Tuesday, November 30, 2010

La Panella, take 2

La Panella, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways...
1. This light, buttery, chocolaty vegan croissant.2. This sweet, sticky, jam-filled chocolate vegan donut.

3. The 10 vegan sausage rolls we bought for $1.50 each for D's lunch this week.

I could go on, but if you're vegan in Melbourne, you know what I'm talking about. In the end we walked out with 10 sausage rolls, 3 jam tarts, 1 caramel slice, 1 chocolate donut & 1 chocolate croissant for $22!

You can read about 1 of my previous visits here. And yes, there was another visit to Pearl Oyster - review coming soon.

La Panella
465 High St, Thornbury
Mon-Fri 6am-6pm; Sat 6am-5pm; Sun 6am-4pm

And that's it from me for a few days - I'm exhausted after all this vegan mofoing!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Beany Pasta

Only 2 days of Vegan Mofo to go. I let it go at the end of last week - just too tired & too busy...

In an attempt to clear out the old vegies in the fridge, I threw this pasta sauce together last night. I make variations of it all the time - sometimes using lentils or chickpeas instead of the kidney beans & always with a different variety of veg. This one turned out really well - I'm glad we have leftovers for tonight.Start by dicing your vegies - I used 1 onion, 1 celery stalk, 1 carrot, 1 zucchini & 1 cup of mushrooms. Cook the onion, celery & carrot in some olive oil with 1 clove of crushed garlic for about 7 mins, until they're nice & soft. Then add the zucchini & mushrooms & cook another couple of minutes.

Add 1 can of diced tomatoes, 1 can of kidney beans (drained & rinsed), about 1TBS of balsamic vinegar, 2 tsp dry basil & salt/pepper to taste. Simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, about 20mins, until thick & rich. Serve with the pasta of your choice (I used wholemeal spaghetti).

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The most important meal of the day

Is breakfast of course! During the cooler months, my daily breakfast is porridge with LSA, blueberries & soy milk (plus a little swirl of maple syrup for sweetness). Sometimes I use brown sugar instead, and I've often wondered which is the healthier option. I'm time-poor though, so I haven't done any research into it.In the warmer months, my daily breakfast is a couple of weetbix with LSA, soy milk & fruit - strawberries or bananas or both. No sugar necessary for this one - I find bananas do the sweetening just fine on their own. Sorry, I don't have a photo of that one, because I ran out of bananas yesterday & I figured a picture of a bowl with mushy weetbix wasn't going to be all that interesting (not that the rest of this post is!).

On an unrelated issue, the space bar on my laptop isn't working properly. I really hope it doesn't get worse, orallofmysentenceswilllooklikethis...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mess, Glorious Mess

You may have noticed a theme emerging in my meals over the past couple of weeks (or maybe longer). If you haven't - I'll tell you - it's one of simple, lazy, and sometimes not-so-healthy meals. That's because life (mostly work-life) is so busy at the moment I don't have time to think about preparing proper meals anymore. I'm hoping the wind-down to Christmas will provide some relief, but we shall see.

Dinner last night proudly continued the theme - look at this awful mess - isn't it beautiful! It may not look like it, but this is Nachos - simply corn chips, topped with heated up refried beans, tomato salsa (store-bought) & creamed corn. I've found creamed corn to be a great substitute for sour-cream and/or avocado in these kinds of meals.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mix & Match Potato Salad

I really felt like potato salad on Sunday night but I didn't have the right ingredients for any of my recipes. So, I decided to piece something together using inspiration from all of them. Luckily I succeeded & the result was this delicious & filling dinner.Mix & Match Potato Salad
  • 1kg kipfler potatoes, peeled & chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 TBS semi or sun-dried tomatoes, chopped finely
  • 2 TBS capers
  • 1/3 cup macadamias, roasted & chopped roughly
  • 1 cup mixed frozen corn & peas, thawed
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 TBS lemon juice
  • 1 finely chopped scallion (I didn't have one, so added a dash of onion powder)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Cook the diced potatoes boiling, salted water until just tender, about 10-15min. Drain well. Add all of the salad ingredients to a large bowl & toss gently (I used my hands to make sure I didn't break up the potato).

To make the dressing, whisk the olive oil,lemon juice, scallion/onion powder & salt/pepper really well until it becomes thick. Pour over the salad just before serving & mix gently.

I actually served this salad warm because, as usual, I'd left making dinner too late & was hungry & impatient. I think it was really lovely warm, but I'm sure it would make a nice cold salad too.

In hindsight, I could have left the corn/peas out, but please don't leave out the macadamias - they give such a lovely texture & really made all the difference.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Scrambled Tofu take 2

It's been while since I made the old favourite so I decided that Sunday breakfast was the time to resurrect it. It was pretty similar to this version.In there was half a sliced red capsicum, a finely diced tomato, one grated carrot, one finely diced celery stick and about 1 1/2 cups of quartered button mushrooms. One of the reasons I loved scrambled tofu so much is the way you can just throw in whatever veg you have in the fridge - I probably got my entire day's servings in one meal! And, I don't have kids, but I get the feeling it would be a great way to trick them into eating their vegetables.

The spice mix was a bit of everything thrown in - 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp dry basil, 1 tsp ground coriander, a splash of liquid smoke & about 2-3 TBS of tamari.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Poetic Pizza

I'll admit there's nothing particularly poetic about this pizza. But when I typed 'adjectives starting with p...' into Google it came up and I thought it sounded good :-)Just a quick post - this is a takeaway pizza from my local - Godfathers Pizza. It's a vegetarian without the cheese. Simple. $7. Delicious.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Another stir-fry... ho hum

I had chopped up all the vegetables to make some kind of pasta dish on Monday night but changed my mind at the last minute & turned to my old recipe collection for inspiration. I was particularly looking for a way to use up asparagus & green beans. I found this simple recipe for stir-fried sesame vegetables. I normally make my stir-fries the same way, but I figured a little change couldn't hurt.
This is the recipe as I had it written down (no idea where it came from!), but I improvised with the ingredients I had on hand. I really enjoyed this meal - it's just a little different from my standard stir-fries. I think it was the asparagus that really made all the difference.

Stir fried sesame vegetables with rice
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup long grain white rice (I used brown rice)
  • 1 TBS Nuttelex
  • 1 TBS sesame seeds
  • 1 TBS peanut oil
  • 225g fresh asparagus, trimmed & cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, sliced (I used green beans & zucchini instead)
  • 140g sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 TBS minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2-3 TBS soy sauce, to taste (I used tamari)
  • 1/2 TBS sesame oil
In a saucepan combine stock, rice & Nuttelex. Cover & bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low & simmer for 20-25mins, until liquid is absorbed. (I used brown rice & found that the absorption method didn't work as well, so just keep an eye on it).

Place the sesame seeds in a small frypan & dry-fry them over a medium heat 3-4mins, until golden brown.

Heat peanut oil in a wok over med-high heat until very hot. Add vegetables, ginger & garlic. Stir-fry 4-5mins or until vegetables are tender but still crisp. Add soy sauce & cook 30 seconds. Remove from heat & stir in sesame oil & seeds. Serve over rice.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Monster Calzones

In all the years I have been baking I have always stayed away from making my own pizza dough (or any bread for that matter). I think I may have tried it once & failed, so since then whenever we have home-made pizza it's always on a pita-bread base.

But last weekend I had an afternoon to fill so I decided to give it another go. I chose the Spinach & Tofu Calzones from Vegan Planet. The recipe uses a traditional pizza dough and a pretty standard spinach & tofu 'ricotta' mix.

I was so surprised at how easy it was to make the dough! I checked it about 10 times during the hour that it was rising & was so excited to see it getting bigger, then when it was time to roll it out I was like a little kid. It was just like the dough I see in pizza shops - smooth & stretchy & beautiful! So, I think I'm a convert to home-made pizza dough now... it's just a shame you need to leave it for that hour, because it pretty much means I'll never be able to make it on a weeknight.Now for the Calzones themselves. Firstly - they were huge! The recipe said to split the dough in half & make 2, so that's what I did. I think next time I'll split it into 4 (or maybe even 6). The dough cooked beautifully though - all golden & crispy, just the way I like it.D & I both found the filling a bit bland. It needed a fair amount of sauce to make it interesting. Next time I will probably use the tofu 'ricotta' recipe from The Vegan Table, which I have previously made here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Jam & Oats make a muffin

Here's another recipe from my favourite cookbook author Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. These are the Jam-Filled Oat Bran Muffins from The Joy of Vegan Baking.Following the theme of everything else in the book the recipe is quite easy. The muffins are filled with oat bran, oat milk, walnuts, cinnamon & strawberry jam - which sounded like a winning combination to me. The oat milk was optional, but I'm glad I used it - I think it gave a nice rich flavour to the finished product.As you can see from the photo above, I probably wasn't careful enough when dropping my jam into the batter, because it mostly ended up seeping out the sides of the muffins, making them stick to the pan.

That also meant that when cut open, my muffins didn't look nearly as pretty as Colleens did.They did taste pretty damn good though. The only downfall for these muffins was that they didn't hold up too well the next day. They lost the nice crumbly texture & quickly became quite moist & dense. So just make sure you have some friends around to help you polish them off on the day you make them :-)

Monday, November 15, 2010

A bucket of hommus!

That's right, no need to adjust your computer screens. That really is a 1kg bucket of hommus! Now, I'm sure it's been possible to bulk purchase hommus for decades, but I've never seen it, so bear with me through this period of excitement.Last week was not a particularly foodie week for me - I was just too tired from too much work. I was wandering the aisles of the local supermarket, looking for something easy & snack-like for dinner when I saw the bucket - I knew I had to have it. It's Yumi's brand, which I really like anyway, and it was really cheap - only about $6-7 from memory.I teamed the bucket up with a more suitably sized Spicy Pumpkin Dip (love this one!) & some toasted turkish bread for the laziest dinner I know how to prepare. At least it was a little bit healthy.

And I promise that most of the bucket is still in the fridge - it's got a January use-by-date - and I think I'll probably need that long to get through it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A frozen burger

I know I missed posting yesterday, and it was for the same reason that I made this cop-out dinner last night. In one word - work. It's tiring me out & there's no sign of things slowing down soon - I'm exhausted!This is a Sanitarium Not Burger, which went through a period of not being vegan due to egg white in the mix, but are OK again now. I actually quite like these - they have a pleasant flavour & a nice crispy coating. They're also cheaper than many other brands(& are actually the only brand available in my local supermarket).

Simply served on a wholemeal grain roll with tomato, lettuce, wholegrain mustard & tomato sauce - a very satisfying meal. I still feel like a cop-out though, knowing how easy it is to make home-made burger patties. These ones from K & Toby look particularly good.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Daylesford delights

D & I headed off very early Saturday morning to have breakfast in Daylesford. I was looking forward to visiting Himalaya Bakery again after a year or so away. Unfortunately they're closed at the moment & I was devastated. Our stomachs wouldn't stop rumbling though, so we had to keep up the search for food.I remembered a nice meal at Frangos & Frangos, but that must have been lunch because when we looked at their breakfast menu there wasn't anything particularly veganisable on it. In the end we trudged back down the hill to Harvest Cafe. This is an organic cafe and grocer and we had eaten there before but remembered it being quite average.

This time we were pleasantly surprised. We were told on arrival there would be a long wait so we nabbed ourselves a table by the window & settled in. I'm glad we decided to wait because the food was great! I ordered the Vegan Scrambled Tofu, which came with spinach, capsicum & olives. It was flavoured quite simply but perfectly (with tamari I think). I thought the side-salad was a bit strange on a breakfast plate but I was so hungry I ate it all anyway. The kalamata olives were also quite overpowering and are probably more suited to a lunch or dinner-style scrambled tofu. The toast was delicious & they even gave me Nuttelex!D ordered the Vegetarian Omelet, which had cheese, spinach, mushroom & tomato inside. His also came with a side salad (which he didn't eat). He said the omelet was quite tasty - definitely better than last time.As you can see from the photos the serving sizes are large - just the thing to satisfy a big appetite after an 1.5 hour drive. The prices are around mid-range, but since the cafe is organic, I actually think are quite reasonable. The staff are friendly and it's also a handy place to go if you need to pick up some vegan goodies on the way out from the grocery store. The only thing they could probably do better is the coffee - mine was OK but D couldn't finish his.

After breakfast the weather had turned gorgeous so we took a stroll around the lake where I saw this very cute duck.I think ducks are probably my favourite animal - isn't it beautiful!

Harvest Cafe
29 Albert St, Daylesford
Mon-Sat 8:30am-5:30pm; Sun 8:30am-4pm

Meditteranean Pasta

There's nothing particularly mind-blowing about this dinner - it's just an example of one of the quick, simple meals I eat when I'm not feeling particularly inspired. Despite that, it remains one of my favourites (I practically lived on this when I was a student), and it can easily be adapted for whatever veg you have in your fridge.For this one I chopped 1 onion finely, diced 1 large carrot, diced 2 stalks of celery & diced about 1 cup of mushrooms. I fried the onion, carrot & celery with a crushed garlic clove & a tiny bit of chilli paste in olive oil for about 5 mins. Then I added the mushrooms & cooked them for a couple of minutes. I added 1 can of diced tomatoes, a slurp of balsamic vinegar (you could also use red or white wine), a pinch of dry basil & some salt & pepper. I turned the heat down & let it all simmer for about 20-30mins until the sauce was nice and thick. While that was happening I cooked some wholemeal spaghetti & that's it!

I often add some protein to this sauce - lentils or kidney beans - but I wasn't in the mood. I also added some chopped black olives to my sauce after serving (D hates olives).

Monday, November 8, 2010

The leaning tower of pies

It's a funny story really. A little while ago I had a bag of mushrooms to use up so decided to make some of my lentil & mushroom pies for freezing. Everything went well until I got a bit impatient when I was trying to freeze them. I put them in a container all stacked on top of each other while they were still warm. This must have created some kind of unbreakable bond, because now, whenever I try to get a pie out of the freezer for dinner, I can only get 3. The pies in the photo below have actually been defrosted & heated in the oven & still wouldn't come apart!So, D & I have had to resign ourselves to eating 3 at a time. Obviously, we save them for those times when we are starving - lucky they're not full-sized pies. The important part in all of this is the pie itself. This is my basic recipe. I've tried Carla's and Cindy's pies this year, both of which I loved, but this is my own quick and easy favourite recipe. It relies mostly on frozen & canned food so I pretty much always have the ingredients on hand.

Lentil, Mushroom & Pea Pies
  • 1-1 1/2 cups mushrooms, finely diced
  • 1 can brown lentils, rinsed & drained
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 4 sheets puffy pastry, thawed
Heat a little olive oil over medium heat in a frypan. Add the mushrooms & cook a few minutes, until just starting to shrink. Add the remaining ingredients to the pan & cook, stirring occasionally, about 10-15mins, until the mix has thickened.

I use my pie-maker for these, so at this stage, just cut out your pastry & fit it to whatever pie-making device you are going to use. Add some filling, pop a pastry lid on it & bake for as long as it takes for the pastry to turn golden brown (if baking in the oven, just use a moderate heat - it will probably take around 15mins).Here's a pretty terrible shot of the filling. These are definitely best enjoyed with some good old tomato sauce.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mum's scones

I've been eating these scones ever since I can remember - it's my Mum's recipe & it seems like she used to make them at least once a week (but it was probably more like once a month). Then I grew up and started making scones myself. And then I became vegan, but that was OK because the recipe was easily veganisable.

This time I made them for breakfast - they only take about 30min from prep to eating.The photo makes it seem like there are tons of the things - but I used a small cutter (5cm I think) so they're really more like mini scones.

Mum's Scones
  • 3 cups SR flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 TBS Nuttelex, cold
  • 1 ½ cups soy milk
Preheat oven to 210C & grease or line an oven tray.

Combine the flour & salt in a large bowl, then rub the Nuttelex in with your fingertips until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Add milk & mix until it just comes together.

Turn dough onto a floured board & pat out until 1-2 inches high (don't overwork the dough). Use a floured scone cutter or glass to cut out the scones. Place them onto the tray with edges touching & brush the tops with a little extra soy milk. Bake 10-15mins until golden & they sound hollow when tapped on the top.

I know there are lots of ways to customise scones but I pretty much just leave the recipe alone - after all, I know it works!My toppings of choice are jam (this is Raspberry) & Nuttlex with Marmite. D thinks putting marmite on them is disgusting but I really like it and no matter what he says I don't think I'm crazy :-)We had a few scones left over after breakfast, so they served as afternoon tea as well. This is raspberry jam again with some Soyatoo Whipped Cream. I haven't had the cream before & I don't really like it - too much of a soy flavour for me. I definitely wouldn't serve it to a non-vegan.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fox Hotel, Collingwood

After reading about Cindy & Michael's first visit to this recently revamped pub in Collingwood I was hooked. Not only do they serve up multiple vegan options - they're interesting options. Then I read about their most recent visit & discovered they also have a rooftop beer garden & was desperate to visit. We finally made it on Monday night - after all, I need to gather subject matter if I'm to keep up with Vegan MoFo (that's my excuse & I'm sticking with it!).

It's worth noting what seemed to be an extensive beer menu - I saw at least 2 pages of international beers & there may have been more. I rarely drink these days, but when I do my beer of choice is Coopers Sparkling. D chose one of his current favourites - the Little Creatures Pale Ale.The prices here are on the high side for a pub (but definitely worth it), so we chose to share an entree - the Mushroom & Tofu Gyoza. They arrived quickly & were delicious. The mushrooms gave most of the flavour to the filling & I really liked the dipping sauce (it was based on soy sauce, but had something added). How do you split 5 gyoza between 2 hungry people? Well, I let D have 3 & I compensated by eating the green stuff.For his main, D chose the Whole Field Mushroom Lasagne with Three Cheeses. He really liked this but wished the lasagne serving had been bigger. Of course, with that cheesy sauce I couldn't taste it so can't give you much more detail on the flavours.There was a hiccup with my meal - I ordered the Thai Tofu Balls with Asian Coleslaw & Satay Sauce - but initially received the Marinated Tofu Steak with Wasabi Mayo. I'm not a fan of spicy food, so, even though it looked quite good, I did send it back. I have to say, the service was outstanding. I received my correct meal within 10 minutes & the staff let me know what was happening the whole time - big ticks!

This meal looks impressive - strangely there were a few spring rolls on the plate, but they tasted great, so I'm not complaining :-) The balls had a nice flavour & a perfect golden crunchy crust. They may have been a bit bland on their own, but with the satay sauce & salad this meal receives a gold star from me! If you're on the northside I highly recommend the Fox to you - friendly and attentive staff, efficient service, outstanding food and a fantastic vibe.

The Fox Hotel
351 Wellington St, Collingwood
Mon-Thur 3pm-late (kitchen 5-10pm); Fri-Sun 12pm-1am (kitchen 12-10pm)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Best vegan quiche ever!

I originally got this recipe from a vegetarian forum & it's a real winner. It ticks all the boxes - quick, easy, healthy & delicious. It also tastes equally hot & fresh from the oven; or cold for a picnic the next day.

The base of the recipe is a besan (chickpea) flour batter (which also makes an awesome omelet - but you will need to wait for another day to see that recipe). From there you can pretty much add whatever veg you like. The original recipe uses onion & tomato, but I play around with it, using whatever I have in the fridge. This one had onion, broccoli & tomato.My Best Vegan Quiche
  • 1 cup besan flour
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Pinch dry basil
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 tomato, finely diced
  • 1-2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
Preheat the oven to 220C & grease a springform quiche pan. Press the pastry into tin (my pan is quite large so I always use 2 sheets of pastry). Prick the base & cook 15mins, until puffed & lightly browned.

Whisk the flour, water, oil, salt, pepper & basil well. Pour the batter into the cooked pastry crust. Sprinkle the tomato & onion over & bake 45min, until golden & firm to the touch.

That's it! As I said above, use whatever veg you like in this - but keep it simple & don't use too much - the pastry crust won't hold too much once it's all puffed up.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Why horse racing is bad

It's the 2nd day of Vegan MoFo & I have a couple of foodie posts ready to go, but since today is the Melbourne Cup, I thought it would be more appropriate to comment on the tragedy of this so-called 'sport'.

I'm actually just going to share some information from Animals Australia since they have already said everything I wanted to say.

Firstly, I love this poster they have made - it made me smile & really goes to the heart of how I feel.Image from Animals Australia - Say 'Nup' to Melbourne Cup.

For a more serious message please watch this video to learn the truth about this horrific industry.

You can read more about this issue here.

And if you have any feelings left whatsoever, please join me in boycotting the 'Race that Stops a Nation' - this year - and every year to come. Sign the Pledge and make it real.