(Aside: I’m back! Sorry for the radio silence! Even better, I’m writing this post on my new laptop! My old machine was very good to me, but after 6 years it had settled into a pace that I can only describe as “glacial.”)
So anyway, a few weeks back, I won a prize! As this rarely happens to me, I figured I had to share my excitement and a peek at my winnings: the gorgeous cookbook “Vegetarian Cooking,” written by Katherine Polenz and published by the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). I won the cookbook from the renowned knitwear designer, Anne Hanson, herself a longtime fan and supporter of the CIA in idyllic Hyde Park, New York. The CIA graciously gave Anne a copy of the book to review and give away on her blog, and by lucky chance, my name was drawn and boom! I had a new cookbook to drool over.
The author was even kind enough to autograph my copy, making this a real treasure.
The book bills itself as “the only book you need to prepare delicious and healthy vegetarian meals at home,” and I have to say that they’re right. What I really love about this cookbook is its level of sophistication. And by that, I do not mean that the recipes use esoteric ingredients that are difficult to find and offers unusual dishes to create “wow your friends” meals. Instead, I mean that this book is a detailed, exhaustive reference guide for modern vegetarian cooking that goes beyond just eating salads.
In addition to the glossary of terms and the helpful sections on essential tools and basic techniques for making soups and pastas, there are a number of chapters that explore the lengths to which vegetarian cooking can be taken. For example, I think we sometimes forget that baking is vegetarian! So how about recipes for everything from bran muffins to pizza dough to Indian breads like roti and naan and Mexican essentials like corn tortillas? A section on common vegetarian proteins, like eggs and beans, is greatly augmented by recipes that use the latest in alternative proteins: tofu, tempeh (fermented tofu), and seitan (made from wheat gluten). Admittedly, I am a devoted carnivore and don’t find myself going for alternative protein sources, but I think the significant inclusion of these recipes shows how far the perception and flexibility of vegetarian cooking has come. And how about a section on unique vinaigrettes, salsas, sauces, compotes, marmalades, pesto, and more? And best of all for this math nerd, extensive tables of weight, volume, and temperature conversions. Ahh, math: it does a body good.
Anyway, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite pictures and recipes from the book – get ready to drool!
Whole wheat flatbread with roasted veggies and jack cheese; those of you who know me well know that I am powerless in the face of pizza, so this one had me at “hello.”
Sure, we all think of vegetable soup as vegetarian cooking, but how about a white bean and tomato soup accented with herb-tomato gougeres (made from a type of french pastry)? Tres chic!
Falafel, tabbouleh, and cucumber salad, one of the finest meals ever conceived.
A spin on boeuf bourguignon, this is instead a casserole of kidney beans and mushrooms simmered in red wine. Sign me up!
Four gorgeous grain-based salads that I could easily see being incorporated into any traditional family gathering. How about that wheat berry salad with oranges, cherries, and pecans for Thanksgiving in the upper right corner??
Spicy chickpeas, called “ragada,” will definitely be making an appearance in my kitchen. I’ve grown to love chickpeas, and ever since a fatefully delicious meal at Bar Pinotxo in Barcelona last September that included the best chickpeas I’ve ever eaten, they are a new favorite of mine.
And last but certainly not least, since you all know how much I love baking, yummy spiced bran muffins with raisins or currants or cranberries, etc. (As an aside, aren’t the photos in this book beautiful??)
With the gorgeous, early autumn weather we’ve been having, I’m pretty inspired to get back in the kitchen for some puttering, vegetarian-style!
On the knitting front, I’ve got a fun new design to share that is in the works. I really hope to have it ready for Rhinebeck in *gulp* four weeks! And I also have a fun new collaboration to share, that includes one perfectly stunning skein of yarn.
Happy weekend, everyone!