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Jan 18, 2009 12:18 PM

Great Vegetarian Cookbooks

I have at least 9 Moosewood Cookbooks and let me tell you they are the greatest.
I would like to get to that restaurant in Ithaca, New York if it still exists.

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  1. if you are interested in some "international" vegetarian dishes and cookbooks, you might like this thread:

    1. Don't bother. Sorry to say this, but my hometown restaurant, where I once worked, has been serving tasteless and overpriced food for two decades. If any place can be over rated, it's this one.

      3 Replies
      1. re: pitterpatter

        Agreed - I was appalled that this was considered any standard of vegetarian cuisine. It was food that struggled to move past the earnestly health-oriented fare of 1970s vegetarianism.

        While not strictly vegetarian, Morash's 1982 "Victory Garden Cookbook" is a book where vegetables star and are treated with evident delight for both the cook and eater.

        Barbara Kafka's Vegetable Love is an echo a generation later.

        1. re: Karl S

          I love the two Moosewood cookbooks I own: Low-Fat Recipes and Daily Specials. I use them mostly for soups and salads. I do like the Victory Garden Cookbook and Garden Way's cookbook published about the same time but they are pretty basic and don't seem to use herbs as imaginatively as the Moosewood books. BTW we aren't vegetarian so when I make the Mock Chicken and noodles soup I use real chicken and skip the tofu.

        2. re: pitterpatter

          I have to agree-- I'm from Ithaca, too, and have never had a great experience at Moosewood. For one thing, most of the dishes on offer have usually run out so you're stuck with whatever is left, and it's always kind of disappointingly bland :( It's really too bad, since it's nice enough space and cozy atmosphere! (I have to admit, though, that this is based on experiences more than ten years ago, so things could have improved since then!)

        3. This is going to sound rude, but I don't mean it that way. The first several Moosewood books are written by non-cooks, and I think it really shows. I was vegetarian for 17 years and had more dishes from those books that anyone could count. I truly could not begin to make any of those fatty, starchy piles of sticky glop today. I understand the revision of the original one has righted a lot of its errors in the fat department, at least. The only Moosewood title I still own is the "Sundays" volume, which contains various world cuisines from several different cooks. However, it's not at all a vegetarian book -- many recipes contain fish and seafood. And it has some real disasters, including a couple of dishes that simply don't work as written. It's a badly-edited book.

          The first two Deborah Madison cookbooks ("The Greens Cookbook" and especially "The Savory Way") are truly great. There's a mushroom stew in "The Savory Way" that's one of my all-time favorite dishes, worthy of the most carnivorous company. But avoid her "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone," which is unquestionably the least-informative cookbook I have ever owned. Here's the whole contents of the book: "Take whichever vegetable you want to eat. Trim or peel as necessary. If starchy, bake till done. If watery, saute in fat until done."

          I also love Crescent Dragonwagon's "Passionate Vegetarian" and anything by Madhur Jaffrey (especially "World Vegetarian").

          11 Replies
          1. re: dmd_kc

            selling over 3 million of Mollies cookbooks and having had a show on PBS plus good comments from New York times, CNN and Good Morning America who have paid tribute to Moosewood Cookbooks says something I would imagine.

            1. re: Matash

              Rachael Ray is also the most popular cook on TV. 'N SYNC sold the most records ever in a single year. Danielle Steele is the most popular living author.

              I think the recipes in the early Moosewood books are the very worst of the cliches of '70s vegetarian cooking. Tons of fat, tons of dried herbs, horrible textures.

              Your mileage my vary.

              1. re: dmd_kc

                "Rachael Ray is also the most popular cook on TV. 'N SYNC sold the most records ever in a single year. Danielle Steele is the most popular living author."

                Scary, isn't it?

                1. re: dmd_kc

                  The beauty of cooking is that you can change ingredients so if you find too fatty change it to something lower fat. Dried herbs = subsittute for fresh etc
                  I have many recipes that have been switched around and actually then you can create a new one and post it

              2. re: dmd_kc

                I only have Sundays at Moosewood and New Moosewood Classics, so I can't really comment on the others - but I've really enjoyed cooking from New Classics (though, like Sundays, it assumes that fish is a vegetable). Spinach and feta risotto, polenta lasagne, the several recipes for marinated olives, the banana bread (which is my all-time favourite version), cabbage and noodles (though this one is pretty fatty I must say), and the sweet potato and black bean hash all make regular appearances in my kitchen. I haven't noticed any problems with quantities or cooking times.

                1. re: dmd_kc

                  The revised versions of the "Moosewood" and "Enchanted Broccoli Forest" are somewhat better than the originals. But I got rid of my copies several years ago, after realizing I hadn't cooked out of either one in ages.

                  I have to disagree with you about "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone." It does have a certain amount of redundancy, but the part of the book you describe as "the whole contents" is the really the section on "The Vegetables Themselves," which is maybe 20% of the book. I use it all the time. I like "The Savory Way," but I think "The Greens Cookbook" is too much the product of a restaurant kitchen to be useful to a home cook on a daily basis.

                  1. re: jlafler

                    Maybe I was too hard on "For Everyone." She just set such a high bar with her first two books that I was really disappointed. At least she's a very good cook.

                    1. re: dmd_kc

                      I kind of agree about the bar being set high, but it helped me improve my cooking in a variety of areas. It may be an equally important "teaching tool" for many; I know it was for me.

                  2. re: dmd_kc

                    I love Madison'.s Local Flavors, but it's not truly vegetarian. It is almost entirely meat free, but then, oddly, now and then there's a recipe with chicken or beef in it. I actually met her recently and asked her about that, and she said that because the emphasis of the book is on seasonal and local food, and bc she feels okay eating animals that are handled in ways that she can personally observe (by visiting the farm), she wanted to include those dishes. Still, the food is gorgeous and I've made a couple of the recipes and quite enjoyed them. The writing is also nice, with some experimental food excursions and musings.

                    Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian is incredibly useful. Like The Joy of Cooking, only for vegetarians.

                    Regarding the first replies, the same thing happened to me. Anybody remember that really old vegetarian book called Horn of the Moon? As a young (teenage) vegetarian, I loved that book -- it was my bible. I finally got the chance to go to the restaurant, in Montpelier, VT, and when i walked in I was told that they were under new ownership and weren't vegetarian anymore. I was so disappointed, and the food was poor to boot.

                  3. I got "A Year in Vegetarian Kitchen" for Christmas and it's excellent. Most meals are relatively easy and really tasty.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: General Knowledge

                      I like "The New Whole Grain Cookbook" by Robin Asbell. It is not completely vegetarian, but whole grains is a great way to balance out a vegetarian diet and Robin has some lovely recipes that are easy and delicious.

                      1. re: General Knowledge

                        I have to second this -- and third it. I LOVE this cookbook. For a reasonably proficient cook, most of the recipes qualify as quick/easy, I haven't made anything I didn't like, and many of the recipes are meal-worthy, so you don't have to make two things or think too hard about menu-planning. For an everyday vegetarian cookbook, this is close to perfect.

                      2. I love Annie Somerville's Fields of Greens, but a lot of the recipes can be on the complicated side. I also like Vianna La Place's Verdura--not really meant to be a vegetarian cookbook, but a cookbook of Italian vegetable recipes.