Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Vegan Shoes in Melbourne!

I found out via Facebook about a vegan shoe sale. Beira Rio Australia are thankfully importing two brands of Brazilian vegan shoes to Australia: Beira Rio and Moleco.

You can see pictures of the shoes range and read about future sales or host your own shoe party by going to their facebook page here. I read online they also ship to other parts of Australia.

I don't normally spend much on shoes, but am sick of buying ruby and other cheap shoes that only last a couple of months. It was also great to have some more feminine styles than the vegan wares range. So jumped at the chance to go to the sale and bought 3 pairs of shoes, 2 pairs of flat shoes and my favourite a classic pair of mary janes (in the middle).

They really do appear to be sturdy, well made and comfortable. And look how pretty the bottom is:
Now I just need to find a vegan pair of pixie/granny/brogue style ankle boots!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I Heart You Tortillas !

I've had the idea of making tortillas stuck in my head for weeks, on sat I finally went to Casa Iberica to get some masa harina but arrived at 3pm just as they were closing. I then went to wholefoods on Smith St and bought two bags, one of yellow maize flour, and one of white maize flour after the shop assistant told me that she thought it was the same thing. I learnt the hard way on sunday that they weren't the same thing. If you know what to do with maize flour please let me know. I asked my Argentina colleague and she directed me to a fruit and veg shop at Watergardens shopping centre where I got a 2kg bag of Masa Lista for $6 which she assured me is what she uses to make tortillas. I think maybe it is the same as Masa Harina, but am not sure.

But finally it worked.

I used this recipe which asked to mix 2 cups of masa harina (or masa lista in my case) with 1 1.5-2 cups warm water. I used 1.5 cup of water but it was way too sticky so I added more flour. Another recipe that I saw listed 1 cup & 2 tablespoons which I think is probably more accurate.

I don't have a tortilla press so I used a plastic sandwich bag cut into two (but you could use a plastic bag or baking paper), rolling pin, and a plate. I then used a technique of rolling a small piece between my hands to make a ball about the size of a plum, then placing the ball between two pieces of the plastic bag and squishing the ball with the bottom of a plate and then using a rolling pin to make it super thin. They were far from the perfect round shape, but i didn't care. It was pretty easy although a little time consuming so I plan on getting a tortilla press on Saturday.

I then began by frying them with perhaps too much oil or for too long so they become a little crunchy but I eventually got the right texture. And wrapped them in foil to keep warm.

I then added tofu balls (made into patties) which we had leftover from pasta the night before:

Tofu balls (or patties) from PPK
lb.(450 grams) extra firm tofu
1 small finely chopped onion
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1/2 c. bread crumbs
fresh basil or oregano (I used parsley)

flour for rolling balls in (I always skip the flour and find they don't stick as much and I don't need to use oil)

Oil to pan-fry in

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Roll into 1 1/2 inch balls. Roll in flour (feel free to skip this step) and fry in preheated skillet, cooking until slightly to medium brown on all sides.

with tomatoes and cheezly for non-mexican tortillas.:

And they seriously rocked my world!

Toby didn't quite get my obsession with making them until he tried one. Yes I'm not about to open up my version of trippy taco, but I was super impressed. I think the opportunities are endless, like g/f toasted sandwiches, fried tortilla chips, peking 'duck' style ' pancakes', 'korean tacos' and dessert tortillas.

I couldn't resist making a dessert tortilla, so made one with banana slices, chocolate chips and peanut butter, it was also awesome.

I'm sure you will be reading much more about my tortillas adventures.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Our Top Top 5 Vegan Friendly Restaurants

Marieke Hardy recently shared her top 5 vegan restaurants in Melbourne which got Toby and I talking about our faves. I thought it might also be helpful for vegan visiting Melbourne.

My favourites in no particular order:
  1. Ezard- for expensive fine dining degustation experience. You can read about our pre tasting menu experience here. Although I wonder what they serve me now in post coeliac days.
  2. Shakahari- I've had my ups and downs with the place, but it's the only fine dining vegetarian restaurant here and they have some outstanding dishes like the avocado rolls.
  3. Disco beans- yes it's new but I'm obsessed as you can probably tell, we went again last night and I had their gluten free and vegan okonomiyaki- genius!
  4. Trippy Taco- simple, affordable but amazing Mexican dishes. really can't go past their tacos, by the way did you know that you could have both tofu and bean tacos instead of having to pick just one filling?
  5. Coco Loco- So technically it's a chocolate place but it is delicious and so vegan and gluten free friendly. It's pricey but I don't mind paying more for organic, fair trade chocolately goodness with their specialty Kashew Mylk. Their crepes, mousse, gelato and hot chocolates are perfect! Also, it's just across the road from Disco Beans.
Toby's fave places and his comments:
  1. White Lotus - R.I.P. Peter Li. The tamarind mock fish is the best mock meat dish EVER. Vicki said there was a new sign stating that they will reopen on august 26th!
  2. Coco Loco - Super Awesome hot choc, chocolate mousse, gelato and crepes
  3. Las Vegan - Give me a calzone and a cup of chai and I'll be a happy man.
  4. Yong Green Food - Vegan Korean pancakes, grilled/stir fried mock meat, Korean BBQ burger with THREE different sauces, Thai/Indian curries and THREE different raw vegan cheesecakes. What more can you want?"
  5. Mamasita - One word: Fresh. Another word: Controversial
What are your top 5?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Penang Affair

Once again ignore our horrible pics, Toby has a new google phone and refuses to use the flash which we have since realised results in some pretty bad pics.

For date night a few weeks ago, I decided to take Toby to Penang Affair after discovering that it could be vegan friendly at Steph's blog and gluten free at gluten shmooten. Asian food (except for Indian) has been tricky since going gluten free and I know Toby has been missing it. Penang Affair however is an exception with '90% coeliac friendly' advertisement. We ordered for starters the vegetarian sang choy bau which had a range of vegies and mushrooms thinly diced and covered in a thick strong vegetarian 'oyster' type sauce. It was delicious and I'm so impressed that it was g/f: We also shared the satay tofu dish. This satay sauce was perfect over deep fried tofu, bean shoots and with the smart addition of cucumber. This was our favourite dish, simple but so yummy.
For mains we shared the spicy lemongrass vegetables but asked for it to be mild. This was mild enough for me, although toby still thought it was a bit too spicy for him. It contained a range of green veggies, loads of garlic, lemongrass, chili and tofu.
and we shared the Char Kuey Teow (CKT). I was really looking forward to this after seeing the delicious looking pic at Steph's blog and thought that maybe they would use tamari or g/f soy sauce but instead this was super bland with basically plain noodles, fried tofu and herbs on top. We ended up asking for more satay sauce to mix with it.
Overall, we were pretty impressed with Penang Affair. The meals were very well priced ($10.90 for the CKT, $15.90 for the lemongrass vegies and $5 to $7 for most veg entrees), the service was great and it really was special to find an omni asian restaurant that could do both g/f and vegan dishes. It also has a large selection of beers and Kelly Brothers cider. I look forward to going back one day soon to try the vegetarian laksa and penang eggplant.

You can also read reviews at Where's the beef? and Gluten Savvy.

Penang Affair
325 Brunswick St
9419 7594
Lunch 12-3pm
Dinner 6pm to late (closed mondays)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Best Weekend Part 2-Daiya and Roast potluck

Bec and Craig invited a small group of us over for a sunday roast, which kind of turned into a mini potluck. Here is the massive array of roasted vegies that they made:

and nutloaf which doesn't look pretty but really was fantastic:
served with a delicious gravy (I think it was made from this recipe)
Lisa made a yummy stew, which I stupidly didn't eat because I thought it wasn't g/f but which was packed with protein and flavour according to Toby:

Cindy made amazing chocolate berry mousse, you can read about the recipe here.

And Jo made a yummy apple and rhubarb dish.
We took some cider and leftover choc cupcakes:

We were also given some daiya cheese from the very generous Troy and Bec (different vegan Bec) who brought some back from their US trip. Over the last week we haven't managed to try it in several ways. First we made mac and cheese, but used only about half the required amount of cheese. This was creamy and delicious, but we couldn't really pinpoint the daiya flavour, so we sprinkled some more on top.
Then we made a toasted cheese sandwhich. This was perhaps my favourite way to use it. It's been a long time since I had a toasted sandwhich with actual cheese but this felt so close and the texture was spot on.
We did a little experiment with our pizza, with half cheezly and half daiya The daiya is on the left and the cheezly is on the right.. As you can tell the cheezly when grated is larger but the daiya had a stronger flavour and actually melted like cheese.

We added it on top of some lentil bologanise. I had to move it around a little to melt but it finished the dish off nicely.
We also made nachos, now check out how well it stretches:

Also on top of some baked potatoes.
We were super impressed with the daiya particuarly the texture when melted, probably the only complaint was that it wasn't so great raw, it's definitely a cooked cheese in my opinion. The flavour was pretty spot on too. Thanks again Bec and Troy, we really appreciate it!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Masterchef Mini Potluck

We asked Lisa if we could watch the masterchef finale at her house because our reception (even with a digital set-top box) is not reliable. We decided to have a mini potluck, making masterchef inspired recipes.

She made japanese style pumpkin from the asian vegan kitchen cookbook, it was slightly sweet toast pumpkin and so delicious and Toby was jumping up and down in excitement about having a dish he hasn't had since his pre-vegan days. If anyone else has this recipe please share, we would love to re-create it this week.

She also made this Fried tofu with mushroom and ginger broth- which didn't even need veganising. Lisa served it with rice, it was delicious and nourishing.

Peanut oil, for deep frying
200g firm tofu, cut into 3cm dice
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
5cm piece ginger, thinly sliced
1 bird’s eye chilli, whole
8 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 coriander roots, reserve leaves to serve
2 green onions, cut into 5cm pieces
2 tbs soy (she used tamari to make it g/f)
3 tbs Chinese rice wine
6 Szechuan peppercorns
2 star anise
300ml water
2 baby bok choy
Sesame oil

1. Fill a saucepan two thirds full with peanut oil and place over a high heat until hot enough to deep fry. Fry the tofu in batches for 4-6 minutes or until golden. Drain on paper towel.
2. For the broth: combine the garlic, ginger, chilli, mushrooms, coriander root, green onions, soy, rice wine, peppercorns and star anise in a saucepan with the water and bring to a simmer over a medium heat. Allow to simmer for 8-10 minutes, add more water if required.
3. Fill a saucepan a third full of water, bring to the boil over a high heat, place a bamboo steamer over the saucepan, place the bok choy in the steamer and place the lid on, steam for 5-8 minutes or until cooked. Then drizzle with sesame oil.
4. Strain the broth, reserving the mushrooms.
5. To serve, place the bok choy in the centre of a serving bowl, pour over the broth, top with the tofu, mushrooms and coriander leaves to serve. Here is with the rice and pumpkin:

We made this rice pudding with orange jewels, tarragon and puffed rice minus the taragon. The recipe was pretty easy although did require multiple parts. It was easily vegansied too by replacing the milk with soy milk. The vanilla bean really did result in a superior taste and I love the texture and taste of the orange 'jewels'.

260g caster sugar
1 orange, peeled zest, pith removed, julienned, flesh segmented
700ml milk
135g Arborio rice, rinsed and drained
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
tarragon leaves, to serve
1/4 cup puffed rice, toasted

190ml freshly squeezed orange juice, strained
15g caster sugar
1 ½ tsp agar agar powder

Step 1: For the candied orange peel, place 1 cup of the sugar and 1 cup of water in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat to medium, add orange peel and simmer gently for 45 minutes until syrupy.
Step 2: For the orange jelly, line a 500ml plastic container with cling film. Add ¼ cup water, orange juice and sugar to a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Sprinkle in agar agar and whisk for about 5 minutes until dissolved. Remove from the heat. Pour the mixture through a fine sieve into the lined container. Refrigerate for about 25 minutes or until set. Invert jelly from container onto a board and cut into 1cm cubes.
Step 3: For the rice pudding, add the milk, rice, vanilla bean and seeds to a non-stick saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer uncovered for 30-35 minutes, or until creamy and the rice is tender, stirring regularly. Add the remaining sugar and stir for about 2 minutes until dissolved.
Step 4: To serve, divide rice pudding between serving bowls. Arrange the jelly jewels on top, along with the orange segments, tarragon leaves, candied orange peel, a spoonful of syrup and some puffed rice. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 (but very small bowls)

Sorry for the bad photos! If you want more vegan masterchef recipes, I've also found this salt and pepper tofu and glutenous rice dumplings with coconut pandan stuffing which look pretty good.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Best Weekend Ever Part I

Last Weekend was totally awesome.

It started on Thursday night. My friend Matt got some last minute free tickets to see LCD Soundsystem and took me with him. I was totally stoked because I wanted to see them but couldn't afford it. We drank Cooper's Lager cans and danced our arses off to Losing My Edge (check out this live video)/Get Innocuous/All My Friends in Festival Hall's Jurassic Park style enclosure:

Friday night, K and I went to Disco Beans again for more vegan gluten-free friendly Japanese Food. There were more choices on the menu than our last two visits. First thing that caught K's eyes was the vegan Double Decker Ice-cream Sundae Parfaits but unfortunately it was not gluten-free.

I picked the gluten-free/vegan version of Shoyu Ramen:

The soup base was authentically light and clear. There were plenty of seaweed, black sesames, snap peas, carrots, spring onions and tofu in the bowl. It tasted quite different from the Shoyu Ramen I had before, probably because they made it gluten-free for K (Shoyu means soy sauce in Japanese) and the noodles were replaced by rice noodles.

K ordered the Tofu Don (vegan and gluten-free):

Both of us loved the in-your-face flavour of the ginger sauce. It went very well with the tofu steak and Sushi rice. K normally would not eat salad greens but she ate lots of it because of the yummy Miso dressing.

Highlight of the dinner was the Strawberry Fields Forever cake (Vegan and gluten-free):

"Strawberry Fields Forever cake" was the best raw vegan cheesecake I've had. It was mainly made of cashews, coconut and strawberries. I loved the contrast of the delicate melt-in-the-mouth refreshing strawberry bits and the rich crumb crust.

Read about our first encounter with Disco Beans.

Disco Beans
238 High St, Northcote
Open Wed-Sun noon-3pm and 5.30-9.30pm

On my walkman:
This is Happening - LCD Soundsystem

Coming next:
Best Weekend Ever Part II - Daiya vegan cheese and Craig's sunday roast.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Baby Shower Cupcakes and Disaster Day

Yesterday was a bit of a disaster day, first I went for a jog (with Lisa) and came home to discover that we did not have any water, which meant nothing to drink and no shower for sweaty me. I wasted a good 45 minutes, talking to the neighbours, calling the water company and just wondering how I was going to manage to get everything done before the 2pm baby shower. It was going to be a rushed as it was, but the lack of water made it worse and I really did feel sweaty, dehydrated and gross. It also made making cupcakes tricky since we really needed to do dishes. Toby suggested that I abandon making them which in hindsight would have been a good idea, except I had stayed up the night before making baby shower decorations: prams and bottles (from a mould from here) which would have been wasted. Somehow though we got them made with lots of swearing, heaps of paper towels and antibacterial hand wipes wasted. It really did make a masterchef pressure test seem easy, they at least have water and clean measuring cups/spoons.

Although we really needed to do dishes to make icing and desperately needed a shower before heading off to the baby shower. I was all packed and ready to go to Cindy and Michael's who kindly said yes to me showering and making the icing there when the water finally come back on. It was only when the icing was done that I tried a cupcake with a bit of icing and discovered that the cupcakes had the bitter after taste of quinoa, which isn't exactly a flavour that I wanted in my cupcakes. I had made the chocolate gluten free cupcakes from vctotw, so not sure what went wrong or if it just that quinoa flour sucks. We also couldn't find a crucial part to my icing gun so couldn't pipe the icing like I normally do.

But it gets worse! I arrived at the baby shower with my pink horrible tasting cupcakes and then realised about 5 minutes into the baby shower that actually my friend was having a boy, not a girl, which meant my cupcakes, 'baby girl' wrapping paper and present were all a little inappropriate. And based on the expressions on saw on people's faces and a few comments I'm pretty sure that I was not alone in my dislike for the taste, they really did suck.

The one pic Toby took as I was running around like crazy trying to head out the door:
The leftovers, a little worse for wear: