Almost Raw Lamington Balls

So much for “I’m back!” It’s only taken me another two and a half months to back it up with another post. Ahhh well. Rather than give you a big spiel, I’m going to give you a recipe. Hallelujah!

The Bear and I have never much celebrated Valentines day – perhaps we would have a picnic if it fell on a weekend but there was no going out of our way to make the day particularly special. That was until a few years ago, when we dubbed the day ‘Lamingtons Day’. On this day – February 14th – we make lamingtons in one form or another. Over the years we’ve had lamington cupcakes, a whole lamington cake, lamington ice-cream and of course your stock standard lamingtons. The Bear has one rule – it’s not a real lamington unless it has jam.

rawlamingtons59

This year Lamingtons day kinda snuck up on us, and I had little inspiration for building epic lamington glory. When I say glory, I’m referring to the likes of the Bear’s two (or was it three?) tiered cake that instead of icing, he covered  with three blocks of melted dark chocolate. After it had set, the shell was so thick we had to hack away at it with our biggest kitchen knife to get a piece.

On the auspicious day itself I was also in the process of preparing some food for the working week. I often make variations of bliss balls to take with as a morning/afternoon snack, so with that in mind, I threw together these dudes and I have to say, was pretty pleased with how they turned out.

Before I give you the recipe, I just want to give a shout out to fellow Australian vegan blogger Kyra at Vie de la Vegan. I was doing a quick image search before the photo shoot to get an idea of how I might present the balls (how hard is it to make balls look good?! Eeeep!) In the process, I came across her very own recipe for Raw Lamington Balls as well. Slightly different, but I’m sure equally as delicious. Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-check it out!

rawlamingtons61

Almost Raw Lamington Balls
(can’t remember how many this makes, eep, will edit after making them again….amateur!)

1 cup raw cashews
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
3 Tbsp rice bran syrup
1 Tbsp vanilla paste
2 Tbsp non-dairy milk
80g raw chocolate (I used Loving Earth choc-raspberry block)
3/4 cup dessicated coconut

Jam:
1 cup frozen raspberries
1 Tbsp rice bran syrup
1 Tbsp chia seeds

Firstly make the jam – place raspberries and rice bran syrup in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Allow the berries to cook down slowly, gently stirring and squashing them with the back of a spoon every now and then. Cook until berries have broken down, about 5-10 minutes. Take off heat and stir in chia seeds. Set aside.

Place cashews and shredded coconut in a food processor and process until it resembles crumbs. Add rice bran syrup, vanilla and milk and process until mixture comes together and gets a bit sticky. Transfer to a bowl and add chia jam, stir until it is swirled through. Take heaped teaspoons of mixture and roll into balls.

Prepare a tray by lining it with baking paper. Using a double boiler, heat raw chocolate until melted. Pour dessicated coconut out onto a plate. One by one, cover each ball in chocolate before rolling in coconut and setting on the tray to dry. Store in the fridge.

rawlamingtons52

I’m back! V Series Kew, Fritz Gelato and Gelato Messina

Oh hello (queue tumbleweed)

That seems as good a way as any to start the post after the impromptu hiatus I have been on. It was never intended, but after having a post-MoFo breather, a couple of short holidays and just general life happenings, suddenly it is three months later. And helllloooo 2016.

To be honest, I also lost a bit of my blogging enthusiasm. It’s not that I’ve got nothing to post, on the contrary there’s still recipes that I didn’t get around to posting during MoFo as well as a million other eateries. Yes, a million. But the longer I went without posting, the harder it seemed to make the time to sit down and come back to it. I’ve also been battling with technology a bit – I’m no photo editing pro – I just make it up as I go. However I’ve had some photos that I wanted to share that got drowned in a coloured light and I’ve been trying, failing, cussing at my computer and trying again to fix them but I’m just not getting anywhere. Unfortunately these photos, chronologically speaking, should be posted first as they were from my trip to Perth back in October, but as I haven’t been able to get them right I’ve just been really stuck instead of moving on and coming back to it later. Anyway, I’ve finally moved on and I’ll come back and tinker with them and hopefully share them with you all later. At least I’m back tap tap tapping away at these here keys again – it’s a start.

So today I’m going to share a bit of a riff-raff account of a few things that I have eaten around the place. Starting with an impromptu brekkie at V Series in Kew the other day.

V Series is the evolution of A Caterpillar’s Dream (which I visited once previously) – the place has had a makeover with some noticeable improvements on decor and dining ware. I particularly liked the little pots of fresh herbs decorating the tables. The menu we were given on the day had a breakfast page, drinks page as well as a 3-course lunch deal with a selection of dishes to choose from, however this differs to that available on their website where it appears you can order an individual item from the lunch menu and there are more items on offer.

vseries1

The bear and I both ordered the same dish – the crispy tofu benedict, although he added an optional egg to his. I had not been feeling particularly hungry before spontaneously deciding to stop by for breakfast, so I probably could have done with just one of these stacks. That’s not to say I didn’t finish them both of course…

I was pleased with the generous amounts of mushroom, spinach and avocado layered atop the english muffins, the crispiness of the tofu was also satisfying although most likely deep fried. I appreciated the effort of the hollandaise but this was not quite on point – it tasted too sweet and heavily reliant on mustard for flavour, I had to add plenty of salt and pepper to combat the sweetness. If V Series could perfect the sauce it would take this to the next level.

vseries2

I also ordered an iced coffee to share because you know, iced coffee is delicious, albeit filling alongside the massive brekkie.

vseries3
As if we could walk out without taking some cupcakes from the cabinet – all of which are vegan. After far too much deliberation, we selected the classic cheesecake and the salted caramel cupcakes. Both were delicious – I’m a sucker for cheesecake so this went down well, but the salted caramel sauce and toffee flake were also impressive. I’m pleased with the evolution of V Series, and will definitely be back again, particularly after realising that our energy company had sent out a card giving discounts at certain eateries with V Series included. Excellent.

I was on Bridge Road recently on a hot summer’s day and stopped in to Fritz Gelato. Fritz have a sign on the wall indicating that all their sorbets are vegan.

fritz

The entire bottom row here, aside from the yoghurt flavour on the far left, are sorbets. Unfortunately I forgot to actually get a photo of the gelato I ordered, but I got strawberry and bounty – delicious!

Speaking of gelato, I stopped by Gelato Messina on Smith Street a while back and was pleased to find this vegan coffee sorbet with hazelnut praline, which I paired with the classic chocolate sorbet. I need to go back and see if they are still serving it, as this was divine – the crunchy praline just made it next level goodness.

messina

When I started this post, I thought I would share some Smith & Deli treats I have enjoyed, but after sifting through my photos I think there is enough for a post of it’s own so I will just end this now before I have any more reasons to put this post off. Yeeehah!

V Series
Shop 4/26 Princess St, Kew
Mon – Fri – 8am – 4.30pm
Sat – Sun – 9am – 4.30pm

Fritz Gelato
334 Bridge Rd, Richmond
Open 7 days – noon until late

Gelato Messina
237 Smith St, Fitzroy
Sun – Thurs – 12pm – 11pm
Fri – Sat – 12pm – 11.30pm

Spicy Chickpea and Coleslaw Tacos

Duuuudes! I can’t believe it’s the last day of MoFo and I didn’t even catch up on my posts! I’m going to be defiant and keep posting my ones that were meant for the last days as they are done and I do want to share them with you. The last week or so I’ve found myself with very little time to post, and even less to read other peoples’ blogs so I do apologise for that, and hope that once MoFo is done I can belatedly catch up on some of the action.

Tacos VS Burritos. Where do you stand on this important issue?

Truth be told, I love them both. But as last MoFo I shared a burrito so this time I thought it was only fair to give tacos some time. I do like tacos because I feel that I can eat more of them in one sitting, whereas I can only stuff one burrito down without feeling like I’m going to puke. Plus they always look so fresh and colourful, and you get to see everything that’s in them straight off the bat.

tacos1

I have to stress to you how easy these are to make. Most of it is down time, waiting for the chickpeas to cook – the rest is just throw it together. My kind of meal. And I’m so excited with the weather being the way it has been – warm nights just screams tacos and beers in evening sun.

tacos3

I am also loving the colour of these – the chickpeas are so vibrant, particularly alongside purple cabbage and some fresh greenery. It’s a rainbow eater’s dream!

tacos2

Spicy Chickpea and Coleslaw Tacos
(makes 10)

10 tortillas
Small bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Fresh lime wedges for serving
Hot sauce for serving (optional)
2 avocados, diced

Chickpeas
3 cups cooked chickpeas
¼ cup hot sauce (I used Frank’s)
1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander

3 Tbsp olive oil
Pinch of salt

Coleslaw
3½ cups purple cabbage, shredded
2½ cups grated carrot
¼ cup vegan mayonnaise
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp water
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 220C and line a baking tray with paper.

Place chickpeas in a bowl. Whisk together remaining ingredients for the chickpeas, then pour into the bowl and stir until all combined. Pour out chickpeas onto the tray and spread into a single layer. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes, stirring with a spatula a couple of times along the way.

Meanwhile, prepare the coleslaw. In a small bowl, combine mayo, lime juice, water, salt and pepper. Mix up cabbage and carrot in a large bowl, then pour dressing over it and mix well to combine.

Cook tortillas according to directions – we used white corn tortillas and lightly pan fried them on either side. To assemble, place some chickpeas, coleslaw and avocado on each tortilla, then top with fresh coriander, a squeeze of lime juice and hot sauce.

tacos4

tomatoweb

 

Strawberry Watermelon and Basil Icy Poles

Another belated post, lets pretend that this was shared on Sunday okay?

Favourite herb or spice.

This was hard because I love lots of herbs and spices, but ultimately I decided to go with my original favourite herb. By original, I mean I think that basil was the first herb I ever became quite enamoured with in cooking. The smell of a fresh bunch is like nothing else! But what to share with you? I’ve already done multiple pesto recipes, so it was time to go down a different path. I’ve also made strawberry basil dehydrated fruit leather in the past, but with the warm weather coming back I thought it more appropriate to share something a little more suitable.

icypoles1
It’s been so exciting to see berries and watermelon start making more frequent appearances around the place. Oh yes, summer is coming! I am a big fan of the combination of strawberry and basil, and of watermelon and basil, so how could this go wrong? If it ain’t your jam though, mint makes a great substitute as well.

icypoles2

Strawberry, Watermelon and Basil Icy Poles
(makes 6)

1 punnet strawberries (250g), stems removed
450g watermelon, chopped into chunks
Approx 10 large basil leaves
2 Tbsp agave (optional)

Place strawberries, watermelon and agave (if using) in a blender and blend until smooth. Add basil leaves and pulse a few times. Pour evenly among icy pole moulds and place in freezer overnight.

icypoles3

broccoliweb

Pearl Barley Risotto with Mushroom and Spinach

After a bit of a crazy weekend I didn’t get a chance to post the last few days, but had already prepared posts. I’m going to go ahead and share one tonight and hopefully a few tomorrow to catch up, as I’d like to get back on track for the last few days of MoFo.

It’s cold and rainy and there’s a snow drift outside your door! What are you going to make using the ingredients you have?

For a long time, pearl barley was one of those things I would buy and it would sit at the back of the cupboard forever, until that first time I tried it. The nutty, chewiness is what I love, and the reason I think it makes a perfect risotto. We also pretty much always have spinach and mushrooms, as they are boyfriend bear’s favourite breakfast constituents and we seem to have an abundance of lemons always from housemates’ parents or workmates or even the yard down the road that we sometimes sneak into.

barleyrisotto5b
So even though we’re edging away from the cold, snow-at-your-door weather (okay, so we never get snow at the door), this is the perfect thing to cook in that kind of weather. Also great about risotto is that you can pretty much cook it using anything you’ve got on hand – veggies, herbs, spices. It always seems to work out filling, hearty and generally delicious.

Also, I took the ingredients over to my parents’ house to cook and even my dog wanted in on the action –

barley risotto2b

She knows what’s good!

Pearl Barley Risotto with Mushroom and Spinach
(serves 4-6)

1 Tbsp oil
1 brown onion, diced finely
1 leek, sliced
250g mushrooms, sliced
3 cups baby spinach
3 cloves garlic, minced
1½ cups pearl barley
½ cup dry white wine
4 cups hot vegetable stock
2 Tbsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
¼ cup flat leaf parsley, plus extra for garnish
Salt and pepper

Heat oil in a pot over medium and add onion and leek, cooking for about five minutes until translucent. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook a further couple of minutes. Add pearl barley and cook for a minute, stirring constantly.

Pour in white wine and cook until it has mostly evaporated, a couple of minutes. Now start to add stock, one ladle at a time, and allow to gently simmer until most of the liquid has been absorbed before adding the next ladle full. Continue to cook like this, stirring constantly, until all the stock has been absorbed.

Add lemon zest, juice, parsley, nutritional yeast and spinach and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with extra parsley.

barleyrisotto3b

cornweb

Baba Ghanoush

Share your favourite cuisine.

Today was a tough one to settle on, as even after so many years on this planet I’m still not 100% sure what my favourite cuisine is. If you asked me as a child, I definitely would have said Italian. I loved pasta. Mexican was also up there. Since my tastes have developed (thank goodness), I enjoy newer favourites of Japanese, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Indian and Moroccan, to name a few.

But at the end of the day, the decision about what to make was influenced strongly by the supply of eggplants in my kitchen. And so I turn to Middle Eastern cuisine to bring you this simple version of baba ghanoush. I call it a simple version as instead of holding eggplants in a flame or under the grill to blister the skin, this is a kind of ‘express’ baba ghanoush for when you want the dip but without all the messy peeling and time spent standing over a burner. In skipping this part a little of the smoky flavour is lost, which is why I like to add a dash of liquid smoke – what a cheat!

baba1
Baba Ghanoush

2 medium eggplants
generous amount of salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp tahini
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cumin
¼ cup flat leaf parsley
dash liquid smoke (optional)
olive oil for cooking and extra to drizzle on top

Peel eggplants and slice into inch thick rounds. Sprinkle with salt and leave in a colander to drain for about 15 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.

Preheat oven to 280C and line a baking tray with paper. Lay eggplant on tray and brush with olive oil. Cook for approximately 20 minutes, flipping once. Remove from oven. From here, you can either use a blender or just a fork depending on what consistency you prefer. I like a little chunkiness, so I transfer the eggplant flesh to a bowl and mash with a fork. Add remaining ingredients and mix to combine.

To serve, top with olive oil and some fresh parsley (and with some pita chips!)

baba2

tomatoweb

Hazelnut Choc Chip Cookies

I haven’t done much (read: any) experimenting with aquafaba until now, and I wouldn’t even say that this was very experimental, considering the meringue stuff that has been going on (SRSLY!). I did attempt a sponge cake in which I got to whip the aquafaba up and see it form peaks – a pretty amazing sight indeed. The sponge cake itself wasn’t what I had hoped, it was still dense rather than the light and fluffy I was going for. In these cookies, I had hoped the aquafaba would create this mad chewiness, but it didn’t happen to the extent I had intended. I don’t really think the aquafaba is even that necessary here. Regardless, these cookies are damn delicious.

What (insert well known person) would eat if they were vegan.

0M4A0017bb
So who would I be feeding these delicious cookies to, you ask?

cookiemonster
ZOMG! It’s Cookie Monster! Everyone knows Cookie Monster loves a good old choc chip cookie, but the addition of nuts suits his personality down to a T. I only hope he’s brought his cookie eating game cos we are getting pretty damn good and wolfing these babies down.

0M4A0025b

No seriously, blink and you will miss them.

0M4A0037b
Hazelnut Choc Chip Cookies
(makes about 28-32 cookies)

2/3 cup vegan butter
½ cup coconut sugar
¼ cup raw sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 Tbsp chickpea juice
1 ¾ cups flour
1 ½ ts p baking powder
½ tsp bicarb soda
¾ tsp salt
¾ cup choc chips
½ cup hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 180, line a tray with baking paper. .

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars with electric beaters for a good couple of minutes. Add vanilla, chick juice and beat until combined.

In a separate bowl, mix together remaining ingredients except for choc chips and hazelnuts. Add half of the dry ingredients to the wet and stir to combine, before adding the rest along with the choc chips and hazelnuts and stirring to form a dough.

Taking heaps teaspoons, roll into balls then flatten into discs on the tray. Bake for 10-12 mins until bottoms slightly golden (on the shorter side for chewier cookies, longer for crispy). Allow to sit on the tray for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

0M4A0036b
Nom nom nom nom…

broccoliweb

Spiced Lentil Burgers

Edited to say: it looks like there has been some rearranging and not everyone is on the same page with the order of MoFo themes. Apparently Autumn equinox was moved to today to fit in with the correct timing (in some parts) but I hadn’t noticed. Because I haven’t done that post yet, I’m sticking with this one.

I almost wasn’t going to post this today, as I would have liked to have given it a little more thought and come up with a great relish and homemade bread rolls and all the rest of it. But it seems silly to miss a day of MoFo just because of these shortcomings – that’s not what it’s about (and the bear was teasing me for thinking about leaving it out). It’s the month to talk about vegan food, no matter what!

Fusion challenge!

When I think of today’s topic, for some reason I always think of noodles. I was determined to think of something other than noodles, and after getting past my initial roadblock I realised that much of what I cook could be considered somewhat of a fusion, so brought it back to this classic. I used some Indian inspired spices to compliment the lentil patty, and married it with some classic western food – the humble burger, oh yeahhh.

lentilburger1
Below is the recipe for the patties themselves, you guys can work out the rest. In mine, I added cucumber, spinach and a quick chutney I whipped up but will not include here as it was not quite right (and I didn’t take measurements anyway) It had tomatoes, mustard seeds, cumin, coriander, garlic and asofatedia. I reckon it would work well with a raita as well.

lentilburger3

Spiced Lentil Burgers
(makes 8 patties)

1½ cups dry red lentils, rinsed and drained
3 cups water
1 small onion, diced finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
1½ cups breadcrumbs or oats pulsed a few times to resemble crumbs
½ cup flax meal
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp chili powder
¼ tsp cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup fresh coriander, roughly chopped
2-4 Tbsp water
¼ cup sesame seeds

Spray oil

Preheat oven to 200C and line a tray with baking paper.

Put lentils and 3 cups water in a pot and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook for approximately 15 mins, until tender. Drain and transfer to a bowl. Add remaining ingredients except water and sesame seeds and stir well to combine. The mixture should come together and be tacky, but you should still be able to pick up spoonfuls and shape with your hands. If too dry, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until the right consistency is reached. You don’t want the patties too dry or they will crack in the oven.

Spread sesame seeds on a flat plate, then take spoonfuls of mixture, roll into balls, thenn flatten into sesame seeds. Place each patty on the prepared tray and spray lightly with oil. Place in oven and bake for 30-40 mins, turning once, until lightly browned.

Eat on their own, or create into a burger with your favourite fillings.

lentilburger2

cornweb

Spring Pea and Mint Risotto

I’m having another kind of cheat day, in that I’m just re-posting an older recipe with a newer photo. Unfortunately I snapped this one a little too late in the day and I had lost most of the good light, so I was not particularly pleased. It will have to do though. I first posted this while we were in the van – we enjoyed it on the waterfront of a Queensland town from our little biodegradable camping bowls. What I wouldn’t give to be back there again!

Make a dish using all seasonal produce.

Okay, so it’s not ALL seasonal produce, but mostly. Unfortunately I had just harvested our snow peas a week or so ago and we had already munched them all, so I did not have home grown peas to add. Instead, I used sugar snap peas from the local fruit and veg market. The peas were not as plump and juicy which was disappointing. Our mint has also gone crazy in the past few weeks – it is growing wild through parts of the garden and the leaves are getting huge. I’ve been appreciating the joy of plucking a few leaves and steeping in hot water for fresh mint tea.

As I mentioned the first time round, this recipe is a veganised version of a Donna Hay one, that my mum picked out and made for me at her house one day. I enjoyed it so much that I have made it several times since.

springrisotto

Spring Pea and Mint Risotto
(serves 4-6)

2 cups fresh mint, roughly chopped
1tsp sea salt flakes
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups Arborio rice
5 cups hot veggie stock
3/4 cup frozen peas
200g sugar snap peas or snow peas, trimmed, blanched and halved
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1 Tbsp vegan butter
Sea salt and cracked pepper, to taste
Tofutti cream cheese for serving
Snow pea tendrils for serving (optional)

Put the mint and sea salt in a mortar and pestle and pound until a rough paste forms. Add 1 Tbsp of the oil and stir to combine. Set aside.

Heat the other Tbsp of oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 4-5 minutes until the onion has softened. Add the rice and cook for a minute or so, stirring constantly before adding the wine and allowing it to cook off – approximately 2 more minutes.

Add the stock, 1 cup at a time, allowing each to absorb before adding the next, and cook, stirring frequently, for 20-25 minutes or until rice is cooked al dente.

Remove from heat and stir in mint mixture, yeast flakes, butter, snow peas, frozen peas and salt and pepper (to taste). Serve with a dollop of Tofutti, and if you like, drizzle with a little olive oil. Chuck on some snow pea tendrils too if you have them!

tomatoweb

Nanna James’ Shortbread

Today is going to be quick and simple as it is sunny outside and the banana lounge is calling.

Veganise an old family recipe.

I recall as a child Nanna James’ shortbread, or at least versions of it cooked by other family members. I would help at Christmas time cut little tiny pieces of red and green glacé cherries and arrange them into little hollies on top – some of my favourite memories.

0M4A0547b
After the retro recipe theme of the other week, I stumbled across Nanna’s handwritten recipe in the back of her CWA cookbook.

0M4A0435b
I did not do anything to change the shortbread itself (other than convert measurements and use vegan butter, oh, and add a dash of vanilla). Of course Nanna’s shortbread did not have chocolate and sea salt on top, but I thought I’d zazz it up a bit for MoFo. The shortbread itself is not super sweet, so the chocolate is a nice addition. If that’s not your thing, just leave it out.

0M4A0542bI didn’t use cutters to shape these (obviously) as this is how we did it when I was little, unless we were rolling out Christmas shapes in which case you might see stars, hearts and trees. The little misshapen logs please me.

0M4A0544b

Nanna’s Shortbread
(makes about 24)

1½ cups vegan butter
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2½ cups flour
1 Tbsp cornflour
150g dark chocolate
Pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 180C and line a tray with baking paper.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar with electric beaters. Add vanilla and beat to combine.

Add flour and cornflour, and rub with fingers until a dough is formed. Either roll out your dough and cut shapes if you swing that way, or simply mould little logs and place on the prepared tray. Use a fork to put a few pricks in the top.

Bake for approx 20 mins, or until slightly golden.

If using chocolate, melt chocolate over a double boiler and dip each shortbread in, then sprinkle with a little sea salt.

0M4A0549b

broccoliweb