I officially now no longer think of “vegetarian” as a four letter word. I’m ashamed to admit that I once harbored certain prejudices. I’ve grown past it all. Not on my own. I had help. I had Vegetarian Grilling.
If you still harbor dark thoughts, and want to advance in life, — or if you just want some really good food — then Vegetarian Grilling by Karen Schulz and Maren Jahnke is an ideal book for you. This beautiful and no-nonsense book is organized with four major chapters representing, not food groups, but food cooking styles for your grill:
- Wrapped and Rolled
The sixty recipes in this book give you a bounty of ideas, for summer and even into the fall and winter. If you have an indoor grilling surface on your stove, then you are in year-round business. And, while the intent here was to steer you towards a vegetarian meal, I don’t think the authors would mind if you paired up some of these great ideas with a little protein.
If you like the look and mechanics of Skewered dishes, then consider:
- Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Cream Cheese and Pine Nuts
- Citrus Zucchini Feta Skewers
- Flatbread Skewers with Tomato, Sheep Cheese and Pickled Chili Peppers
The Wrapped and Rolled ideas include both sweet and savory:
- Sweet Crepes with Grilled Peaches
- Cheese-Stuffed Dates in Phyllo Dough
- Fennel and Apple Envelopes with Gorgonzola
The Grilled recipes spotlight, in a vegetarian book, fruit:
- Mangoes with Scallion Vinaigrette
- Asparagus with Goat Cheese
- Grilled Pineapple with Vanilla-Ginger Syrup
And if Stuffed food makes you feel indulgent, then indulge away on:
- Stuffed Peppers with Harissa Couscous
- Onions with Fig and Goat Cheese Topping
- Spinach-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
There’s an accompanying chapter offering a phalanx of Dips and Spices:
- Chili-Mint Oil
- Maple Syrup and Walnut Marinade
- Apricot Barbecue Sauce
- Onion Relish with Raisins and Mustard Seed
The book is amply dotted with full-page photographs by Wolfgang Kowall, a man who has mastered mixing colors, light, and shadows. He makes food look gorgeous, although Goat Cheese-Stuffed Grape Leaves do have an inherent beauty.
More importantly than the photos, the food is delicious. I’ve made the Onions with Fig and Goat Cheese Topping and it’s on our list for summer party food. That recipe, and in fact all the others here, share a common culinary philosophy. These are not complex recipes. A few ingredients, a brief set of instructions. But the amalgam of flavor and color and shapes and sizes will delight you. This food may be "fast" but it is far, far from fast food.
You can knock off one or two or even three of these recipes and easily have a meal that is nobly distinguished, with a variety of flavors, textures, and aromas. And this meal will be most satisfying to your palate. That onion dish, the one I keep mentioning on this blog, is a perfect example: it literally was a meal in itself.
I don’t think Vegetarian Grilling is just for vegetarians or just for grilling season. This is a book for everyone and a book to be enjoyed throughout the year.
Charles Dickens once wrote, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” If you love books and check the news about publishing, that quote can often come to mind. We hear about the imminent death of the printed book. Yet, Amazon is manufacturing a drone fleet to delivery books to our doorstop — how they are going to fly into my third floor Manhattan apartment is beyond me but I have faith in technology. And homeowners insurance.
Local bookstores perish, in some places, but thrive in others. Some authors prosper while others talk about how hard it is to get published, or to make a living even if their words are printed.
And all of us readers face a challenge in finding new things, new perspectives, new styles of books. The “big book” stores do not always have the latest or the broadest selection. It’s hard to get your hands physically on niche books, to turn the pages, and to be charmed by the physicality of the book.
So, I was wondering: what am I missing out? I began reading Amazon not just for book titles but for book publishers. Who is new? Who has niche cookbooks out there that I may have to order on line and that I almost certainly will not easily find on a local bookstore shelf, even in Manhattan.
And I’m finding those publishers. I should mention Ryland, Peters and Small, a British house that publishes lovely cookbooks. I’ve posted about them many times and suggested you visit their website to see what a delightful array of books they have. [Actually, I have several in my queue here and you’ll see some great books spotlighted.].
The good news for any foodie is that I’ve found another wonderful, important publisher: Skyhorse Publishing. The very odd thing is that I saw the name the same week that Suzen and I began planning for an August outing to Yellowstone National Park. Now, when I read “Skyhorse” I imagined this firm would be located in Seattle, or Montana somewhere or maybe Denver. But not east of Denver. Not with that name.
Maybe, if I was out west anyway, I could visit them. Turns out, visiting is possible, and I don’t have to go through security at an airport.
Skyhorse Publishing is based in Manhattan, just 2.5 miles from where I live. If I want them to deliver, no drone is necessary. They could practically toss a book in my window. Well, maybe 2.5 miles is a stretch, but how many of you have a major publisher that close to home? There are benefits to living in Manhattan.
Here’s what the website says about Skyhorse:
Skyhorse Publishing was launched in September 2006 by Tony Lyons, former president and publisher of the Lyons Press, and its first titles were published in March 2007. Lyons talked to dozens of potential investors, all of whom asked the same question: ‘Can a new book publishing company make it in the current environment?’ His response remains: ‘Succeeding as an independent publisher is not going to be easy, but by scouring the country for genre books that large publishers ignore, resurrecting forgotten classics, and by moving both more quickly and with greater attention to detail than other publishers, I believe we can flourish.'
And flourish they have. Skyhorse has 3,000 titles in its backlist. Eight New York Times best sellers.
Foodies now have a deep, rich treat in store. Go to the Skyhorese website and navigate to the Cooking & Beverages section:
There are almost 200 titles here, diverse and interesting. I just blogged about Let Them Eat Kale! which is a charming and carefully constructed book that will have you going way beyond mere kale chips. The production quality of Kale! — and other books I have seen — is very strong: lovely paper, great layout, photos that bleed to the edge of the page, and those photos are really well posed. Seductive enough to have you headed for the kitchen. The recipes themselves? From Vegetarian Grilling I’ve already posted the Onions with Fig and Goat Cheese Topping. It’s almost too pretty to eat, but eat it you will. And with delight.
I invite you to go and browse at Skyhorse. You can order online. There are many choices, and I’m sure you’ll be pleased to have this significant new source for culinary inspiration.