Monday, December 23, 2013

Eating Out and About

I've been eating out a bit lately, and I thought I would share two lovely experiences I have had over the last few months.


Dayboro Deli Vegan Night

The Dayboro Deli is located an hour or so out of Brisbane in the town of Dayboro. A few months ago they held a series of four dinners, each focusing on a different 'food'. The first of the nights was a vegetable night, and they decided to make it all vegan. Of course I had to go! Driving to and from Dayboro in the dark was kind of terrifying - even with my high beams on it was pitch black! But it was worth it for a lovely dinner.

Dayboro Deli Vegan Night


The first course was 'Pine Nut and Sweet Potato Risotto with Crispy Kale'. This was a risotto made actually of pine nuts! A very nifty idea. The flavour was good, though as it cooled down it was quite rich. It came with a bit of crispy kale, which was amazing!

Dayboro Deli Vegan Night


The main course was 'Portobello Steak with Vegemite and Red Wine Jus and Baby Vegetable Medley'. As vegans, portobello steaks are nothing out of the ordinary. However this was a steak made from minced mushroom that was bound together and cooked. Mixed with the delicious jus, it was a great combination!

Dayboro Deli Vegan Night


Dessert was 'Coconut Milk Kheer Pudding with Carrot, Orange Mousse and Beetroot Sorbet'. The beetroot sorbet was kind of like eating a frozen baby beetroot from a can in flavour, but all together it really worked.

All up it was a great night, well worth the trip out there. I really enjoyed how the chef was quite inventive with how he made the dinners, it is great to see that sort of effort put in to vegan food and omni places!

Statler and Waldorf

One of the nurses at work goes out with one of the owners and chefs of The Statler and Waldorf Gastronomy Club in Paddington. On a regular day, the menu will have a couple of vegetarian options, however vegan not so much. However, when Lisa arranged for our work Christmas party to be held there, they were able to put together a delicious array of share plates that were mostly vegan.

Statler and Waldorf


This salad was probably the favourite of the table, a Waldorf Salad. Greens, shredded apple, candied walnuts and frozen grapes (and other things as well I am sure), forks were crossed trying to scrape the last of this amazing salad off the boards and onto our plates, or just directly into our stomachs. I loved the frozen grapes!

Statler and Waldorf


Coming in second by just the merest of a whisper were these amazing quinoa and eggplant tacos with avocado cream. So. Frakking. Good. I could have devoured a whole plate. Actually, these probably tied for first with the salad for me.

Statler and Waldorf


After this I gave up taking photos, because the whole low light/bright flash thing was really frustrating. You can see how bad this photo is! It is a photo of a little quartered beet and portobello slider (yum!). In the 'I did not take a picture' category there was also some lovely artichoke bruschetta - where the artichokes took the place of the bread and had a zesty topping. And a giant pot of sweet potato chips with more avocado cream.

This was an amazing dinner! I was so happy and full after this. I would recommend checking out Statler and Waldorf should the opportunity arise - just be sure to call in advance so they can put together a great vegan menu! Even if you aren't vegan, if everyone keeps asking for those amazing tacos maybe they will put it on the menu permanently? YUM!

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Possum Asana


Cats love yoga mats, and they love yoga poses. Here is Possum practicing a very important pose - Resting Cat. Possum turned nineteen years old in September, he is amazing!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Recipe Round-Up: One-Dish Vegan (part 2)

On to the second part of my initial round-up of One-Dish Vegan, by the magnificent Robin Robertson.

Jamaican-Style Coconut Rice Bowl

Jamaican-Style Coconut Rice Bowl


This dish is a great reminder that you don't need complex ingredients for great flavour. Initially I was worried this might be a bit bland, but I was so wrong. This is a beautiful dish, which I served over kale.

Chipotle-Citrus Tofu and Broccoli

Chipotle-Citrus Tofu and Broccoli


This is a very filling dish, with a lovely orange flavour and gentle heat. I only used one chipotle (which I seeded) to make it Susan spice level approved.

Black Beans and Quinoa with Shredded Vegetables

Black Beans and Quinoa with Shredded Vegetables


Another dish that is generous with the serving sizes! There's something so fun about eating shredded vegetables, plus with quinoa and black beans it will fill you up and give you that protein omnivores are always so concerned about. Great with nooch!

Thai Peanut Bowl with Tofu and Asaparagus

Thai Peanut Bowl with Tofu and Asparagus


This is amazing, and will definitely have you going back for seconds. I got three big servings out of this, and that was only with great restraint (I really wanted to eat more!).

Pasta and Zucchini Puttanesca

Pasta and Zucchini Puttanesca


I love puttanesca, something about all those olives and capers and tomato and pasta. This version has finely chopped zucchini in it as well, which is lovely. I accidentally had bought green olives with pips, so I had to slice my olives off around them. Annoying! But worth it. Sprinkle with nooch.

Pad Thai Tofu

Pad Thai Tofu


I always gravitate towards Pad Thai recipes in cookbooks (any excuse to bust out my tamarind paste!), and this did not disappoint. I love all the toppings on it as well.

Hoisin Tempeh Noodles

Hoisin Tempeh Noodles


Hoisin, tempeh and soba noodles... three of my favourite things! This recipe is definitely one to keep coming back to, even my tempeh suspicious dad enjoyed it. The recipe calls for 8oz of tempeh (about 250g) but I had a 300g block so I just used it all and increased the amount of sauce (by using 20mL Australian TBS instead of 15mL US TBS when I was measuring out the ingredients for it).

Sesame Soba with Tofu and Broccoli

Sesame Soba with Tofu and Broccoli


Another totally awesome dinner. I can't get enough of soba, and I also love tofu and broccoli and tahini. Tahini and miso sauce has got to be one of the best combinations out there.

Pesto Lasagna

Pesto Lasagna


A great lasagna, I did make a few modifications. I can't find non-instant lasagne noodles that don't have eggs in them, so I used instant (which worked fine). I also used 1/4 cup of water with 1/8 tsp of guar gum in place of the oil in the pesto, just because I was feeling like being oil-free. The recipe calls for 1 pound of firm tofu, but I had 375g firm tofu and 100g of left-over silken in my fridge so I used a combination. This is a great recipe, and surprisingly filling!

Mac and Thai

Mac and Thai


You MUST buy the book for this recipe, if for no other reason. This was one that was frequently mentioned in the teaser posts leading up to the book, and oh my goodness it was everything that I hoped and dreamed. Noodles, vegetables, a white bean sauce that is a little bit peanut a little bit cheesy... heaven! I could eat an entire recipe of this!!

Butternut and Cremini Lasagna

Butternut and Cremini Lasagna


This is an unusual lasagna, but one that makes a nice change from the regular variations. The recipe calls for butternut squash thinly sliced, I wasn't sure how it was meant to be sliced (rings? quarters? slabs?) so I think that I just cut it into thin rectangular slices as it was being sauteed. It also has kale and mushrooms, yum! The sauce is a blended white bean sauce, and it is topped with toasted pecans for crunch.

Vegetable Paella

Vegetable Paella


This is a fun dish bursting with flavours and different ingredients. It bakes up perfectly (no issue with the rice not cooking here) and makes six giant servings, so lots leftover for lunches during the week.

I have made other dishes as well, though the photos are still on my camera, and there are lots more that I am keen to make. Bahn Mizza and the Tofu, Potato, and Cauliflower Piccata Bowl are at the top of my still to make list. I recommend everyone get their hands on a copy of this book, as I think it will suit vegans and omnis alike, with any level of cooking experience.

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Dim Sim in her pink bed


Dim Sim sleeping in her fluffy pink bed. The bed itself is made out of such a soft, smooth fluffy material that Dim Sim kind of finds it a bit strange, so I have had to put a crocheted blanket into the base of it to make it fit her exacting requirements.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Recipe Round-Up: One-Dish Vegan

Wow, it has been just over two years since I last posted a 'Recipe Round-Up' post. But even though there has been a long time between posting, I haven't stopped cooking!

One-Dish Vegan is the latest cookbook published by Robin Robertson, who is my favourite vegan cookbook author. I knew about this book for months before it was published, pre-ordered it early and then waited patiently by my mailbox for it to arrive. I was not disappointed!

One-Dish Vegan is packed full of a fantastic array of tasty recipes. It has a focus on wholefoods, so lots of grains, beans, tofu, tempeh and vegetables. There are a few dishes that call for seitan or vegan sausages, and only one or two that have an option of vegan cheese. The premise of the book is recipes that can be served in the one dish, though they are not all one pot. Some do dirty up a few pots and pans along the way, but there is nothing complicated. There are no photos in the book (except for on the cover), but this is not something that bothers me. Make the recipes and you can take you own photos. :) There are no starters or desserts here, just filling savoury dishes. Chapters include Soups That Make A Meal, Main-Dish Salads, Stovetop Simmers or Stews, Chili Today, Sautes and Stir-Fries, Pasta Plus, and Oven to Table.

I have been using this book a lot in the short time that I have had it, so I will split this into two posts. There are so many great sounding recipes!

Indonesian Noodle Soup with Tofu

Indonesian Noodle Soup with Tofu

This yummy laksa-type soup provides four giant servings of goodness. It calls for extra-firm tofu, which is what I used, but if you have access to fried tofu puffs these would be great here.

Wild About Rice Salad

Wild About Rice Salad

This salad is an absolute delight - amazing flavour in every bite! Wild and brown rice are mixed with celery, carrot, peas, scallions, artichoke hearts, tomatoes and beans. There are a few options of fresh herbs to use and I chose dill, which was fantastic.

Citrus-Dressed Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

Citrus Dressed Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

Cauliflower is the key to this great salad. Rather than cooking mine with the quinoa, I roasted it for extra awesome flavour. I didn't use yellow capsicum (because capsicum is ewww), and instead cut the kernels off a cob of corn and added it to the quinoa for the last few minutes. Again there is a choice of herbs, and I used coriander.

Three-Bean Rice Salad

Three-Bean Rice Salad

Green beans, kidney beans and black beans are the three beans in this substantial salad. The recipe calls for pimientos, which I am yet to find here, so I just left them out.

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad


Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

The first salad I picked from this book, it comes together in a flash and is full of great flavours. I should mention that all of the salads here keep well to take to work for lunches throughout the week.

Rice and Broccoli with Lemony White Bean Sauce


Rice and Broccoli with Lemony White Bean Suace

The first recipe I made! White beans are blended up to make a great lemony sauce. I found that I needed to cook the broccoli for a little bit more to make sure if cooked all the way though, and I added some extra white beans to the rice and broccoli (as suggested in the recipe notes) to make it a bit more substantial.

Risotto Primavera


Risotto Primavera

When you find yourself with two bags of aborio rice, you have to make risotto. Carrot, zucchini and edamame are included here. The recipe suggested serving with salad and garlic bread, which I did. And of course I sprinkled liberally with nooch!

Jambalaya


Jambalaya

Jambalaya is fun to say and fun to eat! The recipe called for 20 minutes to cook the rice, but my rice took much longer to cook. I always find this with cooked rice dishes! But after some patience I was rewarded with a great dinner. I didn't use the capsicum but added some green peas at the end when you add the sausages.

Moroccan Chickpeas with Couscous


Moroccan Chickpeas with Couscous

Another dish that is generous in the serving sizes. The sauce has a lovely blend of spices that get soaked up by couscous. There is the option of topping with toasted almonds or scallions, and I chose almonds which gave a lovely crunch.

Brown Rice and White Beans with Shiitakes and Spinach


Brown Rice and White Beans with Shiitakes and Spinach

Is there anything in the title of this dish that is not good? Again I needed a bit more time and liquid for the rice to cook all the way through, but then I enjoyed a fantastic dinner. I chose dill as the herb option, because you should always choose dill.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Salad


Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

This book has an entire chapter of chili recipes, though being a bit of a spice wimp I am slow to move through them. But when I do I will shameless decrease the heat in it until it gives me just a nice mild warmth. Sweet potatoes and black beans are a great combination. I only used one chipotle chile instead of two, and also decreased the amount of chili powder (in Australia our chili powder is much hotter than the powders in the US).

Tomorrow I will be back to post the second part of my initial round-up of this fantastic book.

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post



Sahara sitting pretty

Trying to take photos of cats can be tricky, they always seem to know how to move just as you are about to press the button! I was trying to take a photo of Sahara to send to Leigh (who is a great admirer of the red cat), and she was moving everywhere. But somehow I managed to snap this photo of her sitting pretty.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Birthday eats.

A few weeks ago I turned 32, which was kind of exciting for me because ever since I was little I always felt that 32 would be the ultimate age. Why? I have no idea! Although at one point I had toyed with some exciting party plans, in the end it wound up being a pretty low key event. But of course I made sure there was some good food involved.

On my actual birthday I was working a 12 hour day, but thankfully my workplace is not too far away from some pretty nice food!

Botanica is a small but amazing shop that has opened up near the clinic. This takeaway only place is a salad shop with a difference, with several amazing gourmet vegetarian salads (most of which are vegan) available everyday. Quinoa and Roasted Carrot and the amazing Shaved Broccoli are always on my rotation, but I also love the Potato Salad. Sadly the days I work and the days they have potato salad are almost never the same, but one of my friends from work brought my in a whole box of potato salad for my birthday. Yum! Unfortunately I did not get a photo.


Birthday Foods


48 Degrees Raw is new raw cafe that has opened not too far from work. I have been enjoying raw food at Orawgi lately (a post on that is coming), so I was keen to try 48 Degrees Raw. I got there just before they were closing, so there wasn't a great deal left, but I got a salad with some walnut meat, cashew cream and avocado as well as a raw smoothie. The salad itself had a lot of really bitter sprouts in it, so I mostly ate the toppings and then picked out the non-sprout bits, but the rest was very yummy.

Birthday Foods


A few minutes work from the clinic is Fundies, a great health food shop with a cafe. The cafe often has raw vegan cakes from Carrie On Raw. Normally I can't eat raw desserts because the amount of coconut oil in them makes me horribly ill, however she makes a Cherry Ripe cake that is out of this world and doesn't make me sick! I had been told they would have some on the day of my birthday, and asked for a piece to be put aside. Unfortunately when I got there they had a different flavour, but they were so excited about my birthday that I bought it anyway. It is a sticky chocolate cake and it really didn't work for me, but the raspberry sauce that came with it made it quite lovely. Though a bit too much coconut oil.

I work late, so by the time I got home dinner was just whatever leftovers I had pulled out of the freezer. Unfortunately my poor bear Sahara, who had been in hospital earlier that week, had another turn and I spent my night nursing her and running in to the clinic to pick up some injections to help her feel better. The following morning, both my girls had appointments at the clinic (Dim Sim was just for her regular senior check up). I am happy to say that Sahara has since recovered and is back to her regular self! Still, it was a bit of a tense time.

Two days after my birthday was Saturday that I wasn't working, so it was eating time!

Birthday Foods Birthday Foods Birthday Foods Birthday Foods Birthday Foods Birthday Foods Birthday Foods Birthday Foods


My family and I headed down to the Gold Coast to Mandala Organic Arts Cafe for some delicious food. We started with a trio of dips and refreshed ourselves with lemon drinks and cane sugar juice. There were three of us, so for our mains we shared three pizzas - Satay, Potato and Caper, and Wild Mushroom. They were delicious! My mum finished with some raw chocolate cake with Cocoluscious ice-cream. Because of my coconut oil issues, I just enjoyed a chai to finish off my lunch.

Birthday Foods


On Saturday night I went out for dinner with my friend Lisa to Kanishk, an Indian restaurant that has an entire vegan menu. I was still pretty full from lunch, so I skipped the entree (that's the starter, for my US friends... entree is what we call the main dish here). I chose the Palak Pakori, which was vegetable dumplings cooked in a spinach, curry and coconut milk sauce. Served with some saffron rice and roti, it was delicious!

As for presents, my parents gave me a Baby Q Weber BBQ. It is adorable and portable, so I can barbeque on the deck or take it out and about for cooking in the park (no more having to use skanky park barbeques!). And finally I can bust out Grills Gone Vegan over summer and have a glorious time!

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Sahara


My Sahara, the cause of all that concern, is now back to her normal self. Here she is snoozing on the foot rest in the sunroom. I am so happy she is feeling better!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Three little kittens lost their mittens.

I wish to issue a formal apology. In yesterday's post I had a momentary lapse of sanity and forgot to give you a Cute Kitty Photo of the Post. Thanks to River for pointing this out.

I offer you this photo of three kittens the clinic currently has for adoption, I hope this will make up from my lack of kittens yesterday.


Three little kittens

Please meet (clockwise from front): Julia, Penny and Quentin. Can anyone guess the theme of their names? These three ladies are super adorable and sweet and snuggly, though super playful! Quentin is still looking for a home, so if you are in Brisbane and ready to help a kitten find her forever home, come and meet her. :) 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Brisbane Eats: Urbane Vegan Degustation

Urbane is a fine dining restaurant in Brisbane that has become famous in vegan circles for holding occasional vegan degustation nights. These nights often sell out very quickly, and I had always missed out. A few weeks ago, I was at work when I got asked if I might be free that very night to fill in for someone at the dinner. Ummm... YES!

The night was a collaboration between Urbane chef Alejandro Cancino (who won Chef of the Year and is a vegan at home), and raw food cafe owner (It's Rawesome! Cafe on the Sunshine Coast) Susanna Stavenhagen Short. Though certainly not everything was raw.

I apologise now for the absolutely appalling photography you are about to witness. The lighting was low, I only had my camera phone and I didn't feel right blinding the people across the table from me with the flash. So get ready for some truly terrible photos.

Urbane Vegan Degustation

First up was a very yummy Sweet Pea Terrine. This was one of my favourites of the night.

Urbane Vegan Degustation

Followed by a yummy and super cute Beetroot Ravioli.

Urbane Vegan Degustation

Coconut Soup with Teriyaki Almonds. This fell a little bit flat for me, the almond was nice but I found the soup a bit too sweet and lacking in much flavour.

Urbane Vegan Degustation

I was a bit suspicious about this Happy Salmon Pate because the base was capsicum, but it was actually very nice. Served with some purple carrot chips, however there was a much greater dip to chip ratio that saw most of the table scooping up the extra with their fingers. We can be so classy. ;)

Urbane Vegan Degustation

I was expecting Sea Congee to be similar to miso soup, but it had a much more subtle flavour. I found it a little bit watery.

Urbane Vegan Degustation

Glorious warm crusty bread! Served with sesame butter (not tahini, I am not sure what it was but it was great). I love bread!

Urbane Vegan Degustation

Egg and Toast Tartar was a bit meh for me. The tartar was made out of minced capsicum, which tasted pretty much like that evil vegetable of doom. I'm not sure what the yolk was made out of, but it was fairly flavourless. I did love the crispy toast, though!

Urbane Vegan Degustation

Urbane Vegan Degustation

This beautiful little combo was called Spring. First there was a cracker with pickled spring vegetables, which was then followed by that beautiful bowl of tomato water, tomato and basil caviar. I love tomato water type dishes.

Urbane Vegan Degustation

This was my absolute favourite of the night! Pasta with healthy dollop of cashew cream, olives and pine nuts. I could have eaten a huge bowl of this.

Urbane Vegan Degustation

Titled 'Green', this looked much better in person than in this murky photo. I've forgotten some of the elements, but I think it was cucumber water with balls of apple, cucumber and avocado, this was very refreshing.

Urbane Vegan Degustation

Mushrooms! It is actually called 'Egg: Eggplant, Shimeji, Quinoa'. The mushrooms were delicious, the quinoa was crunchy. The egg was interesting, apparently it was made out of pumpkin. The eggplant mousse was lovely too.

Urbane Vegan Degustation

Tart and refreshing grapefruit jelly set into lemon peel to cleanse the palate.

Urbane Vegan Degustation

The first dessert was Coconut with Fruits. Freeze dried and fresh berries with some sort of dried coconut (I don't know what they did... it was kind of like they made it into candy but it was just coconut) and grapefruit sorbet. The sorbet was pretty tart, and didn't quite mix with the rest of the dish. I loved the coconut and berries together.

Urbane Vegan Degustation

The final dessert was Deconstructed Banoffee. I loved the banana and caramel paste, but the coffee ice cream was not to my taste. But that is because coffee anything is not too my taste, so that is really my issue.

To end we were given a Native Fruit Infusion. I do have a photo of it, but it is so so so bad I just can't bring myself to post it. And this is at the end of a post full of bad photos, so just imagine. It was a cup of sweet, warm liquid. There was a bowl of dried husks in the middle that no one was quite sure what to do with - were they for crunching, dipping or decoration?

I was so happy to finally get to attend one of these nights! A big thanks to James for the invite. Also thanks to Pip at work who whipped home to loan me a shirt I could wear to the restaurant so that I didn't have to wear my work clothes to a fancy restaurant!