Sunday, June 27, 2010

Rice & Bean Wraps

I'm finally up to date - Sunday night dinner! In the vegetable delivery we got a bag of salad leaves. Given the cold weather I had been wracking my brain trying to think of a good way to serve a salad that wouldn't leave us shivering.

D & I visited USA Foods a few weeks ago, mainly because I wanted to get some liquid smoke. While we were there we picked up a few other random American goodies, one of which was a box of Zatarain's New Orleans style Black-Eyed Peas & Rice. I thought the rice would go quite well with the salad leaves in a wrap. So I headed off to IGA & picked up a packet of Corn Mountain Bread. I like the Mountain Bread range & tend to use these whenever I need any kind of of flatbread.

I added some corn & sheeze & toasted the wraps in our sandwich press. The rice mix tasted OK, there was a fairly strong soy sauce flavour & the rice was nice & tender. I probably won't buy it again, it's one of those products with a scarily-long list of ingredients which I will never quite trust.

Sunday Baking - Winter Vegetable & Rice Stew

All I had to do for Sunday baking this week was prepare my own lunch for the week. I wanted to use some of the vegetables from last week's delivery so I lined everything up on the bench & picked out:
  • 3 small carrots
  • 1 parsnip
  • 150g beans
  • 4 potatoes
  • 1 onion
I chopped everything roughly, then threw it into a large stockpot with some olive oil & garlic & sauteed for a few minutes.

I had planned to add pearl barley to this, but realised too late that I didn't have any. So I used about 1 cup of basmati rice instead, along with a 400g can crushed tomatoes & 4 cups of tomato stock. Finally, I stirred in 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1/4 tsp hot paprika, 1 tsp bouquet garni mix, plus some salt & pepper. I covered this & simmered over a low heat for about 30 minutes, until the rice was cooked & the potatoes were tender.

This turned out quite tasty, it will definitely keep me going through the long winter afternoons at work!

Banana & Blueberry Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce

I slept in again today. D headed out early & when I finally decided to drag myself out of be & into the cold I decided to treat myself to a decadent Sunday breakfast. You see, D doesn't have much of a sweet tooth whereas mine is pretty much the dominant force in my life. I decided on these pancakes because they had 2 types of fruit & oats in them - so I could delude myself that it was actually a healthy breakfast - no guilt!

The recipe is from 1000 Vegan Recipes which I recently borrowed from the library (have I mentioned how much I love the Melbourne Library Service? If not, watch this space). In a truly evil twist the pancake recipe suggests serving them with blueberry sauce, which made them truly special. The pancakes were light with just a hint of banana & the occasional burst of warm blueberry. The blueberry sauce was divine - rich & smooth with a touch of tanginess from the lemon juice.

Saturday Breakfast - Scrambed Tofu

D & I slept in on Saturday. I had planned to go for a run, but I mistakenly checked BOM (i-Phones are evil, way too easy to find out stuff), & decided that 6 degrees was just too cold. So I crawled back under the covers with my book (Book of Lost Threads - just brilliant, I highly recommend it, especially if you need a pick-me-up). When we surfaced a couple of hours later we were starving. Scrambled tofu always satisfies our cravings, and this version was no different.

  • 450g firm tofu, rinsed, pressed & crumbled
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 2 stalks chard or spinach, finely chopped
  • 1 TBS tomato paste
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 3-4 TBS soy sauce
  • Pepper to taste
Fry the onion & garlic in a little olive oil 3 minutes. Add the carrot & fry a further 1 minute. Add the tofu, tomato paste, turmeric, cumin, soy sauce & pepper. Stir well, breaking up the tofu with the spoon, for 10 minutes. Add the peas & chard, stir another few minutes, until the chard has wilted & the peas are warmed through. Serve with toast or on its own.

Golden Anzac Bars

As if the Baked Pumpkin Risotto wasn't enough (& despite having skipped the gym), my sweet tooth took over on Friday night. So, even though it was 8pm I dug out the recipe books in search of a quick recipe to try out.

I can't remember where I found this recipe - it's part of my ever growing collection that I'll never get time to try. It looked easy & I had everything in the cupboard so I gave it a go. The bars were good - chewy and tasted just like the biscuits I remember from my childhood. For some reason, every time I have tried to bake Anzac biscuits, they just end up in a big blob on the tray - they taste great, but the presentation certainly isn't up to scratch. So these bars are a good solution for me. Next time I'll use a larger tin so they're a bit thinner & little more crunchy.

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup dessicated coconut
  • 125g Nuttelex
  • 1/3 cup golden syrup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp bi-carb soda
Preheat the oven to 180 & line a slice tin with baking paper. Mix the flour, oats & coconut in a large bowl. Melt the Nuttelex, syrup & sugar in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring, until smooth. Add the bi-carb soda, stir & set aside. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients & stir well. Spread the mix into the tin & smooth with the back of a spoon. Bake 20 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool 5 minutes, then remove from the tin & cut into bars.

Baked Pumpkin Risotto

On Friday night I skipped the gym (& I'm still feeling guilty!), but because I got home earlier, I could actually cook a real meal on a weeknight for a change. I was cold and tired so chose something easy - a baked risotto. I had half a jap pumpkin & some chard in the fridge from the vegetable delivery, so I just added some onion & was good to go!

  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 400g pumpkin, diced
  • 4-5 stalks chard, chopped
  • 30g Nuttelex
  • 1/2 cup Nutritional Yeast flakes
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 190. Mix all the ingredients well in an oven-proof casserole dish. Bake 40 minutes, until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is cooked through.

This risotto isn't the most amazing I've ever eaten but it is tasty, healthy & quick. Plus it's a one-pot wonder and extremely satisfying on a cold winter night.

Chocolate Cake in a Mug

Wow, it's Sunday again & I have 5 days worth of posts to catch up on... here we go.

I'm sure many people have heard of, and tried, the 5 minute chocolate cake in a mug recipe. I've had it a few times and to be honest, it's not that great, but it does do an OK job of satisfying a winter chocolate craving. The original recipe is easily veganisable, I have included my version below. I usually add some strawberry jam because the mix is quite dry, unfortunately, this time, it resulted in the cake collapsing just before it finished cooking. This also made it difficult to get out of the mug, hence the messy photo!

  • 4 TBS SR flour
  • 4 TBS sugar
  • 1 TBS cocoa
  • 1 egg replacer (I use Organ No-Egg)
  • 3 TBS soy milk
  • 3 TBS canola oil
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1-2 tsp strawberry jam
Place the flour, sugar & cocoa into a large coffee mug & mix well. Add the egg replacer, soy milk, vanilla & oil - stir until combined & smooth. Drop the jam on top of the mix - don't stir. Microwave on high (1200 watts) for 2 1/2 minutes. The cake will rise above the edge of the mug, and don't worry, it won't spill. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then tip out & eat while warm.

(Keen NSW librarians might also note the mug - the infamous Galaxy Bookshop - I snapped up a few of these at the NSW Public Library conference in 2007).

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Vegetable Medley with Quinoa

Yesterday I really needed to use up the last remaining vegetables in the fridge to make room for today's delivery. So I just chopped everything up - beans, carrots, onion & broccoli, then thought about what do with it all. I threw in a can of borlotti beans, a can of diced tomatoes & some herbs. I was going to serve this with pasta, but didn't think they would really go together, so I cooked up some red quinoa instead. When that was cooked, I stirred it through the vegetable mix.

The result? My Vegetable Medley with Quinoa - a perfectly serviceable meal, but not outstanding. D ate it all though, which is saying something, he doesn't normally finish my meals. Rather than an example of a recipe, this is more an example of this kind of meal - the kind thrown together after a long day at work using whatever is in the fridge - my favourite kind at the moment!

The vegetable box from Garden Organics came today, it contained:
  • Chard/Spinach (can anybody confirm this from the photo?)
  • Mixed salad greens
  • Broccoli
  • Parsnips
  • Carrots
  • Beetroot
  • Zucchini
  • Green Capsicum
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Beans
  • Jap Pumpkin
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
It's all so fresh and beautiful, I can't wait to dream up some new recipes. I'm particularly excited about the beetroot - I'll use that for either a beetroot dip (if I'm being healthy) or a beetroot chocolate cake (if I'm being naughty); and the brussel sprouts - D is English and HATES sprouts, so I'm looking forward to coming up with a way to serve these that he'll actually like :-)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Winter Vegetable Soup with Cornbread

I was in a baking mood yesterday so this week I did some Saturday baking, not Sunday baking as usual. I wanted to use the last of the vegetables from my delivery (in preparation for a new delivery this Tuesday). I lined up half a butternut pumpkin, 6 potatoes, 1 onion & heaps of carrots... & decided on a winter vegetable soup. To continue the yellow & orange theme I added some red lentils & yellow split peas to the mix.

Dice the vegetables & rinse the legumes, then fry the onions with 3 cloves of garlic & 1tsp of minced ginger in a stockpot for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the remaining vegetables with about 1 litre of vegetable stock, 1tsp each of ground cumin, ground coriander & bouquet garni mix, 1/4tsp hot paprika & salt/pepper to taste. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat & simmer 20-30mins, until the split peas are tender. Puree the soup in a food processor or blender, in batches, until smooth (mine was so thick it's really more of a vegetable puree than a soup - perfect to keep me warm on these cold winter nights).

I decided to serve the soup with cornbread, mainly because we only had unhealthy white supermarket bread in the house & I felt like something a little more nutritious. I have made cornbread once before, using the recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking (recipe available here). This is so easy & quick, I can't believe I didn't know about cornbread before! The first time I followed the recipe exactly & served the bread with some bean chilli, it was divine! This time, because the soup already had some sweetness from the pumpkin & carrot, I left the sugar out of the bread mix & also used wholemeal flour instead of white flour. The result was a more savoury, denser bread.

Final step - serve the soup with the warmed bread and enjoy!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Pizza & Pancakes

We made the trip to Eat Pizza in Maribyrnong last night, after reading about it here. I'm glad I had read this, because there is no indication when you walk into Eat Pizza that they are anything other than a run-of-the-mill takeaway - I couldn't find anything suggesting vegan-friendly anywhere! I was determined to persevere, so I picked up a copy of their takeaway menu, and there it was, at the bottom - Vegan Cheese & Vegan Pepperoni available - excellent news!

I chose the traditional Vegetarian (mushroom, capsicum, onion & olives) with Vegan Cheese & Pepperoni. Unfortunately we had a little accident with the pizza box on the way home, so it got a bit messed up - still tasted pretty good though. I liked, but didn't love, the pepperoni - in terms of vegan-friendly pizza in the West, I think Stefan's in Altona is slightly tastier, plus they have a much larger range of vegan pizzas advertised. Stefan's hours are quite limited though - only a few nights a week, so this could be our a backup when we have our rare cravings for pizza.

D chose the Margherita with Vegan Pepperoni & regular cheese. This looked great, but D wasn't a big fan of the pepperoni & said it definitely wasn't the best he's had.

For breakfast (well, lunch really, if I'm being honest) we felt like Scrambled Tofu, but alas, the tofu in the fridge was past its use-by date & not looking too healthy. I scoured the cupboards and the recipe books and came up with a yummy-sounding recipe for Spiced Banana Pancakes from Vegan Planet. The recipe was pretty straightforward & I ended up with quite a thick batter filled with chunky pieces of banana. Although I wasn't sure this would work being so thick, I decided to keep going without modification. The end result was thick & tasty pancakes, which we ate with Nuttelex & maple syrup. If I make these again I'll use extra soy milk to make a thinner batter - these were so thick some of them weren't cooked properly all the way through.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday baking - Sausage Rolls & more Vegetable Goodness

This morning started well - I met a girlfriend for breakfast at A Minor Place in Brunswick. This was only my second time there - my first was last weekend; I sense that this will become one of my regular haunts (if only it wasn't so far away!) I ordered Henry's White Beans again - just divine. The coffee was awesome this time too - definitely 5/5. Service also 5/5 - outstanding all round!

Being a long-weekend, today became my Sunday baking/cooking day. This week for my lunch I made the Quinoa, Chickpea & Tomato stew again - it was so yummy I've been thinking about it all weekend!

For D I made some Vegan Sausage Rolls, using this recipe. I used to make a variation of this recipe when I was vegetarian, using cottage cheese instead of silken tofu. When I became vegan I thought that was the end of sausage rolls for me. I remember that I once tried to replace the cottage cheese with firm tofu & the result wasn't very nice so I didn't try again. So I was really excited when I saw this recipe pop up on various blogs - such a simple thing to use silken tofu instead of cottage cheese - and so delicious!

Two of the things I got in my vegetable box last week were cauliflower & spinach (actually I think it was chard because it had red stalks, but I used it like I would spinach). I was going to make a cauliflower soup but then a colleague told me about a yummy Sri Lankan cauliflower dish that is super easy to make & ninja vegan. I didn't end up making the Sri Lankan dish, but the idea of it put me in the mood for something spicy and warm. I found a recipe for Spinach & Cauliflower Bhaji in Ulimate Recipes: Vegetarian. The recipe called for onion, cauliflower, spinach, tomatoes & a selection of spices - all things that were on my shelf - perfect!

I served mine with Pappadams because I couldn't be bothered cooking rice (I know, so lazy!) The end result was good, though extremely spicy - next time I think I'll reduce the 1 1/2tsp of cayenne pepper to 1/2tsp... To sum up, this was a quick, easy, tasty & healthy recipe - all my boxes were ticked. I have an informal rating system for my 'test' recipes, known as 'Could I serve this to my non-veg friends'? The answer in this case - a resounding YES!

On a unrelated point - according to BOM it's going to be 4 degrees here overnight, and that, in my opinion, is just stupid.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sunday baking - Lemon Bars

Even though it's a long-weekend I still had the urge to do some Sunday baking. I caught up with a girlfriend at Camberwell market this morning (that place is truly crazy these days - I couldn't believe the number of people!). On my out of the market I saw a bag of fresh lemons for $2 - bargain! I snapped them up and on the train home started planning some lemony goodness for this afternoon (D hates lemon, but he's away this weekend - so it really was perfect timing).

I decided to try the Lemon Bars from The Joy of Vegan Baking - I love this book! All the recipes are easy & not one of them has failed me so far. I still haven't decided whether I will post recipes from cookbooks yet, but a tip from a librarian - Google is a wonderful research tool sometimes :-)

The first step was to make the shortbread crust for the bars.

Once the crust is firm you pour the lemon filling over the top & pop it back in the oven.

I made a couple of mistakes with this one - the pan I used was too big, which meant the bars turned out too thin (and difficult to get out of the pan). I also overcooked the filling a little, which resulted in some nice, but not pretty, chewy lemon edges. The bars do taste great, but I'm not sure if I'll make them again soon - there's too many other recipes from this book that I want to try first.

Junk Food & Stir-Fries

Well here I am already falling behind in my posts... Last week D & I made a quick dash into the city after I finished work (it was a late night for me). So, whenever we're in the city and it's dark, there's a rule that we must eat at Lord of the Fries. I won't go into detail about LOTF because so many others have already gone there before me. I wanted to try the chicken burger that I have read about on other veg blogs but when I asked they said they didn't have any chicken burgers - so maybe these were just a monthly special. No matter, I also wanted to try the onion rings that are another new addition to the menu. I can confirm - these are AWESOME! I had mine with vegan mayo - so crispy, so yummy!

D got his regular serve of nuggets with African sauce (the sauce can be made vegan by replacing the regular mayo with vegan mayo). The nuggets are always excellent, but you don't seem to get as many anymore.

We also got a regular burger each, and I have to say, we were both disappointed. I don't know what's happened but the burgers just aren't really up to scratch anymore. I'd have to say the same about the fries - the last couple of times I have tried them they have been soggy and not that great. I still love LOTF for that junk-food fix though.

The following night my body was screaming out for some vegetable goodness. I decided to use up some of my veg delivery from Tuesday in a stir-fry. I also had a box of Fry's Vegetarian Chicken Style Strips at the back of the freezer that I wanted to try. Here are some photos (no real recipe, I just throw in whatever I have on hand).

The chicken strips frying in the wok.

Vegetables frying in the wok - I used onion, carrot, capsicum, broccoli, mushrooms, green beans, chilli, garlic & ginger.

Everything all mixed together - I used 2-minute noodles this time, but sometimes I'll use rice noodles. Add soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce, lemon juice & a small slurp of vegetable stock to taste.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Organic veges and tacos

When I got home tonight my delivery of organic vegetables from Garden Organics was waiting for me.

I haven't gotten a box in a long time, but I'm feeling all motivated regarding food at the moment so thought it was time to start up the deliveries again. I've tried The Green Line in the past, but find Garden Organics a little better for quality. I also like the range of other organic groceries they have plus they do online payments - it's all so easy! This week the box had all the regular stuff - carrots, onions, potatoes, spinach, pumpkin, beans etc. There was also an avocado a couple of tomatoes.

The avocado & tomatoes made me feel like tacos. I love tacos - they feel like junk food but still healthy at the same time. Tonight I filled mine with my taco bean mix (see another made-up recipe below), sheeze, corn, avocado & tomato. Sometimes I add lettuce & I also really love tacos with creamed corn.

Taco Beans
  • Olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 capsicum, diced (optional)
  • 1 x 400g can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 x 400g can kidney beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1/2 cup TVP, soaked 5mins in 1/2 cup water (optional)
  • Taco seasoning mix from this recipe (this is so good - I can't believe I used to buy this stuff!)
Heat the oil in a frypan over medium heat. Add the onion & garlic, saute 5mins until softened. Add capsicum & cook 1min. Add remaining ingredients, reduce heat to a simmer & cook 10mins, until some of the liquid has evaporated.

Monday, June 7, 2010

I love free stuff!

Well, I had a lovely surprise waiting for me when I got home tonight - 5 free tickets to Food Inc! The tickets come courtesy of Animals Australia, thanks guys!

I entered a competition a couple of weeks ago... I enter a lot of competitions but I never win anything - I'm so excited, I hope it's showing at my local cinema.

Dinner tonight was burgers made with Fry's Vegetarian Golden Crumbed Schnitzels - I completely forgot to take photos, I'm obviously not in the swing of this yet. Nothing too exciting anyway, just the schnitzel with some Edam Style Sheese (love Sheese, even more than Cheezly), tomato sauce (of course!) & mustard (LOVE mustard). Not too healthy, I know, but when I get home late sometimes I just can't be bothered... at least the bread was wholemeal grain :-)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Take 3

Ok, here we go again. I'm giving this blog another go, they do say third time lucky, don't they?

Today was a foodie day. Starting out with breakfast at A Minor Place in Brunswick. I've read numerous posts from other veg bloggers about Henry's White Beans (white beans, garlic, rosemary, rocket, dukkah & lemon) and I wholeheartedly agree that these are delicious, the perfect thing for a rainy Sunday morning. The coffee was good, not mind-blowing, but it was strong, smooth but not bitter and not overwhelmingly soy-milky (is it just me or do some Soy Lattes seriously overdo the soy?) Service was great too, fast & friendly, all in all I'd say a 4.5/5 breakfast experience. The partner (let's call him D) went for the Brazilian Breakfast, which was poached eggs, roast tomato, spinach, avocado, henry's beans and toast - well received but definitely not a fan of the beans like me. Sorry - no photos as I forgot my camera, but I promise to do better next time!

After breakfast, we wandered back down Sydney Rd & did a spot of shopping at The Radical Grocery Store (I love walking into a shop knowing that I can buy ANYTHING in there - no need for checking labels here).

This afternoon it was time for my Sunday baking. I like to bake on a Sunday, I think it reminds of my childhood when my mum was teaching me how to cook. My Sunday baking always consists of mine & D's lunches for the week, plus sometimes something sweet from my ever growing list of recipes to try.

For myself this week I wanted to try the red quinoa that I bought last week (I have eaten quinoa before but never cooked with it myself). I was thinking a stew, so I ended up throwing together a Quinoa, Chickpea and Tomato Stew. I kind of made this up, but I have attempted to include a recipe of sorts below.

Quinoa, Chickpea and Tomato Stew

  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stick, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 clove garlic, crushed
  • 3/4 cup red quinoa, rinsed & drained
  • 1 x 400g can chickpeas, rinsed & drained
  • 1 x 400g can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup frozen or fresh corn kernels
  • 1 1/4 cup vegetable stock or water
  • 1/2 tsp each of ground cumin, ground coriander & chilli powder
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the carrot, celery, onion & garlic & saute 5mins, until softened. Add the remaining ingredients - bring to the boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa has become translucent.

For D, I went with one of my regulars - the Spicy Bean & Lentil Loaf from The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook. This recipe contains egg & cheese, but is easily veganisable (is that a word???) by replacing the egg with any substitute that you like (I use Orgran No Egg - we never buy eggs for home) and the cheese could be replaced with any vegan cheese or just Nutritional Yeast. (I should also mention that D is vegetarian, not vegan). I'm not posting the full recipe here as I'm not sure about reproducing recipes verbatim from published books (but being the good little librarian that I am, I shall research this during the week & make a final decision).

Dinner tonight was leftovers - Shepherd's Pie - yum! I also made this one up, again, I have tried to reproduce a recipe below.

Shepherd's Pie
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 celery stick, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1/2 capsicum, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, diced
  • 3/4 cup TVP, soaked in 1 cup stock or water until tender
  • 1 x 400g can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 TBS tomato paste
  • 1 tsp each dry herbs (I used basil & oregano)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup Nutritional Yeast flakes
  • 8 large potatoes, boiled & mashed with soy milk & Nuttelex
Preheat the oven to 180C. Heat the oil in a large frypan or saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot, capsicum & garlic & saute 10mins, until softened. Add mushrooms, TVP, tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs, salt & pepper. Cook, stirring, a further 10-15mins, until the mixture has thickened slightly. Pour the tomato mix into the bottom of a large casserole dish. Top with the mashed potato, then sprinkle with Nutritional Yeast. Bake 15-20mins, until lightly browned on top.

So that's it from me tonight, hopefully I can maintain the momentum this time around, so watch out for more posts soon!