Friday 30 March 2012

WW Skye's tomato and pumpkin curry and copyright issues

I've never got on the Skye Gyngell bandwagon.  There was never any reason to.  Not until Lucy wrote up this Tomato and Pumpkin Curry with Lime and Coconut.  Though I fancied the recipe, it was really the serendipitous arrival of curry leaves in my kitchen that prompted me to make the curry.  I loved the way that Skye wrote the recipe which has prompted me to reflect on some of the copyright discussions going on in the blogosphere lately.

My mum was at my place and needed to take curry leaves along to the centre where she volunteers in the kitchen.  I gave her the last of my (much neglected) stash in the freezer and in return she brought me some from her garden.  She also brought along some basil and parsley.  It seemed foolish to go out and buy fresh coriander (cilantro) which I don't like anyway when I had fresh herbs in the house already.  So began my tweaking of the recipe.

It seems a good a time as any to bring up the thorny issue of copyright and recipes.  It has surfaced in a few posts I have seen lately.  Vanessa Kimbell (who recently became a published cookbook author) has posted a blogger code of fair practice that includes only posting recipes where bloggers have requested permission to use them.  Lucy of The KitchenMaid has removed a recipe upon request due to copyright issues.  And Amanda of Lamb's Ears and Honey has boldly refused a request to remove a recipe on the grounds that she has not breached any copyright issues.  All posts (with their comments) make fascinating reading.

I have spoken before about where I stand on recipes and copyright.  I have seen a few furores about copyright during my time blogging. Not Quite Nigella and ACP, Alosha's Kitchen and America's Test Kitchen, and Monica Gaudio and Cook Source.  I have also recently stumbled across a photographer who is grappling with copyright issues and Pinterest.  In fact I thought I would never finish this post because I keep getting drawn into fascinating posts and comments.

[Update: I've found two more interesting links since uploading this post - BlogHer article on Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes finding her blog content made into an e-book for sale on Amazon and reflections on Pinterest by Meeta on What's for Lunch Honey. And I found one positive one at The Window Seat about Pinterest's changes.]

One of the best pieces of advice about food blogging copyright issues that I have found is on recipe attribution by David Lebowitz.  To summarise the law as I understand it: you cannot copyright a list of ingredients but you can copyright creative expression in how a method is written.  As Jennifer Geuvin puts it so nicely "Sharing recipes is, after all, part of the tradition of cooking. But sites are still struggling with defining the line between what's acceptable or even beneficial copying, and what's damaging their brand or profits."  Recipe copyright feels like tradition and technology colliding ever so awkwardly.

This whole copyright debate seems to be about more than the law.  It seems to be about moral rights as well, which I think is a murkier area to dabble in.  Whatever the law, argue some, you will be taking away a cookbook writer's income by reproducing recipes.  I agree, however, with those who say that blogging can promote a cookbook.  I actually discovered Dan Lepard (who is central to much of the recent debate) through blogging.  However I think part of the issue is that the internet has changed how we share information and for every person like myself who wants to abide by copyright law, there are many more who just don't care.  Though I don't know that there are many people who would - or could - find all the recipes from any one cookbook on the web rather than buy the book?

For me, if I read about a recipe on someone's site I really want to see their version of the recipe.  Which doesn't mean that I wont go to the original recipe and might even buy the book.  This brings me in a roundabout way to Skye Gyngell's recipe for Tomato and Pumpkin Curry with Lime and Coconut.  When I read about it on the KitchenMaid, I was curious to know how Lucy had adapted it, especially as she lives in my region and uses different pumpkins to those that Skye has access to.

I also can't help but think that it must be frustrating to get a recipe just right, only to find someone like myself who doesn't eat fish sauce, doesn't like coriander, has access to different pumpkins, wants to bump up the protein with nuts, prefers to add the spinach in the curry rather than on the side and just doesn't follow the method.  Every now and again in this sort of situation, I question if it is even the same recipe but I like a recipe to have a heritage even if it sometimes looks quite different to the original.

I don't think that my recipe was quite as successful as Skye's because E had to eat bread with his because it lacked something.  I didn't manage to get the balance of flavours quite right but it was close enough for jazz (ie very good if not excellent).  The aroma while I cooked was amazing.  It was one of those pleasant early autumn evenings where it was a joy to potter in the kitchen while E and Sylvia sat on the verandah and played with coloured beads for the spokes of the bike wheels.  E did call the meal a "tightener" because it was very filling.  It was also pleasantly spicy from the fennel and mustard as well as the chilli.

The recipe made me think I could become a Skye fan as much for her wonderful way with words as for her interesting flavours.  I wish I could write so eloquently that people delight to read it - for example: "The curry should be pleasantly (not aggressively) hot; sweet (but not sticky); sour (but not so much that it makes you squint); and salty enough to underpin and ground the dish."  Such lyrical writing makes sense of copyright laws.  Of course if I copied out this recipe word for work, I can understand why it would be frowned upon.  But I hope you will agree that I am entitled to share my below version of the recipe.

I am sending this curry to Ricki for her Wellness Weekends event.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: New Kitchen, Old Stuff
This time two years ago: Eat Drink Blog Conference - notes and reflections
This time four years ago: Dahl, Panch Phoran and Candlelight

Skye's Tomato and Pumpkin Curry with Lime and Coconut
Adapted from Skye Gyngell in the Independent
Serves 4

1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 red onion, peeled and finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 green chilli, chopped (I left out the seeds)
10 curry leaves
1/2 cup of raw cashews
850g pumpkin, peeled, trimmed and chopped
2 tbsp caster sugar (or other sweetner)
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce (maybe more next time)
1/2 tbsp umeboshi vinegar (maybe leave it out next time)
Juice of 1 and 1/2 limes
15-20 baby roma tomatoes, halved
400g tin of diced tomatoes
270ml tin of light coconut milk
two good handfuls of baby spinach (about 120g), chopped
1 handful of basil (or fresh coriander), plus extra for serving

Dry fry fennel and mustard seeds in a small frypan over medium heat until the mustard seeds start to pop.  They will be quite well cooked and fragrant by then.  Use a pestle and mortar to grind the seeds. 

Heat the vegetable oil in a large frypan or wok.  Fry the onions for about 10 minutes over low to medium heat until soft.  Add garlic, chilli, curry leaves and cashews and cook gently for another couple of minutes.  Add ground mustard and fennel and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.  Add pumpkin and cook for about 10 minutes (I did 5 but next time would do 10 minutes as in Skye's recipe).

Now add sugar, soy sauce, umeboshi vinegar (if using), and lime juice.  Taste to check for a good balance of hot, sweet, sour and salty.  At this stage I wouldn't do too much adjustment to the hot and sweet flavours because they will be affected by tomatoes and coconut but check it is sour and salty enough.

Now add both the fresh and tinned tomatoes and cook for about 20-25 minutes until the pumpkin is tender (I did 20 but probably could have had the pumpkin a little more cooked.)  Stir in the coconut milk.  As my pumpkin was needing to cook a little more I also added 1/2 cup of water and I then simmered it for about 15 minutes (longer than in Skye's recipe).  A few minutes before it is ready, throw in the spinach so that it wilts in the curry.  Once pumpkin is cooked, turn off the heat and stir in a handful of basil leaves. 

I served the curry with rice but I think it would go really well with rice noodles too.  Serve with a few torn basil leaves scattered on top.  Skye advises letting it sit overnight for the flavours to mature but I served it straight away, though the leftovers were lovely the next day.

On the stereo:
This is the return of cult fiction: 30 classic film and tv themes - Various Artists

Tuesday 27 March 2012

Snag Stand - cosmopolitan takeaway

Update: Snag Stand is now closed in Melbourne but still seems open in other states.

When we went to the Children's Book Festival at the State Library (below) on the weekend, there wasn't much food on offer but the library is surrounded by places to eat.  One of the most convenient places to go was Snag Stand, which I had intended to return to, despite learning the hard way that their sauerkraut has bacon in it. They do after all have a potato, smoked apple and sage vegetarian sausage.  That kind of attention to detail is rare in veggie sausages.

The first time I tried their snags was some months ago.  I ordered The Vegetarian.  This consisted of their potato, smoked apple and sage sausage with fried onions, rosemary mushrooms and truffle aioli on a brioche roll.  It was ok but a bit heavy for my tastes.  On my second visit I thought I would get a bit experimental and try the sauerkraut but found that it has bacon in it (though this is not stated on the menu which is a black mark against them).  On my last visit this weekend I noticed that they now have a Vegetarian Spicy Spanish Chorizo served with semi sun-dried tomatoes, chipotle aioli, baby rocket and shredded goats cheese on a brioche roll.  Kudos for having two vegetarian sausages.

Snag stand is clever, pricey and aimed at the hipsters.  I am sure it no coincidence that it is diagonally opposite RMIT University.  A sausage in a roll with toppings costs around $10.  From a hole in the wall.  And it is called a 'haute dog'.  A buzzer accompanies your wait so that you can be buzzed when your order is ready.  Well, at least they aren't yelling out your name!  And there are some seats on the footpath where you can wait or even eat your snag once it arrives.

Back to Saturday, I left Sylvia and E watching some of the book fest antics while I ordered for all of us.  E got a spicy meat kransky.  Sylvia had a plain sausage and sauce.  I went off the menu again and ordered a vegetarian sausage with fried onions, cheese and tomato sauce.  Then I found that I had a vegetarian version of the Australia Fare but with a poppyseed roll.  I also ordered chips because Sylvia loves them so much and I was unsure how she would go with her snag.  When I asked, our snags were packed into a bag in closed cardboard boxes rather the the open boxes in which they usually serve them.

The chips were great.  Hot, well seasoned and crispy.   I was pleased that Sylvia ate half of her sausage.  She might have even eaten more but E decided that he preferred the veg to the meat sausage and ate the other half.  My onion and cheese topped sausage was not the prettiest but it was delicious and satisfying, in an old fashioned kind of way.

It was an easy family meal for us but caters for a broad range of people.  The sausages can be plain as Sylvia's or quite gourmet.   Gluten free sausages are available (see Where's the Beef for more information on the veg sausages) and if you are after anything vegan, you might be interested to read Louise by Degrees' post.  I will definitely be back to try out more combinations.

Snag Stand
Cnr La Trobe and Swanston St (outside Melbourne Central shopping centre)
Melbourne CBD
Tel: (03) 9639 6544

Update: Snag Stand is now closed in Melbourne but still seems open in other states. 

Sunday 25 March 2012

BC Spiced carrot pancakes and our weekend

Yesterday morning, Sylvia and I went to an op shop to drop off some old clothes.  We didn't leave empty handed.  I found a pretty Royal Tudor plate, among other things.  I had planned to make Carrot Cake Pancakes for breakfast but it seemed serendipitous that I was too disorganised and made them for lunch instead so I could photograph them on my lovely new plate.  It augured well for a pleasant weekend of good food and good fun.

After a week of very little new ideas in the kitchen, I had a lovely weekend of trying some of the great recipes I have been bookmarking.  As well as making pancakes after breakfast, I also made some toasted muesli that you can glimpse in the background of the above photo.  It was not exactly as I expected but I am already envisioning that it might work in muesli bars so stay tuned.  I also have experimented with some French lavender salt in some green crackers.  More on that later too.

Today we had a great time at the Children's Book Festival at the State Library of Victoria. The first thing we did was leave Sylvia's stroller at the pram parking station.  It was the first time we have come across such a service and it was brilliant.  It was so much easier to navigate the crowds and steps without Sylvia's stroller.  Then we went and queued for face painting for Sylvia.  I was impressed that there was an Indigenous face painting tent.  Sylvia chose a wombat but the woman painted a story on her face - the wombat, its tracks that led to a fireplace with lots of animals about it.

Of course, being at the State Library of Victoria meant that I had to have a wonder through the library.  I am very fond of the domed Reading Room that is a magnificent space.  It makes me nostalgic for my student days when I ordered books from the stacks here.  Since then the room has been renovated.  It is brighter and more elegant these days but I miss some of the shabby charm I remember.

The State Library is a great historic building.  I love the gallery of Australian painting.  It was hard to find time to give the artwork much time because I was too busy chasing around after Sylvia but there is a wealth of art, including a painting of one of my lecturers from my undergrad degree.  But just seeing the space is a joy because it is remniscent of some of the beautiful historic galleries in Europe.

We went to Snag Stand for lunch (more on that another time).  In a thoughtless moment I had promised Sylvia that she could have an ice cream after her sausage.  So true to my world we had a tub of mini-melts on the lawn in front of some entertaining children's musicians (the Kazoos).  I've never had these mini-melts before but I think they are great for children and an Australian summer.  They are small very very cold frozen beans of ice cream that melt in your mouth - once you get over the coldness.  Sylvia took ages to eat hers but we had none of the ice cream dripping down her arm or ending up as a pile of slush.

The book festival also had some great activities for kids.  Sylvia was too young for the readings but she loved the craft tables with boxes of fabrics and paper to glue on paper.  Older kids seemed to be enjoying writing their own books that the staff then "published".  I think they took a copy of every book.  I am not sure what happens to them but would be fascinated to know.  We also did some chalk drawing on Little Lonsdale Street, checked out the fire engine and had a wander through the petting zoo.

Tonight we had a delicious dinner of roast vegetables with chickpeas, yoghurt and pesto on top.  (A bit like this winter salad.)  The weather has really cooled down over the last few days.  The washing is not drying on the line so quickly but it is weather for roasting vegies and baking bread.  Can't complain too much abut that!

I always seem to have lots of carrots about these days.  Even after roasting a few tonight and putting quite a few more into pancakes yesterday.  The carrots make the pancakes a brilliant orange.  I misread the amount of ginger needed and it was a bit too overwhelming.  I also found that the pancakes were soft rather than fluffy inside, probably due to all the vegetables.  And I burnt most of them - no doubt I was distracted as usual.  Yet we really enjoyed them for lunch and Sylvia polished off the leftover two after her dinner.

Deb of Smitten Kitchen served hers with a sweet cream cheese topping and Joy the Baker put sultanas and walnuts in hers.  I stepped right back from the Carrot Cake theme and served mine more simply.  Many years ago while visiting a friend in Washington DC, I learnt of the joys of cream cheese and jam on toast.  It is still a favourite combination and went very well on these pancakes.

However Sylvia is not so keen on cream cheese and stuck to Nuttalex margarine and jam on hers.  I mention this because Ruth of Makey Cakey is hosting The Breakfast Club event this month and chosen Deliciously Dairy Free as the theme.  Sylvia has never been keen on dairy milk but lately has taken to drinking soy milk so that is our milk of choice lately.  It makes it even easier to cook dairy free.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: WHB Peach crumble
This time two years ago: Flat pack chocolate chip cookies
This time four years ago: Polenta Pizza Tart

Spiced Carrot Pancakes
Adapted from Joy the Baker via Smitten Kitchen
Makes about 12 medium pancakes

1 cup soy milk (or other milk)
1 tsp lemon juice
400g carrots
1 egg, lightly whisked
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup plain white flour
1/2 cup wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground ginger (or less)
pinch of salt
butter or margarine for frying (I used Nuttalex)

Mix soy milk and lemon juice and set aside for about 5 minutes so that the milk sours.  Peel, trim and finely grate carrots (you shoudl have about 2 cups).   Mix milk and carrots and add in egg, brown sugar and vanilla.

Combine remaining ingredients in a largish bowl,  Pour the carrot mixture into dry ingredients and gently stir until well mixed.

Heat a large frypan over medium high heat.  Melt a small knob of butter on the frypan and drop 3 pancakes into the pan, measuring about 2 dessertspoons of mixture per pancake.  Heat until mixture bubbles.  Flip pancakes and heat on second side for about a minute or until the pancakes are golden brown.  Serve hot.

On the stereo:
This is Hardcore: Pulp

Saturday 24 March 2012

Cheese and wine crunchy salad

We didn't have a lot of interesting cooking last week.  Not one new dish.  Last night found me feeling exhausted by the week but I just don't where my energy went, aside from the usual child-wrangling, work politics and trying to keep the house in some sort of order.  Last Sunday night we had leftover pizza so I made a cheese salad to go with it.  I made the salad the week before and loved it but was too lazy to photograph it.  This time I got out my camera and was pleased that it was every bit as good.

The salad suits my current mood.  It is easy to throw together quickly.  It is perfect for when a bike ride around the block (Sylvia on the bike not me) turns into a visit to the neighbours and then a trip to the park, stopping along the way home to watch a cat, a lawn mower, a stick insect and a cheeky gomnie.

The cheese gives all the vegetables some extra flavour and omits the need for an oil based dressing.  Any vegies can be used.  I had some chopped green beans in the first version which worked very well.  Despite the cheese, the salad made the pizza seem more healthy.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: Shanghai Noodle House - dumplings on the run
This time two years ago: Sydney - a gaytime and some lessons
This time four years ago: St Patrick, Soup and a Shamrock

Cheese and Wine Crunchy Salad
serves 2-3

50g cheese, grated
1 carrot, grated
1/2 tomato, diced
handful spinach, thinly sliced
half tin of corn, rinsed and drained
1 spring onion, finely sliced
1/2 green capsicum, diced
1 tsp seeded mustard
2-3 tsp red wine vinegar

Mix all ingredients together.  Taste and add seasoning if required or add a little more vinegar if it is too bland.  This salad needs the acid of the vinegar to complement the creamy cheese.

On the stereo:
Halloween: Wade Denning and Kay Lande

Wednesday 21 March 2012

WHB Cauliflower Risotto and how to avoid dinner

I was intrigued by Mel's Cauliflower Risotto.  I quite like cooking risotto with vegetables in it but have never pureed vegies to stir through a risotto.  Having used cauliflower to make a creamy pasta sauce last year, this idea made sense.  Finding the right moment for risotto was not easy.  One night the arborio rice was infested and another I was just too tired. I had to wait until the stars aligned.

Finally I had an evening with fresh basil from my mum's garden and white wine that E wouldn't touch with a barge pole.  All I needed was rice.  Sylvia helpfully stepped in and suggested her bike ride head to the shops.  Usually we just go around the block or to the park when Sylvia is riding her bike.  I am still getting used to kiddie bike etiquette.  I always lock my bike with a D lock.  Do I lock Sylvia's bike?  Do people steal kids bikes?  We parked her bike by the check-outs with Georgie Pig hiding under a (clean) handkerchief in the basket.  I think I will get a little lock for Sylvia's bike.

It has been some time since I made risotto.  I remembered why as I stirred the rice soaking up the stock.  Risotto is not forgiving of busy people.  It is hard to run around after a small child while trying to frequently stir, keep feeding the rice with stock and stop the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

The risotto wasn't a quick dish.  When dinner is taking me some time to make, I give Sylvia a plate of vegies, beans and cheese to eat while I cook.  Unfortunately there are many things she would prefer to do rather than eat dinner.  For example:
  • punching holes in an apple with a straw,
  • cleaning the path outside our house with a piece of toilet paper,
  • setting up walls and a door of her house using a pink ribbon, and
  • making spectacles out of erasers and paperclips.

Of course if Sylvia would only try the risotto maybe she wouldn't want to avoid dinner.  E loved it.  He told me so quite a few times.  I had expected it to taste more of cauliflower but I think it was sacrificed for the texture.  It was deliciously creamy.  I served it with tofu bacon because when I first saw Mel's photo I was sure that was what she had used.  (In fact she served hers with olives and sun-dried tomatoes.)

The risotto needed slightly more seasoning but nothing that a drop or two of Worcestershire sauce couldn't fix.  We wondered if lemon juice would work well.  However, as I have learnt the hard way, it is far harder to taste the seasoning of a dish that is just taken off the boil.  The risotto definitely benefited from cooling slightly before serving.

I am sending this risotto to Haalo of Cook Almost Anything.  She is this week's host for Weekend Herb Blogging #326,  and the coordinator of this event which was founded by Kalyn.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: WHB St Pat's Day Cabbage and Quicklinks
This time two years ago: Bread pudding and smoothies for vegie kids
This time four years ago: HotM #13 Spring Chocolate Brownies

Cauliflower risotto with tofu bacon
adapted from Veganise This
serves 4-6

1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
pinch salt
1/4 tsp stock powder
2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups arborio rice
1 cup white wine (I used Riesling)
3 tsp stock powder
1/2 tsp salt 
6 cups water
handful of torn basil

To serve:
chopped tofu bacon
Worcestershire sauce
fresh basil

Simmer cauliflower with a pinch of salt in a small amount of water (I think my cauliflower was almost covered by the water) in a small saucepan for about 15 minutes or until it is soft.  Once cooked, drain and keep the cooking water.  Return cooked cauliflower florets and 1/2 a cup of cooking water (or make up that much if you don't have that much) to saucepan with 1/4 tsp stock powder and blend with hand held blender (or use a blender if that is your thing).  Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot.  Fry onions for about 5 minutes or until soft.  Add garlic and stir for about 1 minute.  Add rice and stir for a few minutes until grains well coated and starting to cook (the grains start to look translucent around the edges with a white centre).

While the onions and rice are cooking, bring a kettle of water to the boil.   (Or instead of this and adding stock powder you could heat stock on a saucepan if you preferred but I find using a kettle of boiling water easier).  Add the wine, stock powder and salt (maybe even more salt) to the onion and rice mixture and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed.  Add 1/2 to 1 cup of boiling water at a time, stirring frequently and adding more when most of the water is absorbed.  I used about 6 cups of water.

Add cauliflower and basil.  Stir for a few more minutes - just enough to heat up.  Check seasoning.  Cool slightly if you have time before serving.  Serve with a generous sprinkle of tofu bacon bits for textural contrast, a few drops of Worcestershire sauce if desired and scatter with basil leaves for colour and freshness.

On the stereo:
Discography: Pet Shop Boys

Tuesday 20 March 2012

FFF Rice bubble muesli slice

After some recent baking I had rice bubbles and condensed milk to use up.  I decided to make muesli bars.  Finding the right recipe took quite some searching.  So many muesli bar recipes ask for muesli as an ingredient.  Crazy, huh!  I just wanted a recipe where I could mix in muesli components.  Finally I had decided to make my own muesli for the bars and then I found that Canadian Living had a recipe I could adapt.

I haven't had lots of success with muesli bars.  So many have fallen apart on me lately and turned into muesli.  It still tastes good but it is not quite so easy to transport to work for a mid morning snack.  These bars held together well but the texture was quite crunchy.  I prefer my bars more chewy.  But when you fill a slice with your favourite things it can't help but taste good.

I took a tub of them over to visit my sister Fran and her husband John who are back in Melbourne.  I know they are the sort of thing they love.  They weren't as good as the Bill Granger muesli slice that Fran made when I visited them in Orange last year.  Unfortunately when I tried that recipe it fell to pieces so I will have to work on that one.

Finally late at night I took this photo.  It is not at all the way that I stored the slice.  I just have seen this style of photo around the blogosphere and was curious to try it.  Once I had finished photographing it, I cut the muesli slice into smaller squares and put them all into an airtight container.  They lasted over a week and were an excellent snack to take to work.

I am sending these muesli bars to Gillbla of Pigling Bland who is hosting this month's Frugal Food Fridays, the event coordinated by Helen of Fuss Free Flavours.  Muesli bars are the perfect way for using up all sorts of bits and pieces around the kitchen.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: SOS Facon (vegetarian bacon)
This time two years ago: MLLA Soba salad and orange tempeh
This time four years ago: Pie with filo roses

Rice bubble berry muesli slice
Adapted from Canadian Living
Makes 24 bars or 48 small squares

1 1/2 cups (375ml) rolled oats
1 1/2 cups (375ml) rice bubbles (aka rice krispies)
1 cup (250ml) dried berries
1/2 cup (125ml) dessicated coconut
1/2 cup (125ml) hazelnuts, chopped
1/2 cup (125ml) sunflower seeds
1/4 cup (60ml) sesame seeds
1/4 cup (60ml) linseeds (aka flax seeds)
2/3 cup (160ml) condensed milk
1/3 cup (80ml) rice bran oil (or other neutral oil)

Place dry ingredients into a large bowl.  Mix condensed milk and oil in a smaller bowl and pour into dry ingredients.  Mix well and press into a greased and lined lamington tin (13 x 9 inch). 

Bake in 350°F (180°C) oven until golden brown.  The recipe suggested 20 minutes.  I left mine in for 25 minutes because they hadn't browned enough but next time I would stick with 20 minutes.  Cool in tin on a rack and then cut into bars or squares.

On the stereo:
Made in Scotland Film Themes (freebie cd from The Scotsman newspaper)

Sunday 18 March 2012

Crust Pizza -upmarket for the masses

Last night after visiting my family we got home too late to have any energy to get dinner together.  Instead we ordered pizza and watched the Sound of Music.  I am very fussy about ordering pizza.  Most places have a very boring choice for vegetarians and other takeaway pizzas that I love aren't near enough to order home delivery.  So I was excited when Crust Pizza opened up in our vicinity with a range of vegetarian options.

Our experience with Crust Pizza began a year ago when we did some kitchen renovations.  We weren't able to cook much so we had more takeaway than usual.  Actually we might have even had one of their pizzas before that because I have a note and vague memories of an eggplant pizza but no photos and it is no longer on the Crust menu.  However I can tell you about a few other veg pizzas that I have recorded.

The first pizza is the Margherita.  An oldie but a goodie.  It is topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella and oregano.  This is Sylvia's pizza of choice.  She loves it because it is so plain whereas I have shunned it in the past because it is so plain.  More recently I am coming to appreciate it.  The cheese is crisp on top with the soft flavoursome sauce beneath.  I have noticed that you can also buy a smaller kiddie pizza with tomato and cheese which we might try another time. 

Perhaps our different attitudes also come from our attitude to tomatoes.  I hated them as a child but gradually have come to appreciate them as an adult.  Sylvia loves tomatoes and will even sometimes eat them as a snack if I leave a bowl of cherry tomatoes about.  When we watched the Sound of Music last night, she kept talking about the scene where Maria throws a tomato to Gretel who drops it.  Does anyone else ever remember this scene!  But I digress.

Next is the Sweet potato pizza.  Described in the menu as roasted sweet potato, roasted capsicum, spanish onions, toasted pine nuts, cherry tomatoes and; gorgonzola on a tomato base, garnished with fresh herbs, cracked pepper and sea salt.  I liked it but didn't love it.  Not quite my sort of vegetable combination.  Not enough green.  The salt and pepper on the side seemed like a gimmick. 

On the positive side, the toppings are generous and the crusts are nicely cooked.  My favourite part was the little white table that kept the top of the box from pressing on the pizza.  Isn't it cute?  It looks like a little table in a doll's house and makes me want to make doll's house furniture.

The pizza I had last night was not quite right either.  I actually liked the Vegetarian Supreme pizza - grilled eggplant, marinated artichokes, baby spinach, roasted capsicum, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes and bocconcini on a tomato base.  I just did not like the pesto aioli that was generously drizzled over the pizza.  It looked pretty but I only like mayonnaise in small doses.

One of the things I love about Crust is that there is an option to create your own pizza.  It takes a little energy, which is not really what takeaway is about.  But it means you can choose a wholemeal or gluten free base or just more vegetables.  I have only done this once.  I had a wholemeal base with pumpkin sauce, spinach, cherry tomatoes, basil, asparagus and mozzarella.  It was great because I ordered exactly what I wanted.  The asparagus didn't quite work and I now can't see pumpkin sauce on their menu so I am unlikely to have this again.

There are a few other options I would like to try - the Florentine Ricotta, the healthy Baby Spinach pizza and the vegie calzone.  However their menu does seem to change occasionally.  The pizzas are not cheap ($16 for a large pizza) and they do not come in a small size, unless you buy the kiddie pizzas.  So Crust is a good choice for a treat but will not become a regular meal in our house.

Crust Pizza
455-457 Sydney Road, Brunswick, 3056
03 9380 5544
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Thursday 15 March 2012

NCR Chang's crispy salad with green burgers

A while back I was intrigued to see Lucy blogging about reducing the sugar in a famous recipe.  I had never heard of it.  But I had to try it and find out if it was worth the fuss. We enjoyed it but the fried noodles that form the backbone of the salad aren't regulars in my pantry and is unlikely to ever be, given that I prefer dried noodles.  Nevertheless it was a nice change of salad served with some green green burgers.

As is my way, I meddled with the recipe.  So I am not sure exactly how close it was to the famous original.  E was dubious at first and asked was I sure I shouldn't cook the noodles.  Fried noodles are a curiosity in our house.  Sylvia honed in on the carb factor and gobbled them up but they were rather spillable.  (I have wondered if freshly cooked noodles would work just as well in the salad.)  I added my current favourite tofu bacon instead of nuts and added a touch of spice for E - and for Lisa.

Whenever I add spice to any meal I often think of Lisa  of Lisa's Kitchen.  She is such a spice fiend!  So it was no surprise that when she announced that for her birthday month, the theme for No Croutons Required (that she co-hosts with Jacqueline) was a salad or soup with a kick of spice.  The chilli paste worked well in the salad dressing to give it a lift.

Lisa also asks how we would serve the dish.  One of my favourite ways to serve salad is with burgers.  I made a batch of spinach and chickpea burgers.  I made some alterations to the recipe and found I needed more starch to hold them together so they were quite dense but enjoyable nevertheless.  Sylvia had a few bites but was more interested in the tomato sauce on top.  I also served some corn on the cob.  We didn't have dessert but if I were to choose a cake to celebrate Lisa's birthday, it would be honey, yoghurt and chocolate cake.
A few days later I mentioned to my mum that I had made the salad and she told me how much she loved it when one of her colleagues had brought the salad along to work functions.  Have you heard of this famous recipe, and if so what do you think of it?

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: Artichoke muffins for the zoo
This time two years ago: Green salads for Paddy’s Day
This time four years ago: Mulligatawny and dubious traditions

Oriental Fried Noodle Salad
Adapted from Changs
serves about 4 as a side dish

1/8 cabbage, finely chopped
1 medium green capsicum, finely sliced
1/2 cup chopped and cooked tofu bacon
2 spring onions, chopped
1 x 100g packet of Chang's fried noodles

3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp raw sugar
1/2 tsp chilli paste

Place all ingredients, except fried noodles, into a medium salad bowl.  Make dressing by lightly whisking all ingredients.  When ready to serve, add fried noodles and dressing.  Toss well and serve.

Spinach and Chickpea Burgers
Adapted from Veggie Burgers Every Which Way
Serves 4

150g baby spinach
400g tin of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 eggs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp flaked salt
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1 cup besan (chickpea flour)
2/3 cup corn crumbs (or bread crumbs for non-GF burgers)
oil spray

Blend spinach leaves in food processor.  Add chickpeas, parmesan cheese, salt and smoked paprika.  Blend briefly so it retains a little texture.  Stir in besan and corn crumbs until it is firm enough to be able to handle.  Make into flat patties with damp hands.  I made 9 burgers.  I put them straight onto the grill because they were very fragile.  Spray with oil and grill for about 5-10 minutes until dry and very lightly browned.  Turn over and spray the other side with oil.  Grill until lightly browned. 

On the Stereo:
Worker's Playtime: Billy Bragg

Wednesday 14 March 2012

Ukes, Labour Day and Pumpkin facon soup

Monday was the Labour Day long weekend in Melbourne.  It started at the Melbourne Ukelele Festival on Saturday morning.  We saw a few interesting performances - loved the washboard accompaniment to one band and hearing Creep accompanied by ukelele - and I loved the ukelele artwork.  The star of the show for me though was being in the Trades Hall Building, an apt place to reflect on exactly why we were celebrating Labour Day.

When Kari recently posted about International Women's Day and asked what would be our wish for future generations, I piped up with "remember our history".  I have written about this before.  I would also say the same for the union movement.  Too often I see people taking what we have for granted.  Yet I fear that Edmund Burke was right when he said "Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it." 

Not only do I love history, but I love the way it is reflected by our built environment.  Trades Hall is a great example.  It is one of Melbourne's grand old Victorian buildings.  In the top two pictures of the ukeleles in the Ballroom, you can see that the decor is a bit shabby, despite the red velvet curtains and the ceiling packed with .colourful flags  The place is very much alive though with conservation work being done in other parts.   it seems that there is work being done to preserve the building.  The grand staircase and list of the pioneers of the 8 Hour Movement are more newly painted than the Ballroom.

We need to conserve this building as a reminder of the Trade Union heritage, because it seems that unions' reputations have suffered in recent years.  They have been portrayed too often as aggressive and corrupt.  Last year, however, when I went through the process of developing an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement, I was very glad to have our union's support and very sad to see how few staff were members and yet happy to take the benefits of their advice and support.

Much as I would love better working conditions, we have much to thank our forefathers in the unions for the conditions we enjoy today.  WorkChoices showed that we shouldn't take them for granted.  I am glad we have Trades Hall where we can remember these giants of the trade union movement in such a tangible way.  We can see their names on honour rolls, the hollows in the stairs where they have trod, and a giant picture of Gough Whitlam covered in lipstick kisses.

After the uke festival, we went to my friend Heather's birthday party.  Here is her cake.  It was a delicious flourless orange cake.  Sylvia had a tantrum over tomato sauce upon arriving but finally calmed down - if "calm" is the way to describe running non-stop around the tables.  E and I were very pleased to find lots of delicious food - spinach and ricotta pastries, rice paper rolls, chocolate tarts and a gorgeous fruit platter.  We had expected to find food at the uke festival but nothing was on offer and we had existed on some packets of roasted chickpeas.

During the rest of the weekend we did a lot of craft.  We were inspired by the festival to decorate Sylvia's purple ukelele with some stickers and sparkles.  I worked on some cards while Sylvia did her own gluing, drawing, sparkles and stickers.  We managed to see two movies on DVD.  I loved the Descendants which was so amazing that the second film - Another Year seemed ho-hum in comparison.  We also visited my sister Fran and her husband John who have moved back to Melbourne.

At the Ukelele Festival, E bought me a cookbook called What do Ukelele Players Eat? by Rose Turtle Ertler.  It includes recipes and reflections by ukelele players from around the world.  It even comes with a CD of their songs.  How's that for a quirky cookbook?  I liked one recipe for a pumpkin soup with white miso.  I also had lots of vegies to use as well as silken tofu just past the best-by date, a corn cob that Sylvia had rejected the night before and the last of my latest batch of tofu bacon.

Those who have read my previous post about tofu bacon will be aware that this is my latest culinary love.  One problem I have with it is the lovely marinade that is leftover after I cook the facon (fake bacon).  I hate to throw out food, especially one with maple syrup that is quite pricey.  I struck upon the idea of adding it to the pumpkin soup.  After all it contains ingredients that I would happily use to flavour any soup.  The white miso complemented the flavours nicely.  It was a delicious creamy soup with a crispy topping.  Perfect for a relaxed long weekend.

I am sending this soup to Souper Sundays hosted by Deb of Kahakai Kitchen.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: CC Dried fruit and coconut balls
This time two years ago: Awards, happiness, quicklinks and a conference
This time three years ago: Broccoli Burgers are Winners
This time four years ago: WHB: In Search of the Nectarine

Pumpkin facon soup
serves 4-6

2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 celery stalk, sliced
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 parsnip, peeled and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
800 to 1kg wedge of pumpkin, peeled and roughly chopped
250g silken tofu
2 1/2 cups water
*1/4 cup leftover tofu bacon marinade, or thereabouts
1 1/2 tsp flaked salt
20-25 min
turn off heat
1 tbsp white miso

Tofu and corn topping:
1 tsp oil, or thereabouts
*about 10 slices of uncooked tofu bacon (or as much or as little as you have or desire), chopped
kernels of 1 cooked corn cob

*If you don't have leftover tofu marinade, you could add 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp maple syrup and 1/2 tsp of smoked paprika to get a similar taste.  You could also omit the tofu bacon and just use corn fried with a bit of soy sauce, maple syrup and smoked paprika.

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan.  Fry onion, celery, carrot and parsnip for 5-10 minutes until soft.  Add garlic and stir into mixture about a minute.  Add pumpkin, tofu, water, bacon marinade and salt.  Bring to the boil and simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until vegies are soft.

While the soup is simmering, gently fry the tofu bacon in the oil and when it is starting to brown, add the corn.

When soup is cooked, turn off the heat and put a few spoonfuls of the liquid in a small cup.  Gently mix in the white miso until combined and return to the saucepan of soup.  Blend until smooth.  Serve warm with the tofu and corn topping scattered over the soup.

On the Stereo:
What do Ukelele Players Eat? - Various Artists