Secrets of vegetarian cooking

Suzy Spoon’s new cookbook is a delicious collection of her vegan and vegetarian favourites.

Intrigued by the concept of a vegetarian butcher, we asked longtime vegetarian and vegan devotee Suzy Spoon to share a little more about the unique shop she opened in Sydney’s eclectic inner west Newtown, and how she manages to turn out perfect sausages, burgers, schnitzels and pies – all without an ounce of meat.

Tell us a little about the evolution of Suzy Spoon Vegetarian Butcher.

I’ve had a great time experimenting with vegetarian cooking for over 20 years now. Friends and work colleagues encouraged me to set up a stall at Marrickville farmers’ market selling my vegan sausages to the public. The stall was popular and a few months later we opened a little shop in Enmore, then six months after moved to a larger shop front on King Street, Newtown. We now have a great range of beautifully handmade vegan small goods as well as a sit down café.

What is a vegetarian butcher?

We hand make and sell a range of delicious vegetarian sausages, burger patties, schnitzels, seitan, smoky rashers and other meat-free deli items. All our products are made with natural ingredients, without artificial flavours or the use of preservatives.

What are your favourite ingredients to use to give your dishes a hearty feel?

My number one hearty ingredient would have to be miso paste. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a Japanese fermented salty soybean paste. I use it as a flavour base in lots of my recipes, especially hearty soups, stews and gravy. It comes in different types; my favourites are sweet white or shiro, natto, dark and red. The different types have unique flavour and colour characteristics that you can work with.

Which of your products have been the most challenging to get right?

The hardest thing I’ve ever made was definitely my first sausage. I experimented with different ingredients for about a year perfecting it before I was happy to let my friends and workmates try it. It was a delicate balance getting the cutability right while maintaining a delicious flavour and perfect texture.

What advice do you have for people looking to eat more of a plant-based diet?

Take advantage of local farmers’ markets that are springing up all over the place, and be inspired by the beautiful seasonal produce you find at them. Buy what looks fabulous and plan your meals around the fresh produce.

Also, don’t be afraid to use meat and dairy alternatives to keep life simple and convenient. They are great for reinventing family favourites like spaghetti bolognese or chocolate cake.

How is your book different to other vegetarian and vegan cookbooks?

The recipes in this book are a very personal collection, full of food memories from my childhood and dishes from people I’ve lived with and places I’ve worked. It has been influenced by my family, friends, flatmates, colleagues and customers and is a diary of my personal food experiences. So, combine that with my special interest in faux meats and you get a very unique cook book.

If you were having a dinner party, which recipes from your book would you serve?

There are so many great dinner party options in the book but I think I’d make crumbed seitan fillets stuffed with cream cheese and silverbeet, roasted Brussels sprouts, and hemp seed and kale salad with avocado dressing. And for dessert I’d make the full on chocolate nut cake with almond cream. Oh yum.

Recommended reading - Around the world

Community

Why the Mediterranean diet is so good for you

Dr Catherine Itsiopoulos explains why eating Mediterranean-style can make you healthier.

Read more
Travel

9 delicious recipes from around the world

Looking for some international culinary inspiration?

Read more
Travel

A lesson in Japanese cuisine

Be magazine learns the secrets to balanced Japanese cooking.

Read more
Travel

Healthy eating around the world

What we can learn from other cultures when it comes to food.

Read more
Travel

4 enticing food-growing regions

Discover pockets of the world where sumptuous local flavours are the trademark.

Read more
In Brief

The Saltiest Chicken Nugget in the World

Alarming results from recent study on salt content in fast food.

Read more
Community

Tastes of the Amazon

Sambazon is an acai company who has a fair trade partnership to protect the Amazon rainforest.

Read more
Travel

3 historic restaurants across Europe

These classic establishments in historic European cities have barely changed in centuries

Read more
Community

Speedy Asian cooking with Marion Grasby

Devoted food traveller Marion Grasby dishes up some advice on creating delicious meals - fast.

Read more
Lifestyle

Marion Grasby on cultural and culinary diversity

Marion Grasby tells us what’s on the menu for her wedding.

Read more
Community

Sevtap Yuce: Cooking from the heart

Simple, fresh food made with love is at the heart of Sevtap Yuce’s newest cookbook, Turkish Fire

Read more
Community

12 food documentaries

These documentaries will show the food you eat in a whole new light.

Read more
Travel

5 cooking classes around the globe

Let your travels infuse your cooking and take home the flavours of a trip.

Read more
Recipes

How to cook with native Australian bush flavours

Interested to try your hand at cooking with native Australian flavours? Here's how.

Read more
Lifestyle

Pickling and preserving – the Nordic way

When it comes to smoking, curing and pickling, the Scandinavians have it right. We show you how

Read more

For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.