Last week in Melbourne

I’m back almost. I just got back from Melbourne last night but off again tomorrow to a Rainforest Retreat at Murwillumbah. This week has been a big week for me. We have been celebrating birthdays and spending time with family. Sometimes coming to Melbourne feels like its a working holiday. It’s not that I am doing a lot, but I trying to make sure I see everyone and spend enough time with them. I have missed a few people, so have to make up for it next time. Family time can also be very stressful when everyone wants to catch you up on who and why they aren’t talking to someone else. So looking forward to go and relax in a nice hotel for a few days with Marco.

This post is about my last experiences in Melbourne. There were alot of highlights and I am really happy I got through my first holiday trying to stick to my vegan lifestyle diet. I was good for the most part and feel quite good even though I did indulge a lot.

Last Friday night we had my mums birthday dinner at 400 Gradi  in East Brunswick. I ended up having Linguine Pescatore. Besides having vegetarian pizza with no cheese, there was really nothing else on the menu that was vegan. I haven’t been eating seafood everyday but I have been finding it the easiest alternative and am really struggling to give it up permanently  I don’t know at this point whether I will ever be able to. I really like it and I don’t feel heavy after I eat it, like when I eat meat and whole eggs. I think probably will just avoid, so it doesn’t become an every substitute to meat. For Italian food this place was really, really good. We got told about it from some people we meet at a BBQ the night before. The food was the closes thing I have had to Italian since leaving Italy. I love pasta without too much sauce and thin wood fire pizzas. So I recommend to others who eat meat and seafood.

Anyway after dinner we went out for gelati at Gelobar, which was across the road. This place was packed with people and had a line that went all the way through the store. Price wise they were very good 1 flavour for $3 and 3 flavour for $6 (usually price of 1 scope). All of the sorbet was dairy free, so I got lampone (raspberry).

Gelobar

Gelobar

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For  my mum’s second birthday dinner, for everyone that couldn’t come before, we had dinner at one of my aunts. My cousins girlfriend, Tanya made her famous Crunchy Asian Salad and Uncle Joe Benich  made his Artichoke and Rocket Salad. My mum and I prepared the roasted vegetables of potato, sweet potato, pumpkin, capsicum  onion and eggplant. So there was plenty for me to eat.

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Tanya’s Crunchy Asian Salad

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Uncle Joe’s Artichoke and Rocket Salad

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Roasted Vegetables

Tanya’s Crunchy Asian Salad I found out wasn’t actually created by Tanya. But she has become known for making this salad. I am addicted to it and thought it was worth talking about. The recipe is on the back of the packet of Chang’s Fried Noodle, which you can find on Chang’s website.

Uncle Joe’s Artichoke & Rocket Salad (gf, sf, nf) is a simple recipe but a good one. All you need is a can or jar of marinated artichokes, a packet of rocket or baby spinach and store bought or homemade Greek Salad dressing. It is zesty and delicious.

Since I didn’t want to have the roasted chicken or bbq meats I bought Fry’s Original Burgers. I haven’t tried them before, but I am happy I did. These are the closest thing that I have tried that tastes like a meat pattie. They have a meat like texture and has the smokey, beefy taste. They do not taste of soy at all. If I didn’t know, I would think they were beef. Since the box said the best thing was to grill them, I got my cousin to put them on the bbq. I should of put some oil on them first, but I didn’t so when they were cooked they looked a bit white. Still tasted good though.

The next day I ended up making a toasted ‘beef’ sandwich for me and little cousin Mia. Instead I cooked in a pan with oil for 10 mins and this gave them more the look of a meat patty. She had no idea and really liked it. This will definitely be a something I will purchase again. I also added store bought Sicilian braised eggplant, ajvar and tomato with toasted wholemeal bread.

My vegan lunch with Fry's burger

My vegan lunch with Fry’s burger

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On Tuesday we had a big cook up for my cousin Adam’s Birthday. My Uncle Joe came and he loves seafood. So he brought a heap from a Vietnamese store in Richmond and made a few different dishes. There was baked mackerel, mussels cooked with tomatoes & chili, squid with shallots, baked baby octopus roasted with onions & tomato, penne frutti di mare, roasted capsicum, baked eggplant with onions & garlic. We also had Tanya’s Crunchy Asian Salad and Uncle Joe’s Artichoke & Baby Spinach Salad. I couldn’t help myself and did eat lots of seafood. One serve was enough though, I felt really full. I think I’ve had enough for a while after that night. What was great about this dinner was that it was made with lots of fresh basil, parsley and mint and lots of garlic.

For the vegetarian dishes I loved the Roasted Capsicum we made. We did them in the oven so they were a lot softer then when I did it on the stove flame. We then just added fresh garlic and olive oil. I also really loved the Baked Eggplant with Onion & Garlic. We just cut them in chunks with olive oil, garlic, onion and baked them for half and hour. Then we added fresh Italian parsley to serve. These are too things that will be a must at our next celebration.

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Second big cook up

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Roasted Capsicum

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Baked Eggplant with Onion & Garlic

On Wednesday we went to Bendigo to visit some family of my Uncle’s partner. I was surprise how much of a beautiful city it is. The Sacred Heart Church is amazing. I never get bored of churches and this was one of the must spectacle I have seen in Australia.

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On the way we stopped at a bake house and there was no sweet or savoury pastries that were vegan. So I ended up waiting. By the time we had lunch/dinner  it was 5 pm and I was starving. We ended up going to Grill’d for burgers. I ordered my favourite  the Garden Goodness and the chips. Their vegetable patties and bread are all vegan. The only thing that isn’t is the cheese and herb mayo. I usually leave the mayo. Still one of my guilty unvegan pleasures. It has no dairy but it does have eggs. Grill’d are popping up everywhere now in Australia. They are a great healthy alternative for eating in and take away.

Garden Goodness (veggie pattie with beetroot, avocado, salad, relish & herbed mayo)

Garden Goodness (veggie pattie with beetroot, avocado, salad, relish & herbed mayo)

On Friday I visited my grandmother, grandfather and great grandmother in Brunswick. I already had seen them for a few hours last week. So on this visit I went out with my Nona for a few hours to the  famous Queen Victoria Markets and the CBD. I have been to the markets many times over the years, so I didn’t really look around. We just checked out the food section. Everything looked really beautiful and fresh.

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For lunch we went to Cafe Bisqui in the CBD. The owners are a young couple, who I know from my church years ago. I have been looking forward to visiting their cafe for a while since I saw it on facebook. Simone is always posting pictures of the freshly baked muffins and cakes that she makes. I was very impressed with their cafe it was very classy and the staff were really lovely. On the menu they have panini’s, salads and other light meals. They had a few vegetarian options. I got this the Roasted Pumpkin Salad, which was vegan. It was very fresh and filling. Their was roasted pumpkin, rocket, baby spinach, mint, red onion, almonds, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and an orange balsamic glaze. My Nona had a Chicken Panini and she really liked that too. After that we had coffees, which were also spot on. Very happy I tried them out and I really recommend them if you come to Melbourne city and want to quick, cheap delicious lunch, away from the hustle and bustle.

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Later that day I went to Woodstock Pizzicheria at East Brunswick, with a friend from my old work and my mum and uncle. Mark was my manager when I use to sell satellite television at the shopping centre. He moved here a couple years ago and I was happy to see him. He’s moving back to Brisbane in a few months so looking forward to going to some nice restaurants with him. Woodstock was also another restaurant that those people at the BBQ recommended. I think this is their second location. They serve really rustic traditional Italian food. For entrée I shared a pizza with everyone. I had to push the cheese and ham off, but it was worth it to have the nice thin base dough and artichokes. For my main ordered the Garganelli alla Puttanesca. It was simple, but beautiful. The olives and Sicilian capers tasted amazing. The sauce was just a light, red sauce that coated the pasta. I don’t like heavy sauces any more, so for me this was the perfect dish.

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After this delicious dinner we went to Gelobar again, since it was across the road from the restaurant. I got mirtillo (blueberry) gelato. I never tried this flavour before so that was a nice treat. It did leave my teeth a bit purple after. As you can see my mum indulged a bit more then me. She is not meant to have dairy either, but she’s not as strict as me.

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On Friday I hung out in Craigieburn, did a bit of shopping at the Broadmeadows. I have an Aunty and a cousins that live here, so it was the last place I expected to get a takeaway vegan dinner. Lucky for me their local Noodle Hut has many vegetarian and vegan options. One of my favourite dishes of all time is Char Kwai Teow, which is a typical dish you will find in Malaysian or Singapore. It is a stir fry with flat rice noodles, seafood and dark soy sauce. It often has egg and pork. They had a vegetarian one, so I had to try it. Besides the seafood taste, it was pretty close to the real thing. I didn’t feel jealous when I looked around the table at everyone else’s  It was pretty cheap too. $10 for a large. Probably didn’t need to eat the whole thing but I was very hungry.

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Saturday was my last day in Melbourne. I had a night flight, so I had the day to visit my Nona & Bisnonna’s graves in Carlton and have a last lunch. I was a bit worried what I should chose, since I know the rest of my family really, really love their animal foods. Luckily it was only me, my mum, one of my aunt’s and her daughter who came. So I took them to Shakahari Vegetarian Restaurant at Carlton. I have seen online that it is often rated as the best vegetarian restaurant in Melbourne. As far as I know it really is. If you didn’t know about this place, you might miss it if you walked pasted. From the front it looks like a small terrace house, but once you walk down the hall way it looks more like a trendy restaurant. On the advice of some customers sitting next to us, we ordered two Avocado Magic to share. This were amazing, so I can see why its their signature dish. It is  avocado & red capsicum  rolled in eggplant and fried in tempura batter with a sweet coriander sauce.   I also shared the Satay Shakahari with my mum and the others shared the Croquettes Cassava. The satay sticks were great. It was seitan and bean curd with a delicious thick satay sauce. I never tried seitan before. I never been able to buy or make it, but I really liked it. The dish was well balanced with plenty of vegetables. I also tried their Croquettes and they were also amazing. They were good on their own, but with the sauce made them even better.

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AVOCADO MAGIC ( V, N-D, G-F )
Avocado wedges and red capsicums rolled in thin eggplant slices then ‘tempura’ fried in a rice batter, served with a jade green sesame coriander puree.

SATAY SHAKAHARI ( V, N-D )Deep fried skewers of beancurd,seitan,onion and capsicum dressed with a mildly spiced peanut sauce. This dish comes with pickles, blanched greens and turmeric rice. A house classic.

SATAY SHAKAHARI ( V, N-D )
Deep fried skewers of beancurd,seitan,onion and capsicum dressed with a mildly spiced peanut sauce. This dish comes with pickles, blanched greens and turmeric rice.

CROQUETTES CASSAVA ( V, N-D, G-F )Crunchy patties of steamed cassava, yam, potatoes,roasted macadamia nuts and high-protein black quinoa. Served with steamed greens, kim chee and a mild lemongrass capsicum sauce.

CROQUETTES CASSAVA ( V, N-D, G-F )
Crunchy patties of steamed cassava, yam, potatoes,roasted macadamia nuts and high-protein black quinoa. Served with steamed greens, kim chee and a mild lemongrass capsicum sauce.

This is a place you have to visit if you come to Melbourne. My cousin and aunt are not vegan, but they loved it. The dishes were also gluten free and after we ate them we felt really good. This is probably one of the best vegan restaurants I’ve ever been to. So this was a really great end to my holiday.

For dessert we ended up getting Soy Lattes at Degani’s. This is second time I had coffee here and its very good. No vegan desserts, but didn’t really need it.

Coffee's at Degani

Coffee’s at Degani

Hope you all enjoyed my trip as much as I did!

More Melbourne eats

Hi all, hope you are all having a good new year. I’m still here in Melbourne, but returning on Saturday  Still have a bit less then a week to catch up with family and hopefully do some shopping. Last week after new years I went out a little, but was mainly with family. Didn’t get to go to any vegan restaurants or cafes, but did find some fantastic eats.

Last Wednesday we visited a cousin that recently moved to Carlton, a trendy suburb known for its Italian food. For dinner we went to Cafe Notturno at Lygon Street. It is not the best place alone this strip, but probably one of the cheapest. It was extremely busy, but I wasn’t that impressed with my meal. We ordered Lambrusco to drink, which was nice cheap, sweet red and garlic pizza to start. That wasn’t to bad. Then for my main dish I had Vegetarian Risotto with mushroom, sun dried tomatoes and olives. It wasn’t a real risotto in the sense, as the normal rice was precooked with out liquid stock and then sauce was added. For a vegetarian dish it wasn’t as bland as usually served in this kind of place, but it was not real Italian food in my opinion.

Vegetarian Risotto with mushroom, sundried tomatoes and olives, Cafe Notturno, Lygon Street, Carlton

Vegetarian Risotto with mushroom, sundried tomatoes and olives, Cafe Notturno, Lygon Street, Carlton

For desert we had gelato from Gelatissimo. They have a few locations around Australia and most of their sorbets are dairy free. I had chocolate sorbet. This tasted amazing and was the closes gelato I have had since leaving Italy.

Gelatissimo, Lygon Street, Carlton

Gelatissimo, Lygon Street, Carlton

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Choc Sorbet, Gelatissimo

Lygon St, Carlton

Lygon St, Carlton

After staying at my cousins house we spent the day doing light shopping in the city. Light shopping because I didn’t come back with heavy bags. For lunch we went to Central Place in the CBD. This is a small alley way with cafes along the walls. It has always reminded me of Europe and I usually come here when I visit. We ended up not having anything fancy, just toasted focaccie from Cafe No. 5. Although none were vegan, I got them to removed the feta from the Roasted Pumpkin & Rocket Focaccia and had a Soy Flat White. For a pre-made focaccia it was good and cheap eat. I would of probably preferred something else, but I compromised with the others. This cafe is really funky place, staff were very nice and the coffee was good.

Bourke Street, CBD

Bourke Street, CBD

Central Place, CBD

Central Place, CBD

Cafe No. 5

Cafe No. 5

Roasted Pumpkin & Rocket Focaccia, Cafe No. 5

Roasted Pumpkin & Rocket Focaccia, Cafe No. 5

After that we went to the Suzuki Night Markets at the Queen Victoria Markets. I have been to the day market but never the night market. This market is completely different. Its all about the food, rather then the cheap Asian goods and leather jackets. They had fast foods from every country imaginable. Italy, France, Poland, South American, Nepal… I managed to find a few vegan eats. DSC01899

First I had a Chickpea Blaster from the Caribbean vendor. This was a soft herb pastry made with olive oil and served with chickpeas, island mango, cucumber salsa & pepper sauce. Although it doesn’t look like much it was really good and full of flavour. It didn’t taste like anything I have had before and I really liked it.

Chickpea Blaster

Chickpea Blaster

Next I visited an Indian vendor and had Spicy Aloo Chat, which was potato, coriander,  and spicy tamarind sauce. This was also really tasty and not very spicy. Apparently this is a popular Indian street snack. We also had with Homemade Lemonade.

Aloo Chat

Aloo Chat

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Lastly, I shared a Traditional Korean Twisted Potato. This was nice but very very greasy. Overall it was a great experience and gave me heaps of ideas. I was a bit jealous that none of my meals came with salad like meat dishes, but flavor wise they were really good. This is not a healthy market, its  a street food market, so expect to feel a bit greasy after.

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Since then I have only been out a couple more times. For brunch on Saturday we went to Jimmi Jamz at Lygon Street, East Brunswick. It was near my grandparents place and ended up being a good choice. I had Spicy House-baked Beans with Rocket on Toast, Soy Flat White and ordered Parsnip Chips for the table. I was really happy with everything I ordered. My uncle had paper pasta, which we didn’t realize was cooked on paper in the oven. Other then that this place is funky, tasty and really cheap. In my city I am use to paying $20-30 for breakfast to lunch, so for around $10-12 this was great.

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Soy Flat White

Soy Flat White

Spicy House-baked Beans with Rocket on Toast

Spicy House-baked Beans with Rocket on Toast

Parsnip Chips

Parsnip Chips

Hopefully will get a couple more posts in this week in my spare time. So hope you all enjoyed the photos.

Toasted Almond & Coconut Gelato

I can’t believe its Christmas in 2 days. I went Christmas shopping yesterday and I was meant to get the last minute presents for my family. But I ended up coming home with only a  pair of Guess Jeans for me. Have to do some last minute shopping tomorrow, as well as plan what I am going to cook for Christmas. Usually we do it here, but this year we are going to my cousins house. They are big meat and dairy eaters so I want to bring something I can eat and they can also enjoy. Not sure what I’ll make but I better think of something soon.

Last night I made this gelato. It didn’t stay in shape for too long since it is so hot here at the moment, but it was really good. It was also very sticky and got stuck in the the crevices of my processor. It got into places are really hard to clean and I don’t know how it happened. Luckily I already know what I am getting for Christmas from my mum. She is getting me an ice cream machine and a dehydrator. So I can start making real ice cream soon. I can’t wait to try out some new flavors and not rely on frozen bananas.

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Toasted Almond & Coconut Gelato (gf, sf)

Ingredients:

3 frozen bananas

1 can coconut cream

agave/maple syrup to taste

hand full of almonds

handful of dried shredded coconut

Method:

1. Cut the almonds roughly, then dry toast in a pan and then set to the side.

2. Dry toast the shredd coconut and set to the side.

3. Roughly chop up the banana and place into the processor

4. Spoon out the cream from the coconut cream (discard the water) and place into the processor.

5. Turn on processor and while it is mixing add the agave.

6. Once all the banana has been blended, add most of the almonds and coconut. Only pulse so it mixes through.

7. Serve with the toasted almonds & coconut on top.

Today was Marco’s birthday lunch with his family, so I prepared some dishes to take. I made a few things from Chloe’s Kitchen recipe book including Sweet-and-Sour Party Meatballs, Rosemary Tomato Galette with Pine Nut Ricotta and Chocolate Walnut Fudge. The meat balls were delicious and really easy to make. They were made of tempeh, walnuts and lentils. They tasted and smelled more like meat then other recipes I have tried, but texture in the center was a bit soft, more like a processed meat. The sweet and sour sauce was really easy to make and it was a bit like the McDonald’s nugget sauce. The galette turned out really well. It really paid off refrigerating the dough 3 times before baking it. The pastry was more like a short crust pastry and had a much better texture then the other galette I have made previously. The pine nut ricotta was really really good. I was more like a pesto. It had roasted garlic, soaked pinenuts, oil and lemon juice. I found I had to add a bit of water to make it really creamy, but definetely something I want to make again, even if its just to have on toast. The fudge was the most wicked I have ever made. It called for 3 cups of chocolate (I used Sweet William), 1 can of coconut milk, cocoa, 3 cups of powdered (icing) sugar and toasted walnuts. Unfortunately I didnt realised till I had made it, with only 30 mins till I had to be at the party, that I realized it was meant to set in the fridge for up to 8 hours. I don’t know how I forgot about that. So it wasn’t exactly set when it came time to eat it. We still tried to eat it though. It was so rich and decadent, the photos don’t do it justice. Not sure I will make this again. Too fattening! I am not sure if I will bring it to Christmas or I will freeze it and allow Marco a small piece once a month.

Marco’s sister made toasted pita bread with oregano with a chickpea and roasted capsicum dip, which was really good. They also had their traditional salads, of tomato and onion, and cabbage with vinegar and roasted chicken with mayo and gherkins. For main course they made roasted pork, chicken and vegetables. I managed to stay away from the meat and ate my meat balls. I love the way they do their vegetables though. I’m not sure how they get them to taste so good, but they are always perfect. For dessert there was also a serbian cake made of nuts, plasma biscuits and egg whites. It is a serbian cake they always make for celebrations. I did have a bit of that, since it was dairy free. They also had baklava. I am not a big fan of that, its too sweet for me. It was nice to bring somethings though. So I could have a proper meal and not have people worrying about that I’m not eating. I was really happy they they also had the food I made. I think some vegan foods freak some people out. But what I love about Chloe’s recipes is that they don’t look ‘vegan’, they just look and taste delicious.

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Sweet-and-Sour Meatballs

Sweet-and-Sour Meatballs

Rosemary & Tomato Galettes

Rosemary & Tomato Galettes

Pine nut Ricotta

Pine nut Ricotta

Toasted Pita bread with Oregano

Toasted Pita bread with Oregano

Roasted Meats & Vegetables

Roasted Meats & Vegetables

Chocolate Walnut Fudge

Chocolate Walnut Fudge

Plasma Cake

Plasma Cake

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Baklava

Minestra di zucca alla milanese with Buttery Biscuits and Chocolate gelato with choc chips

Today we had the kids stay over again. Marco had to work for most of the day. So we had fun eating, swimming, painting, watching movies and playing with the dogs. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, but for the most part they were very good. I am so tired now. I never realized how much kids eat and snack a one day. There were so many dishes to do. To be honest, since I cook, Marco usually does the dishes, so I usually get off easy. But today I had to do it all myself and I really realized how many things I use it one day, then times it by 3.

For breakfast I made the kids Vanilla Maple Breakfast Polenta with topped with Blueberry Vanilla Chia Seed Jam. This jam is sensational! It is by Angela, from the blog Oh She Glows. When strawberries where cheap I made it with Strawberries, which was also really good. Strangely enough the kids didn’t like the warm jam. They rather more maple syrup to make it sweeter. For lunch one wanted sushi and one wanted fried rice. At least it was the same grain I was preparing. I separated the cooked rice and made half sushi rice and left the rest for fried rice. However, I didn’t realize I didn’t have any tuna until I was about to make the sushi. The little boy only eats tuna cucumber sushi and was very upset that I ‘lied’. Luckily he ended up eating the fried rice.

For dinner I made the recipes below. They didn’t like the pumpkin pasta soup, but they did love these biscuits. Marco and I both liked both. I think they are not use to the taste of nutritional yeast, which would be strange for anyone trying it for the first time. The soup didn’t really turn out like a soup. I suppose I could of added more water, but to be honest I was in a hurry trying to get it all ready. When kids are hungry they are relentless in telling you. Luckily I redeemed myself with dessert. After walking the dogs and hunting for Christmas lights this was a nice way to cool down.

The Minestra di zucca alla milanese is a veganised version from the Italian website, Giallo Zafferano. This is an ancient Milanese dish that uses a few simple ingredients to create something truly delicious. I never saw this on any menus while I was in Milan, so it must be a dish that is made at home. Its similar to pumpkin mac’n’cheese. I used butternut pumpkin, which made it quite sweet. I only needed to change the milk to soy, butter to vegan butter and Parmesan to nutritional yeast. I wanted to serve it with focaccia bread, but I completely forgot and then it was 6pm. So I made these Quick Buttery Biscuits from Chloe’s Kitchen. This was my first time making them and they are wonderful. The only thing I did differently was use wholewheat flour instead of plain flour.  I am so happy I  have tried this recipe as it is a good way to bring more comfort to a soup, stew or a grate snack with jam.

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Minestra di zucca alla milanese (vegan, gluten free option, nut free)

Ingredients:

600g butternut pumpkin

2 cups soy milk

sea salt to taste

40g vegan butter (nutlex)

200g lumache/ditali/other short pasta/gf short pasta

25g nutritional yeast (more to taste)

Method:

1. Wash and cut pumpkin into small pieces, remembering to remove the seeds and skin.DSC01000

2. Place pumpkin with a pinch of salt, in a steamer or boil in little bit of water, till soft. Then strain. DSC01001

3. Place pumpkin into a processor and blend till smooth.

4. Take a large pot and bring to the boil the soy milk. Then add mashed pumpkin and salt to taste.

5. Add the pasta and cook until pasta is cooked.

6. Add vegan butter and nutritional yeast. Adjust seasoning and serve. DSC01005

*Add more water for a more thinner consistency.

*Serves 4

Quick Buttery Biscuits (adapted from Chloe Coscarelli) (vegan, gluten free option, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 cups wholewheat flour (or unbleached plain flour or gluten free flour)

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon herbamare/salt

1/2 cup vegan butter + more to brush and serve

3/4 cup unsweetened plant milk (coconut, rice or oat; almond or soy if you can tolerate)

Method:

1. Take a large bowl and add flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk so it is all combined. DSC01003

2. Add vegan butter (don’t mix it too well). Then add soy milk and stir roughly with wooden spoon. (Chloe recommends not to over work it, so that butter is a bit lumpy)DSC01004

3. Place on a flourly board and roll into 2 oblong shapes. then cut them into pieces.DSC01012

4. Place pieces of dough onto a baking tray and brush with melted vegan butter (about 1 tbsp).

5. Cook in the oven for 12-15 mins then place on cooling rack, before serving.

* I made 10 biscuits.

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Chocolate Gelato with Choc chips (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients:

4 frozen bananas

1/2 can coconut cream (or just the solid cream part)

1 teaspoon cocoa powder

maple syrup to taste

vegan chocolate chips to taste (I used Sweet Williams)

Method:

1. Place banana and coconut cream in the processor and whiz till smooth.

2. While it is running add the cocoa powder and maple syrup.

3. Lastly add the chocolate chips so that it doesn’t get too blended. Serve with more chocolate chips.

‘Shepherd’s’ Pie and Date Gelato

I was not meant to cook today. I was meant to be studying all day till everyone got home this afternoon. But the leftovers in the fridge, from the other nights Pirozhki, were calling me to be used. They were meant to be used last night, but we went to the Tea Master again for a late lunch and were too stuffed to have dinner. Don’t ask me why I decided to make a pie when 30 degrees today. I shouldn’t even be using the oven. But as we are running low on food and I had all these ingredients ready to go.

I have never made a meat pie before or even a vegetarian pie, only sweet ones. However, living in Australia I’ve eating many meat pies. Australians like to think it’s their national dish, even though, like most of our ‘Australian traditions’,  are borrowed from migrants. I borrowed some ideas from this Taste recipe for the Aussie Meat Pie, so my pie would taste right. I wanted to put a puff pastry top on it as well, but I only had two puff pastry sheets left and too many people who live here who will want to try it the pie. So I made two pies and made a garlic mash potatoes to go on top.

I reused the ‘mince’ from the Pirozhki filling and added some corn flour, diced tomato and lots of worcestershire sauce. I also added some onion, mushrooms and lentils, since I barely had two cup left of the ‘mince’. The ‘mince’ didn’t have a strong taste, so you could just use dry tvp mince soaked beef stock and add some sauteed vegetables (carrot, onion, garlic, cabbage) if you want. I tried added a bit of vegemite to the ‘mince’ when I was cooking it, since the Taste recipe suggested it. I was only game to use 1/2 a tsp, but I don’t think it needed more then that. I’m not sure it did much to the flavour, other then maybe making it saltier. So its up to you whether you use it.

After such a hot lunch, I made Banana Date Gelato. I used soymilk, since I didn’t have any coconut.  I think coconut cream would be better, as it was not as thick as last time. The dates were so sweet that I didn’t need to add any maple syrup.

I hope you guys like the recipes. I’m sure for the rest of you not in Australia, this will be a nice pie for a cold winters night.

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie (vegan, gluten free option, nut free)

Ingredients for Pie base and Top:

2 sheets vegan puff pastry (use gluten free puff pasty if you prefer)

6-7 brushed potatoes, peeled and chopped in large slices

1 cup unsweetened oat milk (use unsweetened soy milk if you can tolerate)

2 tablespoons vegan butter

1 tablespoon garlic powder

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Ingredients for Filling

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 red or brown onion, chopped

100g (or more) sliced mushrooms

2 cups left-over tvp mince (or 100 g soy tvp mince soaked in beef stock & cooked with sautéed chopped onion, garlic, carrot, cabbage, mushrooms soy sauce)

2 tablespoons corn flour

1/2 cup tinned diced tomato

4 tablespoon worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon vegemite (or more, option)

1 tin of brown lentils

salt & pepper to taste

 Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

2. In a large pot fill with water and add potatoes & pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and cook till potatoes are soft. Once cooked strain and use a potato masher to mash it, set to the side.

3. Take a large pan or pot and heat olive oil, then add onions and cook for 3 mins, then add mushrooms and cook for a further 2 mins, or until browned then add left-over ‘mince’

‘meat’ filling

or Soak tvp mince in beef stock (only to make it wet, not to much), Saute onion, garlic in a large pan with olive oil, then add any finely chopped vegetables such as carrots, cabbage and

mushrooms, add 1 tbsp of soy sauce or more to taste.

4. Mix 2 tbsp of corn flour with 4 tbsp of diced tomatoes, then add to the pot of ‘mince’.

5. Add 1/4 cup diced tomatoes, worcestershire sauce, vegemite, lentils and bring to the boil, then put on a simmer and add salt & pepper to taste. Cook for 15-20mins then take off heat.

Garlic Mash Potatoes

6. Take large pot again and add potatoes back in. Then add vegan butter, soy milk, and garlic powder. Stir through so that the potatoes become creamy. Then add salt & pepper to taste. Then take off the heat.

7. Take the puff pastry out of the freezer and prepare the 2 pie dishes, by oiling them with vegan butter or spray oil.

Prepare pie dishes

8. Once puff pastry sheets are defrosted and soft, place them inside the pie dishes. Push the the pastry into the edges so it molds to the dish. Then cut off the 4 edges on each that hang over the sides. (I kept these scraps, rolled them, twisted them and added a bit of ketchep and baked them for a snack, you can also use to patch up any tears in the pastry)

Add ‘meat’ filling

9. First add the ‘meat’ filling into pie dishes. Making sure that they are both level.

Add garlic mashed potatoes on top

10. Then add the mashed potatoes on top of the pie filling. Again making sure its all level and try not to cover the pastry around the edge of the pie dish (pastry helps to tell you when it ready)

11. Cook for 30 mins or until pastry is cooked.

* Makes 2 pies, Serves 8-10 people.

Date Gelato (vegan, raw, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 frozen bananas

5-6 Medjool dates

1/2 cup coconut cream milk or thick soy milk

Method:

1. Cut bananas and medjool dates (making sure you remove the seeds).

2. Add all ingredients to the processor and whizz till all banana is smooth.

Chocolate Peanut Banana Gelato

After a long awaited lunch today, we were still hungry. Marco offered to go to the shops and buy some more tofu to fry (he’s addicted), but I thought that would be a little unhealthy  So I decided to try vegan gelato again. I didn’t have any coconut cream, just a small can of coconut milk. I was worried it wouldn’t work, so I decided if we weren’t having gelato then we were have dessert smoothies. Coconut milk worked out fine, so I think I’ll try almond milk next time. The secret must be the frozen fruit that gives the texture of gelato. For most of the vegans I’m sure vegan gelato is nothing new, but for me and the rest of the people that I will be telling this too, this is ground breaking news. All my dairy free and vegan books don’t mention making gelato without a ice cream machine. In fact when I was in Italy, I wrote an essay (in italian) on the history of gelato and how to make it. All the info said that you need a special machine. I would like to see what happens if I try to freeze a big batch of it. That’s if we can actually leave some….

Today I also discovered something else very special, Espresso Shakes! I was reading Ruth Tal’s reFresh: Contemporary vegan recipes from the award winning fresh restaurants and discovered I can have my coffee and drink it too. Even though I love morning smoothies, there have been many mornings when I give into my morning coffee for breakfast or I have both. I was thinking the other day why not combine the two, but I thought it may be a bad idea. Well now I know its not a bad idea, in fact its a fantastic idea! So I will be looking forward to experimenting this week and combining my two loves. I also have to start juicing again. There are no more excusing now!

Have any of you made Espresso Shakes with fruit and coffee?

Chocolate Peanut Banana Gelato (vegan, raw, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

2 frozen bananas

2 tablespoons natural peanut butter

1 tablespoon cacao or cocoa powder

165ml coconut milk

2 tablespoons maple syrup

Method:

1. Roughly chop up the banana and place into the processor.

2. Add peanut butter and cocoa and turn on processor.

3. While it is mixing add the maple syrup. Spin for 3-4 mins or until  the mixture is without lumps and serve immediately.

*Serves 3

Butternut Pumpkin Gnocchi, Cinnamon and Cumin Spiced Pumpkin seeds and Banana Gelato

I love gnocchi. In fact ‘gnocchi’ was my first word, when I was a baby. I don’t eat it as much anymore since the store-bought gnocchi has heaps of nasty preservatives and usually gnocchi from restaurant are not dairy free. So tonight I decided to make my own. I’m running out of food at the moment, but luckily I had some butternut pumpkin left in the fridge.  So I thought I would try using them to make gnocchi. I decided to roast the pumpkin with a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg and bind the dough with a bit of vegan butter and flour. The mixture was very sticky, so I added a truck load of more flour. To form the balls I had to roll them on the board with  flour, so that the mixture wouldn’t stick to my hands. Other then being a bit sticky they were really easy to make. I just served them with a simply olive oil, herb and mushroom sauce, so that the pumpkin would be the star of the dish.

Tonight I also made some Cinnamon and Cumin Spiced Pumpkin seeds. The last two batches I have made got severely burned. Luckily tonight I didn’t forget them in the oven and they were a success. I only found out last year that I can cook pumpkin seeds. I use to always throw them out. They are so delicious and healthy and a great snack when you are waiting for dinner.

Lastly, I made my first vegan gelato. I read a while back about making gelato with frozen bananas, but I never got around to it. Luckily last week mum had a whole heap of bananas, which were going brown and I remembered to put them away in the freezer. I was a bit skeptical that frozen bananas could be turned into gelato. However, I was pleasantly surprise. I can’t believe how much it tasted like real gelato. After living in Italy for 5 months and eating gelato  just about every day, I certainly know what it taste like. This recipe gives the same texture of gelato, which is like a custard that is cold but not quite frozen. So if you haven’t tried this I really recommend it. Now all I can think about is all the new flavours I’m going to try to recreate.

Butternut Pumpkin Gnocchi  (vegan, gluten free option, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

800 g butternut pumpkin

olive oil

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons vegan butter

2 cup unbleached plain flour (use gluten free flour if you prefer)

3 garlic cloves

1/2 cup dry shitake mushrooms (pre-soaked for 15 mintues)

handful of herbs (I used sage, tarragon and thyme)

sea salt to taste

Method:

Chopped pumpkin, before roasting

1. Preheat the oven 200 degrees.

2. Chop butternut pumpkin into thin slices and place on a tray with baking paper.

3. Add olive oil and sprinkle cinnamon, nutmeg and sea salt. Cover the baking tray with aluminium foil and cook in the oven for 30 mins or until pumpkin is soft.

Roasted pumkin

4. Wait until pumpkin stops steaming (I put mine in the fridge for 10 mins) then put into the processor with 1 cup of flour and vegan butter. Blend until all the ingredients are combined into a dough.

Dough

5. On a floury board, add more flour to dough so that it is not too sticky. Then form small balls and place on baking paper. Press a fork on the top of the balls so that they form an oval.

Uncooked gnocchi

6. In boiling salted water cook gnocchi for 3 mins or until they are floating on the top of the water. Then strain and put to the side (rinse with cold water to stop them cooking).

7. In a large pan heat olive oil and add garlic, mushrooms and herbs. Cook until garlic is browned and herbs are crispy.

Cooked gnocchi

8. Add the gnocchi to the pan, add salt and cook till heated through, then serve.

* Serves 4-5. If you have extra gnocchi, don’t cook it. Just put it in a tray and place in the freezer for 10-15 mins. Then put gnocchi into a freezer bag.

Cinnamon & Cumin Spiced Pumpkin Seeds (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

pumpkin seeds

olive oil

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Rinse and clean pumpkin seeds.

2. Take a tray with baking paper. Add pumpkin seeds, olive oil, cinnamon, cumin and sea salt.

3. Cook in oven at 200 degrees for 4-5mins or until golden brown. (Careful not to burn!)

Banana Gelato (vegan, raw, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

3 frozen bananas

1 can coconut cream

3 tablespoons maple syrup

Method:

1. Roughly chop up the banana and place into the processor

2. Spoon out the cream from the coconut cream (discard the water) and place into the processor.

3. Turn on processor and while it is mixing add the maple syrup.

4. Serve once all the banana has been blended and eat immediately!

*Serves 4