Friday, May 23, 2008

Misbehaving camera

.....Or maybe its just me?

This post is way overdue, I'm in the middle of exam hell, it's midnight and I just got back from yet ANOTHER potluck ('tis the season!) so I'm going to do something really, really nasty and wrong. I'm going to post photos, bad photos, with hardly a comment.

These photos are from a potluck hosted by my lovely (and now famous) friend Sarah, who bakes the wondrous cakes at The East Brunswick Club. You know the ones. She is a lady of many talents, including hosting most amazing dinners for her birthday!
Here are the photos, just imagine me trying to elbow a horde of people out of the way so I could take photos of things in their untouched, natural state. Not easy.

Less typing more photos!

PS. I know these photos are shocking, shocking, shocking, but I just want people to see the wonderful things my friends can cook! Please, look past the blur and see the sugar stained goodness inside!

Buddha's Day aka delicious things in greasy paper bags.

My slumber last Friday night was restless, fitful, anxious. Was it because of my impending exams and the millions of assignments (two) I had due in the coming days? Perhaps because my bank account is in double digits a week from pay day? Nope, neither of those, nor any other issue that keeps me awake at night (who will win America's Next Top Model? Will there ever be a vegan meringue? Is that an alien radar flashing in my room or just my phone recharging?).

I was worried that it would rain on Buddha Day. And when I finally awoke, my nightmare had come to life. It was absolutely pissing down! I stayed in bed a bit longer, thinking it would stop, but it was not to be. So! Clothes, mittens, hoodie, non-waterproof sneakers (fail) and one missed train later, we arrived at the Buddha's Day festivities and pretty much had the whole place to ourselves!

They should really rename the event "Greasy, delicious things in paper bags", but you know, maybe not.

First up, I strolled the concourse, making my decisions, in the end deciding I simply must sample one thing from every stall. So, I did.


Layers of gluten wrapped around a little stick and deep fried until crisp, genius!

Next? According to my photos (yes this did happen many weeks ago, I apologise for my lack of catching you up!) it was turnip cakes. Or radish cakes? White, firm vegetable cakes.
Mmmm, so delicious in their gelatinous (but with no gelatine!) bland crispiness, served with chilli sauce, just perfect!

Next up was my favourite snack of the afternoon, consisting of skewered chicken pieces wrapped in lemon leaves. Certainly a new flavour sensation for me, which I hope one day to replicate. Are these real lemon leaves? Tempted to go out and chew on one but I dont want to look like an idiot walking the streets trying to locate a lemon tree for leaf chewing purposes when they'll probably just taste like bitter gross.

Next! Appears to be a dainty little Peking duck wrap, beware you could easily eat a million of these little cuties!

A surprise sweet was next, offered up by my housemate Rebecca who had other missions to attend to, thus was desserting early. These were little gelatinous sesame balls filled with red bean paste. It looks like a tiny demented mouth, whispering sweet nothings at you, does it not? It even has a little pink spit gurgle. Yum.

Next up! Bizarrely naked dagwood dog. These dogs on a stick actually had real life white "fatty bits" in them. Disturbdog! It's really being held very tenderly in this photo, isn't it?Okay, we're finally on the homestretch, one last salty and one last sweet to go!

Deep fried oysters? WELL OKAY! Who am I to resist your greasy charms.

And last but not least (not least because I actually ended up visiting again the next day while I was at work! YEAH! DOUBLE BUDDHA DAY!) was coconutty rice balls filled with saaaalty peanut butter. Two worlds collide. One amazing.

I had to violently shove these down my throat to get them down. That's how full I was.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Squiddy cooks: Thai green curry with soy curls!

Food cravings are pretty much what gets me up in the morning. The thought of the food ahead spurs me on, urging me through the dull in-between-eating moments, keeping the smile on my face and the stride in my walk. On topic, Sundays at work can be devestatingly boring. Planning my meal for the night is my one salvation, along with looking at pictures of puppies and spinng around in my chair.

Last Sunday was a Thai kinda mood day, and since I haven't cooked much Thai food I immediately thought to go out for dinner. Then I realised upon the dire state of my wallet, and my plans crumbled.

Could I cook Thai food?

Yes. I could. And my horizons have broadened once more.

Thai green curry with soy curls


I found this recipe from a most unlikely source which I'd only ever used before to fuel my varying obsessions with serial killers and balloon animals.

It included making the paste from scratch, which was immensley appealing to both myself and my buddy Thermomix, which wizzed up the most beautiful green curry paste in a matter of seconds, nay, microseconds. No, scratch that, it was definitely seconds. You could easily do the same in your blender though!

The paste went a bit like this:


1 stalk lemongrass, sliced finely
2 tsp. ground coriander seeds
1 tsp. brown sugar (optional)
1-3 green chillies, deseeded
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1 thumb-size piece galangal (or ginger), peeled and sliced
2-3 kaffir lime leaves (fresh, frozen, or dried), snipped into strips or small pieces with scissors
1 cup (or 1 bunch) fresh coriander leaves and stems
3 tsp. dark soy sauce (substitute 1 Tbsp. wheat-free soy sauce for gluten-free diets)

And the rest?

2-3 kaffir lime leaves
1 can coconut milk
1 package firm tofu cut into bite-size pieces (for gluten-free diets), OR 1 package wheat gluten “chicken" cutlets
1 red bell pepper
1 cup snow peas
1 cup fresh holy (or sweet) basil, chopped roughly
1 small yam or sweet potato, cubed
3 Tbsp. oil for frying
optional: other vegetables of your choice, such as carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, etc...


To make the green curry paste, place all paste ingredients in a food processor or blender. Add a little of the coconut milk (enough to keep the blades going). Process well.

Place oil in wok or deep frying pan. Turn heat on medium-high and add paste.

Stir fry until fragrant (about 1 minute), then add coconut milk.

Add wheat gluten or tofu and stir until everything is well mixed.

Add kaffir lime leaves and cover.

Turn the heat down to medium-low and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes.

Add bell pepper and yam/sweet potato.

Cover and cook another 10 min.

Finally, add snow peas, stir, and continue cooking for 2-4 minutes.

Do a taste test for salt and spice. If not salty enough, add up to 2 Tbsp. more soy sauce or sea salt. If too salty, add a little fresh lime juice. If too spicy, add more coconut milk until desired mildness is reached.

Accompany with your grain of choice.

Things I did differently:

Well I had a hell of a time finding kaffir lime leaves at the local supie, in that I didnt find them at all, so I subbed lime juice....because, well, lime connection!

Whilst I was making the curry paste I rehydrated about a cup of soy curls (I bought mine from Minh Phat supermarket, just off Victoria St, Richmond) with some chilli sauce and Massel "chicken" stock. This I used instead of wheat gluten or tofu as called for in the recipe.

I fried them up prior to adding the curry paste.

Added zucchini, red capsicums, broccoli and mushrooms as my veggies of choice. Chickpeas and cashews too. Garnished with a pretty lime slice.

Served the whole thing on some wholesome brown rice. Yum.


..and pot lucks are back in fashion!

Well, this wasn't quite a pot luck, but last Saturday I attended my darling Harriet's birthday drinks at the East Brunswick Club, and besides the most excellently gluttonous food on the menu (I partook in a -wait for it- bacon cheese burger! No way! Yes way!) which I absolutely neglected to take photos of in my inexcusable piggish rush to get it in my mouth, there were byo birthday cakes (and pie).

This was them:


What you have there is a very badly photographed pair of sweets worth saving some room for. even when confronted with a bacon cheeseburger.

The hairy fluffball on the left is my own stolen creation, a Coconut Custard Pie. An amalgamation of several recipes (two) from Veganomicon and My Sweet Vegan this pie was definitely worth the sitting around and waiting time it took to construct it! Basically a hobnob base with a tofu based topping, it rendered my 25 years worth of coconut adoration into a single pie slice, and it was beautiful.

Enough about my pie!

Check this!


I believe this was called *clears throat* chocolate peanutbutter somekind of chocolate chippery cheesecake with spelt crust (gluten free oyesmygod!). It was lovingly prepared by my brilliant friend Sarah, who truth be told is one of my vegan idols. I continue to be amazed and awed by the wondrous gastronomic creations that come out of her kitchen, and, hot off the presses, you too can be amazed and awed. How so? Her cake was so impressive to the staff at the East Brunswick Club, that Sarah will now be absolutely devestating their kitchens with her cake cookery on a regular basis, so be sure to check it out! You will not be disappointed. And if you are, well you will have me to deal with, wont you? Probably not. But it doesn't matter, you wont be disappointed!!

Also, dessert special of the night?


Badly photographed vegan banana split. Yes, you read right.

And apologies in advance for the sheer influx of East Brunswick Club related posts. My bestie works there now, so I'm sure to be a frequent guest of the establishment. And how!

East Brunswick Club
280 Lygon St
East Brunswick

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Squiddy cooks: Tempeh Bolognese!

I'll just make a quick announcement before I duck for cover. I'mnotahugefanoftempeh. There I said it. I'm waiting for my letter of dismissal from the vegan police, but at least its out there, in the open, shaming me with its every syllable.

Despite this, I wouldn't quite call it abhorrence, but lets use that word for the sake of wordsmithery, I still purchase a huge lump of the stuff every time I visit the Asian grocery, and it sits and sits and sits in the refrigerator, being poked my curious housemates and thoroughly ignored by myself.

Then I found Veginity.

I was pointed towards this website by an equally obsessive vegan foodie, and promptly directed Kristy's attention to it. She, in all her Sherlock Holmesesque wisdom, put the puzzle pieces together. Vegan chef + ponytail = Mark from Vegetarian Orgasm (R.I.P). If you ever experienced V.O, you would have been a fool not to sample the delicious cakes on offer, and I'll assume that no fools are reading this blog, because we all know fools cant do Internet. So it was most exciting to learn that Mark is still out there, cooking up a storm and keeping the fires of vegan goodness glowing, or whatever.

Whilst some of the recipes require a membership to view, quite a few are free! And on of the freebies was for a delicous sounding tempeh bolognese. Delicious to everyone except me, I was thinking, but hey tempeh needed to shift out of the freezer, so lets give it a stab!

Tempeh Bolognese


Sauce ingredients

2 cloves of garlic

1 packet of Tempeh

2 onions

½ red chilli (to Taste)

50 mls Balsamic vinegar

1 can chopped tomatoes

100 gms Tomato paste

10 gms capers

100 gms artichokes

50 gms chopped sun dried tomatoes



1. Bring a pot of water to the boil on the stove.

2. Place the spaghetti into the water and cook until a knife inserts easily into it.

3. Dice up onions and mince the garlic.

4. slice the tempeh up into small pieces

5. Heat up some oil in a pan

6. Sauté off the onions and the chilli and cook off until the onions start to caramelize.

7. Add the tempeh and the garlic and continue cooking

8. Splash some balsamic vinegar in to the pan and coat the tempeh

9. Add some chopped tomatoes and tomato paste.

10. Add a little water if needed.

11. Add the capers, artichokes and the chopped sundried tomatoes and allow simmer to cook and reduce the sauce so it thickens nicely.

12. Take the spaghetti fruit and chop it in half.

13. Scoop out the seeds from the middle and taking a fork run it around the inside of the fruit to remove the ‘spaghetti’

14. Place the spaghetti on a plate a then top it off with the hot Bolognese sauce.

15. top with some capers as a garnish.

The only substitution I made was using proper spaghetti (actually it was buckwheat fettucine - which is just divine) instead of "spaghetti fruit" because I dont like my luck in sourcing things like that at the last minute. And I added a touch of white wine at the end.

In conclusion, the bolognese was delicious. I cant argue with facts, I actually enjoyed tempeh..perhaps it was because it was all crushed up and indistinguishable (I do believe its a texture associated issue) perhaps because the whole thing was incredible, with a good bite, richness and taste that just got better over time. The mouthfeel, also quite pleasant.

You should really suss out Mark's page for some quality sweet and savoury recipes. I'm currently saving my pennies for a membership!

Brunchy mc brunch brunch #2

Apologies for taking a long, long week to post this. I'm pretty sure the food from last week's brunch took that long to digest.

So, whats the benefit of inviting a boatload of strangers over to your house on a Saturday morning?

Let me show you it.


The spread in its entirety. A multitude of sins, including but not limited to refined flour, sugar, and mass quantities of nuttelex. Hellfire never tasted so good.

And now for personal portraits of the guests. The food guests!!


Lemony baked potatoes, courtesy of Veganomicon


Mushroomy wellington, shaped in convenient bite sized sausage rolls. I would have had at least 10 bites, at least.


Cinnamon scrolls, couresty of Bittersweet blog. The easiness of this recipe balances out the 100 odd years required to prepare it. So worth it, when you're stuffing these little babies into your mouth at gluttonously rapid pace. Also I adapted the recipe slightly and included crushy walnuts and shredded coconut in random scrolls, for a suprise factor.


SMLove Pie, from Veganomicon. The future bane of my existence and precursor to my new obsession with all manner of pie.


The "other things" photo. My housemate's pumpkin hedgehog (roasted pumpkin, rolled in hommus seeds and then tamari) - nice to have a vegetable make its presence known! Also La Panella donuts, and some Asian marinated baked tofu cosying up in the corner over yonder.


As the sign proclaims, "pink hommus". We ran out of chickpeas halfway through so subbed borlotti beans. It worked.


Pies courtesy of Emily Aduki. Burn marks courtesy of my shitty oven. So amazing.



Almond jammy cuppers and chocolate banana cuppers courtesy of Kristy and Toby. Despite rumoured cooking malfunctions and flavouring hazards, these treats went down incredibly well. I beleive both recipes are courtesy of VCTOTW - Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World!


Red lentil dahl courtesy of Janice. Some much needed vegetable content there, soaking in its pool of curry delicious.


Barnacle balls as done by Sarah. I'm not even going to try to remember what was in these!


More balls, this time a take on vegan arancini, which absolutely blew my socks off. Thanks Grant, what a champ he is!


Apple pie crumb something something muffins! By Caroline. Yay fruit!!


The SMLove pie in all its internal glory. Can you see it, see the peanut butter caramel ooze? Get jealous.

I couldn't be happier with how the brunch turned out. Everyone had a great time, sitting around and clutching their bellies, occasionally staggering over to the food table to snack on leftovers only to curse themselves for trying to jam more food in. We sat around til 4pmish chatting about food, food, music, food, food and food, until everyone left, leaving me with leftovers!

So. When's the next one?!