24 November 2010

Best deal in London thus far

Situated in the heart of Brick Lane, London, my friend Anton and I happened upon an old warehouse with a number of stalls set up inside. You could choose from Japanese, Nepalese.. some others that I didn't take in cos they were meat heavy.. cupcakes, mulled wine.. but what really caught our attention was the vegan/vegetarian stand selling huge plates for only 4 pounds! I think this was an end of day special, but bear in mind it was only around 4.30 when we ate. A delicious meal.. my most satisfying food purchase so far.

01 September 2010

SPCA Fundraising

So a week or so ago I decided to register for SPCA Cupcake day to do some good old fashioned fundraising. Before I did, I emailed the women in my office asing if anyone would buy any. Hells yeah, they did! So, 72 cupcakes, over 3 hours in the kitchen and a whole lotta fondant later, I made over NZ$140 for the SPCA. And yes *cringe* I did say fondant, much to my sister's scorn and dismay. But come on, icing 72 cupcakes? Not to mention transportation issues, seeing as I don't drive.


Red velvet


09 July 2010

How to: Peanut Sauce

Ordinarily, I am not a fan of salad. It's a side dish! And even then, more often than not, it's a carelessly arranged handful of leaves, laid on the plate as a mere garnish in hopes of being able to justify charging double digits for a meal. This little lady does not eat leaves.

So now I will contradict everything I have just said and tell you about one of my favourite salads. Gado gado is a warm salad from Indonesia, and with an Indo mum, it's kinda hard to avoid it. I like to make it using whatever vegies I have lying around, the potatoes being filling enough to make it a meal. But depending on how many potatoes you use, you can also serve this with rice to make it more substantial. I'm not going to bother with telling you ingredients, cos like I said, you can use whatever veges you have. I don't know if that's how they do it in Indonesia, but that's what I do in my kitchen! Much to the dismay of my hips, peanut sauce is in high rotation on my playlist, as you may have gathered.

Peanut Sauce

2 Tbsp smooth peanut butter
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
Juice of half a lime
1/4 cup coconut milk
Chilli oil

In a small bowl, mash the peanut butter together with the soy sauce with a fork. You want the soy sauce to merge with the peanut butter to become smooth.

Add the sugar and lime juice and stir. Taste. Does this taste ace to you? If yeah, then add the coconut milk. If nah, you can keep adding more soy, sugar and lime to taste.

Pour in some boiling water to thin it out a bit, about a spoonful at a time, depending on the consistency you want. If you like things spicy, add a couple of drops of chilli oil.

Makes about a cup

How else to enjoy the wonders of peanut sauce, you ask?

Over sesame bok choi, with edamame, mango and avocado summer rolls and stir-fried vegies
With steamed broccoli, sliced tofu and a salad with an orange soy dressing
With mango, tofu and vegetable rice paper rolls
With stir fried vegetables, tofu, cashews and noodles

18 June 2010

Lentil Pie

My Le Creuset heart shaped ceramic baking dish arrived yesterday! My sister was kind enough to inform me that it was most certainly not pronounced Le Croos-it as I had first thought, along with a "OMG how could you not have heard of that before?" Apparently I'm behind in the times when it comes to hip cookware.

So tonight I racked my brain trying to think of a meal worthy of breaking in the dish for the first time, and I came up with with pie. I like pie. And I really like pastry. I went for the fast route and used ready-made puff pastry cos we haven't done the dishes in like.. a week, so I didn't want to add a rolling pin and mixing bowl to the stack. I wasn't trying to replicate meat tonight, but as it so happens, what I created was something reminiscent of all those family-sized mince pies from my childhood, but with better karma cos this meal is totally cow-free.


1 Tbsp fennel seeds
1 can lentils, drained
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika
1 Tbsp tomato sauce
salt & pepper to taste

1/2 onion, diced
4 Tbsp flour
1 tsp garlic powder
2 cups vegetable stock
1 tsp Marmite
2 tsp soy sauce

2 sheets ready-made puff pastry

In a small dry frypan, gently toast the fennel seeds for 1-2 minutes. Add the lentils, soy sauce, herbs, garlic & onion powders, paprika and tomato sauce and stir to combine. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, adding spashes of boiling water to keep lentils wet and season to taste. Set aside to cool.

To make the gravy, heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium heat, and saute onion for 5 minutes or until soft. Add flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring well to make sure the flour doesn't burn. Add garlic powder, stock, marmite and sauce and simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir in lentils and set aside.

If your pie-dish isn't non-stick, lightly spray with cooking oil and press 1 sheet of pastry into it. Trim any excess pastry and use these bits to fill any spaces that are not covered. I used 1 1/2 sheets to cover my dish, cos a heart-shaped dish is pretty awkward to line. Pour over your lentil gravy mixture, it should be warm but not piping hot. Cut your remaining pastry sheet into 1cm strips and criss-cross over the filling to form a lattice. Alternatively, you can use a whole sheet of pastry to cover the filling completely, folding over the pastry from underneath and pricking airholes with a fork.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes, increasing the temp to 200 degrees for the final 5 minutes of cooking to brown the crust (I used a ceramic dish which requires a longer cooking time. For a regular pie dish bake for 10-15 minutes).

08 June 2010

Tales from the blooper reel

I like green tea. I would even go so far as to say I love green tea flavoured desserts - if they're done well. Over the weekend I made an excellent example of what happens when good things go bad. Inspired by this pic and the confidence that only a new box of matcha powder can bring, I decided to make vegan green tea cookies (actually, we call them biscuits in NZ, so why I'm starting to say cookies all the time is beyond me) with a layer of extra matcha-ey goodness in place of regular white dough. Blinded by the pretty dough I never taste-tested it so what came out of the oven were these lovely crunchy biscuits that showed good promise on first bite, then delivered an awful bitter aftertaste that just kept on giving. I gave one to my sis so she could see what the fuss was all about and she said "WHY DID YOU GIVE THIS TO ME?!" Moral of the story: Don't abuse your matcha powers.

02 June 2010

Chickpea and Leek Soup

This is the soup that I always make when I'm feeling sorry for myself.. or when I just want soup. The chickpeas have a nutty, creamy taste that goes perfectly with the buttery leeks. I would nearly go so far as to say this is my never-fail soup, but then I seem to recall a nasty incident about 3 years ago involving an exploding blender and second degree burns. I still have the battle-scars to remember it by. Hmm, I never did clean that ceiling... So, this is my once-failed, non-pureed soup. Who needs puree anyway when you have teeth? Enjoy!

1 small onion, diced
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 carrot, diced or sliced
1 small leek, sliced
5 mushrooms, sliced
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp flour
4 cups vegetable stock
3-4 Tbsp soy sauce, or to taste
Salt & pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat a generous glug of olive oil on a low heat and gently saute the onions for about 8 minutes, keeping the pot covered. You want the onions soft and white, not browned.

Increase heat to medium and add the celery and carrot. Saute until soft, adding a splash of hot water to help heat through.

Add leeks and 1 Tbsp butter or margarine, and stir until soft and cooked. Add mushrooms, and more olive oil if needed, and continue to saute until cooked, stirring occasionally.

Add chickpeas, vegetable stock and soy sauce, sprinkling in the flour and stir to combine. Lower heat and let simmer for half an hour.

Taste and adjust seasonings. Tastes even better the next day

28 May 2010

Bean Patties with Bean Aioli

I don't know about you but it is cold here. Last night the heater was on in full force so my hands could defrost just so I could move my fingers. Wellington wind sure is lethal.

As I thawed out in front of said heater, in my state of frozen semi-conciousness I pondered over what my dinner choices were. Sandwich? Too cold, give me comfort food. Delivery? Too poor, no job. With a sinking feeling in the pit of my gut I realised I would have to step into that icebox of a kitchen and busy myself with food preparation. Or at least, freeze my ass off trying.

I only had a quarter of a block of tempeh left, a lot of silken tofu, a mugful of canned beans and some leftover rice, so while I was dillydallying with spices and whatnot it hit me: hey! I'm creating something here!


100g tempeh
Palm sized cube of silken tofu
1/4 cup of canned white beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup of cooked rice
1 Tbsp fennel seeds, toasted
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp tomato sauce
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
salt & pepper to taste

Bring a pot of water to boil and then steam the tempeh for 10 minutes. Crumble tofu in a bowl and stir in beans.

Add tofu, fennel seeds, and seasonings to bowl and mash until combined, not pureed.

Stir in cooked rice and breadcrumbs. Taste, and adjust seasonings if needed.

Heat olive oil in a frypan over medium heat. Cook patties for about 3 minutes on each side, or until golden. Serve with bean aioli.


3/4 cup canned white beans
2 tsp garlic powder
1tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
salt & pepper

In a small bowl, mash together beans, garlic and lemon juice until soft. Add olive oil slowly, whisking continuously until smooth. Season to taste.

15 May 2010

Creamy Mushroom Fettucine

There's nothing I love more than a big ol' plate of creamy pasta goodness. Creamy mushroom goodness, to be precise. This reminds of what I used to eat at a certain pasta house that I used to frequent back in the day.


2 handfuls of Fettucine pasta
1/2 onion, chopped
1 cup soy milk
1/2 head of broccoli, chopped into small florets
2 pieces fake 'chicken' or tofu, sliced
2 punnets (or handfuls) shiitake mushroom, sliced
1 tsp arrowroot powder, or flour
2 Tbsp Bacos
Salt, Pepper and Soy Sauce to season

Boil pasta according to packet directions.

Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of oil with a tsp of margarine on medium heat. Gently fry the onion for 2 minutes until soft. Add the mushrooms and stir, adding a little extra oil if the mushroooms look too dry. The mushrooms will release a bit of water later so don't go too crazy with the oil now. Once the mushrooms are nearly done, add the tofu or fake chicken and cook for a couple of minutes to brown.

Add the soymilk and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and let simmer.

The pasta should nearly be done, so add the broccoli florets to the pasta water to cook alongside the pasta. Cook for a couple of minutes making sure the broccoli turns bright green, then drain both pasta and broccoli.

In a glass, add a couple of tablespoons of soymilk from the pan, and mix together with the arrowroot powder and stir to dissolve. Pour back into soy milk mixture, and add Bacos, stirring to combine until thick and creamy.

Once thickened, add salt, pepper and soy sauce to season. Mix in the pasta and broccoli.

Serves 2

12 May 2010

When in doubt, bake

Vegan Cherry Chocolate Cake

Recipe from Sinfully Vegan with maple chocolate frosting, chocolate heart decorations I made by melting chocolate and drizzling onto baking paper, and creme de cassis soaked cherries.

Cheesecake with Oreo Crust (non-vegan)

Recipe my friend Amanda sent me when I was bored at work and daydreaming about cheesecake. Too much dairy for this little lady (and my dad) so it won't be on my playlist again, blergh. Plus I cried when the bloody cake tin popped open post-filling pour, thus creating an unsightly mess.

Vegan Low-Fat Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

From Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World!

11 May 2010

Green Tea Pancakes

So the weather is total craphouse in Wellington right now and Winter is not even here yet. What's with everyone saying how warm it is? My scarf is permanently glued to my neck! I wish I was back in Thailand. But more realistically, I wish I could stay at home and eat breakfast in bed instead of traipsing about in the early morning frost and waiting for a bus that is always late. Sigh.

This recipe is adapted from one I found online, I can't remember where exactly cos I scribbled it down in my notebook, so if it's yours.. uh, thanks? The amount of soymilk depends on how thick you like you pancakes. Actually, pancakes in New Zealand are along the lines of thick crepes, so I think these are more like hot cakes or large pikelets.


2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp Matcha powder
2 cups soy milk
1 Tbsp oil

Sift all dry ingredients together in a medium sized bowl. Add wet ingredients and mix just to combine.. a few lumps are okay.

Heat a non-stick frypan on medium heat and pour on a blob of oil. When hot, use a large spoon to make the pancakes in a circular motion or else the pancakes will get too thick in the middle and won't cook evenly, and no one likes a soggy pancake. When bubbles start to appear on the surface, use a spatula to check the bottom is nicely browned and flip. I think it's common for the first pancake to be a disaster, so if yours tanks, don't be discouraged. Sometimes it helps to re-oil mid flip.

Serve with a nice glug of maple syrup.

Serves 1-2

09 May 2010

Vegan Scallops with Lime Butter

I made these while living in Thailand and exotic mushrooms were cheap and readily available: all the better for me to buy in abundance and experiment with reckless abandon... excellent.. I first tried these babies when in Korea and they had a satifying bite and meaty (for want of a better word) texture. I usually see them served cut lengthwise, but when cut widthwise they make cute little mishapen rounds which reminded me of scallops.

Next step: what the hell do I do with them now?? I've never had a real scallop so I had no idea how they are eaten, let alone a faux version. Then a lightbulb went off in my head and I realised "Wait, everything tastes better with lime, right?" I don't know if this is traditional, but it sure was damn tasty.

Vegan Scallops with Lime Butter

4 eryngii mushrooms
1 Tbsp rice bran oil
2 Tbsps margarine
1/2 a lime
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp soy sauce

In a large pan, heat the oil and 1 tablespoon of margarine over medium heat until the margarine has melted and merged with the oil. Add mushrooms and gently pan fry until lightly browned.

Add the second tablespoon of margarine, along with the lime, sugar and soy. Stir until melted. You may want to add more lime/sugar/soy sauce depending on how zingy/sweet/salty you want it. It should be a creamy, buttery, slighty zingy flavoursome sauce.

I served mine over mashed potatoes and a little salad of julienned capsicum, carrot and green mango.

Serves 2

08 May 2010

Hungry for BKK?

Unlike Korea, it's not unusual to see foreigners in Thailand who are not English teachers or part of the US military. Thailand is flooded with tourists, so if you find yourself in a tourism hot-spot, you shouldn't have too much trouble asking for something without meat. More on that later.

However, as easy as that is, finding a purely vegetarian restaurant can be more of a challenge. I know I had a lot of trouble jumping into a taxi and saying a restaurant name or a Thai street address and not being understood. So it always pays to have a phone number scribbled down or better yet, a business card with a map printed on it (as many taxi drivers don't know their way around the city).

THE VEGETARIAN COTTAGE, Vibhawadee-Rangsit, Bangkok, Thailand

0-2691-5083 Lunch: 11.30-2.30 Dinner: 5.30-9.30

SPA Foods has a number of branches, only one of which I went to. The Vegetarian Cottage is, well, you guessed it, a cute little restaurant with a cottage-like atmosphere. Because of it's location in a quiet residential area, you and your loved one can escape the bustling commotion of Bangkok's streets. Expect candles on the tables and mood lighting. This place has a lot of fake meat on the menu, but the range is quite extensive (think faux lobster, lamb, duck and shrimp) so even if it's not your thing, I highly recommend you try some. You can also buy some fake meat from the fridges if you want to take some home aftewards. It's best to get here by taxi, so get this map printed and show it to your driver:

Faux chicken with a mushroom lime sauce

MAI KAIDEE'S, Banglampu (2 locations), Bangkok, Thailand

02-281-7699 Open daily: 9am-11pm

If you want some amazing vegetarian Thai food, come here. There are too locations in Bangkok, but the easiest one to find is located off Khao San Road. Walk to the end of Khao San, the opposite end of the police station, and to the right of Burger King there is an alley way. Turn into here, and turn left so you are walking behind the King. This branch of Mai Kaidee's has a weekly buffet every Saturday night at 6pm. They also offer a cooking class which is a must.

ETHOS, Banglampu, Bangkok, Thailand

662-2822748 Open daily: 8am-11pm

In the same alley where you find Mai Kaidee's second restaurant you'll also find Ethos. Here they offer a huge range of Thai and international favourites, including burgers, pasta and hummus, and they even have dessert. This is a great place to kick back and relax, and they have free wi-fi too.

07 May 2010

Hungry for Seoul?

Okay, so South Korea is not the best place to be if you're not a meat eater. Beef, squid, octopus.. South Korea loves it all. But any vegetarian worth their weight will have Happy Cow as their best friend. If you don't already have this site saved to your Favourites, then do it now. After all, you never know when you're gonna find yourself in a foreign country clutching a menu that's covered with seemingly indecipherable code with no pictures. You may one day find yourself presented with a plate of cheese-covered octopus tentacles on rice because your friend checked the wrong box in the aforementioned menu. You may even find yourself getting booted out of restaurants, or even getting doors slammed shut in your face because, well... some people just don't dig vegetarians. I know because it happened to me.

Anyway, the inner nerd in me refused to accept that I'd only be able to choose from 3 menu items (you mean.. pork is not vegetarian?) whenever I ate out, so with my notebook filled with restaurants, my vege-venturous friend Jason and I embarked on a mission to cross as many as we could off the list. Bear in mind, I lived in South Korea from November 2007-November 2008, so some details may have changed.

Here are the 3 best buffets in Seoul:

SM CHINGHAI, Yangjae, Seoul, South Korea

02) 576 9637 Lunch 12.30-2.30 Dinner 6-9

Yangjae Station, Exit 5. After leaving the exit, turn right, keep walking until you can make another right. Then just keep on walking, yep.. it's a bit of a walk. You'll cross a couple of roads, a bridge, a giant crab. It's opposite a Starbucks, for want of a better landmark. You could always take a bus, but Jason and I got on the wrong one so we never tried doing that again. Anyway, this buffet is amazing, the buffet food varies from day to day so there's a bit of variety. This place is heavy on the fake meat and there are even some fridges if you want to take some home with you. Cute outdoor area if you're lucky to miss the rainy season. Wash it all down with a scoop of Purely Decadent before you hit the subway home.


031) 291 5879 Lunch 12-3 Dinner 6-9

From Suwon Station, take bus #13 from the bus stop just past the Touritst Information Centre. I'm going to be honest here, this restaurant is incredibly hard to find, you may get lost trying to find it and your friend will probably want to punch you in the face in a fit of hunger-enduced frustration. You should probably have the number handy should you need to flag down a taxi. Otherwise, you're gonna be sitting on that bus for a while, after it leaves the station you'll head towards the hills, then it will drive around in this huge loop before heading back Once you find this hidden gem you will be so glad you persevered. The dining area is surprisingly huge, the buffet tables changed continuously, and the seats are always full.

NEW START, Seollung, Seoul, South Korea

02) 565 43 24 Closed Friday and Saturday

Seollung Station, exit 2. Walk straight up the hill and turn left after Linko. Look for it on the right. Another amazing find... why, oh why didn't I know about this during training??? I could've saved myself from night after night of ramen noodles (and the occasional Oreo in the shower) had I only known. Vegetarian CDI teachers of the future: take note! This is literally a stone's throw from the hotel (well, the one I was at anyway). Do not even get tempted to go to Burger King! Hiss. Buffet has both Korean and Western food.

06 May 2010

Greetings Friends

My name is Nik... welcome to my blog!

I like to cook and I like to eat.
I like to eat the food that I make.
I like to eat the food that others make.
I like to eat animal-friendly food because animals are our friends.

On this blog I will post:

Pics of my meals from the past/present
Pics from my dining adventures
Recipes if I make anything creative.

Thanks for stopping by,
feel free to stop by again

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