Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Vegan MoFo - Final round up

It's hard to believe that Vegan MoFo is over already! I'm pleased that I stuck to my theme and managed to post everyday (twice on the first day), this one makes it 32 posts for the month which is 5 more than last year. Phew! Although I'm looking forward to some quieter blogging months, my head is already swimming with ideas for Vegan MoFo 2013. There were so many wonderful bloggers contributing and loads of fun themes this year and even though I didn't come close to visiting all of them, it was great to find some new blogs that I will continue to follow.

I've already posted some weekly round up links here, here and here, below are a few more bookmarks from the past week or so.

  • Cashew Queso - PPK (This has been sitting in my bookmarked recipes for ages, it's been given the thumbs up so many times during Vegan MoFo so I'm definitely going to try it soon)

Just a reminder that I'm going to be continuing my cooking trip around the world, randomly selecting one country a week. Here is the list of the countries I covered during MoFo. Stay tuned for a post next week as I'm going to take a quick breather for now and try out some of these bookmarked recipes as well as making a few more things from Vegan Eats World!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Vegan MoFo - Aussie Stopover - Jelly Cakes

When I was planning my round the world theme for the month I thought it would be a good idea to finish off with a recipe from Australia. It was tempting to make an Aussie classic like a vegan meat pie or lamingtons yet I've had a childhood recipe in mind to try for some time. Although jelly cakes may not be the most well known recipe, they were my mum's speciality when I was growing up and would always be present at parties and school fundraising fetes. Friends would pre-order them before she arrived at the cake stall and the remaining cakes would sell out very quickly. Jelly cakes are similar to lamingtons but the small patty cakes are dunked into a wobbly half-set jelly rather than chocolate icing prior to being rolled in coconut.

Patty cakes were common when I was growing up which are a much smaller version of a cupcake. We never had anything larger than patty cakes in those days and their miniature size meant that you could eat two or three in a sitting. I found a jelly cake recipe on which used patty cakes and made a few vegan substitutions to the cake batter. This recipe called for self-raising flour which I was out of, although a quick search showed that plain flour, cream of tartar and bicarbonate of soda could be used in it's place.

A packet of vegan jelly crystals had been sitting in my pantry for months which I bought for the sole purpose of making this recipe. The trickiest part to making jelly cakes is getting the consistency of the jelly perfect for dunking. If it's too runny the jelly won't adhere to the cake, if it's too firm the cakes are likely to break up during the dunking. My cakes turned out a lighter colour than I expected and I'm not sure whether this was due to a slightly runny jelly or just a different product. The jelly that mum used to buy was probably full of artificial colourings as it was a lot darker than the vegan jelly.

I've heard many people rave about coconut whipped cream which I tried recently and thought it tasted overwhelmingly like coconut so I used cashews to make cream for the filling. After soaking and rinsing the cashews, they were blended with water, maple syrup and some vanilla essence. I prefer this type of cream as it has a more neutral taste and even though it's runnier, a quick spell in the refrigerator firms it up a little.

I was pleased with how the jelly cakes turned out and they have been popular with my fellows at home. Revisiting recipes from childhood is always an enjoyable experience, especially when the vegan recipes work out tasting just as good as the original.

Jelly Cakes (Adapted from
Makes 18 cakes

1 packet raspberry or strawberry vegan jelly crystals
60g dairy-free margarine
½ cup raw castor sugar
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tablespoons water
¼ teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup plain flour (or use self-raising and skip the next 2 ingredients)
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2/3 cup soy milk (or other non-dairy)
1 cup cashews (soaked in hot water for an hour)
½ cup water
1 tablespoon maple syrup (or to taste)
¼ teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup desiccated coconut

Preheat oven to 180C.

Prepare jelly according to package directions and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour. The jelly should be set enough to be able to coat the cakes with jelly but not too firm otherwise the cakes will fall apart.

Cream the butter and sugar together using a hand held mixer. Add the flaxseed mixture and vanilla essence and beat until combined. Fold the flour, cream of tartar, bicarbonate of soda and soy milk through the mixture with a metal spoon.

Place patty pan cake wrappers in a muffin tray. Add a heaped tablespoon of cake batter to each of of the cake wrappers, they should be about half full. Bake for 20 minutes in the oven until an inserted skewer comes out clean and the cakes are golden on top. Remove the cakes from the tray and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Drain the soaked cashews and rise well with cold water. Place the cashews in a blender with 1/2 cup of water, maple syrup and vanilla essence and process until it becomes smooth and creamy. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow it to thicken up a little.

Remove the cake wrappers from the cakes. Submerge each of the cakes into the jelly then drain off the excess jelly and roll them in coconut. Cut 3/4 of the way through the centre of the cakes and place a teaspoon or two of cashew cream inside.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Vegan MoFo - Around the World in 20 days wrap up

I'm sorry to say that my Vegan MoFo virtual trip around the world in 20 days has come to an end. I thoroughly enjoyed this theme and decided early on in the month that I'm going to continue cooking around the world on a weekly basis. Only 20 out of 196 countries were covered during Vegan MoFo so my aim will be to draw one random country a week until I've cooked dishes from them all. If all goes to plan and I'm still happily blogging, this should see me through until the end of 2015!

There is one more bonus country related post to come for Vegan MoFo, so stay tuned for this tomorrow!

My favourite dishes this month were:

The dish I was least happy with were Sri Lankan pan rolls as I had made them previously and my first effort was a lot tastier. We had been contemplating buying a small deep fryer for a while and finally caved in and bought one on the weekend. There were a few contenders as the first thing to cook yet we decided to break the fryer in with another batch of pan rolls. The spices and seasonings were spot on this time, and the deep fried pan rolls were perfectly crispy and evenly cooked. I have made a few adjustments to the ingredients in the recipe I posted earlier this month as well as the method to include my deep frying notes.

On the subject of deep fryers, if you already own one what type of oil(s) do you use and what are your favourite things to fry? For non owners of deep fryers, what would your first meal be if you purchased a deep fryer?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Vegan MoFo - Home made tofu

I've wanted to make tofu for such a long time but certain things have held me back. I looked into the process and wasn't sure where to get a coagulant so I pushed tofu making into the back of my mind. When Steph posted about her experience of attending a tofu making class in Beijing earlier this year, my interest was piqued and I took it a step further by purchasing some organic soy beans but still couldn't track down the coagulant.

It wasn't until reading Tofu Mom's post recently that I hunted again and found that calcium sulphate (also known as gypsum) is also used in home brewing. This ingredient I had been searching for was actually available at a home brew store down the road all this time! Tofu Mom provided links to three different tofu making methods, it was the first I followed which uses calcium sulphate. I found the process pretty easy, it takes a while from start to end but there is a lot of slack time in between steps. Here is a summary of my tofu making day last weekend.

400 grams of soy beans were soaked overnight, then drained in a colander and rinsed well with water. After placing the soy beans in the blender I filled it up with filtered water to couple of centimetres above the beans.

The soy beans were processed into a paste.

The contents of the blender were poured into a stockpot with 4.5 litres of filtered water and the temperature brought up to between 82C (180F) and 93C (200F) for 30 mins.

The mixture was strained with cheesecloth into a couple of bowls. The leftover pulp okara can be used in baking, I didn't have time to look up recipes for it and froze it for the time being. The strained milk was returned to stockpot and the temperature heated up to 93C (200F).

3 teaspoons of calcium sulphate was mixed with 3 cups boiling water. 3/4 of this mixture was poured into the pot initially and stirred through once. The heat was turned off and the pot sat undisturbed for 10 mins. The liquid was still cloudy after this time so I stirred through the rest of the coagulant as directed. If the liquid is clear there is no need to do this.

The tofu curds were removed from the pot with a slotted spoon and placed into the Tofu Xpress lined with cheesecloth. I didn't realise when I purchased the Tofu Xpress that it could also be used in the tofu making process and was thankful that I decided to buy the additional lighter tension spring that was required for this purpose. The curds released a lot of water for me initially so I drained the excess several times. After the tofu had been resting for 30 minutes the Tofu Xpress was plunged into an ice bath for 1 hour, after that the tofu was ready to eat.

Since my latest motivation to make tofu came from Tofu Mom and I loved the sound of the recipe in one of her recents post I decided to give the Fried Tofu Chik'n Style recipe a go. This was a perfect way to try out the tofu, it was crispy and tasted fantastic and I loved the combination of the vegan mayonnaise, nutritional yeast and soy milk dipping paired with the sage, "chicken" stock, garlic power and cayenne pepper breading.

I love eating tofu a lot so it was very rewarding to finally give tofu making a try. I definitely won't be doing this all the time but will enjoy making a batch every now and then to enjoy a special recipe or two.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Vegan MoFo - Vegan Eats World

Last Wednesday I was extremely excited when my tester copy of Vegan Eats World arrived! This was my first recipe testing experience which I thoroughly enjoyed as it involved cooking with cuisines from around the world and Terry Hope Romero's inspiring delicious recipes. It's wonderful to finally see the book in printed form and be able to flick through the familiar recipes I've already tried and bookmark plenty more I haven't had the chance to make yet.

I love that it's a hardcover book and think that Terry's introduction to kitchen basics and the shopping list pointing out where to source uncommon ingredients are really detailed and helpful. The menus at the back are fantastic for planning feasts from specific countries or regions. Another feature which is handy for navigating the recipes are indexes by gluten free, soy free, quick meal and other categories.

Some of my favourites I have made several times are socca (chickpea crepes), eggplant parmesan, Thai red and green curries, curry laksa, yassa tofu, basic baked tofu, Sri Lankan cashew curry, spring rolls and gyros roasted seitan. There are also heaps of other recipes I loved and want to make again like Venezuelan scramble with arepas, chipotle tofu sandwiches, banh mi scrambled tofu, beer bathed seitan stew, Jamaican curry patties, Thai drunken noodles, wonton soup, tom yum soup and ful medames.

I highly recommended Vegan Eats World which is officially released on 30th October and can be pre-ordered from Amazon now.  If you would like to take a peek at some photos of the delicious food I tested, my posts are herehere and here.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Vegan MoFo - Stopover 20 - Vanuatu

Vanuatu is a group of 83 islands in the South Pacific. The cuisine is mainly based on seafood, root vegetables such as taro and yams, fruit and other vegetables. Papayas, pineapples, mangoes, plantains and sweet potatoes are grown abundantly and commonly used in cooking. Coconut milk and cream are used as the main flavourings of dishes.

The national dish of Vanuatu is called lap-lap, a porridge made with coconut milk. This didn't appeal to me as I'm not a cereal type of gal, so I gathered inspiration from a page full of Vanuatu recipes. I liked the sound of a recipe called green popo curry even though I wasn't sure what popo actually was. Google wasn't helpful with my popo searches initially and insisted on giving me results for poop! When I eventually worked out that popo is green papaya, the recipe had my tick of approval. I've only previously used green papaya for som tam, the notorious spicy Thai salad, so I was pleased to find another way to cook with it.  

Another dish that caught my eye was citrus (orange and lemon) baked fish in coconut cream. This captured my interest as I had been keen to try out a different tofu baking technique that Kari had posted about earlier this month - orange baked tofu parcels. I adore baked tofu but have never wrapped it in foil with seasonings prior to baking before. I envisaged that the tofu would retain a much softer texture this way.

The green popo curry was very spicy and flavoursome, the green papaya appeared to have a fairly neutral taste and a pretty study texture. The tofu turned out to be very tender and did a fine job of soaking up the orange, lemon and coconut flavours it was baked with. Although I adore lemon and limes in just about everything, I'm not as keen on oranges in savoury items so I can't see myself making this dish again the same way. I did enjoy trialling a new approach of baking tofu and am excited about trying out a totally different combination of flavours I have in mind for tofu baked parcels next time.  

Green Popo (Papaya) Curry (Adapted from a recipe on this page)

2 tablespoons dairy-free margarine
1 large onion, thinly sliced into half moons
2 cloves garlic, mined
2cm piece ginger, minced
3 small thai green chillies, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder
300ml light coconut milk
½ cup water
½ teaspoon salt
1 large popo/green papaya (1.2kg), outer skin peeled, seeds removed and cut into bite sized pieces
1/3 cup lemon juice

Melt the dairy free margarine in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, ginger and chillies and fry for 5 minutes or until the onions have softened. Stir through the curry powder and cook for a minute then pour in the coconut milk, water and salt.

Add the papaya and stir well. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir through the lemon juice and serve with cooked rice.


Did you know?

Pentecost Island in Vanuatu is where the origins of the modern thrillseeking activity bungee jumping can be traced back to. Land diving was an ancient practice which used tree vines rather than a bungee cord. The goal was to land close enough to the ground to graze it with your hair or shoulder. It was proof of their manhood (for the survivors anyway) and it also ensured a good yam harvest for the following season!

Do you want to know where else I've been this month? Click here for the round up.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Vegan MoFo - Stopover 19 - Italy

Italy was an inspiring country to draw as so many delicious dishes sprang to mind straight away, I could have easily spent a week cooking Italian meals without scratching the surface of it's regional foods. Even though there was an abundance to choose from one of the meals I ended up making is not a traditional Italian meal but an American-Italian creation called stromboli. My young man has really been enjoying doing the weekly random draws and over this time he wanted Italy to appear more than any other country so I could cook his favourite meal of calzones. His initial excitement after drawing Italy turned to dismay when I said calzones were not going to be on the menu as I wasn't going to cook anything I had already made before. To ease his pain, I mentioned stromboli as a compromise prior to realising that it isn't traditional Italian cuisine.

Stromboli claims to have been invented by Romano's pizzeria just outside Philadelphia in 1950. It's quite similar to a calzone but instead of the dough being turned over once and sealed before baking, stromboli is rolled up like a log and when cut open it looks a bit like a savoury pinweel.

I used my standard pizza dough for the stromboli which is based on a Jamie Oliver recipe. Stromboli dough is supposed to be rolled out in a square shape rather than rectangular, it's apparent that I've made way too many calzones in my lifetime and automatically rolled out calzone shapes without even thinking about it!

Our regular toppings we have for calzones were used for the strombolis - pizza sauce and home-made pesto mixed together on the base, onions, baby spinach, mushrooms, marinated red capsicums (bell peppers), sun-dried tomatoes, tofu bacon and some cheezly. The man and I usually like kalamata olives in this mix but had to go without this time as I had run out of them. Stromboli was stated to use layers of deli meat so I didn't bother chopping my tofu bacon into small pieces and left the slices whole this time.

When it came to rolling the stromboli, I realised that the internal bread swirl wasn't going to work out as perfectly with the rectangular dough and the crispy tofu bacon slices didn't assist with it's flexibility either. At least I know this for next time!

The strombolis were baked at 200C for 30 minutes which is a lower temperature and a longer cooking time than I use for calzones to ensure that the dough in the centre cooked through properly.

The guys thought that they were almost identical to the calzones I usually make which isn't a bad thing as we all adore them. I actually preferred the layer of bread in the centre, it made the strombolis more robust than calzones and prevented the fillings from oozing out everywhere. The beauty of their similarities means that I will be able to make calzones and strombolis on the same night depending on personal preferences. My choice is going to be stromboli for a while so I can continue practising the rolling technique.

I didn't feel like I had done justice to Italian cuisine yet so I pulled out my copy of World Vegan Feast and was thrilled to see that Bryanna had included heaps of Italian recipes. I headed straight to the sweets section and settled on a lemon and pistachio biscotti recipe straight away. I rarely eat or bake biscuits/cookies yet lemon and pistachio sounded perfect for my taste.

Biscotti are twice baked biscuits so the baking process is different to standard biscuits/cookies. The dough is rolled into a long thick log for the initial cooking. After a short cooling down period, slices are cut from the log, then these slices are briefly baked again. I really enjoyed the flavour of the lemon zest throughout the biscotti as well as the pistachios which are one of my favourite nuts. These biscotti are perfect with my daily strong soy latte and even though they are supposed to keep for 2 weeks in an airtight container, I can't see that happening!

Did you know?

Italians are very passionate about their food. In 1986 food purists gave away free spaghetti outside the opening of a McDonalds store in Rome to remind people of their culinary heritage.

Do you want to know where else I've been this month? Click here for the round up.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Vegan MoFo - Stopover 18 - Tajikstan

Tajik cuisine has similarities with Russian, Iranian, Afghan and Uzbek cuisines. Traditional Tajik meals begin with a spread of dried fruit, nuts, halva and other sweets before progressing to soup and the national dish of plov makes up the final dish. Plov is a festive rice dish similar to a pilaf which is traditionally made with meat.

It was an Uzbek plov recipe that caught my eye when I was searching as a commenter mentioned that the recipe was more similar to a Tajik style plov, so I adapted my vegan version from this using puy lentils and chickpeas as protein sources. The method of cooking plov is rather unique as the onions, garlic and vegetables are cooking in oil initially before being pushed to the outsides of the pot. Rice that has been soaked in salted water is placed in the centre of the pot, then it is covered and simmered for 30 minutes. Plov can also be cooked be cooked in a wok, as I don't have a lid for my wok I cooked this in a large deep sided pan.

I don't usually make rice laden dishes like this as my fellows aren't very enthused by them so I wasn't surprised that they didn't love it (they didn't hate it either, it was just alright). The abundance of onions was most definitely a highlight, the spices were quite mild yet they provided subtle flavours throughout. I couldn't resist adding some Sriracha chilli sauce to my lunch leftovers today, even though it's not traditional I enjoyed it more this way!  

Tajikstan plov (Adapted from

1 cup basmati rice
1/3 cup puy lentils
3 tablespoons peanut oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced into half moons
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large carrots, cut into matchsticks
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon chilli flakes
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 ¾ cups water
1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
fresh parsley, chopped for garnish

Wash the rice thoroughly then allow it to soak in salted water for 30 minutes. While the rice is soaking, simmer the lentils for 30 minutes and chop up the vegetables.

Heat the peanut oil in a deep sided frying pan or a wok (if you have one with a lid) over medium-high heat. Fry the onions until they are lightly browned, about 8 minutes then add the garlic and fry for another minute. Add the carrots, cumin, coriander, chilli flakes, salt, pepper and 1 cup of water, stir well then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes, the carrots should be slightly softened after this time.

Drain the cooked lentils in a colander and add them to the pan/wok along with the chickpeas and stir well. Push the vegetables to the outsides of the pan, leaving a hole in the centre. Drain the rice in a colander and add it to the centre of the pan (try not to mix it in with the vegetables), followed by ¾ cup of water. Cover and cook on low heat for 30 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed.

Stir everything together thoroughly and add additional salt and pepper if required. Serve garnished with fresh parsley.


Did you know?

Despite being the poorest country in Central Asia and the former Soviet Union the literacy rate in Tajikstan is 99.5% as the former Soviet system of free education has still been maintained to this day.

Do you want to know where else I've been this month? Click here for the round up.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Vegan MoFo - Stopover 17 - Oman

Oman's cuisine is a reflection of it's geographical position in the crossroads of Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Rice is a staple which is usually served with meat. Herbs, spices, onions, garlic and lime are also important ingredients in Omani cooking. Food differs regionally and some dishes can be spicy although they are not as spicy as Asian dishes.

After Mandee mentioned that she had done a world theme for Vegan MoFo a few years ago I took a peek at her posts and kept a few recipes in mind in case any of the same countries came up.  When Oman was drawn I made an instant decision to try Mandee's recipe for koftas with a tomato and zucchini sauce as it sounded so good. All of the koftas I've made in the past have been Indian curries with ball shaped koftas, in Middle Eastern dishes koftas are usually a flatter oblong shape.

I already had some precooked kidney beans in the freezer that equated to about one and a half cans so I made a slightly bigger batch and scaled the rest of the ingredients up accordingly. I didn't have any fresh coriander so I used some ground coriander in the koftas and garnished with fresh parsley at the end instead. I used a little less cinnamon as I ran out and also swapped fresh bird's eye chillies for chilli flakes in the tomato sauce. The mixture for the koftas was simple to make with the aid of a food processor, as the mixture was a bit sticky I shaped the kofta patties on the baking sheet with the back of a spoon.

This meal was fantastic, the koftas were very flavoursome and the cinnamon was still detectable even though I didn't use the full amount. The chickpea flour worked it's magic and turned the sticky patties into koftas with a nice crust and an interior that wasn't mushy or dry. The tomato and zucchini sauce had a nice amount of heat to it without being too spicy. It wasn't too difficult to put together and I would happily make this again.


Did you know?

Traffic accidents are the number one cause of death in Oman because nobody wears seatbelts. It is also illegal not to stop your car if you hit a camel whilst driving.

Do you want to know where else I've been this month? Click here for the round up.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Vegan MoFo - Stopover 16 - Austria

My Austrian meal turned out a little different to what I originally planned due to lack of time on the weekend. I had been drawn to a recipe for a Linzer Torte which claims to be the oldest known cake in the world dating back to the 1700's, although I didn't getting around to making this after becoming sidetracked with another cooking project which was unrelated to my theme.

I wanted to try my hand at some Vienna bread as my bread making endeavours of late haven't involved anything as simple as a loaf of bread. The recipe I used stated that it made 5 loaves so I halved this and made 2 loaves out of the half batch. The loaves were on the small side so I would just make one large loaf from this half batch in future. The bread was baked in the oven with a tray filled with water to create steam which gives the bread a crispy crust. These loaves were a lot crustier than others I've made in the past although they still weren't quite up to bakery standards.

After a busy day on Sunday, I needed a quick dinner on the table and knew that I could rely on a convenience product to stand in as an Austrian schnitzel - Fry's chicken-style schnitzels. I looked up a quick Austrian styled potato salad and made this to have on the side. The amount of dressing that was listed for the salad sounded way too much(and it would have been) so I cut it back to a quarter and played around with the method a little as well. The potato salad was tangy from the vinegar yet still had an element of sweetness from the sugar so the balance of flavours in this was really nice. We had our schnitzels in fresh Vienna bread with salad and vegan mayonnaise, paired with the potato salad this was a tasty quick dinner.

Austrian-style warm potato salad (Adapted from

500g washed potatoes
1 tablespoon salt
4 small springs fresh thyme
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
¼ cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Place the whole, unpeeled potatoes in a large saucepan filled with water and add the salt and thyme. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are just tender. Drain in a colander, when the potatoes are cool enough to handle peel off the skins and chop the potatoes into slices.

Mix the white wine vinegar and sugar together in a small bowl.

Heat the olive oil in a deep sided frying pan over medium heat. Fry the onions for 5 minutes or until soft then stir through the potatoes until well coated with the onions. Pour in the vinegar and sugar mixture and stir well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir through the parsley just before serving.


Did you know?

The Austrian flag is one of the oldest in the world and has been in use since 1191.

Do you want to know where else I've been this month? Click here for the round up.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Vegan Mofo - Week 3 Round up

Another week of MoFo has flown by so it's time for another quick weekly link round up. It's been increasingly difficult keeping up with all of the inspiring posts that are going around but we are over the halfway mark now and October will be over before we know it. Here are a few things that caught my eye over the last week.

Inspired Eats - Seitan corned beef

Wing-It Vegan - Beet sliders with coconut milk cheddar

Vegetalion - Chickpea fries

Bite-sized thoughts - Dark chocolate tiffin

The Real Meal - Mexibowl

The Vegan Crew - Spinach and artichoke dip tortilla cups

Cupcake Kitteh - Leek, mushroom and kale pie

Eating Appalachia - Crispy crunchy stuffed tofu pockets

I was excited to see that my market write up got a mention on the Vegan MoFo site today and also that Mandee of Cupcake Kitteh had tried the Mofo Sakay fritters from Madagascar and enjoyed them. Kari of Bite-sized thoughts gave the Grenadian jerk tofu and red beans and rice a mention in her round up too.

I'll be working through the last 5 countries starting from tomorrow, hope you can join me for the rest of the ride!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Vegan MoFo - Farmers Markets around Melbourne

The locations of farmers markets around the suburbs of Melbourne and in particular ones that are a ten minute drive away from home were a total mystery to me until rather recently. I had always been under the impression that they were too far away from my house and fitting in this type of weekend ritual on a weekly basis would eat into valuable time. I came across a website one day which has a listing of Saturday and Sunday markets on rotating weeks of the month but other things kept getting in the way and sleeping in didn't help much either.

When we rescued our little guy Ollie 3 months ago there was no more sleeping in for us and as he had been confined to a house for his whole life we wanted to get him out and about as much as possible. We started going to farmers markets the week after we got him and have been going about twice or three times a month since.

Our favourite one location wise is the Wheelers Hills market at Jells Park (3rd Saturday of the month), which is where all of these photos were taken. It has a good selection of fruit and vegetables although there aren't any organic stalls here. We entertained the thought of falafel wrap today before finding out that the bread wasn't vegan. This market is also a fun day trip for us as we put the bike rack on the car and head off for a ride with Ollie on one of the many scenic trails afterwards.

The best one we have been to as far as the variety of stalls and produce is opposite Glen Eira College in Caulfield (2nd Saturday of the month). There is a big organic fruit and vegetable stall and plenty of other non-organic produce as well. We have also been to a smaller market at Monash University in Clayton a few times (4th Saturday of the month) and Ashwood College once (3rd Sunday of the month). The fruit and vegetables we have been buying at the markets is so much fresher, tastes better and lasts longer so I really notice the difference when we miss the odd week at the markets.

My "haul" was tiny today as I'm still a bit unorganised with my theme cooking for the coming week and we got to the market later than usual. I was hoping to include a photo of a more interesting mix from a month ago but I must have accidentally deleted this! Hope you are all having a great weekend!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Vegan MoFo - Stopover 15 - South Africa

The cuisine of South Africa is also described as the rainbow cuisine due to the variety of multicultural sources. As well as traditional cookery from it's indigenous inhabitants, there is also a mixture of Dutch, French, German, British, Indonesian, Malaysian and Indian influences. I planned to cook a couple of South African recipes although only one of them made it to our stomachs so I'll start with the sad story and end on a good note!

Even though I'm not much of a corn lover, I had been contemplating veganising a steamed cornbread recipe in World Vegetarian Classics by Celia Brooks Brown for a while. This South African cornbread called mealie sounded like an interesting baking process as the loaf tin was covered in foil and baked in the oven in a bain-marie. The only vegan substitutions I needed to make were dairy-free margarine for butter and ground flaxseed mixed with water for eggs. It was a really simple recipe to put together but the alarm bells started ringing when I checked it after an hour and it was a gloopy mess which hadn't set at all! When this hadn't changed after a further 30 minutes, I decided to take drastic measures and ditched the foil and bain-marie. This allowed the bread to brown on top although it still wouldn't set in the middle, so in a rare occurrence (as I really hate to waste food) this dish met it's fate with the bin. I'm not keen to revisit the recipe as I wasn't fond of the taste of the mixture anyway, it was way too sweet for my liking.

When I was hunting around for recipes I fell in love with the name of a dish called Chakalaka as it seemed to roll off the tongue so seamlessly. Chakalaka has been a staple of South Africans for generations and is often served as an accompaniment at barbecues, sometimes as a cold dish. I was also amused with the inclusion of tinned baked beans in the ingredients which is something I don't generally eat, especially since enjoying a few home-made versions. This was such an easy dish that only required a bit of chopping and frying and the end result was so worthwhile, we've eaten spicy bean dishes three nights in a row and enjoyed this one most. This is a tasty speedy meal for bean lovers as long as you enjoy a bit of spice although this could be altered to suit personal tastes. Chakalaka is usually served with cornbread, it worked well with leftover rice for us and I'm sure it would be great on toast too.

Chakalaka (Adapted from these recipes)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green capsicum (bell pepper), diced
2 birds eye chillies, finely chopped
2 teaspoon curry powder
3 medium tomatoes, diced
2 medium carrots, grated
1 x 420g tin baked beans
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, capsicum and chilli and fry for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally or until softened. Stir through the curry powder for a minute then add the tomatoes. Allow the tomatoes to soften and break down then add the grated carrots. Cook for a further 5 minutes then stir through the baked beans. After a minute or two the baked beans should be warmed through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with rice, cornbread or on some toast.


Did you know? I couldn't decide on one fact today so I'm giving you three!

South Africa has three capital cities, Cape Town is the the legislative capital, Pretoria is the executive capital and Bloemfontein is the judicial capital.

South Africa is the only country in the world that had two Nobel Peace Prize winners residing in the same street! Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu used to live in the same street in Soweto.

South Africa is the only country in the world to date that has abandoned it's nuclear weapons programme. Way to go South Africa!

Do you want to know where else I've been this month? Click here for the round up.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Vegan MoFo - Stopover 14 - Madagascar

Madagascar was another exciting pick, it was the first African country to be drawn and apart from Morocco, Egypt and Ethiopia I haven't cooked food originating from African countries before. The food influences of Madagascar vary greatly due to the mix of South East Asians, Africans, Indians, Chinese and Europeans that have settled on the island over the past 2,500 years. Rice is the centre of the Malagasy diet and is eaten at every meal of the day, usually served with an accompaniment called a laoka. The people that reside in coastal areas use coconut milk as the base in their laoka whereas the highlanders are more likely to cook with a tomato base.

I found a selection of Malagasy recipes on and picked out a lima bean and tomato curry called Kabaro au Carry and some fritters which are a common street food called Moko Sakay. Lima beans are one of the few beans I haven't cooked with yet so I was interested to give them a try. The recipe included a curry powder referred to as cape curry powder, this was stated to be most similar to a Malaysian curry powder blend and as I already had some in the pantry, this is what I used. I didn't change anything about this recipe although the cooking time needed to be extended considerably as my beans took 2 hours to soften. This was a fairly mild dish which we all enjoyed, especially the man as he really loves his beans.

Mofo Sakay introduced another new ingredient into my cooking repertoire - watercress. These fritters were a mixture of watercress, tomato, spring onions (scallions), fresh chillies and curry powder. They were simple to put together and fry whilst the beans were cooking away. I was expecting them to be spicier than they turned out, this may have been due to using chillies that had been sitting in the fridge for a while as I usually find fresher chillies tend to have more bite to them. Fritters are usually best eaten straight away yet I found it interesting that the leftover ones reheated in the oven the following day tasted a little different. The peppery taste of the watercress was more prominent as were the spices so even though they weren't as crisp I preferred the heightened flavours.

Mofo Sakay (Adapted from a recipe on celtnet)
Makes about 12 fritters

280g plain flour
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Malaysian curry powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
360ml water
60g watercress, chopped
3 birds eye chillies, finely sliced
2 spring onions (scallions), finely sliced
1 medium tomato, diced
oil, for shallow frying

Mix together the flour, salt, curry powder, baking powder and pepper in a large bowl. Pour in the water and stir thoroughly until it becomes a thick batter and no lumps are remaining. Fold the watercress, chillies, spring onions, and tomato through the batter.

Pour about 1-2 cm of oil into a deep sided frying pan and place on medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, drop 3 or 4 large spoonfuls of the batter into the oil, ensuring they have room to spread. Fry for about 3 minutes on one side or until the batter is almost set on top. Flip over and fry for a further 2 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Repeat the frying process until the batter is used up. 


Did you know?

Although the island of Madagascar is situated closest to the African coast, the cultural roots are more similar those of South East Asia which were the first inhabitants of the country. The residents of Madagascar are known as Malagasy and they do not like to be referred to as Africans.

Do you want to know where else I've been this month? Click here for the round up.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Vegan MoFo - Stopover 13 - Grenada

My first stopover to the Caribbean islands of St Kitts and Nevis was one of my favourite themed meals to date so I was very happy to have the opportunity to delve into some more Caribbean cooking when Grenada was drawn. After searching around for a bit I found a decent list of recipes for Grenada and decided to make jerk tofu and rice and beans.

I was introduced to jerk tofu during recipe testing for Terry Hope Romero's soon to be released Vegan Eats World which the man and I adored. The marinade I made for this tofu was completely different to Terry's as it didn't require the use of a Jamaican curry powder although it did include some of the spices that would be included in this type of curry powder. The amount of marinade I used could have been halved (or the tofu doubled) as there was more than enough for the job. The heat in this jerk marinade came from the pickled jalapenos which I scaled back a fraction as I opted to measure the required quarter of a cup in slices rather than finely diced. The tofu was still rather spicy so I would recommend cutting back on this if you don't enjoy a lot of spice.

My first impression of the red beans and rice recipe was that it was going to be beans and rice cooked together and it was only later that I realised it was actually a bean stew served on rice. The original recipe listed smoked sausage in the ingredients, with a little more time up my sleeve I would have made a batch of chorizo sausages from Viva Vegan as a substitute. I had an unopened jar of Cajun seasoning in the pantry which I bought ages ago for a recipe that I never ended up making so it was good to put this new spice blend to use at last. The beans weren't anywhere near as spicy as the tofu even though they still had a pleasant amount of heat.

This was a fantastic dinner packed full of protein, the only downfall was not capturing a decent photo that did the meal justice!

Grenada jerk tofu (Adapted from this recipe)

350g firm tofu, drained and pressed (use more tofu if you like, there is ample marinade for it)
1 small onion, roughly chopped
8 spring onions (scallions), roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons allspice
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup pickled jalapeno slices (use less for a milder version)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 200C.

Cut the tofu into long thin sticks or other desired shape. Place the remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend/process until it becomes a smooth paste. Pour the marinade into a baking dish then add the pieces of tofu and flip each piece to ensure they are all evenly coated with the marinade.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes then flip the tofu pieces over. Allow the tofu to cook for a further 20 minutes.

Grenada red beans and rice (Adapted from this recipe)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 x 400g tins red kidney beans (don't drain)
1 cup vegan chicken stock
1 teaspoon Cajun (or Creole) seasoning
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper, to taste
cooked rice, for serving

Heat the olive oil in a deep sided frying pan  over low-medium heat and fry the onions for 10 minutes or until starting to brown. Stir through the garlic for a minute then add the kidney beans with their tinned juices, stock, Cajun seasoning and cayenne pepper. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with cooked rice.


Did you know?

Grenada is also known as the spice island of the Caribbean. Grenada is one the largest exporters of nutmeg in the world, nutmeg replaced sugar as the main crop after the British took the island from France in 1783.

Do you want to know where else I've been this month? Click here for the round up.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Vegan MoFo - Stopover 12 - Argentina

The young man knew I would be very happy when he picked Argentina out of the hat as the random draw hadn't produced any South American countries yet. I had been hoping to draw at least one South American country so I could make something new from Viva Vegan.  Even though I purchased Viva Vegan about two years ago there are so many recipes I still haven't tried. After hunting through the book for Argentinean recipes, I decided to make creamy corn filled empanadas and baked tofu with chimichurri sauce.

I've made Bolivian empanadas from Viva Vegan previously which were filled with seitan, potatoes, olives and raisins. They were a big success at home although very time consuming to prepare. These corn filled ones seemed a lot quicker to put together as there was no need to prepare seitan and making the corn filling was a simpler process. Instead of folding the empanadas as per Terry's instructions, I folded the edges in a crimped style. I was a little dubious as to whether I would enjoy these empanadas as much as the other ones because I'm not a huge lover of corn so I'm pleased to say that my doubts went away as soon as I sampled the filling. The combination of spring onions (scallions), garlic, corn, dried basil and cayenne pepper worked so well together, this was another superb batch of empanadas I would be happy to make again .

The chimichurri tofu was one of the first recipes I ever made from Viva Vegan, quite possibly because I was taken with it's name. The sauce is based on parsley, shallots, garlic, red wine vinegar, herbs and spices which I initially loved although the next morning I still had a strong taste of garlic in my mouth. This time I toned down the garlic by a clove and didn't find the garlic flavour strong at all, perhaps I had used really large cloves all those years ago. Instead of smothering the baked tofu with the reserved uncooked marinade at the end, I used it as a dressing on our side salad which spruced up our greens without the need for making a separate dressing. I definitely won't be waiting another 2 years to make this recipe again!


Did you know?

Argentina was one of the first countries to have radio broadcasting. The first broadcast in Argentina was made on the 27th August, 1920 to a tiny audience of 20 people, they were the only ones with receivers at the time!

Do you want to know where else I've been this month? Click here for the round up.