another delayed What I Ate This Week

Yet again, I have found photos of food from the past three weeks or so that haven’t made it to the blog yet.  I can’t really remember when I ate all this stuff but here goes!

First up, Bastille Day!  I was too disorganised to put on a French feast.  I like to tie in national days or days like Enid Blyton day with Arthur and DeeW’s schooling. I also skipped doing a Fourth of July (I hope it was a good one for my American readers!) as the kids weren’t home.  Anyway, here’s my lazy attempt at French cookery, thanks to the frozen section of the supermarket… voila:

bastille

I made a baklava using hazelnuts and walnuts.  For the syrup I put in some of that Sweet Freedom syrup as I have a bottle in the pantry that never gets used

baklava

My mum made burghul, peas and corn (with onion, olive oil and a little tomato paste), roast pumpkin and sweet potato and cooked baby beets:

mumsmeal

I provided dessert,  Lebanese sweets from the fabulous Al Nada in Coburg:

alnadasweets

I also bought these sweets from another shall-not-be-named place in Brunswick.  It’s a place that has had really good writeups and have vegan options.  I believe in giving such places a second chance and I’d go back.  But my first visit there was utterly disappointing.  Chairs all up on tables half an hour before closing time on a Sunday, had to wait outside because the music was so loud that I had trouble hearing the guy behind the counter and these cakes… well they were quite obviously days old (two of them at least) and difficult to swallow because they were so dry.  I had to dunk mine in tea just to soften them up to make them more edible:

dryas

Leftover burghul with the Macro brand barley and sweet potato puffs.  I like them, the kids don’t:

leftovers

I’ve never really taken to polenta.  To me, it tastes like nothing.  Does that make sense?  No matter what flavours are added to it, for me the underlying flavour is a nothing flavour.  Anyway, I’ve always wanted to try polenta chips.  First I cooked the polenta on the stove with some stock, plant milk, salt, pepper then added nutritional yeast when I took it off the heat.  Spread it in to a cake tin and put it in the fridge overnight, then pan fried the next day.  The kids didn’t like it and I wasn’t that keen either, though I did like the crispyness:

polenta

I cooked some roast vegies with coconut oil.  I always use olive oil but I’m now moving more towards using no oil for cooking unless it’s coconut oil:

roastpotatoes

I had some lemongrass and decided to make a Vietnamese tofu veg stir fry with lemongrass, garlic and ginger as that flavour combo is what I have always chosen in Vietnamese restaurants. My version was not so great.  The versions I buy are often quite oily and I didn’t want that, and they’re quite sweet which I didn’t want either.  I did end up using a little coconut sugar and then I decided there wasn’t enough liquid so I plopped in some coconut milk.  Sometimes I just get silly like that, like the time I accidentally used an Italian flavoured can of diced tomatoes in an Indian curry (surprisingly, the basil and oregano weren’t all that bad…):

lemongrasstofu

We went to the Preston Market where I stuffed myself on hot jam donuts…

prestonmarket

donuts1

donuts2

I was in the mood for a hotdog so I bought these vegan sausages.  They were okay but it was really just to satisfy a craving and I’m not keen on eating seitan (made with pure wheat gluten, I want to avoid gluten most of the time but I’ve been pretty bad lately):

bratwurst1

bratwurst2

I made a blueberry vanilla cake and served mine warm with a little soy icecream:

blueberryvanillacake

I took DeeW to the Chiba Japanese food store on Puckle Street in Moonee Ponds, and we got these California rolls:

calirolls1

This was our view:

calirolls2

And here’s a view of someone’s bin when we went for a walk to the library.  I was SO tempted to draw a face on the bin:

binmonster

Look!  We do eat healthy:

fruitsalad

I tried Bo De Trai in Footscray.  I ordered the lemongrass chilli tofu with plain steamed rice.  I was so disappointed that this was a dry spice rubbed kind of tofu, instead of something that comes with a little sauce, like every other lemongrass chili dish I’ve ever tried in Vietnamese cafes.  Silly me, I should have checked:

lemongrasstofu

Mum made a big batch of kritharaki in the oven.  I love that she now makes this vegan:

kritharaki

I made some blueberry breakfast muffins:

muffins

This is the orange sesame tofu recipe from one of Dreena Burton’s books.  Arthur really likes it and actually asks for me to make it!  Folks, that itself is a massive achievement, trust me.  I had mine in some salad:

orangetofusalad

A smoothie of… something.  Well, I know it has frozen banana and spinach in it.  I think this also had lemon, orange and hemp protein in it:

somesmoothie

The spicoli burgers by Dreena Burton.  I really liked these but those kids of mine,  gahhh.  WHY DON’T THEY LIKE THE EASY PEASY RECIPES THAT REQUIRE MINIMAL EFFORT????

spicoli

I found this tea cup in Savers for about 90 cents.  I guess it was cheap for a Royal Albert cup because there was no saucer.  But I found the matching saucer in a local op shop!  So I have this tennis set for under $5, I’ve seen this same set sell for over $50 on eBay.  On the plate you see some wafers (the Napolitanke ones are vegan) and the almond speculaas biscuits from Aldi, also vegan:

tennisset

A tofu eggplant curry on brown rice:

tofueggplantcurry

I made the blackened tofu recipe by Dreena Burton, with some of her autumn puree and French lentils on the side.  I loved it all, but those kids of mine…

tofulentilspuree

The tofu pakora are from ages ago.  They were okay but I won’t make them again:

tofupakora

I met up with friends at Melbourne University on what turned out to be a lovely day:


uni1

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And here is Australia On Collins, a retail area.  I had a mad urge to throw stuff at these massives balls of yarn decoration, because I’m a bit crazy-cool that way:

giantyarn

Hopefully next week’s recap with be on time…

A really slack “What I Ate” moment

I’ve been slack AGAIN with my ‘what I ate this week’ posts.  Meal planning has gone out the window for another week because of Husband’s unpredictable work schedule.  I did manage to take some pics of various this-and-thats!

Kale and chickpeas dressed with lemon juice and nooch:

kalechickpeas

I can’t tell you how happy I am that Arthur and DeeW are eating porridge.  I get to cook ONE BIG BOWL then serve it out.  Bliss!  I had some with currants and golden syrup.  With toasted coconut, I call it ‘ANZAC Biscuit Porridge’:

porridge

Bad photo of the vegan packet rendang mix with leftover potato and sweet potato mixed in:

rendangveg

In the week before Greek Orthodox Easter my mum made vegan ‘koulourakia’.  Koulourakia are bready-biscuitty things served alongside coffee and tea.  Mum’s usual recipe has butter or cream but this version is made with oil.  Everyone makes their koulourakia differently.  My maternal grandmother made big hearty versions but my paternal grandma made hers sweeter and heavier.  My mum makes hers somewhere in between:

teakoulourakia

Speaking of Easter, here are the flowers Mum had on the table for Easter Sunday lunch:

easterflowers

For lunch Mum made rice with veg.  My sister made the roast veg and a leek potato soup.  Due to an unfortunate miscommunication, there was no vegan dessert.  It didn’t matter though as I was pretty full anyway:

easterlunch

One of my favourite smoothies is made with orange, lemon and frozen bananas:

citrussmoothie

I made a walnut basil pesto which was delicious.  I tried some gluten free rice macaroni.  The first time I cooked it according to the instructions.  Sat down to eat and the pasta was still hard (yes I’d tried a piece before turning the stove off!).  It was so hard I threw everything away and made a second batch.  I had to cook the second batch for double the amount of time stated on the packet and the piece I tested had turned to moosh.  Sat down to eat the second time and some of the pieces were still too tough and I’m not talking al dente!  I ate it  because I was starving but I’m never buying it again:

ricepasta

A Lebanese zaatar bread from Zaatar on Sydney Road in Coburg:

zaatar

I went to lunch at Zaatar and ordered their falafel zaatar focaccia, which they assure me has no animal content at all.  It was delicious and I could barely finish it all:

falafel

My mum’s vegan ‘yemista’, which are Greek stuffed vegies.  Mum always uses rice but this time she used burghul:

yemista

I had a voucher for Lord of the Fries so I treated myself to their Spicy burger.  I forgot to take a photo until I’d demolished it:

mostlyeatenveganburger

…and this was my view as I ate my burger at LotF near Flinders Street Station:

lunchview2

lunchview1

It was a beautiful day and I had my camera with me, so I’ll leave you with some snaps of my super home town  🙂

citywalk1

citywalk2

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citywalk6

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citywalk8

citywalk9

citywalk10

And home again:

citywalk11

\o/

Vegan Moussaka

Moussaka is probably one of the first dishes people think about when asked “can you name a Greek dish”.  Growing up though, my mum didn’t make this often as there’s a fair bit of work involved.  Instead, she’d make pastitso, which is a baked pasta with beef mince, covered with bechemel sauce.  Much easier and less time consuming than moussaka!

For my moussaka, I first began by slicing eggplant, salting it and then rinsing/patting dry.  I also sliced up some potatoes.  Both the potatoes and eggplant were shallow fried in oil (something I don’t like to do often!):

moussaka2

My mother in law had given me some tomatoes so I made a quick tomato, onion and garlic sauce.  Ideally I would have like to chop the tomatoes more, or pureed the whole thing but I hadn’t washed the blender:

moussaka3

For the meat layer, I used the walnut-cauliflower meat recipe from Diet Dessert and Dogs.  I used half walnut and half pecans. For the dried spices I used about a heaped teaspoon of paprika and dried oregano.  For the layering, I think I did potatoes, eggplants, sauce, ‘meat’, potato, eggplant, ‘meat’, sauce.  Yeah, I screwed up the order a little.

moussaka1

For the cream layer on top, I whizzed up raw unsalted cashews and pine nuts with some water, juice from a medium lemon and a good dash of nutmeg (salt and pepper to taste too):

I was pretty happy with how it turned out.  This is something I’d make on a special occassion.  And a bigger stove so I could fry everything at once. Bad photo with twee background:

myveganmoussaka

Next time I’d like to add more flavour to the cashew-pine nut cream but overall I was happy with how it turned out 🙂

What I Ate This…past month

I’ve been so slack with my “What I Ate This Week” posts.  I think it’s the hot weather really.  The last place I want to be is in the kitchen.

I  made some no-meatballs from tofu and pecans (and other stuff).  I thought they were okay, the family didn’t:

nomeatballs

Lazy days: the Macro brand curried pumpkin and corn puffs and some dolmades from a tin:

macropuffs

tinneddolmades

Sausage rolls must be presented in a manner that pleases Princess Toadstool of the Mushroom Kingdom:

toadroll

My mum made some Greek stuffed vegetables (“yemista”):

yemista

A Lebanese zaatar bread base topped with olives and fresh veg:

zaatar

A visit to Mister Nice Guy’s Bake Shop to try the sprinkle donuts.  I was really hungry and wanted something savoury and had planned to try the pizza scroll.  Then I saw the jalapeno cornbread muffins and got one of those because I’ve never tried cornbread made by a cornbread making expert.  My own cornbread was okay but I haven’t made it since becoming vegan.  Mister Nice Guy’s cornbread muffins have nice chunks of red capsicum and a liiiittle touch of heat but certainly not hot, so don’t let the jalapeno in the title scare you off.  Arthur got a cinnamon bun (of course) and I got a piece of blueberry pie to take home and share:

mng1

mng2

mng3

My meal planning has gone out the window and I’m blaming the hot weather  😉

My vegan Karithopita – Greek walnut cake: Experiment 1 is a slight bust

Karithopita (“karithi” is walnut) was always one of my favourite Greek cakes.  I’d tried making it a few times over the years using different recipes.  Some recipes called for flour and others said breadcrumbs.  Some said whole eggs, some said separated eggs.   The walnuts are pretty much a given at least.  Like just about every Greek thing you could make, if you had ten karithopita-makers and their karithopita in the room, you’d most likely have ten different versions and lots of debate.  Maybe even a bit of Smackdown! action.

The recipe I used today is one I found in my mum’s old recipe collection.  It’s so old that not only is it typed by typewriter, it has no author or method listed nor size of baking tin or oven temp or how long to bake for.  Just the ingredients.  Hardcore old school or WHAT.  Or just plain annoying?  Anyway, Mum says that many years ago, she was told that a good karithopita should always be made with breadcrumbs, not flour.

So this ancient recipe I found calls for 8 eggs.  8 eggs!  Far out. I opted for egg replacer for 3 large eggs worth and about 5Tbs of home made walnut butter.  With absolutely no freaking idea about anything.  I’ve used nut butter in some recipes before as a sort of egg replacer and it’s worked beautifully.

Then I had the additional challenge of how the heck to mix it all together.  Did the original recipe intend for the eggs to be separated, beaten, whatever?  Who knows.  So I just mixed up the dry ingredients first then in a small bowl I carefully mixed the egg replacer mixture (made according to packet instructions), the brandy and the walnut butter.  Because I made the walnut butter myself beforehand, I made sure it was easy to work with as the store bought nut butters I’ve tried are really thick and hard to incorporate evenly.

Okay, so this is a cake that has two major components: the actual cakey bit and the syrup.  I was always taught that when you have a syrup that is to be poured over the cake, one thing must be hot and the other cool, so the cake is cool and the syrup hot or vice versa.  I don’t know the exact scientific hocus pocus reasons for this but when my grandmother wagged her finger in your face, you didn’t ask questions about thermal conductivity and all that nonsense.

For this recipe I used freshly made breadcrumbs because that’s all I had.  I would have preferred using stale bread but will try that next time.  I know I could have toasted the bread a bit first but I was impatient.

Okay so then I made the walnut butter, which was about two scant cups of walnuts thrown in the food processor and whizzed until they were buttery.  I did add a good teaspoon of olive oil to make it a little smoother.

I’m happy with the way my first vegan karithopita turned out.  Not bad for a first attempt but I’d make some changes next time.  Like reducing the sugar by much more.  I’ll put in my recipe notes at the end.

UPDATE, TAKE NOTE, BEWARE, ETC:  This turned out really thick and dense.  My mum said “the flavours are really good and are exactly right but it’s a little on the gluggy side and needs to be lighter, but not fluffy-light”.  So that’s my next challenge.

Still, I have tasted some versions which were like this and really thick, which is why you only eat a very small piece  🙂

The Veganopoulous Vegan Karithopita v1.0- the really dense version

(1 cup equals 250ml)

For the cake:

* 3 cups of crushed walnuts

* 2 cups of breadcrumbs

*1 teaspoon cinnamon

* 1 cup sugar

* 1 teaspoon baking powder

* Egg replacer to make about three large eggs worth

* 5 generous Tablespoons of soft walnut butter (soft enough to mix up)

* 1 Tablespoon brandy (optional)

For the syrup:

* 3 cups water

* 2 cups sugar

* 2 cinnamon sticks

To make the cake:

* Preheat your oven to about 180C (moderate oven temp).  Prepare your cake tin/dish (see notes).

* In a large bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, crushed walnuts, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar:

karithopitamix

* In a small bowl, make up your egg replacer mix for three large eggs.  To it, add the walnut butter and brandy.  Whisk it up so it’s all evenly mixed (this is why the walnut butter needs to be soft enough to blend well).

* Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir, then use your hands to thoroughly mix everything.  I squished the mix between my fingers.  The mixture shouldn’t be a typical cake batter.  You should be able to roll soft balls of it, and it is okay to have it be slightly sticky to the touch, without being a wet batter.  Sorry, forgot to take a photo.

* Put the cake mixture in to your prepared tin/dish (see recipe notes) and flatten it gently so it’s all level.

* Put it in the oven until really nice and browned on top and a toothpick comes out clean.  Mine was in the oven for about 45 minutes.  When it’s done, cut it in to diamond or rectangle (or square) shapes while it’s still in the dish/tin (don’t remove it!).  Let it cool while you make the syrup.  Remember, leave the cake right there!

For the syrup:

* You can make this in advance. Put the syrup ingredients in to a medium saucepan.  Mix well, bring to the boil, then simmer about ten minutes.  Stir now and then.  Remove from heat:

karithopitasyrup

Final assembly:

* With one thing hot and the other cold, get a ladle and pour half the syrup gently over the cake.  The cake should be cut and still be in the dish/tin you baked it in!  If you feel the cake needs more syrup, go for it but today for this cake I found I only needed half the amount in this recipe.  I guess it’s one of those “it just depends” things  🙂

Let the cake sit and be completely cool (about an hour at least) to soak up the syrup.  You can keep it in the cake tin/dish or move it to a nicer looking serving plate. Eat!  It tastes even better the next day and the day after that.

Recipe notes:

* This is sweeeet.  Well, for me anyway.  And I really don’t like sweet desserts like this anymore.  Greek sweets are usually served alongside a Turkish coffee (so you appreciate the sweetness more).  Next time I make this I’m using a different (and far less sweet!) syrup.

* Use a cake tin or pie dish that allows the uncooked batter to be about 3cm or 1 1/2 inch high.  The cake doesn’t rise much.  I used a square cake tin with base measuring 20cm (8″) and lined it with baking paper.

* I used a combination of finely crushed walnuts and  finely chopped walnuts because I wanted to bite in to little pieces of walnut.  Next time I might try finely crushed all the way.  I used my food processor to chop.

* There are quite a few variations on the syrup used in such cakes.  Some people make a thicker syrup with a little brandy, water and sugar. Others add orange or lemon rind (with no pith).  Others use a few whole cloves in the syrup.  It all comes down to what you like  🙂

* Next time I will try using stale breadcrumbs.  And I’m thinking of trying barley flour.

karithopita

Enjoy!

"This cake has chunks in it."

“This cake has chunks in it.”