is the work of Cook's Illustrated
magazine, a publication devoted to providing the "best" American recipes. Like the magazine, from which its contents is largely drawn, the book offers super-tested recipes--as many as 18 tries for stuffed tomatoes, for example--for an A to Z vegetable range, artichokes to zucchini. The book also includes dozens of technique and equipment notes ("Stir-Fry Basics," is one), plus a short section on vegetable soups. An impressive recipe range is here and accounted for--classic dishes like grilled eggplant and braised fennel, plus "newer" formulas for the likes of Grilled Red Peppers with Mint and Feta and Glazed Curried Carrots with Currants and Almonds. Are these the ultimate versions of the dishes included? Certainly they represent exhaustive investigation--and most cooks will find the Perfect Vegetables
take, which offers many technical refinements (preheat your baking sheet to ensure golden oven-baked fries, for example) enlightening.
Vegetable entries begin with a detailed discussion that highlights the cooking methods for each that ensure best results. (Steaming, for example, gets the nod for artichokes, as it yields the "deepest, most pronounced flavor.") Master recipes follow, such as that for steamed artichokes, plus formulas for tasty accompaniments like Lemon Mint Vinaigrette, or variations, such as Roasted Baby Artichokes with Roasted Garlic Aïoli. Techniques are beautifully illustrated with line drawings and photos. The ingredient and equipment investigations, which often include ratings, are mini consumer reports. Devotees of Cook's Illustrated and those new to its "obsessive" approach to dish making, should happily embrace this encyclopedic compendium. --Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
For vegetarians and food enthusiasts weary of soggy carrots, smelly cabbage or lumpy mashed potatoes, the editors of Cook's Illustrated present a tome devoted to vegetable perfection from artichokes to zucchini. Carefully researched and thoroughly tested, each section (organized alphabetically by vegetable) includes an informative history and interesting food facts; tips on how to select the freshest vegetable at the market; and detailed approaches to cooking and serving. The volume answers oft-asked questions about preparing and storing foods, and includes both basic recipes ("master recipes") and tastier dishes (Green Beans with Sautéed Shallots and Vermouth, Mashed Potatoes with Brie and Tarragon and Glazed Carrots with Currants and Almonds) for each veggie. Step-by-step illustrations on preparation help the home cook master technique: detailed lessons, for example, are provided for preparing artichokes for braising and corn for grilling, dicing an avocado and segmenting an orange. There's a section on why chopping onions can make you cry, as well as suggestions to stop the flow of tears. (Light a candle or wear swimming goggles.) "Best of" segments are peppered throughout the book, offering the reader results of taste and equipment tests from the Cook's Illustrated staff. Those looking for merely a recipe book may feel overwhelmed by the plethora of information and advice, as the test kitchen staff leaves no ingredient unchecked (they devote 56 pages to potatoes), but chowhounds and home chefs alike should delight at every obsessive and flavorful detail.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.