cover image Secrets of a Vegetarian Kitchen

Secrets of a Vegetarian Kitchen

Nadine Abensur. Stewart, Tabori, & Chang, $19.95 (112pp) ISBN 978-1-55670-549-6

""I am vegetarian because I love vegetables,"" declares Abensur, food director for Crank's restaurants, a popular vegetarian chain in England. She combines the French, Moroccan and Jewish influences of her childhood in Casablanca with the flavors of the Mediterranean region, India and Asia in these delicately flavored dishes. Attentive preparation and presentation are key in recipes from soups (Celeriac with Lemongrass and Coriander), to appetizers (Baby Eggplants with Roasted Tomatoes, Feta Cheese, and Broiled Scallions), to salads and vegetables (Beets with Cumin and Red Onion), to main courses and desserts. Her robust Couscous Royale is replete with carrots, pumpkin, chickpeas, pearl onions, leeks, zucchini and raisins; in Pasta Quills with Vegetables and Mozzarella, eggplant, fennel and tomatoes combine in a succulent sauce. Unusual desserts include Rose Petal Queen Dream (a meringue made with rose petals) and caramelized Eggplant Confites. Abensur describes cooking methods and offers a lexicon of unusual ingredients from mascarpone to umeboshi plums. Novices may be thrown by an occasional infelicity (one recipe calls for roughly chopped tomatoes, while the instructions call for quartering) and busy cooks would be aided by some idea of preparation times. Despite such minor caveats, such recipes as that for fennel bulbs filled with an orange and brandy sauce will please the home cook looking for new dishes. (Apr.)