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Is it possible to improve upon perfection? Apparently, the answer is yes! Joy of Cooking reaches new heights with this series of illustrated volumes. All About Vegetarian Cooking begins with a short section on organic ingredients and nutrition for vegetarians and then plunges into a collection of more than 100 of Joy's best-loved vegetarian recipes. With the addition of cooking tips, serving suggestions, and more than 150 stunning photographs of finished dishes and cooking techniques, this is truly a joy.
After more than 60 years, we've learned to trust America's favorite cookbook to provide clear, well-written recipes that always work for dishes as diverse as falafel, spanakopita, and succotash. Perusing its pages, however, used to be a very plain experience. Now it's just plain mouthwatering! The full-page photograph of the Grilled Eggplant and Roasted Red Pepper Panini dish--focaccia with tapenade and fresh mozzarella--is a showstopper and leaves nothing to the imagination. The big earthenware bowl of Winter Vegetable Couscous redefines comfort food. And the golden, crispy crust on the Persian Rice, made with basmati rice, saffron, onions, and dried apricots, will leave you breathless and starving. Somehow, we never noticed these gems buried deep in the big Joy. Mixed together in the vegetables section, we didn't realize until now how many of them are dishes that can stand alone as entrées.
Joy has always been a good bet for kitchen novices, but these volumes go the extra step by illustrating the finished dish (always reassuring for a beginner) and suggesting many useful techniques, such as how to separate eggs, press tofu, and prepare artichokes. For those of us who already own a copy (or two) of the original tome, this adaptation is simply inspirational and a great addition to anyone's cookbook library. The presentation is so beautiful and stimulating, you'll hardly recognize that the recipes are the good old reliables, all dressed up and ready to go. --Leora Y. Bloom
Irma Rombauer self-published the first Joy of Cooking in 1931 with the small insurance payout she received after her husband committed suicide during the Great Depression. Suddenly, society wives who used to enjoy a kitchen staff no longer had the money to employ them and began cooking for themselves. The instruction "stand facing the stove" was a bit more pragmatic than we realize. In 1936, the first commercial edition was published by Bobbs-Merrill. Marion Rombauer Becker, Irma's daughter, joined the Joy dynasty and revised and updated each subsequent edition until 1975. That edition was the first after Irma's death and was completely Marion's. Her son, Ethan Becker, has returned the book to the family's voice, revising the 1975 edition for the 75th Anniversary Edition.
Ethan Becker is the son of Marion Rombauer Becker and the grandson of Irma S. Rombauer, the original author of The Joy of Cooking. He attended Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, but learned how to cook from his mom. An outdoors-man, he is a master of the grill and at cooking game. His outdoor gear and survival and combat knives are sold internationally under the brand Becker Knife and Tool. Ethan and his wife, Susan, a writer, editor, and artist, live in East Tennessee at their home, Half Moon Ridge. His website is www.thejoykitchen.com.