Monthly Archives: December 2013

Culinary debauchery: Savoury baked brie!

So I have been seeing sinfully delightful things like baked brie on Pinterest lately (damn you, Pinterest!) and decided that one day, I would try that. Then some friends came round for seasonal jollies and I decided that, as part of a cheese plate, I would make a baked brie.

I got waaaay too excited about this and posted on Facebook: I’m baking a mother f***ing brie tonight. Kitchen and cholesterol bad-ass.

Yeah, I was excited. And lame.

But the problem was, I don’t really like sweet things with my cheese. I’m not a quince paste and grapes with my cheese kinda girl (although I don’t mind a slice of apple or pear) and so I thought I’d make this savoury. I studded the brie with cloves of garlic and rosemary sprigs, rolled that bad-boy in a sheet of store bought puff pastry, added pretty pastry leaves and left it in the fridge in cling wrap until I needed to bake it. It turned out great and between my recent dinner party, Ben’s amazing pizza dough that we took to a pizza party and the brie, I think we’ve established ourselves as kicking ass in the kitchen with these group of people.

If you ever want maximum effect for minimal effort, this is your dish.

Enjoy.

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Brisbane tries hard to be Christmassy in 30 degree weather!

So at Christmas-time, we might get sunburn instead of snow, but we still have an abundance of bright shiny lights and sparkly things. I haven’t gone to see Christmas light since I was a kid, but some amazing work friends who came over talked me into going to see the City Hall display and then local Christmas light winners and runners-up. It was a lot of fun, although waaaay busy in the city- tiny children as far as the eye could see!

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Christmas Eve Update

So I’m often at my happiest when I’m pottering around. As a vego, no one ever expects me to do anything for Christmas lunch (which is good because I couldn’t do meat) and so, with my gift wrapping done and a fair whack of my friends caught up with, I have time between now and Christmas Day to relax.

So today I’ve:

  • Done more yoga badly on the balcony. This is one of my favourite things.
  • Gone for a jog. When will my face stop looking like a lobster?
  • Gone for a walk with Ben (see photo below).
  • Spent far too long trawling through apartment therapy just because I can.
I can't believe this little pocket of green is in Highgate Hill opposite the University of Queensland. Brisbane really is an amazing, natural city!

I can’t believe this little pocket of green is in Highgate Hill opposite the University of Queensland. Brisbane really is an amazing, natural city!

This year, for the first time in over 6 years, I will be spending Christmas morning and evening with my parents. We will start the drive soon. Ben and I have traveled a lot over the Christmas breaks past- to New Caledonia, to Europe (how I miss Christmas in Berlin!) and twice to volunteer at Woodford Folk Festival- not to mention Christmases we spend with Ben’s family, so this is very special to me! We are still spending Christmas lunch with Ben’s family but the change to spend time with my mum and dad is precious.

I will be taking a blogging break between now and the New Year, although I can’t resist scheduling some posts with seasonal photos plus a delicious savoury baked brie I whipped up when friends came over for Christmas Eve’s Eve. Look out for them over the next couple of days. I have a couple of great restaurants to review and some recipes that sure, should have been posted before Christmas, but it doesn’t have to be Yule time to enjoy chocolate bark and other goodies. I also have some musings about the New Year and what that will have in store. Ben and I are also going away for three days to Hervey Bay with friends. This is the first time we’ve had a holiday since Europe, unless you count last NYE’s camping disaster, which we don’t. We really don’t.

I know that for many, Christmas is a stressful time, so I hope you grab any quiet moments that come by, breathe deeply and enjoy.

Ben and I don’t actually celebrate Christmas, so I will wish you a Merry Christmas, a Happy Holiday, a Super Solstice (summer, not winter down here!) and all the best.

See you in the New Year!

xo

Bris Vegas Vego

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All wrapped up- Quick and easy gift tags

So I prefer to create home made presents for Christmas. Ben has a lot of family and buying up to two dozen presents on one wage can be difficult. In the past we’ve made roasted garlic in olive oil, chutney, breakfast hampers with nice mugs, homemade preserves, homemade muesli and teas, and all sorts of things.

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Mum, Dad and my sister’s gifts just asking to be tagged (and some of my summer reading behind it).

This year, we ran out of time and energy and bought most of our gifts. However, this doesn’t mean we can’t have homespun wrapping. As well as salt dough ornaments, our gifts this year are wrapped with easy peasy gift tags.

There was no template or fuss, just chopping paper into slips and then trimming the edges to look like old fashioned tags and punching a hole in the narrow end. I used the same stamps as the salt dough ornaments to put some pretty on them. Yellow paper for Ben’s family tags and brown for mine.

I think they turned out nicely.

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What do you think?

Do you make any gifts from scratch?

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Morning Sunshine!

So I try to be healthy, but I am terribly lazy. Living in an apartment also means I don’t feel like turning on the blender or juicer at 6 in the morning. I want my neighbours to like me. So when I saw this raw cacao chia pudding recipe on Pinterest that requires no equipment besides a tablespoons and a jar, I knew I had to try it.

I’ve never used chia before. I knew that when you soak them, they swell up and go gelatinous. Well they certainly did! They reminded me of tomato seeds with the gel sack around them. My breakfast gets made while I’m asleep and I can eat it at home or take it to work. Chia is so darn good for you, I can’t believe I haven’t tried it before. I think I’ve found a good 2014 breakfast to obsess over.

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CHOC CHIA PUDDING

INGREEDIENTS:

2 tbs chia seeds (I used white chia, which is actually grey)

1 cup milk (I used homemade almond milk [always using Sarah B’s recipe] but you don’t have to be that committed).

I tbs raw cacao (I used two because I apparently can’t read recipes)

Sweetener of your choice (I used raw honey from Stanthorpe but of course you could use a vegan option)

Add-ins of your choice (I used banana and coconut, but will be buying blueberries and strawberries soon. I would also add sunflower or pepitas or chopped almonds, but I already added almond pulp, as you can read below).

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My other variation:

As I had just made almond milk, I added two tablespoons of the almond pulp leftover from that. It adds some bulk and nutrients and means that the almond pulp doesn’t go to waste (although it’s a great addition to hummus as well).

 

DO:

Stick everything but the fruit/coconut in a jar. Shake well (very well!). Leave in fridge overnight and then add fruit or other add ins of your choice. Use a bigger jar than me. I was adding sliced banana bit by bit. I’ll have to find a good sized jar to take this to work in.

What does it taste like?

Hmmm… well as I said, I added too much cacao, so it had this intense, dark chocolate flavour. The bitterness of the cacao was perfect with the sweetness of the banana. I’d use less cacao just to stretch it further next time. You can never hoard too much cacao.

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Enjoy!

 

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DES ALPES

So for Ben’s Big Family Pre-Christmas Dinner Instead of Doing Gifts Bash, we went to Des Alpes in Mitchelton.

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I used to live around the corner from here but NEVER ate here because I didn’t think they had any vego food judging by the walk-past menu. Turns out they have a vego AND a Gluten Free menu online AND can cater for vegans. Admittedly, that meant for three years we went to the awesome Mexican place across the road (which also happily caters for vegans) and Delicatezza next door which did a mean pot of soy chai and had the loveliest owner ever. Anyway, I digress.

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Nine adults and two kids turned up and, I have to say, I was impressed. Admittedly, they brought out a seafood pancake instead of a vego one and I had to wait for my meal to be cooked again, but they handled out big group well.

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Ben and I shared the cheese fondue for an entrée. Ok, it wasn’t the one we ate in Paris (at a place call Pain Vin Fromage if you ever want to go!) but it was pretty good and fun to eat. I had the vego pancake which came with ricotta, spinach and walnuts with a tomato sauce and cheese on top. It was ok, but I was blown away with the potato rosti that was served with it.

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Ben ordered the French Rosti that came with pear and blue cheese. Yum. He loved blue cheese and enjoyed his meal.

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This place is not cheap- I think the food and drinks Ben and I ordered came to $75ish (one entrée for two, two mains, a German beer and corkage for Ben’s local beers), I really liked the restaurant overall and would come back to try their creamy mushroom vego pasta, to eat more rosti and to umm and ahhh over their amazing sweets menu. Perhaps just with Ben for a romantic date?

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Des Alpes on Urbanspoon

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LUCKY DUCK- for drinks and nibbles. A follow up.

This is not my first Lucky Duck post. You can read about breakfast here (trust me, it’s amazing and super affordable).

So close to Christmas it can be nice to step away from the kitchen and escape on your own.

Ben and I chose to escape to Lucky Duck. The last few months has been good for Lucky Duck as there bar has become a quiet place for locals to drink and listen to live music.

Ben’s not a fan of their selection of tap beers, but tries some of the cider (apple and pear available) instead. He wants to acknowledge this is a completely him thing, not a fault with the bar. Last time we were there I ordered the house punch but they were out so I had a watermelon cocktail that was OK, but only because I don’t really like watermelon. We also ordered a cheese board and a serve of mushrooms with bread. The cheeses were excellent (and only $20) but the mushrooms were a little vinegary for me.

I love that there’s a few quiet locals in and around West End/Highgate Hill/Southbank now. I’ve never been a fan of the megapub and although I love bars that have full menus, having somewhere dedicated to drinks is pretty refreshing.

Damn, now I want cheese.
Lucky Duck Cafe & Bar on Urbanspoon

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Nailed it- Salt Dough Ornaments

So this year I jumped on the Salt Dough trend train that I saw all over Pinterest. It was super easy and although my attempts were a bit clumsy (see zombie gingerbread boy below), I had fun and made a cute decoration to go next to people’s gift tag.

 

YOU WILL NEED:

2 cups white flour

1 cup salt

1 cup water

(optional: food dye, cinnamon, etc.)

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Add your ingredients together and knead. I should have done this for longer, because the dough wasn’t as smooth after it had cooked as I would have liked.

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Roll out thinly. I used my super duper marble rolling pin that was a gift from Ben a couple of years back, but even a wine bottle with work (and did for me for many years).

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The thinner you roll it, the better it works out. Our better ones were the ones that were quite thin.

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We stamped patterns into them using a standard ink and stamp set. Holes were made by pressing then end of a drinking straw into the dough. I used all the dough that wasn’t stamped to roll out another layer and make even more ornaments. The second batch I remembered to flour the bench!

We baked them in the oven at 100C for 3 hours. We ended up baking them for closer to 4.5 because some were a bit thick.

TIPS: I sprayed the baking paper on my trays very lightly, but found that my ornaments stuck to the bench and didn’t want to move without stretching, so I had to be very careful. The trade off, however, is if you flour the bench you end up with dusty ornaments. I’d probably spray the bench next time. Also, keep the oven temperature down- you’re drying out the dough, not cooking it! If your oven is too high, your dough with brown and your ornaments won’t be white/off-white.

Everybody has an ornament on their present. Except this little guy, who will be leading the zombie apocalypse:

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I’ll be posting one or two more restaurant reviews and using the same stamps that I used for salt dough ornaments to make some gift tags for presents. Gift tags are much safe than dough!

If you’re not online much over the holiday period, I hope they’re everything you want them to be.

Stay safe. Avoid zombies.

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Thank you to my lovely subscribed followers, who now number 100.

If you’re a recent follower, then I thank you for stopping by and, if you’re a long time follower, thanks for your readership and support.

Bris Vegas Vego

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