THE VEGETARIAN MEAT AND POTATOES COOKBOOK: 275 Hearty and Healthy Meat-free Recipes for Steaks, Stews, Burgers, Roasts, Chilis, Casseroles, Pot Pies, Curries, Pizzas, Pastas, and Other Stick-to-Your-Ribs Favorites

Robin Robertson, Author . Harvard Common $29.95 (384p) ISBN 978-1-55832-204-2 ISBN 1-55832-205-1

Robertson is out to seduce unrepentant carnivores with vegetarian dishes that satisfy those essential animal-fat qualities: intense flavor, luxurious texture, and the comforting sensation of a full stomach. She devotes a whole chapter to "steaks" and another to "stews," making abundant use of high-protein products like tempeh, seitan and tofu. She also relies heavily on ingredients high in natural flavor-enhancing glutamates, like mushroom and tomatoes. Robertson is hearteningly forthright about the limitations of vegetarian cuisine: "I won't try to tell you that grilled tofu can taste like filet mignon. It's not going to happen." Still, in general she ratchets taste up a notch higher and a step further away from the steamed, seasoning-free non-cuisine that once was American vegetarianism. Some are based on the classic ginger-garlic-soy sauce building blocks of Chinese cooking (e.g., Shiitake-Stuffed Tofu Steaks with Hoisin Glaze). She freely borrows high-voltage ingredients from Latin cuisine (Chipotle-Avocado Dip) and Southeast Asian (Wheat-Meat Satays with spicy Peanut Sauce). There's an occasional nod to French cuisine ("Fauxscargots") and New American (Balsamic-Glazed Stuffed Mushrooms, Roasted Red Pepper and Potato Napoleons). Attempting to keep things simple, Robertson sometimes overeconomizes on instructions; anyone making homemade seitan should be warned about the soupy, wrong-looking mess you get halfway through the process. But none are irreparable and most deliver the promised punch. Robertson's easygoing attitude readily beats a path to the heart through the taste buds, and even the most stalwart carnivores will likely find themselves enjoying the ride despite themselves. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 12/24/2001
Release date: 02/01/2002
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