Monday 30 September 2013

Reflections on Vegan MoFo 2013

Today marks the end of Vegan MoFo for 2013.  I am sad, tired and a little relieved.  It has been fun, inspiring and busy.  Here is my reflections on my month of television related cooking.

It was my third year of Vegan MoFo and my first having a theme: TV Dinners.   Writing to a theme was fun and really made me approach my posts in a different way.  More structure, more discipline.  I started planning months ago and was glad of it.  The theme demanded a lot of time, research and thought (ie lots of surfing the net and reading out choice information to E). 

Futile Vegan MoFo shopping.  My pasta purchases while searching for pasta for a post I didn't do!
I find Vegan MoFo to be a time of great inspiration.  So many great ideas flying around the blogosphere.  I was really excited by some of the recipes I tried, while a few were work in progress.  My favourite would have to be Stargazy Pie because it was my own creation and based on a fascinating pie with a great history.   It was also a fun challenge to veganise a fish pie with fish heads poking out of the pastry.

Vegan stargazy pie with eggplant used instead of fish heads.
September was a particularly busy month.  My family has many birthdays and anniversaries in this month, we went on holiday for a week and we also did Christmas shopping for family in Scotland to meet the seamail deadline.  It was the month of our federal election, the Melbourne Show and the AFL Grand Final.  And I hosted another blog event this month - Pasta Please.

I made an effort not to make new dishes to blog unless they were for Vegan MoFo.  My blog backlog still grew with our holiday and the Show, which I plan to write about.  I wish I could have visited more Vegan MoFo blogs - it was easier that previous two years with Google Reader.

Yet I still discovered some great new blogs and have bookmarked heaps of recipes I want to try.  And hope to repeat some of my own Vegan MoFo recipes.  I have already remade the vegan doughnuts with more success on a jam filling.

Jam-filled mini vegan doughnuts.
One of the challenges with my TV Dinners theme was choosing the television shows.  Some presented themselves naturally with a classic food scene (such as Waldorf Salad in Fawlty Towers) while matching recipes with some shows sometimes felt like fitting a round peg into a square hole.  Planning ahead meant I noted a few scenes in current favourite shows.  In the end despite missing some of my favourite shows, I had more posts than days.

Before I tell you about what recipes I didn't have time for, I will give you a list of some of my favourite tv shows that I just coudn't find the food link.  Sometimes Google lets me down!  Henderson Kids, Magic Roundabout, Follow your Dreams, Life on Mars, Mr Ed, The Killing, Foyle's War, The Bill, MDA, Yes Minister, Hill Street Blues. A Country Practice, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Game On, Grange Hill, Northern Exposure.  (Must stop or I will list every show I have ever watched.)

You can see what shows I chose at my list of Vegan MoFo posts.  This theme has made me reflect on the sort of telly I watch.  I love intelligent drama, crime (the less blood the better), comedy and I have even come to love some of the kids shows I watch with Sylvia.   - love comedy, kids shows with sylvia, intelligent drama, crime shows - british and Australian - much of it on ABC our equivalent of BBC because it doesn't have adverts and it is qyality stuffDid you notice that I really love British tv, especially when on the ABC rather than the commercial channels?

Yummy stuff coming up - halva, orange chocolates and sweet potato muffins
Twelve recipes that didn't make the list (because there are only 24 hours in the day):
  • Seven Little Australians - Corned beef seitan - stolen by Bunty when Judy ran away from school and hid in the ground of their house.
  • Count Duckula - Broccoli chowder - because broccoli is his favourite food
  • Get Smart - Potato salad with horseradish - my favourite scene is when Max kills a threatening tarantula with a jar of horseradish
  • The Young Ones - Parsnip Risotto - after Vyvian's claim that dinner is not snow, it's risotto!
  • Twin Peaks - Cherry Pie - FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper's favourite food.
  • Eastenders - Alphabet Spaghetti - remembering that Billy proposed to Little Mo using this dish.
  • Sex and the City - Cupcakes - just one of the foods that this show made trendy
  • The Muppets - Swedish Meatballs - what else would the Swedish Chef make?
  • The Goodies - Scones with jam and cream - the classic bunfight at the OK tearooms
  • Downton Abbey - Treacle Tart- one of Mrs Padmore's grand desserts
  • Posh Nosh - Paella 
  • This Morning with Richard Not Judy - Sweet Potato and Orange Chocolates - inspired by The Curious Orange

I have considered doing more TV Dinners posts but I miss my usual rambling style.  I still have a few recipes yet to be blogged from the series and a few others I would love to make.  Who knows, there might be a life for the theme beyond Vegan MoFo

Random picture from the Melbourne Show
It is always a pleasure when putting a lot of effort into my posts to see them being enjoyed by others.  Thank you to everyone who read and commented on my posts.  In particularly thanks to Veganise This, the Green Cuisine, the Spade and Spoon, Candida Diet Plan and the Vegan MoFo Blog for including me in round ups.  And thank you to the Vegan MoFo team for an amazing effort in organising the event.  I also was excited to have my second Food Gawker photo up - Vegan Sushi Stacks.  Makes me think maybe I need to submit a few more photos.

A sneak peak of what is to come in my holiday posts.
And now for what will be coming up on my blog.  I'd love to take a break but I already have some posts mapped out for October.  I will post the Pasta Please round up soon, I will write about my Port Fairy holiday and The Melbourne Show, I may write up the last of my TV dinners posts that didn't make it this month, and I have an interview with Ricki Heller coming up as part of her virtual blog tour for Naturally Sweet and Gluten Free.  And maybe I will get along to World Vegan Day on 10 November this year.  Meanwhile, there is a howling wind outside and a warm bed awaits me.

I will finish with a question for you?  What is your favourite television food moment or plot featuring food?

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2013.  This year for Vegan MoFo I am cooking recipes inspired by some favourite tv shows - and veering off topic occasionally.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my Vegan MoFo posts.         

Sunday 29 September 2013

Vegan MoFo 2013 Quicklinks II

So now the end is near and I've done all my Vegan MoFo TV Dinners posts.  Tomorrow I will write a reflection on the Vegan Month of Food (MoFo) but today I am sharing my quicklinks that I have loved while surfing MoFo posts.

I feel a bit sad that I haven't got around to as many MoFo blogs as I would like to.  There have been some fantastic themes and amazing creative food.  As well as recommending these recipes to you, I urge you to browse these bloggers' MoFo posts (September 2013) because I wanted to bookmark heaps of recipes from many of them.

Meanwhile, it was good to have a lazy day at home today after a couple of busy days.  Lots of sleep, sunshine and good food was just what I needed.   I made sourdough flatbreads last night and kept some of the dough in the fridge for today.  Below is a photo collage that starts with the dough growing out of the clingwrap and shows the frying of the flatbreads.  So easy and so yummy.  We ate them for lunch with hummus and vegies on our new green outdoor table by the blossom-laden lemon tree.  Just lovely!  Now onto some recipes to really make you hungry:


Step by step pictures of frying sourdough flatbreads starting with the dough left in the fridge overnight and not wanting to stay in the clingwrap.
Dinner - Light and Lovely:

Dinner - Baked and Hearty:

Our lemon tree in blossom.  I hope it bodes well for a good lemon crop.


Our new outdoor table.


This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2013.  This year for Vegan MoFo I am cooking recipes inspired by some favourite tv shows - and veering off topic occasionally.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my Vegan MoFo posts.     

Saturday 28 September 2013

Vegan sushi stack for a SeaChange

Vegan sushi for your SeaChange.  A little bit healthy, a little bit trendy, a little bit impressive.  Even slightly reminiscent of the sea.

Television show: SeaChange, drama, Australia, 1998 to 2000.

What it meant to me?
SeaChange is an Australian drama series set in the fictional seaside town of Pearl Bay.  The premise is based around our main character, Laura, leave the fast-paced souless lifestyle of the city for the slower, gentler and friendlier life in this small town.  Laura takes up a post as the town magistrate so many plots centre on law and order and politics as well as her love life.

The town has many quirky characters: the calm and reasonable Meredith who own the pub and has a photographic memory; the passionate Phrani who drives a colourful combi van, makes spicy curries; the angst-ridden Angus who works in the Magistrates office but is a surfer at heart; the restless Max who is tough on the outside after life as a foreign correspondent; the nervous Heather Jelly who perhaps has the biggest character development of the series in her change from stay at home mum to capable career woman; and then there is the mysterious, laconic, talented and occasionally charming Diver Dan.

The series started when I was living in the UK.  I missed the buzz it created.  But on a trip home I was drawn into its aura when my family took me to lunch at Diver Dan's Boathouse in Barwon Heads.  More recently we bought the box set of the series and watched it on DVD before discovering all three series are on YouTube.  (I should add that this post is for Hannah who demanded requested SeaChange in this Vegan MoFo series.)

It wasn't just the hype that drew me to the series.  It felt quite close to home.  My parents left the big smoke of Melbourne when I was too young to remember the place and took us to live in a small country town.  (Technically this is a tree change rather than a sea change.)  To me, small town life was normal but my parents faced the challenges of fitting in to a small community.  My dad even co-founded a local newspaper.  The town was close to the beautiful beaches of the Great Ocean Road, which is close to the beach towns where Pearl Bay was filmed. 

Food featured:
It was hard to choose a recipe to reflect SeaChange.  It was a tyranny of choice.  The community orders pizza during a hostage situation, Laura makes peas and rice for a visiting Buddist, Max is offered fruitcake when he visits his dad, Phrani makes amazing curries in her cafe, Heather offers pikelets with gooseberry jam to a business meetings, 

In fact, food is often used to paint a character or a situation.  Laura's shortcomings as a mother are suggested by her inability to cook, just as Heather's perfection as housewife are suggested by her amazing baking.  Kevin shows his love for Phrani by trying her spicy curries.  We are shown how Heather is changing her ways but the town isn't when she is shunned for her exotic suggestion of a hangi bbq at the Women's Auxillary meeting.  (To which Heather replies “we’ve gone right back to the old days of cocktail onions on toothpicks – its’s a real conservative backlash”.)  Diver Dan's mysterious ways are reflected in the exotic food he makes, while Warwick shows himself to be safe and boring in his choice of bacon and eggs for breakfast and romantic dinners.

In the end I chose sushi because I fancied it.  It was suggested by Karen's difficulty in settling back into Pearl Bay from her travels.  While her ex-boyfriend Angus was content to eat a counter meal at the pub - steak diane on a Thursday and fish and salad on a Friday - Karen fancied eating at a Japanese restaurant.  Sushi also seemed to reflect the seaside location and Diver Dan's exotic cooking.

If you want to see more of sushi in tv and film, check out this list of sushi moments.

Recipe notes:
I made a fairly plain sushi quite often at home.  We don't have local sushi cafes and Sylvia likes it plain.  For this recipe I pushed the boat out and made a fancy version that is like the club sandwich of sushi.  I bookmarked this sushi stack some time ago when I saw it made by Clare at Chez Cayenne.  Not only did I love the idea of layering the rice, nori and fillings but I was inspired by the idea of including a tofu omelet.

My fillings were fairly similar to Clare's.  I had ripe avocado to use, carrots in the fridge as always and lots of tofu.  I had only made a tofu omelet once before and it was so soft I could barely tear it apart for Pad See Ew.  This omelet was much firmer and a great success.  I was able to slice it up neatly.  And it tasted so good that it was in danger of becoming my dinner and the sushi idea pitched into the bin.  I showed restraint and was glad it went into my sushi.

Layering the vegies was a bit more fiddly and cutting it into neat slices was a challenge.  I am still undecided about if it is easier or harder than rolling up sushi rice in nori sheets.  I am convinced it is an impressive and delicious way to serve sushi.  And I think you end up with more filling and less rice this way.  What is not to love about it!

Random notes:
Today was a big day.  The AFL Grand Final.  If you don't know what I am talking about, you don't live in Melbourne and you don't have a brother who is so obsessed with the footy that you are invited to watch the game on the proviso that you don't speak a word.

Actually I had a nice relaxed afternoon at my brother's place for the Grand Final and I was allowed to yell at Freo's missed goals along with everyone else.  It would have been so lovely if Fremantle had won and probably best if I don't tell you what I think about the Hawks.

Best to focus on footy food.  I took along plain old rolled sushi with avocado and some mini jam doughnuts.  There were lots of hot dogs and sausage rolls for the meat lovers.  For me there was also spring rolls, onion bhajis and samosas.  For everyone there was also lots of chips, chocolates, caramel popcorn and vanilla sugared almonds.  I just wanted a simple tomato lentil soup tonight.

However I am not such a footy fan that I didn't join my mum, sister, niece and daughter on trip to a nursery and in search of gluten free apple crumble in the middle of the final.  The GF-friendly cafe was closed so we weren't out too long.  Back in time to watch more football, eat more snacks and play hide and seek.  Above is a photo of the beautiful nursery that we visited.

I also found that the tofu omelet was very good in a sandwich.  It make me feel a little nostalgic.  The first meal I ever ate out with E was at a place in Edinburgh called Web 13 and he had a fried egg sandwich.  Who says romance is dead?

More favourite snack food from Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Sushi Stack with carrot, tofu omelet and avocado
adapted from Chez Cayenne
serves 2-4

Sushi rice:
(Note: I have some sushi rice leftover from this amount.  Reduce to 1 1/2 cups if you don't want leftovers)
2 cups sushi rice
6 tbsp rice vinegar
3 1/2 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt

4 sheets nori
1/2 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks
1/4 red capsicum, finely sliced
1/4 recipe tofu-besan omelet (see below)
1/2 avocado, sliced
1-2 tsp black sesame seeds
Soy sauce to serve

Simmer rice in 3 cups water for about 20 minutes over a very low heat (or cook according to packet directions).  Stir vinegar, sugar and salt into hot cooked rice.  Cool  (I spread mine on a dinner plate and put in the freezer for fast track cooling).

Meanwhile make the omelet and chop the vegies.  When omelet has cooled, slice thinly.

To make the sushi stack, spread rice as thinly as possible on a nori sheet (on a chopping board), using the back of a spoon to spread it thinly.  Scatter with carrot sticks and red capsicum.  I scattered some rice on top but it was a token effort.  On a firm surface spread rice as thinly as possible on another nori sheet.  Place on top of the carrot layer.  Arrange tofu besan omelet slices over the top of the rice.  Spread rice on a third nori sheet on a firm surface and then place on top of the omelet layer.  Arrange avocado on top, scatter with black sesame seeds and more sushi rice.  Cover with final nori sheet.

Use chopping board and heavy frypan to press down the sushi stack.  Leave for at least 15 minutes.  Remove weight.

Use a sharp knife to trim edges and gently slice into small squares.  Keeps well overnight in the fridge.  Serve with soy sauce on the side for dipping the sushi in.

Tofu Besan Omelet
adapted from Chez Cayenne

350g (12 oz) medium tofu, drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon mirin
1/4 cup besan (chickpea flour),
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion granules
1/2 tsp sea salt
1-2 tsp canola oil

Blend tofu, olive oil and mirin in blender.  Transfer to bowl and mix in remaining ingredients.

Heat heavy bottomed non-stick frypan over low heat and swirl around 1 to 2 tsp of oil to cover the pan.  Pour in the thick batter and use the back of a spoon to swirl it around the pan (I think my omelet was about 22 or 23cm in diameter).  Cook for 10 minutes on low heat and then cover with a large saucepan lid and cook another 10 minutes on low heat.

Use an eggflip or spatula to loosen so it slides around the pan.  Carefully flip (or slide) onto a dinner plate and cool in the fridge until you need to slice it for the sushi.  This can also be used in sandwiches.

On the Stereo:
Set List: The Frames

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2013.  This year for Vegan MoFo I am cooking recipes inspired by some favourite tv shows - and veering off topic occasionally.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my Vegan MoFo posts.         

Friday 27 September 2013

Doctor Who, celery salt, and a day out

A recipe for a flavoured salt that is so simple it seems crazy.  The secret ingredient is celery leaves, which evokes the 5th Doctor in the Doctor Who series.  I found Doctor Who terrifying as a child but now have a partner who had made me appreciate the more recent Doctors.

Television show: Doctor Who, science fiction, UK, 1963 - current

What does it mean to me?
Doctor Who is a science fiction show about the eponymous alien Doctor who is godlike in his powers to save the world and a mere mortal in his relationships with humans.  He travels through time and space with a companion in his TARDIS saving the universe from destruction, greed and mind control by his enemies, including the Daleks, the Cybermen and The Master.  The Doctor periodically regenerates into a different form, allowing different actors to take on the role while being the same character.

I was not a fan of fantasy and science fiction as a child.  It scared me too much.  The very thought of it scared me.  I could not read the Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper because the cover of the book gave me nightmares.  Likewise I don't remember seeing a Doctor Who episode as a child but the very sound of the music scared me.  It is spooky music!  As soon as The Goodies finished and I heard that music we would turn off the television.  It was usually dinner time anyway. Of course I knew Tom Baker by his coloured scarf and wasn't sure why that nice boy from All Creatures Great and Small was in the show.

I am braver these days (even though I am not sure I will read the ghost story that E gave me recently).  My husband E loves fantasy and horror.  He is a long time fan of Doctor Who.  We now watch it religiously and are very excited that the new Doctor is a Scot (like E).  To date my favourite Doctor is another Scot, David Tennant, but I am really interested to see Peter Capaldi bring his manic energy to the role.

I can still find Doctor Who scary at times but I have come to love the wonderful stories, the sense of wonder in the places they visit and the compassion of the Doctor.  In fact, despite tense moments, I now find some comfort in the idea of a benevolent being who will protect and value us.

Food featured:
A few foods are associated with Doctor WhoJelly babies have appeared throughout the series but are mostly associated with the fourth Doctor, played by Tom Baker, who often carried a bag of jelly babies and offered them around.  After his regeneration into the Eleventh Doctor, played by Matt Smith, he rejects all kinds of foods until he settles on eating fish fingers and custard.

The food I chose was celery which is mostly associated with the Fifth Doctor, played by Peter Davison.  He dresses rather foppishly and wears a stalk of celery on his lapel.  Apparently he didn't like it but it protected him from gases in the Praxis range of the spectrum by turning purple upon detecting it.  He is allergic to these gases but eating the celery will save him, or at least be good for his teeth.

Recipe notes:
In the last year or so I have become fascinated by flavoured salt mixes.  My favourite is French lavender salt which I tried making this year with great success.  I was interested in Heidi's celery salt recipe. I don't always have celery in the fridge but it is such a great flavour to add to dishes.  As a bonus, this recipe uses up the leaves from a bunch of celery.  Heidi says it might be hard to find bunches with leaves on but in Melbourne they are usually sold with leaves.

It is a simple recipe.  Yet the idea of working out which leaves were crispy and which weren't was a bit daunting.  Once I did it, that made sense.  I used the leaves of about 1/3 to 1/2 of a bunch of celery and got a very small amount of salt for my efforts.  See the jar below which is photographed next to a 1 cup measuring cup to show it is quite small.  I probably don't use it as often as I should and 6 weeks later still have about half the jar.  It has faded in colour slightly but the flavour is still great.  I guess I should keep it in a dark place rather than in an exposed shelf.

Random notes:
The celery salt was made quite some time ago so that I can barely remember it.  Photos suggest there was sourdough baking, craft and visits to Ikea around that time.  But moving right along.  Below are a few sneak pics of our trip to the Royal Melbourne Show today.  We had great fun - albeit a few tears over a bag of fairy floss as can happen with 4 year olds and sugar.

We started off with riding the ferris wheel but then turned from the fun fair side of the show and went to the agricultural side which I find far more satisfying.  I love the cakes and animals and craft.  We also went through the MasterChef kitchen and at the end succumbed to the lure of showbags.  I will write more about it after Vegan MoFo is finished.  Suffice to say now, I just feel very exhausted by my day.

I am sending this celery salt to Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary where she is hosting the Credit Crunch Munch event that is founded by Helen and Camilla’s  blogs.  I think that making your own flavoured salt is quite thrifty when you see the price of it in the shops and this one in particular uses up parts of celery that I don't usually use (unless I make stock).

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Awards and my ABC of photography
Two years ago: PPN: Meaty Cauliflower and Walnut Lasagne
Three years ago: Collingwood Cupcakes
Four years ago: Green Home, Green Houses

Homemade celery salt
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

Celery leaves
Sea salt flakes

Remove leaves from a bunch of celery (discarding stalks - of leaves, not the celery stalks) and wash well.  Dry leaves in a clean tea towel.  I folded up mine in a tea towel while having lunch and patted them and re-folded them a few times.

Fry leaves over high heat in a heavy bottomed non-stick frypan for about 5 minutes or until crispy.  Try not to let them brown (though I had a few brown edges which seemed ok).  I took mine out, rubbed off the crispy edges and returned to fry pan over low heat for a few minutes more.  Remove from heat and rub all the crispy dried bits off and discard any bits that aren't dried to a crisp.  Rub the crispy bits with your fingers until you have celery leaf dust.

Mix the celery leaf dust with an equivalent amount of sea salt flakes.  I tipped mine into a jar and topped up with the same amount of sea salt.  I've had mine about 6 weeks and it has lost its colour a little but still smells great.

On the Stereo:
Never Loved Elvis: The Wonder Stuff

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2013.  This year for Vegan MoFo I am cooking recipes inspired by some favourite tv shows - and veering off topic occasionally.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my Vegan MoFo posts.        

Thursday 26 September 2013

Pizza experiments with sourdough, tofu ricotta, kale, and carrot chips

An experimental pizza goes so right - a thick sourdough pizza base topped with tomato sauce, tofu ricotta, greens and carrot chips.  Pizza is often featured on tv shows like Becker but never like this!

Television show: Becker, Comedy, USA, 1998 - 2004.

What does it mean to me?
Becker starred Ted Danson as misanthropic doctor who is rude and opinionated but works in a small practice in the New York Bronx where he genuinely cares for his patients.  I always found the setting quite dingy but the characters were interesting and it made us laugh.  (check out this best of Becker on YouTube.)

I don't think this was ever a huge success in the UK or Australia but it was a show that E discovered and we grew to love.  I remember watching this together when we lived in Scotland in a small damp flat overlooking Edinburgh Castle.  We had a desk with an old computer in one corner, a dining table in another corner and the television between them. 

Food featured:
I was relying on my vague memories here of the main character, Becker, sitting upstairs in his flat eating takeaway.   It always seemed gloomily lit and quite sad.  Becker is one of those stereotypical characters who works hard and with a passion.  At the end of the day he finds himself exhausted and alone with not much in the fridge and no energy to cook.  I guess this is an important dramatic device that causes a character to seek something better.  In Becker's case he sometimes shares a takeaway meal with Reggie from the diner.

Recipe notes:
I was really excited by this pizza.  It was my second go at adding sourdough starter to pizza and I was really pleased with the result.  My regular pizza crusts have been getting thinner and thinner.  This was almost deep dish pizza with a beautiful soft base.  E and Sylvia loved it.

I also love experimenting with vegan pizzas.  I love the pizza being lighter without the cheese but I do find it harder for the whole thing to hang together.  The kale needed using.  The carrot chips were a disaster by themselves but looked pretty on the pizza.  The tofu ricotta was easy to throw together.  I had heaps of tomato sauce so I spooned a bit over the top of the pizza as well as putting it on the base.  This seemed to help hold it together and added to the flavour.

I have written what I did below but my notes are a little scrappy because pizzas are more about inspiration and throwing on what is about rather than following strict guidelines.  It can work well.  I had tomato sauce leftover and have two more tubs of this in the freezer for more pizzas!

Random notes:
We went out for lunch with my parents and siblings on Father's Day and had a nice lunch.  When we got home, Sylvia wanted to watch television.  It was a lovely warm spring day.  E did the Father's Day thing and took her outside to throw a ball about.  As I kneaded this dough I could hear her in the yard laughing and calling out 'this is great'.  It was a moment of little stabs of happiness.

The pizza was a big hit with all of us.  Sylvia had her usual cheese and tomato sauce but E really enjoyed my vegie laden pizza.  We had tea on the knee while we watched the magic of the Neverending Story on DVD.

The next day Sylvia and I went shopping for summer clothes.  It was not hard to resist the shopping centre food offerings with the thoughts of the leftovers of this pizza left at home.

I should also note that this is one of my Vegan MoFo posts where I made something I liked so much that I looked for a tv show where it might fit.  Pizza on the tv is quite common.  There were any number of shows I could have featured.  Below is a list of other shows that came to mind.  I don't think it is any coincidence that most are American.  Can you spot the Australian comedy and the British soap opera?

Ten television shows where pizza plays a part:
  • ALF
  • Castle
  • Coronation Street
  • Friends
  • Pizza
  • Seinfeld
  • The Simpsons
  • The Sopranos
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place

Finally, it seems that we are on the countdown to the end of Vegan MoFo.  I have got to the point where I have more posts than days left.  I still have so much I wanted to do.  And no time or energy to spare.  This pizza almost slipped under the radar because there have been so many recipe ideas.  Phew!  Good to have my notes.  I think I might make this again soon.

I am sending this pizza to Susan of YeastSpotting.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: NCR Stew with vegan parmesan - and springtime photos
Two years ago: Gleegan blueberry cake pops for a potluck
Three years ago: Green Tambourine Cafe
Four years ago: Sweet Freedom, Clever Cookie
Five years ago: Pudla – for when your team lets you down!

Sourdough pizza with tofu ricotta, kale, and carrot chips
serves 2-3

Pizza base:
Based on this pizza base recipe
(I made 2 bases but could have made 3 because they were very thick - only one was used for the following topping)

200g starter from the fridge (the toss off)
1 cup water water
2 1/4 tsp (7g) dried yeast (or less?)
1 tsp sweetener
2 to 2 1/2 cups plain white flour (some semolina or wholemeal flour would be good)
1 tsp salt

Carrot chips:
carrots, cut into batons
olive oil
arrowroot powder (optional)
smoked paprika, cumin, mustard powder, garlic powder (Optional)

Tofu ricotta:
(Based on this one)
130g firm tofu
1 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1-2 good pinches of salt
1-2 tsp lemon juice

Tomato sauce:
(make enough for 3 batches of pizza)
olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
400g tin of diced tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
dashes of salt, maple syrup, worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika and black pepper (to taste)
270g tin baked beans

rice bran oil
half a bunch of kale
pinch of salt

First make pizza base: Mix starter, water, yeast and sweetener in a large mixing bowl.  Sit for 10 minutes and check the yeast is blooming, foaming or active in some way.  Add salt and then gradually add flour until you have a soft dough that is pliable enough to knead.  Knead for 10 minutes with a little flour -maybe even a little oil - to stop it sticking to the surface.  Place in an oiled bowl to double in size - about 1 hour.  Knead a couple of minutes and leave for 20-30 minutes.

To make carrot chips: toss carrots with remaining ingredients and roast for 45 minutes or until cooked, though shouldn't be too crispy. 

To make tofu ricotta: Pour boiling water over tofu.  Simmer a couple of minutes.  Drain.  Wrap in a teatowel and keep in fridge til cool - about 1 hour.  Mash with remaining ingredients.

To make tomato sauce: Fry onion in oil for 5 -10 minutes until golden brown.  Stir in garlic briefly and then add remaining ingredients, checking the seasonings but go easy - it is not a highly seasoned sauce and the baked beans adds a bit of flavour.  Simmer for about 5 minutes.  Blend with a stick blender.

To assemble and cook pizza: Preheat pizza stone in oven at 220 C.  Roll out half pizza dough to cover one large pizza tray.  Scatter the tray with cornmeal to stop pizza sticking to the tray.  Place dough on tray.  Spread about 2 dessertspoonfuls of pizza sauce over dough.  Scatter all the tofu ricotta.  Scatter kale.  I then dolloped more sauce over it but I think some sauce mixed through the kale might work better.  Arranged carrot chips over kale.  Bake for 20 minutes or until edges of pizza are golden brown.  Cool briefly on a rack and then slice up.

On the Stereo:
Yellow Brick Road: Elton John

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2013.  This year for Vegan MoFo I am cooking recipes inspired by some favourite tv shows - and veering off topic occasionally.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my Vegan MoFo posts.       

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Vegan lamingtons and Mother and Son

In which I try and veganise classic Aussie lamingtons with a touch of quince. These were always at a cake stall and often sold in boxes in lamington drives, as satirised in tv comedy, Mother and Son.

Television show: Mother and Son, sitcom, Australia, 1984-1994.

What does it mean to me?
Looking back at Mother and Son, I am tempted to sound like an old timer and croak that "they don't make 'em like that any more." The 1980s seems like the golden age of Australian comedy with Australia, You're Standing in It, The Gillies Report, Kingswood Country, Theatresports, The Big Gig, All Together Now. But enough nostalgia. Back to the show.

Mother and Son was an hilarious and yet poignant comedy about a dotty and conniving elderly mother, Maggie, and her hapless son, Arthur, who lived at home looking after her. It was quite sad because Maggie was worried Arthur would move out and spent a lot of time convincing him to stay but there was a thin line between her ploys and her genuine need. Arthur seemed put upon and yet he also genuinely loved his mother. The situations were hilarious, all the more so because so many of us recognised them.

I was too young for the premise of the show to really hit home with me when I watched it. All my grandparents were fit and healthy at the time. Now that they have all died, two of them having lived in nursing homes, I look back with far more understanding and appreciation of the show today.

Yet, even as a young person, the compassion and humanity of the show came through. Perhaps it was the two lead actors, Garry McDonald and Ruth Cracknell. Only such fine actors could make these characters so hilarious and sympathetic at the same time. Gary McDonald made his name on the Aunty Jack Show and The Normal Gunston Show. Ruth Cracknell is best known for Mother and Son but she had a fine acting career prior to the show.

Food moment:
In an episode titled 'The Lamingtons,' Maggie promises to make 216 lamingtons for various groups at a cakestall. I confess I haven't found a video for this episode and it is a while since I saw the series. Yet I can just see it. Maggie is one of those obliging old ladies who is quite happy to agree to help out and all too forgetful.

In Australia, we have coined the term lamington drive because lamingtons (chocolate and coconut covered cakes) are so popular in fundraising. I remember when I was young that we would have boxes of lamingtons either to sell and raise funds, or to eat because we purchased them to support a good cause. Lamingtons were often found at cake stalls. They were everywhere and eternally popular. No wonder everyone was asking Maggie to bake them for them.

Recipe notes:
I blogged about lamingtons earlier this year. If you want to read more about their history and what they mean to me, I suggest you read that post. Vegan MoFo is a good opportunity to try a vegan version. While the version I tried was not perfect, cake covered in soggy chocolate icing and coated in coconut is never wrong.

You may have seen Mr P's amazing Re-inventing the lamington event. Now while tinkering with a fine tradition is of course wrong, these modern fusion lamingtons are great fun and worth checking out. I also was convinced to buy a new Australian food magazine called Taste (from the wonderful website) because it had an article giving 40 ideas for lamingtons.

With so much inspiration and bucket of quince syrup in my fridge, how could do anything but tinker with the recipe. I took out some sugar and substituted quince syrup for some sugar. They were very sweet so perhaps I should have taken out even more sugar. I decided to add some pink food dye for a bit of fun but was too stingy with the food dye and it went unnoticed. If I really wanted to go with the quince theme I might have sandwiched together cake with some quince jelly before dipping in chocolate. But I have not been brave enough to try making lamingtons with jam in the middle.

I cut these a lot smaller than my last batch and must have cut crooked as they did not look as neat. I thought I had got the icing right the last time I made lamingtons and use those proportions. They pooled slightly but were mostly ok. I had to make enough icing for the last few lamingtons and I think this adhered better to the cakes but goodness knows what the proportions were.

Possibly my changes were the reason that I didn't think the cake quite right. However I think the real reason is that I fall on the light and fluffy side of the lamington divide - these are the ones I grew up eating. The recipe I tried had quite a firmer cake that is more like a butter cake than an Aussie sponge cake. I'll have to try a few other recipes. But these were most delicious, despite my misgivings.

Random notes:
I made these lamingtons because I was visiting a friend and her family who were visiting from interstate. (Sylvia helped dip and coat the lamingtons in the morning before we left, my moblie phone reception went AWOL and I got the address wrong but we got there!) It was lovely to catch up with Nicki and Junko, friends from my university days.

Junko was my first friend who went overseas and came back. It taught me that friendships can survive travel and change. I thought of being a little more experimental with my lamingtons but decided that was too risky with seven kids to please. As it was they mostly enjoyed them, though the youngest said they were yuck and Sylvia told me they were too sweet (I think she says this when she doesn't want to eat something because she is too full or doesn't fancy it).

I brought some lamingtons home. Fortunately some have gone to my mum and dad and a few went we E to a ukelele practice. The few that we have that lasted beyond the first two days were past their best so I am glad we were able to share them.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: WHB Spicy pea curry
Two years ago: If music be the food ...(reprise)
Three years ago: SHF Chocolate Crackle Top Biscuits
Four years ago: MM Heirloom Ginger Fluff Sponge
Five years ago: Fridge Door Confessions  

Adapted from Why Veg
Makes 42 small lamingtons

1 cups soy milk
2 tsp cider vinegar
3 cups plain flour
50g cornflour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup quince syrup
1/3 cup rice bran oil
few drops pink food colouring (optional)
2-3 cups of dessicated coconut, for coating  

Chocolate icing:
3 cups (450ml) icing sugar mixture
3/4 cup (188ml) cocoa powder
6 tbsp (90ml) milk (I used soy)
6 tbsp (90ml) boiling water

Preheat oven to 180 C.  Grease and line a lamington tin.  Mix soy milk and vinegar in a measuring jug and set aside.

Sift flours, baking powder and bicarb.  Add sugar.  Mix quince syrup and oil into soy milk mixture and pour mixture into flour mixture.  Gently fold wet and dry ingredients together.   Add a little pink food colouring if you want to highlight the quince element.  Pour into prepared tray.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle come out clean.  Leave overnight.

The next day, cut into squares (I cut 6 x 7 rows).  Sift icing sugar and cocoa into a medium shallowish bowl and mix in milk and water to make a thin icing.  Place coconut into a similar bowl.  Dip squares of cake into chocolate icing and then into coconut (using two forks in each bowl for minimal handling).  Rest on wire rack so any drips don't pool. Best eaten on the day of dipping or the following day.  

On the Stereo:  
Raising the Gospel: James Yorkston

 This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2013.  This year for Vegan MoFo I am cooking recipes inspired by favourite tv shows - and veering off topic occasionally.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my Vegan MoFo posts.    

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Vegan banana fudge ice cream and Puberty Blues

Ice cream is a classic childhood treat and as such is often infused with nostalgia.  It is no surprise then that it features in retro Aussie shows such as Puberty Blues.  Mine is more vegan experiment than the familiar flavours of my childhood.

Television show: Puberty Blues, drama, Australia, 2012 (with a second series in the pipeline)

What does it mean to me?
Puberty Blues is an Australian coming of age drama in the 1970s in a Sydney beachside setting.  It is based on the 1979 novel of the same name by Kathy Lette and Gabrielle Carey.  The main characters Debbie and Sue want to be one of the cool kids that rule the beach.  It has a great cast, a classy soundtrack and poignant photography.  This is nostalgia as it should be.  Recognition.  Laughter.  Embarrassment.  All at once.

Watching the series and hearing Aussie slang like "root", "mole" and "dob" takes me back to my primary school playground.  It doesn't make me miss it one bit.  Seeing Cheezels on fingers, Countdown on the telly and warm days at the beach made me feel a bit more warm and fuzzy.  [Check out this review or the video of episode 1 for more about the series.)

When I heard people talk about the novel at school, it seemed a little sexy, a little naughty, but actually it is quite sad.  I think the tv series emphasises this by giving the perspectives of adults in the lives of the school girls.  Not only do we see the dreams of the young kids that lead them into dangerous situations of sex and drugs in the pre-AIDS era, but we also watch the shattered dreams of their parents.  Perhaps I sound so disapproving of these kids because I never really fancied being in the cool group at school.

Food featured:
I couldn't go past ice cream.  Ice cream and beach culture go together like ... um ... sex and drugs.  In the first episode we see the nerdy boy who fancies Debbie give her a Splice ice cream on a stick.  (Takes me back to my childhood summers spent at the local swimming pool hoping we had enough money to buy an icy pole or mixed lollies at the kiosk.) 

Ice cream is not all so innocent.  Later Debbie's boyfriend Gary starts buying drugs from the guy at the ice cream van.  There is also a scene I found in the 1981 movie made of the book where Debbie goes home after getting high and eats lots of pizza and ice cream.  I think it is in the tv show but haven't the time to trawl the internet to confirm this.

Recipe notes:
Ever since my first attempt at ice cream with cream and condensed milk I wanted to try a lighter vegan version.  I had decided to try whipped coconut cream and home-made soy condensed milk.  I was also inspired by this chocolate ice cream to use some creamy coconut yoghurt.  My flavours were inspired by this banoffee ice cream and by the chocolate fudge in my first ice cream attempt.  I also know banana would help make it creamy.

The ice cream wasn't perfect.  It was very very sweet.  I know that ice cream has to be sweet to stop it freezing too much and because you don't taste flavours so strongly when frozen.  Even so this was very very sweet.  I didn't have much chocolate in the house to use but next time would use more - the chocolate fudge was delicious and a nice foil for the sweetness..  I boiled down my soy condensed milk to be quite thick so it was more like dulce de leche.  It is slightly grainer than regular dulce de leche but also very sweet.  I would be interested to try a healthier caramel sauce I made a while back that used maple syrup, rice syrup and coconut milk.  I am not likely to have coconut yoghurt about on a regular basis so I would leave it out or try making home made yoghurt.

Random notes:
While it wasn't perfect I was pretty pleased with my first attempt at making this style of vegan ice cream.  I don't have an ice cream machine nor do I have space for one.  So I can only make no churn ice cream.  This one was far less painful than a tofu chocolate ice cream I made a few years back that I blended every hour for too long because I never was quite sure I had it right.  I think it was a bit icier than my recent rhubarb and white chocolate ice cream.  It was also not so rich.

E and Sylvia were very pleased to have more ice cream.  E would like me to try vanilla and Sylvia has asked for strawberry.  As for me, I still would like to make a mint choc chip ice cream to remind me of my favourite ice cream of my childhood.  The weather is now warming up so maybe it will soon be time for more ice cream experiments.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Strawberry cupcakes
Two years ago: Matthews delicious tofu - another familiar recipe
Three years ago: PPN Pea lasagne
Four years ago: NCR Lemony Mediterranean Salad
Five years ago: Hobart Highlights

Banana chocolate fudge ice cream
A Green Gourmet Giraffe work in progress recipe

400g tin of full fat coconut milk, chilled in fridge overnight
4 cups soy milk
1 cup sugar
1 and 1/2 large bananas, roughly mashed with a fork
60g dark chocolate (or more)

To make coconut cream: remove tin of coconut milk from the fridge.  Tip the tin upside down and open the lid of the tin with a tin opener.  The thick coconut cream will have risen to the top of the tin but now you have turned it upside down they are on the bottom and you can tip off the watery stuff (it can be saved for smoothies or stews).  You will have about 1 cup of thick coconut cream.

To make soy dulce de leche: Place soy milk and sugar in a saucepan and simmer for about an hour or until thick and caramelly.  You should end up with about 1 cup of dulce de leche.

To make the chocolate fudge: Melt chocolate with 1/4 cup of dulce de leche.  Set aside to cool - I put mine in the freezer for about 30 minutes.

To make the ice cream: Whip 3/4 cup of dulce de leche and all the coconut cream until thick.   Beat in the coconut yoghurt until lumps have given way to creamy yumminess.  Gently fold through banana and chocolate fudge - mine all broke up into flecks so next time I would like to use more chocolate in the fudge.

Freeze in the fridge.  (I think at least 6 hours or overnight.)

On the Stereo:
Super Trouper: ABBA

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2013.  This year for Vegan MoFo I am cooking recipes inspired by favourite tv shows - and veering off topic occasionally.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my Vegan MoFo posts.