This blog is a celebration of the wonderful world of vegan cooking. Enjoy!

* The title of this blog refutes the dangerous idea that veganism is a weight-loss diet and that all vegans are skinny. Conversely, being a-not-so-skinny-vegan is also not the same as being overweight or unhealthy. All food intake must be part of a balanced lifestyle.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Roasted Beetroot and Caramelised Onion 'Quiche' on Gluten Free Grain Base

Last autumn we bought some recycled railway sleepers and set up some raised beds in our backyard. I gave up my allotment and focused my gardening energy into making a jungle in our backyard. And despite the fact that I'm a beginner gardener, it looks somewhat of an edible jungle out there. And the fruit and vegetables taste so much better than anything in store. I had no idea how much flavour carrots can have or how easy it was to grown kilos of blueberries.

Our garden looking unusually tidy. There must have been visitors on the way!

One of our raised beds, packed full of vegetables. 
Growing your own also gives you a much better perspective on seasonality. I don't think we think enough about where our food comes from, how it came to be on that shelf in the supermarket and whether or not we could substitute it with something in season, local and with a smaller carbon footprint.

Growing your own also means you need to come up with recipes that use up gluts. Potatoes and carrots are easy enough to store and you can grown spinach and lettuce that keeps growing back no matter how much you cut it. However, things like sprouting broccoli, beetroot, berries and peas taste best when you take them from garden to pan.

Freshly harvested beetroot from our garden.
Last weekend I was trying to find some room to plant my spring cabbages so I pulled up a couple of huge beetroot I spotted (brassicas are best to follow root vegetables). I wanted to make something for our lunch for the next couple of days and I wanted to use all of the beetroot (roots, stalks and leaves). So I came up with the following recipe for a Beetroot and Caramelised Onion 'Quiche' on a Gluten Free Grain Base.

You can easily replace the base with any shortcut pastry, I just don't like pastry and like to get a big mix of grains in my diet. I also realise that amaranth and quinoa aren't the cheapest of grains but they both have a huge range of nutritional value that I'm happy enough to give up something else in my life (like a trip to the movies, a cocktail, biscuits, a cup of coffee) for the price of the grains. However, you can just use brown rice for the whole base although the amaranth does help make everything stick together.

You can also completely skip the roasting of the vegetables if you don't have the time or energy. If you have bought pre-cooked beetroot (and sometimes that's all we can get a hold of) then just cut that up and layer it on top of some other greens like spinach or chard and then caramelise the onions in a pan.

Roasted Beetroot and Caramelised Onion 'Quiche' on Gluten Free Grain Base



1⁄3 cup amaranth
1⁄3 cup brown rice
1⁄3 cup of quinoa
2 cups waters

Filling (Beets)

2 large beetroots including stalks and leaves
1 tsp coriander seeds, roughly crushed
1 tbsp rice syrup
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1⁄8 cup olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1⁄2 red onion

Filling (Tofu)

500g silken tofu
1⁄4 cup plain soymilk
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon cornstarch (may sub another thickener such as arrowroot or potato starch)
1 teaspoon tahini (preferred) or cashew butter
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3⁄4 teaspoon soy sauce
Black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of chopped thyme



The cooked grains hold together nicely as a base.
Preheat oven to 180C fan forced. Line pie tin with baker paper and lightly grease.


Put grains in a saucepan with water with the lid and bring to boil then simmer until liquid has evaporated and grains are soft. You may need more water.

Once cooked, spread the grains onto your prepared pie tin and set aside to cool.

Filling (beets)

Cut the tops off your beetroot but don't discard!

Cut beetroot into thin wedges (I don't peel my beets but you can!) and put rest of the ingredients (except red onion and beet tops) in a bowl with the cut beets. Mix well.

Roasted beets and onion.
Bake until just soft. You can do this by covering with foil and baking for 30-60 minutes but I don't like to use foil (bad for the environment!) so I just left them to cook uncovered in the oven for about 10-15 minutes. They get a little charred but it's tasty!

Meanwhile, detached the stalks of the beets from the leaves but keep both parts! Roughly chop the leaves and spread over the grain base into the pie tin.

Finely chop the stalks and thinly slice the red onion. Once the beets are just soft, add the onion and chopped stalks to the beet mix in the oven too. Let them cook for a few minutes until soft then remove from the oven. Leave the oven on.

Leave to cool for a few minutes but be careful to move the vegetables around as they will start to stick are the syrup begins to cool.

Once the beets are cool enough to handle, arrange them in two circles on top of the beet leaves in the pie tin and then spoon on the onion and stalk mix (and garlic, if you are brave enough!).

Filling (tofu)

Blend all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. You should just be able to pour the mixture. However, if you didn't use silken tofu you may need to add some more soy milk to get the right consistently.

Once all the ingredients are blended, pour the mixture on top of the beets in the pie tin. Tap the pie tin lightly on the bench to help the tofu mixture settle into the spaces and then very gently (otherwise everything turns purple!) smooth the mixture flat and to the edges. You may want to tap it and smooth it a few more times to make sure the mixture is filling the gaps.

Put the tart back in the oven and bake for 45-60 minutes until the top starts to go a golden brown colour and it no longer wobbles when you shake it gently.

Once cooked, remove tart from oven and allow to cool. Serve warm or refrigerate to serve cold.

Serves 4.

Roasted Beetroot and Caramelised Onion on Gluten Free Grain Base

Friday, July 24, 2015

Hello again.

Nearly two years since my last post! However, I never really took a break from most aspects of this blog: I still record and tweak favourite recipes, I still take photos of my food in hipster restaurants with a most conspicuous SLR (much to the embarrassment of friends and family) and I still try to hunt out the best vegan or vegan-friendly restaurants in all of the places I travel to whether it be Coventry or San Francisco. But I also spent the last two years teaching part-time (if you believe there's such thing as teaching part-time!), while still working full-time on my PhD, so any spare moments I've had to myself I spend sitting like a zombie in front of the television while refusing to communicate with anyone (apparently it is completely normal for teachers to do this).

There are a couple of reasons why I have started writing again. Firstly, it's summer holidays so I'm back to just working full-time on my PhD. This seems like a piece of easy vegan chocolate cake after trying to juggle it with teaching. I make progress every day (literally unheard of in the world of PhD progress) and, because I sit in my office by myself with not a single soul to disturb me (apparently the teacher voice makes other adults either scared of or very annoyed at you), I come home and actually feel like speaking to my partner or writing on my blog! (Last summer holiday I went to San Francisco to present a paper at a conference so it wasn't prime blog writing time.)

The second reason I was reunited with my blog is due to my lovely Year 10 Maths class. Call me naive, but I had no idea the extent of cyberstalking of teachers that goes on. I'm not that old, the internet was around when I was a teenager. However, I grew up in a small country town in northern NSW where the biggest event of the year is a rodeo and people actually go to line dancing classes for exercise. It is 2015 and local businesses still don't have websites. Just last week my Dad got his finger caught in a bench grinder and managed to grind most of his finger off. I thought I would buy him a cheer-up cheesecake and have it delivered to his work. Did not happen. No one in their lovely little town has a website so I could not find anyone to contact about this. So no cheer-up cheesecake for my Dad.

But back to my Year 10 class. On the last day of teaching them (I am moving to a new school in September) I made them all vegan cupcakes and choc chip cookies as a farewell gift to them for being the noisiest, most raucous but also most talented class of students I've ever taught. And their gift to me was to inform me that they had been reading my blog (!) and know basically everything about my very tiny social life(!). I'm not sure I can describe the jaw-dropping look of horror that came on to my face. Truthfully, I don't mind if they know things about me, they could have just asked. I was more surprised that they spend their free time trying to find out what their teachers do in their free time! So, if any of my former or current students are reading this, I'll tell you what I do in my spare time: marking. If you want me to have a more exciting social life that you can talk about then pay more attention in class, ask me when you don't understand something and get 100% on all of your homework and exams from now on. Simple. Also, go out and get some fresh air and exercise and stop cyberstalking your teachers!

So, thanks to my lovely Year 10 Maths class, I was reminded that people do actually come across my blog and that I should contribute to it more often. Also, I must mention, this shock was not the only gift my class gave me. They also gave me the most awesome maths clock which is currently causing a little bit of grief in the household as I think it should go in the most visible place possible and J thinks the study is more appropriate. I have confidence that I will win the argument by putting a nail in the wall when he's not here.

So expect more blog posts this summer and hopefully into the autumn!