Wednesday, February 23, 2011

vegie garden update

You should see my little patch now! 
I've been picking so many cucumbers off the vines, I've been giving them away, and even had to compost some (I left a few on the vine too late)! 
I've had a nice little crop of tomatoes too, enough to make a delicious tomato & basil bruschetta (so tasty), although my basil is getting a bit old - the leaves are quite tough now and very aniseed-y, and i should let it go to seed for collection. 
Tomatoes are actually quite easy to create new plants from! More about that another time. 
I cut away almost all of the spinach, blanched & stuck in the freezer. From a big mixing bowl overflowing with leaves, it's only half a containers' worth. But it'll make very nice vegan triangles (watch out for the next recipe!). 
My poor aubergine produced two pitiful fruits, one was already been eaten by some kind of bug, but I've saved the other. Not sure what to do with such a small amount.
On other news, the pumpkin is TAKING OVER THE WORLD! Well, just the section I'd already set aside, really.
Oh, and I never was able to find my carrot seeds. Weird. 

Left: Compost Bin, Spinach, Lettuce, Basil, Tomato, Cucumber & Aubergine
Right: Up top, little Bean shoots & new Tomato & Onion territory!

From Left: Cucumbers, new Tomatoes, Sweet Corn, & Red Onions in the frame [+weeds & fallen apples]
 From Left: Bean Trellis with little bean shoots under, new Tomatoes, Sweet Corn, & Red Onions in the frame, with my Pumpkin quickly running amok! 
To the bottom right is my recently re-potted avocado plant I grew from supermarket fruit over 2 years ago. I know it probably won't produce fruit, but it's been a fun experiment.
 From Left: Big tomato that i had to cut down, trellis with little bean shoots under, cucumbers, new Tomatoes, & olive frame.
From Left: Tools of the trade, old, old Oregano, Purple Sage, what's left of the Spinach & Lettuce, Basil, Tomato, Cucumber & Compost bin.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A simple snacking dip

Just a quickie:
1 tub Tofutti Cream Cheese 
1 jar salsa
1 avocado (or more!)
1 box water crackers

mix cream cheese & salsa together.
cut avocado to fit biscuits, layer.
add dip to top, EAT!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Vegie garden

I recently moved from a tiny little apartment to a nice big house, and a *veggie patch*!
It was filled with Kikuyu grass, but a couple of hard weekends worth of digging has solved that problem. A fence to keep the dogs out, and it was ready for planting. The sheet metal against the fence is existing. I think it was an attempt at stopping the grass from growing through the fence.
So, below is how nice it currently looks:
(Click photos for fullsize view)

Left: Compost Bin, Spinach, Lettuce, Basil, Tomato, Cucumber & Aubergine
Right: Prepared bed; soon to be bean & carrot country!
Pumpkin (at the back), Spring Onion, & Chillies [+weeds & fallen apples]

Monday, December 20, 2010

Eggplant Parmigiana

From all the recipes & excepts I've read today, apparently chicken & veal parmas are an immigrant invention! Below is a combination of the best recipes I've read throughout the day.For this recipe, I haven't mentioned amounts for some of the ingredients, as they are to personal taste. Recipe is best when doubled.


Chopping Board
Casserole Dish / Roasting Pan
Wooden Spoon
Paper Towel or Clean tea-towel

For the Eggplant:

1 large Eggplant, peeled, 1cm slices
breadcrumbs (I prefer cornflake crumbs - and make sure if you're buying them that they don't have fish or milk!)
egg substitute (watery)
melty vegan cheese

For the Tomato Sauce:

small can of tomatoes/jar of passata
small can of tomato soup
italian herbs
dash of balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper to taste
1 small onion
1 tsp garlic (more if you like it!)
1 tsp ginger (less if it's overpowering for you)
OR  follow the Luscious Lasagna recipe, minus the TVP/mock meat for more flavour

Making the Eggplant

Preheat oven to 180-200°C
Salt eggplant, leave for 20 minutes. Wash off salt & juices, pat dry with paper towel.
Crumb eggplant by dipping in egg mixture, then coat in breadcrumbs. Fry in oil. Drain & cool.

Making the Tomato Sauce

Sauté the onion in oil. Add the crushed garlic, ginger, salt, pepper & italian herbs (if using dried herbs).

Add the tinned tomatoes and some water or vegetable stock, stir.

Add balsamic vinegar (and italian herbs if using fresh), cook for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally as needed. Sauce is cooked when tomatoes have broken down and the bitterness is gone.

Transfer to a jug for easy pouring.

Compiling the Parmigiana

Add a little sauce & oil to the bottom of the casserole dish / pan. Add a single layer of eggplant. Top with some cheese, and cover with tomato sauce. Repeat until all the ingredients are used up.
Top with a little cheese, cover with breadcrumbs, & bake for 30-40 minutes (up to an hour for more than 3 layers).

Serve with a cold basil pasta salad.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Cheese-stuffed tofu

This is a recipe for tofu eaters. If you aren't, marinade the blocks first!

Baking Pan
Chopping Board

500g firm tofu, cut into 4 cubes (marinate cubes for more flavour)
150g cheezly or other vegan cheese
50g grilled eggplant / zucchini / caramelised onion /other soft vegetable
herbs & spices
balsamic vinegar

To Prepare:
Preheat oven to 160°C. 
Cut a square in the top of the tofu cube. Scoop out most of inside the cube, leaving a bottom. Keep top of cut out.
Place grilled eggplant in the bottom. Add cheese, herbs, a dash of balsamic vinegar, and a dab of margarine. Place lid over. Sprinkle spices over.
Bake in oven for about 20-25 minutes, making sure the tofu is lightly browned on top.
Serve on a bed of garlicky greens.

Garlicky Greens
I prefer fresh spinach, but any greens can be used.
Lightly saute crushed garlic in margarine.
When garlic is cooked to your liking, slowly add greens, making sure to mix in garlic well. Serve slightly wilted.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Couscous stuffed Eggplant

Sometimes I actually find the time to make something properly, and usually when that happens, I try to make different recipes to freeze, then add them together!
To make the stuffed eggplant, you will first make a bolognese sauce.

For the Bolognese
1 large saucepan (depending on how much you are making)
I wooden spoon or other stirring device
Chopping board

1 500g jar of plain tomato sauce
about 350g TVP (rehydrated and flavoured) or other vegan mince
1 capsicum
1 onion
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 carrot
1 cup stock
herbs (oregano, thyme, basil, etc)
spices (1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp chilli powder, 1 tsp turmeric)
bay leaf
a dash of balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper (to taste)

To Prepare:
Add onion capsicum & carrot to saucepan with a dash of oil. Cook until softened.
Add mince & garlic, cook until slightly browned.
Add tomato sauce, stock, balsamic vinegar, herbs, bay leaf & spices.
Heat until boiling, then lower heat to a simmer & cover for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
If it is still too watery, keep cooking until you achieve a nice consistency.

For the Stuffed Eggplant

Baking Tray

Eggplant (1 large eggplant should serve 2 people)
Bolognese sauce (The sauce above will make about 3 stuffed eggplants.)
Couscous (1/4 cup per eggplant)
Breadcrumbs / vegan cheese / nutritional yeast

To Prepare:
Preheat oven to 180°C
Cut eggplant in half, then scoop out the centre, leaving about 10mm around the edges.
Mix bolognese sauce with couscous, fill eggplant with sauce, then add your choice of topping.
Cook for about 30 minutes, or until eggplant has browned.
Serve warm with a basic salad!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Making Tofu Taste Good (marinating tofu)

Marinating tofu is the easiest way of getting rid of the usual *eww, rubbery chalk* kind of reaction from people who haven't eaten it before! The difference in reactions based on how well tofu is prepared is amazing. Some people don't even realise what they're eating!


Paper Towel
Some food-friendly weights (books work well!)


Marinade (store-bought or make one yourself! I like soy-based ones best) OR
pasta sauce
Optional: vegetables such as capsicum, zucchini, or eggplant!

To Prepare
Place the tofu in the freezer for about 24 hours, take out and defrost (whichever way you have time for - in the fridge, sitting in hot water, etc). 
Make sure tofu is completely defrosted before you continue, otherwise it won't soak up as much of the marinade.

Place a couple of sheets of paper towel on a plate. Place tofu (out of packet!) on this. Add a couple more sheets of paper towel on top, and another plate or board.
Add your weights to the top of the pile, making sure it doesn't fall over, and leave for at least 30 minutes.

Once you've become impatient of waiting (try to amuse yourself for at least 30 minutes!), Prepare the marinade in a container suitable for sealing airtight in the fridge. Pat the tofu until it's dry. Cut tofu into the size you desire, and add to marinade container.
Leave for up to 24 hours in the fridge to get the best taste.

Fry, bake, or grill tofu!
Serve with steamed vegies & cooked marinade; in a pasta sauce; on couscous; or just eat it by itself!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Missing Egg (for sandwiches)

Recipe adapted from

Now, one thing that I didn't think i had been missing since becoming vegan is curried egg sandwiches, but once i tasted this recipe I made it twice in one week!
Although I've never been a fan of eggs in general, my grandmother used to make the most delightful and simple mixture from 'English' curry powder (Keen's, etc.), but I never found out the recipe. This tastes just like I remember!

Even if you don't like the flavour of tofu or eggs, still give this a go!

Potato Masher


1 container of silken to firm tofu
1 tablespoon vegan mayo (I use Praise 97% fat free)
1 teaspoon mustard (wholegrain is my favourite!)
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce (the good kind, not from the supermarket bottom shelf)
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon garlic (fresh or less if using powder)
optional: 1/2 teaspoon of your favourite curry paste; pepper
Notes: There is usually no need for salt, as most soy sauces have more than enough!
Make sure to taste when adding the spices, as too much for your taste will spoil the delight!

To Prepare
Mash tofu into chunks.
Add mustard, mayo and soy sauce, then add the rest of the spices to taste.
Mix very well.
This mixture matures nicely if left for up to a day, but if you are making it in advance add fewer spices because they do develop a fuller flavour.

A few slices of your preferred soft bread, some lettuce or baby spinach, cucumber and thinly sliced tomatoes go perfectly with this.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Creamy Dahl Makhani

Dahl Makhani

Saucepan (with lid)
Potato Masher
Wooden Spoon

For the Dahl

175g Split black urid dhal (or other dhals - split lentils/peas)
Water to soak + 1.25L water to cook
5 Tbsp Red Kidney Beans (1 small tin)
ginger to taste (5cm is good)
5 garlic cloves, crushed
4 Tbsp tomato puree/ paste (or 2 tomatoes)
1 tsp chilli powder
60g margerine / oil
125ml of cream replacement (creamed corn, mashed banana, soy cream)
salt to taste

For the Cooking

Soak lentils in a saucepan overnight. Make sure they are fully covered with water, as they expand by at least 100%.
Drain, then add water for cooking. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to a simmer until lentils are cooked. (They become nice and soft! Squash a few between two fingers, it should just disintergrate)
Lightly mash, then add the kidney beans, ginger, garlic, tomato, chilli powder, margerine & salt. Cook for a further 30 minutes.
Add cream subsitute, warm through.

Serve with rice and indian bread (naan, roti, etc).

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Pizza Gourmet

Okay, pizza. Freshly made take-away is good. If you have a somewhere like Plush Pizza near you. But if you don't, that's fine. Its easy enough to make your own.


Equipment: pizza / cookie tray
(this recipe is designed to make one pizza only. Or two if you like really thin bases)

For the Pizza Base

1/2 cup flour (It doesn't matter which kind, but I use lighthouse brand pizza & bread flour - but self-raising is the cheaters way to perfection!)
warm water
yeast (one dried packet; about 30g fresh)
extra water
extra flour

optional: 1 tablespoon white vinegar (as not to flavour)
optional: 1 tablespoon oil
optional: no-egg equivalent to 1 small egg (no-egg, from orgran)

For the Toppings

Ok, this part you can make up yourself. Staples on my pizzas are tomato paste, vegan cheese, and thinly sliced tomatoes; these are my personal favourites -

Fresh Basil & Caramelised Onion with spinach
Hawaiian (with mock-ham)
Roast Vegetable
Vegemite (very thinly spread, omit the tomato paste)
Antipasto (grilled eggplant, capsicum, artichoke, olives - everything thats in a jar!)

Making the Pizza Base

Spread yeast over the top of about 100ml of warm water. Set aside until bubbles form.

Sift dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add oil, no-egg, and yeast mixture.

Stir until mixture combines. If not add extra flour or water to suit.

Roll into a ball on a floured bench. Roll into a size to fit your tray. Leave in a warm place to rise.

Making the Pizza

If you have a pizza maker, you should already know what to do. Otherwise, preheat oven to around 180°C.
Pick your toppings and go for it. Add the tomatoes first and vegan cheese last.

Cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the base is browned.

Caramelised Onions

These are some of my favourite toppings for pizza. They go fine with mock-sausages too!
Caramelised Onions

For the Onion

3 large spanish onions
2 tablespoons vinegar (I prefer dark balsamic)
2 tablespoons sugar

Making the Onion

Sauté the onion until it colours.

Add the vinegar and sugar, cook till soft.

Makes less than 1 cup, enough for one large pizza.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Pasta Bake

Yes, it's simple. But for those who don't know how to make a pasta bake, here it is.

Pasta Bake

Melt in your mouth goodness, so creamy and yum.

For the Pasta

See "luscious lasagna"

For the White Sauce

See "luscious lasagna"
add 2 sauteed onions at the end

For the Topping

breadcrumbs (optional)
vegan cheese

Making the Pasta Bake

Preheat oven to

Add all ingredients into a baking tray. Add the optional toppings and cook for 25-40 minutes.

It will be cooked when browned on top.

Pasta Salad goes really well.

Luscious Lasagna

I'm going for an Italian theme now. Anyone who doesn't like lasagna should have a taste bud transplant. They obviously aren't working for you!


This is a recipe to simplify lasagne. Many people insist on certain ingredients, certain processes, and yes it may change the taste, but it will always taste delicious! You can make your own pasta, you own sauce, your own mock-meat, or you could buy them all. It's up to you!

Equipment: large baking tray (at least 30 x 30 x 10cm, preferably metal, it cooks easier.)

For the Pasta

2 Cups pasta flour (plain flour works, too)
2 teaspoons salt
no-egg equivalent to 3 eggs (orgran)
extra water
extra flour

For the Tomato Sauce

900g tinned tomatoes
2 onions
3 cloves of garlic (or to taste, I like garlic and onion)
1 carrot
1 zucchini
1 capsicum (or any other vegies in the fridge)
small tin of tomato paste
italian herbs (to taste)
pepper (to taste)

salt (to taste)
mock meat, fried or roasted (to your preference) and/or tofu (fried and smoked taste best)
oil (for frying)
extra water, boiled

optional: 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

For the White Sauce

200g plain flour
200g margarine
soymilk, boiled
optional: yeast flakes (to taste), carrot, onion, other vegies to taste

For the Vegetable Layers

Any roast vegies (I like pumpkin, capsicum, eggplant, potato), cut into 5mm slices

Making the Pasta

In a bowl, sieve the flour and salt. Add the egg replacement and stir.
If mixture is like sticky breadcrumbs, perfect. If not add extra flour or water to suit.

Turn out onto a floured bench, roll into a ball (extra flour or liquid may be needed), and using a rolling pin or pasta machine roll to desired thickness (about 1mm).

Cut into strips that will fit your tray (two or three strips per layer cut down cooking time)

Add to salted & oiled boiling water & cook for 3-4 minutes. Rest in warm water or leave to dry.

Making the Tomato Sauce

Sauté the onion. Add the crushed garlic, salt, pepper & italian herbs (if using dried herbs).

Add the tomato paste, tinned tomatoes and some water or vegetable stock, stir.

Add vegies & mock meat (balsamic vinegar and italian herbs if using fresh), cook for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally as needed. Sauce is cooked when tomatoes have broken down and the bitterness is gone.

Transfer to a jug for easy pouring.

Making the White Sauce

Melt margarine in a large saucepan (it needs to hold the soymilk, too).

Add the flour, and stir until mixture doesn't taste of flour any more. It may brown off while you are doing this, and it tastes better when it does.

Add the soymilk slowly, always stirring the mixture and remove all lumps.

When it starts to thicken, transfer to a jug for easy pouring.

Compiling the Lasagna

Preheat oven to

Oil the tray, add a layer of tomato sauce.

Add a layer of pasta.

Add tomato sauce, and one of the roast vegies.

Add a layer of white sauce.


For the top layer, don't put any vegies in. Add vegan cheese (it's not needed with the white sauce, but it tastes good!) and cook for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours.

Serve with a green garden salad.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Delicious Cakes

Cakes. Soft, fluffy, sweet. Everybody loves to eat cake. Here's an adaptation of a recipe i found from smittenkitten.

Double Chocolate Layer Cake
This recipe calls for 2 layers, but 3 or 4 work best, especially with the raspberry filling smittenkitten added! Just make two-thirds of the frosting if you use the filling instead.
equipment: 20cm (10-inch) round cake pans
For cake layers
50g vegan chocolate (try the new sweet william white chocolate)
1 cup hot brewed coffee
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
no-egg equivalent to 3 large eggs (no-egg, from orgran)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups light soymilk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

For ganache frosting (for frosting only, use two-thirds the recipe)
450g vegan chocolate (try the new sweet william white chocolate)
1 cup silken tofu (about 300g)
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup (rice syrup, golden syrup or similar work too.)
tablespoons cornflour
1/4 cup margarine

Raspberry Filling
450-500g frozen raspberries, thawed
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cornflour

Make cake layers:
Preheat oven to 150°C and grease pans. Line bottoms with rounds of wax paper and grease paper.
Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat no-egg mix until thickened slightly and bubbly. Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to egg mix, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well.
Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean. Test after 1 hour, mine took just over 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

Make frosting:
Finely chop chocolate. In a saucepan bring cream, sugar, cornflour and corn syrup to a boil over moderately low heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Cut margarine into pieces and add to frosting, whisking until smooth.
Transfer frosting to a bowl and chill.
Spread frosting between cake layers and over top and sides. Cake keeps, covered and chilled, 3 days.
Bring cake to room temperature before serving.

Make filling:
Puree the raspberries in a food processor or blender. Press the puree through a fine-mesh strainer with the back of a spoon, removing the seeds. Heat the puree in a small pot with the sugar and cornflour until mixture boils, stirring constantly. As it boils, it should quickly thicken.
Let it cool complete before spreading it thinly between layers.