The folks over at the all delicious, all the time site Serious Eats rounded up and presented a bumper crop of recipes from the newly released Mark Bittman cookbook last week, the 996-page How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food. The latest in Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything” series, this giant book is exactly what those omnibus, fried-shallot-and-butternut-squash glossy vegetarian porn books strategically posed on chain bookstore discount tables purport to be, but never really are. What we have here is an end-all (for now at least) cookbook containing a massive amount of technique, recipes, and conversion charts. There may even be some trigonometry tables in there somewhere. Sidebars, such as one on page 410 that gives poaching pointers for dried fruit, are ideally suited for the home cook working in a typical apartment kitchen, just trying to do the best she can with a small pantry and a couple of rickety knives. Recipe ideas for leftovers make this book especially good for those seeking more bang for their Whole Foods bill, and its pages are literally brimming with suggestions for dried chickpeas, stale bread, or anything else you might imagine. You almost want to tell Bittman to shut up already, but the fried lentil samosa recipe just works out too well.
How to Cook Everything Vegetarian eschews deep tint food photography altogether, and is peppered instead with concise illustrations demonstrating everything from a tamale tying step-by-step, to the best method of removing grit from dirty greenmarket leeks. Many vegan recipes are included, but dairy also has a way of turning up in many ingredient listings here. As fall continues and seasonal vegetables turn monochromatic and boring, however, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian becomes a good companion to any urban root cellar. Because it trips the recipe light fantastic from celery root “schnitzel” to parsnip-vanilla gratins, this cookbook may very well get even the most jaded vegetarian through the winter, and under-budget at that. Wiley, $35