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 taste.com.au)

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.