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The New Vegetarian Epicure: Menus--with 325 all-new recipes--for family and friends Hardcover – May 21, 1996


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Amazon.com Review

Anna Thomas, author of the '70s classic The Vegetarian Epicure, is back with a cookbook for the '90s. The New Vegetarian Epicure is another of the noteworthy titles in this summer's spate of cookbooks centered on vegetables and vegetarian cuisine (Fresh From the Garden: Cooking and Gardening Throughout the Year by Perla Meyers and Chez Panisse Vegetables by Alice Waters are two others). There are more than 300 recipes--everything from a Relaxed Summer Dinner Party of Tapenade, Cold Melon Soup, and Risotto with Zucchini Flowers to A Rustic Autumn Dinner of Roasted Vegetables, Rice Pilaf, and Plum and Walnut Galette. Thomas' approach is healthy and light, with a distinctive Mediterranean touch based on the use of olive oil, if oil is called for at all.

From Publishers Weekly

A voice from the bellbottom years returns, sounding as fresh and fun now as she did then. In The Vegetarian Epicure, published in 1972 and followed a few years later by Volume II, Thomas was a wacky, workable combination of Adele Davis and Julia Child. Offering one of the first more sophisticated approaches to vegetarian cooking, Thomas's cookbooks gave rise to elegant vegetarian dinner parties as well as solid, meat-free family fare. That tradition is carried forward here, 20 years later, with menu-based recipes arranged by season, beginning with An Early Spring Dinner featuring Risotto de Zucca through a New Year's Eve dinner ("a meal for an occasion") co-starring Wild Mushroom Soup and Cream Cheese Pierogi with Timbales of Tahitian Squash and Pears. There are menus for picnics, for brunches, suppers or for celebrations that few fine home cooks will scorn to follow. That this is the '90s is evident in numerous elements: lowered fat (Revised Caesar Salad replaces the egg with a tablespoon or two of reduced-fat mayonnaise and calls for "a lighter hand with the olive oil"); a marked Southwest slant (lots of salsas and dried chiles, and recipes for nopalitos, the new shoots of the nopal cactus); the use of once exotic ingredients like Kabocha and Tahitian squash; roasting as a favored cooking method for vegetables; and plentiful recipes for the likes of polenta, sorbet and biscotti. Soups figure prominently, among them Raspberry Borscht and a Wild Mushroom and Charred Tomato Soup. There are crepes (Buckwheat Crepes with Onions, Apples and Cheese), numerous salads (Roasted Beet, Asparagus and Garlic Salad, with red and golden beets), breads and some pasta dishes. Dessert is invariably important, e.g., Warm Chocolate Cakes with Creme Anglaise and Boysenberry Sauce. Thomas's menu approach serves vegetarian cooking, where texture and flavoring are crucial to variety, eminently well; an index guides cooks searching for recipes by ingredient. From a simple roasted squash, garnished only with olive oil and salt and pepper, to the elaborate multi-stepped construction of a centerpiece Tamale Pie, Thomas proves once more that meatless meals can be fashionable, fun and satisfying.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 449 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (May 21, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679427147
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679427148
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 7 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,039,439 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Michele Kellett on April 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
When I was in college almost 30 years ago, "vegetarian cooking" was an oxymoron. Cooking and eating vegetarian was attractive from an ecological point of view (see Diet for a Small Planet), and sometimes as part of a hippie rebellion stance, but, as the daughter of a Frenchwoman, I felt that one could only go so far. Like, I drew the line at those ghastly soyburgers. And what on earth could you serve guests out of those earnest, dietarily correct tomes? And if one needed to conduct a seduction? Honey, it was lamb chops or nothing.
Well, Anna Thomas was the answer. Rich, sophisticated (to us, anyway), delicious, impressive, yet charming and lighthearted recipes from cover to cover.
My copy of The Vegetarian Epicure grew tattered, and I became a better cook, and acquired a family, and the good sense to realize that you just can't cook with that amount of butter, cheese, cream and eggs and hope to maintain a figure of any sort. So I lost touch with Anna. And, though I never committed to whole-hog vegetarianism, I bought many excellent vegetarian cookbooks over the years, and put together a fair repertoire in the genre.
And then a few years ago, I ran into Anna Thomas in the bookstore, in the form of her New Vegetarian Epicure. It was like running into a friend from college you had always liked and admired, and been a little afraid to find out what had happened to. The good news was that she is as charming and resourceful as ever, and has grown up along with us, only, perhaps, with more grace.
The recipes are arranged in menus, which puts some people off, but I have cooked many of the entire menus, as well as individual recipes, and THEY NEVER FAIL!
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Bat-Radish on January 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
It's....good food. It's tasty. I can't really fault the flavor of the recipes in this book.
I've got a major quibble, however. Where the original Vegetarian Epicure had a cozy down-homeness, this new version is like reading a cooking magazine. The amount of cream and eggs overall has been reduced, the cooking times have been cut down, and we see no more of the odd potato peel broth she loved so much twenty years ago. These are good things. But somewhere along the line it's as though most of the soul has been taken out.
I stress again that the thing reads like a cooking magazine. There's hardly another way to describe it. The emphasis on absolutely fresh produce, on unusual ingredients, and on clever presentation--these are the hallmarks of food that is just a little too fancy for the home cook to bother with on a busy Tuesday night. And there's no hope for you if you don't have access to a farmer's market.
Newer isn't always better. There's a reason people have been using their copies of the first Vegetarian Epicure for twenty years. It's accessible. It's adaptable. This one? Not so much. Try feeding eight of your friends Raspberry Borscht, and I'll bet that six of them will wish you'd made Mushrooms Berkeley again.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By matsutake maven on February 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I discovered this book in the library in the middle of one hot summer. After trying a few of the recipies and being inticed by many others, I purchased it and added it to my cookbook collection. It has gone with me everywhere since from France to Greece to Japan and back home again. I am not a vegetarian, but this book has opened my eyes to some of the amazing ways that vegetables and grains can be prepared. Additionally, the book has inspired me to pursue a culinary career. There are many cultural influences present in this book, and while some ingredients may be difficult to find, she often suggests substitutions. (Butternut squash for kabocha, for example). And quite honestly, we are seeing a wider array of ingredients available to us with each season in our local supermarkets. (If you are fortunate enough to have a garden or farmer's market, you can REALLY profit from this book!) When I want to find an interesting way to prepare the fresh asparagus in the spring or red ripe tomatoes in the summer, I consult this book.

This book is for people who like to cook, not as much for people who want to create quick meals. That said, I didn't find the recipies or menus overly-fussy, but rather enjoy the time it takes to create truly great, delicious food.
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By Dailydollar on August 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I like this cook book. One of my favorites in the Vegetarian Epicure Cookbooks. The recipes are organized in an interesting and different method. But all recipes are easy to locate.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Green on November 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I have owned this book for years and have found it to be inspirational and accessible. The recipes are very good - some are easy for either weeknights or a casual weekend and others are more time-consuming for either a special dinner or when you just feel inspired. I like that she broke the book into menus - it's nice to see how a full course meal will go together. Of course, if you don't have the time you can always cherry pick what you do want to make.

She does have one small section on how to roast a turkey but I don't see it as an issue. She, and we, live in a diverse world. She happens to have some meat eaters in her family and she accommodates them. Vegetarianism is great but it is still important to be understanding of other peoples' life choices. In this situation, I think it is thoughtful that she gave her husband the opportunity to contribute his prized turkey recipe. It's what makes this book a little more genuine.
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