Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Cookbook Review: The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter Berley & Melissa Clark

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     I recently came across The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter Berley & Melissa Clark while I was browsing Amazon and instantly added it to the wish list to buy it when my financial days are a bit sunnier. I knew I would love it from the reviews and the awards it has won. Thomas, the boyfriend, saw it on the wish list a couple of days later and got it for me as a late holiday gift from Half.com for much cheaper.

     Out of the roughly 400 pages worth of recipes, only about 55 to 60 of them are not useable by those with Celiac. And I love that! In fact, most of the recipes are vegan or can be quite easily made vegan. Again, I love that!

     The book comes with high reviews from Amazon users and the author's other books have also garnered high marks from readers. I can see why with such a useful, non-intimidating, and delicious array of recipes that are broken down by type and season. There are no pictures of the meals, a feature that I like as it does not give false expectations (or hope!) to struggling / aspiring chefs. The book does, however, feature zine-like illustrations that show particular preparation methods, mostly of dough preparation and vegetable chopping.

     The book is divided into sections – Soups & Stews; Seasonal Salads; Vegetables; Pasta, Whole Grains, Polenta, Risotto, & Porridge; Beans & Pulses; Tofu, Tempeh, & Seitan; Breads; Condiments & Sauces; Desserts; Seasonal Menus. Each of these sections is further divided into subcategories like seasons, hot or cold, side or main entree, and dips or spreads.

     I heartily recommend this cookbook to vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores alike. I have not had many chances to cook out of this book yet, but I've already tagged a couple recipes to try out and I'll be sure to let you know when I do. The ingredients are made up of basic items that someone who is living outside of a metropolitan hub can have a fairly easy time finding. A few of the ethnic ingredients might be more challenging to find, but 99% of the ingredients called for can be gotten on a basic trip to the grocery store making it quite practical.

     Another point I want to mention, although it has nothing to do with the quality or variety of recipes, is the layout of the book. It's quite a visual book despite the lack of photos. the typesetting is enjoyable and the layout makes it easy to keep your place when only half paying attention.

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