Monday, 29 December 2008

sundried tomato, olive, mushroom and artichoke risotto

On Saturday, having not cooked a meal in several days, I found myself with very little food in the house and a need to cook dinner before we headed out for a going away party. As a result, I threw together a risotto made mostly from things in jars, and it's good to know that I can pull together something that's relatively quick and very tasty even when I think I've got nothing in the house.

I had a handful of mushrooms that were getting a bit old and tough, so I prepared them slightly differently from what I would usually do. I fried them for a little, with the onion and the garlic, and then added a little bit of stock to let the mushrooms soften a little, before adding the rice and the rest of the ingredients.

sun-dried tomato, olive, mushroom and artichoke risotto

sundried tomato, mushroom, artichoke and olive risotto

one half brown onion (diced)
1 clove garlic (minced or diced finely)
half a dozen mushrooms (sliced)
1 tomato (diced)
half a cup of sundried tomatoes
some artichoke hearts
handful of olives
2 cups arborio rice
½ cup red wine
5 cups of stock

In a little (vegan) margarine, fry the onion. As it begins to turn golden, add mushrooms and garlic, and a little of the oil from the sundried tomatoes. Continue to fry until the mushrooms begin to release their liquid. Add a small amount of stock, simmer for a minute, then add the fresh tomato and the arborio rice. Cover the rice in the mixture in the pot. On low to medium heat, slowly add the wine and the stock, one cup at a time, and stir the rice as needed. Keep adding stock until the rice looks almost done. More stock may be required, or more wine. This will take about twenty minutes to half an hour.

Add the sundried tomatoes, olives and artichoke hearts. Continue adding stock as necessary, and stirring, until the rice is soft (hopefully about six or seven minutes). Allow all the liquid to soak in to the rice.

anzac biscuits by sexy.greg

Went out this afternoon for a few hours of swing music, swing dancing and picnicking with some friends, down at the Subiaco Arts Centre Theatre Garden. We listened to the Darling Buds of May (D bought their CD) and nommed on delicious foods, mostly delicious foods that I spent an hour making this afternoon.

The courteous Dr Sexy.Greg (PhD) slightly altered the traditional Anzac biscuit recipe to provide us with very tasty sultana containing Anzac biscuits. Although the DVA may declare these not-quite Anzac biscuits, they were still very tasty, and would probably hold up well to the requisite sending overseas.

These biscuits were incredibly delicious, and I am glad my omni friends can accommodate us so delightfully.

sexy greg's anzac biscuits

Saturday, 27 December 2008



Wandering one day through Kongs (our local Chinese grocery) in Northbridge, I found the auntie behind the counter was packing these tiny vege samosas into little bags. I've seen them for sale at Lotus also, so someone local is clearly making them. They're filled with potatoes and peas and just a mild amount of spiciness, and cost about $3.50 for a pack of ten.

They sat in the freezer for a while, and yesterday afternoon, looking for a Boxing Day snack as we watched the cricket, I shallow fried them in a little vegetable oil (having first defrosted them for a bit). They were bite-sized deliciousness!

Friday, 26 December 2008

christmas noms and associated

Spent the day yesterday sprawled around D's parents' house, hanging with various family members (D's and mine) and eating a lot of food.

breakfast foods: hashbrowns and mushrooms

Woke up just in time for breakfast out on the back patio, champagne Australian sparkling wine and juice and hashbrowns, baked beans, mushrooms, and delicious baked tomatoes. It's a fun way to start the day, but at the same time it's a little bit odd, because it's always such a lot of food at a relatively late time (0900) - how am I supposed to be hungry in time for lunch at 1300 if I've only just eaten a whole lot of hash browns?

breakfast tomatoes

The traditional Christmas meal doesn't cater very well for vegans. I've omitted from the above the meat-related elements, but breakfasts are easy. Australian Christmas lunches however tend to, for the most (though not entire) part, fall in to one of two categories: heavy on the roast, or heavy on the seafood. This trend is so all-encompassing that even my own family, eating mostly Chinese food at home, still cooks a roast once a year, on Christmas day. D's family also tends towards the roast traditions, with sides of roasted or steamed vegies.

super tasty pumpkin

Roasted vegies are incredibly tasty, but they do not make an entire meal. This year the roasted pumpkin and the roasted potatoes were fantastic, soft and tasty and I gleefully ate quite a lot, but the highlight was the lentil pie that D's nan made for us.

lentil pie

It uses a flavoursome tomato base, and is filled with lentils and a variety of vegetables, topped with mash potato and brushed with nuttelex. I cannot wait to try making this pie recipe, I nommed this right up.

apple pie

D's nan also made a fantastic apple pie for dessert, which we had with fruit and delicious local icecream.

fruit platter after christmas gorging

We hung around into the evening, sitting around in the backyard and trying to decide whether to play the Game of Life. I attempted a batch of jam drops, which were a bit overcooked due to the oven there being fanforced. I also made up a batch of potato salad to supplement dinner, because dinner is often just left over cold meats from lunch with some salads, or in our case left over lentil pie.

The potato salad turned out okay, it was a bit of a made-up creation as the only vegie stock D's parents had contained milk products (boo). I substituted in a little generic soy sauce, some chilli flakes, and a tiny smidge of mustard. I say 'generic soy sauce' because they only had the one, one of those bottles that says 'soy sauce' and rudely doesn't specify if it's dark soy or light soy or some sort of blend.


Slowly more extended family members trickled in to partake of playing pool and table tennis, making fun of one another and eating left over food. The mozzies appeared just as the dessert did. D's mum made a vegan trifle just for us, using some stale banana cake I made last week, berries, agar-agar and some vegan custard. D says it was super tasty, but I have never been a fan of trifle.

assorted chocolate goodies

My sister gave D a whole lot of chocolate. This pile is not entirely made up of it - also in this pile is chocolate from our friend Moonbug, who is in the UK at the moment, and a couple of blocks from Sheeba a couple of weeks ago. We are pretty set for chocolate for the next little while, but a note for people posting chocolate to Australia - it's summer here, so it melts!

On the cookbook front, D gave me My Sweet Vegan by Hannah, and E + C gave me Vegan Italiano, which I already own so there is a visit to Dymocks in my near future.

Spent today lounging around the house, doing a bit of cleaning and watching the cricket.

christmas table with the expensive glasses

Friday, 19 December 2008

christmas cookies and the idea of a buy nothing christmas

You may have heard of the buy nothing Christmas, or the buy handmade pledge. These are both campaigns focused on reducing our conspicuous consumption during this festival. Buying handmade, or giving experiences rather than stuff you buy at the shops, are some really awesome things to do at this time. And it's a great way to start celebrating this festival in a more sustainable fashion. The amount of food and paper waste at this time alone, not including transportation costs, production costs, are phenomenal. In my real life job I'm paid to talk about this stuff, you know.

Baked goods are a great gift to give, it's something you've made rather than something you've bought and you get to sample as you go.

jam thumbprint cookies

Last night I spent three hours baking, to create a great cookie pack for my work secret santa. The recipient seemed fairly excited when they opened it today, and they'll never know it was vegan deliciousness! Last week, I took some jam drops to a concert, and offered them around. "Are they vegan?" N asked. "Good!" he said, when I responded in the affirmative. "People always say vegan food must taste gross, and I like it when they're wrong."

People sometimes complain about receiving chocolates and biscuits as gifts, but I think the complaints are more about receiving the packet rather than the contents in particular. Most people seem to be very excited about the prospect of receiving a jar of tasty home-baked cookies and biscuits. I know I love receiving gifts of delicious home-baked goods! If only more people in my daily life were up to baking vegan goods! Has anyone had different experiences in this regard, people really not wanting goods baked with love (and no animal products)?

chocolate and raspberry cookies

This year's set of baked goods is a combination of gingerbread, jam drops and raspberry chocolate cookies. The gingerbread recipe I use is this one from the ppk, though I often use significantly more flour than the recipe calls for. The jam drops are Emmie's recipe, with no modifications, I've found that it works great and is really simple. The raspberry chocolate cookies are from Veganomicon, and I wish I could remember to add less almond essence, I always find the end product so overwhelming when I forget, as I did last night!

gingerbread stars

If I have time I might add some choc-chip biscuits to the collection, but I'm exhausted today having baked for so long last night, so my weariness might defeat my enthusiasm! Juggling three different batches was perhaps my maximum, I ran out of mixing bowls and had to use a serving bowl!

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

(white) chocolate and jam cupcakes

D was off to the cricket today, and I wanted to bake some cupcakes for an in-the-stand snack. I was considering something from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, but every recipe I picked contained some ingredient that I didn't have. So I made this up instead. It was super delicious, the jam starts to sink in, and I have been told D's mum was sad that she only got two!

(white) chocolate and jam cupcakes

(White) Chocolate and Jam Cupcakes

2 cups white self-raising flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
100 gm melted nuttelex
4 chinese soup spoons of apple sauce
1 cup soy milk
2 tablespoons jam
1 cup white chocolate bits
extra jam, to top

Sift together flour, sugar, cocoa, and baking powder. Mix in vanilla essence, nuttelex and apple sauce. Slowly mix in soy milk, until the batter is thick. Add a little more soy milk if the batter seems too thick. Mix in the jam and the white chocolate bits. Grease cupcake pan, and divide equally in to twelve cupcake moulds. Drop half a teaspoon of jam on to the top of each cupcake.

Bake 180C for 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

no croutons required - a visual delight (and some potato salad)

I keep meaning to participate in No Croutons Required, a monthly food blogging event, but every month it's one thing or another. Last month I sulked that Johanna (from Green Gourmet Giraffe) beat me to blogging about laksa :P. The month before I decided I couldn't deal with fruit and salad, it being too cold. This month, however, I am totally here!

This month's theme for No Croutons Required is a festive, seasonal picture to bring a taste of Christmas!. Being Northern-hemisphere biased, the request included a wintery scene, to which I laugh.

where's the ball?
zanchey at swanbourne

With the onset of the warm weather (37C, finally!), it was time for the first beach visit of the season. Sunday afternoon I packed up a potato salad, some sushi and some jam drops, rummaged around for my bathers and quick-dries, and we made a detour to the bottle-o before heading over to Swanbourne, about twenty minutes away from our house (and just north of Cottesloe).

We met up with Sheeba, Zanchey and Zanchey's dog Jackie, frolicked in the surf for a bit and got sand everywhere.

This is Zanchey's only beach trip for a whole month, as he heads off today to the wilds of deepest darkest England for Christmas, and do you know what England doesn't have? Beaches. I should have given him an extra jam drop to make up for it.

vegan potato salad
potato salad and tree

No recipe was required for this entry, but what is a photo of food without a recipe?

potato salad

This is a bit of a riff off Emmy's potato salad, which you can find here.

four or five potatoes (skin on)
half a cup of rich stock (or half a cup of boiling water and a lot of stock powder, because you want the stock to be strong)
1 clove garlic, minced
about one eighth of a red onion, diced very finely
a handful of snow peas, chopped roughly
one quarter of a red capsicum, diced
salt and pepper
small handful of parsley and chives (well chopped)
a tiny bit of lemon juice
1 tps white wine vinegar

After scrubbing thoroughly, boil the potatoes, skin on, until cooked mostly through. Carefully but roughly dice, and combine with snow peas, onion and capsicum.

Mix together the vinegar, salt and pepper, stock, lemon and garlic. pour in to potatoes, add chives and parsley, and stir through. Leave the potatoes to soak in the stock mixture.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

no-bake banana cake

banana no-bake cake

I recently tried this no-bake banana cake. It was a little messy: I ended up using the blender, a pan, a spring-form cake tin, and two pots (as a double boiler); and I got chocolate and milk all over the place.

The packet of agar-agar we picked up from the local Chinese grocer was green, which made D a bit apprehensive, but I think it turned out okay! I did accidentally use caster sugar instead of plain sugar; the recipe calls for sucanat, but some quick internet reading revealed it was not too difficult to substitute out for white sugar.

It was fun to make, because it was all stiring and pouring, and sampling the dried fruit. The cake itself was a little cheese-cakey (though not incredibly so), with a nutty, fruity biscuit base and some wobbly banana filling. I didn't quite melt the chocolate enough for the topping so it was a bit lumpy.

I will definitely try it again, perhaps even gluten free (as it was gluten free up until the last ingredient).

Thursday, 4 December 2008


I'm going to a pizza place for a work Christmas function next week, and one of my colleagues was horrified to discover my vegan status. "But what will you eat?!" she asked, very loudly.

There are many pizza options as a vegan. Some caution must be taken, as the pizza base may have been made with egg or dairy, but overall some creativity, like any other time, can result in a delicious vegan meal.

pita bread pizza

My favourite combination is roasted pumpkin, spinach, artichokes and avocado. Sweet potato makes a good substitute for the pumpkin, and D has taken to drizzling balsamic vinegar over the pizza when we make it at home. I prefer using an olive oil, which is especially essential when your pizza has mushrooms or avocado.


You can combine almost anything you want. If you've never made a pizza at home before, I recommend it highly, it's quick and easy and fun! I always use a store-bought base, or sometimes pita bread.

pizza base (if you're buying, check it doesn't contain animal products, sometimes it does)
tomato paste
one or two cloves of garlic (minced)
olive oil
things that might be delicious, such as mushrooms, pumpkin, sun-dried tomatoes.

Spread the tomato paste and the garlic across the pizza base. Shake out oregano and any other appropriate herbs, then layer delicious things. Drizzle with olive oil or balsamic vinegar, and bake on 180C for about 15 minutes.


You will need to precook things like pumpkin and potato, anything that takes a very long time to bake. Things that wilt easily, like spinach, can be added for the entire cooking time, for half the cooking time, or raw at the end, depending on what you prefer.

pizza topping combinations I really enjoy
pumpkin, spinach, avocado
sweet potato (sliced thinly), artichoke and pinenuts, with some rosemary
sun-dried tomato, roma tomato, mushrooms, avocado and spinach

Please feel free to comment with your own favourites! Think of it as a service to all pizza-loving vegans.