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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Brother Burger and the Marvellous Brew

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Woah, hey! I have been slowly going through the annual motions of new-year cleaning, decluttering and organising, enjoying starting afresh. I spent today cleaning, clearing, packing away physical things, and I this evening I have moved on to the dreaded computer clean up. My usual attitude is one of ‘if I just don’t look at it, I won’t know how bad it is, and therefore it is fine”, but enough is enough. It’s time to back up, clear up and speed up the old lappytop.

In doing this, I have discovered more photos of places visited that I have NOT shared with y’all than I ever realised. As a result, I’m going to try and bang out some short sharp posts, clear this clutter and move on with my life. Stop weighing me down, maaaaan.

This piccy is from December – the bear and I had been running errands and getting shiz done when we started getting peckish. We were just across the road from Brother Burger and the Marvellous Brew – the name is a bit of a mouthful, but I kind of like the fairy-tale feel of it. It is what it sounds like – a burger bar – with a fair choice of burgers (including two vegetarian options), as well as a few sandwiches and salads. One of the burgers is listed as vegan, and there is also a menu of mix and match-ers that you can customise your own burger with. The drink list has plenty, from shakes to teas to cocktails and wines, and there is apparently a whole separate menu for beers. We bypassed the drinks and went straight to burgerville. I went the easy option and chose the vegan burger – a mung bean sprout and kidney bean pattie, lettuce, asian slaw, pickled onions and chili jam. Bear went with the magic mushie (not vegan), and we ordered some french fries (there are also fat chips and onion rings on offer). After taking the order, the friendly girl came back and advised that the bun on the vegan burger is not in fact vegan, but can be exchanged for the GF bun, which is. Strange that the vegan bun is not the standard on the vegan burger, but anyway…I guess it’s a good excuse to make an extra $3 on the bun.

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I was pleasantly surprised by the bun – I didn’t even notice the gluten-freeness of it! The pattie was solid and filling, with distinguishable veggies and bits in it – yaaaay (down with mush!) and it was overall decent. Unfortunately, the burger was a little dry and there wasn’t a huge flavour punch, something that a heavier serve of pickled onions and chili jam might have remedied – I am a condiment fanatic though. Regardless, it filled the hole alongside the salty french fries. Bear raved about his burger, which you can just catch in the background, the dollop of cheese and juicy mushroom really hit the spot for him.

Brother Burger and the Marvellous Brew
Side of 413 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
Sun – Thurs – 12pm – 10pm
Fri – Sat – 12pm – 11pm

Hello 2015 and Tangy Edamame Buckwheat Noodle Salad

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Hellooo everyone and happy 2015! I’m back! I was never really gone, but I’ve had a busy couple of months – moving house, festival-ing, having family over from Perth, going on a mini-holiday, Christmas, New Years, ALL THAT JAZZ. It’s hard to believe that one and a half months slipped away from me just like that, but it’s been lots of fun and I’m now feeling a lot more relaxed and grounded in my new home. Our house has lots of light, lovely floorboards, a rocking kitchen, an outdoor patio and a BACKYARD. I am still very excited by this and I have been here a month now.

I have so much to share with you, but I’m trying not to get too overwhelmed with it today and instead I’ll just hit you with a lovely simple noodle salad recipe. This is a great one for summer because there is pretty minimal cooking involved. In the coming weeks I’ll be sharing a bunch more summer-friendly recipes. I’ve always been a fan of stronger flavours, and this one packs quite a tangy punch thanks to the combination of rice wine vinegar, sriracha and ginger. Nothing like a good hit of ginger to boost the old immune system!

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Tangy Edamame Buckwheat Noodle Salad
(serves 4)

3-4 carrots
1 medium red capsicum
6 spring onions
2 cups frozen edamame
2 cups snow pea tendrils
200g buckwheat soba noodles
3 Tbsp black sesame seeds

Dressing:
4 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp sriracha
2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, minced

Prepare your veggies – using a julienne peeler, a mandolin or a really sharp knife and a bit of patience, cut your carrots and set aside. Julienne the red capsicum, and chop your spring onions into 1cm chunks.

Cook your noodles according to instructions, and in the final minute or two, throw in the edamames.

Meanwhile, whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside, and lightly toast sesame seeds in a pan over low heat until fragrant.

Drain noodles and edamame, and place in a large bowl along with carrot, spring onion, capsicum and snow pea tendrils. Pour over dressing and toss to combine. Top with toasted black sesame seeds.

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Soul Foods, Newcastle NSW

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A couple of weekends back, we took a quick weekend trip up to Newcastle to visit the Bear’s new baby nephew. Our efforts to arrive super early were apparently in vain – when we got to the airport, there were no shuttle buses for over an hour. We sat at the airport drinking big old mugs of coffee wondering why exactly we had taken the 6am flight.

The shuttle bus took us into Newcastle, where we desperately needed some breakfast after already being up without food for over five hours. Harnessing the power of the internet, we found our target – Natural Tucker Health Food and Cafe on Darby St. We started making our way there, when we stumbled upon this sign:

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Vegan options? Count us in!

newie2Soul Foods was closer than our destination, and conveniently right across from the train station we needed to get to to scoot out to Cardiff afterwards.

The cafe had high ceilings and a quirky interior – lots of mismatched coloured chairs and pretty teacups. I liked it. I was a bit jealous of two ladies to my left who had what looked like the most royal thrones of the room, but I stopped giving them greasies to look at the menu.

The bubbly lady explained the vegan options – I went with the zucchini fritters/pancakes? Usually served with haloumi, but could be replaced with tofu to be made vegan. Sounded great.

newie1 When my meal came out, I was impressed by the vibrant colours – I like to eat with my eyes and I like rainbow plates. However unfortunately this dish just didn’t quite come together. The zucchini fritters were semi-sweet pancakes with blueberries in them, but then topped with savouries. It was great that they could substitute the haloumi instead of just take it away, however the tofu was raw and I could not taste any marinade. Tomato and avo are always good brekkie additions, and everybody knows I am a dip fanatic, however the hommus tasted distinctly of one I have bought at the supermarket, as did the pesto – which tasted very cheesy (like those little oily cashew ‘chunky’ dips you can buy). When I asked afterwards, the lady assured me that it was vegan and house-made, but I was still a little skeptical. It tasted EXACTLY how I remember that non-vegan store bought dip to taste. But hey, if they tell me so I gotta believe it.

The bear went with a bean dish, though he had it with feta so I didn’t snap it. He really enjoyed it and I tried some of the beans which were tasty. I think they came with some pumpkin toast.

Soul Foods had a bunch of tasty looking vegan sweets, but I wasn’t really feeling it on the day. I was a little disappointed with the breakfast, but wouldn’t discount them entirely without having another go. Maybe next time!

Afterwards, we bumbled with buying train tickets (confusing machines), missed our train (and also forced an innocent man to miss the train too with our inability to navigate the ticket machine) and ultimately had to wait another hour and a half for the next one. When we complained of our plight, we were told “but it’s Saturday” as if that explained the lack of transport options. Oh us Melbourners with our frequent departing Saturday trains, what were we thinking? We arrived at Billy’s sister’s place at about 2pm. Good thing we got that 6am flight! Ha!

Soul Foods
227 Hunter st, Newcastle NSW
Tues – Fri – 7.30am – 5pm
Sat – Sun – 8am – 3.30pm

Banana Chai Spice Smoothie

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It is well and truly smoothie season. Over the past weeks I have shifted from eating mainly porridge brekkies to total smoothie town. I alternate flavours regularly, but lately this one has made been amongst the reruns.

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Banana Chai Spice Smoothie

1 frozen banana
1 1/2 cups almond milk
1 date
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
Pinch of black pepper
1 tsp maca
1 tsp chia seeds

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

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Loving Hut Northcote II

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Happy World Vegan Day (for yesterday!) I didn’t do anything to celebrate as I was home in bed with the sniffles, however am looking forward to the WVD Melbourne event next Sunday. Come at me delicious food!!

I’m still trying to knock out some recipe and dining out posts from before and during MoFo – this one being one of them. A couple of weeks back, the Bear and I hit up the Northcote Social Club for a gig. It was a Tuesday night, so we headed there straight from work and had some time to kill before it started. I don’t know why I feel that I need to give you a backing story to why we ate at Loving Hut, it really does not need to be justified.

As usual, the vibe was kind of weird as there was only one other couple sitting in when we arrived, in that sparse, school cafeteria-style space. There was a video playing on the TV of nature and animal shots which kept us entertained for some time, and for a moment I almost forgot how strange it was that a TV was playing there in the first place.

lovinghutnorthcote1We started out with some steamed wontons, which were sitting in a ginger-soy vinaigrette. I really enjoyed the dressing, as well as the crunchy garlic shoots and herbs on top.

lovinghutnorthcote2I couldn’t resist ordering the tofu bites again, I am obsessed. Hot, crispy, salty outside with melt in your mouth centre. And that tartar sauce, how?! So good.

lovinghutnorthcote3For the main, we shared a bowl of the Bun Bo Hue, which was plenty for the both of us as we were not super hungry. I always find these big bowls of soup so filling, even with the thin broth base. You can choose to have mock beef or tofu with this one – we chose beef. The flavour of the broth was lovely, made with lemongrass, chili, ginger, lime and cinnamon. It was zesty and slightly spicy and made me feel good inside.

lovinghutnorthcote4After perusing the dessert cabinet, there was no way I was leaving without a piece of this. There were a few cakey slicey things like this of different flavours, I can’t remember exactly what this one was – I think hazelnut mocha raspberry, or something of the like. I remember thinking that all those flavours might be a bit ambitious, but it seriously worked so well. The base had an incredible light and crispy texture, the centre beautiful and creamy, and how could I go wrong with a scoop of Zebra Dream ice cream on the side? Winnnaaaahhhhh!

If you want to see the glory of my first visit to Loving Hut Northcote, check out the post here. The Northcote shop definitely wins my vote over the Richmond one, which I have been to several times but only once taken pictures (post still to come). Also note, the hours of operation have changed since my last visit and they are now open for lunch too. Hoorah!

Loving Hut
377-79 High St, Northcote
Mon – CLOSED
Tues-Sun – 11am – 10pm
kitchen closes 30 mins prior to closing

Mr Natural Vegetarian Pizza

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Some nights you just want to eat pizza without having to make it or even leave your house to get it. Y’all know what I’m talking about. Hooray for home delivery!

Mr Natural has two locations – St Kilda and Fitzroy. The menu consists of a range of entirely vegetarian pizzas, all of which can be adapted to become vegan with the optional addition of vegan cheese, pepperoni and various other tasties like beans, tofu, sprouts and sauces. The online ordering system is simple to use and you can easily customise your pizza with the removal and addition of whatever ingredients your heart does or does not desire.

This was my first experience with Mr Natural – in the past, every time I decide that I want to order pizza, it’s been too late to get in before close. This time I planned ahead and reaped the rewards. I think the delivery guy was a bit startled when the Bear and I answered the door short of breath after sprinting to the door yelling “pizzaaaaaa!” So much excitement.

mrnatural First up we went with the Broccolini pizza. I’ve heard people rave about broccoli on pizza, and I thought it was about time I gave it a go. It had broccoli, onions, olives, capsicum, cheese, herbs and sesame seeds. I thought that it had potential, but was missing something – it was just a little bit bland. The unveganised version of the pizza included feta cheese, so maybe that offered the bite needed. If I ordered it again, I would add pineapple or more chili or more olives or something, but otherwise I loved how many veggies were packed on there (and how greeeeeen it was).

mrnatural2Second, we got the Cool Peppers, which is apparently the result of a pizza creation competition. This one had tomato, olives, capsicum, vegan pepperoni, vegan cheese, chili flakes, parsley and sesame seeds. It rocked. It was spicy and awesome and I hope it gets added to the regular menu, because I loved it. It was kind of hard to go back to the broccoli pizza afterwards as this one packed so much more punch. In saying that, the broccoli pizza tasted awesome cold the next day.

It’s so great to have easy takeaway/delivery options for vegans, particularly old favourites like pizza. Sometimes you just want to lie in bed watching movies and eating pizza, and thanks to places like Mr Natural, your dreams can come true.

Mr Natural Vegetarian Pizza
469 Brunswick St, Fitzroy North
Mon – Thurs & Sun – 5.30pm – 10pm (delivery 6pm-9pm)
Fri – Sat – 5.30pm – 11pm (delivery 6pm – 9pm)

Red Robyn, Camberwell

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The weekend before last, the Bear and I took a bike ride out to my folks place. Upon arrival, we decided to head over to Camberwell with them to get a bite to eat for a late lunch. I had been wanting to check out the Red Robyn for some time after hearing them described as an ‘allergy friendly cafe’ – catering for a number of different dietary requirements, including vegan, fructose allergies, nut allergies and FODMAP diets. Everything on the menu is also gluten-free and soy-free. Wowzers.

The cafe itself is on a quiet part of Camberwell rd, and you could quite easily fly right past it without noticing if it were not from the cute little red robin sign out the front. Inside, the place is warm and bright, with splashes of red throughout to fit with the theme.

redrobin2 I wasn’t sure if we were going to be let in as we were cutting it quite close to kitchen closing time, however we were welcomed with a smile, and provided with lovely service throughout. I started with a coffee while I perused the menu a little further.

redrobinThere were many dishes that caught my eye, but ultimately I went with this one. Ask me what it is. I can’t remember! I think it was some sort of smoky eggplant and potato croquette, with a fresh salsa. Wow my memory is failing me terribly. I really need to take care if I plan to write about a meal!

Regardless, I remember it was tasty. My mum, dad and the bear all went with non-vegan options, and all commented on how much they enjoyed their meals too. On the way out, I was told that there are usually plenty of vegan sweets on offer, including vanilla slice (be still my heart!) so I DEFINITELY have good reason to return.

Red Robyn
393 Camberwell Rd, Camberwell
Mon – Fri – 7.30am – 3pm
Sat – Sun – 8.30am – 3.30pm
(kitchen shuts 30 mins prior to close)

Music for your Mouth MoFo Wrap Up

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Hello! Hi! Hola!

I had a bit of an impromptu week and a half off after MoFo, just to catch my breath. But now I’m back, and with awesome news. Drum roll pleaaasseee…..I won a MoFie!

mofieHell yeah! Thanks MoFo judges, I certainly had fun and am glad you’ve enjoyed the sweet sweet tunes too. Head over to the official Vegan MoFo site to check out the full list of MoFie winners. Thank you to all my readers old and new and everybody who participated in MoFo and made it rockin’. See you next year!  \m/

And without further adieu, here is a pictorial summary of my thirty days of MoFo, following the theme of Music for your Mouth:

                              bread lemonheads honeycombs3

                              blindmelon2 chillipeppers pb3

                              chuckberry2 neutralmilk2 smashingpump1

                              vanillafudge marthamuffins infectedmush6

                               zombievanillaicee3 jello3

                              fionaapple4 spicegirls3 cake1

                              bananasplit hotchoc soup1

                              blondie3 thejam1 cream4

                              cherry1 orange1 saltnpepa1

                              peaches2 burrito2 custard2

30 days, hoooooly mackerel! This was only my second year MoFoing, but certainly my best effort to date. I can’t believe I managed a post every single day (take a good look folks, it may not ever happen again). I had tried to be organised this year to stay one step ahead of the game, but I did feel a little in the deep end, particularly towards the end of the month. There’s always something to aspire to and next year it will be to be even MORE organised. Ha!

Thanks for dropping by, stay tuned as we return to regular programming.

One more song to take us to the close. It isn’t an edible audio, but I think totally appropriate. Plus I was bummed I didn’t get to squeeze Freddy Mercury in anywhere else, so y’know…

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