Barbara Kafka, inveterate food professional and cookbook writer, she of Roasting: A Simple Art
, Soup: A Way of Life
, and Microwave Gourmet
among others, now brings us the last word on vegetables with the awe-inspiring and massive Vegetable Love: A Book for Cooks
. This book has 200 pages dedicated simply to background information on vegetables--buying and storing, cutting, basic cooking techniques, yields and equivalences, etcetera. And then there are the recipes, all 750 of them!
She's a canny lass, Barbara Kafka, with as much respect for the culture of vegetables as for their preparation and cooking, and has divided Vegetable Love into four basic sections: Vegetables of the New World; Vegetables of the Mediterranean Basin, Europe, and the Arab World; Vegetables of Asia and Africa; and, Citizens of the World. For those inclined to think that vegetables come from supermarkets, Kafka takes you back to the roots, the origins, then revels in the ways in which these foods have found their way around the globe and into everyone's kitchen. Rhubarb, the pie plant of New England spring gardens, finds its beginnings in China and is as much at home in sweet pies as savory lamb stews.
You'll find recipes from all over the world in the New World section because that's the home of potatoes, green beans and their kin (Szechuan green beans anyone?), peppers, summer squash, certainly corn, but tomatoes and peanuts, too. Asparagus, beets, chard, carrots--those vegetable garden stalwarts--are found in the Euro/Arab section. Recipes are short, direct, to the point. Kafka minces no words.
But that's where the final sections come into play. One is Basic Recipes and Techniques, taking into account all manner of dressings, sauces, marinades, stocks, doughs, pastries, pastas, egg dishes, etcetera. And the other, that 200 page compendium, The Cook's Guide, fills in around the spare edges of the recipes. Vegetable Love is easily three books in one.
Barbara Kafka knows that when it comes to cooking for friends or family or oneself in this busy modern world, a recipe that is simple, brief, and to the point is like gold. With Vegetable Love Barbara Kafka delivers true wealth. --Schuyler Ingle
From Publishers Weekly
Kafka, a 20-year veteran cookbook writer whose credits include Roasting: A Simple Art
and Soup: A Way of Life
, allows vegetables to take center stage in this encyclopedic tome. Her collection of inspired recipes isn't about vegetarianism; many include meats, fish and dairy. Rather, it's about the pure enjoyment of the taste of vegetables: "the sweet seductive perfume of slowly sautéing onions, the impossibly vivid red of roasted peppers, the slow dance of eating an artichoke." Kafka's treatment is broad (she covers avocados, tomatoes and rhubarb) and includes classic dishes like Braised Fennel or Chilies Rellenos with Corn alongside more inventive fare, à la Green Bean Frappé, and A Satin of Oysters and Tapioca. Sections on unusual foodstuffs like nettles and cactus pads are fascinating, but less charming is the book's layout, which unhelpfully groups vegetables according to their area of origin. A generic "Cook's Guide" at the end strays rather startlingly from the book's trajectory, providing techniques and recipes for basic sauces, breads, stuffings and more, plus tips for choosing and storing various vegetables, which might have been more helpful in the sections featuring each vegetable. Nonetheless, Kafka has created an appetizing addition to the kitchen bookshelf. 50 photos. (Dec.)
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