As you may know I have reviewed quite a few cookbooks over the years and they have all been interesting, entertaining, nicely presented, good recipes, fun, etc. but this one is different!
I have just received a review copy of “The Vegetable Butcher” by Cara Mangini and can honestly say it is one of the best new cookbooks I have seen in years.
Unlike so many cookbooks this one actually teaches, advises and encourages the reader to be creative (as do my own).
The book starts with information on knife skills and other useful kitchen info. This is followed by sections each dealing with a over 100 vegetables with pretty well all the information you’ll ever need – varieties, season, what to look for, storage, what to pair it with, how to prepare it, different cooking methods, ways to vary dishes, recipes for accompaniments, what to do with leftovers and over 150 rather delicious sounding recipes, such as ...
Caramelized Broccoli with Chile Oil and Parmesan
I decided to try this as I had a splendid head of broccoli in the fridge but once I started I had a brief moment of uncertainty. I wasn’t quite sure about the combination of Parmesan, chilli, garlic and lemon and not only that the kitchen was beginning to smell a bit odd with the roasting broccoli, but ... it was gorgeous! As I had no idea what to have for dinner I ate it with some penne pasta (and a glass of red) and enjoyed every mouthful.
... and ...
Sweet Potato Latkes
These are really quick and easy and they are also just my sort of thing; delicious. I ate them pretty much as suggested in the recipe with sour cream and chilli jam; Cara Mangini does give a recipe for Cranberry Chipotle Jam which sounds gorgeous but I already had chilli jam in the fridge and used that.
I shall definitely be making both these recipes again and no doubt lots more from The Vegetable Butcher.
The book is somewhat American – eggplant (aubergine), zucchini (courgette), fava (broad) beans, arugula (rocket) and rutabaga (swede) and the occasional cup measurement but nothing you can’t cope with. There are also a few ingredients one would be lucky to find in the UK – crosnes, fiddlehead ferns (I’d love to try them!) and jicama, for instance – but also lots of more normal veggies; asparagus, avocados, cauliflower, onions, potatoes, celery, spinach, radishes and, a bit of a surprise, rhubarb although it is indeed a vegetable.
Beautifully illustrated with very detailed visual instructions, this book is exceptional. I have a friend who runs the vegetarian Café Cinnamon in Falmouth and she’d love this book but tough!! She can borrow it but I’m afraid it’s a keeper!