Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Uforic Food Cafe on the road to Torquay

Last week I had my little niece up in Melbourne for a sleepover.  I drove her home and picked up my mum on the way to drop her off so we could have lunch on the way.  We stopped at Uforic Cafe on the highway to Torquay.  My mum had told me that the cafe had difficulty when there were roadworks on the highway last year so we wanted to support them.

Sylvia and her cousin had already had a swim in Melbourne and some food afterwards as I was worried that they would be grumpy if we waited too long for lunch.  They were a bit restless so I took them outside for a walk.

We didn't stay out too long as it was a chilly winter day with a cold wind whipping around us.  It didn't seem the best time of year to view the garden because the rose bushes had been pruned back into twiggy stumps.  I would love to see the garden in bloom during the warmer months.

The girls ordered milkshakes and scones.  I was pleased to be offered a choice of children's size milkshakes.  Sylvia found her caramel one too sweet but the two girls managed to finish the chocolate milkshake between them.

The scones were soft and fresh.  The girls ate them quickly.  My mum tried some of the raspberry jam on a piece of her bread and pronounced it to be excellent.  (She is rather fussy about jam.)  The only thing I found a little strange was that the cream was pouring consistency rather than whipped but Sylvia seemed to like it.

As the scone were part of a devonshire tea that came with a cup of tea.  So my mum had the tea with her cassoulet.  She was very satisfied.  I noticed that they had a selection of loose leaf teas, as well as jams and chutneys to purchase in the provodore section.

I ordered the Avo Smash.  It was far more impressive than most avo smashes I have had.  The avocado, tomato, spinach and goats cheese were served on a house made pumpkin polenta and poppy seed loaf and drizzled with caramelised balsamic vinegar.  I really liked the bread, which was gluten free and was lighter than regular toast.

We really enjoyed our lunch.  The food was delicious and the cafe had a welcoming ambiance with friendly staff, a pile of interesting reading and bright modern decor.  The cafe is next door to a garden centre.  My mum and I decided we need to make more time on the next visit so we can have some time to browse.  Finally, I was interested to read about Uforic and how it grew out of a food blog.

Uforic Food Cafe
Shop 3, 1135 Surf Coast Highway, Mt Duneed
[The highway between Geelong and Torquay]
(03) 5264 1717
http://uforicfood.com/

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Sunday, 5 July 2015

Jeanette's coconut date slice

Just as the Brits have their traybakes and Americans have their bars, Australians have our slices.  These are traditional baking or no bake sweet treats that have been made by generations for fetes, cake sales and lunchboxes.  The are usually easy to make and kids love them.

I stumbled upon this great article in the Age Epicure called Slices to Savour.  As well as lots of great recipes it has a wonderful introduction to slices that I highly recommend you read.  The author writes of the reassuring nature of the humble slice that has been comfort food for Smiths, Jones and O'Briens.

I have already shared many slices that I grew up with.  Chocolate caramel slice, Coconut ice, Hedgehog, Lemon slice, Marshmallow weetbix slice and White Christmas were all regular fixtures in my childhood and continue to be my comfort food.

Upon reflecting on them, I notice that they feature some common ingredients.  Condensed milk, Marie biscuits and various cereals are often included because these would be shelf stable pantry items.  The other ingredients are butter, sugar, dessicated coconut, dried fruit and other items that would be easily found in most traditional Australian kitchens.

In recent years I have discovered the rice krispie slice that seems so popular in America.  I love it because it reminds me of Aussie slices but it has problems a bit like our Aussie chocolate crackles (which use an old fashioned copha that I now avoid). It is traditionally made with marshmallows which have gelatine are aren't really vegetarian.  There is a great vegan alternative that I have made with nut butter but this makes it unsuitable for sharing in schools and cake stalls that are often nut free.

I was delighted to discover this date, coconut and rice bubble slice recipe that the editor had begged from the author of the Slices to Savour article.  This slice has the pleasing crunch of rice bubbles held together by fudgy dates.  The dates make it healthier than rice krispie slice but it had enough sugar and butter that I would not claim is is health food.  It was like wonderful comfort food.  I would beg for the recipe too.

I love this recipe so much that I want to share it widely.  I am sending it to Jac for Bookmarked Recipes; Camilla and Helen for Credit Crunch Munch: Kimmy for Healthy Vegan Fridays #54; Lisa, Lauren, and Danielle for Fabulous Foodie Fridays #58; and Emily for Recipe of the Week.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Mashed potato chocolate cake
Two year ago: Homemade lemonade and winter picnics
Three years ago: Sam Stern's Lancashire burgers
Four years ago: CC Orange, lavender and almond syrup cake
Five years ago: Lemon slice and some nostalgia
Six years ago: Slideshows, nostalgia and hedgehog
Seven years ago: Sparkles the rabbit cake
Eight years ago: Mexicale pie - an old favourite

Jeanette's coconut date slice
Adapted from Slices to Savour in The Age Epicure

1 cup dates*
1/2 cup sugar
90g butter*
4 cups rice bubbles*
1 cup dessicated coconut
extra coconut for sprinkling

Gently heat dates, sugar and butter in a medium saucepan over low heat (do not boil) for about 15 minutes until dates are mushy.  Stir in rice bubbles and coconut.  Spread into a lined slice tin*.  Sprinkle generously with coconut.  Chill in the fridge to set about 2 hours.  Return to room temperature and cut into squares.

*NOTES:  The original recipe calls for dried dates but I used medjool dates because I had them to use up.  Rice bubbles is what Australians call rice krispies.  I used a vegan margarine.  A slice tin is 18 x 28cm.  I found that if the slice was kept in the fridge, that it would shatter when cut or eaten.  It is best kept at room temperature to be chewy and fudgy.  I think ours lasted about a week.

I slightly changed the recipe because I was so sure the coconut would be mixed in with the dates and once I discovered it called to toss the slice in the coconut instead I was too set on mixing it in.  Tossing it in coconut seemed too much work so I just sprinkled it on top.  I would quite fancy trying it with melted chocolate on top. 

On the stereo:
Great Big World: Justine Clarke

Friday, 3 July 2015

In My Kitchen: July 2015

It is the end of the first week of the school holidays.  Sylvia has had swimming lessons at 9am each day.  I am glad the swimming intensive has ended.  Our chlorinated hair feels like straw after hours of swimming and I am looking forward to a sleep in.  On the upside we have had great fun, met great new people, caught up with a few old friends, and done some local shopping afterwards. 

One local purchase is this new saucepan that is between my largest saucepan and my stockpot.  I am often looking for a saucepan of this size.  It is the same style as my other Baccarat saucepans that I have had for 13 years and are in pretty good nick, albeit less shiny than my new saucepan.  I can't wait to use it.

A more impulsive purchase was this Iron Broo Tablet that we bought E when we were at the National Celtic Festival.  It was the usual tooth aching sweetness of tablet but I liked the slight flavour of Scotland's national soft drink, Iron Bru.  E said he couldn't taste it but I could.

A curious item in my kitchen this month is carrot jam.  My mum was gifted it by a friend and passed it on to me along with some quince jelly and apricot jam.  I am wondering if the carrot jam would make some interesting baking as I am not sure I will convince E and Sylvia to eat jam with grated carrot swimming in it. 

I have been shopping at CERES farmers market recently and find myself buying the cute vegies.  Purple potatoes (not pictured here), coloured carrots and Romanescu cauliflower.  I resist the bread because I often have my own loaves as in the picture above.  On a recently visit I was offered loose garlic cloves for a song so I took a handful.  And Sylvia picked me the flowers.

Here is the close up of the Romanescu cauliflower.  So pretty and strange.  I regret to say it went into a stew.  It surprised me at how well it kept its shape.  I do wonder how it would be to roast it whole like this roasted cauliflower.

Sylvia had a friend over for a sleepover recently and we made pizza for dinner and apple rose tarts for dessert.  I thinly sliced some roasted purple potatoes and baked them on one of the pizzas with some tomato sauce, and cheese.  The potatoes were really crispy like chips and were amazing on the pizza.

I have visited the new Smith and Deli twice because I happened to be in Fitzroy.  So expect a fuller write up in the not too distant future. On my first visit I purchased this chickpea, apricot and cumin.  Actually I am not sure I got the name quite right as there is no name or ingredients on it.  I guess this is what you expect when you purchase on the second day of business.  It was nice with lots of Moroccan flavours but I had hoped for chunks of dried apricot and there were none.  I also bought a block of Loving Earth's raw caramel chocolate and really loved it's creamy buttery flavours but it went before I could get my camera out.

Another new chocolate I sampled recently was this Toasted Coconut Chocolate from Madecasse.  It was nice but not quite what I was after.  I really love the Whittakers coconut block chocolate and hoped this would be a dark chocolate version with the coconut mixed into the chocolate.  The Madecasse block, however, was chocolate with a generous sprinkling of toasted coconut on the underside.

Possibly one of my favourite purchases in the last month was the Pure Harvest Coco2 Hazelnut Spread.  It is made of rice malt syrup, hazelnuts, coconut oil, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt.  I love a product with an ingredient list so simple that I don't mind typing it.  It is vegan, free of refined sugar, gluten free and tastes amazing.  If you want to compare it to Nutella, then Nutella is like a cream cheese spread and this is like a ganache.  Dark and rich and gooey.

I was inspired by a post on BuzzFeed about making pancakes with nutella inside.  Sylvia remembered it as kids will.  We tried it a couple of weeks back with our favourite banana oat pancakes and Coco2 Hazelnut Spread (above).  I thought the mixture might be too thick but it seemed fine.  I tried it again this week with vegan pancakes when Sylvia had her cousin over for a sleepover.  The batter was much thinner and harder to flip.  I think they were the messiest pancakes I have ever made but so yummy.

I have never heard of Annas [sic] Ginger Thins until I found them at an IGA supermarket recently.  According to the packet they are very famous in Sweden.  I can see why they would be.  They are crisp and melt in the mouth.  They were very popular in our house.

I love trying vegan cheeses and was excited to find Sheese in the IGA supermarket.  It was from Scotland and I wanted to like it.  But it ended up being thrown out because it didn't melt or taste nice and it had a weird after taste.  Sheesh!  Disappointing after trying Daiya and Biocheese and knowing how good vegan cheese can be.

Finally here is a sandwich I made for Sylvia for our one leisurely lunch this week.  Sylvia had a picnic in the front garden and ordered a vegemite sandwich with some fancy vegies.  When I gave it to her she told me that it looked amazing.  What a sweetie!

I am sending this post to Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for her In My Kitchen event.  Head over to join in (by 10th of each month) and/or check out what is happening in other bloggers' kitchens. 

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Smoky cheese and roasted corn muffins

Recently we were teasing E that he is not a hipster because he does not have a huge beard.  So on the weekend Sylvia told him he just needed a cap and a muffin to be a hipster.  Apparently hipsters carry muffins.  I took care of the muffin with a round of baking.  However before it even came out of the oven Sylvia found E a cap.  The way she put it on him made him look more like Frank Spencer than a hipster.

The muffins were actually an attempt to use up some roasted corn.  I bought it ages ago and it had been staring at me from the pantry balefully each time I opened the door.  It had been a disappointing purchase.  I try to support some of our smaller stores but this roasted corn was past its best and overseasoned.  I hoped if I paired it with cheese in a muffin and didn't season the batter so much that it might just work.

I was pleasantly surprised at how good the muffins were.  I added smoked paprika and could really taste it but otherwise held back on the other seasonings which was just as well.  With all the cheese and the bbq seasoning on the corn, they were full of flavour.

We ate them for lunch warm from the oven spread with chutney.  I took a few of the smaller ones along to my bookclub and they seemed well received.  Sylvia told me she enjoyed the chunks of chewy corn.  I did too.  Though I think I enjoyed the muffins more on the day of baking, especially when warm.  They were so soft and cheesey when warm from the oven.

We had them yesterday on the first day of the school holidays.  Every day this week starts with a swimming lesson for Sylvia at 9am.  A muffin was a great snack after a long swim after the lesson.  And I needed the energy for a long day of swimming, shopping, recipe testing, making grubs, tidying, sorting photos, making birthday cards and wrapping a present.  In fact at the end of the day when I sorted clothes for washing, I discovered that I had put Sylvia to bed without changing her into her pajamas.

And I regret to say that even with a muffin E does not look like a hipster.  Not to worry.  I finally had time to flick through the Sunday Age while tidying the newspapers tonight and I saw that hipsters are no long cool.  Apparently the new thing is Yuccies (Young Urban Creatives).  But they did not mention if you need a muffin to be a Yuccie!

More savoury muffins from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Artichoke, sun-dried tomato and cheese muffins
Cheese and pesto muffins
Cheesy almond muffins (gf)
Pumpkin and goats cheese muffins
Pumpkin miso muffins (v) 
Savoury beetroot, carrot, chocolate and goats cheese muffins
Smoky parsnip muffins

Smoky cheese and roasted corn muffins
Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe

Makes 12 muffins and 9 mini muffins
  • 200g cheese, grated (I used 150 cheddar and 50 parmesan)
  • 1 1/2 cups self raising flour (I used 1 wholemeal and 1/2 white)
  • 1 cup seasoned roasted corn
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • good pinch seasoning
  • 1 cup plain natural yoghurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
Grease 12 hole muffin tin and 9 mini muffin holes.  Preheat oven to 200 C.  Mix cheese, flour, corn, smoked paprika and seasoning.  Mix in yoghurt, egg and olive oil until you have a stiff batter.  Spoon into prepared muffin cups.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through when one is torn open (that is how I checked as the skewer test wasn't helpful).

On the Stereo:
Va Va Voom: Hummingbirds

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Two Liebster Awards

Last year when I did Vegan MoFo I was given two Liebster awards by Danielle Joy and Jasmine at Self Sufficiency Cafe.  These are awards that bloggers share to encourage us to learn about and connect with new bloggers.  I am all for fostering community in the blogosphere but it has taken me many months to get around to answering the questions that come with this award.

As the award was doing the round in Vegan MoFo when there is a flurry of vegan blogging, the awards had quite a few questions about being vegan.  Umm ... I am vegetarian rather than vegan.  So I have slightly changed a few questions to reflect this and I have also combined a few questions from both Danielle and Jasmine into the first one before going onto their separate questions.

Why did you become vegan or vegetarian and how has it changed your life?
I have written about becoming vegetarian at length in my post on being vegetarian.

Questions from Danielle Joy

Smith and Deli - Home Alone sandwich
What vegan place would you recommend in your area?
Smith and Deli in Fitzroy is the vegan place I have to recommend on my side of Melbourne.  It only opened a couple of weeks ago and on the occasions I have visited the queues have been crazy but the sandwich selection is amazing.  Above is the Home Alone sandwich with mashed potato, vegan turkey, vegan stuffing, brussells sprouts, gravy and cranberry sauce.

What food could I wake you up with in the middle of the night for?
Grubs.  No not witchety grubs.  'Grubs' is the term for one of my favourite childhood snacks made with cocoa, condensed milk, biscuits and coconut, and I still love them with a passion.  When I think food in the middle of the night I think of midnight feasts with grubs that we had as a child.  Now I have my own child I appreciate the midnight feasts don't always happen at midnight but they are still exciting.

'Grubs'
Why did you start blogging?
Briefly, I wanted to have a space to share my recipes and notes.  I have written more about why I started blogging.
 
What’s the best vegan meal you’ve ever made? (link, please!)
Oh that is a hard question.  So many great meals to choose from.  One of my favourite meals is a roast dinner with nut roast.  So while I am not sure what is the 'best' meal I have ever made, I can nominate my favourite meal I have made to be the one where a friend and I made a roast with a vegetarian hog's head.  It was fun and amazing and delicious.  (NB the nut roast was vegetarian but could be made vegan easily.)

Vegetarian hog's head
What’s your favorite vegan dessert?
Chocolate pudding.  It is a childhood favourite and I still love it.  For those who need clarification, my chocolate pudding is a warm self saucing chocolate pudding. 

What do you eat when having a savory snack attack?
Roast chickpeas!  I mean to make lots of savoury snacks but often just end up with little packets of crunchy salted roast chickpeas that I often carry in my bag for emergencies.

What do you eat when having a sweet tooth craving?
This really depends what is in the house but sweet tooth cravings often involve chocolate.  We usually have chocolate in the house so sometimes it is just a square of the stuff and other times if I have been baking it might be cake, slices or porridgies

Liz O'Brien's sausage rolls
What do you serve non-vegans when they come over for dinner?
I am not the sort of cook with standard recipes I always make.  If I really wanted to impress a veg-shy meat eater I might make some sausage rolls but mostly I try something new.

Questions from Jasmine at Self Sufficiency Cafe

What food item could you not do without?
My first instinct was to say chocolate.  Then I thought perhaps it should be something healthier like chickpeas or good bread.  Honestly my list of kitchen staples is quite long so I am not sure I would do well to narrow it down to one item.

Celia's overnight sourdough bread
What would be your last supper (you can have 3 courses)?
Nut roast with lots of crispy roast vegies, cauliflower cheese, green vegies and gravy.  Then a rich dense chocolate cake with lots ganache (perhaps this zucchini brownie with ganache and smoked walnuts)  And to finish, a fruit platter with lots of stone fruit, pineapple, berries, apple and dates stuffed with cashew cheese

What is your favourite TV show?
Call the Midwife.  The photography is so beautiful, the plots give such poignant insight into post war Britain and the characters are so complex, compassionate and awkward.

Who is your favourite comedian?
I don't have a stand-out favourite.  Though perhaps Dave O'Neil who is a local legend.  Or it could be Danny Kaye because first loves hold a special place in the heart and The Court Jester is one of the first films I loved.  I don't feel the same way about another childhood love, Jerry Lewis, but I still find The Goodies and Fawlty Towers hilarious.

Chocolate!!!!
What is your favourite junk food?
Chocolate - any sort will do - but my favourite guilty pleasure is possibly the chokito

What ingredient had you never heard of until you went vegan or vegetarian?
I was already doing quite a lot of vegetarian cooking when I went vegetarian many years ago.  However my favourite discovery in vegan cooking is probably nutritional yeast flakes.  I love cheese and these flakes have made it possible for me to eat lots of yummy vegan cheese sauces and less dairy cheese.

Street art - Fitzroy pool
What is your favourite smell?
Oh smells are so evocative.  I love fresh-baked bread, chlorine at the pool, and jasmine in spring.

What is a typical Sunday like for you?
I met someone who went to the same cafe every Sunday and was quite amazed.  I don't have a typical Sunday.  Sylvia loves to have pancakes on Sunday morning which we do if there is time.  We often might watch some telly in the evening.  However Sundays might be just lazy days to sit in front of a movie, or a meal at my mum's or a day out in the city. 

Thursday, 25 June 2015

20 facon recipes for vegetarians and vegans in Bacon Week

Yesterday I heard a discussion on the radio about Australian Bacon Week.  Interesting stuff .... until I heard discussion about vegetarians missing out and how many people could never go vegetarian because they love bacon too much.  My hackles rose!  I am here to tell you it aint so.  Here is my response with a good dose of facon!

Actually I didn't love bacon so much that it really bothered me when I went vegetarian over 20 years ago but I did miss it occasionally.  Then I discovered that it is not the pig flesh (or the bone or bristles) that I missed but the smoky flavour.  Enter smoked paprika, liquid smoke, smoked salt and lots of vegetarian bacon.

I avoided the neon pink vegetarian bacon in the supermarket but have had lots of fun experimenting with making different vegetarian bacon (aka fake bacon or facon).  I tried make it out of beans and buckwheat, coconut, tofu, tempeh and eggplant.  Of these my favourite is tofu facon.  I make it often.  Here are 20 facon recipes for vegetarians and vegans in Bacon Week.

10 Innovative facon recipes
I love trying unusual recipes with facon (and might I suggest they would work fine with regular bacon)And yes, you can experiment with vegetarian bacon with chocolate!








Smoky Mexican nacholada casserole (gf, v)





10 common recipes with vegetarian bacon
These recipes are ones commonly pop up online and in cookbooks.  Some of these are my childhood comfort foods.  I have found that they work brilliantly with vegetarian bacon so there is never any need to miss meat.

Bacon, avocado and tomato sandwich (v)
Breakfast burritos (v)
Caesar salad (v)
Cheese, bacon and spinach muffins
Chickpea pilaf (gf, v)
Creamy potato salad (gf, v)
Fried rice (gf, v)
Macaroni cheese with peas and bacon
Vegetable quiche (v)
Zucchini slice

gf = gluten free, v = vegan

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Pomegranate and orange smoothie

Recently I read a couple of articles about the rise of the know-it-all thanks to Professor Google's assistance, and school students being over-confident.  Gulp!  Perhaps that would be me last year when I decided my new high speed blender could cope with pomegranate seeds.  It seems that just made a horrid grainy smoothie that was so awful there was nothing for it but the bin.  Luckily when I tried again, I got it right.  Hurrah for experience over know-it-all.  

Hence when I made a recent pomegranate and orange smoothie I made sure I sieved the pomegranate arils.  Which perhaps supports a couple of other articles I liked about teaching your kids to be fearless and to take risks.  After all there is nothing quite so humbling as falling flat on your face.  And nothing a food blogger hates more than having recipes go so wrong there is no saving them.  It all a good lesson.

Using pomegranate in a smoothie again worked a treat.  It was a lovely smoothie, slightly tart but very refreshing.  And I redeemed myself by managing to fill it with fruit that had to be used.  We had too many bananas, strawberries that would go off within a day or two, an old orange and lots of limes off our tree.

The pomegranate had also sat there for some time.  Once I had cut it open and stained my new chopping board, I put the leftover arils in a bowl and we enjoyed eating them plain, on salad or on muesli and yoghurt.  I don't buy pomegranate often but I hope next time I will be wiser about what to do with them.  Oh no.  Maybe now I do know it all.  Well I know more about pomegranates.  Now I just need to work on my photography!

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: E for Eccles cakes - vegan and savoury with leek, spinach and blue cheese
Two year ago: Leek, walnut and blue cheese scones
Three years ago: WHB Apple and mince crumble
Four years ago: Smoky tomato soup and recent cooking
Five years ago: Nigella’s potato bread
Six years ago: What does home mean to you?
Seven years ago: The solstice fruitcake offensive
Eight years ago: Kraut rock cupcakes

Pomegranate and orange smoothie
Serves 1-2

juice of 1 orange
juice of 1/2 pomegranate
juice of 1/2 lime
1 punnet of strawberries, hulled
1 banana, peeled
1 cup milk (I used soy milk)

Blend until smooth.

On the Stereo:
Worlds of Sound CD sampler: Various Artists