The Best Smokey Vegan Sausage Rolls

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Doing photo shoots with food is a funny thing. It’s not something I know or pretend to know much about, I just have a go and see what happens. I haven’t quite found my own style yet, I am quite haphazard and while I like warm rich tones, natural light and shadows that would indicate inside shots suit me best, I am often rushing to snap something before the sun goes down and as a result often photograph outside to catch the last remaining light.

I had to laugh at myself when I found myself frustrated that I didn’t know how to make sausage rolls look good. Does one stack sausage rolls, or line them up in a neat little line?

Who cares how they look? They taste great!

srolls1I find myself doing strange things to try and get a photo that I’m happy with. Grabbing random props, whatever is within arm’s reach. This time some fresh lettuce from the garden for some colour. I don’t know why you would serve a whole stack of sausage rolls with two leaves of lettuce, but I was not pondering the realistic nature of the arrangement at this time.

As I said – I am no photographer, though I have come a long way since the first posts on this blog, where we were living and traveling in our van, cooking on a little gas stove and snapping photos with a phone on the grass outside our van door. Those were the days! Hopefully one day I will be able to bring round two of van life cooking to you, but for now you’ll have to settle for these awkwardly captured sausage rolls.

srolls2The Best Smokey Vegan Sausage Rolls

3 sheets prepared puff pastry
450g tempeh
1 small onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup walnuts
1 carrot, grated
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp smoked paprkia
1/4 cup parsley, roughly chopped
Salt and Pepper
2 Tbsp soy milk
Sesame seeds for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 200C and grease or line a couple of baking trays.

Crumble tempeh with your hands into a large bowl. Mix in onion and garlic.

Put walnuts in a processor and pulse a few times or roughly chop so that they are smallish. Add to the bowl. Do the same with the oats – pulse a few times. You could use quick oats or leave them whole, but this is how I roll.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and stir well to combine. Taste for seasoning.

Cut each piece of puff pastry in half. Place filling down the centre of each half and roll up. Cut to the desired size. Lay out on baking trays (give them a little space to puff). Slash the top of each sausage roll a few times with a sharp knife, then brush with soy milk and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Cook for 25-30 mins, until puffy and golden brown.

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Farm Cafe and Convent Bakery II

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There’s no better way to start the weekend with a morning trip to the local farmer’s market. Seriously, it gives me that sun is shining, birds are chirping kind of feeling (even when it is grey and the birds are jerks). The closest markets to me happen once a month at the Abbotsford Convent, and once at the Collingwood Childrens’ Farm – both beautiful settings for some early morning wandering and vegetable hunting. Of course, it’s not just vegetables – it’s also where I stock up on choccies! Mmmm.

cocoarhapsodySalted lime and dark nut cove are my absolute favourites, but all are top notch. Cocoa Rhapsody are not completely vegan friendly, however I would estimate about 60-70% of their range is.

Obviously all this food gathering is enough to make anybody hungry. Luckily, there’s a few good options within arms reach. Firstly, the Farm Cafe inside the Collingwood Children’s Farm.

farmcafe2I love how the tables sprawl out of the enclosed cafe space and into the ‘farm’. If you sit down amongst it, you don’t get table service – however you do get sweet little dudes like this stopping by.

farmcafe3It always makes me laugh seeing the “please do not chase the animals” signs, and then watching all the little toddlers trailing behind the chooks. It shouldn’t, but it does.

The farm cafe is quite vegetarian friendly, and had two notable vegan options – the white baked beans and the super salad. Never one to turn down a super salad (super salad sunday used to be an institution in our house in Tassie), I went for it. The Bear had a dish with creamy polenta, mushrooms, eggs and snow pea tendrils.

farmcafe1It certainly lived up to it’s name. A combination of quinoa, carrot, beetroot, leafies, and herbs topped with a lovely lemony cashew hummus, a good old chunk of avo, pepitas and pomegranate molasses dressing. The beetroot was shredded so thin I couldn’t even taste it (crazy for me), and it was so full of goodies that even the Bear enjoyed it (despite his grudge against quinoa). I loved the sticky, crunchy pepitas and the contrast between the sweet dressing and tangy hummus. A super seriously satisfying start to the day (ha!)

While I think I slightly prefer the Collingwood Farmer’s Market due to the greater number and variety of stalls, it is always lovely to stroll around the grounds of the convent on a sunny morning. Unfortunately on this occasion, it was cold, grey and wet, so we escaped to a dark little corner in the Convent Bakery to grab some brunch. With memories of a delicious vegan arancini, we were disappointed to find it had disappeared from the menu and there were no longer any marked vegan options. Already committed to the idea of brekkie, I went for the standard – smashed avo on toast, while the Bear had fruit salad and yoghurt.

conventbakery1 But it hurts my soul to pay $16 for it (especially after removing the goats cheese). This was tasty, on lovely convent bakery-baked sourdough and dotted with cherry tomatoes and basil. But $16….you can get much more elaborate and thoughtful dishes down the road at Admiral Cheng Ho for that much. It kind of bothers me as a vegan at cafes, you can expect to pay $4 for a side of mushrooms, yet no discount for removing eggs or cheese. Le sigh…

conventbakery2Luckily with a full tummy, a hot coffee and a basket full of veggies (and chocolate) I couldn’t stay mad. I will always love you avo on toast xoxox

Farm Cafe
Collingwood Children’s Farm
18 Saint Heliers St, Abbotsford
Open 7 days, 9am – 4pm
Open from 8am on market days (2nd Sat of the month)

Convent Bakery
Abbotsford Convent
1 Saint Heliers St, Abbotsford
Open 7 days, 7am – 5pm

True North Cafe, Coburg

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It is not unusual to find myself out of the office around lunch time, despite efforts to avoid letting anything get in between me and my lunch. At the worst of times, it can mean struggling to think of a suitable place to grab something to eat. At the best, it can mean this – a quick drop in to True North in Coburg.

Prior to starting my current job, I did not often head out to Coburg and could only dream about these illusive places people talked about. But now that I’m out and about, that’s all changed. I finally got to visit Half Moon Cafe. And then I visited again and again and again. For a while, we were actually coordinating client visits out that way pre or post lunch so that we could schedule some falafel time. If colleagues were lucky, we would return triumphantly to the office with armfuls of caulibaba wraps. Anyway, this post is not supposed to be about Half Moon…

True North have been open about a year, and they caught my attention last year after seeing visits from Johanna at Green Gourmet Giraffe,  Faye at Veganopoulous and Cindy and Michael at Where’s the Beef? The menu is short and sweet, consisting of a handful of brekkie options and a bunch of sandwiches for lunch, most of which can be made vegan. Never having had a Reuben sandwich before, I grabbed one to go.

20150115_112926Excuse the lap shot.

Firstly, I love the pickle and corn chips. I love any extras! The sandwich, a combination of vegan pastrami, sauerkraut, mustard, mayo and cheese on toasted sourdough, was deliciously tangy.

20150115_112939Not the most appealing looking sandwich, but tasty nonetheless.

True North Cafe
2A Munro St, Coburg
Mon – Fri – 7am – 4pm
Sat – Sun – 8am – 4pm

Fruity Leathers

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Since my parents invested in a dehydrator, whenever I’m going on a camping trip I like to pop around and make up some goodies (only to have to return a day later to retrieve them). I usually do a couple of variations of crackers, a few variations of fruit leathers and some fruit or veggie crisps – it’s a great way to pack nutritious snacks that are easy to transport and keep well, and the sky’s the limit when it comes to making up different flavour combinations.

fleather1These are my latest three fruit leather blends. Instructions are very straight forward and apply to whatever combination you go with. I’m still working out some things with different fruits producing different textures – when I’ve used apples the mix tends to separate a bit and crack, others produce a stickier mix – regardless, all I’ve done have been tasty.

Cherry Vanilla Fruit Leather
(makes 1 sheet)

2 cups fresh cherries, pitted
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp chia seeds

fleather2Apple, Pear and Cinnamon Fruit Leather
(makes 1 sheet)

2 pears, chopped and cores removed
1 apple, chopped and core removed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp lemon juice

fleather3Banana Berry Mint Fruit Leather
(makes 1 sheet)

2 x bananas
250g strawberrys, hulled
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp fresh mint

fleather4Instructions:

Chuck all your ingredients in a blender and whizz until smooth and of spreadable consistency. If it is too runny, try adding some chia seeds, and likewise if too thick add some liquid – either citrus juice or a spash of water. Pour mixture onto a teflex sheet on a dehydrator tray and spread evenly, to about half a centimetre or just a little more in thickness. Dehydrate at 60C for 1 hour, then reduce to 40C and continue to dehydrate for about 8 – 12 hours. The time will vary depending on the fruit, thickness, etc, so just check in every now and then to see if it’s ready.

I have seen some people instruct to peel and flip the leather part way through – I have not tried this method yet, but can verify that it seems to work just fine leaving on the one side.

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Vegie Bar and Three One 2 One

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Walking up and down Brunswick street always gets my tummy rumbling. I recently popped into Vegie Bar with my mum for a quick snack in between some seriously successful browsing.

vegbar2“This is not the time for dumplings” said nobody ever. Quite thick skins on these ones, I can’t remember what the filling was made of, it wasn’t remarkably tasty but nothing a good dunking of sauce cant fix.

vegbar3Along the same vein, I will never pass on wontons. I really liked the broth these were in – gingery, garlicky with some fresh coriander…heavenly match.

vegbar1To top it off, I had a matcha milkshake. I have not forayed very far into the world of matcha, so the taste is quite unusual to me still. I did enjoy this, but perhaps not quite what I was craving at the time (read: ice coffee).

This next visit goes back some time. As in possibly last year. Three One 2 One is a little cafe on Bridge road in Richmond, with a funky rhino on the side of the wall.

threeone2one2Upon first glance at the menu, it is not super vegan friendly. There are plenty of cheesy and eggy vegetarian options, though nothing strikes my eye. The lunch menu is mostly paninis and sandwiches, and after asking the waitress, she pointed a few things that they could alter for me. I went with the pumpkin and gruere sandwich with candied walnuts, caramelised onion and rocket (minus the gruere), which came with a side of “chubby chips”.

threeone2oneThe chips were yum! The sandwich was a little strange – the candied walnuts making for a very sweet addition. I found them quite hard little nuggets in the sandwich, providing an almost tooth breaking crunch. With pumpkin not being my top choice of vegetables to put in a sandwich, this didn’t really impress. I did however enjoy the experience and the service, which led me to go back two more times since then, however unfortunately it just hasn’t quite cut it on the follow up visits. Once for brekkie I had quite a plain avo on toast, and the next time I tried to customise my own vegan sandwich, and despite the girl acknowledging and trying to advise what I could eat (though appearing confused at what vegan actually means), my sandwich came out with mayonnaise and most likely butter-cooked mushrooms. Despite my average experiences, my non-vegan dining companions really enjoyed their meals.

Vegie Bar
380 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
Mon-Thurs – 11am – 10pm
Fri – 11am – 10.30pm
Sat – 9am – 10.30pm
Sun – 9am – 10pm

Three One 2 One
424 Bridge Road, Richmond
Open every day 8am – 4pm

Work lunches: Fatto a Mano and Storm in a Teacup

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Working just off of Smith st, I tend to be spoiled for choice when it comes to buying lunch. While most days I take my own lunch, it’s easy to forget it when there’s so many good options about. Fatto a Mano is a favourite among many at my work (and everywhere else if you judge by the line going out the door most days at lunch time) for their delicious organic baked goods. For some reason I always crave something from Fatto on Mondays, the only day in the working week that they AREN’T open. What is up with that?!

The following pictures are from a range of different visits to Fatto over the past 6 or so months (although most definitely not all of the visits that have taken place, wink wink).

fatto1The spelt pizzas are a favourite as they are a quick and easy option, and very reasonably priced at around $4. There is always a variety of vegan pizzas to choose from, looking beautiful with their symmetrical toppings.

fatto3From the pizza slices I’ve tried, I prefer the ones with tomato or capsicum, or as many veggies as possible. The potato and olive one shown here was okay, but a little bland.

fatto2This one wins the award for best variety, with a combo of pumpkin, zucchini, capsicum and potato. These are a great quick lunch to eat on the go, but I find it best if they are slightly warmed as the base can be quite chewy.

SAMSUNGThis is one of the vegan, gluten-free pies. When I tried this one, I found it hard to believe it was vegan as the top had this real cheesiness to it. Upon further inspection, I discovered what I think might be grated potato? Delicious!

fatto5Fatto a Mano have other savoury vegan options, as well as a range of vegan sweets. It tends to be different from day to day (and depending on how early you make it in). Above is some kind of peanut butter caramel ball, it’s kind of like a rice krispie treat with a light rice bubble filling. At various times they have also had variations of crostata (fruit pie) – I can confirm the deliciousness of a few versions of these, giant choc chip cookies, and cherry coconut balls in a similar style to the one above.

On a more recent note, I popped into Storm in a Teacup, a cute little tea shop and cafe on Smith st for the first time the other week after remembering hearing that they had vegan toasties on offer. I walk past the shopfront every single day, but had not yet been in. The day I ventured in, there were no toasties in clear sight, however I was met with this wonderful veganised green machine salad.

stormPacked with rocket, spinach, sprouted chickpeas and green lentils, zucchini, fennel seeds, tuscan kale, sunflower seeds and pomegranate, with a big dollop of Botanical Cuisine nut cheese (lemon and dill from memory). Seriously delicious, satisfying and kept me going all arvo. Unfortunately I did not have time to sit and enjoy their main pull – teas, but now I’ve tested the waters I will have to arrange a tea date to follow up.

Fatto a Mano Organic Bakery
228 Gertrude St, Fitzroy
Tues – Sat – 6am – 6pm

Storm in a Teacup
48A Smith St, Collingwood
Mon – CLOSED
Tues – Sun – 10am – 6pm

Veraison, Balnarring

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Continuing on with our Mornington Peninsula getaway, the family booked a table at Veraison restaurant in Balnarring for a happy 55th wedding anniversary lunch for my grandparents. Last time we were on the Peninsula for a special occasion, we dined at a fancy restaurant which introduced us to foams as foods (!) – I felt a bit like a fish out of water.

veraison3The difference I noticed immediately at Veraison was the relaxed atmosphere – the lady who welcomed us was friendly and warm, and cracked a few jokes that instantly made everyone comfortable. Veraison have an A la carte menu, as well as a weekday set lunch menu, from which you can choose two or three courses for $45 or $55 respectively and according to their website, they source their produce from local Balnarring suppliers when in season, or from the organic veggie garden out the back. My family had called ahead to confirm they could cater for vegans, which thankfully they could. While the others had a few dishes to choose from, the bear and mine were set for us which was fine by us – as long as we were getting fed!

veraison1First up, we were served some lovely mushrooms stuffed with quinoa, some vegetables and capers, and topped with some fresh rocket. My memory fails as to what this was flavoured with, but I recall salty capers and what seemed like different textured quinoa – some well cooked and some lovely and crunchy that popped between your teeth. Bear sways more on the vegetarian side, and his was topped with goat’s cheese.

veraison2Next up, another stuffed dish! You all know how much I love food stuffed in food right? This was a cooked tomato filled with a creamy risotto and topped with some wilted tuscan kale. Simple and satisfying. I would have loved to see some crunchy texture with this – perhaps some toasted pine nuts – to top it off.

veraison5My dessert was a little less inspired, particularly compared to all the creme brulees with little biscuits and sorbet – perhaps they hadn’t planned I would make it this far. Despite my initial disappointment, the flavour of the sorbets (cherry and raspberry from memory?) was beautiful, and the lovely seasonal berries were juicy and ripe, a great clean end to a meal.

We spent a good few hours enjoying our meals and drinks and chatting away, and I think everyone walked away happy and satiated and ready for a GU (that’s guts up in our family!). I can definitely recommend Veraison to anybody looking for an enjoyable, quality meal in a beautiful yet relaxed atmosphere.

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Veraison
269 Myers Rd, Balnarring
Normal year:
Thurs – Mon – 12pm – 3pm
Open 7 days all Jan – 12pm – 3pm
Fri & Sat – 6pm – 11pm

Veraison

Shell’s Cafe, Sorrento

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Prior to Christmas, my Dad’s sisters and parents came over from W.A to celebrate my early Christmas and my Grandparents’ 55th wedding anniversary. In order to maximise celebrations, the family booked a house down in Rye and we spent a couple of days wandering, eating, spa-ing and other such activities.

On one of the days, we spent a little bit of time wandering around Sorrento until we were peckish for some lunch. We stopped in front of Shells Cafe, and after a quick google discovered a pretty low Urbanspoon rating. We remembered the Portsea Hotel up the road, so jumped in cars and headed over there. Unfortunately when we arrived, there was some kind of event going on at the hotel and it was not open to the public. With limited other options at that time of afternoon, we shipped back to Sorrento and ended up back at Shells, our tummies willing to give it a try.

shellscafeA quick look at the menu presented a few potentially veganisable options. After asking the waitress, I was told the dish I wanted couldn’t be veganised, but the Asian mango coleslaw salad could be made with tofu instead of chicken. I hid my disappointment (I’m not the biggest mango fan), and agreed to give it a shot.

And boy am I glad that I did. The mango was shredded finely amongst the coleslaw and so was not overpowering, instead offering a slight sweetness to an otherwise savoury salad. Lots of crunch (my favourite texture) from cabbage, bean sprouts, capsicum and carrot, and delicious fried shallots on top. Fresh and satisfying!

I’m sorry I prejudged Shells on some poor reviews, our experience was definitely pleasant.

Shells Cafe
85 Ocean Beach Rd, Sorrento
Open breakfast and lunch

Orecchiette with Lemon, Mint and Peas

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This seems more like a spring recipe to me, but with the weather we’ve been having here you would hardly know it’s summer so I’m going to sneak it in anyway. Spring is usually when gardens have an abundance of lovely fresh peas, so if you have some growing, you might want to make use of them in place of the frozen ones I’ve used here.

I love the fresh flavours in this dish, and I especially love that it can be thrown together in no time for a satisfying weeknight meal. Almost a year into my ‘real job’, I’m really finding the value in speedy weeknight meals. Gotta love some down time in the evenings!

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Orecchiette with Lemon, Mint and Peas
(serves 4 – 6)

500g dried orecchiette
1 Tbsp rice bran oil (or other cooking oil)
2Tbsp shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of one lemon
1 Tbsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups frozen peas
2 cups rocket
1/2 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
1 tsp chili flakes
Pinch salt
Pepper

Bring a large pot of water to the boil, and add orecchiette. Cook according to packet directions, then drain.

Meanwhile, heat rice bran oil in a pan over medium heat. Add shallots and saute for a couple of minutes, until translucent. Add garlic and cook for a further minute.

Add peas to the pan, and cook for a couple of minutes – until heated through – then remove from heat.

In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, zest, olive oil, salt, pepper and chili flakes.

In a larger bowl, combine drained orecchiette, pea mix and lemon juice blend and stir to combine. Add mint and stir through. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Separate into bowls and top with a handful of rocket before serving.

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CBD Eats: Supercharger and Raw Trader

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The Emporium kind of terrifies me. I have been in there three times now – once to check it out, and twice to eat at Supercharger. Each time I have been in, I feel disoriented and unable to find my way out. One of the times I was there, the alarms went off and I was worried I would not be able to get out (particularly with the lack of panicked people running for the door. Seriously, what is going on people? Alarms mean GET OUT!!). Regardless of the fear I feel from the Emporium experience, I find myself returning, simply because I know I can get a filling and nutritious vegan lunch at a reasonable price.

The deal is this: a whole array of vegan options that you can piece together to make your perfect bowl (and side bowls). It’s canteen-style ordering which makes it simple for them as well as gives you time to co-ordinate your meal (trust me, you’ll need it with all the options!) This style of eating really appeals to my love of bits and pieces, mix and match, fresh and cooked, texture extravaganzas and wanting to have it all.

supercharger
So you can choose a base with 4-6 items. Of course I had to try one thing from each section, so went with the base + 6 option. Here I have a ‘base’ of steamed quinoa and fresh baby spinach, a ‘smash’ of green pea and avocado with coconut oil and mint, a ‘raw’ of shredded beetroot, carrot, apple and ginger with apple cider vinegar (I know, I CHOSE beetroot – WHAAAAT?), a ‘ferment’ of red cabbage and caraway kraut, a ‘simmer’ of mild eggplant and potato curry with tomato ginger and lime leaf, a ‘protein’ of fresh tofu in tom yum broth and finally a ‘sauce’ of fresh tomato and chili salsa with red onion and coriander. All that for a very reasonable $14. And look at all that colour, heck yessss! Don’t you feel good just looking at it?

Supercharger also have a bunch of delicious looking smoothies, juices and raw desserts that I would love to give a try, however my dining companion and I had earlier visited Raw Trader and felt we could not face any more sweets.

Raw Trader is a tiny cafe tucked away in a little CBD street. It has a huge array of raw cakes, slices, balls and more, as well as coffee, tea and smoothies. It’s kind of overwhelming seeing the display of pretty treats, they look almost too good to eat and near impossible to choose.

rawtrader1
We took a painstakingly long time to pick two desserts to share. This is the cappuccino cake. It had a lovely creamy texture, and I love the white layer like froth on top of a capp. I would have liked a stronger coffee flavour, as I found it a bit mild, with the rich nuttiness and coconut flavour coming through more prominently.

rawtrader2
A small dense piece of lemon slice – I actually preferred this one, as the zestiness of the lemon really shone through. I guess the trouble with raw desserts becoming so popular is that they have to be pretty special to impress me now. I would like to go back and try some of the other desserts that took my fancy like ice creams and mousses, as I feel that there is definitely potential, but I just wasn’t blown away with the options that I chose. Regardless, Raw Trader is a great place to meet a mate for a coffee and cake if you’re in the CBD area.

Supercharger
Level 3, Emporium
287 Lonsdale st, Melbourne
Sun – Thurs – 11am – 7pm
Fri – Sat – 11am – 9pm
Raw Trader
10 Sutherland st, Melbourne
Mon – CLOSED
Tues – Thurs – 7.30am – 8.30pm
Fri – 7.30am – 10pm
Sat – 10am – 10pm
Sun – 10am – 4pm