Friday 26 February 2016

No Knead Overnight Sourdough Fruit Bread

You might have noticed my fruit bread on my recent cake fail post.  I wanted something easy and indulgent for my birthday breakfast.  My idea of breakfast heaven is a slice of good fruit bread.  So I finally got around to adapting my favourite overnight sourdough bread to a fruit bread recipe.  Easy and delicious!  Perfect!

All I did was add lots of dried fruit and just a little honey and spice to my usual recipe.  It smelled wonderful as it baked.  The final loaf was pleasingly rustic and tasted wonderful.    It is a beautiful thing to wake up to a fresh loaf of bread on the kitchen table.

The loaf was far more dense than my usual plain loaves of bread but I love dense bread.  Most of it went into the freezer.  Having a slice toasted and buttered each morning was luxury.  It had enough fruit to be sweet enough with just some butter.

However if you want something more fancy, it is great with cream cheese, jam, cashew cheese or slices of cheese.  And it is delicious at any time of day.

I am delighted this recipe worked as a fruit bread.  It is such an easy and forgiving recipe.  I make the plain loaves quite regularly and always make two at a time.  One of these days I will try dividing the dough to make one plain and one fruit bread.  That, of course, will be a day when I have more energy.

More yeast/sourdough and dried fruit recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Cranberry nut rolls
Freshly fruited yeast bread
Fruit mince scrolls (v)
Pumpernickel rolls with currants (v) 
Sourdough hot cross buns
Vegan sourdough hot cross buns with marzipan (v) 

Sourdough fruit bread 
Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe
with guidance from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial and Milk and Honey
makes 2 loaves

350g of sourdough starter
500g water
18g salt
1 tbsp honey (or other sweetener)
1 tsp mixed spice
100g walnuts
150g sultanas
75g cranberries
150g chopped dried apricots
1 kg flour

A few hours before making the loaf, take sourdough starter out of the fridge and feed it so it gets nice and bubbly.  Also you can soak dried fruit in hot water if desired.  If so drain before using in bread dough.

About half an hour before going to bed (or first thing in the morning) mix everything together.  It is easiest to mix everything except flour first and then add flour.  Use hands to mix if required.  Set aside covered with a tea towel for half an hour.  Knead in the bowl for about 1 minute.  Cover with greased clingwrap and leave at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours.

Scrape dough out onto a lightly floured board.  Very gently without punching the air out, fold the dough in three.  Cut the dough in half and shape into two loaves.  Place on a floured surface and cover with the lightly greased clingwrap.  (Maize flour is great here.)  Set aside to rise for 30 minutes.  While the loaves rise, preheat oven to 240 C, with casserole dishes heating if you are using them.

Slash the loaves and put in the heated casserole dishes with lids on (or on a tray or in a tin).   (They don't need greasing.)  Bake for 20 minutes with lid on.  Remove lid and bake another 20 minutes.  Then reduce oven heat to 180 C and return to oven for another 10 minutes to make sure the crust is crispy and golden brown.  Cool your loaves on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.

NOTES: For more extensive notes on this method, go to my post on overnight sourdough bread.  Update: since making this bread I had made quite a few fruit breads and if I make this again I would add a few tablespoons of olive oil for softness and also soak the fruit first which also keeps it from drying out.

On the Stereo:
A Short Album about Love - The Divine Comedy

Tuesday 23 February 2016

The Vegemite burger and random notes

One of the best fast food burgers I ever had was from Burger King on a trip there in 1996.  They no longer do the burger.  So I am always on the look out for a copy cat recipe.  Hence my interest in the vegan Burger King by Mouthwatering Vegan.  Then I saw the marmite and chili quarterpounder by The Veg Space.  I was inspired to try a similar style burger with vegemite.  It was amazing.

The mixture was both vegan and gluten free.  It was a bit fragile but mostly managed to stay together.  I really loved how much the mixture tasted of vegemite despite me using less than The Veg Space's marmite.  Marmite is a little sweeter after all.  Vegemite is unrelentingly salty as a few unsuspecting foreigners have discovered.  A little is advisable on a piece of toast.  A lot of vegemite works well in the burgers.  It was less discernable in the final product.

When I was a kid we mostly had burgers as an alternative to sausages at a BBQ.  We would eat them on fluffy white bread with lots of tomato sauce.  However occasionally my dad bought a burger with the lot from a fish and chip shop instead of flake (yep shark in batter).  This was before MacDonalds had hit our shores.  Though I am not sure I ever had one of these burgers myself I still see them in fish and chip shops and get nostalgic for them occasionally.

Or perhaps my nostalgia is for when my mum made burgers.  She made me burgers a year or two ago and her way of toasting the buns made me feel quite nostalgic though I don't have strong memories of eating them as a kid.  What I know is that I have a soft spot for the Aussie style of burgers with the lot.  So we ate ours with cheese (Biocheese is a great vegan alternative), tomato, lettuce, tinned beetroot and fried onions.  (With not enough energy to add the egg nor certainty whether pineapple is usually included.)  It also works with toasted bread but it is not as amazing as the buns.

The mixture keeps well in the fridge for a few days.  I made it last week and loved it.  Then I was sick the next day and had to wait to make it again.  We still had some on the weekend.  It was a delicious and easy meal after a hectic day that started with an emergency call to a plumbers and then found us in the afternoon in a supermarket with their EFTPOS and credit card facilities down.  To add injury to insult while we went to get cash from an ATM, someone stole our doughnuts.  We really needed the doughnuts but at least we had the burgers.

Random notes:
  • Sylvia and school friend were chatting.  Friend said she was grown up now and got angry at her teacher.  I asked Sylvia if she did.  No, she replied, she's pretty.
  • You might notice the Aboriginal flag on the burger alongside the Australian flag.  I was so annoyed at so few Aboriginal flags on Australia Day and then noticed there were very few on my blog too and wanted to make more effort to include the Aboriginal flag in Australian posts.  I regret to say this was was drawn up in a hurry while the burger cooked but I hope it will put me on the right path to recognising Aboriginal Australia more.
  • I had a dream a while back about a tofu bacon and vegan cheese sandwich.  Then in that half conscious state between sleep and waking I had visions of the Vegan Past where everyone ate ominvore cheese and bacon sandwiches, the Vegan Present where some have discovered the vegan alternative, and the Vegan Future where everyone ate vegan sandwiches.  Perhaps it is the effect of too many Smith and Deli sandwiches!

I am sending these burgers to Healthy Vegan Fridays #87, Meat Free Mondays and Cook Once Eat Twice.

More vegan burgers at Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Cauliflower burgers (gf v)
Quinoa and sun-dried tomato burgers (gf, v) 
Sweet potato, chickpea and hemp seed burgers (v)
Tamale burgers with mole sauce (gf, v)
Watercourse Foods tempeh burger (gf,v)

The Vegemite Burger
Adapted from The Veg Space and Mouthwatering Vegan
Makes 6 burgers

olive oil
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
150g button mushrooms, finely chopped
400g tin brown lentils, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup (200g) cooked brown rice
2 tbsp vegemite (or other yeast extract)
1 tbsp tahini
1 tsp old bay seasoning (or other seasoning mix)
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
2 tbsp besan flour - more
extra flour, for dusting

Serving suggestion: burger bun, cheese, lettuce, tomato, tinned beetroot slices, fried onions, tomato sauce, and mayonnaise.

Fry onion and garlic in 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat until softening.  Add mushrooms and cook until any juices evaporate and the mushrooms are dark and aromatic.

Meanwhile mash lentils and brown rice.  Mash in the onion and mushroom mixture once it is cooked.  Stir in the remaining ingredients.  Use hands to shape into flat patties.

Fry burgers in a couple of spoonfuls of olive oil over medium high heat for about 5 minutes or until deep brown.  Flip over, being careful as they can be a bit fragile.  Cook another 4-5 minutes until well browned on the other side.

Serving suggestion: Toast burger buns, (butter if you like it) spread one half with tomato sauce and the other with mayo, melt cheese on burger if desired, pile buns with burger, cheese, lettuce, tomato, beetroot, fried onions and eat with a hearty appetite.

On the stereo:
Folk Music in America:  Vol 13: Songs of Humour and Childhood: Library of Congress Collection

Sunday 21 February 2016

White Night Melbourne 2016

Last night I rugged up to take the train to the city for Melbourne's White Night light show.  I went to the State Library this year.  The queue was long and took about 30 minutes but it was worth the while as the nice young man behind me convinced me. 

Once I ascended the heritage staircase into the magnificent domed reading room, it was a magical world of dreamy images and ambient music.

The light show was full of images of learning and knowledge.  Classical statues, texts from around the world, the solar system. maps, chemistry diagrams, zodiac symbols, nature, indigenous artwork.


Solar system.


Quotes from authors.




Swirly lines.





Books and statues.


It was so peaceful sitting in the old wooden chairs watching the constantly moving images.  I could have stayed there all night.  I went because I had to get home and I knew others were queuing to come in.

Then out into the frenzy of the crowds at the front of the State Library and the loud intrusion of the DJ into my peace.

The crowds in Swanston Street were thick.  There were many other light shows in the city I would have loved to see but time was not on my side.  Instead I boarded a train for home.  I was very glad to have had the opportunity to see the State Library show.

Read about my visit to White Night Melbourne 2015.

Friday 19 February 2016

Cafe Moby, Torquay

Sylvia and I went to Torquay beach the other day to make the most of the summer before it disappeared altogether.  After we had met my mum and brother at the beach for a swim, we had a relaxed lunch at Moby's on the Esplanade.

Moby's seemed very popular.  However it is also huge so it was still easy to find seating.  I considered going out the back where there is a kids playground.  But we loved this couch at the front.

Not only was it a comfy corner of the verandah but it had a lovely view across the esplanade to the see.  This photo does not do it justice but you can see there is plenty of sea view seating outside.

While we waited there was plenty around us to amuse Sylvia.  Next to us was a tongue in cheek VIP area.  Sylvia had never heard of VIPs so I tried to explain the idea to her.  "So who would go there?" she mused, "Santa Claus?  The Easter Bunny?"  Bless!

We didn't have to wait long.

I ordered a soba noodle salad.  It was excellent.  From memory, it had cucumber, edamame, rocket, sprouts, miso dressing and lots of crunchy sesame seeds and crispy fried shallots.  I was really won over the high crunch factor.  Sylvia picked out some nori and edamame.

It has been a hard choice between the salad and the pizza special with kidney beans and avocado but I feel I made the right decision.

Sylvia had the kids margherita pizza.  Cheese and tomato but hold the basil!  I had a taste and thought it very nice.  She pulled a lot of the cheese off.

She had a slight rash around her mouth at the end of the meal.  I was a bit concerned that there might have been peanut oil in the salad.  When I checked the staff were very reassuring that there wasn't, especially one who had allergies herself and knew exactly what I was talking about.

Here is a glimpse of the back area if you fancy swapping sea views for a leafy playground area.  The cafe seems well equipped for winter with lots of nice indoor nooks too. 

I was tempted by some juices, smoothies and cakes.  But Sylvia loves ice creams so instead we went up to Frenchies for an ice cream and ate it walking along the Esplanade overlooking the sea.

Then we went home via my brother's and my sister's homes to drop off hand me down clothes from Sylvia, many of which she had been given by her older cousins.

Cafe Moby
41 The Esplanade, Torquay
(03) 5261 2339
Open: 6.30am - 4pm

Cafe Moby Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday 16 February 2016

A chocolate caramel cake: cake fails, frosting, learnings and photos

I had plans for a fancy chocolate layer cake.  Salted caramel cream cheese frosting.  Chocolate ganache.  Caramel popcorn on top.  The cake collapsed.  I could have cried.  Instead I photographed its best side.  Then we ate it.  It tasted very good.  So today there is no recipe.  Just photos and reflections.

The salted caramel sauce was amazing. 

The chocolate cakes looked promising in the tin.  They came out whole.  One collapsed when I picked it up.  I have never made the recipe before.  Perhaps it was too fresh.  Perhaps I tinkered with the recipe.

The salted caramel cream cheese frosting was toothachingly sweet.  (Less icing sugar?)  Not enough salt.  Too soft to hold the cake on top.  Which had already collapsed.  Then slid some more.  While the frosting (and ganache) oozed.  And the popcorn went soft quickly when mixed with the caramel sauce.

When I chilled the remaining frosting it was much firmer.  (The leftovers sandwiched together chocolate bikkies.)  Next time I will chill it before spreading on the bottom cake.  Next time I will make the sturdier tried and tested  ultimate chocolate cake.  Next time I might try this caramel popcorn.

Meanwhile I had a mess of a cake.  I wanted a Pinterest-perfect picture.  Not one to land me in a cake fail shaming.  Blogging has made me vain.

I spread leftover frosting over the least collapsing side.  It covered a multitude of sins.  I drizzled the remaining caramel sauce over it.  It looked great with flowers (top photo). 

So what is it?  A cake fail?  A cake save?  Just pure delicious decadence?

Sylvia and E set the table in the backyard.  The cake was the centrepiece.  Dinner was a simple bowl of fried rice.

The cake was topped with birthday candles.  For me.  Dim lights and candles also make any cake look pretty.  It tasted delicious.  Not matter which side you looked at.

More attempts at fancy cakes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Butterscotch layer cake
Chocolate cake decorated with strawberries and music
Ginger fluff sponge (gf)
Nigella's Nutella cake (gf)
Ultimate chocolate cake with green ombre frosting
Vegan Victoria Sponge Cake (v) 

Chocolate Caramel Cake inspired by: Miss I-Hua and The Boy, Sweetapolita, Munchies and Munchkins

Salted caramel cream cheese frosting
From Miss I-Hua and The Boy

Beat together cream cheese and butter until creamy.  Gradually beat in icing sugar.  Beat in the caramel sauce.  I found it quite soft when done and easier to handle once chilled in the fridge.

On the Stereo:
High Violet: The National

Sunday 14 February 2016

Halvah energy slice

I had a vision of a pink marbled halvah for Valentine's Day.  The reality was that it was too smooth to be the sandy texture of halvah, the berries I want to use up were mostly starting to compost, I used too much beetroot powder, my little blender attachment wasn't up to marbling so it looked blotchy, it never firmed up in the fridge, and, to add insult to injury, my favourite macro lens died while I was making the slice.  However it tasted good and perhaps that is the important thing.

So instead of halvah I have a halvah energy slice.  I was pleased to use some of the yacon syrup I bought when recipe testing for Ricki's cookbook, Naturally Sweet and Gluten Free.  Which is where I found the recipe that inspired me this week.  For those who are not familiar with yacon syrup, it is an outrageously expensive healthy sweetner that tastes a bit like treacle.  The yacon syrup and coconut sugar was just enough sweetness for me, though possibly not enough for some.

Actually E and Sylvia weren't too impressed by my halvah energy slice.  Fortunately they both loved the heart shaped pancakes we had for breakfast this morning for Valentines Day.  (Recipe coming soon.)  I, on the other hand, have been enjoying the halvah. 

I am sending this slice to Healthy Vegan Fridays.

More healthy slices from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Chocolate energy slice (v)
Chocolate lime energy slice (v)
Chocolate sunbutter energy slice (v)
Fruit, nut and tahini slice (v)
Jeanette's coconut date slice (gf, v) 
Pumpkin muesli slice (v)

Halvah energy slice
Adapted from Ricki Heller

3/4 cup tahini
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
3 tbsp yacon syrup or agave nectar
1 tbsp coconut sugar
pinch fine sea salt

1-2 tbsp chopped strawberries
1 tsp beetroot powder
1 tsp coconut sugar

Roughly blend tahini, ground almonds, sesame seeds, yacon syrup (or agave), sugar and sea salt in a food processor.  Take about 1/4 of tahini mixture and blend with berries, beetroot powder and sugar.  Press remainder of tahini mixture into 15cm square cake tin lined with clingfilm.  Add add blobs of the berry mixture on top.  Well actually it should be marbled through by pulsing the pink stuff through the main stuff a few times but I wasn't confident enough in my food processor.  Alternately roll into balls or press into moulds.  Keep in fridge.

On the Stereo:
Listen, Listen: Sandy Denny

Friday 12 February 2016

The Glass Den: Coburg cafe

I spoke to someone moving into Coburg recently and they asked for some local knowledge.  The first piece of advice that sprang to mind was to check out the Glass Den.  It combines a fascinating historic building on the old Pentridge Gaol site with creative food with lots of great vegan and vegetarian options.  As soon as I heard they had coconut bacon I was excited and more recently I have tried their almond feta too.

The building is the old gatehouse of Pentridge.  The forbidding bluestone facade reminds us that not everyone has always enjoyed going through these doors.  Above the doorway it says HM Metropolitan Reception Prison.  Inside opposite the counter is a wall of bars.  It still surprises me that the historic prison, built in 1850, was closed as recently as 1997.  Most of the complex is being developed into housing so I love that there is still a little corner where the public can enter.  (You can see more in this market in Pentridge.)

However this space is not just doom and gloom of prison.  The cafe is welcoming with lots of space and light, plants and colour, upcycled furniture and modern touches.  I never see it empty because it is a great place to just sit and enjoy a coffee.

In fact I have been visiting previous cafes here since 2009.  When Sylvia was 3 months old we went here when it was Cafe Della Rosa.  I had mothers group meetings here because there was so much space for prams.  And I have been here for coffees with friends from time to time previous to this year.  In fact I had a superb savoury muffin here one day last year.

It was towards the end of last year that the menu changed and the vegan community was excited by the options.  Coconut bacon and candied almonds were mentioned.  It took us a while to get there but now we have been there enough that when we went last weekend the waiter seemed to know our faces.

We have had lovely service on our visits but there was one big problem on our first visit.  We ordered hotcakes and smashed avo and the crumpets on special.  We were in a hurry and when I checked, our order had been forgotten.  The staff were very gracious in the way they handled it (just as they were the time I forgot my purse) but it meant we only had time for muffins and a drink.  I really loved the chocolate chunk and coconut muffin I had.

Sylvia had a berry smoothie.  I think it was the Halle Berry made of apple juice, mixed berries, strawberries and chia seeds.  It was nice though I am not sure she finished it as it was so big and we didn't have much time for it.  I think she enjoyed the Banana Del Ray more which has banana, mango, orange and mint.

Since our first visit we have had so many occasions where something has been forgotten.  I have forgotten my camera, my purse, Sylvia's shoes.  Then we met friends there recently who had forgotten the documents they were bringing us.

I had lunch there with my mum back in November and they had this picturesque Banana Blossom Tom Yum Salad.  It was on the specials board and had chili, rocket, red onion, carrot, enoki mushrooms, toasted coconut, bean shoots, and coriander.  My mum loved it.

Meanwhile I had the Veggie Delight Sandwich.  I think it was made with the quinoa and seeded loaf and packed with with roasted pumpkin, zucchini, roasted capsicum, tomato jam, beetroot and rocket.  My memory is poor and my note taking is worse.  It seemed quite expensive for a vegetable sandwich at about $15 and yet it was very very good.

Sylvia and I went another day and I forgot my camera when I ordered the crushed avocado.  So the next time we came I ordered it again.  Sylvia just had the beer battered chips.  On this occasion, we had the option of one bowl of chips for $7.5 or two small serves for $3.5 each.  I might have been swayed to order a bowl but I really love the mini chip fryer baskets they use for the small serves.  And the chips are really good.  Hot and crisp and tasty.

Photographing the crushed avo and chippies was a tough ask for me but I can promise you it was such a good meal.  The smooshed avocado is served on seeded loaf next to beetroot relish macerated raisins, then scattered with pistachio dukkah and "smoked coconut" (which I call coconut bacon).  It is truly so much more amazing than your average smashed avo with a slice of lemon or side of feta.

Then there was the time we were driving home and on impulse I stopped at the Glass Den for hotcakes.  When the new menu was produced last year with almond meal hotcakes I was pretty excited.  They are gluten free as well as vegan and looked beautiful.  I apologise the my photo does not do them justice.

Our serve surprised me because it had changed slightly and now they come with grilled banana, jackfruit, lotus root compote, maple syrup, toasted coconut, taro chips, & coconut mousse.  I confess I am not so into tropical fruit.  I enjoyed the taro chips and coconut and even the banana.  The lotus root compote was like it was candied and quite interesting.  I am not into cream so the coconut mousse was pushed to the side.  I was not such a fan of the jackfruit.  But this was the first time I have had jackfruit and I always tell sylvia it takes 20 tastes to learn to like something new so maybe I just need more jackfruit in my life.  Sylvia was happy to just eat the hotcakes..

While Sylvia has enjoyed a few smoothies, she is now asking for the Raspberry Fizz at the Glass Den.  I occasionally have the mint tea but I really love the Good Brew Kombucha.  At $7 it is not a cheap drink but it is so refreshing.  I have tried the lavender, the hibiscus and the apple mint.  Once I was told to beware it fizzing up when it was opened and it never fizzed.  Another time I was not warned and for a few minutes the fizz kept bubbling out of the neck.

I love that the kids menu is not just meat. One of these days I will order the vegemite and cheese for Sylvia.  So far she is more enamoured of the chips and pancakes.  We went to the Glass Den last weekend and she loved the kids pancake with ice cream and sprinkles.

On this occasion we met up with friends who brought along a school kid and a baby.  They were impressed by the coffee, the food and that there was plenty of space to park a stroller.  The place has interesting details for kids to look at too.  Apparently there is a toy box so must check if that is still there.

Once fun sight was the old red telephone.  However it has recently disappeared.  I once saw a waiter answer the phone there.  Then when I asked where it was gone I was told too many people had thought it actually worked.    So I am confused.

I ordered the Biggy (photo at top of post as well as above).  Silly name but one of the best big breakfasts I have ever had.  Ever!  It was a generous spread of roasted Dutch carrots, smoked coconut, avocado, grilled mushrooms, home made baked beans, grilled cherry tomatoes, lightly sautéed kale, beetroot relish with a couple of slices of sourdough toast.  I also spied almond feta on the extras and wanted to try it so I ordered this on the side.  Good choice!  It was soft and creamy and tasty.  The vegetables were really beautifully cooked, I loved the piles of coconut bacon and had lots of saucy sides with the avocado, baked beans and almond feta.  Even the toast was substantial and golden.

It was $22 for the Biggy, plus $4 for the almond feta.  Not cheap but worth paying to have a brunch so filled with vegies and coconut bacon and almond feta.  (Please take note other cafes!)  On the weekend we were chatting to the waitress who told us they had had to put up the prices for avocado dishes because the price of avocados had risen so steeply locally.

The Biggy was so good I could dedicate a whole post to it.  However I will just say that it is interesting that when the menu first was available on leaves of brown paper on a clipboard it included chorizo and bacon with an option of carrots and smoked coconut instead.  Now it is written on clean white laminated menus and offers chorizo and bacon as alternative options.  I also had the avocado instead of the eggs.

Coburg just continues to offer more and more in great cafes.  At the moment, The Glass Den is my favourite.  My only reservation is that it is not cheap enough to eat in too often.  However I am sure I will be back soon.  The food is so good, the staff so nice and the space is the perfect place to relax and enjoy life.  How it must have changed since the days when it was once a the gatehouse of a prison.

For more beautiful photos and reviews, also check out Veganopoulous and Where's the Beef.

The Glass Den
15 Urquhart Street, Coburg
(03) 9354 5032

The Glass Den Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato