Book notes

Book notes

Mo Wyse, Shannon Martinez
0 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
Bonnie Savage

We don’t believe in recipes with a million steps and hours of preparation. This is not that cookbook.

When writing this book, Shannon learned that what she thought was common knowledge was not actually common knowledge. She would explain a cooking method or type out her instructions and it would go straight over my head. Shannon buys cookbooks for inspiration; I buy them for instruction. Shannon gives her fiancé three cookbooks and makes him choose something, then cooks the dish without reading the method. I, on the other hand, take the book to the supermarket to get the right ingredients. I make sure the temperatures are perfect and the plating looks like the photo. This combination has (hopefully) made this book the perfect blend of inspiring images and ideas for those of you with the natural cooking knack, and all the steps for those of you with two left thumbs when it comes to the kitchen.

Our best advice: learn to love how to cook. Start with the easy recipes. Cook one thing for the week. Gain an appreciation for what goes into your body and the work involved. Even if you’re time poor, make time for food. If you don’t have something in your pantry, buy it. Keep going! Keep cooking!

As far as food goes – this book, these recipes – these are the flavours Shannon grew up with. Some of the recipes are adaptations from her grandmother, the main difference being the absence of meat. These dishes reflect the places Shannon has been, the things she grew up eating and hearing her dad talk about, and the meals her grandfather made for her.

It should also be noted that prior to making this book, Shannon never wrote out her recipes. It’s her first time measuring things, ever. Her previous measurements were literally in the following descriptors: ‘velociraptors’ and ‘eagle swoops’. Thankfully, she has always been lucky enough to have staff who are on the same page and know the measurements by heart – it’s never precise, but it’s always tasty.

Another important thing to mention: our main gripe about typical vegan cooking and cookbooks is the unnecessary over-complication of EVERYTHING. Shannon has always, always said that the best way to cook is to use old-school methods and vegan-ise them, not make complicated theories and methods and use extra ingredients to make a substitute. She believes in focusing on food and flavour and vegetables over knife work, so don’t be alarmed at the lack of technical instruction, because good, flavourful food shouldn’t be hard. Just make sure to have your music up loud and a comfortable place to eat your meal when you’ve finished cooking it!

23 tips and facts about this book

1. Don’t be scared in the kitchen.

2. Don’t follow the recipes too carefully.

3. These recipes are for regular cooks. This isn’t fancy shit.

4. We believe in you. Remember, if Mo can, you can.

5. If you don’t have an ingredient, it doesn’t mean you can’t make the food in this book. Unless otherwise specified, substitute the missing item with something else, or leave it out. The final product won’t suffer over a missing herb.

6. These recipes are portioned for 4 people who have awesome, healthy appetites like us, or 6 moderate eaters (not like us). Also, keep in mind – what’s the point of cooking if there aren’t leftovers?

7. We designed these recipes to be accessible, both in terms of equipment and ingredients. There’s no special equipment required and the majority of ingredients can be bought from your local store, no matter where you’re from.

8. Your plating does not have to match our plating. Put the food on your plate however you damn well please.

9. Like your food to be spicy? Use more chilli and the seeds. Don’t like it spicy? Use less and leave out the seeds.

10. Buy the best ingredients you can afford. Don’t buy the home brand if you don’t have to. If you can afford it, try to buy up a notch – the end product will be better for it.

11. Even in the zombie apocalypse, the idea of life without garlic is not acceptable to Shannon. So, make sure to always have it in your pantry, even if it’s in a jar. But seriously, use the pre-minced garlic only as your apocalyptic back-up. And don’t skimp: if Shannon says one clove, she means one fat clove, or two small ones. Go big.

12. In places where it doesn’t matter (e.g. sauces, dressings), pulse ingredients in the food processor to get the job done more quickly. No one will see the pieces. Spend your time where it matters. Find shortcuts to save yourself the time as long as it doesn’t affect the outcome or, most importantly, the flavour! P.S. Shannon cheats all the time.

13. A comment on soy milk: Shannon always uses malt-free, sugar-free, non-GMO, organic milk when possible. If not possible, try to get as close as possible.

14. Hot sauce – just use your favourite. Shannon uses whichever bottle her hand hits first.

15. Salt, pepper, oil, hot sauce – please use your own taste buds as your guide. ‘To taste’ means ‘to your taste’, so just make your food yum to your own standards. We’re not eating it. You are!

16. Sherry vinegar – go to the effort to find it.

17. Parsley – always flat-leaf/Italian, whatever you want to call it. But not curly. It’s not the ’80s any more.

18. Citrus – what’s the point if you don’t use the skin? That’s where the flavour is! Don’t just use the juice, use the zest as well.

19. Herbs – use fresh when possible, even bay leaves. But, again, if not possible, dried will do. Kinda.

20. When a recipe calls for dressings or sauces in a salad or dish, we like lots and lots. But, again, it’s a preference thing. Definitely coat your dish, but add more if you want. If you want to be healthy, be light-handed.

21. THIS IS NOT HEALTH FOOD. This has always been our mantra, and will always be something we stick to. Our one motto is: ‘good food that happens to be vegan’. That doesn’t mean it’s healthy. You’re cutting out cholesterol by cutting out the animal fats, but you’re still deep-frying food, and that’s still deep-frying. Duh.

22. If you’re passing a food store that isn’t on your daily route, stop and pick up the things you can’t find at a normal supermarket. You’ll be glad you did.

23. Turn the music up and have a good time, cos what’s the point otherwise?

Our favourite substitutes

Butter – Nuttelex, but any dairy-free margarine can work!

Milk – soy. Our preference is a malt-free, sugar-free, non- GMO organic soy, but use whatever you can get your hands on.

Eggs – no egg or egg replacer. There are also heaps of online tutorials using flax seeds and bananas or similar. Try them out! The world of the vegan egg is rapidly expanding. No Egg just happens to be something we can readily get our hands on here at most natural food stores.

Stock – most supermarkets carry vegan chicken and beef stock.

Cheese – we use BioLife as it’s damn tasty and regularly available in mainstream supermarkets, but any vegan cheese you can get your hands on should do the trick.

Prawns – go to an Asian supermarket and do some fun poking around the frozen foods section. You’ll be amazed at what meaty/seafoody substitutes are available.


Gluten flour – available from health-food stores. Don’t try to use plain our, it won’t work out for you.

Chickpea flour – also called besan, it can be found in health-food stores and Indian supermarkets.

Ajvar – available from Mediterranean supermarkets.

Nutritional yeast – available from health-food stores.

TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) – available from health-food stores, Asian or Indian supermarkets and often in mainstream supermarkets.

Shannon is not vegan

That’s not the point, is it? But really, it’s never been something we’ve hidden or tried to hide. From day one, we’ve exclaimed it loudly – it’s a point of extreme difference to our peers in the vegan food industry.

Shannon knows she’s an asshole for not being vegan. She’s smart, she gets it. Not being vegan is a shit thing to do, but not being vegan enables Shannon to do what she does.

She creates from a fully different perspective and provides the most unique product for people who aren’t coming from that perspective of what something is ‘supposed’ to taste like.

There are people who won’t come to the restaurant because Shannon’s not vegan, but really, that’s fine. Shannon’s doing a lot more for animals and veganism than someone complaining on the internet about her.

Some customers even get shitty with Shannon. A customer once told her that she doesn’t trust anything we do ... like Shannon’s got weird meat pellets in her pocket, and she’s just sprinkling them around. She doesn’t. Don’t worry.

There have been so many times when Shannon and I have been out to eat and Shannon, wishing that I could try whatever dish she’s eating, has gone straight into her kitchen to sort out how to vegan-ise it.

Thanks to Shannon’s ingenuity and direct contact, she’s convinced some serious meat eaters that her creations aren’t missing anything, least of all the meat.

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