Tuesday 30 June 2015

Smoky cheese and roasted corn muffins

Recently we were teasing E that he is not a hipster because he does not have a huge beard.  So on the weekend Sylvia told him he just needed a cap and a muffin to be a hipster.  Apparently hipsters carry muffins.  I took care of the muffin with a round of baking.  However before it even came out of the oven Sylvia found E a cap.  The way she put it on him made him look more like Frank Spencer than a hipster.

The muffins were actually an attempt to use up some roasted corn.  I bought it ages ago and it had been staring at me from the pantry balefully each time I opened the door.  It had been a disappointing purchase.  I try to support some of our smaller stores but this roasted corn was past its best and overseasoned.  I hoped if I paired it with cheese in a muffin and didn't season the batter so much that it might just work.

I was pleasantly surprised at how good the muffins were.  I added smoked paprika and could really taste it but otherwise held back on the other seasonings which was just as well.  With all the cheese and the bbq seasoning on the corn, they were full of flavour.

We ate them for lunch warm from the oven spread with chutney.  I took a few of the smaller ones along to my bookclub and they seemed well received.  Sylvia told me she enjoyed the chunks of chewy corn.  I did too.  Though I think I enjoyed the muffins more on the day of baking, especially when warm.  They were so soft and cheesey when warm from the oven.

We had them yesterday on the first day of the school holidays.  Every day this week starts with a swimming lesson for Sylvia at 9am.  A muffin was a great snack after a long swim after the lesson.  And I needed the energy for a long day of swimming, shopping, recipe testing, making grubs, tidying, sorting photos, making birthday cards and wrapping a present.  In fact at the end of the day when I sorted clothes for washing, I discovered that I had put Sylvia to bed without changing her into her pajamas.

And I regret to say that even with a muffin E does not look like a hipster.  Not to worry.  I finally had time to flick through the Sunday Age while tidying the newspapers tonight and I saw that hipsters are no long cool.  Apparently the new thing is Yuccies (Young Urban Creatives).  But they did not mention if you need a muffin to be a Yuccie!

More savoury muffins from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Artichoke, sun-dried tomato and cheese muffins
Cheese and pesto muffins
Cheesy almond muffins (gf)
Pumpkin and goats cheese muffins
Pumpkin miso muffins (v) 
Savoury beetroot, carrot, chocolate and goats cheese muffins
Smoky parsnip muffins

Smoky cheese and roasted corn muffins
Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe

Makes 12 muffins and 9 mini muffins
  • 200g cheese, grated (I used 150 cheddar and 50 parmesan)
  • 1 1/2 cups self raising flour (I used 1 wholemeal and 1/2 white)
  • 1 cup seasoned roasted corn
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • good pinch seasoning
  • 1 cup plain natural yoghurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
Grease 12 hole muffin tin and 9 mini muffin holes.  Preheat oven to 200 C.  Mix cheese, flour, corn, smoked paprika and seasoning.  Mix in yoghurt, egg and olive oil until you have a stiff batter.  Spoon into prepared muffin cups.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through when one is torn open (that is how I checked as the skewer test wasn't helpful).

On the Stereo:
Va Va Voom: Hummingbirds

Sunday 28 June 2015

Two Liebster Awards

Last year when I did Vegan MoFo I was given two Liebster awards by Danielle Joy and Jasmine at Self Sufficiency Cafe.  These are awards that bloggers share to encourage us to learn about and connect with new bloggers.  I am all for fostering community in the blogosphere but it has taken me many months to get around to answering the questions that come with this award.

As the award was doing the round in Vegan MoFo when there is a flurry of vegan blogging, the awards had quite a few questions about being vegan.  Umm ... I am vegetarian rather than vegan.  So I have slightly changed a few questions to reflect this and I have also combined a few questions from both Danielle and Jasmine into the first one before going onto their separate questions.

Why did you become vegan or vegetarian and how has it changed your life?
I have written about becoming vegetarian at length in my post on being vegetarian.

Questions from Danielle Joy

Smith and Deli - Home Alone sandwich
What vegan place would you recommend in your area?
Smith and Deli in Fitzroy is the vegan place I have to recommend on my side of Melbourne.  It only opened a couple of weeks ago and on the occasions I have visited the queues have been crazy but the sandwich selection is amazing.  Above is the Home Alone sandwich with mashed potato, vegan turkey, vegan stuffing, brussells sprouts, gravy and cranberry sauce.

What food could I wake you up with in the middle of the night for?
Grubs.  No not witchety grubs.  'Grubs' is the term for one of my favourite childhood snacks made with cocoa, condensed milk, biscuits and coconut, and I still love them with a passion.  When I think food in the middle of the night I think of midnight feasts with grubs that we had as a child.  Now I have my own child I appreciate the midnight feasts don't always happen at midnight but they are still exciting.

Why did you start blogging?
Briefly, I wanted to have a space to share my recipes and notes.  I have written more about why I started blogging.
What’s the best vegan meal you’ve ever made? (link, please!)
Oh that is a hard question.  So many great meals to choose from.  One of my favourite meals is a roast dinner with nut roast.  So while I am not sure what is the 'best' meal I have ever made, I can nominate my favourite meal I have made to be the one where a friend and I made a roast with a vegetarian hog's head.  It was fun and amazing and delicious.  (NB the nut roast was vegetarian but could be made vegan easily.)

Vegetarian hog's head
What’s your favorite vegan dessert?
Chocolate pudding.  It is a childhood favourite and I still love it.  For those who need clarification, my chocolate pudding is a warm self saucing chocolate pudding. 

What do you eat when having a savory snack attack?
Roast chickpeas!  I mean to make lots of savoury snacks but often just end up with little packets of crunchy salted roast chickpeas that I often carry in my bag for emergencies.

What do you eat when having a sweet tooth craving?
This really depends what is in the house but sweet tooth cravings often involve chocolate.  We usually have chocolate in the house so sometimes it is just a square of the stuff and other times if I have been baking it might be cake, slices or porridgies

Liz O'Brien's sausage rolls
What do you serve non-vegans when they come over for dinner?
I am not the sort of cook with standard recipes I always make.  If I really wanted to impress a veg-shy meat eater I might make some sausage rolls but mostly I try something new.

Questions from Jasmine at Self Sufficiency Cafe

What food item could you not do without?
My first instinct was to say chocolate.  Then I thought perhaps it should be something healthier like chickpeas or good bread.  Honestly my list of kitchen staples is quite long so I am not sure I would do well to narrow it down to one item.

Celia's overnight sourdough bread
What would be your last supper (you can have 3 courses)?
Nut roast with lots of crispy roast vegies, cauliflower cheese, green vegies and gravy.  Then a rich dense chocolate cake with lots ganache (perhaps this zucchini brownie with ganache and smoked walnuts)  And to finish, a fruit platter with lots of stone fruit, pineapple, berries, apple and dates stuffed with cashew cheese

What is your favourite TV show?
Call the Midwife.  The photography is so beautiful, the plots give such poignant insight into post war Britain and the characters are so complex, compassionate and awkward.

Who is your favourite comedian?
I don't have a stand-out favourite.  Though perhaps Dave O'Neil who is a local legend.  Or it could be Danny Kaye because first loves hold a special place in the heart and The Court Jester is one of the first films I loved.  I don't feel the same way about another childhood love, Jerry Lewis, but I still find The Goodies and Fawlty Towers hilarious.

What is your favourite junk food?
Chocolate - any sort will do - but my favourite guilty pleasure is possibly the chokito

What ingredient had you never heard of until you went vegan or vegetarian?
I was already doing quite a lot of vegetarian cooking when I went vegetarian many years ago.  However my favourite discovery in vegan cooking is probably nutritional yeast flakes.  I love cheese and these flakes have made it possible for me to eat lots of yummy vegan cheese sauces and less dairy cheese.

Street art - Fitzroy pool
What is your favourite smell?
Oh smells are so evocative.  I love fresh-baked bread, chlorine at the pool, and jasmine in spring.

What is a typical Sunday like for you?
I met someone who went to the same cafe every Sunday and was quite amazed.  I don't have a typical Sunday.  Sylvia loves to have pancakes on Sunday morning which we do if there is time.  We often might watch some telly in the evening.  However Sundays might be just lazy days to sit in front of a movie, or a meal at my mum's or a day out in the city. 

Thursday 25 June 2015

20 facon recipes for vegetarians and vegans in Bacon Week

Yesterday I heard a discussion on the radio about Australian Bacon Week.  Interesting stuff .... until I heard discussion about vegetarians missing out and how many people could never go vegetarian because they love bacon too much.  My hackles rose!  I am here to tell you it aint so.  Here is my response with a good dose of facon!

Actually I didn't love bacon so much that it really bothered me when I went vegetarian over 20 years ago but I did miss it occasionally.  Then I discovered that it is not the pig flesh (or the bone or bristles) that I missed but the smoky flavour.  Enter smoked paprika, liquid smoke, smoked salt and lots of vegetarian bacon.

I avoided the neon pink vegetarian bacon in the supermarket but have had lots of fun experimenting with making different vegetarian bacon (aka fake bacon or facon).  I tried make it out of beans and buckwheat, coconut, tofu, tempeh and eggplant.  Of these my favourite is tofu facon.  I make it often.  Here are 20 facon recipes (in 2 lists) for vegetarians and vegans in Bacon Week.

10 Innovative facon recipes
I love trying unusual recipes with facon (and might I suggest they would work fine with regular bacon)And yes, you can experiment with vegetarian bacon with chocolate!

10 common recipes with vegetarian bacon
These recipes are ones commonly pop up online and in cookbooks.  Some of these are my childhood comfort foods.  I have found that they work brilliantly with vegetarian bacon so there is never any need to miss meat.

Bacon, avocado and tomato sandwich (v)
Breakfast burritos (v)
Caesar salad (v)
Cheese, bacon and spinach muffins
Chickpea pilaf (gf, v)
Creamy potato salad (gf, v)
Fried rice (gf, v)
Macaroni cheese with peas and bacon
Vegetable quiche (v)
Zucchini slice

gf = gluten free, v = vegan

Tuesday 23 June 2015

Pomegranate and orange smoothie

Recently I read a couple of articles about the rise of the know-it-all thanks to Professor Google's assistance, and school students being over-confident.  Gulp!  Perhaps that would be me last year when I decided my new high speed blender could cope with pomegranate seeds.  It seems that just made a horrid grainy smoothie that was so awful there was nothing for it but the bin.  Luckily when I tried again, I got it right.  Hurrah for experience over know-it-all.  

Hence when I made a recent pomegranate and orange smoothie I made sure I sieved the pomegranate arils.  Which perhaps supports a couple of other articles I liked about teaching your kids to be fearless and to take risks.  After all there is nothing quite so humbling as falling flat on your face.  And nothing a food blogger hates more than having recipes go so wrong there is no saving them.  It all a good lesson.

Using pomegranate in a smoothie again worked a treat.  It was a lovely smoothie, slightly tart but very refreshing.  And I redeemed myself by managing to fill it with fruit that had to be used.  We had too many bananas, strawberries that would go off within a day or two, an old orange and lots of limes off our tree.

The pomegranate had also sat there for some time.  Once I had cut it open and stained my new chopping board, I put the leftover arils in a bowl and we enjoyed eating them plain, on salad or on muesli and yoghurt.  I don't buy pomegranate often but I hope next time I will be wiser about what to do with them.  Oh no.  Maybe now I do know it all.  Well I know more about pomegranates.  Now I just need to work on my photography!

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: E for Eccles cakes - vegan and savoury with leek, spinach and blue cheese
Two year ago: Leek, walnut and blue cheese scones
Three years ago: WHB Apple and mince crumble
Four years ago: Smoky tomato soup and recent cooking
Five years ago: Nigella’s potato bread
Six years ago: What does home mean to you?
Seven years ago: The solstice fruitcake offensive
Eight years ago: Kraut rock cupcakes

Pomegranate and orange smoothie
Serves 1-2

juice of 1 orange
juice of 1/2 pomegranate
juice of 1/2 lime
1 punnet of strawberries, hulled
1 banana, peeled
1 cup milk (I used soy milk)

Blend until smooth.

On the Stereo:
Worlds of Sound CD sampler: Various Artists

Sunday 21 June 2015

Vegan tahini stew with feta and dill dumplings

You might have noticed that I haven't been posting so many savoury recipes this month.  It is the winter solstice here this weekend and I struggle to get meals made before the sun goes down.  So there is no natural light, not much time and energy and I am trying to eat well which means we have been having more stews that I throw together with whatever is in the fridge.  I also have been returning to favourite recipes.

Lately I have made excellent pizza, corn and tempeh soup, tahini lime rice, red lentil koftas, tofu bacon and almond feta.  It was the almond feta that got me thinking.  I had a day when my mind bounced from one dinner idea to another like a pinball. 

At first it was a vegetable galette.  Then I fancied trying Gena's avglomeno again but it was so light and I wanted to the comfort of Mexicale pie with its cheesy dumplings and rich stew.  In a moment of serendipity, these dishes inspired a great new casserole.  I was pleased that it was an opportunity to use some ingredients that had been in the fridge a while.  I flavoured the dumplings with almond feta and dill.  The dumplings were baked on top of a lemony tahini stew made with lots of vegies and beans.

And even though the light had well and truly faded by the time I was cooking dinner, I took a photo of the casserole dish that I used.  It was a wedding present many years ago and I still love it.  The handle clips on and off, meaning that it can be used on the stovetop and in the oven.

I appreciate any time saving ideas I can come by these days.  This stew was not a quick affair.  E was out with his ukelele so I made an easy dinner for Sylvia and waited until she was settled into bed before I relaxed over dinner.  It was a most excellent stew of tahini flavoured vegies and beans with large dumplings to mop it up with.  This was hearty stuff.

The dill was lovely and a touch of Eastern European flavour.  The almond feta was perhaps not as prominent as I had hoped.  Perhaps some lemon juice in the dumplings next time would  give them a lift.

I have been making Mexicale pie for more years than I care to remember and it is exciting to have started experimenting with different flavours.  More exciting was trying using aquafaba instead of the eggs.  This seemed to work well.  My first use of aquafaba involved tipping out the brine from a tin of beans to make a batch of meringues.  In this dish, I used the brine from the beans I put in the casserole.  No waste at all there!

While it might be only the beginning of winter, with a chilly 2.6 degrees celcius and condensation on the window this morning, the solstice hails the start of longer days.  I am looking forward to more daylight in the evenings for photos and more warming winter meals.

I am sending this to Jac for Meatless Mondays, Kimmy for Healthy Vegan Fridays #52, Elizabeth for No Waste Food Challenge, and Lisa, Lauren, and Danielle for Fabulous Foodie Fridays #56.

More warming winter meals from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Bean and beer stew with dumplings (v)
Chickpea, potato and tomato stew (gf, v)
Lentil ragu with chocolate chilli fettuccine (v) 
Nicki’s Nana’s chulent (v)
Sauerkraut, bratwurst and potato casserole (v)
Smoky apple baked beans (gf, v)
Vegetable nut crumble
Vegetarian moussaka

Warming winter meals from elsewhere online:
Beetroot, red onion and puy lentil bouruignon - A2K
Cheese and leek bread pudding - Tin and Thyme
Mushroom stout pie with potato dumplings - Where's the Beef?
Pumpkin maple baked bean cornbread casserole - Oh She Glows
Savoury lentil bean stew - Tinned Tomatoes
Vegetarian shipwreck casserole - Oh My Veggies 

Tahini stew with feta and dill dumplings
An original Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe.  Inspired by Choosing Raw and Mexicale Pie
Serves 4

Tahini stew:
1 tbsp oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 carrots, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 cup vegetable stock
1 and 1/2 cup cooked cannelini beans
1 cup cooked chickpeas
400g tin corn, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp tahini
1 1/2 tbsp white miso
1/4 tsp mustard powder
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt flakes

Feta and dill dumplings:
1 cup wholemeal flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal (polenta)
2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
2 tsp baking powder
¾ cup low fat milk (I used whole fat milk)
6 tbsp chickpea brine, lightly whisked
1 cup chopped almond feta
1/4 cup dill

First make the filling.  [Note: I use a 22-23cm round deep casserole dish that can be used on the stovetop or in the oven but if you don't have one that can be used this way, use a large saucepan and a deep casserole dish.]  Heat oil in large saucepan (ovenproof if possible).  Fry onion, garlic, carrot and celery on medium heat for about 5 to 7 minutes or until vegetables are softening.  Add stock, beans, chickpeas and corn.  Bring to the boil and simmer about 10 minutes.

While stew simmers, make dumplings by mixing together all the ingredients.

When the stew has simmered, whisk lemon juice, tahini, miso and mustard powder with 3/4 cup water in a small mixing bowl.  Add to the vegetable mixture and heat until  tahini mixture is well mixed into the stew.  Turn off the heat and stir in nutritional yeast flakes, dill and salt.  Taste and adjust seasoning.

If not using an ovenproof saucepan, pour mixture into an ovenproof dish.  There should be quite a lot of liquid in the mixture as the dumplings will absorb some while baking.  Arrange spoonfuls of dumpling mixture on top of tahini stew.

Bake uncovered for 10 minutes at 200ºC. Then reduce heat to 180ºC and bake a further 30-40 minutes until dumplings are cooked (golden brown and a skewer in the middle will come out clean). Serve hot.  To reheat add a drizzle of water to mixture if possible (ie if you have served some of the dumplings) and heat with lid on to keep dumplings from drying out (about 20-30 minutes).

On the Stereo:
Ghost Sonata: Tuxedo Moon

Friday 19 June 2015

Street Art in Melbourne CBD: ACDC Lane and Duckboard Lane

When I visited Lane's Edge cafe and bar in March, I had a lovely day walking through the city with a camera.  So yesterday I sorted just a few of the street art photos that I took.  I have been to Hosier Lane a few times but this was my first visit to ACDC Lane and Duckboard Lane just up over Russell Street (off Flinders Lane.  Both lanes, which form a horseshoe, have lots of interesting street art, including quite a lot of political art relating to high profile people ranging from our Prime Minister Tony Abbott to Sea Shepherd's Paul Watson.

ACDC Lane:

Duckboard Lane:

If you look closely at this pattern, you notice it is made of bottletops.