Monday, August 31, 2009

Lentil Shepherds Pie

In my bid to eat more lentils & wanting an excuse to crack open a bottle of red on a Monday night I decided to make lentil shepherds pie. I had all sorts of disasters with the pastry & thought that it wasn't going to work out so decided to make little pies in a muffin pan because I thought they would stay together better & be easier to serve than one big pie.

The pastry I used was this one from (subbing soy milk for skim milk). It turned out ok, but I ended up adding an extra 5 tablespoons of soy milk because there was no way it was going to come together & there was lots of crumbs that would just not come together that I threw out.

The actual pie recipe I made up as I was going, but it was pretty similar to the lentil red wine hot pot recipe which I really liked!

1 zucchini diced
2 small carrots diced
1 onion diced
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 can diced tomatoes
1/3 cup red wine
1 can brown lentils
1 tsp massel beef stock powder
2 tsp orgran gravy powder
1/4 tsp sage
1/4 tsp celery salt
olive oil

Cook zucchini, carrot, onion & garlic in a little bit of olive oil until soft.
Add in tomato paste, stir over medium heat for a couple of minutes
Add tomatoes, red wine, stock powder, gravy powder, sage & celery salt for about 15 minutes until thickened
Add lentils to heat through

So once that was all ready I put it into the prepared pastry in the muffin pan & topped with mashed potato which I got ready while my pie filling was cooking. I used dutch cream potatoes for my topping because I think they are the goods. I think I particularly like them because I read somewhere that they are "high class potatoes"! I piped my potato on to fancy them up a bit & I think it is actually easier than trying to spread mash on top. The pies were then baked for 20 minutes at 180 degrees or until they are browned on top. I served them with garlicky mushrooms & brussel sprouts.

My kitty Roxy like to check out what is happening & get involved when I am cooking!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I made enchiladas for dinner tonight, but with flour tortillas which I prefer to corn so they were not very traditional. They are very easy for when you can't really be bothered & they tasted ok. If I was to make them again (which I probably will) I won't use refried beans inside them because I found them a bit too mushy. Next time I will use kidney beans & corn instead which I think might also make them a bit lighter as these were really filling - I had one & I gave my partner two & he couldn't finish them which is a first! I probably wouldn't use ready made sauce next time either but I was jsut feeling lazy tonight!

I am not even going to worry about posting the recipe for the enchiladas because they are so basic but they consist of sauteed onion & zucchini with a tin of refried beans mixed in & half a jar of enchilada sauce. When this is all heated through & mixed well, put mixture into tortillas, roll up, place in a baking dish & cover with remaining enchilada sauce & some grated cheezly. Bake for about 20 minutes in a moderate oven until cheezly has melted & the tortillas are starting to brown. They are that easy & look quite impressive!

The salad that I had with them was awesome, definitely one of my favourites. It just consists of roasted red capsicum, corn, avocado, salt, pepper & lime juice. You just toss it all together & I served it on a bed of salad leaves which had a little grated carrot & beetroot mixed into it.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pie Floaters

After a recent visit to my mum, my partner & I were driving past Pie in the Sky in Olinda when he started reminiscing about how good pie floaters were & suggested that perhaps I could make them for dinner one night. Personally, the idea of a meat pie covered in tomato sauce in a bowl of pea soup sounds absolutely revolting to me but thought that I would give it a go anyway - on one condition - no pea soup! Peas are about the only vegetable that I don't like & I hate the idea of pea soup so I decided to try pie floaters with potato & leek soup instead.

Now this should have been an easy meal - we bought pies from La Panella so they only needed heating in the oven & I made a very simple soup - just peeled diced potatoes, diced leeks, garlic, massel chicken stock to cover & then blended down to a thick soup with a bit of soy milk stirred in at the end. But - this meal was a disaster, I burnt my finger so badly that it has scarred by some soup bubbling up & splattering my finger & my oven caught on fire! Yep, I opened my oven door to flames shooting out! So after the fire was put out, the smoke cleared & the mountains of ash cleaned from my kitchen, we sat down to pie floaters which I reluctantly have to admit weren't bad! I thought the pies would go soggy but they didn't at all & because the soup was thick it was kind of reminiscent of a shepherds pie. I didn't love them but definitely didn't hate them either & would consider making them again.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


I have had pretty much no omni food cravings in the last year that I have been vegan except croissants. I never used to eat croissants much, but they are one of those foods that I always ate on holidays & I do love them. When I read the recipe on Shmooed Food they seemed like a whole lot of work & I was concerned that they wouldn't work for me but with a free Saturday afternoon I decided to give them a go & they were soooo good! They weren't as light as I remember normal croissants to be but they are still delicious. We ate some with Redwood Cheatin' ham & tofutti cheese slices & some with my homemade apple & fig jam - both were really tasty.

Recipe from Shmooed Food is below - it is a long process but they are not at all difficult to make!

makes 16

1 ¼ cups plain soy milk, warmed
2 ¼ tsp. active dry yeast
1 TB sugar
1 ¼ tsp. salt
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 cup whole wheat flour (I used white flour)
¾ cup nuttelex

Put the milk into a large mixing bowl, add the sugar and yeast and whisk to dissolve. Let the yeast mixture sit for a few minutes until foamy.

Mix together the flour, whole wheat flour, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the yeast mixture and stir until a sticky dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a liberally floured surface and knead for a few strokes, just long enough to form a smooth dough. Add flour as needed.

Roll the dough out with a floured rolling pin into a rectangle, about 9 x 14 inches.

Put the margarine between two sheets of wax paper and roll out into a 6 x 8 rectangle. Peel off the wax paper and place the margarine on the bottom half of the dough. Fold the bottom, sides, and top half over the margarine, encasing it completely. Sprinkle the dough with flour, cover with plastic or place in a plastic bag, and refrigerate for 45 minutes.

First turn: place the dough on a liberally floured work surface and roll out with a floured rolling pin using firm, smooth strokes. Roll out to 9 x 14, then fold the bottom and top halves in towards the center (like folding up a letter). Sprinkle with flour, cover with plastic again, and refrigerate for 45 minutes.

Second turn:
repeat as above, refrigerating for 45 minutes.

Third turn:
repeat as above, refrigerating for 45 minutes.

Shape the croissants:
Line a baking sheet with parchment and spray with nonstick spray and set aside. Roll the dough out on a well-floured surface to about 10 x 20. Cut the rectangle in half lengthwise, then cut into eight squares. Cut each square in half diagonally to form 16 triangles.

Pull the top triangle point out a little to lengthen, then start at the bottom of the triangle and roll it up tightly. Tuck the tip under and curve the edges in a bit to form a croissant shape (I give each one a little squish at the end to help hold the shape). Repeat with the remaining croissants, placing them on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Spray the croissants with nonstick spray, cover lightly with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for about 1 ½ hours, until light and puffy.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220º. (I think I ended up turning my oven down)

Bake the croissants for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 190º and bake for an additional 10 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Red wine lentils

I hardly ever eat lentils & think that they are something I should eat more of but I never know what to do with them. When I saw the recipe for Red Wine Lentils on Polenta on "Where's The Beef" I thought that it was definitely something I wanted to try.

This was so delicious!! I couldn't believe how much flavour was in it - this is a great recipe & made awesome leftovers.

This is the recipe:

Red wine lentils on polenta
(based on directions from Elizabeth Bennet)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
1 carrot
2-3 sticks of celery
1 zucchini (not in the original recipe)
2 x 400g cans lentils, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup red wine
1 sachet of tomato paste (not in the original recipe)
1 1/2 cups 'beef' stock (I only used maybe half a cup)
1 teaspoon dried sage leaves, crushed
1 sprig rosemary, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
2 large vege sausages
1L water
1 cup polenta

Bring the oil to medium heat in a frypan, then saute the onion and garlic in it for 2 minutes. Add the carrot, zucchini & celery and saute for a further 5 minutes. Stir through the tomato paste, lentils, wine, stock and herbs and simmer the lot until the lentils are tender and the sauce has reduced a little.

Pop the sausages under the grill, turning them once or twice, until they're crisp on the outside but still tender in the middle. (The original recipe calls for them to be cut into chunks & mixed into the lentils but I thought they would be nice separate & placed them on top of the cooked lentils.)

Bring the litre of water to the boil in a medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in the polenta, ensuring there are no lumps. Reduce the heat and continue whisking the polenta for 10 minutes. (I also added salt & pepper & nooch at this point) Remove the polenta from the heat and allow the polenta to stand for 5 minutes.

Season the lentils and polenta to taste. Scoop polenta mounds onto plates and top them with the red wine lentils, topped with sausages . I served mine with garlic broccoli & garlic bread on the side - mmmmm

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Food Inc.

I saw Film Inc. at the Melbourne International Film Festival yesterday. I am not sure what I was expecting but I was really, really looking forward to seeing it. I probably should have known that I would be crying through most of it & unable to watch the hideous ways that animals are treated on factory farms.

I think this is a really brave documentary, they talk about the many laws that have been introduced to stop people criticising the enormous food corporations and there is plenty of criticism of them. When I first went vegan I educated myself on the impact that my food choices had. It wasn't easy to learn about what happens to your food before it gets to you but I thought it was important to know the facts. Food Inc. showed these facts quite graphically and also told me things I don't know. It never suggests that the answer is a vegan diet - in fact the word vegan is never even used or even a vegetarian diet, but it does ask that you have an awareness of where your food comes from and that you read labels and that you eat organically - all of which are really positive moves for the average consumer.

Food Inc. is well worth seeing, for how hard it was to watch it was a well made and informative doco. The only shame is the people that should watch it and have an awareness of what buying the cheapest food possible means, probably won't.