Sunday, April 12, 2009

Weekly Geeks

This week's assignment is about cookbooks. Read more entries here.

Many years go, I worked in the kitchen at a health food store. I also was a waitress for many years. To say I have a serious love affair with food is an understatement. Roughly twenty years ago I decided to eliminate meat from my diet and that's when I began to learn about different diets, foods and dishes from around the globe. I love food from different cultures in part because there is less emphasis on meat. And I grew up on a pretty basic meat and potato diet. There was little diversity in terms of what we ate. The more I began experimenting with a vegetarian way of eating, the more the world of food opened up to me in wonderful ways. I love to eat. Anyone who thinks vegetarians have restricted diets don't know what real vegetarian diets are about. It's all about variety. In the nineties I was big on buying cookbooks but since meeting my sweetie, I've stopped. He's the family cook (a very good one) and he prefers cooking shows and experimenting on his own. Still, below are some very cool books we own.

Indian Home Cooking by Suvir Dara and Stephanie Lyness
There's much to like in this informative cookbook, which offers an accessible take (if, inevitably, not a comprehensive one) on one of the world's most vast and complex regional cuisines. It's a natural development for Saran, who teaches Indian cooking classes and opened the New York restaurant Amma last year. Such expertise is welcome in a book that cherry-picks freely from Moghul meat dishes, Gujerati dals, Hyderabadi greens and Punjabi tandoor dishes. That said, many of the curries are familiar, like Chicken Tikka Masala and Simple Lamb Curry with Coriander and Garam Masala. Surprisingly straightforward vegetable dishes include Smoked Spiced Eggplant, and Crisp Whole Okra with Fennel and Coriander. Rice dishes range from simple (Cumin-Scented Rice Pilaf) to elaborate (Sweet Saffron Pilaf with Nuts and Currants).

Laxmi's Vegetarian Kitchen by Laxmi Hiremath A San Francisco-based food writer
and cooking teacher, Hiremath grew up in southern India. However, in contrast to Chandra Padmanabhan's lovely Dakshin: Vegetarian Cuisine from South India (LJ 4/15/94), her book includes vegetarian dishes from all over the country. Hiremath also includes more background on the different types of dishes and the individual recipes, and her descriptions of ingredients and techniques are far more detailed.

Entertaining with Friends by Simon Hope
Simon Hope's two Brighton restaurants are renowned for their imaginative and excellent vegetarian food. This book contains over 150 of his recipes organized into occasions, from breakfasts and brunches to lunches, afternoon teas, dinner parties, picnics and barbecues and buffet parties. There is also a special chapter on entertaining children. The recipes are all vegetarian, easy to prepare and guaranteed to impress your guests. They include spinach and mozarella scramble, honey roast sesame parsnips, wellington roll, geordie mushroom and ale pie and blackcurrant bakewell tart. There are some splendid vegetarian and vegan Christmas lunches too.

The Vegetarian Kitchen edited Linda Fraser. This cookbook is awesome! Lots of Mediterranean & Indian recipes. For instance, many traditional pasta and gnocci recipes, as well as great recipes for baked goods and desserts. And don't forget the yummy soups & salads. ~reader review.

We currently include dairy and seafood in our diet but the bulk of our meals are meatless.


Erotic Horizon said...

Hey Susan.

I love your post.. my family and i are vegan or vegetarians..

So i get the fact that you use alot of book from different culture..

we are always coming up with our own thing anyhow.

Have a great geek week cooking.


gautami tripathy said...

Thanks for posting about that India \n Cookbook. I will definitely check it out.

As of now, I don't have a single cookbook!

farmlanebooks said...

My mother-in-law is vegetarian, so I cook a lot of meat-free meals. I often find that the Indian ones go down best with the whole family - there is so much variety and and vegetables can really be made to shine with the right spice combination - I'll go and look for Laxmi's book, as I'm sure my mother-in-law would love it!

Frances said...

Thanks for the cookbook suggestions. We are not vegetarians but try and eat meatless dinners at least 2 or 3 times each week. These should come in handy for fresh ideas.

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

I'm almost a vegetarian. I only eat meat or poultry on special occasions or hard training days (defined as a run of 16 miles or more, or a bike ride of 70 miles or more).

What I love about Indian food is the wide variety of ways they use beans and lentils. I should get out my cookbook again (it's been awhile) but the cool thing is that once you get a feel for how the spices work, you can experiment.

There are a lot of great recipe blogs and websites, and I have some that I scan regularly for new ideas. I like your recommended books though, and I have a feeling if I put the Indian one on my wish list, it would show up under the tree at Christmas. My husband loves Indian food even more than I do!

As an aside, I spent years unable to find garam masala around here, but a store I frequent carries it regularly now. If it's hard to find in your area, let me know and I can send some.

susan said...

Hi Ann, I joke that I live in the middle of little New Delhi. There is an Indian grocer and restaurant every three blocks. Coming home often means opening my building door to an inviting aroma of curries and spiced vegetables.

Thinking Aloud said...

Hello susan,

Thanks for the cook book info. When I was living in NY there were many places to dine, being a vegan and all.
Now that I am in Central America, when you say, "I don't eat meat," the response is "It's made from chicken."
So we eat at home a lot and always seek out new dishes to whip up.

Here is a cookbook to add to your collection: Vegan Soul Kitchen

It is sure to please!

claire said...

I would love to be a vegetarian, but it's really hard with my husband who has to have meat most of the time. I'm still trying to convince him though. :D