raw (everything-free) choc-mint slice

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What this slice lacks in refined sugar, it makes up for in its infinite potential for hashtags: #dairyfree, #paleo, #vegan, #raw, #glutenfree, #cleaneating etc. The only food trend – gluten free – is one I follow by force, not fashion. That being said, I secretly love health food crazes as they encourage trying new things with food. I’m not about to activate an almond or anything, but I genuinely enjoyed the added challenge of making something in a novel way. I especially enjoy how mint leaves themselves lended their colour to the green layer!

I have never been the hugest fan of vegan treats, let alone raw ones, but the Pana Chocolate cafe in Melbourne successfully swayed me to believe that such alternatives could be better than the real thing. One taste of their chocolate mint slice had me happily handing over $8 to indulge in a full piece. It was worth every penny, and I have thought about how amazingly decadent, rich and smooth it was on a regular basis since. All I needed at home to recreate it practically perfectly was patience and a reasonably powerful food processor. The ingredients themselves are not too hard to come by in most supermarkets, however they are more expensive than their standard, sugary counterparts. The batch ensuing is gigantic, however, and best stored frozen. Compared to how much a single piece costs at any hipster cafe, making this is almost economical when it comes to cravings.

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cauliflower “steaks” on cauliflower puree

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Cauliflower with cauliflower.

There’s no such thing as too much of a good thing, here. I’m not about to produce a vegetarian meal by halves.

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This recipe calls for an entire head of cauliflower to be consumed between two people. We are using the whole damn thing. If I was truly innovative, I would have crisped up the leafy fronds encasing the florets, but I’m afraid I was a little busy massaging my kale. Could I be more of a food wanker? Let me just add that this recipe can be easily adapted to be vegan, paleo or even both for good measure. I don’t often cook an entirely vegetarian meal, and so for some reason, making a dish based around vegetables in various disguises and then adding more vegetables to compliment it somehow made a lot of sense to me. Given that I absolutely love celebrating fresh produce, I’m seriously considering challenging myself to one meat free day per week. Once upon a teenage time, I was a vegetarian!

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gado gado – indonesian satay salad

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My Opa (Dutch) grew up in Indonesia, and as a result, some of my fondest food memories featuring cuisine hailing from there. Peanut satay sauce has forever been on regular rotation in my family home. We usually serve it alongside a barbecued, marinated butterflied leg of lamb, but gado-gado is another marvellous option, especially if you have vegetarians coming along for a spot of dinner and have already served them haloumi. The peanut sauce can be prepared up to a day in advance, and if you mise-en-place cleverly and chop your vegetables with time to spare, it’s a perfect dish to serve to a large group.

I’ve provided measurements for the peanut sauce, but they’re loose and I encourage you to taste your own satay regular and adjust ingredients accordingly. As for the shrimp paste? My Opa used to tell us of the factory in which the fermented fishy stuff was made, and of an adjacent luxury hotel forced to drop their nightly rates because of the smell. I’m not sure if it’s true, but fry it and you will understand why such a place would be so cheap (an extractor fan or alfresco preparation will not go amiss).

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