Thursday, March 31, 2011

Jaques Reymond

I hit a milestone birthday this month, can you guess which one?

And to celebrate Toby took me to Jaques Reymond to have their degustation. I've been envious since I read Carla's review. If you compare her review you will a few similarities and quite a few differences too, possibly because of my added gluten free requirement. I can't believe that a fancy french restaurant was able to do a vegan and gluten free degustation!

We started with leek and watermelon terrine which was quite refreshing.

Then we had watercress and green tea soup with shitake mushroom on top and a daikon fritter underneath. They did the the diakon fritter with rice flour so I didn't have to miss out. Toby and I loved this, it had a slightly bitter taste but in a good way and I loved the combination of texture with the soup, mushroom and fritter. I'm also intrigued about how they got the fritter to stick under the mushroom.

Then it was my favourite savoury dish, the tomato jelly which was made from agar amd was absolutely punching with flavour,kind of like 100 tomatoes in one tiny little bite. This also contained some sort of mousse in the middle, surrounded with edible flowers and nuts.

This looked a lot like a piece of meat but was actually shredded beetroot wrapped in cabbage over rice with pinenuts and a lovely slightly sweet citrus sauce. Those two dots were a strong coffee reduction.

This was marrow and mushrooms, both the marrow and the mushroms were really tender and had a strong flavour like they had been marinated in a dashi type sauce and cooked for days. We both loved this and I'm not even a big mushroom fan.

Silken tofu with a sherry reduction with violets. This dish was a tad on the bland side, but it was very pretty.

Mushrooms over sushi rice with hazelnuts. Toby and I also felt that this needed some more sauce or spice or something. Toby added a tiny bit of salt which he said made it a lot better.

 My favourite dish of the night was called 'pre dessert' and consisted of a fruit based sorbet, jelly and fruit but the combination of flavours was so beautiful  I wish I paid more attention to what the waiter said when he brought this out instead of my inner dialogue screaming 'yay, dessert'.

Then it was raspberries, poached pair, pepperberry sorbet and dark chocolate.

Finally petite fours, roasted peach, nuts based fruit crumble, blackurrant jelly and jelly surrounding fruit.

Sadly, truffles were not available because they are not in season. Toby had a short black too and said it was good, although it was not specialty standard but he would be happy to pay for a coffee like it. The service was excellent, the food overall was so impressive and inspiring. It was such a wonderful experience, I felt very spoiled indeed. It's in a beautiful old house with a few tables in each room. Also, we saw Jaques himself roaming around too which is pretty cool. he actually glanced down at my red tights! At $135 each we can't afford to go regularly but it was so worth it for this once off experience.

Jaques Reymond
78 William Rd

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Chocolate Spiders- Gluten Free Childhood Favourite

Despite my spider phobia, I grew up enjoying two spider experiences: coke (and various other flavour) spiders aka ice cream soda, float etc and chocolate spiders. I think Chocolate spiders were my first introduction to the choc and peanut butter combo which I am now addicted to.

I remember making these for parties and sleepovers etc in my teenage years. The original recipe called for a packet of Changs fried noodles which are wheat based but they recently started making a rice variety which allowed me to recreate this childhood favourite.

I also discovered this new brand of Coles Belgian dark chocolate which is vegan. I swear that they used to have a Belgian variety which wasn't vegan, or was I dreaming?

Chocolate Spiders from Chang's Fine Asian Foods

1 pkt Chang’s Original Fried Noodles (100g)
2 Tbspns Crunchy Peanut Butter
200g Chocolate (2 100g blocks)

Microwave chocolate and peanut butter in microwave safe mixing bowl for about 30 seconds on high.  If not melted, then microwave again in 5 second intervals. Mix well until it is a smooth paste. (I just melted it in a double boiler). Add noodles and coat them well. Spoon the mixture onto grease-proof paper, or into individual paper patty pans. Using heaped teaspoons, this mixture will yield 30 to 40 spiders.
Place in refrigerator until set.

They kind of look like spiders. The texture was not quite as good as the wheat ones but taste wise they are just as good. I had some issues getting them to stick together too, but once I started making smaller ones they were fine.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

2 Ingredient Chocolate Chia Pudding

Yes this only requires chia seeds and choc soy milk. We are obsessed with vitasoy chocolate milk at the moment and I figured this was probably a healthier way to consume it.

Chocolate Chia Pudding from Foods for Life
[serves 4]
2 cups chocolate soy milk
5 to 6 tablespoons raw chia seeds (depending on how thick you want it)
Berries (optional)

Combine chia seeds with chocolate soy milk and stir vigorously with a fork for several minutes. Let sit for 15 minutes and stir again until the chia seeds are well blended and separated. Let the mixture sit out for an hour, stir one more time and refrigerate at least one day until thickened and firm. (I think I left it for 3-4 hours)/ This is a good dessert to make a day or two in advance in order to give it time to set. When ready to serve, top with strawberries or raspberries and divide into 4 small serving dishes.

I enjoyed this, it's just like eating really thick chocolate soy milk. Although I thought it could be a tad sweeter, next time I might add some maple syrup and/or cinnamon.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Daylesford Revisited

Last weekend, Troy and Bec invited us to go a day trip with them to daylesford. We visited all of our favourite vegan friendly places except for the conti banquet because we only there during the day. First we went to Himalaya Bakery, I had the exact same dish that I had last time: the gf toast with white bean dip and spinach and tomatoes. It's simple but nice. The white bean dip is creamy and gf toast is great and super filling. Although, we took a gf loaf home and put it in the fridge which seemed to destroy the texture completely. Please excuse the phone pics, I forgot my camera!

I also got one of these little cute little desserts, I forgot what it was called but it kind of resembled fruit cake which I don't like. I've had other gf desserts there before and enjoyed them and if you can eat gluten you have to have the cherry danish!

And I couldn't possible visit Daylesford without stopping by at the chocolate Mill. I frigging love this place. They sell a range of individual belgian chocolates and even have little signs saying which ones are vegan and which ones contain gluten. Most of the dark chocolate ones are vegan and Bec discovered that a couple which don't have the vegan sign could be make vegan if you make a bulk order like the pina colada chocolates. Toby and I got a box of chocolates which included cherry, cinnamon, mint and cardamon varieties.

We also go a couple of the macadamia chocolate blocks and I had one of their large rich hot chocolates which is basically melted dark chocolate and soy milk. Here is a before photo:

and an after shot:

While in daylesford we also checked out a waterfall and a few stores including the Mill Market. Such an awesome day!

See other Himalaya Bakery reviews by Emily-Kallista, Steph, Michael and  us

And other Chocolate Mill reviews by Cindy and us twice.

The Chocolate Mill
5451 Midland Hwy Mt Franklin
10am to 4.45pm (opened 7 days)

Himalaya Bakery
73 Vincent Street Daylesford

Choc Chip Cookies with Peanut Butter Ice Cream

I told you, it wouldn't be long til I tried making the gluten free chocolate chip cookies that I blogged about a few weeks ago. In fact it was only a week later but I thought it would be kind of boring to hear that I made the same cookies in one week. I do think it's worth sharing though because I made some changes, this time I used regular white agave and a mixture of white and dark chocolate. But I discovered that the strong after taste wasn't the dark agave but was the 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract, next time I will try with only 1 teaspoon to see how it compares. I do love the texture though and general flavour. I took some to a friend's house and then used the remaining leftovers to make peanut butter ice cream sandwiches using the recipe from vegan scoop. It is seriously my most used cookbook and this ice cream was another winner.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Blue Cheezly

 I've never had blue cheese and so was curious when Blue Cheezly arrived at radical grocery a few weeks ago. I tried some on a corn cruskit biscuit and discovered I hated it. It had a slightly sweet pungent flavour which just seems wrong. However, Toby  enjoyed it.  He's never had the real thing either, so he can't comment on how much it resembles actual blue cheese. I will stick to cheddar cheezly which is my favourite vegan cheese.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Peanut Eggplant and Shallot Stew

About a fortnight ago when the weather was cooler here Toby made this stew it's actually called spicy peanut eggplant and shallot stew but we made it mild.

Peanut Eggplant And Shallot Stew from PPK

1 lb. Eggplant, peeled, chopped in 1/2 inch cubes
1 tsp salt
4 oz. Shallots, peeled and sliced very thin
1/4 cup peanut oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 hot chili, seeded and minced (skipped this and used tiny bit of dried chilli flakes)
1” cube of ginger, peeled and minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1/8-1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground tumeric
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 16 oz. Can roasted diced tomatoes w/ juice (I used regular diced tomatoes)
5 cups water or light veggie broth
1/2 cup creamy or chunky natural peanut butter
6 oz green beans, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
2 T fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup coarsely chopped cilantro, lightly packed
chopped roasted peanuts and cilantro leaves for garnish (we skipped this too)

In a large bowl or colander toss eggplant cubes with salt. Allow to sit of 30 minutes to soften, then gently rinse eggplant chunks with cold running water. Drain and set aside.
In a large stock pot heat 2 T peanut oil over medium high heat. Add shallots and fry, occasionally stirring, for about 20 minutes until very soft, browned and slightly caramelized. Scoop shallots out of pot and set aside.
Add 1 T of oil to pot and add eggplant, stirring to coat with oil. Stir and cook eggplant for 12-15 minutes until slightly tender. Remove eggplant from heat and set aside (I toss it in the same bowl with the shallots).
Add remaining 1 T of oil to the pot again, then add ginger and chile and fry for 30 seconds. Add ground cumin, coriander, tumeric and fry for another 30 second then add onion. Stir and fry till onion is just slightly soft and translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add tomato paste, stir and fry mixture for 1 minute.
Pour diced tomatoes, water or broth, eggplant, string beans and shallots into pot with frying onion/spice mixture. Stir to combined and raise heat to medium high. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, then reduce heat.
In a separate bowl stir peanut butter to combine any separated oils. Pour a ladleful of hot soup onto peanut butter. Stir peanut butter with soup till creamy and peanut butter is completely emulsified. Scrape peanut butter mixture into rest of simmering soup, stirring to combine.
Simmer soup on medium-low heat, covered, for 35-45 minutes or until eggplant is very tender. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro and lemon juice. Salt to taste after soup has cooled for at least half an hour.

We have issues in the past making eggplant dishes, I'm not sure if we don't salt it long enough or don't cook it long enough but it always ends up bitter and a bit too hard but the eggplant was perfect in this. This dish was easy enough to make and had a beautiful rich flavour we will be making it again in winter.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Merri Table and Bar

Merri Table and Bar is a relatively new restaurant at ceres (Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies) which is pronounce. It's mostly vegetarian, there was only one or two meat dish on the menu when we visited. The cusine is middle eastern, but quite upmarket with an emphasis on sharing several small dishes. It's really quite unlike the ceres cafe and market which has quite a hippie feel to it.

I wish I would have taken my camera to take some pictures of the interior which is gorgerous and the restaurant is surrounded by trees which almost had us convinced that we were in the country. Instead I needed to rely on my phone camera, so I apologise  for the dodgy photos.

Toby and I actually tried to visit a fortnight ago with Cindy and Michael but was turned away on a Saturday night since it was booked out. This time we booked, which seemed un-necessary this time because there was only 2 other customers in the restaurant. We were running late as usual, so by the time we arrived our friends Brunswick Bec and Troy had already sussed out what was vegan and gluten free options. Thankfully all of the vegan items could be made gluten free when requested and there was only a few items on the savoury menu which couldn't be made vegan.

I was also impressed to see that they had even had listed which wines were vegan, low preservative, organic and biodynamic. You can check out their current menu here. We ordered a bottle of Karina Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc to share which was great, although neither of us are wine buffs so can't really comment beyond that.

While we were pondering what to order when they brought us some complimentary fresh figs served with pickles, tomato and thin beetroot. The combination was lovely and reminded me that I should eat more fresh figs!

We had the seasonal vegetables dips and instead of the usual bread just had corn chips. The two vegan dips they provided were hummus which was served with pickles. 

The other dip was smoked pumpkin. Everyone loved this, it was super smokey almost like baba ganoush but with pumpkin.

I was intrigued by the sound of the silverbeet and quinoa sarma with roasted ketchup which was basically tangy quinoa served inside rolled sillverbeet and served with roasted tomatoes. Tasty and such a great idea, Bec and Troy agreed that this was their second favourite dish of the night.

The vegetables fritters are normally served with an almond mayo but our vegan version were served with what I suspect to be tahini. The fritters change based what's in season and this time it was broccoli covered in a chickpea batter. They were crunchy and were the overall standout dish of the night. Next time, we must order two serves.

The smashed carrots with almond and mint were incredibly tender.

The orange fennel salad was simple but delicious.

Toby was very happy when the protein filled M'jaddarah arrived. This dish consisted of rice and lentils miced together with a range of spices and served with chickpea vermicelli and cooked onions on top. It was also served with falafel and a tomato sauce. We ordered 2 serves of this to share and it's not surprising that this was his favourite dish. The falafel seemed quite different to normal falafel but we couldn't pinpoint what was different.

I couldn't resist trying the cauliflower kisir which really did resemble tabbouli, I'm not sure I would have guessed that it was was cauliflower if it wasn't told. It was served with mint and I think dill.

We all had a serve each of the one vegan dessert: firin sutlac or turkish rice pudding. This had a strong cinnamon flavour and contained lime zest and was outstanding.

Our bill for the four of us was around $140 including a bottle of wine. So it was not a cheap night out but the food was really simple yet beautiful, service was great and the place had such a lovely feel to it that we didn't mind at all. Plus they had plenty of gluten free vegan options  and lots of bicycle racks.  The age and Brian from Fitzroyalty both gave it good reviews.You should check out Brian's reviews for some better pictures and I promise next time I will take my camera. Be sure to advise them that you want vegan or gluten free options so they can make the necessary adjustments!

Merri Table and Bar
Corner of Stewart and Robert St
East Brunswick

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Sometimes the simplest things are the best. This breakfast/snack is so simple that I questioned blogging it but I've lost my blogging mojo lately so it's either this or nothing at the moment.

I'm fond of tartex, as you may remember from my greasy crazy fried tartex experiment. If your not familiar tartex it's a brand of vegetarian pate from Germany, they have a wide range of flavours too! I remember when we were leaving Germany we had some in our hand luggage and a security man stopped us and said that we shouldn't have it since it was over the liquid limit but they would let it go since they also loved tartex. I even saw it sold in a large chemist!

So this simple lazy pairing involved tomatoes from our friend Troy's graden which were friggin out of the world. Seriously who knew that such tiny tomatoes could be bursting with so much flavour? 

And some shittake asia tartex, which is out favourite flavour so far. Anikee (from radical grocery) swears the pesto flavour is the best but we haven't tried it yet. And a tiny bit of shaved cheddar cheezly all served on some g/f toast. Seriously this was perfect!

What is your favourite tartex flavour?