Thursday, June 18, 2009

800th post, 2nd giveaway

Today this blog reaches another little milestone - 800 posts! It's a good time to update our where's the best? guide. New home cooking highlights include:
Out and about, we've loved:
Sadly, we've had to remove Filter, Vina Bar and Three One Two from our favourites as they're no longer open for business.

This is also a good time for another giveaway, right? Up for grabs are a couple of winter-friendly items that we've recently been enjoying ourselves - a copy of Soup For All Seasons, written by Las Vegan's Lia Vandersant and Liam Davies, and a canister of Monsieur Truffe Hot Dark Chocolate Mix.

To enter the draw, tell us about your favourite veg-friendly recipe for winter in the comments section below. Give us enough information that we could try making it ourselves, or just link to the recipe if it's already available online. We'll make and blog the winning entry, and any others that especially take our fancy!

If you don't wish to add a contact email address publicly to our comments, then email us at as soon as you've posted your entry so that, if you win, we can arrange delivery of your prize. We won't share your email address with anyone else or hassle you ourselves once this giveaway's been given away. Entries close at midnight on Tuesday June 30.


  1. I love Italian-style lentils, flavoured with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, just like in the song.

    I don't have the exact recipe here, but you saute an onion, some garlic, a chopped-up carrot and some chopped-up celery, add the lentils (green or brown are best), add some red wine and water or stock, add the herbs, and let it all simmer until the lentils are tender.

    I use pancetta in mine but you can obviously omit it. Serve with vegan sausages and some cheezy polenta for a good stick-to-yer-ribs feed!

    Italians eat lentils and sausages (or cotechino) on New Year's Eve to bring luck and money in the coming year. Since it's nearing the end of the Financial Year, why not try it to ensure riches come tax refund time?

  2. Aww Vina Bar! Rest in peace.

    My recipe is... Spaghetti & Beanballs!

    You can use the Veganomicon recipe (very good), or my variation is here.

    I had them again for dinner last night, I was so happy!

  3. I do';t need the cookbook since I already have it but would love the hot chocolate mix :-)

    800 posts is impressive I'm up to 752 and i've been posting for over 5 years!

    Anyway, it is hard to choose my fav but I really enjoy this sweet potato and purple cabbage soup which is more like stew and super healthy:

  4. Congratulations on 800 posts - huge achievement. And it is great you are updating your favourites - will check them out again

    I can't believe the Vina Bar has closed :-(

    I think one of my favourite winter warmers is this Vegetarian Cassoulet

  5. 800 posts?! I think it's about time you sold out and got sponsored by a big multi-national like Sanitarium. :)

    I admit it's not winter where I am but a recipe that I have made countless times during winter and which has been a success every time is Roasted Vegetables with Tomato Charmoula & Quinoa Cous-Cous (

    Reasons why it is so good:
    - Super-simple to prepare (with just four vegetables that you're likely to have in your fridge)
    - Quinoa
    - The charmoula (crushed tomatoes + cumin + paprika + other spices) makes a frangrant, subtly different and fantastic coating for the vegetables

    There are more reasons but I have said enough. You will enjoy this or your money back!

  6. I just found this website when I moved to Melbourne in March - I love checking out your recipes and reading your restaurant reviews!

    I love soups!

    Especially a three bean (red kidney, cantellini, and black beans - although these are hard to find here) chilli with potatoes, corn, tomatoes, onions, and hot peppers - just throw it all in a pot with some broth and let it cook.

    Or another favourite is my corn chowder. Cook onions and cubed potatoes until almost soft then add 1 sm can of creamed corn, and some frozen corn as well as veggie broth with seasoning - I like salt, pepper, paprika, and some garam masala for warmth. let cook a bit then add some cheddar cheese and maybe a bit of milk/cream if you want to make it creamier.

  7. My contribution is Mapo Tofu - Pockmarked Grandmother's Tofu. Why it's called that, I have no idea! Vegetarian recipe customised from the original. It's spicy enough to tickle your nose and warm you up on a chill(i) winter's day. Reheating leftovers is easy too.

    Main ingredients:

    Tofu, 1 block
    Salt, 2 tablespoons
    Chilli oil or other oil, 2 tablespoons
    TVP or your choice of meat substitute, half of tofu volume (optional but recommended)
    Ground Szechuan peppercorns, 1 teaspoon
    Cornstarch, 1 tablespoon
    Vegetarian stock is optional.

    Seasonings: (all are recommended but optional, amounts can be modified to your liking)

    Chili in any form (paste, powder, flakes, diced fresh, crushed dried, etc) 1 – 2 tablespoons
    Dou ban jiang (Chinese fermented broad beans), 1 - 2 tablespoons
    Chinese fermented black beans, 1 - 2 tablespoons
    2 cloves garlic
    Sugar, ½ - 1 teaspoon
    Soy sauce, ½ - 1 tablespoon


    1. Cut tofu into 1-inch blocks
    2. Add enough boiling salt water to tofu to cover it, and let it stand
    3. Finely dice the garlic
    4. Heat oil in wok or pan
    5. Stir fry the diced garlic, chili, and ground Szechuan pepper until fragrant
    6. Stir the rest of the seasonings and meat substitute into the mixture, stir-fry for 2 minutes
    7. Stir the Szechuan pepper (and 1 cup of stock if desired) into the mixture, heat until boiling
    8. Drain the tofu cubes
    9. Add tofu cubes to the bubbling mixture and stir, making sure the tofu is entirely coated
    10. Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes
    11. Mix cornstarch with enough room temperature water to thoroughly melt
    12. Thoroughly stir cornstarch water into the mixture until sauce thickens
    13. Slice some scallions
    14. Serve the tofu in a bowl, topped with the sliced scallions, serve with steamed rice

    Enjoy! :)

  8. I think your blog is great and I read it as regularly as I can, particularly enjoying your cafe and restaurant reviews as I love hearing about all that is good and new in food around Melbourne...especially as I have recently been overseas for 6 months travelling and lost touch with the Melbourne scene.

    In winter soups are my favourite. I made a batch of your broccoli soup last week and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It lasted me all week for work lunches.

    One my favourite and easiest soup recipes is Roasted Cummin Pumpkin Soup:
    Peel and cut pumpkin into large chunks and place in a baking dish. Drizzle with a little olive oil (be sparing otherwise your soup ends up very oily) and generously shake over some cummin and place in a 200 degree celcius oven. Check and turn after 20 min and then cook for another 20 minutes or until tender but not too brown. Saute a sliced onion or 2 leeks in a bit of olive oil in a soup pot. Add some veggie stock (even better if it is home made) and bring to the boil. Add the roasted pumpkin and any pan juices and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes to combine flavours. Use a stick blender or food processor to make a smooth but thick soup. Add water as needed to thin out soup and season to your taste.
    This recipe also works really well for carrot and parsnip. I challenge you to try any other root vegetable you like.

    I made the carrot version on the weekend and had it for lunch yesterday and it was amazing!!

  9. Wow, 800 posts. That's a big deal!

    My favourite winter meal, of the moment at least, is the Stuffed Cabbage Rolls from 'La Dolce Vegan' that I recently blogged about. You basically steam a whole cabbage, peel off the outer leaves and chop up the insides. Then cook it all up with some bulgur, some seitan (or mushrooms, as the recipe calls for), and nuts. Roll that mix up inside the outer leaves of the cabbage, and top with tomato-garlic sauce. Then bake! And while the oven is on, throw in some radishes, beetroots, green beans and/or sweet potatoes for roasting (roasted veggies are my second favourite winter dish).

  10. My favourite winter recipe is lentil and mushroom shepherd's pie! Mmmmm Yum.

    Cook the lentils just like bolognese (fry up some onion, carrot and celery) then add some garlic and a bit of chilli - splash of wine, can of tomatoes, a bay leaf, a parmesan rind if you happen to never throw things out like me, some rehydrated chopped up dry shitake or porcini or any mushroom.

    Cook till lentils are done but with a bit of bite, top with creamy mash sweet potato, or potato, or carrot, or a mixture - go wild!

    Grate some parmesan on top and bung in the oven for about 40 minutes - till browned and nice on top.

    Serve with steamed brussel sprouts with lemon juice, olive oil and salt.

    Mmmm winter-licious!

  11. 800 posts is quite the achievement! I accidentally typed 8000... something for you to aim for ?! :P

    I was trying to think of something I've made recently to share with you, but i've been coming up slightly blank... I'm sure I have some ideas, but they aren't coming to mind.

    So I will instead point you to an indulgent new way to eat tofu. Not classy by any means, but oh so satisfying. I made it as a quick dinner before heading out to a party, but made/ate way too much of it, and felt too full to eat the desserts at the party... and for me, that's really saying something!!

    I didn't go with the deep-frying (instead, just pan fried in a shallow layer of oil), and didn't use blue cheese (i think i just added in a bit of mayo at the end, but anything vaguely creamy would work, sour cream would be perfect I think).

    As long as you go with the super-garlicky, golden crispy-ish tofu, i think you'll get there :) I mixed a bit of BBQ sauce from a bottle with a *little* chili sauce, but one of your satay or BBQ sauces you have made would be great. It's more of an idea than a recipe, so go nuts.

    Serve with a BIG, fresh salad, you'll be glad to have it!