Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Lunch

Hi again. Hope those of you who celebrate holidays are having a wonderful time and all who don't have had some great time off.

We are a blend of lapsed Catholics, vaguely proto-Catholics and atheists in our little household of 5. Despite this, we celebrate Christmas in a rather secular way with gifts, special food and family visits during the week. This year, we stayed home and the 5 of us celebrated a quiet Christmas day. (We saw extended family before and after the 25th.) It was a great day, with lovely family time and time to relax.

Here's our Christmas lunch. I went all out and did 5 courses.

First up was Pumpkin and Lentil Soup. This was Z's request for the meal. He loves this soup. We had Nuttelex or hommous for the rolls.

Then we had Mock Prawn Cocktail. I saw a simple cocktail sauce recipe (mayo, tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce) in a Margaret Fulton Christmas cookbook. I decided to do a retro entree (appetiser for the US readers). The sauce is served with some mock prawns from the White Jade Garden vegetarian supermarket, lettuce and avocado. Z did not like the prawns, but everyone else liked this. Z still ate all the lettuce and avocado (and some of his sister's).

Main meal. This was cold sanitarium roast with cranberry sauce (cooked the day before), tsueh yu tofu, a roll, Margaret Fulton's beetroot and orange salad, Chang's noodle cabbage salad, mixed tomato salad and a simple pasta salad with italian dressing and olives (Z's favourite). This was all very nice. I loved the beetroot salad, which was both sweet and earthy.

Christmas cake and So Good vanilla ice cream for my small dessert. Others had various icecream/rum ball/biscotti/custard combos. It was a help-yourself thing. The kids enjoyed lashings of icecream, as you can imagine.

Finally, coffee with rumballs and a bite of rocky road.

It was a delightfully quiet day, with a delicious lunch. I'll post some recipes in the next few days.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays to all who celebrate at this time of the year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Homemade sausages

Sorry about the dark picture, it was another phone picture. Fortunately, we have our camera back now, so new photos should look better.

These are the Italian Feast Sausages from Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I am clearly still obsessed with my newest cookbook.

I love these sausages, which are based around wheat gluten, with some mashed beans, stock and flavourings. If you have never made your own seitan, this is an excellent place to start. The use of beans and steaming to cook the sausages give them an excellent texture, which avoids the rubberiness which afflicts some home made seitan. The flavour is also very good. Z said that they were the best gluten product I had ever made. M was not so keen, but from her comments, I think that she had decided that she wouldn't like it before she even tasted a tiny bite.

The recipe says that it will make 4 sausages. I think that they would be more salami sized. I made a double batch and made 18 smaller links, of the size pictured above, about the size of a short fat sausage. I also wrapped them in baking (parchment) paper, rather than aluminium, as I try to avoid aluminium. The baking paper worked well.

Most of the family loved them, when I served them fried with vegetables and onion gravy. The next night I sliced 3 and fried the pieces to use in a pasta sauce (no picture, but it was just 1 fried chopped onion, couple cloves of garlic, large tin of crushed tomato, sausage, oregano and thyme simmered together). The last 5 are going to be used like hot dogs. I think that you could also serve these sausages to open-minded omnis, especially if they were cooked in a sauce.

Try these. You won't regret it.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Xmas Cookies

I am not particularly religious, but I do enjoy the family closeness and celebrations of the silly season. We went to a large party with Mr BrisVegan's extended family yesterday. We don't really give gifts to adults in that family (no-one does), but I wanted to give a little something. So, like many a food-obsessed vegan, I baked for the holidays. Here are the cookies that I made into little gifts for the family:

(Clockwise from back left: Ginger Sparkle from Vegan with a Vengeance, Snickerdoodles from La Dolce Vegan, Chocolate Chip Cookies from Vegan with a Vengeance and Cranberry Walnut Biscotti from Veganomnicon.)

And here is one of the gifts:

They are all delicious, so I hope that everyone enjoys them. I will be taking some of each of them to various other Xmas parties with my family. I am also making rocky road, fudge, rumballs and mini-fruitcakes. Conversion by sweets for Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pear and walnut salad with stinky tofu dressing

The other day I made this quick salad for lunch. It was very good, if you like sweet and bitter things together. It's another tasty way to use stinky tofu. As you can see, I had it with some pita bread, corn, potato salad and tinned cucumber.

Pear and Walnut Salad with Stinky Tofu Dressing

Serves 1


1 pear
Handful walnuts
3 large leaves lettuce of choice
1/2 teaspoon stinky tofu
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

  1. Make a bed of torn lettuce leaves.
  2. Remove the seeds from the pear and slice it lengthways.
  3. Toss pear and walnuts on bed of lettuce.
  4. Whisk tofu oil and vinegar and pour over salad.

Here is Switch with one of her favourite things, her toy dog. When we adopted her, her foster family brought it with her. She had had it for most of her 11 months, so they did not want to deprive her of her favourite toy. She is very fond of it and will carry it all around the house, lick it and play fight with it. She can even hold it in her mouth and jump onto furniture with it. We will sometimes find it left on our bed, when she takes it up there, as she did this time. We suspect that she sometimes leaves it to share with someone who is sad or who she is feeling close to. However, she usually will not let Berry have it, which is no real problem, as Berry does not show much interest in it.

Who says animals can't love toys?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Curry and Lentils

Last night we had curry, tamarind lentils and sambals. My camera is still dead, but fortunately we had the same thing a couple of weeks ago and I took a photo. I know it was the same, because I froze half of the lentils and curry. We microwaved the left overs last night. Obviously, they freeze well.

The lentils are the tamarind lentils from Veganomnicon. I love them, but then I am a big lentil fan. The rest of the family are not so keen.

The curry was some store bought curry paste (can't remember which one) with coconut milk and a mix of veges. I fried some onion, added the curry paste and fried it for a few minutes and then added the rest of the vegetables and coconut milk. It was served with rice, lime pickles, chutney, Sri Lankan coconut sambal (from a jar) and microwaved papadums.

Everyone over 10 loved it. The smaller two had rice, spring rolls, papadums and steamed vegetables, because they are chilli averse.

Now I am going to have the last bit of the lentils and rice for lunch. Mmmmhh, lentils...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Review: Cream Cheezely Garlic and Herb

Cheezly has a new range of cream cheese products. I bought a log of the garlic and herb cream Cheezly from Mrs Flannery's supermarket.

(Wrong flavour, but you get the idea!)

Though I am not a big fan of vegan cheese, I like the cheezely options and will sometimes use tofutti slices in a grilled cheese sandwich. I usually only like vegan cheese melted with other things (eg in toasted sandwiches, nachos and on pizza). The only one that I would consider eating alone is Cheezly Herb and Garlic. That's why I tried this option for the cream cheese.

What was it like? Good. Very good. Not exactly like cheese, but then no vegan cheese actually is. The non-cheese overtone is very mild and not bad. It was tasty and creamy on crackers. Everyone in the family ate it, including all the cheese eaters. M asked to have crackers and "cheese cream" for school lunches. She is ready this and says "It was very yummy!"

There was no way that we would finish a whole log in one go, so I cut it into chunks and froze it. It has defrosted beautifully, with no loss of flavour or texture.

While I wouldn't serve it unadorned to the sort of omni who talks about "fake food", it would be fine with other toppings. It would probably be fine for more open minded omnis.

I recommend this one!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Picnic eats

No pics today due to lack of camera and forgetting to take the phone with the camera in it. We went to a picnic yesterday with a bunch of friends and everyone's kids. We went to Sherwood Forest Park at Sherwood here in Brisbane. It is a good park for groups, with a big covered table area, BBQ's and clean facilities. There are well shaded play areas within 10 metres of the covered tables on each side. There is a creek with ducks, but it is probably 150-200 metres from the play area, so it is easy to keep young children away from it.

We had a great time. The children had a ball climbing trees and playing on the playground. Though J feels he is getting a bit old for all of that, he was in the middle of it all, helping the younger children to climb and stay safe. It was a beautiful day.

I said yesterday that I would come back with an omni-friendliness review for the east coast coffee cake. I took it to the picnic yesterday, cut into small slice-like pieces. It went really well. Everyone had some and liked it. Many people had seconds.

I also took vegan snickerdoodles (from either How It All Vegan or La Dolce Vegan from memory), babaganouj with pita bread and spinach/Cheezely pastry. All were a hit with the omnis. In fact, my food was all gone, though there were still cake and shop bought biscuits left. The kids really loved the babaganouj and the spinach pastry. I have previously posted the babaganouj recipe. Here is the recipe for the spinach pastry:

Spinach and Cheese Picnic Pastry


3 squares frozen vegan puff pastry (I used Borgs)
1 packet frozen spinach (250g from memory)
1/2 log of Cheezely mozzarella (100g) or altenative vegan cheese
2 spring onions, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Centigrade.
  2. Defrost puff pastry on a flat surface while making filling.
  3. Defrost spinach in microwave or over low heat on your stove top. Drain very well.
  4. Grate Cheezely.
  5. Mix spinach, cheese and chopped spring onion.
  6. Line a cookie tray with parchment paper. Put 1 and 1/2 pieces pastry on bottom of tray. Join any seams with a little water and press together well.
  7. Spread spinach mixture over pastry, leaving a 1 cm edge. It should give you a thin layer of filling.
  8. Cover with remaining pastry. Seal edges with a little water.
  9. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden.
  10. You can serve this hot now or allow to cool.
  11. Cut into squares/triangles of desired size.
I served this cold the next day. It was very popular, especially with the children, who mostly wanted seconds.

I use the same filling for pie, with only 2 pieces of pastry and a thiner filling.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

VB Coffee Cake and Caturday

I am addicted to Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. It's a great recipe book. My latest creation is the East Coast Coffee Cake:

(Sorry for the poor photo, my camera is being repaired and this was a dodgy phone pic.)

This is a piece made using the raspberry chocolate variation. It is both sweet and rich. The overall cake is very more-ish. The white base is a little softer and sweeter than a lot of Australian cakes, but a fruit layer and the crumb topping are an unusual and interesting addition. By the way, for other Aussies, there is no coffee in a coffee cake. It's a bit like a very light tea cake (in which there is no tea, for the non-Aussies) with a light crumble topping.

I have also made an apple and blueberry version. It wasn't in the book, but I just winged it. Here is the apple and blueberry layer recipe:

Apple and Blueberry option for VB Coffee Cake


Coffee cake and topping as per Vegan Brunch. If you prepare the apples first, they can simmer while you make the cake.

2 very large apples (3-4 smaller ones)
2 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons water
1/2 cup frozen blueberries (more if you like lots) left in freezer until ready to use

  • Peel and core apples. Chop apples by making thin slices and then cutting into 1/2 inch pieces.
  • Place apple, water and sugar into saucepan. Bring to boil and reduce to gentle simmer.
  • Simmer uncovered gently for 10-15 minutes until the apples are just tender. Add water if it gets dry. The aim is to end up with cooked apples and almost no liquid.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Make cake batter as per Vegan Brunch recipe. Spread apples over batter. Sprinkle frozen blueberries over apples.
  • Add crumble topping.
  • Bake cake as directed in Vegan Brunch.
Zach declared the raspberry chocolate coffee cake, "The best cake I have had." Mr BrisVegan and J both liked it. Morgan was not so keen. She found the top "sandy", though she had liked the crumble on the previous apple blueberry option. She has asked for me to make the apple blueberry again. I am taking some to a picnic today, cut into slice squares, so I will be able to give you an omni-friendliness review soon.

(Late) Caturday

Miss Switch in the great outdoors:

Here Switch is perched on my potted lemon tree. I think she was just about to jump on Berry.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Protein and 4 vege with gravy

This was a simple dinner from a few weeks ago. It's a very anglo-style protein and vege meal. As you can see, we had asparagus, corn, peas and mashed potato. The protein can from a "Black pepper steak" cutlet from White Jade Garden vegetarian supermarket at Inala. The gravy is Gravox Supreme Grave, which I have been told is vegan.

The mashed potatoes were simply mashed with Nuttelex, soy milk, salt, pepper and a dash of onion powder.

It was very satisfying and simple. The kids like the "steaks". Various family members like different vegetables, but everyone ate at least some greens and corn.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Simple Sweet and Sour and Asian Vegan Kitchen Chow Mein

I mentioned last post that I served the vegetables in black bean sauce with sweet and sour. I realised that I had not mentioned the sweet and sour recipe. Here is a picture of it (left) with the Shanghai Style Chow Mein from The Asian Vegan Kitchen by Hema Parek. The chow mein recipe was nice, but I found it a bit bland, as I often do with chow mein. The kids liked it, but they usually like bland noodles.

The sweet and sour is my own recipe, based in part on various easy anglo-style recipes I had read over the years. The whole family adore this one.

Simple Sweet and Sour Faux Chicken


1 -2 tablespoons neutral oil
500g vegan "chicken" pieces
1/2 large red capsicum chopped
1 small onion sliced
440g tin pineapple pieces in natural juice
1/4 cup tomato sauce (ketchup for the Americans)
1/8 cup sugar
1/8 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
pinch Chinese 5 spice

  1. Heat wok until hot. Add oil and heat briefly.
  2. Add vegan "chicken". Brown. Remove from wok.
  3. Add more oil if necessary. Add onion. Stir fry one minute.
  4. Add capsicum. Stir fry for another minute.
  5. Add pineapple pieces and their juice, and remaining ingredients. Bring to boil.
  6. Add "chicken". Simmer until sauce is reduced to an appealing amount.
  7. Taste. If it's too sweet, add a little more vinegar. If too acidic, add a little more sugar.
  8. Serve with rice and some stir fried vegetables.