4

Cookbook Review: But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan!

I was super excited to hear that Kristy Turner, author of the Keepin’ It Kind blog, was releasing this book. I only very recently acquired But I Could Never Go Vegan! and the first time I flipped through it (it was a library copy) I asked myself why I do not have it on my shelf. So I pre-ordered BMFWNEV! as soon as I heard about it.

The book is broken down in to chapters with funny-sad-but-true family scenarios, like “my kids think vegan food is weird”, “the in-laws will just add this to their list of my faults” and “Uncle John thinks his comfort food is better than mine… and won’t shut up about it”. The opening chapter covers staples and pantry ingredients and how to cook grains.

I’ve really enjoyed cooking from BMFWNEV! and there are loads more recipes I have bookmarked.

By far, my favourite so far has been the Tater Totchos. Made with Tater Tots (called potato gems or potato royals in Australia), these are topped with a fantastic beans recipe and a nacho cheese sauce that uses potato and tahini (no cashew, woohoo!). Now I don’t really like potato gems at all and prefer to steer clear of this oily processed delight. So the first time I made the Tater Totchos, I used plain boiled potatos. The second time I decided what the hell, let’s go with the potato gems. I’m glad I did, because I loved it:

I have been struggling for yeaaars to make a home made burger that the kids (or at least one of them) will like. My twelve year old really liked these Double-Double Cheeseburger patties and for that alone I am happy to have bought the book. Made with lentils, mushroom and oats (plus other stuff), these are a winner with the hint of smoked paprika. The second time I made these, I added in shredded kale. Next time I’ll include some finely grated carrot, just to sneak more veggies in.

The burger photo above was taken when my sister and her partner came over and they loved the burgers too. I made the Deviled Potato Salad to go along with it. I’ve never really been in to potato salad but this was tasty and simple to make, though I used silken tofu in place of vegan mayo. The use of black salt really takes these potatoes up a notch:

The Chickenless Salad Sandwich was made because I had to use up some tofu. Now I will confess that when I took the tofu out of the oven and tried it, I was a little disappointed. But you guys, once it was added to the mayo combination I couldn’t stop eating it. I made this to take to a BBQ picnic (I just chopped up some salad greens and tomatoes) and it disappeared straight away:

The Lemongrass Tofu Banh Mi recipe was another winner, specifically for the tofu bit. I baked the tofu, which made the lemongrass marinade go a little crispy.

I did have it assembled properly in a baguette that looked very banh mi, but stumbled as I was going to take the photo, banging the plate and everything just fell all over the place. That was the last of the baguette too, so I had to make do with plain bread buns for my photo:

When you buy leeks to make a recipe but never get around to it, there’s always leek and potato soup. The recipe in the book has nice subtle flavours of garlic, rosemary, thyme and sage:

The Maple-Peanut Butter Pancakes were pretty good, though I did add a little peanut butter powder and some extra baking powder. The batter tasted far more peanutty than the pancakes! These were really good too, I wish I’d made a nice peanut caramel kind of sauce, but maple syrup was good enough:

The Mushroom Kale Skillet Hash was another winner. Always good to use up the Old Bay Seasoning!

The Mexican Pizza with 15-Minute Refired Beans was another favourite. WHY don’t my kids eat stuff like this? Oh well, more for me:

Finally, the Hidden Veggie Mac n Cheese. Arggghhhh if my kids ate meals like this, life would be so much easier around here. It was a no-go for the kids, which sucked really, because the sauce is made with beans, cauliflower and carrot– the sort of stuff I want them to be eating. I liked it, especially the Pepita Parmesan on top.  The recipe makes a huge amount of sauce:

Other recipes I tried (no photos):

PB&J Rollups: a peanut butter spread made with silken tofu, spread on wraps and topped with sliced strawberries or bananas. I soooo wanted the kids to like these as it makes for a quick easy snack, but nooooooooo. Argh.

Skillet Cornbread: another one I liked but not a winner for the kids. If I make it again, I’d add some more liquidy ingredient as it was a bit crumbly.

Blueberry Banana Muffins: the kids liked these so I’d make them again, though they were a little dry (this always happens when I cook with oat flour). I’ll just increase the banana next time.

Shiitake Stroganoff: nice, but whenever I use silken tofu as the base for a pasta sauce, I can taste tofu (not what I want in a pasta dish). Still, I prefer it over dishes that use cashews as the sauce base!

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies: these were more pillowy cookies than crunchy and while I prefer my peanut butter cookies to be on the crunchy side, these were still a nice snack.

Artichoke Kale Hummus: definitely one for kale lovers! I’m not a huge kale fan, I eat it because It’s Good For You, so I found the kale after taste in this a little strong.

Maple-Miso Tempeh Cutlets: okay so I really don’t like tempeh, but the marinade on this is really nice. I have some in the fridge and I’m forcing myself to like tempeh– this recipe is helping!

Overall, I really love this book. The photos are gorgeous and the intros are funny. I have way more recipes bookmarked to try and will probably end up doing a part 2 review!

4

Dinner at Altro Pizza in Williamstown

This is one of those regrettable short reviews, where I wish I could go back and try more meals to not only provide you all with more photos and food options, but also because my Altro pizza was so freaking good that I’m most bummed to not frequent Williamstown as much as I would like.

Altro Pizza and Cafe in Williamstown have recently started serving up a host of vegan pizza options. The chef is vegan and it was thanks to his comments in a Melbourne vegan Facebook group, as well as great feedback, that I a) sat there drooling over pizza photos and b) determined I should get there fast. So on a too-hot Melbourne day, we thought we’d go to Altro for dinner then hang out at the beach.

The separate vegan pizza menu had about nine options for traditionally made Napolitan pizzas, including the housemade nutella strawberry pizza. Based on a few recommendations I’d read, I ordered the San Ciro ($23) which was topped with tomatoes, Notzarella, rocket, almond feta, pears, walnuts and olive oil.

This was really, really good pizza. So good that it’s really bothering me that I’m not likely to return for a while, at least not until the beach isn’t as packed as it was! As in, so good I’m thinking of having my birthday meal there with some family. My family enjoyed their meals too (not vegan).

I’m really pleased to see Williamstown has picked up where vegan options are concerned. I’m hardly there at all to be able to check out what’s available these days, but the Altro pizza menu is now a big drawcard. A few years back the only pizza I was able to find in Williamstown was your standard tasteless vegetarian minus the cheese. Not so with Altro, these are top level pizzas.

Altro Pizza and Cafe

68 Stevedore Street, Williamstown

http://www.facebook.com/AltroPizzaCafe/
Altro Pizza & Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

10

Brunch At Dad And Dave’s Cafe In Yarraville

Dad and Dave’s Cafe in Yarraville has been mentioned quite a bit in vegan groups. I kept it at the top of my to-do list for ages, but Yarraville is unfortunately not a place we visit often. Thankfully I had to attend a meeting which was conveniently a short distance from Dad and Dave’s, so brunch was an easy decision!

Dad and Dave’s is located right near Yarraville train station, at the 431 and 432 bus stops. It’s nice and light inside with a display cabinet that featured some good looking vegan muffins. I kicked myself later for forgetting to buy one.

I’d heard people rave about the pancakes so when I looked at the vegan options on the menu, the vegan ricotta hotcake stood out.

I am demonstrating my uselessness as a proper food blogger by telling you all (again) I forgot to take note of the price and other vegan-vegan/GF menu options. I just have to go back asap and update this!

So, the hotcake was one bigass pancake smothered in fresh fruit, pistachios, maple syrup and a strawberry ice cream. I forgot to ask where the ice cream is from but it tasted like Zebra Dream. I also neglected to ask about the ricotta aspect as none was visible, so I guess it was part of the hotcake batter.

I don’t usually go for sweet breakfasts unless something looks and sounds awesome. This hotcake did not disappoint, though I couldn’t finish it as I reach a limit with sweeter meals. I polished off the fruit and ice cream though (it was hot!)

I really want to make a return visit or two to Dad and Dave’s. With public transport it’s a bit of a hike (tram, bus, bus or tram, train) for me but if my first meal there is anything to go by, it’s certainly worth it. When the weather isn’t as inferno-level hot, I’ll go back.

Dad and Dave’s Cafe

27 Birmingham Street, Yarraville (right next to Yarraville train station)

http://www.facebook.com/Dad-Daves-cafe-148644425276000/

 
Dad and Dave's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

26

A Very Veganopoulous Year In The Kitchen

I like to think my food photography and cooking skills have improved this past year. Being a non-profit hobby blog, I don’t set the shots up to make everything magazine quality, with diffusers and reflectors and such. My reflectors are often tissue boxes. Instead, my process goes like this: 1) find the cleanest spot with natural light. 2) Get rid of the cat hair. 3) Get the cats out of the room. 4) Work out the best way to carry a heap of stuff to the natural light spot without tripping over the cats. 5) Try and barricade the door because the cats have worked out how to bust through it at a fast run. 6) Try and keep the cats away from the food. 7) Hurry up and take the damn photos cos the family is waiting to eat.

I don’t always succeed at keeping the cats away.

cat photo bomb

And then there are those times when no styling or faffing around is necessary. You just grab the camera and take a food photo with flash.

Onwards!

THE TOFU CHEVRE ‘LOG’

Ah, logs. I followed the directions for this tofu chevre log. It was a nice log shape until about ten seconds after it entered the oven. And then when I took it out my son came in and said EWWW WOT IS THAT and I’m like eh, a tofu LOG. And he was like DIDN’T I TELL YOU LOG IS ANOTHER WORD FOR POO.tofuchevrelog

 

THE ‘HEALTHY’ JUICE PULP CAKE

When I make juices, I like to re-use the pulp wherever I can. This was my first experiment with juice pulp cake. I used pulp from apple, pears, carrots and beetroot here. I also completely screwed up and doubled the liquid ingredients by mistake.

I even made a little bridge from an icy pole stick. I wanted the bridge to span the Hollow Sea, the Abyss of Broken Dreams.sloppycake1

A cross section of this geological marvel.sloppycake2

 

SESAME ‘CRUSTED’ TOFU

Don’t you just love foods with a crumb? Or a crust? I love sesame crusted tofu. Everything is made better with a crumb of some kind. Right?!

I think that only applies when your crumbs are on the actual food.sesametofu

 

THE PLUM CUSTARD CAKE

So one time I had this smart idea for using up a heap of plums. Why not use the semolina custard from my vegan galaktoboureko recipe in a pie! And make a healthy oil/fat free crust? The end result was plums on the bottom, goopy custard and a dry shitty crust. plumcustardtart

 

PINEAPPLE INSIDE OUT DOWN CAKE

Because we all need a poorly risen pineapple upside down cake that sticks to the tin right when you’re about to serve it to visitors. That’s when you improvise and call it pineapple pudding, but you don’t really fool anyone. Completely salvageable with ice cream, so all is not lost.

pineappleupsidedowndisaster

 

BERRY BROKEN HEART CAKES

Baked moosh was a recurring theme this year. I followed a recipe for these berry heart shaped cakes. They didn’t rise and after half an hour they were just hot dough destined for the bin. What a waste of berries. Fortunately they were frozen berries, not the fresh berries that cost a million bucks a punnet.mooshyhearts

 

GEOLOGIST’S DREAM ‘HEALTHY’ BANANA CAKE

You know those times when you secretly dream of being a geologist? And your secret dreaming comes out in your banana cake that you’ve tried to healthify? Look at the tell tale bottom layer of compacted moosh that somehow extends halfway up the cake. I can’t remember what the hell I did here. But that’s okay, because I don’t want to.

mooshbananamaltcake

 

THE PUMPKIN PIE FRENCH TOAST THAT COULDN’T

Look at me! I’m oil free! No vegan butters either for frying but I REALLY want to try that pumpkin French toast recipe. I know! Let’s be all healthy and smug and use the PANINI PRESS!

frenchtoastdisaster

 

TRUFFLES A LA POOP

What do you make your sibling when it’s their birthday? How about the chocolate truffle balls you both enjoyed as a kid? A packet of plain biscuits, dessicated coconut, cocoa powder and coconut condensed milk. Sounds good! Eeeexcept in this case you start mixing the stuff before realising you’re way waaay low on the coconut. So you try to be clever and add some coconut flakes before realising that’s a most rubbish move because the chewiness is awful. And the truffles lose their shape fast and flop when you take them out of the fridge.truffles

 

THE PAPADUM CREPE

You know those times where you’re like, I really want a crepe with the crunchiness of a papadum! I’ll go and watch Prancercise videos on YouTube and forget all about my crepe in the pan! Works every time.

crackercrepe

 

HEALTH HAZARD COCONUT FLOUR PANCAKES

Ah, coconut flour. I hate coconut flour. It’s one of those things that always makes my food turn out rubbish. Even though I love coconut. Here I am trying to create a gluten free coconut pancake recipe. These pancakes just fell everywhere and were burnt on the outside, mooshy wet on the inside. And I couldn’t swallow them so I had a coughing fit.

coconutflourpancakes

 

SPACE ALIEN MUFFIN

Could this be intelligent life that formed after the Big Bang (which was me dropping the tray of muffins when I took them out of the oven, scattering baked treats and lounging cats everywhere)? The intelligent life that spent its first two weeks wedged between the side of the oven wall and the bottom rack and treated us all to a game of What’s That Smell? every time we used the oven? It was only when I decided to actually bend my butt down Attenborough style and check what the hell was going on inside the oven that I made this discovery.

 

Let’s wrap this up with dessert. Because everyone loves baked apple guts.

explodeyapples

May you all have a wonderful end to 2016 and an even better start to 2017!  I’m sure I’ll see you back here same time next year with round 2 of my kitchen failures…

8

A Merry Christmas Newtonmas Family Lunch

A very happy December 25th to you all! I hope your weather was better than Melbourne’s– we had a top temperature (in the Melbourne metro area) of 35.5C (95.9F). Adelaide was worse with a top temp of 40C (104F). That’s Adelaide’s hottest Christmas since 1945. We’ve had some ridiculous Christmas weather over the years, about four or so years ago it was in the 30s at lunch time then the temperature dropped rapidly and we ended up with a massive hail storm that smashed many windows and damaged many cars across Melbourne.

We spent a quiet Christmas Day at my sister and her partner’s house, about an hour drive outside Melbourne. Just us plus mum and dad. It was too hot to go for a walk after lunch like last year (we had jackets on in 2015 because it was cold!) so we chilled out in the nice cool house.

So, Christmassy food! On Christmas Eve I try to honour the food requests in the house. The kids asked for home made pizza followed by lemon self saucing pudding. My absolute favourite recipe for the pudding is from Veganissimo! by Leigh Drew. It’s a never fail recipe. This time I doubled the sauce so it would go all lovely with the So Good vegan ice cream:

For Christmas Day I made Leigh’s Cashew Cheese with Roasted Garlic and Smoked Paprika, also from Veganissimo! This is my new favourite baked nut cheese:

We always have roasted vegetables at family gatherings:

I made a simple green salad with cranberries, avocado and cherries using the lime tahini dressing from Green Gourmet Giraffe. I would have added toasted pistachios but I forgot them on the stove this morning and burnt them all:

A couple more salads including mum’s usual garden salad and some simple coleslaw in the back. My sister also made a separate coleslaw with a sesame oil dressing:

And because we clearly didn’t have enough salad for the five salad eating eating adults, my sister made this delicious quinoa watermelon salad:

My main meal contribution was a loaf, using the Stuffed Thanksgiving Burger recipe from the Post Punk Kitchen as the filling. The filling was great but assembling the loaf with the pastry braid in a hot kitchen on a hot day was close to impossible. The pastry all stuck together and was a nightmare to work with. So I did what most fancy chefs do and cut out pastry shapes to cover up all the hideousness. I also made the Silky Chickpea Gravy from Appetite For Reduction to go with it:

We also had this vegan Greek pita by Irene’s. It’s sold in a blue packet as ‘vegan nistisimi pita’. Remember folks, we’re Greek here and six adults and two kids means you cook for fifty times that amount:

We agreed we wouldn’t be making dessert this year. Clearly this means something in cake like form because mum made a batch of amazing veganised kourabiethes, also known as Greek shortbread. They’re actually made with oil instead of a vegan butter. When I find out where she got the recipe I will link it here:

I suppose one good thing about summer is summer fruit. We had this platter with some banana peanut butter nice cream we whipped up:

It was great to have such a nice quiet Christmas just hanging out. My sister put up some Christmas decorations including some little retro-vintage decorations from when we were little:

   

And here’s Punky doing something totally ridiculous with his fang. I don’t understand it. Maybe he did that thing where you bite your lip which is why his face is all screwed up looking?

I hope you all had a fantastic day, full of good cheer and great food (and hey, we don’t need Christmas-Newtonmas for that!)