Thursday, September 30, 2010

Desserts from Vegan Choice Grocery/Green Gourmet: My idea of Heaven.

After my initial disappointment about not getting vanilla slice at Naked Expresso, Mandee pointed out that Vegan Choice should be opening soon (11am) and lead the way with all the brunch group following. Vegan Choice is next to vegan restaurant Green Gourmet and is a small store which sells a range of mock meats, Toby read a few which listed some of the Chinese ingredients which are not really vegan since they containing dairy. So vegans beware!

There are however a wide range of vegan desserts. I was super super excited, which is why I insisted that we had to go twice. I was in heaven! Yes we have places in Melbourne to get vegan desserts but not a wide range of vegan desserts in one place.

They have a range of vegan cupcakes:
Tofu based ice cream flavours (which I think were all g/f), including some interesting asian style flavours like taro, green tea, sesame:
Also, vegan Chinese moon cake, g/f brownies (the same ones you can get at Radical Grocery), cookies and g/f raw cakes:

On the first visit Toby had black sesame and goji-coconut ice cream. I wasn't a big fan of the sesame but we both enjoyed the goji -coconut with the subtle goji flavour, but Toby said the sesame flavour was just like how he remembered it in Hong Kong in his pre-vegan days.

Bec kindly offered me some of of her raw lemon blueberry cheesecake which was sweet and tart, I really enjoyed it:

I also got some coconut ice cream which was just as amazing as sydneysider Ingrid insisted it was. It was different to other coconut based ice cream/sorbet, creamy with quite a subtle coconut flavour. So subtle that I had to question if it was vanilla ice cream.

I also followed Cindy's lead and had a chocolate cherry cupcake. It did have a touch of almond essence which I'm not a fan of, but aside from that was pretty awesome. It was a chocolate cupcake, with the top cut out and filled with cherries, icing and then the lid replaced with more icing on top. Reminded me a lot of the pics in vctotw (it's the second one from the left in the pic above).

On the second visit I got two more cupcakes, the only remaining flavours- banana and blueberry/lemon. The blueberry one was delicious and I think lemon icing suited it perfectly. The banana one was super hard and I suspect it was either partially frozen or just a little old.
I also got a piece of strawberry 'cream' raw cake:
I had this wonderful idea of eating this cake on the plane, but after a cancelled flight and way too much time waiting and holding it, it didn't actually make it, it kind of melted. I did have a little bit of the icing which was nice but didn't eat the rest because I was worried that it had gone bad.

Toby got more ice cream on the second trip too, this time he tried green tea and papaya. He said that the green tea one tasted authentic and the papaya was nice and sweet. Toby said the sesame was his favourite though because it was rich.

You can read some older reviews of ice cream/green gourmet at Vegan Melbourne, also Not Quite Nigella, Cupcake Kitteh and more recently from Lisa.

Vegan Choice Grocery
113 King St

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Naked Espresso

On sat morning, we went to vegan brunch place Naked Espresso with fellow bloggers Mandee, Drossolalia and two lovely vegans, one from Melbourne and one from Sydney. It was so exciting to have a whole menu of brunch things to choose from, without any adaptions. Melbourne really needs more pure vegan brunch places. Toby's not really into sweet breakfasts so Bec and I decided to order one savoury breakfast and one sweet option and share.

We got the buckwheat pancakes which are g/f. They come with maple syrup, bananas and strawberries. They were a bit heartier in texture compared to regular pancakes but more filling and kind of felt healthier and still delicious.

We also shared the 'morning after' giant fryup. Toby had one of these to himself and loved the variety and you guessed it- the protein. Toby said it was the probably the best vegan big breakfast that he has had, he actually couldn't finish it, which was kind of weird. It contained two pieced of yummy gluteny toast, which were perhaps made on site. Also hashbrowns, baked beans, roasted tomatoes, fried mushrooms, spinach, redwood 'sausages' and 'bacon'. Toby had his with olive oil instead of the usual nuttelex. I really enjoyed the variety of this dish.

Leigh come out and introduced herself which was really lovely, the only downside was that they didn't have any dessert so I pouted a little while I read the options on the board that weren't available particularly vegan vanilla slice, but NEXT time!!!

Michael has already blogged about his experience here, with links to other blogs, yes since he's done the hardwork I'm being a bit slack.

Naked Espresso
9-2 Saturday and Sunday

126 King St


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sydney Vegan Eat-A-Thon

A few weekends ago I embarked on our vegan eating holiday in Sydney, with Cindy, Michael, Toby, Rebecca and Craig. Our mission was to try loads of dishes and eat more than was imaginable. Kind of like an extended potluck, except we don't have to make anything. At the end of the weekend, I decided that Sydney is actually more vegan friendly than Melbourne. Maybe not in terms of vegan options being in omni cafes but it has more exclusively vegan places compared to vegetarian cafes/restaurants, and more varied options, eg: vegan brunch places, vegan Thai place, loads of vegan desserts in one place. If you asked me to compare the two cities back in 2006 when we went there, I would have said Sydney has loads of Chinese Veg places but Melbourne really kicks it's arse when it comes to vegan food. Part of that was maybe we weren't as well researched but I also think that there have been quite a few vegan places open since then. Would love to hear your sydney-siders opinion on this. Melbournians please hold off any Melbourne defending until you read all of our posts.

It's actually kind of gross how much we ate, so if you are into healthy eating look away. Also, remember I'm eating gluten, fellow coeliacs, sorry! Cindy, Michael, Toby and I will be blogging it together. Toby recorded some of our food conversations with his phone so we may even be able to use direct quotes from everyone. Cindy is going to collate all of the links onto this page and has already started off with a post about our first meal at Yullis which is super gluten free friendly and I though I might also do a similar summary-links post since we had a few extra meals.

So together with Cindy and Michael we went to:
And due to a cancelled flight, we also went to the following places with Bec and Craig:
Here is Toby and I clutching out 'gluten babies' and feeling so so so full and bloated on sat morning, only 2 meals in:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Monk Bodhi Dharma 2 Featuring Vegan French Toast

I'm eating gluten at the moment, while I wait to have a second biopsy. As a result I have a list of gluteny eating out that I want to do while I can. If are g/f you might want to look away from this blog for about a fortnight.

Monk Bodhi Dharma's french toast was pretty high up on the list of gluteny things to try since Steph and a few other vegan non-food bloggers raved about it. Toby also raved about his chocolate cupcake that he had last time we went so I had two things that I really wanted to try.

Toby didn't hestitate to order a pour over coffee, which he said had peppery/poppyseed type flavours, the owner said the coffee only comes in a small batch and is a special one, but Toby doesn't remember the name:

He also ordered Indian shepherd pie, which was more of a deconstructed shephered pie with roasted potatos and a lentil stew. He said that it was tasty and filling and loved the amount of protein and would be an excellent post workout meal.

Enough suspense, here is the vegan french toast. It normally comes with lemon ricotta, but the vegan version has a home made cream cheese which is actually quite sweet and almost icing like and is covered in pistachios. The baked pear and toast is covered in a some sort of lovely sweet syrup. The toast itself is very thick and crusty and I kind of struggled to cut it but was a nice contrast to the pear and cream cheese and pistachios. It really is PERFECT breakfast/dessert dish. I wish I had more today and am wondering if I can fit in one more visit before the biopsy.
There weren't any chocolate cupakes available but there was vegan vanilla and saffron cupcake. I enjoyed the unusual pairing, the cupcake had a lovely moist texture and the icing was great texture for vegan icing, kopha perhaps? I thought the saffron flavour would be subtle but you really could taste it. It was probably a bit too much after such a sweet breakfast, but I can't resist desserts.

Toby also grabbed a zen brownie for take away and shared it with some friends at a party. Each one has a double shot of ristretto of coffee in which is way too much coffee for me but Toby and others thought it was amazing.

The only bad thing about this eating gluteny things, is I know what I will be missing out on, and boy will I be missing out on the french toast.

A word of warning though be prepared to wait outside for a table at Monk Bodi Dharma, it's tiny and always seems to be busy on the weekend.

You can read about our first visit here.

Monk Bodhi Dharma

Rear 202 Carlisle St, Balaclava
9534 7250

P.s: we are having issues with our monitor, so can someone tell me if these pictures are a little blurry.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Best Tofu Tacos!!!!!!!

A few weekends ago, we invited Bec and Troy over to try out tortillas. Armed with a tortilla press, we were able to make better tortillas. We also made salsa, which I imagine is more authentic but nothing like store brought salsa, guacamole, and a lentil filling.

The star of the night however was this taco filling that Toby made, it was fantastic. We did purchase some sweet smoked paprika (the one in the can with the corny looking couple on the front) and Spanish oregano from Casa Iberica, so not sure how much of a part the two herbs played. We realised that the smoked paprika smells like Trippy Taco fries.

Anyway on the recipe, it's pretty simple, punching with flavour and I think superior to Trippy Taco's tofu filling. It was inspired from this recipe here, but we made a few changes including substituting the taco seasoning for this:

1 part garlic powder (We substituted more onion powder cos of Bec's allergic to garlic)
1 part onion powder
1 part oregano (using the fancy Spanish one)
1 part paprika (using the fancy Spanish one)
1 part tsp salt
1 part pepper
1 part chilli powder
2 part cumin

And the rest of the recipe, although we recommend doubling it, so you have plenty:
  • 1 pack of dry tofu (from the Asian grocery store)
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 4 tablespoons of taco seasoning above (we made plenty so that we has some leftover)
  • 2 1/2 tbsp tamari/soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp veg oil
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  1. First, open and drain package of tofu.
  2. Mash tofu with a fork.
  3. After the tofu is sufficiently mashed, add 3/4 cup of chopped onions. Mix onions and mashed tofu well.
  4. Stir the 2 tbsp of oil into the tofu and onion mixture, coating it evenly.
  5. Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and get it really hot on a burner. When the cooking oil makes a sizzling noise, transfer tofu and onion mixture into the hot pan.
  6. Cook it on high for a minute and then turn it down to medium heat.
  7. Take 2 1/2 tbsp tamari and pour it over tofu and onion mix, then stir.
  8. Add taco seasoning.
  9. After blending the taco seasoning with the tofu mixture, evenly pour 1/4 cup of water over your mix. Stir with spatula or spoon for even coverage.
  10. Add nutritional yeast.
  11. Cook the whole seasoned tofu mixture on medium heat for a total of around half and hour to blend flavors and make onions approach caramelization. Don't put a lid on it; let the moisture evaporate. Check on it every 5 minutes or so and stir.
  12. At the end of the approximately 25-30 minutes mash the tofu mixture flat in the pan, sprinkle lime juice then flip over the flattened mixture as though it were a pancake , do it in 4 or 5 segments. Then mash it flat again, turn the heat up to medium high, and cook it for 4-5 minutes on med high.
  13. Turn over segments of flattened mixture, re-flatten, and cook for another 4-5 minutes. These last 2 steps are to dry out and brown the mixture a bit.
Here is one with lettuce, nacho cheezly, salsa:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New Veg Cafe:Veggie Kitchen

On Sat night, Toby, Cindy and Michael and I all dined at the new Taiwanese style vegetarian restaurant 'Veggie Kitchen'. Now first up I should apologise to fellow coelics this does contain what I suspect to be a fair bit of gluten. However, they have announced on their facebook page that they have gluten free options. It's in a premise that used to be a Chinese restaurant which is handy:

We quickly decided to give the banquet a try for $28 since it contained almost all of the items on the menu. First up we were served sprout apple soy milk and 'lettuce delight'. The lettuce delight surpised me because I thought it looked like san choi bao but it tasted quite different. There was no sauce and the filling was dry but I enjoyed it, it contained enoki mushrooms and I forget what else. The soymilk tasted a little bit too much like tofu for my liking, but reminded me of authentic Asian style soymilk that I got in HongKong.

Next up we were served a spring roll, seaweed hand roll and on top of the cucumber was Konjac (Toby had to google the Chinese word to figure out what the English word was). The spring roll pastry was delicate and abolsutely delicious, and I enjoyed the 'ham' style mockmeat in the hand roll.
For mains we were given five elements veggie pot, which tasted like a healthy stew which Toby said had gingko nuts in it. I liked the mysterious mockmeat on top which appeared to be made with tofu sheet, seaweed and tofu.
Also braised tofu, baked pumpkin, Tawainesse stuffed capscium and vegetable cutlet. The baked pumpkin normally has cheese on it but they made it vegan by replacing the cheese with soy sauce. The stuffed capsicum had us perplexed about what was in it, which we all swore was some type of legume but were told it was enoki mushrooms. The vegetable cutlet was the one dish that I didn't enjoy because it was particularly 'fishy' and I don't like mock fish but Toby loved it.And red rice marinated wheat meat on 'forbidden rice'. I really enjoyed this crispy mockmeat. And the red rice brought back memories of all those cheap buddist vegetarian places that Toby used to take me to in HongKong. Most places should have red or brown rice!
And finally dessert, we got the option of tofu pudding with red bean paste or strawberry jelly. Cindy had the genius idea of ordering two of each so that we could taste both. I really enjoyed the tofu pudding which reminded me a lot of red bean soup except it was cold and had silken tofu in it. The strawberry jelly was extremely thick and Toby guessed that it might also be made with Konjac.

I was quite full by the end and handed Toby a small amount of leftovers for him to finish. I thought the banquet was great value for money and it felt a lot healthier compared to the regular Chinese vegetarian places yet still tasty. The service was great, with the staff announcing that everything was made on site including the tofu and even advising us of the supposed health benefits for some of the dishes. Toby and I will definitely be back.

Although, it will be interested to see what I can eat when I go back to being gluten free.

Veggie Kitchen
159 St Georges Rd
9489 2120

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Vegan Gluten Free Blackforest Cake

It was Toby's birthday on Wednesday and to celebrate I made him a cake yesterday. At his request I made blackforest cake. I looked at about a dozen recipes for regular gluteny non-vegan blackforest cakes and combined several elements. I discovered that black forest cake is called black forest gateau and Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte in some parts of the world and most versions of blackforest cake are not really authentic and neither was mine. Traditionally black forest cake included a shortcrust pastry base and looked quite different. Although I did buy kirsch (cherry liquour) especially which hopefully scores me some point for authenticity. I even had to make a special trip to Dan murphies since coles and safeway liquor stores didn't sell it.

Instead of making the gluten free cake from scratch I purchased 2 packets of g/f most chocolate mud cake. I was hoping that they were big enough to cut into half so I could have four layers but unfortunately they weren't. I do love this cake mix though it's rich, moist although a tad oily. All I needed to do was add oil, water and egg replacer.

So here's the basic recipe:

  • 2 x deliciously free most chocolate mud cake plus required egg replacer and veg oil
  • Approximately 1/8 of a Dark Chocolate Block to make shavings
  • 1 can of soyatoo spray cream (I still have some leftover)

Ganache- I altered the recipe from here:
1 Cup Dark Vegan Chocolate
2 Tbsp. Margarine
1/3 Cup Soy Milk
1/4 teaspoon of Cinnamon

In the top of a double boiler, place the margarine and soy milk. Bring the water below to a very low simmer and whisk. Mix in the cinnamon. Add the chocolate. Once it looks like it is beginning to melt, whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat immediately. Allow mixture to cool.

Cherries mixture:
1 800gram jar of morello cherries (I didn't end up using all of the cherries but would next time)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/3 cup of Kirsch (or enough to cover cherries)

Drain cherries (reserving the syrup) and put aside. Heat cherry syrup with corn starch, sugar and vanilla essence. Pour kirsch over drained cherries while you slowly bring cherry syrup to boil. Once Mixture had reduced and thickened, drain kirsch from cherries and add them to heat for a minute. Allow mixture to cool. In hindsight, I could have allowed this to reduce further.

And the assembling of the cake:
I sprinkled a generous amount of kirsch on the first layer.
Put a layer of ganache on top:
Put the cherry mixture on top:
And then some soyatoo 'cream':
Put the other cake on top, sprinkle more kirsch and then add more ganache:

I then used the soyatoo cream to make a couples of rings around the side to keep in plenty of cherries on top. Looks wise I should have perhaps left it there but I couldn't help myself.
And sprinkled plenty of chocolate flakes on top:
And decided that I needed to add more ganache to the sides. I didn't have enough ganache though so I combined the ganache with soyawhip and then coated the sides. And because I went a little overboard with the chocolate flakes I decided to add more soyatoo and one cherry on top:

Here's a inside peak:

And the sign of a good cake, it was finished pretty quickly:
I thought maybe I added too much 'cream' but it's so mild you can barely taste it. I was pretty pleased with the taste and texture. In fact taste wise it's my favourite cake that I've made but next time I would add more kirsch and cherries and try to improve the cherry syrup.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sydney eats?

So next weekend Toby and I and a few friends will be going to Sydney. So I would love your suggestions for must eats, also any cool op-shops or other interesting things!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Veg Gossip

  • Aduki is now taking pre-orders for the Australian Veg Food guide, if you pre order you can get one for $11.95 instead of $17.95. I was one of the many reviewers if that's not enough of a reason, well how about the fact that there are 200 vegan, vegetarian and veg friendly restaurants reviewed, also there is an ebook version.
There are 3 new veg restaurants:
  • In the CBD- there is 'Chan Healthy Vegetarian Option' at 10/422 Little Collins St. Here is the facebook page. It looks like asian style mockmeat with a small rotating menu.
  • In Northcote- there is Veggie Kitchen. A Taiwanese style veg resturant, which apparently even has Gluten Free dishes.
  • In East Brunswick- there is New Day Rising on Blyth St (near corner of nicholson st). It sells coffee and mostly toast options. Apparently they will have g/f toast too. Here's the small menu, I stole the pic from mess and noise:

  • White Lotus has re-opened
  • Toby said the new Lord of the Fries Sauce of the month-Wisconsin (Tangy Mustard Sauce) is really good, kind of like wasabi aioli but with mustard
  • Radical Grocery is now selling Linda McCartney products, their sausage rolls are yummo (I'm eating Gluten for a few weeks).

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Penguin Engagement Cake

Yesterday Cindy and I teamed up to make a cake for an engagement party for friends Craig and Bec. Craig loves penguins and they both have fake penguin themed names on facebook and so I though it was fitting to put something penguin related on top.

It was a much more pleasant experience decorating a cake with someone else, there was none of the usual swearing, frustration, tears and stress. It also helps that Cindy has a very steady hand and was quite brave and quick in her icing abilities. It did however take about 4 trips to the supermarket because we were not particularly organised but I was really pleased with the finished picture:

Taste wise, it was a slight let down. I chose a vegan mud cake recipe that looked and smelt quite rich but was not very sweet and kind of bland. We used the same technique that I used to make the stumpy dog cake to decorate the cake. So basically using toothpicks/skewer to make dots around the outline. Although, in this case instead of tracing the picture, Cindy drew it onto baking paper free hand because she is super awesome. For the icing we used a black icing pen to do the outline first and then coloured in the white bits with a basic 'butter' cream and then added pomegranate molasses and vegan food colouring to make the other parts pink. The darker parts that look black in this photo were actually brown and made from melted chocolate. Cindy and I have gone halves in a 2.5kg bag of dark chocolate from here so we had plenty to use. We then used the icing pen to do the eyes and to go over the outline again. Unlike the stumpy cake we didn't pipe the icing just used teaspoons to smooth the icing into place after roughly piping it in some places. It resulted in a much finer texture and look which I preferred but would have been quite timing consuming if I was doing it myself.

Here is Bec with a piece:

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Shakahari's new menu

A few weeks ago we went to Shakahari's for a friend Marisa's birthday. It's been over 6 months since our last visit there so I was pleased to try things from new menu, which carried over a few of the older dishes like 'avocado magic' and 'satay legend' with lots of new options too:

For entree, Toby had for 'bright idea chestnuts' which consisted or ravioli filled with chestnuts, soy grits, herbs with a mushroom based soy sauce. He thought it tasted a lot like regular dumplings but really enjoyed the sauce.
And I couldn't go past the buckwheat flatbread, because it's such a rare thing being able to eat gluten free bread with dips. It was served with a tangy citrus cashew dip. I really liked the dip and enjoyed the flatbread, although I could see that it might be a bit disappointing for those that can eat regular flatbread, because it reminds me a little of stale bread. But I am definitely not complaining!
We both shared two mains, first the croquette chinamoon which remind me a lot of the old quinoa croquettes. It contained yam, potatoes, macadamia nuts with a sweet chilli sauce. This was our favourite dish of the night.

And the 'potpie'. I can't remember the exact name of this dish and it was stupidly on the page of the menu that I didn't photograph. However, it was much more of a casserole than a potpie. It had a risotto pine nut bottom, with roasted vegetables and soy cheese on top. Served with garlicky greens on the side. The pine nut flavour was the overwhelming flavour, although not quite what I expected.

I was intrigued by the look of the quinoa and sago dessert so ordered it. It looked pretty cool and was fine, but I really do hate all desserts with quinoa, so had wished that I had ordered the tofu caramel.
Overall, the food was really yummy and I'm relieved that they have continued to offer plenty of gluten free dishes. See Steph's review here for more feedback about the new menu.

201-203 Faraday St
9347 3843