Vegetables, Revised : The Most Authoritative Guide to Buying, Preparing, and Cooking, with More than 300 Recipes
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, saut�ing, 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 Pot�e with Braised Duck Legs, it is transformed into a black-tie entr�e. 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 Souffl�s. 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.
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Ten Speed Press
March 27, 2012
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Excerpt from Vegetables, Revised by James Peterson
When I set out to write the first edition of Vegetables in 1996, I went to the local bookstore to look at other vegetable books. I almost gave up when I saw hundreds of books about vegetables and several shelves full of vegetarian books, which made up one of the largest sections in the store. But as I flipped through the books, and after giving my newly conceived vegetable project a little thought, I realized that what I wanted to write was different. In my perusal of the competition I found few recipes for the simplest dishes--things like glazed carrots, mashed potatoes, saut�ed spinach, and steamed asparagus--dishes to cook on a Wednesday evening with a house full of kids and after a day at the office. Some of the books extolled the virtues of shopping at the local farmers' market (who could disagree?), but they didn't mention those winter days when the only source of vegetables may be the supermarket. And while it's great to cook with lovely fresh or even heirloom vegetables, it's more of a challenge to make something tasty out of a few beans or a bag of supermarket mushrooms. So I decided to write a book that would include not just new or unfamiliar dishes but also the tried-and-true dishes that many of us grew up with. I also wanted to liven up many of these dishes by adding new twists--like folding pesto or roasted garlic into mashed potatoes or pine nuts and raisins to saut�ed spinach.
At the same time, I decided to include simple new ways (new to us but traditional in other places) to cook less-familiar vegetables, such as kale, Swiss chard, fennel, and escarole. Many of these dishes were based on memories of meals in great restaurants or of travels to foreign countries; some were last-minute inventions made up after out-of-control buying sprees at the farmers' market. The purpose of some of these recipes was, of course, to provide new tastes and combinations, but also to offer simple, flavorful, and lighter alternatives to "traditional" methods.
It's now fourteen years since the publication of the first edition of Vegetables, and as books do, Vegetables went out of print. I (along with my publisher, Ten Speed Press) saw an opportunity to republish Vegetables with full-color photography. We have now included photographs of most of the vegetables and many of the recipes.
In addition to new color photography, this revised edition contains more than thirty new vegetable entries, fifty new recipes, and a new section on herbs. Chopping and dicing have been more thoroughly explained, and the book now has a thirty-page techniques section that explains (and sometimes shows) every method you might need to cook a vegetable. The new vegetable entries are mostly for Asian vegetables, although a few European ones (salsify, crosnes) have made their way in. The herb section covers all the common herbs, as well as lesser-known varieties (rue, epazote).
In the years since Vegetables was first published, American tastes have changed. We have stirred away from a richer and more subtly flavored European-influenced cuisine, to the direct flavors, bold variations in texture, and bright colors of Asian cooking. To accommodate this, I have spent many a morning in Chinatown trying to unravel the mysteries of Asian vegetables. The results of these endeavors are found throughout the book as I've taken some of these exotic and not-so-exotic beans and lentils, gourds, herbs, and rhizomes home to my kitchen laboratory for experimentation. Many of them I have cooked using traditional techniques and flavorings, but others have called out for completely new treatments.
This new edition of Vegetables is divided into two sections, the extensive technique section followed by an alphabetical listing of the vegetables themselves. Once you've read the technique section, the techniques called for in the recipes should all be familiar. Hopefully, with the knowledge of those techniques, you'll be able to improvise with both familiar and unfamiliar vegetables. For example, the section on gratins--probably better known as casseroles--analyzes which liquids (cream, b�chamel sauce, broth, coconut milk, and so on) are most appropriate. It shows how cooking times and temperatures influence the final result and how various toppings can be used to create a crust. Armed with this knowledge, a new idea or recipe for a gratin should be easily accommodated and mastered.
But the new Vegetables is not just about techniques. It also explores the flavor combinations used in many of the world's great cuisines. Unlike many fusion dishes that have no tradition behind them, the dishes in Vegetables are firmly grounded in the cultural habits of various peoples working in the kitchen.
In short, armed with this new edition, you can embark on new culinary adventures and feel free to improvise in the kitchen. Once you have the basic understanding of how each vegetable behaves, coupled with a familiarity with the techniques that are used in its preparation, your flights of fancy will be well grounded in the realities of those treatments best suited to your preparations.
Techniques for Preparing and Cooking Vegetables