Review: Green Gourmet, St Leonards

I’ve never really been much of a fan of mock meat products – after all, if you’re not usually vegetarian by choice, why would you choose to have a mock product, when you could have the real thing? The only time I really have it is in cases where I’m complying with other people’s beliefs, for instance having a vegetarian meal in a Buddhist temple. I was ready to put my preferences to the test though, with a visit to Green Gourmet in St Leonards with some colleagues.

Fresh soy milk and green lime twist
Fresh soy milk and green lime twist

We start off with some drinks. I never turn down the chance to try fresh soy milk made by other people, and I found this version really lovely – not too sweet, but sweet enough to still be a treat. My colleague Sarojini asked for a drink recommendation from the owner who suggested the green lime twist as one of their house specialties. It was reportedly fruity and refreshing – a fantastic choice for a summer day.

Chestnut san choy bao, $4.80 each
Chestnut san choy bao, $4.80 each

We started with some san choy bao – presented in beautifully shaped lettuce cups. The flavours of the mix were wonderfully balanced, and the textures were great as well, with a mix of crunchiness in the chestnuts, softness in the capsicum, and bursts of flavours in the baby corn.

Satay Skewer, $5.80 for 4
Satay Skewer, $5.80 for 4

The faux-meat satay skewers came out looking convincingly meat-like. The texture was remarkably convincingly like chicken, and with the sauce slathered over the skewers, it made for a remarkably tasty chicken satay skewer. It was fantastic – one of the top picks of the meal. Unfortunately, straight after we received the skewers, we got four uninspiring dishes in a row.

BBQ Not-Pork Bun, $4 for 2
Steamed vegetable buns
Stir fried seasonal vegetables, $13.80
Stir fried seasonal vegetables, $13.80
Siu Mai
Siu Mai
Braised Green Vegetables & Tofu with Noodle, $14.80
Noodles with stir fried veggies

A very small dish of stir fried seasonal vegetables, somewhat overpriced at $13.80 given that you could get similar at another Chinese restaurant for quite a few dollars less. Steamed vegetable buns that were no different to vegetable buns that you might buy from the freezer section of any Chinese supermarket. Siu mai that were distinctively lacking in taste and flavour. Stir fried noodles devoid of even a good mixture of vegetables, let alone a complex sauce to give it interest.

Black sticky rice and coconut in pandan leaf, $7.80
Black sticky rice and coconut in pandan leaf, $7.80

Luckily Green Gourmet redeemed itself with our choice of dessert – sticky rice with coconut in pandan leaf. We loved their use of coconut two ways (toasted and cream), and even those of us who professed that we wanted “only a bite” of the dessert were soon fighting to have the last bite.

Overall, I rate Green Gourmet a 6.5 out of 10. Most surprising was the fact that their best dishes were when they used mock meat products, and that their plain vegetarian dishes were less than adequate. You would think that a vegetarian restaurant would be able to deliver better dishes using only vegetables. I won’t be back to Green Gourmet any time soon, unless it’s for their sticky rice dessert!

Green Gourmet on Urbanspoon

Recipe: Vegetarian Nutmeat Sausage Rolls

How do you and your partner divvy up the cooking responsibilities?

More often than not, I’m usually the one who prepares our daily meals as we’re unlikely to sit down to the dining table until 10pm if K was to be let loose in the kitchen. He is a perfectionist with an incredible amount of attention to detail and will quite happily spend two hours prepping ingredients whereas I’m more of a haphazard “throw everything in” and can churn out a meal in fifteen minutes (Jamie Oliver, eat your heart out). 

On the rare occasion that he’s in the kitchen however, he likes to experiment with new food – these vegetarian nutmeat sausage rolls are an example. The rest of this entry is written by him – enjoy!

Even before my brother decided to go part-time vegan (I don’t even know…) a few years ago, I can remember him extolling the virtues of the various Sanitarium nutmeat products. He gave me the recipe for these nutmeat sausage rolls when I recently had to cook for my work colleagues, one of whom is vegan. Although I didn’t cook them for that occasion, my curiosity was piqued enough that I picked up a can of nutmeat from the health food section of the supermarket, determined to see whether it was a good substitute for meat.

nutmeat-01

Not being meat means you can eat it straight out of the can, something my dad mentioned was done when he bought nutmeat sandwiches from the old Sanitarium sandwich shop in the city back in the late 80’s. I decided to give it a go.

It smells peanutty, but has a dense, slightly spongy and springy texture. Looking at the ingredients shows it’s mainly peanuts and gluten. If you’ve had Chinese faux meat dishes, you’ll recognise the texture. The flavour was savoury but somewhat underwhelming. I was a little disappointed that it didn’t contain any other types of nuts (technically peanuts aren’t even nuts to begin with).

My brother recommended frying the nutmeat up first. To get it out of the can I had to attack it with a fork, and it came out in clumps. Despite having added spices to the mix before adding the nutmeat, a quick taste test made me decide to add significantly more to try and punch up the flavour. After cooking, I added the tomato paste and breadcrumbs to the mix. It had a good consistency – moist without residual liquid, and somewhat sticky.

nutmeat-03

It took me until the third attempt to figure out how to construct the sausage roll itself (the most important step, presentation-wise, was to wash hands before rolling the pastry!). Despite their rustic appearance, these sausage rolls turned out just fine too, but I’m a stickler for detail. 

nutmeat-02

And after baking:

nutmeat-04

You can cut them into halves after baking to better eat them. They also make a good snack straight out of the fridge the next day!

nutmeat-05

Overall, I’m happy with the result. The nutmeat is an interesting substitute for meat, although I think the overall mix needs some work.

Recipe: Nutmeat Sausage Rolls

(makes 6 long sausage rolls)

Ingredients
Quantities are approximate, adjust to taste or preference

  • 1 can of nutmeat

  • 2 onions

  • 4 small carrots

  • 1 sprig spring onions

  • 1 head of garlic

  • 1 cup bread crumbs

  • half a tub (2 tablespoons) tomato paste

  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce* (omit if vegetarian)

  • 1 tablespoon paprika

  • 1 teaspoon oregano

  • 1 teaspoon chilli flakes

  • 1 teaspoon cumin

  • 1 pack of puff pastry (3 sheets required)

To make the nutmeat mix:

  1. In a wok or pot, brown onions and garlic.

  2. Add carrots to soften.

  3. Add nutmeat, spices and sauces. Break up the nutmeat with a spatula as it heats.

  4. Allow the mixture to cook for 10 mins, tasting and adjusting seasoning if required.

  5. Take the mixture off the heat and add in the breadcrumbs and tomato paste. Adjust breadcrumbs if the mixture is too wet or dry.

  6. Mix well and continue to break up the nutmeat if necessary.

  7. Allow to cool.

To make the sausage rolls:

  1. Preheat the oven according to the pastry directions (for the pastry I used, it was 220 degrees Celsius)

  2. Directly after bringing the pastry out of the freezer, score it down the middle with a knife – no need to cut all the way through – you can snap it along the scored line with your hands.

  3. Lay out baking paper on baking trays and arrange the pastry on the paper.

  4. Grab a handful of mixture and shape it into a log, around the diameter of a 20 cent piece (1 inch or so).

  5. Lay it down so the long edge is about one centimeter from the edge of the pastry (not in the middle!).

  6. Repeat with another handful of mixture until there is mix along the length of the pastry. Make sure you “smoosh” the handfuls together, and flatten off the ends, since they’ll be exposed.

  7. Wash your hands of mixture! Otherwise you’ll get bits of the mix on the outside of the pastry, where they’ll burn. Since it’s a pain to wash your hands, lay out as many sausage rolls as possible.

  8. Bring the wide area of pastry over the nutmeat mixture, keeping it as tight as possible, without stretching or tearing. There should be just enough extra pastry to press firmly into the centimeter strip on the underside.

  9. To ensure the pastry doesn’t separate during baking, use a fork to lightly crimp the two sides of the pastry together.

Review: 10kg Produce Box from Bondi Fruitologist

One thing you should probably know about me by now is that I’m a massive sucker for daily deal websites such as Living Social, Groupon, Our Deal, etc. I’ve eaten out a few times using daily deal vouchers, and bought a fruit and veg box from Doorstep Organics as well (with mixed results).

Just recently, I snapped up yet another deal for a fruit and vegetable box – 10kg of fresh produce from Bondi Fruitologist for $49 (normally around $100). I’m so glad I didn’t learn from my negative past experiences. I was really impressed with the contents of the box, and the service as well. I just called up on the Friday morning to order the box, and it was ready for us to pick up on the Saturday morning – with a free 2litre bottle of fresh orange juice thrown in as a freebie!

bondi-fruitologist

Included in the box was:  A small mixed salad, four carrots, three potatoes, four brown onions, four zucchini, fur tomatoes, four cucumbers, one head of broccoli, two handfuls of green beans, half a celery, two corn cobs, four bananas, four apples, four peaches, four nectarines, four oranges, a punnet of strawberries, a punnet of blueberries, a bunch of green grapes, half a rockmelon, half a pineapple, and the bottle of orange juice. Whew!

I was really pleased with the quality of the produce overall. Unlike some of the produce I received in my last fruit and veg box from Doorstep Organics, everything was still super fresh and firm – nothing was going soft and mushy, and I can see most of the produce lasting the full week (we eat a lot of vegetables and snack on a lot of fruit – at least three pieces each every day!).

I’ve already used a lot of it for a dinner party we held over the weekend. The celery, two tomatoes and an onion went into the base of an Italian-style sauce that I made for a slow-cooked chicken drumstick dish. The potatoes, carrots, zucchini and two other onions were used as sides for a roast dinner. For dessert, I served up the rockmelon, strawberries, blueberries and nectarines as a fruit platter.

Well done Bondi Fruitologist, this box was really impressive and great value. If I didn’t live on the other side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and was actually closer to Bondi, I would come back and buy a lot of my weekly produce from your store!