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A Primer for Cooks Who Are Eating Vegetarian Most of the Time, Chicken and Fish Some of the Time and Altogether Well All of the Time

by Diana Shaw

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-553-88206-X
Publisher: Crown

Working with this book is something like dealing with a friend who's brilliant but has trouble following through. Shaw (Grilling from the Garden, not reviewed) has hit on a promising idea, but her goal is never clear. Does she mean this as a primer for those who aim to become total vegetarians? Or is it merely a guide to eating less meat? Recipes, particularly those for vegetable dishes, are often quite creative, but there is a distracting amount of information of all sorts bursting out of every nook and cranny. Each recipe has not only a descriptive header, but instructions for which steps can be done in advance, preparation and cooking times, serving suggestions, and complete nutritional information. In the disorganized foreword, Shaw expounds on everything from prune juice to tofu, and then sticks other subjects (how to light a grill, how to clean a leek) in with the recipes when applicable. At times her asides are so basic as to seem silly: ``A vegetarian version of a dish can taste easily as good as (or better than) the version with meat. But it won't taste the same.'' Serving sizes are consistently off; the filling for clever tomato timbales wrapped in spinach yielded three rather than the promised four, and a satisfying lentil salad with salty feta and crunchy bits of red onion and fennel was listed as serving four but could feed twice that many people. Bean-brained. (2-color illustrations, not seen)