World Vegetarian Classics Hardcover – Oct 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Meatless dishes from around the world shine in this stylish book. Brown, an American who caters and does food consulting in London, was inspired by the city's array of ethnic eateries, and much of the book is filtered through recent immigrants or British cooks who have become skilled in another region's cooking style; the "expert" on Spanish cooking, for example, is a Bristol chef, and many recipes are adapted from other cookbooks, perhaps less authentic as a result. Brown makes up for this by including numerous dishes that will pleasantly surprise vegetarians who think they've tried everything, such as delightful Coriander Pea Cakes in Coconut Curry from Mauritius; cute, fried Son-in-Law Eggs from Thailand; and a thick, hot Ukrainian variation on Borshch. Most are main dishes, and familiar offerings (Boston Baked Beans; Moroccan Mixed Vegetable Couscous) anchor the 11 chapters, which span the world by region. Few of the recipes are complicated, and Brown provides conversions and translations for measurements and terms, though beginners may be frustrated by the sometimes vague instructions. Still, with its beautiful presentation of a well-rounded selection of dishes, this book should take a prominent place on the shelf of any vegetarian who loves to cook. Photos. (Apr.)
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"This is a groundbreaking book. I was surprised to discover that a vegetarian tradition exists in all of the world's great cultures. And with its inspired recipes, there's something for everyone here. This book rocks!" Chrissie Hynde" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product Description
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
We have cooked almost half the recipes, and all but one was simply superb (the one was our fault - we left the rice cooking too long). Generally, the recipes aren't quick and easy, so we use them when we have time to spend an hour or more making dinner. However, the effort you spend is represented in the rewards because the food is simply delicious. The author takes the time to explain intricate details which help to make the recipes special - including historical details for the dishes, tips to make them cook perfectly and ingredient explanations by region.
In terms of recipes, the Thai Green Curry is exquisite, the Mushroom Risotto to die for and the African banquet options are endless - our favourite is South African Dried Fruit Curry with Pacha Rice, a rice and vermicelli mix which is delightful to make and to eat, and which everyone raves about! Other favourites are the Walnut Pasta, Lemon and Herb Fettuccini, Ethiopian Chickpea Stew, the Argentinean Easter Torte, and Welsh Breakfast Sausages. Brooks-Brown has managed to make complex dishes with complex flavours easily achievable at home. The book has emphasis on cooking from scratch, so be prepared to chop herbs and grind spices to make intricate flavours balance beautifully. I don't think it is easy to try all the recipes in this book -some of the ingredients are hard to find, even with good access to Asian/Indian/African supermarkets and arguably Australia's best fresh produce market less than 15 minutes from home as I have here in Melbourne. This is a consequence of the authenticity and indigenous accuracy of the recipes.
Every time we get this book out, my partner's parents develop a keen interest in the smells and sounds of the kitchen and they always want a taste of whatever results! We've been told "you guys are wonderful cooks!" but all credit must go to this book. We have a stack (about 20) of other vegetarian recipe books lying around and this one is easily the best for authentic restaurant quality dishes. It has become somewhat of a food bible around the house.
The downside is that it will never serve as a comprehensive collection of your favorite ethnic recipes. Theres just too much to cover. Its a good solid starting point, albeit slightly pricey, for everything from mashed potatoes to satay sauce.
However, this book is not just about recipes. It also has some very educational sections to help you become more well versed on cuisines throughout the world. Each region features an interview with an expert in that region's cuisine as well as pages focusing on the common ingredients of that area. Not only is it interesting to read about the different ingredients the pages also include color photographs and notes about how and where the ingredients can be found. For example, she notes in a section that while a particular ingredient can be found fresh in the country of it's origin it's most likely to be found canned elsewhere in the world. Anyone who has had to go on the hunt for an unusual ingredient and wasn't sure where to find it or what it would even look like will find this section invaluable. It makes the cookbook an excellent resource even if you already have cookbooks from that particular region.
As previous reviewers have noted, the book is written from a British perspective but includes measurements in metrics and US systems as well as alternate names for items in parenthesis. For example, she commonly calls for "kitchen paper" or something to that effect, but thanks to the parenthesis I was able to figure out she was actually talking about paper towels.
Overall this book is quite the home run. It showcases how diverse and delicious vegetarian food can be and educates the reader about cooking and ingredients all over the world in the process.