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Friday Feast: Vegan Okonomiyaki

I tried something new today: vegan okonomiyaki! I’ve never had it before, but let me tell you, it was okonomiyummy! Or maybe I should say okonomnomnom?

Oh come on, I had to go there.

So anyway… now I’m past the bad dad jokes…

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese fritter type of thing (some say pancake, some say pizza, I say big fritter), which is traditionally made with eggs and meat/seafood. However, Sara Lynn Paige shared a vegan recipe that looked so good, I thought I’d try it. Okonomiyaki means ‘as you like it’ in Japanese, so outside the basic recipe, you have a lot of leeway as to what you put in it. You can have it, you know… as you like it. I put in two cups of greens/veges, whereas I think Sara Lynn Paige must have only had about 1 cup of veges, based on her pictures. Mine looked like there was a lot more green. It also took lots longer to cook (maybe I had the heat on too low though). However, the end result was still ultimately yummy, if a little less perfect looking. Here’s what I did:

Vegan Okonomiyaki

okonomiyaki

Ingredients

  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup of non-dairy milk or water (I used a mix of oat milk and water)
  • 1 egg replacer (I used Orgran’s)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 to 2 cups minced greens or other fillings (I used 3/4 cup of raw spinach, 1/2 cup of stir-fried celery leaves, 1/4 cup of raw shallots [scallions], 1/2 cup of diced cooked red onions and celery, and approx 1/4 cup diced honey soy marinated tofu)
  • Toppings – optional (I pressed slices of honey soy tofu skin into the moist surface of the fritter as soon as I put it in the pan and I sprinkled chives on top of the finished product to serve)

Method:

  1. Mix the ingredients (except toppings and oil) in a bowl. Do not overmix.
  2. Heat some vegetable oil in a pan over medium heat.
  3. Put some batter in the pan so it makes a thick pancake (about 1cm thick). This should use approximately half the batter you made.
  4. Let the okonomiyaki cook until you start to get a few little bubbles on the surface, then flip it and cook the other side. You might need to flip back and forth a few times until you get a crisp brownish surface. (The original recipe said 3 to 5 mins. I took more like 10-12 mins.)
  5. Remove from the pan and pat the oil off if you want.
  6. Serve with additional toppings and sauce if you want. (I tried with teriyaki sauce on some bites and sweet chili sauce on others. Good for both, although the teriyaki sauce is quite salty.)
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Friday Feast: Mango Pico de Gallo

This home-made salsa is based on a mango pico de gallo we used to eat when we lived in Texas. It was my first foray into pico de gallo ever (I know! But I’m Australian and it’s not something we typically eat here.). It was from HEB. Don’t look like that. It was good! Especially with those Tostitos cups or fresh made tortillas. You can’t get fresh made tortillas in Brisbane unless you make them yourself. I miss them. I miss Tostitos cups too.

I eat this pico de gallo piled on Mission corn chips/strips which I heat in the oven. In my pre-vegan days, I’d put cheese on top, but I find that it doesn’t taste that different. The heated corn chips add a really rustic flavour to the bright salsa. I also sometimes eat the salsa as an accompaniment to beans and rice. Or as a dip. Or on a spoon.

Yankee Elv has a weird genetic thing that makes coriander (cilantro) taste like soap, so we substitute parsley for coriander. However, if you don’t have that weird genetic thing, you like coriander and you’d like to be authentic, then that’s what should really be used.

Mango Pico de Gallo

Ingredients:

  • 2 mangoes, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 5 – 6 tomatoes, with the cores discarded and the outer flesh diced for use
  • 2 green chilis, diced finely (include the seeds if you like more heat)
  • 1 red chili, diced finely (include the seeds if you like more heat)
  • a handful of chopped parsley leaves
  • lime juice, to taste

Method:

  1. Stir all the chopped fruit/veges together in a bowl.
  2. Add the parsley and lime juice and combine.

THE END! Easiest recipe ever. 🙂

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Vegan Attempts @ The Jetty Oxford

I went to a work lunch at a place not of my choosing today. But I wasn’t paying the bill, so I’m not complaining too much!

We went to The Jetty Oxford, at Bulimba. It’s right near the ferry dock. It had big fat no vegan food. Except, I think, chips and maybe olives. There may have been a salad they could have removed the cheese and dressing from. Er… appetising for a lunchtime meal? I think not.

So I talked to the waitress and she talked to the chef, and he was not helpful. But I think I took him unawares, because about two mins later he had the waitress come back out and offer to make me a mysterious risotto. I agreed.

Here it is:

I think it had fennel, asparagus, apple and maybe mint? The sauce was made from peas. That is not something I would typically choose ever, considering I don’t particularly like peas or asparagus and I’ve actually never eaten fennel. However, the chef didn’t know that and it was very good if you discount the fact that the flavours were not particularly to my personal liking (and actually, I found the flavours were not even too bad). It was infinitely better than chips, olives or nude, boring salad for lunch.

So thank you, The Jetty Oxford chef!

The moral of the story? You should never be afraid to ask if the chef can offer anything vegan, cos they just might!

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Friday Feast: Pumpkin Pie Spice Muffin Tops

These were meant to be cookies. I followed the recipe completely! But they’re way too cakey. They don’t look like the picture in the recipe I veganised. I don’t know what happened… maybe it’s cos I made my own pumpkin puree*? Or could it have been the veganisation? I don’t think it was due to my reduction in white chocolate chips or making my own pumpkin pie spice (you can’t buy it in Australia!).

Anyway, regardless of whether or not they turned out how they were supposed to, they taste good. Just call ’em muffin tops and eat ’em all up!

This recipe makes about 36 cookies.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Muffin Tops

three pumpkin pie spice muffin tops

Ingredients:

  • 2-¼ cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsps pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup vegan margarine, softened
  • 1 cup white/raw sugar (we used low GI cane sugar, which is similar to raw sugar)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (I made my own from a grey pumpkin)
  • egg replacer for a whole egg (we used Orgran’s No Egg)
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence (imitation is fine)
  • 1 cup vegan white chocolate chips (or chunks, in our case – we cut up some vegan white chocolate)
pumpkin pie spice muffin tops
Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Cream the margarine and sugars.
  4. Add the pumpkin, egg, and vanilla to the wet ingredients and combine thoroughly.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.
  6. When all ingredients are combined, stir in the chocolate chips.
  7. Drop small spoonfuls (slightly heaped teaspoonfuls) of dough on a non-stick cookie sheet, then place in the fridge for 5 to 10 mins before baking.
  8. Place in the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
  9. Cool for a couple minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to a cooling rack.
pointy pumpkin pie spice muffin top
*To make my own pumpkin puree, I removed the seeds and stringy parts from the centre of half a grey pumpkin. After that, I rubbed it with olive oil and baked it, cut-side down, in a pyrex dish. I took the pumpkin out of the oven when it was really soft, then I removed the skin and pureed it using a stick blender. I put it in a strainer to drain a little, but the puree was too thin and it started to go through the strainer. I did get some excess liquid out, but you’d be better off using cheesecloth if you want to do this. I decided not to bother.
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Friday Feast: Rajmah Gobi Curry

This is a dish I made a few weeks ago with whatever I happened to have in the house. Clearly, I had a lot of cauliflower (gobi). It tastes good with basmati rice, but I also enjoyed this curry as a filling in a wrap.

When I made it, I let it simmer on the stove for about an hour while I was cooking something different for Mr Teeny-bop’s dinner and baking dessert. The long simmering time really made a difference – the curry would have been quite watery otherwise. If you want to make this with less cooking time, I’d reduce the coconut milk and chopped tomatoes – possibly using as little as half as much.

Chickpeas would also go well in this – in fact, that’s what I was originally going to use, but we didn’t have any! Kidney beans (rajmah) tasted great instead.

Rajmah Gobi Curry

rajmah gobi curry

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cauliflower
  • 1/2 red capsicum
  • 1/2 green capsicum
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 400mL can coconut milk
  • 400g can kidney beans
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tab lemon juice
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 tab vegan margarine
  • 2 tab curry powder
  • oil

Method:

  1. Heat oil in large pan over medium-high heat and fry onions until slightly brown.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and add garlic, curry powder and tomatoes. Combine and simmer for 2 minutes.
  3. Add cauliflower, beans, lemon juice, salt, pepper and half of the coconut milk. Simmer for 6 to 8 minutes.
  4. Add capsicum, margarine and the other half of the coconut milk. Simmer for as long as you want – up to an hour – until the curry reaches a consistency you like. The chickpeas should be soft and the cauliflower tender.
  5. At the end, add the peas for just long enough to cook through. (If you leave them in there too long, they’ll get mushy and gross.)
  6. Serve with rice or flat bread. Yum!

rajmah gobi curry

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Vegan Fast Food

Vegans and fast food don’t often go together. There are exceptions, like Lord of the Fries in Melbourne, but those kinds of places are far and few between. Takeaway food from regular restaurants is a bit expensive to eat very often.

So usually I make my own fast food.

This is what I had for lunch the other day:

refried beans, pinto beans, rice, sweet potato, salsa

  • Roasted sweet potato (I had two in the basket in the pantry starting to get a bit old, so I roasted them up to eat as I pleased)
  • Refried beans with jalapenos (thanks Old El Paso!)
  • Mexi-beans (thanks again Old El Paso!)
  • Mexican style express rice (this time, Uncle Ben’s was my friend)
  • Roasted capsicum salsa (I’m taking out shares in Old El Paso).

So these aren’t the most eco-friendly items I’ve ever eaten… two things from cans, one in a plastic packet and one from a jar… but aside from the rice packet, it’s all recyclable and/or reusable, which is more than you can say for the paper/cardboard/plastic/styrofoam packaging you get from places like Macca’s.

It’s also loads healthier.

And it was fast! It took me less than 5 mins to make. Sometimes that’s what you want. Plus, there’s leftovers!!

refried beans, pinto beans, rice, sweet potato, salsa

But best of all, it was tasty. Nommmmm….

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Friday Feast: Olive and Butter Bean Spread

The basis for this recipe comes from a  cookbook my ex-colleagues got me when I left my previous job. You know you’re leaving friends when they give you a book called Vegan Italiano as a goodbye present. What champs. 🙂

We initially made this hoping it would be an acceptable substitute for Yankee Elv’s old favourite, cream cheese and green olive sandwich. It’s not the same (you can’t really mimic cream cheese with beans), but I like it better. The cream cheese used to be quite heavy, whereas this is light and perfect for warm days, especially straight out of the fridge. I’ve kept this in the fridge for a week without it going bad. It might keep longer than that, but I’m not sure as it’s never lasted that long!

This recipe is nearly the same as what’s in the book, but we increased the lemon juice, onion and olives. I’m not a lemon-y kind of person, but the addition of a little extra lemon gives this spread a really fresh flavour. We also usually use kalamata olives (the original recipe calls for green or black olives), but I think we tried green ones once and they were nice too. Plus we mix the onions and olives in – the recipe says they should be used as a garnish. Weird.

I especially like it spread on sourdough or grainy quinoa and flaxseed toast. Yum!

Olive and Butter Bean Spread

Two pieces of toast, cut in half diagonally, spread with olive and butter bean spread.

Ingredients

  • 425g (16oz) can butter beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tab extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tab lemon juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 to 3 tabs diced red onion
  • 2 to 3 tabs chopped kalamata olives
  • toast, whatever kind you like

Method

  1. Place the beans, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a food processor and whiz until smooth.
  2. Mix in the onion and olives. (You can process them if you want, but personally I think the flavour gets a bit lost without the little pieces.)
  3. Spread on toast and eat it all up!
Cutaway shot of toast with olive and butter bean spread.

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