Sunday, October 31, 2010

The best vegan moussaka you will ever eat

A few days ago I accidentally saw a tv show by Master Chef's winner Julie Goodwin called Home Cooked. In this particular episode she was making moussaka. I love a good moussaka and the best one I have ever tried is in Veganomicon but the only problem is that it takes AGES to make and assemble. Julie's recipe takes about 20 minutes to prepare and about 30 minutes to cook. It seemed pretty simple to veganise, so I gave it a go a few nights ago and was super impressed with the results.
The recipe goes a little like this......


2 medium eggplants, cut into 1cm thick slices
salt
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 pack sanitarium vege mince
1 brown onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup red wine or veg stock
1 can whole peeled tomatoes



B├ęchamel Sauce
3 Tbs Nuttelex

3 Tbs  plain flour
1.5 cups water (or soy milk if you like)
½ cup nutritional yeast



Salt the eggplant slices on both sides and lay between 2 layers paper towel for around 15 minutes. Wipe carefully with fresh paper towel to remove salt and liquid that has been drawn out of the eggplant. Fry in batches in vegetable oil over medium-high heat until browned; drain on paper towel.


In the same pan, add a little more oil and brown the vege mince, breaking up lumps with a wooden spoon until crumbly and browned. Add the onion and garlic and cook for a further minute. Stir in cinnamon and allspice and cook for another minute. Add tomato paste and stir to combine. Pour in canned tomato  and red wine/stock and cook until the liquid has evaporated and the meat sauce is quite a dry mixture; around 20 minutes.




Preheat oven to 180° C /160° C (fan forced).
Melt nuttelex in a medium saucepan and stir in flour. Cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes until thick, smooth and coming away from the sides of the pan. (This is called a roux.) Add a little of the water/milk and stir quickly; the mixture will form a dough immediately. Keep stirring and adding water/milk a little at a time. Once all the milk is added, stir (using a wire whisk if there are any lumps) and allow the sauce to thicken and the flour to fully cook. Stir in nutritional yease. Taste and add salt if required.
To assemble, place a layer of eggplant slices into the base of a 24x36cm baking dish. Top with half the "meat" mixture. Repeat with eggplant and sauce and finish with a layer of eggplant slices. Pour over the b├ęchamel sauce and sprinkle with breadcrumbs, almond meal and some pine nuts. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown on top.

I'm definitely more of a Poh fan but Julie has won my vote with this recipe!







Sunday, September 12, 2010

That weird uncomfortable silence leaks onto the internet

You know what is really creepy? People who google my full name and come across my blog. Isn't that what facebook is for? Come on lurkers, say HELLO! Blog stats are starting to make me feel weird.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Product Review - DAVROE

While we are on the topic of hair, here is what I use on my crazy locks


Davroe are an Australian made and owned company who show that they care about their customers and the environment by using sustainable, recyclable packaging. Their ingredients are natural plant and mineral based and don't contain and harmful chemicals or cheap and nasties like SODIUM LAURYL SULPHATE,  PARABENS (which have been linked with some form of cancers) or PETROL CHEMICALS (which are a crude oil by-product).
Davroe are a 100% vegan friendly company. This means they don't use any animal ingredients or by-products AND they are against testing on animals too!
So now that their bio sounds great, how do their products rate? I would give them a 10/10 for sure. 
I have been using the smooth senses range for about a year, I was a previous De Lorenzo user, but am definitely a Davroe convert now. 
As a girl with a crazy pseudo afro I have to straighten my hair every day and with that amount of abuse you would expect my hair to be falling out and damaged as hell. NOPE! I use the Thermoprotect on my wet hair before I blow dry and iron it to give it that extra protection and to style my new short cut i use Fibretex which gives it fantastic texture and holds nicely. If my hair starts feeling a bit dry i put on a replenish treatment. EASY!
All of these products smell so good and unlike the DeLorenzo which left my hair greasy, I only have to wash my hair every other day now. 
Davroe is amazing. Check out their website and see which product best suits you. It is salon grade shampoo, so it will be a little more costly than supermarket brands but it is definitely worth it.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hair-spiration

Always 2 steps ahead of the current fashion, I have decided that bobs are out, out, OUT! The new hair-to-do will be a fresh pixie crop coloured lavender, teal or fairy floss. Summer fun and delicious to look at. Inspired by Edie Sedgewick, Michelle Williams and whatever googled pulled up when i searched pixie crop!






Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cherry Ripe Cake Re-Invention

So, last night I reinvented my Cherry Ripe Cake into cupcake form. I am the Madonna of baking.
I donated them to the Vegan Bake Sale in Newtown and they were bought up in minutes! Very exciting for me! Of course I never remember to take a good photo, so here is a dodgy iphone pic instead.




Sunday, June 20, 2010

RSPCA CUPCAKE DAY 2010

Once again, I will be participating in the annual RSPCA Cupcake Day.
Last year I raised about $200 and this year I aim to raise even more. You can donate money to sponsor me and if your donation is generous enough I may even bake for you personally on request!
*All my cupcakes are vegan and cruelty free*
No animals should be harmed in order to help other animals!



You can donate here and leave a comment if you would like something baked in return!



Sunday Kind of Love

In 5 weeks time we will be moving in to our new house. I am beyond excited that we will have a massive kitchen with a fantastic oven and stove top. I have started collecting pictures of things that have been inspiring me to get back into baking.
Here are a few things that are teasing my tastebuds right now












One of my absolute favourite Flickr People is Amy. I want to eat everything she bakes and takes photos of. I would move to America for this reason alone! I suggest you check out her Flickr.





Saturday, June 19, 2010

New Layout

New layout and new header made with photos taken by the ever adorable, Mechelle B.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A few things from the supermarket

Finding foods labelled with the word Vegan are few and far between. Reading labels has become second nature to our kind. Here are a few things I have found lately with the word VEGAN on them. Woo Hoo!


Sorry about the photo quality. These are pics from the iphone.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Seven Things

Tagged by the lovely Beecah from Blinking Flights I shall now share seven fun facts about me.

1. I am quite small. I think I am bout 5'1 at most. My feet are also small. Size 4. Apparently good things come in small packages, so i'll leave it at that.

2. I am a keen baker and would love to own my own bakery come cafe. Of course I would live upstairs from it so I could breathe in the delicious smells all day and night.

3. I love Wes Anderson movies. My favourite being the Royal Tenenbaums.

4. I am going to start a sister blog to this one about my escapades in cooking and veganising food from the Maltese Culture. My partner is Maltese and his family have some great food which has vegan potential.

5. I enjoy reading Bukowski, Vonnegut, Palahnuik and Murakami

6. My favourite musicians are Elliott Smith, Rocky Votolato, Dead Man's Bones, Lady Gaga, Nirvana and Jawbreaker

7. I collect Little Golden Books. I currently have about 170.


I'm tagging Mandee, Cate, Renee, Lauren and Sarah

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Unplanned temporary hiatus

Will be back to regular programming shortly

Friday, March 5, 2010

Carbonara, Vegan Style


There's nothing like a creamy, tasty, vegan carbonara. Just as the weather is getting cooler, my tummy asks for filling, comfort food. This carbonara really hit the spot. I will post the recipe soon.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sunday's scraps

What else is there to do on a Sunday except sleep in and have a massive brunch to put you in a food coma for the rest of the day

Vegan in The Mountains

On Friday night we headed to Katoomba for a show and decided to stay the night. For dinner we headed to Katoomba Street - the main drag, and checked out the local restaurants. We chose the Three Sisters BBQ Chinese Restaurant who had a good veg*n selection.

I got the Satay Gluten and vegetables and the boy had sizzling vegetarian Mongolian Lamb.
Both were generous portions and filled us up quite nicely.
The satay was just the right amount of spicy for me but I found the lamb to be really rich. It was really cool to see it come out sizzling on a hot plate though.
 

Saturday, February 27, 2010

okonomiyaki


okonomiyaki
Originally uploaded by for_esme
Using the recipe below, we made a Japanese favourite for dinner. This is great to use up those last bits of veggies hanging around in the fridge.
One Okonomiyaki pancake is enough to fill me up, this recipe makes about three plate sized pancakes.


http://www.vegan-food.net/recipe/1370/Okonomiyaki-Savoury-Vegetable-Pancakes/

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hair

I've been thinking about dying my hair again. I used to colour my hair like crazy years ago. This is the longest I have had the same hair colour since I was old enough to dye my hair. So, in inspiration here are a few pics.


















Wednesday, February 24, 2010

New Layout

For some super cute FREE layout designs check out YUMMY LOLLY

Monday, February 22, 2010

Baking makes me happy


DSCN2183
Originally uploaded by for_esme
I'm not sure how or why but baking makes me feel better.
An afternoon in the kitchen whipping up a batch of cupcakes for no reason other than relief.

Product Review #1 - Bean Curd Fish by Adriano Food

Shopping at our local Asian grocery yesterday we came across something new called Bean Curd Fish by Adriano Food.

A favourite recipe of ours is Ginger Fish, so we decided to try something other than our regular fake fish and at $5 a box, it was much cheaper than our usual.

The 2 pieces come wrapped in a freezer bag kind of wrapping and also a cling wrap type of film, which i peeled off, not knowing whether it was edible or not. After looking at the box I realised maybe it was supposed to be left on.
I cut the logs into bite size pieces and deep fried them as we usually do.

We then made the Ginger Fish like always and popped the pieces on top.

  




The fish didn't have the over-powering fishy taste, infact it had no taste at all. The inside was mushy and had no resemblance to meat whatsoever. Despite being wrapped in seaweed, it didn't taste like the ocean, just little balls of processed soy. I'm not sure if maybe our cooking technique was wrong or it's just a matter of personal taste but we will be sticking to our regular fake fish.
Lesson learned. If there is nothing wrong with the original recipe, don't change it just to be cheap.









UPDATE: Just checked out Lamyong and now their fish is no longer vegan.



Sunday, February 21, 2010

Black Dog

It's no secret that I have been a long term sufferer of depression. Starting in my early teens I have struggled with bouts of depression, sometimes lasting for months at a time. I have taken medications in the past to "help" but have found them to be worse than the depression itself.
Just when I thought I had maybe grown out of it, it sneaks back into my life. The recent death of my best friend I assume being the trigger.
I could feel it pulling me in to the black hole, the one I thought i had escaped, I pulled away as hard as I could but ended up at the inevitable.
The guilt of not being able to help someone and the regret and remorse of not being there for him weigh heavily on my mind. Without a release of this guilt the sadness has built inside me, bubbling just below the surface, waiting for the best time to ravage my brain with anxiety and black thoughts.
It feels almost as if someone has unplugged a cord from my brain, it's flailing around, emitting it's current and causing havoc. Noises are amplified and sound like they are coming from a mega-phone. Sleep comes in off-beat blocks. I can stare at the ceiling for hours on end or sleep until past midday. My mind races, sounding like a schoolyard of screaming children that just wont quit. My heart beats until it feels like it's about to escape my chest. I grit my teeth until it hurts and wait for the feeling to pass.
To try and explain this to someone who has never experienced depression is hard. My friend knew exactly what I felt but I never had to say a word. He would look at me and just say "I know, it's okay" and sometimes that is all I would need to hear. My quick fix. My verbal valium.
Sometimes there is no trigger at all, just that familiar tap on the shoulder. "Oh hai depression, there you are. I have been wondering where you have been hiding while I have been off picking daisies" Then I am dragged, kicking and screaming, to that familiar place.
For a while I found comfort in drugs, any I could get my hands on. This proved to be futile, often exasperating the symptoms. I am pleased to say I learned my lesson, albeit the hard way, and no longer use drugs at all.
So with the hands of depression firmly gripped around my neck, I await the ride it takes me on. The repeated roller coaster. There is no choice in jumping off or tightening the seat belt. It decides when it wants to spit you out.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sydney Vegan Bake Off

Last weekend was Sydney's inaugural (and hopefully, annual) Vegan Bake Off hosted by Aduki Independent Press and Naked Espresso.
If you have been following me on twitter lately you would have noticed me tweeting madly about the bake off and a few creations I had been working on. I was super excited to introduce my Vanilla Slice Cupcake and Cherry Ripe Cake onto the Vegan community.
Armed with my treats, we drove to Basil Pizza in Newtown (which also moonlights on the weekend as Naked Espresso - a vegan brunch cafe).
I got to meet lots of lovely vegans - Mandee, Lisa, Cate and a few more whose names/blogs I can't quite remember.
So, onto the entries and pics



My lavender shortbread cookies. Made from a recipe off the internet called Sassy Shortbread. I added some culinary lavender to these just to make it taste a little different to usual. The lavender gives it a soft, velvety taste which goes well with a cup of Earl Grey. I used some cute teapot and tea cup cookies cutters to go with the theme.












My Vanilla Slice Cupcakes, which won in the cupcake category.
I had made these before, but worked on the recipe a little more and added custard to the middle. The icing melted a little but had the delicious zing of passionfruit to compliment it well.






To go with my current obsession of cake-ifying favourite Australian Slices into vegan goodness, here is my winning cake - the Cherry Ripe Cake.
This is a coconut chocolate cake filled with cherry/coconut filling and topped with a thick ganache and a few glace cherries for good measure.
Somehow I got this cake tasting just like a cherry ripe first go. Must be my awesome tastebuds and sweet tooth working together.





These are a few of the entries I was competing with.
Top Plate - Black Forest cake, Mars Bar Cookie
Middle Plate - Banana Split Cuppy (gluten free) Cherry Ripe Cake
Bottom Plate - Macadamia Slice, Vanilla Slice Cuppy, Chunky Choc Chip Cookie, Savoury Polenta Pie/Quiche, Lavender Shortbread.


Don't Worry, I didn't eat these all myself! There were six of us to share this between.

Winners of the best in show were Mandee and myself. Between us we won almost every category.
Best Cake - Cherry Ripe Cake (me)
Best Cupcakes - Vanilla Slice Cupcakes (me)
Best Biscuit - Mars Bar cookies - made with Go Max Go Twilight Bar(Mandee)
Best Gluten Free - Banana Split Cupcakes (Mandee)

We won a cute prize pack for the categories including some Aduki Books and some handmade wallets and brooches and pins made by Cate.
For best in show we also won a free brunch/dinner. I'm going for the new Hawaiian Pizza from Basil and Mandee will be having brunch at Naked Espresso



I really had a great time and it was nice to try other people's cooking and to show them my own.
I didn't enter to win, but it was a nice suprise. It offended me when i saw that someone said I only won because I had tattoos, but BOOOOOO to people like that! 



After the Bake Off we hung out in Newtown, checked out some op-shops and had a very light lunch at Green Thai Palace.
What a fun day. I can't wait 'til the next one.

All photos are courtesy of the lovely Michelle B

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

spicy moroccan chickpea and lentil soup

serves 6

1 tbs olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves crushed garlic
2.5cm piece of fresh ginger, finely grated
3 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
half tsp chilli powder
half tsp saffron threads soaked in 2 tbs boiling water
can of chopped tomatoes
1 litre veggie stock
1 cup dry red lentils, rinsed
can of chickpeas, drained
1/3 cup chopped coriander
1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley


Heat the oil in a large, heavy based saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6-7 mins. Add the garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin and chilli powder and cook, stirring, for 1 min.
Add the saffron and its soaking liquid, tomatoes, stock, lentils and 1 litre of water to the pan. Cover and bring to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 30 mins. Add chickpeas and cook for another 10 mins.
Remove from heat and stir in fresh coriander and parsley. Season to taste.

warning - does make you a bit FARTY!! but tastes delicious :)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Vegan Paella

I have never made or eaten a Paella before, so I had no idea how this was going to turn out. Well, it turned out to be a delicious success so I will share the recipe with you.

Ingredients
1 tbs oil
1 spanish onion thinly sliced
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp regular paprika
1 cup basmati rice (I used Jasmine instead)
small pinch of saffron
500 ml vegetable stock
1/2 red capsicum
1/2 green capsicum
1 truss tomato (de-seeded and diced)
1/2 cup corn kernels
1/2 cup frozen peas
100 grams firm tofu (cut into 1 cm chunks)
half a small jar of artichoke hearts cut into thin wedges
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

You will need to pre-roast the capsicums first so quickly chop into strips and de-seed and put onto a roasting tray and drizzle in olive oil. Cook on each side for 10 mins at 165 degrees.
I also suggest adding your saffron to the stock at this point, just to be extra prepared.
While this is roasting heat the oil in a cast iron pot. (We have a fancy new La Chasseur French oven that works perfectly.) Keep on a medium low heat and add the onions stirring occasionally for about 5 mins.
Then add the garlic and stir in for another minute. Add the paprikas and cook for another minute. Add the rice to the pot and coat evenly with the spices.
Pour in the stock and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and let simmer for 20-25 mins or until all the stock is absorbed.
By this time the capsicums should be ready, let cool for a few minutes, peel off the skin and dice.
Add capsicum, tomato, corn, peas and tofu to the rice. Combine well and cover again and cook for a further 5 mins.
I suggest while this part is cooking you toast the pine nuts.
Remove from heat and and stir in the artichokes. Top with pine nuts and enjoy!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

a few things from the oven


I made a few edible christmas gifts this year.
Cute candy cane cuppies. Green, mint flavoured frosting with crushed up candy canes sprinkled over the top.












Sugar cookies and gingerbread men (which were eaten before i could get a photo)


Egg-free meringue made with the angel food packet mix. (They also have a vegan marshmallow kit.)











Lastly, for new years eve, I made mocha cookies. These were coffee flavoured cookies with melted chocolate drizzled over the top. Best cookies I've made in ages.