I am still working my way through that stack of lost and found Christmas gift cookbooks; here’s the next one: Cornucopia: The Green Cookbook. I have to admit that I didn’t have high hopes for this one because of all the restaurant cookbooks I’ve seen, I’ve only really liked one well enough to actually use it for more than one or two recipes. The restaurant in this case is a vegetarian joint in Dublin Ireland called Cornucopia that’s been around since the mid 80s. As you might expect the first 30 or so pages are background including the history of the restaurant and its philosophy, as well as an introduction to vegan cooking such as common ingredients and equipment. I only skimmed most of this since I’m reasonably familiar with vegan and vegetarian cooking.
The recipes actually look pretty do-able, and there isn’t too much reliance on hard to find or really unusual ingredients or equipment (there’s one or two, but you can either skip or substitute something). One thing I really appreciated about how the recipes are presented is that they include both ingredient lists and equipment lists. Each recipe is also rated on a scale of difficulty ‘simple’, ‘moderate’, and ‘complex’. The book is organized sort of by course, so breakfast, soup, snack and lunch, salad, main, sweet, and sides and sauce.
I’m going to use the mains section as my example here since it’s the most extensive and varied section. A simple recipe is harder to find in this section, but one of them is something called “Sweet potato, mirin, and coconut casserole”. Basically you roast some veggies, sautee other veggies, fry some tofu, make a sauce; this involves a stick blender, which I would ignore in favor of just using my standard blender which would also allow me to skip the straining step. Then you mix everything together. The way the whole thing is done is pretty straightforward but if you follow the instruction completely, you’ll end up with a lot of dishes to clean.
On the moderate level, you have something like “Beetroot and peanut parcel with pear salsa”. This one involves working with store bought filo pastry which I suspect is the cause for the moderate label. Basically, you cook and puree a spiced up veggie mixture involving fennel (I detest both fennel and beets), add grated tofu, grated beet, and a few other things, and then go to page 305 (the recipe I’m talking about is on 197-8) for instruction for assembly. The salsa mentioned? That’s on page 374. While I can appreciate multi-tasker recipes this gets annoying and slows down an already lengthy recipe process.
The complex recipe “Squash and black bean enchilada with avocado-lime cream” actually looks easier, possibly only achieving a higher ranking due to some ‘prepare the night before’ bits in addition to the go to page this that and the other thing. Sigh/grr/watch me ignore that bit and do it my own way which may not match exactly but is probably close enough. Again, you roast veggies in the oven, make a sauce (see page whatever), make another sauce to season the quinoa you had to make the night before for some reason, see another page whatever for how to construct enchiladas, and layer sauce and enchiladas. Bake, and while waiting, chop stuff for toppings.
So, I might actually try a few of these to see if they’re worth it, but if they aren’t really, really good, I suspect they may not be worth the time and amount of dish washing, at least not for me.