Monday, 31 May 2010

baked potatoes

Danni had this genius idea that we should try baking potatoes. (ETA Danni disclaims genius, this idea was actually Jo's). This is something we hadn't done in an absolute age, so long, in fact, that we weren't really sure what we were doing, and there was some flustering around the kitchen in confusion.

baked potatos waiting for the oven

Things we learnt about baked potatoes:
  • put the avocado on after you bake them, not before
  • careful when you're pre-cooking the potatoes in the microwave - things might get messy
  • drizzle some oil
Other than these learn-on-the-go things, it was actually pretty easy! It went like this:

Precook your potatoes in the microwave - stab them first a few times with a fork. When they are pretty much cooked through, remove from the microwave and cut into the tops to create a well or a wedge. Fill this space with nuttelex, mushrooms, beans, cherry tomatoes, chives, and whatever else brings you delight, chopped in to little pieces. Drizzle with olive oil, cover with grated cheese (we used smoked cheddar sheeze), and wrap in alfoil. Bake at 180C for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the potato is cooked through.

Top it with avocado and some sour creamy sorts of things. We didn't top it with anything sour creamy - the only thing available was tofutti sour cream, and it's not very nice. If anyone has any recipe suggestions for sour cream, please share them!

We also baked the wedge cut outs at the same time, to have some delicious potato wedges.

baked potatos waiting to be nommed

Sunday, 30 May 2010

tinh tam chay update

So, I've updated my review of Tinh Tam Chay in St Albans to note that the restaurant now a) serves meat, and b) has been sold by the owner, who is apparently going to try again in a different, more St Kilda-ish location.

SAD FACE at them closing, I hope they reopen again successfully!

tom yum noodle soup

I have been a bit under the weather the last two weeks, and in grand SEAsian tradition, we've been eating a lot of curries to try and kick it (to the point that I went to hang out with some friends and volunteered to cook laksa for dinner at their house…).

I'd never tried making Tom Yum soup before, so when Danni suggested it as something to try, it was a challenge I was keen to accept. It's got a lot of really homey elements in it for me; because of the moderate Thai influence on Penang cooking, lemon grass, lime kaffir, and coconut feature heavily across Penang dishes.

The tart, lemongrassy flavour, with the spice of the chilli and the bite of the galangal, along with the soup and the noodles, makes this dish perfect for the cold weather, comfort food eating, and helping me shake off this cold.

Tom Yum Noodle Soup

tom yum noodle soup

I added some bok choy to this because I wanted the extra vegetables; they're totally optional.

1 length lemongrass
small handful lime kaffir leaves
1 tablespoon dried chilli flakes
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small piece (approx 2 cm) galangal, sliced
3 cups veggie stock
100g golden boy mushrooms
handful cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon veggie oyster sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
quarter cup coconut cream
some rice noodles
optional: bok choy

Simmer lemon grass, lime kaffir leaves, some dried chilli flakes, garlic and a little bit of sliced galangal in some veggie stock for about half an hour, lid on. Then add some golden boy mushrooms (washed and halved), and do some more simmering. Also add a handful of cherry tomatoes. When this is merrily boiling away, add a tablespoon or so of veggie oyster sauce. Leave to simmer for about twenty minutes. Then reduce heat and add a tablespoon of light soy sauce, and quarter cup of coconut cream. At this point, throw in the bok choy, sliced, if you are adding it. Simmer five minutes longer, lid off, then serve, with noodles, or even without noodles if that's your preference.

(Noodles are the best)

Saturday, 29 May 2010

tofu, mushroom and spinach pot pie

Earlier this week, Danni was inspired to cook some pot pies. Neither of us have a huge amount of pot pie experience, but this was gooooood. The gravy that developed was so thick and mushroomy and super delicious. OH YEAH. And it was a lot easier than I expected it to be! Not that I contributed at all to this, except to the eatering, and the checking of it in the oven.

tofu, mushroom and spinach pot pies inside view

tofu, mushroom and spinach pot pie

1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbl olive oil
some dried basil, oregano, marjoram and paprika, about half a teaspoon of each
1 tomato (diced)
300 grams firm tofu (diced)
1 dash light soy sauce
1 tbl tomato sauce
half a teaspoon of vegie stock powder
1 bunch spinach
half a dozen button mushrooms, sliced
150g golden boy mushrooms, halved
some squares of puff pastry

In the olive oil, fry the garlic, basil, oregano, marjoram, and paprika for a minute or two, then add the tomato and the tofu, and push it around a little bit before leaving it to simmer in the pot with the vegie stock powder, soy sauce and tomato sauce. After about six or seven minutes, add the mushrooms, stir it around some more, put the lid back on and simmer for a while, about fifteen or so minutes. You want the mushrooms to start releasing liquid.

Prep spinach (wash and chop roughly), then chuck it in, let it wilt through. Simmer with the lid off for another ten minutes.

Scoop the mixture into ramekins, put puff pastry on top (I trim to size), brush with soy milk and poppy seeds.

Bake 15 minutes at 190C.

tofu, mushroom and spinach pot pies

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

mushrooms in a red wine jus

I'm convinced that a potato and cauliflower mash could be totally, wonderfully light and fluffy and delicious, so I keep designing meals around mash that aren't (mock)meat + veg - despite being of a somewhat Anglo-English background, Danni doesn't like these sorts of meals, though I find them a fun novelty! I never got those sorts of meals as a kid!

Anyway, so this means I have to rack my brains for a meal that goes well with mash, and then I try it, and every time, the mash is nothing exciting. Maybe it's my proportions, maybe it's how I'm cooking it (I'd love to try roasting the potato and cauliflower first one time), but I keep trying, and I'll get there eventually.

This time, I served the (unexciting) potato and cauliflower mash with mushrooms in a red wine jus. It was simple and delicious and very exciting!

mushrooms in red wine on potato and cauliflower mash

mushrooms in a red wine jus

this takes a while to simmer down, but is easy to prepare.

200ish grams of fresh mushrooms (sliced)
2 tablespoons Nuttelex (or vegan butter)
1 clove garlic (minced)
third of a cup of red wine
a tablespoon of dried basil
fresh parsley and oregano
a tablespoon of lemon juice

Melt the Nuttelex in a fry pan on high, then add the garlic and the dried oregano. Fry for a minute or two, then add the sliced mushrooms. Saute until the mushrooms begin to soften and release their own juices (this is why I have allowed myself to call this a jus...), then add the red wine. Leave to simmer for about ten to fifteen minutes, or until the red wine has drastically reduced. Then add the parsley, oregano and lemon juice, and simmer for another five minutes.

Serve on top of something that will soak in that liquid.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010


I really enjoy cooking, and being all elaborate in the kitchen. And I love fresh food, fresh fruit and vegetables, and working with super fresh, raw ingredients.

And sometimes, what I really want to do is make something battery and oily and delightful.


This poutine goes like this: half a bag of potato gems, a block of smoked cheddar vegan cheese (maybe redwood?), half a cup of vegan gravy (I use orgran, with a teaspoon of massels vegan beef stock powder added in). Cook the potato gems, and when they're crispy, pour the gravy over them, and top with the grated cheese.

Good times.

Monday, 24 May 2010

hear me roar: a forum to consider the parallels and intersections between equal rights and animal rights and society and law (a talk)

Last week I attended a lecture at Victoria University, organised by Lawyers for Animals and Victorian Women Lawyers. Entitled 'Hear Me Roar: A forum to consider the parallels and intersections between equal rights and animal rights in society and law,' I was interested but cautious. The speakers were Moira Rayner ('Freelance writer, lawyer, academic and Executive Member, Lawyers for Animals') and Dr Siobhan O'Sullivan ('Research fellow, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne; Member, Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics; and Member, Secretariat of Barristers' Animal Welfare Panel').

O'Sullivan spoke to the topic 'Animal Invisibility and Animal Suffering: what can feminism and refugee rights teach us about insidious animal suffering?' I am always cautious about talks/topics that seek to compare one issue to another, just because this so often results in the further marginalisation of one of those groups, or some form of oppression olympics (or, my favourite, 'XX is the last acceptable oppression.'). Appropriation is also often a big part of it. Anyway, that's why I was cautious but interested going in.

O'Sullivan highlighted the way, in the animal protection movement, it is often women who do the work, but men who right books and speak. She noted Adams as an exception to this,* and as someone who drew the link between commodities.

Animals as commodities, women as commodities. This is part of the idea of public and private, and why she uses the term 'invisible suffering.' This is where women's and refugee rights come in to it - these two groups have previously had to deal with invisible suffering.

She also talked about liberal democracy, and how it works on a group functionality - therefore as an individual it is problematic to complain.

The idea of the public/private divide can be seen in how laws around animals have progressed: the first laws were for beasts of burden, because these were the animals on the street, these were the animals one could see abused. It was not for many years afterwards until laws were extended to companion animals, and O'Sullivan's contention is that this is because companion animals were in private.

She points out that there is a similar ish problem in refugee rights - it is very difficult to hear refugees speak, and it can be very difficult to gain access to refugees and see/'believe' their treatment, as they are housed away from the mainstream community. Do they really need to be housed away from the community, on Christmas Island? Or is it just so that we can't see them, and therefore can't understand what's going on?

Rayner spoke without a powerpoint (!!), and talked less about the idea of gender and more about the idea of power. She emphasised that Australians are very uncomfortable with talk about rights unless it is in regard to self rights. Rayner took a very large over-reaching approach, talking about many countries around the world, and many issues, especially regarding dependency relationships (such as children, animals, disabled persons), and linked these relationships all to power. She also included a bit of a rights history, talking about how the giving of rights was first to animals, then to children, and then to women, and then to racism and religious persecution.

Rayner circled around with some action points for animal rights activism, that have clearly drawn from other forms of rights activism, and also that I think can be a good reminder in other forms of rights activism:
  • change language leads to a change in perspective - therefore use language carefully
  • advocate for rights
  • appeal for feminists who stand up for rights of women, dependents, and other marginalised groups to extend to animals
O'Sullivan talked around some interesting topics, but didn't really go in to them in depth. Rayner talked quite a specific topic and also circled it around (which is hard to demostrate in my notes), and was quite thought provoking. The talks were brief, which can make it difficult to talk in depth, I acknowledge this, but I felt like in some regards they were just a bit too surface-y.

My concerns regarding appropriation and eyebrow raising were not unfounded but there were no sirens going off, and my notes only include three uses of the red pen, which was good. This is mostly, though, because it was a lot about what feminism can do for animal rights/the lessons learned, rather than anything else.

In many ways it was clear that this talk was to a generalised, nebulous feminist/ medium-engagement woman (the white, middle-class, western-world sort), and kind of a low-level discussion (nothing too heavy or controversial, unless you think animal rights are controversial) but the discussions of intersectionality and links between oppressions were at least there, which I always appreciate.

There are some things I would have liked to see discussed, or things that could be discussed subsequently. I would have liked to talk more about the intersections - there was some talk about domestic abuse, and I thought that the points about public/private were very interesting, but I would have liked to talk about the intersections more. I definitely want to talk more about power and how that translates to a lack of power and privilege for certain groups. I would also like to talk about the economic and cultural assumptions surrounding a lot of the talk of animal rights - I know we were talking from an Australian legal basis, but there were lots of examples from other countries and they were all of a certain type of culture and yes.

Flowing on from that, and unrelated to animal rights, I want to talk about the racism in refugee rights and how that relates to the public/private, but that is for another time. :o)

*please note that I have issues with Adams, which are touched on here and here.

lasagne mix leftovers pot pies

So after making the super awesome tempeh and quinoa lasagne, I had heaps of leftover filling, and as is well documented Danni and I have a love of puff pastry, so we decided to make pot pies.

lasagne mix leftovers pie

It's very easy, and something we enjoy doing with our leftovers: fill ramekins with filling of your choice. Cut a square of puff pastry in to four smaller squares, and tuck one square onto the top of each ramekin. Bake in the oven at 180C for about twenty minutes, or until warmed through and crispy on top.

Sometimes I wish I had a pie maker, but that is not to say anything bad about pot pies, which I love.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

super awesome tempeh and quinoa lasagne

A few Saturdays ago I arrived at FoE, as I often do on a Saturday, at about 12:30. Esula called out to me as I sauntered past; "Hey Steph," he said, "You need to get yourself a lunch plate right now."

I wandered into the kitchen (after tying back my hair, I am a good girl) and discovered that Gen had made a super awesome vegan lasagne. She had also made a vegan and gluten-free one! The lasagne (not-gf) had her secret white sauce, and was thick with all sorts of deliciousness, including quinoa, and I knew that when I went home that night I had to try to make something just as awesome.


cashew cheeze lasagne (again) + roast vegies

super awesome tempeh and quinoa lasagne

These proportions made a third again extra filling and tomato sauce, but I'm okay with that because I used them to make pies the next night. If you had a bigger lasagne tray than me, you could just dump the extra filling in and make a bigger lasgane. I'm not sure how this extra filling will translate when I don't have leftovers to work in, as I've noted through this recipe.

tempeh filling
400g tempeh, crumbled
450g spinach (this weight measurement included stalks and roots, as I was weighing bunches), washed and shredded (leaves only, though)
a tablespoon of nuttelex, and a little olive oil
half a red onion, diced
one third of a cup of red wine
2 cloves garlic, minced
half a cup of raw quinoa (or equivalent cooked)
leftover pasta + sauce OR half a cup of the red tomato sauce you will make at the same time

red tomato pasta sauce
1200g canned diced tomatoes (three small cans)
your favourite herbs and spices (I used a combination of dried chilli and fresh oregano and basil)

white cashew sauce
1 cup cashews
1 cup boiling water
shake of salt
some basil leaves

also: lasagne sheets
a tray, approx 15 x 30cm


to make the super tasty filling: in some nuttelex and olive oil, fry the onions and the tempeh. after a few minutes, add the garlic, and keep on frying. if it starts to stick as it sucks up the oil, add some more nuttelex or oil. occasionally, add some red wine, and let it suck it up. keep on frying until the onion is soft and the tempeh is mostly or all the way cooked, and you've used up all the red wine. at this point, gradually add the spinach, and let it wilt. at the same time or earlier, cook the quinoa if it's raw (remembering to wash it well first). then stir through the cooked quinoa, as well as the tomato pasta sauce (or the miscellaneous leftover pasta that you need to use up before it goes off), and let simmer for about five more minutes. set aside!

at approximately the same time, you need to make the red tomato sauce for the lasagne. this is super easy! on a medium heat, cook the tomatoes (juices and all), along with some fresh and dried herbs and spices, with the lid on, for about fifteen to twenty minutes, or until it's reduced and looking like a pasta sauce. set aside!

while this is all going on, soak your cashews in the water for about twenty minutes, and then really quickly, in a blender or food processor combine the cashews, water, basil leaves and salt for your white cashew sauce.

then you are ready to combine!

to put the lasagne together, begin: spread a thin layer of the tomato pasta sauce across the bottom of the tray. put out some lasagne sheets. put down some more tomato sauce, then some of the filling (about a centimetre thick), then about half of the cashew sauce. repeat a second time - lasagne sheets, tomato sauce, filling, cashew sauce. finally, put down the last layer of lasagne sheets, then some more tomato sauce.

heat that oven to 200C, then bake that lasagne for about 40 minutes, or until the lasagne sheets are soft.


Sunday, 16 May 2010

[book review] the indian vegan kitchen

I picked up the Indian Vegan Kitchen (by Madhu Gadia) at the beginning of April, on recommendation of my friend Christine. She had very complimentary things to say about it, and it had clearly made an impression on her so when I saw it in Dymocks I thought I'd bring it home and give it a go.

In the intervening six weeks I've made six recipes from this book, which I think has given me a pretty good basis from which to stand as I say: this is a really good book. There's lots of variety in the recipes, both flavour and heat-wise, and there's variety in their difficulty, too: some are very difficult, some are easy, and some are middling in their difficulty. There's also a nice collection of different types of food: entrees + finger food sort of things; main meals; desserts + drinks; and an attempt at barbecue foods, which I appreciated (and hope to try). And a whole lot of breads. A lot of the recipes in the book are fast to make, but some do require sitting time (such as soaking).

The recipes, to my taste, were a little bit hit or miss but mostly hit.

creamy mushroom curry + curried potatoes

We started with the curried potatoes (pg 100) (gf) and the creamy mushroom curry (pg 103) (gf), the latter of which was cooked by Danni. I found the curried potatoes a bit too dry for my tastes, though the flavour was quite nice. The creamy mushroom curry was really delicious, not as creamy as I had expected but a nice mushroom flavour without being overwhelmingly mushroom-y. I definitely plan to make the mushroom curry again (or have Danni make it).

rajmah + cabbage mixed vegetables

Next up was the rajmah (pg 120) (gf) and the cabbage mixed vegetables (pg108, gf). The cabbage mixed vegetables were a bit same same - you really need to like cabbage to get into this dish, and it was very understated. It's not really my thing, though it was good to have the contrast to the rajmah, which was full flavoured and quite tasty. I will make the rajmah again, but I've made plenty of mixed vegetable dishes and the cabbage was nothing exceptional.

chickpea noodles

I love a good noodles, as I've mentioned many times, so I thought I'd give the chickpea noodles (pg 149) (gf) a go. These were not my thing at all - the flavour was understated to the point of being bland, which is not great for rice noodles, and the chickpeas overwhelmed what flavour there was. It was like eating two separate dishes, because you couldn't pick up noodles and chickpeas at once. I added extra cayenne pepper, but all it did was allow me to see through time. Not trying this one again.

tofu and pea curry

The final dish we've so far tried is the pea and tofu curry (pg 176) (gf). This is Christine's favourite dish. The flavour of this one is really good, but I need to work out something to do with the tofu - maybe marinate it first, because it takes a while to soak in the flavours. However the flavour was really good, so I will try this one again. Featured in the back of this photo is my aloo muttar.

So that's the Indian Vegan Kitchen so far! I recommend it, it's going well.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

factory, west brunswick

This morning, Lisa, Danni and I went for some mid-morning squash playing. It was pretty amazing, by which I mean, we were all pretty bad, so it was a good thing noted squash player Michael was waylaid and unable to join us.

Tired and enthusiastic, after an hour of some missing the ballawesome squash playing we adjourned to Factory, just down the road. I'd previously only sampled their hot chocolate (perfectly serviceable), but thanks to a review by SJ I knew that there was some scrambled tofu on the menu.

scrambled tofu @ factory cafe

In fact, it was the only vegan thing on the menu, so all three of us ordered it. This is listed as the vegan big brekkie, a scrambled tofu with mushrooms, spinach and tomatoes in a lime and soy reduction, with a little bit of bread on the side.

I will confess, I pictured something a little more tofu+bread with tomatoes etc on the side, but this was good too! The tofu was very liquidy, and I enjoyed dipping my bread in to the liquid. The flavour was nice, though it could have been enhanced with something. Maybe some chilli, maybe some soy sauce.

Anyway, it was a perfectly fine breakfast, nothing too exciting but okay for an easy sunday morning, and the service was quite good, too. Would return again, quite possible as we are trying to play squash every sunday morning! (although maybe we should use this opportunity to try the famous ray's...)

53 Victoria St,
Brunswick West

didn't notice any gf (+vegan) options

Friday, 7 May 2010

nudel bar ii, melbourne cbd

Nudel Bar is a regular haunt for me at the moment, because it's one of the places A and I can go together, that does both gluten-free meals and vegan meals in the CBD and isn't LotF. If anyone has a recommendation, please feel free to offer it! The food doesn't have to be vegan AND gluten-free, there just have to be vegan stuff and gluten-free stuff.

Usually at the Nudel Bar I'll order their CKT, because it's good and I'm too Malaysian for words, but this week I felt like a change. So I took a chance and ordered the potato curry with rice noodles.

potato curry with rice noodles

It was good. A mildly spicy curry, it went well with the roti the waitperson insisted I also order (though did make the meal a tad too large for me, leaving me sated until dinner time). The potatoes were cooked just right, which I love, and the coconut was really subtle, it was just mostly curry flavour. Ohhh yeeaaaah.

And then we went and had our photos taken.

fun tiems

I really like Nudel Bar.

Nudel Bar
76 Bourke St

gluten-free available

Thursday, 6 May 2010

perth world vegan day

It's ages away! I know! But the super awesome Sarah is looking for volunteers to help make it big and cool in Perth this year. Check out the link for more details! AND GO DO IT. Also Sarah is very cool, so you should feel free to ask her questions if you need!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

anzac biscuits + a bit of a ramble

We are a pretty big biscuit household, by which I mean: we really like them.

anzac bikkies

Last week was Anzac Day in Australia, and as we often do, we baked some Anzac biscuits. Actually we're quite obsessed with Anzac biscuits, and will happily eat commercially made biscuits all year round (some Woolies and Coles make vegan Anzac bikkies - in fact the Woolies near Brunswick Station has vegan Anzac biscuits in a normal size, and then non-vegan mini Anzacs).

Please note that by law, Anzac biscuits have to be referred to as biscuits. They're not allowed to be called cookies. There's also a specific list of ingredients, Anzac biscuits aren't allowed to have things added in, like sultanas. That makes them not Anzacs!

My favourite piece of the policy is this bit:
It should be noted that approvals for the word 'Anzac' to be used on biscuit products have been given provided that the product generally conforms to the traditional recipe and shape, is not advertised in any way that would play on Australia's military heritage, and is not used in association with the word 'cookies', with its non-Australian overtones. For instance, an application for Anzac biscuits dipped in chocolate would not be approved as they would not conform with the traditional recipe.
It's so strictly policed that Subway in Australia had to drop Anzac biscuits from their menu, because they couldn't make them close enough to the required ingredients.

So here is a legally allowed recipe! We got it from Deborah at Larvatus Prodeo, who got it from her mum. I reproduce it here now so I can access it all the time - this recipe worked out just great and now we have plans to bake as often as possible, because we love Anzac biscuits.

Also my sister makes a pretty awesome Anzac biscuit, the recipe which I will get from her one day. (hint)

Anzac Biscuits
originally posted by Deborah at Larvatus Prodeo

1 cup plain flour
1 cup dessicated coconut
1 cup of sugar
1 cup rolled oats
125g nuttelex
large tablespoon golden syrup
1 tsp bicarb
2 tsp boiling water


anzac bikkie mix

Combine flour, oats, coconut and sugar in a large bowl. Melt together the nuttelex and the golden syrup - I did this by melting the nuttelex in the microwave, and mixing in the golden syrup. Dissolve the bicarb in the water, and when it has finished, mix it into the nuttelex and golden syrup. Now mix everything together! You may end up using your hands (I often do).

Deborah suggests dividing these out into approximately teaspoon sized balls, then squishing them down. But I am a big fan of larger Anzacs, so I suggest some large tablespoon (OR EVEN BIGGER) balls, then squishing them down.

Then bake them at 180C for about ten minutes. Let them sit for five before transferring to a cooling rack (this exercise really reminded me that I require a second of these). Store in an airtight container, unless you like your Anzacs soggy. Also don't store them in a container with some spare muffins, again, unless you like your Anzacs soggy.


not the right temperature

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

lasagne with cashew cheese and spinach

I love lasagne. I love it a lot.

So last week I tried this lasagne with cashew cheese and spinach by The Messy Vegetarian Cook. I modified it a little bit, and recommend some further modifications, but it was AWESOME.


I didn't use smoked tofu, but only because I had forgotten to buy any. I increased the amount of tomatoes (I went up to about 800g of canned tomatoes, which is two cans ish. Next time I will probably even increase this more to make more sauce). I used tempeh instead of a vegan mince - and I would recommend further modifying this by adding red wine to the pan when frying the tempeh.

And that was it! Super delicious, a bit time consuming, and quite dishes intensive, but I enjoyed it!

Monday, 3 May 2010

gurkhas nepalese restaurant, brunswick

Although we only live a few hundred metres North of Gurkhas in Brunswick, we only got around to trying some of their curries last week, when we were feeling a little lazy.

The vego menu is pretty extensive, and after perusing it for a bit I gave them a call, and we were lucky - everything we wanted was vegan!

vegie curry from the Gurkhas vegie curry from the Gurkhas

Looks a bit same, but we ordered the mixed vegetable curry and the aloo kopi, because it's one of my favourites. The mixed vegetable curry had some seasonal vegetables in it, and was a bit bland. The aloo kopi was good though, the potatoes had a really nice flavour and I enjoyed this one.

Served it with some rice we cooked up at home and it was relatively cheap, too. Which is always excellent.

Gurkhas Nepalese Restaurant
414 Sydney Road

gluten-free available