Vegetables Hardcover – Apr 1 2007
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Let's ignore the very last claim, as restaurant schools from Johnson & Wales to those in Zurich, France, and Germany might disagree. Physically this is a well-illustrated and designed book. Recipes are laid out with the steps on one page, ingredients running vertically next to the steps, and a full color picture facing. That's critical, because students in a culinary school get to see the food when the instructors show them how to make it. But if you've never laid eyes on a dish, it's difficult to tell whether your results are correct or not.
The one place where the visuals are lacking is in basic preparation and cooking techniques as well as information on storage and individual vegetable types. But, realistically, economic realities come into play. The volume is already just over 290 pages long at a suggest price of $40; any more, and it would quickly hit the $70 and higher price of culinary text books, putting it out of the price range of all but the most ardent home cooks.
Recipe organization is in a standard set of categories: soups, appetizers, salads, entrées, side dishes, and sauces and relishes. What is unusual for a book covering vegetables is that it's not vegetarian; there are some recipes that include meat. I was actually happy to see that. Too often vegetables are treated as accompaniments to meats, poultry, and fish, and not as integral parts of the recipe concepts. Those who eschew eating that which moved about at one time won't like those parts of the book, but for most people, I think it's a sound approach. I also saw enough unusual dishes - such as Thai Fresh Pea Soup and Hoisin-Caramelized Root Vegetables - that this collection is unlikely to be a duplicate of the standard "exotic" recipes that you find turning up in one book after another. I look forward to the next volume they do in this fashion.
The "cooking" part of this volume is barely 25 pages long; not enough to give any depth to any of its discussions. From there it launches into a collection of specific recipes using vegetables, without providing "master recipes" for any. For example, "How can I roast beets?" isn't answered with a direct "400° for 45-60 minutes in a foil packet" kind of answer anywhere. The recipes seem to be repeats from other (recommended) CIA books I have, such as The Professional Chef, 8th Edition, Cooking at Home with The Culinary Institute of America, and Techniques of Healthy Cooking, Professional Edition.
The recipes aren't organized by vegetable, as I might have liked, but by course (e.g., salads, appetizers, entries, etc). As a result, I do not find it easy to use as a "go-to" resource on my bookshelf.
This book would be at home on the coffee table of someone that has immaculate, polished stainless steel or copper All-Clad pots and Global knives on display in their kitchen. If your All-Clad and Japanese knives fall into more into the well-loved category, I'd save your money on this one.
(Interestingly, this is published by Lebhar-Friedman Books rather than Wiley -- No idea if that means anything in general.)