Published in 2014, this book is an update of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, which came out in 1997. The new volume is hefty (more than 600 pages) and not for those who want to know what the dishes are supposed to look like (there are no pictures).
In the introduction, American author, chef and cooking teacher Deborah Madison, who lives in New Mexico, writes that attitudes towards vegetarianism have changed a lot since the original volume was published.
“At that time, vegetarian cooking was something from the fringe, and some foods, like soy milk, for example, were downright obscure and could be purchased only at tiny health food stores. I wondered why some foods had to be hidden – couldn’t they be brought forward and included as ingredients, along with other foods, in one place? As it turned out, they could.
“For some time now, once-obscure foods have filled our supermarkets’ shelves – they’re even found at gas stations and convenience stores […] those foods that were once scarcely known are now everyday items, and new ones have appeared. In addition, our knowledge about what makes up the foods we eat has deepened, and some foods that were once viewed in such a positive way are now regarded more dubiously. Soy, for example, is not quite the star we once thought it was, and today the emphasis has shifted to fermented soy, not the more common forms, as important.”
It’s surprising to learn that someone who wrote such an important book on vegetarian food actually eats meat – but that was her reason for writing it in the first place.
“As its title suggests, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone was not intended only for vegetarians […] Most of the time, I happily make a meal from what others place on the side of their plate without even thinking of it as vegetarian.
“The reason I place myself among the omnivore/locavores is because my food concerns are based on such issues as the variety of the plant or animal I’m eating, how it is raised, where it comes from, if it’s a GMO product, did it live in a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO), or was it free to range. I live in the American West. My neighbours are ranchers; I grow vegetables. We trade with one another, thereby mostly eating foods that come from within a few miles of our homes.”
The recipes – many of which are vegan – are enough to entice this non-vegetarian, too. They include sesame noodles with asparagus tips; goat cheese enchiladas with corn and red mole; turnip and leek gratin with blue cheeses; corn and salsify chowder; red lentil dal with coconut cream; corn custard with Szechuan pepper salt; buckwheat flapjacks with molasses butter; rice noodles in curry sauce with tempeh; polenta croquettes with tomato sauce; pan-grilled king oyster mushrooms with toasted sesame and chives; and babka with dried cherry-almond filling.