Saturday, May 31, 2014

Vegan caramel-pear slice

I have tried a few vegan caramel slices, and most of them have done their best to replicate the traditional (non-vegan) equivalent. Whilst I enjoyed them all, I can't say they managed to produce what condensed milk, butter and sugar usually bring about.

This vegan caramel-pear slice doesn't even try to replicate the conventional version. This treat is messier, the topping is less firm, and the base is less cake-y. As the name suggests, it also features pear. In its own way, however, it is just as delicious as a traditional caramel slice and will rival anything you can buy in a cafe. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Quintuple spiced lentil eggplant curry

I had a bit of trouble naming this dish. I didn't think of it as a curry, but couldn't come up with a better descriptor - and technically, curry is probably right. I then dithered between five spiced and quintuple spiced. I am not thrilled with either, but quintuple won out to avoid Chinese five spice confusion (my five spices are not those five spices!). In all, it is probably easier to eat this meal than to label it. Fortunately, it tastes so good that I don't think it matters too much what it's called.

The five spices featured are turmeric, cumin, ginger, tarragon and cardamom. It was an impromptu mix, but one I can now recommend. The flavours were warm and varied and slightly sweet, and a perfect match for the vegetables. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Genesis in the Hills - delightful vegetarian food

Last Sunday, my sister and I took our mother to lunch at Genesis in the Hills, a vegetarian restaurant located 50 minutes east of Perth. It is just down the road from the botanical gardens where Mr Bite and I were married, and I actually looked into the restaurant as a possible wedding food venue. As we decided to have catering within the gardens instead, Sunday was the first time I ate at the restaurant. I wish I hadn't waited so long!

Genesis in the Hills - tucked into trees with indoor and outdoor seating

The menu is fully vegetarian and most of the dishes are vegan or can be made vegan. It is the sort of restaurant that would appeal to non-vegetarian eaters too, as the dishes are varied and the ingredients 'normal'. The focus is on fresh, real food, prepared well. They have quinoa and kale, but they also have eggs and cheese.

Quinoa open burger

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Carrot cake porridge, for autumn

Autumn (fall) has always been my favourite season. It isn't as dramatic in Western Australia as it can be elsewhere, because our native trees aren't deciduous and the weather isn't cold enough to give really bright foliage colour. However, I still find it beautiful. I also love the shift from long hot summer days to cool crisp nights that are set against a generous scattering of mild sunny days. When it isn't sunny, grey drizzle provides an excuse for cozy hours indoors with tea and books. 

Autumn leaves

With the cooler weather, I also renew my love affair with warming foods. I find it is too hot for porridge in Australian summer, but at this time of year, I welcome its ability to warm you from the inside out.

Carrot cake porridge

Friday, May 23, 2014

Apple-orange-ginger cider cake

I am really stringing out our Mother's Day picnic! This cake is the last creation I'm sharing from the day, and I have been postponing it for a few reasons. The first is that it involves cider, thanks to the generosity of Rekorderlig cider. I mentioned Rekorderlig in my Taste of Perth posts, and I thought you might like a little cider break before I returned to it with this cake. The second reason is that I posted an apple gingerbread cake not too long ago. This cake is different, but one apple cake a month seemed like an appropriate limit!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Vegan mocha almond fudge soft serve

Have you tried the mocha almond fudge coconut ice cream made by So Delicious? It is rather expensive in Australia so I've only had it a few times, but it is one of my favourite So Delicious flavours. Today's post is all about making a quick and easy spin off at home.

Homemade mocha almond fudge softserve

My version of this uses banana soft serve as the 'ice cream' base, which is obviously not the same as coconut ice cream. However, I really like banana soft serve, not just for its taste and texture, but for its convenience and straightforward ingredient list (banana!). Even if you don't love banana soft serve in its own right, I think you'll find it is a worthy carrier for the mocha almond flavours of this dessert.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Immunity smoothie (with science!)

I am usually a bit skeptical of foods and drinks that claim medicinal powers. In large part, this is because most claims don't come with supporting scientific data. I'm also aware that there are many myths about what does or doesn't help with various illnesses and ailments. I think we all have our personal "I think this works" approach! I'm not denying that there will be beneficial products or foods that aren't yet well studied - I am sure there are. However, I don't think firm claims should be made unless the data are already in.

Immunity smoothie - murky, but tasty

To give you an example, Vitamin C was lauded as a cure for the common cold for years. Many of us still think it helps to prevent illness, and vitamin companies trade off that belief to promote their products. However, there is no evidence to suggest that Vitamin C can prevent colds in the general population, and plenty to suggest that it only slightly reduces illness severity. Last year, a large Cochrane review (you can read it in full here) concluded that supplementation of Vitamin C (i.e., taking more than a regular dietary amount) may reduce the duration of a cold by 8% in adults or 14% in children. If you have a standard 5 day cold, this means that an adult taking extra Vitamin C from day 1 could feel better after 4.6 days instead of 5. I'd be happy with that, but it's not exactly a magic fix!

In contrast, zinc supplementation is associated with up to a 50% reduction in the likelihood of developing a cold, and the duration of a cold once developed (the Cochrane review on zinc is available here).

Zinc and Vitamin C

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Moroccan quinoa soup and savoury carrot hotcakes

One of the first dishes I made from my recent cookbook win, The Vegan Cookbook, was this Moroccan quinoa soup. Combining northern African spices with tomatoes, quinoa and kale, the soup is a deliciously hearty meal that is jam-packed full of nutrition and flavour.

I adapted the dish to suit what I had on hand, and to try and cater to Mr Bite's tastes as well as my own. To that end, I omitted harissa, which would otherwise have added a spicy kick; used slightly less quinoa than called for; didn't bother with mint (as I didn't have it); and added parsnip and carrot as well as zucchini (courgette). I also added a dash of lemon juice, which I have found brings out the flavours of tomato-based stews and soups.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Apricot and walnut quinoa salad with edamame beans

Our Mother's Day picnic wasn't, of course, limited to cherry ripe balls. The savoury fare included a jumbo green salad, bread rolls, crackers, a selection of cheeses and some herbed chicken. And, this apricot and walnut salad with associated edamame beans.

Apricot and walnut quinoa salad

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Revisiting Fremantle and exploring the new Raw Kitchen

Ah, Fremantle. It has been featured quite a few times before on Bite-Sized Thoughts. As Perth's bohemian cousin, it sits at the ocean entrance of the Swan river and houses artistic types and those who like a laid back atmosphere with plenty of good food and drink. It is also very friendly to vegetarians.

Clockwise from top left: Fremantle markets;
casual seating outside the markets; street chess; 
 street art.

Some of you may remember my previous reviews of The Raw Kitchen, with its array of raw vegan meals and snacks. It is one of Fremantle's highlights and the original cafe overflowed with long queues at lunchtime.

This year, The Raw Kitchen moved to new premises, around the corner from the old shop but still in Fremantle. The new venue is a renovated 1920s warehouse building and must be at least 10 times bigger than the old location. Despite the increased size, it is still busy! When I showed Mr Bite the picture below, he expressed amazement that there were "so many people like you". It seems that raw food has well and truly taken off in Australia.

The new Raw Kitchen - still busy!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Vegan cherry ripe balls, for Mother's Day

It's Mother's Day in Australia today, and I believe in the US and Canada too. After a week of intense rain (when Perth rains, which granted is not all that often, it really rains!), we had a gorgeous autumn day with blue skies and sunshine.

Mundaring Weir, Perth hills

We celebrated the day with a picnic at Mundaring Weir, about an hour east of Perth. It was a lovely outing and we were even graced by kangaroos at our picnic spot.

Spot the kangaroos...

There are a number of dishes I'd like to share from the picnic, but for today, I am highlighting these cherry ripe balls. They are surprisingly reminiscent of commercial Cherry Ripe chocolate bars, but with far fewer ingredients.


Friday, May 9, 2014

High protein banana cinnamon pudding

As some of you gathered from my Facebook page, I was waylaid by illness this week. It has been a while since I've been really sick, and whilst this was short lived, it was sufficient to wipe me out for a while.

Fortunately I am feeling much better now, and am pleased to share this easy recipe I made a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

In my kitchen - May 2014

I am linking this post in to Celia's monthly In My Kitchen event at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.

In my kitchen, there is a new cookbook! I won it via a giveaway hosted by Janet of The Taste Space. The win was a delightful surprise, because I had completely forgotten about entering the giveaway.

I am delighted with the book, because I want to make just about every recipe it contains. Some particular highlights include kale and soba noodles with a ginger chilli sauce; chilli, peanut and coconut soup; and homemade vegan ice cream including a raw maple pecan variety.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Taste of Perth thanks to Rekorderlig Cider

In addition to being kind enough to host a double pass give away to the Taste of Perth, Rekorderlig Cider provided me with another double pass for my own use, along with complimentary vouchers for their drinks.

I went to the Taste event on Friday evening with my sister. We had a great time, and likened it to a grown up, food-focused Royal Show. There were free samples of various products, cooking displays, live music, and sample sized dishes available for purchase from 10 of Perth's most acclaimed restaurants. If you are into alcohol, there was also plenty of that!

The Rekorderlig Cider star bar

Friday, May 2, 2014

365 project: April photos

Another new month, and another photo recap. With a third of the year behind us (!), it seems possible now to imagine this project through to its end. As with March, April's photos were not all taken on the day allocated to them, which is really helping with the practicalities of the project.

One of my favourite images this month was #20, capturing a streak across the sky from a recent plane. I took the photo using the panoramic setting on my camera, and as a consequence, it doesn't really fit in the collage images below. To do it justice, I am posting it in its own right here too!