Friday, April 30, 2010

Cookbooks: Fast, Fresh & Green by Susie Middleton

Initially I was sent two spring 2010 titles to be reviewed together because, on the surface of things Clean, Green & Lean and Fast, Fresh & Green (Chronicle Books) would seem to have a lot in common. On closer inspection, though, while I actually like both books quite a bit, it was clear almost from the first glance that they didn’t belong in the same review.

Clean, Green & Lean is a lifestyle choice. It might even be the diet book to end all diet books. Fast, Fresh & Green, on the other hand, is every vegetable lover’s dream cookbook. And so while the reviews don’t belong in the very same article, some of the recommendations in the former sent me here to the latter to see if I could find innovative ways to cook up some of the vegetables Walter Crinnion was recommending in his book.

Broccoli, for instance, is touted as close to a wonder vegetable. Let’s be honest, though: how many of us actually have more than one really good idea about what to do with the stuff. Maybe two good ideas at best. Middleton, though, is loaded with good broccoli ideas. In fact, in Fast, Fresh & Green, she does them just about every way possible, including recipes for braising, sautéing, roasting, stir-frying and a special-to-Middleton technique called “two-stepping,” which is basically blanching various vegetables, then cooking them further via one of several techniques in order to sear in flavor.

It’s important -- and interesting -- to note that Fast, Fresh & Green is not a vegetarian cookbook though, as Middleton says, the book is 75 per cent vegetarian and most of the other 25 per cent can be easily transformed to be suitable-for-vegetarian preparation and consumption.

Fast, Fresh & Green
is a very good book. Chef and food writer Middleton brings her focus on rethinking after work meal preparation and planning. It is a fresh a flavorful guide to eating well every day.

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