Herbivoracious: A Flavor Revolution with 150 Vibrant and Original Vegetarian Recipesby Michael Natkin
Some of the most creative new minds in the kitchen and the most exhilarating new voices in food writing come from the world of blogs. Michael Natkin, creator of the wildly popular Herbivoracious.com, indisputably fits both of those descriptions. In Herbivoracious: A Vegetarian Cookbook for People Who Love to Eat, Natkin offers up 150 exciting recipes/i>… See more details below
Some of the most creative new minds in the kitchen and the most exhilarating new voices in food writing come from the world of blogs. Michael Natkin, creator of the wildly popular Herbivoracious.com, indisputably fits both of those descriptions. In Herbivoracious: A Vegetarian Cookbook for People Who Love to Eat, Natkin offers up 150 exciting recipes (most of which have not appeared on his blog) notable both for their big, bold, bright flavors and for their beautiful looks on the plate, the latter apparent in more than 80 four-color photos that grace the book. This is sophisticated, grown-up meatless cooking, the kind you can serve to company—even when your guests are dedicated meat-eaters.
"If we had to choose one book to cook from in 2012, this would be it."
The Washington Post
- Harvard Common Press, The
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HerbivoraciousA Flavor Revolution with 150 Vibrant and Original Vegetarian Recipes
By Michael Natkin
Harvard Common PressCopyright © 2012 Michael Natkin
All right reserved.
Introduction I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, in the 1970s and early 1980s. It was not exactly a hotbed of haute cuisine. Everyone ate fast-food hamburgers, and vegetables were boiled until they begged for mercy. I remember the house of one friend in particular, whose mother would invariably be chain smoking and cooking a giant skillet of canned ham. I visited this same friend a few years ago. His mom, quite old now, had just returned from Whole Foods with several bags full of fresh produce. This moment crystallized for me just how radically our food habits have changed. Vegetarian food and cooking have played a big part in these changes. The confluence of our interests in personal health, the environment, and animal welfare has caused even diehard carnivores, like my friend in their diets. Vegetarian cooking has come a long way. If you are old enough to remember the 1970s, you might recall the horror of mushy loaves of lentils and wheat berries or meals so loaded with carbs that you needed a long nap afterwards. The 1980s and 1990s brought an increased awareness and availability of global ingredients and recipes, although a lack of context, and of in-depth knowledge of the cuisines from which they came, led to frightening fusion. Care for a curried endive pizza with Thai-spiced hummus, Oaxacan pesto, and a drizzle of Moroccan olive tapenade? Over the past few years, as weLocally made tofu, preserved lemons, and whole black cardamom seeds are available in most cities online. Farmers markets offer us tomatoes worth eating, a dozen varieties of radishes, and strawberries still warm from the field. Most communities are much more diverse, too, giving many of us the opportunity to experience authentic Singapore noodles or Ethiopian injera without a transcontinental flight. We learn cutting-edge methods from world-class chefs, whether they are vegetarian or not. We; we can (and should) always experiment, but they provide a foundation of reliable inspiration to which we can always return. The upshot of all of these changes is that good vegetarian food is now just good food, period. This is a golden age for creative, intelligent vegetarian cuisine. Never again need anyone say, "That wasn't bad, for a vegetarian meal." My own obsession with cooking is inextricably linked with vegetarian food. When I was 18, my mom was dying after a decade-long battle with breast cancer. She had decided to try a macrobiotic diet, but she was too weak to do much cooking. My girlfriend at the time (and still great friend), Nicole, was a vegetarian and a good cook. She taught me how to make flavorful, homey meals. I took over our kitchen and started to do all the cooking for my family. I continued to do so after my mom passed, until I took off for college, and thereafter during vacations. In those early years, I subjected my dad and brother to some ghastly combinations. I, and plums (!) that was so bad we all took one bite, laughed, and dumped it in the garbage. In spite of that rocky beginning, I persevered and became a good cook. I read hundreds of cookbooks and books about food. At college in Providence, I had the opportunity to eat a range of foods, including Italian, Indian, Thai, Armenian, and Portuguese, that I never could have found in Louisville. One year I lived in a co-op house with 13 other students and we rotated cooking, which taught me how to feed a crowd and produced lots of instant feedback. These days, I get even more feedback from the readers of my blog, Herbivoracious. Inspired by Ed BrownThe Tassajara Bread Book and Tassajara Cooking, I took a break from college and ended up at Green Gulch Farm, which, like Tassajara, is part of the San Francisco Zen Center. I spent several months working the fields of the stunning farm, which is nestled into a valley on the Marin County coast. I planted and later plucked potatoes, greens, and vegetables, which we would often eat that same day. Then I transferred to the kitchen, which was my first professional experience as a cook. Istill-warm vegetables with dirt clinging to their roots. I was hooked and transformed. Life has its twists and turns, and I was drawn back into the world of software that I had been profoundly engaged with since the age of 14. I helped make dinosaurs and Terminators come to life at George Lucass Industrial Light & Magic and worked on an early interactive television system at Silicon Graphics; for the past 12 years, I've been at Adobe Systems. Through all of that, the food bug never left. On vacations I ate my way through Japan, India, Italy, France, Holland, Mexico, and 48 of the United States as well. I dreamed of opening a restaurant. I continued to intern at restaurants, including Caf in Seattle and Dirt Candy in New York City. I started my blog, Herbivoracious, as an outlet for all of this passion, never imagining that it would be the beginning of a community of tens of thousands of readers who use and comment on the recipes and share their own ideas. The blog has become an incredible catalyst for me to refine and improve my cooking; I never want to post a dish that doesn't taste terrific and look beautiful on the plate.
Excerpted from Herbivoracious by Michael Natkin Copyright © 2012 by Michael Natkin. Excerpted by permission.
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