Archive for August, 2011

Guinness and mushroom pie

Posted on August 28th, 2011 by Warren  |  2 Comments »

Guiness and mushroom pie

Guiness and mushroom pie

This is a great recipe from Jamie Oliver adapted for vegetarian tastes. I’ve cooked this a few times and each time it turns out great. It does take a little bit of time to cook, but the results are well worth it. Plated up with some hot fresh chips and salad, it’s perfect whenever I want some nice warm hearty pub style food.

To be a truly vegetarian dish, you need to ensure the dark ale you use does not use animal derived products such as isinglass in the production process. Guinness used to be a favourite beer of mine, till I found out it was not vegetarian. Fortunately there are a few sites that have lists of vegetarian alcoholic beverages so being informed is even easier than before. You can find these resources on my vegetarian links page.


Recipe: Guinness and mushroom pie


  • Puff pastry sheets
  • 400g mushroom chopped
  • 2x 400g canned red lentils, drained and rinsed
  • Handful of tvp chunks soaked and squeezed of excess moisture
  • 4 carrots peeled and chopped
  • 3 celery sticks chopped
  • 1 (or 2) 330ml bottle of good vegetarian Stout Beer (I use Coopers Best Extra Stout)
  • 2 large onions sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled and chopped
  • Knob of Butter or olive oil
  • Salt
  • Powdered Vegetarian Stock (I use Massell stocks)
  • 2 Teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • (optional) shredded cheddar or mozerella cheese (ensure it has non-animal rennet)
  • 1 Free range egg, beaten


  1. Preheat the oven to 190C
  2. Heat Butter or oil in a deep ovenproof pot
  3. Add the onions and fry without colouring for about 10 minutes till they are soft.
  4. Add the garlic, and fry for a couple of minutes
  5. Turn up the heat, add the mushroom, lentils, carrot, celery, TVP chunks to the pot and stir occasionally for about 5 minutes.
  6. Add the bottle of beer, flour, rosemary and just enough water to cover. Season with a little salt and pepper and some stock powder and stir.
  7. Cover, bring to a simmer and cook for a about 5 minutes.
  8. Place the whole pot with lid into the oven for about 1 hour. Take the pot out and stir the contents. If it’s a bit too dry, top up with a bit of water till a little runny again. Put back in the oven for another hour, stirring every 20 minutes, adding water as needed until the lentils have softened to your liking.  Have a taste and season if necessary with more salt or stock powder. Leave to cool a little.
  9. Depending on how big your pie dishes are, thaw out the required puff pastry sheets
  10. Scoop the stew into your pie dishes. If you want, you can sprinkle some cheese on top at this point. Top with a piece of puff pastry large enough to cover the pie dish entirely.
  11. Brush the pastry with the beaten egg and place the pies in the oven and cook for 30 minutes or until the pastry is lovely and golden.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 3-4 hour(s)

Serves: 4-6

Wagamama Express, Myer Centre Brisbane

Posted on August 19th, 2011 by Warren  |  No Comments »


The hoards of hungry office workers in the Myer Centre food court means it’s lunch time.  I find myself here because I’ve been left in “no leftovers from the night before because I ordered takeout” limbo… Pushing and shoving my way between the too closely spaced tables, I make my way towards the newly opened Wagamama Express.  Usually I avoid food courts specifically because they are crowded, stuffy places with dodgy vegetarian options.  However in the interests of checking out Wagamama’s latest concept I made an exception.


After standing in line for a couple of minutes I place my order of Yasai Katsu Curry ($8.80) and Kasubi sweet potato chips($5.00) and take a ticket number.  Standing to the side, I was able to observe the goings on in the kitchen.  In typical Wagamama style they have brought their open kitchen concept from their full service restaurants and have shrunk it to fit into their “booth” in the middle of the food court.  They result is sleek and modern.  A dining bench wraps around two sides of the kitchen and allows patrons to observe the hustle and bustle in the kitchen.  I’ve always loved this concept of openness… it’s a free show!  Plus you know they will think twice about picking up that dropped bit of food and dusting it off and sticking it back on your plate!

Kasubi Box

Cute packaging... but is it worth $5.00?

My number is called and I pick up my order.  I receive a plastic bowl full of Yasai Katsu Curry and a black box of what felt like air.


Sweet Potato Kasubi ($5.00)

The box of air actually contains some very thinly sliced fried sweet potato chips with some basil and wasabi mayo.  A sprinkling of black and white sesame seeds tops it off.

With real bits of basil and a hint of wasabi

The chips unfortunately were cold, but to their credit they were light and crispy.  The basil and wasabi mayo really helped to lift this simple dish. The fragrant sweetness of the basil and the subtle tanginess of the mayo went well with the sweet and savoury potato.  The hint of wasabi tickled the back of the nose and added that extra dimension.

Yasai Katsu Curry ($8.80)

The Yasai Katsu Curry ($8.80) was a generous serving consisting of 4 fat slices of crumbed deep fried vegetables slathered with curry, on top of a bed of rice and a mixed leaf salad with Japanese pickles.  The menu lists the vegetables as being sweet potato, butternut pumpkin, zucchini and eggplant.  However pumpkin must have been too expensive or they ran out since I had an extra sweet potato slice to substitute the missing pumpkin slice.

mmm, chilli...

Still I was not fussed and for $8.80, this is really good value!  Biting into the vegetables, the crumb was thick and crisp.  The sweet potato was slightly too firm for my liking however the eggplant and zucchini were deliciously soft and juicy.  This is complemented by the thick, lightly fragrant and slightly sweet curry which was boosted by my liberal application of chilli sprinkles from the self serve seasoning bar.  The salad was a nice touch and had a light dressing for which there was no description of but tasted of soy and ginger.

One thing I noticed was that because the curry is heaped on top of the veges, the rice at the bottom does not get any of the curry love.  It helps to wipe some of the curry from the veges onto the rice while eating it so you don’t end up with a bowl of bland rice to finish off.  I would have liked an extra layer of curry under the fried vegies… maybe I could ask for that next time as I have heard rumours of other curry places in the vicinity doubling the curry for nothing!


I think for $8.80 they have hit the spot with the Yasai Katsu Curry.  Good value, tasty and with a generous serving of vegetables and salad.  From what I could tell it is exactly the same, quality and quantity wise, as their full service Wagamama restaurants except for half the price.  However I thought the Sweet potato Kasubi for $5.00 was a bit of  a rip off… I’m convinced that half the cost went into the cute little box it comes in!  Although it was tasty, there really is not much sweet potato to justify the cost. Maybe if it was $3.00 I’d order it again.


Restaurant Details

Name: Wagamama Express
Address: Myer Centre food court, Brisbane, 4000


Yasai Katsu Curry $8.80
Sweet potato kasubi $5.00

Other Vegetarian Options:

Edamame $4.00
Miso Soup $2.50

Yasai Yaki Soba $8.80

Wagamama Express on Urbanspoon


Posted on August 18th, 2011 by Warren  |  3 Comments »

Although here in good old Brissie vegos are pretty well catered for, it wasn’t long ago when many restaurants and people were totally ignorant of vegetarians… a novel idea, a passing fancy!

Vegetarians often got the short end of the stick when it comes to parties and functions, restaurants and the like.

‘Hi, do you have anything vegetarian in your menu?’

‘Yes, we have a salmon dish’

‘Fish is not vegetarian’

‘Oh, ok… how about some lettuce?’

Our meat eating friends were always giving us crap, which always lead to a heated debate of some kind usually containing some combination of the following:

  • You don’t eat meat??!
  • You need some Protein.
  • How do you get all your vitamins?? OMG, you’re going to DIE!!
  • What about IRON?
  • Can you eat Chicken?
  • Do you eat seafood?
  • How about egg? Oh yeah, you can’t eat egg… It’s got a baby chicken in it!
  • My friend is a vegetarian and eats fish.

And always ending with: “Why do you eat veges then? They are alive as well aren’t they??”

What is life without meat eating friends? 😛

Fast forward now to the present day Brisbane, we’re now we’re an educated, cosmopolitan lot and it shows in the number of vegetarian options available.  We have several great vegetarian restaurants (at one stage we had about eight) and most meaty restaurants these days have some great vegetarian options.  I’m going to be reviewing some of my favourites and try a whole bunch of new ones all with an emphasis on how well they cater to the vegetarian palate.  And just to liven things up I’ll also be trying my hand at some cooking and sharing some fantastic recipes I’ve come across over the years.