As a new member of the Saveur Magazine’s Cookbook Club, I’d like to say Welcome to my first Cookbook Post! Once a month a Saveur editor selects a cookbook. Then we, the members, cook recipes from it and share our results on the Facebook Group. Sometimes the author will even chime in and answer any of our questions.
I’ve always wanted to add a cookbook section to this blog and this is the perfect opportunity to start. You and I can learn about different cooking styles and recipes from around the world that feature funky ingredients and food combinations. So with that, once a month, I’ll review a cookbook and post a recipe or two with my own spin on it (because, copyright).
ABOUT THE BOOK
Title: ROOTS: The Definitive Compendium with more than 225 Recipes
Author: Diane Morgan
Publisher: Chronicle Books San Fransisco
Category: Fundamentals & Reference
Awards: James Beard Foundation Book Winner • The IACP Cookbook Winner
Summary: This cookbook is a guide to root vegetables, both common and exotic with numerous recipes from all around the world that range from simple to more involved. Because this book is really for professional/educational use, it lacks color and personality in its text which I personally don’t mind.
Format: The book is divided in sections by root vegetable (28 in all) . Much like my blog, each ingredients comes with information on its history, varieties, availability, storage, preparation, and uses followed by simple to complex recipes. It also comes with an introduction to what differentiates roots, tubers, rhizomes, and corms as well as a brief history and how-to on root cellars.
Recipes: Each root comes with 10+ recipes (225+ in total), particularly condiments, sides, dinners, and desserts (even the occasional cocktail!). Both measure and weight quantities are provided in the ingredient list. The author also informs how far in advanced you can prepare components of the dish if you plan to make it for a party or event. Overall, recipes are easy to follow and come with a “Cooks Note” that offers tips, tricks, and cautions (some root vegetables are poisonous if not prepared properly!).
Headnotes: They vary from informative to descriptive, and narrative to origin-based. Some are 2 paragraphs long, others 2 sentences. Personally, I like the variety. She tells a story if necessary, otherwise she lays out the flavor and texture profile, what season to serve it in, etc. What I really liked was how many people she turned to for recipe inspiration. Because many of these roots come from South America and Asia, she turns to restaurant chefs, friends of friends, even grandma’s for culturally accurate dishes.
Photography: Very few photos, but when you see the sheer volume of this book, I understand why. Each root vegetable is beautifully yet rustically pictured. As for the recipes, only one photo is captured per section. Thankfully, my friends at cookbook club posted pictures of the non-photographed dishes.
Difficulty: Most recipes are pretty simple, taking up only one page. It was written for the novice as well as seasoned cook.
Diets: There are many meat-based and vegetarian dishes. Several are gluten-free as roots are the star. While there aren’t many vegan options (mainly condiments), you can easily adapt them by simply omitting dairy or substituting vegetables where meat is used.
Where: Currently, the book is not in print so check your local library for a copy.
- A root is the organ of a plant; its main function is to absorb and store water and nutrients.
- The first carrots were purple, not orange, and they came from Afghanistan nearly 40,000 years ago.
- There are 4,000 varieties of potatoes and they are categorized by starch and water content.
- It was the sweet potato that graced Irish tables nearly 50 years before the classic Irish potato.
- Radishes supposedly originated from Egypt and were given as rations to the workers who built the pyramids.
Ginger Panna Cotta (pg. 141)
Sautéed Horseradish Gnocchi (pg. 154)
Rutabaga Hash with Onions & Crisp Bacon (pg. 273)