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06-25-2012, 07:18 AM

Vegetables, Revised: The Most Authoritative Guide to Buying, Preparing, and Cooking, with More than 300 Recipes by James Peterson

Product Description

A master class on vegetables with award-winning cookbook author and renowned cooking instructor James Peterson

Have you ever purchased bundles of ingredients at the farmers’ market only to arrive home and wonder what on earth to do with your bag of fiddlehead ferns, zucchini flowers, bamboo shoots, or cactus pads? Treat yourself to an in-depth education with Vegetables, acclaimed author and teacher James Peterson’s comprehensive guide to identifying, selecting, and preparing ninety-five vegetables—from amaranth to zucchini—along with information on dozens of additional varieties and cultivars.

Peterson’s classical French training and decades of teaching experience inform his impeccable presentation of every vegetable preparation technique and cooking method. You’ll begin by stemming, seeding, peeling, chopping, slicing, dicing, mincing, crushing, and pureeing, then explore less familiar but no-less-useful skills such as turning turnips, charring chile peppers, and frenching French green beans. Once the prepping is complete, Peterson explains the intricacies of the many methods for cooking each vegetable, from the most straightforward boiling, braising, steaming, and stir-frying techniques, to the more elaborate and flavor intense grilling, glazing, roasting, sautéing, and deep-frying. The text is further enhanced with handsome full-color photography and useful extras, like time-saving workarounds, tips on seasonal purchasing, storage recommendations, and suggestions for kitchen tools you’ll really use.

Woven in with the fundamentals is Peterson’s collection of some 300 recipes that showcase the versatility of vegetables in both familiar and unexpected ways. He offers dozens of refreshing salads; plenty of soups and rich, flavorful stews; crowd-pleasing casseroles and pastas; soul-comforting gratins and risottos; and perfect, hand-crafted gnocchi. There are some surprises, as well. For instance, the hardworking cabbage is pickled, potted, steamed, stir-fried, stuffed, and slawed, but when it appears in the Cabbage Potée with Braised Duck Legs, it is transformed into a black-tie entrée. The Baked Morels Stuffed with Foie Gras is an unapologetically upscale variation on basic stuffed mushrooms, and in his iconic Eggplant Parmesan, Peterson confesses to changing the recipe every time he makes it—and urges you to do the same!

So the next time you spot some salsify at the farmers’ market, don’t be daunted—buy some and give the Artichoke, Morel, and Salisfy Salad a chance. If tender little broccolini show up in your neighborhood grocer’s, be sure to try the savory-sweet Broccolini with Pancetta, Anchovies, and Raisins. And when your fifth backyard bumper crop of summer tomatoes has your family longing for take-out after weeks of tomato soup, tomato salads, and tomato sauces, bring them back to the table with Twice-Baked Garlic and Tomato Soufflés. Whether you’re an iconoclastic cook looking to broaden your culinary horizons, or a tradition-minded home chef hoping to polish your prep skills while expanding your repertoire, Vegetables will become your essential go-to reference.

Full disclosure, I'm not always a fan of James Peterson's books. Baking is a tragedy among cookbooks. Having said that, I am hopeful that this book is a huge departure from "Baking" and more akin to Peterson's Cooking and Splendid Soups: Recipes and Master Techniques for Making the World's Best Soups.
Vegetables 2nd Ed. contains several photographs illustrating how to buy, prep, and store each vegetable. Peterson assumes nothing, teaching how to mince garlic, chop onions, and clean leeks. Though this book just barely came out, I immediately made a few recipes with some fresh produce. So far I am quite impressed. I loved the Cauliflower Gratin and the tips on "Frenching Green Beans." I will also take to heart the tips on buying peas (pea pods)!
Most of the recipes are basic, containing few ingredients and focusing on the natural flavors of vegetable(s). I appreciate that for the most part. All said, I did expect more recipes beyond steaming, sautéing, adding cream, and/or drizzling with oil - there seems to be a lot of recipes like that. The book covers MANY vegetables and touches on variations within certain vegetables (squash, tomatoes, and mushrooms). The coverage on potatoes is great, especially the Parisian Potato Salad recipe. I am glad to see several Asian vegetables covered, finally demystifying the peculiar (to me) vegetables in Chinatown. I am sure this book will prove its place among my cookbooks, even if its just to quickly look up a new or challenging vegetable. I am especially eager to try the parsnip recipes, and finally tackling celeriac.