Saturday, 31 October 2009

world vegan day meetingupness in melbournia

So, WVD tomorrow. Vicki made a post to see if there was any interest, but so far we've not decided on a location. I literally know nothing about the convent layout, so I'm declaring that at 1130 I'm going to be loitering around the Radical Grocery stall (wherever that may be). I'll be carrying a backpack that looks like a penguin.

I'm willing to loiter elsewhere if someone can suggest something suitable. You can leave a comment with your email address if you'd like to grab my phone number in order to sms me. :o)

Friday, 30 October 2009

other people's recipes

One of the greatest things about blogs is the sharing aspect - you make friends, you read other people's blogs, and sometimes they post really awesome things!

lentil stew

Carla posted this recipe for lentil stew. I bookmarked it, and then sj made it and said how delicious it was (very!), so it moved up on the 'to make' list.

It is super easy, and really tasty. It was fast, and it filled the house with delicious smells. I skipped the vinegar, and added dried chilli flakes, and used a mix of green and red lentils (mostly green). Delicious, and definitely on the repeat list.

tempeh bolognaise

Then SJ posted her lasagna recipe. It is very much not vegan, but she makes a tempeh bolognese sauce for it, and it looked super delicious for a pasta sauce, so I gave it a go, and it was also very delicious! The tempeh is crumbled and fried, and then simmers for quite some time in red wine and tomatoes and herbs and spices, and it has a fantastic flavour and it was an excellent and relatively easy pasta. Grating the carrots and zucchini was a bit of a pain, though. Also, I really didn't notice the carrots or zucchini when I was eating, so - a great way to hide vegetables? I omitted the celery from this recipe, and wilted some spinach at the end in the pasta.

Again, definitely going on repeat. Very tasty!

Hooray bloggers sharing things!

Monday, 26 October 2009

chocolate hedgehogs

Near where I lived when I was in high school, there was a bakery (incidentally, owned by the parents of a primary school enemy). Their lamingtons were giant and soft, with just the right amount of coconut and chocolate sauce. Somedays, the chocolate lamingtons even had chocolate sponge instead of vanilla, and they were the best. We used to stop in at this bakery a couple of times a week, sometimes before school, sometimes after school, and we'd always leave with a treat.

Although their lamingtons were the best, sometimes I couldn't go past a good chocolate hedgehog, and the hedgehogs there were also pretty amazing. Crisp and biscuity, but sweet and completely chocolate, they were amazing.

It's been a few years since I last had a chocolate hedgehog, but last week I was in Safeway and was loitering in the biscuit aisle with SJ and discovered that Arnott's Nice biscuits are vegan! So I decided to give chocolate hedgehogs a go.

hedgehog slice

Chocolate Hedgehogs

Although chocolate hedgehogs are usually served in large slices of about 7x7cm, these are very sweet, so you may prefer to cut them a bit smaller.

200 grams (or most of a pack) of Nice biscuits (or similar)
1(ish) cup of walnuts (chopped roughly)
half a cup of sultanas
200 grams Nuttelex (or other vegan margarine)
2 tablespoons of cocoa
half a cup of raw sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
3 chinese soup spoons of apple sauce
200 grams dark chocolate (chopped)
1 teaspoon golden syrup

Melt the chocolate in a pot over water (not directly over heat). As it starts to melt, add in the Nuttelex, sugar, vanilla essence, and cocoa.

In the meantime, crush the biscuits somewhat randomly. Ensure that there are some large pieces (about fingernail size), and some very small pieces (ie crumbs of biscuit). Mix in the sultanas and the chopped walnuts to this.

When the chocolate mixture has melted, stir in golden syrup, then remove from heat. Beat through the apple sauce. Pour into dry ingredients, and combine well.

Into a lined tray, pour this delicious, chocolatey mixture. Flatten a little with your spoon to help it combine, then put it in the fridge to set, for at least a few hours.

Slice and serve.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Perth Events

That's right, awesome things in Perth when I'm not around to enjoy them. WHATEVER, PERTH. (call me)

There's a new shop opening in Freo, Cruelty Free WA Shop. Cruelty Free WA provides cruelty free, environmentally friendly products made with no animal products and no animal testing. Their grand opening is tomorrow, Saturday 24th October, and if you go along there are free taste testings and 10% off all items in store. PROBABLY AWESOME? They're at 28A Queen St in Freo (across from the Juicy Beetroot).

World Vegan Day is Sunday 1st November. I'm super excited about being in Melboure and getting to go to Abbotsford for the event, but there is also a World Vegan Day Picnic being held in Perth! It's 12-4, at Sir James Mitchell Park (which is in South Perth).

Also on the 1st of November, is a Vegan Food Basics Workshop, being held at Earthwise in Subiaco. You can click the link for more details.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

sultana cupcakes

I had an amazing mini fruitcake the other week, and I had some sultanas in the house, so it seemed like fate to try making sultana cake for the first time! I modified it to cupcakes though, to enable ease of taking them to work.

These ones sunk, because of complications with my oven, but they should work out ok.

sultana cupcakes

sultana cupcakes

1 cup sultanas
half a cup of water
150 grams of nuttelex or margarine
3 chinese soup spoons of apple sauce
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbl golden syrup
one and a half cups of self raising flour
half a cup of plain flour
1 cup caster sugar
quarter of a teaspoon of almond essence
1 tsp cinnamon

Bring the water to a simmer, and add the sultanas. Simmer, covered, for five or six minutes, then add the nuttelex and let it melt. In the meantime, beat together the apple sauce and sugar. Add the golden syrup to the hot sultanas, then remove from heat, and mix in the apple sauce and sugar mixture, as well as the almond essence. Sift together the baking powder, flour, and cinnamon, then add to the sultanas. Mix until just combined.

Divide between twelve cupcake cup things, greased or with paper, and bake at 180C for about twenty minutes, or until a skewer comes out moist but relatively clean.

Monday, 19 October 2009

la panella bakery, preston

I had the most delicious doughnut ever this weekend. It was a chocolate coated doughnut with jam in the middle. It was amazing!

jam donut from la panella

Other goodies included an apple pie, jam tarts, an apple scroll, and jam doughnuts. Have yet to try the apple scroll but everything else: AMAZING.

jam tart from la panella

Also: pies from la panella. Eerily meaty in consistency, best eaten as a take-home and heated up to a crisp in the oven. OH YEAH.

pie from la panella

Everything that is vegan says 'vegan' on the label, so it's easy to spot what's suitable for vegans. Not gluten-free in the slightest.

La Panella Bakery
465 High St
(open seven days)

(disclaimer: these photos are of a previous visit to la panella)

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Tinh Tam Chay Vietnamese vegetarian restaurant, St Albans

ETA 30/05/2010: rumour is that this restaurant is no longer veg-only, and that the chef is selling up and will be opening up and trying again later in the year, in St Kilda or Brighton.

Last night I braved the cold with intrepid diners Kristy, Toby, Craig, Cindy, and Michael to venture out to St Albans to try a new Vietnamese vegetarian restaurant.

It was easy to find, with its giant green sign. We ventured in past the churro fryer (we think they coshare) to an empty restaurant. We hoped that the emptiness was more due to its newness (two and a half months) than any sort of problems with their food, and given how full it seemed to get later, and the quality of our dinner, I'm willing to believe it was the former.

Although originally there were some plans to share, the discovery of wonton noodle soup on the menu meant that I leapt upon that, and most of the other dishes came with rice, so we decided to share some entrees and order individual mains.

rice paper rolls and spring rolls

We started with a serve of spring rolls and a serve of rice paper rolls. The spring rolls were crispy and fresh. The rice paper rolls were also fresh, but a bit too coriander-y for me.

I didn't get a photo of everyone's meals (my photo of the dish that Toby and Craig both ordered was blurry, and I decided Michael was too far away down the far end of the table), alas! However Michael has a review of his dish (and others) up, so you can read all about it.

mock ginger chicken rice with bok choy

I both got a photo of Kristy's meal, and got to try some of that mock chicken. It was delicious! And the rice was flavoured just right, cooked in ginger, sweet soy sauce and a little bit of stock. The mock chicken had a beautiful ginger flavour to it, too. This was a great dish, I would love to order this for my own. Michael's meal was served in a similar style, rice with some bok choy, but he had lemongrass tofu (which I did not sample).

mock pulled pork with noodles

Cindy ordered a pulled pork with noodles. This came out as a dry noodle dish, which I think was accompanied by a sauce (but I may have to be corrected on that). Everyone said it was tasty, but I declined, as I was waiting to try my noodles.

wonton noodle soup

They were delicious. The flavour of the soup was just right, a light stock with ginger undertones. The beancurd skin was crispy to start with and soaked up the broth, and the wontons were my preferred proportion of wonton skin to filling. This came with a plate of raw beanshoots, which I threw in immediately so they softened slightly. There were just enough noodles hidden under there to make this meal just the right size for me. I sipped the broth almost to the end, up until I cast it aside for my jackfruit smoothie.

Alas, no picture of my jackfruit smoothie, as I was too busy scooping it out of the cup. The jackfruit had been frozen, but retained enough of that jackfruit flavour to make it a delight. It was awesome, and at $3.00, totally worth it.

The whole menu is quite cheap, at about $8.50 for a main, $6.00 for the entrees, and $3.00 for the dessert smoothies. Although St Albans is a bit further afield than I would usually go, for a good wonton noodle soup I'm willing to travel the distance.

They also have congee and yao chao guai on the menu, so you better believe I'll be returning to try that out.

I feel I should note the entertainment in the restaurant. In the corner is a television with a variety of shows, but it does seem to be primarily consisting of using gruesome animal death to convince you to become vegetarian. I found this very easy to ignore, but Craig suffered somewhat. Don't let it put you off from visiting!

Tinh Tam Chay Vietnamese Vegetarian Restaurant
13 Alfrieda Street
St Albans

Saturday, 17 October 2009

mee goreng

As mentioned previously, somewhere in D's absence I lost my cooking mojo. In discussion with H, I decided to stick only to noodles for the final week of living alone, because they're comfort food, and I can cook them with my eyes closed (don't try this at home).

Last night I got home a bit late, so I ducked into the IGA to collect a couple of veggies and a pack of noodles, for some quick mee goreng. There are many different styles of mee goreng, some are sweet, some have that gritty curry powder texture, some are Indian style. In every area there is a different way of cooking it (in Penang often potato is added). This is just one of my favourite methods.

om nom nomeegoreng

Mee Goreng

Like all wok or hawker dishes, make sure you have everything prepared as it cooks very fast. I usually also mush up some tofu to add (as an egg substitute). You could add some fried shallots as garnish, most people do but I am not a big fan. This mee goreng has a little sugar and tomato sauce (translation to american: ketchup), which gives it a sweet undertone.

This takes about twenty minutes to make, and serves three or four people.

500g Hokkien noodles
1 clove garlic (crushed or minced)
1 tomato (cut into small wedges)
2 bulbs bok choy (leaves cut in half or thirds, stalks sliced length-ways)
half a cup of bean shoots (tails off)
1 carrot (julienned)
1 potato (steamed and julienned)
1 or 2 red chillis (sliced into rounds)
4 or five shakes of vegetarian oyster sauce
5 shakes dark soy sauce
a little bit of kejap manis
1 tspish tomato sauce
some chilli sauce
1 tsp sugar

Combine together the oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, kejap manis, and tomato sauce, and add a few shakes of chilli sauce.

Soak the noodles in hot water for thirty seconds, then drain and set aside.

Heat up the wok, and coat the insides with a thin layer of peanut oil. Throw in the ginger, carrot, potato, and chilli, and fry for a minute or two. Add a teaspoon or three of water to the wok, then put the lid on. Leave to steam for about five minutes, until the carrot starts to soften. Throw in the bok choy stalks (ONLY) and the tomato, add a tiny bit more water if necessary, and replace the lid. There should not be a lot of water, only enough to keep it steaming!

After a minute or three, throw in the noodles and the sauce. Combine thoroughly, and add the bok choy leaves. Put the lid on for a minute and leave to make lots of noises. When you next take off the lid, and try to toss the noodles, they should have started sticking to the wok, because all the liquid has dried up. This is good, but don't get too complacent! Alternate between tearing the noodles up off the wok, and leaving to burn, for about another two or three minutes. During this time, add the bean shoots, and fold them in.

Serve hot.

things that go in mee goreng

Friday, 16 October 2009

idea fine foods, melbourne

I know there has been a bit of a focus on restaurants rather than in house goodies lately, but that's because, in D's absence, I appear to have lost my cooking mojo. So it was with delight that I met up with H (in town again!) for an afternoon of snacks and delicious food.

After several hours of pimms and sangria at Madame Brussels, guided by the Melbourne Veg Guide we went for a walk down Little Bourke, to Idea Fine Foods. We were won over immediately by the menu by the door, and ventured inside.

(Much later in the meal, four people sat at the table next to us, opened their menus, stood up, and left. Clearly not using the menu beside the door?)

I recalled many comments in praise of the Sichuan Eggplant, so this we agreed upon. To accompany this we selected a serve of roti. Noodles being my comfort food, we ordered the Singapore Noodles, and decided to start with the san choy bao.

san choy bao at idea fine foods

The lettuce was crispy and there was the expected crunch when biting in, and these san choy bao were good but I felt like there was something missing flavour-wise, though I was unable to pinpoint what it was. Of course it hardly helps that water chestnuts are not my thing.

sichuan eggplant hotpot at idea fine foods

The eggplant was absolutely worth it. It was spicy but not overwhelmingly so, and the eggplant was my preferred texture, squishy and basically molten. We did have a few moments of bitter eggplant, which did detract from the overall deliciousness of the dish, but I will definitely order this one again. The accompanying roti was definitely the right choice, the perfect flakiness for mopping up the sauce.

singapore noodles at idea fine foods

The noodles had that dry curry powder flavour, which I love. These were a tiny bit on the oily side (but when aren't they?) and perfectly serviceable for my love of noodles.

The service at Idea Fine Foods was excellent, just the right amount of aloofness and water-pouring. Price was on the upper side but not unexpected (it is called 'fine foods' after all). I forgot to check out the gluten-free-ness of it.

Idea Fine Foods
146 Little Bourke St

UPDATE: Idea Fine Foods has closed.

Monday, 12 October 2009

shakahari, carlton

It has been some time since my last visit to Shakahari, so it was with some delight that I met up with H there recently.

We settled ourselves into a corner table, well away from the many couples, as we didn't want to disrupt their dates. We spent a lot of time chatting, and very little time perusing the menu - we quickly decided on the avocado rolls and the rice gnocci to share, and the croquettes and the lasagna, and declared that we would attempt dessert.

We also drank a lot of delicious genma cha.

the often talked about avocado rolls

The avocado rolls have been quite talked up, so it was a must to try. The batter was crisp, and the deep-fried nature of the avocado was interesting. The avocado was served with a coriander sauce, which it definitely needed - without it, the rolls would have just been deep-fried and a little on the plain side, but with the sauce they were a delight.

The rice gnocci was soft and tasty, and the salad on top (which might have been pickled? I can't remember) really added some awesome flavour.

rice gnocci in a coriander sauce

The lasagna was very filling, very bulky. It had quinoa, which is not my favourite grain but which added something fun to the texture of the lasagna, which is an experience I am not sure I enjoyed, but it was definitely interesting. It was really delicious, though.

lasagna at shakahari

I sampled a small piece of H's croquette. The croquette was good, but the sauce with which it was served was amazing - a chilled ginger and carrot sauce, which I think would be an amazing dessert sauce.

croquettes in a ginger and carrot sauce

I left all of my salad (it was boring, some lettuce leaves and a small amount of dressing), and H left one whole croquette, in order to ensure we had enough room for dessert. We shared a rhubarb crumble, with a scoop of soy icecream on the side, and it was delightful. Just the right amount of tart rhubarb and dry crumble, what a delight!

Not as delightful as the company, of course, but this is a blog for food, so.

201 Faraday St

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

survey for a guide to being vegan in perth

Vegetus linked to this survey: Guide to being Vegan in Perth, so if you are a Perth vegan (or have experience in being a vegan in Perth), take a few minutes to fill it out!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

enlightened cuisine for moon festival

When we arrived at Enlightened Cuisine, the table next to us was set up with a burner. Intrigued, I peered over occasionally, and as the table quickly filled with uncooked foods, drained noodles, and raw vegetables, I realised they were about to have a steamboat!

Sadly, we did not get to partake of the joys of steam boat. But next time! Now that I know!

Miss T perused the menu early and began hinting that we should consider the banquets. The banquets being varied, this general plan was agreed upon, but it took a further half an hour to reach any consensus regarding which one. In the end, we decided that half of us would order B1, and half of us would order B2, and we would simply share it all.

ma po tofu

This worked out to be both an excellent plan, and a not excellent plan. It was excellent because we got to try an array of dishes. It was a not-excellent plan because many of the dishes were very similar (meaning we could have achieved the same effect by ordering one dish each from the general menu).

The overall upside of this, is that we ended up voting for winners of each course. Sadly I cannot give you the results, as Miss T was our scribe, however I am sure she will post about it (complete with promised graph!) soon. ETA: Miss T's post including voting available now!

The meal commenced with spring rolls and curry puffs. They were fine but nothing special. They was followed by a (mock of course) shark fin soup, and a tofu and vegetable soup. The shark fin soup was deliciously awesome, I loved it.

some sort of fake prawn thing

Our first main dishes were prawny, a kung pao prawn and a sweet and sour prawn. I will confess I skipped both of these; I didn't like prawns when I still ate (and loved) seafood, there's no way I'm interested in replicating the flavour or the texture.

five spice tofu

These were followed by the ma po tofu and the five spice tofu. I was intrigued by the idea of the five spice tofu, but I felt their five spicy-ness was lost in the batter (I would have liked a little less batter, a little more marinating).

The fried rice and the mixed vegetables were good. The fried rice had a generous amount of diced cha siu, and the vegetables in their sauce were thick but not too thick (ie, not too corn starchy).

kung po "chicken" in nest

The final savoury dishes for the evening were sweet and sour pork, and kung po chicken in nest. The nest was awesome, made from deep fried potato, but the dish overall was a bit average. The sweet and sour pork was flouro and pineappley, classic Anglo-Aussie Chinese restaurant fare. No complaints.

banana fritter

Dessert consisted of something described only as 'lychee longan,' and banana fritters. The banana fritter was good, though nothing exciting, and the lychee longan was canned lychees and icecream. I had hopes the icecream was longan, but no such luck.

red bean moon cakes

We finished our evening with some red bean moon cake. Oh rich, delicious moon cake, how I love you, though I can only eat a bite or two.

We did have some issues with service: Jo wasn't eating the banquets, so ordered a separate dish, but the wait between our entrees and the main dishes was so great that she had just about finished eating by the time our first course arrived. After we had finished the main dishes, we then had to wait quite some time for our plates to be cleared, which was fine as we were just chatting but it was a bit awkward (and also we really wanted dessert!)

Overall it was a good evening, but this was my first visit to Enlightened Cuisine and I came away from it feeling a bit same-same. I think next visit (if I can't get the steam boat) I would like to avoid the banquet and order an array of dishes, and preferably at lunch time so I can try the noodles (who takes the noodles off the dinner menu? Ridiculous!)

Enlightened Cuisine
113 Queensbridge Street