Books for cooks - Eating well from Harlem to London

Last week we looked at three books and three vegetarian recipes.

The first was from an Indian cookbook that specialized in simple and flavorful recipes. The second is from an author who lived in countries as diverse as Korea and France. And the third, which is loaded with recipes, isn’t a cookbook at all. At least not a traditional one. And despite the fact that it is written by a super chef.

Today, we are going to take this peek at food books a whole new direction. Today we are going to look at two cookbooks. One is vegetarian; one is not (but it does have lots of vegetarian recipes). Both were written with passion.

The Go Green East Harlem Cookbook, edited by Manhattan borough president Scott M. Stringer (Jones Books)
Welcome to East Harlem, home of pork rinds, French fries, chicken fried steak, and a world of fried foods. And welcome to Eat Harlem, home of some of the highest rates of diabetes and childhood obesity.

Something had to be done. And something was.

Written in English and Spanish, The Go Green East Harlem Cookbook has 68 recipes for appetizers, main and side dishes, and desserts such as quinoa banana muffins, creole salad with bittersweet dressing, and collard greens flavored with a vegetable base and brown sugar. Contributed by people who live or work in East Harlem, not only are many of the recipes vegetarian, but they are also accompanied by tips on everything from healthy eating to how to stock a kitchen.

But, while the vast majority of the recipes are quite wonderful, there are a few (very few) questionable choices for a healthy cookbook, especially a healthy cookbook designed to battle diabetes and obesity. Such as the almond biscotti (which calls for 3/4 cup sugar), the banana coconut cookies (also 3/4 cup of sugar), and the honey baked chicken (1 cup of honey). Still, this is an incredibly admirable project. And a wonderful first step.

Alice Waters would be proud.

The Gate Easy Vegetarian Cookbook by Adrian and Michael Daniel
Ever hear of The Gate restaurant? In London? Run by two brothers? Well, apparently running a restaurant the BBC London called “The best restaurant in Hammersmith ...” wasn’t quite enough for the guys. So they went and wrote a cookbook. Vegetarian. Like the restaurant.

What is nice about The Gate Easy Vegetarian Cookbook is that it is full of all sorts of incredibly simple, incredibly tasty recipes. Like sweetcorn fritters which use lime leaves for punch. And plantain soup with fresh ginger and coconut milk. And tzatziki which tastes absolutely delicious with nothing more than fistfuls of warm pita.

You got puddings and salads and pasta and rice. You got brunch food and sauces and soups and dips. In other words, you have the sort of book you can easily browse comfortably on the couch one minute, then cook from in your kitchen the next.

Looking for minimum ingredient lists, maximum flavor, and as little preparation time as possible? Then this could be a good start. Assuming you can quit reading the charming anecdotes and helpful tips from the brothers. Something I have yet to do.