Sunday, 26 August 2012

Potato Pizza

After going to our favourite haunt the other night with the ever fabulous Jane, we were feeling a little peckish so, after walking Jane home, we decided to get some pizza. One, we got from a pizza chain, the other from a restaurant/bar-style place. We won't even go into how awful the pizza chain veggie pizza was, as it was what I had expected, but what I hadn't expected was that the restaurant/bar-style place's pizza would be as awful as it was! I ordered a potato and rosemary pizza (hold the parmesan) and what came out was a dry cracker with about 10 pieces of potato.

I know potato pizza is a bit "done", but I still think it's delicious (because it is), so the next night I made us one for dinner. It's super easy, really tasty, and doesn't require chopping heaps of veggies! (and, though we often forget with what we're charged at restaurants / take-away places, very inexpensive)

Potato Pizza

What You'll Need
1 medium-large baking potato (I used royal blue)
Nuttelex (or your favourite non-dairy butter spread)
Olive oil
Rosemary (dried or fresh)
Garlic (1 clove, crushed; or powdered)
Salt (optional)
Nutritional/savoury yeast flakes
Pizza base (either homemade or store-bought)
Store-bought pizza bases tend to turn into cracker when cooked, but sometimes you just need pizza NOW and don't have time to make pizza dough (we've all been there). Take a look in the fridge or freezer section of your supermarket for "fresh" pizza bases, which are already rolled, but are dough (unlike the dried bread disks in the bread section). Also take a look in smaller grocers, as they sometimes sell ready-to-go pizza dough (Sugo Mi sell them at their shops but also in other smaller grocers/delis), which may be unrolled, rolled AND ALREADY TOMATO PASTED (!!!) We're not using tomato paste on the base in this recipe, so avoid those, but they're really useful for other pizzas.

Slicer (our grater has a singler slicing blade on one side which is a heck of a lot less painful than assembling/using/washing the mandoline, but isn't quite as wide so isn't particularly useful for larger potatoes; or, if you're really good at slicing potatoes really thinly, do it with a knife!)
Pizza stone
Spoons (for measuring and mixing)
Pastry brush (if desired)

Now That You're Ready
1. Turn the oven on full blast. Put 2 tablespoons of nuttelex in a bowl and either heat in the microwave for 30 seconds, or leave on the oven while it's heating to melt it.

2. To the melted nuttelex, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, around 1/2 teaspoon rosemary, and the garlic (if using powdered garlic, around 1/2 teaspoon). Check for how salty it is; remember this for later. (this will make enough for 2 pizzas, or 1 pizza and small garlic bread)

3. Roll out/place the pizza base on the pizza stone. Either using the spoon or a pastry brush (I always find pastry brushes to be a big hassle, especially to clean up, but use it if you like it), spread the nuttelex mix over the pizza base: while it should be focussed on the centre of the pizza base, get it all the way to the edge. Sprinkle a few pinches of nutritional yeast over the top.

4. Slice the potato using the slicer; one potato should be more than enough for one pizza. Starting from the edge, place the slices of potato in concentric circles on the pizza base until it's covered; it's ok for the pieces of overlap a little bit, but you don't want them lying on top of each other too much. If you have some slices left over, make some chips! Or just compost them.

Despite the photo below, I'd probably use a bit more potato, as they shrink slightly when they cook (this isn't so much of a problem when the base is larger, unlike the one pictured below).

5. If the nuttelex mix wasn't particularly salty (mine wasn't), grind some salt over the top of the potato; if it was already salty enough. If you're a real nooch lover, sprinkle a little more over the top (you can also use a little more of the nuttelex mix over the top if you like). Put it in the oven for around 25-30 minutes, until the potato has started to crisp up. Serve and enjoy!

Monday, 6 August 2012

Super Exciting Announcement: Our Very Own Business!

Brisbane: how lucky we are.

I know a lot of the time we go on and on about how much greater the food is in the Southern States (and yes, Melbourne and Sydney are pretty fabulous), but we live in a pretty awesome place, with a a great lifestyle, and great people.

Recently, I took 7 weeks holiday from my work to focus on my passion - food. I've been granted some fantastic opportunities.

I've completed conventional culinary training - and learned so much in the process. I've met, spoken to, and talked shop with a number of chefs, bloggers, business owners, producers of food, and tasters, and I've attended wonderful events. And it's just the beginning.

I held my first cooking demonstration at an Amateur Chef school - teaching Dreena Burton's famous chocolate chip cookies to a class of aspiring chefs - which they loved. I have started supplying an amazing local cafe with my handmade cheesecakes and cookies.

How awesome is that.

Going back to my desk job after 7 weeks was hard. I love a lot of the work, but this time I'd spent in kitchens, creating, tasting and share fantastic food made me realise that food has to be a part of my every day. In a big way. So my workplace has kindly agreed to let me reduce my hours to part-time, from next week.

In the meantime, I have an announcement to make: we have started a business. 

For a few weeks now, I've been supplying baked goods to a local cafe - testing the waters. The response has been fantastic. I've been blown away. People really love our food. It's an incredible feeling - knowing that people are appreciating and loving what you're creating. I love to think that I'm making their day a little brighter, with our goods. And when they're eating them, they're brightening mine, too.

Our business is called Delicious, Regardless. We're focussing on food that is delicious, regardless of any dietary requirements; food that doesn't apologise, that doesn't taste any less fantastic because of what it doesn't have in it. Everything we sell is vegan, and I've got a number of gluten and wheat-free tricks up my sleeve, including decadent cheesecakes. Everything is hand-made, with quality ingredients.

The sky is the limit. I look forward to learning as much as I can from the talented local chefs and food writers, in addition to building our business. I also really hope to work with some of our fantastic local restaurants, to expand the quality and brevity of their offerings designed for people who are vegan, gluten-free, or have some other dietary choice/requirement.

Thank you so much for being here and helping us to build up our confidence on the way to doing this. I really, truly appreciate all of the support we've received.

I haven't used Facebook in years - so please bear with us, and head to our Facebook page to "like us".

Our official website is

I've got a few thank yous, that I'd like to list:
  • First and foremost - all of the amazing, underrated, incredible vegan cooks and chefs who have come before me. In particular - Bryanna Clark Grogan, Dynise Balcavage, Julie Hasson, Fran Costigan, and Dreena Burton. I'm not gonna rest until you ladies are on the bestseller list. Dreena, singling you out (as always!!) - your friendship, patience, balance and support has meant, and continues to mean, so much to me. Thanks for "healthying me up".
  • Cale Drouin and all the staff from The Green Edge (Cale - thank you for believing in me, giving me all of these wonderful opportunities - and buying a risky business that ultimately, through your amazingly kind and good nature, you've turned into a really wonderful place. You should be so proud. I'll always be loyal to you! And to the staff: thank you for spruiking and "upsizing" your customers with me, and for eating like I'm never gonna bake again!)
  • Jerome Dalton, from Dalton Hospitality (Words cannot express how awesome you are. You know it. You've made this possible. And I have a lemon cheesecake in the fridge for you. I think I'm gonna have to bake you another one. You work too hard, but your kind heart and passion for food is so, so inspiring).
  • Natascha Mirosch (for taking a chance on the wacky, mouthy, vegan guy who eats like a starving bogan at a fairground)
  • Kym Machin (for making me see that vegetables truly are the challenge of a fine chef, and for always rising to the occasion)
  • Alison Taafe (for taking me on as a scholarship student who had never so much as boiled an egg, training me, offering me opportunities, being so crazily passionate, and most of all - for believing me)
  • Chef Stix (thank you for being interested in the full scope of being a chef, and for being so kind and agreeing to train me when I came in shaking, and with one foot out the door. I hope I still can train with you!)
  • Barbara and Bryan Harris (Barbara - you were, and are, a lovely lady. I hope you're resting in peace. I promise to take more care of Bryan. You picked well)
  • Danielle Dixon (for being truly interested, supportive, setting the example and encouraging me to follow my dreams)
  • Jane Green (for being the complete opposite of a food snob)
  • To all of my other buddies on Twitter - thank you for all of your support, and for sharing your knowledge. I love our interactions, and you've all been so wonderful.
And last, but certainly not least - my business partner, James. I love you sweetheart. So very much. Thanks for being so patient, so honest, and so strong.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Eating Veg at The West End Markets

Whether you're a local, or just visiting Brisbane, you're no doubt presented with a great dilemma come the weekend: to go to the markets or to not go? And if to go, then to which one(s)?

We're a little spoiled for choice in Brisbane, but, for us, the choice is almost always The West End markets. Partly because we're creatures of habit, but also because of the delicious food. Considering markets are usually a juxtaposition of cholestafest with "farm-fresh!" fruit and veg, there are a surprising number of options for eating vegan (and no, that doesn't mean buying a bag of (albeit delicious) apples).

The markets are on Saturday mornings from 7 (perhaps even earlier? do such times exist?) until around midday (but I've been informed that they run as late as 3pm, when people start running out of things to sell).

Is it a park? A protest? No, it's the West End Markets!

If you hate markets, worry not! We usually walk around the outside then break through the stands, rush into the crowd, grab our food, then run back to safety. But if it's your first time, get your brave pants on and battle the crowd, because everyone else has to. Kind of.

Just one important note: almost everyone is cash-only. Even though there's an ATM there, it only had a dial-up connection, only gives 20s, and there's always a huge line (but it's always there if you're desperate!), so come prepared with cash (there are ATMs all along Boundary Street if you forget until you're nearly at the markets).

So get on your gumboots (don't ask me why...), grab your ridiculously broad-brimmed hat, whack on your zinc, and come with us on a tour of the West End markets!

Y Killamoocow
This is always our first stop in the markets. If you're a patron of The Green Edge, you'll already know of their No Bull Pies and Pumpkin and Barley Rolls ($4.50 each).

While these are certainly delicious, you're coming here for one thing: a dagwood dog. Also known as a pluto pup (maybe only just to me), (or a hotdog-on-a-stick, if you're a New Zealander - HOW DESCRIPTIVE - The Dilettante). This is a batter-coated hot dog, deep-fried then dipped in tomato sauce. As such, it's pretty much The Dilettante's dream food (and only $4). But be aware that they only start dagwood dogs from around 10am, so if you're an early bird (unlike us) start elsewhere and work your way back.


They're generally made on demand, so you may have to wait for a little while; in the mean time, grab a samosa, No Bull Pie ($3.50), or Pumpkin and Barley rolls ($3; make sure you get it with sweet chilli sauce!), or duck across to get some Sugar Cane Juice. But remember to save some room; there's still plenty to go!

Who says vegetarians aren't friendly?!

Sugar Cane Juice
The Dilettante thinks this tastes like grass; I think it's absolutely brilliant. You can get plain sugarcane juice for $4, get it with lime juice for $4.50, or with lime juice and ginger for $5 (only $1 more for 200x deliciousness? Yes please). Perfect way to wash down all the fried food, freshly squeezed (extracted? it sure looks painful) before your eyes. Once it's ready, walk back across and grab your dagwood dog, then escape take a moment to have a sit down in the park before the journey continues.

"Brisbane's Best Falafel" at eat-a-pocket
I am by no means a falafel connoisseur (though I've sure had some awful ones in my time), but I do not doubt this stand's rather bold proclamation. If you're not sure if you'll be able to fit much more in, just grab a box of falafel (6: $5.50; 12: $10.00), but if your stomach just can't be satisfied (or if you skipped the dagwood dog!), stretch for the falafel pocket ($10.50): a pita pocket filled with hummus, falafels, salads, tabouli, pickles, tomato salsa, tahini sauce and (optional) chilli.

The falafel pocket: get in mah belly.

It's a bit of a wait (mainly because everyone else eats there), but it's worth it.

If falafel just aren't your style, they also offer a hummus pocket ($9.50) and a selection of plates (breakfast, hummus, mezze, baba ganoush).

Hungarian Style "Tócsni" (Potato Pancake)
Don't be scared off by the funny hats; these pancakes are a cross between hash browns and savoury pancakes, and have the best of both worlds. They offer a number of garnishes (when we first went, they only had the veg option: they've now added animal products, but they shouldn't add cheese unless you ask for it!). $9.

Only one or two stalls along, this empanada stand offers (shock-horror!) veg empanadas! They're pretty delicious (and surprisingly, consider they contain cauliflower and sultanas), but they're no longer hot by the time we get them, so get in early!

As you enjoy your empanada/Hungarian pancake/paella, enjoy the... mellow sounds of (arguably?) folk music wafting over the hustle and bustle of people. If you've never gone to the markets before, persevere (and try not to punch anyone), but if you've seen it all before, dart back to the crepe stand and take the shortcut past the club house to come to our next stop...

Black Star Coffee "Soy Deluxe"
Though it's easy to be put off by the copious facial hair/thick-rimmed glasses/... ok, all the hipsters, don't let this distract you from the coffee: after eating and eating or, well, anytime, Black Star Soy Deluxe Cold-Pressed Coffee is absolutely wonderful: smooth, creamy, and just a little sweet, it's the perfect way to end (or at least take a break from) your eating frenzy. $5. Sometimes, they also sell a delicious stuffed (often with spinach and potato) Afghani bread called "Bolani", which The Dilettante thinks is delicious.

From here, it's all pretty standard market fare, but you can go either way:

1. Head back to just before the Fish Tent of Death (what horrors lie within I dare not tell...), where a large stand overflows with delicious red and green apples, tomatoes, and capsicum, a small stand has various herbs for sale, among with plenty of other specialty stores. There is also a new place that does vegetarian paella ($6).

Mmmm, paella...


2. Continue on to finish the loop of the markets. The left-hand side is mostly knick-knack type stalls, whereas the right is a mix of fruit and veg stores and some very odd book stands. In this direction also lies the stand for Chi Tea, where you'll find some fantastic teas and some ridiculously cool (and amazingly well priced) tea wares (pots and tea sets, etc).

As usual, markets are an ever-changing landscape, so there's almost always a new place here or a place that has disappeared there, but the places listed above have been there pretty much every week for the last six months (if not longer), so they should be there when you visit.

If you know of any stalls serving awesome veg food, either at the West End Markets, or any other markets that you go to, let us know! (We'll do our best to update this post with prices/info)