Sunday, March 5, 2017

A Modern Way to Cook, by Anna Jones

A Modern Way to Cook is an excellent new cookbook that contains more than 150 vegetarian recipes, arranged by how long it takes to prepare them. I've had the book for a while but I wanted to write the review only after I've made a number of the recipes. I have to admit that with only one or two exceptions, I've stuck with the recipes that can be made in 15-30 minutes, but I've enjoyed all of them so much that I've made several of them many times over the past couple of months.

The author's descriptions of how to make many of the recipes have the cook getting all of the ingredients out, then quickly doing one thing after another. I think some of the recipes take me longer than she predicts, mainly because I keep going back to the recipes to make sure that I'm doing things right. Once a cook gets familiar enough with a recipe, I expect the times to be more accurate. One of the time-saving methods the author recommends is to always have a kettle on with boiling water. This shortens the time for soups to finish, for example.

The first recipe that I tried was a 15-minute recipe for kale, tomato, and lemon magic one-pot spaghetti. It called for adding pasta, cherry tomatoes, lemon zest, oil, and salt to a pan; then adding a quart of water. After everything cooks, you can add kale to cook for a few minutes, then finish everything with parmesan cheese. This was a wonderful dish, made unique by the lemon zest.

Another recipe that I liked a lot was green pea and coconut soup. It called for frozen peas, coconut milk, green onions, lemon juice, and vegetable stock. It was a very quick recipe, with the final step being to put the soup through a blender. Really wonderful. One recipe that I've made at least a dozen times now is called pour-over soup. Vegetables are sliced very thinly into a bowl along with miso paste, ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce, vermicelli, and more, then boiling water is poured over. It's like a flavorful salad in a bowl. The recipe calls for greens, zucchini, and snap peas, but I use whatever I have, including spinach, zucchini, tomatoes, onion, red or green pepper, mushrooms, etc. Easy to make and filling.

The avocado, tahini, and olive spread is wonderful, takes only a few minutes, and is great with pita chips. I served this at my last book club meeting and it got a thumbs up from the other members. The avocado, cucumber, and fennel soup was really good, although I made a double recipe and it made a lot. Even with lemon juice it discolored slightly, although the flavor was unaffected. Good for a summer lunch! One of my favorites was called a Sunday vat of soup, and includes a leek, red onion, carrots, celery, sweet potatoes, and a butternut squash. All of this gets cooked along with some spices and broth, then blended. The author shares a number of variations, including serving it with pumpkin seeds, or sour cream. It was great no matter how it was served.

Finally, the one dessert that I tried was tahini-drizzled superfruit. Any combination of fruit can be used. It should be sliced or cubed on a plate, then drizzled with a sauce made from tahini, honey, lemon, and cinnamon. I've made this a number of times over the last several months.

This is really a wonderful cookbook with recipes that I never would have thought up on my own. The author calls for a number of ingredients that were not formerly a typical item in my pantry, but that has now changed. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to try new recipes and enjoys vegetarian foods.

I received this book from Blogging for Books.

Anna Jones. A Modern Way to Cook: 150+ Vegetarian Recipes for Quick, Flavor-Packed Meals. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 2015. 351 pages. ISBN 9780399578427.