Books: Cooking by Cuisine -> Cooking American
Published: September 12, 2000
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Stephan Pyles's Southwestern cooking, featured most famously at his Star Canyon restaurants in Dallas and Las Vegas, is widely applauded for its flavor-intensive appeal. Southwestern Vegetarian, a follow-up to his cookbook New Tastes from
Texas, ingeniously explores the nonmeat possibilities of this Texan chef's colorful cuisine. Finding a truly satisfying way to meld Southwestern, Mexican, and European culinary approaches, Pyles (an omnivore) has produced vegetarian fare that leaves
traditional Western kinds in the dust. Dishes like Tortilla and Three Onion Casserole with Tomato Ginger Jam and Black Bean and Queso Fresco Quesadillas, among others, should appeal to eaters of all stripes while filling various menu and meal slots, from
breakfast to dinner, as entrees, sides, or starters. This flexibility is mirrored by the book's organization. Eschewing the usual recipe categories, Pyles divides his cookbook into chapters by gratins, casseroles, stuffed vegetables, tortas, sandwiches,
and pizzas. Winners from these categories include the Polenta Gratin with Wild Mushrooms and Three Cheeses and the Tortilla Vegetable Napoleon. Readers should be aware that while most of the recipes are easy enough to execute, many of them require
multiple ingredients and subpreparations. Pickled Vegetable and Deviled Egg Salad Torta, for example, requires cooks to pickle vegetables (17 ingredients needed) before merging them with a salad spread on homemade brioche (13 more ingredients, not
counting those in the brioche, which, presumably, could be store-bought). Despite the added preparation time many of its dishes require, Southwestern Vegetarian is a truly innovative take on meatless cooking, one all food lovers will enjoy. --Arthur
Stephan Pyles is the undisputed master of contemporary Texas cuisine, with world-renowned restaurants in Dallas and Las Vegas, the best-selling books The New Texas Cuisine and New Tastes from Texas, and a hit show for
public television. He has been praised by everyone from Paul Prudhomme and Craig Claiborne to Gourmet and Esquire, and is widely recognized as one of the most creative chefs in the United States.
Now, in Southwestern Vegetarian, Stephan
introduces us to a bold new take on two of the country's most popular culinary styles -- the regional specialties of the American Southwest and the natural splendor of vegetarian cooking. From Jalapeandntilde;o-Cilantro Jelly or Red Chile Linguine with
Pumpkin Seed Pesto to Southwestern Vegetable Paella or Smoked Tomato Pizza with Basil and Queso Fresco, every chapter features Stephan's special brand of innovation.
Stephan also excels in reinterpretations of traditional dishes, whether it's the
simplicity of a homemade Pico de Gallo or the perfect Wild Mushroom Risotto, or even a country-style soup such as Posole -- here spiced up with southern greens, chayote, dried cherries, and pecans.
From a breakfast of Huevos Rancheros with
Ancho-Roast Garlic Potatoes to a dessert of Mole Cake with Cherry-Almond Ice Cream, Tamarind Anglaise, and Orange Caramel, these dishes will make every meal, in every season, an unforgettable experience.
The nearly 200 recipes are at once
brilliantly inventive yet still accessible to the home cook. And although all can be prepared for a strict vegetarian, Stephan's approach is that vegetarian food is a cuisine, not a lifestyle -- and so he doesn't stifle the urge to toss in the occasional
ingredient such as shrimp or chorizo sausage (optional, of course).
With stunning photographs and a design that perfectly evoke the food, Southwestern Vegetarian is a sophisticated change of pace that opens a whole new approach to two
increasingly popular cuisines.
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