Pros: Delicious vegetarian recipes. Even meat-lovers will be impressed.
Cons: No pictures, except one on the front cover.
The Bottom Line: With this cookbook, you will see that vegetarian meals can be delicious and varied. It's not just tofu! I wish there were pictures.
My life changed significantly four years ago, when my nine year old son declared his desire to become a strict vegetarian. Suddenly, life became more complicated and stressful. We often needed to prepare separate meals for him, and for the rest of the family. That wasnt easy, especially after a long day at the office. Plus, a typical nine year old, my son wasnt about to suddenly start loving spinach or broccoli or tofu, and he was fairly fussy. For a while, I was going crazy! Yet we were determined that if our son was going to stay vegetarian, that he get a wide variety of proteins and other foods in his diet. It was clear that I was going to need some help creating meals that were nutritious and delicious. I stocked up on many vegetarian cookbooks. The Vegetarian Feast, by Martha Rose Shulman, is the vegetarian cookbook that I turn to most frequently. My son has remained a strict vegetarian, and his younger brother soon joined him.
Ms. Shulman has recipes that are both healthy and really delicious. These are strict vegetarian recipes. (milk and eggs are used, but no other animal products). While there are some more labor intensive recipes, the majority are practical, even for a busy working mother, such as myself. These recipes do not require 60 ingredients, half of which can only be purchased at specialty shops. No, the vast majority of recipes have regular ingredients that you can find anywhere. The original Vegetarian Feast was published in the mid-1970s. This revised edition has trimmed down the amount of fat in the recipes, without sacrificing flavor and added many new recipes. Her recipes have been hits, not just with my children, but with the whole family.
How is the book organized? The first 40 pages or so includes an introduction, a listing of commonly used ingredients and cooking equipment, and explanation of basic cooking techniques. Next, we have the following chapters: Breads, Hors doeuvres, soups, main dishes, side dishes, pasta, sauces, salads and desserts. Finally, there is an index.
Yummy soups! Tell us about the soups! First, the soups. The author tells us, in the introduction to this chapter: When I ran my supper club back in the seventies, the soups were always the most talked-about part of the menu. Indeed, these soups are special. There are recipes for 36 soups, Most of them are hearty and substantial. They can be a meal by themselves. Some of the hot soups are: egg drop soup, cream of raw and cooked mushroom soup and potato-cheese soup. Some of the cold soups are: Turkish cucumber soup, puree of strawberry soup,and chilled avocado-tomato soup, and blender gazpacho.
Of the soups Ive made so far, my favorite is called, Thick Cabbage Soup. I am a big fan of cabbage soup to begin with. This version really take cabbage soup to a new level. The author tells us, A wonderful, easy soup, one of my favorites. Sesame seeds are a nice touch, adding texture and nuttiness to a thick soup with a dark and fragrant broth. A little bit of cayenne goes a long way here; its an important ingredient that enhances the character of the soup. This soup is thickened with the addition of some diced whole-wheat or rye bread. The cayenne pepper (measure carefully!) and the soy sauce, give this soup some zip.
How about main dishes? A sampling of the recipes: black bean enchiladas, extraordinary chalupas, several quiches, omelets and soufflés and crepes, stuffed zucchini, stir-fry Chinese Tofu and Vegetables, eggplant parmesan, and pizza. Not too surprisingly, my kids prefer the pizza and Mexican dishes.
One of my favorite recipes here is the Spanokopita (Greek spinach pie). Shulman says: This is a spectacular dish for company---a golden, puffy spinach pie with a savory filling and a rich, crisp crustand it also makes a wonderful hors doeuvre. This recipe takes a bit more time and effort than some of the others. It is for special occasions. If you adore casseroles containing spinach, mushrooms and feta cheese, in a filo-dough crust, like I do, you just might find this dish addicting. Its one of those meals that I find way too tempting133.those leftovers vanish very quickly.
How about some dessert? Lest you think that vegetarians are no fun, let me tell you that this book is jam-packed with dessert recipes too: pears poached in red wine with a touch of cassis, Bavarian crème au café, light cheesecake and pumpkin pie are just a few examples.
What does the book look like? The book is soft-cover, about 7 inches by 9 inches, and has 272 pages. Thus, it is not very bulky, and it is easy to lug it around the kitchen. Unfortunately, there is only one picture. (on the front cover).