Many Weeks In Review

cat Twister

Here’s another heavily belated ‘week in review’… the last one I did was many weeks ago. Up there we have another thwarted attempt to break out a game.

My sister has moved house and now lives about an hour drive out of Melbourne. So much green and awesome views:

country home viewcountry home view

Noticing lots of these at the playground:

park toadstools

Arthur and I went to see Video Games Live. We both really enjoyed it, the orchestra and choir were great:

video games live

We took Arthur and DeeW to a Zirka Circus performance. Look at the speed-of-light performer about to jump through that big hoop:

Zirka circus

Articles and Interesting Stuff

Brisbane’s Institute of Culinary Excellence offers first vegan Certificate II in hospitality

– Podcast: The NFL’s David Carter on How A Plant-based Diet Made Him A Better Player & A Better Human

– this one is from April 2015: Dogs Given New Legal Status As Sentient Beings in France

– I’ve seen many discussions in vegan circles about service animals such as guide dogs. It’s always interesting to see the different points of view. Here’s an article about a school that uses a golden retriever to assist children living with difficult circumstances: What If Schools Hired Dogs As Therapists?

I’ll leave it there for now otherwise I won’t hit publish. Hope your week has been a great one, with a better week to follow!


Dinner At Transformer, Fitzroy

Transformer, Fitzroy

I visited Transformer for dinner about two weeks ago to catch up with a friend who was visiting from out of town. Located in Fitzroy near other popular vegan and vegetarian eateries, Transformer offers an elegant, mock-meat free vegetarian and vegan dining experience from the owners of Vegie Bar and Rice Queen.

I was the first to arrive and took my time checking out the interior. I love the space inside: exposed brick, recycled timber, lots of greenery, brass fittings and high ceilings as shown in the top pic. In the past the building was a factory that produced electrical transformers. My apologies, I only had my phone camera to take photos with that night!

Although we were aware the plates are designed to be shared, there was still a bit of a mix up at our table. Two of us ordered the smoked tofu and pickled ginger brochette with dried miso ($4.50 each), but when the dish came out we were under the impression the two skewers were for one person only. No smoked tofu for me unfortunately! Never mind, I still had the spelt and seed steamed bun with crispy organic tofu, pickled cucumber and gojuchang mayo ($7 each). The tofu was lovely and crisp and the mayo packed a nice little punch:

Transformer, Fitzroy

Someone ordered the roasted sweet potato, togarashi with coconut yoghurt and lime ($12) and I got to have a taste. I loved this and immediately began taking mental notes about recreating this at home:

Transformer, Fitzroy

Not shown is the vegan option of the freekeh, quinoa, kamut, Mt. Byron lentils, barberries and hemp seed ($14). This was my favourite of the night but by the time I got to try some it was almost finished and not exactly good photo material!

I’m not really one to order a chocolate dessert but the only option for me that night was a chocolate brownie with hazelnut cream– unfortunately I can’t remember the exact details of everything on the plate but I do remember it was rich and overall pretty great.  For a non-lover of rich chocolate desserts, I’d order this again:

Transformer, Fitzroy

Service was really good, we’d had a bit of a numbers issue with our group (more people had decided to join us after the initial booking was made) and the staff did their best to accommodate us and everything worked out well. This was on a Wednesday night though, I don’t think we would have had much of a chance on a Friday or Saturday.

I’m looking forward to visiting again and trying out all the available vegan options. Although the plates are designed to share, half our party decided that some of the smaller dishes don’t lend themselves as well to being shared and you may as well order one dish for yourself. I’d probably order some for myself yes, but other dishes like the roasted sweet potato (shown above) are fine to share. For a peek at more of the dishes and drinks available, read the review by Where’s The Beef?.

Transformer, Fitzroy


97-99 Rose Street


http://www.transformerfitzroy.com/  to book online

https://www.facebook.com/transformerfitzroy  for more information



Krishna On Barkly, Footscray

Krishna On Barkly, Footscray

Tonight I finally got to visit Krishna on Barkly, an Indian restaurant in West Footscray that have recently removed all meat from their menu. The menu now states “all food is egg and peanut free. Most curries can be made dairy free, please specify when ordering if you are vegan or are allergic to dairy products. We use coconut cream for dishes”. Menu items are marked D (dairy free), G (gluten free) or V (vegan). It’s great that the vegetarian options can be made vegan. Awesome!

I met up with family tonight and we decided to head to Krishna to pick up some take-away (take-out). It was tough work deciding what to get! We settled for the spinach kofta ($9.95), vegetable korma ($9.99), onion kulcha ($3.00), a heap of naan ($1.50 each), saffron rice ($3.50) and some gulab jamun ($2.00 each).

Please forgive the photos, snapping pics of take-away (when everyone is hungry and waiting) isn’t something I was going to spend loads of time on! I’d love to return to eat at the restaurant and take better photos as I really feel I am not doing Krishna justice here. We all enjoyed our food, though I screwed up and wasn’t clear when ordering a third main dish because when we got home it wasn’t in the bag and we hadn’t paid for it. Next time, pumpkin masala!. Still, we were so full with what we ordered. When we placed our order we were asked if we wanted the food mild or medium, we opted for mild. I was also impressed with the level of detail I was given when being told about how the vegan options would be prepared.

I loved that these weren’t really oily dishes. The korma was great with the coconut cream and the spinach kofta was incredibly filling and my favourite:

Krishna On Barkly, Footscray

Vegan gulab jamun!!! These were sooo good. So happy we can get these vegan now! I was told that the carrot halva and icecream were also vegan:

Krishna On Barkly, Footscray

After hearing many positive reviews from other vegans who have visited, and reviews by Where’s The Beef? I was confident I would enjoy my meals. Service was very friendly and I was happy to hear that since going meat free about four or five months ago, Krishna have been busy!

Krishna On Barkly, Footscray

Krishna Indian Restaurant (also called Krishna Pait Pooja on advertising material) provide catering, delivery (fee $4) and ordering online. The restaurant is BYO (wine only) and have some meal deal specials (check the menu when you order). If I lived nearby I’d be ordering all the time!


Krishna On Barkly

Shop 3/578 Barkly Street

West Footscray

Closed Monday




Product Review: Everything Gardein

Gardein Mandarin Chick'n

Gardein products finally made it to Australia in June. Hurrah! I’ve seen so many Gardein recipes and pictures from favourite bloggers based in North America and it’s awesome that Gardein are now available for Australians to join in the fun. I was lucky to receive three samples for review. Many thanks to Plant Based Foods for sending those my way!

First up is my favourite so far, the Sizzling Szechuan Beefless strips. I followed the oven bake method and you then toss the strips in the spicy sweet sauce provided. It was a real challenge trying not to eat all the strips before assembling the plate and taking photo. I stir fried some red capsicum, broccoli and carrot and tossed those in the sauce too (that piece of broccoli at the front there just wouldn’t stay still so I gave up). This dish reminded me of a holiday in Canada back in the 90s, where my friend would always order Szechuan Beef from the local Chinese restaurant. I wasn’t vegan back then, and your common Australian Chinese restaurant menus never seemed to have this dish even though it seemed to be on every restaurant menu in North America at the time. I’m really pleased to have a vegan version:

Gardein Sizzling Szechuan Beefless Strips

Next up are the Chipotle Black Bean Burgers. I really like these, the chipotle added a nice kick and I’d certainly buy these again. They’re gluten free too. When nectarines are back in season I’ll make a spicy salsa and add some guacamole:
Gardein Chipotle Black Bean Burger

The Crispy Chick’n Sliders are a convenient quick snack option. The buns are included in the four-pack of sliders. The buns are the sweeter sort that I encountered everywhere on my travels to the US. In Australian bakeries our plain hamburger rolls are not sweet. I cooked the sliders in a non-stick pan (no oil required). You add the buns to the pan to warm them just before the sliders are done. The sliders themselves are not as flavoursome as I had anticipated but they do make a good base for whatever flavours you want to add. I enjoyed mine with salad and lemon scented mayonnaise:

Gardein Chick'n Sliders

The Golden Fishless Filets were incredibly fish fillety. I never liked fish before I was vegan and when eating these I had that momentary panic of “maybe I got it all wrong and this is the one non-vegan product in the range”. It’s all vegan of course. Arthur loved these and has put in an order for many more (and yes, that’s an awful lot of empty space in the photo. The other dishes were in the dishwasher so big dish it was):

Gardein Fishless Fillet

Okay so I’m not very adventurous when it comes to burger fillings. I’m happy with greens, red onion and tomato (if you haven’t noticed already). I toasted some bread for these as we didn’t have any bread rolls at home. These taste exactly like chicken burgers I used to get many years ago from fish and chip shops:

Gardein Chick'n Patties

The Mandarin Crispy Chick’n (shown in the top photo) comes with a packet of sauce. I made the Kung Pow Chick’n recipe from the Gardein website, which calls for adding some garlic, ginger, soy sauce and rice wine vinegar to the provided sauce. I cooked these in a frying pan with a little sesame oil. The texture was softer than chicken though next time I’ll oven bake them to see if they turn out differently.

I knew the kids would go for the Seven Grain Crispy Tenders. We tried some plain to begin with, dipped in tomato sauce. These make a great filling for a salad wrap:

Gardein Seven Grain Chick'n Tenders

Finally, the Chick’n Scallopini.  I marinated the scallopini in a little lemon juice, olive oil and dried mixed herbs then served it on top of some roast garlic and dill mashed potato. The texture of the Scallopini is like the Fishless filets, though obviously without the fish taste. This was quite chicken-like and does well on its own with some veggies, or as part of, well any meal you like really! The Scallopini is also gluten free:

Gardein Chick'n Scallopini

I also bought the Teriyaki Chick’n Strips but haven’t used those yet.

Overall I liked everything I tried. Some of the products will be purchased again and will come in handy for those times when I’ve completely forgotten about getting dinner ready. I did find that when I baked the Fishless Filet, Crispy Chick’n Patties and the Seven Grain Crispy Tenders, they all released a fair bit of oil though nothing a paper towel couldn’t fix.

I purchased my Gardein products from La Manna supermarket at Essendon Fields. Until July 26th the range costs $8.99 each, currently making La Manna the cheapest option to my knowledge. Other stockists include the Cruelty Free Shop, Prahran Convenience Store, Smith & Deli, selected IGA supermarkets and more. Please check the Gardein Australia Facebook page for info on their stockists.

The Gardein website has loads of recipe ideas and videos too. I’ve bookmarked quite a few ideas to try. I just need to decide where to start as everything looks good!

Disclaimer: I received a packet of Chipotle Black Bean Burgers, Szechuan Beefless Strips and Crispy Chick’n Patties for review. The remaining products were purchased by me.


Saraili: Nuts And Sesame In Filo With Syrup

Saraili by Veganopoulous

Here’s another one of my mum’s family recipes I’m excited to share with you. Yay for awesome traditional family recipes that are so easily veganised! Saraili (“sah-RAY-ili”) is quite similar to baklava, in that it contains nuts in filo pastry soaked in a sweet syrup. The differences are the breadcrumbs and sesame added to the filling and the way the filo is assembled.

Saraili requires a large circular baking dish because you lay the filo down in a coil shape. My circular dish measures 34cm (13.25″) across. You could always make less of the recipe and use a pie dish, but mum and I make this in the large dish and share with family and neighbours.

It’s quite an easy dish to make. With a food processor, the filling comes together in a minute. Finely chopped (or lightly ground) walnuts, cinnamon, breadcrumbs, caster sugar and sesame seeds are mixed together, then sprinkled over a sheet of vegan-buttered filo pastry:

Saraili by Veganopoulous

The long edges are folded over an inch each, then the filo is rolled up in to a longer cigar: Saraili by Veganopoulous

The filo cigar is then coiled, with the ‘open’ long edge (what you ended with when you rolled the cigar) facing upwards so filling doesn’t fall out:Saraili by Veganopoulous

Add your next filo cigar so that one end touches the end of the previous coil. Bake until a lovely golden brown, then pour your cooled syrup on top and let it sit for at least a few hours so the filo can soak up the syrup.

Here’s what the finished saraili looks like when surrounded by firewood. And after a greedy relative has picked at the centre and edge before you’ve taken photos. See, it’s so good that people can’t wait:

Saraili by Veganopoulous

The vegan butter may or may not affect the final flavour. If you use a butter with a coconutty taste, you may have a slight coconutty flavour. Some people like to brush on loads of butter but I prefer to take it easy and brush it on sparingly. Any leftover butter can be spread over the top before baking.

Be warned, this is a sweet dessert! Feel free to omit the sugar in the filling if you prefer, so that the sweetness comes from the syrup. Don’t sprinkle too much of the filling on the filo to begin with, in case you run out before you’ve finished. If you run out, don’t worry– you can always cut this up pizza pie style and serve it and nobody will know.

And don’t worry if you tear the filo when rolling, it doesn’t really matter! It doesn’t have to be perfect and if you find rolling and coiling the filo difficult at the start, it gets easier.

If you prefer a plain orange or lemon syrup, go for it!

Just make sure the syrup has cooled completely before pouring it over the baked saraili. And try not to pick at it before taking a photo…


Saraili by Veganopoulous


Saraili by Veganopoulous
Similar to baklava but coiled in appearance rather than layered, this Saraili contains nuts, cinnamon, breadcrumbs and sesame for its flavours, and is then soaked in a citrus scented sugar syrup after baking. You'll need a large circular baking dish (mine measures 34cm, or 13.25 inches across). The serving size can really vary-- if you cut this up like a pizza in to eight 'slices', one of those slices can be halved for a suitable serving portion, as the Saraili is quite sweet! Gently separate a 'slice', then try to work out if you prefer the centre or the edges!
Servings Prep Time
16people 30minutes
Cook Time
Servings Prep Time
16people 30minutes
Cook Time
Saraili by Veganopoulous
Similar to baklava but coiled in appearance rather than layered, this Saraili contains nuts, cinnamon, breadcrumbs and sesame for its flavours, and is then soaked in a citrus scented sugar syrup after baking. You'll need a large circular baking dish (mine measures 34cm, or 13.25 inches across). The serving size can really vary-- if you cut this up like a pizza in to eight 'slices', one of those slices can be halved for a suitable serving portion, as the Saraili is quite sweet! Gently separate a 'slice', then try to work out if you prefer the centre or the edges!
Servings Prep Time
16people 30minutes
Cook Time
Servings Prep Time
16people 30minutes
Cook Time
Filling and Filo
Servings: people
  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (moderate baking temperature). Brush your circular baking dish with a little of the melted butter.
  2. In a food processor, or by hand, finely chop the walnuts. With a food processor, process until there are very small pieces left.
  3. In a bowl, mix the finely chopped walnuts, caster sugar, breadcrumbs, sesame seeds and cinnamon.
  4. Take a sheet of filo and lightly brush it with the melted butter. Sprinkle enough of the filling so that the surface is mostly lightly covered out to the edges.
  5. Take each long edge of the filo and fold it inwards about one inch. Then starting from the edge nearest you, roll up the filo sheet in to a cigar shape. It shouldn't be too tight or too loose but don't worry about getting it perfect!
  6. Starting in the centre of your buttered baking dish, form a tight coil with the filo cigar. The 'open' side of the cigar should face up so no filling falls out. Brush the end of the coil with a little of the butter so it doesn't dry out.
  7. Take your second sheet of filo and repeat the sprinkle-roll up process. Place this second cigar so that one end meets the buttered end of the coil you just made in the dish. Tightly-ish wind the coil (don't worry if you tear the filo) and give the coils a little squeeze now and then to get them nice and tight. You might have to gently shift your big coil now and then if it's not centred when you add another length to the coil.
  8. Repeat until you have filled the baking dish. If there is any remaining melted butter, brush it over the top.
  9. Bake for around 35 minutes, though depending on your oven check at the 25 minute mark and rotate the dish if you need to. Make your syrup while the saraili is baking. When the saraili is done, remove it and immediately pour the cooled syrup all over (it may sizzle a bit so be careful). Try to pour the syrup over as evenly as possible. You may prefer to use a ladle. Let the saraili sit for at least three hours. It tastes better the next day and the day after that and is fine with being kept at room temperature unless it is hot or very humid.
  1. In a small or medium saucepan, combine the syrup ingredients on a medium heat. Bring to the boil, stir, then gently simmer for ten minutes with the lid off. Remove from the heat and let cool completely, Remove the cinnamon stick and peel before pouring over the baked saraili.
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