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Need Help Choosing Cookbooks...

  • j

My friend's birthday is coming up this weekend and I would like to get her a cookbook, as she is an avid cook/baker. Specifically, I would like to get her some innovative cookbooks about vegetarian cooking and/or cooking with grains. I have done a little bit of research over the internet and have the names of some cookbooks that look promising. However, I'm looking for testimonials from fellow chowhounds regarding these books, or if you can recommend a book that's not on this list I would also be appreciative of that. Thanks in advance for your help!


"Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" by Deborah Madison

"Venturesome Vegetarian Cooking: Bold Flavors for Meat and Dairy Free Meals" by J.M. Hirsch

"Big Book of Vegetarian" by Kathy Farrell-Kingsley


"The Whole Grain Cookbook" by A.D. Livingston

"The Bold Vegetarian Chef: Adventures in Flavor with Soy, Beans, Vegetables, and Grains" by Ken Charney

"The New Book of Whole Grains" by Marlene Anne Bumgartner

"Cook's Guide to Grains" by Jenni Muir

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  1. You can't go wrong with any of the Moosewood cookbooks. They are available from their site and from Amazon.com. Mollie Katzen, who you may have seen on her PBS cooking show, is typically one of the authors.

    If you ever are near Ithaca, NY, I highly recommend visiting their restaurant - the food is amazing. I'm not even vegetarian and I love eating there.

    Link: http://www.moosewoodrestaurant.com/

    1. I have the Deborah Madison cookbook, I like it a lot. One other you might consider is Jump Up and Kiss Me (I think - I can check at home tonight if you like) especially if your friend likes spicy foods.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Renata


        If you can check the name of the cookbook you mentioned, that would be very helpful. My friend LOVES spicy foods. :)

        Thanks so much!

      2. Deborah Madison's the best, I think. She really has good taste and thus, her food tastes good. The food is inventive, and not just for vegetarians. Nothing seems "medicinal" or good for you.

        I think the Moosewood books are sort of bland, and dull.

        1. Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is awesome.

          1. My favorite vegetable cookbooks (which might be a bit different from "vegetarian") are Chez Panisse Vegetables (gives a good overview of each veggie by chapter with tasty recipes) and Red, White and Green (Italian-inspired recipes with interesting commentary by Faith Willinger). Both exceeded my expectations.

            1. Deborah Madison's Greens cookbook is excellent. I've never made anything from it that wasn't excellent. The recipes tend to be a little involved though -- more for weekend meals for me.

              1. a
                A Fish Called Wanda

                I have Entertaining for a Veggie Planet book by Didi Emmons and it is one of my favorite books. Didi is a very creative chef and the book offers her interpretations of recipes from different cuisines. Everything I've made from this book is great, but gaspacho and smoky eggplant dip are out of this world.

                1. I have Deborah Madison's "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone," and love it -- lots of interesting ideas for non-veggies and veggies alike -- it's where I turn when I'm sick of plain old veggies, or when I try something new, like quinoa.

                  Assuming that you're not looking for a vegetarian bible or authoritative book on vegetables or grains, I'd recommend the two following books, which I've given to veggie friends, and about which I've gotten great feedback:

                  - The Greens Cookbook -- Deborah Madison (lots of great sounding dishes without that hippie-ish veggie bent like Moosewood)

                  - Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian

                  1. I love Deborah Madison's book/magnum opus. It is wonderful. Her lentil soups, her beet risotto, and her baked ricotta are all wonderful. If you search this board, there was a recent discussion of this particular book and people's favorite recipes.

                    Jack Bishop's cookbooks, especially The Italian Vegetarian Cookbook, are also excellent. His Pasta E Verdura and Vegetables Every Day cookbooks are also good.

                    Viana La Place's Verdura, about italian vegetable cookery, is very good. Her recipe for a whole boiled cauliflower head, with a lemony dressing poured on top, is so different and makes such a fabulous presentation, that it's worth the price alone.

                    I find Didi Emmons' Veggie Planet books a bit involved, but everything is tasty.

                    I find the Moosewood recipes, with the exception of the peanut noodles, to be bland and underseasoned.

                    If your friend is really adventurous, Yamuna Devi's Lord Krishna's Cuisine, about vedic indian vegetarian cooking, is a wonderful collection of some simple and many complex recipes. She has a sesame and yogurt marinated potato dish in there that is out of this world, and I use her chutney recipes exclusively. The recipes call for lots of (sometimes special order) ingredients and spices, and lots of steps, but every recipe I have cooked has been great. Her menu suggestions are right on. The author is a Krishna convert, so there is a religious angle to some of her writing, but I think the recipes are worth it.

                    Finally, Bert Greene's book, Greene on Greens and Grains (a combined edition of his books, Greene on Greenes and Greene on Grains) is a wonderful addition to every kitchen. Not every recipe is vegetarian, but many of them are, and his writing is so loving and generous, that it's worth it for the stories alone. The recipes are _not_ usually low-fat, but they're delicious "food of love." You might have to look through used bookstores (try Alibris.com online) in order to find a copy, though, as I do not think it's currently in print.)

                    1. Thanks everyone for your suggestions. I think I'm going to go with Deborah Madison's line of cookbooks and also check out 'The Good Cookie' (I was also following the thread about cookie cookbooks!). :)