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.