on March 30, 2002
I just counted 34 cookbooks in my kitchen, but this is the one I use the most. Only the Joy of Cooking gets an equal workout. This book is the only vegetarian cookbook I've ever seen that:
1) Is comprehensive enough to cover every ingredient you have in your fridge (if you have a head of fennel and a potato, and nothing else, you will probably be able to find a recipe);
2) Is neither too far in the "twigs pebbles and roughage" camp nor the "80 ingredients you never heard of and 3 hours you don't have" camp. Most recipes are reasonable in scope and actually flavorful, although if you want to create a fancy banquet you can.
Even if you are not a committed vegetarian (I'm not), but you just want to eat healthier, or to avoid the "vegetables turning into science experiments in the fridge" thing, this is a tremendous great resource.
on July 21, 2000
This has become my favorite cookbook. I have been vegetarian for nearly 20 years and I am an avid cook, and this book has provided nothing but perfect food, without meat, every time I have used it. I love good food. Food that is merely nutritious and not really good, also, is a bane to humanity. This food is not generally low-fat, but it is still whole, nutritious food. The desserts are great, the salads are great, the vegetable dishes are great. You name it, in this book, it's good.
The other thing that I love about this book is that Deborah Madison is not only a great chef she also knows how to translate her cooking talent into recipes that really WORK. I am disappointed by some chefs' cookbooks because it's obvious that they are excellent cooks, but their recipe-writing skills are sub-par. These, on the other hand, are well-tested, well-written recipes.
The food in this book is what I'd call fine food. Some recipes in other cookbooks are for everyday-type food that will get you by, and others are for trendy food that are novel to make once in a while. The recipes in this book direct you to make the kind of food that will have you talking the next day about how good it was, and they're not trendy. Most are also uncomplicated. The flavors are refined and you might call them sophisticated, but that's misleading because there's nothing pretentious about the recipes or the presentation. The sophistication comes from a cleanness to the palate that is presented here.
I have a large collection of cookbooks (200+) and this one definitely stands out. If you have others of Madison's cookbooks, such as the Savory Way or the Greens Cookbook, which are also both excellent, I suspect that you will find this one more accessible. There's a hint of preciousness in those other two books that I find lacking here. Madison seems less concerned about impressing us in this book and more relaxed in her approach. This has improved her style and has improved her food, as well.
on January 11, 2000
My husband calls Deborah Madison the Dominatrix of Cooking because of the picture on the cover of the book (she looks like she could get pretty serious with those wooden spoons---why two?), and because of her high-minded attitude about certain standard ingredients (e.g. the Parmesan cheese in the green box and regular table salt). I think she earns the moniker because she is clearly in charge in the kitchen. I love these recipes for their simplicity. Though I have (too) many cookbooks, I use this one more than any other and recommend it to all my friends who are curious about vegetarian cooking.
I have achieved a deep appreciation for chick peas--try chick peas and farfalle. This is easy, but so tasty, I serve it to company. Another elegant company dish: leek and goat cheese galette---sublime and wonderful, and not hard!
Though some have described recipes as too "simplistic," I would say this book allows vegetables to shine in a healthy straightforward way, not drowned with fatty sauces. Many of the recipes are do-able on a day-to-day basis, and since I cook for my family (including four kids, ages 10 to 17), I can't be the French chef every night. I bought a copy for my oldest, who has also fallen in love with it, since she will be going off to college soon.
on May 2, 2008
Since this is a classic you will find all kinds of great reviews. I have no loyalty to Deborah Madison. But I do think this is a wonderful book and some of the negatives are just strange or wrong. If you are considering this purchase, take it out of the library or look at it in a store. This is really worth having on the shelf and for many reasons.
A One star reviewer says that on page 282...Potato Leek Gratin...ends up in a watery mess. The last word in the recipe says...DRAIN. Next..p636 ...Cranberry Nut Bread...uses two different kinds of sugar and doesn't say when to use each type. In defense again...in the directions it breaks things up with the words PUT (that starts the Cranberry Sauce), and then CREAM which uses the next ingredient in line (butter) and then the next type of sugar etc.. I'm no Mr. Chef but this seems straight forward to me.
The bit about Acorn Squash? Not accurate. Very few books that I have seen, have a direct reference to Acorn Squash...(Fanny Farmer, Joy of Cooking, Essential Vegetarian Cookbook etc.)This one does. With most you have to know it is also known as Winter Squash and find it that way. And this book does not just have info and bake at so and so. You can just bake it, there is a side note of good things "partners" that go with it, she gives ideas of what to use this for other than just as is, then another entry a bit more involved with some recipe for a flavored butter, and then, as Fanny Farmer says to put maple syrup and butter with it but then goes on to suggest 5 other kinds of flavors. Fanny Farmer though, says bake at 400 for 40 to 50 minutes, which really kills it. Out of all the cookbooks I have, Madison's book happened to be the most informative!!....and it brings you to a great place in the book that speaks of many other kinds of squash, what they are, and what to do with them....which I never knew about. All these other great well known cookbooks did not have any of this or all in the same place as she does. It is nice to be accurate if you are really going to dig in. Amazing. Really off in the critique there.
Bland recipes? This book is written from the standpoint of a more sensitive palette. This is not snobbery. I love burgers and fries and beer and pizza and all of that. But I simply had to give it up to the occasional. At first most things didn't taste like anything. But in time...a good piece of celery is sweet. Our taste buds are overpowered by the usual stuff we have in this society. Even the so called healthy meals. What I have experienced is that when cooked right, vegetable dishes give hints of this and that flavor or texture and that is the power in them. Our usual is to be knocked over the head. So to get into this kind of book and just cook away can be misleading.
Odd ingredients? Swiss Chard...Quinoa....?...None of what is in here is really that weird. You end up spending less. Animal protein is expensive. Sounds like "elitist artsy-f*rtsy gormand snob set" talk doesn't it? Nope. But some see it this way. I do eat meat. And fish. But not in the portions I was used to. Not necessary. The body needs a balance. In a big way. We create much of our disease from too much acid. This cookbook is a good reference to moving away from this kind of thing. There are cookbooks that are much more "way out" than this one. This seems to aim at many levels.
I had to say something after reading some of the negatives. I just wasn't agreeing or seeing what was said. Many times I find the negative reviews are more helpful than the "can do no wrong types". In this case I think they lead people down the wrong path. See for yourself in person first. Perhaps you will agree.
on December 9, 2002
I've read all 83 (whew!) of the reviews here so far and find it quite interesting that only a handful of them are negative. That so many people clearly love this cookbook only confirms my own impression. I've made dozens of recipes from this book and now trust it so completely that I will make special company dishes without having tested them first - and this is the only cookbook I have that gets that honor. The roasted eggplant lasagna with garlic bechamel is sublime, the carrots braised in honey, butter and fresh thyme is a delicious new twist, the sweets in back will delight your taste buds, and the vegetable section is well organized by ingredient. The recipes range from very simple to more complicated, but no recipe is too intimidating, no matter what your cooking experience.
The food in this book has led me more towards becoming a vegetarian than any of the other vegetarian cookbooks I've ever had. No dish I have made from it has turned out bad. I find Madison's approach to cooking refreshing, really allowing the flavors of the foods to take center stage, instead of relying on long ingredient lists, complicated sauce-ery, or other gimicks to do what the ingredients ought to be able to do alone. Yet none of the dishes sacrifice flavor.
I bought this book in paperback three years ago and have used it so much, the spine is cracking badly. Just go ahead and buy it in hardcover - you won't be sorry. I've recommended it to friends who enjoy cooking and cookbooks as much as I do. None of us are vegetarians. But without fail, all of them have come to love this cookbook, and most of them are pretty sophisticated cooks.
Unless you are a culinary cynic or have rigid opinions about cooking and food, I don't think you can go wrong with Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. It's a real winner.
on April 5, 2000
I bought this book when I was tired of making limp salads, dull and boring pasta and overworking my herbs. Used Amazon.coms reviews to help make my purchase. Debbie Madison gives you so much more than just recipes, she provides the knowledge about everything that goes into our food that is key to understanding the way a dish works and why it was put together that way. I have used her recipes both word-for-word and as a guideline and my dishes have improved radically. Whats more, her innovative stocks, soups, pastas and vegetables team wonderfully with good well made basics from Fannie Farmers cookbook - no wonder since it looks like Marion Cunningham and Debbie Madison have a well-established collaboration! I do not own the Joy of cooking, but I feel like I have the best allies in my kitchen when I make American/ Californian food! Coming from the world of Indian cooking which absolutely calls for fresh ingredients for the best food, I really appreciate the effort that has gone into explaining the worth of vegetables, herbs and other ingredients in making food for the mind, body and soul. We need crusaders like these in these days of burgers and pizza.
I think I'll start with the "Winter Greens with Fennel and Mushrooms," followed by a small cup of "Potato and Parsley Soup," and then the "Navy Bean and Pasta Gratin with Basil and Ricotta" (or perhaps the "Perciatelli with Roasted Tomatoes, Saffron, and Garlic?"). To top it off, let's have the "Rhubarb Tart with Orange Custard."
Sound like something from the Michelin guide to Paris? It's Deborah Madison's excellent new volume," Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone." This book is more user-friendly than the author's "Greens Cookbook," Dishes are easier to prepare and not as time consuming.
The book includes tips on various cooking methods, equipment, seasoning and sauces (apple pear chutney!), and over 1,300 recipes for delicious salads, sandwiches, soups, casseroles, vegetables, pastas, breads, desserts, and breakfasts. NOTE: This is not a vegan cookbook (i.e., dairy is included), but there is little or nothing on fish. It is also NOT a low-fat cookbook a la the Moosewood Low-Fat book. Unfortunately, there is no nutritional information, but again, this is a not a "Health" cookbook. Still, I think some attention to dietary issues would have strengthened the almost-encyclopedia quality of the book. The two paragraphs on salt, for example, delve only into matters of taste. As another reviewer noted, the few color pictures are good, but not great.
Ms. Madison comments on almost every dish: what to look for in the ingredients, serving suggestions, and some notes on modifications. This is a very comprehensive guide to cooking; for example, she describes 9 kinds of squash and 8 types of cooking oil! There is a very helpful extensive index. If you're a beginning vegetarian, or one with certain dietary needs, you might want to begin with a more focused book. For the seasoned veteran, however, this is a thorough and well-written collection of recipes that taste as delicious as they sound.
on August 3, 1998
I collect cookbooks; most of the books in my kitchen feature vegetarian cooking. Therefore, I can't tell you how surprised I was to discover that Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone has added an entirely new dimension to my cooking. First of all, the book makes thorougly enjoyable reading material. In the months since I've purchased this book, I've found myself cooking from its pages virtually every day... and the most pleasing thing is that I'm cooking from the book, not BY the book. The recipes are both inspired and inspiring, from the grilled cheese and strawberry jam on rye (now a staple light supper for me) to vegetable gratins to simple but classy appetizers (my friends now take it for granted that they will be treated to oven-baked olives and crostini when they come to visit), this book has helped me become a confident and casual vegetarian cook. I have given copies as gifts to every friend I know who enjoys cooking- vegetarian and non-vegetari! an alike- and they have been just as enthusiastic about it as I am.
on February 3, 2000
This book is one of the best cookbooks I've ever owned. It contains simple, week-night recipes, as well as more complex recipes perfect for entertaining. The soup recipes are fantastic, and there are some great bread and desserts as well. Highly recommended for beginning and advanced cooks.
on September 1, 1998
Deborah Madison's latest book represents nothing short of a culinary masterpiece. For too long, fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes have been treated as gastronomical afterthoughts - "accompaniments" suggested at the end of a recipe or a mere ingredient to be added to some larger dish. Ironically, many vegetarian cookbooks have actually contributed to this phenomenon. In a well-intentioned - but not always well-executed attempt to get people to eat less or no meat, many vegetarian cookbooks have subordinated vegetables to the function of "meat substitute." This is unfortunate because when prepared well and creatively (and without any Textured Vegetable Protein) vegetables, grains and legumes can be as memorable as the main dish ... especially when they are the main dish.
No single cookbook has ever demonstrated this philosophy better than "Vegetarian for Everyone." As a moderate meat-eater who thinks the new Inverted Pyramid diet guidelines are the best thing that ever happened to American cuisine, I'm convinced "Vegetarian for Everyone" is destined to become our generation's "The Joy of Cooking." It reflects a deep respect for the simplicity of well-prepared foods and provides undeniable proof of Ms. Madison's profound talents as a chef.
It's also a lot of fun to read. The title of the book, however, is something of a misnomer. "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" really isn't a "vegetarian" cookbook. Vegetarian cookbooks are preoccupied with tofu, TVP and grain-mixtures that are supposed to stand-in for everything from fois gras to hot dogs. There is no substituting for fois gras, and Ms. Madison realizes this. Instead of yet another take on the Garden Burger, we're given Smoked Black Bean Dip with homemade New Mexican flour tortillas and fresh pico de gallo; Sautéed Matchsticks of Zucchini in Garlic Yogurt Sauce; Roasted Red Pepper sauce that begs to be ladled over stuffed mushrooms; and yes, even homemade mayonnaise (tofu or egg-based, take your pick.) Ms. Madison does offer her take on some vegan standards - including a grain burger, I believe - but these types of recipes do not constitute the bulk of the book.
The book itself is extremely well-organized, with natural divisions between the foods discussed. A tremendous amount of information on vegetables, grains and legumes is there for the taking - making "Vegetarian for Everyone" as much of a reference book as a cookbook. The margin notes that she provides with each recipe offer a wealth of insight into serving suggestions, as well as anecdotes and tips from her professional and pre-professional years in the kitchen.
One of the most valuable aspects of this book is the extensive treatment given to sauces, condiments and salad dressings. By using these recipes alone, you can add new dimensions to just about any food you prepare - meats and vegetables alike.
Buy the book, prepare the recipes, and enjoy. This cookbook will be covered with stains before you know it. And many thanks to Deborah, who I understand spent more than five years on this book - you've created nothing short of a classic.