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.