Archive for February, 2009

Vegetarian Calzoni

This recipe could easily be converted to a vegan one, the pizza dough is vegan so it all comes down to what you put inside these delicious little deep fried pockets. We decided to follow the recipe on this one and added the buffalo mozzarella. It’s the first time we have cooked a non vegan dish in a long time actually! Anyway, here goes!

Calzoni
(The Vegeterranean)

DOUGH:
375g Italian ‘oo’ flour
1 teaspoon salt
218ml warm water
1 tablespoon olive oil (extra virgin)
19g fresh yeast
1 pinch sugar

FILLING:
(your only limitation is your imagination!)
180g cherry tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dry oregano
24 basil leaves – 12 chopped & 12 whole
1 garlic clove chopped
salt and pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil
110g fresh mozzarella, drained

Vegetable oil for frying

The recipe called for cherry tomatoes, which we didn’t have, so instead we made up a tomato sauce using tinned tomatoes, fresh oregano and garlic all blended together and then strained so that it wasn’t too watery. We added some mushrooms and chopped olives to the mix as well. We also added some ground flaxseed to the dough mixture for extra fibre, iron and protein (flaxseed is our wonder food! We use it in everything!). I have left the method as it was in the book, for reference, but you can see pretty clearly from the pics where ours differed. This is the kind of recipe where you really can mess around and add what you want.

Method:
To make your dough, combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Create a well in the centre and add the water and olive oil.. Add the yeast and sugar into the well and mix using your fingertips. work around the well the incorporate the flour until the dough comes together. Knead well until soft and elastic. Gently spread a few drop of oil around the surface of the dough, cover with a cloth and rest for 35 minutes in a warm, dry place. After the dough has rested, sprinkle the surface of the dough with flour and ‘turn’ it by pulling small portions of the dough around the edge towards the oppoistie side of the bowl. Once one full turn has been made, cover again and rest for 35 more minutes.

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For the filling – while the dough is resting – deseed and roughly chop the tomatoes. Set over a colander for 30 minutes to drain. Combine with the oreganoc, chopped basil, garlic, salt, pepper and two drops of olive oil in a bowl. Cut the mozzarella into cubes around the same size as the chopped tomatoes, dry slightly and add to the filling mix.

Assembly: on a clean work surface dusted with flour, roll the dough out into a disc shape 3mm thick. With the use of a 8cm round cutter, cut out 24 rounds from the soft dough. Take each disc and place a full teaspoon of filling in the centre. Place half a whole basil leaf over the filling. Fold over half of the disc and seal using the teeth of a fork, gently pressing down so that it firmly seals the dough but does not break it. Place the calzoni on a tray lined with parchment paper and dusted with flour.

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In a large pot, heat enough vegetable oil to cover the calzoni. When the oil is ready, gently place the calzoni in the pot. Allow one side to brown for about 1 minute before flipping it over to cook the other side. When the calzoni are golden brown in colour, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a tray lined with paper towels. Season with salt and serve immediately.

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We did half our batch in the oven and half we deep fried like the recipe suggested. The oven ones worked out well, and would probably be preferable for the health conscious but I do have to admit that the deep fried ones were much tastier! We have also cooked a few of these and then placed then in the freezer for fast lunches or lazy dinners over the next couple of weeks.

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Vietnamese Pancakes rolled with Vegetables (vegan)

The cookbook calls this one Vietnamese Pizza, but it’s about as far from pizza as you can get while still having vegetables on a doughy base! It was good though, and the Vietnamese dipping sauce was a very nice surprise. We will most certainly be using that one again. The pancakes are savory, chewy and a little bit crispy. Rolling them out was a bit fiddly but I suspect that will get easier with time.

Pancakes Rolled with Vegetables
Served with Picked radish and carrot and Vietnamese dipping Sauce
(The Asian Vegan Kitchen)

Ingredients:

2  cups rice flour
2 tablespoons corn starch
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
3 1/2 cups coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of baking powder
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion leek sliced
2 cloves garlic sliced
50g Daikon radish, julienned
1 carrot julienned
1 cup bean sprouts
4 tablespoons chives, chopped
Vegetable oil for drizzling

Method:
In a bowl, mix the rice flour, cornstarch, and turmeric with the coconut milk. Add the salt and baking powder and stir until smooth. Set aside for 15 minutes.

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Heat the oil in the saucepan and saute the onion leek and garlic briefly. Add the daikon and carrot, stir over high heat for a minute, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. reserve the oil.

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Heat a frying pan and grease it with a little oil. Pour in a quarter of the rice-flour batter and spread it out to make an even layer. Take a quarter of each of the sauteed vegetables, bean sprouts and chives and spread over the batter. drizzle a little oil around the edges of the pancake and cook for 3 – 4 minutes, until the underside is golden brown.

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Fold in half and slide onto a serving plate. Repeat with the remaining batter and vegetables. Serve with Vietnamese Dipping Sauce or Pickled Radish and Carrot (or both!).

Pickled Radish and Carrot:

Ingredients:
100g white radish
1 carrot
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon castor sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon water

Method:

(this dish can be made with julienned cucumber, sliced chilies, water spinach stem or garlic cloves)
Slice the radish and carrot in julienne strips, in a bowl, mix the salt, sugar, vinegar and water and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the radish and carrot and leave to start for at least 20 minutes before serving.

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img_4502Vietnamese Dipping Sauce:

Ingredients:

3 Dried shiitake Mushrooms
3 cups water
1/2 cup soy sauce
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons castor sugar
2 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Method:

place your mushrooms in a pan with water, boil for 10 minutes, then, saving the water, puree the mushrooms in a blender. In the saucepan, combine the dashi with the soy sauce and the mushroom puree and bring to the boil. turn down the heat and simmer for 2 – 3 minutes. Add all the other ingredients and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Serve at room temperature. (we added a bunch of chilies to this one.. we love it hot!)

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(the mushroom water can be frozen and used as a stock).

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Back to reality

So we are finally back from the holiday of a lifetime.. our dearest apologies for the blog drought!

Here is what we have been up to since you last heard from us:

We tramped from Sydney to Hervey Bay for a family Christmas where my family scoffed down prawns the size of bananas and I shielded myself from the seafood spray with various lettuce leaves. We flew to Cairns and then drove to Port Douglas where we met with friends from all over the country to have a holiday before our rainforest wedding. Vegetarian food choices in Port Douglas ranged from surprisingly fabulous (Java Blue Cafe) to disappointing (Nautilus Restaurant) to downright disgusting (Sakinayah House Restaurant) but we were having so much fun lounging by the pool and scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef that it didn’t really matter anyway.

View from the plane

Gang in the pool

hanging out at the hotel

The wedding itself was held at Silky Oaks Lodge in the Daintree Rainforest, bare chested chef was suitably clothed and I – in usual bride fashion – wore a white dress. It wasn’t quite your typical wedding (I wore sneakers under my dress and the groom took my surname instead of the other way round) but the day was wonderful and the food was fabulous – naturally!

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After all the fabulousness of a rainforest wedding, we flew to Fiji to start our honeymoon (hubba hubba!). We stayed on Mololo Island at Likuliku resort where the head chef at the restaurant created 2 special vegetarian menus just for me each day – I was in heaven! At Lunch and Dinner each day I was brought over a new menu, 3 courses at lunch and 4 at dinner, with 2 or 3 choices for each course as well. It was incredible! I was in vegetarian foodie heaven! Unfortunately on day five – after foolishly drinking ‘filtered’ water instead of bottled water – I was struck down with food poisoning and remained in bed for two and a half days unable to eat or move. All that delicious vegetarian food was waiting for me at the restaurant and I just couldn’t eat it!

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While I was bedridden the storms started, it rained for two days straight and on the third day the manager of the hotel came to our door and advised us that we were about to get hit with a cyclone and we had to be evacuated from the island. We had 20 minutes to pack all our stuff and make our way to the helipad where a boat would come get us (you think I am making this up don’t you??? I wish I could say I was!).

I was pretty weak by now, and still very sick so bare-chested chef did all the hard work, we packed all our belongings and off we went to the boat in the pouring rain (me still very pale and shaky – having trouble even holding up the umbrella in the wind). We climbed aboard the tiny ten man boat and they took us out into open water to wait for a larger boat to come and get us. We waited for over an hour and a half for that boat and I can tell you, it was a very scary time! The storm was raging, the sky was black, we were drenched from head to toe and I was having a very rough time keeping myself from being sick, in fact it was probably only the fact that I hadn’t eaten in over two days that kept me from feeding the fishes.

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Finally the ferry came by and picked us up and took us over to the mainland. It wasn’t much better, that ride, but at least we weren’t getting rained on anymore. A bunch of tourists were being evacuated from the islands so the boat was packed to the rafters with worried looking people and we had to sit on the soggy floor by the wall of suitcases and backpacks. When we finally made it to the mainland we thought we were free and clear, until the owner of the ferry stood up on some boxes and told us that Fiji was having the worst floods they had had in 20 years and the roads were closed so no-one could get out! For three days we were stranded at a hotel in Denarau, me still recovering from food poisoning, waiting for the flood waters to recede. Food services were restricted because no fresh supplies were getting through so they just had a buffet twice daily – a frightening experience for a food poisoned vegetarian foodie far away from home! I managed to live on roast potatoes and bread rolls until finally we were free to make our way to the airport and escape. What an adventure!

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From Fiji we headed to New Zealand. Within 12 hours of landing Auckland experienced the most spectacular lightening storm they had ever seen and I was beginning to think our marriage was cursed but our bad weather ended there – thank goodness for that! We celebrated being back in unflooded civilisation with a vegetarian degustation menu at The Grove in Auckland which was delicious and incredibly filling. While on the North Island we also recommend: lunch in the vineyards on Waiheke island (hire a car and make a day of it!), Bistro 1284 in Rotorua – try the vegetarian Gyoza – delicious!, the ‘vegetarian restaurant’ on high street in Auckland (green sign) oh so cheap, and oh so scruptuous!

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After a week in Auckland we flew down to Queenstown. What an incredibly beautiful place! We absolutely fell in love, and can’t wait to go back, in fact we spent the entire time there trying to figure out a way not to leave, in the end though common sense prevailed, and so here we are, back working like chumps! But I digress! While enjoying the sights in Queenstown make sure you check out

Licks Icecream Bar (next to Beefeater Restaurant on Shotover St) for delicious icecream – so nice we went back twice!

Kinloch lodge in Kinloch had the most incredible ginger and carrot soup! Definitely worth the trip – although if you aren’t a fan of carrot and ginger soup the lake is well worth seeing on its own.

The Skyline Restaurant had the best buffet I have ever had with excellent vegetarian options and loads of variety and even though the trip up there was a bit hair-raising for poor chef who is terrified of heights, the views are absolutely breathtaking! Get there super early to register to get a table by the window and watch the sun set over the remarkables – you won’t regret it!

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Sombreros Mexican Restaurant looks like your regular tacky mexican place but the vegetarian fajitas are fabulous.

Hell’s Pizza, sounds ridiculous and looks it too, but they have excellent vegetarian options, (‘pride’ was my personal favourite), and are perfect for a quick bite to eat on your way home from white water rafting or flinging yourself out of a plane.

On an unrelated note – unrelated to food that is – if you are in Queenstown you absolutely have to do the Queenstown to Glenorchy drive, just the most incredibe scenery you can imagine. I would also recommend checking out the Fiordland National Park & Milford Sound. For something required a little less effort contact Kevin for a Segway on Q tour, loads of fun!

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Anyway, enough of that – I’m beginning to sound like a lonely planet guide. The point of this post is really just to say “We are back!” and will be back cooking soon enough!

Stay Tuned!

NB: Photos from the wedding day were taken by Shaun Guest at Port Douglas Photography.

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