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.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

maggi mee (fried instant noodles)

maggi mee

Maggi mee is a subset of devotion to instant noodles, preparing the yellow mee in water, frying vegies, then adding mee, curry powder and soy sauce to the wok. Some people use the flavour packet from actual instant noodles, but I find this flavour overwhelming. Maggi mee makes a great quick snack, or easy breakfast or lunch. This morning I made it for breakfast to use up some choi sum I have loitering in my fridge.

I love saying "instant noodles" in Mandarin, because it is 方便面,or 'fangbianmian.'

Maggi Mee

There is no proper way to make maggi mee. Every hawker stand will make it differently, and everyone has a different favourite combination of things. You don't even have to use Maggi brand noodles - any yellow mee will do.

2 noodle cakes of yellow mee
1 garlic clove (minced)
some vegies (such as choi sum, carrot, beansprouts)
some tofu
2 shakes dark soy
3 or 4 shakes light soy
half tablespoon of curry powder
1 small squish of lime juice

Prepare the yellow mee by boiling or soaking in boiled water until soft. Drain and set aside. In a wok, using a small amount of peanut oil, fry the garlic until fragrant. Add the vegetables (unless you are using beansprouts, in which case add after the noodles). The vegetables should have been prepared in the usual stir-frying way. If you are only using leafy greens such as choi sum or bok choi, add a little bit of light soy at this point. When the vegies are cooked through, add the tofu if you are using any and heat through and squash, then add the noodles, the rest of the soy sauce, and the curry powder. Squash through, add the lime juice, and serve.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

curry mee (or curry laksa)

curry mee/curry laksa

Laksa is a Malaysian staple, but there are several variations across the regions. In Penang we have the curry mee, and also a style of assam laksa called Penang laksa. I've spent years of my life sipping the soup of the curry mee, or sitting opposite my mum as she steals my vegies to add to her mee, and I was so delighted earlier this year to nom a whole lot of curry mee, which I rarely get to do if I don't first make it myself.

I am pretty easy going with my curry mee, but then, so are all the hawkers: I put potatoes in it this evening (nobody tell my mum, the addition of potato definitely wanders in to curry rather than laksa territory), and didn't have a chance to go see my Chinese grocer so didn't end up with any doufu (tofu) in it, though it usually does.

Curry Mee

This is a very simple curry mee. You can subsitute the galangal for ginger if you really can't find any.

3 red chillis (with seeds) sliced
1 shallot, sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 small piece of galangal, minced
1 tbl coriander seeds
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp cumin
4 cashews
some dried chillis

soup and so on
stalk or three of lemon grass
lime juice
1 can coconut milk
1 can coconut cream
1 cup and a half of stock
1 carrot, julienned
snake beans (halved or in thirds)
snow peas
bean shoots
choi sum (leaves shredded, stalks in lengths of five to ten cm)
faux prawns and fishballs

yellow mee (like the noodles you get in maggi packets) and beehoon (rice noodles)

Pound together the paste ingredients.

Prepare noodles. I like to soak the beehoon in hot water until soft, and boil the mee on the stove.

Over medium-high heat, fry the paste until fragrant. Add lemongrass, carrot, capsicum and snake beans. Continue to fry for about five minutes, then add coconut milk, stock, coconut cream, and lime juice. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer for fifteen minutes, or until all the vegies are soft and tasty. Add the choi sum stalks. In the meantime steam the snow peas. Add snow peas, bean shoots, tofu, choi sum leaves and any faux seafoods to the pot. Heat through.

When you serve your laksa, remember to drown your noodles! The only reason my noodles aren't drowning in this picture is because it was the second serving, so I didn't have the proportions quite right.

Monday, 24 November 2008

breakfast for dinner

roti pisang

Tonight I made my own roti from scratch. It was super easy, but rather than stop there I made roti pisang, or banana roti. My cooking time is slightly off, so I am going to give it another go before I share the recipe with you. Just wanted to share my excitement at my first roti-from-scratch!

Saturday, 22 November 2008

loka cafe, perth

mexican special and pizzette at loka

Loka is a fair trade and organic cafe attached to Fair Go Trading, on Brisbane Street opposite the Hotel Northbridge. D and I wandered down there for lunch this afternoon, having just found out about it earlier this week.

There weren't many items left the in glass display case, but there was a vegan quiche made from tofu and a vegan pizzette. Special of the day was a Mexican mix plate of refried beans, salsa, guacamole and quesadilla. We had it with nachos, as the quesadilla contained cheese of some description. The people at Loka were really great about swapping it, and the refried beans were really tasty. The pizzette was fantastic, soft delicious bread and olives, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, mushrooms, sun-dried tomato, and pumpkin.

There is allegedly usually some vegan cake, but this time, alas, there was none to be had. They also do gluten-free.

D says: A++ would nom again.

Loka Cafe
199 Brisbane St
Tues-Saturday, 0700-1600

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

leda choculence

leda chocolate biscuits

I miss timtams something ridiculous. That chocolatey goodness, using them like a straw to drink up my milo drink, these were the things I used to love. Leda Choculence aren't as good as timtams, but they make a tasty substitute.

You can find them in the healthfood section at Coles/Woolies/IGA etc.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

aloo masala pies

Aloo Masala is often the filling in a dosa. Using it as the filling for a puff pastry pie was tasty, though nothing like eating dosa. But now that I'm happy with my aloo masala, the next step is of course to attempt making my own dosa.


Aloo Masala Pies

4 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
2 green chillis, deseeded and sliced width-ways
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon tumeric
some coriander
2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
1 tablespoon red chilli flakes
1 tomato, diced
2 tablespoons mustard seeds
1 large sheet of puff pastry

Boil the potato until half cooked, then drain. Fry the green chilli, onion and garlic, until the onion is golden and soft. Add cumin, tumeric, coriander, mustard seeds and chilli flakes, then tomato. Allow to simmer for a few minutes, then add potato, and mix through until covered. Leave to simmer until potato is cooked through and all liquid has rendered down, stirring occasionally. Stir in the coconut.

Spoon mixture into four ramekins, and cover with one quarter of the puff pastry. Brush with buttery thing, and bake at 190C for 15 – 20 minutes.


Monday, 10 November 2008

the juicy beetroot, fremantle

tofu burger from the Juicy Beetroot

We ignored Melbourne Cup day last Tuesday by adventuring down to Fremantle to visit the Juicy Beetroot for lunch. Happy Cow tells me that Juicy Beetroot is ‘vegetarian-friendly, not 100% vegetarian’ but I’ve never seen anything available there that isn’t vegetarian. They do gluten-free cakes and allegedly vegan cakes, though I’ve never seen any of the latter.

D and I shared a tofu burger and a large bowl of mixed curries. The large really is very large, and the burger was massive. I enjoyed both the beetroot-ness of the burger and the fact that it was a giant chunk of tofu, something of which I am not usually a big fan. The curries included an aloo muttar-y thing, a dahl and some mixed veggies. They were very tasty curries. We also had a couple of mixed juices, I had an orange and ginger, as I often do, and D had the house juice without the celery, which was pretty tasty. All up it cost us about $30ish dollars, which was cool for a big, tasty, vegan meal.

mixed curries from the Juicy Beetroot

The Juicy Beetroot
Tum Tum Tree Lane
132 High Street

Saturday, 8 November 2008

carrot and pistachio muffins

carrot and pistachio muffins #2

Last night I decided to bake some muffins to take as snack sustenance over this weekend of archery + lots of dancing, so I thought I'd better give the carrot and pistachio muffin recipe a go!

Carla posted the recipe (for me!) here. Originally I had wanted to bake this recipe without any substitutions, a task which is a challenge for me at the best of times, to see exactly what Carla had created. But soy creamer is allegedly difficult to procure in Australia, so thanks to Mandee I thickened some soy milk with cornflour. I did manage to find plain pastry flour (not wholewheat). It also turned out that I didn't have any apple juice, so I used a tiny bit of orange juice, a little bit of apple sauce, and some water. Also used golden syrup instead of maple syrup, because I live in Australia, not Canada. ;oP

Anyway, the muffins are very tasty. The muffins are carrotlicious. This being the first time I've tried pistachios, I'm not sure I'll use them again, but I will use this recipe again so next time I might substitute walnuts instead.

Thanks so much, Carla!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

pistachio and carrot muffins, a recipe for me

steph's carrot cake

I have not eaten a lot of carrot treats in my life. The above was the first carrot attempt in years, and it was tasty but not especially carroty.

Excitingly, Carla at Year of the Vegan has developed a carrot muffin recipe for me to try! They are carrot and pistachio muffins! I am very keen to try them, though now I have to try and find pastry flour, which I've never seen in Australia, HMMMM. Also soy creamer. Okay, this may be harder than I thought, but my challenge is to not substitute anything! We will see how this goes. Do any Perth vegans know what soy creamer is, and where I can buy it?

I'm going to give this a go next week, after the big weekend of swing dancing. Thanks so much, Carla! I can't wait to try cooking them!

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

strawberries from the swan valley

strawberries from the valley

A present from my mum - less than ten dollars for the lot! <3

I believe these came from the Midland Farmer's Market, which has always been my favourite.

Monday, 3 November 2008

soul tree cafe, glen forrest

D and I decided to take a couple of days off work this week, mostly so we can avoid the extravaganza and hoopla that is the first Tuesday in November (ie, Melbourne Cup Day). This morning we went for a jaunt up the hill through my old stomping grounds, past Bilgomen Pool and down Hardey Road to the Soul Tree Cafe. Soul Tree is an organic store and cafe, with lots of great vegan and vegetarian things on the menu. They do an all day breakfast that I'd like to try out one day, with tofu, tempeh, and seasonal vegies. But today we went up there specifically to try out the burgers.

chickpea burger from soul tree cafe

I ordered a chickpea burger, and D ordered the vegan burger with a salad. The burgers were great, though I wish the menu had mentioned that the chickpea burger came with beetroot, so I could have asked for it without. The vegan burger is really juicy and tasty. The salad was a bit odd, it had a flavour that I found quite displeasing, so I didn't steal too much of D's salad.

D says the tropical juice (freshly squeezed) was perfect, containing pineapple, coconut and orange. I ordered a chocolate smoothie, which was a bit watery - I thought there would be icecream in it, though D argues icecream is not a given in smoothies, an argument I protest, surely milkshakes are no icecream and smoothies are icecream or yoghurt...

chocolate and beetroot cake from soul tree cafe

Took a piece of chocolate and beetroot cake home for later nomming. The cake was not too rich, and it was tasty. They also do gluten-free cakes.

All up came to $45, a little pricy for a Monday lunch (the small juice was $4.00!) but about expected for an organic eatery. Overall it was a good lunch! My Perth friends can expect an invitation to a day trip up the hill for lunch, followed by Junction Icecream, in the near (though warmer) future.

Soul Tree Cafe
Shop 6/3-5 Railway Parade
Glen Forrest

Saturday, 1 November 2008

world vegan day post - store-bought snacks

Today is World Vegan Day! I am not doing anything especially vegan today, aside from continuing to be one. I even have an offer for a birthday party for a vegan, which I am very naughtily not attending! (Sorry, Nevryn) But this post of store-bought snacks is in celebration of being a vegan. Sometimes it's nice to have a quick, trashy snack.

yao chao guai

Yao chao guai (or you cha kueh) is a breakfast or dim sum food, but I like to eat it as an afternoon snack, I used to always eat it after school, and I'm glad I can still eat it now. Yao chao guai is made of wheat flour and looks like it's been fried. I bake it in the oven for ten minutes until it's crispy, then eat it straight away, often burning my hands in the process. A good yao chao guai has to be crispy, or it's no good. It's sometimes served with char siu sauce or chilli-in-soy sauce. It's available from the fridge section of your local Chinese grocer, but only when the lady who makes it isn't on holidays. There's usually a delivery once a week or so.

mixed gram

Mixed gram is a tasty combination of gram flour, rice flour, rice flakes, nuts, and spices (so it might possibly be gluten free?). Mixed gram can be quite hit or miss, depending on the provider, very spicy, not so spicy, and so on. My favourite at the moment is provided to me magically by S, apparently it is made by an Indian lady somewhere South of the River (where I dare not go, being from North of the River). It is available from your local Indian grocer (though I have previously picked up some mediocre mixed gram from my local Chinese grocer).

anzac biscuits

Coles makes an Anzac biscuit that is slightly soft and a little bit chewy, rather than tough and crunchy. It leaves a hint of a buttery aftertaste, and doesn't contain as much in the oats department as I would like. They make it all year around (not just in April), and it's a nice take on the old Anzac. Available from the Coles bakery.


In Australia, the plain Oreos are vegan-friendly. I recommend checking the packet, though, as people have been caught out by it before. Also I don't think the wafers are suitable for vegans. It's nice though to have a cheap cream biscuit that I can just pick up from the local shops. I've never been a huge fan of the oreo, but I'm beginning to appreciate its chocolate biscuit-bits and its white cream filling. Available in the biscuit aisle of most supermarkets.

smiths plain chips

Smiths potato chips. I used to love the Gobble-Gok Monster, with its cry of CHIPPPIEEEEE. It's really annoying that all of the flavoured chips contain milk solids (UGH). Note that these chips are crinkle-cut, this is because thin/original cut is not as awesome. I am sure that you agree. Available from the chip aisle of supermarkets.

dried mango spears

Dried fruit is a great alternative to jelly lollies, they're just as sugary and just as jelly-like and chewy, but they're just fruit, not gelatine! Yay! These dried mango spears are from Kakulas Brothers in Northbridge, they're sold by weight and you pull out of canvas bags, surrounded by dried strawberries and paw-paw and banana. Kakulas also sells nuts, coffee, grains, rice, beans, all sorts of dried things, by the weight. I love Kakulas! Last week I was scooping out dried chilli flakes, that was awesome.

soy curls

I've only been getting into the soy curls for the last week or two, but they're pretty tasty! These plain ones are from Kakulas, they also have flavoured ones but no ingredients list. Based on experience at other shops, I'm willing to assume that the plain ones are okay, but not going to risk it re: the flavoured ones. Which is a shame, because my favourite soy curl flavour so far is the chilli and lime one - it sounds odd but it's really great! You can also buy these in packets from supermarkets, or from health food stores.

watermelon (and banana)

Fruit is tasty. This is some early season watermelon, it was not fantastic which is unsurprising as the season in the Swan Valley doesn't actually start for another six weeks. When it starts, though, it's about eight weeks of the most amazing watermelon and grapes you can imagine. I will post about this more indepth as the season proper approaches, but if you live in the WA metro area it is well worth your time to trek out to the vineyards and growers along the Great Northern Highway to buy the grapes and melons directly off the growers, so cheap and so incredibly tasty.

Thursday, 30 October 2008


I went to a sushi party once in first year uni, but I hated vinegar so my friends made the rice with no vinegar. The sushi was pretty average, and I didn’t bother trying sushi again. About a year after I had been vegetarian (and shortly before I went vegan), I was at an event and thought I’d give the sushi a go. It was amazing, and I have been obsessed with it since. It makes a fantastic “I have no leftovers! What shall I take to work?” sort of lunch, and makes a pretty good change from sandwiches (which can also be pretty awesome).



Aside from obvious things, you will need a bamboo sushi mat. You can buy this in your local Asian supermarket (or even in most Woolies/Coles). Metal spoons can apparently change the flavour of the rice, I can’t verify this as I use wooden spoons but I have heard the metal reacts with the vinegar or the mirin. So that’s your myth to consider, if you so wish.

two or three nori sheets
one cup of sushi rice
two tablespoons rice wine vinegar
one tablespoon mirin
1½ cups of water
some combination of three of the following:
quarter capsicum
half a large carrot
half a dozen snow peas
large handful of bean sprouts
half an avocado
ten cm length of cucumber

Bring the rice and water to a boil, stirring, then reduce to really low, and simmer for ten or twelve minutes with the lid on. Prepare the veggies: julienne carrots, snow peas, capsicum, and cucumber. I like to slice the avocado width-ways, and take the tails off the bean sprouts.

When the rice is soft and cooked, remove from heat. Stir the vinegar and mirin through, and cool. I like to do this with a paper fan whilst stirring, but if you’re feeling lazy you can just leave it to cool in the air.

Place a nori sheet on the bamboo mat with the slats running horizontally. Make sure you have it on the right side, or you won’t be able to roll. This should be the side closest to you. Keeping the nori right up against the edge of the bamboo mat, spread about a third of the rice in a thin layer across about one half to one third of the nori on the side closest to you. Then lay out the filling across no more than the bottom half of the rice (ie, closest to you).

Moisten your hands (I usually have a small bowl with a little water in it handy) and firmly roll the bamboo mat. The nori will roll within the sheet. This is much easier than rolling without. There shouldn’t be any seaweed swirl going on, if the proportions are right it should just roll together without a swirl. As you can see from these photos, I misjudged the ratio of rice to filling just slightly, so resulting the opposite problem to swirl, which is filling nestled next to the nori.

This amount will usually make about two or three rolls, depending on how fat with rice you like your sushi. Of course it is not necessary to strictly stick to these fillers and proportions, I have just provided them to give some idea of amounts.

I want to try the five spice tempeh as a filler, I think it will be excellent with some avocado and bean sprouts.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

pasta salad with five-spice tempeh

Last week I made five-spice tempeh twice in a couple of days. The first time I served it more traditionally, with rice and gailan and things, but the next day the weather was quite warm and I’m trying to get more into salads this summer, so thought I’d try my hand at a pasta salad.

five-spice tempeh pasta salad

pasta salad with 5-spice tempeh

five spice tempeh
½ avocado (diced)
¾ pack pasta spirals (I use the 500g packs)
half a dozen sundried tomatoes (roughly chopped)
1 cup beanprouts (washed and tails off)
handful of snow peas (chopped into four or five pieces, ends removed)
half a dozen mushrooms (sliced)
a large handful of spinach
peanut oil

2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 clove garlic (minced)
1ish tablespoon chili flakes
half cup vege stock
one shake apple cider vinegar
shake or three sesame oil

Prepare the pasta spirals.

Prepare the tempeh (link). Don’t clean the wok after frying the tempeh; instead, add a little more peanut oil and fry the mushrooms. Due to the method used for the tempeh, there should be crispy spiced bits floating about in the oil. This will give the mushrooms a slightly spicy, wok-hei sort of flavour.

Combine the lemon juice, garlic, chili flakes, (hot) vegetable stock, vinegar and sesame oil. Mix until well combined. Drain the pasta, rinse in cold water, and in a large serving dish combine with avocado, tomatoes, beansprouts, snow peas, mushrooms, and spinach. Pour in the dressing and mix well. Leave to soak in for a few minutes, top with tempeh and serve whilst the pasta is still slightly warm.

This time around I used baby spinach, but not-baby spinach will work fine.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

yellow dahl

Wandered to Mirrabooka for a Diwali Mela on Sunday, came away smelling like masala dosa which is one of those things I’ve never been brave enough to try cooking on my own. My favourite masala dosa this year was the ones I ate at Wawasan Mutiara, crispy and served with with a dahl almost like a rasam.

yellow dahl

Everyone has a different dahl recipe. My mum likes to add lots of chunky things, big chunks of potato and carrot. Some serve dahl cold, and some serve dahl hot. I’ve had dahl that’s thick and creamy, and dahl that’s, as I said, like rasam. Even my own recipe evolves, subtly changing flavours and texture as I learn new things. But this one is currently my favourite.

yellow dahl

3 tomatoes, finely diced
1 potato, diced
2 or 3 cups stock
1 can coconut milk
1 ½ cups dry lentils

for pounding
1 shallot, sliced
2 green chillis, chopped and deseeded
1 clove garlic, minced
2cm ginger, chopped
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons tumeric

Overnight, or for about six hours, soak the lentils. I like to use a combination of brown, red and yellow lentils, though in this specific instance I used about half yellow, half red. After soaking, pick out the yuck lentils, rinse and drain.

Pound together the shallot, chilli, garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin and tumeric, until a smushy, smoothish paste is formed. On high heat, dry fry the paste for a minute or two, until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and the lentils, allow to fry for a minute or two, then add the stock. Reduce to low, and simmer with the lid on for ten minutes, then add the potato. Continue to simmer on low, lid on, stirring occasionally and adding stock or water as needed. After about an hour, add the coconut milk and simmer with the lid off for another ten minutes.

Serve over rice or delicious roti.

Monday, 27 October 2008

ararat kebabs, nedlands

ararat falafel kebab

Yesterday we wandered down to Crawley for the Matilda Bay Craft Fair, which was held on the Oak Lawn at UWA. Having meandered the stalls, we bought some preserves for D’s grandfather and nicked off to Broadway Fair to visit Ararat. When we used to live down the street from UWA, Ararat Kebabs was a favourite, as it is open until late, and does a fantastic falafel. My standard order is falafel kebab with salad (no onion) and sweet chili sauce and hommus, perhaps with some chips on the side. Fantastic!

The bread is also pretty amazing, last time we had a party I rang M just before (M lives next door to Broadway Fair) so he could bring some turkish bread with him. The bread there is soft and when you pull it apart you can see the gluten thinly pulling apart.

ararat kebabs

Ararat Kebabs
Broadway Fair Shopping Centre
Broadway, Nedlands

Saturday, 25 October 2008

(rasp)berry and chocolate cake from vegan indulgence (fail + success)

I've been pretty complacent about my gluten-free baking. I've just been substituting directly with Orgran's gluten-free flour. The cupcakes were just fine, and the cookies and biscuits were really great.

Then I tried to bake a cake:

fail cake

Deciding that the gluten-free flour made it a bit too dry, for my second attempt I added about an extra eighth of a cup of soymilk. As I was using canned berries, not frozen, I also added about the same amount of berry liquid. This increased the cooking time by about eleven or twelve minutes, and resulted in a half size cake. After sulking around the house for a bit, I worked out I had about three quarters of a cup of choc chips hidden in the fridge, and just enough gluten-free flour for a third try. This third attempt rose slightly, so I decided to put the two together to form a very tall cake.

By this point I had been baking for about six hours, and the bottom half was well and truly cooled, so missing the 'spread with jam when still warm' part of the recipe. I decided to just put both halves in the fridge, and that I would deal with icing in the morning.

Worried that the cake had dried out a little bit overnight, and that it wouldn't absorb the jam very well since it wasn't warm, I drizzled a little bit of the reserved berry liquid on both halves. I then proceeded as usual, though I softened the icing up a little too much, hence the messiness of the icing. I really should learn how to make a great icing.

success cake

ETA: home from A's party, and the cake turned out fantastically. It was so heavy and chocolatey, it was just like a chocolate mudcake. Some people (not vegans) referred to it as being death by chocolate. I'm so incredibly happy with how it turned out!

Friday, 24 October 2008

spinach and mushroom pasta

mushroom and spinach pasta

Used this recipe from vegetarian times. I was intrigued because you bake the spaghetti in the oven before boiling it in a broth of harissa and vegie stock. The mushrooms, spinach and chickpeas are also included in this pot at the same time. Because the recipe calls for stirring constantly until the liquid has reduced, I assumed it would go the way of a risotto, ie, super tasty. Sadly, the end result was bland, though the mushrooms were tasty.

I used this opportunity to make my own harissa, which was kind of fun. I quite like grilling capsicum, even though our grill is a bit odd.