Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fried Rice with a difference

Despite my best efforts before I went away I still have a few vegies in the fridge to use up - cabbage, broccoli, carrots & celery. I read through my recipe books but didn't find anything too inspiring, so decided to make Fried Rice with Crispy Fried Tofu. This recipe is completely flexible - just substitute whatever vegetables you have on hand.
Fried Rice with Crispy Fried Tofu
  • 400g firm tofu, cubed
  • 1 TBS tamari
  • 1 TBS sesame oil
  • Liquid smoke (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice, cooked & chilled
  • 1/4 red cabbage, sliced thinly
  • 1 head of broccoli, broken into small florets
  • 2 small carrots, julienned
  • 1 stalk celery, julienned
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 2 TBS soy sauce
  • 1 TBS sweet chili sauce
  • 1 TBS lemon juice
  • 2 TBS sesame seeds
Press the tofu to reduce the moisture content, then mix the tamari, sesame oil & a few splashes of liquid smoke in a bowl. Add the tofu & toss to coat. Marinate up to a few hours (but for at least 10min). Heat a small amount of peanut oil in a wok over high heat. Add the tofu & fry, stirring frequently, until the tofu is crispy & golden brown (around 10mins). Remove the tofu from the wok & drain on paper towel.

Add the vegetables to the hot wok, along with the garlic & ginger - stir-fry for a few minutes, until starting to soften. Add the rice, soy sauce, sweet chili sauce & lemon juice. Stir-fry another few minutes. Add the tofu & sesame seeds & cook until heated through.

The touristy stuff

I had a really lovely weekend in NSW, not least because of the weather. It was blue skies & warm sun the whole weekend, with temperatures in the high teens - perfect winter weather!

Mum & Dad live on a small property & it was so nice waking up to the sound of birds in the morning instead of car doors slamming & people yelling at each other. Here's the view from the front verandah of the house. I really took these surroundings for granted when I was growing up.
Yesterday the family went to the Gosford Regional Gallery & Edogawa Commemorative Garden in East Gosford. Entry is free - the gallery contains 2 small rotating exhibitions & a foyer space that local artists can hire for displaying their work for sale. The gorgeous gardens adjoin the gallery. A few of my friends & cousins have been married here over the years & I can see why - it's very serene here. There are meandering pathways, small wooden bridges over the lakes & streams & a waterfall.I lay on this bench for quite a while & soaked up the beautiful sunshine.The 'Tea House'There is also a pair of resident ducks - I LOVE ducks - I think they're probably my favourite animal.After the gardens, we all went to Body Fuel cafe for lunch - in Gosford this time. I went with the veg Vietnamese Rolls again - and again forgot to take a photo! You'll just have to trust me - Body Fuel is awesome!

Gosford Regional Gallery
36 Webb St, East Gosford
7 days, 10am-4pm (gardens 9.30am-4.30pm)

Bay Cafe, Toowoon Bay

I was in NSW on the weekend for my Dad's birthday. The whole family went out for dinner on Sunday night to the Bay Cafe in Toowoon Bay. This is a seafood restaurant, but the website advertises a separate vegetarian menu.

The veg menu has a fairly good range of entrees & mains, including the standards like Vegetable Stack & Vegetable Lasagne, but also Nasi Goreng & Stuffed Capsicum. I went with the stuffed capsicum & asked the waitress to make sure it wasn't prepared with any dairy products.

My stuffed capsicum was presented beautifully. It was on a bed of mashed something - it was hard to tell what it was because it was completely flavourless (it was orange & was probably a mix of potato & sweet potato). The capsicum was stuffed with rice (which didn't appear to be flavoured with anything) & topped with tempura asparagus & mushroom. Unfortunately the meal overall was a bit bland. And, unbelievably, despite having specifically requested no dairy products, it came out covered in melted cheese! I was dumbfounded, but really didn't want to cause a scene, and was able to cut the top of the capsicum & remove the cheese. Sometimes I really feel like banging my head against the wall & screaming!The service at the Bay Cafe is friendly & efficient & the meals came out quite quickly. It's a BYO restaurant, but they don't charge corkage, which is a nice change.

The Bay Cafe
141-143 Bay Rd, Toowoon Bay
Dinner 7 days, Lunch Thur-Sat

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lunch in a country pub

Today we went to the Mountain Country Markets at Mangrove Mountain. The markets aren't that great - there were about 15 stalls, selling a mix of organic vegetables, crafts & cakes/biscuits. What is good is having an excuse to drive around the area - which has a stunning natural beauty. After the market we decided to keep on driving to St Albans, with the inention of visiting the Settler's Arms pub for lunch. We took part of the Convict Trail to get there. This is an amazing drive over a 35km dirt road - since I wasn't driving I was able to enjoy the views and imagine what it might have been like back in 1826 when the road was started.

Unfortunately when we arrived in St Albans, there was a line out the door of people waiting to get lunch at the pub. We weren't in the mood to line up, so decided to drive on to Wiseman's Ferry. You have to take a car ferry to get across the Hawkesbury River - it's free & even though it's a really short trip (only a couple of minutes), I enjoyed it.

Here are a some photos out of the car window - you can just see the second car ferry in the right of this one.

Eventually we ended up at the Wiseman's Inn Hotel. This isn't a vegetarian-friendly place, the options were limited to a garden salad or chips. To be honest though, you'd have to be pretty silly to expect great vegan food in a country pub like this one, so I'm not complaining. Trying to be healthy, I went with the garden salad. Now, what I do object to when I order a garden salad, is receiving a mix of garden & greek salads, including feta cheese! It was easy enough to pick the feta out (which I did, because I really hate sending food back). Here is the salad, already sans feta - as you can see it was all really fresh & was also a huge serving.
And here are a couple of photos of the outside of the pub - it's a beautiful building.

Watch out for more NSW adventures tomorrow!

Wiseman's Inn Hotel
Lot 1, Old Northern Rd, Wiseman's Ferry

Simple Vegetable & Rice bake

I know I said on Friday that I was looking forward to letting Mum look after me, but it was only a joke (sort of) :-)

One thing I like to do when I'm home (in the family home that is) is scour Mum's magazines for new recipes (she buys Womens Weekly & Better Homes & Gardens & things like that). Occasionally I'll find a real gem. Last night I found a ninja vegan recipe in Australian Good Food. The Vegetable & Rice bake looked super easy & super simple so I thought it wouldn't stretch my relaxing mini-break too much for me to prepare it :-) I halved the recipe (I'm feeding just me after all), which still made enough for 2 people.

Here it is, served with some turkish bread drizzled with olive oil & sprinkled with fresh parsley - yum!
Vegetable & Rice Bake
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp chopped rosemary
  • 250g button mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 red capsicums, sliced
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 3/4 cups vegetable stock
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Preheat the oven to 190C. Rinse the rice & drain. Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole dish & cook the onion 2-3mins, until softened. Add the rosemary & mushrooms & cook another 2mins.

Add the rice & stir to coat, then add the capsicum, tomato, stock & pepper to taste. Bring to the boil, then cover with a tightly fitting lid. Put into the oven & bake 20-25mins, until the rice is tender. Serve topped with the parsley.

When I get back to Melbourne I'm going to try a couple of alterations to make it even healthier - I'd like to use brown rice (I'll add a little more liquid & increase the cooking time) and throw in some protein - I think chickpeas or red kidney beans would work well.

Here are some shots of Mum & Dad's dogs. So cute! I really miss them when I'm away. Tess is a cross between a collie & something mysterious. She's a massive sook as you can probably tell by those eyes :-)
Lucy is a border collie & hates getting her photo taken.

Body Fuel in sunny NSW

I flew into Newcastle yesterday morning to spend the weekend with my family on the Central Coast & it's so sunny & beautiful here! I just have to keep reminding myself that I'm in Melbourne for the culture, food, shopping etc etc... I'm sure if I repeat it like a mantra it will sink in eventually.

We had lunch yesterday at Body Fuel in Terrigal. I used to visit the Gosford cafe regularly when I worked there because the staff are so friendly, there are a couple of vegan items on the menu & the coffee is about as good as you can get in Gosford. Since then they have opened cafes in Terrigal & Tuggerah. The Terrigal cafe is right around the corner from my old house - I so wish it had been there a few years ago! It's in a beautiful sunny spot one block up the hill from the beach, capturing the sea breeze perfectly.

Yesterday I went with my old regular Body Fuel dish - Veg Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls. This comes with a mix of (vegan) salads, soy mayonnaise & a sweet chilli-based sauce for the rolls. I was so hungry I ate it all before I remembered to take a photo :-( They also have a juice-bar & can do dairy-free smoothies. You can make other items on the menu vegan too - just talk to the super-friendly staff.

Here's a photo of Terrigal (taken just over the road from the cafe). It doesn't really do it justice, but you can see the lovely Norfolk Island Pines that line the beach (plus the unfortunate monstrosity that is the Crowne Plaza hotel on the corner).

Body Fuel
2/12 Kurrawyba Ave, Terrigal
7 days, 6am-4pm

Friday, August 27, 2010

The baking machine

I was a BAKING MACHINE when I got home last night! My motivation was to use up the veges in the fridge because I'm away this weekend & there's no way D will use them - I'm not sure he even knows where the vegetable crisper is in the fridge :-).

First up on the menu was a Baked Pumpkin Risotto for dinner - loosely based on this one. I've started making it regularly, basically because it's simple, delicious & pretty impossible to stuff up. Last night I used leek, pumpkin & silverbeet. There ended up being about the twice the weight of vegetables than the recipe called for, so I added some extra rice & stock to compensate.
While the risotto was in the oven, I started on a double-batch of Chickpea & Mushroom sausages, first attempted last week. I'm freezing these for D to eat while I'm away - he tends to subsist on a diet of frozen pizza if I don't provide a healthier alternative, plus, I had a huge bag of mushrooms to get rid of.

I didn't have any onion, so I just fried the mushrooms with some onion powder, plus some garlic powder thrown in for good measure. I also threw in about half a bunch of coriander which I had to use up. I went to mix in the breadcrumbs & realised I only had about half the required amount & didn't even have any bread in the house to make more. So I added some rolled oats instead. Finally, because there were so many of the damn things, I decided to bake, rather than grill them. You can see the result below. Yes, I KNOW what they look like, you don't need to tell me - but I stick by my assertion that it's the taste, not the presentation, that counts :-). The baking did make them a little dry, but that's nothing that lashings of tomato sauce won't fix.
Finally, I wanted to get rid of 2 beetroots - I decided to make a massive batch of Chocolate Beetroot Cupcakes for freezing. I figure I'll always have some on hand now which will be very handy in cupcake emergencies.

I doubled the recipe, which ended up making a whopping 34 cupcakes! I had to pull out my nifty new cupcake carrier to store them in.
Three hours later I was completely exhausted & I never want to see a kitchen again. I figure that at least now I know how much I can cook in 3 hrs, which is:
  • A risotto for 6
  • 24 sausages
  • 34 cupcakes
Luckily, I'm visiting Mum & Dad this weekend, so I'll be able to revert to childhood & let Mum look after me :-)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ethiopian indulgence

I decided I couldn't let my birthday just pass-by without celebration after all & made a last-minute reservation at The Abyssinian in Flemington last night. It's a small Ethiopian restaurant with a great atmosphere and outstanding food.

If you're not familiar with Ethiopian dining, it's all about sharing. The meals are delivered on enormous platters lined with flatbread called Injera. There is no cutlery - you just tear off pieces of the bread & scoop up the delicious stews & salads with the bread.

To continue my tradition from previous visits we ordered the Chef's Vegetarian Combination for 2. All the veg meals are dairy free but one of the salads contains egg, so it's best to double-check with the waiter just in case.
(Apologies for the photos - it's the phone camera again). Clockwise from back left: Dubba (pumpkin in a spicy sauce), Tumtummo (with green lentils), Shiro (chickpea puree), Salad a la Asmara (mixed salad with a mustard dressing).
Anti-clockwise from the front: I'm not sure what this was but it was yummy - some kind of bean stew, Hoswas (seasonal mixed vegetables), Tumtummo with red lentils.

My favourite stew was the Shiro, closely followed by the Hoswas & the Salad. As you can see, the plate is ENORMOUS. It could easily feed 3-4 people, and at $35, I think it's a real bargain. Service here is friendly and quick - I highly recommend you visit. As I mentioned above, it's pretty small & gets very busy so book ahead to avoid disappointment.

The Abyssinian
277 Racecourse Rd, Flemington
Mon-Sat, 5.30-10pm
Ph: 9376 8754

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mmmm... hot pies and sauce

I went for a 30km ride yesterday, and I haven't done a long ride in ages... afterwards I was so tired I knew I needed something easy but also filling & full of protein for dinner. I wanted to make these, but I used the last of my TVP on Saturday night in a Shepherd's Pie.

Then I happily remembered that I had bought a can of Sanitarium mince a while ago - so I could make Carla's pies instead! These are awesome - super easy & best of all, there's no crazy ingredients (as long as you've got the mince - but you can buy it when you remember & then keep it in the cupboard for months).

I made up a 1/2 batch of the filling, because I used my pie-maker to make individual pies, rather than one big one. This was enough for 6 overflowing pies - the mix could have easily stretched to fill 8.

How good do they look!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A burger from a chain-store

That chain store is Grill'd. I'd been interested in trying their burgers for a little while - they always come up when you do a 'vegan friendly' restaurant search in Urban Spoon. I found myself at work around lunch-time and feeling quite peckish so I decided that today was the today to check them out.

There are 3 veg burgers listed on the menu - one based on a standard veg patty with salad, a mushroom burger & another based on a chickpea patty. One thing I liked - the menu clearly states that all the patties are vegan. So, no need to waste time explaining what vegan is & hauling out packaging to check etc etc. You will need to ask for each of the burgers without the relevant sauce or cheese or pesto or all three to make them vegan though.

I decided to go with the chickpea burger - named 'Bombay Bliss'. The bun was nice & soft & the patty was topped with lovely fresh tomato, lettuce, spanish onion, roasted capsicum & chutney. Unfortunately, even though everything was nice & fresh, it didn't taste all that great. The patty had a hint of curry flavour, but it wasn't nearly strong enough & even the chutney was pretty bland. At $10.50 for a takeaway burger, I expected a little more.
Oh well, nothing ventured nothing gained. And now I know that there's another fast food vegan option out there if I'm ever desperate.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Bangers & Mash

I an effort to get through my vege box this week I'm making a rule that any meal I cook must contain at least one vegetable. Last night's dinner was safe, with 3 different things from the box!

This is Chickpea & Mushroom Sausages, first seen here, using this recipe, with a few alterations as I didn't have everything on hand (see my version of the recipe below). Accompanied by a mountain of creamy sweet potato mash & peas with gravy (just the boring powdered gravox variety). I LOVE mashed potato & always make way too much - but maybe you can never have too much mashed potato? (Badger certainly agrees).
This meal was ultra-satisfying yet still super healthy, the perfect kind! D started out saying the sausages didn't have much flavour, but then changed his mind & proceeded to eat five... MEN!

Chickpea & Mushroom Sausages
  • 1 large brown onion
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 200-250g mushrooms, chopped roughly
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs
  • Plain flour, for dusting
Thinly slice the onion & fry in 1 TBS of the oil until soft. Add the mushrooms, cook another 5mins. Blend or process the mushroom mix with the curry powder, chickpeas & lemon juice. Add the breadcrumbs & process until just mixed. Flour your hands and form the mixture into 10 sausages. Brush the remaining oil over the sausages and grill for 10 minutes each side until golden.

A couple of notes - next time I will just process the mushrooms/chickpeas roughly, then mix in the breadcrumbs by hand. My mix was too smooth which made it difficult to form into sausages. Also, don't skimp on the flour for dusting - everything will turn into a big sticky mess if you do.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A box bursting with goodness

The veg delivery arrived last night - it seems to be getting better each time - so much variety & so much food! This time we got:
  • Silverbeet
  • Jap pumpkin
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet Potato
  • Celery (ANOTHER full bunch - I haven't managed to finish the last one yet!)
  • Carrots (Ditto - still have half a bag left from last time, lucky they last forever)
  • Beetroot
  • Leek
  • Red cabbage
  • Flat-leaf parsley
  • Broccoli
  • Mushrooms
No weird & wonderful mystery vegetables this time :-(
I'm planning to make these pies with the mushrooms - they look amazing, I don't know how I missed the recipe way back when. Also thinking a soup - leek & sweet potato maybe? And a beetroot dip - then I can also use some of the celery & carrots as dippers.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Playing catch-up

I've been a little bit slack over the weekend so here I am playing catch-up again.

In my now-regular mission to use up the veges in the fridge before the new delivery arrives I wanted to do something with zucchini for breakfast on Saturday. I toyed with the idea of a zucchini quiche but I didn't have any tofu on hand & couldn't be bothered going out in the crazy-crazy wind. So I decided on zucchini & corn fritters. After checking all my cookbooks I couldn't find a decent recipe so I made these up. And they turned out to be delicious - even D loved them. He went out to get the all-important coffee & brought back a sourdough baguette so I thought I may as well add that to the plate (with a little olive oil drizzled over - yum!). I served my fritters with some tomato relish that I bought from the Williamstown Farmers Market quite some time ago - it was the perfect accompaniment.

Zucchini & Corn Fritters
  • 1 large zucchini, coarsely grated
  • 1 TBS tahini
  • 1/3 cup besan flour (you could use plain flour - but the besan makes these super healthy & adds a lovely nutty flavour)
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • 1/2 tsp hot paprika
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Place the grated zucchini in a colander & squeeze out as much moisture as you can. Then mix all the ingredients together. Heat a little olive oil in a frypan over medium heat & drop large spoonfuls of the batter into the pan. Use a spatula to flatten the fritters and cook 3-4 mins on each side, until golden brown.

I served these hot but I could tell they would be equally good cold - I'm thinking they would be perfect for a summer picnic (if this greyness ever goes away!)

Moving on to dinner on Sunday night. Again, trying to use the veges - particularly an abundance of carrots & celery. Since the weather was so miserable I also wanted something hot & comforting - so I made up a Vegetable & Bean chilli, served with cornbread. This was also delicious & lived up to D's fussy palate. I made heaps because I know I won't feel like cooking much this week with a few late-ish nights lined up.

Vegetable & Bean Chilli
  • 1 can red kidney beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1 can cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
  • 2 cans crushed tomatoes
  • 4 small carrots, diced finely
  • 1 onion, diced finely
  • 4 sticks celery, diced finely
  • A few dashes of liquid smoke (I used the Hickory one) - if you don't have liquid smoke, use smoked paprika & other spices of choice to add some flavour
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 chilli, chopped finely or 1 tsp store-bought chilli in a jar (which is what I had on hand)
  • 1 cup veg stock - I used the Massel beef-style.
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Heat some olive oil in a large saucepan over medium hot. Cook the onion, carrot, celery, garlic & chilli, stirring, 5-10mins, until softened. Add the remaining ingredients & bring to the boil. Reduce heat, cover, & simmer, stirring occasionally, 20-30mins. Serve hot with cornbread from The Joy of Vegan Baking.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Help me!

I'm seeking advice from Melbournites please!

I want to celebrate my birthday this year by having an awesome meal with D somewhere fancy (which is something we never ever do). But I don't know where to go - my shortlist so far is:
1. Le Cru, Albert Park (have read completely conflicting reviews about this place)
2. Circa The Prince, St Kilda
3. Jacques Reymond, South Yarra
4. Mercer's Restaurant, Eltham

These are all places that I know do some kind of vegan degustation or other kind of fancy vegan food. The restaurant doesn't necessarily have to do degustation, but excellent vegan food & service is a must.

So... please overwhelm me with your recommendations!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Green Tambourine Brunswick

I read this review yesterday about a new cafe in Brunswick - Green Tambourine, which apparently has vegan & gluten free options available. The cafe is in an old bluestone building on Albion St that used to house a lovely little Italian restaurant. About 8-9 years ago I lived practically across the street & would visit the Italian restaurant for special occasions (i.e. when someone else was paying :-)) & remembered a gorgeous building with an unbeatable atmosphere. So I was keen to see the changes that had been made.

Unfortunately, on arrival this morning, there were no obviously vegan options in sight (though plenty of vegetarian choices). I was a little disappointed & briefly considered popping down the road for Henry's White Beans instead. The atmosphere is fantastic though & we were nestled right next to the open fireplace so I didn't really feel like moving. I asked the waitress if anything could be made vegan on the menu - she immediately told me about the vegan savoury muffin & went to the kitchen to check what else they could do. Big tick for service!

Long story short - there's a few items that can be adjusted - the forest mushrooms (minus the feta), the baked beans on toast & they also offered to to veganise the 'big vego breaky'. I decided on the mushrooms & D went for poached eggs with mushrooms & avocado as extras. The meals arrived quickly - another big tick! My mushrooms were delicious - perfectly flavoured with garlic and thyme & a sprig of rosemary (plus the serving was huge - beware if you go for the 'big breaky' options - they must be enormous).D was pretty happy with his eggs, but thought the mushrooms were the best part. The coffee is Five Senses and was a little disappointing. My soy latte came out with curdled milk (which is quite easy to do with soy - but unfortunate to see that it was served like that). Underneath the curdled top, the coffee itself was good - strong & only slightly bitter. D's first cappuccino was good, but he ordered a second which he couldn't finish as it was so bitter - not sure what happened there.

To sum up - if I lived in Brunswick I'd go back but as there actually aren't vegan options clearly available on the breakfast or lunch menus it's another one I probably won't make a special trip for. The atmosphere is fantastic - the old bluestone is gorgeous & they have done a really nice decorating job inside. Also plenty of space - there are front & back courtyards for summer too. Service is excellent - friendly & fast.

Green Tambourine
179 Albion St, Brunswick
Open 7 days 7.30am-5.30pm

Friday, August 6, 2010

Drowning in cupcakes

We have a really cool tradition starting up at work - a Masterchef inspired bake-off to support Jeans for Genes day. It only started last year and was really successful so they decided to do it again. I decided on 2 entries this time - Chocolate Beetroot Cupcakes with Rose Icing (I wrote about my first attempt at these here); and Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing (which I have made before but haven't written about - see recipe below).

And guess what... I won 2nd prize for my chocolate-beetroot cakes! So exciting! My prize was a tin of Byron Bay Cookies which unfortunately aren't vegan; but I'll donate the biscuits to the library team & take the cute tin home :-)I love cooking vegan food for non-vegans - it shows that just because we eat ethically doesn't mean we miss out on good food. I was a little annoyed they didn't display my little signs that said 'vegan' with the cakes so people didn't know that they were eating that 'crazy vegan stuff'; but maybe it's better they didn't know - I've seen people change their mind when they realise something isn't filled with 'tasty' artery-clogging animal products :-)

Here's the Chocolate Beetroot Cupcakes.

Here's the Carrot Cupcakes.

And here they all are in my cool new cupcake carrier - it has two levels, a little tray to hold the cakes in place (which can be inverted to hold a normal cake, or biscuits/slice; and the bottom layer can be removed if you aren't making that much.

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg replacer (I used Orgran, but you could use applesauce or banana or whatever you like)
  • 1 cup firmly packed finely grated carrot
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 cup self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 90g Tofutti cream cheese, softened
  • 30g Nuttelex, softened
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon rind (I used lemon juice instead as I didn't have a fresh lemon)
  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 TBS pepitas, chopped finely
  • 1 TBS dry apricots, chopped finely
  • 1 TBS walnuts, chopped finely
      Preheat the oven to 160C & line 9 holes of a cupcake or muffin tin.

      Beat the oil, sugar & egg replacer until thick & creamy. Stir in the carrot & walnuts, then add the sifted flour & spice.

      Pour the mix into the tin (about 1/2-3/4 full) bake 20mins, until golden brown. Stand 5mins, then turn onto a wire rack to cool.

      Beat the cream cheese, Nuttelex & rind until light & fluffy. Gradually beat in the sugar. Pipe onto cooled cakes with a 2cm fluted tube (I can't pipe, so I just spread it on with knife) & sprinkle with combined pepitas, apricots & walnuts.
    • Another box & another mystery vegetable!

      My fortnightly veg delivery arrived earlier in the week and I am left with another mystery vegetable! Here's a photo:
      At first I thought it could be celeriac, but it doesn't really look like the photos I have found on the web - they all look more bulbous and not as smooth. Then I thought it's probably something really obvious - like a root vegetable with the top left on - what do you think?
      The rest of the box contained:
      • Rainbow Chard (so happy - this was yummy last time)
      • Celery (another full bunch - I'm going to have get creative to use it all!)
      • Carrots (also overloaded on carrots at the moment - it's OK though, I made carrot cupcakes for a bake-off at work this week which used a few)
      • Potatoes
      • Onions
      • Zucchini
      • Jap pumpkin
      • Parsnip
      • Capsicum
      Oh, and here's a random photo I found of the hot dogs we had for dinner earlier in the week. We use Sanitarium hot dogs, mine are smothered in cheezly, wholegrain mustard, tomato sauce and soy mayonnaise - it may not be the healthiest dinner out there but it sure does taste good!

      Wednesday, August 4, 2010

      Real Foods @ RMIT

      I found myself at the other end of the city around lunch-time today and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to try out the veg cafe at RMIT. When I was a student there I was at the business campus in Bourke St (which was a horrible place to study - not conducive to learning at all); so I never ventured into the food court at the Swanston St campus. I also had memories of the Melbourne Uni food co-op in my head which was awesome - I wish I had been able to afford to eat properly when I was a student - I remember treating myself to a bought lunch a couple of times and getting vegan rolls at Melbourne Uni filled with organic tempeh & salad for about $4; unfortunately even $4 was beyond my buget back then.

      Anyway, there have been signs in the gym lately (heads up everyone - members of the public can join the RMIT gym for the same price as students & staff - it's amazingly cheap) advertising Real Foods - I'm not sure if they are completely new if they're just doing a marketing push.

      You will find them in the Food Court - just enter Building 8 off Swanston St, head up the ramp & take a sharp left - Real Foods is around the back. Unless you want to hang out with the students, you'll be getting takeaway. The menu was pretty limited (but all organic & almost all vegan and gluten free) - pies, soup or salad. I went with the mushroom & tofu pie for $4 - so cheap! It was pretty good too - filled with just the basics of tofu, mushroom, barley & gravy. Actually, I couldn't tell the difference between this pie & the ones at TOFWD and wonder if they are actually the same pie (but a LOT cheaper).I also spied some muffins/cakes on the counter & what looked like raw cheescake; and noticed they do a super green smoothie, which would be great in summer.

      So, if you're lucky enough to work up that end of the city, I recommend Real Foods for a cheap quick lunch (though beware - they are probably only open during the uni semester).

      Real Foods
      RMIT City Campus
      Building 8, Level 4 Food Court

      Sunday, August 1, 2010

      A local breakfast

      D & I headed to our favourite local for breakfast this morning - Le Chien. I have written about it before, it's basically our 'go to' cafe when we can't be bothered travelling across town & is by far the best that the West has to offer (in my opinion).

      The coffee is awesome - they use Supreme, it's so smooth and creamy I have to force myself to drink it slowly to make the pleasure last.

      I normally go for the Avocado & Tomato on toast, but this morning I tried the relatively new vegan addition to the menu - beans on toast. The wait-staff here are really great, so I was disappointed when I asked if the beans were vegan, only to be told that no, they weren't gluten free. What is it with people associating vegan with gluten-free? Is it just that both dietary choices are becoming more common at the same time? Very frustrating, because I hate having to ask if something has been cooked with dairy or eggs or animal stock or honey etc etc, rather than using one simple word - vegan.

      Moving on to more important things, the beans were pretty good. There was a touch of sweetness to them - maybe some maple syrup? The serving size was perfect and they came out steaming hot. I think beans on toast are pretty hard to make interesting, so I'd put these somewhere in the top-half of my ranking, but they didn't blow me away.

      D had the 'Promite Special' - poached eggs, avocado & tomato on toast with promite. He reports that this was good as always. We have only ever had one bad experience at Le Chien, which we were easily able to forgive given the consistently great service, coffee, food and atmosphere that they offer.

      Le Chien
      5 Gamon St, Seddon
      Sat-Mon, 8am–4pm; Tue-Fri 8am–5pm