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New Vegetarian is full of delicious-looking unusual recipes. The dish on the cover is grilled vegetable sformato. It has layers of bell peppers, eggplant, ricotta, romano and fontina cheese, and pistachio nuts. There are recipes for a braised garlic-squash tart with aged gouda, roasted grapes and golden beets on arugula greens with pistachio chevre, summer tomato gazpacho with silken tofu and avocado, black and green soy and cheese quesadillas with sweet potato salsa, Buddha's Delight with tofu skin, mock abalone, and tree ears, hazelnut "meatballs" and sauce, and goat cheese gnocchi in lemon-broccoli rabe sauce. These are all options that I'd be delighted to try at a restaurant. The recipes are fairly simple, divided up into a few steps, with a list of ingredients. The photographs by Yvonne Duivenvoorden make the foot look exquisite and appetizing.
I'd be thrilled to go to an event catered by Minnesota-based Robin Asbell. However, I'm not keen on making many of the recipes from this book, because they look a little complicated: I'd love to try her Spanish spinach, almond and egg empanaditas, but I'm not going to make the dough, sauté the filling, wrap them up and then put them in the oven. I'm also not going to make the spicy tofu yam temaki zushi hand rolls -- too much work with some unfamiliar ingredients. There are some simple recipes here: the Mac and Cheese with hidden veggies is straightforward, although with buttermilk, cheddar cheese, blue cheese, and parmesan, it looks a bit rich. The garlicky roasted potatoes with spinach, green olives and pine nuts are also pretty simple, but you still have to make something to go with them.
The other distinctive feature of the book is that it is such a bizarre collection of different cuisines: Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Italian, Spanish, French, and more. It is a book you need to plan ahead to use in creating a coherent meal. Unless you have an exceptionally well-stocked pantry, you won't be able to just bring home some nice fresh vegetables at your local market and cook them in one of the recipes for this book. So really these are recipes for people with plenty of time to cook, or for special occasions. As such, I would have liked more detailed descriptions of how to do the different steps, and I'd have liked some estimate of how long it takes to make.
So this is an interesting cookbook that will appeal to a rather specialized group of readers.
Link: Author website.
© 2010 Christian Perring
Christian Perring, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York
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