Dave's Garden Book Review: The Best Vegetable Recipes
The Best Vegetable Recipes
From the Editors of Cook's Illustrated
Summertime means vegetables and with the abundance of fresh offerings from the garden and farmer's markets, it is time to expand our horizons. Instead of serving yet another basket of fried potatoes, explore the lovely colors and textures available during the summer months. Even if the nearest fresh vegetables are only in the local supermarket, color outside the lines a bit and try something new.
The editors at Cook's Illustrated have compiled some of the best recipes tailored to each vegetable. These aren't complicated or difficult recipes, instead the test kitchens have worked to serve each vegetable in a way that spotlights its best features. Some surprises were in order and the editors found that things like ordinary bagged carrots had just as much flavor and were as tender as their pricey counterparts sold bundled with the tops intact.
Each vegetable, from artichokes to zucchini is discussed in detail, with illustrated preparation techniques that are easily understood. Detailed drawings show the cook how to trim and prepare vegetables such as artichokes for steaming, braising and roasting, with each vegetable accompanied by a Master Recipe that cooks can expand and customize to suit their tastes. Often other recipes are included with each vegetable that are designed to inspire the palate and encourage creativity. When several types of a specific vegetable are common, the editors describe each in detail and explain which varieties are best for a particular cooking technique, such as potatoes for baking, frying or potato salad.
Along with vegetables, the editors include tips, like marking an ‘x' on the older onions in your bin so that those will be easily identified and used first, or proper salting techniques that reduce the amount of moisture in watery vegetables.
They have also tested and rated numerous kitchen tools, from knives to salad spinners and some of those results are eye openers as well. The plain old Pyrex® baking dish that most everyone has in the cupboard does as well as the fancy enameled versions that cost several times more money. There are also helpful tips scattered among the pages, such as placing stuffed peppers in a muffin tin or tube pan to keep them upright during cooking.
Familiar kitchen ingredients are also rated and recommended, with the common brands of many everyday items such as mayonnaise, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and black pepper outperforming their fancy gourmet counterparts.
Cooks with any level of expertise will benefit from this book. I consider myself at an advanced level when it comes to preparing vegetables and found that it was extremely helpful. I would also recommend this book to the beginner and think that it would be a welcome gift for someone just starting to learn the wonders of preparing their own meals from fresh produce. It is written in an easy to read format and everything is either illustrated or described in detail. From ordinary steak fries to roasted fennel, this book is a wealth of information and I wholeheartedly endorse it.
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