Friday 31 July 2015

Paneer tikka masala and Spinach and chickpea curry

It was the end of a busy week during the school holidays.  I was late making dinner, E was late home and Sylvia was late to watch her film.  She bore it well, ate beans on toast while I chopped and fried and stirred.  She complained about the noise of the paneer frying and then snuggled up with us on the couch to watch How to train your dragon.

I had been meaning to make the Paneer Tikka Masala for some time.  At the start of the week I had made dahl to eat with the masala.  It took me a week to find time to make the masala so fortunately we had the big pot of dahl to tide us.  By the end of the week I still had some left. It made a fine accompaniment to the masala.

The masala seemed to last a long time.  I made a cauliflower in spicy peanut gravy (with cashews instead of peanuts and peas instead of the leafy greens) that I had made years ago and it was really nice but very grey.  I made the sauce in my high speed blender which made it smoother than my previous attempt. 

A night or two later I made another curry with spinach and chickpeas.  The recipe methodology needed some slight tweaking to work for me so.  However it was a great simple fast recipe that I hope to make again.  I particularly like that it uses lots of chickpeas for those on the aquafaba bandwagon.

I was very pleased to have three curries to serve together.  I love lots of curries but only manage to make them on different nights.  However by the time I had eaten the spinach and chickpea curry over a few nights I had had my fill of curries.  I blended the leftovers with some vegies to make a very good soup.

I am sending the Paneer tikka masala to Gluten Free Fridays and the Spinach and chickpea curry to Healthy Vegan Fridays.

More curries from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Banana Curry (gf, v)
Beetroot, Greens and Chickpea Curry (gf. v)
Chana Masala (gf, v)
Chickpea and potato curry with mango chutney (gf, v)
Chickpeas and paneer in a spicy creamy cashew gravy (gf)
Spicy pea curry (gf, v)
Watermelon Curry (gf, v)

Paneer Tikka Masala
Slightly adapted from Ivy, Phyllis and Me
Serves 6

4-5 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger
2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons of sweet paprika
1 tablespoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1 teaspoon of chilli paste
3-4 tablespoons of Greek yoghurt
400g tin of tomatoes or 3 fresh large tomatoes
500ml vegetable stock (or less)
600g paneer cheese, cut into cubes
1 tsp of salt

Brown onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan.  Stir the ginger and garlic in for 1 minute.  Stir in the spices to make a paste.  Gradually stir in the yoghurt and then then tin of tomatoes.  Simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the stock and simmer uncovered for 25 minutes.  It should reduce thought mine didn't that much.  (However once it had sat for an hour or two it thickened a lot.)

While tomato mixture is simmering, fry paneer in remaining oil over medium high heat until golden brown.  I did this in two batches.

Mix tomato mixture, fried paneer and salt.  Cook another 2 to 3 minutes and serve with rice or naan bread.

Spinach and chickpea curry
Adapted from BBC Good Food
Serves 4-6

1 tsp oil
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp mild curry paste (I used Rogan Josh)
400g tin of tomatoes
2 x 400g cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
250g baby spinach
squeeze lemon juice
basmati rice, to serve

Fry the onion in oil until soft.  Stir in curry paste for a minute or two.  Add tomatoes and chickpeas.  Cook on medium to medium high for about 5 minutes until thicken slightly. Add spinach and cover for about a minute or two until it is wilting.  Stir in seasoning and lemon juice.  Serve with rice.

On the stereo:
Melt: Straightjacket Fits

Tuesday 28 July 2015

N.Tran Bakery and a day out in Prahran

I had a fun trip to Prahran with a friend last week.  Carmen had invited me to along to a library session on Twitter.  The day was looking promising when we found a parking spot easily.  That is quite an achievement around Chapel Street.

The information session was interesting and makes me think maybe I will open a Twitter account when I have some time.  Though perhaps the most fascinating moments were when an old guy on roller blades turned up at the doorway of the session just to watch and looking at the swastikas in the library tiles on the way out.  (The building was no doubt built before Hitler sullied the swastika.)

We enjoyed looking up at all the wonderful old buildings.  And browsing in some of the shops beneath.

I enjoyed checking out some street art nearby.  It is great to get out in a different part of Melbourne from my usual inner North. 

Then we had lunch at N.Tran Bakery.  I had the vegetarian salad roll with tofu (banh mi).  It was freshly made and filled with lovely vegies and tasty slices of tofu.  My only regret was that I ordered the standard salad and didn't think to ask for some beetroot in it.  Carmen had the rice paper rolls which were huge.

We had been lucky to order before the rush arrived but as we ate in store we were amazed that it got quite busy.  We paid Prahran prices ($7) but it was a really good lunch.  Satisfied we got in the car to go home and got terribly lost when we missed a turn and found ourselves exploring many no through roads by Southbank.  Luckily we were happy to chat as we drove - or perhaps this was why we got lost in the first place.  Next time we will listen to the GPS.

N.Tran Bakery
263 Chapel Street, Prahran
03 9525 0889

Click to add a blog post for N. Tran on Zomato

Sunday 26 July 2015

Chocolate coconut nirvana slice

So according to The Age newspaper, Melbourne is the world capital of food allergies.  I can confirm that this makes contributing food to social gatherings challenging.  My nieces and nephews present a challenging picture.  We now have a dairy allergy as well as vegetarian, peanut allergy, and celiac (as well as general nut allergies on the other side of the world).  So when we gathered for my brother's birthday on the weekend I decided I would make something sweet to please everyone but it seemed my energy levels weren't quite up to it.

I am still dealing with too many photos cluttering up my hard drive, spending evenings doing silly things like looking for a car key only to find it had fallen in a shoe, and testing recipes that have been labelled by Sylvia as 'too vegany'.  So I decided I would make something on Saturday morning before her gymnastics class.  However upon checking my recipe for home made soy condensed milk I found that it would take a good hour plus need cooling time.  By the time I read this, I had started making condensed milk with coconut for a nirvana slice.

It all got too much and I opened a tin of dairy condensed milk so that I could get the slice cooked in time.  It was still warm when I loaded it into the car.  We arrived at my parents' place after everyone else had eaten lunch and were ready for the birthday cake.  We were too ravenous to be polite and wait til the cake was over to eat our dinner.  It was so chaotic that I never took out my camera until slice had been served and some leftovers had been given to other members of the family.

I really liked this slice though I agree with Sylvia that the almonds were not so successful in it.  It was similar to this one and this one.  I would like to try it again with home made condensed milk.  Then it would be both gluten free and vegan.

The recipe on Gluten Free Goddess called for biscuit crumbs.  I happened to have a 65g packet of Freelicious tea biscuits and used ground up corn cakes for the rest of the bulk.  I quite like the sound of the Nirvana bars at The Vegan Project that use ground almonds and oats instead of biscuits, and coconut milk and maple syrup instead of condensed milk.  Many more experiments are required.

And the coconut condensed milk I was making actually turned out really well.  I gave it to my sister whose little girl is having reaction to dairy.  Hopefully she will get some use out of it.  I am going to experiment more with it as I have a particular fondness for condensed milk in all forms.

I am sending this post to Carole's Food on Friday which is celebrating all things coconut this week.

More condensed milk recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Choc chip cookies
Chocolate caramel slice 
Creamy strawberry icy poles
Mock turtle slice
Vegan 'nutella' fudge

Chocolate coconut nirvana slice
Adapted from Gluten Free Goddess

1/2 cup butter or vegan margarine
1 1/2 cups gluten-free biscuit crumbs*
1 generous cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup coconut (I used dessicated)*
1 cup almonds, chopped and roasted
1 x 400g tin (about 1 cup) condensed milk*

Preheat oven to 180 C and line a swiss roll tin with baking paper.  Melt butter and pour into prepared tin.  Spoon over biscuit crumbs, mix with butter and pat with the back of a spoon to evenly cover the pan.  Scatter with nuts, coconut and chocolate.  Pour condensed milk over the rest of the ingredients.  I stirred them a little to make sure they were mixed.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until puffed and golden brown on top.  Cool in tray and then cut into squares or bars.

*NOTES: I used a mixture of ground tea biscuits and corn cakes for the biscuit crumbs (nb in America these are called cookie crumbs).  I used dairy condensed milk but the Gluten Free Goddess made it with coconut condensed milk so I am sure a vegan one would work here too.  I hope to try it some day.  The Gluten Free Goddess called for coconut flakes but I only had dessicated coconut - will try it with flakes when I have some.

On the Stereo:
Reading, Writing and Arithmetic: The Sundays

Thursday 23 July 2015

Catch up eating out 2014-2015

It is an embarrassingly long time since I last shared a catch up of random photos of cafes for which I haven't had time to write a full post.  It seems my computer is full up with photos so it seems a good opportunity to dig deep into the shadows (and my memory) and bring some of these old photos into the light. 

These cafes are either places I wanted more visits before I write about it, places I have already written about or places for which I didn't have much information or time for a full post. 

It is so long since I did a catch up that this meal from the Cornershop (9 Ballarat St, Yarraville) was from summer in 2013-2014.  I quite liked the zucchini and mint fritters with cumin yoghurt, sumac and pinenuts.  Sylvia had hand cut potato chips which were really good.  It was a really lovely space to eat in but my memories are a bit blurry.

I love visiting bakeries and have so many photos that here is a collage of some of the great baking I have been eating. 
  • Far left and far right middle: The chocolate muffin from Green Refectory Cafe (Sydney Rd Brunswick) was amazingly good and I also really liked the pie but can't find any notes of what was in it.  
  • Middle top: Yummy tofu and pumpkin pie from Melbourne University food cooperative.
  • Middle bottom: Vanilla slice from O'Hea's Bakery (203-205 O'Hea St, Coburg).  I have friends who swear this is the best vanilla slice.  It was a bit rich for me but pretty good.
  • Far right top: Pumpkin and polenta muffin from Sugardough (Lygon Street, Brunswick).  I just love their savoury muffins either on the go or in the cafe with a good book.
  • Far right bottom: Cheese, spinach and sundried tomato muffin with pepper from Dench Bakery (109 Scotchmer St, Fitzroy North).  Another delicious savoury muffin. 

This mint and chocolate ice cream from Brunettis (Lygon St, Carlton) was enjoyed in summer,  That seems a long long time ago.  If memory serves me right, it was actually for Sylvia but I can't remember the occasion.

A recent meal was this cauliflower. tomato and mushroom soup at the Brunswick Flour Mill (341 Sydney Rd., Brunswick).  I really liked the wooden table and chairs with old advertisements on the walls.  This cafe has lots of bakery pies and cakes as well as a cafe menu.  I really loved this soup and would return to try other food.

I went to a birthday dinner at the Clarendon Hotel (378 Latrobe Terrace, Newtown) in Geelong back in 2014.  I enjoyed the vegetarian lasagna and the golden chips but it was your average pub grub rather than anything fancy.  It was a dark cold night and we were glad the kids could play in the indoor area and there was lots of room for us to sit.  However we had a long wait for dinner and I was surprised to find some of the kids has to wait ages, which meant tears and meltdowns. 

I went to New Day Rising (221D Blyth St, Brunswick East) recently for another of their amazing CLTs.  For the uninitiated, that is the coconut bacon, lettuce and tomato bagels.  It is such a cute tiny cafe and I enjoyed reading a magazine and gazing out the window while I ate but first I had to find a place to get cash because there is no EFTPOS or credit cards accepted there.

One of our regular places to see movies is the Cinema Nova.  Quite some time ago, E and I had a meal at the Cinema Nova Bar (380 Lygon Street, Carlton) before a movie.  I had the pizza with tomato and basil sauces.  I liked it but found that this criss cross of sauces looked good but was a bit much sauce for me.  The menu seemed quite snacky but upon checking the recent menu I would like to try it again because there are quite a few vegetarian options and it is so convenient.

Another long ago meal that has almost receded in the mists of time is this pumpkin soup at a cute little cafe in the city called Le Petite Bourke. It was ok but pretty light for lunch, even with a bread roll.  Sylvia had a croissant with cheese.  As I remember the vegetarian options were not extensive but I think the menu was fairly small anyway. 

On another trip to Cinema Nova, we had dinner at Sea Salt (364 Lygon St, Carlton) before the movie. While this is fancier than the traditional fish and chip shop, I like that there is the option of burgers and sushi for vegetarians.  I had a vegetarian burger with chips and it was great.  This was back in summer when we could sit outside on a balmy evening and chat to other people at the communal table.

When the Emporium shopping centre opened in the CBD last year, E, Sylvia and I went to the food hall for lunch after a movie.  Because the centre was so new, a stall was giving away free green tea ice cream.  I can't remember where it was but the ice cream was really good and the colour was amazing.

I had the superfood salad at Miss Marmalade (126 Union St, Brunswick) when I had lunch there with my mum last August.  This is the time of year when I feel the lack of seasonal fresh fruit and vegies.  So I really loved this fresh hearty healthy salad of quinoa, lentils, barley, greens, almonds on yoghurt flatbread with harissa, truffle pecorino, white bean hummus and pomegranate.  It is a really beautiful cafe and I was surprised to see that the back room was very child friendly with books and toys.

We haven't been to Batman Market (Gafney St, Coburg) for ages but last year we went there and I really enjoyed the broad bean pea arancini with cabbage salad.  Meanwhile Sylvia and E were more excited to eat a cronut.  We must go back and check how the market is going.

I am always on the look out for a good vegetarian pho.  This one at CERES Merri Table Cafe (East Brunswick) was nice but quite light on vegies. I had been tossing up between the pho and the zucchini fritter sandwich.  I recently tried the sandwich and it was not that impressive.  However other foods that people around me have had there recently such as roast potatoes and Dr Marty's crumpets have been really good.  I also really like their little sweet snacks for kids such as the chocolate covered dried banana that Sylvia enjoyed.  However I prefer a pie at the market cafe and I long for them to open the cafe by the old train that closed over a year ago for refurbishment.

Lastly I was really impressed by this pancake about a year ago at what I thought was from St Ali North (815 Nicholson St, Carlton North).  I had gone to meet a friend and found I got my times confused so instead I went to read the paper and enjoy these pancakes with rhubarb, meringues, and pistachio.  (I didn't take notes of the actual name).  However when I thought about returning there another time it was named Green Park.  

So maybe others don't have the chance to eat this lovely pancake again.  However it was so pretty and delicious that I still want to share.  And note in the photo that at the time, The Age newspaper was featuring the shame of our refugee situation.  It seems that things have only got worse since then.  But politics aside, I am truly spoiled to live in a town that offers so much good food that I can't keep up with the places I visit.

NOTE: there aren't many vegan meals here as they were featured in my Vegan eating out in Melbourne post late last year.  I also have other places that I am still hoping to find time to write about!

Tuesday 21 July 2015

Vegan bubble and squeak frittata - for leftovers!

After our Christmas in July dinner we had lots of leftover vegies.  I wanted to make bubble and squeak but I think my potatoes needed to be softer to hold it together.  Instead I decided on frittata.  I had eggs and cream in the fridge but decided I preferred to make it vegan.  It was a light and easy meal after a day of feasting. 

I had lots of roast potatoes, roast pumpkin, brussel sprouts and some roast garlic.  Unfortunately there was no nut roast leftover or I would have cut it into chunks and thrown it into the mix.  With hindsight I might have cut the roast vegies into smaller chunks but I think larger or small chunks work.  I also made some tofu bacon because a lot of bubble and squeak recipes seem to use ham.

I looked up recipes and found that The Simple Veganista had a Vegan Vegetable Frittata that was baked in the oven.  The mixture looked so similar to an omelette that I just looked up a tried and true omelette recipe and adapted that.  So the frittata was essentially an omelette baked over leftovers.  Which is a great solution for a whole range of leftovers.

I really enjoyed this frittata.  It was good honest food.  As it is dark and gloomy in the evenings I decided to save a piece to photograph in daylight the next morning.  However it was just too good and we ended up eating the leftovers before I got a chance.

I am sending this frittata to Healthy Vegan Fridays #56, Gluten Free Fridays #151Meat Free Mondays and No Waste Food Challenge.

More new life for leftovers on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
African curried coconut soup
Haggis neeps and tatties crepe stack
Peppers stuffed with white beans and kale
Pumpkin tomato and spinach pasta
Ricki's Toronto sandwich
Salad sandwich
Vegetarian bolognaise sauce

Vegan bubble and squeak frittata
An original Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe
serves 3-4

300g medium tofu, drained
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp mirin
6 tbsp besan (chickpea flour),
4 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
3 cloves of roasted garlic, peeled
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder (optional)
1/2 tsp sea salt 
pinch black salt
leftover roast vegies - about 3-4 cups
1/2 cup diced fried tofu bacon
sage leaves for garnish

Blend tofu, olive oil, mirin, besan, yeast flakes, roasted garlic, turmeric, papper, garlic powder, sea salt  and black salt in a blender until smooth.  Place the roast vegies in a 22cm pie dish and scatter tofu bacon over the vegies.  Pour tofu mixture over the vegies.  Arrange sage leaves over the top.  Bake about 25 to 30 minutes at 190 C.  Frittata should be golden brown on the edges and set in the middle.  Serve hot or cold.

On the Stereo:
Classic Folk Music from Smithonian Folkways: Various Artists

Saturday 18 July 2015

Chocolate apple pikelets with blueberry sauce

It was the morning after our Christmas in July dinner.  I was finely grating apple for pikelets for breakfast and it was taking forever.  Sylvia was so hungry she was eating the apple peel.  She was playing houses and waiting for the bus (that would be me).  I was taking so long that she made an announcement that the bus was delayed.  I think this is a sign that even the kids have noticed that the public transport system is in disarray.  And that I need to buy a better grater because I want to make lots more of these pikelets.

I had been after something really simple because I was still tired after our big meal the day before.  These apple pikelets seemed to fit the bill.  Then I made them complicated.  It struck me that I could add some chocolate spread and a blueberry sauce to make them perfect to send to Choclette for her We Should Cocoa event which has blueberries as the theme this month.

I really like Choclette's monthly event and had been thinking of what I could make to combine chocolate and blueberries.  Decadent cheesecakes and layer cakes aren't my thing.  And I have already combined these flavours in cake, scones and cake pops.  Thank goodness for pancakes and pikelets.

These pikelets were a fairly healthy sort of snack low in refined sugar.  Though I say this warily as I have been reading lately about the low sugar myth.  And despite my love of chocolate, I will probably try these pikelets without the chocolate and apple sauce some time.

After breakfast we had a quiet day at home.  Sylvia curled up in her little 'house' in the corner of the loungeroom and found a children's baking cookbook that a friend had given her for her birthday years ago.  She now can read well enough to flick through the book and tell me all the things she wants to bake.  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, does it!

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Cuban Beer-Infused Black Beans
Two year ago: French lavender salt recipe
Three years ago: Irish No Knead Bread
Four years ago: Mulled wine and chocolate cake
Five years ago: Rhubarb and apple sponge pudding
Six years ago: Sour Skon
Seven years ago: Pumpkin, PC Stories and a Roast
Eight years ago: Full Moon Cupcakes

Chocolate apple pikelets with blueberry sauce
Adapted from Kid Magazine
Makes about 15 pikelets

1 cup self-raising flour
2 red apples, peeled and finely grated
2 tbsp chocolate spread
scant 1/2 cup milk
1 egg
butter or margarine to grease the frypan

Blueberry sauce:
125g blueberries
drizzle of maple syrup

Vanilla yoghurt to serve

To make the blueberry sauce, place blueberries and maple syrup in a small saucepan.  Simmer until blueberries are soft and syrupy.  Set aside to cool while you make the pikelets.

Mix flour, and apple in a medium mixing bowl.  Place the chocolate spread in the bottom of a small measuring jug and fill up to 1/2 cup with milk.  Stir the chocolate spread into the milk until combined.  Stir in the egg.  Pour the chocolate mixture into the apple and flour mixture.

Heat a frypan over medium heat and lightly grease with butter.  Drop dessertspoons of mixture onto the frypan.  Cook for a minute or so until a few bubbles appear and the mixture dries slightly.  Flip and cook until golden brown on both sides.  (I had to flip mine more than once on the first lot of pikelets).  Continue to cook pikelets until all the mixture is used.

Serve pikelets with blueberry sauce and vanilla yoghurt.

On the Stereo:
High Violet: The National

Thursday 16 July 2015

Wang Wang Dumpling, Supercharger, craft and school holiday excursions

I look forward to the school holidays because it seems like that will be a break and then they are so crazy busy that I look forward to school going back because I think that life will be easier with Sylvia at school but it still doesn't slow down.

So here I am struggling to find time to blog because my photos need sorting because there are too many on my computer, my external hard drive is too full, I am doing some recipe testing for Leigh Drew and I have already had Sylvia home sick one day this term (which started on Monday).  And I just want time to listen to Jon Faine on the radio (after his 6 weeks leave) and read All the Bright Places which I am loving.  But let me squeeze in some time to write about some outings and craft sessions during the holidays.

Sylvia E and I saw the Minions movie at Melbourne Central.  It was lots of fun especially if you love 1960s Britain, as well as silliness.  Afterwards we went across the walkway for lunch at the Emporium.  I tried Supercharger for the second time.

Though others love Supercharger (Where's the Beef, Veganopoulous, The Good Hearted) I am still not won over.  I like that it is vegan and healthy.  However I find the menu overwhelming, the mixture of cold and hot dishes doesn't work for me and although I sort of enjoyed my meal in the holidays it was just too spicy.  I want to like it but I think I need to try other places in the food hall.  At least I was so full from the huge meal that I didn't need dessert because E and Sylvia chose frozen yoghurt, which is crazy in the current chilly Melbourne winter.

I have mentioned an outing to the city with Sylvia and her friends to the Immigration Museum.  They do such great craft sessions during the school holidays.  The session they went to was make your own pot plant.  It was probably just as well that we left them behind so we weren't carrying 5 paper pot plants through the city but they did look cute.

The kids then had a fun time at the museum with the replica ship, playing shipwrecks which seemed to involve carrying a drowned kid to a seat and then praying over them.  We also added some wishes to the wishing tree (top photo).

It was nice to see a few school friends at a NAIDOC craft session at our local neighbourhood house with a bonus playtime at the next door playground afterwards.  Sylvia asked if we could go back there next year.

After the NAIDOC session, we went into the library for a quick look at the books and a kindly librarian invited us to join in the craft session that was just starting.  She noticed the reluctant look on my face but by then Sylvia was racing towards the room.  There was no stopping her.  I usually love some craft but this was our third craft activity in two days.  Despite my craft fatigue, we had fun doing the CD animals.  I tried to make a green giraffe which actually looked more like a slug.  Sylvia made a cat and a whale.

Between the craft sessions we went to Wang Wang Dumpling for lunch.  It is the second time I have been there.  It seems odd to me that how this restaurant sits in the middle of a supermarket carpark.  It is convenient if nothing else.

Wang Wang Dumpling has no pretensions to be anything other than a suburban restaurant but it is friendly and clean with an extensive menu and delicious fried dumplings.  When we arrived there was a family group, a business meeting and a couple of friends.  I took the above photo after we had lingered and most of the lunchtime crowd had left.

The menu had a few vegetarian options such as fried rice, fried noodles, and Cindy mentioned they make their own noodles.  (See her review at Where's the Beef for the menu at the bottom of the post) I was there for a plate of dumplings.  However I was intrigued at the fried pumpkin cakes.  This sounded to me like the slices of pumpkin fried in batter that I get occasionally at a fish and chip shop.  Obviously this was my Anglo Celtic brain at work!

I was quite surprised that it was actually a fried pumpkin skin around a slightly sweet red bean filling.  I ate it with soy sauce but wasn't sure I should.  I was assured it was vegetarian but now wonder after a friend read me the ingredients of her red bean cakes which had lard in them.  If anyone knows about these pumpkin cakes, I would be interested to hear more.

Meanwhile Sylvia now can read enough to peruse the menu herself.  I was amused that she went straight to the drinks menu and ordered a strawberry milkshake.  It was huge and sweet but she seemed to enjoy it, even if she didn't get through it.

Then our vegetable dumplings arrived.  They were full of chopped vegies (carrot and cabbage?) and delicious.  Not quite up to ShanDong MaMa standard but I would return for more.  Sylvia had fun trying to work chopsticks and ate some dumpling skin.  It was a lovely meal though quite heavy with all the deep fried food.

Sylvia and I had a few other craft sessions.  She did some paper snowflakes at a holiday program so we made paper chains and snowflakes for our Christmas in July.  We also had a painting session early in the holidays when we were fresh.

I'd like to tell you more but I am off to try and sort out my photos.  Though the school holidays were busy, I really can't complain because we had lots of fun and we are lucky to live in a city that offers so much good food and great programs.

Wang Wang Dumpling
3/51 Waterfield St, Coburg
03 9354 0294

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Sunday 12 July 2015

Stuffed nut roast for Christmas in July dinner party

As a lover of nut roasts, I sit up and listen when someone else tells me they have a favourite nut roast they have been making for over 25 years.  So when Kate of The Gluten Free Alchemist posted a favourite Stuffed Cashew Nut Roast I couldn't wait to try it.  While they are perfect for Kate at Christmas, I waited until our winter to make a nut roast for the winter solstice and another for Christmas in July dinner party.

I have posted 31 nut roast recipes in the eight years that I have had this blog.  Yet in all this time I have two types of nut roasts that have lingered on my to do list.  The long list has not had one stuffed nut roast nor one nut roast in pastry.  This nut roast is rolled up like a roulade.  Roulades intimidate me.  Yet Kate was reassuring that it wasn't so hard.

Finally I summoned up the courage to try this nut roast for a winter solstice roast dinner.  It wasn't so hard and it tasted amazing.  We had it with roast (white and purple) potatoes, roast pumpkin, boiled brussel sprouts and gravy.  It was delicious.  Sylvia even had a little nut roast.

My main concern was that there wasn't so much of a swirl as was so clear in Kate's slices of nut roast.  However I agreed with her that it sliced up beautiful and tasted amazing when cold.  In fact for a bit of fun I made my own roast dinner sandwich with some leftovers.  The Home Alone sandwich at the new Smith and Deli vegan sandwich bar has wowed everyone with a vegan American roast dinner in a sandwich.  This is my Australian version: nut roast, roast potato, roast pumpkin, peas and gravy.

When I made the nut roast for the winter solstice, I was already thinking about a Christmas in July dinner party I had organised with a couple of families from Sylvia's school this weekend.  It seemed the perfect nut roast to serve.  I prefer tried and tested recipes when cooking a meal for others, especially one that looks and tastes impressive.

A couple of days before the lunch, Sylvia and I made paper chains and paper snowflakes.  Do you like her idea of sticking a snowflake on the lamp?  On the morning before everyone arrived we dug out a little plastic Christmas tree, cds and some other festive touches.  I set our kitchen table for the adults and had the children sitting around the little table.  Sylvia helped me lay out the cutlery and E did a last load of dishes.

I wasn't sure exactly how many people we would have, given some illness and the possibility of a couple of last minute guests.  By the time everyone arrived it was pouring rain in a most wintery fashion and we had 6 adults and 5 children.  All the food was prepared and just needed a bit of reheating, other than chopping up brussel sprouts. Benchtops were cleared and serving dishes were laid out.

The previous day I had made nut roast (up to the chilling stage), gravy, gingerbread biscuits and chopped up the potato and pumpkin for roasting.  My mum would sometimes put the vegies for roasting into water in advance when preparing large dinners so I did this overnight.  In the morning I roasted the vegies for about an hour, cooked the nut roast, made pizzas and put the gingerbread stars together into a Christmas tree. 

I had decided that the children would need feeding first so I had the candy cane pizzas ready when they arrived.  I had tried candy cane pizza last Christmas and it was not quite right.  This pizza looked better because I baked the pizza with the tomato sauce on it and only put the cheese on it in the last 5 minutes.  However when I tasted some leftover pizza later I thought it tasted a little on the doughy side, possibly due to me messing with a favourite pizza base recipe.  The kids seemed to enjoy it.  In fact they loved all the festive touches.

Meanwhile I was reheating the nut roast , gravy, roast potato and roast pumpkin while boiling the sprouts.  Naomi brought along a bottle of red wine and a lovely beetroot, feta and greens salad.  By the time the adults were settled down to the meal and the kids were just about finished and creating mayhem in Sylvia's bedroom.

Everyone loved the nut roast.  Quite a few guests had never had one before.  They were impressed and few of us had seconds.  There was only a small crusty piece remaining when we finished our meal.  The kids were too busy running about to taste any but I think they sampled some roast potatoes.

I didn't get any photos of the inside of the nut roast at the Christmas in July.  I had thought I might photograph the leftovers but there was nothing worth photographing.  So instead here is another picture of the inside of my first nut roast which looks far neater because it was sliced cold.  You can see a bit of a swirl.  I hoped for more swirl in the second but I don't think it was any more obvious.

Swirl or no swirl, it was an excellent nut roast and you don't just need to take my word for it.  E thought it more cheesy than many of my nut roasts.  Being baked like a roulade meant it had more crispy edges and it is not too stodgy with the carrot filling.

For dessert Kerin brought over a tray of apple rose tarts.  They looked so gorgeous and were delicious with custard that I cooked up while they baked.  Sylvia was smitten with the custard but her friend said it tasted of nothing.  Kerin also brought along a bottle of Baileys Irish Cream which went very well with the tarts and warmed us in the dark wintery afternoon.

I had also made a gingerbread Christmas tree with my graded star cutters.  Sylvia had a lovely time helping to put this together and scattering cachou baubles over the tree.  I thought it would be a festive table decoration.  However Sylvia wanted it on the kids table and then it was removed from it while they ate pizza.  I was surprised that they kids demolished the tree, even with the gingerbread people that Kerin brought along.

We were pleased the skies cleared enough for the kids to run about outside while we had a cuppa.  Then it was time for everyone to find their coats and head home.  We did dishes and tidied up and then collapsed in front of the telly with some leftover pizza for dinner.

I am sending this post to Jac for Meatfree Mondays, Karen for Cooking with Herbs, and Michelle and Helen for Extra Veg.

More festive meals on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Christmas dinner for two with broccoli roulade
Festive vegetarian haggis wreath for New Year's Eve
Hubert the (vegetarian) hog’s head Christmas in July feast
Christmas day dinner with the family
Parsnip, cranberry and chestnut roast at Christmas dinner in Scotland 
A vegetarian Christmas dinner in Scotland
Winter solstice galettes and fruitcake

Stuffed cashew nut roast
Adapted from Kate at The Gluten Free Alchemist
Serves 6 - 10

1 to 2 tbsp neutral oil (I used rice bran oil)
1 leek, diced
170g (about 2-3 medium) carrots, - peeled and grated
85g ground walnuts* 
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
½ teaspoon dried sage
1 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper to taste

Outer layer:
225g raw cashew nuts,  finely ground
125g stale breadcrumbs*
125g grated vintage cheese*
1 handful fresh parsley, finely chopped*
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg yolk
140 ml (¼ pint) milk

Extra whole raw cashews to decorate

First make the stuffing.  Fry leek in the oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Add grated carrots and fry about 10 minutes until cooked through.  Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients.  Set aside to cool while you mix up the outer layer.

To make the outer layer mix all ingredients together to make a slightly sticky mixture.

Line a swiss roll tin with baking paper hanging over either long end.  Spread the outer layer over the base of the tin.  Then spread the cooled filling over the outer layer leaving about 2 cm on either long end.

Starting at the long end, use baking paper to assist you roll the nut roast up tightly.  It will be very fragile.  If there are any cracks, now is the best time to patch them up with your fingers.  Kate suggests smoothing over the seam where the rolling finishes but I find it easier to put the seam on the base.  Place cashews on top to decorate and wrap in baking paper.  Chill in fridge for at least an hour.  It can be made the day before and chilled overnight.

Unwrap from baking paper and bake on a tray for 45 minutes on 180 C or until golden brown.  (I turned my slow oven up to 200 C for half the time.)  Eat hot or cold.

  • Any breadcrumbs will do. I used sourdough breadcrumbs and Kate used gluten free breadcrumbs.  The first time I made this I used a mixture of gruyere and cheddar cheese. 
  •  The second time I made it I made my own breadcrumbs in the blender and put some fresh parsley in with it so it was chopped really fine, but this is not necessary.  
  • The first time I used some celery and all the leek but the second time I used the white part of the leek.
  • The first time I made it I had roasted garlic and added it to the outer layer which was great.  
  • I would always use cashews for the outer layer but am still experimenting with the middle layer.  Kate uses skinned hazelnuts but I have used walnuts and pecans and have thought about using blanched almonds.  
  • Kate spreads her filling on baking paper that is not in a tin but I find it easier to spread it on paper in a tin to determine the size.
Here are photos of making the nut roast - on the left are photos from the first time I made it and one the left are photos from the second time I made it:

On the Stereo:
White Christmas: Bing Crosby