Customer Reviews

32
4.6 out of 5 stars
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

104 of 104 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
The idea of buying a $60 cookbook (however much discounted) makes me gasp. At that price, it had better be awesome.
Fortunately, Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini delivers... and then some.
If you're interested in non-mundane foods, particularly "ethnic" foods, then you've probably had the same experience I have. You find an odd looking vegetable in the grocery store, and are intruigued. You pick it up, and contemplate bringing it home. And then you realize that you have absolutely *no* idea what you'd do with one of these (other than think, "I'm sure I read about bitter melons or chayote *some*place). So you sadly put the veggie back on the shelf, feeling as though you've missed out.
VfAtZ is a perfect answer to this dilemma. In this fat book (you could squash a *huge* spider with this tome), the author goes through all the "interesting" veggies with a predictable and welcome formula. There's a clear photo of the item, usually with some indication of size and with a "cutaway" so you know what the thing looks like once you chop it open. The author explains what the vegetable is (genus and all that jazz); where it came from (i.e. originally from South America, but now most popular in Asia); the varieties you can expect to find and the differences between them. I very much appreciate her clear instructions about choosing the vegetable in the market (i.e. heavy for its size, and no black marks on it), and the "basic" method of cooking (boiling, steaming, etc.) There's always at least a few recipes that highlight the essential tomatillo-ness or chayote-hood or whatever, plus a "Pros Propose" section where she gives you recipes from chefs and other cookbooks. (The latter are intentionally vague -- "he grills tomatillos with garlic and onlon" without indication of quantities -- presumably for copyright reasons. You get the idea anyway.)
In short, after reading one of her 3-4 page entries for each vegetable (they're much longer for some items, such as the range of squash and mushrooms), you can confidently stand in the grocery store looking at the aforementioned veggie and Know What To Do With It.
Other reviewers criticize the book for not including EVERY vegetable (I admit I'd like more, but only because I'd enjoy anything this author wrote), and that the recipes aren't all that great. They're generally okay, but I admit that few of them are awesome. But I see the recipes as an exercise in learning about the vegetable rather than a source of "what to have for dinner." I often reach for this book because some other cookbook was too vague.
Case in point: a recipe in another cookbook for a Sichuan hotpot suggested you could cook sliced lotus root in the hotpot. I dutifully picked up a lotus root at the Asian market. When I got it home, I had no idea how one slices it -- do I peel it first? What about these knobby chunks? I grabbed Schneider's book off the shelf, and five minutes later I knew just what to do. (It tasted darned good, too.)
I don't grab for this book when I'm trying to figure out what to make for dinner. But I'm glad I have this book when I want a definitive answer about using a vegetable, or learning how to cook it.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
78 of 80 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2002
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This book is amazing. Each vegetable's entry includes: the latin name, varieties and species, color photographs, history, how to select, how to store, how to prepare -- including quotes from outside experts. Next, there are a few well-chosen recipes. Following that are detailed descriptions of dishes that Schneider collected by interviewing a wide range of the best chefs. Throughout, Schneider is informative, interesting, opinionated and frank -- if a vegetable's a dud, she'll say so. It's a great read -- but don't plan on carrying this 800 page, large format book on the train with you, unless you've got a backpack or cart.
My only quibble is that I want more! Schnieder doesn't include the best known vegetables -- tomatoes, peppers, etc., since she feels there is plenty of information elsewhere. I'd also love a taxinomic chart showing major families and relationships. And it would be great if the book had a key, so that you could find the identity of a vegetable using its description. But these are very minor omissions, and the book is quite large enough as it is.
This book is a magnum opus of the vegetable kingdom -- we can only hope that Shneider will be writing on future books about fruits and grains.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I've had a copy of Elizabeth Schneider's "Uncommon Fruits & Vegetables" for about three years and refer to it quite often. Flipping through that book, I note page markings for arugula, cilantro, spaghetti squash, mangoes, radish sprouts, Swiss chard, Chinese cabbage, tomatillos and others. When published in 1986, these items were "curiosities." Schneider's book is recognized today as a classic that influenced cooks and the produce market. Now, 15 years later, Schneider has produced an updated version of the 1986 book. In "Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini," she has dropped the fruits and winnowed out the veggies. Cilantro and other "spice" type veggies are not in the new book. Sprouts, squash, and other single items in the old book are now presented within generic headings. There is lots of new material. The format and presentation of the new book-with large heavy weight glossy paper, 275 good photos, 500 meat and meatless recipes and 220 more pages-is as elegant as the old book is text bookish. The 1996 reprint of "Uncommon Fruits" ...; "Vegetables" goes for twice that! If I had neither and wanted a vegetable reference book, I'd go "Vegetables," price notwithstanding. Schneider has been writing for 30 years, "Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini" is likely her magnum opus. It is a 2001 nominee for a James Beard Foundation book award.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
46 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book has excellent information on less common vegetables. However, if you are interested in similar information on vegetables that are used on a daily basis, this is not the book for you. Some of the common vegetables missing from this book are tomatoes, corn, spinach, bell peppers, broccoli, celery, and garlic.
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2002
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I just received this book yesterday and it is AWESOME! It is exactly what I hoped it would be; a pictorial reference to help me identify unusual produce and give me a leg up on how to prepare it. It is more like a text book or encyclopedia than anything else. And it will make a great coffee table book too! I've had it one day and already loaned it out! One warning, though -- as a vegetarian buying a book on vegetables, I was surprised to find that many (but not all by any means) recipes included meat ingredients. This is a minor detraction in my book. Enjoy this FUN book!
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I worked in the produce department of an upscale supermarket for several years, so I feel like I know a few things about fruits and vegetables. However, this book has more information about exotic (and some not-so-exotic) vegetables than I could have imagined. The descriptions, the histories, and the photos of veggies are all outstanding. Elizabeth Schneider writes with a lot of enthusiasm, and after reading for only a short time, you will want to go out, buy the vegetables, and start cooking and eating!
The problem is that the recipes included in the book dont always match the quality of the descriptions. I've tested a handful of them, all for different vegetables, and the final dishes just didnt turn out well. They were all okay, but a couple just seemed, well, bland, and a couple others tended to be dominated by one seasoning (white pepper, for example.) Not that this was a huge problem, and you could easily tweak the recipes yourself, but I guess the quality of the rest of the book led me to expect more. And since about half of the book IS recipes, it was a little disappointing. Since the vegetables are uncommon, they often arent included in other cookbooks.
Overall, though, I liked the book, and one of the best things I've found is that it's made me more likely to experiment with the vegetables, outside the context of a prepared recipie, since Schneider gives general preparation and storage tips for all her entries.
Her other book, which deals with both fruits and vegetables, is older and consequently has some entries that deal with more common produce. I'd recommend that book too, if you're looking for something geared towards guiding you through the supermarket.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I just received this book for Christmas after wanting it since it was first released. It immediately satisfied my questions about the bok choy family (try and figure out the difference between yu choy and choy sum if you're not an expert in Asian produce). I also made a recipe for broccoli raab (one of the four names she mentions) and found it very quick, easy, and relatively low fat.
I admit, I haven't used it day-in and day-out like some of the reviewers, but upon immediate perusal it has clear pictures and descriptions and recipes that utilize the main ingredient in its 'natural habitat' i.e. Cuban vegies have Cuban recipes, etc.
I'm saving the fifth star only because I am still working through the book.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
As I see it, this heavy tome (700+ pages) is first and foremost a reference manual to be consulted before preparing recipes from other cookbooks. It orients users to a broader spectrum of vegetables - and demystifies seemingly obscure or confusing recipe elements. For example, I had about given up on using watercress in Fattoush, a delicious Lebanese salad, as the markets in my area didn't offer it. This book opened my eyes to the fact that nasturtiums - a plant I have grown in my garden - are a type of watercress!

Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini is also a well-researched trove of interesting facts and history - all pertaining to vegetables and their use. The text and photos alike provide further orientation to subtle differences, e.g., an explanation on green onions, scallions, and shallots (people from New York and Boston call scallions what most everybody in the U.S. calls spring, salad, or bunching onions). Finally, it offers intriguing recipes alongside ordinary ones.

My good cookbooks usually take a beating in the kitchen; this is a good cookbook that I think deserves more care, e.g., copying a recipe for reference while cooking so the book remains in nice condition as a fascinating reference.

Readers that are interested in vegetarian cooking might also like the following: The Greens Cook Book by Deborah Madison (more complex recipes, many excellent for entertaining), Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop (easier everyday cooking), as well as Moosewood (Molly Katzen) cook books in general.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2007
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This is a beautiful and functional and useful book. I refer to it at least once a week, sometimes more often. Most people will use this book in at least one of the following four ways:

1) coffee table book and conversation starter - this is the least valuable way to utilize such a brilliant tome but if food books appeal to your coffe table senses you can't go wrong with this one, the photographs are lovely

2) "what the heck did I just buy at the farmers market?" reference. I frequent farmers markets and sometimes I buy a lovely vegetable that I honestly don't know what to do with when I get it home. This book tells me how to clean, store, cook, and serve those farmers market goodies

3) "how the heck do I pick a good [enter vegetable here]?" reference. Sometimes the best squash is not always the one with the hardest shell. Can a perfectly good artichoke have brown spots? Should I select leeks with fat bulbs or slender bulbs? This book tells you how to make the best selection and what time of year is prime for each item, including varietals.

4) Should I bake or steam or boil or braise or roast or gril or...? This book tells you how the flavor and texture of your selected vegetable will differ based upon cooking technique.

Another reviewer indicated that this book does not cover common vegetables in some cases. That is correct. You won't find an entry for traditional carrots, but you will find several entries for non traditional carrots. You won't find green asparagus described (though it is referenced) but you will find white and purple asparagus entries. The author clearly indicates omissions and her reasoning is that even basic home cooks already have that knowledge. I can understand why some reviewers would omit a star for that but to be honest I use this book so often that it is still a five star product in my opinion.
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As an avid vegetable gardener I buy every cookbook on vegetables that comes along, and find (somewhat to my embarrassment) that I now have 45 of them. This is the one that I haul out most often and that I turn to over and over for ideas. Like many other readers, I wish that Ms. Schneider would reissue it with the commonest vegetables included, but other than that it's perfect. I particularly like the free-flowing section that follows the recipes for each vegetable, in which the author gives sketchy outlines of other dishes using that vegetable. Many of my most successful cooking experiments have been triggered by these undetailed, one-cook-to-another sections that give the gist of a dish rather than nailing it down.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this also viewed
Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables: A Commonsense Guide
Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables: A Commonsense Guide by Elizabeth Schneider (Paperback - June 8, 2010)
$15.40

Pure Dessert
Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich (Hardcover - September 5, 2007)

Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook
Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook by Alice Waters (Paperback - April 18, 1995)
$16.96
 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.

Your Recently Viewed Items and Featured Recommendations 
 

After viewing product detail pages, look here to find an easy way to navigate back to pages you are interested in.