“PLANT-BASED GOURMET”: COOKBOOK REVIEW

Posted by Scott on June 13, 2021 in News
Cover art for Plant-Based Gourmet cookbook

Cue the candlelight. Cue the violins. The stage has been set for a new kind of haute cuisine.

Vegan haute cuisine.

Gone are the days when “vegan” meant that dinner was a plain (sad) green salad. Restaurants around the world now offer substantial plant-based entrees. Some, like Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park have fully switched to all vegan menus.

I realized why people think of vegan cuisine as inconvenient, obscure, and limited in its options […] too often, people simply aren’t exposed to well-prepared, high-quality plant-based cuisine.

– Suzi Gerber

Vegan haute cuisine is now a thing. Cue Chef Suzi Gerber, bringing vegan gourmet (and omg amazing!) recipes to our home kitchens with Plant-Based Gourmet.

Before We Start

I am not a full vegan, but I do more than a fair amount of vegan and vegetarian cooking. Most of my vegan cooking is of the “vegan to start with” variety – couscous with grilled veggies, roasted carrot soup, that sort of thing. They are great, satisfying dishes that I love and that please my guests. But, I’m not exactly pushing exploring new veggie frontiers if you know what I mean.

Many of you also know that much of my cooking is based on French cuisine. I am no stranger to hours spent in the kitchen working on a complex dish. Hell, in fact I love it! Care and attention to detail are hallmarks of good cooking as far as I’m concerned. And, if it takes half a day (or more!) to deliver that perfect dish, sign me up!

Get your hands dirty and delight your senses with gourmet plant-based cuisine.

– Suzi Gerber

Plant-Based Gourmet seriously ups my game on vegan cooking while channeling my passion for precision execution. It is a book that challenges me in all the best ways.

You Had Me at Haute Cuisine

The first thing that I noticed is how firmly Chef Gerber adheres to the idea of haute cuisine – a form of cooking that “is characterized by the meticulous preparation and careful presentation of food“. Whether its within the 50+ pages describing sourcing, pantry staples and mise on place or within the recipes for foundational components like preparing your own vegan cheese, Chef Gerber’s meticulous focus on precision cannot be missed.

That focus carries down into each and every recipe. For example, her recipe for basil pesto suggests adding a bit of maple syrup if your basil leaves are bitter – which can often happen if the basil plant is allowed to flower. While maple syrup may not be a traditional pesto ingredient, this focus on the diner’s experience over strict adherence to tradition is one of the things that truly inspires me in this book.

As a chef, discovering the bounty of plant-based foods rekindled my passion for the kitchen, revolutionized my life, and set me on a lifelong quest for new ingredients and restaurants.

– Suzi Gerber

The second thing that I noticed about Chef Gerber’s work the her joyful use of surprising ingredients. Her Sunday Roast starts with watermelon ( 🤯 right?! ) while her Moules Frites are formed from purple potato skins and red mayo (double 🤯 ). The goal here isn’t to trick meat eaters into having more veggies, though. This is a book – and a cooking philosophy – that looks at delivering big punch, familiar flavors by exploring, challenging and (sometimes running right past) current assumptions of the role of plants in the kitchen and on our plates. It’s a thread that runs through the entire meal. From apps, nibbles and cocktails to entrees to desserts, the creativity is absolutely infectious!

Best of All

Sometimes, cookbooks that are this creative and smart can be challenging for the home cook. What I appreciate the most about Plant-Based Gourmet is that there’s something for everyone here. This is no “chefy” book, my friends! Beginning cooks can easily master recipes like Grilled Red Pepper Sauce and the Eggplant Sausage (which includes coffee grounds #cookingcrush – so, so, so genius!). At the same time, more experienced cooks will revel in the complex recipes like the 5+ pages of directions for the Temaki and Sushi Party. With tons of gorgeous photos from the amazing Tina Picz-Devoe, you aren’t likely to run short of inspiration any time soon!