Vegan chef and cook book author, Leigh Drew has a new recipe book (out 12 November) with over 120 recipes. Titled Veganissimo: Beautiful Vegan Food, her new book has over 200 pages of information, colour photographs and a lot of information on the vegan lifestyle. Leigh has taken the time to answer some questions and share a recipe with us. Here's a photo of Leigh with her book:
Why did you decide to write your book?
I had been working on a round-the-world book off my own bat, developing recipes slowly, when I got into contact with Arbon in December 2012. I was fascinated by the concepts that Arbon presented in regards to a vegan cookbook, and writing for and reaching out to a wider audience, and obviously the opportunity to write a comprehensive cookbook was a wonderful one, as well as learning about creating recognisably “me” recipes to a publisher’s specifications.
How long did the book take to make from creation of recipes to release?
The process from contract to release date has been about 10 months, but the process from recipe development to submission of recipes was three batches of three months. The total number of recipes in the book is 120, so I developed, tested, rewrote and submitted about 40 recipes a month. It was a really exciting and challenging experience, and thankfully my recipe testers were more than up for the task and the timeframes!
Once the recipes were all submitted for the editing and proofing and design process, I worked on the introductory chapters, which took another month. And then I got the opportunity to see the recipes be cooked, styled and photographed by an amazing group of professional food stylists and photographers.
It’s been a really enjoyable experience from start to finish, and such a wonderful opportunity. I’m so proud of all of the work that everyone poured into this book.
What other vegan people helped you with the book?
I had a really supportive group of taste testers drawn from my local vegan community, who tried every single recipe that went into the book (and a couple that didn’t make the cut) and provided invaluable feedback. It was great having them all around to give me different opinions on taste, texture, presentation and so forth. They all also donated money at these taste testing sessions, with the money going to Animal Liberation NSW
My recipe testers from around the world were all vegan and all of differing levels of skills. They are listed as contributors in the book, as they should be, because their constant testing and comprehensive reviewing ensured that the final recipes were easy to read, understand and cook from.
Asian Salad Strawberry Pepper Sorbet
What do you hope to achieve with the release?
First off, I just want to show how beautiful, delicious, accessible and fun vegan food is. It’s happening less and less, but vegan food has often been maligned (unfairly) for being tasteless, lacking in flair, “twigs and berries” and so forth. I think not!!
Secondly, I want this to be a book that is appealing to everyone, vegans and omnivores and inbetweenies, and to maybe be a way for people to help rethink the way that they regard food, veganism and their role in the use of animals.
But mostly I want everyone to cook something from this book that just blows their socks off and that they want to make again and again, and share with those that they love.
What has the response been like so far?
The response has been so positive and so supportive. I think having Australian vegan cookbooks published is really important, and it’s great to be amongst that group of folks publishing Australian generated content. I’m so looking forward to seeing what people think of it after it’s been released – I’m incredibly proud of it and my testers really enjoyed the dishes, so I’m hoping that translates to the greater public.
What are your future plans?
To keep doing what I’m doing – food demos at festivals, helping out at cafes, cooking, running cooking classes occasionally and hopefully getting the opportunity to write another cookbook or two in the future!
Thanks to her book publisher, Arbon Publishing
for sending me a copy of the book last week.
More on Veganissimo:
Veganissimo includes all vegan, easy to prepare recipes for dishes such as a divine Hazelnut Chocolate Torte, a sensational burger, a lasagne, a tagine, a Lancashire Hotpot and numerous curries. Leigh provides guidance for new vegan cooks and includes a range of building block recipes used throughout the book, which can also be taken and adapted to a cook's own style, whether they are beginner vegan chefs or highly proficient. Veganissimo provides advice on replacing dairy and eggs and includes a broad introduction covering all of the basics of a vegan pantry.
RECIPE: Corn Fritters with Tartar Sauce
Soy Free Gluten Free
SERVES: 12–14 fritters
11⁄2 cups (10 oz/285 g) corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 medium red bell pepper (capsicum), finely chopped
1 bunch cilantro (coriander) (approx.
4 oz/115 g), finely chopped
1 cup (51⁄2 oz/155 g) masa harina or polenta
1⁄2 cup (2 oz/60 g) chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup (8 fl oz/240 ml) soy-free or soy non-dairy milk
1⁄4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) olive oil
1⁄2 batch Tartar Sauce (see page 52) to serve
PREPARATION TIME 15 minutes**
COOKING TIME 1 hour
1 Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a cookie tray with kitchen baking paper.
2 In a large bowl, mix together the corn kernels, red onion, garlic, red bell pepper (capsicum), and cilantro (coriander). Stir through the masa harina or polenta, chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour, salt, and ground black pepper. Pour in the soy-free or soy nondairy milk and olive oil, and mix the ingredients together well. Set the bowl aside.
3 Place a nonstick or cast-iron frying pan over medium heat. Form ½-cup portions of the mixture into patties, and panfry the fritters in batches of three or four at a time. Cook the fritters for about 5–7 minutes or until they are golden on the underside, flip and fry them for a further 3–5 minutes, and then place the fritters onto the cookie tray. Place the fritters into the oven to bake for 15 minutes or until they are fully cooked and set in the center.
4 Serve the fritters topped with the Tartar Sauce.
** plus 5 minutes and overnight soaking for the Tartar Sauce
Purchase Veganissimo here.
About Leigh Drew:
Sydney-based Leigh Drew has been involved in the culinary world for almost 30 years, having taken over the family kitchen at an early age. Since becoming vegan in March 2003, she has shared her love and enthusiasm for vegan cookery by teaching cooking classes, speaking at festivals, managing vegan cafés, catering, and writing cookbooks. Veganissimo is Leigh’s third and most comprehensive cookbook to date.
Leigh was inspired to become vegan by cooking with her vegan friends, and by the discovery that vegan food is fresh and inventive. Her aim is to showcase the variety found in vegan cuisine, as well as to provide techniques to get the very best out of ingredients. Using vegetables and fruits, a range of legumes and grains, sauces, herbs, spices, soy products, and international inspiration, she shows in Veganissimo that vegan cuisine offers an abundance of choice for everyone.
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