Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Slow Cooked Onions. And Eateries.

Yes yes I am horribly, horribly slack and did you know it has been over one whole month since I updated this? And its not as if I stopped eating, god forbid, or even taking photos of every morsel of food I shove down my gob. I just got the laze. I do weep at my sloth.

So..this is going to be just a quick run down of a few things I have baked, consumed, on!

Portobello Mushroom Burger with Slow Cooked Red Onions (and other stuffs)

This was a little something I prepared (about 10 days in a row, due to the delicious) for lunch, dinner...snack...not breakfast though. There's not really a recipe as such. The only essentials are some mushrooms, a red onion and some burger/sandwich/tortilla trimmings.

What to do with the mushroom: You can either slice it up or keep it whole, douse in a nice swig of balsamic vinegar and a tad of olive or sesame oil, nice sprinkle of pepper and salt, and whatever herbs strike your like. I like thyme, forth.

Now you place this all in a baking tray and in the oven goes. I dont really know much about temperature, so medium is fine. Bake/roast for about 15-20 minutes.

Now the onions. You can use red, or white, but I like red best. You chop it into rings, heat a bit of olive oil in a fry pan and this is the part that is amazing. You slow cook them for a half hour. This is quite annoying to watch over in order to not burn onions and/or your house, but do it and you wont be sorry. At the 28 minute point, you have to douse the onions also in a splash of balsamic in order to encourage the process of caramelisation.

Maybe you should start the onions first, they take longer.

Anyway. Assemble using nice burger bun, bread like something. Lettuce, baby spinach, tomato, mustard, no tomato sauce I hate it, Israeli pickle (the best) and whatever you gots.

The inspiration for this recipe came from which is brilliant!

Updates as the evening progresses....and one more picture just because.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I Also Cook Awesome: Recipes.

Eating other people's food always inspires me to get wiggedy wack in my very own kitchen and see what I come up with. Usually I'll peruse a variety of recipes, combine a little of column a and a dash of column b and come up with my own creation, basically consisting of me chucking things into a saucepan and jabbing a it with utensils. Here's a few dishes that I've forced onto others in the last week or so. I'll do my best to include the recipes, but when your methodology involves shunning measuring devices, it might be best if you play around a bit to suit your own tastes!

Corn, Coconut, Lime and Herb Soup

4 fresh corn cobs
1.5 litres of water/veggie/massel stock.
5cm long piece of ginger
2 shallots
4 garlic cloves
1 red chilli pepper
3 tsp sesame oil
1 potato
1 can of coconut milk
handful of fresh basil and fresh coriander
salt and pepper.

Using a very sharp knife, remove the corn kernels from the corn cobs, run the blunt side of the knife along the kernel to get any bits you missed. Snap corn kernels in half (you'll feel tough, serious) and boil them for a half hour or so in the stock. Mince the ginger, shallots, garlic and chilli pepper. Heat the sesame oil in a frypan, and cook them until soft and fragrant.

Add diced potatoes, corn kernels, and stuff from the frypan to the boiling water (after removing corn cobs!) and leave until the potatoes are soft.

Leave to cool, then add to your blender bit by bit until soup is of a smooth consistency. Reheat and add coconut milk and roughly chopped basil and coriander. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve topped with more chopped herbs!

Marinated Tofu Schnitzel, Garlicky Autumn Mash and Red Cabbage and Carrot Salad.

Tofu Schnitzel

block of very firm tofu (Soy Belle brand is A1!)
2 tsp massell chicken/beef/veg stock
good glug of soy sauce, sesame oil, dill, oregano, chilli sauce..etc.
1 cup soy milk
cornflour or lemon juice
2 cups herb and garlic breadcrumbs (diy or buy them preseasoned)
olive oil for frying

Slice the tofu to your desired thickness (I go extra thin, so at the end it works out that you get more individual schnitzels per person...score!) Get about a cup of water boiling in a good sized saucepan, add the stock, soy sauce, chilli, sesame oil and anything else you like to use when you make a nice, strong marinade. When dissolved and at a rapid boil, add your tofu slices and leave them for about ten minutes. Remove, leave to cool, and reserve remaining marinade fer makin' gravies.

In a bowl, gradually add cornflour or lemon juice to the soymilk until it is thick enough to coat the tofu slices. Use your best judgement on this, as it is easy to go overboard..or underboard.

On a flat plate or large bowl, mix up your breadcrumbs with herbs to your liking, including lots of black pepper and some dill. Heat up some olive oil in a frypan, the amount of oil you will need depends on the non stickability of your frypan. Go more nuts with the oil if your frypan tends to make stuff stick to it. Coat each tofu slice first in the soymilk mixture, then roll in the breadcrumbs. Immediately add to the heated oil. Fit as many slices as you can comfortably in the pan, turning when golden brown. Remove when both sides are deliciously crispy coloured.

Serve with gravy and/or lemon wedges. Amazing. Get Jacquie to make it for you, serious.

Garlicky Autumn Mash

sweet potato
diced garlic cloves
good quality dijon or other spicy mustard (i use awesome gourmet horseradish mustard)
salt and pepper

Dice up your vegies whilst you get a good sized pot of water boiling. Add vegies, boil 'til you can poke a potato right through with a fork. Drain and mash using a nice quantity of garlic, mustard and nuttelex. Add soymilk until you reach your desired consistency. Salt and pepper to taste. Amazing.

Coconut -Vanilla-Cinnamon Rice Pudding

1 can of coconut cream
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
3 tablespoons of brown sugar
zest of half an orange
zest of half a lime
3/4 cup of arborio rice

Place coconut cream, sugar, cinnamon and zest in a medium saucepan. Bring slowly to the boil, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Add rice and turn heat to low. Cover pan and cook gently for 35-40 minutes. Stir the rice. You should have a creamy, tender mixture. Spoon into individual bowls or one big one, depending on sharing; for or against.

Serve warm or chilled, with coconut shavings, strawberries, vanilla icecream, any other combination of delicious.

Garlic Parsley Spirals with Pumpkin Oregano Sauce

1 smallish pumpkin, diced
1.5 cups of soymilk
2 tablespoons freshly oregano
half a nutmeg nug, finely grated.
salt and pepper to taste
pasta of your choice (i used special expenno spelt garlic and parsley spirals from the farmer's market)
good handful of toasted hazelnuts or pine nuts

Dice pumpkin and add to saucepan along with the soymilk. Simmer until soft, about ten minutes. Add fresh herbs and nutmeg, and mash with mashing device of your choice. Salt and pepper to taste, over hot pasta. Top with the hazelnuts and pine nuts. Oregano sprig for decorative purposes.

Stroganoff on Soft Polenta, Cabbage and Avocado Sesame Salad

1 brown onion, roughly diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

half a mushroom bag of mushrooms (button or portabello) chopped

250ml of pasta sauce (any flavour)

1 cup of stock

1 cup of vegan gravy

can of Sanitarium tender pieces/tvp/seitan/meaty something

3 tablespoons flour

1 small container of hommus

paprika spice

salt and pepper

Heat some olive oil in a saucepan, fry the onions and garlic until soft, add mushrooms and continue frying until these are also soft. Add the cup of vegetable stock and put a lid on it, leave for about 20 minutes until the water has half evaporated, then add the cup of gravy (still quite watery), pasta sauce and also the flour. Add the meat sub. Mix it all up and leave to simmer for about a half hour or so, until it reaches a desired consistency. Before serving add the hommus and stir through, season with salt and pepper and paprika to taste.

Serve over anything from rice to noodles to cous cous to polenta to mashed potatoes to rice.

Catchup Eats Vol II

Penang Coffee House

Walking along Burwood Road at lunchtime can be a tad graveyard like. Restaurants and cafes open, but empty. And then you reach Penang Coffee House. Bursting at the seams with businessmen, students, Hawthorn mums and me and Rocket, it's almost unbearably noisy and squishy. Almost. The menu boasts an expansive selection of Malaysian vegan dishes, from laksa, to curry and lots of noodle dishes.

The impossibly cute waitress hooked us up with some mee goreng and vegie curry with rice and roti on the side. Arriving in no time at all, the mee goreng was full of the pleasantly spicy goodness of noodles, broccoli, onion, cabbage and other stuffs (those were what I tried because it did not belong to me so I could not try everything contained within its realms)

My vegetable curry was quite a production, arriving on three (omg yes three!) separate dishes, one for rice (but also lots of room to mingle the rice and said curry together), a little bowl filled with absolutely diarrhetic looking curry, and a roti bread different to any other in my entire life experience. Observe.
The curry, though aesthetically revolting, was unbelievably delicious. It was that subtly sweet spicy that can only be achieved through the copious use of coconut cream. The vegies in my curry were mainly cauliflower and green beans, definitely two vegetables that are certainly not in my top 8, but they were fresh and delicious and suited the meal perfectly.

The aforementioned roti bread was most certainly a distant, thrice removed cousin of the usual roti we've all had with our curry. It was the flakiest, crunchiest roti of all time, all crackly and angry looking and had pointy sharp pastry bits that hurt with their crisp deliciousness, really awesome, really.

The dishes set us about about $8 each. And I could hardly even finish mine. So that's good. And the coffee? I was so distracted by the food, trying it didn't even occur to me. But I don't drink coffee anyway. So. Not applicable. Anyway. Oh my god also did you know they have ice kechang? I just found out! Come with me soon to try?

Scene of demolishment below.

Penang Coffee House

549 Burwood Road



Chatterbox is the home of some absolutely stupendous laksa. I dont know, nor do I care, about any of their other dishes, bar the laksa. I walk up to the counter of this cramped, hidden gem of an eatery and ask for a vegetarian laksa. I've never perused the menu (though I have heard whisperings of Chatterbox's chef's abilities to vegetarianise anything and everything on the menu) and I think once I tried someone's noodles, and they weren't laksa flavoured, so I wont even bother wasting the stomach room again.

So you find it behind a cafe on Swanston Street (Il Consomethingortheother) next door to what used to be the only skate store in Melbourne city circa high school baggy jeans and DC's wearing era, Melbourne Skate Store I believe it is called. You walk into Chatterbox and are immediately confronted by the super happy super friendly man behind the counter. Place your order, receive your numbered raffle ticket, load up on free hot tea, chopsticks, and spoons, take a seat. In the time it took the perform these motions (one minute, approx), you'll have your meal in front of you before your bum hits the seat.

I can only comment on the laksa at this stage, I care not to comment on anything else. The laksa is a thing of amazement. Big enough to share between two people, it is a veritable swamp of fresh, crispy vegetables (broccoli, baby corn, carrots, slimey mushrooms and those eyeball squelchy mushrooms, and various others), udon noodles, thin rice noodles, and puffy tofu soaking up delicious coconutty, chilli, oily, brothy juices.

Sit outside amongst the seagulls, garbage bins and RMIT students and enjoy.

Chatterbox Curry & Noodle Bar

U18/235 Bourke St



Kaki is a teensy tiny Japanese joint on High Street that does wonderfully cheap meals for vegetarians and vegans. For $6.50 you can gorge yourself on a more than adequate variety of noodles, rice dishes and whatnot. They also serve most meals with a tempura cake. Reminiscent of the more traditional okonomiyaki, but infinity times more deep fried (therefore better? Discuss). On this occasion, my dining companions all ordered the vegie curry on rice with tempura and tofu, whilst I went with the udon noodle soup, with tempura cake on the side.

Served quickly, with the nourishing goodness of frozen vegetables (green beans, carrot, corn, the usual suspects), the food is basic but filling.

Kaki Japanese Restaurant

265 High Street


Las Chicas

Jacquie and I needed to pay an essential and regular visit to Balaclava, home of Rishon's Grocery Store. However, before tackling this home of Jewishcentric orgiastic snacks, we had to nourish ourselves with a hearty breakfast. At 1pm. Yes. I had wanted to visit Las Chicas since reading about it on and also in the Age Cheap Eats Guide. Also it was the closest vendor of hashbrowns in the vicinity of Balaclava train station, so that's key too.

Las Chicas has both indoor and outdoor seating in copious quantities, however unless you dig lining up for some toast (exquisitely gourmet as it may be) stick to visiting on weekdays.

The menu is based mainly on breakfasty stuff, and separated into vegetarian (offering about 10 different options) and meaty stuff. If you're a vegan, you'll have ample choice from the listed extras. Jacquie and I decided to go halvies in a plate due to the sheer volume of extras we were ordering.

We ended up with two thick cut slices of polenta and pumpkin bread, spinach, hashbrowns, mushrooms, avocado and baked beans. The bread, magical. As soft and fluffy as cake, only without the sweet, studded with crunchy chewy pumpkin seeds. The baked beans were on the more chewy side, but still delightfully saucy. Spinach and mushrooms cooked to perfection. Hashbrowns were of your typical frozen food aisle variety, but any fried potatoey product (mass produced or no) is a-ok by me. The avocado was served pre mashed so that saved all of 2.3 seconds in getting it down my gob. All in all a both aesthetically pleasing and tummy filling breakfast.

Expensive, yes. $28 including coffees (between the two of us), but not even all the nutty chews I ate from Rishon's, or the stupid hats we tried on at the party shop next door were able to make me as happy as that breakfast did.

Las Chicas

203 Carlisle Street


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Great Food Porn Catchup

I'm way into procrastinating. When I was in uni, my favourite anti study procrastination was to update my livejournal some four times a day, to report all manner of exciting events. Dog making a cute face, toast burning, contemplating dropping out and/or faking major illness/accident to get out of exams. Now that I do no learning whatsoever, I procrastinate by NOT writing in my blog. Usually I have a nap instead.

But my mouth it keeps eating, and my camera, it keeps taking pictures, so I'm going to catch everyone up with my last two months of eating in a brief, perfunctory manner so then I can start anew, fresh, etc.

Bowl of Soul

Forcing Brendan to rise early during school holidays, not eat breakfast, and buy a tram ticket the quickest he ever has (all whilst I'm holding the beeping tram door open with the weight of my buttocks leaned against it) actually turned out well. Bowl of Soul delivered the goods. They are a relatively new eatery in Port Melbourne, and its a bit of a walk to get there from the tram stop, but keep your head averted, eyes out front, and ignore the gaggle of gourmet burger joints and keep walking 'til you reach it. Will not be sorry. Though the chalkboard menu is limited, the fact that everything is vegan will find you in an overwhelmed state of rapture.
Bowl of Soul offer a mainly burger/sandwich based menu, with the option of soup and a few cakes as well.

You order and pay at the counter, choosing from such amazingness as "Steakout Sandwich" "Veggie BLT" and "Cajun Chicken Burger" amongst others! All burgers are veganafiable (can be made vegan, new word, learn it). Take away or eat in, you can choose to sit inside on some nice dark wood chairs with crimson walls, or outside. Which is just outside. On this occasion I purchased some sort of prawn based burger, with lettuce, tomato and a vegan friendly mayo sauce. It was quite spectacular, but even better was Brendan's Steakout Sandwich, which had some kind of pinky "steak" mock, a slice of vegan bacon, and also one of the best flavoured vegan cheeses I have ever had the pleasure of tasting. The burgers themselves were spectacular, but I also don't think it would hurt to have some kind of side dish chips. Delicious chips. It's so nice to have an occasional break from burger munching, to just put it down for a moment, chomp a few idle chips, and continue. Really a nice thing to do.

The price of a burger is approximately $7.50 from memory which in my opinion is rather fair for an occasional treat.

We followed up with slices of cake and a most obscenely enormous cup of hot chocolate. Quite good.

Bowl of Soul
118 Bridge Street
Port Melbourne


I visited Spudbar twice in as many days because I was in a non fried potato (unusual for me) kinda mood. One potato is more than enough to share between two people, particularly if you do like myself and go fully sick on the toppings. Also they do cost about $8 a pop, which is a tad on the pricey side for a root vegetable wrapped in foil. On the last occasion I visited this haven of non fried potato goodness, I have lentil dahl, brocolli, mushrooms, corn, avocado, hummus, baby spinach and spring onion. The offerings for vegans and vegetarians are vast and also include, but are not limited to, beans, carrot, pineapple, olives, tomato and so on and so forth. The flavour combinations are endless. Other spudtastic stuffs about Spudbar are the vast array of delicious beverages available and the diy toppings at the end, such as tabasco, chilli flakes, soy sauce, garlic flakes and also onion flakes that look astoundingly like toenail cuttings. Flavoursome toenail cuttings.

After my last visit, Rocket made me go to a computer swap meet. Not so spudazing.

Hawthorn - 638A Glenferrie Rd
Richmond - 226 Swan Street
Also in St Kilda, Prahran, Docklands and Collins St.

Hy Hy Restaurant

Venturing out westside almost consistently guarantees amazing eats. Jacquie and I sampled a duo of dishes from Hy Hy restaurant on our most recent visit. We were seated and brought menus swiftly, probably because we were the only customers, chose our food (spring roll salad, made veg, chinese brocolli and rice substituting oyster sauce for garlic sauce) and then had the option of speaking amongst ourselves, checking each other out in the wall to wall mirrors, or watching Dr Phil on the teev. Before we even had time to do all three, our meals were brought out!

The spring roll salad was good, as good as it is anywhere in Footscray or Victoria Street. I guess adequate would be another way to describe it. Adequately crunchy, adequately salady, adequately peanut studded. Nothing above or below adequate. Just adequate. The brocolli on the other hand, outstanding! Lightly steamed and retaining almost all of its natural crunch and flavour, liberally doused with a well clinging, garlic rich sauce, you would not believe a dish that looked so much like plant on a plate with a side of rice could taste so good!

Washed down with a free pot of jasmine tea, we left satisfied and full, pockets about $15 lighter, hearts happy as we headed to Savers. I got some socks that say "Cutie" on them.

I like this photo because it shows the impatience people have with truly dedicated epicurean photographers such as myself. Uncross your arms.

Hy Hy Restaurant
112 Hopkins Street

Friday, May 4, 2007


I visited Tibas on Sydney Rd some weeks ago now but the memory of crispy falafel, tantalising dips and fresh salads lives on in my mind forever....ever...ever.

It was a last minute Saturday evening decision to pay a visit to Tibas, and I must admit to being a touch concerned regarding seating availability, but luckily this place is huge, two large rooms with tables seating anywhere from two occupants to several more, to suit the requirement of any party.

At first we were seated against a wall with a scary mirror that kept swinging back and forth, threatening to collapse on us, perhaps decipate use, at least slam shards of glass through our eyes. We moved tables without much fuss.

Though there is a definite huge focus of meat at Tibas (evidenced by giant revolving spits upon entering the establishment) the menu offers several options for the discerning vegan or vegetarian. There are two or three dips, vine leaves, falafel, salads and your usual middle eastern orientated suspects. Our table of five opted to order four "falafel plates", which required a slight amendment, as the falafel plate listed on the menu contains a yoghurt dip, decidedly non vegan. And besides, I hate yoghurt.

Speedy service is another admirable quality possessed at Tibas. Our meals (along with free bread in copious quantities) arrived within ten minutes. The oval shaped plates contain an abundance of falafel balls (okay, six), chickpea salad, tabouli, a green salad as well as both babaganoush (eggplant) and hommus (chickpea) dips, not forgetting the brightly coloured and flavoursome turnip pickles.

As a seasoned falafel consumer who has consumed falafel in at least ten different countries, i would go so far as to say, in terms of falafel balls alone, that Tibas is up there with the best of them. Well flavoured and with a deliciously crisp exterior, you know this falafel has been deep fried to all hell, however the balls are not at all oily, instead they are light and delicate, like some sort of falafel cloud, perhaps. All the salads are very fresh, dressed with a simple lemon, olive oil and salt n pepper dressing, the dips smooth and smokey.
The most popular method of eating is to take a pre quartered slice of pita bread, lay it out, smother with dip, salads, squish falafel and wrap awkwardly, deliciousness and drippings ensue but that's why you have plates so its fine.

Four plates of falafel plate fed five fittingly. We were all stuffed but satisfied, and from memory it cost each of us under $8. Amazing. Definitely a contender for best Lebanese restaurant on Sydney Rd, if not Melbourne..though there are still many, many for me to try. Tibas also does a falafel wrap for takeway, which I have not tried, but looks fat and good. On another occasion I sampled their hot chips, and they were incredible. Try them. Then walk up to Alasya for several varieties of vegan turkish delight. Gummy.

Tiba's Restaurant

504 Sydney Rd