Thursday, August 22, 2019

Yellow II

August 11, 2019

I stretched my birthday celebrations nearly three months past the actual date, arranging a family weekend in Sydney with my mum and siblings. They flew from all over the world for the weekend and I picked Yellow for a special Sunday night dinner. Yellow's a well-loved Sydney fine-dining place that picked up a lot of buzz in 2015 when it shifted to an entirely vego menu. It was the perfect place for a fancy night out.

We ordered the five course banquet ($85 a head) and were easily talked into adding a serve of the sweet potato, chipotle and lime tortillas as a bonus course ($8 each). They started us off with a couple of warm-up dishes as well: the housemade sourdough with a smoky mushroom powder on top and a plate of lightly pickled veggies with a macadamia-based dipping sauce. The bread is always a highlight at fancy restaurants and Yellow is no exception.

Next up was our extra dish - sweet potato, chipotle and lime yoghurt tortillas and a serve each of the macadamia tofu with grape, celeriac and little strips of kelp. The tortillas were lovely - smoky and sweet with a hint of spice, but the tofu dish was just okay. The little bursts of flavour from the grapes were great, but otherwise it wasn't particularly memorable.

Things moved up a gear with our next dishes - charred cabbage with black garlic, dashi and mustard seeds (left) and romanesco broccoli with tomatillos, green pepper and preserved lemon. These were both great - the romanesco dish was my favourite of the night, with a brilliant mix of strong flavours and some lovely textural touches. The cabbage wasn't far behind - loaded with richness from the sweet black garlic and the almost caramelised dashi.

The final savoury dish was tempura Jerusalem artichoke with leek, black lime, sage and goat's yoghurt. This was another winner - delicately crispy batter filled with nutty, starchy artichokes with some nice tang from the powdered dried lime.

Dessert was a honeydew sorbet with yuzu curd, coconut and peppermint. This was a fresh and tangy way to finish the meal with more fun textures (although I'm always a bit disappointed when there's no chocolate at dessert).

Yellow is a wonderful restaurant - we had fantastic service all night (right down to an embarrassing candle and song in my dessert) and the food is brilliant. It's great to see an all vegetarian fine dining place thriving - they're really worth a visit.

You can read about my previous visit to Yellow here.

All the blog reviews of Yellow's vego incarnation were positive - check out Will Be, Sashimisho, Ms Brulee, welcome to andyville, Sarah vs Carbs, foodie mookie, Does My Bomb Look Big In This?, Belly Rumbles and the unbearable lightness of being hungry.

57 Macleay Street, Potts Point

Accessibility: There's a flat entryway and a reasonably accessible layout inside. Toilets are gendered and accessible.

Saturday, August 17, 2019


August 11, 2019

We've just had a long weekend in Sydney and we based ourselves in Darlinghurst, a neighbourhood that Michael and I are now quite familiar with. Even so, we didn't recognise the cafe Organism just next door to Shenkin. It's got a cute, rambling vibe and a promise of waffles, so I gently steered Michael and his mum there for a small Sunday breakfast.

The menu is centred primarily around toast, rolls, bagels and waffles and there's a gorgeous display case of croissants, pies and muffins. Vegetarian options are plentiful; vegan and gluten-free options are less common but well-marked, including a lunch-time bibimbap that hits both marks.

After initially being drawn to the tofu l'ancienne roll, Michael settled on the Crush'n on Avo ($14) - a modest portion of sourdough toast and smashed avocado, topped here with tomato, feta, parsley and black sesame seeds.

There's a mini waffle menu with four different options, and I was in the mood to skip by the ostentatious ice-cream-laden ones and just get the simple ricotta version ($8). This really brought out the best in the waffle! It was lightly crisp with caramelised spots on the outside, concealing a thick seam of lemony house ricotta through the middle. A topping of maple syrup and cinnamon sugar supplied ample sweetness, and I enjoyed a rare honey yuzu tea ($6) on the side.  

I was utterly charmed by Organism, with its slightly cluttered nooks and understated meals. I'll definitely check in on them again, hopefully for a slice of pie next time, whenever I find myself in Darlinghurst again.

288 Crown St, Darlinghurst
(02) 7901 2509
facebook page

Accessibility: Pretty limited! There's a steep, curling staircase with handrails to enter. Furniture is densely packed and a little rickety, a mixture of heights and back supports. We ordered at our table and paid at a high counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Samoa biscuits

July 27-28, 2019

I was in a baking mood this weekend! I pulled this recipe from the depths of my bookmarks, sourced from one of my favourite food blogs back in 2007: Yeah, That "Vegan" Shit. It's a vegan version of the Samoa, which is Girl Scout cookie well-known in North America, possibly but possibly not named after the country.

I can't vouch for the authenticity of this version; it's certainly not ring-shaped like the other ones I've seen online. It looks like it might be heavier on the dough and lighter on the coconut. But it has the coconut chewiness that I was hankering for, crunchy pecans, and a smooth layer of chocolate across the bottom of each biscuit. 

I just went with flour mixtures and syrup combinations that used my pantry supplies efficiently, and was very happy with the results. If you like your biscuits chewy rather than crunchy, I'd recommend pulling them out early around the 10 minute mark, and not baking them for the full 14 minutes listed in the original recipe.

Samoa biscuits
(slightly adapted from Yeah, That "Vegan" Shit,
where it's credited to The Veggie Voice)

1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 3/4 cups flour (I used a mix of plain and wholemeal)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup ground pecans
1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans
1/2 cup coconut or other vegetable oil
1 cup vegan-friendly sweet syrup (I used 1/2 cup malt syrup, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1/4 cup golden syrup)
250g dark chocolate

Preheat an oven to 180°C. Line a couple of baking trays with paper (I was out; I just sprayed oil on the tray and did fine.)

In a large bowl, stir together the rolled oats, flour, salt, baking powder, coconut and ground pecans. Get your oil into a liquid state if it isn't already (I melted my coconut oil in a saucepan) and pour it over the dry ingredients; mix until well combined. Pour over your sweet syrup and mix thoroughly until a dough forms; fold in the chopped pecans.

Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls, flatten them slightly, and place them on the baking trays (they will rise and spread a little, but not a lot). Bake for 10-14 minutes, until browned around the edges (10 minutes was plenty for mine). Cool on the tray for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.

Melt 200g of the chocolate using your preferred method. Spread a teaspoon of chocolate on the bottom of each biscuit. When it's well set, flip the biscuits back over. Melt the remaining chocolate and drizzle it in stripes across the tops of the biscuits, and allow it to set. 

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Barton Fink

July 26, 2019

Barton Fink is a bar on High Street in Thornbury that's been around for four or five years without ever really drawing our attention. That all changed in May this year when they introduced a fully vegan menu. It's a mock meat-heavy selection of food that feels very US dive bar: tacos, hot dogs, burgers, nachos, etc. We stopped by for dinner on our way out to a gig in Northcote.

On a Friday night things were busy without being crowded - we had no trouble getting a table and food came out super quickly. I couldn't resist the full selection of tacos on offer ($18 for 4 or $5.50 each).

The range includes mock fish, mock chicken, jackfruit pulled pork and a beef 'n' bean mix. These are excellent vegan tacos - my two favourites were the mock fish, which had a brilliant aioli on top of some crispy battered fish pieces, and the beef and bean, which was rich and smoky. It was great to try all four though - I'd recommend it.

Cindy ordered the southern soul burger - crispy mock chicken with jalapenos, lettuce, tomato, chipotle mayo and a side of chips ($16.50).

The chips were ace and the burger was a very solid effort - we think the mock chicken patty is house-made seitan, which is always an impressive effort. It was heavy on the jalapenos, which would have suited me, but wasn't ideal for Cindy's taste. 

The atmosphere at Barton Fink was just okay - it's dark and there's footy on the tv, while the Coen brothers-inspired interiors won't be to everyone's taste. It's fine though - I sat happily in the corner and read my book before Cindy turned up. The food is definitely worth the visit though - I can't wait to go back and try the hot dogs. 


The only blog review of Barton Fink we can find is from their pre-vegan era on Parma Daze

Barton Fink
816-818 High Street, Thornbury
9484 7426
menu page 1, page 2

Accessibility: There's a ramp on entry and a mix of regular tables and higher ones with stool seating. You order and pay at a bar. The toilets are unisex and fully accessible.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Roasted cauliflower salad

July 7, 2019

Here's another gem from the lab farewell cookbook, shared by Saras. It's a recipe that she got from her cousin in Jerusalem for a salad with my favourite clash of flavours and textures - savoury cauliflower and hazelnuts refreshed with celery and parsley, in a sweet and warmly spiced dressing, all scattered with pretty, tangy pomegranate seeds. We're already familiar with a very similar salad made by Ottolenghi, but I like that Saras' version uses some of the celery leaves, not just the stalks, and those fresh pomegranate seeds replace dried fruit. 

This is such a versatile recipe: it packs well for picnics, potlucks, and workday lunches; it passes as a light but satisfying meal on its own, and makes a bright side dish for just about anything else. We matched it oddly but very happily with a batch of kimchi, gochujang & cheese scrolls

Roasted cauliflower salad
(a recipe shared by Saras,
which she credits to her cousin)

1/2 cup hazelnuts, roasted
1 large cauliflower, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to roast the cauliflower
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
2 stalks celery, sliced thinly
1/4 cup celery leaves
1/4 cup parsley

Preheat the oven to 240°C.

Place the cauliflower in a baking tray, pour over olive oil and generous salt, stirring it through the cauliflower. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender, and browning around the edges. Set aside to cool.

Place the olive oil, vinegar, maple syrup, cinnamon, allspice, and some more salt in an old jam jar. Screw on the lid and shake the dressing until emulsified.

Roughly chop the hazelnuts.

Toss everything together in a big salad bowl and, Saras recommends, "bask in the praise".

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Nonna's gnocchi sauce

June 29, 2019

What a privilege to receive my friends' beloved family recipes in the lab farewell cookbook! My long-time officemate Pia went so far as to press her Italian grandmother for a record of the gnocchi sauce she makes by memory and to taste. 

We initially gave it a go on a Saturday night, but this is a quick and comforting formula that could easily be accomplished after work. I would never have thought to include grated vegetables in such a sauce, but I liked the heft they added to it. And I reckon with the vegetables on board, there's far less risk of the gnocchi coming over too gluggy or setting up like glue in your stomach.

Nonna's gnocchi sauce
(a recipe shared by Pia)

1 bottle passata
olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large carrot, grated
5-6 mushrooms, grated
a good handful of parsley, chopped
red wine
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large pan, and add the garlic. When the garlic has just browned, add the carrot, mushrooms and parsley. Cook them until they start to dry out.

Slosh in some red wine and turn up the heat, cooking until the liquid has evaporated. Turn the heat back down and add the passata. Cook for a little while; add basil, salt and pepper to taste.

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Vegan, gluten-free self-saucing chocolate pudding

June 29, 2019

This is a dessert recipe crying out to be made mid-winter! It comes from Mick, who was my very first supervisor when I arrived in Melbourne, and of course it's part of the lab cookbook.

This self-saucing pudding uses a trick that I would've been very skeptical of if I hadn't seen it before: it has you placing a teeny portion of cake batter in a baking tray, and then pouring half a litre of boiling water over the top! Amazingly, it doesn't turn into a curdled mess of cake clumps floating in water; rather, the cake expands in the oven and the water settles underneath, picking up all the flavour it needs to form a thick sauce. 

The other appealing features of this pudding are how diet-inclusive and pantry-friendly it is. I didn't need to shop for a single ingredient before I set to work. I will admit that I didn't have the highest of hopes for a vegan, gluten-free pudding based on rice flour, no-egg powder and only a small amount of cocoa. More fool me! The cake was plenty fluffy with a lovely crumb, and there was abundant dark, chocolatey sauce to go around.

We had a little leftover salted caramel coconut-based vegan icecream brought over by our friend Nat, and it was the perfect thing to scoop on top.

Vegan, gluten-free self-saucing chocolate pudding
(a recipe shared by Mick,
who credits it to

60g Nuttelex
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 cup rice flour (Mick recommends Coles' organic)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 generous teaspoons cocoa
1 teaspoon Orgran no-egg
1/2 cup soy milk

3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 cups boiling water

Preheat an oven to 170°C. Lightly grease a high-walled baking dish.

In a large bowl, cream together the Nuttelex and caster sugar.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cocoa and no-egg. In turns, gradually beat these dry ingredients and the soy milk into the butter mixture, to form a cake batter. Pour the batter into the baking dish.

Sprinkle the brown sugar and cocoa over the top of the pudding. Pour the boiling water over it all, and bake for 45 minutes.

Serve with a little vegan icecream.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Samba's Jhol Momo

June 20, 2019

This article prompted a some compelling critiques about Australian food journalism on twitter, but it also alerted me to the existence of Samba's Jhol Momo, a newish Nepalese place tucked just off Sydney Road. They specialise in jhol momo - hot dumplings served in a thick broth - and have two dishes: meat and vegetarian.

We grabbed two bowls of the vego option ($10 each) and settled in. There are jars of good quality chilli sauce on the tables, so I immediately spooned some over my dish. This is probably unnecessary - the broth is brimming with spiciness already. It's perfect winter food, with maybe a hint of Sechuan pepper to really add to the kick. The dumplings themselves are freshly made and filled with a mix of veggies, garlic and ginger, but it's the broth that really shines here. 

It's great to have another cheap and delicious option in the neighbourhood - this is a perfect place for us to stop off on the way home for a fast dinner when we need a break from Kevabs.


Samba's Jhol Momo
528A Sydney Rd, Brunswick (entry on Blyth St)
facebook page

Accessibility: There's a flat entry way to a fairly crowded interior, with regular tables. You order at a low counter. The toilets are unisex, but quite a trek through some narrow paths and uneven ground to the corner of the carpark.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Joma's lemon cordial

June 5, 2019

This cordial is a simple and appealing recipe from the lab cookbook that I didn't expect to get around to until next summer. But it's very much lemon season right now, and we've received lots of lemons from friends.

The only challenge remaining was to buy tartaric and citric acids, which I've never cooked with before. It turns out that citric acid sits near the baking powder in most supermarkets. Tartaric acid is in the same spot but stocked less frequently. After a few false starts I tracked it down at the SUPA IGA on Sydney Road. 

I made just half the quantity listed below and still made lots of cordial with just 3 lemons (two-and-a-bit of the bottles pictured above). Recipe-sharers Chris, Freya and Roy recommend freezing it into icy-poles, or drinking it with soda water, but at this time of year I'm content just to dilute it with regular ol' tap water.

Joma's lemon cordial
(a recipe shared by Chris, Freya and Roy,
who credit it to the Nursing Mother's Association Cookbook)

juice and grated rind of 6 lemons
2 kg sugar
30g tartaric acid
60g citric acid
8 cups boiling water

In a very large bowl, mix together the lemon juice and rind, sugar, and acids. Pour over the boiling water slowly. Mix until the sugar is dissolved and allow the mixture to cool. 

If you want to, strain out the rind (I didn't). Bottle and seal the cordial. Dilute with lots of water or soda water; enjoy it as a drink or freeze it into icy-poles.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Ottolenghi birthday feast

May 26, 2019

I had a big birthday recently and hosted a shindig at one of our old favourite pubs with a bunch of mates. I finished the night loaded down with presents, including a stunning set of Global knives from my work colleagues. They supplemented the knives with a box full of produce, providing the key ingredients for three (3!) different Ottolenghi dishes. I had left Sunday completely free, so I spent the day working my way through all of them. 

There were a couple of pretty easy dishes: cauliflower, pomegranate and pistachio salad from Simple and roasted pumpkin wedges with chestnut, cinnamon & fresh bay leaves from the web. The cauliflower was pretty excellent - a mix of grated raw and tender roasted cauli, with the classic Ottolenghi additions of pomegranate and a variety of herbs.

The pumpkin was a bit let down by our inability to locate fresh bay leaves and a general ambivalence towards chestnuts - the maple and sage roasting mix worked well though. 

The final dish (pictured at the top) was the most complex: butternut squash with ginger tomatoes and lime yoghurt from Nopi - we used the version on Ottolenghi's website. There are a lot of steps to this - roast the pumpkin, roast the tomatoes for two hours with a spice paste and make up a yoghurt sauce. None of it's very hard, but it's a time consuming affair - you really need to have most of the day free to make this work. It's worth the time though - the ginger tomatoes provide a sharp, acidic burst that cuts through the sweet pumpkin, while the yoghurt smooths things out and the peanuts and shallots give you some crunch. It's a showstopper of a side dish.

Butternut pumpkin with ginger tomatoes & lime yoghurt
(slightly adapted from a recipe on Ottolenghi's website)

1 medium butternut pumpkin, unpeeled, halved lengthways, seeds removed, then cut into 1 inch slices
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 tomatoes, halved lengthways
3cm piece of ginger, finely grated
1 red chilli, seeded diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons palm sugar
salt and pepper

120g Greek yoghurt
zest and juice of a lime
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

small bunch coriander, roughly chopped
1/2 cup roasted cashews
10g crispy fried shallots

Preheat the oven to 240°C.

Mix the pumpkin with two tablespoons of the oil, two teaspoons of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Spread them out on a baking tray and bake for 40 minutes until golden-brown. Set aside.

Turn the oven down to 170°C. Pop the tomatoes on a baking tray, skin-side down. Sprinkle each of them with salt, drizzle with the rest of the olive oil and cook for 80 minutes.

While they're baking make up your paste - mix together the ginger, chilli, garlic, sugar and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt into a thick paste. Spoon this mixture on top of the tomatoes and bake for another 40 minutes, until it caramelises. 

Stir the lime juice, zest and cardamom through the yoghurt. 

Spread the pumpkin slices out and top with the tomatoes, lime yoghurt, nuts, coriander and crispy shallots and serve.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Serious Eats vegan brownies

May 24, 2019

I can always rely on Serious Eats for a thoughtful but complicated way around vegan food, and so it was with their vegan brownie recipe. Calling for cocoa butter, soy milk powder and dry malt extract, I had to move beyond my own pantry and even my local shops to ready myself.

Though I'd never bought cocoa butter before, I knew it was achievable, and I was keen to bring another chocolate-based product in for the fatty component. Dry malt extract was harder, and I ended up settling for a syrup. Soy milk powder proved impossible, and I had some memory of seeing coconut milk powder around the place. Out of desperation I bought creamed coconut and this was a big mistake. My first batch of these brownies oozed with oil, and it solidified into a white tide mark around the cooled squares. 

Nevertheless, they tasted great. Very, very chocolatey but also complex with that malt and a pinch of coffee. And there was this slightly elastic chewiness to them that I was into, like a thick caramel. I wanted to make them work. 

The clue was in reading the recipe through a couple more times. It was designed to be packaged up as a dry mix to store in the pantry (just add boiling water and vanilla!) but that wasn't necessarily what I needed. Why use soy milk powder and boiling water when you could just use... soy milk? And how about melting the chocolate instead of processing it until it was "as powdery and fine as flour"? I rearranged the ingredient list, thinking about how brownies are typically made, and came up with the streamlined version that has worked best. I made a new, more successful test batch, and then a double batch for Michael's birthday, and then some more to use up the cocoa butter and share at a crafternoon.

This recipe and this brownie won't be everyone's favourite. It's got fussy ingredients, it's very intensely flavoured, it's barely cakey and the edges can even be tough if overbaked. But it's my kinda brownie, and it's going to take a lot to shift my allegiance to another recipe. 

Serious Eats vegan brownies
(adapted from this recipe)

2 1/4 cups icing sugar
1/2 cup plain flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon espresso powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup cocoa butter
1 generous tablespoon malt syrup
1/2 cup soy milk
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1 generous teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat an oven to 180°C. Line a 20cm-square baking tray with paper and lightly spray it with oil.

In a medium-large bowl, sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa, salt, espresso powder and baking powder.

Set a medium-large saucepan over low-medium heat. Melt the cocoa butter in it; whisk in the malt syrup and soy milk. When the mixture is well-combined and hot, turn off the heat and stir in the chocolate chips, continuing to whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients and then the vanilla, until the batter is smooth. 

Pour the batter into the baking tray. Sprinkle something over the top if you like: there are pomegranate seeds in the pictured ones; I've also left them plain, dropped frozen raspberries in, and marbled peanut butter through other batches. Bake for around 35 minutes, until the edges are firm and the centre is a little bit wobbly.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Jamie Oliver's vegan brownies

May 18, 2019

When I put the call out for everyone's favourite vegan brownie recipes, a helpful person in a facebook group pointed me to Jamie Oliver's recipe. I liked that it was based on the kinds of ingredients I always have at home, and that the batter included both cocoa and melted dark chocolate for a deep chocolate flavour. There's some extra chocolate chips and pecans folded in at the end, too. Though I'd normally be very keen on the nuts, I thought it'd be fairer to skip them as I compare recipes.

As you can see in the photo above, this brownie is certainly fudgy rather than cakey! But without anything to replace the eggs that form such a key part of non-vegan brownies, the texture was a bit... paste-y. I could definitely see myself making these again on a raid-the-pantry whim, but they weren't my One True Brownie.

Jamie Oliver's vegan brownies
(slightly adapted from a recipe on his website)

200g dark chocolate chips
170g self-raising flour
3 teaspoons cocoa
180g caster sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup soy milk
1/3 cup sunflower oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat an oven to 180°C. Line a 20 cm square baking tray with paper and lightly spray it with oil.

Melt 150g of the chocolate by your preferred method (I use a double boiler-type set-up), and set it aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour and cocoa. Stir in the sugar and salt. Stir in the soy milk, oil, vanilla and melted chocolate until everything is well combined. Fold through the remaining chocolate.

Pour the brownie batter into the baking tray and smooth over the top. Bake the brownie for 20-25 minutes until the edges are cooked but the centre is still wobbly.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

BBQ beans

May 4, 2019

Tash contributed not one, but two, recipes to my lab cookbook. After the excellence of the shortbread cookies, I knew I'd be onto a good thing here. These BBQ beans have a slightly longer ingredient list that the biccies, but a short weeknight-friendly method: all the sauce ingredients go straight into a blender, and then the sauce is simmered with drained canned beans for 15 minutes. Done-diddly-un.

That leaves plenty of time to get arrange them into something dinner-shaped. I commenced with vegan nachos, and a day or two later I moved on to toasties. These beans are sweet and a bit smoky, not nearly as spicy as I feared they'd be: a natural fit for burritos, bowls, and big breakfast cook-ups.

BBQ beans
(a recipe shared by Tash,
who credits it to Thug Kitchen)

1/2 onion, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cloves garlic
4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1/4 cup vege stock
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon tamari
2 x 400g cans black beans

Place all of the ingredients except for the beans in a food processor, and blend them to form a smooth sauce. Pour the sauce into a saucepan over medium-low heat. Drain the beans and stir them into the sauce. Simmer everything until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Jenny's apple cake

April 28, 2019

We missed Simon and Noni's housewarming, but we invited ourselves over for tea soon afterwards when they adopted puppy Arnold. There was plenty of time in the morning to bake a welcome-to-your-own-neighbourhood cake. For the task I picked out Jenny's apple cake, actually shared by Jane in the lab farewell cookbook.

This cake has exactly the ingredient list you'd expect of a traditional apple cake, although the technique and proportions are a little skewed! There's no electric beater here, just a thick dough brought together in a saucepan, and barely enough of it to bind together the large quantity of apples. In her notes Jane assured me "the mixture is soft and breaks but it still works", and she was right. It's exactly the homely afternoon treat you'd imagine, sturdy enough to strap onto the back of a bike, and perfect with a cup of tea once it arrives at its destination.

Jenny's apple cake
(a recipe shared by Jane)

6 apples
2 whole cloves
120g butter
120g sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice (I used ginger, cloves, cardamom)
1 egg
1 1/2 cups plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder

Preheat an oven to 180°C. Line a round springform cake tin with baking paper and spray it with oil.

Peel, core and coarsely dice the apples. Place them in a medium saucepan with a splash of water and the cloves and cook them over low-medium heat, stirring often, until the apples a just cooked through: they should have softened a little but still be holding their shape. Set aside to cool, and remove the cloves.

In another saucepan, melt the butter and then turn off the heat. Stir in the sugar, then the spices, then the egg. Finally, stir in the flour to form a dough. Scoop just over half of the dough into the cake tin and spread it evenly over the base. Turn all of the cooked apples into the cake tin and spread them out evenly. Dot the top of the cake with tablespoons of the remaining dough, filling in the gaps without being too fussy about it (see pic above).

Bake the cake for 40 minutes, and leave it in the tin for a further 30 minutes before serving.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Green Burger

April 26, 2019

We had a shindig in Collingwood on a Friday night and kicked things off by meeting up with some friends for a quick dinner at Green Burger. It's a newish, all vegan burger place on Smith Street that's been getting a bit of buzz. 

We had no trouble getting a table at 6 on a Friday, maybe because they're not licensed to sell booze. Instead they have a selection of milkshakes and three fancy sodas on tap - we both enjoyed the blueberry-lime option. The main attraction is the burgers: seven different vegan burgers, heavy on the mock meat and loaded up with ridiculous fillings. This place is very consciously not aiming at the clean-eating crowd.

I went with the big mock - Green Burger's Big Mac equivalent, with two smokehouse patties, double cheese, lettuce, onions, pickles and special sauce ($14.90). It's a real handful, overflowing with fillings. The patties are excellent - a smoky, firm mock-meat that holds together well. I wanted a bit more tanginess from the sauce, but the pickles added some sharpness and the whole package is pretty impressive (I did eye off my pal's McRibber with some envy though). 

Cindy ordered a serve of the carne asada fries as a main. It's a huge mess of waffle fries, cheese sauce, soy steak, pico de gallo and chipotle mayo ($12.50). I loved these - the waffle fries are the perfect vessel to dig through the incredible pile of toppings. 

I really liked Green Burger and there are so many more things to try - mock duck and southern fried chicken burgers, a mac and cheese, poutine, loaded onion rings and so much more. Green Burger feels like a fancier Lord of the Fries - it's still junky, but much higher quality 

The only blog review of Green Burger that we can find is over at Messy Veggies

Green Burger
240 Smith St, Collingwood
no phone

Accessibility: There's a flat entry and a small number of low tables with bench and stool seating. We ordered and paid at a high counter.

Saturday, May 25, 2019


April 21, 2019

Heini is another workmate who generously shared their signature dish with me through the lab farewell cookbook. She's well known for baking tightly spiralled Finnish cinnamon buns called pulla, and we attempted to follow in her footsteps over the Easter weekend. 

Our buns turned out puffier and less expertly formed than Heini's, but they were still magnificent: bready, but richer, with sweet seams of spice; perfect for seeing in autumn with a cup of tea.

Pulla - Korvapuusti (Finnish cinnamon rolls)
(a recipe shared by Heini)

1 cup milk
15g fresh yeast or 12g dry yeast
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup caster sugar
2-3 teaspoons ground cardamom
3-4 cups plain flour
75g butter, at room temperature

50g butter, melted
caster sugar
ground cinnamon
1 egg, lightly beaten

Gently warm the milk in a small saucepan, and then stir in the yeast until it's dissolved. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the egg, salt, sugar, cardamom, and most of the flour. Mix it all together to form a dough, gradually adding a little more flour until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the walls of the bowl. Knead the butter into the dough, continuing until the dough stretches when pulled. Cover the bowl with a teatowel and leave it to rise in a warm place, until it has doubled in size.

Get yourself a big clean surface and lightly flour it (you'll see in the photo above that I laid down a sheet of baking paper). Turn the dough out and roll it into a 20cm x 40cm rectangle, half to 1 cm thick. Spread the melted butter over the dough with a pastry brush, leaving a couple of centimetres bare on one of the short sides. Sprinkle the butter generously with sugar and cinnamon.

Set up 1-2 baking trays with paper and lightly oil them. Handling the buttery short side, gently roll the dough up into a log with a spiral cross-section. Slice the dough into triangle-shaped buns and place them on the baking tray so that the tip is pointing upwards and there's plenty of space between them. Use your thumbs to push the tip down on each bun. When the trays are full of buns, cover them with tea towels and allow them another 10-15 minutes to rise.

Preheat an oven to 225°C while the buns are rising. Brush the buns with egg and bake them for about 12 minutes, until browned. Enjoy warm from the oven, store them for a couple of days in a airtight container, and revive them with 10-15 seconds in the microwave. 

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Smith & Deli brownies

April 19, 2019

I'm testing out a couple of different vegan brownie recipes in the lead-up to a special occasion. There are a few such recipes on the blog already, but I've still got the appetite to try more. 

The Smith & Deli cookbook was an obvious place to relaunch from. Their base recipe isn't too complicated; non-dairy yoghurt was the only ingredient we don't routinely have at home, and even it is easily found in most supermarkets now.

A large quantity of cocoa powder and a heaping cup of chocolate chips have these brownies looking very dark and rich, yet they're actually on the cakier side and not as deeply flavoured as I'd expected. I was able to strap a lunchbox of them onto the back of my bike to share with our friend who missed out on those shortbread cookies. These brownies were pretty great with a cup of tea, but I'm directing my search towards fudgier recipes next.

Smith & Deli brownies
(from Smith & Deli-cious by Shannon Martinez & Mo Wyse)

3/4 cup margarine
1/2 cup coconut yoghurt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups gluten-free plain flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 cup soy milk
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat an oven to 170°C. Line a 22cm square baking tray with paper, and lightly spray it with oil.

With an electric beater, cream together the margarine, yoghurt, vanilla and sugar until light and fluffy. In a separate large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Gradually beat these dry ingredients into the margarine mixture. Gradually beat in the soy milk until everything is well combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Pour the brownie batter into the lined baking tray, gently smooth over the top, and bake for about 45 minutes - it's OK for the centre to still be a bit wobbly.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Rochester Hotel

April 14, 2019

Vegan about town Steph drew Hayley and I into The Rochester Hotel for a Sunday night dinner, having learned that they've been running a Kerala-styled pub menu for almost a year (!). Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options are clearly marked and well-represented; we really did need some time to figure out what combination of fried and fresh, shared and all-to-ourselves dishes we wanted.

First, we ticked off fried. The chips and curry ($10) were excellent and included a thin, crisp batter. I loved the little pumpkin and coconut ada ($4, pictured right and front), which was served with a surprisingly spicy mint chutney. Hayley couldn't resist the egg bonda ($4, pictured right and back); actually half a boiled egg piled with onion masala and fried in batter.

For our mains, we got a little more fried in by all ordering parota. Steph declared it to be the crowning glory of her vegan thali ($24, pictured at the top of the post), while Hayley and I shrewdly ordered it as the centrepiece of our meals. Our potato wraps were too full to really be wrapped, our parotas bursting with tender and lightly spiced smashed potatoes, more onion masala, fresh green herbs and generous dollops of that eye-watering mint chutney.

On another night I'd be extremely tempted to follow through with vegan coconut custard ($6, with fruit and cashew praline!), but we elected to walk off our curry chips instead. I fear my limited stomach space is going to force me into a delicious chip/parota/dessert trade-off every time I stop in.

In its current incarnation, I've just spotted two blog posts about The Rochester Hotel, both freebies, on The Spice Adventuress and gastrology.

The Rochester Hotel
202 Johnston St, Fitzroy
9419 0166

Accessibility: There's a step up on entry. Inside is a mix of high and low tables. We ordered and paid at high bar. Toilets are gendered, narrow, and a couple of extra steps up.

Monday, May 13, 2019

The Carringbush Hotel

April 7, 2019

Cindy read about the newly renovated Carringbush Hotel on Messy Veggies before it opened and we headed down with some friends soon after they were up and running. The new folks in charge (the gang from The Old Bar) have turned it into an entirely vego pub, with a cosy and welcoming fit-out. There's a front bar, a couple of indoor dining spaces and a cute little courtyard out the back. It seems like The Carringbush is going to be mostly about the food - it didn't seem like there was any space for live music etc.

The food options are pretty diverse - fancy salads, burgers, pasta, plus a few other bits and pieces. More than half of the menu is vegan and there are heaps of gluten-free options as well. We started out on the bar snacks menu, with a bowl each of the root vegetable crisps ($7) and crispy wonton skins ($5). These both came with fancy salts - cumin salt for the wontons and rosemary salt for the root veggies - and were incredibly addictive.

We split a serve of the excellent vegan smoked potato and eggplant dumplings with a soy/lime dipping sauce ($14) and then picked out our mains.

Cindy ordered the beer-battered cauliflower with chips and tartare sauce (vegan, $18.50). This is basically fish and chips for vegos and it really hit the spot - perfectly crunchy batter and a great vegan tartare. It might be wise to pair this with one of the salads next time though - it's a lot of fried.

I wanted chips with my meal as well, so I got the falafel and hummus burger with herb salad, tomato, pickles and herb yoghurt (vegan, $21). This is a solid pub burger - it's not life-changing, but the herb salad and pickles add some nice flavours to a pretty standard assembly. 

We really enjoyed the food at The Carringbush, but even more we enjoyed the vibe - it's a lovely space for a quiet Sunday afternoon meal. We sat around doing the crossword and chatting and just soaking up the relaxed atmosphere. We'll be back!


The Carringbush Hotel
226-228 Langridge St, Abbotsford
9191 0149
bar snacksmain menu
facebook page

Accessibility: There's a small step on entry. You order and pay at a high bar. There's a mix of tables with low seating as well as bar seating. We didn't visit the toilets.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Will's tofu dish

April 6, 2019

We like to think we know our way around a block of tofu, but Will has shared a different style of preparation via the lab cookbook. The tofu is microwaved or steamed without any additional flavouring to heat it through. Then it's smothered in all the flavouring it'll ever need: soy sauce and vinegar, garlic and ginger, coriander, chilli, three kinds of oil, spring onions, fried shallots! We only needed some steamed rice and plain green veges to round this out into a meal.

Since the sauce goes on unheated the garlic and ginger are extra potent. I hoped that microwaving the leftovers at work might mellow them out, but their strong fragrance drew (positive!) attention from some of my co-workers.

I reckon that this is the rare recipe that will work just as well on a weeknight as it could when cooking a show-off meal for friends. I'll just have to pack some chewing gum when I plan to roll over leftovers to lunch.

Will's tofu dish
(shared via the Lab Farewell Cookbook)

20g fresh coriander
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 large red chilli, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
65g (about 5) spring onion, finely sliced
1 teaspoon chilli oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 cup light soy sauce
1/4 cup dark soy sauce
1/4 cup Chinkiang black rice vinegar
500g firm tofu
2 tablespoons peanut oil
deep fried shallots
white pepper
sriracha sauce

Remove any roots from the coriander and wash the rest of it. Separate the stem from the leaves. Chop the stems and place them in a medium bowl. To the bowl, add the ginger, chilli, garlic, the white parts of the spring onions, chilli oil, sesame oil, soy sauces and vinegar. Whisk everything together.

Slice the tofu into flat squares, about 1cm x 3cm x 3cm. Microwave or steam the tofu until it's heated through. While the tofu is heating, put the peanut oil in a small saucepan and heat it just barely to its smoking point.

Layer the tofu in a large serving dish and pour over the soy-based sauce; carefully pour the hot peanut oil over, next. Generously garnish the tofu with the coriander leaves, green spring onion bits, deep-fried shallots and white pepper, squirting over sriracha to taste.

Sunday, May 05, 2019


April 6, 2019

We were very excited to read about Kevabs, an all-vegan kebab place that has opened up just around the corner from our house. We got down there on their first weekend to check it out (and have since been three more times!). Their main product is a classic kebab ($13) - they've developed some sort of vegetable and pea-protein doner that's the star of the show, accompanied by lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and your choice of sauces (hummus, garlic, chilli, tomato and bbq). You can add extras like jalapenos or vegan cheese for a buck extra.

There are heaps of other options as well - HSP ($13), a daily selection of salads ($10), soup and house-made simit ($10), boreks ($5.50) and a range of sweets. Everything is vegan and most things can be made gluten-free. We started off with a kevab and a potato borek.

The kevabs are really excellent - the time they've spent crafting their mock meat recipe has definitely paid off, and the mix of fillings and sauces work in the way that a classic kebab works (garlic + chilli sauce is my tip!). The boreks are excellent too - there's a bit of mock meat included in the filling, accompanied by either potato or spinach. The vegan pastry is impressively flaky.

On a more recent visit I finally skipped a kevab and went with a HSP - a bowl of chips piled up with vegan cheese, the doner mock and your choice of sauces. It's a pretty intense meal, but if you're in the mood for a vegan HSP then this is about as good as they get.

The sweet selection is impressive too - there's 4 kinds of Turkish delight (plain, rose, mango/chilli and pistachio, $2.50 each), baklava ($4 a slice) and a rotating cast of cakes, cookies and brownies. We sampled a bikkie, the Turkish delights and a baklava on our first visit and they all hit the mark. The chilli/mango Turkish delight is the brave choice - it's super spicy, but the flavour combination with the dried mango and the soothing sugary Turkish delight really works. The baklava is top notch as well (and there's a gluten-free option if that matters to you).

We're really excited to have Kevabs in our neighbourhood - it's become our go-to spot for lazy weekend lunches or quick after-work meals. The staff are lovely and welcoming and the food is really hitting the spot. Check it out!


Looks like we're the first blog to review Kevabs - they're the talk of Instagram and Facebook though of course.

89 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
Instagram page

Accessibility: Kevabs has a flat entryway and a mix of low and high seating. You order and pay at a high counter. I don't think they have any toilets for customers.