on March 13, 2013
I have long been a fan of Deborah Madison. I once had the opportunity to learn from her before the publication of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, my favorite cookbook until today. Her recipes are nothing short of brilliant, and she is a genuinely nice person to boot. Her recipes turn the humble vegetable into sparkling masterpieces. Her ingredients are well thought out, and each one serves to add an important flavor component to the dish. I have been making some of her recipes for 12 or so years, from Greens, etc. and they do not seem dated, they still stun with their uniqueness and freshness. Therefore I could not wait to get my hands on this book, and I am totally thrilled with it. It is, in my opinion, a master work, and is her most gorgeous book to date. The Broccoli Bites with Curried Mayonnaise for example are quick to make, taste wonderful, and left me wondering why I had not thought of doing that before! Ditto the tomato and cilantro soup with black quinoa.
Besides being an absolutely fabulous cookbook, this is a great reference book. Instead of going from A-Z (A is for Asparagus, etc.) as so many authors have done with vegetables, Madison does something pretty astounding, and classifies vegetables by family. Deborah, through years of cooking and gardening experience, has observed that vegetables in the same family can be used interchangeably in cooking, due to shared botanical characteristics. So it greatly helps with the mystery of why some substitutions work beautifully and why some leave your family saying eeeek! She consulted with Botanist to bring us a book that is fun to read and learn from. The book has beautiful photography as well as formatting, and as usual Madison has some truly inventive and delicious recipes. The scientist and cook in me wants to stop everything and just read this book cover to cover, then cook everything! Madison even has a beautiful green ribbon bookmark in the book! How cool is that?
I own a lot of cookbooks, and Deborah Madison's are my very favorite ones. They make everyone a better cook! Please do NOT assume that this is a book of interest only to vegetarians, since Madison is known for her vegetarian books, because every cook, from home chef to restaurant chef should treasure this book. We all need to eat a more diversified plant based diet, and how wonderful it is to have vegetables that are so amazing in taste that they put a good steak or roasted chicken sitting beside them to shame!
Here are the Families:
* The Carrot Family
* The Mint Family
* The Sunflower Family
* The Knotweed Family
* The Cabbage Family
* The Nightshade Family
* The Goosefoot and Amaranth Families
* The (former) Lily Family
* The Cucurbit Family
* The Grass Family
* The Legume Family
* The Morning Glory Family
And a few of the over 400 pages of recipes and information include:
* Salsify, Jerusalem Artichoke, and Burdock soup with Truffle Salt
* Cauliflower Soup with Coconut, Turmeric, and Lime
* Caraway Seed Cake
* Carrot Almond Cake with Ricotta Cream
* Orange and Rosemary Compote
* Rhubarb, Apple, and Berry Pandowdy
* Braised Cabbage with Chewy Fried Potatoes, Feta, and Dill
* Slivered Brussels Sprouts roasted with Shallots
* Smoky Kale and Potato Cakes
* Winter Stew of Braised Rutabagas with Carrots, Potatoes, and Parsley Sauce
* Kohlrabi Salad with Green Onions, Parsley, and Frizzy Mustard Greens
* A Fragrant Onion Tart
* Quick Bread of Rye, Emmer, and Corn
* Winter Squash Wedges or Rounds with Gorgonzola Butter and Crushed Walnuts.
* Blue Lake Beans with Shallots, Pistachios, and Marjoram
* Asian Sweet Potatoes with Coconut Butter
* Green Pea Fritters with Herb-Laced Crème Fraiche
Honestly, if I had the money, I would buy this for all my friends who like to cook!
on October 23, 2013
My jam-packed cookbook shelves already held four Deborah Madison cookbooks, and I figured that was enough. But the lure of the vegetable info hooked the gardener in me. I started reading Vegetable Literacy as a book, but quickly took it from coffee table to kitchen, and have been cooking from it all summer and into the fall. We tend to eat vegetarian with fish, seafood, or meat a few times per week, and the recipes complement that style of eating very well.
The recipes are relatively simple, clearly written, and very tasty. I've tried new ingredients--tempeh, coconut butter, and black quinoa come to mind. I've learned new techniques--for example, presoaking lentils and adding salt to beans at the start of cooking, which has done wonders for my black beans.
Some of my new go-to recipes from this book are the basic lentil recipe, Rio Zape Beans with salt-roasted tomatoes (can sub black beans), pan-fried tempeh with trimmings, which I serve with salsa and lettuce leaf wrappers, roasted asparagus with chopped egg, griddled eggplant rounds, and heirloom tomato quinoa soup. I've tried many others and enjoyed all.
I noticed another review that complained about lack of depth in the information on vegetables. I'd say this is a cookbook that gives extra insight into ingredients and a few tips on vegetable gardening. For a book that focusses on in-depth nutritional information on vegetables, I like "Eating on the Wild Side".
on September 23, 2013
I got this from the library initially, since -- though I'm a fan of Deborah Madison's previous cookbooks -- I'm trying not to buy as many books as I used to. After browsing through it, I knew I had to buy a copy. I'm impressed not only with the recipes in Vegetable Literacy, but with the copious information on specific vegetables and vegetable families.
on May 23, 2013
This is my first Deborah Madison cookbook, but it won't be my last. It's beautifully photographed and the recipes I've tried so far have been simple to prepare and very good. The Red Lentil and Coconut Soup is a standout; it is textbook comfort food, but it feels nourishing instead of overindulgent. I also really liked the Peanut and Sweet Potato Soup, and the Roasted Asparagus with Chopped Egg, Torn Bread, and Red Wine Vinegar. I'd especially recommend Vegetable Literacy to anyone who receives CSA shares or shops at the farmers' market - it's an inspiring resource for figuring out how to use all kinds of produce.
on March 12, 2014
This cookbook is perfect for anyone looking to make more vegetable-centric meals, or meals where the vegetables are really the impressive focus and the meat secondary. The recipes are not exclusively vegetarian, but most are. I am not a vegetarian, but have been looking for ways to enhance vegetable-centered meals and this cookbook has been perfect. Covers an impressive array of veggies and preparations. This is a unique cookbook that would enhance anyone's cookbook library, I completely recommend!
on April 14, 2013
My first exposure to this book was a review in the Washington Post Food section. The recipe for the carrot almond cake with ricotta cream was included in the article. I baked it (easy to follow instructions) and the cake was outstanding. Bought the book based on this cake. Each chapter discusses a "family" of veggies and then also lists other veggies/condiments/foods that will compliment. I used the suggestion of adding mustard to brussel sprouts (1 teaspoon mustard to a pound of shredded sprouts). Sounds disgusting, right? No, the mustard actually brightened the taste of the sprouts and was not overpowered by my miniscule mustard addition.
There are some greens/veggies included I am not familiar with, however, the descriptions and recipes of familiar veggies far outweigh the unknowns.
I am planning my future menus to incorporate and explore these recipes. I never thought I would be excited about vegetables.
My only complaint is her use of "coconut butter". Maybe I haven't found the explanation/description yet (she does list her standard cooking ingredients at the beginning of the book). Perhaps, I will find it as I get deeper into the book. I do use coconut oil and coconut cream concentrate so I will experiment until I find the description.