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by Brenda Langton and Margaret Stuart
University of Minnesota Press, 2004
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Feb 22nd 2005

The Cafe Brenda Cookbook

The Café Brenda Cookbook has some great vegetarian recipes that are hard to find elsewhere.  Chef Brenda Langton has a strong sense of flavors and textures that work well together, and reading through the book makes your mouth water.  My favorite recipe is for Greek Moussaka, using lentils instead of meat, with straightforward tomato and béchamel sauces, arranged in layers with eggplant, lentils and potatoes.  It takes some preparation, but it is worth it.  There is a Shepherd's Pie, made with mashed potatoes and an all-vegetable filling that works well.  The Black Bean Vegetable Chili has the usual sorts of ingredients, with celery, carrots, onion, red and jalapeno peppers, and oregano, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, and coriander, as well as an ounce of unsweetened chocolate, but it is a good recipe, easy to prepare and rich in taste.  Another small feature of the book that makes it attractive is that many recipes use parsnips, a greatly underappreciated root vegetable with a slightly spicy taste.  There is a whole section devoted to croquettes, which are simple to prepare and very satisfying.  These recipes are quite unusual and attractive: for example, chickpea-vegetable croquettes with tahini-vegetable sauce, or buckwheat-potato croquettes with ginger-mushroom sauce.  There are also sections on appetizers & salads, soups, breads, seafood, and desserts.  Every recipe in the book looks good, and while there are no photographs, there is a number of nice drawings and the book is a good size to use in a kitchen, easy to open up on the right page but not so big that it takes up too much work space.  The recipes do not use too much fat or oil so the food is healthy and the delicious flavors can make your life better. 

 

© 2005 Christian Perring. All rights reserved. 

 

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Academic Chair of the Arts & Humanities Division and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is also editor of Metapsychology Online Review.  His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.