Vegetables From Amaranth to Zucchini The Essential Reference: 500 Recipes 275 Photographs

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Overview

Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini: The Essential Reference is at once an encyclopedia, a produce market manual, and a treasure trove of recipes. With produce specialist Elizabeth Schneider as your guide, take a seed-to-table voyage with more than 350 vegetables, both exotic and common. Discover lively newcomers to the North American cornucopia and rediscover classic favorites in surprising new guises.

In this timely reference, Elizabeth Schneider divulges the secrets of the ...

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Overview

Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini: The Essential Reference is at once an encyclopedia, a produce market manual, and a treasure trove of recipes. With produce specialist Elizabeth Schneider as your guide, take a seed-to-table voyage with more than 350 vegetables, both exotic and common. Discover lively newcomers to the North American cornucopia and rediscover classic favorites in surprising new guises.

In this timely reference, Elizabeth Schneider divulges the secrets of the vegetable kingdom, sharing a lifetime of scholarly sleuthing and culinary experience. In her capable hands, unfamiliar vegetables such as amaranth become as familiar as zucchini — while zucchini turns out to be more intriguing than you ever imagined.

Each encyclopedic entry includes a full-color identification photo, common and botanical names, and an engaging vegetable "biography" that distills the knowledge of hundreds of authorities in dozens of fields — scientists, growers, produce distributors, and chefs among them.

Practical sections describe availability, selection, storage, preparation, and basic general use. Finally, the author's fresh contemporary recipes reveal the essence of each vegetable and a culinary sensibility that food magazine and cookbook readers have trusted for thirty years. Each entry concludes with a special "Pros Propose" section — spectacularly innovative recipes suggested by professional chefs.

Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini: The Essential Reference is an indispensable resource for home cooks, food professionals, gardeners, information seekers, and anyone who simply enjoys good reading.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Elizabeth Schneider deserves a special place of honor in the Vegetable Hall of Fame for this outstanding, all-in-one vegetable encyclopedia-cookbook-reference.

At 777 pages, with 500 recipes, 350 vegetables, and 275 color identification photographs, it's clearly a labor of love, impeccably researched and beautifully produced. The six pages of acknowledgments, with credits to professional chefs, scientists, scholars, produce distributors, and growers, give a clue to the wealth of information inside.

Now take a vegetable you think you know -- say, the artichoke -- and turn to pages 19–25. In this entry, Schneider walks you through the various varieties (shown in color photos) and gives a great tip on selection : "Squeezed, a fresh artichoke protests with a noisy squeak; a flabby one barely mumbles."

Next comes advice on artichoke storage, preparation, and cooking. Schneider has tried at least five cooking methods for each vegetable in the book, so she can recommend from experience which method does the most for each vegetable. In this case, she's not happy with the microwave method but likes steaming, steam baking, and a pressure-cooker method from Lorna Sass. Four artichoke recipes developed by Schneider follow, then a section called Pros Propose, in which Schneider sketches out recipes offered by chefs all over the country -- in this case, Brick-Flattened Fried Artichokes from Faith Willinger's Red, White & Greens and Artichoke and Pink Grapefruit Salad from Alice Waters's Chez Panisse Vegetables.

Now, imagine what Schneider can do for a vegetable you don't know -- like amaranth or cardoons, celeriac, or vegetables popular in Chinese cooking. And imagine what she can do for vegetables you are sure to have underplayed (or miscooked) for years, like okra, rutabaga, or even the zucchini.

Everywhere you turn in this book, you can find out something useful or interesting. Her method of cooking each vegetable five different ways often disproves conventional wisdom: It turns out that salting eggplant does not take away a bitter taste, nor do mushrooms taste best when sautéed. For best results, Schneider discovered that cucumbers should be sautéed, green asparagus roasted, but purple asparagus boiled, and sweetpotatoes steamed.

For all the length and heft of this book, you'll wish it were longer. Schneider has not included sections on the most common vegetables -- bell pepper, cabbage, corn, tomatoes, and lettuces -- but given the fantastic treatment every other vegetable gets, you'll wish she had. (Ginger Curwen)

Ann Hodgman
“It’s a book that should lead the pack for a long, long time.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688152604
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/28/2001
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 804
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 10.87 (h) x 0.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Schneider is the author of Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini: The Essential Reference (IACP Book of the Year), Ready When You Are: Made-Ahead Meals for Entertaining, and coauthor of Better Than Store-Bought and Dining in Grand Style. Her magazine series "Produce Pro" (in Food Arts) and "Vegetable Wise" (in Eating Well) received James Beard awards. Hundreds of her articles have appeared in the New York Times, Gourmet, Food & Wine, and many other publications.

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Read an Excerpt

Cremini and Portobello Mushrooms
(Agaricus bisporus)
See also the many names below

Cremini mushrooms-also marketed as Crimim, Baby Bellas, Golden Italian, Roman, or Classic Brown mushrooms-are also, as you may already know, juvenile portobellos (about which more later). They are, as well, the same as white or button mushrooms (or champignons, to the restaurant trade), but a different strain. "What's old is new": This mushroom is a reintroduction of the brown mushroom om that was common in the United States before the white strain was isolated and developed during the mid-1920s. It differs from the white in its cocoa coloring, more solid texture, and richer flavor.

As for the name "cremini" . . . I give up! Crirmini means "crimes" in Italian (although one company claims that it means "brown"). An Italian writer calls the mushrooms cremosini, but three knowledgeable Italian chefs assert there is no such word. A distributor says that he saw the mushrooms in Milan in 1980 — simply called funghi cultivati — and named them Roman Mushrooms when he brought them to the United States the next year. An American grower subsequently "introduced" them as Golden Italian. As the popularity of portobello mushrooms grows-and it is growing very rapidly — it seems likely that related names, such as the recent Portabellini, will rise to replace or join the others in the criminal confusion.

The chubby cremino (if that is the singular; no one can be sure), properly encouraged by environmental conditions, will metamorphose to a portly portobello (also portabella), a name as difficult to document as cremini. I asked dozens who work withmushrooms, here and in Italy, about the name. The marketing director of a mushroom farm told me, "It was named after Portobello Road in London, where they sell fashionable things, you know." An importer said, "Until ten years ago, the mushroom was cappelaccio in Italy. Then it was renamed after a TV show called Portobello — because it sounds better." Another importer told me that "portobello is known only in northern Italy, where it iscalled capellone." To one authority, capellone means "big hat." To the director of an Italian trade board and a dictionary — it means "hippie." Two northern Italian chefs had never heard of capellone or cappelaccio. The most outlandish derivation came from an Italian distributor: "Well, you know that champignon comes from the word for Champagne, and that a Champagne cork looks like a round port-and that's how we get porto bello — beautiful port."

Whatever its provenance, the portobello or portabella (depending on the brand) has upgraded America's view of "vegetarian," whether it appears on pizza, grilled on baby greens, or in the exalted role of "A Portabella Mushroom Pretending to be a Filet Mignon with a Roasted Shallot and Tomato Fondue," at the elegant Inn at Little Washington, Virginia.

BASIC USE: Cook cremini in all the ways you would white "buttons," but expect a denser consistency (even when thin-sliced) and deeper savor. They taste particularly meaty when brushed with nut oil or herb- or garlic-infused olive oil, then roasted or grilled. Broad, handsome portobello caps are also at their best oil-seasoned, roasted or grilled, then thin-sliced. They are a natural for stuffing, as well, providing a neat, large container to be filled. Chop and incorporate the huge, meaty stem into the stuffing, or save it for soup, sauce, stock, duxelles, or seasoning. Note that the deep brown gills of older portobellos will darken any preparation. If this is not desirable, scrape them out with a blunt knife to use in sauce or as a garnish.

SELECTION: Cremini and portobelli are cultivated year-round, but the latter are vulnerable to viruses and occasionally disappear from the market for a while. For both, choose plump, solid, firm, dry mushrooms with no shriveling or slipperiness. If in doubt, sniff : An earthy, vegetable smell is right; a sourish or animal smell is not.

Select small cremini with closed caps when you plan to cook them whole; they hold their shape neatly. Larger ones are fine for slicing, dicing, and chopping. (An intermediate size, Poytabellini, has a closed cap, like cremini, but is larger.) Maturing cremini with opening caps and darkening gills may have more flavor, and their juices will be darker; plan accordingly.

Portobello's open cap should reveal gills that are dry and shapely-not damp or dented. As the mushroom ages, the gills turn from pinkish-taupe to chocolate. Older mushrooms, recognizable by a loss of sheen as well as by darkened gills, are fibrous and taste muddy.

Typically, portobello caps are 4 to 6 inches in diameter. The comparatively newly named and marketed Baby Portabella is smaller and has a smoother texture and milder flavor (more "veal" than "beef"). For best keeping, choose whole mushrooms, usually packed in open cases. Caps alone are less prone to breakage but more expensive-and they lack the useful stems. Do not consider sliced caps — a waste of money, freshness, and flavor.

STORAGE: Unlike most mushrooms, cremini seem to last particularly well in "breathable" plastic retail packs-over a week, if they are in good shape to start.

For portobello mushrooms, remove wrapping, if any. Spread mushrooms in a basket or tray, cover with a towel, and refrigerate. Do not moisten or set objects on top. Mushrooms need circulating air, so don't crowd them. If very fresh, they may last 5 to 6 days.

PREPARATION: If cremini will be cooked with liquid, rinse quickly in a colander, then blot on towels. If they will be roasted or sautéed, it is better-though time-consuming — to clean them with a soft brush only. For portobello mushrooms, hold each one upright, tap the top to dislodge any growing medium that lurks, then flick gills clean with a soft brush. People usually twist, then break off the stem, but I find this risks cracking the cap. I prefer to hold each upright and gently cut the stem flush with the cap.


Baked Stuffed
Portobello Caps

Large portobellos fairly cry out for dramatic whole cap presentation. Here, a simple mince of the stems, herbs, and bell pepper adds flavor and color and prevents the caps from drying out as they bake. Serve with crusty bread as an appetizer, or to accompany grilled meat or fish.

1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon chilli flakes
6 portobello mushrooms (about 4 inches in diameter)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup fine-diced red bell pepper
1 tablespoon minced parsley leaves
1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon coarse-ground pepper
Arugula, baby mustard, or mizuna leaves
  1. Combine garlic and oil in small skillet. Cook over low heat to flavor oil but not to brown garlic, about 5 minutes. Add chilli flakes. Remove from heat.
  2. Holding each mushroom upright by its stem, tap tops of caps to dislodge dirt from gills. Carefully cut off stems flush with caps. Clean gills with a soft brush. Paint caps sparingly with half the garlic oil-first outside, then inside. Set gill side up on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt; set aside to marinate.
  3. Peel mushroom stems, then cut into fine dice. Combine in a bowl with bell pepper, parsley, and thyme. Add the remaining garlic oil, salt, and pepper. Let stand an hour or so, until somewhat juicy, tossing occasionally.
  4. Preheat oven to 450 °F Divide stuffing among caps, spreading evenly. Set baking sheet on upper rack in oven. Bake until mushrooms are tender throughout — 10 to 15 minutes. Serve hot.

Serves 6

The Vegetables From Amaranth to Zucchini. Copyright © by Elizabeth Schneider. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Chefs and Other Food Professionals ix
Scientists and Scholars xi
Produce Distributors and Growers xiii
Others Who Helped Cultivate This Book xiv
List of Main Vegetable Entries xv
Recipes by Category xix
Introduction 1
Vegetable Discoveries 1
Untangling the Terms 3
How Each Entry Is Organized 5
Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini 7 to 732
Bibliography 733
Index of Recipes, Recipe Ideas, Chefs, and Cooks 743
Index of Vegetables by Their Common and Botanical Names 771
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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2013

    It's an okay book

    It's a great book with lots of information and great pictures displaying each vegetable. There's many recipes to be had as well. I wouldn't recommend this book for anyone who wants really in-depth information. Through out the book, the author keeps commenting on how they are not really familiar with a few things and cites other sources.

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