In a vegetarian kitchen with Deborah Madison

Deborah Madison’s newest vegetarian cookbook In My Kitchen is pretty much accessible to most cooks. She  is well-known as a chef and author of vegetarian cuisine and this book has new recipes that are not terribly difficult and most don’t require unusual ingredients, although there are plenty of recipes with ingredients not to be found in our rural area such as posole (dried hominy), roasted green chile, berbere spice mix and nettles. But that doesn’t make up the bulk of the recipes and most are very accessible. And they are adjustable to gluten-free and vegan in most cases, with some simple alterations.bowl-red

Though watch out, you need to use your brain, a recipe for Lentil Minestrone with Kale has added pasta means you will be using GF pasta of course, but this is not specified in the ingredients. Or you leave it out. Likewise, the recipes indicate vegan (V) or if you can convert them, suggestions are given. As I sometimes entertain vegan family members, I’m familiar with the conversions (no milk, no honey, no cheese, no eggs, and there are standard substitutes to use, it’s not difficult.)

I liked a red lentil soup with “berbere” –a Northern African peppery spice mix I’ve come to enjoy. Also the breakfast porridges looked good–oatmeal with fruits, and a rice porridge with chia seeds. Brown rice porridge has some fiber, but chia seeds bump that up nicely.

The few desserts (the book is organized loosely as menus) are useful or not. A blood orange olive oil cake looked lovely but I’m allergic to almonds, sad to say, but it did look delicious. Nectarines in a verbena syrup would be a great finisher for a summer dinner.

Mostly, the book is useful for great vegetarian pasta sauces, polenta with mushroom ragout, lentils this way and that, and of course the inevitable quinoa these days, which I’m on the fence about. Sometimes I like it and other times I wish it had stayed in South America as I see too much of it.

Vegans will find probably there are too many recipes relying on cheese that can’t be substituted out by nutritional yeast so unless you have a vegan artisan cheese source, a lot of her recipes will be unusable for you. And for me, I have to leave out tree nuts which are a major protein in vegetarian cooking and provide some of that “umami” (protein or amino acid savory flavor) and there are few things that substitute for it (sometimes sesame or sunflower seeds but usually, nothing.) Even so, I liked the book and found many things I want to make, starting with the Red Lentil Soup with Berbere. You can buy Berbere online from spice houses but Madison gives you an easy mix to make up yourself and store in a jar.

Although I’m not a vegetarian or vegan, I mostly cook foods without meat or poultry as a matter of health. The older I get, the more that’s the kind of fare I prefer. This book by a reknown vegetarian chef has been praised by many, including restauranteur and author Yotam Ottolenghi and it deserves praise.

One thought on “In a vegetarian kitchen with Deborah Madison

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