mmmmm Mulled Wine

Mulled Wine cooking

A week or so ago I bought a bottle of not so great Vegan wine. Extremely dry, bordering on sour – just not to my taste (or Jayson’s) at all. While flicking through a Donna Hay magazine, I happened upon a recipe for Mulled Wine and got to thinking…perhaps I can improve on this undrinkable wine… and you know what? It was a HUGE improvement! The recipe is so simple I don’t even have to look back at the mag!

3 cups of dry red wine
2 – 3 tbsp brown sugar
4 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
the peel of one orange

Place all ingredients in a saucepan and heat gently to a simmer (do not boil as this will cook out the alcohol). Stir to dissolve sugar and combine ingredients. Cook for 5 minutes. Strain and pour into glasses. Enjoy!

While this recipe greatly improved my very average wine, if you used a wine you actually like, the result will be even better. A fabulous winter drink to sip by the fireplace (or humble gas heater in my case) and feel the warmth reach the tips of your toes! Ahhhhhh 🙂

Mulled wine


Tom Yum Soup – Yum indeed!

Tom Yum Soup

After my last post about the unfortunate Thai restaurant experience (and still craving Tom Yum Soup), I was determined to make my own version in-house that still had the punch of flavour without the fish sauce. Soybean paste, as it turns out, acts as a wonderful substitute for the fish sauce, adding just the right amount of saltiness and pungency. A while back I made a Green Thai Curry with a vegan paste and found that it really lacked the depth of flavour you find with the fish sauce added varieties, and the addition of the soybean paste really made a huge difference to the flavour. Less is more though, just 1/2 to 1 teaspoon is often all that is needed to balance things out.

This recipe came from what is turning out to be a great little book filled with little gems “Veggie Food“. I have made a few tweaks, with the addition of the soybean paste being one, but the basic recipe was pretty good to start with.

750 ml vegetable or vegan chicken style stock (such as Massel)
2 tablespoons vegan Tom Yum paste
1 teaspoon soybean paste
2cm x 2cm piece of galangal (or fresh ginger) peeled and cut into thin strips
1 stem lemon grass, crushed lightly and cut into four lengths
3 fresh kaffir lime leaves ( I used curry leaves instead)
1 small red chill, finely sliced on the diagonal
200g button mushrooms, halved
200g silken firm tofu, cut into 1.5cm cubes
200g pak choi roughly shredded
2 tablespoons lime juice
4 tablespoons coriander (cilantro)

Place stock, Tom Yum Paste, soybean paste, galangal, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, chill and an extra 3 cups of water in a saucepan. Cover and bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and tofu and simmer for 5 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Add the pak choi and simmer for another minute or until wilted. Remove pan from the heat and stir in the lime juice and coriander leaves before serving. This will provide 4-6 servings.

Simple and relatively quick to prepare, yet very satisfying. Enjoy!


Puffed apple pancake

Puffed Apple Pancake

Feeling like something substantial, delicious but also quick to prepare for Good Friday breakfast, I gave Bill Granger’s Puffed Apple Pancake a whirl. Later that morning we were heading off for a couple of days relaxation in Neerim (West Gippsland, Victoria) so we didn’t want to have to worry about a pile of dishes before we left. The beauty of this recipe is it only uses two dishes, a mixing bowl and an oven proof frying pan, although if your frying pan isn’t oven proof you could use a stove to oven casserole dish or just transfer the cooked apples from the frying pan to any baking tin/dish.

Ingredients (for the apple base):

1 tbsp butter/canola oil or vegan substitute
4 granny smith (or green apples) peeled, cored and cut into eighths
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp lemon juice

Ingredients (for the batter):
3/4 cup plain flour
pinch of salt
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tbsp sugar
4 free range eggs or vegan egg replacer
3/4 cup of rice milk/soy milk

Preheat the oven to 220c. Melt the butter or oil in an oven proof frying pan or casserole dish. Add the apples, cooking for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the brown sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and cinnamon, shaking the pan gently until the sugar has dissolved.

Mix the flour, salt, lemon zest and sugar in a large bowl, make a well in the centre and slowly add the eggs/egg replacer and milk, whisking lightly to combine – it’s Ok if there’s a few lumps in the batter. Pour the batter evenly over the apples – the apples don’t need to be fully covered.

Put the pan in the oven and cook for 15 minutes or until puffy and golden – if you are using a very shallow pan, you may want to place a tray underneath to catch any drips.

Serve immediately with organic yogurt or a splash of maple syrup. This will serve 3-4 people depending on how hungry you are 😉

Puffed Apple Pancake
This was a very satisfying start to the day and so quick and easy to make. If you wanted to pretty it up a little you could dust some icing sugar over the top. I plan to make some variations on this using bananas instead of apples and adding coconut and rum extract (yum yum), although you could always use strawberries or whatever berry is in season for an equally delicious result.

Day 27: Vegan Brownies


A while ago I was given a recipe for Vegan Brownies and since we were off visiting friends in the afternoon I thought it was time to road test it. Now just to let you know, I haven’t baked a lot in the past – I’m quite good at cooking dinners and savoury things in general but since neither myself nor Jayson have particularly sweet tooths (teeth?) I haven’t baked often enough to become accomplished at it. Oh well, never too late to start I say:) I do LOVE a good brownie though, so I was keen to give this a whirl. The recipe called for semi-sweet dark chocolate but sadly I could only get a really dark dairy free chocolate when I went shopping for the ingredients – and I realised just now that I only added 1/4 cup of sugar instead of half (oops).  On the up side, the brownies were lovely and moist (yay I didn’t over cook them) and had a good overall  texture to them. So here’s the recipe:

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 and ¼ cup semisweet vegan chocolate chips (pref. fairtrade)
1 large banana mashed
2 tablespoons of cocoa
1/4 cup soy milk
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 and ¼ cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup slivered almonds (plus extra to scatter on top)

1. Preheat the oven to 170 deg Celsius
2. Microwave the chocolate then stir the oil into the melted chocolate. Pour chocolate mixture into a mixing bowl and add remaining ingredients.
3. Spoon the brownie mix into a greased pan and top with almonds (I used a fairly small square cake tin for this).
4. Bake them for 15 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean when inserted into cake.  Be careful not to over-bake them because they’ll be dry and flaky.
5. Allow to cool before removing from tin, slicing up and serving.



Ready to go!

All in all, almost a success – next time I will put in the right amount of sugar! Thanks Diana, for the recipe 🙂

Day 17: Chilli Con Carne – veganised

Home alone tonight, so with only me to think about  I decided to try out the TVP I purchased a week or so ago and made a much loved but veganised version of Chilli Con Carne. This was a real spur of the moment meal –  threw in a bit of this and a bit of that and the result was a pretty tasty meal, if I say so myself.  This is a rough recipe if you would like to make it yourself, oh and I only made this big enough for two medium serves or one MAN size serve 😉

1 tbsp olive oil/vegetable oil
1 onion – finely chopped
1 clove garlic – finely chopped
1 can of mexe-beans ( I used Old El Paso due to their high ethical rating)
1/2 bottle of tomato pasata (or can of chopped tomatoes)
1 whole red capsicum – diced
1 cup of TVP
good dash of BBQ sauce (I used to use Worcester sauce but have since learned it’s made with anchovies)
1/2 – 1 tsp cumin
1/2-1 tsp dried oregano
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp brown sugar

1. Place TVP in a small bowl and pour boiling water over to cover – allow to stand for 10-15 minutes (most of the liquid will be absorbed but drain off the excess).

2. Heat olive oil in a deepish frypan and fry onions gently until translucent, add garlic and cook for a further minute or two. Then add tomato pasata, beans, capsicum, rehydrated TVP, BBQ sauce, spices, salt and sugar, combining well. Cook on a low-medium heat for around 10 minutes or until the capsicum is tender.

3. Adjust seasoning and allow to cook for a further minute or two before serving.

I finely grated some Cheezly over the top and had mine with egg free pasta, however would be great with rice or a tortilla. Some fresh coriander would be a nice touch too.

Day 8: Dinner – Aubergine (Eggplant) Curry

Aubergine Curry with Ginger & Chilli / Nutty Quinoa with Greens

Tonight it was time for me to stop resting on my laurels and make something new. Lately I have been enjoying Middle Eastern and Indian inspired meals so decided to go for something along those lines. Jill Dupleix’s Lighten Up cook book is full of fresh ideas for the veggies and carnivores alike. I have had success with most of my attempts from this book so it was time to give these two recipes a whirl: Aubergine Curry with Ginger & Chilli and Nutty Quinoa with Greens.

Both recipes are quite uncomplicated – perfect for a midweek meal. The eggplant had a lovely velvety texture with a fairly nice balance of flavours, although next time I will add a small amount of sugar to even out the acidity. The Nutty Quinoa was a great match for the curry; the pistachios adding a lovely crunch and the mint and lemony dressing was very refreshing. I have to say I haven’t cooked a lot of quinoa in the past so mine wasn’t as fluffy as it could have been, but you and live and learn. If anyone has some tips on how best to cook quinoa, I would love to hear them! Here are the recipes:

Aubergine Curry with Ginger and Chilli
3 medium-sized aubergines (eggplants)
2 tbsp olive oil or canola oil
1 onion, finely sliced
1 green chilli, sliced
2cm piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
400g canned diced tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 level tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
pinch of sea salt
2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped + extra to garnish

Prick eggplants with a fork and place on a baking tray. Bake for 20 mins in a preheated oven at 220 deg cel. to char the skin. Peel away the skin and roughly dice the eggplant. Heat the oil in a non-stick deep frypan or casserole dish. Cook the onion until soft, then stir in the chilli, ginger and garlic and fry for 1 minute. Add the eggplant, tomatoes, tomato paste, cayenne, coriander, cumin and sea salt, stirring well. Cook for a further 10 minutes on a low heat. Scatter with extra coriander and serve.

Nutty Quinoa
300g packet of quinoa
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
100g baby spinach
2 tbsp pistachios
2 tbsp sultanas
3 tbsp mint leaves, chopped
3 tbsp parsley leaves, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground fennel
sea salt and pepper to taste

Wash the quinoa, drain and place into a saucepan. Cover with 1 litre of cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes until al dente. Drain well and cool, then fluff up the quinoa with a for. Add the cherry tomatoes, spinach, pistachios, sultanas, mint and parsley. Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, cumin and fennel and season with the salt and pepper. Toss into the quinoa and serve.

Now to tackle the dishes 😦