For those not already aware, The Moosewood Collective has been producing cookbooks since the 80s. Their goal now, as it has always been, is to produce real, wholesome, luscious food. Their emphasis is on natural, plant-based food. They are not the first to take such an approach and certainly won’t be the last. They are one of the most prominent in the field, however. Their recipes are described as no-nonsense cookery, with a love of culinary adventure.
This new cookbook “The Moosewood Restaurant Table, 250 Brand-New Recipes From The Natural Foods Restaurant That Revolutionised Eating In America”, focuses on new vegetarian and vegan recipes with multiple ethnic influences. Their approach to vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free dishes, is to make them satisfying enough that people won’t miss the meat, cheese, eggs, or wheat flour.
In the introduction, they describe the journey which resulted in this cookbook. Many new and rediscovered ingredients, combinations, and cuisines were employed. Included with the new are a few traditional recipes with perhaps a new twist. The authors also mentioned that, as with any other art-form, recipes are only guidelines. And of course, variations in timing are going to happen depending on what you’re cooking, what you’re cooking it in, etc. They advise “Use your nose, cool your jets, cook with love, and use The Force.” I love that quote.
After that micro introduction, the first chapter of recipes begins with “Breakfast & Brunch”. When I first received this cookbook I was afraid that it might contain recipes full of ingredients I can’t get it my local grocery store and certainly don’t have in the house. I am pleased to report that this is not the case. I’m sure one or two recipes might call for something I’ve not got on hand but few recipes called for ingredients not already found in my fridge or pantry.
One of my favourite things about a good cookbook is that there are variations on the recipes. For instance, many of these recipes offer a variation on herbs, a vegan, or gluten-free option. Others have simply different recommended flavour combinations. Throughout the book, there are valuable little tips and tricks. For instance, “How to freeze fruit for your breakfast smoothie”, so you always have something on hand even out of season.
With “Starters & Snacks” there are a number of recipes which would serve well as lunches, side dishes or if you just have the munchies. I like how the recipes, throughout the book, have “Serving And Menu Ideas” included. Each of the recipes recommends other recipes within the book that will work well together. As mentioned earlier they do a modern twist on several traditional recipes. In this section is the deviled eggs recipe with a couple of pretty interesting flavour combinations. You may find them a lot better than the ones your grandma made.
“Spreads & Dips” follow. I do love how several of the recipes referred to other tips and tricks within the book with direct page references. This really helps to keep you on track. As with the other recipes, they all start with a brief explanation of the food and include necessary details like Yields, Cook Time, etc.
“Sandwiches” are next but don’t just think that these are two pieces of bread with some stuff in between them, some of the recipes are quite different. The Banh Mi Chay sandwich, for instance, is a two-page version of a Vietnamese creation.
The next set of recipes is the “Soup” category. With a few recognizable soups, there are several interesting additions. The “Sopa Verde de Elote”, for instance, is a Mexican soup with the Moosewood with a twist on it.
As you will find in nearly every vegetarian recipe cookbook, there is a chapter on “Salads”. But if you were looking for your iceberg lettuce with one or two extra ingredients and a nice vinaigrette, you’ll need to look elsewhere. The salads here are quite tasty looking and the ingredient combinations are very interesting. Along with the green salads, there are bean salads, and even a potato salad, to entice your taste buds.
“Main Dish Salads” is next. If you like to have a salad for your main meal there are several options for you. Some of them are green salads, others noodle salads. There’s even a “Quinoa Tabouli with Pomegranates and Pistachios”. The “Grain Bowl” chapter offers only six recipes. These give recipes for couscous, bulgur wheat, etc.
The “Entrées” chapter starts with an “Autumn Pot Pie” with vegetables, herbs and a cheese sauce it looks like a lovely New England style pie, suitable even for the holidays. I think the only time I saw the word meat mentioned in this book was in the “Walnut Cheddar Herb Meatballs”. This is a meat-free dish which mimics meatballs and can even be made in smaller versions for appetizers. The tips offered for this recipe included how to make a meatball pita and a meatball sub. Num, num.
Chapters, “Stews & Sautés”, “Pasta”, and “Burgers & Beans”, follow. The “Pizzas & Breads” chapter is next and includes a very detailed recipe for creating your pizza crust. They also include a gluten-free pizza crust and several recipes for pizza flavour variations and a “Focaccia”. You’ll even find a recipe for “Bialys”, and a couple of cornbread variations.
“Side Vegetables”, “Side Greens”, “Sauces, Pickles, and Other Good Things” are all covered in the following chapters. This leads up to “Desserts”. The “Desserts” chapter is quite extensive. If you’re looking for Cookies, Shortbread, Brownies, Blondies, Cake, even Gingerbread, you’ll find it here. The Moosewood Restaurant certainly knows how to make a dessert. Not to be left out there are even Cheesecake, Tart, Crumble, and Pudding recipes included, as well as a Sorbet and “Date-Walnut Shake”.
Even For Meatatarians
In all, this is a fantastic book for anybody whether or not they’re vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or huge meat lovers. There are textures, flavours, and variations that would even give die-hard meatatarians something to love. The only thing I would change would be to add more pictures.
For the recipe, I chose the “Pumpkin Cheesecake” because, as the description says, it’s easier to make than Pumpkin Pie. And I am not great at pie crusts.