image Cookbook Review---

Title: Totally Vegetarian
Author: Toni Fiore, 2009
273pages; Softcover $17.95 US/$22.50 CDN
Publisher: Da Capo Press, Life Long Books, Cambridge, MA
Reviewed by, Chef John Vyhnanek, December, 2009

The review---

Totally Vegetarian by Toni Fiore is divided into categories such as Light Bits, Salads and Dressings, Soups and Stews, Breads and Pizza, Tofu, Pasta, Burgers and Sandwiches, Potatoes, Grains and Beans, Good Mornings and Sweet Finishes. The recipes are creative, with some new creations and some old favorites. Itís nice that early on in the book a special section explains what you will need to make the recipes in the book. A suggestion for what ingredients you need to buy and stock in your pantry is helpful, Suggestions are also made for equipment needs. There about a dozen pictures of food items in this paperback cookbook that helps you understand the vegetarian style of cooking.

I tried three recipes, Celebration Pot stickers, Spicy Chickpea Salad and the Basmati Rice Pudding. The filling for the pot stickers was Napa cabbage based with mushrooms, scallions and garlic with a soy, ginger and sesame oil flavoring. They were wrapped in wonton skins and then pan fried. They were a tasty treat, crispy and chewy, with the accompanying Sweet Chili Sauce.

The Spicy Chickpea Salad was a snap to make, with red onions, red and yellow peppers, basil, toasted pine nuts and a spicy dressing. I would suggest that you consider letting it sit and marinate for a few hours instead of serving it right away as the book suggests. Chickpeas sometimes have a thick outer layer and it takes time for the seasoning to be absorbed.

The Basmati Rice Pudding is a recipe that was modified by the author. Originally it was made with half and half, heavy cream and eggs to make it rich and creamy. In place of these ingredients soy milk and cornstarch are used and the results are very good. An Indian friend of mine makes this type of rice pudding and often adds saffron and tops the pudding with fresh ripe diced mango.

Good Cooking likes this book. It would make a great gift for a young person who is vegetarian and perhaps off to school. It would also be good for anyone who wants to get out of a cooking rut and experience new recipes and ideas.

One of the recipes tested---

Spicy Chickpea Salad

Serves 2 to 4

Because chickpeas are so versatile, satisfying, and healthy, I always keep a few cans in my pantry. When we finished shooting our second season o f the show, at the last minute we realized that we were short one segment. Out came the chickpeas and this recipe was born; its simplicity born of necessity has made it a personal favorite. With their firm and creamy texture, chickpeas really shine alongside the crispy peppers, fragrant basil, and spicy chili paste. Pine nuts, another pantry staple, are toasted, and add a soft buttery taste. Enjoy the salad with a hearty slice o f bread to sop up the juices.

One 15 1/2-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup red or yellow chopped bell pepper (mix red and yellow for added color)
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (see page 86)
1/4 cup basil, cut into ribbons
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon chili paste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. In a medium bowl, combine the chickpeas, onion, bell pepper, pine nuts, and basil. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice and chili paste until emulsified. Add the dressing to the chickpea mixture and toss well to combine. Season with salt and pepper and serve.