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Vegan Mushroom Pâté

Recipes January 21, 2013

I have a bit of a confession to make.

I used to be a bit of a mushroom-hater. I have a vague recollection of eating something mushroomy as a child and enjoying it, but for the greater part of my childhood/teen life mushrooms, for me, were not an option. Family and friends would go out of their way to make sure shared dinners didn’t include them – and I avoided them like the plague. I think it was the texture and the taste I disliked so much.

It wasn’t until I was about 22 and traveling through Japan that I remember the change taking place. I was visiting a friend who lived in Osaka who made me a big bowl of steaming vegetarian nabe (Japanese soup) on my first night at his place. He added a handful of sliced Japanese mushrooms to the broth. They didn’t look too bad and smelled great… Suddenly all my mushroom reservations fell away. I took a tentative bite and was completely hooked. It opened up the world of mushrooms to me and I loved it. Suddenly cup mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, oyster mushrooms and portobello mushrooms were brand new friends and thus my love affair with mushrooms was born.

I still remember the surprise on my best friend’s face when, cooking dinner at her house after that trip, I insisted we add mushrooms to the stir fry we were preparing. “What, really?” she said, with big eyes. “Yes, REALLY,” I replied. From then, I was mushroom-obsessed. They literally could not go into enough of my meals. I was just so excited to finally try all these mushroom-related recipes I had avoided before, as well discovering that mushrooms added a wonderful flavour to so many of my regular go-to recipes such as stir fries, pastas, omelettes and so much more!

It’s funny how much a simple trip overseas has the ability to change a person. That five week trip to Japan was my first real adult trip without my parents and it really opened my eyes to a whole lot of things, especially food. I fell in love with not only mushrooms, but also avocado, feta as well as mochi and curry udon (two of my biggest food-loves).

I could gush on and on all day about how much I love Japanese food and travelling there, but if you like, you can take a read a bit more on my post all about that by clicking here. I’m sure I’ll write something similar after my cherry blossom trip there in a few short months too!

Anyway, back on track and back to the Mushroom Pâté!

Australia Day is coming up and everyone knows that means BBQs-a-plenty and lots of family get-togethers! I find that I’m often asked to bring appetisers to parties so I tried to come up with a recipe that’s low in fat and incredibly delicious that everyone can enjoy, including those with common allergies and vegans.

After a bit of thought, I came up with this Mushroom Pâté recipe, and the good news is that it’s totally simple to put together. Why not whip up a batch of it this Australia Day and try something a little different from the dips and pâtés you would normally pick up from your local grocery shop this summer? It’s much fresher and better for you, without all the hidden nasties and preservatives you often find in those packaged dips!

Now, on to the recipe!

Start out with a bounty of baby bellas.

Slice ’em up and whack them into a pan with already-sautéed garlic and onion. After a minute or so, add the pan lid and cook on high for about 5 mins.

After about five minutes on high with the lid on it should look something like this and have developed some liquid. Some recipes opt to add some flour to thicken it at this stage but I didn’t feel it necessary. If yours develops quite a bit of liquid, I would recommend adding about a teaspoon of corn flour (dissolved in water to avoid lumps.) By the way, it was so hard not to eat the mushrooms just like this – especially on a piece of crusty bread. Bliss!!

After a few more minutes – this is about the final stage I wanted them at before cooling in the fridge – a good part of the liquid has evaporated, but you do want a little bit in there to smooth the pâté out some.

The next few steps are easy – place in the fridge until cool and then pulse in a food processor/magic bullet/blender with cream cheese until you get a fairly chunky consistency. Make sure you don’t go overboard with the blender as you don’t want a paste! I found a few pulses with my processor were more than enough.

Mushroom Pâté (an original recipe by Cooking Crusade)

Makes: 1 small bowlful of pâté but serves at least 8 guests with crackers/veggie sticks.
Time to prepare: About 10 minutes to prepare ingredients, 10 minutes of actual cooking, 1-2 hours cooling time and about 2 minutes to blend.

  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium brown onion, diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, grated (Use two large cloves, or 3 smaller ones – whatever you have on hand)
  • 400g Baby Bella mushrooms (2 punnets)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 large (I used a soup spoon) spoonfuls of cream cheese (I used vegan cream cheese – Tofutti from Coles)

Equipment needed: Chopping board, sharp knife, 1 saucepan, a food processor/blender.


  1. Clean and slice your mushrooms. Place saucepan on high heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Fry onion until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add garlic and fry for a further minute. Add mushrooms. Add extra tablespoon of oil if needed.
  2. Fry mushrooms for about 1 minute on high. Cover with saucepan lid and keep on medium high heat for another 5 or so minutes until mushrooms are cooked through. Stir through balsamic vinegar. Remove to a bowl and cool in the fridge for 1-2 hours or until completely cool.
  3. Place cooled mushroom mixture in your food processor and add cream cheese. Blend for about thirty seconds until the mixture comes together but do not blend for too long – you don’t want it to become a paste – its much nicer with some texture to it.
  4. Serve with crackers, veggie sticks, melba toasts or corn chips! Enjoy!

Looking for some more ideas about what to use your leftover mushroom pâté for? It’s incredibly versatile and easily able to lend its great flavour to a bunch of snacks and other dishes!

  • Stirring it through freshly-cooked spaghetti, with a good glug of olive oil for good measure
  • Spread on toast, top with a softly poached egg for breakfast – great with freshly chopped herbs
  • Stirred into a nearly-cooked risotto for instant mushroom risotto
  • Folded into scrambled eggs for the perfect creamy omelette with mushroomy goodness
  • Spread onto a wrap with some of your fave ingredients (e.g. salad, caramelised onion, feta or other cheeses, cold meats, vegetarian sausages, etc)
  • Adding a few tablespoons of heated cream, or added to a creamy, cheesy sauce for pasta, steaks, or on baked chicken breasts or fish fillets. You could also try a version of this with steamed veggies too
  • Spread on top of savoury pikelets, then top with slices of smoked salmon, chopped dill and lemon juice
  • Fold into pancake batter for savoury mushroom pancakes

Mushrooms are so wonderfully versatile, not to mention naturally low in fat and a great source of Vitamin D (good for your bones and heart!) as well as lots of great minerals (potassium, phosphorus, copper, selenium and more!) for maintaining your health. Read more interesting facts about health and nutrition relating to mushrooms here. There were a lot of interesting facts about mushrooms I learned that I really had no idea about – it’s great to know that something so delicious is also so good for us too! 🙂

This post was sponsored by the Australian Mushroom Growers. Cooking Crusade would like to thank the AGM for this fantastic opportunity to be paid to blog about such a delicious ingredient! Thank you! 🙂

Another week has gone by! Hope you all had a lovely weekend – and the next one will be a long one 😉 Woohoo!



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Vegan Yum Cha at Green Gourmet, Newtown

Reviews January 14, 2013

I’ve been meaning to visit Green Gourmet for their yum cha for some time now. I’m a huge fan of their restaurant and have visited many times for dinner as it’s the perfect place to go with vegan or vegetarian friends, but if I’m to be completely honest with you, their food is so good that I often go by myself or con my meat-eating friends into going and 9/10 times, they are never disappointed — you will not miss the meat at all!

Green Gourmet serve Chinese cuisine — completely vegan and all their food is cooked without garlic or onion (I’m not sure of the exact reasons behind this — I believe it has something to do with Buddhist cuisine for health reasons?). I’m constantly surprised at how delicious their food is without garlic and onion (two of my fave cooking ingredients!!)

Well enough of my banging on and let’s get to the important part — the food!

Vegan rice paper roll
Vegan rice paper roll – Vietnamese rice paper, seaweed tofu, lettuce, pickled carrot and turnip and crumbed soy protein.
I loved the freshness of the crunchy veggies and the vermicelli noodles with the sweet sauce. I need to learn to make these at home!

Savoury potato dumplings, crumbed and deep fried
Savoury potato dumplings, crumbed and deep fried
These reminded me of those KFC deep fried potato ‘mashies’ I used to be obsessed about until they stopped making them (probably a good thing lol) but slightly softer.

Mushrooms wrapped in nori with fake fish meat and deep fried
Mushrooms wrapped in nori with fake fish meat and deep fried
Just wow. The mushrooms were soo juicy and delicious and who knew they tasted so good with nori? Oh the fact that they were deep fried probably helped too, heh.

Shiitake mushrooms
Shiitake mushrooms
I kept sneaking bites of these amazingly flavoursome mushies in a savoury sauce.

Savoury potato and vegetable dumplings, deep fried
Savoury potato and vegetable dumplings, deep fried

Fake prawn gow gees
Fake prawn gow gees
One of my old faves — these did not disappoint! I couldn’t get over how much they tasted like real prawn gow gees.

Snow pea and mushroom dumplings
Snow pea and mushroom dumplings

Vegetarian spring rolls wrapped in thin tofu wraps
Vegetarian spring rolls wrapped in thin tofu wraps
Another old fave of mine, I used to order these at yum cha regularly. I really enjoyed the contrast between the thinly sliced tender veggies and the chewy thin tofu wraps. Soooo good.

Fake char siu pork
Fake char siu pork
This was a popular dish and did not take long for us to finish! Love that moreish char siu sauce, and this had a very similar texture to meat.

Steamed gai lan
Steamed gai lan
Who could say no to this one? I’ve been known to polish off whole plates of this myself before. I think I saw JJ’s eyes light up when she saw this one hehe.

Crispy fried rice noodles
One of my absolute faves – cheong fun – crispy fried rice noodles topped with a peanutty hoisin sauce, crushed peanuts, chilli and coriander — such an amazing blend of flavours. Another one I would love to learn how to make at home!

Sweet sesame red bean paste balls
Sweet sesame red bean paste balls.

Vegan sweets menu board
Green Gourmet also serve a tempting array of decadent sweets — just look at this list! And all of them completely vegan — good news for vegans with a sweet tooth!

Green Gourmet seating
Vegan sweets for sale
A bunch of delicious vegan treats for sale as well!

I really loved the yum cha at Green Gourmet and would highly recommend it to anyone who is vegan, vegetarian, or does not eat pork/shrimp but still loves yum cha! Meat eaters definitely give this a try for something different — I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised! Despite my love of meat, I would happily eat here any time of the day — maybe even twice in a day! 😉

My fave dishes from this outing were definitely the fried cheong fun rice noodles with hoisin sauce and coriander, the vegetarian spring rolls (with the thin tofu) and… all of the steamed dumplings. Oh and the shiitake mushrooms. And char siu ‘pork’… Need I go on? If it didn’t get any better, their yum cha presents fabulous value. The five of us ordered so many dishes and yet it came to a tiny $14 each. Unbelievable value!

If not for their yum cha menu, their dinner menu is also jam-packed full of traditional Chinese dishes with a vegan spin. They also serve a dinner buffet that I’m totally crazy about. You enter, grab an empty plate, load it sky high with all their buffet choices and pay by weight. Then stuff your face. Repeat plate piling until full. (P.S. If going for the buffet, DEFINITELY try the honey ‘chicken’. Its my fave by far! I could eat a plate of that stuff!)

One last bonus of Green Gourmet is that it’s next door to Vegan’s Choice Grocery (post to come!) — an amazing shop packed full of goodies a vegan dreams about, as well as all kinds of cakes, slices, the BEST brownies I’ve ever eaten (GF, DF AND egg free to boot!) as well as a tasty selection of homemade tofu ice-creams. Honestly, I challenge you to go in there and NOT spend a packet of money. It’s too hard, I tell you!

Green Gourmet on Urbanspoon

Hope you’re all enjoying the cooler weather. I don’t know about you guys but I’m seriously over this ‘heat-wave’ bizzo. At least we all have the long weekend to look forward too, woohoo!

Happy Monday! Only five days until the weekend 😀

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Dairy-free Strawberry Ice-cream Pops

Recipes January 8, 2013

Happy New Year folks!

How have you been enjoying 2013?

I hope you all had a lovely and relaxing Christmas break filled with lots of fun and delicious treats!

I spent my break with friends and family in Sydney. I also spent a good chunk of my free time playing my new Christmas pressies on the XBOX, Lord of the Rings and Batman 2 Lego games 😀

I do have a bit of annoying news for myself though – and that is I’ve been feeling a bit intolerant lately. I’ve been feeling quite ill for the past few months. I’ve seen the doc, had my blood tested for a few things, and have also tried a few elimination diets to try and figure out why my digestive system was on the fritz.

Prior to this I’ve had similar sorts of stomach upsets but this was lasting a lot longer than it had in previous times. Long story short, I seem to have some sort of intolerance to wheat AND dairy – much to my disappointment as I clearly love both of these things with a passion. Fortunately I seem to be able to consume a smallish amount of either without much consequence but any more than that seems to have.. side effects. Side effects that I would rather not bore you with, but I’m sure you get the idea!

Anyway, that being said, while I still intend to share my favourite gluten and dairy recipes with you all (as I will still make them from time to time) I suppose I will be venturing into more gluten- and dairy-free recipes. Time to don my creative hat, as eating gluten- and dairy-free is certainly a new thing for me. I suppose I am still in a bit of a teething stage and part of me hopes that it may not be permanent (my blood test revealed that I am definitely not coeliac). All this being said, I am looking forward to trying out new GF and DF recipes and I will still of course be only posting the easiest and most delicious ones I can find!

One particular dairy-free treat I’ve missed indulging in the most (and especially in this heat!) has been ice-cream. I am a big strawberry lover and love all things strawberry scented and flavoured: ice-cream, body wash, shampoo, creams, all of it! So when I got inventing in the kitchen, it was not a tough decision about which flavour to try first.

I did a bit of brainstorming and figured I would make a strawberry syrup from fresh strawberries, blend it with coconut cream, then freeze. To my surprise, it worked out even better than I imagined.

This recipe is beautifully creamy with a great strawberry flavour and a light coconutty aftertaste. Not only is it dairy-free, it is also gluten-free and vegan, but I promise that you will not miss the usual cream and egg yolks normally packed into regular ice-cream!

If you wanted to try a different spin on this recipe, I expect this would also be a lovely treat blended with Greek yoghurt instead of the coconut cream.

I really was surprised at how well this recipe turned out – I kept sneaking bites during the photographing process, hehe. Even as I type, I’m still finishing off the last few scoops – pretty handy on this intensely hot day! I think this may well be one of the best recipes I’ve ever come up with! Another bonus is that this easy recipe is only five simple ingredients. Woohoo!

This recipe is a snap to put together, however it does require you to pop a can of good quality coconut milk in the fridge the night before (to separate the hardened coconut cream from the thinner coconut water in the can). I’ve heard of those who don’t refrigerate their cans of coconut milk overnight with success, but I haven’t tried it.

One day after refrigerating your coconut milk, flip the can, open it, scoop out the hardened coconut cream and place in a bowl. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge.

Slice up two punnets of strawberries and chop a medium sized lemon in half.

Add sliced strawberries to a saucepan, followed by a cup of water, a cup of white sugar and squeeze in the juice of half a lemon. Place on high heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Careful though, as this has a tendency to overboil! Keep an eye on it. After 20 minutes on high, lower the heat to medium-low and keep it on there for a further 20 minutes.

Take it off the heat when the strawberries are nice and syrupy. Cover and put in the fridge until completely cool (at least 2 hours.)

Pour cooled strawberry syrup into a blender and add coconut cream.

Blend until creamy and a pretty pale pink.

Pour into pop moulds and freeze until solid.

With the rest of your ice-cream mixture, pour into a plastic container and freeze in the fridge. Every hour or so, take it out and mix thoroughly with a spoon to break up any ice crystals forming until completely frozen and creamy. For an even better explanation on how to make ice-cream without an ice-cream maker, click here for David Lebovitz’s great tutorial. You could of course just pour this into an ice-cream maker and churn after blending.

Note: This ice-cream is also a little icy after freezing. David Lebovitz once again comes to the rescue with tips on how to soften home-made ice-cream – click here to read on!

Dairy Free Strawberry Ice-Cream (an original recipe by Cooking Crusade)

Makes: 1 litre strawberry ice-cream (approx)
Time to prepare: Overnight for the coconut cream, about 1 hour for the strawberry syrup, 1 minute to blend and about 2-3 hours to freeze.

1 can of coconut milk
2 punnets of strawberries, washed and hulled
1 cup of granulated sugar
1 cup of water
the juice of half a small lemon

Equipment needed
chopping board, small knife, 1 small saucepan, 2 bowls, wooden spoon, a food processor or blender, ice-cream pop moulds

To start this recipe you need to begin one night beforehand by putting your can of coconut milk in the fridge. You can make the strawberry sauce 2 hours ahead of ice-cream making time, as it needs to be cooled, but if you’re starting the night before that would probably make things more convenient to cool it overnight in the fridge and you’re ready to go the next morning.

  1. Slice strawberries and place in a saucepan. Sprinkle over sugar and add water. Turn heat on high and heat until sugar melts. Simmer for about 20 minutes on high, but please keep an eye on it, as this mixture is prone to overboil! (I learned this the hard way!) Lower heat to medium-low for about another 20 minutes until the strawberries are quite syrupy, but there is still quite a good amount of liquid. Take off the heat and pour into a bowl, cover and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours or until completely cool. You should have about 600mls of liquid in total.
  2. While the syrup cools, remove the can of coconut milk from the fridge and flip (be careful not to shake it). Remove can lid, drain off the watery liquid and scoop out the hardened coconut cream at the bottom of the can. Place in a bowl, cover and place in the fridge while syrup cools. This should slightly thicken the cream.
  3. When syrup is completely cooled, pour into food processor, or a blender. It is not too difficult a job to blend, so even a cheap blender should do the trick. Blend until creamy and a pale pink.
  4. Pour into popsicle moulds and freeze for about 2 hours or until frozen solid. To release from the popsicle moulds, run the moulds under hot water to help loosen the strawberry pops. Serve and enjoy!

Hope you are all surviving the heat and having a super lovely week!



Super Simple Mango Gelato

Recipes November 12, 2012

Scoop of mango gelato in bowl

Here’s a recipe to get you ready for summer… A ridiculously easy mango sorbet you can whip up in no time – and no ice cream maker needed! You will however, require a food processor – or a high quality blender may do the trick too. I finally caved in and purchased a food processor and I looove it. Homemade cookie dough dip? Yes please. Pesto, hommos, capsicum dips? I’m there! I can’t imagine my kitchen life without it now! If you have any great food processor recipes, please share as I’d love to have another excuse to whip mine out 🙂

Frozen chunk of mango gelato

Now, onto matters more gelato related…

This recipe is very easy to prepare and make, and only takes a few minutes to blend – what’s not to love?

Start out by (not pictured) freezing fresh mango flesh in ziplock bags overnight.

Chopped chunks of frozen mango gelato
Remove mango flesh from ziplock bag and slice into chunks.

Chunks of mango gelato in blender
Chunks of mango gelato is blender with brown sugar
Place mango in food processor. Optional: Add sweetener if desired (brown sugar pictured) and/or a splash of vanilla essence.

Blended mango gelato before adding milk
Blend. (Pictured without sugar). Mangoes become crumbled and require some liquid to help it become creamy and smooth.

Blended mango gelato after adding milk
Add milk of choice and blend again – it should become nice and creamy!

Scoop of mango gelato served in bowl
Scoop and serve! Enjoy!

Mango gelato in plastic container for storage
You can also freeze any leftovers in a plastic container for later. This shot reminds me of pumpkin puree hehe.

Here’s the handy-dandy recipe!

Super Simple Mango Gelato (an original recipe by Cooking Crusade)

Serves: About 3 people
Time to prepare: Mangoes need to be frozen overnight but actual blending takes less than a few minutes!


  • 1.5 cups frozen mango, chopped into chunks
  • 1/4 cup milk (I used soy milk but you can use whatever you like – cow’s milk, almond, coconut etc.)
  • 1-2 T maple syrup or brown sugar*
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon vanilla essence (I just added this for some flavour but it’s not neccessary.)

* You can omit if your mangoes are very sweet. These particular mangoes I bought were very cheap and not terribly sweet – clearly they had been forced to ripen early in order to meet demand and unfortunately did not have the best flavour. However, in my experience, proper ripe mangoes are usually more than sweet enough without the sugar added. See for yourself – you can always add extra sugar after tasting if you like (I made two batches, one with and without sugar).

Note: This recipe requires a little preparation overnight – to freeze the mangoes.

  1. Slice cheeks of mangoes (I used about 3 medium sized ones) and scoop out the flesh. Freeze in a ziplock bag overnight.
  2. Remove frozen mangoes from ziplock bag and chop roughly to make it a bit easier for the food processor to blend.
  3. Place mango chunks and vanilla essence (if using) into food processor bowl and blend for about 1 minute or until it is completely broken up into tiny pieces. Add milk tablespoon by tablespoon or until you get the creamy consistency you like.
  4. Taste. If it’s sweet enough, serve – but if not, add sugar spoonful by spoonful, blending after each addition and taste each time to get the right sweetness for you.
  5. Scoop mango gelato out of processor bowl using an ice-cream scoop into bowls and serve! I’d like to try topping this with some freshly whipped cream (or coconut cream) and chopped macadamia nuts for that true mango cream Weiss bar feel. Mmm. Weiss bars. But honestly its pretty good by itself – even my vegan Mum enjoyed it! Any leftovers can be poured into a plastic container and stored in the freezer. It will harden, but a few 10 sec zaps in the microwave should be enough to make it scoopable.

Feel free to play around with the measurements in this recipe. You can add more / less mango and just add the milk / sweetener afterwards so you can get a good consistency / sweetness.

Hope you enjoy this super simple summery recipe !


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Tofu and Bean Stir Fry

Recipes October 10, 2011


I absolutely love getting snake bean dishes at Chinese restaurants, but often find it difficult to find places that make it without pork mince (since I don’t eat pork;) so I thought I’d have a whack at trying my own version. I love the sweetness of the sauce with the beans and the added tofu is a lovely combination and adds some protein. Try this one as a side dish, or throw in some noodles at the end for a lip smacking taste sensation 🙂 It would also be great with some rice and works well for leftovers the next day. This recipe also works well for some vegetarians or even vegans who are looking for a super yummy easy weeknight meal to throw together.

Tofu and Bean Stir Fry
serves 2.
prep time about 5 minutes
cook time about 10 minutes

1 bunch of snake beans
1 package of tofu (in this instance I’m using the Soyco Asian honey soy pre-marinated package you can buy from the supermarket, e.g. Coles, etc. However if you can’t find this, you can still use firm tofu plain or marinate it yourself in some soy, honey and garlic.)
1 clove of garlic
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce or regular soy will do just fine (the dark soy adds a nice sweetness.)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

If marinating the plain tofu, dice the firm tofu into small cubes and marinate in a small bowl in the fridge overnight (1 teaspoon of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of honey + 1 clove of grated garlic).

If using the Soyco brand, dice into small cubes and set aside. Wash and cut snake beans into segments, grate/crush/dice ginger and garlic. Heat vegetable oil in a non stick fry pan over high heat and add the garlic and ginger. Allow it to sizzle and release that delicious scent. If using plain/marinated tofu, add to the pan now and fry for about 5-10 minutes to brown (the Soyco brand doesn’t need this since it’s already cooked – just needs to warm through.) Add snake beans to the pan and fry for another 5 minutes until their skins start to look a little shriveled and puckered (you want this! that means deliciousness!)

If using Soyco tofu, fry ginger and garlic and add beans straight to the pan until cooked as above. Add Soyco tofu and cook for a further 5 minutes or until tofu is hot. If you want to add some noodles, add them now! You can also add some extra vegies, cashew nuts, serve it on some rice or whatever else takes your fancy, but it is just lovely as is.

I tried these beans with some sticky hoisin marinated salmon and steamed corn and it was juuust lovely 🙂

Check out more pics of this dish on my Facebook page by clicking here. Hit the like button and I’ll be your friend foreeever!


Hope you are having a fab week!