delia's vegetarian collection
by delia smithDelia Smith has tossed the odd crumb to non-meat eaters in previous books: in Delia's Vegetarian Collection, finger on the pulse as always, she pulls the best of those together, tops them up with a selection of new ones, and presumably has herself and the BBC another bestseller. Lest this sound ungenerous, it's as well to say that this is a fine collection, wide-ranging and full of variety; and also visually very appealing. Vegetarians are likely to feel that the wait was worthwhile; many other cooks will be grateful for an inspiring repertoire, which happens not to contain meat. As always with Delia Smith, there is nothing here to frighten the tentative cook. Perhaps the most demanding recipe is the rather modish Red Onion Tarte Tatin. But even here, Delia's calm directions provide the most reassuring of guides (practically every sentence in every recipe starts with the words "First" or "Next" or "Then").
Delia has cast her net widely, both geographically and, as it were, chronologically. While Vegetarian Sausage Rolls , "Not Pork" Pie and a variety of hefty vegetable gratins, such as Roasted Vegetable and Brown Rice, evoke a time of wholefood earnestness, before vegetarian food lightened up, most of the recipes belong to a more modern era, characterised by the flavours of the Mediterranean and the Pacific Rim, where vegetables play a more central role in the cuisines. Pasta and noodle recipes, for example, include the wonderful Trofie with Pesto, Green Beans and Potatoes, together with many other classic Italian dishes; while the East contributes Singapore Stir-Fried Noodles and Soba Noodles with Soy and Citrus Dressing. One of the pleasures of this book is the presence of many classic recipes, included simply because of their deliciousness. This is plainly the case in the Puddings chapter. Suet aside, puddings can't cause vegetarians too many problems. But here are Crepes Suzettes, Bananas Baked in Rum, Crème Brûlé and Strawberry and Balsamic Vinegar Ice Cream to remind us that some of the best things to eat have always been meatless. --Robin Davidson
posted 06 Mar 2007 at 15:27:40