about ice cream for her dessert, the waiter asked if we wanted vanilla or home made banana and tutti fruitti.  Sylvia wanted chocolate but was very happy with vanilla and some chocolate sauce.  I was grateful that we were offered one scoop of ice cream rather than the three suggested on the menu.

      I enjoyed my meal at Yuni's, Heather enjoyed hers, but E was less impressed and I forgot to check with my other friends but they seemed content.  They were happy to get a high chair for their toddler.  The courtyard was really loved on a warm afternoon and I could have stayed there longer just whiling the hours away in the shade of the sailcloth.

      If you see the sandwich board advertising Yuni's Kitchen outside the Uniting Church on the High Street, it is a pleasant place to get away from the High Street bustle and enjoy a bit of piece and quiet with some nice food.

      Meanwhile, in other matters, this is my last post for October.  Next month I will be participating in Vegan MoFo.  I am a little nervous at how I will go with finding time but I am excited to be sharing lots of great vegan food (no eggs or dairy next month on this blog).  I will not start until 2 November because as always on this blog, 1 November is for family.  I look forward to seeing you then.

      Yuni's Kitchen
      251 High Street, Northcote
      0455 337 666
      Open Wednesday to Sunday for lunch and dinner

      Yuni's Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

      Posted October 30, 2016 10:19 PM by Johanna GGG

      October 28, 2016

      where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

      The Snug Public House

      October 19, 2016

      I was pretty shocked when I read Faye's post about the vegan options at St Kilda's version of The Snug Public House - the Brunswick branch has always seemed quietly charming but very, very meaty. Luckily for us though, the St Kilda vegan menu seems to have gone well, prompting the owners to start rolling out vegan options out near us. We dropped by with a couple of friends on one of their first vegan-friendly nights to check things out. It's a small pub, with just a handful of tables inside and a few more in their cute little courtyard.  

      They were still sorting out the menu when we visited - there were just four dishes on offer and things were still changing from night to night. They're promising that a bigger menu is on its way, including vegan options for weekend brunch. Exciting times! The kitchen got us started with Guinness bread and Nuttelex while we workshopped our options. In the end, with four dishes to choose from and four people eating, it was clear what we had to do: one of each to share.

      First up was the burrito - a massive tortilla stuffed with rice, jackfruit pulled 'pork' and coriander, topped with vegan sour cream, salsa and minced jalapeno ($23). This was ludicrously big, and anyone ordering it on their own would surely struggle. Between four it worked okay, although the burrito filling was very heavy on the rice and a bit light on the jackfruit. 

      Next up were the chilli garlic prawns, with grilled asparagus and steamed rice ($23). I'm usually pretty skeptical of mock prawns, but this dish just about converted me. The chilli sauce was the highlight - spicy, garlicky and just about the best way to make the slightly rubbery mock prawns work. This was among the most popular dishes for the table.

      The remaining dishes were more classic Irish fare, starting with bangers and mash with peas, caramelised onion and gravy ($23). I loved getting a vegan version of this kind of classic pub food, and so much about it was perfect - wonderful gravy, creamy mash and beautifully cooked onions. The bangers let things down a teeny bit - I'm not sure what brand they're using (or if they're making their own), but they were a bit on the dense side. Still a pretty excellent meal and one that would be perfect with just a few tweaks.

      The final dish of the night was a potato gratin, served with steamed peas and a chorizo ragu. This was the another favourite - the gratin was wonderful and combined nicely with the surprisingly good ragu. 

      The Snug's vegan turn is really exciting - it's probably the closest pub to our house and is perfectly placed to scoop up any vegan pub-food spillover from the always-busy Cornish Arms up the road. The food was excellent, the staff  enthusiastic and friendly, and the atmosphere charmingly relaxed. We'll be keeping a close eye on things here - other vegans and vegetarians should get along and make sure the vegan menu is worth the pub's while!


      Veganopolous brought The Snug to our attention with her review of the vegan options at the St Kilda venue. Positive Brunswick reviews from What Em Did, Parma Daze and Gourmet Chick are of the meaty menu.

      The Snug Public House
      68 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
      9388 8756

      Accessibility: The interior is crowded, with a mix of tables and high seats at the bar. The courtyard has bench seats and stools. You order at the table and pay at the bar.

      Posted October 28, 2016 06:20 AM by Michael

      October 27, 2016

      Green Gourmet Giraffe

      Franken sushi and Halloween links

      It's pretty silly, isn't it?  We have been talking about Halloween ideas here in our house.  Sylvia is swayed by certain cereal manufacturers to want to make Frankenstein monsters and spiders ou of cereal and lots of sugar.  I thought I would have a go at a slightly healthier sushi version.

      It was not a total success.  Kale powder did not make the sushi quite as bright green as I had hoped.  The face on the kale green was not quite as prominent as I had hoped.  And Sylvia took one bite and said she didn't like the taste of the kale.  (It was slightly grassy but still quite tasty.)  I enjoyed a couple as work snacks/lunches, Sylvia had one moulded into a sausage shape and rolled in nori, and I chopped the last one and stirred it into soup.  Don't leave the face in the fridge for a couple of days unwrapped or the rice hardens and is only good for stirring into soup.

      And if my funny old Franken Sushi is not enough for you, I can direct you to some lists of Halloween food.  I am proud that all of these include links to Halloween recipes of mine (yes that is a lot of links).  They are quite entertaining slideshows/lists to browse:

      Also check out my round up of my own Halloween recipes,

      I am sending my Franken Sushi to Kimmy and Mary-Ellen for Healthy Vegan Fridays.  They will be featuring some Halloween recipes tomorrow! 

      Franken Sushi
      By Green Gourmet Giraffe
      Makes 4

      1 cup sushi rice
      1 1/2 cups water
      4 tbspt sushi seasoning, or to taste
      2 tbsp kale powder
      carrots, olives and nori, to decorate

      Cook sushi rice by placing in a small saucepan with one and a half times the amount of water.  Place a lid on, bring to the boil, stir and simmer (covered) for 20 minutes over a very low flame.  When cooked, stir in sushi seasoning and kale powder.

      Line a rectangular tub with clingwrap with a large overhang.  Spoon about a quarter of rice into clingwrap.  Fold clingwrap over it and press down with another similar shaped tub.  Place lid on it and put in fridge to chill and firm up.

      Just before ready to eat cut out hair, eyes and mouth and place on unwrapped sushi.  I cut a thin slice of carrot and carefully chopped out a fringe, used olives and carrot for the eyes and nori for the mouth.  However the carrot and olives didn't stay on so many next time I would just use nori for all the face. 

      On the Stereo:
      Set List: The Frames

      Posted October 27, 2016 10:03 PM by Johanna GGG

      October 25, 2016

      where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

      Persian love cake

      October 8, 2016

      Recently two of our friends got married, and they held a vegan potluck reception. We are enthusiastic potluckers under any conditions, and a wedding celebration predictably set us into overdrive. We brought a double batch of sausage rolls with barbecue sauce, mango & coconut rice salad, mango & coconut splice jellies, and finally, this cake. I'd seen it earlier in the week on Around the World Vegan - I liked that it was already vegan and gluten-free, and I had a stash of rose petals in the pantry that I was keen to make use of. Best of all, a dessert named Persian Love Cake would be perfect for the occasion.

      The cake, even though it has two layers, comes together in one bowl without need of an electric mixer. Based on almond meal and polenta, it has a sandy texture but none of the chalkiness that I often notice with commercial gluten-free flour mixes. I'd consider trading some of the polenta for more almond meal if I baked this again, aiming for a softer and probably denser crumb. Keira made both a syrup and an icing for her cake, but instead I tried to combine their best elements into a single glaze flavoured with lime juice and rosewater. It tasted fabulous but its consistency was a bit too thin, and I used up all the icing sugar I had on hand.

      It's the pistachios and rose petals that elevate a quite plain-looking cake to an absolute stunner, but they provide complementary flavour as well as good looks. This is a cake that demands it be seen and shared and celebrated, and we did just that.

      Persian love cake
      (a recipe from Around The World Vegan,
      which itself was adapted from CERES)

      1 1/3 cups almond meal
      1 1/3 cups polenta
      1 cup brown sugar
      120g margarine
      2 tablespoons cornflour
      1/3 cup water
      250g soy yoghurt
      1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
      1 teaspoon cardamom
      2 teaspoons cinnamon
      1 teaspoon allspice

      1/2 cup icing sugar
      1 tablespoon lime juice
      1 teaspoon rosewater

      1/3 cup pistachios
      2 tablespoons rose petals

      Preheat an oven to 180°C. Line a cake tin with paper.

      In a large bowl, stir together the almond meal, polenta and sugar. Add the margarine and combine it all, using pressing motions with a fork. Press half of this mixture into the base of the cake tin.

      Whisk together the cornflour and water in a mug. Pour it into the remaining mixture in the bowl, along with the yoghurt and the spices. Stir everything together until well combined, then pour it into the cake tin. Bake until set and golden, 30-35 minutes. Cool the cake completely to room temperature.

      Sift the icing sugar into a small bowl and whisk in the lime juice and rosewater. Spoon the icing over the cooled cake and sprinkle it with pistachios and rose petals.

      Posted October 25, 2016 06:56 AM by Cindy

      October 24, 2016

      vegan about town

      [singapore] well dressed salad bar [chinatown]

      I'm in Singapore at the moment, on a three month residency. I've totally been failing at keeping you updated, but I promise I have been eating a lot of amazing vegan food.

      Well Dressed Salad Bar is an all vegetarian, mostly vegan cafe on South Bridge Street, down near Kreta Ayer end. It specialises in salads, of which I've had zero. It is, however, about half an hour walk from where I'm based, so I've been going there a bit.

      On my first visit, I was all by myself. I chose the curry with rice and 'chips'. The curry was spicy and excellent. The rice was fine (I smushed it all into that bowl of curry). The chips are nori strips coated in what I think is besan, and then fried. I must eat them all, immediately, and plan on making them ASAP (ie, as soon as I get to my kitchen in Australia). I had with this a fresh watermelon juice, and I took home a slice of chocolate brownie cake. They have a window of cakes at the entry, and it's full of terrible temptations that I can never move past.

      On my second visit I brought a friend. I was feeling under nourished, mostly due to the large amount of stir fried noodles I tend to eat for breakfast and lunch (more on that in a subsequent post about my love of hawker centres and the fact that Singaporeans don't use their kitchens), so I had the udon noodle bowl. This was a really simple bowl of udon noodles with fresh soy beans, purple cabbage, carrot, lettuce and shredded nori. To go with this I had a juice that contained beetroot. Long time friends (and new friends, in fact), will note that I loathe beetroot, but I talked myself into this juice and it was actually really beautiful, a combination of apple, beetroot, carrot and something else that I can't quite recall at the moment.

      I finished the meal off with this AMAZING avocado, brownie and choc chip ice cream cake, which was served with a chocolate sauce and a few small pieces of fruit. When this ice cream was described to me, I was expecting more of a chocolate thing, and so when it came out I was very worried about it. Whenever I hear about ice cream with avocado in it, I think about that time Cindy and Michael made avocado ice cream and I didn't enjoy it as much as I'd hoped to . So I was concerned! However it turns out I needn't have worried, as this was delicious and I would DEFINITELY eat it again. My only wish is that there'd been more fruit to go with it.

      On this occasion I took home a slice of passionfruit cake, which was light and lovely with a tart passionfruit syrup on the top. A++ would eat again.

      On my third visit it was specifically to pick up a box of donuts. Once a month Zenna takes orders (over instagram) for donuts. They're six to a box, minimum six for an order, $2 per donut. The flavours vary every month. I went for 2 x dark chocolate almond, 2 x oreo, 1 x blueberry and 1 x dark chocolate cranberry. Every mouthful was a delight! I hope I'm here still for my final order. Because they're mini donuts, it was no trouble for me to polish them all off, and they made up slightly for missing World Vegan Day in Melbourne over the weekend.

      Since I was there anyway, and I'd been tortured by two hours of family time with no actual food I can eat (My Auntie told another vego the popiah were vegetarian; spoilers, he spat it into the bin cos there was prawns IN POPIAH), I paused for dinner. The all day breakfast comes with coconut waffles, housemade sausages (containing rosemary), housemade vegan feta, avocado, tomatoes, AMAZING mushrooms, and totally unnecessary alfalfa. It's accompanied by a juice or soup. Obviously I went with juice, because it's the best, and obviously I chose watermelon, because watermelon juice, freshly squeezed, in Southeast Asia, is one of life's true joys. The waffles were savoury, the feta was pleasantly salty, and the mushrooms were juicy, pan-fried portabellos, and oh how I have missed them. So that was very nice, too.

      Well Dressed is a little pricy by Singapore standards, but the service is fast, everyone is friendly, and there's lots of vegetables served in raw and interesting ways, which is not necessarily how you get vegetables in Singapore. I probably shouldn't eat there twice a week, but it is very nice.

      Well Dressed Salad Bar
      282 South Bridge Road
      Chinatown (South of Sri Mariamman Temple)

      There are a variety of buses that stop on North Bridge Road and Eu Tong Sen Street, or the Chinatown MRT is about a 7 minute walk. There's a step to enter the shop. The unisex toilet is down the back of the shop but from memory it's accessible. Takes credit card yay.

      Posted October 24, 2016 11:56 PM by steph

      Green Gourmet Giraffe

      Plum and rhubarb jam, a fete and a birthday

      This weekend's weather was not kind with wintery temperatures and far far too much rain but it takes far more than that to keep me from the school fete and my sister's birthday party.  I had volunteered to make jam and used what fruit was given to me to make a couple batches.

      When I began this blog, I had very little experience of jam making but now I am far more confident about working out how much sugar, when it is done and how to sterilise the jars.  Even so I was a little freaked out when I took a large bag of frozen plums and found how soft they were when they thawed.  I had to use them then and there!  Well, almost.  I actually chopped them as soon as they thawed, put them in the saucepan with sugar and then too another 24 hours to find time to make the jam.  By then I had been given some rhubarb that I threw in the pot with some extra sugar.

      I had planned to get to the jam making earlier but I was busy getting my Christmas parcels in the post to Ireland and Scotland.  It was a rude shock to find that Australia Post is only doing seamail for parcels over 2kg and if you dare to attempt it they had a long form to fill out.  Apparently people don't send enough parcels seamail these days.  Hurrumph!  I still love seamail to keep the cost of Christmas parcels down.  Am I the only one?  I guess not many people make jam these days either.

      So after posting parcels, doing body balance, making dinner, finding jars in the back of the cupboard , going to my singing group, and fitting in some work hours too, it was evening when I finally made the jam.  Far too late.  Even later than I meant as I had run out of lemons and had to buy some before I started.

      I used a bit more sugar that I usually do as I wanted to make sure the jam kept well.  I had added some water and left this in the recipe below but I do wonder if it was really needed as there was so much juice that seeped out of the thawed plums and I was waiting for ages past when I wanted to sleep for the jam to reach the right consistency.  I would have loved to taste the jam but not enough to eat a whole jar so I contented myself with eating some of the scrapings from the pot.

      Once the jam was made it sat in the kitchen for almost a week until I got labels printed off.  Far more professional than my usually hand writing!  Before putting them on I dunked the jars in a bowl of hot water to wash off the jam spilled down the sides.

      Finally I was given some gingham and rubber bands to top the jars.  Again it really looked quite smart.  I also took along some strawberry and rhubarb jam.  Towards the end of the fete I checked the jam stall and was pleased to find none of my jars left.

      The reason the fete was held on the weekend was that we had local council elections and our school is a voting booth.  Incidentally apparently very few of the councils across the state chose to have voting booths.  So you came into the fete through a barrage of how to vote leafleteers and in the middle of the fete was a long queue of voters.

      When I arrived it was sunny and I was hopeful that the weather forecasters got it wrong.  Sadly, it did not take long to find that 90% chance of rain really does mean it will rain.  By the time I had voted, the weather was on the turn.  And my voting didn't take long at 9.30am.  But in my rush to leave the house, we had forgotten Sylvia's rides wristband.  A friend was heading home to get the car because the rain was so bad.  I drove her home and got the wristband while Sylvia stayed with a friend.

      Sylvia was very excited about the rides.  Buying a rides pass was good value and let her walk into whatever rides she wanted.  Actually "rides" is misleading.  On offer were a chair swing, a bouncy castle and a rock climbing tower.  (The cup and saucer ride did not work as it was waterlogged.)  I was pretty impressed that Sylvia got herself into a harness and climbed up this tower.

      It was a great shame that the bad weather meant that the rides were only available in bursts of sunshine.  It gave kids less opportunity and the school less fundraising.  Yet the kids did seem to enjoy it when they were able to get on the rides.  Though Sylvia did once hop on the chair swing as the sky became grey and halfway through her ride it started raining.

      We also enjoyed walking around the stalls.  I made a few purchases at the jam stall.  After putting out quite a few books for the second hand bookstall, I was pleased to walk away with only one book (a Clementine Rose novel for Sylvia).  We went to the toy stall where Sylvia insisted on buying a soft panda toy (giving me visions of Peppa Pig at the funfair) who is her latest best friend.  I got some dodgy out of date eye serum in an adult lucky dip (do people use eye serum?).  Due to the weather, a lot of kids activities like hair spray, face paint, tattoos and craft were moved indoors.  It didn't take long for the books to follow. 

      I had a vegie burger from the sausage sizzle but Sylvia would not eat them.  There was also a coffee stand and a cake stall.  I was rostered on for the plant stall but there seemed lots of people helping out there already so I offered my services to the cake stall.  I spent almost two hours of constantly telling people cake prices and taking their money.  My contribution to the cake stall was the grubs (truffles) above.  They sold rather quickly.  Yay!

      I was really impressed with someone who bought lots of op shop plates and arranged bakes on them and wrapped each plate of cakes in cellophane.  They looked really attractive and would make great gifts.  In fact I might steal the idea for Christmas presents.  And the cellophane was good when gusts of rain blew over the cake stall.  It was no fun mopping water off a few plates of cakes.

      The rain came on and off so that the hay bales that would have been a lovely place to eat on a sunny day looked soggy and sad.  When E performed with his uke in this area, he had one brave soul sitting on the bales but I could hear girls buying cakes humming along.

      I felt sorry for those who were queuing for up to half an hour when it rained.  One burst of rain was so heavy that everyone in queue looked really shiny wet with coats plastered to them.  I imagine some of them just wanted to head for home once they had voted rather than to spend time at the fete.  But then I also expect some people might have made a sympathy purchase because it was just so sad to have made so many preparations and have the weather turn on us like that.  But that is Melbourne spring weather and we soldiered on as best as we could.

      I was ready to go home and curl up after hours at the fete.  But my sister had a significant birthday party in Geelong.  So we headed home to pack our bags and head down the freeway to the party.  It was a great party.  Indoors of course.  She had also dreamt of a lovey spring evening outdoors but it wasn't to be.  The flower-topped two-tiered cake was gorgeous and my family brought along some sweet food.  My contribution was a plate of watermelon.

      My sister's partner is great at BBQs and had pork and coleslaw buns for everyone.  We had some vegies sausages with our buns and coleslaw.  I was glad of some decent savoury food for Sylvia.  She wolfed down a couple of sausages accompanied by cheezels and then headed out to the trampoline.

      My sister looked gorgeous and I really enjoyed catching up with family and some of her longtime friends.  Sylvia was excited to have a late night but I was glad to collapse into bed at the end of the day.

      More jams on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
      Mixed berry jam (gf, v)
      Peach and pineapple jam (gf, v)
      Plum jam (gf, v)
      Plums and raspberry jam (gf, v)
      Rhubarb and strawberry jam (gf, v)
      Strawberry chia seed jam (gf, v)

      Plum and Rhubarb Jam
      Makes about 10 x 250ml jars

      2kg plums
      350g rhubarb
      6.5 cups sugar
      1 cup water 
      1/3 cup lemon juice (about 1 1/2 lemons)

      Stone and chop plums.  Chop rhubarb into 1cm pieces.  Place in large saucepan/stockpot with rest of the ingredients.  (At this point I left mine for 24 hours because was busy.)  Bring to the boil.  Simmer at medium heat (reducing to low heat once it thickens a little) until it passed the saucer test or falls off the spoon like jam.  Mine took about 90 minutes.  Perhaps next time I leave out the water!  Ladle into sterilised jars and screw lids on tightly.  I turned mine upside down for about 5 minutes to encourage the lids to seal.  Cool and keep in a cool place until ready to open.

      NOTES: To sterilise jars:

      While jam/chutney is simmering, sterilise your jars and lids.  I bake mine for 30 minutes in the oven at 150 C and boil the lids on the stovetop for 10 minutes, then driy them on a rack.  I find it easy to put all the jars in a roasting dish so I am not having to handle them individually.

      On the Stereo:
      The very best of Edith Piaf

      Posted October 24, 2016 09:43 PM by Johanna GGG

      October 22, 2016

      where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

      Grand Trailer Park Taverna

      October 4, 2016

      Almost every time Cindy and I eat in the CBD we wind up heading to Shandong Mama or Shanghai Street, so we were delighted when Hayley suggested a pre-movie meal at Grand Trailer Park Taverna. Melbourne's obsession with dude-food is getting a bit tiresome, but even the most committed dumpling-heads need a change sometimes. Grand Trailer Park Taverna exploded onto Melbourne's burger scene a few years back, with queues out the door and inordinate amounts of buzz (see the blog round-up below). Things appear to have mellowed slightly, and we had no trouble getting a table early on a Tuesday night.

      It's a beautiful setup, with tables nestled inside wooden caravan cut-outs and little cabins, chandeliers on the ceiling and a bright, cheerful vibe. The menu is a glorious paean to junk food, featuring ridiculous boozy milkshakes, a selection of burgers, loads of fried sides and mad dessert dishes like an ice-cream donut sandwich or the menacingly titled 'chocopalypse'. Vegans are basically going to be stuck eating chips and onion rings - it seems a shame that they haven't come up with an option or two burger-wise, but they're clearly focussing on the meaty end of the market.

      The drinks menu is fantastic - we couldn't stomach the idea of boozy milkshakes, but the cocktails provided an excellent fallback option - the apple collins ($18) and dark and stormy ($18) pictured above were both superb.

      Food-wise, we kicked things off with a mac 'n' cheese croquette each ($4.50). We all expected something small and spherical, so these giant squares of fried came as something of a shock.

      A delicious, gooey shock.

      There's just the one vego burger on the menu - the Shaquitta (chickpea patty, cheddar cheese, tomato, butter, lettuce, special burger sauce and mustard on a brioche bun, $12.50). We added a serve of the fries ($5.50) and the onion rings ($5.50) to round out the savoury portion of the meal.

      The burger was adequate - heavy on the cheese and sauce, which covered for a reasonably unexciting patty. I was moaning about the brioche buns as we ordered, but this one was surprisingly okay - far from the sickly sweet mess that some places serve up. The chips and onion rings were crispy fried and salty, which is a recipe for success (and a second round of drinks).

      One of the main reasons we'd ended up at Grand Trailer Park was Cindy and Hayley's shared excitement over the dessert menu. The ridiculousness is typified by the $38 giant waffle stack and the aforementioned chocopalypse (described thusly, "Look. Feel. Hear. Smell. Taste. At the end??? Have a goodnight"), but even the smaller options are a bit mad. We went for a regular waffle stack - a pair of waffles sandwiching Nutella parfait, whipped cream and strawberries all drowning in a Nutella sauce ($10).

      I'd over-committed on the savoury round, so I only sampled a teeny bit of this. It was as rich and ridiculous as it looks, but that's what we were there for. This would surely be impossible for anyone to finish on their own, but split a few ways it worked well, with the strawberries providing at least some respite from the choc-creaminess of the rest.

      We had fun at Grand Trailer Park Taverna - the staff were friendly and efficient and the vibe of the place was lovely. I imagine things get a bit more hectic on a Friday night, but it was a surprisingly relaxed place for dinner on a Tuesday. The food is junky and the vego options are limited, but it's worth a visit for the ridiculous desserts and great drinks.

      Thoughts of a Moni provided a rare review of the vego burger, while there were very positive meaty reviews at Ordinary Girl, Extraordinary Dreamer, For Food's Sake, I'm so Hungree, The Very, Very Hungry Caterpillar, Olive Sundays, New International Students, De-Briefme, Big Picture Stuff, MEL: HOT OR NOT, confessions of a little piggy, Bauble, Bubbles and Bags, Hashtag, The City Walker, Eye Eat, Dang It We Love Food, The Melbourne Glutton, Team Cheeseburger, trading plates, Gastronomical Ramblings, Foodie Melbourne, The Domestic Traveller, Fun Date Ideas, Lips Temptations, BLK's Food Blog, Eve Lovelle, Crushing on Food, Food Comatose, Mango Macarons, Ichigo Shortcake, Melbourne Vita, Kit and Kafoodle, Burgers of Melbourne, Andrew's Food Adventures, Good Food Good Karma, Eat My Words, The Food Society, Eat Like Ushi, delightfully tasty and Foodie About Town.  

      The Burger Adventure, Linnie Eats all the Food, Snow Crab Nebula, Journey from Within, DonutSam, Gastronomic Gems and Wandering Mint were all a bit less excited, but nobody was hugely negative about their experiences at Grand Trailer Park.


      Grand Trailer Park Taverna
      Upstairs at 87 Bourke Street, Melbourne
      (03) 9972 3699
      food, drinks

      Accessibility: The only way in seems to be via a set of stairs, which isn't ideal. Inside, there's a mix of high and regular tables. You order at a high counter and the food is brought to your table. Toilets are gendered and not notably accessible.

      Posted October 22, 2016 03:30 PM by Michael

      October 21, 2016

      Green Gourmet Giraffe

      Chocolate tahini maca bliss balls

      This is not a Halloween post.  However Sylvia is skipping with joy at the thought of Halloween so we have lots of Halloween food props and ideas and plans.  (Though I have said no to trick or treat.)  I am still trying to think what would be the best way to use some candy eyes I have saved from Christmas in July.  Today I made these bliss balls and thought that you could do far worse than to make healthy recipes like this and put some eyes on them for Halloween treats.

      But honestly I don't want to talk about Halloween.  I just want to post some good food.  Life is busy with Vegan MoFo preparation (sign up deadline is today), school fete preparation (am going to make grubs after work tonight),  my neighbour asking me who are the candidates in the local elections (thanks Catherine), a busy week with only one night where I am not heading out, birthday celebrations, and other stuff I can't even remember.  Above is a photo of the mac and cheese I made last night.  Perhaps I should call it a Mac and Cheese bowl.  So good.  But it was a dairy one that wont make it into November when my blog goes vegan for Vegan MoFo.

      This photo also wont make it into my vegan month of November.  It was a very good afternoon tea birthday spread for my dad recently.  My mum did an amazing job of it.  I loved the guiness chocolate cake and the scones with jam and cream.  I will be telling you about my latest version of vegan sausage rolls.

      I haven't done much of my own baking lately.  Yes, I have been trying to eat healthily.  Doing my best but could do better.  However, even if this was not the case, I still have baking the freezer and little time to bake.  Today I just wanted to make these bliss balls.  The combination of tahini and chocolate reminded me a bit of some favourite recipes.

      It also seemed a good opportunity to use up some of the maca powder.  Apparently all its powerhouse of nutritional benefits is more potent when uncooked.  I am still a bit scared of the powder after the packet says not to eat too much at first but they say it makes you feel good and I could do with some of that feeling right now.  I am not that sure how much influence the maca is having but I can tell you that they taste great and that makes me happy.

      And did I mention that they are nut free which is great for school snacks (if your kids aren't too fussy.)  I found them rather sweet and enjoyed them more when rolled in cocoa.

      I took the above photo of some blossoms in Brunswick yesterday.  Look at that blue sky.  It was a wonderful warm spring day.  Today the sky is blue and tomorrow, the day of the school fete, is forecast to be cold, windy and wet with a chance of hail and thunderstorms.  Wish us luck and I will tell you about the jam I made for the fete soon!

      I am sending these to Gluten Free Fridays, Healthy Vegan Fridays, We Should Cocoa and Treat Petite

      More bliss balls on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
      Almond, date and cranberry truffles (gf, v)
      Almond energy snacks (v)
      Chocolate bliss balls with banana and oats (v)
      Cocoa bites (gf, v)
      Coconut almond balls (gf, v)
      Wattleseed cashew truffles (gf, v)

      Chocolate tahini maca bliss balls
      Adapted from Wholefood Simply via
      Makes 20-24

      1/2 cup hulled tahini
      1/4 cup maple syrup
      2 tbsp rice malt syrup
      2 tbsp maca powder
      2 tablespoons cocoa
      Pinch of salt
      1 cup desiccated coconut
      extra 1/4 cup cocoa, for coating

      Mix tahini, maple syrup, rice malt syrup, maca powder, cocoa and salt to make a paste.  Mix in coconut.  Roll into walnut sized balls and coat in cocoa powder.

      On the Stereo:
      Amsterdamned: Tom Waits

      Posted October 21, 2016 01:06 PM by Johanna GGG

      October 18, 2016

      Green Gourmet Giraffe

      Street Art in Melbourne: Chapel Street, Fitzroy and surrounds

      Life continues to be busy and so I bring you some street art photos from July 2014.  They were taken at Chapel Street in Fitzroy where it comes off Johnston Street and turns into Elliot Street.  When I was there, I was impressed at all the street art. 

      The street sign has a second sign saying Juddy Roller, a street art company (I didn't know they had street art companies!!!) so I assume they have done some of it.  If I had the time, I would look it up. 

      Hope you enjoy the pics, particularly The Hamburgler (does anyone else remember him?)

      More street art photos can be found under Street Art in Melbourne in my Reflections and Reviews page.

      Posted October 18, 2016 11:20 AM by Johanna GGG