Giveaway, Review, Author Interview: Veganissimo! and Greenilicious

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Veganissimo! and Greenilicious

I often read my vegan cookbooks like a novel from cover to cover, rather than looking for specific recipes. I grab some pieces of paper for bookmarks, put my feet up, lower the cone of silence then read through the recipes. One of my favourite read-it-like-a-novel cookbooks is Veganissimo! Beautiful Vegan Food by Leigh Drew. Another favourite is Leigh’s Greenilicious: 101 Ways To Love Your Greens, with Queensland based dietitian and nutritionist Amanda Benham contributing to the nutrition information sections. Leigh and Amanda were brought together to create Greenilicious and this book is also frequently consulted in my home!

Check out some of the gorgeous photos from both books (thank you to Arbon Publishing for allowing me to use these images)! Here’s the Spiced Chocolate and Zucchini Cake with Macadamia Icing from Greenilicious:


Hint of Mint Cheesecake from Greenilicious:


Soft Molasses Gingerbread Cake from Veganissimo!


Rocket Frittata from Greenlicious:


Scallion Pancakes from Veganissimo!


Fennel, Asian Vegetable and Fresh Fig Salad from Veganissimo!


There are some fantastic cheese recipes in Veganissimo! and I love the Chive and Cashew Cream Cheese (I’ve also made it with dill instead of chives). This is one of my favourite photos from Veganissimo!


Broccoli Fritters from Greenilicious:


Filled with loads more beautiful photos, both Veganissimo! and Greenilicious were created here in Australia. I asked Leigh some questions about her background, future plans and the cookbook creation process. You can find my reviews and photos of dishes I’ve made from both Veganissimo! and Greenilicious further down. Check this interview out, I very much enjoyed reading Leigh’s responses!

Please tell us about your culinary background!

I started cooking for the family (of 2) when I was about 9 years old. My mother was working a lot and I perfected the muffin pizza for a quick dinner for us. It’s been all wins since then! I worked in a French restaurant and studied cheffing for a while in my early twenties, but I didn’t really hit my fall-in-love-with-cooking state until I became vegan in 2003. I suddenly had to relearn everything that I knew, and a whole new world opened up for me!

I started blogging, then managed to convince Sydney Community College to let me run vegan cooking classes, which led to my first book being published by aduki (a Melbourne vegan indy publisher), which led to me becoming involved in running naked espresso and apt in Newtown, as well as ongoing involvement as a cooking demonstrator at various vegan festivals around Australia.

I have mostly concentrated on writing cookbooks in recent years, with an occasional foray into hospitality (I helped out at Revolution Foods Café in Enmore for a while), and have been lucky enough to have great support from Arbon who have published my last two books.

What does writing a cookbook generally involve, from start to finish?

My experience with writing a cookbook (and this may differ from other experiences) is to first determine the theme of the cookbook, then do some research to see if there is much out there in the same vein (or if there is a trend coming up).

Second task is to create the shape of the book – chapter titles/concepts etc, and then build a recipe set that reflects the theme of the book and the chapter concepts. When the recipe set is finalised and a skeleton recipe is written for each of dishes, then I get my recipe testers and taste testers involved.

I cook the dishes, making changes to the recipes I’ve already written, and present them to my taste testers. I incorporate the feedback from that experience into the draft recipe, and then post it for my recipe testers to make. They’ll come back with further feedback and based on that, I’ll finalise the recipes and present them to the publisher.

After that there is editing, looking at design for the book and, if I’m really lucky, sitting in on the photoshoots for the chosen recipes. I might also be writing the introductory chapters (non-recipe chapters) at the same time as all of the above is happening. There is also the process of choosing the cover, which is always lots of fun and very difficult!

Finally, I get to hold first proofs of the final version of the book in my hands, and then the first print run. I always get overwhelmed with a combination of pride, happiness, slight confusion and a feeling of “how did I write this beautiful thing?” when I see my books.

Do you have any standout favourites from Veganissimo! and Greenilicious?

Oh wowsers. It’s always hard to choose!!

From Veganissimo…. I love the Coconut, Ginger and Lime Panna Cotta with Raspberry Coulis; the Lemon Self-saucing Pudding; the Soft Molasses Gingerbread Cake; Tandoori Cauliflower Cheese; Thai-style Yellow Curry with Coriander Dressing; the Cashew Cheese with Roasted Garlic and Smoked Paprika; the Vegan Meatball Subs; and the Pikelets with Whipped Maple Crème.

From Greenilicious…. I love the Raw Tex Mex Tacos (was so chuffed that they made the cover!); the Green Crepes stuffed with Chilli-spiked Cream Cheese; the Broccoli Fritters; the Creamy Artichoke and Spinach Dip; the Mushrooms Rockefeller; and the entire Green Smoothies chapter.

There are so many others, but today, these are my favourites 😀
When you have an idea for a recipe, do you run with it? Or do you have to make sure nobody else has done it first?

There are so many creative, prolific vegan bloggers and recipe creators out there that I definitely try and see if anyone has already created the dish I’m thinking of making! If there are lots of example of the dish out there in existing cookbooks or on the internet, I may go back to the drawing board, or I may look at ways to tweak it to make it identifiably my creation.

So if it’s a version of an already popularly veganised dish, such as the Reuben Sandwich in Veganissimo, then I’ll do some research on the different ways that people have approached the dish and adapt my recipe accordingly so that I can bring something hopefully new to it.

Always research, because firstly, there are great techniques out there that you may not have thought of, and secondly, occasionally you find that no-one else has done anything like your recipe idea in any way 😀

Do you have a meal at a restaurant (or friend’s house, festival etc) that blew your mind?

Oh, regularly! Most recently it was probably at Green Mushroom in Glebe (all veg*n Indian restaurant) – everything we had was top notch. Cannot wait to try the other half of the vegan dishes on the menu!

Brunch at Smith & Daughters made me cry with happiness – a griddle full of veges and beans and nopales topped with cheese sauce, soft corn tortillas on the side….

Oh! The vegan gorgonzola pizza at Sfizy Veg in Berlin was amazing. Actually, everything at Sfizy Veg in Berlin is amazing. Their brunch… OMG.

I’ve been getting lunches from My Little Panda Kitchen in Sydney and their cinnamon bun is mouth-wateringly good.

And my boyfriend makes the best – BEST – roast potatoes.

What are your plans for the short and long term future?

In the relative short term, I’m writing a new cookbook, which is exciting. I’m hoping to do some travel in the near-ish future, and hopefully keep writing and speaking on how to be a well fed vegan!

Mostly my plans are to be the happiest vegan I can be. And to learn to swim.
If you could have one culinary superpower, what would it be?

Hmmmm. Making the washing up magically happen without my having to do it isn’t really a *culinary* superpower, is it?  To turn slightly melty vegan cheese into bubbly, stringy, stretchy vegan cheese. Vegan cheeses are getting better and better, but sometimes I just miss the whole “hold pizza at arm’s length from face and have the cheese stretch across the chasm” experience.


Leigh has packed 120 recipes in to Veganissimo! which range from marinades to baked goods, from cheeses to sandwich style foods, from stews to desserts and more– it’s all there and I have no doubt you’ll find something you’ll enjoy. The Lemon Self Saucing Pudding is my family’s favourite and frequently requested!

As well as the recipes, Leigh provides some information on the vegan lifestyle and a vegan diet in Veganissimo! The chapter ‘Building Blocks of Vegan Cuisine’ covers equipment basic, pantry items, legumes, nuts and seeds (including a table for soaking and cooking times), whole grains, soy and wheat products, nondairy milks, dairy substitutes and egg substitutes.

Here are some of the fantastic recipes I’ve made from Veganissimo! and I have loads more I want to make.

I loved these Vegan Meatball Subs and I was over the moon that my fussy ten year old loved the (no)meatballs. I made my own bread rolls (using spinach, hence the green) and filled them with some greens, the meatballs, the Chunky Onion and Tomato Sauce and the Cheese Sauce which you can make using either oats (my choice) or sunflower seeds. The meatballs are made with tofu, walnuts and brown lentils. The recipe calls for green olives in the mix but I didn’t have any, though I think they worked perfectly without. These are now my go-to meatballs:

Veganissimo! Meatball Subs

The Angel-hair Pasta with Creamed Eggplant and Avocado Sauce gives you the option to use chickpeas instead of eggplant. Here I went with the eggplant (though I made too much pasta!). I think it would taste just as good with the chickpeas, which is what I will try next time. I didn’t have the ingredients to make the Gomasio recipe called for, so I sprinkled some toasted sesame seeds on top:

Veganissimo! Angel Hair Eggplant Pasta

The Overnight Breakfast Cups are made with quinoa flakes and apple. I often have overnight oats so this was a nice change:

Veganissimo! Overnight breakfast cups

The Aragula Salad with Cranberries, Butternut Squash and Orange is another favourite of mine and one I would make as the star salad if I was cooking for a lot of people:

Veganissimo! Aragula Orange Salad

The Pikelets with Whipped Maple Cream recipe was another good choice. The kind of good where you’re really impatient to eat them but you have to wait until you’ve taken a photo (where the jam and cream kinda plop everywhere by the time you get the dish outside):
Veganissimo! Pikelets

Another favourite recipe is the Reuben Sandwich, using a tofu bacon that’s marinated in a spiced soy. This spiced soy, with cinnamon and anise, adds a really nice flavour to the marinade. Like the meatballs, this tofu bacon is now my go-to bacon/facon recipe. This sandwich looked so good that I set up camp outside and enjoyed it all nice and peaceful like:

Veganissimo! Reuben Sandwich

I’ve previously made the Thai Style Yellow Curry with Coriander Dressing and rate it as a favourite. Loaded with coriander (cilantro), this is a definite winner for coriander-loving me. The recipe calls for tofu but I was all out so I used some chickpeas and leftover pumpkin:

Veganissimo! Thai Yellow Curry

DeeW wanted to help me make a cake for Mothers Day so we went for the Moist Beet and Chocolate Cake (in a heart shaped tin of course!). DeeW requested no glaze as she’s not a fan of icing, so we sprinkled over some icing sugar. I could barely detect any beetrooty taste in the cake (I’m not a huge fan of beets) and what I could pick up was no problem at all. As the name says, this cake is moist and chocolately. The colour was gorgeous and I will definitely make it again:

Veganissimo! Moist Chocolate Beet cake

I’ve previously made the Chocolate Mousse Tart with Raspberries which disappeared quick smart at a family Christmas lunch:

Veganissimo! Chocolate Mousse Tart with Raspberries


Greenilicious contains 101 recipes to ‘love your greens’ and in all honesty this is one book (along with Veganissimo!) where I want to make just about everything. There are alternatives given if you want to omit an ingredient or try different flavours. I especially love this book because I am very guilty when it comes to serving my greens in the most lazy, minimalist way possible. In other words, I throw all my greens in to a blender and drink them. Now sure, green juices and smoothies can be awesome but Greenilicious has loads of wow factor recipes (go back and look at the official book photos above! Those cakes!!!).

From Greenilicious, I’ve made the Pesto Broccolini Pizza. The polenta base is a very welcome change from your standard pizza dough:

greenilicious_pesto broccolini pizza

The Ethiopian Greens with Spiced Chickpeas recipe is another favourite of mine:

Greenilicious Ethiopian greens

I really enjoyed the Tofu Salad with Shredded Cabbage, Peanuts, Chilli, Mint and Miso Dressing. Here I’ve added some hemp seeds:

greenilicious_tofu salad cabbage

There are a load of green smoothie recipes with worthy names like Baklava, Sesame Halva and After-Dinner Mint. One of my faves (both the name and smoothie!) is Cooper’s Cherry Pie:

greenilicious_coopers cherry pie smoothie

Giveaway Time!

Arbon Publishing and Leigh are offering up a copy each of Veganissimo! and Greenilicious for one lucky Australia based reader of Veganopoulous to win. That’s right, the winner will receive these two books! To enter, please leave a comment below telling me which recipe shown here appeals to you most. The winner (remember, Australia only!) will be chosen by a random number generator. Be sure to use an email address where you can be easily contacted (this won’t be made public). This giveaway closes on Friday May 29th 2015 at 23:59. Good luck!

If you’re not the winner, you’re still in luck! Arbon are having a May special where you can purchase both books for a total of $50.00 by using the code VEGANAU. $10 will go to Vegan Australia.


**This giveaway has now closed**


Cookbook Review: Greenilicious 101 Ways To Love Your Greens

Greenilicious at cruelty free west expo

I was over the moon when I heard that Leigh Drew, author of Veganissimo!, was releasing a new cookbook heavily focused on greens. I love my greens and I love Veganissimo! so with that combination you can see why I was hopping around impatiently until I was able to buy my copy from the Cruelty Free West Expo recently (photo above), where Leigh held a cooking demo.

Greenilicious: 101 Ways To Love Your Greens is co-authored by Leigh Drew and Amanda Benham. Amanda is an Australia-based vegan nutritionist and dietician who has been helping people with plant based nutrition for over twenty years. Her articles have appeared in both scientific journals and popular magazines. Amanda can be found at http://humanherbivore.com/

Okay, the recipes! I read the book about three times from cover to cover, like a favourite novel. As always, I bookmark the recipes I want to try but found myself bookmarking every page. So I took out my markers and went through Greenilicious again, this time exercising more discipline and only bookmarking recipes where I already had most of the ingredients.

The first recipe I made was the Tofu Salad with Shredded Cabbage, Peanuts, Chilli, Mint and Miso Dressing. This was my first choice, thanks to having shredded some cabbage the day before. The cabbage was shredded along with zucchini for a dumplings experiment that displeased the family, so I had a heap leftover and no idea what to do with it. This salad featured that shredded cabbage, zucchini and a little kale. The recipe calls for Chinese cabbage but you can use the regular sort, as I did. The dressing is a simple miso-tahini with freshly squeezed orange juice and I pan fried the tofu (I used firm tofu as I didn’t have tofu puffs).. I sprinkled hemp seeds for serving (because I look for any excuse to use hemp seeds). I love this salad and will definitely make it again:

greenilicious_tofu salad cabbage

I made half the recipe of the Ethopian Greens with Spiced Chickpeas. I say half, because I only made the greens. That’s what happens when you think you have chickpeas but you’ve run out. What good vegan runs out of chickpeas?! Anyway, I’m making this again with the chickpeas, which are stirred through before serving. Look at all this green goodness!

Greenilicious Ethiopian greens

A green curry is always going to be one of the first recipes I make from any book, so here we have the Thai Style Snake Bean Green Curry. I used regular green beans and firm tofu instead of tofu puffs. I served mine on baby spinach (keeping with the Green theme!). Easy to make, easy to devour:

greenilicious_thai style snake bean curry

I admitted defeat with polenta a little while ago but I had a jar of polenta staring sadly at me when I opened the pantry. I had some broccolini and some pesto which meant there was no excuse for not making the great sounding Pesto Broccolini Pizza. Yet again I thought I had some home made pesto but only had one small portion which covered one corner of the polenta pizza. I had also made the recipe for Celery Stuffed With Walnut Cheese (minus the celery and the stuffing), so I used the walnut cheese in place of the remaining pesto. It turned out great and the polenta base was a nice change from a bread base:

greenilicious_pesto broccolini pizza

There are a bunch of awesome sounding smoothie recipes. Sesame Halva! BAKLAVA!!!  L A M I N G T O N ! ! !  Genius! I went for the superbly named Cooper’s Cherry Pie smoothie (I had to get the weird cherries in the photo). I love the smoothie recipes and I admit I sometimes get a bit bored with my usual green smoothie so I’m loving Greenilicious:

greenilicious_coopers cherry pie smoothie

Honestly, I feel like I am doing this fantastic cookbook a disservice by not having more recipes. Truthfully, I did plan on having loads more but things have been a little hectic around here and I wanted to get this blog post up asap.

As well as super recipes, one thing I love about Greenilicious is the information given about greens. The chapters each showcase a select group of greens that have features in common and there’s info at the start of each chapter. I like the nutrition content table at the back of the book (very handy!) and I got a laugh out of the foreword written by Pam Ahern, founder of Edgar’s Mission.

Greenilicious is a beautiful, useful, informative cookbook and one I am only too happy to have on my shelf. It makes a great gift too! Some of the recipes I want to try next are the raw Tex-Mex Tacos (shown on the cover), Rocket Frittata, Shaved Asparagus Hazelnut and Ruby Grapefruit Salad, Cauliflower and Fennel Pate and the Hint of Mint Cheesecake.

Ally from Made Of Stars wrote a great review of Greenilicious, so please head over to see more recipes!


Have you got Greenilicious? What have you made?



Veganissimo! for NYE: scallion pancakes, Lancashire Hotpot and Lemon Self Saucing Pudding

I’m really enjoying Leigh Drew’s Veganissimo!  I’ve already blogged about the Chocolate Mousse Tart (YUM) and today I made a few more recipes.

First up were the Scallion (spring onion) Pancakes.  Very easy to make and I halved the recipe as I only had a few skinny spring onions.  I didn’t make the suggested dipping sauce, instead I mixed up some soy sauce with kecap manis.  Yum!

scallion pancakes

For dinner I made the Lancashire Hotpot, using the suggested tip for a ‘hotpot pie’ by putting some pastry on top.  I had some puff pastry to use up.  First you cook everything up in a pot: carrots, celery, leek, onion, mushrooms then add your extra bits and some canned beans (I used butter beans).  Easy!  Here’s the hotpot before I put the pastry on:

vegan lancashire hotpot


vegan lancashire hotpot

2 4 6 8 bog in don’t wait:

vegan lancashire hotpot

Truthfully this is the second time I’ve made the Lancashire Hotpot, the first time was without the pastry top but my photos turned out so terribly bad, worse than usual, that I decided to make it all over again  😉


I’m a sucker for self saucing puddings.  I think they’re the reason why I am so slack with giving up sugar.  I was happy to see this recipe in Veganissimo! because I LOOOOVE lemon saucy puddings.  Again, this was very easy to make.  I did have the “am I doing something wrong here” moment when I made up the batter because it was way runny compared to every other self saucing pudding I’ve made.  I cooked it for about eight minutes longer than suggested (and the pudding sprang back, as the recipe says).  The bit between the cakey part and sauce on the bottom worried me for a minute because I wasn’t sure if it was uncooked batter, but after about forty minutes in the oven and the batter being not-high to begin with, it was certainly cooked.  Any longer and the sauce would have really dried out.  I’m wondering if I actually overcooked it.  Oh well, I gobbled it down regardless.  I think it would go so well with coconut icecream which alas, I don’t have:


Thanks Leigh, if you ever read this!  I’m loving these recipes 😀

We’re not doing all that much tonight (New Years Eve), the plans are for the kids to stay up late watching a couple of movies then we will go fireworks hunting.  Which means we’ll probably end up in a shabby suburban park somewhere, watching silly people set off pissweak fireworks.  Our house is at the higher point of a hill and we get a good view of the city, so hopefully we can just walk to the end of the street and see the official, legal fireworks there.

So long (for now) and have a fab New Years Eve!




Chocolate Mousse Tart with Raspberries from Veganissimo!

For Christmas lunch I was tasked with making a dessert.  I had already flipped through Leigh Drew’s ‘Veganissimo!’, which has recently been released, and I knew I’d be making the choc mousse tart.

I made the pastry a day in advance so I wouldn’t be running around all crazy-busy like.  The pastry instructions are easy but when I was mixing it I was all “there is no way this wet sloppy sand consistency will turn in to rollable pastry”.  And I began to have a minor grrr-freakout period of annoyance.  But THEN, by some devilish sorcery, once I added the vegan milk, POOFFFFFF it all came together beautifully.

Baking the tart shell proved to be problematic however.  I used the correct size tart tin, though the height of mine was more a flan tart– I probably should have studied the photo in the book more and noted the tart tin sides were higher than mine!  But the biggest problem here was that the base of the shell, even though it wasn’t thick, puffed up a little but enough to make it impossible to pour a filling in and then not have half the filling left over.  So I had to use a sharp knife to chisel away at the base, thinning it out enough so that I could get all the filling in.  This proved to be a very good idea, because I was able to use all the filling when assembling the tart.

The recipe has you spreading a layer of raspberry jam on the base before pouring in the mousse but I left this step out.  The filling is easy to make and contains silken tofu.  I added a little bit of peppermint essence, only because I love choc-mint.

I kept the tart in the fridge overnight.  When serving the next day, I used blueberries and raspberries.  It was a bit sloppy to cut (I didn’t get a photo of a cut portion unfortunately) and there was some milky looking liquid at the bottom of the storage container and the tart shell had softened.  It wasn’t a problem at all though because this was really delicious and certainly something I would make again (with a higher sided tart tin!) for another special occasion.

Chocolate Mousse Tart

A fantastic recipe!

You can check out more photos and reviews of Veganissimo! by fellow vegan bloggers Kittens Gone Lentil and Made of Stars.