Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce

Tonight I decided to make pumpkin gnocchi with the pumpkin I still haven't used yet :)
Making gnocchi is always relaxing (except for that one time I was in a rush and I didn't mash the potato enogh and it ruined an entire batch) and the end results tasty tasty!
First, steam enough pumpkin to make one cup of mashed pumpkin. Mix 1 cup of wholemeal flour (Italians will traditionally use type 00 white flour but wholemeal works perfectly for me) with 1 tablespoon of powdered sage and two crushed garlic cloves. Or a teaspoon of dried garlic flakes. Mix this together then add the pumpkin and stir until lumps form. If the mixture is too wet or sticky, add more flour. When it starts clumping together take it out of the bowl and knead a few times until it's a smooth dough.

Let it sit for about 1/2 an hour.

Once it's been sitting for a while, take chunks of it and roll out into a snake about 2cm thick. Cut bits off about a cm wide. They'll look like little pillows.

Set out the gnocchi onto a floured tray (using baking paper will prevent sticking as I discovered the hard way today, but I was trying to save paper haha), and put it into the freezer to freeze uncovered, until solid.
Gnocchi can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. This is my take on a traditional Napoli sauce. There is probabaly another sauce that uses olives in a basic Napoli base but I can't be bothered looking for it :).
Chop about 5-6 cloves of garlic roughly. Slice up some chillies (as much as you like).
I also sliced up a handful of the black olives we had on our picnic (see last post) but kalamata is preferred.

Fry the garlic, chilli, and olives in a little bit of oil on low heat until garlic is soft.
Add in two 800g cans of crushed or chopped tomatoes and stir well. Leave to simmer for about half an hour. Longer is ideal, but if like me you get impatient, it's still good if left for not as long :)

When the sauce is just about ready, add in 1-2 tablespoons of mixed herbs, fresh basil, whatever you have on hand and bring some water to boil in a large pot.
Once boiling put in the gnocchi. I measured one cup of frozen gnocchi per person, and it was the perfect amount. They are ready when floating, don't overcook!
They'll be mushy and horrible.
At the last minute add about a tablespoon of vegan butter to the sauce. You don't have to, but it makes it slightly creamier. Stir until melted.
Serve on top of gnocchi!
Sauce recipe serves about 6, gnocchi recipe serves about 3. I usually make a double amount of gnocchi, but I didn't quite cook enough pumpkin today :)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


It was the perfect day for a picnic. Nice and sunny, no clouds, no wind....:) We went to the botanic gardens which I think is my favourite place. I didn't take many pictures of the food because, well, it didn't look that nice. But it all tasted just perfect :)

We made a bush turkey friend:

I wasn't sure if she would actually attack us or not so I had to keep chasing her away. Pretty sure she just wanted our picnic food haha.

The bean salad was probabaly the best part. Definately a good thing to take to barbeques or whereever. I cooked up about a cup of mixed beans - chickpeas, kidney beans and navy beans were used. I coated it in apple cider vinegar and lots and lots and lots of black pepper. I also put in a grated garlic clove and some dill (because that is the herb we have most of in the cupboard at the moment for some reason) and a little bit of cooked pasta.

Another favourite was the olive oil and bread. I went to the bakery across the road in the morning to get a french stick to have with this bottle of olive oil I bought when we were in Tuscany. Pretty sure it's the most amazing olive oil I've ever tasted. (We did a winery/olive grove tour in Italy and I picked it up there. The winery who made this oil also made a fantastic chianti red wine, too. We drank that while we were there).

For the rest of our picnic we had: homemade chickpea crackers, hummous, guacamole (I forgot tomato!), some kiwifruit and some olives. Nadine brought home the olives from work one day for free because they had no label on them. Unfortunately they were the yucky tasteless plain black olives, but I couldn't just throw them away because they were free! Olives! So I decided to marinate them to see if it would make them edible. It did. I put them in a container with red wine vinegar, garlic, black peppercorns, left over brine from a jar of kalamata olives we hada while back (I always keep it to cook with - can pretend your eating real olives) and mixed herbs. They are just fine :) The texture isn't very good, but I think that's one of the main reasons I don't like the black olives in the first place. We didn't eat many, but they will be good to cook in a tomato sauce or something. :)

So our picnic was a success. We sat for ages waiting for the turtles to come out of the water, but they only stuck their heads up :(

The other day I bought these chips on a whim:

Beetroot chips. Ahhh best thing ever. Expensive, though. So I think I'll be attempting them soon. I think beetroot may be in season now so they shouldn't be too expensive. I love beetroot, I think it has to be my favourite root vegetable. I can't eat the canned stuff anymore!

Today for lunch I made this pasta:

It turned out delicious but way too big! We seem to be eating bigger and bigger meals lately so we are trying to make an effort to eat human sized servings of everything. I blame the cold :)

In it is: mushrooms, onion, garlic, spinach, tofu, chili, a mushed up burger patty I found in the fridge and some basil and hummous on top. It was a good meal, but probabaly better to eat for dinner than lunch. Oh well.

I usually do 20min of yoga everyday along with a fair amount of weights work (usually just while I'm waiting for my computer to load each page - yes it's that slow) and I'm now trying to go for a walk daily too. On our picnic there was an incline and I nearly died trying to get up. Very sad. So walking it is. Today I lasted 10 minutes, it's so damn cold! my throat gets so dry within minutes. I drink water, but then I get a stitch! Lose either way haha. I'm sure it'll work out fine. Tomorrow I'll make a bigger effort. Hopefully it's sunnier.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Pot pie

I bough a whole butternut pumpkin the other day (it's only a small one) because they were 99c a kilogram. And since my pumpkin plants were eaten alive by powdery mildew, I figured I'd start buying them again. So I had to find a recipe! I also have 3kg of potatoes ($2 a bag!) so I wanted one that had both. So I decided to cook this:

Celebration Pot Pie with Pumpkin from fatfree vegan kitchen. I know I make a lot of stuff from there, but most of it so far has been delicious, easy to make with basic ingredients, and there's just so much on the one page :)

The only problem I had with this recipe was the amount of sodium! Holy crap 986.1mg sodium per serving! According to this website (I just ran a search on the RDI of sodium is 920 to 2300mg per day. I suppose for all your other meals and snacks of the day you could just not have salt, but salt is in pretty much everything.

So I think I cut the salt about in half by skipping a few things I just didn't have, and not adding the actual salt in the recipe in.

It was quite tasty, in the way stews are (meaning a little bit bland) so I just dripped some hot chilli sauce on top. It could go with a bit more garlic (maybe incorporate more into the biscuits).

I also didn't have any seitan (I've never used/made it before) as I have no idea where to find vital wheat gluten. Maybe health food stores like Mrs. Flannery's, but generally places like that are regular haunts for me and I haven't come across it yet. Not that I've looked :) But I do on occasion buy fake meat products like Lamyong TVP Chunks which is what I put in this. The texture is a little odd (I wouldn't recommend feeding it to an omnivorous friend or relative) but as a vegan expecting strange texture they are perfectly fine. I've also tried the Beef strips by lamyong too and they are probably better than the chunks, but really do NOT freeze well. I had them in a stir fry and they were fine but I froze the leftovers and had it the next day and I couldn't chew through them. So avoid freezing :) This TVP stuff is quite expensive ($4-$6 or thereabouts a packet) but I buy it rarely so I think that's fine. They tend to last a while because I use them in conjunction with tofu and other veges, so I can get 10 servings out of a packet meant for 4, for example.

My 'biscuits' (more like cakes) didn't really turn out how they were meant to but they were fine to me anyway. They were quite crispy on the outside and soft and cakey on the inside.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Pig Goes Pop, and a delicious soup

This is one of the most disgusting childrens games I've ever seen: Pig Goes Pop! (That's a link to the tv advert on youtube).

How about we make a foie gras next time?

Mmmmm, delicious.

Anyway, I did make a nice soup last night. (I am definately in a soup mood). The weather is getting colder and colder and soup is just nice now.

I got the recipe from here. It's: Pink Bean, Quinoa and Spinach soup. I added a few things that were just about to go bad in the fridge: some cauliflower, mushrooms, snow peas. It needed more spices for me (Particularly chilli) so I think tonight when we have some leftovers I'll add some. We had it with garlic toast (because I forgot to buy a french loaf). There is actually spinach in there, but I used the finely chopped frozen stuff cuz that's what I had so it doesn't really show. I also had run out of red kidney beans so I used soy beans and chickpeas instead :)

I'll be making lots of yummy bits and pieces this weekend because we are going on a picnic to celebrate our anniversary :) Hopefully I remember the camera.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Curry soup

The other night we made a red curry coconut noodle soup :) I can't remember exactly what I did as I usually just eyeball ingredients for this sort of thing. I wrote a recipe for my sister, but failed to keep a copy for myself but oh well. I'll just give an outline. Curry soup is really to taste.

Red Curry Coconut Noodle Soup
Serves about 8 or 10 depending on how big your stomach is and how many veges you decide on

Tin of red curry paste (I use Maesri brand - you can buy it at Woolworths, sometimes at Coles. It's the only brand I've found so far with no shrimp paste or other animal products in it. They also do a Mussaman paste and a yellow curry paste. Both delicious.)
2 cans of coconut cream (or milk) I use woolworths home brand light coconut cream
1 large onion
Garlic cloves (to taste, I usually use about 4 big ones)
Assorted veges - this time I had brocolli, cauliflower, carrots, eggplant, bean sprouts, bok choy, sweet potato, spring onions (scallions), snow peas
About 500mL 'chicken' stock (or whatever you have in the cupboard - mushroom would work nicely too but chicken flavoured is really best)
300g packet of tofu
1 400g tin of baby corn
1 400g tin of chickpeas

Noodles of choice

..I think that's about it.


Start off by lightly frying the onion, tofu and garlic together. Then add the tin of curry paste and stir for a little while. Try not to burn it. You can use oil, or a bit of the prepared chicken stock if you like. If using eggplant or sweet potato add in here. I didn't peel, or salt my eggplant, it sits in the curry long enough to no longer be bitter anyway. But you can if you wish.

Add in all the vegetables (including tin chickpeas and corn) and a can of coconut cream. (I usually use cream but milk would probabaly work better - next time I think I'll use 1 cream and 1 milk.) Stir it until combined. Add about half the stock and the rest of the coconut milk or cream. Cook until vegetables are tender.

It's supposed to be a soup, so if it's not liquidy enough add the rest of the stock or add some water. This time mine was rather thick because I used way more veges than usual - I needed a bigger pot! Another way that would work is if I served up the noodles and curry, then added some stock in at the end to make it soupy.

Serve in a soup bowl with noodles.

(The burnt mess on top the bowl there is a slice of eggplant I tried to grill. I forgot to put oil on it, so my partner tried to add oil about half way through, but it was spray oil and we have a gas oven, so it caught fire. No damage though - eggplant slice was chewy, but the cat liked it!)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Chili :)

The other night I made the Chacha Chili from the Skinny Bitch cookbook :) It's pretty delicious, and probabaly the cheapest thing to make in the entire book. It's gonna last us a while. The first night we had it with steamed pumpkin and brocolli with sweet chili sauce and a glob of hummus, and a few slices of grilled tofu that was marinated in red wine vinegar and soy sauce. Next time I will marinate it longer though, but it was a last minute decision. I drizzled all the leftover marinade over the vegetables and tofu. It was rather delicious.

Last night we had it with steamed sweet potato (I got a kilo bag at the fruit shop for 89 cents), brocolli (was on special for $2.99/kg at said fruit shop) and some carrots (always cheap :))

If you have the book, the recipe says to use 4 tablespoons of chili powder - pretty sure that's a typo - I used 4 teaspoons and it was almost too hot but not quite. It also took longer to cook than outlined in the recipe but I just left it there and it turned out perfect. I also used 100g dry soybeans instead of 100g of the kidney beans, to mix it up a bit. It works.

A very high protein meal. I'll have to use it, ha.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Breakfast for the hungover, and 'meatballs'!

It was the Pride fair day on Saturday which was amazingly fun (except the beer cost $5 a can! and I forgot to take a picture of our picnic). And we went to the pub with a friend afterwards and stayed a lot longer than we expected (and therefore drank a bit more) so there was a hangover on Sunday.

We usually prepare ourselves for such occasions (because they are genenerally few) and buy hashbrowns and fizzy drinks the day before. We didn't this time, but I had a little bit of pumpkin in the fridge and decided to make my own! I didn't go find a recipe because that was too hard. I ended up grating the pumpkin, and making a mixture of about 3 tablespoons of cornflour and 4 tablespoons of water and adding it to the pumpkin. I dropped a large tablespoon worth of the mixture into heated oil (just shallow fry, not deep fry) and squished them down. They are very fragile so I had to be careful flipping them. But they did end up staying in one piece which was good. They did the job :)

They were very crispy (I almost burnt them) on the outside but soft and pumpkiny on the inside. Very unlike potato hash browns. :) And nice and oily which was the point. You could use a lot less oil than I did with no dramatic difference I think.

We had them with baked beans, garlic, spinach and chilli.
The other night I wanted two things: baked corn pudding, and spaghetti and meatballs. I couldn't decide so we had spaghetti and meatballs, with a side of corn pudding. :) The meatballs are SO GOOD. I will make them again, and again, and again. Cheap and easy, though time consuming, they are DELICIOUS. Next time I make them I will cut the mustard powder in half and replace with sage or some other powdered herbs.
The sauce I made started out as a basic Napoli tomato sauce (tomatoes, garlic, herbs - I also usually put kalamata olives in but SOMEONE ate them all and put the empty jar back in the fridge), but I added grated carrot and zucchini, and a handful of red split lentils to make it thicker and heartier. Didn't really need to with the meatballs, but it was delicious together anyway. It's always good to add extra vegetables.
The corn pudding was good too, probably a bit strange to eat it with pasta but who cares, really. :)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Stew, Banana balls, and leftovers!

This is what we had for dinner the other night:
Can't get any cheaper than this I think. Red lentils, onion, a carrot (I added this because I felt like a carrot), some garlic, canned tomatoes and some basic spices. The recipe is called Ethiopian Lentil Stew and it's located here (on the Fat Free Vegan Website).

The recipe I used for Berbere I got from the Oxfam Shop Vegetarian Cookbook. We made it ages ago for another recipe in the same book. It's delicious. We only had smoked paprika though, so I think it's almost a totally different flavour. I'm not going to type it out (I think everyone should buy the book, everything in it is cheap and mainly easy to make) but the Berbere recipe is pretty much the same as the one given with the stew recipe.
The recipe made enough for us to eat well, 3 times each. So I think 6 servings without rice, 8 servings with rice. Or quinoa as we had it.
I also decided to make these banana balls, because I was in a crappy mood and making things makes me feel better. It did. They are also from the fatFree Vegan website: Banana-Cashew Balls. I only had almonds (they are on a good special at my local fruit shop at the moment) so I used those instead. I also used one more date, because I think the ones I have are smaller than the average fresh date. You can usually get them at Woolworths. The balls are delicious, by the way. Good as a snack or dessert, probably good for kids (and me!) to take to school too.
Tonight for dinner I felt like making corn fritters, so we went and bought some frozen corn (Home Brand was 1kg for $2.99 - cheaper than buying 1kg of tinned sweet corn, and the ingredients? Corn. Not Corn 60%, sugar, salt, water).
We had them with some leftover Berebere Stew, and a side of brocolli sauteed with spinach leaves, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and some sesame seeds. As you can see from the picture, there wasn't much of that. We underestimated a little. So we ate all the corn fritters. (Recipe made about 10). Next time I'll have to remember to make them smaller or spread out the batter more because this time it struggled to cook in the middle. Recipe for Corn Fritters I used is here. I just realised I didn't use the cornflour. I'm not sure what difference it would have made, they were fine without.
Mayonnaise used to be a once every now and then treat for me to buy myself when I could afford it. Vegan mayonnaise is expensive! The brand I liked best was about $5 for a small jar. Not anymore! I'm pretty sure it cost me about $2 to recreate it using this recipe. Made about 2 cups worth. It is so delicious. I will be making potato salad (another treat I would make when I was rich) this week. For pretty much nothing. (Just for information: I use apple cider vinegar as a salad dressing as well, also in marinades for tofu, etc. So the huge bottle you buy is worth it).
Life is awesome.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Some things I always try to have in the pantry...

Canned beans, canned tomatoes, flax seeds, quinoa, dried legumes: red lentils, green lentils, soy beans, chick peas, kidney beans, brown rice. Also pasta, spices, etc. Baked beans and instant noodles are good too :)

You can easily make a good meal out of lentils, tin tomatoes, spices and rice. 1 cup of lentils goes a long way :) Dried beans can also be prepared ahead and frozen if you have no time, and it generally works out a lot cheaper than buying canned beans all the time (there's also less packaging involved). I always keep good sized jars to store dry goods in if I buy anything in them (such as large jars of olives, instant coffee, pasta sauces).

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Make your own hummous! Hummus? Hommous? chick-pea spread!

Why? Because it's cheaper than buying a tiny little container of it at the supermarket. And it tastes better.

Makes a fair bit


2 cans chickpeas, drained (reserve one can's liquid)
3 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 large garlic clove, crushed
Black pepper

Put the chickpeas (minus liquid), tahini, lemon juice, crushed garlic, and some black pepper in blender. Blend. Add small amounts of reserved chickpea liquid until desired texture is reached.

I like mine really thick. Add more pepper if you want, and quickly blend in the chopped parsley at the end. You don't really have to have parsley, but it does taste nice. Put it in a air tight container in the fridge. You can probably keep it up to two weeks, if you can make it last that long :) I can't.

I usually put on sandwiches or toast, or I buy rice crackers...but that's bad because I usually eat the whole packet. Use it as a dip with raw vegetables like carrot, celery, brocolli, cucucumber, zuchini, anything really.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

First post with Mushroom Stroganoff!


I based this on a recipe from Leah Leneman's 'Easy Vegan Cooking' . I added a few things which I'll put in bold.
Mushroom Stroganoff

455g mushrooms
4tbs vegetable oil
1 clove garlic (I used at least 3)
1 onion
1/2 cup wholewheat flour
2 cups vegetable stock (I used Massel's Salt Reduced Chicken stock)
340g tofu (I find Nutrisoy to be the best tasting)
Sea salt, black pepper, mustard powder to taste

I added to the original ingredients:
1 large carrot, diced
3 birdseye chillies (I grow my own, they're quite hot)
About 200g of green beans
About 2/3 cup of whole pitted olives


Slice mushrooms. I used portobello mushrooms. (At least that's what the label at woolworths said. They like to chop and change). You can slice them as big or as small as you like. You could even puree them if you wanted, if you don't like chunky mushroom.

Chop up the vegetables.

Add vegetables (minus the mushrooms) to a large cooking pot with a little bit of oil (or you could use a bit of water if you don't want to use oil). Fry them on a medium heat, stirring occasionally, while you make the tofu cream.

Chop up the tofu into chunks (I just used the whole 350g packet). Blend it until smooth. (This type of tofu takes a little longer because it's firm, but you can buy soft or silken tofu as well, which will make it a bit more smoother, but this one works fine for me.)

Add enough water while blending to make about 600mL of tofu 'cream'. I added about 1 1/2 cups of water. Try not to add too much, because the cream will be watery and runny. I did that once and the meal tasted mainly of liquid tofu rather than mushrooms.
Meanwhile, add mushrooms to the pot and cook until soft.

After that, add the 1/2 cup of flour and stir, then slowly pour in the 2 cups of stock. Stir constantly to avoid lumps.

Pour in the tofu cream and stir through. Turn heat down to low when it starts to boil. Cover, and leave to cook, but stir it occasionally, while you cook the pasta. You can add the seasonings here if you like. I think I used a very large tablespoon of mustard powder, and a fair bit of black pepper. No salt. Instead of mustard powder, I'm sure you can use a little bit of whatever mustard you have in the fridge. This is where you can add olives too, if using.

This time we used these fancy pasta shells. We only ever buy this stuff if it's on the $1 stand at the local gourmet market. (This is how we also get loaves of spelt bread, organic bread, random jams and spreads, snack food etc). Any type of pasta will go with this dish. (I usually buy home brand spaghetti or fettuchine from Woolies, or make my own.)

It is finished! For some reason the picture makes it look un-appetising but I assure you it is delicious.

This made enough for 2 people to eat 4 times each (but once we added rice to it and made it into a pie) so I'd say it's a 6 - serving dish. You can freeze it, so if you don't want to eat the same thing four days in a row (or for lunch and tea twice in a row) then you can have it later :) I wouldn't freeze pasta, though.