5

Trying Beyond Meat at The Cornish Arms and Lord of the Fries

Beyond Meat burger patties have been pretty hyped up. As with all hyped up vegan stuffs, I have to try it. I was a bit late to the party overall, and wasn’t really interested in trekking over Melbourne to buy it so I waited for a meal out.

First meal out was at The Cornish Arms in Brunswick. I had an event down the road, so I went to dinner beforehand. I’ve had the Cornish’s Mac Daddy burger before but this time they put a Beyond Meat patty in it. It was a pricey burger-and-chips at about $21:

teeth mark shot:

I wasn’t interested in trying it again but hey, the next day my son and I went to Lord of the Fries and he wanted to try some. So I got the original burger with the Beyond Meat patty (it costs an extra $3.50 to use the Beyond Meat patty in both the original and spicy burgers):

The verdict

Beyond Meat looks and tastes like a grilled burger patty but the texture is a bit softer. However I do think this could mostly pass for a meat burger and out of all the plant based ‘meaty’ burgers on the market, Beyond Meat is the closest. I do think that for some people I know, if they ate this in a burger and didn’t know it was vegan, they would just assume it was meat.

I did feel quite weird eating it. The thought of eating meat makes me sick– after six years of being vegan I have absolutely no desire to have any animal products. But this was an interesting experience in that I had to keep reminding myself it’s plant based. I guess the look of it is a little more confronting than the beetroot-mince looking burgers I’ve made before.

So why eat it? Well, this blog is about reviewing products too (especially hyped products) and I wanted to try it out for myself and see if it was something that I could buy now and then for my family, but also to see if it’s something that could help people transition from, or reduce, a meat diet to plant based.

I won’t get them again, because burger patties are not really something I’m in to buying and they aren’t cheap either. I don’t make burgers often at home, preferring instead to save them up for a meal out somewhere.

Still, that doesn’t mean Beyond Meat patties aren’t good– I think they’re a pretty good product!

 

1

Recipes From Doing It Vegan With Ris and Jules

Doing it Vegan with Ris and Jules is a series of YouTube videos with simple no fuss recipes. I’ve bought food from Rissy before, which I blogged about in my review Mrs Monagle’s Ethical Fine Foods.

There are a few things I love about the Ris and Jules videos. They’re from near-Melbourne, the recipes are really easy, and both Ris and Jules are laid back casual and funny. You can find their channel by searching YouTube for ‘doing it vegan with ris and jules’.

Because I loved the ravioli Rissy made when I ordered from her, that was the first Doing It Vegan recipe I tried (the roast pumpkin ravioli). I did my usual thing of starting a recipe then realising halfway through I don’t have enough of a key ingredient. This time, flour. But I had some spelt and the dough still turned okay. My lazy arse loves that the dough is all made in the food processor. For putting together the ravioli I did it by hand, after using a pasta dough roller machine thingy, because I don’t have a ravioli plate or special ravioli rolling pin. I do however have a ravioli cutter-sealer wheel which I used. I also made up my own cashew cheese and used the same dough to make tortellini. You can find this recipe in the roasted pumpkin ravioli video. To serve them, I coated some chopped fresh sage leaves in a little cornflour then fried in Nutellex to crisp them up.

The second recipe I made was from episode 1, the leek and mushroom pies in puff pastry. These were super simple and seasoned with salt, pepper and nooch. That’s all that’s needed. Loved these:

The eggplant parma was great, though I used my own cashew cheese (and too much of it). I love the walnut parmesan topping which is made with a little sesame oil. I ate most of it with a spoon:

These are easy, no fuss recipes that are great for beginners (even the ravioli).

I’ve made an extra batch of the pies and have them in the freezer, they cook beautifully from frozen.

I’m looking forward to seeing what Ris and Jules come up with next.

4

Blendtec Blender Review

(image from blendtec.com)

I’ve had my Blendtec blender for quite a few years now so I figure it’s about time I did a review.

I think I bought my Blendtec back in mid 2012. I bought it from an Australian distributor for around $750 all up, and that was the sale price. I remember really, REALLY wanting a power blender and preferring this over a Vitamix due to price at the time, and reviews I’d read. After I made the payment online, I felt pretty sick at how much money I’d just spent, but you know, I had heaps of plans to use it. And before that I’d had two other blenders, each around $100 which were not only crappy but they also stopped working and weren’t able to be repaired.

I use the Blendtec all the time, so it’s pretty much paid itself off. I average about one use a day, other days I might use it three times depending on what I’m making. On the whole I love my Blendtec and don’t regret buying it at all. In warmer weather I use it pretty much every morning for a smoothie. I rarely make breakfast and first thing in the morning I want something as quick as possible, so it’s usually a smoothie.

The one major gripe I had was that I’d made a smoothie once and there was a smell. A nasty burning smell. My smoothie also had little bits of weird stuff in it. I couldn’t work it out, I checked the blender jug, thinking I might have left something in it without realising before pouring the ingredients in. I put the blender on again and it started smoking from under the jug. Turns out the rubber seal at the bottom had come away somehow and so the burning rubber smell and smoke was coming out of the hole you slot the jug in to. The seal was being blended up too.

Blendtec couldn’t help me with a replacement jug as I’d purchased from an Australian distributor (I don’t think Blendtec were in Australia at the time, like they are now). So I contacted the distributor, who was extremely helpful, and I had to package up the jug and post it to Queensland for someone to repair it. But the jug was beyond repair so I had to buy a replacement for the special sale price of about $240. This was the larger four sided jug. My warranty had run out a couple months before. Argh! I’d also followed the care instructions, so I was pretty unimpressed this happened and that Blendtec couldn’t help.

It’s been all good since then. Here’s what I use the blender for the most:

  • smoothies (nuts and veggies blend fantastically well)
  • juices (well, water based runny smoothies really)
  • pureeing cooked veg like sweet potato
  • pureeing soups and sauces
  • frozen fruit nice cream
  • cashew cream
  • making oat flour and other flours such as buckwheat
  • vegan nut based cheeses

The only thing that bugs me is when I make nice cream with frozen fruits, always banana and whatever else. I have to constantly stop and scrape everything because the blades do that thing where they just spin around but the food is stuck around the sides. I get there in the end though as the fruit softens, or sometimes I have to add a splash of liquid to get everything moving.

Because the blade is a little high up from the base of the jug, I can’t make half batches of a lot of recipes like cashew cheese because the food gets stuck under the blades to the base of the jug. I don’t always want to be making a full or double batch of something just to get the blades spinning properly, particularly if I’m not likely to eat the food myself over the next few days.

I mostly make smoothies and throw in some cooked veg too such as broccoli with my overripe-banana smoothies. It all blends perfectly for me, with no obvious bits.

In the past I have made my own chickpea flour. I know the Blendtec can handle it, you just have to watch some Will It Blend? videos on YouTube to see how powerful this blender is. But it’s just easier to buy chickpea flour and save any wear on the blades. And the noise is pretty horrible too when you’re grinding chickpeas, it’s like gravel.

There’s just so much you can do with the Blendtec. I don’t know how it compares to other power blenders like a Vitamix or the Ninja thingy I always saw on infomercials. I mostly use the smoothie cycle function. There are quite a few speed/power levels and pre-programmed cycles go for a set time limit, using varying speeds. The whole juice cycle option is a good example of this, in fact when I showed some relatives how to make a juice they thought the blender was malfunctioning and about to explode.

I have the thick recipe booklet that came with the blender but I’ve never used it. There are recipes for bread and one of the cycles is for kneading dough but I’ve never tried it. I might put it to the test one day as I’m sceptical about kneading dough in a blender!

For special occasions where I’m preparing foods, I might use the blender many times in a few hours depending on what I’m making. For some things like nut butters I prefer to use my food processor. Overall though I love my Blendtec and it’s quite likely on my list of stuff to take out of a burning house.

 

I’d definitely recommend a Blendtec but as I said I don’t know how it compares to other brands. I know people who prefer Blendtec over Vitamix and vice versa. If mine exploded tomorrow I would probably see if I could trial another blender for free first to be completely certain, but I suspect I would end up with another Blendtec.

Blendtec Australia currently has the blender online for $913. Even typing that price freaks me out, I keep coming back to “$913 for a BLENDER???” So yeah, I’d probably trial something cheaper first. When I told people how much mine cost they understandably couldn’t believe anyone would spend that much on a blender so I had to point out it’s not a regular cheapy style simple blender, it’s a full on power blender and not like a $50 Breville.

All I can say is that my Blendtec is an integral part of my food prep and diet, in fact as soon as I post this I’m going off to make a smoothie with some ice 🙂

12

Product Review: Mrs Monagle’s Ethical Fine Food

mrs monagles souvlaki

Mrs Monagle’s Ethical Fine Food first came to my attention through Rosalie of Quinces and Kale. Rosalie wrote about some fantastic food she’d tried, made locally (ish!) in Kyneton, Victoria. Aaaand when I saw that souvlaki was involved, I knew I had to try it FAST.

Based in Kyneton, you can either pick up your meals or use a Coburg area drop off point. This worked brilliantly for me as I don’t drive and Coburg is convenient for me to get to.

Rissy of Mrs Monagle’s pins up a seasonal menu on the business’s Facebook page, which you can find here. Wow, decisions decisions… I knew I had to get the souvlaki and just that week there was a souvlaki special. Win!

Okay, here’s what I got. I’ll tell you from now that this is indeed fantastic food and I loved everything.

So first up, the souvlaki! Seitan chunks perfectly flavoured and grilled on skewers. I followed the reheating instructions (warm in the oven) so meal prep was super easy. I absolutely loved the almond feta that came with the souvlaki. In fact, I ate half of it before it even made it to souvlaki stage. A round pita is also provided and was warmed in a frying pan. There was a small container of tzaziki sauce too, with a good amount of garlic 🙂  I had bought tomatoes and cucumber the day before but decided against salad greens because of that recent salmonella-on-greens sitch here in Melbourne (and my veggie garden isn’t a happening thing just yet). Two skewers worth are shown in the photos:

mrs monagles souvlaki

RAVIOLI YOU GUYS!!! I have had vegan ravioli before from two brands, but pre-packaged from the freezer section. I didn’t like either and ever since I’ve been looking for another ravioli to try. I’ve never got around to making my own but when I saw Mrs Monagle’s had two varieties, I ordered both without hesitation. First I tried the pumpkin ravioli. Wow, this was so good! The pumpkin ravioli I’ve had before (vegan and pre-vegan) has often been kinda bland and tasteless. The Mrs Monagle’s pumpkin ravioli was very flavourful and I really enjoyed it.

mrs monagles pumpkin ravioli

Whoops, just reading the printed info from Mrs Monagle’s here and just saw the sage-pine nut butter was supposed to be put in a pan and then drizzled over the pasta. I just put a dollop of it on the plate. For the next batch I’ll follow the instructions. Regardless, it still tasted great!

mrs monagles sage butter

Next up, the olive cashew cheese ravioli. These are freaking fantastic. I’m a very fussy filled-pasta person and these are by far the best I’ve tried, anywhere anytime. Loved it loved loved it. You also get some tomato jus to go with your ravioli.

mrs monagles cashew cheese ravioli

 

The sausages you see there are the fennel sausages on the menu and come with a small container of tomato relish per serving. I love fennel and these were certainly nice and fennely! I opted to slice mine and pan fry and they went really well with both flavours of the ravioli.

This was all thoroughly enjoyable food and I would gladly order from Mrs Monagle’s again. All ingredients are either from Rissy’s garden or sourced from local farmers markets. All foods are freshly made but can be frozen. I cook the ravioli straight from the freezer.

The current spring/summer all-vegan menu also includes malai kofta, vegetable dumplings, cheesy risotto, eggplant cashew ricotta lasagna, layered veg lasagna stack, black sesame veggie burgers with wasabi sour cream dressing, spinach almond feta pie, chicken style seitan curry. Little extras include almond feta, sundried tomato green pepper garlic cheese, smoked cheddar, nutella. For sweet treats there are chocolate chip cookies and vanilla slice slab. Ha, I was so tempted to order the slab but I knew I’d pretty much eat nothing else for two days so I let it go for now.

Mrs Monagle’s also provides a catering service for dinner party type foods and smaller events. More info can be found at the Mrs Monagle’s Facebook page, including prices and delivery/pickup information.

One measurement I apply to food is how much it inspires me to step up my own efforts in the kitchen. When I eat something then spend time later thinking about what I can do, or how I can replicate it, then I know it’s really good food. The ravioli in particular have inspired me to give it a go myself and to break out the pasta roller I insisted I MUST get years ago (it’s still in the box… aaaand the ravioli cutter is still lost in the utensils drawer somewhere).

All up, this is excellent food and I happily recommend you stuff your face with it.

6

Review of the Latest Gardein Products to Hit Australia

Gardein Meatless Meatballs

There was a fair bit of excitement when Gardein products finally landed in Australia and we were able to get a repeat of that excitement when more products began shipping here. My review of the first batch of Gardein products was quite favourable and these new products are pretty tasty too. First up, the Meatless Meatballs. The packet instructions suggest you place the meatballs in your favourite pasta sauce, so that’s exactly what I did, though because I already had the oven on I decided to cook them (in the oven) first to get nice and brown. I made another pasta meal without cooking the meatballs first (I cooked them in the pasta sauce) and they were fine. The photo above shows my homemade pasta sauce which is made with tomatoes, roasted red capsicum and sundried tomatoes. I really liked the meatballs with this sauce and would happily eat them in a sub kind of sandwich or wrap next time.

Next up, the Crabless Cakes. I’ve never had a non-vegan crab cake but I was assured by a former crab cake eater that these do taste like crab cakes and are a great animal-free alternative. I’m happy to believe that, because they had that fishy flavour, with a little spicy flavouring too.

Gardein Crabless Cakes

The Sweet and Sour Porkless Bites had that exact same taste and texture that you find in non-vegan sweet and sour pork dishes. I used to order that now and then from Chinese restaurants in the past and this vegan version did not disappoint. I stir fried some vegetables and served this over rice. I tried to be a little more imaginative but really, this is the way to serve this dish!

Gardein Sweet and Sour Porkless Bites

For the Sweet and Tangy BBQ Wings, I wanted to have them in a wrap with something fruity on the side. I was a bit too lazy to make a proper nectarine salsa, so I just cooked up some brown rice quinoa mix and a red onion, and had it in a wrap with leafy greens and sliced nectarine. I like anything smoky flavoured, so I enjoyed this. If you’re a fan of BBQ style pizzas with those smoky toppings, give these a go:

Gardein Sweet and Tangy BBQ Wings

The final product I tried was the Beefless Ground. This is pretty much your vegan ground beef/mince meat alternative. I had wanted to experiment with a vegan version of my Mum’s moussaka, so I used the mince here and added some brown lentils to bulk it up a bit more. The Beefless Ground is easy to cook with and is already flavoured, so I didn’t add much to it. It’s on the sweet side which I don’t think worked that well in a moussaka but might do better in a lasagna. I’m not used to my bolognese style sauces being sweet and in the 90s when I traveled to the US and Canada, I was surprised that every meat sauce I tried (in restaurants or store bought) was sweet! Still, I liked the flavour though because it is on the sweet side, I would be quite picky about how to use it.

Gardein Beefless Ground in moussaka

 

If you’d like to see where Gardein products are stocked near you in Australia, check out the Gardein Australia Facebook page. In Australia, the distributor is Plant-Based Foods. Check out Plant-Based Foods’ website to see what other products they stock.

* Disclaimer: These products were sent to me for review purposes: thank you to Plant-Based Foods. All opinions are my own and I receive no compensation– I will only recommend products I am genuinely happy with!