Penguin Random House
Review: Brian Joss
Eight years in the making, Veg is almost enough to make you eschew meat. But not quite. Although it may help you to embrace meat-free Mondays. Veg is jam-packed with recipes from Curries and Stews to buckwheat pancakes, sticky toffee waffles and ideas for snacks which you can find in the chapter Friday Night Kibbles.
Oliver is writing for a European audience so some of the ingredients might not be readily available. When we asked a supermarket assistant if they had sweet leeks as my wife wanted to try the Sweet Leek Carbonara she looked at us as if we were turnips. In the end we settled for pre-packed leeks (R26 for four pieces about 12 cm long, which didn’t make an appreciable difference to dish as far as I could tell). It was easy enough to prepare and though Oliver recommended a glass of cold Italian white wine, we enjoyed a Riesling which went down quite smoothly.
Interesting dishes include a Sticky Onion Tart, Summer Veg Blanket Pie using philo pastry and dried sour cherries, which would probably be difficult to source. There is an Allotment Cottage Pie for which you would need a swede, which tastes like a cross between a cabbage and a turnip. However, it is not a turnip. In America it is known as a rutabaga.
If you enjoy food with a bite you can try the Indian-style chip butty, sweetcorn and jalapeno fritters or spiced carrot pancakes.
Roasted Black Bean Burgers using mushrooms and chipotle Tabasco sauce puts a spin on the hum-drum hamburger with a meat patty that has the texture of cardboard. An Angry Pasta Fagioli with four chillies will add an extra bit of fire, while Aussie-style brunch bowls with avo, eggs, sprouts, chilli and veg is just the thing to fill the hole in your tummy.
There is a useful chapter on maximising flavour using spices, fresh or dried herbs, miso or tahini. Ge=Terrific Toppers include flavoured bread crumbs, Tempers, lightly toasted spices or herbs heated in a little oil and spooned over curries add “a last-minute whack of flavour”.
Helpful Kitchen Notes explain how to make stock and there is a list of essential equipment and some advice about freezing. A note on nutrition from Oliver’s team is under the heading, Hints and Tips which also looks at how vinegar can add pizzazz to a dish
Veg will be a welcome addition to your collection of cookery books. It will be well used and perhaps you will start having meet-free days, apart from Mondays.