Vegan banana bread with chocolate chips

Banana bread with chocolate chipsSome things just not need to be talked up, they speak well enough for themselves. That’s how I feel about this simple snackadoo.

It’s quick and easy and freezes really well making it handy for when those unexpected guests drop by. And if you use mini loaf tins they’re cute, too.

Banana bread with chocolate chips

Vegan banana bread with chocolate chips
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: [url href=”” target=”_blank”]Tara Mathews[/url]
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
  • 100g dairy-free butter
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 2 egg substitutes
  • 50ml coconut milk
  • 220g self-raising flour
  • 2 ripe bananas, chopped
  • 150g dairy-free chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a bread tin or 4 mini loaf tins with baking paper or coat with non-stick spray.
  2. Put the kneading blade to the bowl and add the butter, sugar, egg substitute, coconut milk and flour. Launch the P3 pastry program.
  3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the bananas and chocolate chips and mix at speed 6 for 40 seconds.
  4. Pour the mixture into the tin/s and bake for 45 minutes.
  5. When cool, dust with icing sugar to serve.

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Eating highlights – Jun15

Mexica soft tacos
Vegetarian soft tacos at Mexica, Sydney Olympic Park

The year is half gone and I have no idea how the time is slipping by so fast. There’s only one thing for it – eat your way through it. Here are some of the memorable eats I had in June.

I checked out a new Mexican cafe near work called Mexica and while I was gobsmacked at being charged $13 for a bland guacamole with chips, I didn’t mind the veg soft tacos – one with black beans, quinoa slaw, pico de gallo, fresh panela style cheese and a grilled haloumi, spiced pumpkin, lemon dressed leaves and walnut crumble. Certainly not your traditional Mexican taco but interesting nonetheless.

Click to add a blog post for Mexica on Zomato

Phoenix Castle Hill
Salt and pepper tofu at Hilltop Phoenix, Castle Hill

Most people have a go-to dish when they order Chinese – mine is salt and pepper tofu. On a movie night with Ma we had dinner at Hilltop Phoenix and their S&P tofu was light, it had a very thin and crispy crust and was very soft inside. I really need to give this a try at home.

Click to add a blog post for Hilltop Phoenix Chinese Restaurant on Zomato

Bodhi yum cha
Yum cha and cocktails at Bodhi in the Park

After a family visit to the Art Gallery, we took a short walk to vegetarian restaurant Bodhi in the Park for lunch. I’m a big fan of Bodhi and their a la carte dinner is fab. During the day they do yum cha with veg goodies like dumplings, steamed buns and wontons. It was so lovely sitting in the winter sunshine while snacking and sipping on cocktails.

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Kitchen by Mike baked beans avo mushroom
Baked beans, mushroom, avocado and sourdough at Kitchen by Mike, Rosebery

Kitchen by Mike had been on my wish list for the longest time. On their large industrial-style premises they have a garden with plants, fruits and vegetables that are used in the dishes.

The menu states no variations to the menu so for my breakfast I was set to pick out ingredients and build my own dish however the server was very kind in adapting the baked bean dish for me, allowing me to have mushrooms and avocado instead of eggs and bacon. I loved the hit of chilli in the beans, it made for a great way to start a Sunday!

Click to add a blog post for Kitchen By Mike on Zomato

Black Star Pastry fudge party
Black Star Pastry’s vegan fudge party

Most of the Black Star Pastry hype is about their famous strawberry and watermelon cake. Sure, it’s good but my money is some of the other treats. I visited their Rosebery store and unlike Newtown it has loads of space to sit and eat in. The vegan chocolate popcorn cake, a dense brownie base topped with caramel popcorn and freeze-dried raspberries was insanely good. For a savoury snack I was leaning towards a mushroom, pesto and ricotta toastie or a tomato, basil, ricotta and garlic toastie. Instead I went for the eggplant katsu burger – a thick slice of crumbed eggplant and a crunchy cabbage slaw. Absolutely going back to have those again.

Click to add a blog post for Black Star Pastry on Zomato
Friends! What awesome eats did you have in June?

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Inspirational Interview – Fab 5 with I Spy Plum Pie

Welcome to Inspirational Interview – Fab 5. A regular feature where I share the story of a clever creative who inspires me, and I hope they’ll do the same for you.

I’m so pleased to share this clever blogger with you – say hello to the lovely Liz from Melbourne-based blog I Spy Plum Pie, a fabulous site that shares all the things I love.

I Spy Plum Pie is an eco-friendly blog with a focus on being kind to the environment, sustainable living, organic products and vegetarian eats. I have a sneaking suspicion that if Liz and I were in the same state, we’d hang out on the regular.

Liz - I Spy Plum Pie

Your blog is fab! Who or what inspired you to create I Spy Plum Pie?

You’re too kind! I originally started I Spy Plum Pie to share recipes with friends and family, but over time it has morphed into a place to share both my food and my eco-living journey with people. I have often found that people feel confused or overwhelmed by the idea of living more sustainably, so I wanted to help take some of that fear away and show just how easy it can be. Things have just grown from there!

What blogging milestone are you most proud of and why?

I just recently got announced in the Top 100 for the Kidspot Voices of 2015 Blogging Competition in the Home & Wellbeing Category, so that was pretty exciting! There are some incredibly amazing bloggers in my category so it’s a huge honour to be included amongst them, that’s for sure.

What really makes me happy though is hearing from readers when they tell me that they have tried something new, changed their behaviour or learnt something they’d never even considered before. I truly believe that small changes from everyone will make a huge difference to the sustainability of our planet, so hearing that things I have shared have helped people take steps along that journey makes me feel all warm & fuzzy inside – that’s all the recognition I need!

What is your favourite food memory?

Oh there are plenty! The first that springs to mind is from when my sister and I travelled in Japan a few years back. We wanted to have one slightly fancy meal while we were in Kyoto and luckily someone at our ryokan knew a chef and put in a call for us, so without really knowing what had been arranged we headed off to a gorgeous little restaurant. We were seated at the bar overlooking the chefs and were then served about 7 or 8 courses over the next few hours of some of the most amazing food I’ve ever eaten. We conversed with the chefs as best we could with our limited Japanese and people-watched the Japanese businessmen having meals with geishas – it really was just magical. The amazing part was when the bill finally came it was only $50 each which was a bargain given what we had eaten. I have no idea how we managed to swindle that deal, but I’ll never forget it!

Who are the creative souls that inspire you?

SO many people! Including you Tara! I just love seeing people follow their passion no matter what field they are in. People that work hard and aim to make a positive influence on those around them whilst still supporting others really inspire me and make me want to work harder myself. I’ve been hearing the quote “a rising tide lifts all boats” a lot lately, and it’s definitely ringing true, so anyone that is embodying that ideal I find super inspiring.

Toot your horn! What’s coming up next for I Spy Plum Pie?

There’s nothing huge on the horizon, I just want to keep sharing info that hopefully people will find helpful and interesting, as well as tasty, meat-free recipes. I have a few e-books brewing in the back of my mind that I will hopefully find the time to write in the coming months. Hopping on my mailing list is probably the best way to find out about all the new adventures of I Spy Plum Pie!

Connect with Liz: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest

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My Monthly Loves – Jun15

My Monthly Loves

My Monthly Loves is a regular feature where I share some things I’m digging on, and I invite y’all to do the same by joining in the link up.

Let’s go, June!

Gordon Ramsay baking dishes1. Baking dishes

I’m a sucker for a sale. During a lunch time shopping spree I bought these lovely Gordon Ramsay ramekins and roaster dishes from the Royal Doulton outlet shop. I’m diggin’ the simple design and think they’ll be great for the oven and for serving.

Fitzroy Falls2. Switching off

Earlier this week I went on a winter getaway, a couple of hours south of Sydney. An unexpected case of no phone or internet service gave me a much-needed break from social media. I didn’t realise how much I depend on being connected so it was good to take some time out from the screen and focus on relaxing.

Second hand buys3. Second-hand shopping

Take me to a good second-hand store and I could spend HOURS inside rummaging around for beautiful old things to take home. My latest haul consists of a stunning set of red canisters, lots of shiny silverware and two crocheted doilies. I’m tipping that these beauties will appear in future food pics.

And now friends, it’s over to you – what goodies are you loving this month? Share the love by adding your blog or Instagram link or leave a comment below.

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15 ways with brussels sprouts

Brussels sproutsI’ve made it my mission to become friends with brussels sprouts. Until recently, I had no experience with them in my adulthood. It may have been the memories of not enjoying them as a kid. Maybe it’s because they’re not cool enough – surely a funky name change to bsprouts would do the trick.

All I really knew was roast them with a bunch other vegetables. Good? Oh heck yes.

I wanted to add something with a bit more pizzaz to my repertoire so I took to the interwebs and asked my pals on Facebook and Instagram. The result? SO MANY BRILLIANT IDEAS!!

I’ve handpicked some of my favourites to share with you. I want to try them all!

  1. Halved and added to a soups, casseroles or curries.
  2. Roasted with olive oil, salt and brown sugar.
  3. Roasted with olive oil, paprika, cumin and pepper.
  4. Toasted with macadamias, olive oil and salt.
  5. Steamed and mashed with black pepper.
  6. Pan fried with butter until they are crisp on the bottom.
  7. Roasted with balsamic and toss in flaked almonds.
  8. Cooked in orange juice by microwave or stove.
  9. Cooked in a wok on high heat with soy sauce, mirin and sesame oil.
  10. Steamed with butter and lemon then toss in chilli flakes.
  11. Blackened on the grill with lemon squeezed on top.
  12. Shaved thinly in a salad with olive oil, lemon, miso paste and white pepper.
  13. Shaved thinly and tossed with smoky paprika then roasted until they are charred.
  14. Shredded in a salad with a lemon mustard vinaigrette or tahini and apple cider vinegar.
  15. Lightly boiled and smothered in gravy.

Roasted vegHit me up with your ideas – what’s your favourite way to enjoy brussels sprouts?

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Video: Homemade pizza bases

Homemade pizzasForget ordering greasy pizzas and getting stuck picking of the chunks of capsicum you didn’t want. So throw out those take away menus because once you’ve made your own, you won’t want an oily crusty pizza again.

Pizza is simple and quick to cook, you can top it with whatever you like and you can eat it with one hand. I love having a fresh pesto base then adding sliced mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, chilli and grated cheese. Simples.

On my round pizza tray this recipe makes three thin pizzas, two if you prefer the base a bit thicker.

Homemade pizza bases
Recipe Type: Savoury
Author: Cuisine Companion
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
No kneading required in these Cuisine Companion pizza bases.
  • 250ml warm water
  • 10g dry yeast
  • 400g plain flour
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 240°C and insert the kneading blade to the bowl.
  2. Add the water and yeast to the bowl. Launch the P1 pastry program. After seconds, add the flour, salt and olive oil.
  3. When the program finishes remove the dough, divide into two or three portions and roll it out to fit onto your baking trays.
  4. Add your favourite toppings and bake for 10-15 minutes until cheese has melted. Slice and enjoy.
Recipe from the Cuisine Companion cookbook

Friends, what’s your favourite pizza topping?

Homemade pizzasDisclaimer: vegeTARAian received a Cuisine Companion courtesy of Tefal.

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Animal encounters in Bali

I was recently asked for Bali suggestions and as this was a place I visited a couple of years before vegeTARAian came about, I hadn’t thought to write about it. So I’ve had a dig through my old photos to share with you the up close and personal animal encounters I had in Bali.

This post is a little treat for you as I’m usually the hiding one behind the camera!

Breezes Resort, Seminyak
An elephant greeting in my room at Breezes Resort, Seminyak

When I booked a seven night stay in Bali, I had never taken a trip on my own before. Other than flights and accommodation, I had no plans and no one to meet up with.

My mind was spinning: How would I fill the time? Would it be boring? Would I get lonely?

The travel agent was great and as she had spent a lot of time in Indonesia, she assured me I’d have no problem exploring by myself. She kindly gave me a copy of her travel notes with locations for massage and spa treatments, supermarkets, restaurants, shopping, tailors and fabric stores. I was all set for my first solo trip.

Nusa Dua snorkelling
Snorkelling with tropical fish in Nusa Dua

With my only criteria for accommodation being a bar in the pool (I had always wanted to swim up to a bar!), I was booked into The Breezes Resort and Spa in Seminyak. The location suited me perfectly as I wanted to be away from the busy touristy areas while still being central enough to easily get around on foot or by taxi.

After reading brochures in the hotel lobby and chatting with the staff at reception, I booked a few day trips to hang out with animals, one of my favourite things to do.

My first trip was to head south and go snorkelling at Nusa Dua Beach. The staff at Benoa Tirta Harum were incredibly friendly and as I’d booked a boat to myself, my guide spent the day taking photos so I’d have lots of memories to take home.

We hopped into a glass-bottomed boat and drove out past the break. The water was warm and clear and it was wonderful to see so many bright and beautiful fish up close. The guide gave me a small bag with fish food and once I was in the water, loads of tropical fish swam up for a nibble on the food floating out from my hand.

Turtle Island
Feeding seaweed to giant turtles at Turtle Island

After a glorious hour in the water, we got back on the boat and headed to Turtle Island in Tanjung Benoa. This is a small interactive island zoo with eagles, bats, toucans, snakes and of course, giant turtles.

My guide handed me a big bunch of seaweed and ushered me into the water to feed the turtles.  They were so big! There were quite a few in the pool and they seemed to enjoy feeding time…I’m just glad they didn’t go for my toes.

Turtle Island
Hanging with some of the beautiful birds at Turtle Island

On another day trip I went to Bali Safari in Gianyar. It’s about an hour drive from where I was staying so I found a taxi driver I was comfortable with, haggled and agreed on a return price and he drove me there and waited until I was ready to leave. How’s that for service!

Bali Safari elephant feeding
A close encounter with an elephant mama and bub at Bali Safari

Before I went to the park I figured I was just going to see local animals in big enclosures, wander around for a while and that would be it. What I didn’t realise was that for additional fees, you can have up close encounters with some of the animals. Feed a mama elephant and her bubba? Where do I sign?!

As I had arrived shortly after the park opened, I was scheduled as the first feeding of the day. A park attendant led me into a large fenced area where the elephants were waiting. He then asked for my camera and gave me a big bunch of carrots.

The hungry pair sniffed and snuffed their way to the carrots, letting me pat their long, spiky trunks while I chatted to them. It felt very special being so close as I’ve always loved elephants. It’s my dream to spend some time volunteering in an elephant rehabilitation sanctuary, perhaps in the north of Thailand. One day.

Bali Safari baby orangutan
A cuddle with a cheeky orangutan at Bali Safari

Another encounter I opted for was to meet a baby orangutan. The cheeky little guy sat on my lap, pulled my hat off and munched on pieces of fruit. I was fascinated by his hands and the way he used his foot to grip my leg and stay upright. Such a beautiful creature.

Monkey Forest, Bali
A mama and bub macaques at the Sacred Monkey Forest

My third day trip was to visit huge troops of macaques at the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud. When you enter the forest you can buy a bunch of small bananas but you have to hold on tight – as soon as one of the macaques saw that I had some, he ran straight up my leg and grabbed one right out of my hand!

Monkey Forest, Bali
Watching macaques open bananas at the Sacred Monkey Forest

This journey taught me an important lesson – that I CAN travel alone, enjoy my own company AND get a big kick out of it. It also opened my eyes to how much I enjoy travelling solo – you can do whatever you want, whenever you want!

Have you ever travelled alone? Do you enjoy it or prefer to travel with company?

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Inspirational Interview – Fab 5 with Food in Literature

Welcome to Inspirational Interview – Fab 5. A regular feature where I share the story of a clever creative who inspires me, and I hope they’ll do the same for you.

With lovingly recreated dishes from stories like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Wind in the Willows and Peter Rabbit, you’ll find Bryton Taylor’s unique blog Food in Literature, a wonderful trip down memory lane.

As well as a love of books, Bryton shares recipes and literature themed parties which take me back to the days of childhood reading, where my imagination ran wild and I got swept away in fantastic stories.

Bryton Taylor - Food in LiteratureYour blog is fab! Who or what inspired you to create Food in Literature?

It actually started with a complete cake fail! I had made the Unbirthday cake from Alice in Wonderland for a family party and it turned out terribly. A few months later I made the cake again. I posted it and found people were stumbling across my blog through Google searches. I continued playing around with food from books, specifically Snow White, and I just kept going from there.

What blogging milestone are you most proud of and why?

I remember a day near the beginning, when my blog spiked and reached 1,000 page views, from an image being accepted on Tastespotting. I’m sure there are many other milestones, but that one I remember the excitement I felt. I think it gave me the confidence to keep going. Much of what I make is about sharing and inspiring someone else to read and be creative. So to know it’s reaching other people is what makes me happy. I have a screenshot of the spike on my computer somewhere, as a reminder of how far I’ve come.

What is your favourite food memory?

As I was thinking about this, I realised everything is linked with family. Roasting marshmallows in summertime around a bonfire, and popcorn at the drive in. There’s no elaborate dish, it’s simplicity, home cooked food, and the people around you. So it’s not really ‘food memories’, it’s food that serves as a reminder of a happy nostalgic memory.

Who are the creative souls that inspire you?

Authors like Roald Dahl and JK Rowling. I couldn’t create what I do without their visions. Could you imagine a world without Hogwarts?

Toot your horn! What’s coming up next for Food in Literature?

I’m focusing a lot on Harry Potter and Wonka for the next year. Maybe longer! There’s so many magical and creative foods mentioned that I feel the list is never ending. You’ll see Exploding Bon-Bons and Fudge Flies through to a Rock-Candy Mine and Lickable Wallpaper.

Connect with Bryt: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest

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A weekend in the Hunter Valley

Chateau Elan viewOn the long weekend in June – which is officially in winter and can be quite cold in Sydney – I headed north with some girlfriends to wine country, the Hunter Valley.

It’s not often that you get away with the gals so for a bit of luxury, we booked a fancy villa at the beautiful Château Élan. The resort is set on an enormous green golf course (complete with helipad) and if you’re around at sunrise or sunset, you may just see some of the local wildlife.

We took our time driving up on the Saturday and enjoyed a fabulous dinner at Margan that night (more on that to come).

The next day we went on an all day wine tasting tour to sample some of the wines in the area. While semillon is the most popular wine produced in the Hunter, there are many wineries also producing ranges like verdelho, shiraz and chardonnay.

Macquariedale chardonnayOur first stop was Macquariedale Organic Winery were owner Ross McDonald guided us through a tasting. Macquariedale is a certified organic and biodynamic winery that doesn’t use herbicides, pesticides or synthetic fertilizers and adds natural enhancers to the soil like seaweed.

The family-run boutique winery also manages the preservative (sulphur) levels in their wines. The Australian Standard for organic wine is half that of normal wines and as high sulphur content can give you a headache, this makes organic wine a much more appealing option.

As well as producing wine, they also grow organic garlic, fruit and vegetables and olives which are used to make their biodynamic olive oil. I enjoyed the wines (particularly the whites) and really connected with the ethos at Macquariedale, it’s certainly a winery I’d be happy to support and buy from.

Ridgeview vinesOur next winery was scenic RidgeView and it was here that I learnt a few interesting things about my favourite variety of wine – pinot grigio, a type of wine I came to love on my visits to England and Italy.

Our guide explained that pinot grigio is the wine made by Italians, pinot gris is the result of the French method. The pinot gris produced at RidgeView is similar to pinot grigio because of the temperature of the area.

In French ‘pinot’ means pine cone and ‘gris’ means grey. The variety of grapes used to make pinot gris / grigo are small and bundled tightly together, so a bunch of grapes looks like a pine cone. So clever!

Hunter Valley winesThe last cellar door we stopped at was Travertine, a boutique winery that my friends and I enjoyed on our last trip to the Hunter, two years ago.

Our guide explained that the Hunter Valley produces 60% white grapes and 40% red grapes. He also said 2014 was the best year for shiraz in the last 20 years. If only I hadn’t gone off red wine!

In February when the grapes are ready to pick, Travertine uses mechanical harvesters and three people to collect all the grapes (this is done at night due to the high summer temperatures during the day). The bare vines will now remain dormant until October.

Hunter Valley kangaroosOn our return to our villa late in the afternoon, we walked up a small embankment to see huge amounts of kangaroos grazing, with the backdrop of a blue, purple and pink sky as the sun went down. We quietly stood for what seemed like ages watching these amazing and beautiful animals eat, scratch and play. It was the perfect ending to a great day.

Have you been on a wine tour? What are your favourite varieties of wine?

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Vodka high tea at Food Society, Darlinghurst

Food Society vodka high teaSometimes, you step inside a place that is so enchanting, you can’t help but feel relaxed and at home. This is exactly how I felt when I visited Food Society.

Food Society vodka high teaYou enter at ground level and take a few steps down into a cosy den filled with vintage mismatched crockery and furniture, colourful crochet covered teapots, old tunes playing overhead and bar shelves filled of homemade and international vodkas.

It’s like stepping into grandma’s house…the perfect setting for a vodka high tea.

Food Society vodka high teaWe start with a pot of green and rose tea and shortly afterwards, two sippers of Croatian vodka arrive, flavoured with vanilla and spices – this one turns out to be my favourite of all the vodkas we taste. Depending on what they’ve sourced and what’s popular with the staff, different vodkas can be sampled during a high tea sitting.

Food Society vodka high teaThe pretty dishes are served in three courses – canapés, main and desserts. The lovely veg bites included a goats cheese, pine nut and caramelised fennel tart, a chanterelle mushroom vol au vent and labne with pickled carrot on crostini.

Next we sip on an American vodka that tastes of cucumber which worked well with the sandwich platter of cucumber and cream cheese on white bread and the brioche with eggplant, radicchio and semi dried tomato.

Food Society vodka high teaBefore dessert we start on a new pot of tea, this time it’s a rich strawberry and cream tea (this one was a bit too strong for me). To sweeten our palates we sip on a rich Polish vodka infused with cherries.

The generous dessert plate included pots of rhubarb, custard, pomegranate and jelly, honey and walnut cake with honeycomb and dried plum, blackberry macaron and white chocolate with strawberry.

Food Society vodka high teaWe finish off with a South African caramel vodka and a sample of one of the warming housemade vodkas infused with orange, juniper, clove, fennel, black pepper, cardamom, star anise. A lovely, warming way to finish off the afternoon.

Food Society is a kitsch and cosy joint with great service, impressive food and lots of interesting flavoured vodka, both overseas and homemade. They happily accommodated to my veg needs, and my friend who can’t have gluten. Our server also said the creative chefs could cater for vegans if required. I really enjoyed high tea and I’m certainly keen to head back for dinner and drinks.

Friends, have you tried infused vodka? What’s your favourite flavour?

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Beetroot risotto with basil and feta

Beetroot risotto with fetaWith winter upon us the cold is really starting to settle in and that makes it perfect weather for a hearty, warm dish.

When eating out I’m always impressed by a beautiful beetroot risotto – the blushing colour is amazing and it’s a great option for something a little different. Having never made one before I thought I’d give it a shot using a pre-cooked baby beets (these are also great in cupcakes with chocolate).

I really made this up as I went. I had some fresh basil which added a good punch of flavour and stirring through the feta made the risotto quite creamy. Success! Don’t you just love it when something just comes together?

I’d love to hear your stories – what’s been your unexpected win in the kitchen?

Beetroot risotto with feta

Beetroot risotto with basil and feta
Recipe Type: Savoury
Author: [url href=”” target=”_blank”]Tara Mathews[/url]
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
A colourful twist on a basic risotto in the Cuisine Companion.
  • 300g arborio rice
  • 1 onion
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 80ml white wine
  • 900ml vegetable stock
  • 250g cooked baby beetroot
  • Handful fresh basil leaves, torn
  • Feta, crumbled
  1. Add the ultrablade knife to the bowl. Peel the onion and cut into quarters. Place the onion and beetroot to the bowl and mix at speed 11 for 20 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  2. Replace the ultrablade knife with the mixer. Add the olive oil and launch the P1 slow cook program for 7 minutes, without the stopper. When there is 4 minutes remaining, pour the rice through the lid with a funnel. When there is 1 minute remaining, pour the white wine through the lid with a funnel.
  3. When the program finishes, add the stock and launch the slow cook program at 95°C for 20 minutes, without the stopper.
  4. When complete, stir through basil. Serve with crumbled feta on top.
Adapted from the Cuisine Companion cookbook

vegeTARAian received a Cuisine Companion courtesy of Tefal.

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Pine mushroom wellington

Pine mushroom wellingtonI recently spent an autumn Sunday in the deep, dark woods foraging for pine mushrooms. The forest wasn’t as spooky as I’d expected – it was quiet and calm, the cool, crisp air felt fresh in my lungs and I was glowingly proud of the beautiful mushrooms I had found.

Pine mushroom wellingtonBut what to do with such a huge bag of ‘shrooms?

Pine mushroom wellingtonI took the advice of the mushroom gals FinSki’s and cooked them simply in oil and butter. As Saffron Milk Caps freeze well I added some onion, white beans and fresh parsley and wrapped up the mushroom mix into big puff pastry logs.

Stick these in the freezer et voilà – you’ve got a fabulous mushroom dinner to pop in the oven when you’re running low on time.

Pine mushroom wellington

Pine mushroom wellington
Author: [url href=”” target=”_blank”]Tara Mathews[/url]
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
  • 1kg pine mushrooms, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tin cannellini beans, drained
  • 2 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Dairy-free butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3-4 sheets frozen puff pastry
  1. Preheat oven to 160°C and line a tray with baking paper.
  2. To a heated pan add oil and fry the mushrooms and onion.
  3. Mix through a knob of butter and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the cannellini beans to the pan. Add the parsley and stir through.
  5. Lay the pastry sheet flat and place the mushroom mix into the centre. Use the pastry to wrap the filling – wet your fingers with water to seal the edges. Repeat, with the remainder of the mushroom mixture.
  6. Bake for approximately 45 minutes until the pastry is brown.
  7. Optional: Before baking, brush melted butter onto the pastry and sprinkle with poppy seeds or sesame seeds.

Do tell friends, what’s your favourite way to enjoy mushrooms?

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Eating highlights – May15

Milk Bar by Cafe Ish
Corny Hipster burger with Banh Mi topping – Milk Bar by Cafe Ish

So it appears that May was a slightly indulgent month which I didn’t realise until I was going through my recent eats to share the highlights with you. YOLO, right?

On a Saturday catch up with the gals we went to Redfern for a bite at Milk Bar by Cafe Ish. I’ve been before and had the tofu burger which is great so this time I was keen to try something different.

I went with the Corny Hipster burger, a chickpea, sweetcorn and lemon myrtle pattie with banana ketchup and coriander relish and I selected the Banh Mi topping, a Vietnamese style slaw. It’s not big but boy does it pack a flavour punch!

They also have a mouth-watering display of fresh doughnuts and if you’ve got the tummy space, do try one of the milkshakes. With flavours like Miso Caramel, P.B.J. and Chuck Norris, I will certainly be back.

Milk Bar by Cafe Ish on Urbanspoon

Glazed doughnuts
Banoffee and Chocolate Mess doughnuts – Glazed

While shopping with friends at the Finders Keepers Market we saw the stall for Glazed Doughnuts and made sure to meet there for a market treat.

We had a Banoffee with dolce de leche glaze, banana chips crust and banana creme and a Chocolate Mess with dark chocolate ganache topped with crushed Oreos, Kit-Kat, M&M’s, Mars, Boost, Crunchie.

They are huge, very decadent and a must for sharing. Our favourite was the Banoffee – it wasn’t too sweet and the different textures on top made it a great snack.

Click to add a blog post for Glazed Doughnuts on Zomato

El Burger sliders
El Fritter and El Veggie slider combo – El Burger

To say I’m pretty happy with a new burger joint opening up near home is an understatement. El Burger is a modern milk bar style cafe (side project of Cafe El’s) which opened last month in the food court of Winston Hills Mall. If the last few weeks are anything to go by, these guys are going to do a roaring trade.

There are not one but TWO veg burgers on the menu (hooray!) and the meal deals include a burger or brioche sliders with a shake and chips (crinkle cut or sweet potato). The best option for me is a combo with both veg sliders. Happy days.

The burgers have a really interesting Mediterranean feel. There’s the El Veggie – corn fritter, cos lettuce, tomato, cheese, Spanish onion and sweet chilli mayo and the El Fritter – a chickpea fritter, mixed pickles, tahini cabbage slaw and minted yoghurt. It’s a tough choice but if I had to choose, I’d pick the El Veggie as my favourite.
Click to add a blog post for El Burger on Zomato
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Inspirational Interview – Fab 5 with Girl Tweets World

Welcome to Inspirational Interview – Fab 5. A regular feature where I share the story of a clever creative who inspires me, and I hope they’ll do the same for you.

Jayne Gorman is the clever gal behind Girl Tweets World who I had the pleasure of meeting at a blogger event. Having built her online world into a successful travel and social media space, Jayne is a huge inspiration for me and I’m forever envious of her worldly adventures.

Fact: This English lass, who now resides in Sydney, has the most marvellous eyelashes! Oops, I digress…let’s find out about Jayne and her blog life.

Jayne Gorman - Girl Tweets WorldYour blog is fab! Who or what inspired you to create Girl Tweets World?

Thank you! I started travel blogging 5 years ago as a way to share my mostly ‘misadventures’ around the world with friends and family. I was working as an international events manager at the time and it was a colleague who encouraged and spurred me on to get started. The title and concept of that original site was about my quest to visit and blog 40 countries before turning 30. I completed that challenge last year (a few months before my 30th birthday!) and relaunched as Girl Tweets World in August 2014.

Girl Tweets World is a window into my life as a travel blogger and freelance social media manager. It brings together my travel tales with social media tips and expat experiences (I’m a Londoner living in Sydney).

What blogging milestone are you most proud of and why?

In 2011 I was fortunate enough to win a blogging award at The British Travel Press Awards. The awards were originally set up to honour the traditional travel press but in 2011 they introduced a category to recognise the work of bloggers and I was the very first recipient of the title Travel Blogger Of The Year. Not only did the recognition open many doors for me professionally but it was also the moment I began to take blogging more seriously.

What is your favourite food memory?

O gosh, I have so many. I remember my first taste of Goan prawn curry – a creamy, coconut dish we ate as the sun set in a spectacular fashion over Palolem Beach. I am also a HUGE fan of the café scene in Sydney – I dream about the avocado, feta and tomato tartine from Sonoma Artisan Bakery whenever I leave the city!

Who are the creative souls that inspire you?

I’ve discovered some amazing Australian travel blogs since moving over here – I love how they combine fashion, craft and photography with travel stories. Some of my obsessions include The Travelling Light, Mister Weekender and A Pair & A Spare.

Toot your horn! What’s coming up next for Girl Tweets World?

I’ve spent the last couple of months researching and taste testing a Girl Tweets World Guide To Sydney. Much like my blog and social media, it’s crammed full of brunch spots, sweet treats, street art and even the best places to take a Sydney selfie! Get your copy of the Girl Tweets World Guide To Sydney now at the GTW website.

Connect with Jayne: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest

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Zucchini fries with almond and soy dippy sauce

Zucchini friesConfession: I’ve had hot chip love for the longest time. Most of the fondest memories were back in the teen years with friends.

There were walks after school to the take away shop, to share a serve of oily, freshly cooked chips wrapped in newspaper. Styrofoam containers full of sweaty hand cut chips covered in gravy and soggy crinkle cut chips in paper buckets, drizzled with tomato sauce.

Love may never die but it does evolve and these healthy bites are proof.

Check it out friends – fat fingers of zucchini coated in smoked paprika and breadcrumbs with a soy and almond dippy sauce. Baked, not fried. Guilt free snackadoo.

Zucchini friesWhen it comes to coating the zucchini, soy milk works as a handy replacement for egg, making this a dairy-free and vegan treat. For a gluten-free option try coating the zucchini in rice breadcrumbs.

Zucchini fries with almond and soy dippy sauce
Recipe Type: Snack
Author: [url href=”” target=”_blank”]Tara Mathews[/url]
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Forget oily hot chips, make your own healthy veg fries.
  • Zucchini fries
  • 300g organic zucchini
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1½ tsp smoked paprika
  • Almond and soy dippy sauce
  • 1½ cup almonds
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • ½ cup soy milk
  • ½ tsp white vinegar
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C and line a tray with baking paper.
  2. Wash the zucchini and cut into thick sticks.
  3. Add soy milk to a bowl. To another bowl add the breadcrumbs and paprika and combine.
  4. Dip each stick into the soy milk then coat in the breadcrumb mix and place on the baking tray.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes and serve with dippy sauce.
  1. To a food processor add the almonds and whiz until coarsely ground. Grind more finely if you don’t want a chunky sauce.
  2. Add the garlic, soy milk, vinegar and lemon juice and process until smooth.
  3. With the processor running, slowly add the olive oil and mix until creamy. Add salt and pepper to season.
Sauce adapted from Suzy Spoon’s Vegetarian Kitchen

Zucchini friesFriends, do you have a guilt free version of snack you’ve always loved?

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My Monthly Loves – May15

My Monthly Loves

My Monthly Loves is a regular feature where I share some things I’m digging on, and I invite y’all to do the same by joining in the link up.

Let’s go, May!

Melissa shoes1. Cute flats

Back in the day I was nutty for a killer heel but now I’m all about comfort…and no blisters. I don’t like to buy leather so when I discovered Melissa plastic shoes I had to stock up – this is three of five pairs I own! Melissa make cutesy shoes that smell like lollies, are cruelty free and super comfortable. I’m loving these comfy kicks.

KeepCup2. Travel mug

I’m quite partial to the occasional hot chocolate and I’m loving this handy KeepCup. It does a great job of keeping my drink hot AND it means less waste. Imagine how much less landfill there would be if we all had reusable mugs?

Eubi charger3. Portable charger

As a technology fan and gadget collector I couldn’t go past this compact and colourful Eubi charger. I have a bigger portable charger that I use for travel but as this one is much more compact, it fits in your pocket and is perfect for everyday use.

And now friends, it’s over to you – what goodies are you loving this month? Share the love by adding your blog post, Instagram link or leave a comment below.

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Foraging for wild mushrooms

FinSki's wild mushroom forageAs a vegetarian, an important staple in my diet is mushrooms. With so many different varieties, each with their own characteristics and flavour, I could never tire of this essential ingredient.

To honour this fascinating fungus I was keen to get into the forest and learn how to pick fresh mushrooms out of the ground.

FinSki's wild mushroom forageI’ve been following mushroom enthusiasts Izabella and Katriina from FinSki’s for quite a while and was busting to join them on a forest forage. Thankfully timing worked out so my pal and I bought tickets to join a tour.

While visiting London last year I bought Antonio Carluccio’s Complete Mushroom Book and did a little research on varieties and recipes before the tour.

FinSki's wild mushroom forageWe met super early on a cold Sunday morning (think gloves, beanies and eerie fog) and headed to the Belanglo State Forest in the Southern Highlands – about a 90 minute drive from Sydney.

We were in a pine forest on the hunt for two types of mushrooms – Saffron Milk Cap and Slippery Jack. I’ll focus on the former as I was much more successful finding this variety.

FinSki's wild mushroom forageSaffron Milk Caps (Lactarius deliciosus), otherwise known as red pine mushrooms, are a soft pink on the top with peach coloured gills underneath and a thick, hollow stem. When freshly cut, this variety bleeds a bright orange sap and when handled the bruised mushroom stains a mouldy green colour.

FinSki's wild mushroom forageArmed with sharp pairing knives, latex gloves and empty hessian bags, we headed into the forest looking for wild mushrooms. In single rows we walked along rows of pine trees, searching for mounds of browned pine leaves in the hope of discovering fresh milky caps.

It was certainly the right time to go because I uncovered so many perfect saffrons. After brushing off the dirt and cutting them at the base, most turned over to reveal perfect, untouched gills.

FinSki's wild mushroom forageAfter visiting two different areas of the forest, the group headed to a picnic area where the FinSki’s team cooked up their fresh pickings for us to enjoy.

We enjoyed the fresh mushrooms cooked simply with oil, butter and salt served on sourdough bread with chives and crumbled feta. Perfecto.

FinSki's wild mushroom forageSaffron milk caps are nutty in flavour and quite ‘meaty’. They are also sturdy and firm in texture which makes them suitable for washing excess dirt off.

The beautiful sliced caps almost look like carrots on the hot pan.

FinSki's wild mushroom forageThe FinSki’s ladies suggested some easy ways to cook and enjoy Saffron Milk Caps:

  • Pan fry mushrooms with oil, butter and salt. Caramelise
  • Dice mushrooms into half cm pieces and pan fry with onion (1kg mushrooms to 1 onion), oil and butter. Good for freezing
  • Pickle mushrooms by chopping and add to a jar and the juice of dill pickles

FinSki's wild mushroom forageI cooked up some of the mushrooms served them with fresh fettuccine. The remainder was wrapped up into pine mushroom wellingtons.

I had such a great time picking my own mushrooms that I’m very keen to do it again, it’s a great day out and so rewarding to get cooking with fresh produce you’ve handpicked out of the ground.

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Coconut pikelets with banana and Nutella

Vegan pikelets with banana and NutellaBack in the days of family life, in a house full of school blazers, netball skirts and Top 40 mixed tapes, one of the treats Ma would make for my sister and I is pancakes.

On the back of a recent puff pastry experiment and these super easy banana and Nutella puffs, I visited Ma to pay it forward and make her a chocolatety pikelet stack topped with sliced banana.

Vegan pikelets with banana and NutellaMost pikelet recipes call for eggs and milk so I’ve given these a vegan spin by using dairy-free butter, egg replacer (I use a powder that’s available in most supermarkets) and coconut milk. I also used coconut oil on the pan for extra flavour.

Note: Nutella isn’t vegan however there are alternatives available such as Loving Earth’s coconut chocolate butter and Mayver’s Dark Chocolate Super Spread.

You could go nuts with toppings too – I like the idea of a fresh raspberry and chocolate combo with some crushed pistachios.

Do tell friends, what toppings would you go for on a pikelet stack?

Coconut pikelets with banana and Nutella
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: [url href=”” target=”_blank”]Tara Mathews[/url]
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Quick and easy dairy-free pikelets with chocolate and banana.
  • 30g dairy-free butter, melted
  • 1 egg substitute
  • 55g caster sugar
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp bi-carb soda
  • 160ml coconut milk
  • Coconut oil for cooking
  • Banana, sliced
  • Nutella
  1. Add the kneading / crushing blade to the Cuisine Companion bowl.
  2. Place all ingredients in the bowl and mix on speed 7 for one minute.
  3. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula and mix again on speed 7 for 30 seconds.
  4. To a hot pan add a little coconut oil and add spoonfuls of the mixture. Cook for around 2 minutes each side, browning the top and bottom of the pikelet.
  5. Create a stack and spread each layer with Nutella. Add sliced banana to the top of the stack and enjoy.
Recipe adapted from the Cuisine Companion cook book.

Vegan pikelets with banana and NutellaDisclaimer: vegeTARAian received a Cuisine Companion courtesy of Tefal.

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Dinner at Poplo, Notting Hill

Polpo, Notting HillWhether I’m close to home or travelling, I get so much joy from taking myself out for a flash meal. There’s no rush to meet up with anyone or intense conversations to keep up with so I can sit back and really take the time to concentrate and savour the atmosphere and food. You miss so much when you’re not paying attention.

Another bonus about solo dining is being seated in busy restaurants, when they are turning groups without bookings away.

Polpo, Notting HillTowards the end of my European adventure I was lusting for more of the great Italian food I’d enjoyed while visiting Italy. While tasting my way through Soho on a food tour with London From Scratch, Michelle suggested I dine at Venetian restaurant Polpo. And just my luck – there was one in Notting Hill, a short walk from where I was staying.

It was a weeknight, the restaurant was quite busy and the hostess was only seating with bookings. Thankfully for me, there were a few empty stools at the bar so I took a seat and chatted to the hunky Italian barman. *wink*

Polpo, Notting HillAs I often do when eating out, especially when going it alone, I ask the server for veg dish recommendations. Not only is it an excellent way to strike up a conversation, who better than to suggest great dishes than the staff who work with the food and know the menu?

Polpo’s menu is made up of small dishes which lends itself to ordering a few taste plates and this concept works really well with groups. While sipping on a fancy cocktail I started with the warm summer salad of fresh and crunchy asparagus with broad beans, peas and mint and the light potato and parmesan crocchettes with a crisp outer and fluffy insides. Both dishes were lovely and I was grateful for not having to share!

Polpo, Notting HillAfter a little time to reflect and people watch it was time for the main and a small bowl arrived with chickpea, spinach and ricotta balls in a tomato sauce on spaghetti. As is common with Italian cuisine, the dish wasn’t drowned in sauce which meant I could appreciate the fresh pasta.

I really enjoyed dinner at Polpo, especially having dined so soon after a visit to Venice. It took my mind back to those sunny, carefree days in Italy where I was never in a rush and always on the lookout for beautiful food. The staff at Poplo were friendly and the dishes I ordered were simple and full of flavour which is everything I love about Italian cuisine.

Polpo on Urbanspoon

Friends, I’d love to hear about your dining experiences. Are you a fan of eating at restaurants on your own?

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Video: Cuisine Companion wholemeal seeded bread

Wholemeal seeded breadI’m enjoying the cooler Autumn weather as it urges me to stay indoors and play in the kitchen.

One of the things I’ve been experimenting with lately is making my own bread. It’s easy, smells amazing as it bakes and it’s so dang rewarding when you’ve got affordable homemade bread instead of an expensive, artisan loaf.

It’s also the perfect accompaniment when you’re whipping up a big batch of homemade soup.

Wholemeal seeded breadAfter the success of my first Cuisine Companion video, I promptly put together another one to show you how easy it is to make a loaf of wholemeal seeded bread. And no kneading is required!

My attempt at creating videos is still a work in progress and I will absolutely take on board your feedback. The most common suggestions I have received so far are from those saying they want to SEE and HEAR me on screen. Eeeek! Rest assured folks, I will add more of myself into the videos I make in the future.

I’d love your thoughts – what do you like in a recipe video?

Wholemeal seeded bread
Recipe Type: Savoury
Author: [url href=”” target=”_blank”]Tara Mathews[/url]
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
A quick and easy homemade seeded, wholemeal bread.
  • 250ml warm water
  • 11g dry yeast
  • 300g wholemeal flour
  • 100g rye flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs sunflower oil
  • 1 cup seeds – I used flax, sunflower kernels, pumpkin kernels and pine nuts
  • 1 Tbs Sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp Poppy seeds
  1. Spray a loaf tin with non-stick cooking spray and sprinkle with sesame seeds, covering the inside of the tin.
  2. Add the kneading / crushing blade to the Cuisine Companion bowl and add the warm water and yeast. Launch the P1 pastry program.
  3. After 30 seconds, pause the program and add the flour, salt, seeds and oil. Restart the program.
  4. When complete remove the dough, shape into a rectangle and place in the loaf tin. Sprinkle poppy seeds on top and cover with a tea towel. Rest for 1 hour.
  5. Bake at 240°C for 30 minutes.

Wholemeal seeded breadDisclaimer: vegeTARAian received a Cuisine Companion courtesy of Tefal.

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