Top critical review
24 people found this helpful
Great layout--wonderful information--mediocre recipes
on January 6, 2006
I agree with many previous reviewers. I absolutely love the layout of this book. The first part of the book focuses on a comprehensive study of several different vegetables, providing very useful information about each one (what they are, how to buy them, when they are seasonal, best uses for them, etc). I find this section to be very helpful, especially since there are many "exotic" veggies discussed here that are not often found in other cookbooks (ie/kohlrabi, chayote, or salsify). This section is very user-friendly, as each vegetable is listed in alphabetical order, making them very easy to find. Also, with each vegetable description, there is a full list of recipes for that particular vegetable and where to find it in the book. I find this to be a very useful tool. If I want to cook something with spinach, for example, I don't have to go hunting for different spinach recipes in the book. All I have to do is go to the spinach page and find a complete list of all the recipes in the book that have spinach in it. I can then make my choice from there. The rest of the book (the recipe section) is then broken down by cooking methods (ie/stews, grilled veggies, fried etc), which I find to be a more useful way to categorize recipes. There is also a wonderful instructional section with full color photos that shows the various techniques for working with many of the vegetables. For example, trimming artichokes, cleaning leeks, peeling fava beans, glazing pearl onions, etc.
Where the book falls short, as many reviewers have pointed out, is in the recipes themselves. I've made a small handful of them, and while none have been flops, my high expectations of them fell a little short on taste. (read: bland) I treat his recipes as solid building blocks to quality dishes, but it is up to me to add the flavor. A few additions of herbs and spices do wonders for his dishes. But if you are someone who doesn't feel comfortable embellishing on recipes, then this cookbook is certainly not for you. It's such a shame, because this book is really beautifully written and organized and very educational about vegetables. If only the recipes were as full on taste as the book is on information, then this would be a perfect cookbook.
In conclusion, if you are someone who wants an informative source on vegetables and their uses and is comfortable with customizing a recipe to suit your tastes, then I can recommend this book. But if you are looking for foolproof recipes that require no tweaking, then you should probably look somewhere else.