Friday, 26 April 2013

Recipe: Mashed potato and company

I found this recipe in the massively thick book “Vegan Planet” by Robin Robertson. It is a fine example of simple vegan cooking. A lot of non-vegans think cooking vegan if difficult, with hard to find ingredients. Not so. Many non-vegan dishes can be slightly altered to make them cruelty free. In this case, skip the butter and use olive oil or dairy free margarine. Skip the animal milk, and substitute with rice, oat, soy or a nut milk. Too easy.

You can also use carrots and turnips in this recipe, if you are not keen on parsnips. The amounts given for the margarine/oil and non-dairy milk is only a guide. Adjust to taste and texture you wish to achieve.

What you will need:
1.5 kg potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
2 small parsnips, peeled and sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed (optional)
1 tbsp dairy free margarine such as Nuttelex or 2 tbsp olive oil
½ cup dairy free milk (I use rice milk)

Place potato and sweet potato in a large pot of water, to cover. Add parsnips and garlic and bring to boil over medium to high heat. Cook until tender – approx. 30 minutes.
Drain and return to pot. Add margarine/oil and non-dairy milk. Mash until smooth. Seasons with salt and pepper and serve hot.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Swan Valley Cafe - Italian flavours menu

Recently, my partner and two friends went out to dinner at the Swan Valley Cafe, on a Friday night. We had the set menu which was Italian themed, and included an entree, a main and a dessert, with vegan and gluten free options - all for $45 a head.

For the entree, there was a choice of Pea and Basil Soup, served with a garlic rubbed gluten free vegan dinner roll OR Avocado and Olive Bruschetta, which was also gluten free and vegan.

All but one of our group opted for the bruschetta. It was by far the best I have ever tasted! Packed with olives, avocado, capsicum, cherry tomatoes and herbs, all on gluten free bread. My partner loved it so much that I am sure he would have been happy to have just eaten a few slices more of that for his dinner - it was that good!
One of our party had the Pea and Basil Soup and reported that it was very tasty, indeed. See photo below.
For the main, the choice was between Tempeh Lasagna with a green side salad, or Pumpkin Risotto with a green side salad. Both were vegan and gluten free. I opted for the former, even though I often find that tempeh does not quite agree with me, for some reason. Turned out that I was pleasantly surprised as this dish gave me no problems at all. It was rich with a gorgeously creamy white sauce on top. I have no idea what it was made of (my guess is perhaps cashews) but you would have been hard pressed to better it or realize that it was not animal based.
For dessert, I had a slice of a very rich, very dark chocolate cake, topped with a sort of almond toffee crisp. The base was of a biscuity type, that you often see in cheesecakes.  The cake was so smooth, so creamy, that it almost felt like I was eating chocolate mousse, instead. On the side was a small amount of cashew cream, that went with the cake beautifully. Here is a photo. I wish I had managed to take a better one, to do it justice!
We have heard that these themed set menus change from time to time, with Morrocan, Spanish, and Mexican being offered  on some Friday nights. I would suggest keeping an eye on their Facebook page or website to keep abreast on which theme is offered on which Friday night. Also note that within each theme, what is offered on the night, might vary. I noticed that what we had on this particular Italian themed night, varies a bit from what is offered on an upcoming one.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Recipe: Tutti-Frutti Smoothie

A fruity, creamy drink concoction I found in “Vegan Planet” by Robin Robertson. Easy to make and you can find all the ingredients in the supermarket.

What you will need:
2 dates, pitted and soaked in hot water to cover, until soft. Drain.
½ cup canned pineapple chunks
½ cup fresh or frozen strawberries
1 medium sized ripe banana, peeled cut into chunks, and frozen
1 cup apple juice
115g soft silken tofu, drained

Combine dates, pineapple, strawberries and tofu in a blender. Add banana and apple juice and blend until thick and smooth.
2 servings

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Recipe: Lemon Pepper Tofu

One of my favourite vegan cook books is "Vegan Brunch" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. My partner was browsing through it and came across this super easy recipe and was keen to try it out, as he loves lemon pepper.
Finding lemon pepper that is vegan and gluten free, was a bit of a challenge, which surprised us both. We did, however, find in the supermarket, lemon pepper by MasterFoods which fit all the criteria.

What you will need:
450g extra firm tofu, sliced into approx 8 pieces, widthwise
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp tamari/soy sauce/Bragg Liquid Aminos (you can find the last one listed, in some healthfood shops)
2 garlic cloves (optional)
2 tbsp lemon pepper


Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Spray a baking sheet with cooking oil.
Poke each slice of tofu with a fork 3 to 4 times.
Drizzle the olive oil and tamari on a plate. Grate or mince garlic into the mix. Dredge each slice of tofu through the mix and then lay out on a plate. Sprinkle half of the lemon pepper over the slices and give a quick rub into the tofu. Flip the slices and repeat with the remaining lemon pepper and rub in. Aim to spend about 15 seconds on each slice, rubbing in the lemon pepper.
Place slices on in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes on one side. Flip over and bake for another 10 minutes.

Serve with a salad, use in sandwiches, burritos, etc.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Recipe: Eggplant meatballs

I found this recipe via this site: Midwest Veg. I like eggplant and after finding out what panko breadcrumbs were and where to find them (used in Japanese cooking - found them in Fresh Stop at the Dogswamp Shopping Centre), I decided to give them a go.

The process of making them was a bit more fiddly than what I am use to bothering with. There is some prep work to be done with the eggplant beforehand and then you need to get your trusty food processor out.

The results were tasty, though, I must admit. Be aware that the balls will be cooked crispy on the outside but will be moist on the inside.

For there full recipe, go here.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Event: Swan Animal Haven annual fete, 2013

Swan Animal Haven's Annual Fete and Garage Sale helps raise much needed funds to support the many 100's of abandoned, abused and unwanted dogs that comes through its doors each year and cares for them until forever homes are found. It is a no-kill shelter.

At this event, you can pick up bargains in regards to clothing, bric-a-brac, books, toys, plants - you name it! There will also be a cake stall and a 100% vegan sausage sizzle. Yes, you read that right. This year, the sausage sizzle will be offering Geoff's famous vegan sausages which you may have tasted at various other animal friendly related events, such as the Cruelty Free Festival.

These have always sold out fast, so aim to come in early to avoid disappointment!

When: 14th April, 10am to 2pm
Where: Kalamunda Road, South Guildford

Please come down and show support for an animal charity that sees the hypocrisy of serving up animals in order to help other animals, and has made moves to do the right thing.

Recipe: Mushroom and tofu pastitsio

Pastitsio use to be one of my favourite dishes as a child. It was full of egg, meat and dairy (though my family left out the meat, at least), and is a common Greek meal.  Was keen to try this veganized version of it, after spotting it in the book “Vegan Planet” by Robin Robertson.
It is a little bit fussy, requiring a few steps, but the results are worth it. For the tomato sauce, I just grabbed a can of pasta sauce form the supermarket. There are many that are vegan, so you should have no problems finding one that is suitable to use.  As for the vegan parmesan cheese, I used Cheezly Parmesan which you can buy at PAWS.  The recipe calls for radiator pasta but if you can’t find that, any small pasta will do. I noticed with the gluten free pasta, it is hard to find the smaller shapes, so just use whatever you can find.

What you will need:
450g radiator or other small pasta
1 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped (optional)
2 garlic cloves, chopped (optional)
450g firm tofu, rinsed and crumbled
225g white mushrooms, chopped
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ cup dry red wine (optional)
2 cups tomato pasta sauce
¼ to ½  chopped fresh parsley
¾ drained soft silken tofu
2 cups soy milk ( I use Bonsoy as it is thick, creamy and savoury in flavour. Available in supermarkets.)
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
½ cup grated vegan parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta in boiling water, according to packet directions. Drain and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add onions, cover and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, firm tofu, mushrooms, oregano, cinnamon, and wine. Simmer to reduce, about 3 minutes.
Stir in tomato pasta sauce and parsley. Reduce heat to low and cook to reduce liquid, about 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
Combine silken tofu, soy milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a blender and process until smooth.
Spread half of the pasta over the bottom of a lightly oiled 9x13 inch (22.86 x 33.02 cm) baking dish and sprinkle with half of the vegan cheese.
Spread all of the tomato mixture over the top and layer the remaining pasta on top. Spread the pureed tofu mixture over the pasta and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
Bake until hot and bubbly, about 45 minutes. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.
Makes enough for 4 people. A green salad on the side goes well with this.