Recipe: Baked Kale Chips

So this week on the 52 Weeks of Vegan Cooking subreddit it’s the Obligatory Kale Challenge! Love the title ūüôā

Kale is one of the superfoods, full of vitamins and minerals and all that stuff that’s good for you. Personally I only buy it occasionally when it’s cheap but I prefer spinach or silverbeet (chard). I know that the fact that kale doesn’t break down no matter how much you cook it is supposed to be a good thing, but I hate that. I think the texture is annoying.

My first though for a kale recipe was a smoothie because that would get rid of the texture issue. Then I remembered that my (housemates) blender isn’t that powerful and probably wouldn’t break down the kale properly. I wasn’t really sure what to do for this weeks challenge. I always try to do something I’ve never done before and I’ve already tried using kale in soups and stir fries. Then yesterday I found myself craving potato chips and I remembered that you can make kale chips.

I followed this basic recipe.

Ingredients:

1 Bunch of Kale. I didn’t use a whole bunch, just 6 stalks worth.
Olive Oil.
Flavored Salt. I used regular table salt.

Method:

Preheat oven to 175 Degrees Celsius/350 Degrees Fahrenheit.

Pick or cut off all the Kale leaves from the hard stem and tear/cut them into bite sized pieces.

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Kale in a bag

Put Kale pieces into plastic freezer bag and add salt and oil. Hold the bag closed and shake to coat evenly. Make sure you hold it closed properly of you’ll end up with oily Kale on the floor. *facepalm*

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Blurry kale – pre baking

Put coated Kale onto baking tray and place in oven. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes until the edges brown but are not burnt.

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Kale chips

Eat.

Verdict: Not bad. Certainly better than I was expecting. Not all of the pieces were crispy and some had globs of salt. I will make these again, possibly in salt and vinegar flavor next time.

Recipe: Mac and Cheese

I’ve based my mac and cheese on the Chef Chloe recipe but I’ve made a few alterations of my own.

Ingredients:

1 500 Gram packet of Pasta, any smaller shape will do.
Salt for water.

1/4 Cup of Nuttlex (Vegan Margarine).
1/3 Cup of Plain Flour.
2 Cups/500ml of Vegetable Stock.
1 Cup of Soy Milk (or other non dairy milk).
1/2 Cup of Nutritional Yeast (called Savory Yeast in Australia).
2 Tablespoons of Tomato Paste.
1 Teaspoon of Garlic Powder.
1 Teaspoon of Paprika or Sweet Paprika.
Lemon juice, Salt and Sugar to taste. For the Sugar you can use Agave or Stevia, I used Raw Sugar this time.

You can also add 1 Teaspoon of Turmeric Powder for color if you want to.

Method:

Boil water and add some Salt and the Pasta. Turn down to low heat and cover. Cook for time specified on pasta packet.

Melt Nuttelex in pan and add Flour and mix into a roux.

Add Vegetable Stock and Soy Milk 1 cup at a time. Use a whisk to incorporate all of roux into the liquid.

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Stock, milk and roux

Add the Tomato Paste, Garlic Powder, Paprika and Nutritional Yeast. Whisk in thoroughly and taste, then add sugar, salt, pepper and lemon juice to gain desired flavor. Be careful with the sugar and lemon juice as too much will taste odd.

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The sauce

Cook on a low heat whisking constantly to thicken a little. This shouldn’t take long.

Add cooked Pasta and stir through until pasta is covered in sauce. Eat.

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The finished product

Verdict: Yummy as always. Unfortunately I made a mistake with my ingredients and accidentally added 1 Teaspoon of chilli powder in place of the paprika. Not a good thing as it made it very spicy. I made up a batch of this every few months with the intention of keeping portions on the freezer for when I can’t be bothered cooking.¬†¬†I usually eat all of it within 2 to 3 days of making it.

Product: Sanitarium Vege Delights Not Burgers

Sanitarium, who are better known for making cereal’s like Wheat Bix, also make vegetarian foods. Some are vegan and some aren’t mostly due to the use of egg white as a binder in items like their bacon style slices.

One of their vegan products is the Not Burger, a chicken style burger found in the freezer aisle of most supermarkets. I picked these up on special for under $3 at Coles a few months ago.

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The old packaging

4 good size burgers to a pack these are quite good value. The burgers are coated in a bread crumb mix which contains whole sesame seeds which was a pleasant surprise. They hold together well when cooking. i tried both pan frying and baking.

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The burgers (frozen)

Texture:¬†Very good. The outside isn’t as crispy as they could be, but that may be due to my cooking temperature. The texture of the insides is reminiscent of the standard processed chicken burgers you get everywhere. 4/5

Flavor: Not so good. Again it is very much like the flavor of processed chicken but the flavor is mild and easily overpowered. 2/5

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Ready to eat

Overall: Reasonably priced even when not in a special and easy to find but there are other brands that do the same thing with better flavor. 2/5

Recipe: Pizza!

I was craving some pizza but I had no money and then I realized something. I had all the ingredients to make my own!

The base was taken from this recipe.

Ingredients:

7g Sachet of Dry Yeast.
1 Teaspoon of Caster Sugar.
1/2 Teaspoon of Salt.
3/4 Cup of Warm Water.
2 Cups of Plain Flour.
2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil.

Method:

Put Salt, Sugar, Yeast and Water in a bowl and mix.

Cover with cling wrap and place in a warm area. i put it on the front of the top shelf of the oven on it’s lowest heat with the door open a little bit.

Wait 5 minutes or until mixture bubbles up.

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Bubbles!

Sift Flour into bowl and add the Olive Oil.

Add Yeast mixture and mix into dough.

Place on a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes (3 songs on the radio).

Put back into mixing bowl and cover with cling wrap. Place in warm area and leave for 30 minutes until the dough doubles in size.

Turn oven onto 200 degrees Celsius/450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Knead dough for 1 minute then roll out into desired shape and place on tray.

Put sauce, toppings and vegan cheese on top of the dough.

My toppings:

I made my own sauce. I used:

1 Small Can of Tomato Paste.
1 Medium Tomato, diced small with seeds.
1/4 Teaspoon of Chilli powder.
2 Teaspoons of Capers, chopped up.
1/2 Teaspoon of Dried Basil.
1/2 Teaspoon of Dried Oregano.
1/4 Teaspoon of Stevia Granules.
1 Teaspoon of Minced Garlic.
1 Dash of Balsamic Vinegar.
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Put it all in a bowl and mix it up. You’ll only need about 1/3 of the mixture, but you can freeze the rest for next time.

My other toppings were:

1 Handfull of Spinach, chopped.
1 Small Onion, sliced.
3 Mushrooms, sliced.
Sheese Mozzarella Style.

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My toppings

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Ready for the oven

Bake for 10 – 15 minutes.

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Ready to eat

Verdict: the dough had good texture but the flavour was a bit lacking. If I were to make this dough again I would put in less sugar and more salt. The sauce was beautiful. The onion was a tad under cooked so next time I might blanch or pan fry it a little first. My Sheese had been open and in the freezer for a little while and it had dried out. I tried to rejuvenated it by microwaving it with a glass of water and this certainly helped, but the spread of the Sheese on the pizza was clumpy and didn’t cover the other ingredients properly. That said the Sheese tasted perfect. Salty and cheezy, so yummy.

Restaurant: Pure Vegetarian

Pure Vegetarian is a small shop in Market Plaza Food Court off Moonta St in Adelaide’s Chinatown. They serve your basic bain-marie based Asian fare with one big difference. It’s all vegan! Pure also don’t use any garlic or onion in their food.

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The restaurant

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Hokkien noodles with tofu, spicy eggplant and vegetarian fish

The food is pretty basic. You get a choice of white rice, brown rice, fried hokkien or fried rice noodles as a base then you can choose 2 or 3 dishes to go on top. If you choose 3 dishes you get a free soya drink, served hot or cold (I prefer cold). Soya drink is basically weak soy milk with sugar in it, surprisingly yummy.

This time around I got fried hokkien, vegetarian fish, tofu and spiced eggplant. The “fish” is soy wrapped in seaweed and is quite nice (even better when the server remembers to put on the soy sauce based dressing that goes with it). Tofu is mildly flavoured, but nice, with carrot and broad beans in the sauce. The eggplant I hadn’t tried before and I wont be ordering again as it was so spicy I had to spit it into my napkin.

Other toppings I have tried are the sweet and sour gluten which has a slightly weird texture but the sauce is lovely and the addition of small cubes of potato is lovely. I also like the green beans which, if you’re lucky, had bits of soya sheet in it. Soya sheet is layered soy which tastes a bit like chicken skin, in my opinion.

As well as the meal deal fare Pure also does curry puffs and desserts. They have bright green sago pudding and my personal favourite silken tofu and sweet black sticky rice. Yummo!

sago-pudding

Pudding!

Food: Pretty standard. A nice variety, but often a tad greasy. Good flavors. 3/5

Setting:¬†Horrendous. It’s in a big, noisy, dirty food court and if you go during peak hour (weekday lunch or Friday dinner) it’s near impossible to find a set. 1/5

Service:¬†Not bad. Staff are polite and speak okay English. Due to the noise and the fact that I’m short I tend to use pointing to choose my dishes. 4/5

Overall:¬†To be honest the reason I go here regularly isn’t about fine cuisine or the setting it’s convenience and value for money. A plate with 3 dishes plus the free drink is under $9 and they load the plate up. Some servers put more in a serve than others but you always get value for money. 3/5

Pure Vegetarian on Urbanspoon

Restaurant: Mandoo

Note: Please see the comments section below for a reply from the owners daughter.

Mandoo is a small Korean dumpling restaurant in the Adelaide CBD. I was invited at the last minute to join my flatmate and some friends of hers for dinner on Tuesday night. I had previously heard good things of this restaurant and with celebrity chef Pete Evans’s ringing endorsement plastered all over the front windows; I was expecting a lot. Oh dear!

First we were served our water instead of a jug or a nice glass bottle we got a cheap plastic drink bottles that they hadn’t even bothered to take the labels off of.

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The water

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The sides

All meals come with sides which you can get refilled on request. You get gherkins, kimchi (which I avoided as kimchi often contains fish sauce, plus it;’s usually freakin’ hot!) and seaweed salad (which I could have sworn was Japanese). The gherkins and seaweed salad were tasty, but nothing you couldn’t buy at a supermarket.

The vegan item on the menu is the vegetable dumplings (steamed or fried), they come with a side of salad covered in a mayonnaise and, oddly, a glob of cold mashed potato.  The potato was pretty flavorless, the salad was just mixed lettuce; a concept I have never truly understood. The mayo was, I believe, a sunflower oil mayonnaise, which is generally egg free, but I could be wrong. Fellow vegans may want to avoid or ask the staff for clarification (something I have never been good at doing).

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Vegetarian dumplings with salad

You also get a bright red dipping sauce. ¬†The sauce was quite scary looking. From the color and the visible pieces of chilli in the mix I was expecting something quite spicy. I was wrong. The sauce was quite mild, sweet and salty, very tasty. It was after eating about half of it that it occurred to me that the salty flavor might be from fish sauce at which point I didn’t eat any more. This was a problem, because the sauce was the only thing giving the dumplings flavor.

I had high hopes for these dumplings given the restaurants reputation. I was sorely disappointed. The dumpling skin was okay, but nothing special. The filling was pretty lackluster. All the ingredients were all chopped up very small and mostly consisted of glass noodles which are essentially flavorless.

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The dipping sauce and the inside of the dumpling

Food:¬†It is a sad day when I’m more thrilled by the sides (which were all straight out of a packet) than the main event. 1/5

Setting: Standard small dumpling shop, a few small plants, not too loud, nothing special really. 3.5

Service: Great. The staff are polite, they appear to understand English well pay attention to their customers. They were constantly checking up and adjusting the temperature gas stove for the hot pot dish. 4/5

Overall:¬†A disappointment. Maybe the meat dishes which make up the majority of the menu, would be better but I guess I’ll never know. In a side note the weird, thin, metal Korean chopsticks are even harder to use that the regular kind. 2/5

&lMandoo Korean Dumplings on Urbanspoon

Recipe: Lentil Soup

Week 3 of the 52 Weeks of Vegan ¬†Cooking challenge on Reddit. This week was Meals Under $10. This challenge was a lot harder than I expected. I had a lot of ideas and it took a while to settle on one. I ended up doing it at the very last minute, On the end I chose a simple spiced lentil soup. So here’s the recipe, which I made up, plus the (approximate) costings. Prices are in Australian dollars.

Ingredients:

1 Can of Lentils, Drained and Washed. $0.80c
1 Medium Onion, Diced. $0.25c
1 Clove of Garlic. $0.20c
1 Teaspoon of Grated Ginger. $0.30c
2 Teaspoons of Olive Oil. $0.25c
1 Teaspoon of Carraway Seeds. $0.20c
1 Teaspoon of Ground Cumin. $0.30c
1 Teaspoon of Ground Turmeric. $0.20c
1/4 Teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon. (Optional). $0.05c
1/2 Teaspoon of Chilli Powder. $0.10c
2 Medium Carrots, Diced. $0.30c
3 Sticks of Celery, Diced. $0.40c
1/4 Cup of Dry Sherry. (Optional). $1.00c
1 Vegetable Stock Cube. (I used Massel). $0.40c
1 Handfull of Spinach, Chopped. $1.00c
2 Medium Tomatoes, Diced with Seeds Removed. (I reccomend eating the seeds as you’re chopping the tomatoes. Yummy!) $0.60c
1 and a 1/2 Cups of Water.
Salt and Pepper to Taste.

Total Cost = $6.35. Serves 4 to 6 people.

I get my spices by weight from a wholefoods store, they may be more expensive for you.

Method:

Heat Olive Oil in a medium saucepan. Add diced onion, garlic and Ginger and cook until onions soften, stirring occasionally.

Add Carraway Seeds and stir through, cook for 2 minutes.

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Onion and carroway

Add Tumeric, Cumin, Cinnamon and Chilli Powder. Stir through.

Add Sherry and cook until evaporated.

Add Carrot, Celery, Stock Cube, Lentils and Water. Bring to the boil and then simmer on a low heat for 30 minutes.

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The soup

Add Spinach and Tomato and simmer for a few more minutes.

Add Salt and Pepper if necessary. Remember the Stock Cube already has salt in it. Always taste first before adding any more.

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Very yellow

Verdict: I forgot to taste before I added salt and Pepper so it was a bot too salty. Doh! I also wasn’t paying enough attention to my spices and added garam masala¬†accidentally so the flavor was a tad off from what I’d intended. That’s the problem with buying spices from wholefoods stores. They all come unlabeled in little plastic containers. Otherwise it was nice.
Remember this is just my recipe you can add any spices, herbs or veges you like!

Recipe: Matcha Shortbread

A few weeks ago on a Sunday I headed to the Adelaide Botanic Gardens for my first bi-monthly meeting of the Adelaide Cake Liberation Front (CLF). For those who haven’t heard of the CLF, it’s a movement that began in the UK. It’s about making delicious food free from animal products and sharing it around. Basically it’s a bunch of vegans (non vegans are welcome) who sit sound and eat dessert (and quiche).

So anyway for my first meet I decided to make shortbread. I had originally intended to make gluten free almond shortbread but I messed it up and had to dump the batch in the bin :(. I Googled another recipe and came up with this one. During my search I saw a few recipes for matcha shortbread and since I had some matcha powder in the cupboard, I decided to add some in.

Matcha powder is green tea leaves ground up extremely fine.

Ingredients:

250 Grams of Vegan Margarine (Nuttelex).
110 Grams of Caster Sugar.
360 Grams of Plain Flour.
2 Teaspoons of Matcha Powder.

Method:

Set oven to 190 degrees Celsius / 375 Fahrenheit.

Cream the Margarine and Sugar in a bowl.

Stir in flour and matcha a little bit at a time until you get a smooth paste.

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The dough

Put dough on bench and roll out until 1 centimeter thick. Cut into even pieces and put on a baking tray. I didn’t do this step and instead just put vaguely even globs of dough on the tray.

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Ready to be baked

Put tray in fridge for 20 minutes. I omitted this step as the damned tray was too big for the fridge!

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Cookies

Place in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until pale golden brown, although with the addition of the matcha pale golden brown in kind of a useless measurement.

Cook on a wire rack and then eat.

Verdict: I made a few mistakes. The margarine and sugar wasn’t creamed properly and that was apparent upon eating. I added more than the 2 teaspoons of matcha and this led to a slightly bitter aftertaste. Also due to my shoddy measuring (I blame my flatmates set of weird, high volume scales) the dough was wetter than intended, resulting in a slightly chewy texture rather than the desired crumbliness. However they were still yummy and the people at the CLF meet up ate them up.

Recipe: Simple French Toast

This is my entry for week 2 of the Reddit 52 Weeks of Vegan Cooking challenge, This weeks challenge was breakfast.

For the challenge I decided to attempt to reinvent a family favorite: French Toast. Now vegan french toast has already been done but all the recipes I’ve read seem to have the same issue for me. Too over complicated. Sauces, sugar, compotes, millions of toppings. In our house french toast was eggs and a little milk, then topped with a pinch of salt once cooked. So I had a look around at various different recipes and then tried to invent my own.

Ingredients: 

1 cup of Soy Milk.
1/4 tsp of Garlic Powder.
2 tsp of Nutritional Yeast (also called Savory Yeast).
1 tsp of Egg Replacer (I use Ogran No Egg).
1/4 tsp of Mustard Powder.
2 tbsp of Chickpea flour.
Pinch of Salt and Pepper.

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Soaking the bread

Method:

Place all ingredients ingredients in a small pan and whisk until combined and thicken slightly. If over thickened add a little water to loosen.

Pour batter into mixing bowl and place a slice of bread in mixture to soak thoroughly.

Fry bread on both sides in oil or vegan butter (I used Nuttelex).

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Frying

Sprinkle with a little salt. Eat.

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The result

Verdict: The garlic powder was a mistake. You could smell it strongly and the taste was weird in the mix. I think my batter was still too thick and it burnt a little in the pan. If I made this again I would make the batter in a blender instead of in the pan. The final texture was weird and kind of doughy. Overall it wasn’t french toast as I remember it but it still tasted okay.

Restaurant: Zambrero

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Good news everybody!

Zambrero is a Mexican style franchise restaurant with 2 stores in Adelaide and a several others  in most states in Australia. So why am I talking about it on here. Zambrero has recently made all of their vegetarian options vegan friendly.

This is a great move on their part but not particularly surprising as Zambrero is known for a certain ethical view. They are partnered with an organisation called¬†Stop Hunger Now¬†in a program called Plate For Plate (P4P). Essentially for every plate of food sold at any franchise Zambrero donates one plate of “high protein, high vitamin meals¬†that help strengthen people suffering malnutrition.”

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Awful photo of a burrito

So anyway back to the vegan food. I eat here every few weeks because with the weirdness of Adelaide’s business opening hours it is generally the only good vegan option late night on a weekday or on a Sunday. I so far have only had the burrito, but that’s because it’s pretty awesome.

The burrito is a mix of rice, some bean puree, guacamole and whatever salad and sauce you want all encased in a tortilla. It’s good. Personally I don’t think they put enough beans on, even when you pay the extra dollar for double beans and rice.¬†Unlike a few of the other Mexican franchises the beans ad rice actually have flavor! The burrito can be a little doughy but I like it that way. I don’t like the fact that they put coriander in the tomato salsa, but that’s just my personal preference.

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The filling

Food:¬†Good stuff. A few different choices that can be made vegan and the staff know what is and isn’t vegan. 4/5

Setting:¬†Noisy. Very loud music, often rock or metal, depending on which employee is in charge of the iPod. Depending of what time of day you go is can be quite dirty as the tables haven’t been cleaned or even cleared. Plastic chairs, plain d√©cor with a few splashes of color. Kind of like a McDonalds. 2/5

Service: They seem to know their product well and I have been given good advice on the vegan / vegetarian options; including one employee identifying me as a vegan from my topping choices and helping me with my sauce choice. I have also been asked whether or not i minded my burrito being made at the same time as someone else meat option. However it can also depend on who you get. Some employees have a different idea of how much rice and beans go in a burrito and most seem to forget the crushed up corn chips exist. 4/5

Overall:¬†A good option for a quick dinner, tasty food and it’s open late night! 4/5

Zambrero Hindley on Urbanspoon

Zambrero Rundle on Urbanspoon