Dave's Garden Book Review: Vegetables
Vegetables: The most Authoritative Guide to Buying, Preparing, and Cooking, with More Than 300 Recipes
By: James Peterson
Have you ever been tempted to purchase unfamiliar vegetables, but were unsure how to prepare them? Vegetables that were virtually unknown just a few years ago are now popping up in farmer's markets and on supermarket shelves. James Peterson's book gives purchasing and preparation tips for vegetables such as Fiddle Head ferns, Salsify, Ramps and Burdock.
The book is divided into a glossary describing the various vegetables, which includes old standbys such as potatoes, beans and Brussels sprouts. There is a color plate section demonstrating techniques from trimming artichokes and peeling fava beans, to simply chopping cabbage.
Each vegetable has a description of what is considered fresh and pointers on how to tell when each is past its prime. There are serving suggestions right with the glossary and a whole cookbook in the middle section.
The cookbook is divided into the categories that one would normally expect; Vegetable Salads, Casseroles, Pasta and Soups. There are also categories for Fried Vegetables, Grilled Vegetables, Braised Vegetables, Sauces and Roasted Vegetables.
While the cookbook focuses on vegetables, it isn't a vegetarian cookbook. Liberal use of broth, bacon, cheese and various cuts of meat assure the carnivores that there are recipes that will suit their tastes as well.
Tips and techniques are sprinkled throughout the text and there is advice on choosing an oil or butter to making your own pasta or baked tortilla chips.
The descriptions and instructions are simple enough for a novice cook, but there are plenty of challenging recipes and unique combinations for the experienced as well.
A handy key at the back of the book tells the cook how much of a vegetable to purchase per serving. It is such a complete list that it even tells the cook what percentage of the vegetable is lost to peeling or trimming. Mr. Peterson stresses purchasing vegetables in season, to maximize the peak of flavor and nutrient content and he offers advice on proper cleaning and storage as well.
Therefore, if you wish to be adventurous and try something out of the ordinary, or just want to collect some fresh ideas on how to prepare a familiar vegetable, this lovely book will serve both purposes. It is an impressive addition to any cook's collection and a helpful reference.
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