Monday, 22 October 2012

Spinach Fatayer (aka Lebanese Spinach Pies)

A recent discussion with a Lebanese coworker got me hungry for spinach pies, or fatayer. There's no going past the ones sold at Tabet's on Sydney Road, but I thought I could give making them a go. These turned out great - not quite as flavourful as the ones in Brunswick, but a great snack none the less.

Makes about 6 pies.

Ingredients for the dough:
  • 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1.5 cups AP flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/6 cup oil (canola or vegetable)
  • some olive oil

Dissolve the yeast and the sugar in about 1/3 cup warm water and let sit for about 10-15 minutes. Blitz the flour and salt in a food processor and, once the yeast has sat for awhile, add the oil to the yeasty water. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry while mixing on slow speed with a dough hook attachment.

After about a minute, test the dough with your hand. If the dough sticks to your hand, sprinkle it with a good couple of tablespoons of flour, then grab it out of the mixer and knead for a couple of minutes by hand, until smooth and elastic. Set aside in an oiled, covered bowl for about 90 minutes.

While the dough is sitting, you can make the filling.

Ingredients for the filling:
  • 3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 2/3 cup brown onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • a few grinds black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp sumac
  • 1/4 cup crushed walnuts
  • 1/6 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Sprinkle the salt over the spinach in a large bowl. Let sit for about 10 minutes, then squeeze all the juice out, if juice exists. Mix in the onion. When you are ready to fill the pastry, mix in the rest of the ingredients.

Once the dough has sat for a good 90 minutes, cut the dough in half, and roll the first half out onto a clean surface. Cut into shapes, as circular as possible (but, as you can tell from my non-triangular attempts, it doesn't really matter!) Fill with a couple tablespoons of filling, and pull the outer edges in, pressing the sides together so no filling can escape.

Place the pies onto an oil-sprayed baking sheet, brush with a bit of olive oil and put them in a 175'C oven for about 10 minutes. Check on them, turn them around if necessary and bake for another 5-10 minutes. They are done when browned on top.

Serve with an extra squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of cayenne pepper.




Sunday, 21 October 2012

Cheese and Chicken Pizza

A broken tooth, a broken computer; my third week of Vegan Mofo did not go so well. I am going to try to get back into it, but we shall see how it goes...

Anyway, after last week's success with "Better Than Ricotta", I had a bit extra that I thought to use as pizza sauce. It was okay, but the texture turned a bit chalky, so it probably needed to be mixed with some Nuttelex to make it more creamy.

Warning: This pizza dough should be left for an hour or so to rise (you can cheat with 45 minutes) so make sure you know this before you think to make it as a quick dinner. That said, the dough is very easy to make, and is probably the best pizza dough I have made at home.

Ingredients for the dough:
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/3 cups warm water
  • 3 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • large pinch of salt

First, dissolve the yeast in a large mixing bowl with the warm water. Let it sit for about 10 minutes. Blitz the flour and salt in a food processor (all my instructions will include the use of a food processor, but can certainly be mixed by hand as well), using the dough hook. Add the oil to the yeasty water and slowly dirzzle these wet ingredients into the food processor, while on low speed. Mix until just mixed and a dough has started to form.

Pull out the dough and hand-knead for about 3 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball and put aside in an oil-coated mixing bowl. Cover with platic wrap and set aside to rise for 40 minutes to an hour.

Spray your baking sheet(s) with oil and dust with cornflour or all-purpose flour. Cut the dough in half and shape into whatever shape it will allow you (I aimed for circles but that just didn't happen!)

My toppings included:
  • a sauce of "Better Than Ricotta" mixed with fresh, chopped oregano (on one half)
  • a sauce of ready-made pizza sauce (on the other half)
  • roasted pumpkin
  • Redwood Mozzarella Cheezly
  • Redwood chicken-style pieces, previously cooked in a frypan then chopped
  • sliced mushrooms
  • diced tomato
  • diced green capsicum
  • finely diced red onion 


I put on all the ingredients bar the cheese, cooked the pizzas in a 250'C oven for about 10 minutes, then added the cheese and cooked some more until the crusts were clearly baked, and the cheese melted. Grind some salt and pepper over the top and it's ready to go!



Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Oh Em Gee Ricotta Mushroom Leek Ravioli with Pesto Sauce

One of the best foods in the world is the dumpling. This is because the definition of a dumpling can include pretty much any kind of dish that is made of a piece of dough, stuffed with whatever kind of filling, then cooked. Ravioli are like the Italian version of dumplings, and for that I love them. It's hard not to be satisfied after consuming a plate full of them.

Before I discuss the recipe, I want to give a shout-out to Tofutti brand for having a long product shelf-life. I bought my container of Tofutti Better Than Ricotta Cheese in about March, and lost it in the back of my fridge. I reunited with it again today, fearing the mouldiest. I was more than pleasantly surprised to find it still had another month and a half 'til expiry and in perfect condition for eating. YES!!

So, I have posted about making ravioli before and the good news is, that with the dough hook-thing on my food processor, I am only getting speedier and speedier at making these little things, this dish taking less than 3 hours from sauce to filling to dough to plate. If I hadn't paused to wash some dishes, it probably would have been quicker, so don't ever feel daunted by pasta-making. It's not always as time-consuming as it seems.

Pesto Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches of basil (about 4 cups, loosely packed)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • pinch of salt

Add the basil and pine nuts to the food processor and blend until paste-like. Add the lemon juice, garlic and salt and blend again. While blending, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. DONE! I usually would have a taste and add anything else that needs adding, being mindful that the flavours will deepen and emulsify after a night in the fridge.

As with my last ravioli, I used Vegan Dad's dough recipe, replacing 1.5 tbsp of all-purpose flour with besan (chickpea flour) to give colour and bind.

Follow the dough recipe and roll out in a pasta roller or, if you've got muscles and patience, with a rolling pin.

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 tub Tofutti Ricotta (I subtracted about 5 tbsp for later use)
  • 10 small Swiss Brown mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 leek, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1.5 tbsp Nuttelex
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of pepper

Finely dice the leek and add to a large frypan with the melted butter in it. Mince the garlic and add to the leek. Make sure to keep the heat on low so as not to burn anything. Slice the mushrooms as thinly as possible (I use a cheap mandolin from the Tokuya on Bourke St). Make sure to give the leek/garlic mixture a few stirs whilst slicing the mushrooms. Add the mushrooms to the frypan and grind some salt and pepper over it.


Melt down the veggies a bit more, then add the nutritional yeast and lemon juice. Cook until you have cooked most of the liquid out of the mixture. Let cool for a couple of minutes (it's okay if it is still warm) then add to the ricotta. Stir until all the ingredients are combined and let rest in the fridge while you finish the dough.

ravioli_3  ravioli_4

I won't go on and on about how to compile the ravioli, as I have described the process on this blog before. I will, however, comment on the Tofutti Ricotta being delicious. I had feared it would be yucky, based on a few reviews I have read. Rather, it worked wonderfully - the texture and moisture content was perfect, and the taste went well with my ingredients. Worth the high price if you can't be bothered making tofu ricotta.



Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Eazy Cheezy Potatoes Au Gratin

This dish is a nice change from our usual weekday side dish of mashed potatoes or roasted potatoes. My partner isn't the biggest fan of the "yeasty stuff" taste (nutritional yeast) and I have to say, it does have a distinctive taste that I wouldn't want to eat every day, but every few weeks I'm happy to yeast it up!

The sauce, adapted from the Cheezy Sauce out of Veganomicon, turned out super-creamy and paired with the potatoes perfectly.


  • 3 medium potatoes, sliced about 1/2 cm thick (I used desiree potatoes)
  • 2 cups liquid vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pinches of fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • a few grinds of fresh black pepper
  • pinch of tumeric
  • 3/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp Nuttelex

First you need to parboil the potato slices for about seven minutes. Drain all the excess water and set them aside in a strainer.

Next, heat up the olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan or large frypan. While it cooks on low-medium heat, whisk the flour into the vegetable broth until all large lumps are gone. Once the garlic is lightly (lightly!) browned, add the thyme, salt and pepper and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the stock/flour mixture, stir, then add the turmeric and nutritional yeast. Stir for about three minutes until the sauce starts to thicken. Add the lemon juice, Nuttelex and mustard. Stir stir stir until everything is combined. Cook for another couple of minutes, stirring so the sauce doesn't form a skin on top. Remove from the heat.

Make one layer of potatoes at the bottom of a glass or ceramic baking dish. 


Pour half the sauce onto the potatoes and add another layer of potato slices. Pour the rest of your sauce on top and spread around so the potato slices are evenly coated. If you have a few leftover slices, arrange them in a fancy pattern on the top and scrape out the rest of the sauce from the pan with a spatula to cover them.

Bake, covered with aluminium foil, for about 10 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes, to your desired brownness. Sprinkle some paprika on top to make it look extra-fancy and serve hot!




Monday, 8 October 2012

Lazy Chocolate-Chip Cookie-Maker Louise

The annoying thing about googling recipes is that Google never knows exactly what you want. If I want a chocolate chip cookie recipe that is super-easy, with limited ingredients, but not too few ingredients, with no nuts, that can easily be adapted as vegan, Google is clueless. I hate having to hunt through ten million recipes to make something so simple as a chocolate chip cookie.

After about 40 minutes' search, I finally found a recipe that fit all my criteria from  Paris Loves Pastry. I used the Sweet William chocolate chips for the first time, which are good, but a little milky for me. I would prefer the Tropical Source dark chips, but I haven't actually seen them for years (they used to sell them in a Jewish grocery in if anyone knows somewhere in Melbourne where I can find them, please let me know!)

This recipe does not produce the best cookie I've tasted - it's a bit heavy on the oil - but it did the trick and cured my mid-week choc-chip cookie craving.


2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup-ish- chocolate chips
2/3 cup canola oil (a bit less wouldn't hurt)
1/4 cup soy milk
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the over to 170' C.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients. Slowly add the wet mixture to the dry, and mix until combined. Form into small balls and smush them onto a baking sheet about an inch and a half apart.

Bake for about 10-15 minutes, depending on the accuracy of your oven. Remove from the oven, let rest about five minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack if you have one.

Best served with whole soy milk!



Sunday, 7 October 2012

Breakfast Again!: Waffles with Caramelised Bananas

My waffle maker is my new best friend. Though I'm not really a big fan of sweet breakfasts, I can never pass up a good waffle. I happily got this maker for free, and it's okay, but if I was purchasing one, I would probably stay away from the Breville machine (it's a bit flimsy) and go for a Belgian-style maker.

This recipe is simple, but not too sweet - and makes the waffles nice and fluffy! Makes about 8 waffles.

Ingredients for the waffle batter:

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 3/4 cup soy milk
  • egg replacer equivalent to 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Combine the dry ingredients into one bowl and mix with a fork to get rid of any large lumps. Combine the wet ingredients in a separate bowl and slowly pour the wet into the dry, stirring after every 1/2 cup. The batter shouldn't have too many lumps, but on the other hand, shouldn't be over-stirred. Let this sit while you prepare the bananas.

Ingredients for the bananas:
  • 2 ripe yellow bananas 
  • 1.5 tbsp Nuttelex
  • 1.5 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1tbsp Kahlua (optional)

Combine the Nuttelex and sugar and melt for about 20 seconds in the microwave, until soft. Blend together and add the Kahlua, if you're using it.  Cut the bananas into slices, either lengthways or longways, whichever you prefer. Add the bananas to the butter/sugar/Kahlua mixture and coat. These should then be cooked in a frypan over med-high heat for about 4 minutes on each side, until brown and caramelised but not burnt.

While these are cooking, you can make the waffles according to the instructions on your waffle maker. 

If you're making a ton of waffles like I did a couple of weekends ago at a waffle party I hosted, keep them in one layer on a cookie sheet in your oven with the heat on low to keep them warm and crispy until ready for serving.

Pile your finished waffles up with fresh sliced strawberries, the caramelised bananas, maple syrup, veg bacon and whipped cream, if you like (my Soyatoo! sadly went mouldy after being open for two weeks so I had to bin it.)



Saturday, 6 October 2012

Smokey Spanish Brekkie Beans with Thyme Mushrooms

This recipe is a great variation on my usual garlic and white bean breakfast mash. Inspired by a friend's recipe, it is smoky, filling and best served with a few nice slices of bread.


1/3 small onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely diced
1 can of cannellini beans
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/4 tomato puree
1 heaping tsp smoked sweet paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
squeeze lemon juice
a good olive oil
1 tbsp (plus more if necessary) of nuttelex
some parsley, chopped (optional)
6-8 Swiss brown mushrooms, sliced
some thyme, chopped

First, melt some Nuttlelex in a frypan. Once melted, add the onion and garlic. While that is cooking, drain and rinse the beans, adding a drizzle of olive oil and the vegetable stock. Put on medium heat. Once the onion and garlic are nice and soft (about 5 minutes, with stirring), add to the beans.

Now add another tablespoon of Nuttelex to the frypan and, once melted, add the thyme. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring, then add the mushrooms. Stir again and go back to your beans.

Add the tomato puree, paprika and cumin. Stir, then add a squeeze of lemon juice. Stir and adjust the consistency - add more water if too thick, and some nutritional yeast if too thin. Cook for another 5 minutes, smushing with a fork so it's a bit mashed up, then turn off the heat and add the parsley.

The mushrooms are cooked once they're soft and earthy-smelling. Serve the beans on some nice sourdough, with a drizzle of olive oil, mushrooms on top and a sprinkling of flake salt and some sumac or pepper (or sumac pepper!)



Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Phat Brats, Fitzroy

I was more or less dragged to Phat Brats with the promise of a vegan option. I am always up for trying out any new restaurant that caters to veg*ns. The menu has one dog clearly marked "vegan" and a total of two clearly marked "vegetarian". Even though it sounded more appealing, I couldn't be bothered inquiring about ingredients of the second (bean, lentil, and vegie) so I went with the Superfood Dog, the one clearly marked vegan.


The first thing we realised after sitting down is that we missed the "meal deals" described on the board, and could have saved about $5 if we had been offered to order a deal, instead of drink, chips and burger separately. Oh well. I drank my delicious Holgate ESB and tried to forget about it.

The dogs came out pretty quickly, and were honestly a bit smaller in portion than I'd expected. The Superfood Dog is a curious blend of sweet potato, quinoa and tamarind with the equally odd toppings of minted peas, sour cream and sprouts. I can say I didn't really have high hopes (not a fan of minted peas at all!), but it turned out to be quite good. Not amazing, but good. The ingredients, though pretty wacky, worked together harmoniously but there was no strong flavour punch. The sprouts were refreshing and the bun light and fluffy (yeah, full of sugar I'm sure but sometimes a heavy bun is just too much.)

The fries were awesome.

All in all, the dog was good but, at $9.50, pretty overpriced - even for Brunswick Street. I was hungry again not longer after I finished my meal. I won't be running back, but may give them another try if I'm in the 'hood, with meateaters, and not in the mood for LOTF.



Phat Brats on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Sloppy Joes

An classic of American cuisine, the Sloppy Joe is not a Sloppy Joe if your hands stay clean. This recipe is simple and yummy. I prefer to use the softest, junkiest buns I can find. Serves 4-6


  • 1 can of Sanitarium nutmeat (or equiv. TVP)
  • 1/2 cup brown onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup green capsicum, diced
  • 1/4 cup liquid vegetable stock
  • 1.5 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 tsp. agave nectar (or 1 tbsp dry sweetener)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 400g can of diced tomatoes 
  • 5-10 drops of liquid smoke (can probably sub smoked paprika)
  • 1 tbsp vegan worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • few pinches of pepper
  • cooking oil, as needed

Heat some oil in a large frypan. Food process (or hand-smush) the nutmeat until mince-like. Fry the nutmeat in the pan with the oil for a good 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the nutmeat has reached your desired level of brown.

Push the nutmeat to the outer edges of the pan, heat a bit more oil, then cook the garlic, onion and capsicum in the oil for about 5 minutes, until soft. Combine everything in the pan and cook for another 5 minutes. 

Add the rest of the ingredients and combine. Simmer for about 10 minutes, adding water if needed to reach the consistency of a very thick pasta sauce. Taste, then add extra bits of ingredients as necessary (I found I wanted more vinegar and liquid smoke) and cook for another 10 minutes.

Serve on toasted or soft burger buns spread with vegan mayo, side of fries and coleslaw or pickles.



Monday, 1 October 2012


After a long hibernation, I am back. Inspired by springtime, I have lots planned for the Vegan Month of Food (and beyond!). Posts coming very very soon...


Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Home-Marinated Mushrooms

Marinated mushrooms are probably my favourite deli-bought snack food. When I was younger I would actually eat a whole jar for lunch. I have a little bit more control over my gluttonous urges these days, but I've been craving these things big-time lately. A small jar is usually around $4-5 dollars at the shops, which seems like a big rip-off so I thought I'd make my own. I found a few recipes online and took bits from them to create this recipe, based on ingredients I already had. (I think fresh parsley would have been a great addition, but unfortunately, I was out.) This jar needs to be refrigerated in a few weeks, so I will update then.


  • 300g button mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dried mixed herbs
  • a few fronds of fresh dill
  • 1/2 tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 3/4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely diced

Pour all ingredients except the mushrooms in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil (the boil?). 


Once it starts boiling, turn the heat down and add the mushrooms. Stir with a spatula to coat all the mushrooms in the mixture. Cook on low for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 


After 10 minutes or so, turn off the heat and transfer everything to a sterilised jar. Let cool and then put the jar in the fridge for a few weeks. Serve cold with crackers and vegan cheese and sundried tomatoes!

Oh, and don't forget to warn anyone you live with that you have mushrooms marinating in the fridge and not a science experiment!


Sunday, 18 March 2012

Crazy Brussels Sprouts

So-called crazy because the ingredients basically consist of whatever stuff I had lying around that needed using up. The combination of flavours may not sound like they would work together, but they totally do! Apologies for the shocking picture quality on this post - I think I accidentally set the ISO too high without realising...


  • 2 handfuls of Brussels sprouts, washed and halved
  • 1/2 large red chili
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup coriander leaves
  • 1/2 cup parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 a lemon's juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper

Chuck the chili, garlic, parsley and coriander into a food processor. Blend until all finely chopped. Whilst the speed is on low, pour in the olive oil and lemon juice. Scrape the sides with a spatula then add salt and pepper and pulse a few times until you reach your desired consistency - not pureed, but all blended.

Pour the oil/herb mixture over the B-sprouts in a bowl and mix with the spatula until all coated in oil.


Transfer to a baking sheet and roast until nice and crispy. You may need to remove the tray about 10 minutes in, just to make sure the oil is still evenly distributed and/or turn the sprouts over.


Remove from the oven and serve hot! Also works with mushrooms:


Friday, 9 March 2012

Mad Mex - Melbourne Central

Ah, La Cocina de México! Melbourne is currently experiencing a Mexican revolution, with heaps of South-of-the-Border eateries popping up all over town, and another two opening in the CBD in the next few weeks.

Mad Mex opened their first few stores in Sydney and are now franchising in Melbourne. I first visited their shopfront in Sydney about a year ago and was very impressed with the quality of ingredients, friendly staff and yummy flavours presented to me. I'm happy to tell you the Melbourne Central outpost has the same qualities - somehow the staff managed to get our orders out accurately, fast, and with smiles and jokes all around. Oh, and they're licensed to sell booze! I wish I was paying attention to this when we ordered - I could have gotten a frozen margarita or a Mexican beer.

For my dinner, I chose the Vegetariano burrito ($10.90 with eggplant, zucchini & mushrooms) minus the cheese and sour cream, plus three (yes three!) salsas and guacamole (free with a veggie burrito!).


The salsas I had on my burrito were the corn, the tomatillo, and the roasted tomato. They were all bursting will flavour, but the smoky, deep flavour of the roasted tomato sauce was the winner - it's like no sauce I have tried before at an Aussie Mexi food place. The tortilla was very authentic-tasting - I must say, even better than the tortilla at Trippy Taco! My bf's tacos were also quite authentic, with a double layer of tortilla (because the first one always breaks!). Gluten-free people will have no problem here either - you can get a "naked" burrito - basically an awesome burrito minus the flour tortilla.


I couldn't finish my overstuffed burrito but the serving of two tacos weren't enough for the bf so he ordered a side of nachos ($3 with roasted tomato salsa) for takeaway.


These were hot, fresh and went superbly with the roasted tomato salsa (yes, I somehow found room in my tummy for a few...) Even though we got the chips for takeaway, I wouldn't have minded eating in the food court at a table that looks over LaTrobe Street - this part of Melbourne Central seems to be the only sane place to sit and eat. And check out the Corona-bottle chandelier!


The only thing negative I can say about Mad Mex is that the guacamole was maybe a little bit old and had that slight warm-avo taste. Normally I would say $10.90 was too much for a burrito, but this burrito was so yummy that it was most certainly worth it. Honestly, I would love to see a place like Mad Mex put a horrible place like Taco Bill out of business. The people of Melbourne are finally able to find some near-authentic Mexican food, and it's maravilloso!

Mad Mex - Fresh Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, 5 March 2012

Massive Wieners - Prahran

Note: If you came here just to see a picture of the author eating a massive wiener turn back because there isn't one!

When I heard this place had a Massive (aka 12" long) vegan hot dog, I knew I had to get down to Prahran and try it out! Last Saturday was a great opportunity. We were in the city anyway, checking out an exhibition at ACMI, and Prahran really is much closer than it sometimes feels to this Northsider.


Massive Wieners is really trying to perfect the old-school '50s American diner feel, with the added bonuses of cheeky branding and a no-frills menu. They're pretty spot-on when it comes to the Americana  look - glass bottled 7-Up and Dr Pepper in the fridge, old-school uniforms on the staff and simple ingredients on the menu. The aesthetic works well (even if the retro cash register didn't seem to be operational!), and is really quite cute. The shop is very small, with the only seats next to the window - more of a sitting area than an eating area. There is a small park nearby that is a perfect spot to eat your dogs.

On this trip I ordered the veggie dog which comes with ketchup, diced white onions, and American mustard. I got "pickles" for $1 extra (I think it was actually what would be called relish in the US.) The dog seemed to be a foot-long Redwood dog, possibly boiled but maybe we heard a microwave in the back? The bun is a pretty junky white-bread-type bun, just your average bun - slightly chewy, not much flavour.


The dog, in the end, was okay. It was nothing out of the ordinary. At $6 for the plain footlong, ($4 for an "Average Joe" and $3 for a "Little Pecker", heh heh) it is quite good value, but maybe if the dog was grilled and more interesting extras were offered, it might pack a little but more punch and appeal.


With such a simple and well-priced menu, I think Massive Wieners will be successful. They fit in well to their Greville St location, and their look is very smart, but as for my next veggie dog - I'll probably just grill it at  home with some onions and green pepper and maybe some dijon mustard.


Massive Wieners on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Summery Chicken Wrap with Cool Ranch Dressing

In summertime, like many people, I'm not too keen on eating hot foods. Last weekend in Melbourne the temperature hovered in the mid-to-late 30s celsius (around the upper 90s fahrenheit). This is not my kind of weather and I will expel as little energy as possible and eat as much cucumber as I can to keep my body temperature normal. Enter the chicken wrap. This does requiring a bit of cooking, but with the exception of the "chicken", the rest of the elements are cold.


  • 2 chicken burgers
  • cucumber sticks
  • carrot sticks
  • tomato cut into wedges
  • red onion, sliced
  • lettuce of your choice, washed and drained or spun
  • "ranch" dressing
  • pita bread

This ranch dressing recipe is based on this recipe I found and is very yummy. It's best to keep it chilled for at least 20 minutes in the fridge before serving. 

  • 1 tbsp vegan mayo
  • 2 tbsp vegan sour cream
  • 2 tsp of sugar water (sugar dissolved into water)
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 tsp lemon juice
  • a few grinds of black pepper
  • dash of paprika
  • dash of onion powder
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh parsley or dried mixed herbs 

Fry up the chicken burgers, then move onto some paper towel or clean tea cloth to drain. Slice into strips. Layer your pita bread with salad, carrot and cucumber sticks and red onion. Arrange chicken strips and drizzle with dressing. Add a few tomato wedges and a dash of black pepper, wrap, and eat.


Monday, 27 February 2012

Pumpkin-Portobello Pasta Sauce With Garlic and Thyme

I present to you another weeknight dinner for your cooking pleasure. This one is also pretty easy and very flavourful. Don't let the colour of the sauce put you off - because of the mushrooms the sauce turns out to be a kind of alien colour, but it's the taste that counts, right! The pine nuts add a much-needed crunchiness, and the mushrooms infuse an extra earthy flavour into the sauce. Makes about four serves.

  • pasta of your choice (I used bowtie)
  • about $3 worth of your choice of pumpkin
  • 3 large portobello mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • about 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh thyme + more for garnish
  • Nuttelex
  • splash of balsamic vinegar
  • splash of dark soy sauce
  • splash of lemon juice
  • 2 drops of liquid smoke (optional)
  • pine nuts
  • a few shakes of onion powder
  • pepper
  • salt

Slice the pumpkin and wet-roast in the oven on medium until tender. Whilst the pumpkin is roasting, slice your mushrooms. Melt some Nuttelex in a fry pan and add garlic and thyme. Cook for a few minutes then add the mushroom and splash of dark soy and splash of balsamic vinegar. Cook on low heat, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms are well-cooked and no liquid remains in the pan. 

Put your water on to boil and, once boiled, throw in the pasta!

When your pumpkin is tender, cut off the rind and throw in your food processor, along with a cup of stock. Blend until smooth. Next add the nutritional yeast, lemon juice, olive oil, onion powder, one teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of pepper, and blend until combined. Add more vegetable stock, whilst pulsing the food processor, to reach your desired thickness. Taste, then add more of what you need to to reach your desired flavour and consistency. I found that I kept adding salt and more salt and more salt, and it took a bit of adding of more ingredients to balance the sauce.

Once your sauce tastes awesome and the mushrooms are cooked, add the sauce to the frypan with the mushrooms. Stir gently to combine, but not too much that your sauce is too brown! Let cook on very low heat for as much time as it takes to toast a few tablespoons of pine nuts. 

Drain your pasta and stir through it some more Nuttelex, about a tablespoon's worth. Plate and pour a good amount of sauce on top. Top with pine nuts and a sprinkling of fresh thyme. Again, not the most attractively-coloured sauce, but if you're looking to make it more pretty, you could always throw the mushroom mixture on top of the pumpkin sauce, rather than stirring it through.


Saturday, 25 February 2012

Three-Cheese Gourmet Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Sometimes it's difficult to come up with a different dinner idea every night of the week. Especially as I have been working harder than usual at work lately, and the bf has been working late almost every night. And just because I'm feeling tired doesn't mean I want to eat boring food.

All I can say is thank the baby Jesus for my grill pan and food processor! These two kitchen items have really made making quick, tasty dinners a lot easier this year. I present to you, an out-of-this-world-tasty grilled cheese sandwich that is wonderful grilled with a grill pan, but can also be cooked in a regular frypan. The mushroom gives it a smoky, meaty flavour and texture, and the three cheeses' powers combine to make this probably the best grilled cheese sandwich I have ever made! Serve with a lazy can of condensed tomato soup.

Ingredients to make two sandwiches:

  • 4 slices of bread
  • 1 large portobello mushroom, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 a red onion, sliced
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • handful of spinach
  • 2 tbsp pinenuts
  • wholegrain mustard
  • dijon mustard
  • horseradish (the kind from a jar)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Nuttelex


  • Tofutti mozzarella slices
  • Cheezly blue cheese 
  • Sheese smoked cheddar

First, slice your portobello mushroom as thinly as you can. Spread your grill pan with melted Nuttelex and cook the mushrooms until they look cooked - basically when they have a darker colour and are no longer dry - grill marks are not necessary. Whilst your mushrooms are cooking, toast your pinenuts in the same pan.

Layer your sandwich like this:

slice of bread
dijon mustard
Tofutti slice, cut into four sections
bleu cheese spread out in between the pieces of Tofutti
portobello mushroom slices
red onion
pine nuts
thinly sliced smoked cheddar
other slice of bread spread with wholegrain mustard

Spread the top of the top slice of bread with Nuttelex and melt some more Nuttelex in the grill pan. Grill the sandwich on low until the bottom layer of cheese is melty. Salt and pepper the top then flip your sandwich and continue to grill until all the cheese is melty. Salt and pepper again and serve hot! You'll win over vegans and omnis alike.


Sunday, 19 February 2012

Vegan Wine or Wine That Happens to Be Vegan

If a wine doesn't mention egg, milk or fish on the label, has it been filtered and processed to be vegan? Or is it only vegan if the label says it is? These annoying questions are some of the reasons I find myself sticking to beer when I'm in the mood for booze. I know my Coopers, Little Creatures and Mountain Goat are vegan - and if those aren't on tap at whatever bar I'm at, I can easily identify the vegan beer the place does have.

I know which readily-available beers are vegan suitable, but wine floods the marketplace in such a way that it seems every restaurant, pub and bar has a different wine list, rendering it nearly impossible to know if what I'm ordering is filtered with milk or through isinglass. The situation is a lot easier at the bottle shop - I usually just go in and grab a bottle of Yalumba. The awesome people at Yalumba label the wines in their range as to whether they are vegetarian suitable and vegan suitable - my favourite is the shiraz-viognier. If a label says "vegan" (or a restaurant has the word "vegan" on their menu!) I know that business cares about me, and I am more likely to support them. (Even if the company has really cheesy ads that I inevitably have to sit through at least 20 times each year at MIFF!)

If anyone has some suggestions for other Australian wines that label their product as "Vegan Suitable", I would love to hear about them!


Friday, 10 February 2012

Easy Delicious Mexican Rice

This week limes and avocados are cheap so I have been making lots of guacamole and burritos. The first night of burritos we had charcoal tofu and refried beans on them, but it was a bit too much bean-action for the bf to handle, so the following night I mixed it up with dry-fried veg chicken (the nugget-style ones from your local asian grocery) and mexican rice. I found the rice recipe here and I must say, it turned out wonderfully. It looked and tasted quite similarly to rice I've had in burritos in the US. I used slightly different proportions so have posted my version of the recipe. Makes enough for about 6 burritos:


  • 1 cup of long grain white rice
  • 2 cups of vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 small brown onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • just less than 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • the juice of 1/2 a juicey lime
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander
  • 4 shakes of ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a small to medium-sized pot, add rice and vegetable stock. Bring to the boil over high heat. Stir and cover the pot. Lower the heat and simmer for another 17-20 minutes until just cooked. Remove from heat and keep the pot covered while you perform the second step.

Cook your onions in a small fry pan with the olive oil for about 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and stir for another minute or two. Add the tomato paste and cumin and stir again. Now mix in the lime juice, coriander and, finally, the rice.

Stir until the tomato paste mixture is fully combined with the rice. Taste, and add more cumin, lime juice, salt and pepper to your liking. (My stock was salty enough that I didn't need to add more salt.) Cook for 5 more minutes, stirring every minute or so. Serve next to your other sides for an awesome DIY burritoathon!


Other suggestions for burrito fillings:

grilled corn, cut off the cob with a knife
charcoal bbq tofu chunks
dry-fried "chicken" sprinkled with ground spices of cumin, coriander and chilli
cos lettuce, chopped
tomato, diced
jalapenos, thinly sliced
black beans
refried beans
red onion
coriander leaves
vegan sour cream
vegan cheese


Another burritorrific tip:

Instead of leaving leftover ingredients in the fridge to go bad, chuck them into some lettuce as a salad and make a dressing out of warmed refried beans, olive oil, sour cream and lime juice!

My beautiful burrito: