- Food & Drink
Popular Vegan Secret Supper Club gets cookbook treatment
Update: Merida Anderson will be at the Dunlevy Snack Bar (433 Dunlevy) on June 27 at 6pm to sign copies of her cookbook. Andy Dixon will DJ.
Mérida Anderson’s Vegan Secret Supper Club started in Vancouver but has since travelled to Montreal and Brooklyn.
Now she’s done a cookbook for those foodies — not just vegans — who want to try some of her imaginative recipes at home. In advance of her June 21 book launch in Vancouver, we reached her by email to ask her a few questions about her inspirations and ideas.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge to vegan cooking?
Because more than half of the people I cook for at VSS aren’t vegan, or even vegetarian, the biggest challenge is to cook a supper so unique and satisfying that even the most skeptical diner doesn’t think anything is “missing”.
I choose not to cook with soy and common “meat replacers” for this reason.
Instead I rely on natural ingredients and their flavours and textures.
Q: What ingredients did you miss the most at first?
I think cheese would have been the biggest one. For most vegetarian cooking, cheese is the part that will give a dish the most flavour.
At VSS, I use nut cheeses, which lend a rich flavour to most any dish, and can be prepared in many ways from being fermented and aged, to a quick blend with simply lemon and salt.
Q: How have you learned to compensate for the ingredients you can’t use?
I think compensate would be the wrong way to look at it. I carefully consider the vegetable itself and cook to bring that flavour to the forefront, instead of relying on “instant” flavour like cheese or meat, respectively.
I think of the vegetable as the root or heart of the dish, as opposed to a side dish (the way they are thought of when meat/cheese are in the picture).
Q: What is your newest food discovery or inspiration?
I would have to say sumac. I have used it a few times, but fresh sumac, which can be foraged in certain areas in the summer, can been used to make beverages.
It has a lemony tart flavor and is a beautiful reddish pink.
It’s a great spice and flower that can be used for sweet and savory dishes alike.
Q: What are your 10 must-have pantry items?
• Tahini and sesame oil. I use these in many, many dishes, and sesame is packed with omegas and protein.
• Tamari. I use wheat-free.
• Coconut oil. (My baking essential)
• Raw cashews, for desserts and fermenting.
• Good quality dark chocolate
• Coconut milk
• Balsamic vinegar
• Nutritional yeast
• Garam masala
Q: Where are your favourite vegan restaurants in Vancouver?
Every meal I have had at GRUB is amazing. They have great vegan options.
Brunch at Banditas is another favourite of mine.
Those interested in hearing about upcoming Vancouver VSS suppers and events can join the email list by contacting email@example.com. She's also on Facebook as Vegan Secret Supper.