“If you don’t yet own a cookbook dedicated to vegetables, this is one to buy. It will be an invaluable companion in the kitchen once the spring vegetables start to arrive and will carry you right through winter till the following spring when you can start all over again.”
Every year it is good to do a little spring cleaning to sweep away the staleness of winter. The same can be said for classic cookbooks. Once in awhile it is worth taking a fresh look at an old standby, give it a thorough going over, and re-introduce it with a new look and updated recipes.
Vegetables, Revised is James Peterson’s newly refreshed version of his popular cookbook that was first released in 1998 back when green markets were just beginning to take off. Now over a decade on we are getting familiar with more varieties of vegetables than ever but still may not know what to do with them once we get home. With that in mind, Mr. Peterson, a veteran teacher and food writer, has provided a thorough A–Z approach to all manner of vegetables that even a novice cook can follow.
In this revised addition of Vegetables, Mr. Peterson has added 30 new vegetables and 50 new recipes with an emphasis on Asian cooking to reflect our changing tastes.
But what is perhaps the best part of the revision is the section on cooking techniques. Here you will find easy to follow instructions on everything from boiling, steaming, frying, grilling, roasting, glazing, braising and whatever else you can think of to do to a vegetable (including how to cut them).
The section on stewing is especially helpful and provides two techniques: French and Indian. It will quickly make you realize that if you have overbought and still have vegetables left over at the end of the week, turning them into a savory stew is a good way to use them up before they go bad.
The same goes for his section on gratins. When the bounty of summer tomatoes begins to overwhelm you, try the Tomato and Herb Gratin on page 55 made without a drop of cream before those surplus tomatoes end up on the compost pile. They are cooked for an hour to an hour and a half at only 300° so they aren’t likely to heat up the kitchen too much either.
The photographs provide an excellent teaching tool not only to demonstrate technique, but to school you in the difference between, for example, Butter lettuce and Galisse lettuce or even better, the many varieties of mushrooms like Hedgehog, Lobstera, Morels and more.
It’s the kind of book you may be tempted to take with you the next time you go to the farmer’s market so that you know what you are actually buying, especially since the vegetables are alphabetized for easy reference (although the book could have used a quick reference of all the vegetables in the table of contents so that you wouldn’t have to thumb through it each time you searched for a particular vegetable).
While he has tried to lighten up his recipes in this revised edition, Mr. Peterson, who trained as a chef in France, still relies heavily on more traditional European preparations that favor generous amounts of butter and cream, like Leek Gratin, or Fettuccini with Dried Porcini Mushrooms which both call for a cup of heavy cream.
Still, there are enough recipes in here to please almost any palate. If you don’t yet own a cookbook dedicated to vegetables, this is one to buy. It will be an invaluable companion in the kitchen once the spring vegetables start to arrive and will carry you right through winter till the following spring when you can start all over again.