- Hardcover: 480 pages
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin; 2nd prt. edition (May 21, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0618239979
- ISBN-13: 978-0618239979
- Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 1.6 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 62 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #473,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen: Easy Seasonal Dishes for Family and Friends Hardcover – May 21, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Cook's Illustrated executive editor Bishop largely succeeds in removing the tarnish from vegetarian cooking, sharing simple, seasonal dishes that make the lack of meat seem like an afterthought. Bishop's no-nonsense attitude toward tofu leads into a series of recipes that call for browning the tofu, then coating it with a pan sauce, such as Pan-Glazed Tofu with Thai Red Curry Sauce. The majority of these dishes can be thrown together at the last minute, such as Wilted Spinach Salad with Japanese Flavors, and Chard Burritos with Tomato-Chipotle Salsa; the few that are more labor-intensive (Orange Risotto Cakes with Pistachio Crust, for example) and are worth the effort. Many of the dishes have Italian or Mexican influences, and Bishop arranges recipes by season. Occasionally it's not clear what connects a dish to its season, (why is Fettuccine with Caramelized Onion Sauce a fall meal?), and there is some repetition: spring's Chickpea Patties with Arugula Salad hardly vary from the Herbed Chickpea Patties with Israeli Salad that appear in summer. There are odd lapses, too, such as a sidebar on blending puréed soups that neglects to mention immersion blenders, and a recipe for Root Vegetable Tarts with Rosemary that calls for a 14-ounce package of puff pastry, then uses only half of the package. Largely, though, the inventiveness of Arugula and Pear Soup and Tender Lettuce and Peach Salad with Pumpkin Seeds and Sour Orange Vinaigrette far outweighs those puzzling blips. These are excellent recipes for alluring food. 16 color photos.
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And the taste of the dishes is just fantastic. Never thought I'd enjoy tofu - yet some of the tofu recipes are simple, easy and really tasty. My wife likes the tofu recipes so much that when I offered to make dinner for her birthday, since we could not go out that night, she chose a tofu recipe from this book.
This book has really changed our eating habits and made us eat more healthily as well.
The second virtue of the book may actually be a requirement for a seasonally organized book. This is an additional table of contents organized by type of dish. The categories so organized are Soups and Stews; Lighter Salads; Main-Course Salads; Sandwiches and Tortilla Dishes; Pasta and Noodles; Rice, Grains, and Couscous; Beans and Lentils; Eggs; Tofu and Tempeh; Pizzas and Tarts; Vegetable Main Courses; Side Dishes; and Accompaniments. I am not up on all the finer distinctions in the vegetarian / vegan world, but the presence of distinctly eggy dishes such as omelets, frittatas, and souffles tells me that Mr. Bishop is on the liberal end of the vegetarian spectrum.
The third virtue of the book is the great variety in foods used in the dishes and in the great variety of ethnic influences. Italian pastas, frittatas, beans, and veggie dishes are cheek and jowl with lots of Middle Eastern, South Asian, Southeast Asian, Chinese, Japanese, and Latin dishes. Tofu, miso, grains, and couscous are given prominent roles in ethnic dishes. I have seen some vegetarian cookbooks that claimed to declaim classic dishes with virtually no rice dishes represented. True to his `best recipe' background from `Cooks Illustrated', Mr. Bishop's techniques are dead on in every case I checked. His rice technique is especially keen on the finer points of difference between cooking simple long grain rice and rice for `sticky rice'.
The fourth virtue of the book is set of sidebars on ingredients and techniques. In one, for example, he echoes a finding in `Cooks Illustrated' that points out that American imitations of Indian Basmati rice simply don't cut it. The sidebars plus headnotes leave no mistaken impressions that this is fast or simple cooking. One's first experience in preparing a dish from fresh artichokes or fava beans will demonstrate that some veggie delicacies can be very finicky and time consuming to prepare.
The fifth virtue of the book is in the pantry recipes or, more accurately `Everyday Basics' with recipes for stocks, doughs, basic rice preparations, basic potato preparations, and basic corn meal preparations. These are all `seasonless' recipes, as good rice, potatoes, and corn meal are available the year around. The best finds in this chapter are the three different vegetable stocks, one traditional, one Mediterranean with basil and potato, and one Asian with dried shiitake and ginger. Bishop demonstrates great respect to his veggie ingredients by simmering for no more than an hour.
The last virtue I consider valuable for you, dear reader, to know is the fact that Bishop is neither preachy nor rigid about his vegetarianism or seasonality. He freely confesses to using imported materials out of local season and makes recommendations for supermarket replacements for stocks and such (look for stocks in cardboard aseptic containers). This liberality extends to the fact that several recipes are not strictly from their seasonal chapter. I am especially happy that Mr. Bishop did not bring along the `Cooks Illustrated' dialectic of examining lots of unsuccessful methods, which cooks have known to be bad ideas for centuries.
I do believe there are some recipes that are less than stellar. There are times when `simple' leaves you with the feeling that something is missing, but then, maybe this just means you palate needs some education. Overall, I found lots of sound ideas, albeit few with which I was unfamiliar. Sometimes, I think certain culinary ideas, even ideas which may be centuries old, suddenly acquires a currency among culinary writers. All of a sudden, everyone is talking about adding Parmesan rinds to soups and broths. Mr. Bishop uses this very simple idea in the most novel manner by adding it to the broth to be added to risotto in place of the conventional chicken stock. Thank you, Jack.
Highly recommended for the vegetarian and all others searching for reliable seasonal recipes and nutritious dishes. Intermediate skills required. Few expensive or truly hard to get ingredients.
Most recent customer reviews
I am not a great cook, and so love this book for easy and simple recipes.