Zucchini and Sweet Potato Fritters with Sumac Yoghurt

Quick, easy and delicious.

Initially I had planned to go with the first thing that came to mind with this theme – a stir fry (classic!). But when thinking about my go-to easy week night meals of late, I realised that I more often turn to variations of vegetable fritters for something fast and delicious. A great way for using up those veggies on their last legs, welcome additions to veggie fritters include corn, spinach, carrots and crumbled broccoli – whatever’s going.

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The combination of sweet potatoes and sumac is a match made in heaven, and the fresh herbs and yoghurt just round the meal off. If you can’t be bothered with the yoghurt, they are just as yummy with a simple squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

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Zucchini and Sweet Potato Fritters with Sumac Yoghurt
(makes about 15)

3 cups grated zucchini (about 2 large zucchinis)
2 cups grated sweet potato (about 1 medium sweet potato)
2 cloves garlic, minced
cup brown rice flour
2 tsp sumac
2 Tbsp flax meal + 6 Tbsp water
¼ cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp fresh mint, minced
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
Oil for frying

Yoghurt:
cup vegan yoghurt (I used homemade cashew based yoghurt)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp lemon zest
½ tsp sumac
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, minced
1 Tbsp fresh mint, minced

In a small bowl, mix together flax meal and water, along with the oil and lemon juice and set aside.

Using a clean towel or your hands, squeeze as much liquid from the zucchini and sweet potato as possible. Don’t go crazy, just get as much out as you can. Place in a large bowl. Add flour, sumac, parsley, mint and lemon zest and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and adjust as desired. Add the flax mix to the large bowl and stir to combine. The mixture should be quite thick and ‘gluggy’.

Heat oil in a frypan over medium heat, and place spoonfuls of mixture into the pan, pressing them flat with the back of a fork. Cook for a couple of minutes, until golden, then flip and cook the other side.

For the yoghurt, simply stir all ingredients together. Voila! Dinner is served!

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broccoliweb

Sago Pudding – Two Ways

Recreate a meal from your childhood.

I like today’s theme, as it’s prompted me to start making a dish that I haven’t eaten in years, but always loved as a child. There’s something comforting about sago pudding – perhaps because of its simplicity, or maybe the fact that memories are linked to warm bowls of it for dessert on a cool winter’s night.

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Sago has such an interesting texture – I think we used to call it ‘frog’s eggs’, a name that likely came from dad (along with the charming ‘snot blocks’) and it may be one of those things that you either love or hate. I’m definitely a fan, and the bear is too – he was so excited when I wasn’t happy with my first set of photos and declared I would have to make it again. I’m glad somebody was able to see the positive.

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I could never pick which was my favourite – the milky one or the lemon one, both so delicious in their own right. The milky version was creamy and sweet, often laden with drizzles of golden syrup on top, but the lemon so zesty. Both were such a treat!

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Coconut Sago Pudding
(makes 2 large or 3 smaller serves)

½ cup sago (tapioca pearls)
1 ½ cup milk
1 ½ cup coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup agave or brown rice syrup
Pinch of salt
Toppings of choice – banana, toasted coconut, extra syrup

Cover sago with water and let sit for thirty minutes.

Drain any excess liquid and put the sago in a pot, along with remaining ingredients except for the toppings. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly to ensure the sago doesn’t stick to the bottom. Once boiled, turn down to a low simmer and cook for approximately 10 minutes, until the sago pearls become translucent. Make sure you stir continuously to avoid sticking.

Remove from heat and serve warm or allow to cool. Top with some brown rice syrup, banana and toasted coconut for extra deliciousness.

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Lemon Sago
(makes 2 large or 3 small serves)

½ cup sago
¼ cup lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
1 cup water
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp rice bran syrup

Cover sago with water and let sit for thirty minutes.

Drain any excess liquid and put the sago in a pot, along with remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly to ensure the sago doesn’t stick to the bottom. Once boiled, turn down to a low simmer and cook for approximately 10 minutes, until the sago pearls become translucent. Make sure you stir continuously to avoid sticking.

Remove from heat and serve warm or allow to cool.

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Vegan MoFo 2015 – Buckwheat Pancakes with Blueberry Coulis

Good morning lovely readers, old and new! Welcome to the very first day of the vegan month of food! Who can believe it has already been a year since the last one? Goodness gracious me..

This year, things are going down a little differently. Rather than each participant choosing their own theme to stick to throughout the month, the MoFo team have posted a list of prompts for each day so that everybody participating is chatting about the same thing. I think this has definitely simplified things and perhaps made it easier for more folks to get on board. So without further adieu, today’s prompt:

Rise and Shine! It’s MoFo time! Tell us about your breakfast.

Now unless you closed your eyes for the title of this post or even skipped it entirely in a mad rush to get to the rest of this quality post, you’ll see that I’ve gone with a classic – pancakes. I don’t eat a hell of a lot of pancakes, as they have always seemed like a special occasion food because they always appeared for mother’s day or father’s day or christmas or birthdays. But seeing as though it is day one of MoFo, what the hell! 
 
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Hello sweet goodness! If only every day started like this…

If you’re like me and have some serious troubles with flipping pancakes, think about making smaller pikelet sized ones like this! I’ve never made such perfect looking pancakes in my life.

Buckwheat Pancakes with Blueberry Coulis
(makes 10-12 smaller pancakes)

1 ½ cups buckwheat flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ cup mashed banana
2 Tbsp coconut sugar
1 ½ cups non dairy milk
1 tsp vanilla
Coconut oil for frying

Coulis:
1 ½ cups blueberries
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2-3 Tbsp agave
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp chia seeds (optional, for thickening)

For the pancakes, mix together flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients (except for the oil). Make a well in the centre of the dry mix and pour the wet mix into it, stirring to combine.

Heat a fry pan over medium heat and melt a small amount of coconut oil in it. Scoop pancake batter into the pan – for these smaller pancakes I used a ¼ cup to measure it out. Allow to cook until bubbles have started to form and pop all over each pancake. Carefully flip them using a thin metal spatula and cook for a further couple of minutes, until golden. Continue with the remaining batter.

For the coulis, place blueberries, lemon juice and agave in a small pot and heat over medium low heat. Gently simmer for about 10 minutes, until the blueberries start to break apart. Mash some with a spoon so that they separate. I like to keep some chunk in mine, but if you prefer you can blend and strain the mix later.

Turn off the heat and stir in vanilla. Taste for sweetness and add more agave if necessary. For a thicker sauce, add 1 teaspoon of chia seeds, stir through and allow to sit for a couple of minutes.

Serve pancakes with coulis, fresh fruit, yoghurt, ice cream, or whatever you damn want.

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tomatoweb

Simple Hummus

I don’t think I’ve ever posted just a plain old hummus recipe, so here you go. I shouldn’t say ‘plain old’, the humble hummus is a friend of many, loyal and reliable, delicious and nutritious, saving vegans from hunger at parties since forever. Let’s hear it for hummus!

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I’m sure you all know the drill with old mate hummus – flavours can be altered with the interchanging of spices and the addition of other tasties like roasted garlic, sundried tomatoes and herbs. But this here is what I’d call my standard hummus.

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Simple Hummus

1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas
2 Tbsp unhulled tahini
¼ cup lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin powder
½ tsp smoked paprika
Salt (optional)

Making hummus isn’t rocket science – you can just chuck all the ingredients together and blend them up. But I do have an order of preference – I start with the lemon juice, garlic and oil and blend until smooth. Next add the tahini and blend again until combined. Then add spices and chickpeas and blend until smooth. If mix is too thick, try adding a little more oil or some of the juice from the chickpeas (or water). Taste for seasoning, and serve with some olive oil and fresh parsley.

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See you in a few days, MoFo’s!

New bloginnings and Pana Cafe

You may have noticed something different around the little vegan bear neck of the woods (ha, bear…woods….yep), we’ve had a bit of a makeover! I am now a dot com! After much time feeling overwhelmed and technologically incapable, and then a little time with my brother and his girlfriend doing the majority of the legwork (thanks guys) I am here. Thank goodness for the technical knowledge of others.

These parts will remain pretty basic for the time being while I work out how to do a little more, which will most likely be a bit further down the track as I am aware that MoFo is fast approaching – if I’m going to participate this year I need to spend a bit of time planning. While I recall the stress of last MoFo like it were yesterday (has it really been a year?!) it was also a whole heap of fun and with the new structure I am hoping it will take some of the pressure off (no matter how self-imposed said pressure may have been). Nevertheless, a bit of forethought can’t hurt.

I’m doing my best to update all links, and I’m hoping that the transfer of subscribers went down successfully. Please let me know if you have any issues viewing, commenting, or anything else while on the blog and I’ll try to amend it.

Oh, and while I remember – I am officially getting ‘social’. I’m now on instagram as littleveganbear_ and you can link up with me through the button on the right side bar. Oooh look at me go!

Just for kicks, here are some snaps from a recent trip to Pana Cafe in Richmond with some girlfriends. For those who aren’t aware, Pana are a Melbourne business who deal in the trade of delicious raw chocolate. You may have seen their bars stocked in shops around the place – they are recognisable by the cute little alien looking dudes on the front of the box. Pana use all vegan, organic ingredients and are refined sugar free.

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Apart from their classic bars sold through various stockists, Pana also have a cafe on Church street in Richmond where they serve up an array of slices, cakes and other raw treats which look almost too good to eat. Seriously, I reckon we spent more time ooh-ing and aah-ing over everything than we did actually eating, they are so gosh darn beautiful.

We couldn’t help but be pulled by the allure of the larger ‘surprise cake’, which we were pretty sure we had pegged as choc-mint. We also got a slice of what I think was spicy apple slice, if my memory serves me correct.

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Well we sure were surprised, because there was not a hint of mint in this baby. Instead we found berries and a delicious lime tasting cream on top. Rich, silky smooth and delicious the whole way through. I was keen for something less chocolate-y with the slice, and it didn’t disappoint. I felt our eyes were a little too big for our tummies though, as I was feeling pretty stuffed by the end.

Shout out to my pal Steph for the photos which I have borrowed. Also shout out to the lovely lady who did an excellent job at slicing the goodies into thirds for us. It is worth noting that while it is called the Pana Cafe, there really are only a couple of stools (3 or 4) and a bench at the front of the shop, so if you aren’t lucky enough to nab them you might have to take away.

Speaking of take aways, I took a few choccies home to share with the bear. I can’t remember what they all were – oh deary me, how many times do I swear I’ll start taking notes for occasions like this? One was sesame, I feel like one might have been lemonade, maybe lavender and rose? Whatever the case – they were all incredible. I would even go so far as to say that I enjoyed them more than the cakes – perhaps being bite sized there was less chance of being overcome by the richness.


Apologies for the shitty late night camera phone job, but these darlings couldn’t wait any longer!

Pana Cafe
491 Church St, Richmond
Mon – Fri – 10am – 5pm
Sat – 10am – 4pm
Sun – 11am – 3pm

Baked Rice Paper Rolls with Cashew Dipping Sauce

Winter is usually about soups, curries, stews and other hearty dishes, but sometimes you just need something a little more colourful. Rice paper rolls are the ultimate summer dish, but no longer are they banished to hot weather alone.

The great thing about rice paper rolls is how versatile they are – you can pretty much make them with whatever you have on hand. As a result, each time I make them they are slightly different. While I’ve only included veggies in these ones, I often add a strip of marinated tofu or tempeh to each roll, or even some edamame beans or avocado (though I haven’t tried avo in the baked version). When I am making fresh rice paper rolls, I always tend to separate out each ingredient and place them neatly in the rolls, but with these I’ve just mixed all the bits up in a bowl and chucked them in – perhaps more reminiscent of a spring roll filling. Easy as bro.

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Like the filling, the dipping sauce I use varies each time – sometimes I just grab some sweet chili or rice wine vinegar and soy straight from the bottles, or sometimes I feel inspired to whip something up especially. I initially intended to do a peanut dipping sauce, but after finding there was no peanut butter (sacrilege!) I improvised with cashews and sesame oil, which had quite a similar effect.

I did have a go at pan frying these dudes, and then tried baking them – while they were both good, I preferred the texture of the baked ones which seemed to get a little crispier while still retaining some chewiness, as well as being less oily.

bakedricepaperrolls1Baked Rice Paper Rolls with Cashew Dipping Sauce
(makes about 22)

2 cups purple cabbage, shredded
2 cups green cabbage, shredded
1 cup spring onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups carrot, julienned (about 1 large carrot)
2 cups bean sprouts
1/4 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
1/4 cup fresh coriander, roughly chopped
100g brown rice vermicelli noodles
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 chili, finely chopped
Rice paper sheets

Olive oil for brushing

Cashew dipping sauce:
1/2 cup cashews, soaked
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sriracha
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced

Preheat oven to 180C, and line two baking trays with paper.

Place vermicelli noodles in a bowl, and cover with warm water. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together cabbages, spring onions, carrot, mint, coriander and bean sprouts. When noodles are tender, drain them and using kitchen scissors, roughly chop them so they become smaller pieces. Add to the bowl with the veggies.

In a small bowl, mix together chili, rice wine vinegar and soy sauce. Pour over the veggie mix.

Now prepare a large bowl with warm water to dip the rice paper sheets in. One at a time, lay out the sheets, place filling in the centre and roll up, folding the sides in first then rolling away from yourself. If you aren’t familiar with how to wrap rice paper rolls, jump on youtube and do a quick search.

Lay rice paper rolls down on the prepared trays, then spray or brush with olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip them and bake for another 10-15.

To make the dipping sauce, place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. If too thick, keep adding water one tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

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Apple, Rhubarb and Orange Crumble

My idea of a what constitutes a good crumble goes something like this: LOTS of crumble. Getting enough crumble that you have enough to take you to the last bite is an important balance to create, much like ensuring the ice cream will last the distance. Of course I always need to add a little extra to account for the crumble I will inevitably eat off the top before I’ve even served it as well. The last time I made crumble, I was so set on having enough topping that I ended up with a container of it left over that I physically could not fit on top. Luckily it was put to good use with some banana crumble muffins later on.

This is the perfect way to use some of that rhubarb that is going gangbusters at the moment, and the perfect dessert to have on a cool winter’s evening. In fact, it even works well as a breakfast (though you probably shouldn’t include the ice cream like I did the other morning – it IS kind of like the milk on the cereal of crumble, that makes sense right?)

applerhubarborangecrumbleWhile I am also a fan of a simple crumble topping, I also like to pack it full of goodies, and I tend to just throw whatever I have on hand in – sometimes various nuts, seeds and even the odd gingernut biscuit. I like the combination in this one, but you can quite easily substitute more preferred items in place of the ones I’ve used.

applerhubarborangecrumble4It makes me laugh how spherical the ice cream is in this photo – it’s almost too perfect. Is there someone I can talk to about that?

Apple, Rhubarb and Orange Crumble
(serves 4-6)

3 Granny Smith apples (approx 2 cups)
4 stalks rhubarb (approx 2 cups)
Juice of 1 orange (approx 1/3 cup)
Zest of 1 orange
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp arrowroot + 2 Tbsp water

Crumble topping:
3/4 cup oats
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup almonds, roughly chopped
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup flour (I used spelt here, but have used various flours with no problems)
1/3 cup nuttelex (or coconut oil)
2 Tbsp flax meal (optional)
Pinch salt

Preheat oven to 180C.

Chop your apple and rhubarb into manageable chunks, and place them in a medium saucepan along with the orange juice and zest, coconut sugar, spices and vanilla. Heat over a medium-low heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fruit has softened.

In a small bowl, whisk together arrowroot and water. Take fruit off the heat and stir through arrowroot mix. Pour into a baking dish – I used a large ramekin for this.

To prepare the crumble, place all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Throw in the nuttelex in small chunks, and using your hands rub it through the mix. Sure, you could do it with a spoon, but I like to get amongst it. Distribute the crumble evenly over the fruit mix, and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the crumble topping is golden and the fruit mix is bubbling a little at the sides. Serve with ice cream, cream, yoghurt, or any damn thing you like.

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True North II, A Caterpillar’s Dream and Fina’s Vegetarian Cafe

Another work drive out to Coburg a while back resulted in another need for lunch. After the last pleasant experience at True North, I swung by to pick up another sammich. This time, I opted for a faux chicken deal.

truenorth21Excuse the car lap shot, I’m eating on the run (don’t worry, am still in car park).

truenorth22The make up of this one was chicken, mayo, lettuce and sprouts on sourdough bread. It was decent, though not as satisfying as the reuben I previously got there – still a respectable lunch. The bear has been asking since my previous post when I would take him out there for a reuben, I think he has been distracted by the offering of a vegan reuben a lot closer to home through Smith & Deli for now though.

Though I’ve been living a short walk away from A Caterpillar’s Dream for six months now, I’ve only made the effort to eat there once. It’s a kind of strange spot for a vegetarian cafe, nestled on the edge of a carpark shared with Leo’s Supermarket and Laurent’s Bakery, amongst other things. It’s a pretty standard cafe set up, nothing to write home about. I apologise in advance for the dodgy photos to follow.

caterpillarsdream1My mum went with a lighter option – the rice paper rolls with lemon and chili sauce. While in appearance, they did not impress, mum declared them tasty.

caterpillarsdream3Dad went with the zucchini corn fritters, with avocado, chutney and sour cream. This was a ‘vegan available’ item, though I can’t remember if dad took them up on that. Either way, he enjoyed it.

caterpillarsdream2We got some ‘sweet potato wedges’ with plum and black pepper spice to share. These were not at all what we were expecting – they were quite sweet and were reminiscent of the pumpkin cakes from chinese restaurants. A bit to dessert-y for me.

caterpillarsdream4Luckily, I had just a few salty regular fries with my meal – pie, chips and salad. Unfortunately, I can’t remember what was inside the pie – was it mushroom? That’ll teach me for leaving it for so long before sharing. A satisfying lunch, but lucky I had some others to share the chip load with.

caterpillarsdream5Mum had her eye on the cake display from the moment we walked in, and though I was getting full, who am I to deny somebody of their cake dreams? We shared this tiramisu cupcake, it was lovely and moist.

caterpillarsdream6Lastly, I had to have an iced coffee, because duh. It was good, however it was definitely enough to tip me into over-fullness. A Caterpillar’s Dream offers decent vegetarian food at a fairly reasonable price – there is nothing outstanding, but it does the trick just fine.

Another really old post is from Fina’s Vegetarian Cafe. I think this might date back to living at the old place, when we frequented Fina’s on a fairly regular basis. Though we’ve eaten there many times, I don’t think I’ve ever shared the experience.

finas1Some spring rolls to share. After living just off VIctoria St, I could never eat spring rolls without lettuce and mint again! How did I not know about this sooner?

finas2We had a habit of getting the same few dishes each visit (pancake, spicy noodle soup) so this time we were determined to try something different. The bear went with the special vegan quang noodle – a combination of noodles, veggies, paper tofu and mock bacon in a creamy broth, with fresh herbs and bean sprouts on the side. While bear enjoyed his dish, he tasted mine and immediately got food envy. Lucky we like to share.

finas3I actually can’t remember what this was – I think perhaps the bamboo soup? All I recall is the deliciously chewy bits of mock meat – either bacon or duck, and a clean and tasty broth.

We love Fina’s – the service is friendly, the meals are tasty, well portioned and reasonably priced. Since this visit, Fina’s have opened up their second restaurant – this one on Brunswick St in Fitzroy and 100% vegan. We popped by on opening night to enjoy a meal, will share our findings later.

True North Cafe
2A Munro St, Coburg
Mon – Fri – 7am – 4pm
Sat – Sun – 8am – 4pm

A Caterpillar’s Dream
Shop 4/26 Princess St, Kew
Mon – Thurs – 8.30am – 4pm
Fri – Sat – 8.30am – 4pm & 5.30pm – 9pm
Sun – 9am – 4pm

Fina’s Vegetarian Cafe
268 Victoria St, Richmond
Mon – 10.30am – 3pm
Tues – Sun – 9.30am – 9.30pm

Smith & Deli, Fitzroy

I’m sure you’ve all heard of the hot new place in town – vegans and non-vegans alike are buzzing with the news. Yep, those awesome folk over at Smith & Daughters have opened up their own deli, just around the corner on Moor St, aptly named Smith & Deli and stocking everything you could possibly need, from sandwiches to salads, premade pizzas to hot soup, coffees to herbs and spices. I’m yet to step inside yet, but Faye at Veganopoulous and Cindy and Michael at Where’s the Beef? have taken some great photos of the snazzy interior.

While I have not had the opportunity to visit them in person as of yet, I am lucky enough that my bear had a free day and offered to pop by Smith & Deli and meet me on my lunch break with some (read: LOTS) of their goods to share. You can imagine my excitement when I was greeted with this:

smithdeli1At first the bear apologised for getting all “his type” of foods, but I was pretty sure any food from Smith & Deli was going to be my type of food so I was not too worried.

smithdeli3First up, we split a “Rubenstein” sandwich – pastrami, sauerkraut, pickles and Russian dressing on rye bread. This is my second reuben style sandwich ever, and I’m loving them more with each try. Everything about this was perfect, from the thickness of the bread to the tanginess of the generous filling.

smithdeli2Next up, the kim chi and cheese scroll. Are you kidding me?!

smithdeli4Seriously. So de-freaking-licious I can’t even. The bread was so soft and while I thought the kim chi might be a bit too mild in amongst all the dough, it had an excellent kick.

smithdeli5Our last savoury course consisted of a steak and curry pie. This probably wouldn’t have been my first pick, though at the same time I want to eat EVERYTHING on offer, so how could I not be happy with this?

smithdeli7At first we were not blown away by the pie, as we were still coming down off the awesomeness of the last two things. It’s a steak and curry pie. However the more we ate into it, the more we realised that it was a bloody good pie – if we hadn’t already stuffed ourselves with goods beforehand, we probably would have rated it higher to begin with. The pastry was good, there was a strong curry flavour and a generous amount of melt-in-your-mouth ‘steak’ interspersed with chunks of vegetables. Nothing to scoff at!

smithdeli8Oh you thought it was over? Nohohohohooo.

As if there wouldn’t be sweets! Bear brought this doughnut – I’m not actually sure what it was and neither was he – he said he was so overwhelmed he just pointed at things. It had kind of brownie chunks on top? Sweet, delicious, and almost enough to tip us over the edge.

We had to go for an ambulate so we didn’t go into a food coma. While walking, the bear (after previously professing his love for Smith & Daughters by declaring we must eat there weekly) announced that this was his new place, and he was “a deli boy” now. Fine by me. I have a whole deli of treats to work my way through!

Smith & Deli
111 Moor St, Fitzroy
Tues – Sat – 8am – 7pm

Smoky Minestrone Soup with Pesto

As we reach winter solstice and the temperature keeps dropping, there’s nothing quite like a hot and hearty bowl of soup to keep you warm. It’s been a while since I’ve had minestrone, my main memories of it are from cold weekends when Mum or Nanna would cook up a big pot for the family. It always seemed a bit special to me that there was cooking going on for lunch, and we’d all sit at the table to eat.

Smoked paprika gives this one a little more depth of flavour, and the pesto just ties it all together beautifully. I like to sprinkle some nutritional yeast on top too just for good measure (not to mention those B vitamins!)

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Smoky Minestrone Soup with Pesto
(serves 6-8)

1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 x 400g cans diced tomato
6 cups vegetable stock
3 carrots, diced (approx 2 cups)
2 stalks celery, diced (approx 2 cups)
1 large zucchini, diced (approx 2 1/2 cups)
2 potatoes, diced (approx 2 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 cups green beans, trimmed and cut into 2cm pieces
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 1/2 cups cooked cannellini beans
1 cup macaroni or other small pasta
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp chili flakes
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

For the Pesto:
1 cup tightly packed basil
2 Tbsp pine nuts
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
Pinch of salt

Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion, garlic, carrot and celery and saute until softened – about five minutes. Add zucchini, potato, green beans, paprika, chili flakes and thyme and saute for another minute.

Add tomatoes and vegetable stock, and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook until potato is tender – about 15-20 minutes. Turn up to bring to a boil again and add macaroni, chickpeas and cannellini beans. Reduce heat and continue to simmer until pasta cooked, stirring occasionally to prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom.

While cooking, prepare the pesto: place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until combined. Set aside.

Once pasta cooked, stir in tomato paste, fresh parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Serve up and top with pesto.

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