Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Tempeh Lasagne

Tempeh Lasagne 11

I have always loved lasagne. Feel free to picture me as a big fat ginger and black-striped cat who answers to "Garfield" if you wish. Also, vegans, you may wish to look away now - epic dairy ahead!

When we first became vegos, I found this amazing recipe which I tried despite it seeming a little bit weird. It is delicious and has served me well, having been my contribution to a Christmas dinner and various other things. While I encourage you all to go and have a bash at that recipe, in the last few months, I've wanted my mum's lasagne.

When I was making the Tempeh Shepherdess Pie from Veganomicon, I had a brainwave (recreated below):
Me: *stirs things*
Brain: You know, you could totally use this technique and make it into bolognese sauce and then make lasagne.
Me: Huh? *stirs*
Brain: Lasagne! Like Mum's!
Me: Yeah, ok, whatever. *chops*

Luckily, I listened to my brain and my tempeh lasagne was born!

Tempeh Lasagne 9

I think it is pretty damn tasty and a bunch of omni (including Esther's 21 year-old brother) agree. In fact, Jen the carnivore has raved re: my tempeh bolognese. HIGH PRAISE INDEED.

As I write it out, it seems like a long and overly-complicated recipe but it doesn't feel that way when you are making it and, frankly, you get lasagne at the end!

This recipe is dedicated to my mum and to Esther's littlest cousin Samantha who has recently become a vegetarian and loves lasagne.

Tempeh Lasagne 10

Tempeh Lasagne
feeds many and makes a good lunch at work!

for the mince:
1 pkg tempeh
3 glugs of soy sauce
red wine

for the mince-y sauce:
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced/diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, grated
1 - 1.5 zucchini, grated
tomato paste
1 big can of tomatoes
misc other vegies (delicious ones I've used in the past - capsicum, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, corn)
chilli flakes

for the white sauce:
6 tbsp plain flour
4 tbsp butter
2 cups milk (plus a little bit more)
nutmeg (please grate some yourself - it makes all the difference)

misc other things:
lasagne sheets (I only used one packet this time but sometimes it is 1.5)
2 handfuls of spinach (I used baby spinach this time but silverbeet would also be grand)
cheese of various types - generally speaking, a cheddar/tasty and something bitey like parmesan or pecorino

1. Crumble the tempeh into a deep frying pan over medium-high heat and add the soy and enough water so that it is covered in liquid. Add a slug or two of wine at this stage if you want. Bring to boil and keep there until most of the liquid is absorbed (about ten minutes). Pour into a bowl and put aside.

2. Put the pan back on the heat (turn it down to medium-medium for this bit) and add some oil. Sauté the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes until fragrant and delicious. Add the carrot, celery and zucchini and let that cook away for about five minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add a spoonful or so of tomato paste - I use the squidgy bottle stuff and it is generally about three squirts and let that cook for a minute. Now, add your BIG can of tomatoes, the other veggies, herbs, spices, your tempeh mince that has been waiting patiently for you, an empty tomato can of water or stock and a good slug of wine. Stir and leave to simmer for as long as you like - the longer the better.

4. After about 30 minutes, check on your sauce and see how it's going. It should go from this:
Tempeh Lasagne 5
to this:
Tempeh Lasagne 7
When it looks good, make your white sauce. I stole this technique from The Pioneer Woman's Cauliflower Soup and it hasn't failed me yet. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. In a bowl, whisk the flour into the milk. When the butter is melted, pour the flour/milk mixture in and stir until thick, adding a handful (or more if you like gluttony!) of cheese and some fresh grated nutmeg into the mix. Take off heat and put to one side as you set up the lasagne production line.

5. Spoon enough of the liquid from the tempeh sauce to lightly coat the bottom of the lasagne dish. I don't know if this actually does anything but I like to think so. Layer some lasagne sheets and then layer some tempeh mince. You will probably need to add a bit more milk to make your thickened white sauce easy to pour/spread. Add a third on top of the tempeh. Put a handful of spinach on top. Repeat!

6. When you run out of room in your dish/tempeh, do another layer of sauce and spinach and then one last layer of lasagne sheets. Pour the remaining white sauce on top and then cover with grated cheese.

7. Put into a moderate oven (180C) for half an hour.

8. When done, eat it rest for about ten minutes before serving.

9. Eat. Rub your tummy in glee.

Tempeh Lasagne 12

Daring Bakers: Macarons

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

October 2009 Daring Bakers

I now officially have a baking nemesis.

Is it a bit melodramatic to turn an entire (delicious) subset of biscuits into your nemesis? I feel after four failed batches that I'm entitled. I love to eat macarons but, boy howdy, do they not want to be baked by me.

October 2009 Daring Bakers

I was excited when I saw this month's challenge as I'd made two batches of macarons previously with about half a batch of successful biscuits and I was looking forward to beautiful macarons with well-defined feet. I carefully measured and weighed and ground and folded and heated and baked . . . all to no avail.

October 2009 Daring Bakers

So I tried again and had the same results. It's not that they are bad as such. They just aren't macarons.

Reading through the DB forums, I feel like other people had issues with this recipe and I think it was a combination of that, my impatience (even though I tried really really hard!) and our FrankenOven. One day, my precious. One day perfect macarons will be mine. (It doesn't help that the amazing Zumbo macarons are just one post down. Way to sabotage yourself, me!)

My Spiced Chocolate Ganache was DAMN tasty though! Hooray!

October 2009 Daring Bakers

Equipment required:
• Electric mixer, preferably a stand mixer with a whisk attachment
• Rubber spatula
• Baking sheets
• Parchment paper or nonstick liners
• Pastry bag (can be disposable)
• Plain half-inch pastry bag tip
• Sifter or sieve
• If you don’t have a pastry bag and/or tips, you can use a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off
• Oven
• Cooling rack
• Thin-bladed spatula for removing the macaroons from the baking sheets
• Food processor or nut grinder, if grinding your own nuts (ouch!)

Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)


1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.

Yield: 10 dozen.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Delicious Zumbo Treats . . .

that I forgot to post pictures of last time!

All these photos were taken by my lovely partner (in life and crime!), Esther who is very clever at many things, including photography, quilting, psychology, teaching and being awesome.

I wish my macarons look like this. Let me assure you that they don't.

I'm going to level with you - I have next to no idea what any of these were. They were all delicious though.

Adriano Zumbo Cafe Chocolat
Shop 5, 308 Darling Street

(02) 9555 1199

M-F 8-4
Sat 8-5
Sun 9-5

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Catastrophe Cookies (Or, the biscuits previously known as Afghans.)

I'm a walker.

Ridgeway this way (Sep '08)To your right: a fence and then the Silvan resevoir.OH HAI ENTIRE WALK!Wind-blown

I love walking and discovering things and/or seeing things in a different light and/or just taking the time to see. My favourite walk has been The Ridgeway which I walked half of last year (and photos can be seen here) but I've done some amazing walks in and around Melbourne (which can be seen here.)

But what does all this walking have to do with biscuits, you ask?! Well, in March, Not Quite Nigella posted a recipe that is very close to my heart: Afghan Biscuits. I've always loved these biscuits and they are easily obtained in Perth i.e. every single cafe has them. I suddenly realised I'd never seen them in Melbourne and I was aghast.

Catastrophe Cookies 2

I did a very scientific poll of my friends and the results shocked me - nearly everyone who grew up in the Eastern 2/3rds of the country had never heard of, let alone eaten, an Afghan biscuit.

I took it upon myself to write this terrible wrong and made many batches. And it was with one of these early batches that a new (and not so racist) name was bestowed on them. I'll let J, one of the members of my walking posse explain:
Just as we were leaving civilisation (well, we were about to walk into CFA territory rather than MFB territory), our map failed us somewhat by not matching up with what was on the ground. G kindly offered to ride up ahead to see whether one part of the path ended where we thought it did, and the rest of us asked ourselves why we didn’t bring a cyclist all the time. Our question was soon answered as G came off his bike, and we rushed to see what had happened. His elbow was well and truly grazed up, with one significant gouge expelling large amounts of blood. I emptied my waterbottle over his wound to wash as much of the gravel out as I could, then tied a hanky around it. We all walked to the nearest houses and knocked on doors until someone was home and let us use his bathroom. We cleaned G’s elbow a bit more and applied some Dettol cream (thank you, random man), and I cleaned the hanky and reattached it.

SJ called E, and she came with a first aid kit, cleaned the wound with saline, and attached a better dressing than my hanky! As we were waiting for her, we drank the rest of our tea and ate more delicious biscuits. It was at this point that we renamed them Catastrophe Cookies, because they were pretty much the ideal thing to eat at this stage of a catastrophe. E drove G and me to RMH emergency room, where we waited for a couple of hours before G was anaesthetised, cleaned up properly, stitched up, and given a tetnus booster. D and SJ called a taxi and took G’s bike back into SJ & E’s place.
- from here

Anyway, now you know the story of the name, let me explain why these biscuits are so delicious.

1. They are crunchy and crumbly at the same time

2. Chocolate

3. Icing. On a biscuit.

4. They are damn fine with a cup of tea.

Catastrophe Cookies 6

They are also exceptionally quick and easy to make - the only frustrating moment is waiting for them to cool before pouring icing on them.

They are the kind of biscuit you expect to see at the cake stall at a school fête and, to me, that is the highest compliment there is.

Catastrophe Cookies 4

Catastrophe Cookies

makes approx 16

170g butter, softened
100g brown sugar
180g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 Tbsp cocoa
60g cornflakes

3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp water
3 Tbsp caster sugar
190g icing sugar
3 Tbsp cocoa
walnut (or pecan) halves

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Cream butter and sugar together while getting the dry ingredients ready to sift.

2. Sift into creamed butter and sugar and mix until combined. The mixture will (most likely) become one big sticky ball of deliciousness.

3. Stir in the cornflakes (or, if you are lazy like me, pour the cornflakes in and mix on a low setting until combined).

4. Roll into balls and place on a lined baking tray. Flatten them a little bit and try not to overcrowd the tray - they don't spread a lot but you do want them all to bake at the same speed.

5. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. They'll be quite fragile at this stage but they become more hardy as they cool.

6. Cool. (Boo.)

7. Make the icing! Spoon the icing onto the biscuits and press a walnut (or, in this case, a pecan) onto the biscuit.


Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Quinoa-stuffed Capsicum

So many delicious things in one pan!

Confession time! I love reality television. A lot. I mean, ask me a question about America's Next Top Model. No, really. I'll know the answer. Or about Project Runway (US, Canadian or Australian versions). Or Top Chef.

Or, and this is the hardest to admit, Australian Idol. I CAN'T HELP IT! IT IS SOME SORT OF ILLNESS!

The way this relates to food? One of my BFFs, Daniel, and I like to watch AI together and make fun of it and give hard-hitting criticism while I make some sort of dinner that is hopefully delicious. This tradition has fallen off a bit in the last two seasons of FAIL but Sunday was different. Sunday was LIZA MINNELLI DAY! (It is important to note that both Daniel and I are epic musical theatre hacks - him more than me). LIZA. ON OUR SHOW! LIZA WITH A ZEE!

Step One A: take photo of all these things

Liza-excitement aside, I was feeling relatively lazy when it came to cooking so I turned to an old faithful, Stuffed Capi. I first saw this version of stuffed capsicum over at The Kitchen Sink and I loved the idea of using quinoa as the stuffing. I adore quinoa - it is fricking delicious.


Looking at The Kitchen Sink recipe, I'm actually pretty surprised at how much my version is like the original recipe but the beauty of this recipe is that you can use it as a bit of a "clear out the fridge" recipe and it is really customisable. It is already gluten-free, easily vegan and I've made it for people with fructose malabsorption.

Stuff 'em!

I also love this recipe as it is delicious as leftovers and makes a handy and filling lunch. The stuffing is also delicious by itself and, whilst I haven't tried it, I reckon it would be a pretty delicious salad as well.

Et viola!

I won't put the recipe here as it is pretty much The Kitchen Sink recipe but I will urge you all to make it and enjoy!

Sunday, 18 October 2009

The Best Omelette I Have Ever Eaten. THE BEST.

It was so good omg.

We went to A Minor Place for breakfast on Friday and on the way there I was bemoaning the fact that I am, frankly, a bit over A Minor Place. I love it but I know the menu back to front and I was just feeling a little uninspired.

Then there was the Specials board and on the Specials board was The Omelette.

Asparagus, swiss cheese and herbs on sourdough. With relish.


Saturday, 17 October 2009

Royal Melbourne Show

Ok, peeps. This is my post about the Royal Melbourne Show. I realise that the show isn't everyone's cup of tea and I completely understand that. That said, I really like the show because of all the traditional show things - craft, scones, goats, spinning. I hadn't been to a show since my last Perth Royal Show which I reckon was twelve years or so ago. So that's how I'm justifying the ridiculously overpriced and politically fraught choice to go to the show. There aren't any pictures of animals in this post - if you want to look at things that aren't food, go here.

Sunday 20th Sept - Essie, Tash and I went to the show. My main interest was checking out the Arts, Crafts and Cookery hall and it was indeed awesome.

Rum ball competition

Most of the photos aren't superb but it is a bit difficult to get photos when there's crowds, glass and lots of stuffed crammed into cabinets.

Cooking cabinets

It was interesting to see how many people won a bunch of different categories and has really encouraged me to enter next year.

Schools Cupcake Competition

Yes, one lot of cupcakes in the Schools comp are decorated like poo.

Plain Scones

SCONES! Esther and I made a bet about the CWA selling Devonshire Tea before we left the house (i.e. there would be and we would eat some and if there weren't, I would make scones when we got home) and whilst I WON the bet, we didn't stop and eat any because the scone hall was packed.

Adorable Gingerbread House

How amazing is this gingerbread house?!

Modern Gingerbread House

Whilst this gingerbread house is not exactly my style, it is pretty amazing as well.

Brambley Cottage sugarcraft


Not structurally sound

We ate all the things you are meant to eat at the show i.e. fairy floss and donuts.

Scone time.

And because I am a benevolent baker, I baked scones we got home even though I had won the bet.

The scone is just the vehicle for jam and cream.

They were delicious.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Easy and Delicious Lentil Stew

Inspired by Carla's Lentil Stew, I decided to whip up my own version for dinner (and lunch the next day).

Lentil Stew

I pretty much followed Carla's recipe but added some zucchini and (deliciously sweet) corn and we had no pasta to add.

This was such an easy and hearty dinner and filled the house with amazing cooking smells and, thus, is now an Official Favourite.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

A funny thing happened on the way to making a blog post . . .


Yeah, it's been months and I have eaten delicious things and made delicious things in that time but haven't posted. Why? Who can say? My general laziness? A bunch of real-life non-food related things happening? My ongoing love for puff pastry?

So, consider this a brief round up of the last couple of months, complete with some photos and linking to other people's content!

Daring Bakers
Hasn't happened the last two challenges. You'll all be pleased to know that this month's challenge is in the bag (unless I end up having enough time to have another crack at it) and so there will be more DB content soon. I think I will try both recipes I missed (Dobos Torte & Vol-au-vents) at some stage. Stay tuned.

Enlightened Cuisine
In one of the many non-food related things (but actually quite food related), one of my Perth BFFs, Steph has moved to Melbourne. Steph is pretty much my food-blog-spiration so it is cool to actually be able to go out and eat with her a lot more. So, welcome, S & D - may the vegan noms be nommable.

ANYWAY, S&D organised for a group of Melb Veg bloggers to go out to Enlightened Cuisine for the Moon Festival which was amazing. Unfortunately, D had to go to the UK for work so we were down a person but, plus side, means we have to go again soon.

The photos can be found elsewhere: Steph and Miss T. I highly recommend Miss T's write up as the voting was both delicious and dramatic.

Would I go to Enlightened Cuisine again? In conclusion, yes. Somewhat trashy, yes but also delicious and fun and win.
Best dish: whilst I voted against the five-spice tofu when it was pitted against the mapo tofu, I think it was amazing and fully deserving of its win as OVERLORD OF ALL.

The lovely Esther and I went up to Sydney to see my brother and sister-in-law and, frankly, it was all a front to get to Adriano Zumbo. There isn't really much to be added to everthing that's been said. It was lovely and the staff were all super-friendly and helpful and . . . just delicious.

The Paris - La Vie En Rose, Adriano Zumbo Cafe

Esther had La Vie En Rose. Never has there been a dish more fitting for a person.

Croquembouche, Adriano Zumbo Cafe

My bro had the special - Croquembouche! YUM!

Totally forgotten what this is called, Adriano Zumbo Cafe

My sis-in-law had this which I can't remember the name of. (Basic fail. And it's not even on the website.) It was delicious and strange and exciting. Cucumber and chocolate is a surprisingly good combo.

Miss Marple Deconstructed, Adriano Zumbo Cafe

And I had the Miss Marple Deconstructed. Mainly because I love Miss Marple. It was delicious and fresh and they were some good crepes, yo.

Friday night we had dinner at Papaya Thai in Cremorne where I had the best chili and basil tofu of my life. Please excuse the terrible photo - dark restaurant + shaky, tired hands = this.

Papaya Thai, Cremorne

They were very vego friendly on the surface of things - the menu marked all the vego stuff and noted that nearly everything could be made vego. Hooray. I say on the surface because I didn't ask about fish sauce so that is an unknown. However, A+++.

Saturday morning was breakfast at some cafe in North Avalon. I cannot for the life of my remember the name. (Again, basic fail.) It was pretty tasty but quite pricey - something I noticed about Sydney in general.

Banana Pancakes, some cafe in North Avalon

Essie's banana pancakes.

Vego Brekkie, some cafe in North Avalon

My vego breakfast.

In conclusion . . .

Toxic 4 Life.


(There is going to be a post about the cakes and things at the Royal Melbourne Show but this post is ridiculously long as it is.)