Academic Leigh Speaking

A professor, four kids, and a crash course in work/life balance

Cookbook Review: The New Vegetarian Epicure November 23, 2011

I decided to kick off my cookbook reviews before Thanksgiving with a book that was maybe my very first cookbook. My aunt had some kind of book club points, so she let me pick out some cookbooks before I went off to college. I distinctly remember selecting a book called Cooking with Beer. I no longer have that one, as none of the recipes were any good. Not only do I still have this book but also it’s spine is broken in a couple of places from constant use.

When I got to college, I joined the debate team, and two of the coaches used to invite me over all the time when they were cooking vegetarian food. They both had this cookbook, and I felt more special for having it to, even though I hadn’t even cooked from it yet.

I don’t remember what I made first. However, right now, I can tell you that my berry cobbler recipe is located on page 62. I love it and make it at least once of month. I love her disclaimer–“It’s not inordinately high in fat or sugar, so I don’t feel bad giving it to my kids.” I’ve actually removed all sugar from the recipe (except that which is naturally occurring in the fruit) and it’s still delicious. One of the first times I used this recipe was when A, P, L and I lived in that crazy house on 49th street in Portland. I picked blackberries growing outside our house and used them in the cobbler. Since then, I’ve made this cobbler for so many people–most recently our new friends whose son loves it. Seamus will do pretty much anything to get to eat some.

Other favorites from this book are the red pepper pesto, the biscotti, the popovers, and the Tamales with Zucchini and Cilantro filling. I’ve made the Lemon Cheesecake Ice Cream multiple times, and I always forget how good it is. The Cold Melon Soup is a light, delicious flavor, if a bit weird. The risottos in here are really easy and satisfying.

Looking through this book, I realize I’ve cooked too many things from it to name them all, but there are still some that I’m intrigued by. Like Raspberry Borscht. And Eggplant Pancakes in Sweet Red Pepper Puree. And Tomatillo and Squash Soup. I like that there’s so much of her personality in these pages; this book reminds me of so many of my friends, for what they cook, what they like to eat, and the meals we’ve made or shared together. I also like how the book is organized by season and by suggested menus. That means there are a lot of salads, but it gives the idea that we should plan meals to be an event, whether they are big like Thanksgiving, or “Autumn Lunch on the Terrace,” ” A Summer Buffet for a Crowd,” or “Tomato Harvest Dinner.”

If you order this book, don’t do it from Amazon. I’m still mad at them.

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