Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mega Cafe Catch-up Part 1

Just because I haven't been posting, doesn't mean I haven't been enjoying lots of yummy vegan food these past few months. So here's a snapshot of some memorable meals.

First up, Yamba. Went there for a mini break with Mum & Dad in February. It's an awesome place. I'd describe it as Byron Bay 20 years ago. A cool little surfing town, with a nice mix of laid back beach vibes and (perhaps surprisingly) excellent facilities, cafes, bars etc.Sassafras Pasta & Pizza Restaurant is a cute little Italian-inspired place in the centre of town. The staff were friendly without being overbearing, efficient and knowledgeable. These little bread rolls were lovely - a nice twist on the traditional garlic & herb breads. They come with a range of spreads, which unfortunately aren't vegan, but never mind, the bread is, and it's crusty & hot & yummy.After asking the waiter if the Penne Pesto was vegan I was assured without him batting an eyelid that it was & that he would ensure it wasn't served with any cheese. Quick, easy, the man definitely knew how to provide good service. This meal was simple & delicious - I was just so happy to be able to get such a lovely meal in a small town.
Sassafras Pasta & Pizza Restaurant
16 Coldstream St, Yamba
7 days, 5.30pm til late

Here we have another serving of the Grigons & Orr Marinated Tofu. Flavoursome as always. Have just read a review over at Where's the Beef that mentioned a new menu - I guess that warrants another visit!

Grigons & Orr
Corner Queensberry & Chetwynd Streets, North Melbourne
7 days, 7am-5pm

This lovely mess is the small lunch plate special from Friends of the Earth cafe. I can't remember exactly what was on there - some kind of dahl with rice, a couple of different salads, and something to do with potatoes. I do remember it was cheap (around $8 I think), filling, nutritious, organic, and tasted pretty damn good. I highly recommend FoE for a quick bite if you're ever in the neighbourhood.

Friends of the Earth
312 Smith St, Collingwood
Mon-Fri, 10am-6pm; Sat, 10am-4pm; Sun, 11am-4pm

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sweet Treats

Here's a few sweet treats I've been baking lately. First up - the most recent.These are the 'Raspberry Oatmeal Bars' from The Joy of Vegan Baking.Another great recipe from a great book - everyone at work loved them too. The only change I made was to use Mum's home made plum jam (thanks Mum!) as I didn't have any raspberry. I'd recommend this one to people looking for a quick & easy sugar fix - it's a good basic recipe, using ingredients you'll have in the pantry.
This is a veganised version of caramel slice, made because I needed to use up some soy condensed milk. As you can tell from the photo the caramel was too runny. So runny I didn't end up taking the slice to the afternoon tea I had cooked it for. I read somewhere to add cornflour to the mix to thicken it, which I did, but it didn't really work. Oh well - we live and learn.
And here are some Oatmeal Apple Pancakes with Blueberries. I really like these - it's another quick dish, and also surprisingly nutritious - good for a weekend breakfast. Warning - they are pretty sweet, so stay away if you're normally a savoury person. The recipe comes from a free iPhone app which I have posted about before - Whole Foods Market.

Oatmeal Apple Pancakes
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 egg replacer (I use Orgran - flaxseed would work really well)
  • 2 TBS maple or agave syrup
  • 1 TBS Nuttelex
Combine oats, applesauce, egg replacer & syrup in a food processor & puree to make a smooth batter. At this stage, I added 1/4 cup of frozen blueberries & pulsed a few times to chop the berries.

Melt 1/2 TBS of the Nuttelex in a large frypan over medium heat. Working in batches, drop 2 TBS of batter into the pan to form 5 pancakes, spacing them a couple of inches apart. Cook, flipping once, until golden brown & cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining Nuttelex & batter.

Serve warm with your favourite pancake toppings.
Finally, these are Chewy Muesli Squares - kind of healthy with those wholegrains, nuts & seeds but also kind of not with all that sugar & Nuttelex. Delicious though :-)

I'm not sure where this recipe came from - let me know if I've stolen it from you.

Chewy Muesli Squares
  • 1/4 cup cup golden syrup
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup Nuttelex
  • 1/2 cup soft brown sugar
  • 2 cups breakfast crisp (I used weet bix)
  • 2 cups puffed brown rice
  • 1/2 cup cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
Melt golden syrup, peanut butter, Nuttelex & sugar in a saucepan over low-medium heat & simmer for 5mins. Combine with remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Press this mix firmly into 20x30cm shallow tin. Refrigerate until firm & cut into squares.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sunday brunch

Here's a nutrient-packed brunch recipe for you. It comes from an Iphone app - '21-day Vegan Kickstart'. The app is basically a meal plan designed to help people transition to a vegan diet. It's got some good ideas & a few interesting recipes - so, even if you've been vegan for a long time like me, it can help you get back into healthy eating habits.Spinach and Mushroom Frittata
  • 1/2 cup water (I used 1 TBS olive oil instead)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 2 tsp dry basil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp celery seeds (I didn't have any, so just left them out)
  • 1 package frozen spinach, thawed (I used half a bunch of fresh spinach)
  • 1 package silken tofu (about 300g)
  • 2 TBS dry couscous
  • 1/4 cup soy milk
  • 1 tomato, thinly sliced
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees & grease a 9 inch pie dish. Heat the water or oil in a large frypan over medium heat. Add the onion & garlic & cook until soft, about 5mins.

Add mushrooms, basil, salt, pepper, nutmeg & seeds. Cook, stirring often, until mushrooms are soft, about 5mins. Stir in spinach & cook, stirring often, until mix is very dry. Remove from heat.

In a food processor or blender, process tofu until very smooth. Add to spinach mix, along with couscous & soy milk. Stir well.

Pour the mix into the dish & arrange the tomato slices around the outside edge. Bake 25mins, remove from oven and let stand 10mins before serving.

The frittata was tasty, but there are a couple of things I will change next time:
  • Adding 1 or 2 tablespoons of Nutritional Yeast - for flavour & colour.
  • I didn't let the spinach mix dry out enough - meaning the final product was a bit watery.
  • Using half silken & half firm tofu (or firm tofu mixed with soy milk) - to help the frittata firm up a bit - it didn't come out of the dish neatly.
Overall, this was a satisfying meal - it would be great with some potatoes or avocado or maybe even a salad on the side. For me, there's a bit too much prep involved for a lazy Sunday morning - but if you have someone to share the workload with, you'll be enjoying your brunch before you know it :-)

The other positive? It's healthy, probably much healthier than Chelsey's pancakes, which I had for breakfast yesterday. They were delicious though :-)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Wee Jeanie, Yarraville

I know I've been AWOL for quite some time. I won't go into details, suffice to say life has been chaotic and difficult.

However, this is worth coming out of hiding for. The long awaited new addition to the Yarraville cafe scene has finally opened - and it's called Wee Jeanie - how cute!

Rumours about Wee Jeanie began a long time ago. The building work went on for months. Then they took the covering away from the windows so we could all peek in & get excited about what was forming behind the glass - here's a photo from that time. Then, one cold day, I walked past & realised it was finally open. I went in straight away to sample the coffee. I was expecting good things - after all, it's the same people that are behind Corner Shop, and the same lovely Coffee Supreme.

I wasn't disappointed - my soy latte was perfect - strong but not bitter, smooth, creamy, hot but not scalding, delivered with a smile.

The space is lovely - small but cosy, natural materials, clean and simple. The music choice has been great every time I've been in and the staff are always friendly.

There's also a lovely courtyard with a beautiful glass-topped table.

After a few more coffees, I finally got around to visiting for lunch a week or so later. There isn't an extensive menu - the idea behind this cafe is to pop in for a takeaway or a quick bite. There are a range of sweet things & salads in the cabinet, plus a short menu - the food is simple, but good. Vegetarians will have no trouble eating here, and vegans aren't left out either. I have noticed a couple of different vegan salads - a lentil one plus the one I sampled below. I'm not sure if there will be a vegan salad option on offer every day, but you can always go with the avocado on toast option if pressed.

So, the food. This is a Chickpea, Roast Zucchini & Sumac salad, with a side of Rosemary Bread (complimentary). It was truly awesome. Perfectly spiced, with nutty chickpeas, soft zucchini, rocket and spring onions. So simple, yet so so delicious. The bread was AMAZING too - fresh & crusty & perfectly flavoured with rosemary & salt.

Wee Jeanie
50 Anderson St, Yarraville
Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30am-4.30pm