Monday, 18 August 2008

Review: Moosewood Low Fat Favourites

This is, quite simply, my favourite cookbook of all time, and since I keep posting recipes from it, I thought I would do my bit to try to encourage people to actually buy their own copy, as there are LOADS more I haven't even tried let alone posted. I normally like cookbooks with photos in them and this has none, which is just a further testament to how good the recipes are.

Moosewood Collective is a vegetarian co-op dating back to the 1970s, and their restaurant is in Ithaca, New York State (oh, how I'd love to go...). They have always had an emphasis on healthy and wholesome food, and some of their other cookbooks focus particularly on international cuisine. I was first introduced to Moosewood by my lovely friend (and new mum again - more on that soon....) Tracy, who gave me another of their books as a birthday present one year. I picked up another one at a book sale, and finally got the Low Fat Favourite after seeing a friend's copy. One of the other collective members, Mollie Katzen, is also well-known in her own right in the States.

There are several reasons I really like this book. Firstly (almost) without fail the recipes are really flavoursome and tasty. The exception was a split pea soup which blew our heads off, but which we managed to convince Eco Sis and Munchkin Granny to eat anyway (even after telling them how hot it was) though I think we had to tone it down with some butter (one of The Scientist's contributions to science in the kitchen). Secondly, most of the recipes are based on things you might actually have to hand. The only ingredient I either have to get specially, or tend to avoid because I think of it as being a bit processed is low fat evaporated milk, which features in some of the soups. I have used it occasionally in a squash soup and it's certainly a very nice dish. There are one or two low fat alternatives I find you don't really get here - fat free ricotta, for example, but on the whole this book is not based on weird, outlandish or expensive ingredients. Thirdly, they make suggestions as to other dishes to partner recipes with, which I like just to get ideas. And fourthly I like the little backstories and descriptions they write - it gives you a sense of the collective since a lot of the recipes were invented by a named person, or for a particular visitor.

The book is divided into sections - starters and appetizers (good for dips), soups, breads and sandwiches, salads, grains, pasta, stews, other mains, fish, sides, sauces and dressings, and desserts. Every dish has its nutritional infomation given below it (though you do have to note how large the serving size is. Moosewood say they err on the side of generous portions so it's by no means all water and abstemiousness). My copy has dozens of little sticky bits bristling out all over it as there are so many things I still want to try out. Some of my all-time favourite dishes from this book, in case you need any further motivation to skip on over to amazon are:

New England squash soup
Asian eggplant spread
Dried mushroom soup with barley
Southwestern corn and potato soup
Lentil salad with mango dressing
Sweet potato and black bean burrito
Vegetable filo rolls
Persian split pea and barley stew
Pineapple buttermilk sherbert

And tonight we just tried out a ginger miso dressing for some veggies, which I didn't think The Scientist would like as it has silken tofu in it, but it was actually very good. Not very pretty, but very tasty.

1 comment:

Johanna said...

I am a big fan of the Enchanted Broccoli forrest which is one of the first vegetarian cookbooks I got and I still love lots of recipes. I loved the voice of mollie katzen and felt a little sad in later moosewood cookbooks when it disappeared. But I do like the one non-mollie moosewood cookbook I have and I was impressed with the burritos so will look out for this book