Shades of yellow soup (vegan)

30 June 2014

This recipe was actually inspired by Mum's partner. I think it was actually from him that I indirectly learned to make soup without a recipe. Thanks Dave!

Gingery yellow vegetable soup

This soup is naturally sweet from all the sweet vegetables, which meld beautifully with the warming ginger. There's also some textural fun, the root veggies and cauliflower are soft, the barley is chewy, and the corn still has a pop when you bite into it. It's great to warm you through on on a cold and windy night. Have I mentioned how windy Melbourne is at the moment? It's seriously unpleasant.

Shades of yellow soup

Serves: 4-6

  • 1/2 cup Pearl Barley
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons, ginger minced
  • 1/4 head of cauliflower, cut into small florets. Don't throw out the stem, cut that up and use it too (about 2 cups)
  • Small wedge of pumpkin, cut into 1.5 cm cubes (about 2 cups)
  • Half a sweet potato, cut into 1.5cm cubes (about 1 - 1.5 cup)
  • 1-2 carrots, cut into rounds at the thin end, and half moons at the thick end (about 1 - 1.5 cups)
  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels


  1. If desired, soak the barley in the morning, or whenever you think of it to cut down on cooking time. If you didn't, don't worry, it'll cook fine without soaking.
  2. Sauté the onion, over medium heat in a bit of light olive oil.
  3. When onion is soft, add the garlic and ginger, and fry until fragrant
  4. Raise the heat and add the cauliflower, sweet potato, pumpkin and carrot, and cook for a few minutes.
  5. Add the stock and the drained pearl barley.
  6. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, depending on whether you pre-soaked the barley, and how soft you like your barley.
  7. Throw in the corn kernels, and heat through for about 1 minute.
  8. Serve with toast, or on its own.

Thai kick pumpkin soup (vegan)

28 June 2014

I love soup, and pumpkin soup is a winter staple. However, sometimes, you want something a little different, or sometimes you just want to use up that jar of red curry paste that's been in your fridge for over a year so there's one less thing to take with you when you move. Sometimes, you want both. Whatever the motivation, this soup is a great twist on the old classic.

Thai kick pumpkin soup

Note that you don't need to fuss too much about how you chop everything, as it will all be blended in the end anyway. Check the Thai red curry paste, some contain shrimp paste. Five Tastes brand is safe, and I know others are too.

Thai kick pumpkin soup

Serves: 4-5

  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly minced
  • 2 teaspoons ginger paste
  • 1-2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste (cooking for myself, I would use 1.5, cooking for Hunter, I used 1) 
  • 1kg pumpkin, diced (about 1.25kg before peeling and de-seeding)
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 400mL can coconut milk
  • Coriander
  1. Saute onions in a bit of oil until translucent
  2. Add garlic, ginger and curry paste and fry until fragrant
  3. Add pumpkin, then add stock
  4. Bring to the boil, then simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes or until pumpkin is soft
  5. Use a stick mixer to blend the soup. Alternatively, if you don't have a stick mixer, or if you have packed your stick mixer away in anticipation of a move that has been delayed, leaving you grumpy and without a stick mixer, allow the soup to cool and transfer to a blender or food processor and process in batches, then return to saucepan.
  6. Stir through coconut milk, and if necessary, turn heat back on to heat through. If you're feeling fancy, reserve a bit of the coconut milk to drizzle onto the soup like you would cream.
  7. Garnish with coriander. If you're not trying to impress anyone, the stuff out of a tube works really well, because it's easy to stir through for an even distribution of flavour.
Thai kick pumpkin soup

What's your favourite winter soup?

Lord of the Fries - a review (of sorts)

26 June 2014

I remember when I was really small begging to go to MacDonald's. We could sometimes persuade Mum, but Dad was resolute that it wasn't even food there. He was convinced it would give him food poisoning.

By the time I'd reached high school, I was enough of a food snob that eating at Macca's held no appeal, except for the cheap softserves, and by the time I'd left school, the only thing I could be tempted to buy were some of the McCafe products. The last time I bought food there would have been about 4 years ago, and that was because I was on taekwondo camp, and we were expected to have eaten before arriving. I hadn't known. The person who was nice enough to take me to get food took me to MacDonald's, and though I wasn't impressed, but I wasn't in a position to argue.

The point of me rambling on about Macca's is this. Every now and then, I think it's a good idea to buy something from Lord of the Fries, and I have no idea why I think it's a good idea. In case you're not familiar with them, they're a Melbourne based vegetarian fast food chain with vegan options. They're also Kosher and Halal, which I imagine is fairly easy to do if you're all vegetarian. They have stores all over Melbourne, and from their website, it looks like there's now one in Sydney too.

Before I went vegan, even before I went vegetarian, you couldn't drag me into Macca's or Hungry Jack's. Yet every now and then I buy food from Lord of the Fries. It's like I get so excited that as a vegan I can eat this sort of food that I forget that I don't even like it.

A few days ago was one of those days. I was out shopping, and needed to buy lunch. I could have had vegan options in any number of chains, Zambrero is excellent, I'm sure I would have found something tasty and vegan at Sumo Salad. I could have gone to Wagamamas if I was feeling a bit more upmarket, or if I really wanted a burger, I could have gone to Grill'd. Instead, I wandered past a Lord of the Fries that I hadn't previously even known was there, and immediately walked in and started trying to decide what to order. Even as I was doing this, I knew I would regret it, but well, I hadn't had Lord of the Fries since going vegan, and they offer cheese.

I bought the Parma Burger. Because I listened at least a little bit to the voice in my head telling me it was a bad idea, I ordered the mini rather than the full size. There must have been a remnant of sense left in me. When they handed me my mini burger and chips, I couldn't believe my eyes, mini really did mean mini. I wish I'd thought to take a scale photo.

It really doesn't look appetizing, does it?

The chips and sauce were ok, though nowhere near as good as they're hyped up to be. Grill'd chips are way better. As for the burger... As soon as I unwrapped it, all I could smell was the cheese. It reeked. Just in case that isn't clear, it didn't reek in a good way, like for example (dairy) parmesan smells bad, yet still tastes good. It was a genuine reek, that was accompanied by an unpleasant flavour. Cheese aside, the burger itself was predictably mediocre. I imagine that if you like Macca's burgers, Lord of the Fries is probably on a par. I mean, the texture of their mock meat, though not exactly like meat, is pretty good. A little bit can even be pleasant. But taken as a whole, the burger just wasn't good. Edible, definitely, but not much more than that. I regret it, I really do. I hope next time, I can remember what I've written here, and keep walking. There wasn't even the token lettuce and pickle to pretend at being healthy.

What do you eat knowing you'll regret it?

Rich chocolate brownies with raspberries

24 June 2014

Game of Thrones is over for the year. Ok, so the last episode came out over a week ago, but evening work and the fact that we have a friend with an awesome TV set-up, means that we've usually watched Game of Thrones on the Friday rather than the Monday night.

To ensure we had something to lift our spirits after what was bound to be another depressing episode, I made my favourite (so far) chocolate brownie recipe. Mattie is truly a culinary genius. These are not just good vegan brownies. They are excellent brownies by anyone's standards, that also happen to be vegan. Even so, however, I couldn't resist changing them up a bit.

Instead of the walnuts, I stirred in about 1/3 cup frozen raspberries, and a handful of un-melted vegan chocolate chips, just to give it a bit of extra chocolateyness. Make sure you use frozen raspberries. I let mine partially thaw, and they kinda disintegrated when I mixed them in. I also left out the coffee.

The extra chocolate is a must, and the raspberries were a were a successful experiment. Rich and chocolately and fudgey, with raspberries. So said everyone, although I am still secretly dreaming about finding a way of making the brownies even richer...

As an aside, the last time I made this recipe, I didn't have any vegan butter, so I subbed in coconut oil, and while they were delicious, they were also a bit greasy. Do not use coconut oil, use vegan butter. If you can't be bothered making vegan butter, you can get away with using a combination of vegan margarine (such as Nuttlex), and coconut oil, which is what I did the first time I made these. You might also get away with pure Nuttlex, even though the instructions explicitly say not to... If you try that, let me know how it works.

Chocolate porridge

22 June 2014

So here goes my first real post, a recipe, albeit a very simple one, chocolately, to fit in with the name of my blog. It's not so much a recipe really, as a breakfast idea, which can be easily tweaked to suit your tastes.

Chocolate porridge topped with raspberries

Until quite recently, I thought porridge was disgusting. This may have had something to do with the fact that when I was a kid, Mum thought that porridge was best served completely plain and unadorned, just oats, water and a bit of milk. I now know better, and now that it's winter, I have porridge for breakfast almost every morning.

I've tried a few variations, but this is the one I have most often, because chocolate. You can add a little sugar if you need it, but taste it first without as the banana adds quite a bit of sweetness, while the banana flavour is mostly masked by the cocoa.

Chocolate Porridge

Serves: 1

  • What I call a heaped teaspoon
    1 large overripe banana, or 1.5 small ones
  • 1 heaped teaspoon cocoa (when I say heaped, I mean heaped... it's probably closer to a tablespoon, but I think I feel better about myself when I can call it a teaspoon)
  • Generous pinch shredded coconut (about 1 tablespoon)
  • Scant 1/3 cup rolled oats (you may want more if you have a large appetite in the morning)
  • 1 to 1 1/3 cups soymilk, or to desired consistency, I like mine pretty loose
  • Small handful of berries to top - I'm currently using either frozen raspberries or frozen blueberries, but strawberries are great too, and fresh is better. If you're using larger berries, cut them up first (don't do what I did in the last picture, it's a pain to eat)

  1. Mash the banana
  2. Mashed banana
  3. Mix in the cocoa
  4. Mashed banana with cocoa
  5. Mix in coconut and oats
  6. Banana, cocoa, coconut and oats
  7. Mix in soymilk, cover with a plate, and microwave for 1 minute, then wander off and do something, turn on the computer, check blog feeds, get dressed or whatever, for about 3-5 minutes.
  8. Mix thoroughly, then return to microwave, and repeat step 4.
  9. Top with berries. If the berries are frozen, you may wish to return to microwave for a further 30 seconds, or just stir through and let the heat from the porridge melt them.

What's your favourite everyday breakfast?


17 June 2014

This was originally just a test post so I could play with layout. Unfortunately, since my last blogging attempt, Blogger has introduced auto-posting to Google+, so my test post went public... You shouldn't be looking at the blog now since the design is atrocious and currently in progress. However, since this post is already public, I might as well say the following:

Yesterday I had my last exam for the semester (yay!), so after some year and a half blogging hiatus, I intend to get back into blogging, albeit with a different spin. I intend for this to be a vegan recipe blog, plus. The plus will be whatever I feel like writing at the time, but I imagine that it might include book reviews, product reviews and random thoughts on various philosophical issues I find interesting, or happen to be studying, or happen to be studying and find interesting.

Don't expect any real content for a while, I'm also moving soon, and want to get the site design under control before uploading any posts. I do, however, have a number of posts in the works.