Cookbooks - Meat-Free 101

Cook 1.0: A Fresh Approach to the Vegetarian Kitchen (Stewart Tabori & ?Chang, $27.50) joins the ever-growing list of vegetarian cookbooks. This one promises ?a new take developed by self-taught cook and blogger Heidi Swanson (www.101cookbooks.com).

With hundreds of cookbooks being published every year, the challenge of making a cookbook unique and distinctive is, without a doubt, enormous.

Swanson gives Cook 1.0 an edge over other vegetarian titles with 40 stunning photos that encourage active peeking beyond the cover. Furthering the sell is the fresh, smart design of the pages, with easy-to-read and inviting type.

But writing a book for beginning cooks is a big responsibility. Beginners need more than encouragement, which Swanson offers in bundles. They also need context and clarity to connect the dots.

While she provides useful tips on stocking the pantry and equipping the kitchen, she leaves out basic nutrition tips, which may be of interest to aspiring vegetarians. Also noticeably absent is information on technique and an alphabet rundown of vegetables, with pertinent seasons or cooking ideas. Instead, the reader gets a detailed exercise in biscuit making, a laundry list of smoothie variations, and enough fondue ideas for the rest of his or her life.

In her introductory words, Swanson states that "I wanted one volume that taught a basic technique for each of my favorite foods." And perhaps that's what this book is - simply a collection of Swanson's favorite things to eat, enhanced by her gorgeous food photography and friendly text. Whether it works as a primer for aspiring home cooks and virgin vegetarians is up for debate.??

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