cover image The Vegetarian Bistro: 250 Authentic French Regional Recipes

The Vegetarian Bistro: 250 Authentic French Regional Recipes

Chronicle Books, Marlena Spieler. Chronicle Books, $15.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-1376-1

Here is inspiration for vegetarians who favor hearty, satisfying food. Bistro merges well with vegetarian, notes Spieler (Naturally Good; The Art of Mediterranean Vegetarian) because of French farming traditions and ""culinary largesse."" In this collection of recipes garnered from bistros and cafes throughout France, the focus on seasonal flavor is apparent and appealing--from openers like Lemon-Scented Spinach Spread or Cabbage Soup with Roquefort and garlic to main and/or side dishes such as Gratin of Macaroni, Red Wine Sauce and Cheese; Vegetarian Cassoulet; and Artichoke Risotto with Tomato Butter. Chapter introductions and sidebars offer vegetarian how-to's, discussion of past and present food trends and regional variations. We learn that as bistro standbys rely upon available ingredients, so the classic Corsican Goat Cheese and Mint Omelet emerges from its local fresh cheese and distinctive native mint. Other favorites, like the Creamy Potato and Onion Gratin with Pink Peppercorns update tradition with current interests. Desserts here are mostly predictable, but chapters on ""Cheese"" and ""Basics"" go beyond the expected with offerings like Fresh Sheep Cheese with Melon and versatile Garlic Bechamel. Attention to authenticity stands out in this volume and makes it a worthwhile offering for carnivores as well as their vegetarian cousins. (July)