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  • Jackpot says:

    Rating

    As a vegetarian who loves to cook, I have been waiting for a book exactly like this. It is more than a mere collection of recipes. It is a treatise on vegetarian cooking.

    Its comprehensiveness is astounding. Consider, for example, the entry on pureed vegetables. Bittman first explains in detail how to prepare a puree. After then identifying the best and worst vegetables to puree, he presents a table with suggestions for pureeing specific vegetables; each entry recommends a binder, fat, seasoning, and garnish that works particularly well for that vegetable. Bittman then gives a recipe for a basic vegetable puree, suggests ways to serve purees, and identifies 17 recipes whose leftovers serve as good bases for purees.

    I really cannot give this book enough praise. I plan to read it cover to cover.

  • Denise Patterson says:

    Rating

    Let me start by saying I’m a busy working mom of two. I grew up eating Hamburger Helper and hot dogs, so I didn’t learn to cook until I was an adult. My dad’s had triple bypass and my mom’s having gastric bypass, so we’re trying to learn from their mistakes and eat not entirely vegetarian, but definitely a more plant-based diet. I’m sure all this sounds familiar to a lot of people!

    How to Cook Everything Vegetarian is exactly the cookbook I’ve been trying to find for a long time. It has the simple, everyday recipes that I sometimes need, combined with a LOT of wonderful vegetarian dishes from ordinary supermarket ingredients. How about Peanut Soup, Senegalese Style? Or Korean-Style Noodles in Cool Bean Broth (in less than 20 minutes for when the kids are whining for dinner) Mustard Cheese Fondue?

    This book is written in Bittman’s typical `theme and variations’ style, with a basic recipe (like for waffles) and then a sidebar or list following the recipe that gives variations (like a list of things you can add to waffles for flavoring). The great thing about this is that it means you rarely have to reject a recipe because you don’t have the exact ingredients, just go with a variant. The only quibble I have with it is, it’s sometimes difficult to keep track of what you are supposed to sub out & sub back in when you have a crying toddler on your ankle.

    A basic cookbook should also walk you through basic techniques and ingredients. I was a little surprised to see the vegetables chapter was nearly 200 pages. Then I looked through it and realized a lot of that is guidance on how to select and prep the various vegetables. It’s also helpful that he includes substitution suggestions – I may be out of broccoli, but if I can make the same recipe with green beans, then I can forgo the trip to the store one more day.

    Another nice thing about this cookbook is, unlike most vegetarian cookbooks I have seen, it doesn’t rely heavily on unusual ingredients or meat substitutes. It seems like there has to be a happy medium between burgers & fries on one hand and stuff you’ve never seen before. Surely we can make a healthy diet based on basic veggies, fruit, grains, and legumes, and that’s JUST what this book focuses on.

    But it doesn’t matter how great the book is if the recipes aren’t good! So I tried a few. The Spicy Autumn Veggie Burgers (we made less spicy for the kids) were terrific with a dollop of peach chutney, although the kids preferred ketchup. I was pleased at how quickly they came together too. The Glazed Carrot Soup the kids ate without any complaint at all. And oh my the Apple “Fries”!!!!

    Because I’m sure people are wondering – yes, he has another cookbook called How to Cook Everything: Vegetarian that came out several years ago. This is NOT just a remake of that slim volume. This is a completely new book. (Why his publishers wanted to do two books with titles the same except for a colon I’ll never know.) There’s no exact overlap with How to Cook Everything, that I saw – even for recipes like Waldorf Salad, that are essentially the same in both books, there is some slight variation and different text that shows that this was re-written, not just a cut-and-paste job.

    In short, I’m very happy with it. I’ve cooked out of it every day since I got it and I’m sure this will be one of my `go-to’ cookbooks for years to come.

  • David J. Sullivan says:

    Rating

    I like Mark Bittman’s columns and his TV shows. He writes and cooks in a no-nonsense way that makes me trust his recipes (and they have yet to fail for me). As a thirty year vegetarian and twelve year serious home baker/cook, I have amassed many great cook books and several so-so ones. This one is among the tops for its exhaustive selection of recipes; clear, easy-to-follow directions; insightful notes; and clean layout.

    Even though Mr. Bittman admits to enjoying meat throughout the text, clearly a little too often for some readers, I’m glad he didn’t shun meatless meals and created this cookbook. Not all the recipes are healthy and I’m okay with that. With this many recipes I’m sure you’ll find one or two (or a dozen!) to disagree with.

    I recommend this cookbook both as a solid companion for experienced cooks as well as a good choice to those just starting out. I won’t say that it’s the only cookbook you’ll ever need because I don’t think there’s any such beast but it certainly would do for quite some time.

  • James Harper says:

    Rating

    I’ve been a ovo-lacto veg for nearly 20 years, and own several shelves of cookbooks (from Mollie Katzen to Frances Moore Lappe, Seppo Ed Farrey to Laurel Robertson, Deborah Madison to Madhur Jaffrey.) When I stopped eating meat, I first picked up Moosewood and Diet for a Small Planet. The differences between their approaches to vegetarianism and vegetarian cooking were stark. Mollie made easy, tasty food that just happened to be meatless, while Frances labored to assemble combinations of amino acids that she called food (oh, Lord, the loaves!) Where Frances wrote a cookbook about politics and economics, Mollie wrote a cookbook about food.

    Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” is of the latter camp. This is not a screed against meat, it’s not a holier-than-thou polemic about the destruction caused by meat production. It’s a book about tasty food that just happens to be meatless.

    For a popular food writer and TV host of Bittman’s status to have assembled nearly 1,000 pages of recipes and instruction for cooking without meat is a coup for the vegetarian community. By demystifying what it means to eat meatless to a mainstream, primarily non-veg audience, Bittman is providing solace to all those vegetarians who tire of answering questions and defending their diet to others. By including familiar dishes like Tuscan style white beans, risotto, and chili, Bittman leads the reader to ingredients like tofu, seitan, nori, gai lan, and kohlrabi, rendering these ingredients more familiar to a broader audience. Ultimately, the mainstreaming of vegetarian eating and cooking is a win-win for everyone, and for his efforts in this direction I thank Mark Bittman.

  • B. Marold says:

    Rating

    `How to Cook Everything Vegetarian’ by New York Times culinary columnist, Mark Bittman, is an important entry into the best vegetarian cookbook sweepstakes. Please be clear that this green covered book is far larger and far better than the yellow covered subset of his earlier best-selling `How to Cook Everything’.

    Since I gave that yellow subset a bad review, a kind commentator pointed out that what is a person to do if they are vegetarian, and don’t need to know how to make veal parmesan, meatballs, or fried chicken! This volume clearly answers that question.

    The competition for this book is Deborah Madison’s classic `Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone’. An encyclopedic companion to both would be Crescent Dragonwagon’s `Passionate Vegetarian’. If space and finances permit, I would suggest you own all three volumes.

    The difference between Bittman and Madison may lie primarily in the fact that the former is a culinary journalist and the latter began her career as a professional chef. So, Bittman has a better eye for communicating to a larger audience while Madison is better on some of the basic truths of cooking. Her discussion of soups and stocks is especially brilliant.

    Bittman addresses the largest possible `vegetarian’ audience, which includes the most liberal, who consume eggs and milk products. But he is quite effective in identifying for the vegans among you which recipes are free of all animal products, both in icons accompanying each recipe and in a master list of recipes at the back of the book. Eggs are so prominent that the index contains a full page, that’s four columns of small print, of entries under egg related recipes. Under cheese recipes, there are two pages, eight columns of fine print of recipes. Bittman explains this in the section on vegetarian substitutions when he gives easy replacements for butter, milk, and cream, but says that virtually nothing can replace eggs and most cheeses in traditional recipes. I am puzzled and grateful that Bittman does not suggest using synthetic lecithin in the place of eggs in recipes. Lecithin does not even appear in the index of this book. This substitutions section also has some really great suggestions for omnivores in the realm of less saturated replacements for butter and flavored butters.

    This is a full service cookbook. I am especially impressed by the fact that he starts out in the same way as James Peterson in his recent textbook, `Cooking’. Both begin with a description of `The Ten Essential Cooking Techniques’. Being a teaching book, Peterson’s sections on each method are longer, running to three large pages compared to Bittman’s two to three paragraphs. But, if you are vegetarian, Bittman’s book is still more useful, as much of Peterson’s space is dedicated to cooking animal protein. Another interesting contrast to Peterson is that while the teacher uses series of photographs to illustrate techniques, Bittman uses black ink drawings. And, amazingly enough, the latter is generally the more successful technique, as nothing is out of focus and there are never any obscuring shadows, and only the essentials of the technique are depicted.

    A common technique in many of Bittman’s recipes is to amend each recipe with several variations, as when he suggests five fillings for sweet crepes and six fillings for savory crepes. Hard on this section is ’10 Other Ideas for Pancakes’ and seven `Pancake Variations’. Bittman also spends much time on teaching us the range of ingredient types, and general ways to handle each type. For example, we get `A Lexicon of Salad Greens’. This material is even more important for the vegetarian, as they need to seek the greatest possible variety of tastes and colors in the vegetable world. A vegetarian salad repertoire which knew nothing beyond iceberg lettuce would be dull indeed. Bittman does better in this area than the salad queen, Alice Waters, in her excellent `The Art of Simple Cooking’.

    Bittman’s mastery of communication is best represented by his many cross-indexing of recipe types, as he does in a sidebar of lettuce cups and wraps, giving the names and page numbers of fourteen recipes scattered throughout the book which use this technique. The centerpiece of this cross-indexing is the `Recipes by Icon’ in the back of the book which tick off those which are `Fast’, `Make Ahead’, and `Vegan’. A similar feature is the list of forty menus for Breakfasts, Brunches, Lunches, Dinners, and Holiday Dinners. For his vegetarian audience, this is far more useful than for omnivores, who have a far greater choice of protein types.

    Every trend in the book is magnified in the excellent chapter on pasta, noodles, and dumplings. Every sidebar seemed to offer not ten, but up to 50 variations on all sorts of stuff. I was momentarily disappointed to find no recipe for making fresh pasta in the first 10 pages of the chapter, but there it was, of page 474 and the following 21 pages. Everything you would need to make fresh pasta, gnocchi, dumplings. It even included the German specialty, Spaetzle, bless his heart. While all the standards are well-represented, some peripheral ingredients such as rhubarb and celeriac get good representation in uncommon recipes. I was especially pleased to find four excellent recipes for my favorite Brussels Sprouts. Even chestnuts get a dozen entries in the index. Madison has nothing on chestnuts!

    Bittman’s `How to Cook Everything’ is always my first stop whenever I want to try a classic dish unfamiliar to me, and I have been invariably pleased with the clarity and results of his recipes. This book continues this trend. Every recipe I read is clear, unfussy, and easy to follow. If you are a vegetarian who permits milk and eggs, this book is a must. If you are a tad stricter, Deborah Madison’s classic may be more useful for the money.

  • N. Pier says:

    Rating

    I came across this book at a bookstore, so I had the opportunity to browse through it (I always like to do that with books and cookbooks). The layout was good, and the recipes looked good, too. They were simple, but with plenty of variations. I like to think of myself as a pretty good cook, but I’m just starting out, and there are a lot of things I don’t know the basics on. The recipes cater to both of those sides of me–deep enough for me to grow with, but covering the basics in the areas I’m clueless about.

    There are also a lot of explanations about things, too–the best soup recipes to use tomatoes in, when to salt veggies and when not to salt them, which kind of potatoes to use for which recipes.

    I’m not quite a vegetarian, but I’m thinking about it…what I know is I definitely want a more plant-based diet. I don’t want plain boiled veggies all the time, or the same old salad. The author is not a vegetarian but has done extensive research…I think the book would be good for vegans, flexible vegetarians, and those who just want tasty veggie recipes.

    ps…I have already tried several recipes and enjoyed them thoroughly…Black Bean Soup, salad dressing (everyone loved this one).

  • jb29471 says:

    Rating

    I bought this book on a whim, after buying countless cookbooks that collect dust. This is the absolute best one I’ve ever owned. I feel like I can actually cook! My husband who is not a vegetarian has loved everything I’ve made. Easy ingredients that you can usually find anywhere, straight forward instructions, and it actually teaches you HOW to cook. It gives all kinds of alternatives and makes it easy to substitute and come up with new things on your own. Wonderful book…I can’t wait to try every recipe!

  • S. Grosdov says:

    Rating

    I have a fair collection of cookbooks – probably about 300 or so – but had never bought any of Mr. Bittman’s books. I was given this one as a present last week and I am absolutely astounded and delighted by it.

    It is truly encyclopedic. I cannot imagine that there is any aspect of vegetarian cooking that is not covered in this volume. The text is laid out in an organized way that is very simple to follow and I think this book would appeal to both the beginning cook, the experienced cook and everyone in between. I appreciate the fact that the author covers techniques as well as recipes.

    I am so impressed after skimming through this volume that I think I will gradually purchase his other cookbooks over the next year or so. I would highly recommend this book.

  • bongo says:

    Rating

    This book has worked out extremely well for me. Since I bought it I’ve made dal, flatbread, risotto, and some other dishes that I hadn’t tried before, and the book made it simple. (I’m an unsophisticated home cook, fwiw). The dal, for example, was creamy, spicy, and much easier and quick to make than I would have guessed.

    I have a couple of other cookbooks, Moosewood’s, for one, but this is by far the most comprehensive. Page 415, for a random instance, has a list -’29 Recipes That Feature Dried Fruit.’ It has a couple thousand recipes, chapters on grains, pasta, soups (amongst many others), instructions on good technique, the history of particular foods, such as risotto, in a regional quisine. It’s multi ethnic featuring Asian, Middle Eastern, Italian, Indian, Mexican recipes.

    Aside from the quantity and quality of the recipes, Bittman’s writing makes the book easy to use and a pleasure to read. His tone’s knowledgeable, but helpful and encouraging, like a friend or mentor showing you how it’s done, answering your questions.

  • M. L Martindale says:

    Rating

    FLEXITARIANS EXPLAINED:

    HOW TO COOK

    EVERYTHING VEGETARIAN

    By Mark Bittman

    Review by Marty Martindale

    Julia Child once said of Deborah Madison’s cookbook, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, “You don’t need to be a vegetarian. Simply cook up a piece of meet along side.” And this holds true for Bittman’s new, 996-page, Vegetarian cookbook. Bittman states, “Increasingly, Americans are becoming `flexitarians,’ a recently invented word that describes both vegetarians who aren’t that strict and meat-eaters who are striving for a more health-conscious, planet-friendly diet.” So, regardless of your eating persuasion, Bittman’s book is a great reference book for many variations on his quickly adaptable recipes affording variety for all.

    This book also addresses the cooking beginner. For instance, at the start of each section, be it fruit or veggies, wheat, grains, soups or desserts, each category, he carefully lines out cutting, preparation and handling details. Bittman is very much a method man, and he shares liberally. He stints not on: vegetables, tofu, herbs, breads, spices, chiles and sweets. Here’s just some of the varieties he offers for recipes in this book:

    23 Salads that Make Great Meals

    3 varieties of Egg Hash

    7 Pancake Variations

    6 variations of Cheese Fondue, also 12 great additions to fondue

    18 additions to Stir-Fried Vegetables

    25 Dipping Sauces for Battered and Fried Vegetables

    25 dishes in which to use Grilled Vegetables (includes 5 pages for grilling veggies)

    35 ways to make Twice-Baked Potatoes

    25 varieties of Vegetable Gratins

    18 Stuffed Vegetables

    48 Stuffings for Stuffed Vegetables

    15 Alternative Toppings for Pasta

    13 Sauces, Salsas or Condiments for Fast Pasta Sauces

    39 Vegetable and Legume Dishes that can be tossed with Pasta

    5 Pasta and Nut Butter Combinations

    39 dishes that can be Stir-Fried with Asian Noodles

    3 pages of charts for cooking Everyday Grains

    15 Legumes Recipes

    12 combos for Beans and Greens

    15 ideas for Pizza Toppings

    14 Cold Sandwiches

    13 Hot Sandwiches

    9 Wraps

    10 Taco and Burrito ideas

    8 ideas for Chile Pastes

    12 ideas for Flavoring Mayonnaise

    11 Yoghurt Sauces

    27 Chutneys

    15 basic and exotic Ice Cream Flavors

    6 pages menu suggestions

    17 pages of Recipes coded for : Fast, Make Ahead and/or Vegan.

    63 index pages

    As a particular, for instance, see page 430 and his Grilled Watermelon Steak. He suggests you serve it with lemon wedges, or Mexican-style, rubbed with his homemade chili powder, page 814. Bittman’s take on food is amazing! I think every household can benefit from owning this book.

    Visit Marty Martindale’s website: Food Site of the Day.

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