Entertaining: Introduction to Vegetarian Barbecues

barbecues

Australia Day, Queens birthday, public holidays or any sunny day is a good excuse for Australians to fire up their barbecue or barbie as they call it. When you think about it, we are blessed with good weather at this part of the world so that the barbecue season can be extended for as long as we want.

Even though, barbecues are prone to be meat-centric –thanks to some abusive ads on the TV—it doesn’t have to be that way. There are so many delicious vegetarian barbecue recipes that give us vegetarians the pleasure to enjoy some alfresco meals, especially during balmy Australian summers.

It’s not that difficult to put together a vegetarian barbecue, either. With a little bit of imagination and a vast variety of vegetables, fruits, tofu, burgers, patties, veggie sausages and cheese, you can transform all of these into a mouth-watering vegetarian menu.

Most people think that vegetarian barbecues consist of just grilled mushroom kebabs. In fact, you can use almost any vegetable for barbecuing: zucchinis, cauliflower, peppers, tomatoes, garlic, mushrooms, onions, asparagus, and eggplants.

Vegetarian barbecue is also a healthy way of cooking simply because we use so little oil and our ingredients do not contain too much fat like flesh foods. On top of that, because barbecued food is cooked very quickly and is exposed to intense heat, the food quickly becomes crispy on the outside and the outer crust seals in the moisture and prevent it from drying out. This helps retain the nutrients in vegetables, especially minerals and fat-soluble vitamins which can be diminished by boiling, frying or roasting.

Good things happen in the flavour department, too! The delicate taste of eggplants and zucchini is enhanced by the slightly blackened skins when barbecued; the natural sweetness of colourful capsicum is revealed; and the robust flavours of root vegetables, onions and garlic are stronger and more pungent.

As I mentioned before, there are so many tasty and interesting vegetarian dishes that can be cooked over hot coals. But before we get there, I’d like to talk about barbecue equipment, ingredients, marinades, flavoured butters, barbecue preparation and barbecuing and cleaning tips. So, stay tuned for my next posts.

Product Review: Gardein Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick’n

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We seem to be a huge fan of Gardein products and Gardein Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick’n is no exception. This one in particular has a unique flavour that we so like. Gardein Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick’n Ingredients Water, soy protein … Continue reading

Restaurant Review: Manjit’s at The Wharf

Manjit’s at The Wharf is overlooking Sydney’s darling: Darling Harbour. They do a modern Indian cuisine style of food here which means they have a contemporary take on classic Indian dishes. It’s open kitchen so you get to see where your food is cooked and how it’s cooked. I must admit, it was quite an experience. Here’s how the night went for us:

First, we ordered our drinks as Manjit’s is not BYO. We both had TWR Toru which is a blend of Gewurztraminer, Riesling and Pinot Gris. It’s from a certified organic, biodynamic producer in Marlborough, New Zealand. It was a great choice as it complimented spicy food very well.

The service at Manjit’s is quite friendly. We had more than two different waiters and they were all happy to wait on us, talk to us and explain all the dishes.

As for starters, we ordered Gol Gol Gappa and Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Khumb.

Gol Gol Gappa
A contemporary twist on a classic street food delight. I believe it’s pani puri. They are tiny, crunchy, puffed bread filled with spiced chickpea, potato, onion, herbs and flowers. It’s served with tamarind and amchur (mango powder) caviar. You pour it into the puris and eat it all in one go. It was very fresh and spicy. It tickled the back of my palate. Just the way I like it.

Manjit's

After Gol Gol Gappa, we were served complimentary poppadums and they were rolled! Please refer to the photo below.

Manjit's

Our second starter of the night: Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Khumb
Grilled whole organic mushrooms filled with paneer, spiced corn and water chestnut.

Manjit's

As for the mains, we shared Phool and Kaju Ki Sabzi. Vegetarian dishes are marked with a V on Manjit’s menu and Kaju Ki Sabzi is one of their vegetarian signature dishes.

Manjit's

Phool is described as cauliflower pan cooked with coriander seeds, served on potato espuma and toasted cumin on the menu. Espuma is Spanish term for froth or foam, by the way. So, if you are expecting aloo gobi kind of dish here, you are in for a surprise.

Kaju Ki Sabzi (Signature)
Kaju Ki Sabzi is described on Manjit’s menu as “a preparation of cashew nuts sautéed with mixed spices, served with caramelized onion” but there is a surprise there. This sabzi is topped with a spinach kofta stuffed with paneer. It looks like a saag paneer scotch egg!

Manjit's

Desserts from Manjit’s
The dessert menu is actually a lot bigger than most restaurants offer. They do rasmalai, mango pistachio kulfi, kaala jamun, shahi tookra and more. When I saw jalebi on the menu, my decision was made. Even though, I was warned that it wasn’t like the classic jalebi, I still wanted to take my chance and hire the fat girl. It was different! I could taste jalebi but it was different. It’s actually made of thinly sliced green apple, dipped into jalebi mixture and fried and stacked up. At the top, there is a ball of white chocolate with rose cream inside.

Manjit's

Apple jalebi was my dessert, John, on the other hand, decided to have chai creme brulee.
Crispy green apple fritters coated in a fragrant saffron and rose flavoured syrup.

Chai Creme Brulee 
A soft, creamy creme brulee with a delicate hint of spicy chai finished with a caramelized crunch of toffee.

Manjit's

Manjit’s at the Wharf can be found at this address:
49 Lime Street, King Street Wharf
Sydney, NSW 2000
Phone: 02 9279 3379
Email: info@manjits.com.au
Website

Kumera & English Spinach Gnocchi from Harvest Vegetarian

Kumera & English Spinach Gnocchi from Harvest Vegetarian Cookbook is an incredibly time consuming recipe but it’s worth the effort.

The recipe below yields quite a bit of gnocchi but don’t fret because gnocchi freezes well. Just lightly dust them with flour and freeze them in a bag.

If you don’t have time or energy to make your own gnocchi, you could buy ready-made gnocchi from chiller section of your supermarket and bake it with Lemon and Garlic Cream Sauce.

English Spinach Gnocchi

Kumera & English Spinach Gnocchi from Harvest Vegetarian
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6

Gather:
500g (2 cups, 1.1 lb) desiree or pontiac potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
250g (1 cup, 8 oz) kumara (sweet potato), peeled and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons salt pepper to taste
1 bunch lemon thyme, leaves only
90g (3 oz) English spinach leaves (wash, chop and wash again)
2 tablespoons fresh basil or oregano, finely chopped
500g (2 cups, 1.1 lb) plain flour

Lemon and Garlic Cream Sauce
300ml (1/4 cups, 10 fl oz) cream
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Juice of 1 lemon

250g (1 cup, 8 oz) parmesan, grated

Create:
• Boil potatoes until just cooked-when a wooden skewer can just be inserted, do not overcook. Drain. When cool, peel and return to pan to dry off well. Mash until smooth.
• Boil kumara until just cooked. (Do not cook with potatoes as each has a different cooking time.) Drain and mash.
• Combine potato and kumara mash, salt, pepper to taste, lemon thyme leaves, chopped spinach and basil or oregano. Add flour to thicken and mix thoroughly.
• Wash and oil your hands and roll a teaspoon of gnocchi mix into a ball. Place on a tray and continue until all the mix is rolled. You will need to wash and oil your hands as you go.
• Roll each ball in the seasoned flour and roll in clean, floured hands for up to two minutes each, to help develop the gluten and allows the gnocchi balls to maintain their shape when cooking. Place balls on a clean tray and continue until all the gnocchi is rolled and ready to cook.
• Drop 6-8 balls at a time into a saucepan of lightly salted boiling water. They rise to the top when cooked. Remove and place in sauce. (Or, prior to placing in sauce, you can keep in refrigerator for two days or freeze for later use.)
• To make the Lemon and Garlic Cream Sauce: Combine cream, garlic and lemon juice in a saucepan bring all ingredients to the boil then simmer until thick. Stir frequently. Place gnocchi in sauce and stir to coat.
• Transfer into an ovenproof serving dish and cover with grated parmesan then grill until golden.