Jerry’s Vegifix

Mr. AA & I spent our 6 year anniversary weekend away at Chopped Rod & Custom festival – it’s a weekend of camping, old cars and music. It’s not a food-oriented event by any means, so I was caught off guard (food-wise) and ended up taking some impromptu photos with my phone – which, as you can see, are fairly questionable in quality.

Chopped Rod & Custom 2012

For the first time ever (we’ve been a few times!), Chopped had some vegan food on offer: Jerry’s Vegi Burgers.

Veg food @ Chopped Rod & Custom 2012

I was excited and impressed – I’d prepared enough food to get me through the weekend (including a raw lemon cheesecake!), but to show my support for a veg-friendly caterer and encourage the organisers to make this option available again, I bought dinner at this stall on Saturday. I’d heard from a very reliable source that the crispy noodle salad on offer was pretty good – better than the veggie burgers – so I placed my order.

Veg food @ Chopped Rod & Custom 2012
Crispy noodle salad.

Can you believe that giant serve was only $10? Half way through it I was pretty full but I powered through and ate the entire plate because it was too tasty to waste! The dressing was a rich sweet and spicy peanut sauce, the veggies were fresh and crunchy and the sprouts and chopped nuts on top really made it! The only thing that would have made it easier to eat would have been a bowl. And maybe a shovel. Ok, ok, maybe the shovel is going a bit far… Hahah.

I had a bit of a chat to Jerry afterwards and found his relaxed attitude very striking and inviting. Jerry’s web page has a list of upcoming festivals that he’ll be cooking at; if you’re attending an event in the future, feel free to put in a request on behalf of all veggo attendees to have Jerry there!

Las Vegan Bakery/Café

Las Vegan Bakery/Café in Melbourne

Las Vegan Bakery/Café
22 Smith St
VIC 3066
Ph: (03) 9415 9001

Upon entering Las Vegan, it was apparent to me that my anxiety levels were quickly rising, so Mr. AA & I opted for a table outside, even though the weather was a little questionable. The space is small and cramped with badly arranged furniture that makes you feel like an intrusion. I didn’t take any photos inside because it felt too awkward, but there’s potential for the space to feel a lot more comfortable, it just needs some attention. Thankfully, our waiter was kind and relaxed, and after looking at the menu, I could see these guys had a sense of humour.

Las Vegan Bakery/Café in Melbourne

Everything on the menu is reasonably priced, though I’m not sure much of it would appeal to a non-vegan. There was a few mock meat & fish options, lentil options and black bean options. The specials of the day were eggplant parmas and lasagne – both were tempting! However Mr. AA & I were both drawn to the same item on the menu: the mushroom mince.

Las Vegan Bakery/Café in Melbourne

Mr. AA chose the sloppy joe burger with chips and I chose the mince on rice with salad. The mis-matched plates amused me… I’m not sure if this was an attempt at being kitschy or a symbol of their firm hippy/recycling beliefs. Either way, I didn’t have a problem with it – it made me feel like I was eating food made with love in someone’s home.

Las Vegan Bakery/Café in Melbourne
Las Vegan Sloppy Joe Burger with mushroom mince.

Las Vegan Bakery/Café in Melbourne
Mushroom mince on rice with gourmet salad.

We were both big fans of the mince – it has a really good, mild flavour and a realistic texture. Admittedly, I was expecting a higher mushroom to TVP ratio – in fact, I was hoping for no TVP at all because I don’t really dig it, but in this case, there’s no question about making an exception. It was pretty damn tasty. Also – two thumbs up for serving this with brown rice, not white.

The “gourmet salad” was fairly plain and barely dressed, but I liked the grilled eggplant and capsicum in it and I honestly prefer salad to be under dressed as opposed to over dressed and soggy. My only complaint here is that the olives weren’t pitted, so I almost broke a tooth! Watch out for those little suckers.

Las Vegan Bakery/Café in Melbourne

The chips were… pretty amazing. Perfectly crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside – they’re exactly what Mr. AA & I look for in a chip!

We (*I*) also grabbed a slice of the raw lemon cheesecake to take home. There were Mr Nice Guy cupcakes on display and a dense looking chocolate bundt cake with icing dribbling all over the place (which looked delicious!) but I wanted to take a chance and try something that I’d only ever made at home, to see how someone else’s version compared.

Las Vegan Bakery/Café in Melbourne
Raw Lemon Cheesecake.

This was, hands down, my favourite item. I took it back to the car with the SOLE intention of sliding it out of the bag and taking photos before the agave spread out and looked ugly/messy. My stomach was full and I planned to save it for after dinner that night, but… Well, look at it, guys. I couldn’t resist having a little taste and before I knew it, I’d stuffed the entire slab of compressed nuts into my face and my hands were sticky with agave. But I didn’t care. Because it was incredible.

These guys do take-away and have gluten free options. One thing I didn’t take a photo of (and wished I had) was the glasses of juice we ordered. It wasn’t fresh juice, but I suspect it was organic and the size of the glasses was impressive. You know how most places serve a $7 juice in a slim high ball glass with lots of ice? Not these guys. They’ll give you your money’s worth!

Book Review: The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet

Hi Everyone!

Sorry for my absence this past week – I’ve been on a serious veggie burger bender, cooking up a storm from a new book called “The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet”.

Chipotle Sweet Potato Burger

Chipotle Sweet Potato Burger & Chipotle Dipping Sauce
These burgers are seriously wicked! They were the first ones I tried and it honestly made me feel like the rest of the book had a lot to live up to.

They firmed up with cooking and held together impressively. They were better baked rather than pan fried. I tried both; the fried ones are pictured above. The recipe makes 8 decent sized patties that contain both gluten and soy. You could easily use gf flour, but you may need to be a little more creative with substituting the tofu if you’re allergic to soy. On the upside, if your aversion to tofu is purely aesthetic, you can’t even tell there’s any in there.

Chipotle (smoked jalapenos) aren’t common in Australia – it was great to be eating something unusual, but keep in mind that if you’re in Australia the ingredients won’t be easy to find. I had to order canned chipotles in adobo sauce from USA Foods.

I’ll definitely be making these again but may halve or omit the sugar altogether next time. This is solely a cultural preference; I know ‘mericans love to pair up sweet potatoes with sugar but Aussies generally find them sweet enough on their own.

Other than that, my only real issue was that these take hours to make and there’s no time indication with the recipe. The sweet potato took an hour to bake. After assembling the mixture quickly I had to refrigerate for 10-20 mins, bake 20 mins on one side, then flip and bake a further 20 mins. Not ideal for a quick week night meal (unless you have some already made and frozen), but definitely worth the effort!

Oh! And the dipping sauce is nice and spicy!

Potato Samosa Burger

Potato Samosa Burgers

I was really keen to try these; sadly, they let me down. The recipe is gf but the patties didn’t hold together at all. The instructions said to fry in plenty of oil but it wasn’t working so I tried less oil and still ended up with loose peas all over the frying pan and patties that were falling apart.

Both of my attempts ended up too greasy and the raw onions, which didn’t cook with the burgers, really ruined the flavour and texture. The best part of this meal was my chickpea sakad and mint sauce!

On the whole, the idea for this burger is great but the recipe definitely needs work. I won’t be making these again.

Curried Chickpea & Broccoli Burger

Curried Chickpea & Broccoli Burgers

I thought these were my favourite burgers until I tried the super quinoa burgers (pictured below) – now I can’t decide!

The recipe makes 6 patties and comes together both quickly and easily. There’s more than one option for cooking these – I chose to bake them, then gave them some pretty grill marks in a griddle pan.

The flavour is mild and wholesome. You could add extra Thai curry paste if you wanted a stronger flavour, but it’s not necessary – especially if you dress these with a nice condiment like mint sauce or tomato chutney.

There burgers contain gluten, but you can actually purchase a gluten free gluten substitute made by Orgran.

Super Quinoa Burger

Super Quinoa Burger

I enjoyed the “Super Quinoa Burgers” over a simple bed of shredded lettuce and carrot with some vegan mayo (that somehow squeezed out looking like silly string!). These burgers are quick to throw together, have a lot of flavour and are a little crispy/crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside. These ones are a serious winner; I’ll definitely be making them again!

On the whole, this book is awesome. I love the concept and the way it’s divided into areas of the world. Good veggie burger recipes are hard to come by and are a good thing for every vegan to have up their sleeve. Having scored three great burgers out of four means the book has already earned every cent that I spent on it.

There’s mention of which recipes are gf and/or soy free which I find handy – although if you have the smarts, you can generally get around these obstacles. A lot of the recipes contain wheat gluten (or as Americans call it, “vital wheat gluten”), and TVP. I avoided the TVP ones like the plague (and there are many), because I generally find the stuff too chewy and uncomfortable in my mouth. Something about it is just… wrong. That being said though, it’s good that the book includes these recipes, because it means that it appeals to all sorts of vegan palettes.

At the back of the book, there’s a token dessert section which has some tasty looking stuff in it, but it feels REALLY out of place. I think the author could have skipped the desserts altogether, or created dessert burgers, in an effort to stick with the theme. Other than that, the only thing I would change is to add suggested prep/cooking times to the recipes.

This book is an excellent buy and I highly recommend it!